The Book Of Yahweh is one of numerous products of Yisrayl Hawkins and his organization, The House of Yahweh. Its first publication date is 1987. Hawkins is not embarrassed to claim this bible revision is “… the most accurate English translation of the Scriptures in the whole world ...”
This bold warranty causes us to take a close look at both the book and the man in charge of such a revision. In the book's introductory remarks, no one either takes or is given responsibility for the work of revision in producing this volume. The reader is left to guess, and correctly so, that this imaginative book is the work of Yisrayl Hawkins and one or more of his associates. It is likely that one of Hawkins' converts did the bulk of the work on this project and Hawkins just gave the work his imprimatur.
According to people close to The House of Yahweh, Hawkins was assisted by at least two of his associates, one of which was in charge of the revision project. For this elder the project was a full time job. It is reported that this man has left The House of Yahweh. Perhaps it would be more correct to say the two associates were assisted by Hawkins in the real revision work. At least one other House of Yahweh publication gives credence to the idea of multiple revisers by using the plural pronoun we, of those who worked on the book. This being true, as the large amount of time invested in this revision project would certainly indicate, any who worked on the revision project would have been under the very strict supervision and close personal control of Hawkins.
It seems that Isaiah chapter thirty-four, where the Hebrew has “look in the scroll of YHWH,” supplies the title for this revision. Copyright of this work is owned by Hawkins. Over the thirteen years of its existence, a number of widely varying editions have appeared.
The Book Of Yahweh is loosely based on the King James Version. Hawkins says that in every place where BOY deviates from the KJV the difference “…can be PROVEN beyond any shadow of doubt.” Such words seem to be a defensive reaction to a consciousness that the KJV is one revision by which other revisions will be judged. Or perhaps this admission is tacit acknowledgment that many conservative Christians hold the KJV in high esteem.
Hawkins is founder, pastor, and overseer of House of Yahweh at Abilene, Texas. He is well known among sacred name people for his failed, then revised prophesies. Beside this dubious distinction as end time prophet, he also lays claim to the title “Yahweh's Last Days Anointed Witness.” These claims would be part and parcel of his teaching that he and his late brother Yaaqob are ( perhaps were?) the two witnesses of the Book of the Revelation. No word is forthcoming from The House of Yahweh on whether Yaaqob has risen from the dead.
According to Hawkins, Yaaqob and others “moved to the land of Israyl after a great monetary blessing had been given to him.” Yaaqob, formerly J. G. Hawkins, spent some years there before returning to America and in 1975 starting a first House of Yahweh in Odessa, Texas. Yisrayl worked with him in this now defunct assembly for a time.
The brothers parted company about 1979 or early 1980. It is reported that their break up was over use of Elohim as a title for the creator. Yaaqob used it as a proper designation for God. Yisrayl, however, was repulsed by this title as belonging to pagan worship, of pagan origin, a title used of pagan gods, and having no place in the true worship.
After the brothers parted, Yisrayl founded a second House of Yahweh at Abilene in 1980. The assembly building is located on 10½ acres of land where a number of HOY members also live. It has been loosely described as a commune. This assembly, meeting near Abilene, has approximately 200 people in attendance at a given Sabbath meeting. This congregation of The House of Yahweh is one of the three or four largest sacred name congregations in North America.
A one time convert to radio preacher Herbert W. Armstrong's World Wide Church of God, Hawkins was not involved in the Sacred Name Movement from its early days. (Other reading of interest: History of the Sacred Name Movement in America .) He has had neither long, good, nor close association with the Movement's brethren of good will. "Brethren of good will" is a phrase used within in the sacred name movement of preachers and teachers who are tolerant of views not exactly matching their own.
Despite growing up non Jewish, having no direct link to Judaism, and no childhood instruction in Judaism, it is of some importance to Hawkins that he be Jewish. He claims to have descended from one of the families of the priesthood and bases this claim largely on the fanciful notion that the name Hawkins is a corruption of Ha Cohen, Hebrew for “the priest.” Of course, such is in no case the true derivation of the name Hawkins.
An imagined revelation from God conjoined to this need to be Jewish impelled Hawkins in 1982 to change his given name to Yisrayl, his own unique spelling of Israel. He also needed a Scriptural name so he could point to himself as the fulfillment of various biblical prophesies. This name change seems to have had at least one desirable side affect. It has allowed Hawkins to distance himself from his undignified name or nickname, Buffalo Bill.
Hawkins, a stern and authoritative leader, directly oversees administration of The House of Yahweh. He comes under criticism by some members, now ex-members, because he attends beginnings of many of the assembly's services and leaves soon after the meeting starts. Assembly members have been expected at times to tithe as much as thirty per cent of their income.
Bearing the mantle of an end-time prophet, Hawkins is ever pressed to find new and more innovative revelations and prophesies. Satan is female and God's estranged wife is one such revelation. The right to have plural wives (but not plural husbands) is another example of these revelations. A former wife divorced him after this revelation. The Satan is female revelation caused a new revision of BOY to be made with the references to Satan in the feminine gender.
While some observers doubt his sincerity, no one doubts his zeal for his cause. After starting The House of Yahweh, Hawkins became a prolific writer. His numerous books and other publications are sufficient demonstration of his zeal.
These books are heavily promoted on the Internet and in the House of Yahweh periodical, The Prophetic Word. As one reads these promotions and other House of Yahweh literature, one gets the impression that not much teaching will be gotten without buying Hawkins’ books. Hawkins seems to have mastered a sort of bait and hook method of selling his doctrine and his books.
The Book of Yahweh, though more extreme than any sacred name bible before it, has most of what we have come to expect to be in a sacred name bible. It replaces the tetragrammaton with Hawkins’ favored pronunciation of the tetragrammaton. It puts Yahweh in places in the Old Testament where the tetragrammaton never was in the Hebrew text. For example at Genesis 1:1 : "In the beginning Yahweh created..." The Hebrew text has Elohim, not Yahweh. But, Hawkins doesn't like the word Elohim.
The Hebrew text of the Old Testament has the tetragrammaton almost seven thousand times. The Book of Yahweh has added Yahweh in so many instances it likely exceeds ten thousand occurrences.
The name Yahweh is repeatedly put into the New Testament where it was not written, never even once, by the original writers. An example from the Gospel of Matthew 11: 20 : "... the malak of Yahweh appeared to him in a dream ..." The Greek text has Theos - God, not Yahweh.
With these and many other changes, this bible revision shows little regard for reason, logic, real scholarship, the original text, or the injunction not to add to the Scriptures. Nevertheless, the editors have a goal and press forward to attain it. BOY outstrips all other sacred name bibles in many areas. It particularly reaches new heights in finding inventive ways to put the word Yahweh before the reader.
Moreover, the reader need not be surprised by this cavalier attitude toward the text. A warning of just such excesses is issued in the preface of the book. Regarding the additions and insertions BOY says, "The House of Yahweh has purposed to go far beyond all other conscientious scholars." It does not fail to achieve this purpose. The word Yahweh is shoe-horned into the text at the slightest opportunity.
Additionally, any House of Yahweh teaching found lacking in scriptural foundation, without hesitation has simply been given a foundation by making up additions to the scriptures.
Jacob's Bethel, becomes Beth Yahweh. (Apparently "EL" - God - like its kindred word Elohim, has incurred the displeasure of Hawkins.) The textually correct kingdom of heaven in Matthew is replaced with Kingdom of Yahweh. Hallelujah (Praise ye Yah) in the Old Testament, and Alleluia in the New Testament have become Hallelu Yahweh, voiding the introductory claims of accuracy made for this version. The disappointment is deepened because of BOY's preface rebuke of most translations for their alteration of Yahweh's Scriptures by words untranslated and mistranslated.
In numerous instances, BOY gives us a hodge podge of translations and substitutions. Amen is a prime example of this. Sometimes it is translated as “so be it.” Other times Hallelu Yahweh is used as a substitute. At some points a mixture of these two is seen as, may it be so, Hallelu Yahweh.
As with other more recent sacred name bibles, The Book of Yahweh has a special distaste for the word Lord and its Hebrew counterparts, Adon and Adonai. When Adon YHWH appears in the O.T. text, Adon is often just overlooked as if it were not there at all. In other instances it becomes Yahweh our Heavenly Father. Again it is Yahweh our Sovereign King. At least once the reader is obliged to see Yahweh, King of the World.
Adonai Yahweh is cast in a similar miscellany of such corrections. We see Our Father Yahweh often. Yahweh our Father is also frequent. Father Yahweh is found upon occasion. With Yahweh my Father, Yahweh your Father, and Yahweh the Father, each getting a turn at substituting for Adonai YHWH.
These changes imply that Adonai can be legitimately translated as some form of father. Adonai in no case means father. This translation is made up from whole cloth. BOY has simply substituted father for a perfectly good Hebrew word which means Lord. Hawkins simply has a strong dislike for the word Lord. He has put it into the same class as Elohim, a pagan word.
None of these translations, rather substitutions, have any basis in real scholarship. Each variation seems to be at the whim of BOY's revisers. Perhaps Hawkins reasoned that Father would make a good substitution for Adonai and he used it as such. Perhaps, and more likely, Hawkins thought God revealed to him that Father should be put into these verses. Such scholarship, while obvious in all sacred name bibles, is prominent in BOY.
These are examples of the pseudo scholarship permeating the Sacred Name Movement. Perhaps this is not simply pseudo scholarship. BOY lets the thinly veiled false anointing (Think of it as a kind of usurped right to change what the bible says.) assumed by many sacred name teachers and by all sacred name bible revisers show through more than most. Because of these and other changes, many sacred name people who are not in the House of Yahweh decry Hawkins’ book as excessive. He has certainly shown a willingness to go where no sacred name bible reviser has gone before.
Such a damaging way of translating, changing, substituting, and revising should not be thought of as unique to BOY. This is the real aim of all sacred name bibles. One of the purposes of such bibles is to put Yahweh into the text as frequently as possible. Another, is to remove even Hebrew and Greek words, especially the name of Jesus, which are not thought proper by the revisers. In both regards BOY is extreme, but it is only extending the liberties taken by earlier sacred name bibles.
All of this brings us to additions into the text in order to explain and clarify. It is a sort of Amplified Bible syndrome with a Sacred Name Movement twist. [Please understand twist as a double entendre’.] BOY has multiplied instances of this kind of revision.
A few examples will illustrate. One, apparently inserted to explain, is in Genesis 49: 26. "... let all these rest on the head of Yahseph; on the crown of the one set apart; consecrated to a specific task, from his brothers." At least BOY has set this addition in italics. Numerous additions are not.
Any number of these insertions seem altogether unnecessary. Leviticus 18: 12 has your aunt put in to explain and clarify "your father's sister." Such minutia say a great about the revisers of BOY and what they thought of the intelligence of their prospective readers.
Sometimes additions play the part of a bible dictionary. Matthew 4: 25 shows such an example. "And a great multitude of people followed Him from Galilee, from Decapolis; the district of the ten cities east of the Sea of Galilee..."
Such additions as these and many, many more could have and should have been put in footnotes. Certainly BOY’s readers would have been better served if such had been the case.
Then there are BOY's changes for the sake of some pet teaching of the revisers. An example of this is in Acts 20: 7, usually translated as “On the first day of the week...” BOY, translated by Sabbath keepers, has "On one of the Sabbaths..." This was done so that Paul and the people at Troas would not be seen as meeting on the first day of the week, but on the seventh day.
The Book of Yahweh takes every opportunity to set the name of its sponsoring organization in the text. At Ephesians 2: 22 the substitution "The House of Yahweh" in place of "habitation of God" is made.
Conforming to The House of Yahweh teaching that a man may have plural wives, BOY at I Timothy 3: 2, has “... in unity as husband and wife” in place of “…the husband of one wife.”
The Book of Yahweh also goes far afield by cutting up and reassembling Paul's words to Timothy concerning eating meats. "Abstain from meats..." of I Timothy 4: 3 when put thorough BOY's grinder comes out as "Abstain from instruction." It is a neat magic trick. This sacred name bible performs it to our amazement.
Since The House of Yahweh does not accept Paul's teaching about the new covenant, BOY is compelled to accomplish some fancy twists and turns in the book of Hebrews. In the eighth chapter, verse seven, it is not the first and second covenants under consideration, it is the first and second priesthoods. Again in verse eight it is not a new covenant, but a “renewed covenant” Paul teaches. In verse nine, BOY quietly forgets to put in the negative "not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers" found in both the Greek of Paul and the Hebrew of Jeremiah whom Paul quotes. Compounding the destruction of these scriptures, verse ten adds the word "same" to teach against the idea of another covenant.
A crescendo of discord is reached at verse thirteen, the last in the chapter. "When he says; 'renew,' He has made the former: original, the first in importance; for that which is former, and grown old, is near to being done away."
The Book of Yahweh fails in its attempt to wrest Paul's words into enough convolutions to conform to The House of Yahweh's concept of no new covenant. The verse is distorted to such an extent as to make no sense at all when compared to Paul's original words. Neither does it clearly teach The House of Yahweh point of view.
One of the most blatant and horrendous additions ever made to the Scriptures is found at Zechariah 5: 5 - 11. The quote is given here just as it appeared in an early edition of BOY. In later editions, much of the spelling, misplaced words, spacing, and punctuation errors were edited out.
This quote is quite long, but is necessary to illustrate what Hawkins has done to these verses. Open your Bible and scan it as you read this quote from BOY.
"5 Then the malak who was speaking with me came forward, and said to me: Lift up your eyes now, and understand that which is sent by commandment.
6 And I asked: What is this? And he answered: This is the ephah; The Standard of Perfection, which is sent by Yahweh's Law. Then he added: This is honor, knowledge, and understanding throughout the whole earth.
7 And behold, the sum total of the heaviest cover; the deception and delusion, was taken. And there was the First Woman; The First Era of The House of Yahweh, established in the midst of ephah; The Standard of Perfection which is sent by Yahweh's Laws.
8 And this is the wickedness: And Satan overthrew the House of Yahweh within the midst of ephah; The Standard of Perfection sent by Yahweh's Laws – by casting the same weight of lead; cover of deception, against her mouth; successfully [sic] suppressing the Word of Yahweh (the Law and the Prophets).
9 Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold: Two women; The Last Two Eras of The House of Yahweh, sent with commandment. The Spirit of Yahweh came to overspread them; and they were covered with the covering of saints. And they exalted, magnified, and extolled the ephah; The Standard of Perfection sent by Yahweh's Laws, separatingthe [sic] of the world from the Way of Yahweh.
10 Then I said to the malak who was speaking with me: Where are they; The Two Witnesses, going with the ephah?
11 And he said to me: To build The House of Yahweh according to The Standard of Perfection sent by Yahweh's Laws, in a Babylonish [sic] land which does not yet exist. And it will be established at that time; when the Two Witnesses are called out to their work; as the Established Place; the Habitation of Yahweh; THE HOUSE OF YAHWEH."
In order to see the egotistical temerity of this man, Hawkins, please compare this horrible addition to the Scriptures with any other version of the Scriptures you may have. Such a pitifully contrived addition to the text could only have been done to accomplish a single goal – that of giving at least the semblance of credibility to Hawkins’ own establishment of the House of Yahweh in Abilene in 1980.
Of course, for the average Bible believer, such action took any and all credibility away from The House of Yahweh. But, perhaps the ardent HOY believers cheered at such an inspired correction of the God's Word.
With its many such changes and additions to comply with the needs of the book's creator, BOY is a defining study of Hawkins and his relationship to his idea of the real Creator. He takes liberties with the scriptures which make other sacred name bible revisers blush. He thinks he has authority greater than all who have gone before him.
The Book of Yahweh has followed the example of all sacred name bibles before it by changing the bible in order to have it conform to the needs of its sponsoring organization. Such revisions have nothing to so with the original text of Scripture. If Hawkins thinks the text is unclear, he clarifies it. If he thinks the text needs an explanation, he adds in words of explanation. If he doesn't like what the text says, he puts in something he does like. It is quite obvious this man thinks he has the authority to do what he will with God's Word.
For most people, extreme is too mild a word to describe this kind of action. But a strong disregard for what the Scriptures say and willingness to add to and change them is very much the mind set of all sacred name teachers. Whether they revise a bible or not, they are willing to revise it as they teach their doctrine. The doctrine demands it.
In the preface of BOY, Hawkins makes direct reference to his manipulation of scripture as "... the corrections Yahweh inspired to be written in his Book." This man actually thinks himself infused with inspiration and authority equal to the apostles and prophets. Some of his followers think his authority equals that of Jesus. He certainly adds, subtracts, or otherwise changes the text on the pretext that it has been corrupted by others throughout history.
The Book of Yahweh demonstrates the results of Hawkins' use of the assumed authority from God. The book is fairly a mockery of the Holy Scriptures.
What else can be said of The Book of Yahweh? It can only be seen, by anyone not under the control of Yisrayl Hawkins, as a perversion of the real Scriptures. It is a terrible attempt to satisfy the ego of one man.
One advertisement for BOY encourages its readers: “ORDER your COPY of this truly marvelous Translation, and BEGIN to enjoy the WORD OF YAHWEH as He inspired it to be written.” It is indeed to be viewed as a marvel, though not in the way the ad intended.
Other Sacred Name Movement leaders are right to turn away from The Book of Yahweh in disgust. It brings shame on its revisers, on its sponsoring organization, on the Sacred Name Movement generally, on the individual assemblies in particular, on the leaders of the movement, and even on the Creator whom it purports to honor. It is by no means an accurate version of the Scriptures. The word sacred cannot be connected with it. BOY redefines the word reproach.
Sacred name bibles are generally of little or no value to anyone seeking truth. The Book of Yahweh is the absolute worst of the lot. For all that, The Book of Yahweh is but the culmination of the process started by earlier sacred name bible revisers when they usurped a spiritual authority higher than the Scriptures. They sowed the wind, Hawkins has brought them the whirlwind.
1. The Book Of Yahweh, Seventh Edition, The House of Yahweh, Abilene, Texas, 1994.
2. Yisrayl Hawkins, The House of Yahweh Established, 70 page booklet, House of Yahweh, Abilene, Texas, 1988.
3. Watchman Fellowship Profile, House of Yahweh, Philip Arnn.
4. The Book of Yahweh, The Holy Scriptures, advertisement for and defense of the Book of Yahweh, www.yahweh.com/pages/bookad/boy.shtml
5. Personal letter, a former member of The House of Yahweh, unnamed to protect identity