Today I want to do an interesting compare and contrast exercise with verses 6 and 7 of Exodus 34 with some famous English translations and then substitute some Hebrew words.
Here’s how these verses are rendered in the King James version:
“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”-Exodus 34:6-7
Here’s how these verses are rendered in the NIV version:
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands,and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”-Exodus 34:6-7
Now let me change some key words into the original Hebrew as follows:
“YHVH passed before him and proclaimed: ‘YHVH, YHVH, El is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”
The point I want to demonstrate is that the vast majority of English translations do NOT reflect the original Hebrew.
Instead of using God’s Name YHVH, the translators have opted to use the words “God” or “Lord” instead.
The only problem with this is that “God” or “Lord” are NOT names, anymore than titles like “Mister”, “Miss”, “Doctor”, or “President” are names.
“Roger” is a name.
“Michelle” is a name.
And “Rich” is a name.
What I want you to really understand is that when the God of Israel goes out of His way to pronounce His Name, it is a very personal matter.
To drive the point home, notice how in verse 5, the Lord is repeating His personal Name twice!
“Yehoveh, Yehoveh, El is compassionate….”
Also notice the use of the word “El”.
This is the root word for ELOHIM which can mean “gods” with a small “g” or as the plural of majesty form also refer to the one and only God of Israel.
Now “EL” is actually a title for the HIGHEST god in a pantheon of gods.
And as I just explained it is NOT a word used only to refer to YHVH.
EL was a title that even the various pagan religions would assign to whichever of their many gods they believed stood above all the others.
In other the words, this one little word EL means “the God above all the other gods”.
Other Bibles will use the expressions “God of gods”, “Lord of lords”, or “King of kings”.
These are all derivatives from the term “EL”.
What I find interesting is that in spite of YHVH being written more than 6000 times in the original Hebrew, most English Bibles will only occasionally (only about 4 or 5 times) use YHVH as God’s name!
Remember that the Lord providing His personal name was a response to Moses’ request “I beg that you show me your glory” from chapter 33.
Don’t you find that inspiring and profound?
When Moses asked God to show him who He was, the the first thing the Lord emphasized was His personal name: YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH.