In the Old Testament, the most common name of God was designated by four Hebrew letters (ההוי), commonly transliterated into Latin letters as “YHWH.” It comes from the Hebrew verb hayah, which means “to be.” God introduced himself to Moses this way, as recorded in the book of Exodus, “I Am who I Am…. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to generations and generations.” (Exodus 3:14,15b)  Hebrew originally didn’t include any vowels in its written form, so “YHWH” could have been pronounced any number of ways in ancient times, depending on the vowel sounds added. The terms Yahweh and Jehovah were the most common renderings. In English, YHWH is usually translated “Lord” (all capital letters), as it became tradition for Jews to substitute the word adonai (Hebrew for “lord”) instead of YHWH. However, the original name for God is literally “I Am.”

El is another common name for God, which is translated as “god,” and could refer to the Jewish God or any pagan god. This name is incorporated into the name Israel, which translates to “God strives.” Alternately, Elohim is the plural form of El, which is thought to convey an intensified version of the word, or refer to the three-part nature of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), or even describe God together with his angels.