3. Yahweh, I AM, the Eternal God (´El `Olam)

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Audio (34:47) |

E. Plouchard, God Appears to Moses in the Burning Bush, St. Petersburg
Eugene Pluchart (French painter, 1809-1880), "God Appears to Moses in Burning Bush" (1848), St. Isaac of Dalmatia Cathedral, St. Petersburg. Larger image.
One aspect of God's nature that fascinates and comforts us is his eternity. In this chapter we'll examine God's self-revealed name -- Yahweh, I AM THAT I AM. We'll also consider a number of names that indicate God's eternal nature -- Eternal/Everlasting God (´El `Olam); Ancient of Days; Alpha and Omega; the First and the Last; the King eternal, immortal, invisible; the Living God; the One Who Inhabits Eternity; and the One Who Lives Forever.

Moses and the Burning Bush (Exodus 3:1-15)

Let's begin by hearing God's revelation of his name to Moses at the Burning Bush.

1Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight -- why the bush does not burn up."
4When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
And Moses said, "Here I am."
5"Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." 6Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
7The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey -- the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt."
11But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"
12And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."
13Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"
14God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'"
15God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God 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, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

Moses the Shepherd (3:1)

Moses, as you will recall, was saved as a baby from death by exposure by being adopted by Pharaoh's daughter. He was educated in the palace and raised as a noble. When he was about 40, he sought to help his fellow Israelites by killing an Egyptian. For that he had to flee into exile. He had an education, but he didn't know God.

"Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God." (3:1)

Now about 40 years after fleeing Egypt, Moses is an old man of 80. No longer a prince of Egypt, he tends sheep, a menial task by Egyptian standards (Genesis 46:34). And not even his own sheep, but those of his father-in-law Jethro, "the priest of Midian." As he leads the sheep to pasture in this dry land, Moses travels to Horeb, "the mountain of God," that is, where God will reveal himself to the people of Israel a few years hence. "Horeb" means "desert, waste," signifying a desolate region, and seems to be an alternate name for Mount Sinai.1 The narrator calls it the "far side," "backside" (KJV) of the desert or "beyond" the wilderness (NRSV).2 It was very remote, far from Moses' normal dwelling.

The Burning Bush (3:2-3)

"There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, 'I will go over and see this strange sight -- why the bush does not burn up.'" (3:2-3)

A burning bush is a strange way for God to reveal himself. To the Israelites he was a mighty pillar of fire representing the glory of God (Exodus 13:21-24). But this burning bush that didn't run out of fuel intrigued Moses. At this point he is more curious than frightened. Moses considered it a "great" (KJV, NRSV) or "strange" (NIV) sight.3

But the burning bush is not a natural phenomenon; it is "the angel of the LORD," as Moses is about to discover. Interestingly, in this case the "angel" or "messenger" (mal´āk )4 doesn't appear as a human, but a flaming bush (seneh).5 But the angel now speaks directly from God. "The angel is 'a divine emissary of Yahweh who assumes the form and speech of Yahweh himself.'"6

God's Mission for Moses (3:11-12)

God tells Moses that he has seen the misery of "my people" and states his intention to rescue (nāstal)7 them and bring them back to Canaan. He concludes, "So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt" (3:10). Now Moses begins to protest. His first objection is that he is a nobody. God's answer to the excuse of being a nobody, is that a Somebody will be with him.

"But Moses said to God, 'Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'
And God said, 'I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.'" (3:11-12)

Request for God's Name (3:13)

Moses' second objection seems strange -- that if he doesn't know God's name then he won't have any authority with the people.

"Moses said to God, 'Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, "The God of your fathers has sent me to you," and they ask me, "What is his name?" Then what shall I tell them?'" (3:13)

While there is lots of controversy about this, the answer seems to lie along these lines. Cole contends that in patriarchal days, any new revelation of the ancestral God would be summed up in a new title for him. So Moses is asking for God's name to somehow authenticate his revelation.8 Or, since a name often indicated the nature or deeds of the person, they would want to know God's name in order to know (and believe) how God would act to save them.9

I AM THAT I AM (Exodus 3:14)

Whatever the intent of Moses' hypothetical question, God takes the question of his name seriously and answers -- but maybe not what Moses expected:

God (elohim) said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (3:14)

God reveals to Moses his name in a new way: "I AM WHO I AM." What does it mean? The phrase consists of three words in Hebrew: the verb "to be" (hāyā)10 occurs twice, and sandwiched between them ´ashar, a "particle of relation," that can be translated "that," "who," etc., depending on the context.11 Since both verbs are in the Hebrew imperfect tense they can be translated either:


"He who is," the "Self-Existent One"


"He who will continue to be (present with his people).

In context the idea is to encourage the people that God has not forgotten them but is always with them, the Covenant God. Cole suggests the translation in this context in an active sense as: "I will only be understood by My own subsequent acts and words of revelation," since "in all subsequent Israelite history God would be known as the One who brought Israel from Egypt (Exodus 20:2). The revelation of the name therefore is not merely a deep theological truth, it is a call to the response of faith by Moses and by Israel."12

But the idea of eternity is clearly present also. Since the idea of "to be" can refer to God's indefinite existence in the past, present, and future, we see in the Book of Revelation: "'I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'" Jesus' audacious claim to the Pharisees clearly uses the "I AM" statement in a striking way: "'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'before Abraham was born, I am!'" (John 8:58). They were so offended by his assertion and use of the Divine Name they picked up stones to stone him.

Yahweh, God's Personal Name (Exodus 3:15)

But the statement, "I AM THAT I AM," is not to be disconnected from the context. It is the Name by which God reveals himself and gives the Israelites new insight into the name Yahweh, which is used in the next verse. For in verse 15, the Lord continues:

"God also said to Moses, 'Say to the Israelites, "The LORD [that is, Yahweh], the God of your fathers -- the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob -- has sent me to you."'" (3:15)

It is quite clear that this verb hāyā ("to be") is intended to be understood as part of the Lord's name. That is what the revelation to Moses is all about. The likelihood is that this similarity between words was paronomasia, a play on words, more than a scientific etymology or derivation of the name. Nevertheless it  is very relevant to understanding this new revelation of Yahweh.13 Clearly in this revelation to Moses, God intends us to know him as the great I AM, the One Who Is, the One Who Will Always Be.

Q1. (Exodus 3:1-15) What does God's name Yahweh reveal about his person and his power? How would an understanding of Yahweh's name contrast him with the idols worshipped by the Egyptians?




The Pronunciation of the Divine Name, Yahweh vs. LORD

It has become apparent through biblical studies in the twentieth century that the correct pronunciation and spelling of God's name should be Yahweh rather than the traditional Jehovah. For greater detail on this, see the sidebar, "Correct Spelling and Pronunciation of Yahweh vs. Jehovah" (www.jesuswalk.com/names-god/yahweh_jehovah.htm).

Even though the early Israelites no doubt pronounced the divine name Yahweh, as the pre-Christian era drew to a close, there was a strong movement among devout Jews to avoid pronouncing the Divine Name at all, lest they misuse it and break the commandment: "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD [Yahweh] your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name" (Exodus 20:7; Deuteronomy 6:11). Their avoidance even extended to reading the divine name from Scripture in the synagogue. It became the custom in the synagogue that when the reader came to YHWH, he would read it as Adonai ("Lord").

Most of our English Bibles follow this same tradition. When you see "LORD" in small caps, that indicates God's given name Yahweh. When you see "Lord" in upper and lower case that indicates the Hebrew word Adonai, "Lord." There were three notable exceptions to this tradition in the twentieth century:

  • American Standard Version (Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1901) uses "Jehovah" whenever the divine name occurs, a difference from the closely-related English Revised version (1885). For many years the American Standard Version was used, published, and distributed by the Jehovah's Witnesses because of its use of Jehovah for the divine name.
  • New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures (Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of New York [Jehovah's Witnesses], 1961, revised 1970, 1984) uses Jehovah whenever the divine name occurs.
  • The Jerusalem Bible (Doubleday, 1966) and the New Jerusalem Bible (1988) use Yahweh whenever the divine name occurs.

Personally, I find the use of the divine name Yahweh quite powerful and moving. While I respect the tradition that seeks to protect God's name from abuse, I feel that its absence in most English Bibles has resulted in widespread ignorance of God's name, thus less, not more, respect for his name Yahweh. I use the NIV for my main study Bible, but I find it refreshing occasionally to read the Psalms out of the Jerusalem Bible, which retains the divine name. Read out loud, for example, this passage from Psalm 24 that we have considered elsewhere:

Gates, lift high your heads,
raise high the ancient gateways,
and the king of glory shall enter!

Who is he, this king of glory?
It is Yahweh, strong and valiant,
Yahweh valiant in battle.

Gates, lift high your heads,
raise high the ancient gateways,
and the king of glory shall enter!

Who is he, this king of glory?
Yahweh Sabbath,
he is the king of glory. (New Jerusalem Bible, Psalm 24:7-10)

Yahweh's Name as Part of Personal Names

Occasionally God's name appears in shortened form as Yāh (Exodus 15:2; 17:16). The divine name appears in "Hallelujah" used in Revelation 19:1, 3, 4, and 6, which is transliterated from two Hebrew words commonly found in the Psalms (Psalm 104:35, etc.): halelu ("praise ye"), from hālal, "praise, boast") and Yāh (a shortened form of "Yahweh").

Yahweh's name was often used as a part of personal given names. In shortened form, the initial elements are prefixed: yehô-, yô-, and yē-.14 In other names the shortened divine name appears as a suffix, -yah. "Yahweh, in some form, appears in over 10% of Israelite names."15 For example:

Jehonathan, Jonathan

Yahweh has given

Johanan, John

Yahweh has been gracious


Yahweh has judged


Yahweh has taken

Joshua, Hoshea, Hosea, Jesus

Yahweh is Salvation


Yahweh is glory


Yahweh is God


God (is) Yahweh


Yahweh is my father


Yahweh be my lord


Yahweh's servant


Yahweh is salvation

Of course, many names are compounded from the generic name of God, as well, such as: Elijah, Elisha, Joel, Eli, Nathaniel, Elimelech, Elizabeth, Michael, and many others.

When Was the Name Yahweh First Used?

When was the name Yahweh was first used by the Hebrews? Consider these two verses:

"At that time men began to call on the name of the LORD." (Genesis 4:26)
"I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name 'The LORD' I did not make myself known to them." (Exodus 6:3)

Yahweh is found about 160 times in Genesis, often in voice of the narrator. Some of this might be considered an anachronism, using later language to explain earlier events, since Genesis probably wasn't written down until Moses' time or later -- after God had revealed himself to Moses by the name Yahweh. But the name Yahweh is occasionally pronounced by the patriarchs themselves (e.g. Genesis 14:22; 15:2, 7-8; 16:2, 5; etc.) and appears as part of a few personal names of the period prior to God's revelation to Moses in the burning bush (such as: Beriah and Jochebed, Moses' mother).

Liberal scholarship beginning with Julius Wellhausen (1844-1918) seized on this and other apparent discrepancies and anachronisms as the basis of his elaborate Documentary Hypothesis. The theory speculates that the work of four editors was spliced together to form the Pentateuch as we have it today. Where God's name is given as Yahweh, the Yahwist editor (J) was the author. Where God's name is given as El, the theory goes, the Eloist (E) author is assumed, and so on. While in the twentieth century this was the dominant theory of authorship among more liberal scholars, these days it has pretty much fallen into disrepute since designation of the various strands is so speculative and varies from one scholar to another. Certainly editors helped form the Pentateuch as we have it today, but it is extremely doubtful that their work can be explained by the Documentary Hypothesis.

Conservative scholars have approached this apparent discrepancy much more straightforwardly. In Exodus 6:3, the Lord explains to Moses that by his name Yahweh he had not been "known" to the patriarchs, probably taking "know" (yāda`) in its fullest sense of "to know intimately." According to Moyter, the name was in use prior to Moses, but was not appreciated in the redemptive significance that it acquired under Moses.16 O. K.. Wright contends, "What was new at the call of Moses and the Exodus was not the revelation of the name itself, but a new experience of its meaning, bound up with God's faithfulness to His covenant promises and redemptive acts on behalf of His people."17

The Everlasting, Eternal God (´El `Olam)

We've spent considerable time exploring God's name Yahweh -- and rightly so, since it is by far the most-used name, title, or descriptor of God in the Bible, used about 6,800 times in the Old Testament, with ´El second with 2,600 uses. But this is not a name popularity contest, but a quest to know God by his names, titles, and metaphors used to describe him in Scripture.

Another way in which he is known is as the Everlasting God, the Eternal God (´el `ōlām). `Ôlām means, "forever, ever, lasting, evermore, perpetual, old, ancient, world, etc." It doesn't quite equate to our English word "eternal." It can apply to the indefinite future and past, but in the past can point to things long ago, rather than necessarily to a limitless past.18

"Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God (´ēl `ōlām)." (Genesis 21:33)
"Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God (´elohi `ôlām),
the Creator of the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 40:28)
"But the LORD is the true God;
he is the living God, the eternal (`ôlām) King." (Jeremiah 10:10)
"The eternal God (´elohim qedem19) is a dwelling place,
And underneath are the everlasting (`ôlām) arms." (Deuteronomy 33:27)
"Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting (`ôlām) to everlasting (`ôlām) you are God." (Psalm 90:2)
"... But now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God...." (Romans 16:26)
"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." (1 Timothy 1:17)

Another Hebrew word is used to express eternity as well: `ad, "perpetuity, continuing future."20 In Isaiah 9:7, the Messiah is called "the everlasting (`ad) Father." The NIV translates Isaiah 26:4, "the LORD, is the Rock eternal (`ad)." In Isaiah God identifies himself this way:

"For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity (`ad), whose name is Holy..." (Isaiah 57:15, RSV).

Meditate on this a moment. What does it mean to inhabit perpetuity? Never ending, never changing time? If time can ever be any real measure of eternity. God inhabits a different plane than we do.

Q2. (Isaiah 57:15) What do you think it is like to "inhabit eternity"? What will it be like when you inhabit eternity with the Eternal God, seated with Christ Jesus in heavenly places? What emotions does this inspire in you?




The Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9, 13, 22)

This same idea of the Eternal God is present in the Ancient of Days in Daniel's vision:

"As I looked,
'thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened....." (Daniel 7:9-10)
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence." (7:13; see also 7:22)

The Ancient of Days is obviously a vision of God, something like Revelation 20 and the Messiah is the Son of Man who appears before God on the clouds of heaven. This part of Daniel is written in Aramaic, a close cousin of Biblical Hebrew. The word translated "ancient" is the Aramaic adjective `attîq, "advanced, aged," as to days or years,21 "very old."22 While the figure is one of old age, God's eternal nature is clearly suggested.

Meditate on the figure of the Ancient of Days. What would it be like to sit at his feet quietly and learn from his wisdom. Why don't we take the time to do that more?

The First and the Last

In the last chapter of Revelation, Jesus identifies himself: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End" (Revelation 22:13). In Isaiah, God is identified in a similar way, suggesting eternity:

"Who has done this and carried it through,
calling forth the generations from the beginning?
I, the LORD--with the first of them
and with the last -- I am he." (Isaiah 41:4)

However, in two verses close by there is also an emphasis on exclusivity. Yahweh is the first God and the last one too. There is no other god but he.

"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel,
and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god." (Isaiah 44:6)

"Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called;
I am He, I am the first, I am also the last." (Isaiah 48:12)

Finally, in Revelation we read:

"'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'" (Revelation 1:8)
Q3. (Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:8) What does the idea of "first" and "last" tell you about God? How does Revelation 1:8 relate to God's revelation to Moses, "I AM THAT I AM"?




The One Who Lives for Ever

Finally, we come full circle to the Living God. If the essential meaning of Yahweh is being and presence and life for all time (I AM THAT I AM), then the Name speaks of the One who lives forever and ever:

"I blessed the Most High,
and praised and honored the one who lives forever.
For his sovereignty is an everlasting sovereignty,
and his kingdom endures from generation to generation." (Daniel 4:34)

The Living God

He is the Living God. If the key verb for Yahweh is hāyā, "to be," then the key verb for the Living God is chāyā, "live, have life, remain alive, sustain life, live prosperously, live forever." Also "be quickened, revive from sickness, discouragement, or even death." The related adjective is chay, "living."23 Again and again we see God in the dynamic descriptor of the Living God beginning in the Pentateuch and continuing through the New Testament.

The descriptor or title the Living God seems to carry a sense of might and awe. This is no dead idol, but the God who lives and is the essence of life itself (2 Corinthians 6:16).24 Woudstra comments, "As living God, God stands opposed to, and is different from, the gods of the nations who are always portrayed as unable to act or to save (Psalm 96:5; 115:3-7). These other gods are idols (Leviticus 19:4). They are nothing but breath (Deuteronomy 32:21; Jeremiah 8:19). This living God is among Israel, which indicates his active presence with his people (Deuteronomy 6:15)."25

"For what mortal man has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of fire, as we have, and survived?" (Deuteronomy 5:26)

You can almost feel the intensity and surety of the indignant faith that rises in the heart of David as a teenager as he sees the armies of Israel paralyzed in fear of the giant Goliath, similar to Hezekiah's prayer in the face of the Assyrian armies (2 Kings 19:16; cf; 19:4; cf; Isaiah 37:4, 17):

"Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?" (1 Samuel 17:26; cf. verse 36)

David's heart longs for the reality and soul-quenching experience of knowing God -- the God of life, the God who is alive forever.

"My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?" (Psalm 42:3)
"My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God." (Psalm 84:2)

Gentiles who had no god and were not God's people have been blessed:

"In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.'" (Hosea 1:10; quoted in Romans 9:26)

The Living God in Peter's confession seems to resound with power and majesty and solemnity:

"Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'" (Matthew 16:16)

Finally, the author of Hebrews reminds us:

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31)
Living God is also found in Joshua 3:10; Psalm 18:46 = 2 Samuel 22:47; Jeremiah 10:10; 23:36; Daniel 6:20, 26; Matthew 26:63; Acts 14:15; 2 Corinthians 3:3; 1 Timothy 3:15; 4:10; Hebrews 3:12; 9:14; Hebrews 12:22; Revelation 7:2.26
Q4. (1 Samuel 17:26, 36; Hebrews 10:31) How do you think David's understanding of the Living God enabled him to challenge Goliath? Read Hebrews 10:31 in context. Why should the Living God inspire fear and dread? 




Names and Titles of God, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Now available as in paperback and  e-book formats. Includes Hebrew & Greek word studies, discussion questions and handouts for groups or classes, suggests songs, comprehensive with 120 core names, titles, etc., total of 219 varieties.  Detailed index. Modestly priced. Buy your copy today.

We are finite. But by God's grace through Jesus Christ we are connected to Yahweh, the Eternal God. Our faith link to the Living God brings us the eternal life that ever flows from him. What a wonderful privilege we have, that the Eternal God has made himself known to us and longs for us to know him!



Lord, what an incredible privilege we have to know you. And to have crossed the bridge from the limitations of our own mortality to the limitlessness of your eternal life. Thank you. Let us live with the perspective of eternity so that our moments here on earth count for your eternal purposes. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Names of God

  • Yahweh (older pronunciation Jehovah)
  • Yah
  • LORD
  • Everlasting God, Eternal God (´El `Olam)
  • Everlasting Father
  • Rock Eternal
  • One Who Inhabits Eternity
  • Ancient of Days
  • The First and the Last
  • The Alpha and the Omega
  • Who Is and Who Was and Who Is to Come
  • One Who Lives Forever
  • Living God


If you have a song in this category to suggest, please let me know (www.joyfulheart.com/contact/).

"Ancient of Days," by Gary Sadler and Jamie Hartville (©1992 Integrity's Hosanna! Music)

"Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah," words: William Williams (1745.), music: John Hughes (1907)

"He's the Lord of Glory," by Phyllis C. Spiers (©1950, 1962 Gospel Publishing House (Assigned to Lorenz Corporation, 1998)

"Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise," words: Walter Chalmers Smith (1867), music: Welsh hymn tune

"Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," words Elisha Hoffman (1887), music: Anthony Showalter (1887)

"Like a River Glorious" (... "Stayed upon Jehovah..."), words by Frances R. Havergal (1874), music by James Mountain (1876).

"Now unto the King Eternal" (1 Timothy 1:17), by Lorraine Sonneberg (©1972 Dawn Treader Music, Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

"Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me," words: Augustus Toplady (1776), music: Thomas Hastings (1830)

"Spirit of the Living God," by Daniel Iverson (©1935. Renewed 1963 Birdwing Music, a div. of EMI Christian Music Publishing)

"The God of Abraham Praise," words are from the Yigdal of Daniel ben Judah (1404), paraphrased by Thomas Olivers (1770), music is Hebrew melody from the 18th century.

"The Lord Jehovah Reigns," words Isaac Watts (1707), music John Darwall (1770)


  1. BDB p. 352; Edwin Yamauchi, ḥārēb, TWOT #731c.
  2. ´Ahar is a common word meaning, "after, behind" (of place). R. Laird Harris, ´āhar, TWOT #68b.
  3. Gādōl, "great," is used of intensified concepts like loudness in sound, being old in years, great in importance. Elmer B. Smick, gādal, TWOT #315d.
  4. Mal´āk means "messenger, representative." The "angel of the Lord" ... "seems to be God, since those who see him marvel that they have seen God (Judges 13:21-22) and he speaks for God in the first person (Genesis 16:10; Exodus 3:2, 6; Judges 2:1)." (Andrew Bowling, l´k, TWOT #1068a).
  5. We're not sure of the botanical identification of the bush (also in Deuteronomy 33:16). It seems to be "a thorny" bush, perhaps a black-berry bush" (BDB 702).
  6. Brevard S. Childs, The Book of Exodus: A Critical, Theological Commentary (Old Testament Library; Westminster Press, 1974), p. 79.
  7. Nāstal means "deliver, rescue, save" and is used many times in the Bible of God's redemption of Israel when they were in trouble.
  8. R. Alan Cole, Exodus (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries; InterVarsity Press, 1973), p. 69.
  9. C.F. Keil, in Keil and Delitzsch, in loc.
  10. Albright and other suggest a slight emendation of the Hebrew text from the Qal stem, "to be," to the Hiphil stem, which carries the causative idea, "to cause to be." If you were to accept this theory, God would be saying, "I cause to be whom I cause to be," that is, a revelation of the Creator. However, since the there is no known example of this verb in the Hiphil and the context of the passage doesn't talk about God as Creator, but the God's role as the redeeming, covenant God, the Qal stem is preferred. (So Christopher J. H. Wright, "God, Names of," ISBE 2:507 and Victor P. Hamilton, hāyā, TWOT #491. On the other view David W. Baker, DOTP 362.).
  11. BDB 81-84.
  12. Cole, Exodus, p. 70.
  13. J. Barton Payne, hāwā, TWOT #484a.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Douglas Stuart, "Names, Proper," ISBE 3:483-488.
  16. Payne, hāwā, TWOT #484a. Payne cites J.A. Moyter, The Revelation of the Divine Name (Westminster Press, 1965), pp. 11ff. So Roland Kenneth Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Eerdmans, 1969), p. 400.
  17. Wright, "God, Names of," ISBE 2:507. On this point he cites Edmond Jacob, Theology of the Old Testament (Eng. translation 1958), pp. 49f.
  18. Allan A. MacRae, `lm, TWOT #1631a.
  19. Qedem here refers to "ancient time, aforetime." In poetic passages qedem describes the created state (Leonard J. Coppes, qādam, TWOT #1988a; BDB 869, 2a).
  20. `ādā, TWOT 1565a.
  21. BDB 1108.
  22. C.F. Keil, in Keil and Delitzsch, in loc.
  23. Elmer B. Smick, chāyā, TWOT #644.
  24. The phrase is found in the Old Testament in two forms: ´elôhîm chayyîm and ´el chay, with no discernable difference in meaning and usage between them.
  25. Marten H. Woudstra, The Book of Joshua (New International Commentary on the Old Testament; Eerdmans, 1981), p. 84.
  26. In a fascinating chapter from In Search of God, as an answer to Swedish theologian Geo Widengren, Mettinger contends that  the term "Living God" is used in contrast to the Canaanite myth of the dying and rising god, that died with the scorching heat of summer and revived with the cool rainy season. Living God appears 13 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and two times in the Aramaic section of Daniel. The Old Testament oath formulas, "as the LORD lives" occur 67 times in the Old Testament. On 23 occasions, God swears by himself, that is, "as I live...." (Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, Frederick H. Cryer (translator), In Search of God: The Meaning and Message of the Everlasting Names (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988)).

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