[b-hebrew] The translation of ehyeh

Read, James C K0434995 at kingston.ac.uk
Wed Aug 3 19:06:30 EDT 2005


So, does anyone know why it has been assumed that YHWH is a causative
and not a Qal?
If EHYEH is Qal, why isn't also YHWH?

-----Original Message-----
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org on behalf of Read, James C
Sent: Wed 8/3/2005 11:43 PM
To: Shoshanna Walker
Cc: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] The translation of ehyeh
 

Thank you everybody for your insight.

Summarising the evidence I have noted the following points.

1) LXX translates ehyeh ahsher ehyeh pragmatically (contextually) as 
'I am the one who is' i.e I am alive/ I exist
2) Aquila translates literally as 'I'll be what I'll be'
3) Hebrew tanakh never uses root HYH as equivalent of English verb 'to be'
which generally describes state e.g.'I am hungry'
3) Hebrew tanakh describes state with pronoun adjective construct e.g 'I hungry 
= I am hungry' not with verb HYH
4) Hebrew use of verb HYH e.g. WaYHiY... has the sense of 'And it came to pass',
'And it occured that', 'And it came to be'. i.e. always the sense of something 
happening or coming into being or becoming but never simply being
5) In early Christian theology Yah calls himself the Alpha and the Omega, the one 
who is, was and will be.
6) It has been assumed that YHWH is the 3rd person Hiphil of EHYEH, even though 
EHYEH has always been viewed as a Qal.

Evaluating the evidence, it seem that the translators of the LXX tried to capture 
the original sense of the statement by an expression which basically means 
'I'm alive' or 'I exist'. They felt that the context warranted this concept and this 
can be seen from the inconsistent translation of the verb ehyeh, which just two 
verses prior is translated as a future.
Interestingly, it is not 'ehyeh asher ehyeh' that is his name but merely 'ehyeh' as Yah
goes on to say that Moshe' should tell the Isrealites that 'ehyeh' had sent him *not* 
ehyeh asher ehyeh. Therefore, it would seem that the first ehyeh is a manner of introduction 
and this thought is captured by the LXX translation. The name, which is repeated twice is
'HO WN' *not* 'EIMI'. Thus, the LXX theology puts the emphasis on the deity's existence 
and this seems to be in agreement with the theology presented in Rev1:8 (as noted by Peter).

Thus, I'm afraid to say (and personally shattered by the evidence) that there is no reason
to believe that YHWH is a Hiphil. And that therefore the divine name could well be a 3rd
person Qal and instead of indicating his creative powers (he causes to become) indicates his 
eternity (he exists) as reverberated in his own words of Rev1:8.


All of this brings me to a new line of thought:
If Yah revealed himself as EHYEH (1st person) and Moshe' revealed him as YHWH (3rd person) why 
are there no attestations of Yah's servants adressing him in the 2nd person? (You exist)

I know that many modern languages (Spanish,Italian,German) use the 3rd person as a sign of 
respect but have never seen anything that would lead me to believe that this was also a practice 
in b-hebrew.

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