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Just what is God's Name?
by Robert Randle
6/19/2009 / Devotionals
From the earliest Biblical account, after the birth of Seth's son Enosh, men began to call upon the name of the Lord (Cp. Genesis 4: 26). The Scriptures do not indicate what the Name of God was at this time. The next person to call upon the Name of God was Abram or Abraham (Cp. Genesis 13: 4) followed by his son Isaac (Cp. Genesis 26: 25). The story of Jacob is a curious one because there is no record of him calling upon the Name of the Lord but rather that he sets up a stone pillar or builds an altar as a memorial to God; either pouring a drink offering upon it or oil (Cp. Genesis 28: 18; 35: 1, 7, 14).
Now, when Moses asks God what to say to the children of Israel when they inquire as to the Name of the God who sent him to deliver them from Egyptian bondage, God says, "I AM WHO I AM;" and He said, "Thus shall you say to the sons of Israel,'I AM has sent me to you.' "(Cp. Exodus 3: 13-14). God further instructs Moses that the Lord God was the God of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but that this Name [previously mentioned] is His memorial Name to all generations (Cp. Exodus 3: 15). God had appeared to the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty (El-Shaddai), but was unknown by the "Name" which He revealed to Moses (Cp. Exodus 6: 3). This is interesting because "El-Shaddai" was mentioned in Isaac's blessing of Jacob (Cp. Genesis 28: 3), and in His appearing to Abraham (Cp. Genesis 17: 1), Jacob (Cp. Genesis 35: 11), but there is no record of God appearing to Isaac as "El-Shaddai;" unless it is inferred to have happened, which is certainly plausible.
When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, one of the prohibitions was in taking the Name of the Lord in vain (Cp. Exodus 20: 7). There is also the curious statement in Exodus 23: 20-23 where God tells Moses that He is going to send an Angel before them and drive out all the nations in Canaan but He also states that , "My name is in Him." Is this Exalted and special One the same Angel who wrestled with Jacob (Cp. Genesis 32: 24, 29) and the same one who visits Manoah (Judges 13: 16-18)?
When Jacob asks his nighttime Celestial visitor (Angel of the Lord??) and wrestling opponent His Name, he doesn't get an answer; but when Manoah asks the same thing, the Angel of the Lord replies, "Why do you ask My Name, seeing that it is 'Wonderful.'" This obscure statement doesn't give the fullest impact of the Name but a more definitive rendering is that God's Name is ineffable and unpronounceable; or even better yet, "beyond comprehension."
At the Last Supper before Jesus and His disciples entered the Garden of Gethsemane, He said, "O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent me. "And I have declared to them Your Name, and will declare it. . . (Cp. John 17: 25-26a; also verse 6).
Matthew 6: 9b "Hallowed be Thy Name;" but it does not reveal what that most sacred, cherished, revered, and Holiest of Name's is. There are those who believe that the name of God is Jehovah, but studying the Transliteration of the Hebrew/English Alphabet, all the equivalent English consonantal sounds from Hebrew to English exclude C, J, W, and X; so not only is it unlikely that the Divine name is Jehovah, but neither would it be Jahveh.
Of course the inclusion of vowels sounds added by Jewish scholars to the Old Testament Scriptures is helpful, and perhaps the closest approximation to the Name of God is again found in Exodus 3: 14, which uses the Hebrew verb 'hayah' ("to be"). This verb and its equivalent occur approximately 5,200times in the Jewish Old Testament Scriptures. It is from this verb that the Tetragrammaton or 4 letters (YHVH) are used as symbols of the unpronounceable Divine Name. If vowel soundings are placed between the 4 consonants, then one could conceivably come up with the name "Yahveh"; which is close to what the Psalmist and the Prophet Isaiah wrote.
Psalms 8: 1
O Lord, our God, How excellent is Your Name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens.
Sing to God, sing praises to His Name; Extol! Him who rides on the clouds; by His Name 'Yah', and rejoice before Him.
NOTE: In praising God the word (Allelujah), 'Allelu-Yah' forms a part, and not the traditional "Jah" like in 'Hallelujah.'
Isaiah 12: 2
Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for 'Yah,' the Lord, is my strength and song.
Trust in the Lord forever, for in 'Yah,' the Lord, is everlasting strength.
John 17: 6a, 26
I have manifested Your Name to the men You have given Me out of the world. And I have declared to them Your Name, and will declare it, that the love with which You have loved Me may be in them, and I in them.
This interestingly abbreviated study, though far from exhaustive, does reveal from the internal Biblical evidence as well as an external source what an approximate or derivative of the Divine Name of God might be like.
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