Exodus 15:3 – Yahweh is his name

Only the NJB and HCSB translations use the name of God when the writer clearly intended to speak His name in Exodus 15:3. The intention of the writer seems clear here: “Yahweh is his name”. When one speaks someone’s name, you would expect the person’s actual name be mentioned. The TNIV, ESV, NRSV and all other translations did not do this.

Should the name of Yahweh be mentioned if the writer intended to use it?

1 It was then that Moses and the Israelites sang this song in Yahweh’s honour:
I shall sing to Yahweh, for he has covered himself in glory, horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.

2 Yah is my strength and my song,
to him I owe my deliverance.
He is my God and I shall praise him,
my father’s God and I shall extol him.

3 Yahweh is a warrior;
Yahweh is his name. (Exodus 15:1-3, New Jerusalem Bible)

1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD. They said:
I will sing to the LORD,
for He is highly exalted;
He has thrown the horse
and its rider into the sea.

2 The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.
This is my God, and I will praise Him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.

3 The LORD is a warrior;
Yahweh is His name. (Exodus 15:1-3, Holman Christian Christian Standard)

1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:
“I will sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.

2 “The LORD is my strength and my defense ;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

3 The LORD is a warrior;
the LORD is his name. (Exodus 15:1-3, Today’s New International Version)

1Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying,
“I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.

2 The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

3The LORD is a man of war;
the LORD is his name. (Exodus 15:1-3, English Standard Bible)

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Author: Kevin S.

A follower of Jesus, a husband and a father. Hobbies include biking, keeping fish if they don't die on me, blogging when I can, theologizing and ministry, and pondering about world affairs.

17 thoughts on “Exodus 15:3 – Yahweh is his name”

  1. Kevin,

    Great post as usual. I really go back and forth on this issue. When you read through Exodus or the Psalms, the use of YHWH certainly makes it in my view more personal and profound, particular in comparison with the other gods. However, I recognize how Judaism’s lack of using the Divine Name has an impact on Christian use as well as in interfaith work. Very tough! I am not sure I have a good answer other than saying that I am glad we have: Philippians 2:10-11!

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  2. Should the name of Yahweh be mentioned if the writer intended to use it?

    Yes.

    I can’t understand why translators insist on “Lord”.

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  3. For Jews, it’s a big issue (Lev. 24:16) of the law, and it’s one of the Ten Commandments to not blaspheme God’s name. I guess Judaism’s option to not use YHWH at all is the conservative approach, or the play-it-safe approach. If it’s not used at all, then there’s less chance of inappropriate use of God’s name.

    But do we Christians need to take this approach?

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  4. I don’t think it’s a big issue (Lev. 24:16) of the law but rather a big misapplication of the law. Sounds more like superstition.

    If All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16), and it is, why deliberately mistranslate a word?!

    You would think the “formal equivalence” translators would favor translating Yahweh as that would be a word for word translation.

    You would think the “functional/dynamic equivalence” translators would favor translating Yahweh as that would be the actual thought being expressed in the original language.

    If translators want to translate they should translate and put superstition to rest.

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  5. What I’d like to know is why nobody translates it as YHWH instead of Yahweh, and just adds a footnote explaining why. That way, it’s not using ‘the Lord’ option, which is bizarre in some places (the one you chose among them), and it’s not using Yahweh (which I find a little odd).

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  6. I don’t think it’s a big issue (Lev. 24:16) of the law but rather a big misapplication of the law. Sounds more like superstition.

    Stan, you may very well be right about it being based on superstition.

    You would think the “formal equivalence” translators would favor translating Yahweh as that would be a word for word translation.

    And not just for functional translations but also for formal translations too. If people truly feared God, they would not misuse God’s name. I guess we do that enough in society. We hear it all the time—people uttering “God” as a swear word. But if we did translate it using God’s name of Yahweh, would people begin to utter “Yahweh” in a bad way? I’m being a devil’s advocate.

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  7. Damian, your idea of going half-way on YHWH with a footnote is a good compromise. I like it. The HCSB also made a good compromise translating it where God’s name was expected to be in v. 3b but left it out in v. 1,2, 3a. Either way makes sense than the status quo.

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  8. But if we did translate it using God’s name of Yahweh, would people begin to utter “Yahweh” in a bad way?

    I think God is aware of the intended object of their blasphemies. IMHO, the guilt is no less because they use the word “God” or “Lord” to refer to him.

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  9. the guilt is no less because they use the word “God” or “Lord” to refer to him.

    Stan, you made a very good point. I agree with you. Lord, God, Yahweh…blasphemy is still blasphemy.

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  10. Hi Kevin, interesting post. I think YHWH should be retained by all means when the name of God is emphasized. “The LORD” is a rather weak if not a mistaken translation of YHWH because of the reluctance of Jews and some Christians to use the sacred name. I have using Jerusalem Bible for years and JB’s translation of the Psalms is one of the best, not least for the consistent translation of Yahweh instead of “Lord”.

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  11. So what do you guys think translators should do when they come across κύριος (mostly translated “Lord”) in the New Testament? . . . especially when used to quote an OT passage?

    The LXX often used κύριος in reference to YHWH. The NT writers also picked up this practice when quoting the OT (see, for example, Paul quotation of Joel 2:32 in Romans 10:13).

    Does this mean they were wrong for doing so?

    It seems to me that demanding translators MUST use YHWH instead of “LORD” may interfere with our doctrine of inspiration since the NT writers had little problem using κύριος.

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  12. Tony, thanks. Yes, the JB is quiet literary isn’t it? However, some people say the NJB is more accurate than the JB.

    Stuart, very good point. I’m not sure if using Yahweh/YHWH instead of “LORD” would interfere with our doctrine of inspiration. Even if we were to use Yahweh and go with something different from what Paul used, I don’t think it wouldn’t affect the inspiration of scripture, well, at least for me anyway. I know some people would disagree with me though.

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  13. Kevin,

    allow me to clarify . . .

    What I meant by my comment was that if we insist rendering YHWH as “LORD” is a wrong practice (mistranslation), then logically we have to say what the NT authors did in rendering YHWH as κύριος was wrong . . . and if we say the inspired authors of the NT were wrong in this practice, then at the very least we are shaping the doctrine of inspiration in an untypical way (at least within what we might call broadly evangelical circles).

    I realize now that I was assuming those who comment on this blog would agree with broadly evangelical views of inspiration (thus my criticism aimed in that direction). That assumption may or may not be the case . . .

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  14. Stuart, sorry for my late response. Thanks for your clarification. Now, I understand what you’re saying.

    Maybe those who frequent this blog would agree with a broad evangelical view of inspiration. I don’t really know.

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  15. yes the father name is yhwh but he is not a god! and thats obvious that his name is yahweh or yhwh. the thing is the name of the son is hidden with the name the jews use which is yeshua. the christians replace his name with iesous and jesus. none of those names give glory to yhwh-yahweh. acts 4:10-12 says-
    “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of israyl, that in the name of yahshua messiah of nazareth, whom you nailed on a stake, but whom yahweh raised from the dead- by him does this man stand here before you healed. this stone which was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the head stone of the corner, neither is there salvation in any other, for there is ‘no other name’ under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” luke 2:21 says- “when the 8th day came and the child was circumcised , his name was called -yahshua (means- yahweh is salvation)-the name given by the angel before he was born” -matthew 1:20-21,luke 1:26-38. and even controversial paul of tarsus knew this ephesians 1:21 says- “far above all principality,power, and mite,and those who rule,and above every name that is named not only in this age but the age to come”. so yhwh bka yahweh and yahshua are sacred holy names greater than allah? jesus, jehovah, iesous, amen-ra, diana, isis, ishtar, lucifer, satan, quan yi, khali …..u know wat i got somethn better, micahyah 4:5 -“all people walk in the name of his/her god/goddess, but we walk in the name of yhwh forever”. or exodus 18;11-” yhwh is greater than all gods”. or 1john 5:19-“we know we belong to yhwh but the ‘whole world’ belong to the evil one”. still not convinced revelation 12:9- “the great dragon called satan the devil decieves the ‘whole world'”. hold up almost done. acts 19:27- “the great goddess
    whom all asia and the ‘world’ worships”. remember the serpent talkn to eve -genesis 3:5- “for he knows that the day you eat of tree of righteousness and evil you will be as the gods knowing righteousness and evil” .(correct translation of genesis 3:22)-then Yahweh said:”behold the man has become like one who has begun to know righteousness and evil and now he must not be allowed to put out his hand and take from tree of life.” jeremyah 7:18- “they make cakes for queen of heaven and the gods to provoke my anger”. now ima end with why yhwh is up set about anyone praying to god( who has many names who is the great mother goddess lucifer the queen of heaven) deuteronomy 6:13 – “yahweh – yhwh the father u must reverence and him you must serve and by his name you must take your oaths” and deuteronomy 13:4-“it is yhwh your father you must walk after and it is him you must reverence keep his laws and obey his voice,the you shall serve him and hold fast to him” 1john3:10- in this the children of yhwh (the almighty father) and the children of the devil(the great mother) are manifest” . halleluyahweh love in yahshua name .

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