HaShem – the Name

In my last study notes, I was looking at the various names we see given, received and used for God by various individuals. This was initiated because of the difference in the names Hagar and Abraham had for God in Genesis chapters 16 & 17. But now we come to chapter 18, and we see the tetragammon יְהֹוָה in use to describe God in this chapter.

What is quite interesting about the tetragammon יְהֹוָה is that while modern Christian Bibles will simply translate it as LORD, this particular proper name for God is a bit unique. The original Hebrew for this proper name of God was just consonants — and didn’t even include vowels to help one understand from its being written how it might be properly pronounced.

And some Jewish translations wouldn’t even write or speak the tetragammon יְהֹוָה, for fear of violating the third commandment to not take the Lord’s name in vain. They might use the word HaShem השם‎ instead as a less formal description, which simply means “the Name”. Common substitutions in Hebrew for this proper name are Adonai (“My Lord”) or Elohim (literally “gods” but treated as singular when meaning “God”) in prayer, or HaShem (“The Name”) in everyday speech.

You can get an idea of the use of HaShem from this Jewish translation to English that you might compare side by side with your own English translation that probably uses LORD: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/bereishit-genesis-chapter-18

While there is plenty of public disagreement today over whether יְהֹוָה should be pronounced “Yahweh” or “Jehovah” (or many other variations) — the original people given this name were so respectful of it that they hesitated to even consider writing or saying it. This is something that I fear many of us today might overlook or not rightly understand today — that deep awe and reverence towards the proper use and handling of the name of God. (In a world filled with “MF this” and “GD that” commonly tolerated in public, on television, and all over the Internet — it may be best that we don’t hear the tetragammon יְהֹוָה being dropped in pop music just to gain some notoriety and make a little more money.)

We will find all kinds of names in the Bible for God if we keep looking. And if you look to each person and their need, you will see God’s unique and personal name associated with them and their stories. And while it is good to know someone else’s story and get introduced to God through their faith secondhand — I would say that there is a greater value in knowing personally and closely the intimate and personal name that your betrothed would share with you firsthand.

There is no argument that the world is given only one name by which salvation is given, and only one name above all names — Jesus:

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9‭-‬11 NLT

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation].”
Acts 4:12 AMP

But the world knows my wife by her name Mandee and me by my name Harold — but when we are away from the world and together in private, we have our pet names — we have our close, personal nicknames. Even with our close friends, we have our names for each other that are closer and more personal than our formal names.

When you rest in the Lord, when you spend sweet time in the garden with your teacher and your comforter, what sweet and personal name do you have for the Lord and who He is for you personally?

If you don’t know Him that close and personally yet, you can. Just slow down, step away from the staterooms and temptations of this world to draw close to Him, to seek Him. He is here with you, very close and not far away. May you know Him and He know you — that changes everything. Amen.

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