Aramaic scholar and author, Andrew Gabriel Roth explains:
To begin with, I don't even like the term "God" or "LORD" so my criticism is even deeper towards the JWs than their fellow Christians who are simply trading one false title for another. Elohim has ONE NAME and many titles. That one name is YAHWEH, or in simplified form YAH (halel-u-YAH). YHWH means "He is", so that's what we say when we pray, we call on the Elohim, ther true one, He Who Exists. When YHWH talks to Himself, it is I AM (Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh). Let me give you a bit of a history lesson then.
As the Torah developed, YHWH allowed certain Hebrew TITLES to be used to designate Him, even though other cultures used these terms for their gods. These secondary appelations are El, Eloah, Elohim, El-Shaddai, Adon/Adonai, etc. These titles get a pass ONLY because YHWH directly gave permission. Otherwise, our English stuff is SHAV (desolate) and comes under ban because YHWH said He accepts no substitutes: I am YHWH, that is My Name and I will not give my glory to another nor my praise to idols, says Isaiah 42:9-10.
More time goes by, and the Northern Kingdom tends to favor "Elohim" whereas the South continues with "YHWH". Guess which kingdom was blessed? The SOUTH! I wonder why since in other respects they both lapsed into paganism and the like. The lesson is clear, YOU MUST USE YHWH SOME OF THE TIME OR YOU ARE AT RISK. So I take a moderate view. I don't claim everyone who uses common names is damned. Rather I say to never honor the Creator in the way He says is arrogant and can be held against you. Some sins are easier to avoid than others, so why not just put this easy one in the win column? For people who sometimes claim we don't know how the Name is pronounced, I say bull. Beyond that, they can always say YAH because that was never under the ban and the pronunciation there has never been disputed. You pray in either Name and you will feel the difference, I promise you. Yes you can still be blessed either way, but this is a more certain way.
Moving on, after the return from Babylon, the synagogue system began to be set up. Sometime after Ezra but before Y'shua the rabbis decided to ban the use of the Name in the Temple, but allowed it locally. When the Temple was destroyed, the ban became universal.
Now why did they do this? Well it had to do with the process of "protecting" Torah in oral tradition. We call these measure SYAG in Aramaic, meaning "fence". The intention is that if we put in an extra rule around the rule we want to protect, the keeping of the new rule will minimize the chance of breaking the real one.
Unfortunately, history shows this doesn't work. Look at Eve. She is the first "rabbi" in a way because she invented the first fence. In Genesis, Eve is only told not to EAT the forbidden fruit, 'for if you do, you shall surely die". But when relating the command--the Torah if you will--to the serpent, what does she say? She says she should not TOUCH OR EAT the fruit, lest she die. Her fence becomes part of her normal understanding of the command. As a result, when she does touch the fruit and doesn't die, the serpent can convince her that the fruit is safe! But YHWH never said not to touch the fruit, so touching means nothing, and because she broke the INNER command by eating it, guess what? She died! The rabbis do this a lot too.
In the case of the ban, the rabbis looked at an incident in Leviticus where someone was struck dead for CURSING in the name of YHWH. Cursing is clearly a violation of the commandments. The rabbis then reasoned if you don't SPEAK the name you can't CURSE in it.
But like Eve, their SYAG didn't work. Why? Because, in order to avoid SPEAKING the Name they had to SUBSTITUTE the Name, and substituting the Name is a violation of the THIRD COMMANDMENT. What most view as, "don't take the Name in VAIN" is actually SHAV, and SHAV means, "to substitute, make desolate, drain of power". So in trying to "protect" one commandment, they violated another equally important one. Is it any wonder then that Messiah was so critical of Oral Law (You have heard that it was SAID, but I SAY to you)?
Oh, and there are also 300 separate commands to shout, laud, praise, sing, play on instruments IN THE NAME OF YAHWEH.
So this tradition carries forward into the Middle Ages, and starting in the year 500 or so the Masoretes begin putting the standard text together from all the ancient versions. They agree on standard pronunciation as well, and they want to avoid pronouncing YAHWEH. By about the year 1000 their system, the system used by Jewry today, is in place. From this point on no changes to any part of the Torah can happen. It will be chanted, sung and read identically forever.
But they began changing the text and they ADMIT it. They changed many references to YHWH into Adonai (134 in all, and they tell us where they did it, an honesty not shared by their Christian counterparts when they changed their texts). And after those changes, they decided to POINT (add vowels) to all the words in the Torah and MISLEAD their readers on how to pronounce the Name. Again, they SAY they did this. And so, they took the four letters of YHWH (yodh-hey-waw-hey) and ADDED vowels for "adonai" to throw the reader off. The result:
YAY-HOE-VAH (the sixth letter was originally a W but later sound changed to a V).
Isn't it interesting then that Christians would defend this Jewish practice but call them wrong on everything else??? Interesting what happens due to political expediency.
So into this mix come the Protestants and later the JWs. They pick this tradition up and then the letter J is invented in 1600, just in time for the KJV. They take out the Y and put in the J, and now you have JEHOVAH, a totally false concoction based on a false tradition, based on a bad scriptural artifice.
Because of these things, the use of JEHOVAH is a mistake masquerading as piety. JWs think they are being more righteous than others because they know "God" needs a name and they provide it. But actually, they are WORSE off because most know "God" is not a name anyway, yet the JWs are substuting JEHOVAH for YHWH. You know who else does this? The Muslims, with ALLAH, which is at best a title corrupted into Arabic. The Jews at least still know the Name but just don't say it. The JWs and the Muslims act like their name is the only one in the game. That's a much more grievous sin.