Explain Jehovah in Ex 6:3

This post is a reconciliation of the statement “by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them,” in Ex 6:3.  They knew the name Jehovah.  All these people knew that name: Eve, Gen 4:1; the men in Gen 4:26; Noah, Gen 8:20; Abram, Gen 12:7; Sarai, Gen 16:2; Lot, Gen 19:14; Abraham, Gen 22:14; the servant, Gen 24:12; Laban, Gen 24:31; Isaac, Gen 25:21; Abimelech, Gen 26:28; Jacob, Gen 27:20; Leah, Gen 29:32; and Rachel, Gen 30:24.  Even Elihu and Job knew his name, Job 38:1, Job 42:1-5.

But Ex 6:3 doesn’t say, “they didn’t know my name.”  Ex 6:2-3 says, “… I am the LORD: And I APPEARED unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I (the person that appeared to them) not known to them.”  It’s not that they didn’t know his name.  It’s that they didn’t know to call the person who appeared to them by that name.  They didn’t know how to address God manifest in the flesh.

In Gen 12:7, “the LORD appeared unto Abram.”  But the LORD did not give his name in this appearance.  After hearing the LORD’s promise, Abram built “an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him,” just like Noah did in Gen 8:20.  When “the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre,” [Gen 18:1], Abraham addressed him as “My Lord,” [Gen 18:3] and “the Lord,” [Gen 18:27, 30, 31-32], but not as the LORD (Jehovah).  He did not know to call that person who appeared to him JEHOVAH.

In a vision in Gen 15:7, the LORD spoke to Abram and said, “I am the LORD…”.  But this is not an appearance.  This is a vision [Gen 15:1].  God was not manifest in the flesh.

In Gen 17:1, The LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “I am the Almighty God…”  Here the LORD appeared and identified himself by the name “Almighty God,” just like Ex 6:3 says.

In Gen 26:2 the LORD appeared to Isaac.  But he did not give his name.  In Gen 26:24 the LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “I am the God of Abraham thy father …”.  Notice that he didn’t call himself by his name, JEHOVAH.

In a dream in Gen 28:13, the LORD stood above a ladder and said to Jacob, “I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father.”  This is a dream [Gen 28:12] and not an appearance of the LORD.  After the dream, in Gen 28:16, Jacob says, “Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not,” (he hadn’t appeared to him).

In Gen 35:9-11, God appeared to Jacob and said to him, “I am God Almighty.”  In Gen 48:3, when Jacob recounted this appearance, he said, “God Almighty appeared unto me…”

In Ex 3:6 when the LORD first appeared to Moses he said, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  So, he identified himself as the same God Almighty who appeared to Abram [Gen 17:1], Isaac [Gen 26:24], and Jacob [Gen 35:9-11].

Yet, in Ex 3:13-14, when Moses questioned God about his name, the LORD replied, “I AM THAT I AM.”  He told Moses to say to the children of Israel, “I AM hath sent me unto you.”  In Ex 3:15 God said, “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever…”.  This is the first time that God called himself “the LORD” when he APPEARED to a man.

This is why Moses, in Ex 4:1, answered the LORD and said, “Behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, the LORD hath not appeared unto thee.”  This is the first time the LORD ever appeared by his name JEHOVAH.  So, Moses said, in so many words, “they ain’t gonna believe this!”  

So when the LORD said, in Ex 6:3, “by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them,” he was saying, they didn’t know the man who appeared to them was the LORD manifest in the flesh.  But after he had appeared to Moses by his name JEHOVAH, they knew it.  See Num 14:14.

When Jacob wrestled with “a man,” in Gen 32:24, he knew that he had wrestled with and had “seen God face to face,” [Gen 24:30].  But he didn’t know that he had wrestled with “the LORD,” [Hos 12:3-5].  In fact, he had wrestled with the LORD, he just didn’t know it.  As Ex 6:3 says, “by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.”

The same thing happened with Jesus in the New Testament.  In Jn 14:8 Philip said to Jesus, “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.”  In Jn 14:9-10 Jesus replied, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not KNOWN me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?  BELIEVEST thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?”  It was not KNOWN to them that Jesus was God manifest in the flesh.  They knew that he was doing things that only God could do [Jn 3:2; Jn 9:32-33; Jn 11:43-45; Matt 8:27; Mk 2:7]. They didn’t know that God would appear as a man.  They had to BELIEVE him.