NOT A NAMELESS PERSON
15. When asked for His name, what did God say to Moses at Sinai?
15 This King of Eternity is no nameless Person. He has given himself a name and has made his self-designation known to us. What he calls himself bespeaks purpose, his having an objective. How well this fact is brought out on the occasion when God, by means of his angel, encountered Moses, the fugitive from Egypt, at the burning thornbush near the foot of Mount Sinai in Arabia, in the sixteenth century B.C.E.! Moses was instructed to return to Egypt and lead his enslaved people out to freedom. But what if Moses’ people should ask for the name of the God who sent him to them as their leader? What should he tell them? Moses wanted to know. His own autobiography tells us: “At this God said to Moses: ‘I SHALL PROVE TO BE WHAT I SHALL PROVE TO BE.’ And he added: ‘This is what you are to say to the sons of Israel, ‘I SHALL PROVE TO BE has sent me to you.”’”—Exodus 3:14.
16. By his answer to Moses, was God referring to merely his existence, or to what?
16 God is not here speaking about his existence. A person might think so from the way that some translators render into English the Hebrew expression eh·yehʹ a·sherʹ eh·yehʹ and eh·yehʹ. For example, The Jerusalem Bible (English translation), of 1966, reads: “And God said to Moses, ‘I Am who I Am. This’ he added ‘is what you must say to the sons of Israel: “I Am has sent me to you.”’” However, God is really talking about being something. This is further borne out by the translation of the Twenty-Four Books of the Holy Scriptures, by Rabbi Isaac Leeser, as follows: “And God said unto Moses, I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I WILL BE hath sent me unto you.”k
17. How does Rotherham render Exodus 3:14 and comment on it?
17 More pointedly, The Emphasised Bible, by Joseph B. Rotherham, renders Exodus 3:14 as follows: “And God said unto Moses, I Will Become whatsoever I please. And he said—Thus shalt thou say to the sons of Israel, I Will Become hath sent me unto you.” The footnote on this verse says, in part: “Hayah [the word rendered above ‘become’] does not mean ‘to be’ essentially or ontologically, but phenomenally. . . . What he will be is left unexpressed—He will be with them, helper, strengthener, deliverer.” Thus the reference here is not to God’s self-existence but, rather, to what he has in mind to become toward others.
18. When was it that God first had to decide what to be or become?
18 Similar to this is when a young person, growing to adulthood, meditates and says to himself: ‘What am I going to do with my life? What am I going to make out of myself?’ Not otherwise, when the one living and true God was all alone, he had to determine what he would do with his self-existence, what he would make of himself, what he would become. After an eternity of precreation existence in his solitariness, he willed to become a Creator. He formed a purpose with regard to himself.
19. How did God spell out his name in the Ten Commandments?
19 However, the name by which the one living and true God is known throughout the inspired Holy Scriptures is not Eh·yehʹ, or, “I Shall Prove to Be.” When, in the year 1513 B.C.E., at Mount Sinai, God miraculously inscribed on stone tablets the Ten Commandments and gave these to the prophet Moses, God himself spelled out his self-chosen name. Writing from right to left, God wrote down the Hebrew letter Yod, then a Heh, next a Waw, and finally another Heh. Doubtless God wrote in the ancient style of Hebrew letters, like this: ; not in the modern-style Hebrew letters: יהוה. The corresponding letters in English, as read from right to left, are HWHY; or, in ancient Latin, HVHJ. All four letters are consonants, with no vowels inserted between these consonants.
k “Most moderns follow Rashi in rendering ‘I will be what I will be’; i.e. no words can sum up all that He will be to His people, but His everlasting faithfulness and unchanging mercy will more and more manifest themselves in the guidance of Israel. The answer which Moses receives in these words is thus equivalent to, ‘I shall save in the way that I shall save.’ It is to assure the Israelites of the fact of deliverance, but does not disclose the manner.”—Footnote on Exodus 3:14, The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, by Dr. J. H. Hertz, C. H., Soncino Press, London, 1950 C.E.