Exodus 6:3 MEANING

Exodus 6:3
(3) I appeared . . . by the name of God Almighty.--This name, "El Shaddai," is first found in the revelation made of Himself by God to Abraham (Genesis 17:1). It is used by Isaac (Genesis 28:3), and repeated in the revelation made to Jacob (Genesis 35:11 ). Its primary idea is, no doubt, that of "overpowering strength." (See the comment on Genesis 17:1.) The primary idea of "Jehovah" is, on the contrary, that of absolute, eternal, unconditional, independent existence. Both names were probably of a great antiquity, and widely spread among Semitic races; but, at different times and in different places, special stress was laid on the one or on the other. To the early patriarchs God revealed Himself as "El Shaddai," because He desired to impress upon them His ability to fulfil the promises which He had made to them; to Moses and Israel generally, at the date of the Exodus, He insisted on His name Jehovah, because they were in the closest contact with polytheism, and had themselves, in many cases, fallen into polytheism (Joshua 24:14), against which this Name was a standing protest, since "the Existent" must mean "the Self Existent," and so "the Only Existent." (See Deuteronomy 4:39 : "Jehovah, he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else")

By my name Jehovah was I not known to them.--Rather, was I not made manifest to them. The antiquity of the name itself appears--(1) from its derivation, which is from the obsolete havah, a form already in the time of Moses superseded by hayah; (2) from its occurrence in some of the most ancient documents inserted by Moses into the Book of Genesis, e.g., Exodus 2:4; Exodus 2:3-4; Exodus 11:1-9, &c.; (3) from its employment by Abraham as an element in a name (Genesis 22:14). But though the name was ancient, and known to the patriarchs, its full meaning was not known to them, and so God was not manifested to them by it.

Verse 3. - I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty. See Genesis 17:1 for the revelation of this name to Abraham, and Genesis 35:11 for its repetition to Jacob. We do not find the full name used by God in any appearance to Isaac; but Isaac himself uses it in Genesis 28:3. By my name Jehovah was I not known unto them. The explanation of this passage is by no means easy. God himself, according to Genesis 15:7, revealed himself to Abraham as Jehovah before declaring his name to be El-Shaddai (God Almighty); and again revealed himself to Jacob as Jehovah-Elohim (Genesis 28:13). Abraham named the place where he had been about to sacrifice Isaac, "Jehovah-jireh" (Genesis 22:14). That Moses regarded the name as known even earlier, appears from Genesis 4:1. It was probably as old as language. The apparent meaning of the present passage cannot therefore be its true meaning. No writer would so contradict himself. Perhaps the true sense is, "I was known to them as a Being of might and power, not as mere absolute (and so eternal and immutable) existence." This meaning of the word, though its etymological and original meaning, may have been unknown to the patriarchs, who were not etymologists. It was first distinctly declared to Moses at Sinai (Exodus 3:14, 15).

6:1-9 We are most likely to prosper in attempts to glorify God, and to be useful to men, when we learn by experience that we can do nothing of ourselves; when our whole dependence is placed on him, and our only expectation is from him. Moses had been expecting what God would do; but now he shall see what he will do. God would now be known by his name Jehovah, that is, a God performing what he had promised, and finishing his own work. God intended their happiness: I will take you to me for a people, a peculiar people, and I will be to you a God. More than this we need not ask, we cannot have, to make us happy. He intended his own glory: Ye shall know that I am the Lord. These good words, and comfortable words, should have revived the drooping Israelites, and have made them forget their misery; but they were so taken up with their troubles, that they did not heed God's promises. By indulging discontent and fretfulness, we deprive ourselves of the comfort we might have, both from God's word and from his providence, and go comfortless.And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty,.... Able to fulfil all his purposes, promises, and covenant, with whom nothing is impossible; or Elshaddai, God all-sufficient, who has a sufficiency of happiness in himself, and everything to supply the wants of his creatures in things temporal and spiritual, see Genesis 17:1,

but by my name Jehovah was I not known to them; which he had in the preceding verse called himself by. This is not to be understood absolutely; for it is certain that he had made himself known by this name, and this name was known unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Genesis 15:6, and but comparatively, as some think; that is, he was not so much made known to them by the one name as the other; though it may be questioned whether the one was more used in speaking to them than the other; wherefore others think, as Saadiah Gaon, that the word only is to be supplied, as in Genesis 32:28 and the sense to be, that by his name Jehovah he was not only made known to them, but by his name Elshaddai, and others also; and others reconcile the difficulty thus, that though the name Jehovah itself was known to the patriarchs, by which they were assured that God is eternal, immutable, and faithful to his promises; yet he was not known as to the efficacy of this name, or with respect to the actual performance of his promise, as he now would be by delivering the children of Israel out of Egypt, and bringing them into the land of Canaan; though perhaps, by reading the words with an interrogation, the clause will appear more plain, "and by my name Jehovah was I not known to them?" (t) verily I was. Josephus (u) says, this name was not before made known to men, and that it was not lawful for a man to speak it; and this is the common notion of the Jews, that it is ineffable, and not lawful to be pronounced, and therefore they put Adonai and Elohim in the room of it, and the vowel points of these words to it, which is a false and superstitious notion: this name was known among the Heathens; it is the same with in the oracle of Apollo (w); and Diodorus Siculus (x) says, that with the Jews Moses is said to give laws from a God called "IAO", and is the same which in Philo Byblius (y) is called Jevo; and both are no other than a corruption of Jah or Jehovah; and perhaps the of the Pythagoreans (z), by which they swore, is the same with the tetragrammaton, or this word of four letters, with the Jews.

(t) Vid. Noldium, No. 788. (u) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 12. sect. 4. (w) Cornelius Labeo de oraculo Apoll. Clarii apud Macrob. Saturnal. l. 1. c. 18. (x) Bibliothoc. l. 1. p. 84. (y) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 1. c. 9. p. 31. (z) Carmin. Aurea Pythagor. l. 47. & Hierocles in ib. p. 225, 277. Porphyr. de Vita Pythagor. p. 189.

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