Ex. 3:14

Robbert Veen (101742.2734@compuserve.com)
Fri, 9 Aug 1996 19:23:27 -0400

Wes asked:

"Would you please be so kind
as to provide grammatical insight as to the proper translation of Ex

I was taught in the Amsterdam School of Biblical Hermeneutics (Deurloo, Van
Daalen, Breukelman, Beek, Palache, Smelik, Zuurmond and others.) This is an
approach to the hebrew bible that doesn't lay much emphasis on grammar -
neither did the rabbi's.

Aleida van Daalen taught me this explanation, that I still find extremely

Ex. 3:14
Elohim said to Moses:
'ehyeh, that is "I will be there".
And He said:
Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel:
'ehyeh has sent me to you.

Her explanation runs like this:

Everybody knew the fourletter-name of God. The text aims at clarifying the
(theological) meaning of that name throuigh a careful narrative composition
in which the introduction of the name in a particular place in the story
provides the meaning of the Name. (Principal understanding of the hebrew
Bible: the biblical word has been shaped by proclamation.) This is finally
done in three steps:

1. 3:11 Moses says: who am I? mi anokhie? that I etc.
3:12 For I am indeed with you (kie 'ehyeh): Moses' mission is totally
bound up with God's being present with him.

2. 3:14 [3:13 > What is His name?}
"'ehyeh", which is [asjer] 'I will be with you', as in 3:12.

3. 3:15 and this meaning of Gods name: the One who will be with Moses in
the liberation of His people, that is His Name as well: YHWH.

So the text makes YHWY and 'ehyeh interchangable, giving the proper name
verbal ovetones, and giving the verbal form have 'nominal' overtones.
(Sorry, I'm not sure this makes sense in English like this.)
The relationship between YHWH and 'ehyeh is therefore absolutely
ungrammatical, but is given by consonantal similarity and the literary
composition: both are elementary tools of hebrew narrative theology.


Robbert A. Veen