The God with No Name

One of the objections that the early Hebrews faced (e.g., from the Egyptians) was that their God had no name. The ancient mind could not conceive of a nameless god. Names were significant; they helped define one’s god and expressed their character and areas of power.

It is interesting to note God’s response to Moses when he asks at the burning bush about who he shall say has sent him to his brethren. God said, ““I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14.

This phrase has traditionally been seen as containing the three states of being: I was, I am, I will be. In addition, it is self-defining: I am who I am or I am who I say I am; you cannot define me. This “name” of God (Yahweh) is really no name at all, but more like a statement of being and of a being that can only be self-defined. Thus any effort on our part to name the God with whom we have to do, at least in my opinion, goes against this fundamental self-assertion of “I AM.”

If you do even a simple search on the Internet you will find claims for up to 100 names for God found in the Old Testament. The primary one is just the generic word for god, El, often with a descriptive addition such as El Shaddai (God Almighty) or Elohim (God who is power above all powers).

Most of the claims are not really names but titles or descriptions of the ways God is dependable or acts in history. They also tend to use the Latinization of the Exodus term: Jehovah. Examples include Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide) and Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts).

What all of these have in common is their descriptive nature as titles or appellations, not true names per se. Even the traditional Yahweh of Exodus 3:14 is more a description than a real name. I believe there is an important reason for that. I believe the true name of God, the name he has given himself is a secret that will not be revealed unto that penultimate moment in history, described in Revelations 3:12.

The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.

When all is subdued and sin and death are finally conquered, then God will reveal that name above all names and we will be defined by that name as it marks us as His forever. To this creation, this fallen and corrupted world, his name is too pure and holy to even be known, much less uttered.

8 thoughts on “The God with No Name

  1. King James Version
    Psalm 83:18
    18That men may know that thou, whose name alone is JEHOVAH, art the most high over all the earth.

    1. Jerry, thank you for your comments but JEHOVAH is not the biblical term in the original language but a later substitution in translation (such as your KJV) and not at all biblical. In all textual occurrences it is the Tetragrammaton and the currently accepted pronunciation is YAHWEH. I will never use the term JEHOVAH to apply to God, since it is not biblical and may even be considered blasphemous and definitely not what God called himself when talking with Moses.

  2. This is what I feel. I also believe that trying to give a name has led to much confusion and division. I like your response to the one comment. In a different way I have felt this with the given labeling of emotions. That words we speak sometimes fail in truly conveying our feelings. I’d like to hope the creator would see beyond any ignorance in names given to “him” by those whose intent is to serve.

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