THE TETRAGRAMMATON – I AM THAT I AM – Exodus 3


And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name?

What shall I say unto them?

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Exodus 3:13‭-‬15 ASV

We has long been familiar with the preposterous claims relative to the great TETRAGRAMMATON supposed to have been given in Exodus 3:14, but we find no evidence whatever of any such thing.

Whatever happened here, God simply did not honor Moses’ request for God’s personal name.

The middle verse here, (Exodus 3:14), which the translators of the Septuagint (LXX) misunderstood as the great new name is actually nothing of the kind.

The great memorial name which was to be forever is not even mentioned in Exodus 3:14, but it is given in Exodus 3:15. Here it is. We have altered the punctuation to make the meaning clearer:

(Exodus 3:15) AND GOD SAID MOREOVER UNTO MOSES; THUS SHALT THOU SAY TO THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL:

JEHOVAH (YAHWEH),

THE GOD OF YOUR FATHERS,

THE GOD OF ABRAHAM,

THE GOD OF ISAAC,

AND THE GOD OF JACOB,

HATH SENT ME UNTO YOU: THIS IS MY NAME FOREVER; AND THIS IS MY MEMORIAL UNTO ALL GENERATIONS.

What then is the great memorial name? The one which is forever and ever? Answer: It is simply this: JEHOVAH; THE GOD OF ABRAHAM; AND THE GOD OF ISAAC; AND THE GOD OF JACOB.

This is the name repeated twice in this passage; and when the Son of God referred to this passage, he quoted it verbatim:

Have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM; AND THE GOD OF ISAAC; AND THE GOD OF JACOB (Matthew 22:32).

In the light of the Saviour’s emphasis upon this place, it is absolutely imperative that we reject a lot of the nonsense that has been written about the great TETRAGRAMMATON!

Since the great memorial name forever is in Exodus 3:15, what should we make of Exodus 3:13?

Whatever we make of it, there is not any new name in it. If that verse has the great memorial name, then nobody knows what it is for the last 2,000 years! Here are examples of the way the passage has been translated:

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say … I AM hath sent me unto you. (ASV)

“I WILL BE WHO (OR WHAT) I WILL BE.” (Fields)

“I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.” (Tyndale Bible)

“I AM WHO AM.” (the Douay Version)

“I AM THE BEING.” (the Septuagint (LXX))

“I AM BECAUSE I AM.” (ASV’s margin)

“I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.” (Moffatt)

“I AM WHO I AM.” (RSV)

From these examples, it is clear enough that people simply do not know how to translate this place.

With that in mind, observe this: Scholars have decided that the name is YAHWEH (JEHOVAH), making Exodus 3:13 to be an analysis of YHWH, and offering the conclusion that Jehovah is the alleged new name.

That cannot be correct, because as Moller said, “Genesis represents Jehovah as having been in use from the earliest times.

Furthermore, even Moses’ mother, Jochebed, bore a name with the meaning “Yahweh is glory.”

The difficulties of this passage are very great, and we shall content ourselves with giving two different interpretations, either one of which might be either partially are completely correct:

Exodus 3:15 as corresponds to Exodus 3:14 exactly; The name, therefore, which Moses was commissioned to use, was at once new and old; old in its connection with previous revelations, new in its full interpretation.

It would appear that this was exactly the application Jesus made of the passage in Matthew 22:32.

That founded upon a different view of the connection between these three verses. “What we have in Exodus 3:14 is a parenthetical statement, or interpretation, that analyzes the name YHWH …

It is possible to read Exodus 3:15 as the immediate continuation of Exodus 3:13.

This view also has much to commend it. If correct, then this analysis is legitimate: Exodus 3:14 is an affirmation of God’s inscrutability, into whose being man cannot penetrate, and possibly including a rebuke to Moses for asking this question!

Whatever God said to Moses here, he went right on using the same old names for God, without any change whatever.

The only new thing to come out of the passage was that pointed out by the Christ (Matthew 22:32) who made God’s “I AM” here to be an affirmation of His eternal being, containing also a promise of the resurrection of the dead!

The purpose of Moses’ question was to procure the individual, specific, personal name for God, in the sense that Dagon was the god of the Philistines, or that Molech was a god of the old Canaanites. If that was indeed what Moses wanted, he certainly never received it.

More has been written in the past two centuries on this section than upon any other comparable portion of Exodus.

Along with Exodus 6:2ff, it has been made the starting point for all kinds of reconstructions regarding religion, and for breeding all kinds of new ideas about the sources of Genesis!

We have seen enough here to cast the gravest doubts upon all such irresponsible postulations.

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was born, I AM.
John 8:58 ASV
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