11. I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE

The Meaning of “Eh-yeh Asher Eh-yeh”

אהיה אשר אהיה

In Exodus 3:13, Moses asked, “suppose I come to the sons of Israel and say to them, the ELOHIM of your father has sent me to you, and they say to me, “what is His name?”, what shall I say to them?

In His reply, God introduced two “Gods” – Himself as the invisible God, and the Messenger, the ELOHIM who stood before Moses, and spoke the words of the invisible God.

God first introduced Himself as the invisible God, saying ‘I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE, therefore, you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I WILL BE’ has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).

The Hebrew word eh-yeh, means “I WILL BE.” The next word can be interpreted as “who”, “which” or “what,” but given Moses’ question of the name of the ELOHIM who sent him, we can only translate this as “WHO.”

In the next sentence, God gave Moses the name of the Messenger, the ELOHIM, “Moreover, you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘He WILL BE, the ELOHIM of your fathers…has sent me to you.” 

Then God brought the conversation back into the first person saying, ‘this is My name forever” (Exodus 3:15). He WILL BE was the shared name of the invisible God and His Messenger.

Justin Martyr’s Second Apology of 150 A.D.

We can understand why the invisible God would say, “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE.”

God had no parent to name Him. He can take on any name that He likes.

In Chapter 6 of his Second Apology, Justin Martyr, in 150 A.D. wrote, “But to the Father of all, who is unbegotten there is no name given. For by whatever name He be called, He has as His elder the person who gives Him the name.”

The Many Names of God

Throughout the Old Testament, God took on many names, like I WILL BE, and El Shaddai – God Almighty. These names were not shared with Christ.

Some names were shared with Christ, like “He WILL BE” and “He WILL BE of the Armies (of Angels).”

Many would say these are not names, but expressions. In his First Apology, Justin Martyr wrote, “And all the Jews even now teach that the nameless God spoke to Moses” (Chapter LXII).

In reality, all Hebrew names are expressions, they are all meanings. Hebrew writing has no vowels, and the meaning provides the pronunciation.

He WILL BE – the shared name of Christ and God in the Old Testament

Most are familiar with the Hebrew consonants, Yod-He-Vav-He, that are in English, YHVH.

This was the shared name of Christ and God in the Old Testament. It means “He WILL BE.” It is the third person imperfect form of the verb “to be.” In Moses’ time, this was spelled YHVH, but eventually the letter Vav was replaced by a Yod, and YHVH became YHYH. As a verb, YHYH is pronounced Yihyeh, but as a noun, it is Yihyah, or Yihvah, in the older form. This pronunciation was written as Yehvah in the Leningrad Codex that was translated into English in the Old Testament. The Masorites sounded the first syllable with a sheva vowel marking, in order to caution readers not to make a direct pronunciation of God’s name, which was considered “ineffable.”

This is My Name Forever

When God said “this is My Name forever,” He contrasted His own name as “He WILL BE” with the name of Christ as “He WILL BE.” Christ would become “I AM,” when He became Israel’s King, Lord, and Redeemer in the New Testament.

The expression “He WILL BE” describes God’s covenant with His people, “I WILL BE with you,” the phrase that is repeated several times, from Genesis to Judges. He will always be with His people, and therefore this is His Name forever.

The contraction of the name “Yihvah” is “Yah.” In the expression, Hallelujah! We say “Praise Yah!”  This is repeated over and over again, when the saints praise the name of God in Revelation 19.

My Name is in Him

Justin Martyr entitled Chapter 75, of his Dialogue with Trypho, “IT IS PROVED THAT JESUS WAS THE NAME OF GOD IN THE BOOK OF EXODUS.”

Here, Justin Martyr explained the revelation that Joshua (in Greek Jesus) was the name of the invisible God.

God revealed this in Exodus 23:20–23:

“Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will not pardon your transgressions; for My name is in him. But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off.”

Who led the Israelites into the Promised Land, to war against the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites?

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel . . .”

So they answered Joshua, saying, “All that you command us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we heeded Moses in all things, so we will heed you. Only the Lord your God be with you, as He was with Moses. Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death” (Joshua 1:1-2, 16-18).

The name of Joshua in Greek is Jesus. This name was actually created by Moses.

In Numbers 13:16, Moses changed the name of his successor to Yehoshua (Joshua) from Hoshea, meaning “Salvation.”

Moses added a “Yod” to Hosea להושע to create יהושע Yehoshua. The addition of a Yod, from YHVH, created the name: He WILL save.

In the Dead Sea Scrolls, the name יהושע Yehoshua is frequently spelled יהשוע and pronounced Yeshua or Yashua. In the Greek Septuagint, this was transliterated as Ιησοῦς, and is also the name of “JESUS” in the Greek New Testament.

It is no accident that Moses renamed His earthly successor, “Joshua” for his spiritual successor would also be named Joshua, in Greek “JESUS.” As the Apostle John said, “the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

He WILL SAVE – the shared name of Christ and God in the New Testament

Yahoshua, the name of Joshua means “God will save” or “He WILL SAVE.” This prophecy in the Book of Exodus was only one of many prophecies of the name of the Father. We will discuss these prophecies in Chapter 13.

When Jesus asked His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, He was asking them to them to baptize in the shared name of Christ and God. We will discuss this in more detail in Chapter 21, “The Name of the Father is revealed.”

You who believe in the NAME of the Son of God

Today, there are many who want to know the name of God.

God has many names that carry forward into the Book of Revelation, including God Almighty, and Yihvah, as Yah, in the expression “Hallelujah!”

But there is only one name of God that saves us. This is the name that He shares with His Son.

The promise of eternal life is “for you who believe in the NAME of the Son of God.”

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

1 John 5:13

God did not use any name for Himself until His name and character was fully glorified by Jesus Christ, His image, first on the cross, and then when He made Jesus our Lord.

Therefore, before going to the cross, Jesus prayed that the Father’s name would be glorified, to which God replied, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” (again, when He made Christ Lord, that every knee should bow to the name of Jesus, to the glory of God the Father).

Before going to the cross, Jesus told His disciples He had been given the name of the Father.

After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They only baptized in the name of Jesus.

In order to save us, God revealed Himself through one image, and identified Himself by one name. But if God was limited by His revelation through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2-3), then He would not be God. In the Bible, God has many names, including El Shaddai, God Almighty, and I WILL BE/He WILL BE. But the prophets told us there is one name that will be shared by the Son, “He WILL save,” which in Greek, is Jesus.