The Name of God

 And he said, “Because I am with you, and this will be the sign for you that I myself have sent you: When you bring the people out from Egypt, you will serve God on this mountain.” But Moses said to God, “Look, if I go to the Israelites and I say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is his name?’ then what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “I am that I am.” And he said, “So you must say to the Israelites, ‘I am sent me to you.’ ”15 And God said again to Moses, “So you must say to the Israelites, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my remembrance from generation to generation.’

Exodus 3:12–15 (LEB)

A controversy that has arisen, due to the phenomenon of many people returning to the word of God and believing that it still applies to our life today, is the subject of God’s name. People are realizing that the Creator has a name and it has been obfuscated for at least the last two thousand years.

Christians have been given the substitution of “LORD” for what is called the tetragrammaton. The tetragrammaton is the Greek term coined for the name God gave Moses at the burning bush incident to tell the people when they ask, “What is His name?”. In the religion of Judaism, it is forbidden to try to pronounce the name. Many of those in the messianic community have also carried this tradition into their faith. They are given the substitution of “Hashem”, which means “the name” and “Adonai” which means “Lord”. Both Christianity and Judaism use substitutions for the name spelled “Yud Heh Waw Heh”, in the Hebrew language. This is the name that the Creator told Moses to tell the people, and that it was His name forever.

Exodus 3:14 (LEB)

14 And God said to Moses, “I am that I am.” And he said, “So you must say to the Israelites, ‘I am sent me to you.’ ”

If we look at the phrase “I am that I am”, it uses the first person imperfect tense with the verb “to exist”. “eheyeh asher eheyeh”. The letter “Aleph” is used for the first person “I exist”. Then God tells Moses to use the third person imperfect with a “Yud” in front of the verb “to exist”. This is where we get “Yud Heh Waw Heh”. Some places in scripture only use “Yah” or “Yud Heh” when referring to the Creator.

Psalm 150:1–6 (LEB): 150 Praise Yah. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament. Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to the abundance of his greatness. Praise him with blast of horn; praise him with harp and lyre. Praise him with tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flute. Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with clashing cymbals. Every breathing thing, let it praise Yah. Praise Yah.

There are people obsessed with belittling other people who want to know the name of God by calling them “sacred namers”. On the other hand, there are people who insist the name of God must be pronounced a certain way. I have heard the argument that there are no vowel points for the name of the Creator, so that is why we cannot know how to pronounce the name. Where did this vowel pointing system come from? It was created in the tenth century by Masorite scribes so as to not lose the pronunciation of the language. Therefore, before the tenth century, there were no vowel points anywhere. Does this mean none of the words could be pronounced? Of course not! Do we know the proper way to pronounce the tetragrammaton today? Thanks to the substitutions and obfuscation of the name, unfortunately we do not. Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, tells us in The War of the Jews, that the name was pronounced with four vowel sounds. This could be something like “ee ah oo ah”, or similar to the pronunciation of the state of Iowa. If we look at the state of Hawaii, we notice that reading right to left it is, “Ii a wa ah”. I find this all very interesting that the name of the Creator could have been brought to North America by Israelites “scattered to the four corners of the earth”. There is evidence to suggest this scattering is found in some of the First Nations tribes.

Are we to think that the Creator really told Moses His name was “Yud Heh Waw Heh” forever, but not to ever pronounce it? Did the Creator tell Moses to use “Hashem” instead? Is this not adding to the Torah? All through scripture we are told to proclaim, praise and remember the name of God. Would it not be easier to do this if we were allowed to say the name instead of all of the substitutions?

Exodus 3:15 (LEB): 15 And God said again to Moses, “So you must say to the Israelites, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my remembrance from generation to generation.’

Let’s compare this to the Complete Jewish Bible version.

Exodus 3:15 (CJB): 15 God said further to Moshe, “Say this to the people of Isra’el: ‘Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai], the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitz’chak and the God of Ya‘akov, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation.

Did God spell His name to Moses, or plainly say it? This is just a question to consider. Here is how the English Standard version translates the verses:

Exodus 3:15 (ESV): 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

This version of the Bible doesn’t even indicate there is a name. It only gives us titles like “Lord”. Yet, He tells us to “ponder His name”

Malachi 3:16–18 (LEB): 16 Then those who revered Yahweh spoke with one another. And Yahweh listened attentively and heard, and a scroll of remembrance was written before him of those who revere Yahweh and ponder his name. 17 “They will be mine,” says Yahweh of hosts, “on the day that I am acting, my treasured possession. I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. 18 You will return and see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not serve him.

I realize that “name” in Hebrew means fame and reputation as well as what someone is called. There is also a big difference between “Hashem” and “LORD”. Hashem still wants His people to keep His commandments and the LORD does not require this because they were supposedly “nailed to the cross” in modern Christianity. It all gets very confusing if one does not search the scriptures faithfully.

Isaiah 12:2–4 (LEB): Look! God is my salvation; I will trust, and I will not be afraid, for my strength and might is Yah, Yahweh; and he has become salvation for me.” And you will draw water from the wells of salvation in joy. And you will say on that day, “Give thanks to Yahweh; all on his name. Make his deeds known among the peoples; bring to remembrance that his name is exalted.

One of the pronunciations that is probably not correct is “Jehovah”. There is no “J” sound in the Hebrew language and the modern “Vav” was pronounced as a “Waw” in ancient Hebrew. The name “Jehovah” was derived from a misunderstanding of English translators. Sometimes the vowel points for “Adonia” are placed under the letters “Yud Heh Waw Heh” and they took this to be the pronunciation of the name.

Yeshua told us that He comes in the name of His Father and that He declared His name.

John 17:6–8 (LEB): “I have revealed your name to the men whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours, and you have given them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they understand that all the things that you have given me are from you, because the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they received them and know truly that I have come from you, and they have believed that you have sent me.

John 5:43 (LEB): 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me. If another should come in his own name, you would accept that one!

We also see Yeshua making the religious leaders of His day very angry. Did He say “Eheyeh” when He declared “before Abraham was I am”?

John 8:58–59 (LEB): 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am!” 59 Then they picked up stones in order to throw them at him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple courts.

There are many places in scripture that discuss the name of the Creator and its importance. No one should be disparaging anyone for wanting to learn and understand the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Likewise, no one should claim to know the correct pronunciation of the name and ridicule someone who either doesn’t know or thinks differently. Lastly, people who believe strongly that the name should not be pronounced need also to be treated with respect.

Featured photo was provided by Emma Vail Photography.

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