A Jewish believer’s response to the new Mythology of Daniel Kikawa calling Io God
I was brought up Jewish, went to Hebrew school twice a week learning under the Rabbi and cantor. Though this is many years later, I have retained some of what I learned, still knowing the basics.
In 1994, I came across the claims of Daniel Kikawa in his book Perpetuated in Righteousness where he postulated a number of theories. One, that the Hawaiians may have come from two migrations in the Middle East: the Hebrews in the exodus. The other is that they knew God, the Hebrew God who is called by Io.
We interviewed Kikawa for over an hour and a half the first time at the home of my co-partner in ministry, David -Alan. In our first interview with him, we discussed and asked numerous questions to be sure of what he was saying. Later on in the interview, we began to challenge his assertions. This is a portion of that interview that is pertinent to the topic of “God’s” name being Io.
Daniel Kikawa: “Until I read Eternity in Their Hearts, I would have thought this was all sacrilege”
David -Alan: Don Richardson.
Daniel Kikawa: “It’s that book, actually, that opened my mind. Because we don’t realize we see things in such a view from our culture and what we learned. And um, for instance, if I say let’s pray , y’know, to um, to Jesus Christ and the, and the y’know the Father, Io, y’know you might go, whoa, I pray to Io and Jesus Christ. but you see, that’s a lot of, that is your perception of that, y’know, because you would feel real comfortable saying Jehovah, Jehovah jiri, Jehovah nissi, all those things. Jehovah is a made up name, y’know it’s not even the name of God. It’s like man saying to God, ok, you got no vowels in your name. I’m gonna put in these vowels, and we’re gonna call you this, y’know. If I were God, I would be more upset at that but Io is the true name of God, and the Hebrews used it.”
Mike Oppenheimer: Io, the Hebrews used it? We’ll have to talk about that. I never heard of that.
Daniel Kikawa: I’ll show you. You got your Strong’s?… Well let me just read this and you can look it up in the Strong’s and the Old Testament Workbook. Actually, the Old Testament Workbook goes more on into it.
David -Alan: I got a Strong’s right here.
Daniel Kikawa: Ok, if you look up the name of Joel, ok, theres no J in Hebrew.
Mike Oppenheimer: It’s Y.
Daniel Kikawa: Yeah it’s Y, so its Io, and yo is Io, or yo, or slave is God, Yahweh, short for Yahweh. If you go to the Old Testament word book, the yo, or the Io sound that’s what an actual name they called, a short name for God and it’s in the Strong’s too. You can go look at that.
It is ironic that he uses the example of vowels being put in God’s name to make up a name, because that is exactly what HE DID with Io. What we can be certain of is that Io cannot be the name of God in Hebrew. First: “I” and “o” are both vowels in Hebrew, not letters. No matter how Kikawa wants to apply the pronunciation to another language they are not the same. How do 2 vowels become the 4 letters of YHWH, which begins in Y?
But he is also saying this is Hebrew. It’s not just the name being pronounced but also the meaning of the name. And YHWH does not mean supreme being.
Daniel Kikawa: Yeah and even if you look under this guy Renan whose not a Christian, he says that they used to call him Io. So in other words Io is the short name for Yahweh.
Mike Oppenheimer: How do you get Io from yo?
Daniel Kikawa: Both of those books, if you say yo, is the same things as, in other words yo is like Io, y‘know what I mean. If you say it, it’s the same.
Mike Oppenheimer: Well it might sound the same, but in the Hebrew letters, it’s not the same.
Daniel Kikawa: Um.
Mike Oppenheimer: One of things I’m looking at in your book and having a hard time with is you have sound assimilation, but in the Hebrew letters, they are different.
Mike Oppenheimer: For instance if you use the wording for hawa and one you have, to be, to become to exist, and then you have the other one about having life, remaining alive and one your saying that Eve was from the root Haya, but actually in the Hebrew lettering, they’re two different roots, they’re two different letters, there as much as a different letter as A and B even though they may sound similar they are pronounced Haya and chayah, two totally different letters.
Daniel: Well put it this way, they come from the same root, and if…
Mike- They don’t. I can show you that right here, because I looked it up. This is one root, you can’t hardly see it in the lettering but the lettering is different and that’s because there’s a little space cut out in the Hebrew lettering that makes it a different root, a different letter.
Daniel : Ok, you see they talk about havah here and hawa as different parts of the same. Um y‘know what I mean…
Mike- Yeah. In that one, but here’s the other word that you are using in the Theological Workbook. I wanted to ask you about this because I know a bit of Hebrew and talked to someone about the Hebrew and he’s saying that those are two completely different root words. They sound similar, but the first letter is a different letter. So that’s why I’m saying they’re not from the same root.
Daniel : Ok, that’s not what I have gotten, you see this.
Mike: Well; maybe you can look into it a bit more and see what I’m saying…
Daniel Kikawa: I did talk with somebody who’s a linguist, and did teach Hebrew, and I asked him about that
David-Alan: What’s that’s person’s name:
Daniel Kikawa: [silence]
David-Alan: Is that’s somebody from the International Bible college.
Mike: Because a lot of times even in English, words can sound the same but different letters are being used.
Daniel: In other words, see, what I’m trying to say with this, is that if you look back at the, the root of where these different words came from, I guess I would have to really look through this but I did look at this very carefully before I put it down, I’ll have to look through it again to put it together.
Mike: Yeah, because when I looked it up, the Hebrew root hayah means to be is the origin of God’s name YHVH which is right, means self existing one; the other one which is the root chayah to live and to have life, one letter is the He and the other is a chet – so they are two different letters.”
And so we continued to go back and forth numerous times for several minutes on this, Daniel Kikawa did not want to believe this was a different root. The reason: his whole theory of the name “Io” basically rests on this.
This linguist he spoke with was from the University of the Nations (YWAM) where he was taught. The teachers come in for several days to a week to stay and teach (according to the representative I spoke to on the phone). How he could learn Hebrew to distinguish these letters in this short a time is questionable. We are still trying to speak to the person he claimed he learned this from; University of the Nations did not recall anyone of this name (which I will withhold).
Even after my conversation, he continued to print the same in his 4th edition.The reason is that his whole assumption is based on sound assimilation and even though I showed him to be wrong in the Hebrew, he would not correct his hypothesis but instead cemented it.
“If we follow Renan's theory, this name, Yahwah, may have anciently signified " `lo or Yah, the God or life giver of Hawa," the first woman. De Vaux says in The Early History of Israel, "Io (the divine name) is used in the Bible almost always in the long form of Yahweh but, sometimes in poetry and in the liturgical acclamation haleluyah in the short form of Yah. " This may be why the holy name is shortened to Y'ho, Yo, or Y at the beginning of proper names, such as Joseph; and Yah or Yahu at the end of names, such as Elijah; but is never shortened as Hawa.
[De Vaux, a French Dominican priest, is quoted 4 time in Kikawa’s book examines the origins and meaning of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH), De Vaux finds no clear-cut evidence for the use of this divine name outside Israel prior to Moses.]
“If Renan is correct, the holy name is similar to the name of the first woman in Maori lore `lowahine, signifying, "the woman of `lo." Renan also believed that the words Yahweh and Eve were derivatives of the same root word, Hawa (pronounced Hawah). Eve, in the Aramaic, is Hawa. 236 Therefore, the Moslems call the first woman Hawa. Eve in the Phoenician records is called Havath. How Hawah came to be pronounced Eve is as strange as Yahweh becoming Jehovah in western dialect!(p.131 Perpetuated in Righteosuness)
Kikawa writes: “In the Hebrew, the word hawa, the second part of Yahwah, and the word for Eve are two distinct words. Eve is pronounced with the hard "h,” Khawa. Although hawa and khawa have been formalized into two different words in the Hebrew, Renan states that "the distinction between those two articulations scarcely existed before the invention of writing. " Abraham spoke Chaldee. A precursor to written Hebrew was only beginning around 1400 B.C., some 750 years after Abraham. The word hawa, whether written with a soft or hard "h,” has the same meaning in the Aramaic - the breath of life." Also, Eve in the Aramaic and Phoenician is pronounced with the soft "h" the same as in Yahwah.
Hawa and khawa being formally one root word, Hawa (HWH), would explain why there are some very interesting meanings for hawa. The following are some of the meanings of hawa: to live, exist, to be, to breathe"o; fall, evil desire, ruin, calamity, perverse, mischief, iniquity, lust, covet, wickedness, disaster, greedy, crave” (p.132 Perpetuated in Righteousness) underline mine.
Along with Renan, Kikawa is referring to the Harris Theological wordbook.
Let me refer to an actual Hebrew scholar, Dr. Fructhenbaum, who refutes Renan and Kikawa?
“The author's inability to deal with the Hebrew language, or even to correctly use the Theological Word Book of the Old Testament correctly certainly comes out in these pages. Frankly, he confuses two Hebrew words altogether because he does not know how to differentiate two different Hebrew letters that have a similarity in sound and look. God's name comes from a Hebrew root which is hayah, which means "to be," and is the origin of God's name, YHVH, which has the meaning of "the self-existing one." Another Hebrew word has the, root, chayah, which means "to live, to have life." Because the author is not able to distinguish between the Hebrew letter he and the Hebrew letter chet, he makes a very bad error. He makes the terrible assumption that the name of God, YHVH, and the name of the first woman, Eve, come from the same root. That is simply incorrect. The name of God comes from the root hayah and the Hebrew name for Eve comes from the root chayah. These are two different roots that must not be confused. When the author claims that the name "Yahwah could have anciently signified 'Io, the God or life-giver of Hawa, the first woman," is the most absurd reading of the Hebrew text I have ever come across, or at least close to it. This is a mistake that even a first year Hebrew student, taking Hebrew 101, would not make. When the author says, "This meaning to the word Yahwah is given further weight when we consider that the words Yahwah and Eve are derivatives of the same root word, Hawa," would make any Hebrew teacher burst out laughing. The author needs to take Hebrew 101 and avoid such basic errors. That is simply incorrect, and although he quotes from the Theological Word Book of the Old Testament, he is not understanding his own source material. These authors are giving the various meanings of the two different Hebrew roots, but the author of the book has assumed it is all one root and, therefore, drew extremely false conclusions due to a faulty knowledge of Hebrew toots and a faulty way of reading what is in itself a very good source book. I am enclosing the necessary pages for evidence.”
On p. 132 quoting both Harris, et al., Theological Wordbook, vol. 1, p. 211 and Renan, History of the People of Israel, vol. 1, p. 69 “Jehovah in western dialect! This rendition may have come from the first person of the verb hawa pronounced ehyeh or the base for another version of Yahweh spelled leye.”
Once again his researched is flawed as Dr. Fructhenbaum comments:
“The author claims that "Jehovah" is the western name for 'Io. First of all, that is not a western name, but an eastern name, since that is the name that arose out of the four-lettered name of God in the Hebrew Bible. But, secondly, can someone who has an expertise in linguistics be used to verify that 'Io is a direct Hawaiian equivalent for YHVH? It might be true; but what I am saying is that the author fails to produce the necessary linguistic evidence for such a conclusion.”
We are seeing that possibility of Io diminishing greatly, and, is soon to vanish.
Renan in his book states: “the supreme being, may have been called Iahwa. This name was more especially used when speaking of the god who presided over the greatest of nature's phenomena, the thunder. The Semite herdsmen, it seems, were much struck by this, and came to regard Iahoua as synonymous with El or Elohim…
“The holy name became contracted into lahou or Io, and was, shortened to Iah. But the Mesa inscription, which dates from about 875 bc., p.70) [Yet we have no proof of this in the Bible, Moses wrote the name from 1,500 BC.]
He goes on to say “that it is also very possible that Iahveh was the local god of Sinai or the provincial god of Palestine. Of all the obscure questions in these ancient histories, this assuredly is the most hopeless. These proper names of Iahveh, of Chemosh, which the SyroArabian peoples gave to their supreme god, are quite an insoluble problem. My opinion is that the patriarchal elohim is to be regarded as anterior and superior to Iahveism.”
So does Renan say what Kikawa has quoted? No, he does not. Kikawa has reinterpreted his “maybe” statements.
“In the book, History of the People of Israel, Vol. l. Ernest Renan states in the chapter The Name of lahveh Yahweh, Jehovah), that this holy name became contracted Into lahou or lo! 50 Renan was not a Christian nor did he have any knowledge of Polynesian Religion. The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament confirms Renan, saying that name of Yahweh was shortened to yho and yo when used names." This shortened name for the One True God is used m names like: Joel (loel) - 'lo (Yahweh) is God, Jonathan (ionathan)- ‘Io (Yahweh) has given and Joshua (Y’shua, Ioshua, Jesus- Greek)- ‘Io (Yahweh) saved. The Yo or Jo sound can only be pronounced in Hawaiian as “Io.” (p.65-66, Perpetuated in Righteousness 4th ed.)
Renan was not only not a Christian but a Catholic.He did not believe the Bible to be inspired. Through the study of German theology, historical criticism, and Semitic languages he doubted the truth of Christianity which led him in 1845 to leave the seminary. His dislike for the Jews comes through clearly in his writings. It’s hard to believe that someone doing research for evangelism would actually want to quote this book because the author is so ignorant and filled with disbelief. Here is a quote from Renan “Not separating the fate of humanity from that of their little race, the Jewish thinkers were the first who sought to discover a general theory of the progress of our species.” “The Jew, on the contrary, thanks to a sort of prophetic sense, has made history enter into religion. Possibly he owes a little of this spirit to Persia, which, from an ancient date, conceived the history of the world as a series of evolutions, over which a prophet presided.”
Therefore, neither Judaism nor Christianity will be eternal. If mankind returns to superstitions, it will not be to these. Judaism and Christianity will both disappear. The work of the Jew will have its end”(p.361)
Everyone should take the time to read some of these comments by Renan to understand the sources Kikawa is using to promulgate his universal God theory. (other quotes of Ernest Renan)
This is whom the theory of the name Io rests on, Renan. With this type of caliber of people Kikawa quotes it's not surprising how he comes to such wrong conclusions. (adjusting this for another book edition will not hide the fact of what he based this on from the beginning).
The claims Kikawa has made are dubious and no linguist that knows his etymology would make this mistake with the Hebrew language, Renan included. The Theological Workbook of the Old Testament does NOT confirm what Renan claims.
Hebrew scholar Dr. Fruchtenbaum comments on Kikawa’s statements: “The author's lack of knowledge of the Hebrew languages is rather clearly here. The author is misreading the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament when he claims that it confirms Renan who says that Yahweh was shortened to yho. Enclosed is a copy of the paper he cites (210) and you will notice there is no such inference.”
Kikawa refers to Renan, which is a terrible source to depend on for Linguistic and history, but this is his basis for interpreting the Hebrew to “Io” in Hawaiian. First, we need to understand that the Scripture is inspired by God the Holy Spirit, written through men in Hebrew and Greek. This particular point written by Moses, he was giving to man (Israel) what is accurately delivered from the Lord. So any clever manipulation to fudge on this issue can’t be right.
Renan is quoted by Catholic Online on the word “Elohim,” (Histoire du peuple d'Israel, I, p. 30) the Semites believed that the world is surrounded, penetrated, and governed by the Elohim, myriads of active beings, analogous to the spirits of the savages, alive, but somehow inseparable from one another, not even distinguished by their proper names as the gods of the Aryans, so that they can be considered as a confused totality. http://www.catholic.org/encyclopedia/view.php?id=4244
This is not what the Bible says on the name Elohim.
But Renan further states: “The religious progress of Israel will be found to consist in reverting from Iahveh to Elohim, in modifying Iahveh, and in stripping him of his personal attributes and leaving him only the abstract existence of Elohim. Iahveh is a special god, the god of a human family and of a country; as such he is neither better nor worse than the other protecting deities. Elohim is the universal Gods, the God of-the human race. In reality it is Elohim and not to Iahveh that the world has been converted. The world has become deist, that is to say elohist, and not iahveist” (pp.71-72 History of the people of Israel Vol.1) [emphasis mine].
Renan went on to say “Neither Christianity nor Islamism know Iahveh. It is a word entirely eliminated from pious use; it is the name of a barbarian and foreign god” p.72 [emphasis mine] (see 2 Kings 5:18 about Rimmon).
So when Kikawa claims that Renan or the Theological Workbook say” The Name of lahveh (Yahweh, Jehovah), that this holy name became contracted into lahou or Io, it does NOT.”
So Renan himself does not agree that Io is Yahweh. He certainly was not coming from a Christian view point. Renan's History of' the people of Israel, as follows: "It is very possible that the long history of religion which, starting from the nomad's tent, has resulted in Christianity or Islamism, derives from primitive Assyria. or Arcadian Assyria, as it is called, another element of capital importance-that is, the name of Iahoue or Iahveh."
In his book on p.57 Kikawa presents, “There is another reason little is known about 'Io; the name of this God of the Polynesians was too sacred to be mentioned openly. This was also true of the Israelites' God, Yahweh. This is why the Israelites also called their God by periphrases, like Elohim (God Almighty) or Adonai (Lord) is not unusual. … The Polynesian authority, E. Handy, says that it is doubtful that the common folk were even allowed to know the true name of the Supreme Being." [Just a note, that in ancient cultures the greater god had more power, so to hide his name is not necessarily about reverence but about strength and control for one self.]
Judaism reverences the name of God, which is what is known as the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) (yod) ה (heh) ו (vav) ה (heh) or יהוה (YHWH). It is the ineffable name of God and is not read aloud. Jews have avoided pronouncing the divine name to avoid being guilty of taking His name in vain. When the Scripture is read, it is more often replaced with Adonai ("my Lord"), or Hashem (the Name). The Hebrew language had only consonants with no vowels in the original text. The Masoretes (approx. around 900 A.D.) created the vowel additions. The Jewish scribes added the vowel points resulting in Yahowah. Most scholars lean toward Yahweh (YHWH) as the correct form; no one considers the name Io. (This has become a problem as shoddy translators put the name of the cultures God into the Bible of the people group they are trying to reach.)
In Israel, they all knew the name of God; they could read it but they did not pronounce it out loud. For example in his confrontation with the priests of Baal (1 Kings 18:24) Elijah says, “Then you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD” [YHWH].
In fact, one must call on the Lord’s name to be saved Acts 2:21: “That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.' Peter is quoting the Old Testament, Joel 2:32, the God of Israel. And Paul writes in Romans 10:11-15 “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved." Kikawa and the other Hawaiian ecumenists say call on Io (along with the other names of another cultures supreme god). Our New Testament says to call on y’shua in the Hebrew, Iyesou in Greek, Jesus in our English transliteration. We are not told to call on an ancient god of another people. No matter how you explain it, Io does not equal “I am that I am” (YHWH).
In Hawaiian, the generic word for god is pronounced Akua. The Hawaiian alphabet consists of 13 letters – five vowels and eight consonants. The Hebrew has 22 letters with no vowels. The vowels are added for pronunciation in the Masoretic text, these are grouped dot[s] and dashes.
The English Joshua in Hebrew is Y'HOSHUA; Jesus is Y'SHUA. Hebrew is written from right to left.
The Y is pronounced as "Y" as in "you,” not Y as in "I" or "E.” Kikawa is doing sound assimilation with words. Transliteration by meaning is not the same as sound assimilation.
The Hawaiians are believed to have migrated from southern Marquesas Islands, an archipelago, about 2,500 miles around 400 A.D. (no they are not from Israel as Kikawa had claimed) These travelers brought with them their culture, their language, and their gods. The Hawaiian language belongs to a family of languages from central and eastern Polynesia. Hawaiian is more closely linked to the Marquesan language than to any other Polynesianlanguage or dialect. Some include Tahitian, Tumotuan, Rarotongan and Maori.
Hawaiian was strictly an oral language. In 1778, Capt. Cook and his men recorded the Hawaiian language for the first time. They noticed that the language was similar to Tahitian and Maori. When the first missionaries arrived in 1820, they converted the oral Hawaiian language to a written form so that they were able to convey the messages of the Bible to the Hawaiian people. Six years later a Hawaiian alphabet was created. These missionaries were untrained in linguistics, and did the best they could. They were unable to distinguish between many of the sounds in the Hawaiian language. They could not distinguish between t and k, l and r, or b and p. the alphabet for the Hawaiian language consisted of just 12 letters found in the English alphabet. The new alphabet consisted of the 5 vowels of English, a, e, i, o and u, and the consonants h, k, l, m, n, p and wand ' (which is called a glottle stop, used in literal Hawaiian words). A consonant is always followed by a vowel as Hawaiian words end in a vowel.
They were then able to teach the Hawaiians to read and write the language as they translated the Bible into Hawaiian.
The phonetic translations are done based on the sounds the name makes when said in the Hawaiian alphabet and word structure. Because there are only 12 letters in the Hawaiian language, there are many names, which sound similar and have the same phonetic translation but are not the same in meaning.
For an example Kikawa states that the Maori word "Uru-nui" is the same as the Ur of the Chaldees. All from the similarity of a one syllable sound. Also, the words "Saveh" to be "Shaveh." two-syllable sounds of similarity do not mean sameness. In the Hebrew an “s” and sh” would be different words. For example, with the shin ש, depending on where a dot (vowel) is placed on the upper left or right will give it a “s” or “sh” sound. A near sounding word does not mean sameness or is equivalent.
Examples in English: sun - son. Tow – toe, they sound the same but have very different meanings.
I have written extensively on this concept of word assimilation in other articles that address Kikawa’s universal religious culture theory.
There is resurgence of this almost forgotten language of Hawaiian along with its ancient culture in Hawaii. Aloha Ke akua (the name of Kikawa’s ministry) claim that the Hawaiians knew the true God before the missionaries came, Io. He is using a culture’s god’s name in Hawaiian and says that it is Hebrew. Maybe he should change his ministry’s name to aloha ke Io to accurately support his theory.
Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum has stated: “Hawaiian is never classed as a Semitic language. It is certainly valid to use other Semitic languages, like Arabic, Akkadian, Ugaritic, and others, to help enlighten the meaning of a Hebrew text, since that, too, comes from a Semitic root. But to use a Hawaiian legend to shed light on a biblical passage is simply putting the priority into the wrong place.”
Some call Daniel Kikawa a historian and Scholar; but from our research, he has reinterpreted the statements of Hawaiian history from just a few Christian researchers (many Catholics, Anglicans and many who are not so scholarly, even unbelievers). He has reinterpreted the cultures into a pseudo Christian doctrine, not a match made in heaven.
I find it disturbing that this has gotten so much mileage. My concern that needs to be understood by the Christian church is that there is a revision of history taking place - mainly from the advertising of Daniel Kikawa. You have ministries like YWAM, influences from men like Dan Chun, and Wayne Cordeiro fully endorsing this absurd theorist. Wayne Cordeiro, on his program “Connecting Point,” states: “With us today is respected scholar Daniel Kikawa and Kawika Kawiapo, two of the founders of Aloha Ke Akua Ministries.”
Co host Kim: “They will tell us what they believe is evidence that the earliest Hawaiians worshiped the God of the Bible.” At the end of his interview, Cordeiro wishes them the very best as “we continue to educate people of the true origins of faith in Hawaii.” (2005, video on file) full transcript of interview on line.
Is it the true origins? Many have been convinced without ever checking it out thoroughly. As a pastor Cordeiro should have done this before endorsing it. We have. This is a travesty because Daniel Kikawa is not a scholar; he’s not a historian, and I’m not sure if he understands Bible doctrine, i.e. the Christian distinctive on the nature of God as he constantly refers to gods (plural) in other religions relating to God (one).
As we go further, we will see how absurd this whole theory is and where the Christian church is being taken if it allows itself to practice this instead of speaking out on this.