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Relationship With Jesus
The Key To Effective Ministry

Section 10, Chapter 9

More on the Names of God
In the Bible

Page 2 of Pages 1, 3, 4, 5

"This argument ignores the etymology of the names of God and conceives of them as used interchangeably merely as a matter of habit. It is not claimed by the critics that J was ignorant of the name Elohim or P and E of the name Jehovah, but that each preferred one of these names. But if so, the question remains, why did J prefer the name Jehovah and E and P the name Elohim. To this important question the divisive hypothesis gives no satisfactory answer. If the Pentateuch however be the work of one author, the use of these names is sufficiently clear. It is precisely that which the so-called characteristics of P, J and E, require. P is said to be cold, formal, systematic, logical; but it is precisely in such passages that one would expect Elohim, the general name for God, the name which has no special relation to Israel but is used many times in reference to the deities of the Gentiles. J on the other hand is said to be naive, anthropomorphic in his conception of God; but these evidences of religious fervor would lead us to expect the proper national name of God, the name which emphasized his covenant relations with Israel."423/118, 119

In conclusion, Cassuto explains concerning Moses different uses for the name of God that there,

". . . is no reason, therefore, to feel surprise that the use of these Names varies in the Torah. On the contrary, we should be surprised if they were not changed about. The position is of necessity what it is. It is not a case of disparity between different documents, or of mechanical amalgamation of separate texts; every Hebrew author was compelled to write thus and to use the two Names in this manner, because their primary signification, the general literary tradition of the ancient East, and the rules governing the use in the Divine Names throughout the entire range of Hebrew literature, demanded this."420/41

In the previous Chapters I cited several archaeological discoveries of other ancient civilizations use of more than one name for their God’s and even used in combination like Moses’ use of Yehovah, Elohim and Yehovah-Elohim.

THE CASE OF EXODUS 6:3

Yehovah says the following to Moses in Exodus 6:3, "I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as El-Shaddai, but by My name, Yehovah, I did not make Myself known to them." In light of this statement, Documentarians argue that any earlier usage of Yehovah had to be penned in by later editors; otherwise, Moses would be guilty of an obvious contradiction of having the Patriarchs using the name Yehovah throughout Genesis when he knew no one knew God by this name until it was revealed to him on Mt. Sinai.421/115

This passage does not mean that the name Yehovah was not known to the Israelites before Moses’ time, as has been cited clearly through archaeological discoveries mentioned in Chapter 4, but rather that Israel did not have the relationship with God that the meaning of the name Yehovah had. In other words, they previously knew God by this name, but they did not know the God, His person and character, behind this name. W.J. Martin, in his book Stylisitic Criteria and the Analysis of the Pentateuch, states the following concerning this:

"It might have been possible, of course, to have denied the implications by drawing attention to the full sense of the Hebrew word for ‘name.’ The field of meaning of this word covers not only that of ‘name,’ that is, a verbal deputy, a label for a thing, but also denotes the attributes of the thing named. It may stand for reputation, character, honor, name and fame. Hence the reference would not be so much to nomenclature as to the nature of the reality for which the name stood."398/ 17, 18

When the Bible teaches that the nations or Pharaoh would come to know God as Yehovah, it did not mean that they would become aware of His name Yehovah; It meant that they would come to know the power, attributes, personality, actions and faithfulness of God to fulfill His promises who goes by the name Yehovah. God speaking through Jeremiah 16:21 stated, "Therefore behold, I am going to make them know—this time I will make them know my power and My might; and they shall know that My name is Yehovah." More than sixty times God states through Ezekiel in the book of Ezekiel that as a the result of His actions that "They shall know that I am Yehovah," meaning they will come to know who the God Yehovah is.

Gleason Archer further explains in his book, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction,419/113, 114 that when God said to Moses in Exodus 6:2-3 that this was the first time He made Himself known by His name Yehovah that the Hebrew verb for know in Hebrew in this context does not refer to knowing God for the first time by His name Yehovah, but that both Israel and Egypt would come to know through experience of the plagues and Israel’s deliverance from Egypt the covenant faithfulness of Yehovah to His people Israel. They would come to know what trusting in Yehovah God meant: A God who is true to his word and promises. Before, yes, they knew his deeds of power and mercy through his name El-Shaddai meaning God-Almighty, but now through his name Yehovah they know He is One who can be trusted because He is true to His word and promises. "You shall know that I am Yehovah your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians" (Exodus 6:7). He said He would deliver them out of Egypt and He did. He said he would take care of them in the wilderness and He did. He said that He would bring them into the promised land and He did.

Merrill Unger further points out in his book, Introductory Guide to the Old Testament,424/251 that Exodus 6:2-3 does not distinguish Elohim (occuring 200 times in Genesis) from Yehovah, but El-Shaddai from Yehovah. El-Shaddai is only mentioned five times in Genesis.

Another important issue often overlooked in regard to Exodus 6:2, is what is referred to in Hebrew as the Beth Essential. The revised version renders this passage as follows: "I appeared. . . as El Shaddai, but by my name Yehovah...." This translation does not indicate that although there is a preposition (prefix Beth) in the original for "as," which governs "EI Shaddai," there is no corresponding preposition for the word "by" which here governs "my name Yehovah." Grammatically there needs to be a preposition "by" or "as" in English. Motyer in his book, The Revelation of the Divine Name, explains the use of Beth Essential:

"In this verse [Exodus 6:3], the Beth Essentiae is appropriately translated ‘as,’ that is to say, it is used with a view to concentrating attention on character or inner condition as distinct from outer circumstances or designation. When God revealed Himself ‘as’ El Shaddai, it was not with a view to providing the patriarchs with a title by which they could address Him, but to give them an insight into His character such as that title aptly conveyed. Likewise, in Exodus iii.2, ‘the angel of Yehovah appeared... as a flame of fire....’ The outward circumstances may have served in the first instance to attract Moses’ attention—though this is not necessary, for his attention was, in point of fact, caught by the continued existence of the bush in spite of the flame. The flame was the appropriate characterization of God Himself, designed to provide a suitable revelation of the divine Nature to Moses at that particular juncture of his career. When we carry this force over to the nouns ‘My name Yehovah’ we reach a conclusion in accordance with the translation we are seeking to justify: ‘I showed myself... in the character of El Shaddai, but in the character expressed by my name Yehovah I did not make myself known,"425/14

Motyer continues:

"The accuracy of the proposed translation is further established by its suitability to its context. (The place of the verse in the scheme of revelation, as we see it, is this: not that now for the first time the name as a sound is declared, but that now for the first time the essential significance of the name is to be made known). The patriarchs called God Yehovah, but knew Him as El Shaddai; their descendants will both call Him and know Him by His name Yehovah. This is certainly the burden of Exodus vi.6ff. where Moses receives the message he is to impart to Israel. The message opens and closes with the seal of the divine authority, ‘I am Yehovah,’ and on the basis of this authority it declares the saving acts which, it is specifically stated, will be a revelation of Yehovah’s nature, for, as a result of what He will do, Israel will ‘know that I am Yehovah,’ but, in point of fact, their knowledge will be, not the name merely, but also the character of Israel’s God. This meaning of the phrase is consistent throughout the Bible."425/14

God had manifested Himself by His actions to what He meant by His name El-Shaddai to man; but even though man knew God by the name Yehovah, he had not yet experienced through God’s actions the significance and meaning of this name until in this name He manifested Himself to Moses to deliver the Israelites out of bondage to Egypt. When Moses asked God who he was to tell the Israelites had sent him to deliver them, God did not say by His name El-Shaddai, but by His name Yehovah.

*Similar Use of Divine
    Names in the Koran

The Koran provides a helpful parallel to the irregular distribution of the divine names on the Pentateuch. No one questions the single authorship of these Arabic scriptures. Yet they display the same phenomenon as their Hebrew relative. The name Allahu parallels with Elohim, and Rabbu (‘lord’) corresponds to Adonai (‘lord’) which the Jews used later to refer to Yehovah. In some suras (chapters) the names are intermingled, but in others only the one or the other appears. For example, the name never occurs in the following suras: 4, 9, 24, 33, 48, 49, 57, 59, 61, 62, 63, 64, 86, 88, 95, 101, 102, 103, 104, 107, 109, 111, 112. While the name Allahu is never used in these suras: 15, 32, 54, 55, 56, 68, 75, 78, 83, 87, 89, 92, 93, 94, 99, 100, 105, 106, 108, 113, 114.419/111

As we brought out in the previous Chapters, there is no historical or archaeological evidence to support the Documentary Hypothesis on their explanation of names for God in the Bible. However, all the evidence does support Moses’ authorship of the Pentateuch as it stands.

FURTHER INSIGHTS ON
ELOHIM,
!yhila>

Rabbis believe that !yhila> (Elohim), a plural form, does not indicate the Triunity of God but that it is a qualitative statement, not a quantitative statement. It is a plural of majesty and potentiality.426/2 [See my article:  The Nature of God] This is further supported by the fact that it is followed by the singular verb ar;B; (bara, meaning to create) in Genesis 1:1.89

Back to Page 1; Continued on 3, 4, 5
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