What is God's real name?

According to the Bible, God's true name (in English) is simply "I AM." This is the formal name God told Moses when Moses asked who he was. To the Israelites it was the ineffable, or unspeakable, name. Other Jewish names have been ascribed to God based on his attributes, including Elohim (supreme deity), Adonai (sovereign master), and Abba (Father).

          Moses said to God, "Suppose I go 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?' Then what shall I tell them?" God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' " (Exodus 3:13-14)


According to Exodus 3:14, when Moses asked God what his name was, God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM" ....or simply "I AM" (Exodus 3:14 - also "I AM THAT I AM" or "I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE," depending on the translation). In Hebrew this is represented as the four characters Yod, Heh, Waw, and Heh which has come to be known among Bible scholars as the Tetragrammaton (four letters) -- YHWH or YHVH  (IHVH or JHVH in Latin), which is a transliteration (sound) of the Hebrew characters into English. Since there are no vowels in the original Hebrew language (although later Hebrew translations included vowel indication marks), the pronunciation of YHWH is difficult, though the most common is "YAHWEH" (with similar variations, such as YAHVEH, YAHUAH, IAHUAH, YEHOWAH, and JEHOVAH). Any of these are arguable since Y, W, and V are not Hebrew consonants (bear in mind that Hebrew is a different dialect than English and difficult to translate, so the Hebrew characters are often transliterated as sounds similar to English characters). Most modern English Bibles have adopted the lower caps version of Lord (LORD) to represent the formal name of YHWH. When both "LORD" and "Lord" are used together as a compound name, the term used is often either "GOD" (small caps) or "Sovereign LORD" (Judges 6:22, 1 Kings 2:26, Ezekiel 39). It was believed that the Jews held the name of YHWH in such high regard that they didn't even say this name (some even use "G-d" in English), which stems from the third Commandment (Exodus 20:7--"Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain..." KJV). Only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest pronounced the shem ha-meforash, or ineffable name.


"Jehovah" is another variation of YHWH, or Yahweh, transliterated instead as "JHVH" (although J is also absent from the Hebrew language). Jehovah is ascribed to the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew, popularly used during the Middle Ages by Latin Bible translators and throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in non-Catholic Bibles, such as the King James Version. The vowels used in its pronunciation come from the vowels in the Hebrew Adonai, meaning "Lord." Examples of Jehovah's attributes include the following:

Jehovah Jireh, Hebrew "The LORD will Provide" (Genesis 22:13-14)
Jehovah Nissi, Hebrew "The LORD is my Banner" (Exodus 17:15)
Jehovah Shalom, Hebrew "The LORD is Peace" (Judges 6:24)
Jehovah Elohe Israel, Hebrew "LORD God of Israel" (Judges 5:3, Psalm 58:5, Isaiah 17:6, Zephaniah 2:9)
Jehovah Sabaoth, Hebrew "LORD of Hosts" (1 Samuel 1:3, Isaiah 6:1-3)
Jehovah Tsidkenu, Hebrew The "LORD is Our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6, 33:16)
Jehovah Shammah, Hebrew "The LORD is There" (Ezekiel 48:35)

          "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols." (Isaiah 42:8)


"God" is the English translation of the Hebrew Elohim (Genesis 1:1, Numbers 23:19, Psalm 19:1). Elohim was an informal term (either singular or plural, depending on the context) for making reference to the unspeakable name of YHWH by his almighty nature as an eternal and all-powerful entity, a good God and creator of all things and origin of all life. Yahweh (LORD) is often used with Elohim (God), which denotes YHWH as the supreme God (2 Samuel 5:10, 7:26, 1 Kings 19:10-14, Psalm 59:5, 80:4, Jeremiah 5:14, 15:16, etc.). When used with other Hebrew adjectives or identifiers, the term is often El. Examples include the following:

El Shaddai, Hebrew "God Almighty" (Genesis 17:1, Exodus 6:3, Psalm 91:1)
El Elyon, Hebrew "God Most High" (Genesis 14:19-20)
El Elohe Israel, Hebrew "God of Israel" (Genesis 33:20)
El Roi, Hebrew "God Who Sees" (Genesis 16:12)
El Olam, Hebrew "The Everlasting God" (Isaiah 40:28-31)


"Lord" is the English translation of the Hebrew Adonai (or Adonay), another reference to the ineffible YHWH, more specifically addressing a sovereign master (Deuteronomy 6:4).


There are several titles for God in the Old and New Testament, one of which is Father (Hebrew Ab, Isaiah 63:16, 64:8, Jeremiah 3:19, Malachi 2:10). Jesus Christ referred to God in a personal manner as his Father (Aramaic Abba, Greek Pater, Mark 14:36, Romans 8:15, Galations 4:6), as attested throughout the Gospels, especially that of John. It was by the name of the Father that Jesus came and testified ("My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me." John 8:54), and he admonished us to consider God as our Father as well ("And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven." Matthew 23:9). It was from then on that Christians began referring to the Lord as "God the Father," as evident in the opening of the majority of Paul's epistles.

          Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
          The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.
          God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' "
(Acts 17:22-28)

Other titles for God include Qedosh Yisrael, "Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 1:4) and Attiq Yomin, "Ancient of Days" (Daniel 7:9, 13:12). Because of the complexities of the Hebrew language and the difficulties of interpreting the Old Testament authors' intents, several references to God and angels become hard to understand. Whether angels, gods, heavenly entities, Jesus, or the Lord himself that speaks and appears to individuals throughout the Old Testament is subject to further personal study or greater insight of the original Hebrew text. Jewish priests and rabbis have never taken the name of the Lord lightly, nor should we the name of Jesus (Hebrew Yeshua, "Salvation") the Messiah (Hebrew Moshiach, "Anointed One"), the name that is above all names (Philippians 2:9) and by which all authority in heaven and earth has been given (Matthew 28:18).

          "Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name -- the name you gave me -- so that they may be one as we are one." (John 17:11)
          Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
          So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (Hebrews 1:4)