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What names did God call Himself by?

When Moses met with God to write the book of Genesis (Ex 24:4; 1 Kings 2:3; Luke 24:27), he was there so long that the nation of Israel wasn't sure what became of him (Ex 32:1). From that very beginning, Moses records God as revealing different names for Himself to different people.


1. In the first account of Creation, the very first name God used to describe Himself was "'elōhîm." Common to all ancient Semitic languages, "'el" was a generic noun for god and sometimes the proper name for a god. It means "strong one." The plural form for "'el" is "'elōhîm;" the "-im" ending denotes the plural. When used with a verb in the singular, "'elōhîm" is taken in the singular sense.

In the beginning God ('elōhîm) created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1:1, NASB)

Based on the context of Hebrew, what do you make of this verse? What exactly about God is more than one? Is there any biblical evidence to support your interpretation?



2. In the second account of Creation, God calls Himself "Yĕhovah 'elōhîm." What is different between the first and second account of Creation? Is there anything that might cause you to surmise why He calls Himself a different name in the second account of Creation?

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord (Yĕhovah) God ('elōhîm) made earth and heaven. (Gen 2:4, NASB)


Consider when God introduces His memorial name: I AM WHO I AM. I AM the Lord (Yĕhovah) God ('elōhîm) of your fathers. What are your observations in what God is conveying with the name "Yĕhovah 'elōhîm?"

Then Moses said to God, "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you.' Now they may say to me, 'What is His name?' What shall I say to them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" God, furthermore, said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'The Lord (Yĕhovah), the God ('elōhîm) of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.' This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. (Ex 3:13-15, NASB)



3. The first human beings that Moses records God introducing Himself to are the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 17:1-2; 35:11; Ex 6:2-3). Take a moment to look up 'el Shadday in a lexicon – what does it mean?

Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty ('el Shadday);
Walk before Me, and be blameless.
I will establish My covenant between Me and you,
And I will multiply you exceedingly." (Gen 17:1-2, NASB)


Note carefully what God told Moses, when He introduced Himself to the Patriarchs:

God spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am the Lord (YHWH / Yĕhovah); and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty ('el-Shadday), but by My name, Lord (YHWH / Yĕhovah), I did not make Myself known to them. (Ex 6:2-3, NASB)



4. Despite introducing Himself to Moses with His memorial name YHWH, God gives Himself a title, associating an attribute to Him, that He wants the nation of Israel to remember Him by. What is God's name and what is the attribute?

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, 'You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord (Yĕhovah) who sanctifies you (qadash).'" (Ex 31:12-13, NASB)



5. Accompanying John's opening statement to the seven churches, God introduces Himself as the first and last letter of the Greek alphabet. What does that mean? Are there any observations of the text that could help you with this interpretation?

"I am the Alpha (alpha) and the Omega (ō)," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty." (Rev 1:8, NASB)




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