Ehyeh, Yahweh, Jehovah, or Jesus? What name are we to call God? First, understand that Jehovah (sometimes written Yehovah) is the anglicized version of the name Yahweh, the name God gave to Moses. So the names, Yahweh, Yehovah, and Jehovah really are the same name. With that established, let’s now understand God’s name by starting at the beginning.
In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth.
“Elohim” is translated “God” in our Bibles. But it does not identify who God is or which god it is. “Elohim” is a generic word that simply refers to deity. It is used of both our Creator God and of other “gods” (small letter “g”). Of course, we know in Genesis 1 that “Elohim” is a reference to our Creator God because of the context. We read further and find His Person is revealed by His works.
So where in Scripture do we find Elohim revealed as our God, the Almighty God? And how do we differentiate Him from other elohim?
The first reference we find is in the second chapter of Genesis, where Moses used God’s name and wrote to give further details about His creative work.
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,
Here is the first mention of God’s name in the Bible. “LORD” is the Hebrew word Jehovah (also spelled Yehovah or Yahweh) and it’s used in conjunction with elohim (the word for “god” in Genesis 1) to specify the Almighty God who created all things.
While God’s name of “Jehovah” was introduced by Moses, here in Genesis 2, we must remember that the Torah was written by Moses long after creation. This name was not given to man until God made it known to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3). Jehovah/Yahweh was a name unknown to Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all others prior to the time recorded when God called Moses. At that time, God began to reveal Himself in a new, and more personal and intimate, way. At the burning bush, Moses was invited to stand on holy ground. He was no longer standing on a place of the world, but on a place that was sanctified (set apart) because of God’s presence (Ex 3:5). And God said:
“I am the God of your father; the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
Still here, we only have the title “God” (elohim). Moses responded and asked,
Exodus 3:13 “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 answered,
Exodus 3:14 “I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”
What Moses heard in Hebrew is “ehyeh asher ehyeh.” We translate “ehyeh” in English as “I AM” (spelled “hayah” in Strong’s Dictionary, and an older form is “ehweh”).
The Great I AM
“I AM” is the English translation of the Hebrew word “ehyeh” (ehweh). In the Hebrew language, “ehyeh” has every tense of the verb “to be.” It can be translated as “I was, I am, and I shall be.” Therefore, we can understand it to mean that God was conveying to Moses: “I shall always be the eternally existent, unchanging God.”
So Moses would have heard, “I was that I was, ” I am that I am,” and “I will be that I will be.” God was saying:
- Whatever it is that I was, I was that (eg. Creator of all things, Covenant Maker, etc).
- Whatever it is that I am, I am that (eg. the One who is calling you – vs 10, the One who is with you – vs 12, etc)
- And whatever it is that I will be, I will be that (eg. the One who will fulfill His promises, who will never change, and so much more).
“Eheh” is a word that conveys time from eternity past to eternity future. When we read “I AM” as the name of God, it reveals His eternality. It also reveals His attribute of faithfulness and His immutable nature. “Ehyeh” tells who He was, who He is, and who He will forever be. And it reminds us that all of God’s attributes are eternal, i.e. His holiness, love, grace, mercy, truth, faithfulness, and justice. He IS these things. In contrast, we are only sometimes these things. But God has always been these things, and He will always be these things.
“I AM” — is both the LORD God and Jesus
It’s important to understand the eternality of “I AM” (ehyeh/ehweh) to know that the LORD God (Yahweh Elohim) and Jesus the Christ (Yeshua Ha Mashiach) are one. The eternality links them together as one God. Thomas Adams (1583–1653) wrote:
“ehyeh is an eternal word, comprehending three times: that was, that is, and that is to come… to testify of the equality of the Son to the Father, Scripture gives the same eternality to Jesus that it doth to Jehovah…. Therefore Jesus was not only Christus Dei, the anointed of God, but also Christus Deus, God himself anointed.”
Back to Exodus 3 and the burning bush. When Moses asked God what name he should give to the children of Israel to tell them who had sent him (Ex 3:13), God first said that His name is “I AM THAT I AM” (ehyeh asher ehyeh, Exodus 3:14). But then God gave Moses a different name to tell the children of Israel:
And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD [Yahweh, or Yehovah] God [Elohim] of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.
This now raises the question, why did God say His name is “Ehyeh” in Exodus 3:14 and yet Moses was to use the name “Yahweh” when speaking to the children of Israel?
Exo 3:15 And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD [Yahweh/Yehovah] God [Elohim] … hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever…
“Ehyeh” (also spelled “ehweh”) and “Yahweh” both designate the eternality and immutability of our God. And when God said “Ehyeh,” He was speaking His own name–speaking in first person. When He gave Moses His name to speak to the children of Israel, He gave Moses the name in the third person. Why? Because if Moses had said, “Ehweh [I AM] has sent me to you,” he would have been speaking in the first person and claiming eternality for himself.
Ehweh = I was, I am, I will be
Yahweh = He [God] was, He [God] is, He [God] will be
So Moses was said, Yahweh (He who was, is, and always will be — translated LORD) Elohim (translated God) has sent me to you. (Gen 3:15) Only God can say Ehweh about Himself.
Jesus is Yahweh
In Jesus’ earthly ministry, He made claims to be Yahweh Elohim — by His works, by His words, and especially by claiming His eternality.
John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM.
In Greek, we read “I AM” as “ego eimi.” So how do we know Jesus was intending this to be understood as “Ehweh,” and not just a way to express a thought (e.g. the seven “I am” statements). Because Jesus was clearly speaking of time, or existence in John 8:58. He was born in the flesh and within the bounds of our time dimension, yet He claimed a pre-existence before Abraham. That reveals His eternality. And that was a claim to be, ”Ehweh” — I WAS, I AM, and I WILL BE. Again, only God can claim such eternality of Himself.
Jesus is the Eternal God
And, Jesus is the One True God among all elohim.
1 Cor 8:5-6 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.
In Exodus 3:15, at the burning bush, God told Moses to tell the Israelites that His name is “Jehovah” (Yahweh, Yehovah). And from that time on, Israelites have called Him by that name.
Deu 5:6-7 I am the LORD thy God [Yahweh your Elohim], which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt have none other gods [elohim] before me.
The Israelis of today call God “Jehovah,” but we know Him through further revelation as the second Person of the Trinity — Jesus, who is One with the Father. And most interesting, the name “Jesus” means “Jehovah Saves.”
Acts 4:10, 12 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth… Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Read more about the names of God in the Bible:
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