Exodus 6, the Lord's Name and a genealogy

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Jul 31, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    There is no way any English translation at all can do justice to the Hebrew meaning in some of this. I will try to help and would appreciate anyone competent in this area to comment.

    Chapter 6 begins with the Lord announcing He is now ready to move, and that Moses will see what will be done to Pharaoh. God tells Moses that because of HIS (God's) mighty hand, Pharaoh will drive the Israelites out of Egypt.

    And then God explains a little more to Moses who He is.

    He says first that He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He appeared to them as El Shaddai, or God Almighty. And then He says something strange, "But by my name the LORD (YHWH), I did not make myself known to them." And yet the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, is used from the beginning of the history of Abraham!

    The meaning of YHWH is tied up with the verb "to be" in Hebrew. The way it is used through Genesis is almost as a generic term -- something along the lines of "the God who is". However El Shaddai -- God Almighty -- is the covenant name, as expressed to Abraham in Genesis 17:1, by Isaac to Jacob in Genesis 28:3, and by Jacob himself in both Genesis 35:11 and 48:3. Thus, El Shaddai was the name by which they knew the God who is.

    Now go back to Exodus 3. At the very beginning of Moses' encounter with the burning bush, God identifies Himself as "the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob."

    And yet Moses asks Him, a bit later, what he shall tell the Israelites this God's name is!

    We here in the west have a chronic, cultural misunderstanding regarding a person's name. There is rarely a meaning attached. But we still have a clue as to the biblical reference to a person's name in phrases like, "He has a good name in town." This directly refers to the person's character, NOT his given name.

    Thus, Moses' question to God has a double meaning: not only "How are you identified?" but "what is your character?"

    The character of God by which Abraham and Isaac and Jacob knew Him was as God Almighty. The mighty God, the all-powerful God, the God who could overcome all obstacles. God the Creator who was in control of all.

    This was the name, the character, by which they knew God.

    And now God would reveal more of Himself, and the Tetragrammaton was the key to it. He was not only powerful, He was eternal. "I AM that which I AM." That is as close as it can get in English, but the implication in the Hebrew is of the past and continuing present tenses. It is the equivalent of "I was, I am, and I will be" or "I was, and I am continuing to be."

    And so Moses went to Egypt at the command of this Almighty Eternal God.

    And now, in chapter 6, there is more of God's character that is to be revealed, and again YHWH is the key. This word is unpronounceable -- not that that has stopped anyone of our time from trying! We often spell it Yahweh and pronounce it accordingly. It is also the basis of Jehovah, which it is sometimes translated as. But both of those, and in fact all English translations, miss the effect of incorporating the verb "to be" into the name.

    What the Lord is sayiing to Moses in verses 5-8 of this chapter, is that He is not only the Lord who IS, but He is the Lord who is WITH them. He is their Redeemer, and He is claiming them as His people.

    Thus the message to Moses is NOT that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not know the "name" YHWH. They obviously did. But they did not know the CHARACTER of God as represented by that name, and it was this character that God was now revealing to the people who were to be His, the Israelites.

    Moses then reports this to the Israelites who want nothing more to do with him.

    Then the Lord tells Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of the country.

    Moses says, in effect, "You have GOT to be kidding!" What he actually does is 'remind' God tht not even the Israelites would listen to him, so why should Pharaoh, especially since he does not speak well publicly. Did he have a stammer? Is that what he meant by 'faltering lips'? When we think that Moses would be used to lead several million people for the next forty years, it's a good reminder that God will use whom He chooses for the purpose He chooses!

    Starting in the middle of chapter 6 is a basic genealogy of Moses and Aaron. This is the one that seems to be a bit strange, though, for reasons mentioned before. Nevertheless, it is there to verify, primarily, Aaron's right to what would become the Levitical priesthood.

    The last three verses of this chapter actually belong with the next chapter, so they will be part of the chapter 7 study.
     
  2. tyndale1946

    tyndale1946
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    Helen here is a view from Dr John Gill on your question... but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them; which he had in the preceding verse called himself by. This is not to be understood absolutely; for it is certain that he had made himself known by this name, and this name was known unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,
    Ge 15:6, and but comparatively, as some think; that is, he was not so much made known to them by the one name as the other; though it may be questioned whether the one was more used in speaking to them than the other; wherefore others think, as Saadiah Gaon, that the word only is to be supplied, as in Ge 32:28 and the sense to be, that by his name Jehovah he was not only made known to them, but by his name Elshaddai, and others also; and others reconcile the difficulty thus, that though the name Jehovah itself was known to the patriarchs, by which they were assured that God is eternal, immutable, and faithful to his promises; yet he was not known as to the efficacy of this name, or with respect to the actual performance of his promise, as he now would be by delivering the children of Israel out of Egypt, and bringing them into the land of Canaan; though perhaps, by reading the words with an interrogation, the clause will appear more plain, "and by my name Jehovah was I not known to them?" {t} verily I was. Josephus {u} says, this name was not before made known to men, and that it was not lawful for a man to speak it; and this is the common notion of the Jews, that it is ineffable, and not lawful to be pronounced, and therefore they put Adonai and Elohim in the room of it, and the vowel points of these words to it, which is a false and superstitious notion: this name was known among the Heathens; it is the same with iaw in the oracle of Apollo {w}; and Diodorus Siculus {x} says, that with the Jews Moses is said to give laws from a God called "IAO", and is the same which in Philo Byblius {y} is called Jevo; and both are no other than a corruption of Jah or Jehovah; and perhaps the tetraktuv of the Pythagoreans {z}, by which they swore, is the same with the tetragrammaton, or this word of four letters, with the Jews.

    {t} Vid. Noldium, No. 788. {u} Antiqu. l. 2. c. 12. sect. 4. {w} Cornelius Labeo de oraculo Apoll. Clarii apud Macrob. Saturnal. l. 1. c. 18. {x} Bibliothoc. l. 1. p. 84. {y} Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. c. 9. p. 31. {z} Carmin. Aurea Pythagor. l. 47. & Hierocles in ib. p. 225, 277. Porphyr. de Vita Pythagor. p. 189... Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  3. Helen

    Helen
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    finally catching up with some of your contributions here, Glen. First of all, thank you, and second of all, that is very interesting on this topic! So thank you for that, too!
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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