A New Solution of an Old Problem -- By: W. St. Clair Tisdall

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 070:280 (Oct 1913)
Article: A New Solution of an Old Problem
Author: W. St. Clair Tisdall


A New Solution of an Old Problem

W. St. Clair Tisdall

It is well known that Ex. 6:3 involves a problem with regard to the use of the Divine Name YHWH (“Jehovah,” or rather Yahweh), as to whether it was or was not used in pre-Mosaic times. In our present Hebrew text it occurs repeatedly in Genesis and in the earlier chapters of Exodus, yet the verse to which we have referred seems, at first sight at least, to say that the Name was unknown to the Patriarchs. How can this apparent contradiction be explained? Has a satisfactory solution yet been found?

Some of us Biblical students feel by no means sure that any one of the solutions already put forward is satisfactory. They each and all seem to involve difficulties, to fail to explain all the facts of the case. Hence they do not at once carry complete conviction to the student.

To us it seems that the key must fit the lock exactly and easily, without force or twisting, if it be the proper key. If it does not satisfy this condition, then it cannot be quite right, and we must try another and yet another, until we find one that will do.

I propose to try another key, — one, I fancy, which has not yet been tried, — in order to see whether it will succeed any better than the others. I think myself that it does; but my object in writing this article is to ask the opinion on the

subject of those better qualified to judge. If I venture to consider as still sub judice what many deem a res judicata, the interest of the subject may in some measure tend to excuse my skepticism on the point.

The verse we are considering runs thus, according to a Karaite Hebrew MS., the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and the LXX, the Peshitta, Vulgate, and Armenian versions :—

“I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as El Shaddai [God Almighty], and My Name Yahweh [“Jehovah “] did I not make known to them.”

The chief explanations of this verse now current are these :—

1. That it means that, in the belief of the writer of the passage, God was not known to the Patriarchs as יהוה (Yahweh). Thus Wellhausen says: “Emphasis is laid upon the fact that God was unknown to the pre-Mosaic time by His Israelite name, that He made Himself known to the patriarchs only as El Shaddai, but to Moses first as Jahve (Yahweh).”1 Similarly Professor Toy writes: “It seems obvious that the intention of the writer is to say that the name Yahweh was not known to the patriarchs, ye...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()