De Moor IV:6: The Use of יְהוָֹה/Jehovah among the Patriarchs

Concerning this Name our AUTHOR affirms,

A. That it was not unknown to the Fathers before Moses, who

α. Not only makes use of it in the history of them, Genesis 4:26;[1] etc., but also,

β. he says that it was used by them, Genesis 4:1;[2] 14:22;[3] 15:2:[4]

γ. Indeed, that it was divinely revealed, Genesis 15:7;[5] 18:14,[6] 19;[7] 28:13.[8]

Perhaps one will Object the text of Exodus 6:2, 3. I Respond, It is not treated there concerning this Name regarded formally with respect to sound, but materially or with respect to the Thing signified, and with a clearer revelation and more illustrious demonstration of it, through the infallible fulfillment of the greatest promises: in which sense the knowledge and acquaintance of the divine Name often comes to be understood concerning the acknowledged and demonstrated real force of the divine Name, Isaiah 52:6; 64:2; Jeremiah 16:21; Ezekiel 39:7.

The Most Illustrious VRIEMOET, in his Adnotationibus ad Dicta classica Veteris Testamenti, tome 1, chapter III, pages 143, 144, well observes that this disputation returns to these lines: whether it be simpler, that, as we might believe, the Holy Spirit so directed the style of Moses that in the speeches of God or men, which He shows that He willed to relate verbatim, He inserted the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, which was never used by them or known at that time; or that, as we might assert, in the passage of Exodus, the expression וּשְׁמִ֣י יְהוָ֔ה לֹ֥א נוֹדַ֖עְתִּי לָהֶֽם׃, and by my name Jehovah was I not known to them, allows this explanation, that it indicates that the force and emphasis of this Name was to be demonstrated publicly in the very examples of events, in fulfillment of the promises made to the Fathers. He thinks that the latter of these is to be completely preferred to the former. He confesses that he is not able to conceive, how, if Moses had said in this passage that the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah was altogether unknown before his age, he was able to use that so many times in the history of the former ages, and to attribute it to God and men, when he exhibits them speaking.

And certainly the matter thus stands: if in Exodus 6:2, 3 it be signified that the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah was altogether unknown previously, Moses, making mention of that Name so many times previously, is not able to be freed from open contradiction.

Neither ought it to be objected that a change of this sort, from אֵל/El in יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, is expressly taught, for example, in Genesis 16:11.[9] For, 1. it does not prevent the Angel, instructing that the boy about to be born is to be denominated from God, even indeed with the more common Name אֵל/El employed, from being able to make mention of the same God in the reason added by His most proper Name יְהוָֹה/ Jehovah. 2. Or, if the explanation of the name Ishmael necessarily requires that the Angel in his speech did not use the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah, but אֵל/El: then those things that the Angel had properly said, Moses (God forbid!) would have committed incorrectly to writing.

It does not have much force, that Moses therefore so many times substituted the Name יְהוָֹה/Jehovah for the other Name of God in the Book of Genesis, so that he might teach the Israelites that their God and the God of their Fathers are one and the same. For such an exchange of the divine Names, when he introduces the Saints, indeed, God Himself speaking, it was not necessary for Moses to institute to accomplish this purpose: since God Himself was teaching this most eloquently, when He said that He is Jehovah, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of their fathers, the same who previously had appeared בְּאֵ֣ל שַׁדָּ֑י, by El-Shaddai, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Exodus 3:13, 15, 16; 6:2, 3. Moses inculcates the same with sufficient clarity, when he taught that the true God is One only, and the rest that were called Gods are only Idols, Deuteronomy 6:4, etc. Consult also ANTONIUS HULSIUS’ Nucleum Prophetiæ, on Genesis 4:26, § VII, pages 108, 109.

[1] Genesis 4:26: “And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord (בְּשֵׁ֥ם יְהוָֽה׃).”

[2] Genesis 4:1: “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord (אֶת־יְהוָה).”

[3] Genesis 14:22: “And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord (אֶל־יְהוָה), the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth…”

[4] Genesis 15:2: “And Abram said, Lord God (אֲדֹנָ֤י יֱהוִה֙), what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?”

[5] Genesis 15:7: “And he said unto him, I am the Lord (אֲנִ֣י יְהוָ֗ה) that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.”

[6] Genesis 18:14: “Is any thing too hard for the Lord (מֵיְהוָה)? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

[7] Genesis 18:19: “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord (יְהוָה), to do justice and judgment; that the Lord (יְהוָה) may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”

[8] Genesis 28:13: “And, behold, the LORD (יְהוָה) stood above it, and said, I am the Lord (יְהוָה) God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed…”

[9] Genesis 16:11: “And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael (יִשְׁמָעֵאל); because the Lord hath heard (כִּֽי־שָׁמַ֥ע יְהוָ֖ה) thy affliction.”


Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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