Tetragrammaton in Genesis
does not compute
Sorry, I evidently hit the wrong button.
The Tetragrammaton in Genesis
A Restoration Light Publication
Unless stated otherwise, all quotations from the Holy Bible are from the World English Bible
God spoke to Moses, and said to him, "I am Yahweh; and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty; but by my name Yahweh I was not known to them.
Exodus 6:2,3 World English Bible
Various Theories of Exodus 6:2,3
Many, by reading Exodus 6:2,3, have concluded that God first revealed his name to Moses at the time spoken of in Genesis 6. In other words, it is concluded from the above that no one had ever heard the name of Yahweh before, and that this was the first time it had ever been spoken. According to this theory, none of the servants of God spoken of in Genesis had ever heard of the name of Yahweh.
Yet when we read the book of Genesis we do find that God's name appears there many times. Eve evidently spoke it. (Genesis 4:1) Noah spoke it. (Genesis 9:26) Abram (Abraham) spoke it. (Genesis 13:4; 14:22; 15:2,8; 22:14) Sarai (Sarah) spoke it. (Genesis 16:2,5,13) The servant of Abraham spoke it. (Genesis 24:12,35,40,42,44,56) Laban spoke it. (Genesis 24:50,51; 30:27,30; 31:49) Isaac spoke it. (Genesis 26:22,25; 27:20) Abimlech spoke it. (Genesis 26:28,29) Jacob spoke it. (Genesis 27:7; 28:16,21; 32:9; 49:18) Leah spoke it. (Genesis 29:32,33,35) Rachel spoke it. (Genesis 30:24) This fact may not be apparent in many translations of the scriptures, because the divine name has been replaced with the title, "the L ORD ", making it appear that God's name was "the L ORD ". The following translations are a few that do not substitute the divine name in Genesis: American Standard Version , Rotherham's Emphasized Bible, Young's Literal Translation, World English Bible, New World Translation, New Jerusalem Bible.
Many atheists, agnostics, deists and others point to this scripture, claiming either that it is a contradiction to the record of Genesis, or it is claimed that the record of Genesis is inaccurate, being a forgery of Moses or some later writer, and that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob actually worshipped the gods of the heathen before this, especially one purported to have the name of "El" (which literally means, strength, might, or mighty one). Thus it is important to arrive at a satisfactory understanding concerning this matter, not only because of the accusations of those who oppose the Bible, but because it does involve the most important name in the universe, that is, the name of our Creator, Yahweh.
Coffman states concerning Exodus 6:3: "This passage must be hailed as one of the most difficult in the Bible, the difficulty being in the statement that, 'as Jehovah' (Yahweh), God was unknown to the patriarchs. Whereas, it is a fact that the patriarchs most assuredly DID know God by that name! We may be certain that this apparent contradiction is due to some kind of human error. It is simply inconceivable that Moses, the author of Exodus, could have stated what is recorded here, unless some meaning beyond what seems to be said is intended."* Therefore, we really need to take a closer look.
*Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Exodus 6". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament".
Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
But if Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were acquainted with the divine name, then why is it stated in Exodus 6 that this name was unknown to them? Exodus 6:2,3 reads from the King James Version: "And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the L ORD : 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." Let us also realize that the King James Version has added the phrase "by my name" before "God Almighty". This gives a false impression concerning the verse, since it would seem to place the term "God Almighty" as another personal name for the Creator. Strictly speaking, God Almighty is not spoken of as the personal name of God. It is a title, and as such it is a titular name, but it is not his personal name. Most translations read similar to the World English Version: "God spoke to Moses, and said to him, 'I am Yahweh; and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty; but by my name Yahweh I was not known to them.'" Notice that "God Almighty" is not referred to as his name, but rather it is used as a descriptive title, thus two names are not being spoken of, but a title -- God Almighty (El Shaddai) and then the divine name, Yahweh, is added. There are at least four different ways of interpreting the latter part of verse 3.
Viewpoint One: Josephus interpreted Exodus 6:3 to mean that no one had heard of the name Yahweh before then. This has been the conclusion of many others. However, this conclusion does raise the question: How did the tetragrammaton get into the book of Genesis and in the earlier part of the Book of Exodus? If we reason that Moses simply wrote the name in by adding it into the text, then we are left with more questions: What name was being called upon by the various ones spoken of in Genesis? (Genesis 4:26; 12:8; 13:4; 14:22; 16:13; 21:33; 24:7; 26:25? What name did Abraham actually have his servant swear by? (Genesis 24:3) What name did Abraham actually call the mountain in Genesis 22:14? What name did God actually identify himself by in Genesis 15:7; 28:13? What name was originally given as the God of Shem (Genesis 9:26); the God of Abraham (Genesis 24:27,42,48; 26:24); the God of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 28:13)? Many who accept Jospehus' claim that when Moses wrote the book of Genesis, claim that he did it from hindsight and thus inserted the divine name into the mouths of the speakers. But in view of the way many of the scriptures are worded we do not find it plausible to think that EL SHADDAI or some other unknown reference was originally used in these scriptures and that Moses later added the name of Yahweh into these statements. We will present all places where the divine name does appear in Genesis later.
Viewpoint Two: The second way of interpreting this verse is offered by a few*, which would render the phrase "was I not known to them" as a question: "By my name, Yahweh, was I not known to them?" This rendering could be, but most scholars do not accept it since the interrogative in Hebrew is usually shown by an interrogative pronoun, or by adding the letter "He" as the first letter to the sentence. Neither appear here, so the sentence is not usually viewed as interrogative, although there are some fairly good arguments as to why this should still be viewed as interrogative even without such.
*John Gill states: "by reading the words with an interrogation, the clause will appear more plain, 'and by my name Jehovah was I not known to them?' " -- Gill, John. "Commentary on Exodus 6:3". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible".
http://www.apibs.org/devo/001.htm See also: The Sacred Name Bible rendering of Exodus 6:3.
Viewpoint Three: John L. Ronning of the Bible Institute of South Africa, proposed another rendering. He states*: "We propose instead the following translation, which involves reading the preposition wl in place of the negative particle al: '... and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai; but as for My name YHWH, by it I had been known to them.' In more idiomatic English, this could be rendered, 'When I appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as El Shaddai, I was already known to them by my name YHWH.'" Evidently he is saying that there is a copyist error and that by changing one letter the whole meaning is different.
*Ronning, John. L. Exodus 6:3 and Patriarchal Knowledge of the Name "YHWH", copyright 1986
The above quote was obtained from:
Viewpoint Four: The fourth way of interpreting this verse does so by taking into consideration how the word "know" is used in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Hebrew word translated "known" is yada' (Strong's Hebrew #3045). It has various shades of meaning, and its usage in Exodus 6:3 does not necessarily mean that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not aware of the name. For one illustrations of this, we point to Genesis 4:1, where we read that Adam knew [Hebrew, yada'] his wife. It does not mean that he did not know his wife before as a person, but it means that he knew his wife more intimately in the sexual bond. Similarly, in Exodus 6:3, God was revealing his name in a manner different than it had been known to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The usage of "yada'" can be also seen by its similar usage in conection with the divine name in Exodus 6:7; 7:17; 8:10,22; 9:14,29; 10:2; 11:7; 14:4,18; 16:6,8,12; 18:11; Deuteronomy 29:6; 1 Kings 20:13; 20:28; Isaiah 49:26; Jeremiah 24:7; Ezekiel 6:7,13,14; 7:4,27; 11:10,12,15,16; 12:20; 13:9,14,21; 14:8; 15:7; 16:62; 20:12,20,38,42; etc.
This is further attested to if one looks at the name in the causative rather than simple present tense. This is believed to be the earlier Jewish view* of the meaning of the name, but Christian translations in English rendered it "I AM." From this theory developed the idea that the divine name means "Eternal One", although the present tense does not refer to eternal past at all. Thus this idea is actually read into the meaning of "I am." Others claim that it means Yahweh exists outside of time, and give the word "eternal" the meaning of a realm in which time does not exist, that is, the absence of time. This is a philosophical theory that cannot be found in the scriptures. There are some good works that refute the idea that Biblical eternity means absence of time.* But the proponents of this view do not give a good explanation as to why God's revealment of such an idea to enslaved Israelites at this time would have had any meaning to their suffering condition.
Time and Eternity, by G. T. Stevenson. This book is online at:
Understanding God: God and Time, by Jack Cottrell, Cincinnati Bible Seminary, Fall 2002
This report can be found online at:
However, if we look at the earlier Jewish view that the divine name is causative this would give the the Hebrew phrase Ehyeh Asher Eyeh of Exodus 3:14 the meaning of "I cause to be what I cause to be," rather than "I am who I am." It would give the name Yahweh the meaning of "He [who] causes to be", rather than simply "He is." Nevertheless, most today who accept that the divine name is in the causative look upon this as only meaning Creator, in the sense of the One who created all things, "he creates", which we do not believe would be very meaningly as far as any kind of revealment in Exodus 6:3. This idea would not have impressed the Israelites, for what comfort and encouragement would it be to show an enslaved people that God was the first cause of the universe? Rather we should see something more meaningful to the situation at hand, as the Causer of events according to what he had promised. It is in this latter sense that we find meaning to the revealment of the divine name in Exodus 6:3 (as well as many other scriptures as referred to earlier), that is, that, although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew of the name Yahweh, they did not know that name in its fuller meaning, as the One who accomplishes the covenant promises.** God made the covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but now he was about to start fulfillment of those promises by delivering Jacob's people from Egypt. Thus this is our preferred understanding of this verse.
*"Yahweh (ya'we). The Hebrew tetragrammaton (YHVH or YHWH) traditionally pronounced Jehovah (q.v) is now known to be correctly vocalized yahwe. New inscriptional evidence from the second and first millennia B. C. point toward this fact. The old view of Le Clerc, modernly propounded by Paul Haupt and developed by W. F. Albright, has commended itself in the light of the phonetic development and grammatical evidence of increased knowledge of Northwest Semitic and kindred tongues. This thesis holds Yahwe to be originally a finite causative verb from the Northwest Semitic root hwy 'to be, to come into being,' so that the divine name would mean 'he causes to be, or exist,' i. e.,w 'he creates.' Amorite personal names after 2,000 B. C. lend support to the Haupt-Albright view, demonstrating that the employment of the causative stem yahwe "he creates" was in vogue in the linguistic background of early Hebrew." -- Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, 1957, Moody Press, Chicago, Page 1177
See also our document on The Divine Name
Also see F M Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, pg 60-71; W. F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan, pgs 147-149.
**Some have read into our statement that we are saying that Abraham did not have faith that God would fulfill his promises. This, of course, is not our thought at all.
Evidently, my earlier post either didn't make it or was deleted. I am reposting this here.
The rest of this study can be found at:
The printable version is at:
As if barbaric jews who are supposed to have lived 3000 yrs ago were better at finding god than those today who look for god. Find god yourself, and render all this endless hair splitting redundent.
Heres a little more to eat up some more bandwidth on a meaningless belief
The sacred name of God. In Hebrew "four-letter word" or symbol meaning yod-ye-vau-he (YHWH) and signifying Yahweh. It is pronounced in Hebrew as "Adomai," and written generally as JHYH with variations of JHVH or YHVH. In English it became Jehovah.
This has often been confused with God introduction of Himself to Moses, "I Am That I Am." (Exodus 3:14) This particular introduction was derived from the god Ab-braham or Father Braham who introduced himself in Sanskrit 'Tat Sat'--"I Am That that Is."
The root YHWH is radical of HWH, he-vau-he, meaning "being" or "life" or "woman" which were interchangeable concepts in the ancient Middle East. These identical letters in Latin are E-V-E: Eve. So the central or inner meaning of the Tetragrammaton is Eve, the Mother of All Living. Now aint that special!
In the Gnostic Gospels this concept also is conveyed. The Wisdom of God, or the Divine Spirit and Mother, is believed the real creator of the world. Allegedly her son, who was called the demiurge, stold his power from his mother and with it created the world. The early Gnostics believed the demiurge was the God which the orthodox Christians adored and not the true God or Supreme Being which they symbolized as Iao
The Tetragrammaton had two versions. EHYH, the lesser-known one, comes from Hayya, another one of Eve's many names, which designates the Goddess in her special connection to women in childbirth. On Samaritan phylacteries the male and female versions of the Tetragrammaton were intertwined.