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Topics The Name of God

Declaring God's Name

By Jeff A. Benner


…that my name may be declared throughout all the earth. (Exodus 9:16)

Throughout the Bible we are commanded to “declare the name of God” to all people. But what does this mean? Does it mean that we go around telling everyone that his name is “Yahweh?” If this is true, it would seem that the pronunciation of the name is very important. However, as I pointed out in my article “What is the name of God in Hebrew,” that there is no possible way for us to reconstruct the original pronunciation of God’s name, so how are we to declare his name?

It is because of verses like this, and the standard interpretation of these verses, many people have placed a strong emphasis on attempts to uncover the original pronunciation of the name. But there is another interpretation of this and similar verses that will shed some light on what it means “to declare God’s name.”

In our modern culture a name is nothing more than an identifier, usually chosen by our parents because they like the sound of the name or it is the name of a favorite relative or ancestor. This is not true of the ancient cultures, such as the Hebrews, where a name was a representation of who the individual was, based on his character and function. [For instance, the Hebrew name Adam means “man” and is the “name” of the first “man,” Adam.]

The word “name” is the usual translation for the Hebrew word שם (shem). Though the word shem has the meaning of a “name,” the Hebraic meaning of the word goes far beyond our simple Western understanding of a “name.” Depending on the translation, this Hebrew word is also translated as; fame, famous, honor, renown or report. Obviously, this Hebrew word has a broader meaning in the ancient Hebrew language.

--His Name is One By Jeff A. Benner

The Hebrew word שם (shem) can also mean “character” and when this interpretation of the word is used instead of “name,” we discover some new insights in the scriptures. In Numbers 6:24-26 we find the Aaronic Blessing (Click Here for my personal translation of this blessing)

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

The very next verse states:

And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.

How are they (the priests) supposed to put “his name” on the people? If we replace the word “name” with “character,” we find that the priests are to place the “character” of God, which can be found in the Aaronic Blessing, on the people, meaning that the people will take on the characteristics of God and it is this character that we are to “declare” to all people.

…that my character may be declared throughout all the earth. (Exodus 9:16)

With this new understanding of the Hebrew word shem we can read and interpret many passages differently. The following is the KJV translation of Genesis 3:20:

And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

But if we replace the word “name” with the word “character” and translate Eve’s name instead of transliterating it, we have the following translation.

And Adam called his wife's character “living”; because she was the mother of all living.

This can also be done with God’s name, which in Hebrew is יהוה (YHWH), which is a Hebrew word meaning “he exists.”

And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:15, KJV)

This can be interpreted as;

And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, “He Exists”, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my character for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:15, KJV)




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Related Pages by Jeff A. Benner


What is God's name in Hebrew?What is God's name in Hebrew? (Article)
The background, history and meaning of the name of God that usually written as LORD, Jehovah or Yahweh.


The Hebrew Word for GodThe Hebrew Word for God (Article)
Interpreting the Hebrew words behind the English names of God in the Bible.


What is the difference between lord, Lord and LORD?What is the difference between lord, Lord and LORD? (Article)
The word "lord" is written three different ways in the Bible and each mean something different.