In the Old Testament, the name for God as Yahweh occurs more than 6,800 times and it appears in nearly every book. It only comes into use, however, after Exodus chapter three. Because of this the name Yahweh LORD became forever associated with God’s redeeming acts when He delivered Israel from Egypt. But did you know, there is some mystery about the origin of the divine name Yahweh LORD?
The Meaning of Yahweh in the Bible
When we see the word ‘Lord’ or ‘LORD’ in our English translation of the Bible it is important to understand the distinction. In the original Hebrew text, these are two different words with different meanings.
Does Yahweh mean Lord?
Adonay is the Hebrew word for ‘Lord’ which defines our position in our relationship with God. The perspective here is that He is Lord, meaning Master and we are His servants.
When we explore the true meaning of the divine name Yahweh LORD it deepens our understanding of the character of God. This is the sacred personal name of Israel’s God that was used by the priests serving in the Jerusalem Temple. After the Temple was destroyed in AD70 the name was not spoken at all, until eventually the original pronunciation was lost.
In Hebrew this name for God is a tetragram so called because it is formed by four consonants YHWH. In German this is JHVH and this is where the interpretation of Jehovah comes from for Yahweh, mainly used in the King James Version of the Bible:
“and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.” Exodus 6:3 KJV
“I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but I did not reveal My name Yahweh to them.” Exodus 6:3 HCSB
The divine name Yahweh LORD may be derived from a verb that means to be, to exist, to come to pass. But the exact meaning of the name is disputed among Biblical scholars. The name Yahweh only appears in Scripture after Exodus chapter three. This is where a unique aspect of God’s character was revealed to Moses at his call and commission to lead Israel out of Egypt. Because of this Yahweh LORD became forever associated with God’s redeeming acts.
I AM WHO I AM Verse
‘ I AM WHO I AM’ (NKJV, MSG, NIV, HCSB), ‘I AM THAT I AM’ (KJV), Or ‘I WILL BE, WHAT I WILL BE’ (NIV alternate)
Moses responded to God’s call initially with some questions. He wanted to know how to identify God to the elders of Israel. Moses wanted to know who God was, as more than the God of his ancestors. God answered Moses’ question with an intriguing self-description…
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you. God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, 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, the name you shall call me from generation to generation. Exodus 3:14-15 NIV
Moses wanted to know more than historical stories, of who God was to his ancestors. He wanted to know the character and nature of God in relation to himself, and to the Israelites, in the present day!
As God revealed this aspect of His character to Moses, as self-existing and ever-present, there is a hint of God reaching out to His people. God was about to instigate a new depth to their relationship with the covenant at Mount Sinai.
The divine name Yahweh LORD is the personal name of God, and relationships are built by being present to, and for, one another. As God revealed this aspect of His character, Moses grew in knowledge and experience of God’s faithfulness.
Yahweh LORD expresses God’s character as, dependable, faithful, and trustworthy. This was the name by which God wanted His people to know Him for generations to come. The name which is so relevant to us today…
Is Yahweh the Christian God?
The divine name Yahweh, LORD, became associated with God’s redeeming acts as He delivered the people of Israel from Egypt. This is the name of God who responded to the cries of His people, who intervened on their behalf. And the name by which God wants His people to know and worship Him. Yahweh, LORD is relational, our God who is always present and who promises to never leave His people.
God rescued Israel from oppression and delivered them from slavery in Egypt – and He does not change. Yahweh is the same LORD who draws near to rescue and deliver us from the bondage of sin. The LORD who is able to redeem our hard and difficult circumstances. Our Heavenly Father who works all things together for our good.
Yahweh, LORD, brought release and freedom for His people, Israel. The freedom to choose to enter into a covenant relationship with Him at Mount Sinai. Jesus, as I AM, has released us from the bondage of sin and fear of death. He was sent by God, Yahweh our Redeemer, to set us free!
God promised not only to rescue and deliver Israel, but also to bless them. They would be blessed as they left Egypt with clothing, silver, and gold. The promised land would be a good and spacious place, productive and prosperous. This was a promise that indicated peace and stability.
Jesus promises abundant life to us. This is life to the full, living with the love, joy, and peace of the Holy Spirit. We have the promise of God’s presence with us always. This is through the gift of eternal life that Jesus gives to all who choose to believe and follow Him.
The Divine Name Yahweh LORD
As Christians, we reflect on the name Yahweh in our prayers as we remember that God is our Redeemer. He intentionally seeks a relationship with us and has done everything to make that possible by sending Jesus as our Savior. We too can come to know God personally as Yahweh LORD through what He has done for us. Our knowledge and experience of God will grow as we step out in faith and follow Him…
You May Like to Watch Shema Word Study Video: Bible Project. (3-4 minutes long) on the history of the name YAHWEH.
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