The Four Names of God

[NOTE: The material from this study may be used, as long as you document the material and give me the credit for this study.]


“WHAT IS YOUR NAME?”

In addressing this deception regarding God only having “One Correct Form” of His name, we need to examine the book of Exodus, chapters 3 and 6.  In Exodus 3, Mosheh (Moses) is standing there in front of the burning bush speaking to the God of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  During this conversation, God has told him that he was being called by Him to go back to the land of Egypt and to lead His people, Israel, out of bondage back to this mountain.  After several failing attempts to get out of this, Mosheh (Moses) then says to God,

Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” Now they may say to me, “What is His name?” What shall I say to them?  (Exodus 3:13)

It seems like a simple question, doesn’t it?  However, the word translated “name” doesn’t really focus so much on what to call Him, but its focus is more on learning about His character, His nature.  In addition, according to the ancient Hebrew mindset, only what we can experience has a name; therefore, in asking this question, Mosheh (Moses) is really saying here that since the Israelites have not experienced God for 215 years, they no longer know or understand who He is, or what His character or nature is like.  Consequently, Mosheh (Moses) is wondering what do I tell them?  God then gives Him the following response:

“I AM WHO I AM.”  And He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14)

In this verse, the phrase “I AM WHO I AM” is the English translation of the Hebrew אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה  Ehyeh asher Ehyeh.  And then He says, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM (or אֶהְיֶה Ehyeh] has sent me to you.”  Consequently, the name that God first gives to Mosheh (Moses), in response to his question, is the name Ehyeh (or Aleph-Hey-Yodh-Hey).  It is not until the next verse that the second name is given.

And God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 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, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.  (Exodus 3:15)

In this verse, the English phrase “The LORD” is the Hebrew יְהוָה (Yehwah, or Yodh-He-Vahv-He).  I transliterated the Hebrew as Yehwah, rather than Yahweh (which is how it is usually transliterated into English, for the following reasons:

  • The consonant letters are the same in both, my transliteration and the traditional transliteration: YHWH.  The difference is in the two vowels.
  • In the Hebrew text, there is a vocal shewa (it looks like a small colon) under the first letter yodh (‘).  According to Gary D. Pratico and Miles V. Van Pelt’s Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar,

The Vocal Shewa maintains a hurried pronunciation and sounds like the a in amuse.  It is transliterated either as an upside down e (bǝ) or as a superscript e (be ). (11)

In either case, the vowel sound is an “uh” sound.  In my English classes, I use to explain to my students that the English schewa, just like the Hebrew vocal schewa, makes the “uh” sound.  I told them, “It’s the sound you make when you don’t know what to say. Uhhh.”  Consequently, I’ve chosen to use the superscript e since that transliteration format is used in many Jewish publications.

  • The other vowel in question is the qamats (it looks like a small capital T in English) located under the vahv (the third letter from the right; it almost looks like a cane).  According to the same Hebrew grammar book, it is pronounced like the “a as in father” (Pratico and Van Pelt 10).  I have not found anything that explains why it is often transliterated with an “e,” when the letter there is clearly a qamats (or “a”).

Consequently, based on the Hebrew text there in Exodus 3:15, it should be transliterated as Yehwah (pron. Yuh-wah“).  There are some who argue that the vahv should be seen as a vowel rather than a consonant, and should be transliterated as Yahuah.  However, this violates one of the basic syllabication rules in Hebrew.  The rule states, “Every syllable must begin with one consonant and have only one vowel” (Pratico and Van Pelt 17).  In the word “Yahuah,” there are three syllables: “Ya-hu-ah.”   The last syllable does not begin with a consonant; consequently, that transliteration and pronunciation must be wrong.

Consequently, then, we see that in His response to Mosheh‘s question, God here has given to Mosheh (Moses) two related names: Ehyeh and Yehwah.   So let’s think about this, if God Himself has given to Mosheh (Moses) two names for Himself in response to Mosheh’s (Moses’) one question, then how could He have only “ONE CORRECT FORM” of His name?  But it just doesn’t stop there.

A MEMORIAL NAME?

In addition to these two names, I believe that there’s also a third name given here: “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”   I do not believe that this series of phrases is just an added identifier.  Although many people believe that when God says, “This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations” that He is referring to the name Yehwah.  What needs to be noted is that this statement isn’t made until after He identifies Himself as “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  By saying this is His “memorial-name,” I believe God is saying that a central part of who He is, His character and nature, is that He is a God who remembers His covenants.  So much so, in fact, that their names have become a part of His name, His character and nature.  Just as the Hebrew letter ה (hey) was given to Abram to change his name to Abraham, and another letter ה (hey) was given to Sarai to change her name to Sarah, the names Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have become an intricate part of the name of the Most High.  Their names are a memorial to God of the covenants that He has entered into with them, the very covenants He has sworn to keep.

Know therefore that the LORD [Heb. Yehwah] your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments. (Deuteronomy 7:9, NASB)

In fact, God has not only promised to keep His covenants to them, but He has sworn to do so:

that you may enter into the covenant with the LORD [Heb. Yehwah] your God, and into His oath which the LORD your God is making with you today, in order that He may establish you today as His people and that He may be your God, just as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 29:12-13)

God here clearly connects His covenant with them as a fulfillment of the promise of what He swore to the fathers: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  But His promise to them that day at Mt. Siani, as well as the connection to the fathers, was not just for those who were there, but also for all those who were not there:

Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, but both with those who stand here with us today in the presence of the LORD our God and with those who are not with us here today. (Deuteronomy 29:14-15, NASB)

Mosheh (Moses) is suggesting here that this covenant was being made with not only the people who were there (Jews and non-Jews alike), but it was also being made for all people (Jew and non-Jew alike) who were not there at that time.  This would be for all people from that time forward, including people today.

This promise, then, would not only include all future Jewish people into the promise, but it would also include all non-Jews as well:

For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.  (Romans 4:16, NASB)

And if you belong to Christ [Messiah], then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  (Galatians 3:29)

Note in the Galatian passage, Paul did not say “if you are in Christ [Messiah], then you are heirs according to the promise.” Instead, by us “belonging to Christ [Messiah],” then we were “Abraham’s seed,” and then, therefore, “heirs according to the promise.”  But why did God set this up this way?  Why is it important that we be a part of “Abraham’s seed”?  Why couldn’t we just “belong to Christ [Messiah]?”  Why is it necessary to connect the two?  He did it this way, so that He could open the way for all people to become a part of His promise to Abraham: “And in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3c).  So if we are in Messiah, we are part of Abraham’s seed, and therefore, a part of Abraham and Abraham’s family, so that we, together with the Jewish people, can enjoy not only the promises of the Abrahamic covenant but also get to experience the blessings and the responsibilities of Mt. Siani as well.  One God, One Call, One Family, One Mission, and One Destiny for all.

THE GOD WHO IS MORE THAN ENOUGH

But not only did God share these three names with Mosheh (Moses), but He shared a fourth name with Him as well, the name ‘El Shaddai.

God spoke further to Moses and said to him, I am the LORD [Heb. Yehwah]; and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty [Heb. ‘El Shaddai], but by My name, LORD [Yehwah], I did not make myself known to them.  And I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. (Exodus 6:2-4, NASB)

In this verse, God makes it quite clear that even though He did enter into covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, He did not reveal His name Yehwah to them; instead, they knew Him by the name ‘El Shaddai instead.  By revealing Himself to Mosheh (Moses) and the children of Israel as Ehyeh and Yehwah at Mt. Siani, He was revealing something new about Himself to them that the Patriarchs never got to experience.

Obviously, if God has four names that He gave to Mosheh (Moses) in the Scriptures, then how could He have only ONE CORRECT FORM?  However, this same group also argues that Jesus has only “ONE CORRECT HEBREW FORM” as well.  This is also not true, as I will shortly show in this series.   But this argument about God and Jesus having only ONE CORRECT FORM is not only being embraced by the “pseudo-Hebraists,” but it is also being embraced by traditional Christians in response to these “pseudo-Hebraists.”

 AN INTERESTING YOUTUBE VIDEO

As I mentioned in the Introduction to this study, I came across a Youtube video made by a minister who was arguing against groups that are using the Hebrew form of the Messiah’s name, rather than the name “Jesus.”  He argued that the New Testament is written in Greek (there is a Greek version of it), Jesus’ name in Greek is Ιησους (which it is), and that this name “Jesus” is derived from this Greek (and later Latin) form (which is also true). However, he then made the statement that “There is no biblical evidence that the Lord’s name is Yeshua.”  However, in making this statement, he was wrong.  There is, in fact, evidence for His name being Yeshua in the Hebrew of His day, which I will show, but it is not in the Greek New Testament.

As I said in the Introduction, to look for an Aramaic and Hebrew name in a Greek text is like looking for apples in an orange tree.  Obviously, you are not going to find any apples growing in it, but that does not prove that apples do not grow on trees.  To find an Aramaic or Hebrew word, we need to look in an Aramaic or Hebrew text.  But I should say that he was doing a good job in that he was, at least, pointing people to a name which is clearly used in our English Bibles, but at the same time, he was also in error, in that he was arguing that only the English form “Jesus” should be used

SAME ARGUMENT – DIFFERENT NAMES

Consequently, both sides are wrong in that they are arguing that there is only ONE CORRECT FORM of the Savior’s name.  And since the focus of this argument is that there is only ONE CORRECT FORM, I have decided to call it the ONE CORRECT FORM ERROR (OCF ERROR), since there are people from multiple groups involved in this error.

Both sides, the pseudo-Hebraic “experts” and the Traditional Christians, it seems, are making the same erroneous argument, but are choosing the words representative of the language they wish to defend: some Hebrew name vs. the English name “Jesus.”  But both sides are, in fact, making the exact same basic error in logic by insisting that ONLY ONE CORRECT FORM of His name be used.  However, as I have shown with Moshe (Moses) and the revelation that God gave of His four names to him, I will also show that the Messiah’s name also has many forms, in many different languages; consequently, then the ONE CORRECT FORM ERROR is critically flawed, if not heretical,  in that many of the forms argued by the pseudo-Hebraic “experts” are ones of their own construction and do not actually exist in any translation of the Scriptures, including the Hebrew!   God’s Son would have a name that actually could be seen in the Hebrew Bible, rather than one that a group of supposed “experts” has created in order to support their erroneous doctrines and agenda.

 NOT A SALVATION ISSUE

Now let me say right up front for those who may be wondering, this is NOT a salvation issue. According to the Scriptures, during the Second Temple period of the first century, C.E., when the Messiah [Christ] lived and ministered, His name was known and written in THREE DIFFERENT LANGUAGES:

And Pilate wrote a title [or sign], and put it on the cross.  And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS.  This title then read many of the Jews; for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in HEBREW, and GREEK, and LATIN. (John 19:19-20, KJV; emphasis mine)

Notice that according to the Scriptures, there were three forms of His name that existed during His lifetime: a Hebrew form, a Greek form, and a Latin form.  All three forms were valid forms of His name that were used, depending on the language spoken. Hebrew and Greek languages were both spoken by the Jews of the first century, C.E.  The Greek language began to be spoken when Alexander the Great conquered the known world back in the 4th century, B.C.E.  From that time forward, including the time period of Messiah’s [Christ’s] life and ministry, the Greek language was the common parlance of both the Greek and Roman Empires, spoken by Jews and non-Jews alike, and Latin being the official language of Rome.

Pilate, therefore, had the sign written so that everyone would be able to read the sign and know who this person was that was dying on the cross, as well as what His crime was against the Roman empire, in all three languages.  So nowhere in the writings of the New Testament are we taught that we are to only use one of those forms (i.e., His name in Hebrew, for example).  Consequently, God allows us the freedom to use our native languages (or the language we grew up speaking) to say His name and to praise or worship Him.  God is multilingual; He understands every language spoken in the world, and thankfully He is not restricted to using only one language, nor does He command the use of only one language.

“THE ONE CORRECT FORM ERROR”

As I mentioned earlier, the Enemy has been using this false doctrine, which I am entitling “THE ONE CORRECT FORM ERROR” (or OCF Error) to bring conflict, division, and harm to the Body of Messiah [Christ].  As I have shown, this error is very dangerous and is leading many astray, as well as it stands in complete opposition to the freedom that God has given to all of us to read His Word, and to praise and worship Him, in our own native languages.  And since it is causing division in the Body, as well as leading many people astray, I have written this study to bring this matter to people’s attention.

Now since both sides of the issue are arguing the same general concept, it still must be argued that the pseudo-Hebraic position is more heretical, in that they are giving people a name to trust in that cannot be found in any current Hebrew version of the Scriptures.  In fact, their whole approach is to make people believe that the Bible, even its Hebrew form, has been “changed” or “altered,” so that it cannot be trusted.  Consequently, then, people have to place their trust in the teachings and “supposed research” of these pseudo-Hebraists.  These individuals or groups usually lure people into their deception by pointing out that there’s no letter J in the Hebrew language (which is true), so then, they argue, how could “Jesus” be the CORRECT FORM of His name?  Their conclusion, though, is not true.  So again, the assumption behind the question is that there is only ONE CORRECT FORM, and again, as I have shown and will continue to show, this is not true.

Of course, the name being propagated by these “false Hebraists” is usually some fictionally derived form of God’s or Christ’s [Messiah’s] name that begins with YAH- and that cannot be found in the Bible – not even in the Hebrew Scriptures themselves!  For example, for God, this name is often Yahuah, Yahawashi or some other Yah- derivative, and for Christ [Messiah], the name is Yahshua, Yahushua, Yahoshua, or a multitude of other variations that also begin with the prefix Yah-.

A large part of what is undergirding this argument is a clear misunderstanding of what the Bible means by verses like the following:

For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13, KJV; emphasis mine)

So what does the text mean by “the name of the Lord”?  Both sides will point out the phrase “the name,” and say, “See, there’s only one name, one correct name, one correct form of the Lord’s name” that we are to use to be saved.”  However, there’s the deception, there’s the lie, that Satan is using: that there is ONLY ONE CORRECT FORM of His name that we can (or should) use.  In truth, there is NOT JUST ONE CORRECT FORM.  The Lord’s name is translated into 1,200 different languages by translators currently, so people who speak and read those languages can study and read the Scriptures in a language they can understand, as well as pray to Him and praise Him in their own native language, not just in Hebrew or in English.  Unfortunately, not every language group has a Bible yet that has been translated into their own language.

According to the article “Why Bible Translation?” on the Wycliffe.org website, the status of worldwide Bible translations as of 2015 are the following:

  • More than 1,300 languages have access to the New Testament and some portions of Scripture in their language.
  • More than 550 languages have the complete translated Bible.
  • About 7,000 languages are known to be in use today.
  • Up to 180 million people need Bible translation to begin in their language.
  • Just under 2,300 languages across 130 countries have active translation and linguistic development work happening right now.
  • Up to 1,800 languages still need a Bible translation project to begin.

As we can see, there are “about 7,000 languages” that “are known to be in use today.” That means that there are 7,000 different ways to say and write the Messiah’s name.  For example, consider the following chart from the article “Jesus [Name]” listing the language at the top and then how to write the Messiah’s name in that language:

Arabic/Turkish

Isa

French

Josue

Italian

Gesu; Giosue

Bulgarian

Ucyc

Hawaiian

Iokua

Japanese

イエス·キリスト
Iesu· Kirisuto

Chinese

耶稣基督
Yēsū jīdū

Hungarian

Jozsu

Punjabi

ਜੀਸਸ ਕਰਾਇਸਟ
Jīsasa karā’isaṭa

Dutch

Jozua

Irish

Iosa

Romanian

Isus

As you can see, the spelling and pronunciation of Messiah’s [Christ’s] name varies from language to language.  It does not have one correct form or pronunciation – but many. Obviously, the Hebrew is one form, the English is one form, and these other languages have their own form of the name as well.  What if those who speak Punjabi came to America and insisted that Christians quit using the English form “Jesus” and that we could only use the Punjabi form of His name, Jīsasa karā’isaṭa, from now on.  Obviously, that would not go over well. From these few examples, we can see that each language has a form of His name, and it is not the same form; therefore, it seems logical to conclude that only ONE FORM cannot be used for all the various languages for all people.

GOD IS MULTILINGUAL

Another reason why this teaching of only “ONE CORRECT FORM” is a deception is because God is multilingual, and He enjoys hearing the praises of His people IN ALL LANGUAGES, including the pronunciation of His name IN ALL LANGUAGES.  He does not require that we pronounce His name only in Hebrew or only in English. The focus on which name is “THE CORRECT FORM” of His name is a misfocus, a re-direct  because the Enemy has, through this deception, shifted people’s focus away from where it needs to be, which is developing our RELATIONSHIP with God, to a belief that’s NOT supported or taught by the Bible, or not even in Jewish tradition, or in teachings found within the writings of the Jewish Talmud.  And as I said in the last part of this study, to insist that there is only “One Correct Form” contradicts Scripture by elevating one language above all others, and it grossly misrepresents God’s Word and His linguistic capabilities.

 

To  “From Origin to Exile”

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