The Name Ehyeh
A Name of Elohim
NCW 73, October-December 2001
by Jeffrey Brian White
"Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: WHOM MAKEST THOU THYSELF? Yah'shua (Jesus) answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? YAH'SHUA (JESUS) SAID UNTO THEM, VERILY,VERILY, I SAY UNTO YOU, BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS, I AM. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Yah'shua (Jesus) hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by" (Jn 8:53-59, KJV).
This is an excerpt from a conversation which Yah'shua (Jesus) had with some of the sect of the Pharisees concerning his identity. Before this, they had accused him of being a Samaritan and a demon-possessed person. After discussing many things about their heredity, in which Yah'shua (Jesus) identified them according to their SPIRITUAL heredity, and finding that Yah'shua (Jesus) had an answer for everything they had to say, they finally asked him the loaded question, "Whom makest thou thyself?". The answer Yah'shua (Jesus) ultimately gave them angered them to the point where they were willing to actually stone him to death on the spot. He said, "Before Abraham was, I am". His answer was apparently even more loaded than their question. He had already identified himself somewhat as a true son of Abraham (according to his nature) and as the Son of God, all the while teaching them about his Sonship. But when he said to them, "Before Abraham was, I am", he identified himself as none other than Yahweh himself, using a name which Scripture seems to record only Yahweh himself as actually pronouncing it: I AM. His answer also told them in essence that he existed before Abraham had. This echoes John the Baptist's statement, "This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me" (Jn 1:15, KJV). To tell them this, "Before Abraham was, I am", meant that they, who claimed that Yahweh was their God, were opposing and accusing Yahweh himself! This meant that they were dealing with the very same One whom Moses encountered at the burning bush, who was therefore capable bringing all of the same things upon them that Yahweh brought upon those who preceded them. These things they most certainly did not want to believe. It was easier to believe that Yah'shua (Jesus) was simply another human being among the many. And he was, for he came as the Son of Man, and referred to himself this way more than he did to his divine Sonship. (I will not attempt here to unravel the great mystery of either the deity of Christ or that of his humanity.)
It is therefore important that we understand something about who Yah'shua (Jesus) is then, and understand that in relation to his identity as Yahweh. We should therefore look at Moses' experience with him:
"Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of Elohim, even to Horeb. And the Angel of Yahweh appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when Yahweh saw that he turned aside to see, Elohim called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I AM THE ELOHIM OF THY FATHER, THE ELOHIM OF ABRAHAM, THE ELOHIM OF ISAAC, AND THE ELOHIM OF JACOB. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon Elohim... And Moses said unto Elohim, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The Elohim of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And Elohim said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And Elohim said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Yahweh Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Abraham, the Elohim of Isaac, and the Elohim of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: THIS IS MY NAME FOR EVER, and this is my memorial unto all generations." (Ex 3:1-6,13-15, KJV-OTR)
"uiamr aleim al-mshe AEIE ASHR AEIE uiamr ke thamr lbni ishral AEIE shlchni alikm." (Ex 3:14, Masoretic Text transliteration according to Concordant values, vowel pointing ignored, CVOT)
When Elohim (Hebrew for 'God') said this unto Moses, he was not referring to the name 'Yahweh', rather, he was referring to the name EHYEH. In the KJV-OTR text above, this name is translated as "I am". In the Masoretic Text transliteration, it is "Aeie". Concerning this name, Elohim said "This is my NAME for ever, and this is my MEMORIAL unto all generations". And this is the way Yah'shua (Jesus) used this name. Unlike the name Yahweh, which relates to God's eternal existence past, present and future, meaning quite literally "will-be-ing-was" (CVOT), and unlike the name Elohim, meaning 'subjectors' and emphasizing God's power, Ehyeh emphasizes God's immediate manifest presence in the present tense, within that juncture point that separates the past from the future. In as many ways as he could, Yah'shua (Jesus) repeatedly expressed the Father's continual presence which was ceaselessly manifesting in him. The Pharisees, the scribes, and the Sadducees (and for that matter, the Essenes,) all related to God as the God of the Past, and to some degree, as the God of the Future, but they did not relate to him as the God of the Present. Yah'shua's (Jesus') statements to them were meant to bring them out of these two time references into the one which truly counted, the present moment of time.
Let's look at Exodus 3:14 again, this time translating "I Am" back to its Hebrew source:
"And Elohim said unto Moses, Ehyeh that Ehyeh: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, Ehyeh hath sent me unto you."
According to Wigram, Ehyeh is actually the future tense form of hâyâh [#1961H]. However, nearly all translations render the name "I Am". Moreover, the Septuagint renders Aeie ashr Aeie as egô eimi ho ôn, that is, "I am, the one being". Therefore, we can possibly go either way on whether Ehyeh is present or future tense, but the present tense is more likely (especially in light of the fact that the Septuagint (LXX) is approximately a millennium older than the Masoretic Text and reflects the LXX translators' understanding of the Hebrew text available to them at that time).
"Therefore Adonai himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name IMMANUEL." (Is 7:14, KJV-OTR)
"But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name YAH'SHUA (JESUS): for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name EMMANUEL, which being interpreted is, GOD WITH US." (Mt 1:20-23, KJV)
Now, note the angel of the Lord's instructions to Joseph, Yah'shua's (Jesus') father on earth. While he is commanded to name the child in Mary's womb "Yah'shua (Jesus)", people would call him "Emmanuel", meaning "God with us". When Yahweh called himself Ehyeh, he was introducing himself to Moses, and through Moses to Israel, as the God who was PRESENT WITH his people in their time of deliverance from Egyptian slavery. And he made his presence known through the great judgments which he brought upon the land of Egypt and through the miraculous things he did leading them out of bondage and through the wilderness toward Canaan. Isaiah was prophesying more than he knew, because it was through Yah'shua (Jesus) that sinful people would come to experience the manifest presence of God. And so Emmanuel, as a name, really expresses more the result of believing upon the name of Yah'shua (Jesus) than anything else. That experience of the 'WITHNESS' of God is precisely that to which the name Ehyeh points.
Note this correspondence: Both Moses and Joseph were visited by the "angel of the Lord". Each was given revelation of a name corresponding to a new age of God's dealings with humanity. There is no record in Scripture of anyone other than Moses receiving the name Ehyeh, nor is there any of anyone other than Joseph receiving the interpretation of Isaiah's prophecy as it pertained to the name Emmanuel. In his day, Moses got to know God better and received more revelation of Yahweh than any of his contemporaries. In his day, no one revealed God more than Yah'shua (Jesus). The apostle John expressed something similar to this: "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Yah'shua (Jesus) Christ" (Jn 1:17, KJV). While Moses got to know the presence of God, Yah'shua (Jesus) became the presence of God, and identified himself as Ehyeh, saying "Before Abraham was, I AM". I don't know what language Yah'shua (Jesus) was speaking when he said this, but if he were speaking Old Hebrew, he probably said "Ehyeh". It is recorded in the Greek New Testament as egô eimi in John 8:58, exactly the same words used to translate Aeie in the Septuagint in Exodus 3:14! So Yah'shua (Jesus) is Ehyeh.
So what about this name Ehyeh? It is derived from the exact same verb as the name Yahweh. That verb is the verb hâyâh, which according to Strong means "to exist, i.e. be or become, come to pass (always emphatic...)" [#1961H]. So then, since Ehyeh is translated as "I Am", we can also translate it as "I become" or "I happen" or "I exist". If Moses was ever unsure of Yahweh's existence, that insecurity was blown away when Yahweh revealed this name Ehyeh to Moses. "I exist, Moses, I am, I become, I come to pass, I happen!" This is fundamental truth, for it says in the Epistle to the Hebrews, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: FOR HE THAT COMETH TO GOD MUST BELIEVE THAT HE IS, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb.11:6, KJV).
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