© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 11 March 2019
4A1(sub-title) Yahweh, who is infinite, unique, perfect, spiritual, relational, generous and purposeful
These seven general attributes of God have already been outlined [1A1]. They are further described in GEN 11:27 – 50:26, as summarized below [see also 4A4, 4A5 and 4A6].
4A1(a) Frequent use of God’s name Yahweh
It has already been shown that God’s name Yahweh was synonymous with His person and His whole nature [2A1(sub-title)]. His attributes continued to be emphasized and expressed in this Era by the use of His name Yahweh.
Abraham repeatedly built altars at his camping places and “called on the name of Yahweh” in worship Gen 12:8, 13:4,18, 21:33 as did Isaac Gen 26:25. Jacob acknowledged God as Yahweh and used His name in his thoughts and prayer Gen 28:16b,21b, 32:9a. Yet when Jacob asked to be told the name of his divine opponent it was not given to him Gen 32:24,29.
God Himself even declared to Abraham: “I am Yahweh” Gen 15:7a. This was to assure Abraham that God would keep His “impossible” promise of giving eventual possession of the land of Canaan to Abraham’s descendants Gen 15:7b. It was then formally confirmed by God as a Covenant Gen 15:17-21. In similar circumstances God later repeated to Jacob this same declaration of His name and promise of Canaan Gen 28:13,15. The addition of the revered names of Jacob’s patriarchal forebears was also highly significant [see 4A1(b)(iii) below].
4A1(b) Other “I am” statements by God
There were several other “I am” statements by God concerning Himself, as follows.
4A1(b)(i) “I am your shield” (or “Sovereign”)
God spoke to Abraham in a vision and told him not to be afraid Gen 15:1.3 This was intended to encourage Abraham, as expressing God’s power and love. In response Abraham twice addressed God as “sovereign” Gen 15:2a,8a. This emphasised that he acknowledged God as his supreme Ruler or King. He had previously made a similar reference to God Gen 14:22.
4A1(b)(ii) “I am God Almighty”
God declared to Abraham that “I am God Almighty” (El Shaddai) Gen 17:1b and later to Jacob Gen 35:11a. By introducing this further descriptive name for Himself, God was again emphasising that He was infinite in power. He was totally able to keep the Covenantal promises He was repeating to them despite their adverse situations Gen 17:1-8,15-19,21-22, 35:1-10.
Significantly, on those same occasions God re-named Abram as “Abraham” Gen 17:5 [see 4B24(a)(iii.iii)], Sarai as “Sarah” Gen 17:15 and Jacob as “Israel” Gen 32:28, 35:10 [see 4B27(m, n)]. So His promises were now embodied in their names!
4A1(b)(iii) “I am the God of” the fathers of Isaac and Jacob
The Hebrew words used here for “God” were again the generic elohim or just el. So God was saying that the names of their fathers were sufficient to distinguish Him from other so-called gods. This also guaranteed His reliability because of all that He had done for Abraham and Isaac!
Abraham’s chief servant prayed to “Yahweh, God of my master Abraham” Gen 24:12,27,42,48. Jacob later designated Him as “the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac” Gen 31:42,53b. Laban replied with a variation Gen 31:53a. In a further prayer when in a crisis, Jacob began similarly Gen 32:9 as he also did when going to Egypt to be reunited with Joseph Gen 46:1. So this close associating of God with the patriarchs became a powerful way of identifying Him. It also acknowledged His choice of them!
4A1(c) Other titles and descriptions of God
Several other names, titles and descriptions of God were used. These expressed and emphasised the various attributes of His nature, as follows:-
# The Angel of Yahweh had appeared to Hagar at a spring and told her that “the Lord has heard of your misery” and that she was to name her son Ishmael (which meant “God hears”) Gen 16:11. Hagar then gave God the name “You are the God who sees me” Gen 16:13. The well later dug there bore the name “well of the Living One who sees me” (see NIV textnote on Gen 16:14).
# Abraham worshipped God as “eternal” or “everlasting” Gen 21:33
# Abraham named the place where he had been about to sacrifice Isaac “Yahweh Will Provide” Gen 22:14. This acknowledged that God had miraculously and reliably responded to Abraham’s great act of faith in Him.
# Concerning the obtaining of a wife for Isaac, Abraham at the end of his life required an oath from his chief servant, sworn “by Yahweh, the God of heaven and the God of earth” Gen 24:1-2,3-4. Abraham repeated the title “Yahweh, the God of heaven” Gen 24:7 as he explained what was required.
# Jacob gave the name Bethel, meaning “the house of God”, to the place where God had awesomely appeared to him Gen 28:17,18-19,22a, 35:14-15. Jacob later built an altar there and called it El Bethel, meaning “the God of Bethel” (that is, ” the God of the house of God”) Gen 35:6-7. Again this described God indirectly.
# At the first place he owned in Canaan, Jacob set up an altar named El Elohe Israel, meaning “mighty is the God of Israel” Gen 33:18-19,20. This name acknowledged both God’s power and His love for Jacob (Israel) himself.
God had directly stated that “I am” Yahweh, El Shaddai, the God of Abraham and his Sovereign and reward. Others had acknowledged Him as:-
– the God and Fear of Isaac and the God of Jacob
– God Most High
– the Creator and the God of heaven and earth
– the Living One who hears and sees people and their circumstances
– God (who) Will Provide
Towards the end of the Genesis account, Jacob virtually provided a summary when he imparted his final patriarchal blessings upon Joseph and his two sons Gen 48:15,16, 49:24,25. He had prophesied that Joseph’s future blessings and victories would be because of God who was:-
– the Mighty One of Jacob
– the Shepherd of Israel
– the Rock of Israel
– your father’s God
– the Almighty (Shaddai)
This blessing by Jacob was prophetic concerning Joseph’s future Gen 49:1b. So it was highly significant that Jacob introduced two new titles for God, “the Shepherd” and “the Rock of Israel”. He was expressing God’s love and power and implying that these descriptions were to become more meaningful.
4A1(e) An increase in the names and titles of God, and descriptions of His attibutes
There were many new names, titles and descriptions of God. An attempt could be made to fit all of these under the seven attribute groups listed above in 4A1(sub-title). But as already stated [1A1(a)] this becomes only approximate with many overlaps. Suffice it to say that the seven attribute groups can be accepted as providing adequate coverage…
The vital fact is that God was increasingly making Himself known TO and THROUGH Abraham and his chosen descendants Isaac and Jacob/Israel. God was greatly expanding the accomplishing of His primary purpose, as the overall populations of people also increased!
1. There are 16 occurrences of elohim in GEN 11:27 – 50:26.(Return to reading).
3. “Shield” can also be translated as “sovereign”; see NIV text note.(Return to reading).