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Friday, June 21, 2013

Why it is Highly Probable That the Hebrew Word 'Ehyeh' is Mistranslated as "I AM" at Exodus 3:14

The two main points to be made about Exodus 3:14 in the original Hebrew are: (1) the word sometimes translated "I AM" in English is not the name of God but merely an explanation of the meaning of his only personal name ("Jehovah" - English form; "Yahweh" - possible Hebrew form), and (2) translating that Hebrew word (ehyeh) as "I Am" is probably incorrect.

The high probability is that ehyeh is mistranslated as "I am". Consider how ehyeh is translated at Ex. 3:14 in the following Bibles: Moffatt's translation - "I WILL BE"; Byington's - "I WILL BE"; Rotherham's - "I WILL BECOME"; New World Translation - "I SHALL PROVE TO BE." In addition were the following alternate readings in footnotes: American Standard Version - "I WILL BE"; NIV Study Bible - "I WILL BE"; Revised Standard Version - "I WILL BE"; New Revised Standard Version - "I WILL BE"; New English Bible - "I WILL BE"; Revised English Bible - "I WILL BE"; Living Bible - "I WILL BE"; Good News Bible - "I WILL BE."

Notice how this respected Bible translates Ex, 3:14:

"And God said to Moses, `Ehyeh (hyh))-Asher-Ehyeh.' (a) He continues, `Thus shall you say to the Israelites, "Ehyeh (b) sent me to you."'" – Tanakh, JPS, 1985.

Tanakh Footnotes:

"(a) Meaning of Heb, uncertain; variously translated: "I Am That I Am; "I Am Who I AM; I Will Be What I Will Be; etc."

"(b) Others "I AM or "I Will Be."

And even one of the earliest English translations renders it:

14 God saide vnto Moses: I wyl be what I wyll be. And he sayde: Thus shalt thou saye vnto ye children of Israel: I wyl be hath sent me vnto you. - Miles Coverdale Bible (1535).

Notice too what the Encyclopedia Britannica had to say on this subject:

"The writer [of Exodus 3:14-15] ... explains it [the meaning of God's name] by the phrase EHYEH asher EHYEH (Ex. iii., 14); this can be translated `I am that I am' or more`exactly 'I am wont to be that which I am wont to be' or `I will be that which I will be .'" - p. 995, 14th ed., v. 12.

Although it takes some effort to further check out the meaning of ehyeh, it is worth it. With a good Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible you can prove to yourself that ehyeh should be translated "I will be" (or a similar rendering) at Ex. 3:14.

In contrast to the paucity of evidence for an "I am" interpretation of ehyeh you will find that all of the books of Moses (the Pentateuch), including Exodus, of course, and the book of Joshua always use ehyeh to mean "I will be." Check out the various translations of these scriptures where they occur. A Hebrew interlinear will back this up.

For more concerning "I AM", see the Category:

I AM (John 8:58 / Ex. 3:14) (Defend Jehovah's Witnesses)

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