WORD STUDY – IT IS I הני
Isaiah 52:6: “Therefore my people shall know my name, Therefore they shall know in that day, that I am He that doth speak, behold it is I.”
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet – Romeo and Juliet Act II Scene 2
There is something that rubs me the wrong way about the rendering Behold it is I. Not only is it redundant, it’s monotonous. Besides it makes little sense to declare such a statement. You are speaking of a future event when God’s name will be known and then makes an interjection which is rendered as behold it is I or surely it is I. Such a declaration hardly sounds necessary.
The Bodleian manuscripts, that is the Old Testament manuscripts that are housed in the Bodleian library at Oxford University has the words I am YHWH rather than hinei for the phrase Behold, it is I. This would fit the verse much better as God is not saying Behold it is I but I am Jehovah. This particularly rendering certainly fits considering the verse centers around the name of God and knowing his name.
One of the biggest criticisms I get is from people who insist that I use the Hebrew name of God and Jesus for surely if I am a Hebrew student, I would use God’s Hebrew name. Thus I should say YHWH for God and Jesus as Yeshua. To use the Hebrew name of God and Jesus sort of calls attention to yourself like saying: “Hey, look at me, I study Hebrew and I am much more enlightened and in the know than you illiterate Christians who are still stuck in the dark ages reading your King James Version of the Bible.”
I am really not sure what someone is trying to prove by using the Hebrew name of God. The name simply means I am in Hebrew. My kid brother, who is a linguist with Wycliffe Bible Translators, gave me my first lesson in linguistics when he was seven years old. He came home from school and said; “I will give you all my money if you can pronounce a word without a vowel.” Well his quarter allowance was safe, because you cannot pronounce a word without a vowel. Which brings us to the problem with YHWH, if you haven’t noticed, it has no vowels and hence we have no idea how it is pronounced. So to refer to God as Yah way will bring you no closer to pronouncing the true name of God than to refer to Him as Jehovah. Yeah, I know there are some phony teachers out there who insist they are on the inside track and know that it is pronounced Yah way but anyone who says that is just showing their ignorance of Semitic languages.
When Isaiah 53:6 says that in that day they will know my name, God was not referring to knowing how to pronounce His name. The word name in Hebrew is shem and means a reputation, what a person is. The word YHWH has an unusual form to it and literally means; I was, I am, and I will be.
Well bully for us, we now all know His name. So we certainly have that bit of prophecy all sewed up. Let’s move on to the rapture. There is one problem with that and that is the word to know. It is the word yada in Hebrew and it is the same word used when Abraham knew his wife and she bore a child. As Woody Allen asks:
“What do you mean do I know him, like in a Biblical sense?” I think I was the only one in the audience who laughed. This is not knowing how to pronounce His name or to use YHWH instead of Jehovah, it is being intimate with the reputation behind this name.
Today was President Obama’s last day as the President. This really got me to thinking because I began my journey to discover the heart of God eight years ago about the same time Obama became President. This evening I took a walk through the park across from where I park my disability bus and God and I were alone. We talked about the last eight years since I began my journey to the heart of God. This past week I have been reviewing the hundreds and hundreds of devotionals or word studies that I have done in the last eight years searching for information for my new book. These studies cover the years in my search for the heart of God. I could see with each word study that I grew a bit nearer to God’s heart, and that I am getting closer. Each year showed a deeper understanding of God’s heart. Even this study is one I did four years ago but I am redoing it because as I have grown closer to the heart of God I found I need to redo it as I barely scratched the surface of my understanding four years ago. Since I last wrote this study I have felt the warmth of His Light, the comfort of his arms. I can almost hear the soothing sounds of his voice. His Word, the Bible is becoming more and more precious to me than it was four years ago. The things of this world, its honors, recognitions, accomplishments, the pursuit of financial security etc., are all becoming strangely dim. I know I am getting closer to His heart because things in this natural world that used to matter to me seem to have lost it value. Some people wonder if I hadn’t fallen into a dark hole the past few months. But I was just so absorbed in my search for the heart of God.
This evening as I walked and talked with God I wanted to reach out and touch Him, to pass through that portal into his presence. Yet, I could hear God say: “You still do not know (yada) my name.” Knowing His name means more than just to know how to pronounce His name, or even what His name means, it means to have an intimate relationship with that name. Calling Him by His Hebrew name will not win you any points with God anymore than calling your boss by his real name. He only cares that you speak to him with respect no matter what name you use and accomplish what he desires. So too with God, he only cares that you accomplish what He desires and that is to love Him with all your heart, soul and might.