The Name Above All

The Lord (YHVH) is the name of elō·hîm (God). Elohim is plural for God; namely the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. YHVH is a Him who is three that bears one name elō·hîm among many others. So it appears from personal study, but there are other perspectives also. 

430. אֱלֹהִים elohim (43b); pl (plural). of 433; God, god:—divine(1), divine being(1), exceedingly(1), God(2326), god(45), God’s(14), goddess(2), godly(1), gods(204), great(2), judges(3), mighty(2), rulers(1), shrine*(1).

Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.

3068. יהוה Yhvh (i.e. יְהוָֹה Yehovah or יַהְוֶה Yahveh) (217d); from 1933b; the proper name of the God of Israel:—GOD(314), LORD(6399), LORDS(111). 

Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.

(1) Proper names: El, Yahweh, Adonai, Theos, Kurios (God).
(2) Personal names: Father, Abba, Son, Jesus, Holy Spirit.
(3) Titles: Creator, Messiah/Christ, Paraclete/Comforter.
(4) Essential names: Light, Love, Spirit.
(5) Descriptive names: Rock, Ba’al, Master, Rabboni, Shepherd.
(6) Attributes: names of virtues or characteristics of the triune God-head.

Van Groningen, G. (1988). God, Names Of. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 881). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

El in the OT is used particularly in the earlier books, where it describes God’s exercising dynamic power as distinguished from authority. El speaks of God as the great doer and producer. He is the One who exercises such power that whatever is made, done, kept, or destroyed is his doing (cf. Ex 15). El is also used to express the idea that God is not to be identified as part of creation but as the One who is above, behind, and beyond creation (Ps 19:1). In relation to man, the crown of creation, God as El is totally other (Ez 28:2; Hos 11:9).

Elohim is also commonly used as the name of God, occurring over 2500 times in the OT. There are differences of opinion concerning the exact origin and meaning of this plural name. Some have suggested that Elohim is the plural form of El, but it seems more likely that it is a plural of Eloah, which appears in the poetical writings. Some critical writers have suggested that this plural form is borrowed from pagan polytheistic sources; but no such plural form is found among pagans as the name of a deity. Others have suggested that the plural form is used to indicate the triune nature of God, and support for this has been seen in the use of a singular verb with this plural noun. The biblical doctrine of the Trinity, as it is developed throughout the Scriptures, does not appear to be based on the use of this plural form of God’s name, even though the two positions are not contradictory.

The plural form, Elohim, is best understood as expressing intensity. God makes himself known by this name as the Lord of intense and extensive glory and richness as he exercises his preeminence and power in the created cosmos. Hence, when the Scripture speaks of creation, it states, “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth” (Gn 1:1). This name is repeated 35 times in Genesis 1 and 2 in connection with God’s power revealed in creation. In the Book of Deuteronomy the name Elohim is used repeatedly to stress the majestic power of God which was shown in Israel’s release from bondage in Egypt, her preservation in the wilderness, and her preparation for entrance into the Promised Land. In this context, God (Elohim) is also recognized as the lawgiver who will powerfully execute judgment on covenant-breakers. The psalmists also used this name repeatedly as they acknowledged and praised God the majestic ruler who had demonstrated his omnipotence in many dimensions of life (see Ps 68, in which Elohim appears 26 times.)

Evangelical scholars such as A. Juke and G. Campbell Morgan have interpreted Elohim as an expression of God’s covenant relationship with his people. They point to the use of Elohim when God spoke to Abraham and said he would be Elohim to the patriarch and his seed, that is, God would be in a covenant relationship to them (Gn 17:1–8). Included in this relationship is the idea that God is ever ready to use his power on behalf of those who are in covenant with him. Thus Elohim also expresses the concept of God’s faithfulness in regard to the covenant and the promises and blessings involved in it.

Van Groningen, G. (1988). God, Names Of. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 881–882). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House..

Yahweh (Joseph). Yahweh is a distinctly proper name of God. It is never used to refer to any pagan gods; neither is it used in regard to men. It appears 6823 times in the OT, occurring first in Genesis 2:4, where it is joined with Elohim. Yahweh is used 164 times in Genesis, and it appears 1800 times in Exodus through Joshua. It never appears in a declined form in the Hebrew language, and it never occurs in the plural form or with suffixes. It is abbreviated as Yah and Yahu (cf. Ex 15:2; Ps 68:4; Is 12:2, etc.).

The exact meaning of the name “Yahweh” is difficult to determine. Some have sought the root in the verb hayah (“to be”) or in an ancient form of that same verb hawah. There is no agreement as to whether or not the qal or hiphil form of the verb should be considered as the root. Those who opt for the hiphil form read Yahweh to mean, “cause to be”; thus Exodus 3:14 would read, “I will cause to be what has come to be.” Others look to the qal form and then translate the name as “I Am” or “I Shall Be.” Still others are inclined to disassociate the name from the verb hayah and regard it as an original and independent term, expressing the uniqueness of Israel’s gracious God.

Translators of the OT have not agreed upon the correct translation of the name “Yahweh.” Since it is translated into the Greek as kurios, which means “Lord,” many have rendered Yahweh as “Lord.” But “Adonai,” which is best rendered “Lord,” appears with Yahweh in various instances. The KJV, for example, translates “Yahweh” as “God,” and “Adonai” as “Lord.” Many modern translators have chosen to use Yahweh. The name “Jehovah,” as used in the ARV (1901) is judged unacceptable. This name arose due to the Jewish practice of not pronouncing Yahweh because of Leviticus 24:16, “He that names the name of Yahweh shall surely be put to death.” This warning against a vain or blasphemous use of the name was taken in an absolute sense, especially after Israel’s deportation (cf. Am 6:10). Hence, when reading the OT the Jews substituted either Elohim or Adonai for Yahweh. From this, the practice of adding the vowels of Adonai to YHWH (JeHoWaH) became established.

An interesting question is whether Yahweh was used initially in a specifically geographical area. Some scholars have concluded that Moses first learned of the god called Yahweh while in the desert of Midian. Later it became the name used of the god worshiped in southern Canaan, that is, the area of Judah and Simeon. These scholars posit that Elohim was the name used in northern Canaan. They also suggest that each area developed its own religious traditions and wrote its “records of religious beliefs,” each employing the divine name in use in its respective area. Later, when the nation of Israel was united, the two documents were joined, and the names “Yahweh” and “Elohim” were both used to refer to their common god. This view of the origin and use of the names of God finds no basis in the text of the OT. Both names are used in unique combinations and are also shown to have been known and used long before the time of the exodus. Abraham, for example, spoke of lifting his hand to Yahweh, El Elyon (Gn 14:19–22), and Abraham and Isaac built altars to Yahweh and called on his name (13:4; 26:25).

The interpretation of Exodus 6:2, 3 has caused much debate. “And God said to Moses, ‘I am Yahweh; I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as El Shaddai, but by my name Yahweh I did not make myself known to them.’ ” This passage has been understood to mean that the name Yahweh was not known or used prior to the time of Moses. But that is not what the passage states; rather it speaks of the patriarchs not knowing God as Yahweh. They knew him as El Shaddai in actual revelatory historical deeds. They had not come to know God according to his unique character, that is, as Yahweh. In other words, God had always been Yahweh; he is saying to Moses that the descendants of the patriarchs would come to know the full rich meaning of the name by the way God dealt with them.

This name “Yahweh” reveals God’s nature in the highest and fullest sense possible. It includes, or presupposes, the meaning of the other names. Yahweh particularly stresses the absolute faithfulness of God. God had promised the patriarchs that he would be their God, that he would be with them, would deliver and bless them, keep them, and give them a land as a place of service and inheritance. Moses is told by God that Israel is about to behold and experience the unchangeableness of God as he steadfastly and wondrously remembers his word and executes it to the fullest degree. God would prove to be a faithful, redeeming, upholding, restoring God. In working out this redemption, God would demonstrate that he is all that his name implies: merciful, gracious, patient, full of loving-kindness, truthful, faithful, forgiving, just, and righteous (Ex 34:5, 6). Truly, Jacob had received an insight into the meaning of the name when he exclaimed, “I wait for thy salvation, O Yahweh” (Gn 49:18).

Yahweh, then, is the name par excellence of Israel’s God. As Yahweh he is a faithful covenant God who, having given his Word of love and life, keeps that Word by bestowing love and life abundantly on his own.
In view of the richness of the name Yahweh, it can be understood why there were stringent rules regarding its proper use (Lv 24:11, 16). It also explains why thankful, rejoicing, worshiping Israelites used the abbreviated form of Yahweh in song when they sang Hallelujah: “Praise Yah” (Pss 104:35; 106:1; 149:1; 150:1).

Yahweh is used in a number of phrases which are considered names of or ascriptions of God. The most common of these compound names is Yahweh Sabaoth (“hosts”). The word “hosts” is used very frequently in the Pentateuch to refer to the armies of Israel (cf. e.g., Nm 10:14–28). This is because the word is derived from the verb saba which means “to wage” war. It also means “to serve” in some contexts; for example, Numbers 8:24 clearly has reference to the service performed in the tabernacle. The noun sabaoth first occurs in Genesis 2:1, where it refers to the many components of the earth and heaven. Some would limit the reference in these contexts to the stars. Still others would suggest that the sabaoth refers to the angels, appealing to Psalm 33:6 for confirmation.

The compound name, Yahweh Sabaoth first appears in 1 Samuel 1:3. In view of the frequent use of sabaoth in 1 and 2 Samuel to refer to armies (1 Sm 12:9; 14:50; 17:55; 2 Sm 2:8; 8:16; 10:16, etc.), it is thought that the compound name refers to Yahweh as the God of armies, that is, God has his armies to serve him. These are considered to be armies of angels who are ministering servants to God. It has been correctly pointed out that the compound name, Yahweh Sabaoth, is used most frequently by the prophets (Jeremiah 88 times, Zechariah 55 times, Malachi 25 times, Haggai 14 times) at times when God’s people had either suffered defeat at the hands of enemy armies or were threatened by defeat. So the compound name was used to remind them that their covenant God had great hosts to fight and work for him on behalf of his people. Thus, though Israel’s armies failed, their covenant God was sufficient for every possible circumstance. And it was to this Yahweh Sabaoth that Israel’s commanders were to give allegiance (Jos 5:14, 15), and in whose name Israel was blessed (2 Sm 6:18).

Van Groningen, G. (1988). God, Names Of. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, pp. 883–884). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Light Unto My Feet

Photo by Edu Grande on Unsplash

There was a recent posting a April Cassidy’s site about how to know God’s will. It was in reference to George Mueller’s outline about how to understand, discern or follow God’s will. In faith once it is understood, recognized or accepted.

How to know God’s will for you:

1. I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s Will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.

2. Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.

3. I seek the Will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also. If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.

4. Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s Will in connection with His Word and Spirit.

5. I ask God in prayer to reveal His Will to me aright.

6. Thus, through prayer to God, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters, and in transactions involving most important issues, I have found this method always effective.

Further interest about the amazing life of George Mueller is in this podcast:  George Mueller’s Strategy for Showing God

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