I am very excited to have my friend Anji back for this week’s edition of Word Nerd Wednesday to discuss what the name Yahweh means.
1Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”1God 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.’” 1God 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 3:13-15 (NIV)
Exodus 3:13-15 (NIV)
YHWH is found 6,519 times in the Old Testament, but not in this spelling or form. Exodus 3:13-15 is the first time we see the Hebrew “Yahweh” used and it is the name God chose to “be remembered throughout all generations.” God called Himself, “I AM” which is considered to mean “YHWH” or “Yahweh”. It is not an actual translation because “Yahweh” does not mean “Lord”. It means something similar to “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be”. Jewish people regard “YHWH” so sacred a name that it is not spelled with vowels or spoken, only written as “LORD” in all capital letters in the Old Testament.
“Yahweh” with a “w” is Hebrew יהוה) ) and “Yahueh” with a “u” in Greek. The Tetragrammaton (a Greek word meaning “four letters” from tetra “four” and gramma “letter)YHWH is a transliteration of the four Hebrew letters. Greek does not have a “w” in its alphabet so the upsilon, or “u”, is used instead. The Hebrew name for God is converted into four letters, YHWH or JHWH, and is articulated as Yahweh or Jehovah.
Over time, Jews substituted “Adonai”, “My Lord” or “Elohim” as a name replacement when speaking about or to God. While “Adonai” and “Elohim” are both used for other terms, only “Yahweh” is used exclusively as God’s name.While “Adonai” and “Elohim” are both used for other terms, only “Yahweh” is used exclusively as God’s name. @AJustBud #wordnerdwednesday #yahweh @LizGiertz Click To Tweet
Why is it so significant that God’s name is “I AM”?
In the Old Testament, a person’s name often reflected his character and Moses knew that, which is why he asked God what His name was. Moses wanted to speak to the people with God’s authority and His name conveys everything there is to know about the God. Most scholars believe that YHWH (I AM) means “He Brings Into Existence Whatever Exists” (Yahweh-Asher-Yahweh). Prior to Moses, God had never fully revealed His personal self directly to anyone. God’s name is present tense, not past or future tenses. He is ever-present and always consistent.
What can we learn about God from His name?
- Yahweh (YHWH) is who He says He is. He is the beginning and the end. There is no question of anyone coming into existence before God.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:13 NIV)
- Yahweh is the Creator of the universe.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
“The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.” (Isaiah 45:7) It is documented that God alone created all of creation.
- His Word is true and never false.
“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” (Psalm 119:160)
“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” (Proverbs 30:5)
- Yahweh is ever-present, self-existent and does not depend on anything else for His life.
“For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; (John 5:26)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)
- Yahweh is our relational God. He made us to have a close relationship with Him and to know Him intimately.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:3)
God is the great “I AM”. He is the beginning and the end, the creator of the universe. His Word is true and ever-present. And He longs to have a close relationship with us. Seek God with your whole heart to truly know YHWH intimately. You won’t be disappointed.Click To Tweet
Blue Letter Bible. “O.T. Names of God – Study Resources.” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 29 January 2019. https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/misc/name_god.cfm
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Yahweh.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. September 24, 2018. Accessed 27 January 2019. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Yahweh.
Martin, Jenna. “7 Meanings of Yahweh & Why It’s Such an Important Name for God.” Bible Study Tools. June 7, 2018. Accessed January 29, 2019. https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/why-it-matters-that-god-is-yahweh.html
Ministry, Yahweh’s Restoration. “‘Yahweh’ Is Aramaic and That ‘Yahueh’ is Hebrew. Is That True?” Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry. October 18, 2016. Accessed January 29, 2019. https://yrm.org/yahweh-aramaic-yahueh-hebrew-true/.
Wilson, Ralph F., Dr. “Correct Spelling and Pronunciation of Yahweh vs. Jehovah.” Jesus Walk Bible Study Series. 2018. Accessed January 29, 2019. http://www.jesuswalk.com/names-god/yahweh_jehovah.htm.
Anji Budzynski and her husband Brian, a Navy Senior Chief, live in Virginia and look forward to retiring this year after 26 years of service. They are learning to adapt to a new season in life with two young adults (one successfully launched into the world and another graduating from high school soon, ready to spread his wings to test them out) and one five-year-old, feisty little girl teaching them all about life.
She is an author, speaker, writer and Bible teacher who enjoys encouraging women; researching, teaching about Bible history and ancient languages; sharing Jesus’ incredible love for us and who God is in His Word. She is currently working on a degree in Christian Ministries at Liberty University.