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Continuing the response to the meta call for contradiction.

In Exodus 4:13-14, Moses is talking to God:

And Moses said to God, "Here I come to the sons of Israel, and I told them, the God of your fathers sent me to you, and they said to me, what is his name?, what will I tell them?"

And God said to Moses "I will be what I will be", and he said "Thus you will say to the sons of Israel, 'I will be' sent me to you."

But in Exodus 4:15, the very next verse, we find out

Thus you will say to the sons of Israel, Yahweh the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, sent me to you, this is my name forever, and this is my memory from generation to generation."

The word "I will be" is "Ehieh", while the name of God is the very similar sounding "Yahweh", which sounds a lot like a nonexistent conjugation "to be", which is a garbling of past, present, and future tense. So the conjunction of the two verses, in close proximity, can be interpreted as an etymology for Yahweh.

But if you want to take this completely literally, there are two (slightly) conflicting commands here: announce God's name as "Ehieh", or as "Yahweh". Why the contradiction?

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Not really a contradiction. More like synonyms. –  user764 Sep 16 '12 at 7:41
    
@Nathan: These are not synonyms! They are textually different, and used differently. The text also has an obvious seam between the two, with a repetition of "thus you will say to the sons of Israel..." with two different continuations, in different styles and usage, in different voices, and either half works better without the other. It's a real contradiction, you should read the passage. –  Ron Maimon Sep 18 '12 at 5:41
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2 Answers

It is not plain to me that ehyeh and Yahweh are related at all.The footnote in the NIV says something like "the two words sound the same and can be derived from each other", which always struck me as a rather dishonest comment. They certainly don't sound alike, regardless of the vocalization you choose for the tetragrammaton, and it is far from obvious what the derivation is (particularly the change between the central yodh and the waw.)

These verses always struck me as reminiscent of the various other Genesis justifications for the names of people, where the names are kind of similar to some other phrase, place name or event. For example, Genesis 5:29, where Noah (Heb. Noach, nun-cheth) was named because of the comfort (Heb. Nacham, nun-cheth-mem ) God would bring. It seems kind of like a post hoc justification. These two verses seem to be in a similar category to me -- it isn't really a derivation, more like a post hoc justification that is perhaps a little shaky.

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Hi Fraser and welcome to our site! These are interesting observations. I hope you will look around the site and try your hand at answering some of our other questions. Even if they are answered, we like having several points of view. I hope to see you around! –  Jon Ericson Nov 9 '12 at 19:29
    
I agree, it's like the other stretchy folk-etymologies, but this one is not so ridiculous (neither is noach), because "Yahweh" sort of sounds like a nonexistent conjugation of to be, which mangles the future and past tense. But they don't sound very much alike, you are right. I have already explained the main point, that it is one more place that you can clearly see the JE authorial division in Genesis/Exodus. –  Ron Maimon Nov 9 '12 at 22:39
    
Oh, I see! You think the "post-hoc" etymological justification for the name is being done here by the same author! It's the redactor, the person who put the J/E together this way, who is making the post-hoc justification by the juxtaposition, neither J nor E gives an etymology for Yahweh, and the etymology is implicit, not parallel to neither J nor E stuff (although it's in a similar spirit). This answer is incorrect--- the "J part" and the "E part" are in different voices, the seam is obvious and clunky, and this is the first place where they start to agree on the name of God. –  Ron Maimon Nov 10 '12 at 12:55
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@RonMaimon FWIW, Ron, I am not an advocate of the JEDP documentary hypothesis (or more specifically the JE part of it.) I think it is largely baseless speculation. However, I don't suppose the comments section here is the place to engage in such a discussion. FWIW, though, I think Josh McDowell's "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" pretty much eviscerates the idea. –  Fraser Orr Nov 11 '12 at 1:54
    
@Ron, Fraser, you are right, this isn't the best place to discuss JEDP—either the site chat room or a specific question on the topic would be much better! Fraser I do hope you register and continue to contribute, we value your input on the site. –  Jack Douglas Nov 12 '12 at 5:37
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The form hjh seems to be an actualization to the older form hwh that persisted in the Name. And by God revealing Himself to Moses (and the people) in first person He gave actuality to what otherwise may have sounded somewhat merely traditional and reminiscent. The waw (in the Semitic dialects) was close enough to the jodh in order for God to be understood as being the same One. To speak to the people with God's Name in grammar's first person would be quite authoritative in regard to the task Moses was about to perform. The form of Name that had been handed and whispered down from the forefathers was to persist. That's why it was given in second instance, with no doubt or delay.

(Eve's grammar might be compared: chawah and chajah. Or the Arabic weled (give birth) to jeled.)

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Except "Ehieh" is not "hayah", so the difference is much bigger than waw to jud. –  Ron Maimon Apr 23 '13 at 18:43
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