Israel God Names

rock art Names of Israel God

Rock Art and Israel God name YH.

The earliest engraved forms of Israel God’s name found in the Negev Desert include names such as YH-יה,  YHH-יהה, all variations of the Hebrew root word YH-יה.  The Hebrew script and its precursor, the Proto-Sinaic Alphabet, invented by Semites working in the Egyptian mines in the Sinai desert at Sarabit-el-Haddam dated 1900B C. Due to its simplicity, it popularized throughout the ancient world and many ancient nations, Canaan, Phoenicia, Greece, adopted its concept that later became the base of all alphabets in the world. With the script emergence, we see its utilization in Israel proper and in the Negev desert.

Numerous rock art panels have been identified in the Negev Desert with affinity to Israelite god name including engraving such as “EI YH“, YAHU” and “YHH” (Fig.1).  Some god names contain a mix of Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite script which shows that they were engraved during the script transition period. The content suggests that these people that engraved the god name YAH observed a covenant with the regions’ god in this area and time period.

israel god name UH negev desert rock art

Fig1 Engraving of Israel god names YAH-יה from Negev Desert, Israel

The Negev Desert script engraving used as a plea to god by engraving its name and sometimes utilized short inscriptions. Examples found in the Negev Desert contain the engraving of God name YAH, EL  and inscriptions that glorify god, such as (Fig.2): “YAH grow and multiply” or “To YAH the son of the Sun” (a copy of Egyptian blessing to Pharoh equating him to YH). These engravings found on Negev rock art are among the most ancient examples of Israel god’s name.

inscriptions with god name negev desert rock art

Fig.2  YH inscriptions from the Negev Desert rock art.   Left – YAH grow and multiply. Right -To YAH the son of the Sun

Biblical Negev Desert Nations 

We don’t know who used this alphabet but we can deduce it from the nations who lived in the Negev Desert region these inscriptions were found.  They are all from the region of Midian the Shasu tribe encampment. The Bible enumerates the Negev Desert nations and all related to Abraham, Fig.3. The Midianites are descendants of Midian, Abraham’s son. The Edomites are descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. The Ammonites and Moabites are descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Ishmaelites are descendants of Ishmael, Abraham’s son. All Negev Desert nations  Fig.2 descended from the same father and belong to the same tribe. In ancient times each nation had its unique protecting god; he was the ruler of gods and men alike. In Egypt, the deity’s name was Ra and in Mesopotamia, it was Ea, in Canaan- El, in Edom –Kos, in Ammon –Malcham, in Moab –Kamush, in Aram–Haddad and in Phoenicia and Ugarit –Baal, in Midian – Yahu.

Shasu Map

Fig.3  Shasu Land and neighboring kingdoms.

Shasu Yahu People in the Negev Desert

The Egyptian records, dating from the 18th Dynasty (1550–1295 BC), describe the people living in the Negev Desert area as the Shasu-Yahu. Such notation was a common way to identify a tribe stating its name and its dwelling location.  YAHU found in modern Israeli names, such as Ishayahu and Eliyahu.

The geographical list of Pharaoh AmenhotepIII, the eighteenth dynasty 1379-1417 BC, found in Nubian temple describes the Shasu as scattered tribes in the wilderness of Faran, Edom, Midian, and Kushan. According to Egyptian records, the Shasu encampment includes,  see Fig.1, the ‘hill country of Seir’ in South Canaan and the country of Yahu. Records from the memorial tomb of Ramses II (1213-1303 BC) describe that he robbed Shasu land and conquered Mount Seir. Ramses III, the nineteenth dynasty (1154-1186 BC), announced that he conquered Seir and destroyed the tribes of Shasu.

Israel God name YH in Negev Desert rock art

The Alphabet found in the Negev Desert differs from the original Proto Sinaic Alphabet. It is a variation that perhaps traveled through the Negev Desert and established itself as a local Alphabet, refers by some as Old Negev. Another possibility is an adaption of the Proto Canaanite script which changed from the Proto-Sinaic Iconic alphabet, into recognizable alphabet letters. The Proto-Canaanite alphabet is not widespread and only 50 short inscriptions have been discovered in Sinai and Israel. Their dating is quite uncertain, ranging from 1700 B.C. to 1050 B.C. To decipher the names of god we will show only the changes, from the Proto-Sinaic script,  in the letters, YHיה  that comprise the god name.  Fig.4 shows the letters Y and H transformation from the Proto-Sinaic to the Old Negev script.

YAH letters transformation

Fig.4 Y and H transformation in Israel god’s name

A very interesting engraving is shown in Fig.5 which shows a mix of Proto-Sinaitic and Proto-Canaanite alphabet showing the letters transition state. In this engraving, a massebah from Faran Desert,  the letters are a mix of Y with H, which together spell the name of god YH.

yah god name

Fig.5 Massebah from Faran desert with engraved god name YH.


The God’s name YH  found in Negev Desert rock art signifies the dwelling region of people worshipping this god. According to the Bible Israel God always appeared from the south:  “went out of Seir and “marched out of Edom (Judges 5:4-5),  an area ranging from Sinai across the Negev Desert. It is the oldest written Israel God name, evidence unambiguous and easy deciphered, engraved forever on Negev Desert rocks!  They are found only in the Negev Desert, in the Midianite tribe territory.  Does it mean: that Israel originated from the Negev Desert?


More deciphering, in a new book Rock Art in Israel, available online.

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References:    cryptcracker ,  byu.edu

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