The No-Name God
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
The house of god
I Chronicles is an historical book covering actions of several kings, and evaluating their reign as to whether they had done good or evil in the sight of Jehovah. We have already established many attributes of Jehovah. Therefore, the further we travel into the Old Testament, the fewer the new attributes that will be found, which is part of the purpose of the study.
However, each instance of the appearances of any word regarding elohim, Yahweh, adonai, or el, have been checked in the Analytical Key to the Old Testament, and read in context. Therefore, if large areas of scripture seem to be "skipped over" it is because no new attribute of Jehovah was found in those parts of the scriptures.
I Chronicles 11:9 indicates that when a person obeys Jehovah in the position to which they have been appointed, then Jehovah may make that person greater.
"And David became greater and greater, for Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) of hosts [was] with him."
Only the Levites were to move the ark of the covenant.
"Then David said, No one may carry the ark of god (‘elohiym:H430) but the Levites, for Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) chose them to carry the ark of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and to minister to him for ever." (I Chronicles 15:2). II
Samuel contains the story of how Jehovah struck Uzzah dead for touching the ark of the covenant while it was being moved (see II Samuel 6:6-11). Therefore, David left the ark of the covenant in the household of Obed-edom because he was afraid to bring the ark any further.
"And the ark of God (‘elohiym:H430) remained with the household of Obed-edom, in his house three months. And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) blessed the household of Obed-edom, and all that he had." (I Chronicles 13:14).
This attribute of Jehovah shows that he blesses those who share his presence.
Jehovah promised to raise up David’s offspring to be a king after he died. I Chronicles 17:13 describes the formula that announced a king under Jehovah.
"I will be his father, and he shall be my son. And my steadfast love I will not take away from him as I took it from him who was before you."
Jehovah acted as a father, or as a titular guide, to whomever he appointed as king. The king was not to operate on his own volition, but was to rely on Jehovah, his god, for instructions on how to rule.
I Chronicles 17:16-17 does not reveal any new attribute of Jehovah, but it does indicate whom David regarded as his god.
"And King David went in and sat before Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and said, Who am I, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) god (‘elohiym:H430), and what is my house that thou hast brought me thus far? And this was a small thing in thy eyes, O god (‘elohiym:H430). Thou hast also spoken of thy servant’s house for a great while to come, and hast shown me as the turn of man (future generations) and the step, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) god (‘elohiym:H430)."
Here, even in direct address, the word "god" is not written in the Hebrew as a proper name, but only as a generic term. It is clear that when David used the word god, he used it in reference to Jehovah, his god.
Another attribute of Jehovah is shown in I Chronicles 21:2-3.
"So David said to Joab and to the commanders of the people, Go, number Israel from Beer-sheba even to Dan; and bring me (a report) that I may know their number. But Joab said, May Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) add to his people a hundred times as many as they are; are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why should my lord require this, why should there be guilt upon Israel?"
David was proud of the kingdom he had built, and he wanted to know just how many people were now in Israel. But, a census was to be done only when ordained by Jehovah, which was not the case here. David commanded this census out of pride.
Even though Joab tried to warn him, David was in no mood to listen. As a result, Jehovah sent a pestilence upon Israel until David repented and offered sacrifices and offerings to Jehovah as an admission of his guilt. What this attribute of Jehovah indicated is that he hates pride in those whom he has blessed, especially in those who take the credit for what Jehovah has done through them.
David learned from this experience, and just before he died he advised Solomon.
"Only may Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) grant you discretion and understanding, that when he gives you charge over Israel, you may keep the law of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), your god (‘elohiym:H430)." (I Chronicles 22:12).
It is Jehovah who grants discretion and understanding to rule.
Another attribute of Jehovah, found in I Chronicles 25:5-6, is one which pleases many people.
"All these were sons of Heman, the king’s seer, according to the promise of god (‘elohiym:H430), to exalt him, for god (‘elohiym:H430) had given to Heman fourteen sons and three daughters. They were all under the direction of their father in the music in the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), with cymbals, harps and lyres, for the service of [the] house of the god (‘elohiym:H430), under the order of the king."
It is puzzling that some churches forbid music, even some who claim there was no music in the Old Testament temple. This passage reveals that Jehovah loves to be praised with music used to glorify him.
I Chronicles 28:2-3 points out that David understood that his god, Jehovah, would not physically dwell in the temple built for him, but that a symbol of his presence would be there.
"Then, David, the king, rose to his feet, and said, Hear me, my brethren and my people: I had in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), for the footstool of our god (‘elohiym:H430), and I made preparations for building. But god (‘elohiym:H430) said to me, You may not build a house for my name, for you are a warrior and have shed blood."
It is interesting to note that David referred to the temple he would build as a footstool for his god, Jehovah. Clearly, he understood the greatness of Jehovah.
The phrase, "a house for my name" indicates that the ark of the covenant and the temple were both inextricably involved with the name of Jehovah. This broadens the meaning of the word name, which was previously explained as relative to the power of Jehovah. The temple, when it was finally built, would be a residence for the ark of the covenant and the glory of Jehovah which would dwell over the mercy seat, indicating that Jehovah watched over his people, Israel.
David informed the people,
"And of all my sons, for many sons Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has given me, he has chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) over Israel." (I Chronicles 28:5).
This clearly states that Jehovah had not relinquished his power of guidance over Israel simply because they chose to have a human king. Remember, Jehovah stated earlier that the people were rejecting him, not somebody else’s rule; but, he was still the ruler over Israel, only in a different manner than formerly.
I Chronicles 29:10 is one of the few examples of the Old Testament usage of the word father.
"Then David blessed Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) in the presence of all the assembly, and David said, Blessed art thou, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel, our father, for ever and ever."
This is not used as we think of the word father, but in the familiar sense of the Israelite people of that time. Father meant someone who exercised authority over a group of people. The people worked for the common good of the father, and he provided all their needs. Abraham was an early example of this.
I Chronicles 29:11 contains a list of Jehovah’s attributes given by David.
"Thine, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty for all that is in the heaven and in the earth. Thine, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), is the kingdom and are exalted above all as head."
David recognized that his complete life had been dominated and empowered by his god, Jehovah. It was Jehovah’s greatness, power, and majesty that had given David his victories. It was, after all, Jehovah’s kingdom, and he was the head.
David had been given a portion of spirit, enough for what Jehovah demanded of him. And for the most part, David had been led by that spirit during his life.
"I know my god (‘elohiym:H430), that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in the uprightness of my heart." (I Chronicles 29:17).
David knew that his god, Jehovah, looked upon the heart, or the innermost part of man, to discern the underlying purpose or motivation. When he found uprightness, Jehovah was pleased.
II Chronicles 1:1 describes Solomon’s god.
"And Solomon, the son of David, established himself in his kingdom. Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) his god (‘elohiym:H430), was with him, and made him exceedingly great."
II Chronicles 1:11-12 reveals another attribute of Jehovah. He admires, and respects, selflessness in his servants.
"God (‘elohiym:H430) answered Solomon, Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked possessions, wealth, and honor, or the life of those who hate you; and also have not even asked long life, but have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule over my people, over whom I have made you king: wisdom and knowledge are granted to you, and riches and possessions and honor I will give you, which was not thus to the kings who were before you; and after you none shall have the like."
So, Solomon began his reign with an attitude that pleased Jehovah.
II Chronicles 2:4 points out another of Solomon’s good purposes.
"And the house which I am to build will be great, for our god (yehovah:H3068) is great(er) than all gods (‘elohiym:H430)."
Two items stand out in this verse. First, he was building the house for the name of Jehovah. The symbol of the presence of Jehovah, or his name, would dwell there. Second, Solomon stated that Jehovah was his god. So far, each primary actor in the bible has declared that Jehovah was his god (elohim). Whether written as el, elohim, or adonai, they identified that it was Yahweh (Jehovah) who was their god.
The process of building the temple was covered in the next several chapters. Then, Solomon, quoting from Psalms 97:2. says,
"And it was the duty of the trumpeters and the singers to make themselves heard, in unison, in praise and thanksgiving to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). And when the song was raised with trumpets and cymbals and musical instruments in praise to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), for he is good, for his steadfast love for ever; and the house was filled with a cloud, the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) , so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) filled the house of god (‘elohiym:H430). Then, Solomon said, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) has said that he would dwell in thick darkness." (II Chronicles 5:13-6:1).
Many are surprised to hear that Jehovah dwelt in darkness, which seems contradictory to the scripture which says,
"Who alone has immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable, whom no one of men did see, nor to see is able; to whom honor and might eternal. Amen." (I Timothy 6:16).
Are these two scriptures speaking of the same god? Or, do the scriptures speak of more than one god in relationship to mankind? This may be somewhat early in the study to raise such a question, which we will deal with later.
Solomon knew there was more to Jehovah, the god of Israel, than the presence in the holy of holies in the temple. This is shown in Solomon’s prayer recorded in II Chronicles 6:20.
"That thy eyes may be open toward this house day and night, the place where thou hast promised to set thy name there, that thou mayest hearken to the prayer which thy servant offers toward this place."
The phrase "thy eyes may be open toward this house" indicates that the whole of Jehovah was not present in the temple. Jehovah was outside the confines of the temple, and he existed as a spirit in "heaven." Only his "name" dwelt in the temple.
Jehovah’s name was often recognized as being the ark of the covenant, which symbolized his faithfulness to the promises he had made to his people, Israel. This also spoke to the truth that the name, or ark of the covenant, signified the power that Jehovah would use to protect his people as long as they were obedient.
That Jehovah orchestrated the affairs of different countries is shown in II Chronicles 12:5-8.
"Then Shemaiah, the prophet, came to Rehoboam, and to the princes of Judah who had gathered at Jerusalem because of Shishak, and said to them, Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), You have abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak. Then the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) is righteous. When Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) saw that they humbled themselves, the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) came to Shemaiah (saying), They have humbled themselves; I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; and my wrath shall not be poured out upon Jerusalem by the hand of Shishak. Nevertheless, they shall be servants to him, that they may know my service, and the service of the kingdoms of the countries."
Israel had neglected the service they had been called to, and Jehovah said in no uncertain terms that they would be punished for this neglect. They had neglected the temple and its service to him; therefore, he allowed Shishak, the king of Egypt to loot the temple of all the treasures that David and Solomon had supplied.
They had also neglected serving the other nations. Remember, they had agreed to be a nation of priests to the Gentile countries round about them, to tell the other countries about the glories of Jehovah, and to show forth Jehovah’s wondrous care and guardianship over them. Now, Jehovah allowed them to be taken into the service of Shishak, king of Egypt, to learn a hard lesson.
When Israel neglected the service of Jehovah and his demands upon them, they were punished. This illustrates another attribute of Jehovah: he expects people to do what he asks of them, to perform the service he calls them to.
By now, other kings were reigning over the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah, and most of the people of Israel did not follow Jehovah. Jeroboam even built golden calves for the people to worship, and drove out the priests of Aaron from Israel (II Chronicles 13:6-9).
Then, Israel, which worshiped false gods, attacked Judah, which had repented, and was now faithful to Jehovah. Although Israel was much stronger than the smaller Judah, Jehovah saved Judah by defeating Israel.
However, Jehovah is a merciful god, and when Israel turned, II Chronicles 15:3-4 tells what happened.
"For a long time Israel was without the true god (‘elohiym:H430), and without a teaching priest, and without law. But when they turned in their distress to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel, and sought him, and he was found by them." Jehovah is a god of forgiveness!
II Chronicles 16:9 refers to the universality of Jehovah’s concern for everyone.
"For Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), his eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show his might in behalf of those whose hearts is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars."
Here is the first verse II Chronicles 16:9 which clearly says that in Old Testament times Jehovah was greatly concerned with anyone whose heart was blameless toward him, wherever they might be in the whole earth. This reveals another attribute of Jehovah and foreshadows future events concerning him.
When Jehoshaphat became king, he sought to be a faithful servant of his god, Jehovah.
"And [he] said, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) god (‘elohiym:H430) of our fathers, art thou not god (‘elohiym:H430) in heaven, dost thou (not) rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in thy hand power and might so that none is able to withstand thee? Didst thou not, O our god (‘elohiym:H430), drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and give it to the descendants of thy friend Abraham for ever?" (II Chronicles 20:6-7).
There are several truths in these verses stated in form of questions.
First, Jehoshaphat stated that Jehovah was the god of his fathers, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David.
Second, he stated that Jehovah was a god in heaven, or that he was a spiritual god although he carried the personal name of Jehovah.
Third, Jehovah ruled over all the kingdoms of the nations, or Gentiles.
Fourth, in Jehovah’s hands dwelt power and might that none could withstand his actions.
Fifth, he drove out the inhabitants of the land because of Abraham, the friend of Jehovah forever.
Several attributes of Jehovah were listed here: Jehovah was the god of the fathers. Jehovah dwelt in heaven. Jehovah ruled over the Gentile nations as well as Israel. Jehovah was the god of hosts who drives out the inhabitants of the land before Israel.
Since Jehovah was a god who dwelt in heaven, the spirit was increasingly described as the instrument to guide and empower the people chosen for special purposes. II Chronicles 20:14-15 says,
"And Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah, son of Benaiah, son of Jeiel, son of Mattaniah, the Levite of the sons of Asaph: the Spirit of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) came upon him in the midst of the assembly, and he said, Hearken, all Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) to you, Fear not, and be not dismayed at this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but god’s (‘elohiym:H430)."
Earlier, when Israel was on the way to the promised land, Jehovah would not allow them to battle against Moab and Ammon, the two sons of Lot by his daughters. Now, these people were gathered as a great multitude to drive Israel from the land.
The above verses describe Jehovah’s answer to Jehoshaphat’s prayer for deliverance. Jehovah’s strength will be exerted. He tells Israel,
"Not to you to fight in this battle. Take your position, stand still, and see the victory of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) on your behalf. Judah and Jerusalem, fear not, and be not dismayed. Tomorrow, go out against them, and Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) will be with you." (II Chronicles 20:17).
What happened next is amazing. Jehoshaphat ordered those who were to sing, dressed in holy array, to go out and march ahead of the army, singing the praises of Jehovah. These people certainly showed their faith. They definitely expected Jehovah to deliver them, and he did! (II Chronicles 20:17-25).
Many kings who ruled over Israel, the northern kingdom, and Judah, the southern kingdom, are listed in II Chronicles. Most of these kings did not follow Jehovah. Consequently, wars continually followed the disobedient kings as Jehovah used other nations to discipline them. Some people remark that the Old Testament seems to be mostly about war. This is true, especially in the later history of Israel and Judah.
It was dangerous then, and still can be today, to be the spokesman for a god. II Chronicles 24:20-21 says,
"Then the spirit of god (‘elohiym:H430) took possession of Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, Thus says god (‘elohiym:H430), Why do you transgress the commandments of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), he has forsaken you. But they conspired against him, and they stoned him with stones by commandment of the king, in the court of the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."
Keep in mind that when the people referred to god they were speaking of Jehovah, often stated as "Jehovah, our god."
One king, Uzziah, who had been blessed by Jehovah to build a huge, well-armed army, became proud and claimed the credit for himself instead of giving glory to Jehovah. Because of his pride, Uzziah decided to go into the temple and burn incense on the altar of incense.
Azariah, the priest, took 80 other priests of Jehovah and went in after the king. They told him he should leave because it was against the law for anyone but a priest to burn incense to Jehovah. Uzziah refused their demands, and Jehovah struck him with leprosy in his forehead, and he was remanded to his house for the rest of his life (II Chronicles 19-21).
It is very dangerous to take credit for what God has given you! And, sometimes it is even difficult to give credit to God when you are among nominal believers, because they may think that giving credit to God for your accomplishments is an attempt to set yourself above others.
II Chronicles 28:1 says,
"Ahaz [was] twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and he did not do what was right in the eyes of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), like his father David."
Ahaz was not a king after the heart of Jehovah. II Chronicles 28:3 points out that,
"he burned incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burned his sons in the fire, according to the abominable practices of the nations whom Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) drove out before the people of Israel."
This god he worshiped has been described as a large metal figure of a man, hollow inside, where a hot fire was built (see Fallows, Vol. 2, p. 1175). It had two arms that raised and lowered, and the children who were to be sacrificed were laid into these arms. Then, the arms were raised, sliding the children into the fire through the open mouth of the figure.
Jehovah brought another nation against Judah, and they were nearly annihilated by the king of Aram, who slew 120,000 men of Judah in one day, and took multitudes of others captive. This was not the age of grace.
King Hezekiah followed after Jehovah, the god of Israel. He cleansed the temple and consecrated it anew to Jehovah. Then, he sent word throughout all Judah, saying,
"Do not be like your fathers, and like your brethren, who were faithless to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) the god (‘elohiym:H430) of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as ye see. Do not now be stiff-necked, as your fathers, but yield yourselves to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and come to his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever, and serve Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430), that his fierce anger may turn away from you. For if you return to Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), your brethren and your children (will find) compassion with their captors, and to return to this land. For Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) your god (‘elohiym:H430) is gracious and merciful, and he will not turn away (his) face from you if you return to him." (II Chronicles 30:7-9).
Jehovah is depicted here as an authoritarian, but also as one who has mercy and compassion on those who have turned away from him.
Some of the people, when they celebrated the Passover, unknowingly did not observe it according to the ordinance of Jehovah. Hezekiah, noting this, prayed,
"..., saying, The good Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) pardon every one all his heart he sets to seek god (‘elohiym:H430), the LORD (yehovah:H3068) god (‘elohiym:H430) of his fathers, not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness. And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) heard Hezekiah, and healed the people." (II Chronicles 30:18-20).
Kings came and went, and the evil kings eventually became so bad that Jehovah finally used the king of Babylon to capture and enslave Judah. II Chronicles 36:16-20 shows that Jehovah’s compassion does not last forever.
"But they kept mocking the messengers of god (‘elohiym:H430), and despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, till the wrath of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore, he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or aged; he gave them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of god (‘elohiym:H430), great and small, and the treasures of the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), and the treasures of the king and of his princes, all these he brought to Babylon. And they burned the house of god (‘elohiym:H430), and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned with fire all its palaces, and destroyed all its precious vessels. He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia."
The kingdom of Persia was not established until 70 years later, and the people of Judah languished in Babylon, serving out the 70 years to compensate for not letting the land lie idle every seven years as they had been instructed to do. Therefore, they served one year in captivity for each year they did not allow the land to lie idle.
II Chronicles 36:21 states that,
"To fulfill the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths; all the days that it lay desolate it kept sabbath to fulfil the seventy years."
Jehovah’s word is to be obeyed!
II Chronicles ends with the notation that Jehovah moved upon Cyrus to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem.
"Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) the god (‘elohiym:H430) of heaven has given me; and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is there among you of all his people, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) his god (‘elohiym:H430) be with him, [and] let him go up." (II Chronicles 36:23).
Ezra records the fulfillment of that promise at the end of II Chronicles. Ezra 1:1-3 says,
"In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, that the word of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) by the mouth of Jeremiah might be established, Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing (saying), Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia, all the kingdoms of the earth Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the god (‘elohiym:H430) of heaven, has given me; and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his god (‘elohiym:H430) be with him and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the god (‘elohiym:H430) of Israel; he is the god (‘elohiym:H430) who is in Jerusalem."
Does this mean that Cyrus really accepted Jehovah as his god; or, does it mean that he recognized Jehovah as being the god of the Jews? Whichever it was, he gave Jehovah the credit for moving upon him to rebuild the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem. Cyrus normally allowed the peoples he conquered to continue worshiping their local gods. This contributed greatly toward continued peace in his conquered kingdoms.
Ezra 1:5 says,
"Then rose up the heads of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, every one whose spirit god (‘elohiym:H430) had stirred, to go up to rebuild the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) which is in Jerusalem."
Here is another attribute of Jehovah: he brings revival and deliverance to his people in his own time.
The people had served their 70 years of servitude in a foreign land. The home land had received its 70 years of sabbath. Now, if they wished, the people were free to return to Jerusalem, to rebuild the city and the temple. Throughout the 70 years, the people had kept account of their priests and Levites. Therefore, their leadership was available when the people were on their own again.
Still, as Ezra 3:8 points out, it took some time before the building actually began. The people had to travel to Jerusalem, and again unite in purpose and leadership.
"Now in the second year of their coming to the house of god (‘elohiym:H430) at Jerusalem, in the second month, Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, made a beginning, together with the rest of their brethren, the priests, and the Levites, and all who had come from the captivity to Jerusalem. They appointed the Levites from twenty years old and upwards to have the oversight of the work of the house of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068)."
The people began to follow the instructions of David in the matter of building this second temple. Ezra 3:10 says,
"And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the priests came forward arrayed with trumpets, and the Levites, the sons of Asaph, with cymbals, to praise Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), according to the directions of David, king of Israel."
This must have been quite a party, rejoicing before Jehovah, their god. What a shame that we see so little rejoicing today!
Ezra 5 relates how Cyrus continued his kindness to the people of Judah by delivering to them all the golden vessels that Nebuchadnezzar took to Babylon. When the temple was finished, these vessels would again be installed in it. Cyrus also provided much of the material needed, as well as all the animals needed to maintain the temple worship.
The men had married women of the surrounding nations, and when this was brought to Ezra’s attention, he wept bitterly before Jehovah, confessing the sin of his people. The men agreed to put away their foreign wives, thus averting the fierce wrath of Jehovah, their god (Ezra 10:2-5).
The story about rebuilding the temple and the walls of Jerusalem is continued in the next book, Nehemiah.
Nehemiah was born during the captivity in Babylon, and became an important person to the ruling king. He was a soldier and statesman, and was quite resolute in his duties to Jehovah. When Jehovah called him to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city, he underwent many trials and tribulations, but continued faithful in his calling.
Nehemiah 1:5-6 indicate some attributes of Jehovah.
"And I said, Ah, now, O Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), god (‘elohiym:H430) of heaven, the great and terrible god (‘el:H410) who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments: Let thy ear be attentive and thy eyes open to hear the prayer of thy servant which I now pray before thee today, day and night, for the people of Israel, thy servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel which we have sinned against thee. Yea, I and my father’s house, (we) have sinned."
This gives us an idea of how Nehemiah regarded his god, Jehovah. He looked upon him as a "god of heaven," and a "great and terrible god." Notice, again, that Nehemiah prayed "before" him. Even though he was called to a great duty, he still had no direct access to Jehovah. He could only pray "before" him, and hope that Jehovah heard.
This passage is another example of how we increasingly find people looking upon Jehovah’s home as being in the heavens. To state it another way, this means they saw Jehovah as a god which was a spirit. Although he was a great and terrible god, whenever Israel, or Judah, strayed from walking in his precepts, he was also a god which kept his covenant, or given word. He showed steadfast love to those who loved him and kept his commandments.
When Nehemiah ran into trouble, he said,
"In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our god (‘elohiym:H430) will fight for us." (Nehemiah 4:14).
Nehemiah relied faithfully that Jehovah, his god, who had called them to rebuild the wall, would also fight for them. Jehovah is a faithful god.
The book of the law, which Jehovah had given to Moses, lost for many years, had been found. Ezra read it to the people.
"And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood . And Ezra blessed Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), the great god (‘elohiym:H430), and all the people answered, Amen, Amen, lifting up their hands. And they bowed and worshiped Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), their faces to the ground." (Nehemiah 8:5-6).
This scripture shows, without doubt, that they regarded Jehovah as their "great god." This is reinforced by Nehemiah 10:37, which speaks of
"the house of our god (‘elohiym:H430)."
Jehovah was their god, and the house they built was for Jehovah, their god.
At this point, it had been several hundred years since Israel left Egypt and when the Ammonites and Moabites had hired Balaam to curse them. However, Jehovah has a long memory. Nehemiah 13:1-2 says,
"On that day it was read from the book of Moses, in the hearing of the people, and was found written in it that an Ammonite (and) a Moabite should not ever enter into the assembly of god (‘elohiym:H430), for they did not meet the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them to curse them. Yet, our god (‘elohiym:H430) turned the curse into a blessing."
The Ammonites and Moabites descended from the sons of Lot by his two daughters after Sodom was destroyed. They became the enemies of Israel even though they were closely related to Abraham and his posterity.
Esther is one of the few books of the Bible where the words god, lord, or Jehovah do not appear. It is a beautiful story of how Esther was in a place which afforded her a great opportunity to serve her people. However, it reveals no additional attribute of Jehovah.
The first two chapters of Job were written in prose, while the rest of the book, with the exception of the epilogue, was written in poetic form. However, this is quite difficult to discern in the KJV. In the first two chapters, Jehovah is the name used predominantly. In the balance of the book, most references to god are contained in some form of el, eloah, or elohim.
Job 1:6 says,
"Now there was a day when the sons of god (‘elohiym:H430) came to present themselves (take one’s stand) before (against) Yahweh (yehovah:H3068). And satan (the adversary) also came among them."
Although it is common to hear that satan is the only one against Jehovah, this scripture indicates that they were all against Jehovah. The adversary, or prosecuting attorney, was only "among them." The Septuagint states that those who came were the angelou tou theou, or the angels of the god, or in context, the angels of Jehovah.
Satan raised a question of whether Job was serving Jehovah out of love, or for what he received from Jehovah (Job 1:9-11). This question is highly relevant to the rest of the story.
Another part which is also relevant is Job’s challenge to god. Job wanted to know why he had the right to cause Job so much misery simply to discover whether or not satan’s accusation was correct. This is the main theme of Job, but it also includes the "deacon board" who came to straighten Job out.
This opening part of Job shows another attribute of Jehovah: he may test the faith of his followers.
Although Job underwent many trials, Job 1:22 points out that,
"In all this Job did not sin or charge to god (‘elohiym:H430) with wrong."
Job 2 describes another time when the sons of god, with satan among them, stood before (against) Jehovah. This indicates that at least some of the sons were not pleased with Jehovah, even if they were in "heaven," or wherever Jehovah was at the time. Job 2:6 says,
"Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to the adversary, Behold, he is in your power, only spare (protect) his life."
Here is another attribute of Jehovah: he not only protects his people to whatever extent he chooses, but any who oppose his people do so only with the authority or power granted by Jehovah.
After the next round of affliction, Job’s three friends, "the deacon board," approach Job with all kinds of advice, which we later discover was not good advice at all. In their conversations with Job, they often mention the "almighty" without the prefix el as it was sometimes used previously.
The word "almighty" is used 31 times in Job. A few times in previous scriptures, this word was a proper name, such as Exodus 6:2-3:
"I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as god (‘el:H410) Almighty (shadday:H7706); but by my name Yahweh (yehovah:H3068), I did not make myself known to them." (Please refer back to our earlier comments on this verse).
Sometimes almighty was used as a proper name, and sometimes it was not. However, here in Job the word is always used as a proper name. A possible reason for this is because Job’s friends were using this as a proper noun when referring to Jehovah in conversation.
The word translated as almighty comes from the Hebrew shaddai. Some dictionaries define almighty as the most powerful or mighty god, which would be quite fitting for these people who believed in Jehovah as the primary mover in the creation of the universe.
Other definitions identify almighty as the many breasted one, or the god of providence. Shaddai is believed to come from the word shad, meaning a woman’s breast. Hence, Jehovah, or god almighty, was considered the god of providence.
Girdlestone (pp. 32-33) says in part,
"The title Shaddai really indicates the fulness and riches of God’s grace, and would remind the Hebrew reader that from God cometh every good and perfect gift, ...that He is never weary of pouring forth His mercies upon His people, and that He is more ready to give than they are to receive. The word is connected with a root which signifies a breast, and hence the idea is similar to that contained in our word exuberance. Perhaps the expressive word bountiful would convey the sense most exactly. This rendering will be illustrated and confirmed by a reference to some of the passages in which Shaddai occurs, as they will be found specially to designate God as a Bountiful Giver. (He then listed Genesis 17:1, Genesis 28:3, Genesis 35:11, and Genesis 43:14)."
Personally, we have chosen Girdlestone’s definition because it fits the scriptures very well. In their conversations, Job’s friends as well as Job himself, often use a reference to el, god, and to shaddai, almighty, in the same verse, showing that they equated one with the other.
At first the "deacon board" did quite well by sitting silently for several days and simply commiserating with Job. However, they spoiled everything when they began to judge him. They took turns in this judging, something that no man is equipped to do for another person.
Because Job’s friends were simply giving their opinions of el shaddai, we chose not to quote any of their observations. However, at the end of Job, Jehovah, the almighty god, again appeared on the scene and answered some of Job’s questions. Jehovah also chastised the three friends for not knowing whereof they spoke.
Jehovah also posed many questions to Job rather than provide direct answers. When Jehovah had finished his chastisement, Job recognized that he had been completely out of place to question Jehovah. He recognized that Jehovah was a bigger god than he had supposed, and he said,
"Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer thee? My hand I lay on my mouth." (Job 40:4).
Job 42:7 provides the reason we have included no quotes of the "deacon board" concerning what they said about Jehovah, whom they referred to as the Almighty.
"(And it was) after Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) had spoken these words to Job, and Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) said to Eliphaz, the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against you, and against two of your friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job."
Jehovah acknowledged that the references to the almighty were really to him. There is often some element of truth in people’s statements about Jehovah, as it was with Job’s three friends. However, the problem of being right or wrong is determined by whether or not those statements were based upon a correct premise. If not, then even though the statements may be partially correct, they still end up being in error.
Job 42:12 says,
"And Yahweh (yehovah:H3068) blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she-asses. And he had seven sons and three daughters."
This indicates another of Jehovah’s attributes, that he may greatly bless those who have lost much for his sake, even doubling their losses.
# The king was not to operate on his own volition, but was to rely on
Jehovah, his god, for instructions on how to rule.
# David understood that his god, Jehovah, would not physically dwell in
the temple built for him, but that a symbol of his presence would be
# The temple, when it was finally built, would be a residence for the ark
of the covenant and the glory of Jehovah which would dwell over the
mercy seat, indicating that Jehovah watched over his people, Israel.
# Father meant someone who exercised authority over a group of people.
The people worked for the common good of the father, and he
provided all their needs.
# Jehovah looked upon the heart, or the innermost part of man, to
discern the underlying purpose or motivation.
# So far, each primary actor in the bible has declared that Jehovah was
his god. Whether written as el, elohim, or adonai, they identified that it
was Yahweh (Jehovah) who was their god.
# Jehovah was outside the confines of the temple, and he existed as a
spirit in "heaven." Only his "name" dwelt in the temple. Jehovah’s
name was often recognized as being the ark of the covenant, which
symbolized his faithfulness to the promises he had made to his people,
Israel. This also spoke to the truth that the name, or ark of the
covenant, signified the power that Jehovah would use to protect his
people as long as they were obedient.
# Israel had neglected the service they had been called to, and Jehovah
said in no uncertain terms that they would be punished for this neglect.
# Israel had agreed to be a nation of priests to the Gentile countries
around them, to tell the other countries about the glories of Jehovah,
and to show forth Jehovah’s wondrous care and guardianship over
# II Chronicles 16:9 is the first verse which clearly says that in Old
Testament times Jehovah was greatly concerned with anyone,
wherever they might be in the whole earth, whose heart was blameless
# Since Jehovah was a god who dwelt in heaven, the spirit was
increasingly described as the instrument to guide and empower the
people chosen for special purposes.
# Keep in mind that when the people referred to god they were speaking
of Jehovah, often stated as "Jehovah, our god."
# Jehovah is depicted here as an authoritarian, but also as one who has
mercy and compassion on those who have turned away from him.
# The problem of being right or wrong is determined by whether or not
those statements were based upon a correct premise. If not, then even
though the statements may be partially correct, they still end up being
# Jehovah may make a person greater, depending on the person's
obedience in discharging the position to which that person has been
# Jehovah blesses those who share his presence.
# Jehovah hates pride in those whom he has blessed, especially in those
who take the credit for what Jehovah has done through them.
# Jehovah grants discretion and understanding to rule.
# Jehovah loves to be praised with music used to glorify him.
# Jehovah did not relinquish his power of guidance over Israel simply
because they chose to have a human king. It was, after all, Jehovah’s
kingdom, and he was the head.
# Jehovah expects people to do what he asks of them, to perform the
service he calls them to.
# Jehovah was the god of the fathers.
# Jehovah dwelt in heaven.
# Jehovah ruled over the Gentile nations as well as Israel.
# Jehovah was the god of hosts who drove out the inhabitants of the land
# Jehovah brings revival and deliverance to his people in his own time.
# Jehovah is the great and terrible god who keeps his covenant, or given
word, even though Israel, or Judah, strayed from obeying him.
# Jehovah showed steadfast love to those who loved him and kept his
# Jehovah may test the faith of his followers.
# Jehovah not only protects his people to whatever extent he chooses, but
any who oppose his people do so only with the authority or power
granted by Jehovah.
# Jehovah may greatly bless those who have lost much for his sake.
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