Yahweh texts applied to people

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Yahweh texts applied to people

Many point to so-called Yahweh texts applied to Jesus in order to prove that Jesus is God. These include texts like Joel 2:32 [“call on the name of YHWH, cp. Rom. 10:13; cf. 1 Cor. 1:2] and Isaiah 45:23 [“every knee will bow, tongue confess,” cp. Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10-11].

Some, like Dr. Michael Heiser, even point to the ancient Jewish heresy known as “the two powers in heaven” and Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah) to argue for a “second Yahweh” alongside the one God of Israel. (Dr. Heiser even goes as far to argue for a “third Yahweh” in the OT: http://www.thedivinecouncil.com/OTGodheadLanguage.pdf)

But these texts would make better sense using the biblical principle known as Shaliach, the Jewish principle of agency.

According to the IVP Bible Background Commentary NT on John 5:30 “Jesus is thus a faithful shaliach, or agent; Jewish law taught that the man’s agent was as a man himself (backed by his full authority), to the extent that the agent faithfully represented him. Moses and the OT prophets were sometimes viewed as God’s agents.”

Of note is the fact that 4 of the 10 Egyptian plagues were actually performed by Aaron, the “prophet” (i.e., agent) of Moses who was “made god” (Ex 4.16; 7.1).

Moses, like other OT prophets, not only spoke for God but, unlike Jesus, sometimes spoke as Yahweh in the first person! (See Deut. 11:14 & 29:6; Is. 3:1-4 (note v. 4); 34:1-8 (note v. 5); 53:1-12 (note vv. 11-12); Hosea 5 (note vv.10-12 & 14-15; Hosea 6 (note vv.4-6 & 11-7:2) Hosea 7 (note vv. 12-15); Hosea 9 (note vv.10-13); Hosea 10 (note v. 11); Hosea 12 (note vv.9-10); Hosea 13 (note vv. 4-14) Hosea 14 (note vv. 4-8); Habakkuk 1 (note vv.5-6); Zech. 14 (note v. 2).

Similarly, in the OT the agent of Yahweh is sometimes identified as Yahweh Himself!

  • Joshua 24.1-2 as YHWH;
  • 1 Samuel 10.17-22 as YHWH;

[NOTE: The steward of Joseph identified as Joseph himself, Gen 43-44; “In the name of YHWH”: Levi, Deut 18.1-5; the prophet, Deut 18.17-22; David, 1Sam 17.45; “Calling on the Name”: Jacob, Isa 44.5 (Chaldee: “He shall pray in the name of Jacob”); cp. Israel of the future, Isa 45:14!]

There are also examples of Yahweh texts applied to others.

The prophets say Yahweh gave Israel the Torah (Ezek. 20:11) yet Moses is identified as the lawgiver (Josh 22.2, 5).

Yahweh “brought them out of Egypt,” (Ezek 20.6, 10) so did Moses (Deut 29.4-7; Josh 22.4). Yahweh is “light to the nations” (Isa 51.4), so are His servants (Isa 42.6; 49.6; cp. the Apostles in the NT, Acts 13.47; Christians in general, Mat 5.14).

NOTE Qumran applies Yahweh texts to Melchizedek in Ps 7:7-8; 82:1; Is 61:1-3!

Following this well-known biblical basis it would be shortsighted for us today, if not exegetically unsound, to confuse the agent with the sender.