I Am Not That I Am — Part 3/3

Personal Note

While a substantially shorter account of the discovery process would have been possible, it seemed that the importance of this topic demanded a greater “labor of love” (which code will be well understood by those who know me).

Preface

If you haven’t read Part 1 of 3 of this series, this will make more sense if you do so now.

If you read Part 2 of 3, know that the remainder of this Preface is partially redundant and is written primarily for those who chose to skip Part 2.

It is a characteristic of Hebrew that there are no capital letters. The introduction of capitals into English is based upon interpretation (therefore possible misinterpretation) of context. In order to avoid possible bias, lower case English is used for Hebrew words related to titles and or names of God or gods, including: elohim, adoni, jehovah, god, god of abraham, isaac and jacob, etc.

While potentially similarly offensive to some, “jehovah” is used precisely because there is no reasonable plausibility that this is the correct “pronunciation” for the name of God as it originates in Hebrew and can thus avoid accidental disclosure of that which the Jews have attempted to keep sacred through the millennia.

Introduction

This exercise began with a discussion of the previously mentioned scriptures (Part 1) with family members. Generally speaking, they weren’t particularly bothered by the thorn in my heel. Their relative indifference seemed to intensify my reaction to the discomfort. Sound familiar?

I didn’t set out to study the subject with an intent to write a thesis, so the process was reactionary to the things discovered, layered with a modicum of discipline (more discipline would have mandated exhausting each course of inquiry rather than abandoning the thread once a pattern became obvious). The process was unplanned and unintentional and perhaps fundamentally flawed. Original sources were used rather than commentaries.

Alternative Explanations For Psalms 110

The phrase “jehovah said unto jehovah…” makes no sense at all.

  • I believed (with most of the Christian world?) that “my lord” (אדֹנ/ִי = adoni) in Psalms 110 and “my lord” (κύριον or kýrios) in Matthew 22 is the messiah, yeshua (aka Jesus).
  • I believed that the messiah, yeshua is the jehovah of the Old Testament. Therefore David’s lord is… jehovah.
  • So, substituting jehovah for “my lord” yields the absurd idea of jehovah talking to himself.

There remain few alternatives:

  1. jehovah is THE FATHER.
  2. David’s lord, here, is not the messiah, but someone else.
  3. The scripture/hymn is mistranslated.
  4. The scripture/hymn as recorded in Hebrew is doctrinally wrong.
    • Either David was in error or took excessive creative license, or
    • it is one of those scriptures that has been modified/corrupted.

Psalms 110 was quoted by Jesus (see: Matthew 22:42-46) and to the best of our knowledge without alteration. In the Joseph Smith Translation, Joseph modifies Psalms 110:6, but doesn’t touch the verses 1-5. Joseph modifies Matthew 22:43 by changing “saith” to “said” and “call” to “called,” but makes no doctrinal modifications. So, it would seem folly to conclude that the Hebrew record, being twice authoritatively cited, is wrong.

One might proffer that Jesus is challenging the Pharisees’ assumption that the messiah is David’s lord in Matthew 22. In verse 43 of the Greek a private, but hopefully reasonable translation/interpretation might be “…How is it that David by [inspiration from] the Holy Spirit called Him [contextually “Him” is the messiah] my lord, saying….” This would be a pretty strong testimony from yeshua that David knew through the Holy Spirit that messiah is David’s lord.

So for choices 3 and 4, “hasta la vista baby.”

Suggestions have been made that  “my Lord” (adoni) refers to someone other than the messiah.  Again, there is no reason to believe that the Greek version of Matt 22:42 might be in error (any more than the rest of the Bible :- ). Jesus is asking, effectively, “who’s son is Χριστός (Christós or messiah)?” The Pharisees respond, “David’s.” Jesus continues the inquiry not by challenging that “my lord” refers to the messiah, but by challenging their understanding of the true lineage of David’s lord, the messiah.

So choice 2, RIP.

Choice 1 conflicts with all I’ve been taught. Could this have been wrong; is there another possible conclusion?

At this point in the adventure a new inquiry presented itself: “is there any evidence that jehovah is THE FATHER?” A quick search of scripture (English only) found the following usage of the “Jehovah:”

  • Old Testament (KJV): 4
  • New Testament (KJV): 0
  • Book of Mormon: 2
  • Doctrine and Covenants: 6
  • Pearl of Great Price: 2

With the possible exception of D&C 109 and 110 ( these two scriptures have other issues that are addressed later ) there is no evidence that “Jehovah” is messiah.

Hebrew -> English

For completeness, I include this small subsection/detour to ensure that we are on the same page with respect to important Hebrew words and their translation into English.  This is important because Bible translators imposed interpretations that represent (correctly or not) their dogmas. One of these appears to be the presumption that THE FATHER and The Son are the same being. This bias foments a certain carelessness that conflates and thereby misrepresents the distinctness of these beings.

I’ve extracted these definitions from WordCruncher’s version of Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon/Dictionary unless annotated differently. Highlights added.

elohim (אֱלֹהִים)

Meaning:

gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative.

Further elaborating, Moses Maimonides wrote:

I must premise that every Hebrew knows that the term Elohim is a homonym, and denotes God, angels, judges, and the rulers of countries, and that Onkelos the proselyte explained it in the true and correct manner by taking Elohim in the sentence, “and ye shall be like Elohim” (Gen. iii. 5) in the last-mentioned meaning, and rendering the sentence “and ye shall be like princes.

Guide for the Perplexed, Friedländer tr. [1904]

At some point, it would be interesting to compare this to Psalms 82:6, Isaiah 41:23, John 10:34, etc. To the present purpose, it is important to note that it is not suggested that elohim is a name, either for THE FATHER or The Son.

elohim appears to be simply used to mean God(s) or god(s), which forms are derived only from interpretation of context. elohim is used over 3500 times in the old testament. Most frequently elohim appears to indicate the God of the Old Testament (aka the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel). Less frequently elohim refers to gods “in the ordinary sense.

jehovah (יְהוָה)

Meaning:

(the) self-Existent or Eternal;
Traditional scholars say it means: the one who is; the existing, ever-living. Many recent scholars say it means: the one bringing into being, life giver; giver of existence, creator (e.g., he who creates) jehovah, Jewish national name of God.

The King James Bible generally translates יְהוָה (jehovah) (6828 instances) to “The Lord” (6597 instances). Among the exceptions, we see יְהוָה  (jehovah) translated as “God” (e.g., Gen 6:4). We see “adoni jehovah” (lord jehovah) represented as “Lord God” (e.g., Gen 15:2). In only four cases do we see יְהוָה (jehovah) translated as “Jehovah” (e.g., Ex 6:3).

Review of Personal Library

Old Testament Review

First Old Testament Discovery

Let’s pause for a sec to expose another fallacy in my prior understanding of the name of God. There appears to be a close tie between the meaning of יְהוָה (jehovah, see definition, above) and היה (hyh), which means “to exist, to be, to become, to come to pass, etc. hyh is recognizable from Exodus 3:14, “I AM THAT I AM.”

It is curious that “I am” exists many times in the King James Old Testament (742 instances), and is frequently but not consistently indicated with italics to show that the “am” is added by the translators to improve readability (e.g., I am). I didn’t check every instance, but it appears that with the exception of Exodus 3:14 (hyh used three times), “I am” is universally inferred from just the pronoun “I.” For example, in Lev 18:2,

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am (sic) the Lord your God.

(Leviticus 18:2)

In Hebrew this simply says (my personal, amateur, literal translation), “Speak to children Israel and say to them, I jehovah your elohei.” The “am” is implicit and added to improve the English form and does not indicate hyh or another name for jehovah.

Previously I taught that in a large number of instances “I am” could be interpreted as the name of God. This is categorically incorrect. Fail.

Second Old Testament Discovery

In my search through the Hebrew Old Testament, I found no case where elohim appeared to be used as a personal name for THE FATHER (as it is commonly used within the LDS Church), but found a substantial number of times where the God of the Old Testament is referred to as elohim.  Granted, I quit after finding no exceptions while reading the books of Genesis and Exodus. Subsequently, the rest of the Old Testament was sampled. Not exhaustive? True. But even if there do exist one or more examples, it doesn’t change the fact that so much of the Hebrew appears to identify the God of the Old Testament as elohim and even more identifies Him as jehovah.

There are a number of places where “יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים”  (jehovah elohim) is translated as “The Lord God” (471 times, eleven times in Genesis 2 alone). Which elohim (god), was speaking you ask? The elohim jehovah.

Please “tell me” that you digested that little factoid, because it turned my head inside out.

Here is another curious tidbit. Isaiah describes his God in Isaiah 12:2 in a most ingenious way, using: “god” (אֵל, el); jehovah (יְהוָה), yah (two times, shortened version of jehovah or “to exist” as seen in hyh, above, יָהּ) and “salvation” (two times, ישׁוּעָה, yeshuah).

To say that the English translation sucks and doesn’t even begin to explore the creativity and beauty of Isaiah’s style and doctrine here is a tremendous understatement.

Another Old Testament Discovery

Curiously, as we see in Genesis, the word translated as “God” comes exclusively from elohim from Gen 1:1 through Gen 2:3. Said differently, we don’t see jehovah enter the picture until after the creation of the heavens.

Then in Gen 2:4 we see in the recap/summary that these were created by jehovah elohim, which name/title is used throughout the remainder of chapter 2. Then something interesting happens, the serpent enters the narrative in Gen 3:2. He references God simply as elohim, dropping jehovah, which we don’t see again until after the fall in Gen 3:8. All references to God return to jehovah elohim up to and through the expulsion from the garden.

Interestingly, at that point we see references to God replaced with jehovah until Gen 9:26. Thereafter, jehovah elohim is used less frequently than jehovah, but not infrequently.

Joseph Smith Translation

While I haven’t exhaustively looked at the every change made to the first chapters of the Book of Genesis, it does appear that Joseph generally follows the name/title transitions seen above. So, while he writes in English, not Hebrew, I reverse substituted some of his additions, which seems justifiable from the context within this translation (highlights added):

25.1 And I, the jehovah elohim, spake unto Moses saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me saying—Behold, I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore, give me thine honor.
25.2 But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
25.3 Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the jehovah elohim, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
25.4 And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.

Gen. 2:25.1–25.

In the LDS endowment (without being explicit), each time THE FATHER speaks it corresponds to an Old Testament scripture identifying jehovah or jehovah elohim as the speaker.

Is THE FATHER jehovah?

So, “is there any evidence that jehovah is THE FATHER?” Yes. It would seem so.

Reporting Back and Intermission

Reporting Back and Intermission

When I reported all of the above back to some members of my family, the responses were essentially: “why does it matter…; does it change any doctrine…; does it change how we should live…; what difference does it make…?

My approximate response: we are taught that having faith in God requires that we need to understand His character, attributes, etc; how can we do that if we don’t even know who we are talking about? The responses to this were wide and varied, but might be at least partially represented by: “no one else seems bothered by this, so why should we be; and just because you have a thorn in your heel doesn’t mean that I should have one in mine.”

My response to that was to ponder more, pray more, and then start to dig deeper.

New Testament Review

Any hope to back-translate the English or the Greek translations to Hebrew or Aramaic to find consistencies was quickly dashed. The only reference directly related to elohim in “English” is Mark 15:34. This is interesting in that it is the way Jesus refers to THE FATHER, while quoting Psalms …”eloi, eloi, lama sabchthani?

As mentioned previously, there are no New Testament references to jehovah.

I began, but quickly tired of attempting to make any sense of all this by referencing the Greek New Testament. Call me lazy, if you like. But even comparing the Hebrew and Greek Old Testament translations for consistent use of names and titles for God left me flummoxed. I moved on hoping to find more useful pasture with the intent of returning if necessary. Fortunately, it isn’t.

Book of Mormon Review

The Book of Mormon left initially looked as though it was using the same general usage for “God,” “Lord,” “Lord God,” etc. as the KJV of the Old Testament. For example, 1 Ne 10:4 discusses “the Lord God” raising up a “Messiah” or “Savior.” This would be consistent with THE FATHER as jehovah elohim.

Then we see in 2 Ne 5:9 that “the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, should manifest himself unto them in the flesh; and after he should manifest himself they should scourge him and crucify him….

Not much help.

Still, there were some interesting discoveries. For example, “Lord God Almighty” (used only in the Book of Revelation within the KJV) is apparently used in one instance to identify THE FATHER: “…the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” (Revelation 21:22). Similarly, 3 Ne 4:32 appears to identify THE FATHER: “Yea, they did cry: Hosanna to the Most High God. And they did cry: Blessed be the name of the Lord God Almighty, the Most High God” (3 Nephi 4:32). The context of this begins in verse 29 and links directly to the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob (verse 30)

Doctrine and Covenants Review

D&C was fun. NOT.

D&C 110 seem particularly curious, as it appears to indicate that Jesus is jehovah (highlights added):

2 We saw the Lord standing upon the breastwork of the pulpit, before us; and under his feet was a paved work of pure gold, in color like amber.
3 His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
4 I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father.

Doctrine and Covenants 110:2–4

But, what if this might have been, “…his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the Voice of Jehovah, saying….” So, while tradition has it understood to be Jesus as Jehovah speaking, it might also be Jesus speaking in his role as the Voice of Jehovah. Curiously, the original handwritten version is clearly and precisely that, capital V (see: https://josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/visions-3-april-1836-dc-110/1).

D&C 109 is even more curious. Please, take a close look at the names/titles of God throughout this revelation received by Joseph Smith. As it begins, it is clearly a prayer to THE FATHER (e.g., “…And now we ask thee, Holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom….” D&C 109:4). The prayer seems to change from a prayer to THE FATHER to a prayer to The Son.

“…and also this church, to put upon it thy name….”

D&C 109:79

Who’s church? The church with who’s name?

72 Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connections, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth; that the kingdom, which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth;
73 That thy church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners;
74 And be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth; that thy glory may fill the earth;
75 That when the trump shall sound for the dead, we shall be caught up in the cloud to meet thee, that we may ever be with the Lord;
76 That our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our heads, and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings.

D&C 109:72–76

If we had excerpted this from the overall prayer and asked someone to identify to whom this is addressed, would they say THE FATHER? Is this something like:

Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them.

3 Nephi 19:22

As an aside, the dedicatory prayer includes all kinds of different names/titles for THE FATHER, including (as discussed above): Lord God Almighty.

Reviewing the Pearl of Great Price

Frankly, I don’t remember anything that provides any strong association between these names of God and THE FATHER and/or The Son.

Joseph Smith Papers Review (not in my library)

There is so much here that could and perhaps should be said. Let me summarize. I found no instance within the rather vast Joseph Smith Papers library or the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith or anywhere else in my search library where Joseph uses elohim specifically as a name for THE FATHER.

Joseph did teach about the plurality of the word elohim, but that is all I found.

Journal(s) of Discourses Review

Among the early leaders’ talks found in the Journal of Discourses, the only significant case I found of elohim appearing as a name for THE FATHER is when Brigham Young seems to be dropping a piece of the Adam-God Theory:

It is true that the earth was organized by three distinct characters, namely, Eloheim, Yahovah, and Michael, these three forming a quorum, as in all heavenly bodies, and in organizing element, perfectly represented in the Deity, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

JD 1:51 col.

Perhaps this is where all the mischief began. This doctrine, of course, has been debunked by the Church, if we are to believe the letter from Spencer W. Kimball regarding this — dare we call it — heresy.

We hope that you who teach in the various organizations, whether on the campuses or in our chapels, will always teach the orthodox truth. We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.

(1976, October, Spencer W. Kimballᶜ, ‘Our Own Liahona,’ Ensign, November 1976, ¶ 7)

Most of what I found in the early part of JD seems to indicate that THE FATHER is jehovah. Yet some indicate The Son to be jehovah. A few examples without elaboration:

The penalty of the first transgression was an eternal separation of body and spirit, and eternal banishment from the presence of Jehovah.
(Orson Pratt; JD 1, The Earth • JD 1:329 col. b)

Do you suppose you are going to the earth that Adam came from? That Eloheim came from? Where Jehovah the Lord came from?
(Heber C Kimball; JD 1, Condition of the People • JD 1:356 col. b)

He is said to be the father of the faithful, and the great head of the Church in the days of the Patriarchs, and the head of those who have been adopted into the covenant of Jehovah through the blood of His only begotten; for if we are Christ’s then we are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
(Orson Hyde; JD 2, Marriage Relations. • JD 2:78 col. b)

It is a decree of Jehovah who governs and controls the destinies of worlds, who controls all intelligent beings, that man should die.
(Orson Pratt; JD 2, Funeral Address. • JD 2:368 col. a’)

It reads in the Scriptures that the Lord did it, but the true rendering is, that the Almighty sent Jehovah and Michael to do the work.
(Heber C Kimball; JD 10, Advancement of the Saints • JD 10:235 col. a)

We obey the Lord, Him who is called Jehovah, the Great I AM, I am a man of war, Eloheim, etc.
(Brigham Young; JD 12, Witness of the Spirit (1) • JD 12:99 col. a)

He has given unto us His Holy Spirit and witnessed unto our hearts that this course was pleasing and acceptable in His sight. Rebel against him and his authority! As well might we rebel against Jehovah Himself, or against Jesus!
(George Q Cannon; JD 13, Right and Authority of President Brigham Young. • JD 13:51 col. b)

Conclusion(s)

Confusion

As you can see from the above, it is pretty much impossible to determine that jehovah is Jesus Christ and that elohim is THE FATHER.

Even if we were to choose to adopt this nomenclature for our current church use, it seems entirely fallacious to use it as a basis to understand scripture and/or early church teachings.

As such, the only reasonable conclusion I could make was that everything I had supposed to be true, was at best questionable, and most of what I have taught and opined on the subject in the past is categorically wrong.

At this point in the adventure, the thorn no longer caused pain. I was numb.

Resolution

Since the solution to the problem was written in Part 2, it need not be repeated here. I do not take credit for the resolution. Instead, there is simply gratitude for extraction from this abyss of adulterated beliefs and contaminated principles at the very foundation of our religion. The thorn is removed. Baruch HaShem.

The solution deceptively simple. There are a significant number of scriptures that no longer cause mental dissonance. Additionally, some light is shed upon the origin of the extent confusion about character and roles of THE FATHER and of The Son.

The Remainder

But what remains is even more confounding.

Communication Issues

While there are now a much larger set of scriptures where we can’t reasonably pretend to know who is speaking (who the author intended), there are a significant number where we might be able to correct the translations, under the presumption that the record is not corrupted. The likeliness of this happening is precariously close to nil.

How do we communicate when our referenced text is flawed, our common/cultural understanding of the text is flawed, and we maintain and defend paradigms/interpretations which are flawed? Not to be rude, but damn!

In a follow-on discussion with Joy, we talked about what language the two of us might use as a means to communicate clearly if and when we need to differentiate between THE FATHER and The Son. We’ve considered using Father-Ahman and Son-Ahman. In written form, it is possible to use caps to indicate THE FATHER = JEHOVAH = ELOHIM = FATHER-AHMAN = LORD = THE MOST HIGH GOD, etc. and partial caps for The Son = The Father = Jehovah = Elohim = Son-Ahman = Lord, etc. But, that doesn’t work well in spoken language.

New and Everlasting Mysteries

Three example mysteries as seen from the other side of the newly opened doorway.

Mystery 1

For sake of argument, let us assume multiple probations as doctrine. Let us also presume that THE FATHER owns every name/title we ascribe to The Son, having earned them first. Let us further presume that we can iterate on this through any number of generations of FATHER. In the current mortality, The Son became The Father. In a next mortality, The Father became THE FATHER and gives birth to a Newest Son. In this mortality, we transition from being (adopted?) sons of THE FATHER to adopted sons of The Father. In the next mortality (presuming we return), we become adopted sons of The Newest Son or The Newest Father. If this cycle were repeated 100 times, we would have 101 FATHERS. Is this how we should interpret Malachi 4:6?

Mystery 2

Let us return to elohim jehovah. Since both elohim and jehovah are used to identify both THE FATHER and The Son, do we consider these names or titles? Is yeshua a “name” unique to The Son, or was it a designation by which THE FATHER was also called?

Mystery 3

The following quote has some Hebrew to English elaborations/clarifications in square brackets and strike-throughs where some words are added to the English by the King James Version translators. Hopefully these help with your understanding of the original. Previously, I had thought that Moses was talking to The Son here. Now, I’m not so sure. [Highlights added] Remember:

  • hyh; to exist, become, come to pass
  • asher: who, which, what that, when, where,  how, because, in order that, etc.

13 And Moses said unto God [the elohim], Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of [elohei] your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, what is his name? what shall I say unto them?
14 And God [elohim] said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM [hyh asher hyh]: and he said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM [hyh] hath sent me unto you.
15 And God [elohim] said moreover [continuance/repetition] unto Moses, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of [jehovah elohei] your fathers, the God of [elohei] Abraham, the God of [elohei] Isaac, and the God of [elohei] Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial [memento] unto all generations [revolutions of time].

Exodus 3:13–15

How do we interpret this?

Postlude

Very recently, Joy was reading a blog to which an anonymous comment was made a decade ago. This is an excerpt from that comment:

We’ve confused ourselves before in this manner when in the late 1800s the Saints absolutely insisted on pinning down one (and only one) personality for any given divine name title used by the brethren or found in the scriptures (be it Elohim, or Jehovah, or whatever). We got what we were aching for, and now we’re set and stubborn in our views of who’s who, with very little if any wiggle room. But at least we’re sure now.

Before going through the experience recorded herein, I would have had no idea what was implied by this criticism (though I’m sure that I would have thought that I did :- ). Clearly, this isn’t the first time this path has been traveled.

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