Numbers 6:22-27 (Part 2) – What You Are Saying When You Say LORD…

Posted: July 18, 2016 in 04-Numbers
Tags: , , , , ,

Numbers 6:22-27 (Part 2)

The Priestly Blessing

As my daughters and my wife will attest, I have a goofy sense of humor. I am particularly fond of puns, double meanings, and word play. When most people say words without thinking about the words they are saying, I often pick apart words to try to come up with something funny to say. There are some like yesterday when I was visiting my oldest daughter as we are on “baby watch” (tomorrow is her due date to deliver her first child and our first grandchild). My oldest daughter is a school teacher who currently serves as writing coach at her school. We were talking about the word “renege”. It means to refuse to do something that you had promised to do. However, is it not in most cases that when you use the prefix, “re-“, it means to have to or want to do something over again because it was not done well enough or good enough the first time. So, by that standard, to renege would be to have “nege” again because you did not “nege” correctly the first time or you did not “nege” as good as you could have the first time. In our family goofiness, we started talking about then if re- is not the proper prefix for “nege”, because re- is do over then to go back on a promise really should be “un-nege” or undo a promise. Of course, if you do the research on the word, renege, you will note that our conversation was simply for humor’s sake and that the word comes from the Latin word, negare, which meant “to deny”. Renege and negate come from this same Latin root word. But that is the fun of getting me and my girls together, I have raised them with such demented minds that they enjoy these goofy exercises such as previous discussions about “recuperate”. Did you not “cuperate” well enough the first time so you had to “cuperate” one more time and so on?


The reason that I bring up these episodes of family goofiness about words is that in order to truly appreciate the priestly blessing in Numbers 6:22-27, we must appreciate the words that are used. We will spend the next few days breaking down this blessing by the key words that are used in it. Today, we will look at the word that we translate as LORD in our English translations of the original Hebrew of the Old Testament. Yesterday, we talked about how often we repeat things from the Bible and how we sometimes forget the power and the meaning of what we are doing when we worship. The benediction and other repetitive parts of worship we often do mindlessly without given true thought to what we are saying and why we are saying and about how we should be approaching worship. That’s why an examination of the words used in this blessing, this good word, this benediction, are so important. One of those words, we through around like candy sometimes is the word, LORD, in English. Let’s read the passage and then talk about that word:


22 The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:



“‘“The Lord bless you

    and keep you;


the Lord make his face shine on you

    and be gracious to you;


the Lord turn his face toward you

    and give you peace.”’


27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

In this case, the word we translate as LORD is יְהֹוָה or Yahweh. According to,


Yahweh is the promised name of God. This name of God which (by Jewish tradition) is too holy to voice, is actually spelled “YHWH” without vowels. YHWH is referred to as the Tetragrammaton (which simply means “the four letters”). YHWH comes from the Hebrew letters: Yud, Hay, Vav, Hay. While YHWH is first used in Genesis 2, God did not reveal Himself as YHWH until Exodus 3. The modern spelling as “Yahweh” includes vowels to assist in pronunciation. Many pronounce YHWH as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.” We no longer know for certain the exact pronunciation. During the third century A.D., the Jewish people stopped saying this name in fear of contravening the commandment “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain” (Exd 20:7). As a result of this, Adonai is occasionally a substitute for YHWH. The following compound names which start with “YHWH” have been shown using “Jehovah.” This is due to the common usage of “Jehovah” in the English of these compound names in the early English translations of the Bible (e.g., the Geneva Bible, the King James Version, etc.).


We translate Yahweh in English Bibles in ALL CAPS as LORD so that we will not confuse it with the substitute term, Adonai, which we translate in English Bibles as a normal title for a person with the first letter capitalized and the remaining letters of the word in lower case letters. In this case, Adonai, is translated into English as Lord. According to, Yahweh is one of the names of God that is his proper name. It is the name that He reveals to Moses. The website goes on to say that, “


The revelation of the name is first given to Moses “I Am who I Am” (Exodus 3:14). This name specifies an immediacy, a presence. Yahweh is present, accessible, near to those who call on Him for deliverance (Psalm 107:13), forgiveness (Psalm 25:11) and guidance (Psalm 31:3).


The name Yahweh refers to God’s self-existence. Yahweh is linked to how God described Himself in Exodus 3:14, “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.”’” God’s name is a reflection of His being. God is the only self-existent or self-sufficient Being. Only God has life in and of Himself. That is the essential meaning of the tetragrammaton, YHWH. Yahweh is the great I AM. It means self-existence. It means it is He who pre-existed all things. It means that He is the Creator of all things. When Jesus used the words we translate as I AM, He was telling the Jews that He was God. YHWH, Yahweh, the Great I AM. When we use the words I am, it is always followed by a descriptive phrase, I am…a husband. I am…a father. I am…an accountant. With God, it is just I AM. He is. He needs no descriptor. He is. He exists. He is self-reliant. He has meaning in and of Himself. He is self-sufficient and needs no help from us. This is the LORD we talk about when we use all CAPS in the English Bible. English does not do true justice to the honor which is accorded the name, YHWH, Yahweh. We attempt to translate it as the “The Great I AM”, but that does not do it justice either. He is LORD. He does not need us. He created us. He created everything. He existed before creation. That is so hard to fathom because we cannot understand anything other than this universe as it exists in front of us. How could anything exist before there was the universe. We don’t know. We will never understand this side of heaven.


God is mighty. God is holy. God is perfect. God is truth. There is no imperfection in Him. He is perfect logic. He is perfect love. He is pure. He is righteous. He is holy. We cannot exist in his presence for we would be burned up and consumed because of our imperfections. I AM. Yahweh, though He is all these great and mighty and pure things, is a presence to us. He is close. He is accessible. He is near us. However, to be able to abide in His presence we must have the covering perfection of Jesus Christ. He is God in the flesh. Jesus is the mechanism by which God allows us in His presence in our imperfections.

We have so cheapened the word LORD with our common usage of the word in everyday life, we have forgotten the honor that we should accord the word, LORD. It is the name of God. When we use Yahweh, that translates into LORD in English, we are calling on the name of God. We are calling on his personal name. We are claiming an intimacy with the Creator in which we invoke his most Holy Name. He wants us to know His Most Holy Name because He revealed it to Moses early on in the Biblical record. He wants us to know Him personally. However, let us remember how holy that name is when we call upon it. We are calling upon the Most Holy! We are calling upon the Most High! We are calling upon the One and Only True God when we use the word that translates into LORD (all caps!). The Most Holy One. The Creator of All Things who is also the Most Righteous Judge of All Things.


Bow down before Him, when you call Him, LORD.


Amen and Amen.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s