Proclaimed the Name of the LORD

Proclaimed the Name of the Lord

Exodus 34:6-7

Following the golden calf incident, Moses spoke to God saying: Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” Exodus 33:13. In response the LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD (Ex. 34:5).  What God did not do was to simply utter His name out loud.  The name was like shorthand for the very character and being of God.

Yahweh had earlier answered the question of Moses (who will I say has sent me?) by explaining "I AM" (Ex. 3:14).  God then stated that "This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations" (vs. 15).

Baker's Encyclopedia Of the Bible states:  "Yahweh is a distinctly proper name of God. It is never used to refer to any pagan gods; neither is it used in regard to men. It appears 6823 times in the OT, occurring first in Genesis 2:4, where it is joined with Elohim. Yahweh is used 164 times in Genesis, and it appears 1800 times in Exodus through Joshua. It never appears in a declined form in the Hebrew language, and it never occurs in the plural form or with suffixes. It is abbreviated as Yah and Yahu (cf. Ex 15:2; Ps 68:4; Is 12:2, etc.).”  (Logos edition)

The linguistic, phonetic, and spelling of this remain problematic to this day. The original had no indication of vowels, only the four Hebrew consonants. When God spoke it I am sure Moses knew the pronunciation.  Over the decades that has been lost. Again from the Baker Encyclopedia we read: " The name “Jehovah,” as used in the arv (1901) is judged unacceptable. This name arose due to the Jewish practice of not pronouncing Yahweh because of Leviticus 24:16, “He that names the name of Yahweh shall surely be put to death.” This warning against a vain or blasphemous use of the name was taken in an absolute sense, especially after Israel’s deportation (cf. Am 6:10). Hence, when reading the OT the Jews substituted either Elohim or Adonai for Yahweh. From this, the practice of adding the vowels of Adonai to YHWH (JeHoWaH) became established."   Thus, we have tried to supply vowels which let us make a pronunciation but there is no real knowledge of what it sounded like back then.  The majority of scholars today seem to lean toward a pronunciation of Yahweh (Yow - way). That works for me, but I don't really know.

I don't consider this a problem. When they spoke of 'the name' the emphasis was not about the way it was pronounced but that it stood for the very character and being of the one who wore that name. That is why they gave names to people and also why those names were sometimes changed. Examples of this abound:  Adam = 'red earth'; Eve = 'life giver'; Noah = "one who brings relief and comfort"; etc. Abram (exalted father) was changed to Abraham (father of a multitude). Likewise God's name is the description of His very essence and being. "I AM".

So, God proclaims His name to Moses saying:  "The LORD, the LORD, Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation" (Exodus 34:6-7).  

He begins by repeating the name He had earlier explained to Moses: "I AM".  It is of interest that He repeats it.  It has been suggested that this MAY have significance of something like "I am Yahweh, your Yahweh", but scholars offer differing explanations of why it is said twice. Without any question or argument, God is the timeless, self-existent one that 'IS'. There is none other like this. All creatures were created by Him, but He was NOT created. Rather, He 'IS'.  From everlasting to everlasting, He is.

This is the everlasting, eternal God that has made a covenant with Israel. Earlier, he had made a covenant with Noah concerning the keeping of the earth. He also had made a covenant to Abram about blessing all nations through his offspring. He has now made a covenant with the people of Israel that they would be his people and He would be their God (read Ex. 6:6-8). Such covenant, from His perspective, can be forever valid because He IS.

In this covenant Israel will find Him to be merciful and gracious. Many times God responds to their rebellion with mercy and grace. He forgives their iniquity and transgression and sin.  He is slow to anger as they have already experience in their relationship with Him. He loves them with a steadfast love. Although their love is fickle, His is steadfast. Though they prove themselves to be faithless to their promises, God keeps His word.

Yet, in His mercy, kindness, and love there is also His righteousness and justice. While He will forgive those who repent and return to Him, He declares He will NOT acquit or clear the guilty. Sin has consequences that often effect generations of people. The GUILT is not passed to another (cp. Ezek. 20), but the dreadful consequences do brings problems of others.

There are other aspects of God's character and being that are not brought out in this short declaration, yet this was God's proclaiming of His name. With this, Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. So should we.