The Name Yahweh

When reading the Bible, you will often come across the word LORD in capital letters. The Jews did not like to pronounce the actual Name of God and so whenever the Name of God appeared in the Hebrew text they would read the Hebrew equivalent for the word Lord or God. This was carried over into the English translations.

This Hebrew name for God “Yahweh” or “Yehovah” is connected to the name which was given to Moses in Exodus 3:14,15. There God tells Moses that His name is ehyeh asher ehyeh or as it is properly translated in English “I will be who I will be”. This seems a kind of strange name at first, and it is commonly translated as “I am who I am” which gives the idea of self-existent or eternal. However, this is not the best translation and it is easily seen that the Hebrew verb ehyeh is overwhelmingly translated “I will be” (such as in verse 12). The name “Yahweh” then means “He will be”.

“He will be what?” you may ask. And this is the amazing thing. That God’s Name is made known by the things He does throughout time and through people doing His will. He governs all history and all the present and future according to His will.

At this point in time, Moses is on his way to deliver the people of Israel out of bondage in Egypt. God’s name is connected to the fulfilment of promises He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which they did not see fulfilled but would now come to pass. He shows His mighty arm in the plagues on Egypt and leads His people out of slavery to freedom by Moses. Read the following verses, and notice how often “I will” is used.

Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be [ehyeh] to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD. (Exodus 6:6-8 KJV)

The God of the Bible is a God of the past, present and future. His name reflects that in the sense that He has been the God of each generation and His desire always has been to be with His people and to be their God.

For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be [ehyeh] their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. (Jeremiah 24:6-7 KJV)

His plan included a Son who would be the means of revealing His will to the world and eventually bringing about His purpose with the earth.

He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever. (2 Chronicles 22:10 KJV)

The last book of the Bible contains these words:

And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
(Revelation 21:3 KJV)

The name “Yahweh” then is not simply an affirmation of existence, but a promise.

Other common terms for God:

Lord – is the Hebrew noun adon or adonai and means “master or sovereign”. It is of both God and man.

God – is the Hebrew noun el or elohim and means “mighty one(s)”. It is most often used of God, but is also used of angels, false gods, idols, and humans.

Almighty – is the Hebrew word shaddai which means “powerful” and is only used of God.

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