From The Alpha and the Omega - Introduction
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved
The Twelve Letter Name of God
Footnote 3 American Heritage Dictionary "YHWH"
This is not in reality a word but is known as the "Tetragrammaton," the four consonants standing for the ancient Hebrew name for God commonly referred to as "Jehovah" or "Yahweh." The original Hebrew text was not vocalized. YHWH was considered too sacred to pronounce, so ‘adonai ("my Lord") was substituted in reading. When eventually a vowel system was invented, since the Hebrews had forgotten how to pronounce YHWH, they substituted the vowels for ‘adonai, making "Jehovah," a form first attested at the beginning of the twelfth century A.D.
Footnote 4 American Heritage Dictionary "TETRAGRAMMATON"
In Genesis 17:1 Yahweh appeared to Abram, but the revelation vouchsafed was not "I am Yahweh" but "I am El Shaddai."
It was not until Exodus 3:13-15 that Yahweh was opened to Moses.
- First the name is related to the Hebrew verb "to be"; more characteristically "to be actually present," "to be a present reality."
- Secondly, the form could be translated either "I am actively present" or "I make to be actively present." Thus "I am who I am" means either "I am actively present as and when I choose" or "I bring to pass whatever I choose."
The Lord identifies himself with redemption, the blood of the lamb, and the choosing out of his people for himself. In Exodus 3-4; 6:1-8 Yahweh is a God that speaks before he is a God who acts.
God (Heb. ‘elohim, el, ‘elyon, shadday, yahweh, Gr. theos). God’s being and attributes are displayed on every page of the Bible. A scholarly definition of God would be:
- God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
- If he is Spirit as in a non material being, self-conscious and self-determining.
- The infinity of God is not an independent attribute. "God is everything." God is everywhere as in Psalm 139. Everything (in the universe) everywhere is immediately in his presence.
- Infinite in his wisdom designating God’s omniscience as all-inclusive, not dependent on a step-by-step process of reasoning. He eternally knows what he has known in the past and what he will know in the future.
- Infinite in his power pointing to his omnipotence and control of all the power that is or can be.
- Infinite in his holiness, justice, and goodness signify God’s moral attributes. "Be holy because I am holy" (Lev. 11:44-45). Goodness indicates his love, his common grace in saving sinners.
- Infinite in his truth an attribute designating the basis of all logic and rationality. The axioms of logic and mathematics, and all laws of reason, are not apart from God to which God must be subject. They are attributes of his own character. "It is impossible for God to lie" (Heb. 6:18; Titus 1:2), it is not contradicting his omnipotence. Truth is not an object of power. "He cannot deny himself" (2 Tim 2:13 KJV).
- Eternal which means without temporal beginning or ending. That God existed eternally before the creation of the finite universe does not imply a personal subject with no object, for God is triune. The idea that eternity means timelessness is nowhere suggested in the Bible. This false notion came into Christian theology under the influence of Aristotle.
- Unchangeable is his perfect self-consistency of character throughout all eternity. This is not a static concept, but dynamic, in all his relations with his creatures. God brings to pass, in time, the events of his redemptive program.
- God is known by his acts. "God ... has spoken to us by his Son" (Heb. 1:1ff). His "invisible" being, that is, his "eternal power and divine character" (theiotes) are "known" and "clearly seen" by "what has been made" (Rom. 1:20). God is known in fellowship.
Return to the Table of Contents - Introduction or
go to the next subject The Names of God and also see
Chapter Four for another view of heaven as connected to the Twelve Letter Name of God.