What did God’s name mean to the Israelites? (Exodus 3:14)

What did God’s name mean to the Israelites? (Exodus 3:14)

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”[f] And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord,[g] 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. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’ 18 And they will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; and now, please let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ 19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.[h] 20 So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. 21 And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, 22 but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

Clarify Share Report Asked October 29 2018 My picture Jack Gutknecht

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Mini Evan Doan
This is one of the most important and yet least understood concepts in all of scripture. If one has a decent bible, it will be noticed that the word "LORD" is frequently spelled in all caps (and less frequently "GOD"), indicating what is commonly referred to as the Tetragrammaton (yod-hey-vav-hey in Hebrew). This occurs 4 times in the passages from Exodus quoted above. This is in contrast to "Lord" (not all caps), which translates the Hebrew word adonai, as well as "God" or "god," which translates the Hebrew word elohim.

In most Hebrew manuscripts that contain the vowel markings, one finds the vowel markings of adonai or elohim interpolated into the Tetragrammaton, as Rabbinic Jewish tradition teaches that our Creator's name is too holy to speak. However, this is in conflict with verses such as Exodus 9:16, quoted by Paul in Romans 9:17. Furthermore, Exodus 23:13 indicates that to not speak the name of a god is a sign of contempt.

But there are many instances in the ancient manuscripts where, apparently, the scribes neglected to substitute the vowel markings and instead employed vowel markings to spell out the Tetragrammaton as "Yehovah" (in Hebrew, the accent is on the last syllable for those interested in such things). This is a compound name derived from the past, present, and future tenses of the verb "to be" - hayah, hoveh, and yihyeh - in other words, his name "Yehovah" literally means, in Hebrew, he who always has been, who is, and who will always be.

One common misconception is that our Creator, Yehovah, has many names. However, it would be more accurate to state that he has many titles, but only one personal name that he personally states to be his name "to all generations" in Exodus 3:15.

The English name "Jesus" is in fact an anglicized form of the Latin version of the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua. Yeshua is, in turn, a shortened and contracted post-exilic form of the Hebrew name Yehoshua, which is a theophoric compound name of Yehovah + yoshia (Hebrew verb meaning to rescue/save/deliver). The man we know as Joshua the son of Nun in the OT actually has the exact same name in Hebrew.

So, even though we call him "God" as if that's his name (which is entirely appropriate, of course), "God" is in fact simply a title (again, entirely appropriate), whereas his one and only name is "Yehovah," meaning, again, "he who always has been, who is, and who will always be." See also Revelation 1:8.

I'd hate to step on anyone's toes, but it should also be noted that "Yahweh" has never been found in any Hebrew manuscript, either biblical or extra-biblical.

I hope this helps...

October 31 2018 6 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
If I am interpreting the question correctly, I would say that the Israelites would have regarded the name that God indicated for Himself to Moses as signifying that He was the ultimate source of all being and existence, from or by which everything in the universe derived or was created; and also that He was therefore eternal (having existed before anything else), and did not change over time.

In addition, with reference to the circumstances pertaining to God's appearance to Moses at that specific time and place, He also (as the source of all being) possessed control or power over any earthly entities (from individuals up to nations), and thus had the ability to free the Israelites from their captivity in Egypt.

October 30 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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