God chose Moses as His representative in Egypt, calling on him to lead his people out from slavery and lead them toward freedom. God provided comfort for Moses by giving him a name – Yahweh or Yahweh, which expresses eternal existence and absolute necessity – for Moses’s own security.
Moses spent 40 years tending the flock of his father-in-law in Midian’s desert and became not just a humble shepherd but rather one who trusted God alone for provision.
Why did Moses ask God’s name?
The biblical story of Moses is widely known. The biblical account begins when God appeared as a burning bush (Exodus 3-4) and called upon Moses to rescue His people from slavery in Egypt. At first Moses opposed God’s mission but eventually accepted it and recruited Aaron as helper to confront Pharaoh with their demands that he allow the Hebrews freedom of worship their God freely; when Pharaoh refused this demand ten plagues of judgment were unleashed upon both people and land.
When Moses first encountered God, the conversation was somewhat perplexing. Moses wanted God to reveal His name; yet what does He mean when He says: “My name is not in this?”? Scholars have struggled for centuries with this question.
Modern commentaries often interpret this passage as an introduction to an explanation of God’s name, but this interpretation is unsupported by either text nor Hebrew tradition. Furthermore, none of them imply this was an attempt at explicating Him directly; rather it’s generally accepted that this was simply meant as an assurance for Moses that He would accompany him on his mission.
Moses faced many trials and failures throughout his life. One in particular was murdering an Egyptian, along with feeling incapable to speak on behalf of God. Yet when God appeared at the burning bush and promised that He was with Moses, this gave him confidence that He was with him on this task.
Moses needed reassurance from God that his past failures weren’t because He wasn’t supporting him – this can serve as a great lesson when undertaking difficult work for Him.
Moses also wanted a name for God so as to distinguish Him from the Egyptian gods, which were personal entities with distinct personalities and roles, each having dominion over particular elements of nature. On the contrary, God was an impersonal force – Creator, Lifegiver and Lawgiver. Having this distinction would give Moses more credibility when making his case to Pharaoh.
Holding this name would also instil in him an air of power and authority that other gods could not match, making him an even stronger leader and making his mission even more successful.
Moses’s questions and doubts reflect his genuine humility and genuine doubts – something which can often get lost in today’s inflated culture where strength and power reign supreme. Yet the Bible makes clear that we should strive to have deep and abiding faith in God even in spite of our shortcomings; that’s why it’s worth taking time out to pray, ask His name and seek answers if needed – ultimately we’ll discover He’s worth it all! (This article was first published April 10, 2017 and has since been updated). (This article originally appeared April 10, 2017. This update incorporates updates to reflect recent developments).
Why did Moses ask God’s name again?
With all the miracles God had already performed to bring Moses’ people out of Egypt, it came as no surprise when He performed yet more miracles to free them from Pharaoh’s grasp and allow Israel to depart Egypt. Pharaoh had proven resistant, so God understood this obstacle would require lots of persuasion – He therefore spent much time answering Moses’ objections with signs, miracles and assurances of His presence – making sure no doubt was left about His power or presence!
Modern scholars assume that Moses will explain to the Israelites later what this term “ehyeh” (“as it is”) means by adding it at the start of verse 14 as part of a preface to explaining its meaning to them – however this interpretation misses the fact that this information never comes up anywhere else – neither with them nor Pharaoh (even when asked directly in Exodus 5:2).
Examining this passage in its original Paleo-Hebrew script shows just how high priority Hebrews placed on God’s Name; consequently, several Dead Sea Scrolls contain Torah scrolls which include His Name in its original script.
Hebrews were so concerned with remembering God that when Moses wrote it down, he made sure to use one of the most highly prized scripts at that time – abjad – so as not to mislead anyone who read it of its significance as words of His Holy Name.
And Hebrews certainly revered God’s Name with reverence – not only because it symbolized their godhead and power but because its essence transcends words or sounds and beyond human comprehension; as such it encompassed love itself – though Jesus Christ embodied that power through his name being called “The Name Above All Names” (Philippians 2:9).
Moses recognized his humanity, so he asked God for assistance in liberating his people from Egypt. God responded swiftly with a clear warning: “Do not draw near,” which was meant as an implicit warning against approaching Him too closely.
This command served both as a warning and as a reminder that Moses must always remain humble before God, rather than worship Him as an idol. God was simply seeking an honest relationship between themselves; thus the entire biblical story taught us this important lesson; idolatry has no place in our lives, as He alone can fulfill all our needs.