The God of the Hebrew Bible has a name: “God said to Moses, ‘You are to tell the Israelites, Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name for all time, and thus I am to be invoked for all generations to come” (Exodus 3:15 NJB).
Unfortunately, over the years the pronunciation of the name YHWH was forgotten. A form of the divine name is preserved in the names of several individuals in the Bible, names like Mikayah, “Who Is Like Yah,” and Mikayahu, “Who Is Like Yahu.”
In the Ancient Near East, the names of individuals were very important because a name represented the personality of an individual. In the same way, the name and titles of God in the Bible represent an aspect of the nature and the character of God.
Several passages in the Hebrew Bible emphasize the importance of the name of God in the life of the people of Israel. For instance, the name of God was evidence of God’s presence with his people and was a sign of God’s protection and God’s deliverance:
“ May Yahweh answer you in time of trouble, may the name of the God of Jacob protect you” (Psalm 20:1 NJB).
“He restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3).
It is for this reason that God appears in the Bible with different names. These names are in reality titles that describe one aspect of the theophany, that is, the divine manifestation of God to his people. These titles also express the many ways the people of Israel experienced God.
I have listed below a few of the many titles by which the people of Israel experienced God. The present list is only a small sample of the ways God was described and experienced in the Bible. The titles of God compounded with the word “El,” the Hebrew word for God, are many and only a few of them are listed below.
Time and space do not allow me to discuss each title in detail. At this time I will only introduce the list of the divine titles. In future posts, I will introduce each title in more detail. Until then, let us remember what God said about his name: “In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you” (Exodus 20:24 ESV).
“Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means ‘the LORD will provide’). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided’”
(Genesis 22:14 NLT).
Yahweh-Rophe (or Ropheka)
“If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer” [Yahweh-Ropheka] (Exodus 15:26 ESV).
“Moses then built an altar and named it Yahweh-Nissi” (Exodus 17:15 NJB).
Yahweh-Mekadesh (or Mekadeshkem)
“Keep my statutes and do them; I am the LORD who sanctifies you” [Yahweh-Mekadeshkem] (Leviticus 20:8 ESV).
“So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it Yahweh Shalom. It is in Ophrah of the Abiezrites until today” (Judges 6:24 CSB).
“to extend his dominion in boundless peace, over the throne of David and over his kingdom to make it secure and sustain it in fair judgement and integrity. From this time onwards and for ever, the jealous love of Yahweh Sabaoth will do this” (Isaiah 9:7 [Hebrew Isaiah 9:6] NJB).
“In his days Y’hudah will be saved, Isra’el will live in safety, and the name given to him will be ADONAI Tzidkenu [ADONAI our righteousness]” (Jeremiah 23:6 CJB).
“’The perimeter of [the city] will be just under six [miles] long. And from that day on the name of the city will be ADONAI Shamah [ADONAI is there]” (Ezekiel 48:35 CJB).
“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘I am El-Shaddai’–‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life” (Genesis 17:1 NLT).
“But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High [El Elyon], Possessor of heaven and earth’” (Genesis 14:22 ESV).
“But Avram answered the king of S’dom, ‘I have raised my hand in an oath to ADONAI, El ‘Elyon, maker of heaven and earth’” (Genesis 14:22 CJB).
“Hagar gave a name to Yahweh who had spoken to her, ‘You are El Roi,’ by which she meant, ‘Did I not go on seeing here, after him who sees me?’” (Genesis 16:13 NJB).
Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God [El Olam]” (Genesis 21:33 ESV).
“No one is like the God of Jeshurun [El Jeshurun]: he rides the heavens to your rescue, rides the clouds in his majesty” (Deuteronomy 33:26 NJB).
“Do not boast so proudly, or let arrogant words come out of your mouth, for the LORD is a God of knowledge [El Deoth], and actions are weighed by Him” (1 Samuel 2:3 CSB).
“Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel [El Israel]–he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!” (Psalm 68:35 ESV).
“You must not bow down to these gods or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God [El Kanna] (Deuteronomy 5:9 NJB).
“Those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you” (Psalm 9:10 ESV).
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary