Josephus the Jewish historian wrote that the sacred name consists of four vowels (Jewish Wars, 5.5.7.). Why did Josephus write this? Please consider the following:
Remember Josephus was writing to a Greek audience! He first wrote his history [at least his notes] in Hebrew (Antiquities 12 S. 1~footnotes; Against Apion 1.9) But after the Jewish Roman war he had time, and with long perseverance, he mastered the Greek language, and compiled his history in Koine Greek, which was the international language at that time. Though it was the international language, do not think it was the every day language in Palestine, for it was not!
Josephus frequently altered Hebrew names, spelling them after the fashion of the Greeks, "to please [his Greek] readers" (Antiquities 1.5.1.). Josephus describes the head-gear worn by the Levitical priest:
"Of this was a crown made, as far from the hinder part of the head to each of the temples; but this ...did not cover the forehead, but it was covered by a golden plate, which had inscribed upon it the Name of (E[ohim) in SACRED CHARACTERS." (Antiquities 3. Z 6, ~Sacred Title restored and emphasis added).
The term SACRED CHARACTERS, means not just Hebrew letters, but the ancient Hebrew, known as Paleo-Hebrew, used in the time of Moses, and David Anciently even the Greek language was written backwards (according to modem English thinking], and the ancient Greek letters were very similar to paleo Hebrew. Therefore the ancient Greek would have written the sacred name very similar to the ancient Hebrew, which appeared like this The modem Greek equivalent would be written , and understood as IEUE. But do not think that this in any wise proves the pronunciation. He was writing to the Greeks the equivalent of YHWH. And it was from this that the heathen formed their Jeue, Jove9 and Jeve (see Adaan Clarks Commentary on Exodus 3:14)
It is true that the letters can function as vowel letters. Let us see a few examples, the yod acts as a vowel in the words "Eli" (Mt 27:46) also #430 Elohim, #4899 Mashiach, Ish (Gen 2:23 margin KJV) etc.. Yet it also functions as a consonant in other words like #3050 Yah, #2968 ya ab etc. Sometimes it acts like a vowel and a consonant all in the same letter, as in "Eliyah", where it is a double yod
'The is stronger and firmer than and never loses its consonantal sound in the middle of a word .... On the other hand, at the end of a word it is always a mere vowel letter, unless expressly marked by Mappiq as a strong consonant." (As in Yahh, Yahh, and Eloahh) Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar p.81
The waw also can act as a vowel in words like #452 E[iyahu, #3194 Yutah etc.. It also carries the "o" sound, as in #3117 yom. On the other hand it acts like a consonant in words like #2331 chavah, actually the consonant is not a "v", but "as in Arabic, or as the English w, not as the German."
Sometimes the acts like a vowel and a consonant all in the same letter, just like the as in Phuwah(Gen46:13).
Therefore the letters yod, he, and waw can be vowel letters, they can also be consonants, depending on the usage.
Concerning the Sacred Name, the structure of the letters tell us that the yod is a consonant as in the word YAH~68:4&lsish12:2;26:4;38:11NKJV). Also the is a consonant, since "it never loses its consonantal sound in the middle of a word" Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar p.81
Also the waw , always acts as a consonant when ending words ~ (except in ELoahh). When Hebrew words end with an "uah~ sound it is expressed in Hebrew as , therefore if the Hebrew word ends it will always act as a consonant, ending like “wah” or “weh” etc.
The final Is the vowel letter in the sacred name, "at the end of a word it is always a mere vowel letter." Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar p.81
Conclusion: When Josephus said "four vowels", he was talking to his Greek audience expressing the Tetragrammaton in a way they would comprehend, trans-letter-ating from PaleoHebrew (which in ancient Greek was ) into Greek, thus arriving with IHYH (literally IEUE). But that this does not in any way prove the pronunciation of the Sacred Name.
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