The Name Yahweh and God the Father and God the Son, Part 1
by Karl Kemp 9/30/2011 / Bible Studies
Article by Karl Kemp; September 2009; Expanded August 2011
I'll always quote from the New American Standard Bible, 1995 edition, unless I mention otherwise. Sometimes I'll make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ]. I will also use double quotation marks (( )) on occasion to make them more obvious.
THE NAME YAHWEH. By taking this very significant and glorious name for Himself, God (the God of creation, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, the God of Israel) was boldly declaring, for one thing, that He, and He alone, is God. (That bold declaration didn't go over well in the ancient world where essentially all the people believed in many gods. They didn't want to hear that Yahweh, and He alone, is God any more than the people of the world today want to be told that the only way to be saved is through the Lord Jesus Christ.) By taking that name God was also declaring His eternal existence, that He always was and always will be. The name Yahweh applies first and foremost to God the Father, but like with the word "God" in the New Testament, it is used quite a few times for God the Son, as I will demonstrate in this article. The fact that the name can be used for the Son strongly confirms His deity. The name Yahweh is aso applicable for the Trinity, but the Trinity wasn't fully revealed in the Old Testament.
In the original article I had a footnote dealing with the spelling and pronunciation of this name for God, which I'll include here. The Hebrew Bible just has YHWH, without any vowel letters, but "Yahweh" is widely accepted as the most likely original spelling. (Modern Hebrew has a "v" instead of a "w.") There also is widespread agreement that "Jehovah" is not the correct pronunciation. For one thing, the Hebrew doesn't have a "J." The first letter "Y" of the name is pronounced like our "Y." More importantly, there is widespread agreement that the symbols that represent vowel letters that were added to the Hebrew text for the name YHWH by the Jewish Masoretic scholars (in medieval times) that yield the pronunciation Jehovah (Yehowah) were not intended to go with the consonants YHWH. The Masoretic scholars added the symbols for the vowels for the noun Adonay to remind those reading the text to say Adonay (an exalted word for Lord), not Yahweh, since they didn't want God's holy name to be spoken. It wasn't like that in Old Testament days when the people of Israel would even use the name Yahweh, or the abbreviated form Yah, as part of their names. Jehoshaphat (Yehoshaphat), for example, means "Yahweh Judges."
The most widely accepted viewpoint is that the name Yahweh was derived from the
imperfect "tense," third person, masculine, singular form of the Hebrew verb "to be." See Ex. 3:13-15. Note "LORD" (Yahweh) in Ex. 3:15. It is important to know that the Hebrew translated "I AM" in 3:14 ("Eheyeh") is very closely related to Yahweh. (I had a footnote here: When Jesus said to some of His Jewish opponents, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM" in John 8:58, they understood that He was claiming to be deity, and, as the next verse shows, "they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple." See under John 8:58 and 8:24 in my paper on John chapters 5-8.) "I AM" is the imperfect "tense," first person, masculine, singular form of the same verb. The words "I AM WHO I AM" of Ex. 3:14 would probably be better translated "I AM FOR I AM, or the equivalent." ((I had a footnote here: The BDB Hebrew Lexicon under "asher" (8ec on page 83) shows that this word is sometimes translated "forasmuch as, in that, since, because." The NASB, 1995 edition, translates this very-often-used word "because" 45 times and "since" 3 times. The BDB Hebrew Lexicon (on page 218, in the discussion under the name Yahweh, under "I.") gives "I am (this is my name) inasmuch as I am..." as one way to understand the meaning here in Ex. 3:14. There is a two page article on the name Yahweh in the "Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament" (published by the Moody Bible Institute, 1990, pages 210-212), written by J. Barton Payne. (I took Advanced Hebrew with Dr. Payne at Covenant Seminary in the early 70s.) I'll quote three sentences from this article. "Critical speculation about the origin and meaning of 'Yahweh' seems endless...but the Bible's own explanation in Ex. 3:14 is that it represents the simple (Qal) imperfect of 'hawa' 'to be.' I am [is] what I am. The precise name Yahweh results when others speak of him in the third person, Yahweh 'He is.' ")) Moses was to tell the people that God's name is "I AM FOR I [and only I] AM [God, and I always was and always will be God]." (I had a footnote here: Compare the name of God the Father in Rev. 1:4, 8; 4:8; 11:17; and 16:5.) The words of Ex. 3:14 help us understand the super-important name Yahweh. The name Yahweh means "He is," or the equivalent, and it includes the ideas that He and only He is, and He always was and always will be. The BDB Hebrew Lexicon under Yahweh on page 218 (under 2) says, "But most take it as...the one who is: that is, the absolute and unchangeable one...." Whereas the name Yahweh is very common for God in the Old Testament, being used over 6,500 times, I don't believe the name "I AM" is used anywhere else in the Old Testament.
The name Yahweh is used 6,824 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. The NASB, 1995 edition, translated the name LORD 6,399 times; LORD's 111 times; and GOD 314 times. The NASB translated GOD 314 times in those places where Yahweh was used with a noun meaning Lord. These numbers were taken from the "Hebrew-Aramaic Dictionary" in the back of the "Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible" for the NASB, 1995 edition. (A Concordance like that, with the Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries included, is one of the most important Bible study tools available to a Christian.) The NASB (and some other translations including the KJV, NKJV, and the NIV) has the word LORD with four capital letters to show that Yahweh was used in the Hebrew.
This article can stand by itself, but it also serves to supplement and to help confirm what I said in my papers, "Who Do We Worship?" "Who Do We Pray To?" and "More on the Trinity: Some Key Passages from the New Testament Where We Can See the Full Deity and Preexistence of God the Son with God the Father and Some Key Bible Passages Used to Teach a Oneness View of God.” All of these papers are located on this site.
Many more such passages could be listed than those I list in this article. It is significant that many of these passages demonstrate that God the Son existed with God the Father and that He was very active in the years before His incarnation. Some of the passages show that this other Person is deity and always existed with God the Father, but these super-important facts weren't all that obvious in Old Testament days, without the light from the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the New Testament. We know that this other Person is God the Son (in His preincarnate state) mostly because of the New Testament. But it is clear in the Old Testament that this Person is a Person distinct from the One we typically call God the Father (who was very often called Yahweh in the Old Testament), and it is quite significant that the deity of this Person often shines through in the Old Testament, as I will demonstrate in this article. Several places He is called Yahweh, for example, but not in a way that confuses Him with the Person of God the Father. Essentially all of these passages show that the Son has a role subordinate to the Father, but the Bible (and especially the New Testament) makes it clear that He is fully deity with the Father (and the Spirit).
((I had a lengthy footnote in the preceding paragraph, which I'll include here: Those who hold a oneness view of God don't have any room for the existence of the two distinct Persons of God the Father and God the Son in the years before His incarnation. After the incarnation, they still don't have room for the distinct Persons of God the Father and God the Son, but they speak of God (the one Person) being in Jesus Christ and also being in heaven. They (at least some of them) speak of the divine nature of Jesus and of the human nature of Jesus, with room for the human nature to pray to, for example, the divine nature. They (at least some of them) use the name Jesus for the human nature of Jesus and for Jesus with His divine and human natures. I have also heard some oneness believers use the name Jesus for the physical body of Jesus.
Orthodox Christianity has always agreed that Jesus has two natures, divine and human, but I don't believe it is reasonable to speak of one nature praying to the other nature. I'll quote the relevant definitions for "nature" from my "Webster's New World Dictionary." "1. the essential character of a thing; quality or qualities that make something what it is; essence 2. inborn character; innate disposition; inherent tendencies of a person." Orthodox Christianity has always thought in terms of Jesus (the Son of God having become the God-man) praying to God the Father.))
HE IS THE ANGEL OF YAHWEH. God the Son frequently appears in the Old Testament as the Angel (or, we could translate Messenger) of Yahweh. See, for example, Gen. 16:7-14; 22:1-19; Exodus chapter 3; Jud. 2:1-5; 1 Chronicles 21; and Zech. 1:8-12; 2:1-11; 3:1, 2; and there are many more passages. I'll briefly comment on each of the passages I just listed as we continue. It must be understood, or course, that God the Son is not a created angel. He existed with God the Father (and God the Holy Spirit) before any creating took place, and everything that was ever created was created through Him and for Him (John 1:1-3, Col. 1:16, 7, for example).
With this terminology, the Angel of Yahweh, we see two Persons. We see Yahweh (God the Father) and we see the Angel (or Messenger) of Yahweh (God the Son). Both Persons are mentioned in some of these passages. And the Angel of Yahweh is called Yahweh is some of these passages, which strongly confirms his deity, and His deity is sometimes demonstrated by things that He says. Also, in every passage I listed we see the Angel of Yahweh (the preexistent Son of God) existing and doing things in Old Testament days, in the days before He became the God-man through His incarnation.
Genesis 16:7-14. The Angel of Yahweh found Hagar after she had been sent away by Sarai. The deity of the Angel is obvious in verses 10-13. I'll read verses 10, 11, "Moreover, the angel [Angel] of the LORD [Yahweh] said to her, 'I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.' (11) The angel [Angel] of the LORD [Yahweh] said to her further, 'Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael [which means "God hears"], Because the LORD Yahweh] has given heed to your affliction." It would be much better to translate "the LORD [Yahweh] hears," instead of "the LORD has given heed." There is a play on words in the Hebrew. The words "Yahweh hears" relate back to the name Ishmael, which means "God hears."
I'll read verse 13 from the NIV, "She [Hagar] gave this name to the LORD [Yahweh] who spoke to her [The Angel of Yahweh was the One who spoke to her, so the Angel is being called Yahweh here (which happens quite a few places), which strongly confirms His deity.]: 'You are the God who sees me, for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me.' " As I mentioned, we need the light from the New Testament to be able to fully comprehend the details regarding Yahweh and the Angel of Yahweh and the Trinity. Many people saw the Angel of Yahweh in Old Testament days, but no one has seen God the Father, at least not since the fall of man (John 1:18; 6:46; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 6:16). However, we will see Him after we are glorified.
Genesis 22:1-19. This is the passage where God tested Abraham, initially telling him to
sacrifice his son Isaac. The Angel of Yahweh plays a key role in this account. He is mentioned by that name in verses 11, 15. His full deity is obvious in verses 11-18. The words, "declares the LORD [Yahweh]" of verse 16 refer to the declaration of the Angel of Yahweh. As I mentioned the Angel of Yahweh is called Yahweh several places in the Old Testament, which strongly confirms His deity. Even though His deity is often emphasized (as in Gen. 22:11-18), and He can also be called Yahweh (even as the Son is called God several times in the New Testament), the Angel of Yahweh is clearly distinguished from Yahweh [God the Father] by His name and sometimes by both Persons being mentioned in passages in the Old Testament. We will come to some very clear examples of seeing the two Persons as we continue.
Exodus chapter 3. This is the passage where the Angel of Yahweh appeared to Moses in a burning bush to send him back to Egypt to set His people free. The Angel of Yahweh is mentioned in verse 2, but as the passage continues this same Person is also called Yahweh, the God of Abraham, etc., which strongly confirms the deity of the Angel of Yahweh.
Judges 2:1-5. The Angel of Yahweh spoke to the sons of Israel in the days of the Judges. His deity is obvious in these verses.
1 Chronicles chapter 21. The Angel of Yahweh is mentioned in verses 12, 15-18, 27, 30. Yahweh gave directions to the Angel of Yahweh in verse 27, so two Persons are mentioned here. 2 Chronicles 3:1 says, "Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord [Yahweh] on Mount Moriah, where the LORD [Yahweh] had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite." The Angel of the LORD [Yahweh] had appeared to David (as pictured in 1 Chronicles chapter 21), but here He is called Yahweh, as He is on occasion.
Zechariah 1:8-12. The Angel of Yahweh is the dominant Person in verses 8-11. He is mentioned by name in verses 11, 12. In verse 12 He intercedes before Yahweh in behalf of the people of Israel who were in difficult circumstances at that time, after they had returned from the Babylonian captivity. The fact that He interceded to Yahweh [God the Father] showed that He was a Person distinct from God the Father. (This passage, and the next two passages from the book of Zechariah, are discussed in some detail in my paper titled, "Verse-by-Verse Studies of Zechariah Chapters 1-8 and Malachi 2:17-4:6," which is available on my internet site). The Son of God still intercedes before God the Father for the people of God (Rom. 8:34).
Zechariah 2:1-11. (I believe we can see the Angel of Yahweh in 2:1-7, but I'll just comment on verses 8-11 here. For the details on 2:1-11, see my paper mentioned in the preceding paragraph.) In verses 8, 9, and 11 the Angel of Yahweh mentions that He has been sent by Yahweh, so we can see two distinct Persons here, as in Zech. 1:8-12. But these verses also emphasize the full deity of the Angel of Yahweh. The words at the beginning of verse 8, "For thus says the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts" apparently refer to the Angel of Yahweh. So too the words at the end of verse 10, "declares the LORD [Yahweh]." And the words of verse 11 spoken by the Angel of Yahweh strongly confirm His full deity, "Many nations will join themselves to the LORD [Yahweh] in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the Lord [Yahweh] of hosts [here referring to God the Father] has sent Me [The Angel of Yahweh] to you."
Zechariah 3:1, 2a. I'll quote these verses, "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest [Joshua was the high priest in the days of Zechariah the prophet.] standing before the angel [Angel] of the LORD [Yahweh], and Satan was standing at his right hand to accuse him. [For Satan to accuse the high priest of Israel was for him to accuse Israel.] (2) The LORD [The name Yahweh here refers to the Angel of Yahweh. The fact that the Angel of Yahweh is called Yahweh several places confirms the full deity of the Angel of Yahweh.] said to Satan, 'The LORD [Yahweh, referring here to God the Father] rebuke you, Satan! ....' " Yahweh's [God the Father's] rebuking Satan will frustrate his plans, which will result in salvation for God's people. We see two Persons here, as in several of the passages we have looked at, and even though both Persons are called Yahweh here, it doesn't cause any confusion. At least it doesn't cause any confusion once we clearly understand the two Persons of God the Father and God the Son.
HE IS THE MAN DRESSED IN LINEN. The same Person as the Angel of Yahweh appears in Ezekiel chapters 9 and 10 and Daniel chapters 10 and 12, but there He is called the man dressed in linen. And apparently this same Person appears in Dan. 8:13-16. (I'll briefly comment on these passages as we continue.) Essentially all of the passages dealing with the Angel of Yahweh and the man dressed in linen show that He was very much involved with affairs of the people of Israel in the days of the Old Testament, including His speaking of things to take place in the future. The "man dressed in linen" and the Angel of Yahweh are discussed in some detail in chapter 11 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture."
Daniel 10:1-9. I'll just quote verses 4-6. These verses are discussed on pages 165-167 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture." "On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, while I [Daniel] was by the bank of the great river, that is the Tigris, (5) I lifted my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen, whose waist was girded with a belt of pure gold of Uphaz. (6) His body also was like beryl, his face had the appearance of lightning, his eyes were like flaming torches, his arms and feet like the gleam of polished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a tumult." As I mentioned, I believe that this "man dressed in linen" is the same Person as the Angel of Yahweh. He (like the man dressed in linen of Daniel chapter 12 and Ezekiel chapters 9, 10) is the preincarnate Son of God. This is a widely held viewpoint. The fact that the man dressed in linen here has so much in common with the appearance of the resurrected, glorified Christ in Rev. 1:13-20 serves as a very strong confirmation of this identification. Especially note the face and eyes in both passages.
Daniel 12:5-13. These verses, which are very important verses on end-time prophecy, are
discussed in some detail, with many cross-references, in chapter 11 of "The Mid-Week Rapture." In Dan. 12:5, 6 a question was asked of the man dressed in linen, who was in an exalted position above the waters of the river. (I had a footnote here: The Angel of Yahweh was in an exalted position "between heaven and earth" in 1 Chron. 21:16. It is quite possible that the man dressed in linen of Dan. 10:5, 6 was also in an exalted position above the waters of the Tigris River.) Surely this is the same Person as the man dressed in linen of Dan. 10:5, 6. He answered the question with a very important answer in verse 7. Daniel asked Him for more information, and He responded with some very important prophetic words in the following verses (verses 9-13). His prophetic words in verse 11 are extremely important. They show that the abomination of desolation will take place in the approximate middle of Daniel's 70th week (see Dan. 9:27), a month before the middle of that seven year period.
Daniel 8:13-16. (These verses are discussed, with all of Daniel chapter 8, in chapter 7 of my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.") In verse 13, the preincarnate Son of God is called "a holy one." He was asked a question; He gave a very important answer in verse 14. In verse 16, Daniel heard "the voice of a man between the banks of Ulai," who undoubtedly was the same Person as "the holy one [One]." Apparently He was in an exalted position above the waters of Ulai canal, or river (compare Dan. 12:6). This Person gave direction to Gabriel in verse 16.
Ezekiel 9:1-10:8. (These verses are discussed on pages 173-176 of "The Mid-Week Rapture.") The setting here is that God is ready to intensely judge unrepentant Jerusalem and Judah. Much of that judgment was to come through the Babylonians, but it is clear that the judgment came from God. The man dressed in linen is mentioned in 9:2, 3, 11; 10:2, 7. He plays a very prominent role in these verses. That Person (as in Daniel chapters 10, 12) is the preincarnate Son of God. Yahweh [God the Father] is also mentioned in these verses, so we see God the Father and God the Son here, and God the Father clearly has the preeminent role.
I'll read Ezek. 9:4, "The LORD [Yahweh; God the Father] said to him [the man dressed in linen], 'Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.' " The man dressed in linen was to seal them with a mark on the forehead for protection before the judgment fell. In Ezek. 9:5-9 Yahweh [God the Father] called for intense judgment to fall, but that judgment was not to fall on those who have the mark.
In Ezek. 10:2 God the Father instructed the man dressed in linen to fill His hands with fire from between the cherubim and scatter them over the city of Jerusalem. By following those instructions the man dressed in linen would be initiating the judgment of Jerusalem. The preeminent role of God the Father is apparent here, as it so often is, but the Bible makes very clear the full deity of the Son of God.
Every passage we have discussed so far demonstrates that the Angel of Yahweh, the man dressed in linen, and the "holy one [One]" of Dan. 8:13-16, was existing and active in the days before His incarnation. Many of these passages show that He is deity with God the Father, and especially when read in the light of the New Testament, but many of these passages also demonstrate the preeminent role of God the Father.
The last few pages of this article are contained in Part 2.
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.