What is God’s name?

What is God’s name? Can God be named? What does God say that God’s name is?

There are a couple of examples where God says what the Name is. One is in Exodus 3:13-15. This is after Moses has seen the burning bush and first heard from God. He’s gotten the commission to go to Pharaoh and ask him to set all of Israel free.

13 Then Moses asked God, “If 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?’ what should I tell them?” 14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, 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; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.

Line 14 is transliterated as “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh” and is translated as “I am who I am” -but Rabbi Lawrence Kushner in “The Book of Words” says it is better translated as “I will be who I will be.” It is a verb – an action. God is doing – not a name.

The Bible Gateway website also offers these translations (caps are theirs)- I AM BECAUSE I AM, or I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE.

Then a little later in Exodus 6:2-8 one of the names is repeated.
2 Then God spoke to Moses, telling him, “I am Yahweh. 3 I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but I did not reveal My name Yahweh to them. 4 I also established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land they lived in as foreigners. 5 Furthermore, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are forcing to work as slaves, and I have remembered My covenant.
6 “Therefore tell the Israelites: I am Yahweh, and I will deliver you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and free you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment. 7 I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Yahweh your God, who delivered you from the forced labor of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you to the land that I swore[a] to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession. I am Yahweh.”

“Yahweh” isn’t really what God said. The name is unpronounceable, as it is all vowels. It is transliterated as YHVH – yod-hay-vav-hay (transliterated Hebrew letters). The “name” is really a contraction of “I was,” “I am,” and “I will be” all together.

Once again, God is a verb.

It is common for Jews to refer to God as “Hashem” which simply means “The Name” They believe that it is presumptuous to try to pronounce God’s name, because previously, the “name” was pronounced only once a year by the High Priest, while standing in the Holy of Holies. This was on Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. After the Temple was destroyed and they went in to exile, the exact way to pronounce the “name” was forgotten. Rather than try to do it and do it wrong, it is simply not said.

So God doesn’t have a name. God is a state of being, of doing. God is action. God isn’t locked down into a fixed form or state. Even the word “God” is just a job description. It is not a name, so much as how we describe the indescribable Creator.

Aho!

I’ve recently heard the word “aho” used in several different gatherings. In the context it is being used it sounds like it means “I agree” or “awesome”. I looked it up, and it could be one of two things. According to Wikipedia, it is either a Native American word or a Japanese word.

If it is a Native American word (and the tribe is not specified, so it sounds questionable to me) it means something like what I think I’m hearing. It means something like “So be it” or “Amen.”

If it is Japanese, it means “idiot.”

So I’m not using this word.

First off, I’m not going to confuse people. If they know that the word exists in two different languages and means two entirely different things, they don’t know which meaning I’m using. If they don’t know what the word means, then it is going to be even more confusing.

Neither of these languages are my language. Not only are they not my native tongue, they are not languages I’ve learned and am fluent in. So it doesn’t make sense to use this word.

I totally respect the idea that sometimes there are words in other languages that aren’t in my language. Sometimes you have to borrow a word from another language because there isn’t a word in yours. Sometimes ideas are more fully expressed in another language.

But that isn’t the case here. There is a word. It is “Amen.”

Perhaps people frown on the use of this word. Perhaps people are afraid of it because they are refugees from church. I get that. I am.

But I’m giving up the church as we know it. I’m not giving up the idea of God, and of Jesus.

In the same way I’m wary of people who refer to God as Source or any of any other myriad of other terms I’m hearing. I’m not even sure what they are talking about. I’m not even sure they know either.

As for me, I’m going to keep saying “Amen” and “God”, because I think it is best to say what I mean and not be ambiguous about it. Perhaps it is politically correct to be vague and use broader terms, but after a while I’m not even sure if we are all taking about the same thing when we start using different words. So I’m sticking with the known good.