Yaho or Aia?

John H. Drais – USA

In 1877 HPB shocked the western world out of its dogmatic stagnation with the publication of Isis Unveiled. She presented and discussed, not only openly, but openmindedly, many subjects held sacrosanct for centuries by worldly priestcraft. Many pages were devoted to an exposé of Jehovah as one of a long succession of lunar deities. She clearly shows that this recently concocted name stems from the mystery god IOA. Jehovah* as a word-form results from improperly placing the Hebrew masoretic vowel points (themselves an invention of the era of the Masora, c. 600-1000 C.E.) of the word Adonai (Lord, Master, Sir) with the ineffable, (sic.) four-lettered name of the Creator, the tetragrammaton, YHVH.

Blavatskv's candor was not intended merely to point up this orthographic discrediting of Jehovah, but rather the importance of Jehovah as a lunar-creative deity, made necessary by the Christian insistence of attributing ubiquity to Jehovah. Thus the identity of Jehovah with IAO through its intermediate form YHVH is labored over to point up the essential distinction between the lunar and solar pitris. Part of her argument depends on the pronunciation of YHVH. Theodoret, an anti-Nicene Church Father (c. 386-385 C.E.). is paraphrased in this respect:

Theodoret savs that the Samaritans pronounced it Iabè (Yahva), and the Jews Yaho; ...” (Isis Unveiled ii, 301; original edition)

Isis Unveiled was written at a time in history before typewriting. The task of constructing, to say nothing of the impossibility of proofreading, such an eclectic work resulted in a disastrous number of errors. Perhaps no other person could have helped clean up this mess than the late Boris de Zirkoff; no other student has done so much to bring the astounding phenomenon of HPB into focus. None the less, care must be taken when depending solely on Boris' editions. Many passages have been altered according to other documents and HPB's notes which were in his possession. The attempt at perfection is laudable, but the introduction of another version of l.U. and the S.D. is lamentable. The penchant for unreferenced alteration is deep in our veins apparently, for there has been in theosophical publishing history a constant variation as the editions have occurred.

Boris located the source of HPB's paraphrase and thankfully referenced it. His edition of Isis Unveiled reads:

Theodoret says that the Samaritans pronounced it ’labe (Yabe) and the Jews 'Aia; ...”**

The introduction of Greek letters and the alteration of the parenthetical pronunciation is perhaps acceptable, since Theodoret wrote in Greek: but the transformation of Yaho to 'Aia is as startling as it is innovative. Correct or not, both alterations should have been referenced. Firstly, this passage of HPB's is but a paraphrase, not a quote, and the version that Boris de Zirkoff uses may not be the one used by HPB, and she may very well have selected the word best suited to her paraphrase of Theodoret's meaning. Secondly, alterations should never be made with even the appearance of presumption. Furthermore, this passage was considered significant enough to be included twice in The Secret Doctrine, both of which inclusions kept the word “Yaho” unchanged:

Theodoret says that the Samaritans pronounced Yahva, and the Jews Yaho." (S.D. ii. 129: original edition facsimile. ULT)

Theodoret says that the Samaritans pronounced it Jahé (Yahra), and the Jews Yaho;...” (S.D. ii, 465; same)

The Aryan Theosophical Press (Point Loma) edition of The Secret Doctrine (1917) keeps the p. 129 reference unchanged from the original, but the p. 465 inclusion was changed to conform to the original Isis Unveiled form. Both inclusions in Boris de Zirkoff’s edition of The Secret Doctrine conform to his Isis Unveiled rendering.

Since Boris de Zirkoff must have found ”Aia” in Theodoret's statement in Quaestionem XV in Exodum, vi, 3, had he referenced HPB's apparent alteration in her paraphrase, all students would have benefited from her discrimination. Now, the essential import of her discussion is the identity of IHVH with IA0, and it matters not one iota whether it was pronounced Yabe or Yahva; but her selection of Yaho over 'Aia makes the passage more easily understood. Since it seems correct that "Yaho" was expressly chosen by HPB to convey Theodoret's meaning, there must be a fundamental identity between 'Aia and Yaho’. A possible connection from one of HPB's references is presented here.

In 1874 A.H. Sayce published a series of articles he had written for the journal Biblical Archaeology which was entitled Astronomy And Astrology Of The Babylonians.*** The following is to be found on page 229,

The word aba is of Accadian extraction, and is formed from the Accadian ab 'month' by postfixing the relative ending a, so that the name literally signifies 'he that has to do with the month'. It is clear that ab 'the month' has the same source as ai ‘the moon', b being a common suffix in Accadian.”

Thus, 'Aia is “the one who has to do with the moon", who is therefore equivalent with IAOIHVH Yaho.

In conclusion, we should emphasize that unreferenced alterations of another's chosen expression can lead only to confusion and may well result in dogmatic differences of opinion as we cycle further from the source.

A strong effort should be made by all students to make note of such alterations.

*See Jewish Encyclopedia (1904). Vol. VII. “Jehovah.” p. 87 (See also note number 24 . The Secret Doctrine II. p. 807. Boris de Zirkoff edition. 1979)

**Isis Unveiled. Vol. II. p. 301.

***Reprinted by Wizards Bookshelf. San Diego. 1981.

****The Secret Doctrine. Vol. II. p. 129 and Vol. II. p. 465.

Text Size

Paypal Donate Button Image

Subscribe to our newsletter

Email address
Confirm your email address

Who's Online

We have 389 guests and no members online

TS-Adyar website banner 150




TS Point Loma/Blavatsky House

Vidya Magazine