It has been said that the Jewish sages associated the covenant name of God, Yahweh, with breath. The idea is that the name itself, when pronounced, is the sound of breathing: the two syllables of the name correspond to the intake and outtake of a single breath. In this way, the theory goes, our breaths evoke the name of God. A naturally voiced inhalation sounds like “Yah,” and a voiced exhalation sounds like “Weh.” Thus, with every breath we take, we are speaking God’s name. He breathed into us the breath of life (Genesis 2:7), and we still retain that breath.
According to the view that with every breath we say the name of Yahweh, we constantly have God’s name on our lips. Consciously or unconsciously, speaking the name of God is the one thing we do every minute of our lives. “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10). “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
When the natural act of breathing is viewed in this light, the name of God is everywhere. Atheists and agnostics acknowledge Him constantly. A baby’s first cry is a calling out to God. The sighs of a sufferer are wordless appeals to the God who hears. And when we cease speaking God’s name, we die.
The breath that Yahweh breathed into Adam’s nostrils gave him life and set the course for the whole human race to speak of God when respiring (Genesis 2:7). When Jesus breathed on His disciples, imparting peace, forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit all at once, He was, in effect, speaking God’s name (John 20:21–23). In our quietest moments, in the ease and constancy of breathing, we are reminded of God’s life and presence.
While it is an interesting thought, the idea that every breath forms the name Yahweh is not found in the Bible. The theory is the domain of Jewish mysticism. However, it is true that life is a gift from God. Every moment we live should be dedicated to the glory of God, and we should constantly acknowledge our dependence on Him. Yahweh deserves to be praised with our every breath.