Exodus 3:13-15, 6:2-3

3:13 Moses said to God, “Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you;’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What should I tell them?”

3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”, and he said, “You shall tell the children of Israel this: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 3:15 God said moreover to Moses, “You shall tell the children of Israel this, ‘Yahweh, 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, and this is my memorial to all generations.


6:2 God spoke to Moses, and said to him, “I am Yahweh; 6:3 and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty; but by my name Yahweh I was not known to them.


The book I’m using is actually a Tanakh, the Jewish book, and the emboldened sections above are given in Hebrew. A footnote [TODO: copy over footnote] translates into English. “Yahweh” is of course a modern invention, and the Bible gives an unpronounceable tetragrammaton. The Wikipedia also has quite a good account of 3:14:

This introduction to “Yahweh” as the personal name of God associates the divine name with the Hebrew verb “hayah” meaning “to be.” “I will be what I will be” indicates “My nature will become evident from my actions.”


I like the idea of God not having a name. Names are after all human inventions; recall Genesis 2:19 where Adam is told to devise names for the animals. I think it is unfortunate that “God” has effectively become a name in Christianity (English-speaking at least). I think Islamic practice is better: “allah” literally means “the god” (see e.g.: Wikipedia).

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