Welcome to the second last post of this series on God’s metaphors. Twenty-six different names God uses to describe Himself- all in one handy A to Z cross-stitch that my Mum made for me a few years back. Each letter has a name and a Bible verse… all except this one, Y.
Y is for Yahweh. In Hebrew, YHVH.
The name of God.
The first time this name is used is the book of Exodus, verses 14 and 15. The version of the Bible verse in the quote below, uses Hebraic language, rather than the Anglicised words. [In the overwhelming majority of English Bibles, the different names of God are translated as the word ‘LORD’ – the capital letters indicated that it is one of God’s names.]
“And Elohim said to Moses, I AM THAT I AM; and He said, you shall say this to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. And Elohim said to Moses again, You shall say this to the sons of Israel, Yahweh the Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever , and this is My memorial from generation to generation.”
I mentioned just above the Bible verse that God has different names. This can be a little confusing for us Westerners, in modern times, to understand!
But basically, the different names for God refer to different aspects of his character. Thus “Elohim” emphasises His might, His creative power, and His attributes of justice and rulership – whereas in our English Bibles it’s translated to the word “God”. Likewise, the Hebrew scrolls have names such as “El Shaddai” (LORD God Almighty) and “El Elyon” (The Most High God) and “Adonai” (Lord, or Master). Names can also be lengthened, so “YHVH Tzva’ot” means ‘Lord of Hosts’, where ‘hosts’ refers to military groupings.
But this post is about “Yahweh”. And this is the name that God gives of Himself.
In this passage above, we see Moses speaking to God, who has appeared to him in a burning bush, and has told him to go back to Egypt and tell Pharoah to let the Hebrew slaves go. Moses, understandably sceptical, and probably not wanting to go and be laughed at by people when he tells them that he saw a bush on fire that didn’t burn up, and heard the voice of God coming from the bush, he decides to ask God directly, “Who should I say sent me?”
And God replies, “Tell them that I AM sent you.”
This is the name that He gives himself. Yahweh. In Hebrew, YHVH. They know it as the Tetragrammaton. And for any readers who are also writers, you may be interested to know that this name is *indeed* related to the verb ‘to be’ (to exist). Cool, hey! This name was incorrectly translated into English as ‘Jehovah’, by a German scribe back in the sixteenth century, and the name has since found common usage. Personally, I prefer the original.
And did you know that observant Jews consider this name to be SO holy, that they don’t even write it out in full? This is why, rather than writing ‘God’, they write ‘G-d’. Some believe that this is to lessen the risk of ‘taking God’s name in vain’ (one of the ten commandments) however it could also be because Judaism prohibits erasing or defacing a name of God. So if the name of God is written out in full, then at some point in the future, this writing could become erased or defaced. And to prevent this situation occurring, they avoid writing it.
So. Quite a bit more information in this post than in the usual, but then again, it *is* Day 25. And it’s such an interesting topic, in my opinion!
So what, then, is the take-away lesson for today? For me, it’s to reflect on the name/s of God, especially the One Name that He gives of Himself. YHVH. “I am”. It reminds me a little of what I was thinking when I wrote about ‘the Alpha and the Omega’.
Writing this post, and thinking on the different names of God, also had me singing the Amy Grant song ‘El Shaddai’, so here it is for your enjoyment too 🙂
So. That’s it for today – and almost for the entire month too! Tune in tomorrow for the final post: “Z is for King of Zion.”
See you then, and have a lovely day, dear reader!