[b-hebrew] YHWH Derivation - a dead end

kgraham0938 at comcast.net kgraham0938 at comcast.net
Thu May 5 09:15:38 EDT 2005


Hey Rolf, I think the reason why many translators as well as myself translate 'EH:YEH 'E$ER 'EH:YEH as I AM who I AM as opposed to I will be who I will be is based upon Moses' statement to YHWH in the previous verse.  He says

" And they will say to me what is his name?  What do I say to them?"  

Moses:[question]  What is your name?
YHWH:[answer] I will be who I will be

Then he goes on to say " Tell them I will be sent you."  

Does not make any sense.  I will be who I will be does not answer the question.  And secondly if 'EH:YEH is a 1cs of YHWH (3ms), translated as "I will be" then you'd have to translate YHWH as "He will be."  
Kelton Graham 
KGRAHAM0938 at comcast.net

-------------- Original message -------------- 

> Dear Yigal, 
> I agree with you that to discuss the origin of YHWH, or to try to derive 
> YHWH from the name/designation of another god is a dead end. We know 
> nothing about this, and we even do not have any clues. But there is much 
> speculation! 
> I have a comment ont Ex. 3:14 though: The two most common English 
> glosses for the rendring of HYH is "be" and "become". This means, for 
> example, that the meaning of the word is very different from that of the 
> Greek EIMI, which basically signifies a state. When a person speaks of 
> himself and uses the YIQTOL form of HYH, the force is hardly that the 
> person "is"; just his act of speaking proves that he "is," so any 
> further statement is not needed. But the force is that he *will become* 
> something that is lacking at present. Because of this, all examples of 
> YIQTOL HYH, first person singular, save perhaps one or two, have future 
> reference (cf. Ex. 3:12), and is translated by future in the Bible 
> translations. It is an old tradition to translate Ex. 3:14 with "I am 
> what I am". To say that a rendereing in a Bible translation "is wrong" 
> is a very strong statement that seldom can be done, because passages can 
> legitimately be translated in different ways. But I would say that the 
> mentioned rendering of Ex 3:12 is tendentious and strange. Why should 
> HYH in this case have a present reference when first person YIQTOLs of 
> the root in most other cases are rendered with future? 
> As for YHWH, the points above suggest that there need not be any 
> relationship between YHWH and HYH, even though this seems to be the case 
> in Ex. 3:14. One natural rendering of the verse would be: "I will 
> become (or:prove to be) what I will become (or:prove to be)." If this 
> was the way the writer understood the words, the clause relates to the 
> *acts* of God and not to his existence. It is often shown in the Tanakh 
> that YHWH becomes known on the basis of what he does, and when he did 
> somewthing great in the past, the people learned to know him in a new 
> way. Thus, YHWH is known by his personal name and by his acts. If this 
> is the thought behind the account in Ex. 3:13-15, it means that the 
> clause ")ehe a$er )hye" is not an explanation of the meaning or origin 
> of YHYH, but it points to another way of identifying God than by using 
> his name, namely to identify him by his acts. So the similarity between 
> YHWH and HYH need not be anything but a play of words, which is a tool 
> often used by Hebrew writers. 
> The conclusion is that YHWH is the unique personal name of the God that 
> the Bible writers worshipped; it cannot be derived from anything, and 
> its meaning cannot be known with certainty. 
> Best regards 
> Rolf Furuli 
> University of Oslo 
> Yigal Levin wrote: 
> >The one answer that I don't think anyone has brought up is the Bible's own: 
> >")ehyeh a$er )ehyeh" - "I am that I am" (Ex. 3:14) seems to understand the 
> >name YHWH as derived from the root HYH. But in any case, this whole thread 
> >seems to be leading to a dead end. Do we know the etymology of most other 
> >ANE dieties? Hadad/Adad? Chemosh? Anat? Ashur (yes, that's also a toponym, 
> >but which came first?)? Marduk? Qws? I could go on and on.... 
> > 
> > 
> >Yigal 
> > 
> > 
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