08-06-06-The Names of God-Yahweh-Jehovah
We have been looking at the at the names of God for the past two weeks—not just to learn Hebrew words or know about God, but so that in learning who He is we can know Him better and experience who He is. Last week we looked at the first name of God revealed in the scriptures—Elohim. We saw this name in the very first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.” We learned that He is the Almighty, Sovereign Ruler and Creator who has chosen to make covenant with mankind.
The next name to be revealed in the Bible in the name Jehovah. This name first appears in Genesis 2:4 (NIV):
¨ Genesis 2:4 (NIV) This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the Lord (Jehovah) God (Elohim) made the earth and the heavens—
Now if you will look carefully at the text, you will notice that the word Lord is written in small capital letters as Lord not Lord. This is the way many translations will show the name and it helps us to see that it is different from all other words and names. The word for Lord is Adonai, but the word for Jehovah is written as Lord in small capital letters. This name is used over 6500 times in the Old Testament. In Genesis 2:4 we see the two names combined Jehovah Elohim (Lord God). This compound name is repeated throughout the Old Testament. So the compound name of Jehovah Elohim or Lord God ties the Sovereign Creator characteristic of God to that of Jehovah. But what does the name Jehovah mean?
The name Jehovah comes from the Hebrew word “hayah” which means “to be, become, or being.” Therefore, Jehovah means "the self-existent One" or the One who is and always will be. It is also the same as Yahweh.
3068 יהוה, יְהוִה [Yâhovah /yeh·ho·vaw/] n pr dei. From 1961; TWOT 484a; GK 3378; 6519 occurrences; AV translates as “LORD” 6510 times, “GOD” four times, “JEHOVAH” four times, and “variant” once. 1 the proper name of the one true God. 1a unpronounced except with the vowel pointings of 0136. Additional Information: Jehovah = “the existing One”. [i]
1961 אֶהְיֶה, הָיָה [hayah /haw·yaw/] v. A primitive root [compare 1933]; TWOT 491; GK 181 and 2118; 75 occurrences; AV translates as “was”, “come to pass”, “came”, “has been”, “were happened”, “become”, “pertained”, and “better for thee”. 1 to be, become, come to pass, exist, happen, fall out. 1a (Qal). 1a1 ——-. 1a1a to happen, fall out, occur, take place, come about, come to pass. 1a1b to come about, come to pass. 1a2 to come into being, become. 1a2a to arise, appear, come. 1a2b to become. 1a2b1 to become. 1a2b2 to become like. 1a2b3 to be instituted, be established. 1a3 to be. 1a3a to exist, be in existence. 1a3b to abide, remain, continue (with word of place or time). 1a3c to stand, lie, be in, be at, be situated (with word of locality). 1a3d to accompany, be with. 1b (Niphal). 1b1 to occur, come to pass, be done, be brought about. 1b2 to be done, be finished, be gone.[ii]
In fact, this name is a very sacred word to the Jews and one that they do not pronounce. Instead they will substitute Adonai (Lord) or “the name.” The Jews took literally the 3rd commandment of God not to take the Lord’s name in vain:
¨ Exodus 20:7 (NASB) “aYou shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished (hold him guiltless) who takes His name in vain.
The important thing is that we see that the name Jehovah is God’s personal name. Elohim is the name that is concerned with creation and sovereign ruler ship of the universe—i.e. God’s works. Jehovah is name that reveals God’s essential moral and spiritual attributes—i.e. God’s nature. In Genesis 1 the emphasis is on God’s power shown in the creation of the universe and earth, so the name Elohim is used (35 times in Gen 1:1-2:4). But in Genesis 2, although it is dealing with the creation of man and woman, we see the personal attention of God so the name Jehovah is used.
“Jehovah is distinctly the redemption name of Deity. When sin entered and redemption became necessary, it was Jehovah Elohim (Lord God) who sought the sinning ones (Genesis 3:9-13) and clothed them with "coats of skins" (Genesis 3:21) a beautiful type of righteousness provided by the Lord God through sacrifice (Romans 3:21,22) . . . . As Redeemer, emphasis is laid upon those attributes of Jehovah which the sin and salvation of man bring into exercise. These are: (a) His holiness (Leviticus 11:44,45; 19:1,2; 20:26; Habakkuk 1:12,13) (b) His hatred and judgment of sin; (Deuteronomy 32:35-42; Genesis 6:5-7; Psalms 11:4-6; 66:18; Exodus 34:6,7) (c) His love for and redemption of sinners, but always righteously; (Genesis 3:21; 8:20,21; Exodus 12:12,13; Leviticus 16:2,3; Isaiah 53:5,6,10). Salvation by Jehovah apart from sacrifice is unknown to Scripture.”[iii]
Jehovah is the covenant name of God as He revealed Himself in covenant with Israel. The explanation for this divine name is given in Ex 3:14,15 where God identifies Himself as “I AM WHO I AM.” This expression means that God is the self-existent One who is independent and autonomous.
¨ Exodus 3:14-15 (NIV) God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God (Jehovah Elohim) 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, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.
God said that the name that He was to be known by forever was Jehovah—I AM WHO I AM. What does that mean? God was saying, I always have been, I always AM, and I always will be. I AM everything and anything that you will ever need. I AM with you, and I AM everything that you need now and forever!
It is this covenant name of God—Jehovah—that is used repeatedly to reveal the redemptive characteristics of God in covenant with Israel. There are seven compound names which reveal Him as meeting every need of man.
1. Jehovah-Jireh "the Lord will provide" Genesis 22:13,14
2. Jehovah-rapha (rophe), "the Lord that healeth" Exodus 15:26.
3. Jehovah-nissi, "the Lord our banner" Exodus 17:8-15.
4. Jehovah-Shalom, "the Lord our peace," or "the Lord send peace" Judges 6:24.
5. Jehovah-ra-ah (rohi), "the Lord my shepherd" Psa 23:1.
6. Jehovah-tsidkenu, "the Lord our righteousness" Jeremiah 23:6.
7. Jehovah-shammah, "the Lord is present" Ezekiel 48:35.
The name Jehovah/Yahweh is also abbreviated to “Yah” as in “hallelujah” (“hallelu Yah”) which means Praise Yah.
¨ Isaiah 12:2-3 (NKJV) 2 Behold, God (Elohim) is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; b‘For cYah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.’ ” 3 Therefore with joy you will draw dwater From the wells of salvation. (Yah, the Lord = Jehovah Elohim, or Lord God in other translations)
This verse has a special meaning to me because when I went to Israel, it was the beginning of the healing process that Jehovah used to heal me from the grief that I had experienced the previous year—when my first wife and 18 year old son died in a car accident. I woke up early the first day in Israel and God led me to this verse. At that time I was reading from the NKJV and as I read this verse, I saw that Yah (Yahweh/Jehovah) was there with me. I began to meditate on the fact that Yah is my strength and my song, Yah is my salvation. This great Yah loved me and was with me, so I could begin to heal and draw the water of life from the wells of His salvation. Praise Yah (hallelujah) forever more!
We will see much more about the character of God in the weeks ahead as we examine the compound names of Jehovah. But for now, we must ask ourselves the question as to how we should respond to what we have learned today about Jehovah?
First, we must realize that Elohim wants us to know Him personally as our Jehovah. It is the name of Jehovah that proves to us that God is a personal God. We stand in awe of God’s power when we see the creation around us. But not only is He sovereign and all powerful as Elohim, but He is also the God who chooses to make covenant with sinful man. Just as God chose to make covenant with Israel He also chose to make covenant with mankind through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. Although He is self-sufficient, He has chosen to bind Himself in covenant to His creation. And although He is righteous, He chooses to love sinful men and bring redemption to them. The name Jehovah gives us hope that we can be redeemed because He is the covenant making and covenant keeping God who desires to have a personal relationship with us and make us a holy people.
Second, His self-existence assures us that He does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the great “I AM, WHO I AM.” There is no reason to worry that He will not be the same today as he was yesterday. We do not have to worry about Him changing from today to tomorrow. This helps us to be able to trust Him with our lives that He knows what is best for us each and every day. He has promised to always be with us and never leave us (Heb 13:5) and that is a promise we can stand on without any doubt because His word is as sure as His name. His love for us will not grow cold, nor will His ability to meet our every need. It is all wrapped up in His name—Jehovah/Yahweh/Yah—and He is as good as His name!
Today, we must worship Him as Jehovah in our lives. He is the God who loves us so much that He was willing to give the ultimate sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ to die in our place. He has already done everything that is necessary for us to have a personal relationship with Him. Now He invites us to become a part of His family and become a joint heir with Jesus Christ. If you don’t personally know Jehovah (God) today, come to Him and He will welcome you into a personal relationship with Him.
n n: noun
pr pr: proper noun or pronoun
dei dei: deity
TWOT Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
AV Authorized Version
[i]Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (H3068). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.
v v: verb
TWOT Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament
AV Authorized Version
[ii]Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (H1961). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.
a Lev 19:12; Deut 6:13; 10:20
b Ps. 83:18
c Ex. 15:2; Ps. 118:14
d [John 4:10, 14; 7:37, 38]