"I Am" in the Pentateuch

"And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it." (Genesis 15:7)

There are seven "I am's" in the book of Genesis. The first is a beautiful figure of speech ("I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward" |Genesis 15:1|), but the others are all names and titles of God. The first of these is in our text above, identifying Jehovah Himself (the LORD) with the "I am."

The next is Genesis 17:1: "I am the Almighty God." The Hebrew here is El Shaddai ("God the nourishing sustainer"), also found in 35:11. Next is in 26:24: "I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee." Then, "I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac" (28:13). "I am the God of Bethel" (31:13). Beth-el means "the house of God." Finally, God says: "I am God, the God of thy father" (46:3).

In Exodus, there are 21 places where God says "I am." Most of these are merely variations of the different names of God as noted above in the "I am's" of Genesis, but six do give new insight. The first, of course, is the great assertion of Exodus 3:14 where God identifies Himself as "I AM THAT I AM." The others: "I am the LORD in the midst of the earth" (8:22); "I am the LORD that healeth thee" (15:26); "I the LORD thy God am a jealous God" (20:5); "For I am gracious" (22:27); "I am the LORD that doth sanctify you" (31:13).

In the remaining books of the Pentateuch, the phrase "I am the LORD your God" occurs very frequently, but there are two important new "I am's." "I am holy" occurs six times (e.g., Leviticus 11:45), and "I am thy part and thine inheritance" is recorded in Numbers 18:20. The great theme of all these claims and names of God is that the mighty God of time and space is also a caring, personal God. We can trust Him, and He cares for us. HMM


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