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I have often been told that "name" in the Old Testament has much more weight than it does to us today. Then I noticed this passage recently:

See, the Name of the Yahweh comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire. —Isaiah 30:27

Is "The Name of Yahweh" a name for him? How ought I to understand this phrase? Is the extra degree of separation an indication of thrice-holiness, like using הַשֶׁם for יהוה? What kind of implications does it have for understanding the concept of name in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament?

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  • Creator י of calamity הוה. Though they knew the name Yahweh earlier, God explained to Moses that he would bring calamity on Egypt. By that name שם of the creator of calamity yahweh, he was not known. Yahweh also means "he created י and spoke ו but was not understood הה" ץ They understood that meaning of his name previously. By the way. There is no place it says we can't say Yahweh, we are supposed to call him that. But a similar name יןי "eeooee" is hidden in the strokes of the aleph א, and since it is a silent letter, it cannot be spoken. – Bob Jones Jul 24 '18 at 16:51
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No, traditional English translations render שֵׁם־יְהוָה correctly as a phrase: e.g. “Look! The name of Yahweh comes from afar ...” (LEB). Though name and YHWH are linked in the Masoretic text by a maqqef or 'Hebrew hyphen', this indicates to speakers that the second word is accented, not the first. It’s a function of pronunciation, not meaning. The hyphenated word is not a compound name.

On names in the Bible generally: The literal meaning of many biblical names is well-known, and scholars also note apparent charactonyms and examples of nominative determinism, suggesting allegorical and other literary intent behind many biblical names. Abram, for example, means ‘exalted father’ – likely not a given name but an appropriate epithet for the father-figure in the nation’s founding mythology. Whether early Jewish writers were influenced by gemetria, true name magic, or other forms of mysticism in their naming I leave for others to consider.

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  • As far as I understand, the hyphen functions like [of] – Jacob Apr 29 '18 at 23:15
  • @Jacob Hebrew has construct chains for the genitive relation. It is independent of the maqqef. – user2672 May 1 '18 at 7:02
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שׁם for name also means 'fame' or 'reputation'

שׁמם which is considered a different root, but has the same form as the plural of םשׁ means 'desolate' or 'to make desolate'. Since שׁם is in שׁמם, the one who makes desolate gets a reputation for doing it.

The context of Is 30.27 is suggestive of the linked meaning:

See, the "reputation for making desolate" of Yaweh comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire.

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As noted in another answer, someone's name does carry with it their reputation and character, and in a sense the very mention of their "name" will cause either joy or distress which precedes their actual arrival. However, that does not really fit with the context of the judgment prophesied in Isa. 30:27 and surrounding verses.

Several of the English translations simply replace "the name of the LORD" with "the Lord" in this verse. (ERV, CEB, TLB, ICB, NIRV, NLT, and others.) That is also not correct, as it changes or alters God's word.

There is, however, another parallel to be drawn. We should consider the use of "the angel of the Lord" as well as "for His name's sake". The angel of the Lord was used in many verses for the messenger, or being that was carrying out God's will. He appears in Gen. chap. 16, 22, and 24. But, we are really introduced to Him in the very familiar passage at Exo. 3:2.

"And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush:..." (KJV)

Moses sees a burning bush, and hears the voice of God whom we are told was "the angel of the Lord" (Exo. 3:2,4-6).

This is the same "angel of the Lord" that withstood Balaam as "an adversary" or "a satan" in Num. 22:22; and the same "angel of the Lord" of Jud. 2:1-4 who brought the children of Israel up out of Egypt; the same "angel of the Lord" that appeared to Gideon in Jud. chap. 6; the same who appeared unto Manoah in Judges chap. 13, and when Manoah asked His name, He replied that it was secret (Jud. 13:18).

Also, the same "angel of the Lord" that killed 5,400 of the Assyrians in 2 Kings 19:35; or the choice set before David for "the angel of the Lord" to destroy 70,000 throughout the coasts of Israel in 1 Chron. 21:12-14; and the same whose sword David feared in 1 Chron. 21:30.

The delivering "angel of the Lord" in Psa. 34:7; or the persecuting "angel of the Lord" in Psa. 35:6; and the same who appeared to Joshua as the "commander of the army of the Lord", and whom Joshua worshiped in Josh. 5:13-15.

The angel of the Lord indicated God's presence with men as either their defender, their destroyer, or their leader, and the one who fought for them, the pre-incarnate Christ, the Messiah.

And, it was for his name's sake that He did not completely cut off the house of Jacob.

Isa. 48:9-12,

"9 For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.

10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last." (KJV)

God had scattered the Israelites throughout the heathen nations because of their sins. All of Ezekiel chap. 36 explained how God would repopulate and resurrect the land of Israel for His name’s sake.

Ez. 36:22,

“Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.” (KJV)

Ez. 36:32,

“Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.”

Who was His name’s sake? God would re-establish the tribes of Joseph and Judah as one tribe, one nation for the purpose of bringing the Messiah, and sanctifying His name. (Ez. 37:19-22) He would bring the Messiah, the Christ, His servant David to be their King and their Prince. (Ez. 37:24-25)

His name's sake was the Messiah, Christ. The "name of the Yahweh", or "the name of the Lord" in Isa. 30:27 was another way of saying "the angel of the Lord". It was God's messenger and angel who was prophesied to come in judgment of the wicked in Isa. 30:26-28.

Further reading:

"How do we know the Angel of the Lord is Jesus" here

"Who is the Messenger" here

"The Valley of Dry Bones: A Picture for the Children of God" at ShreddingTheVeil

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