הָיָה הֹוֶה יִהְיֶה
Hayah, Hoveh, Yihyeh
In the Book of Revelation
One of the things that I have found to be a bit troubling, as I have studied God’s hidden name, is the seeming lack of manuscript evidence showing the Tetragrammaton in the Greek New Testament Scriptures. However, we are about to see that what we have learned thus far about the meaning of Yehovah and how it was expressed in the Targum and the Adon Olam can also be seen in the New Testament. I hope you will find it as exciting as I have to see how the Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, and English versions of the Old Testament tie in with and confirm our understanding of the Greek and English New Testament, especially with regard to God’s unique name and its meaning.
Remember, in an earlier lesson (Part 3-A), I asked if the meaning of Yehovah (He was, He is, He is to be) had a familiar ring to it. Let’s explore that now!
We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
Revelation 11:17 NKJV
Do you hear it? Ding! Ding! Ding!
Let’s look more closely at the Greek and Hebrew behind the English translation of this verse: “… who is (G. Ho On, ο ων; H. hoveh, הוה), and who was (G. Ho En, ο ην; H. hayah, היה), and who is to come (G. Ho Erchomenos, ο ερχομενος; H. yihyeh, יהיה)
There is actually a separate Strong’s concordance entry for the phrase “which art, and wast, and art to come” (as translated by the KJV)—Strong’s G3801: transliterated as ho on kai ho en kai ho erchomenos (ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος). It occurs five times in Revelation.
…Grace be unto you, and peace, from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come (Ho On kai Ho En kai Ho Erchomenos)...
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, who is, and who was, and who is to come (Ho On kai Ho En kai Ho Erchomenos), the Almighty.”
And the four living creatures… do not rest day or night, saying: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come (Ho On kai Ho En kai Ho Erchomenos)!”
And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “You are righteous, O Lord, the One who is and who was and who is to be (Ho On kai Ho En kai Ho Erchomenos), because You have judged these things…”
Revelation 16:5 NKJV
By now, I am sure you can see that the Greek phrase ‘Ho On kai Ho En kai Ho Erchomenos’ is equivalent to the Hebrew ‘Hayah, Hoveh, Yihyeh.’
These five verses in Revelation express the Hayah, Hoveh, Yihyeh that make up God’s Name, Yehovah. John, the writer of Revelation, knew what the writers of the Jerusalem Targum and the Adon Olam knew, and what many Rabbis knew about the eternal nature of God. This is what can be known and understood from God’s revelation of His name to Moses at the burning bush. The Father wants us to know that the fact that He is the Self-Existent One sets Him far above everything else in the Universe. He created everything that is, therefore, He prexisted all that is, and He will still exist long after this Universe has ceased to be. Nothing that is created or ever will be created can ever rival Him. He is worthy of all praise and all obedience because in Him, we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). To settle for anything lesser as an object of worship is insanity.
We also see, from these verses in Revelation, what is expressed by Jesus in John 17, that the Father is in the Son and the Son in the Father and they are one. (see John 17: 11, 21, 22)
In the Septuagint (LXX)
The Septuagint is the ancient Greek translation of the Torah. The oldest complete manuscripts of the LXX are from the 4th and 5th centuries AD and include the New Testament. These are the Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus. The codices were copied by Christians. The original LXX is believed to date to approximately 250 BC and would have been the version in use at the time of Christ.
An English translation of the LXX by Brenton (1844), renders Exodus 3:14 as:
“And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am THE BEING; and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, THE BEING has sent me to you.”
Exodus 3:14 (Brenton)
The literal translation into English of the LXX of this verse is:
And God spoke to Moses, saying, I am He Who Is (Ego Eimi Ho On – εγω ειμι ο ων), and he said, Thus shall ye say to the children of Israel, He Who Is (Ho On – ο ων) has sent me to you.
Exodus 3:14 (Gordon)
The above English translations by Brenton and Gordon of the LXX translation of Exodus 3:14 are doing similarly to the Aramaic Targum—paraphrasing the Hebrew for those who do not know Hebrew.
εγω ειμι (Ego Eimi) = אהיה (Ehyeh) = I Will Be (I AM in KJV)
ο ων (Ηο Οn) = הוה (Hoveh) = He Who Is (I AM in KJV)
Just like Ehyeh, Ego Eimi is not the Name; it is the key to understanding the meaning of YHVH יהוה. Ego Eimi (LXX) literally means “I am” but it is a translation of Ehyeh (I will be). Ho On (LXX) literally means He is, but it is translating Ehyeh (I will be).
So… Why is it “I AM” in the Greek Septuagint and “I WILL BE” in Hebrew?
This has to do with the Hebrew imperfect (future) tense, which expresses continuous action. Ehyeh is imperfect tense. I am and I will be are essentially the same thing in Hebrew, although neither of these is a perfect translation. Ego Eimi is essentially equivalent to the Hebrew Qal conjugation.
Here is an example that may help in understanding the difference between the perfect and imperfect Hebrew tenses:
Perfect verbs express one time action: I am sitting in my office studying the Bible. (It is what I am doing now.)
Imperfect verbs express action that continues on into the future: I study the Bible. (It is what I do—now, tomorrow, the next day, and on and on.)
A more accurate explanation of the meaning of Ehyeh: I am NOW and I will continue to be into the FUTURE.
Philo, the Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, said it another way in this excellent explanation for Jews and Gentiles who did not know Hebrew:
“…he says, ‘I Am He That Is’ (Ego Eimi Ho On) which is equivalent to saying, ‘It is my nature to be…’”
Philo, Names, Paragraph 11
In the New Testament
Let’s look at some NT verses where Jesus uses I Am (Ego Eimi) statements (These are sometimes not readily apparent in our English translations):
Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM (Ego Eimi).”
John 8:58 NKJV
(The Jews and Pharisees at the time of Christ certainly understood that this was a reference back to Exodus 3:14. That is why they immediately picked up stones to throw at Him!)
“…for if you do not believe that I am He (Ego Eimi), you will die in your sins.”
John 8:24 NKJV
…”When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He (Ego Eimi), and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things.“
John 8:28 NKJV
They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He (Ego Eimi).” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He (Ego Eimi),” they drew back and fell to the ground.
John 18:5-6 NKJV
“I am (Ego Eimi) the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.“
Revelation 1:8 NKJV
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer; it is I (Ego Eimi), do not be afraid.”
Matthew 14:27 NKJV
The Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 33b, pg. 423, referring to “It is I” in Matthew 14:27, says, “…the words allude to the definition of the name Yahweh given in the LXX of Exodus 3:14″ (cf Matt 22:32; John 8:58; Mark 14:62) and Isa. 43:10; 51:12. Let’s look at these verses and an additional verse:
“But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am (Ego Eimi) the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”
Matthew 22:31-32 NKJV
(Jesus was quoting Exodus 3:6.)
…Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am (Ego Eimi). And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.“
Mark 14:61b-62 NKJV
“You are My witnesses, says the LORD (Yehovah), and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He (Ego Eimi; Hebrew: Ani hu): before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.“
Isaiah 43:10 NKJV
“I, even I, am He (Ego Eimi Ego Eimi; Hebrew Anochi Anochi Hu) who comforts you…”
Isaiah 51:12 NKJV
“I, even I, am He (Ego Eimi Ego Eimi; Hebrew Anochi Anochi Hu) who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and will not remember your sins.”
Isaiah 43:25 NKJV
Ego Eimi occurs in many places in the Septuagint. To my knowledge, ehyeh occurs only three times in the Tanakh. All three of these occurrences are in Exodus 3:14! Readers and listeners of the Septuagint would have repeatedly heard or read Ego Eimi (I Am) said by YHVH throughout the Greek Scriptures—it was a theme. In the same way, those who knew Greek in the time of Christ and the early church would have recognized these Ego Eimi (I Am) statements by Jesus and recognized the reference to the creator in Exodus 3:14-15.
As Ehyeh (אהיה) and Ego Eimi (εγω ειμι) are the key to understanding God’s eternal nature and His Name, so Ego Eimi is key to understanding Jesus (Yeshua) as God come in the flesh. The one who was and is and is to come!
Can I get an AMEN and HALLELU YAH?
Now that you have come up for air, I want to thank you for staying with me on this exhausting foray we have taken into the depths of Hebrew and Greek in Part 3. To be perfectly honest, we didn’t even break the surface tension on the Hebrew or Greek waters!
Wait! Don’t be alarmed. That’s as far as I will attempt to take you on this journey! Go ahead… heave that huge sigh of relief!
- What do the verses from Revelation that we looked at show you about the Father and the Son, and their relationship to each other?
- Read John 17: 11, 21, 22.
- Spend some time meditating on the verses we read and other verses you may have found. How has what we have learned thus far affected your perception of God, the Father, and God, the Son?
- Read all of Isaiah 43, particularly looking for “I Am” statements.
- Use a concordance or search engine to find more “I Am” verses in the Old Testament.
- Why do you think that the “I AM THAT I AM” (“Ehyeh asher ehyeh”) statement in Exodus 3:14 is different from other I Am statements in the Scriptures and why is it important?
- Be sure to share your insights, questions, and comments below!
Congratulations! You have made it through the hardest part of this Bible study! I’m so happy to be taking this journey with you. Come join me in Part 4 where we will look for God’s name in the New Testament and study Jesus’s Hebrew name and what it means!
I leave you with this blessing:
May Yehovah bless you and keep you;
May Yehovah make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
May Yehovah lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.
Shalom, my friends!
DISCLAIMER: Much of the information covered in Part 3 of this study regarding Hebrew grammar is greatly oversimplified. Hebrew is a complex language. There are many differences between Biblical and modern Hebrew, and the tenses in Hebrew are not easily explained or translated into English. The same is true for Greek. I am by no means an expert in Hebrew or Greek. I can hardly even be considered a novice. Therefore, I have relied heavily on the understanding of Nehemia Gordon as presented in his video, The Great I AM Revealed, available on his website nehemiaswall.com.1 (This video is found under the Yehovah Studies tab, and requires a membership as a support team member to view.) I have also drawn information from the book Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence — The Hebrew Power of the Priestly Blessing Unleashed by Nehemia Gordon.2
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Feature Image background by titoOns via CanvaPro; Scripture photography by Lisa Urbani; Hebrew calligraphy by Melody Cash.
1Nehemia Gordon, “The Great I AM Revealed,” Hebrew Makor Foundation. https://www.Nehemiaswall.com (accessed November 1, 2018).
2Nehemia Gordon, Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence – The Hebrew Power of the Priestly Blessing Unleashed, (Hilkiah Press, 2012).