I Would Be Who I Would Be! A Proposal for Reading Exodus 3:11-14 -- By: Randall J. Pannell

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 16:2 (NA 2006)
Article: I Would Be Who I Would Be! A Proposal for Reading Exodus 3:11-14
Author: Randall J. Pannell


I Would Be Who I Would Be!
A Proposal for Reading Exodus 3:11-14

Randall J. Pannell

Regent University

The notion of this short note is to propose a reading of the ʾehyeh ʾăšer ʾehyeh phrase of Exod 3:14 in light of the Hebrew cohortative. The focus of this reading is that God is presented as speaking of his will, wish, and/or desire with regard to who he is. As a response to the Mosaic question “What shall I say to them when they ask, ‘What is his name?’” this opens new possibilities for the exegesis of this verse as well as for the meaning of the Tetragrammaton.

Key Words: Divine Name, Exod 3:14, Hebrew cohortative, sympathetic magic, Tetragrammaton, Yhwh

Exod 3:11: But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and free the Israelites from Egypt?” 12And He said, “I will be with you; that shall be your sign that it was I who sent you. And when you have freed the people from Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” 13Moses said to God, “When I come to the Israelites and say to them ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14And God said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.” He continued, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites, ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’ ” (njpsv)

“Few verses in the entire Old Testament have evoked such heated controversy and such widely divergent interpretations.” Thus Brevard Childs begins the discussion of the “Problem of Ex. 3:14 and the Divine Name” within his literary and form-critical analysis of Exod 3:1– 4:17.1 It is, therefore, with a certain amount of reticence that I would like to offer one more consideration regarding this controversial passage. It is my contention that the enigmatic phrase אהיה אשׁר אהיה of Exod 3:14 could and should be read

as a cohortative construction. This would suggest significant possibilities regarding the rendering of the pericope of 3:11-14.2

Among the varied views and theories regarding אהיה אשׁר אהיה, a significant perspectiv...

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