What is the meaning of the
This is a
very important question in the context of the Bible, because the
meaning of the name shows us the person carrying this name. To ask
for the name of God is like asking for his character or personality.
is what Moses asks for in Exodus 3:13, since Moses already knew the
name: "Moses 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?""
is no need to speculate of the meaning, because the Bible itself
gives the answer in Exodus 3:14, written in Hebrew:
New International Version (1984) has
translated this text into this:
"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.'"
meaning can be found in the Hebrew words
(ehyeh asher ehyeh) where the New International Version has chosen the translation "I
am who I am".
This is unfortunately not a good rendering. Ehyeh ("I am") is without doubt a future shape qal (active), and is drawn
from the word hayah which means "become" or
"prove to be". So ehyeh is about what one chooses
to be, or chooses to become, or the role a person has. It is used to describe
something in the future.
is worth noticing that the New International Version has chosen to translate this word into "I will
be" most of the other places in the Old Testament. For example in verse 12
in the same chapter, the same word ehyeh is used - and here
they have translated it into "I will be with you".
Click here for a complete overview
book The Pentateuch
and Haftorahs (Hebrew/English bible with explanations)
says that most modern translations translates verse 14 into "I
will be what I will be". Note that the latest version of New
International Version has a footnote for this verse that says
"Or I will be what I will be".
thought about God as a person who "will be" or "shall
prove to be" anything that is necessary for his people is also
described in Talmud, and other places in the Bible.
(YHWH/YHVH/JHWH/JHVH) is considered to be the causative form of the Hebrew word
(hawah) and thus means "he causes to become". This
describes YHWH as a God who fulfills promises, and he will become
whatever he needs to be in order to accomplish his purposes.
is therefore appropriate that the name is described as an "awesome
name" in Deut. 28:58.