God’s Covenant Name

Q. My question is this, God told Moses that prior to him, nobody knew God by His Name, YHWH, which I understand to be rendered “LORD” throughout the Bible. However, when you read earlier in the book of Genesis, the word “LORD” continues to appear. I could reconcile this if it were used only during the narrative portions of the text, but it is used in the quotes of people throughout the book, both gentile and Jew. Am I taking it too literally when I understand God to have said that Moses was the first person to know Him as YHWH?

A. The name LORD God first appears in Genesis 2:4, at the beginning of Adam’s account of the creation. The word LORD represents the tetragrammaton YHWH when it’s written all in caps.

It’s important to remember that Moses wrote the book of Genesis during the time the Israelites spent in the wilderness. God had him use His “generic” name, Elohim, throughout chapter 1. But when Adam’s account began in chapter 2 Moses added the four initials of God’s covenant name (YHWH) as well, signifying that a covenant relationship existed between God and man from that time forward even though He didn’t reveal His covenant name until much later.

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