I AM WHO I AM . . . I AM . . . YHWH
The first time God actually revealed His name to a person was when God revealed His name to Moses in about 1300 BC. It is recorded in Exodus 3, the burning bush passage. God appeared to Moses and told him He would deliver them from slavery in Egypt.
God appeared to Moses and in “a flame of fire from the midst of a bush” (Exodus 3:2). God said “I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6).
Moses asked God’s name, and God answered him:
Then Moses said to God, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?”
And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The Lord 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’” (Exodus 3:13-15).
The Hebrew for I AM WHO I AM is: אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה, pronounced “Ehyeh asher ehyeh.”
These Hebrew words could be translated as: “I am that I am” or “I will be what I will be” or even “Let it be who Let it be.”
Hebrew is a complex language. Notice part of the first and third words: היה. This “root” היה, or h-y-h, means “to be, to become, to come to pass), and is a form of הוה, or h-w-h. Experts believe this Hebrew root is the origin of the name YHWH.
YHWH in the Bible
In the original Hebrew Old Testament, the word used most frequently for God is YHWH. It is used 6,800 times.
This four-letter word YHWH is called the Tetragrammaton. The four letters are: yodh, he, waw and he.
Through the centuries, the word YHWH has been a mystery and puzzle to Bible scholars, as it is today.
The Jewish scribes who copied and recorded manuscripts of the Bible, and Hebrew scholars and Jews through the centuries, felt the name was so holy they did not even pronounce it. In the original manuscripts, they wrote it without the vowels, because it was never to be spoken out loud.
Through the centuries, scholars presented various ways to pronounce YHWH. There is a general debate about how Rabbis and Hebrew scholars pronounced YHWH when they did say God’s name. Examples of pronunciations centuries ago are “Yaoweh” and “Yabeh.”
What did Jews do when they wanted to read the scriptures aloud? They took the vowels from the Hebrew name “Adonai,” which means “Lord” or “Lords” and inserted them in the name to make the name YaHoWaH. This name is pronounced “Jehovah.”
YaHoWaH is a combination of “God” and “Lord,” and therefore it could safely be translated “Lord God.”
“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM’ (John 8:58).