The Septuagint is a Greek version of the Old Testament, and the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew (and small parts in Aramaic). The Septuagint had already existed long before Christ was born, and it was the translation that Jesus himself used when he walked as a man on earth. Therefore it’s very interesting to see how the holy Spirit has rendered the translation of God’s word in the Septuagint. See for instance biblehub.com.
Exodus 3:14: And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I AM 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
John 10:33 The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for BLASPHEMY; and because that thou, being a man, MAKEST THYSELF GOD.
The main claim by those who deny the Deity of Jesus (such as muslims and Jehova’s witnesses), is that since the Greek translation is ”ho on”, then John 8:58 doesn’t prove that Jesus is God because of the slightly different wording of that verse compared with Ex. 3:14. The Hebrew word ehyeh derives from the verb root hayah meaning ”to be”, and the Septuagint translates ehyeh asher ehyeh of Exodus 3:14 into Greek as ”ego eimi ho on” (compare with John 8:58). This earliest of all translations thus associates Exodus 3:14 with the concept of absolute existence. The Septuagint translation can of course not be an exact rendering of the Hebrew.
Translating ehyeh as ”I am” presents a interpretational difficulty since the word is not followed by WHAT he is, but the same difficulty applies when translating it as ”I will be”. Will be WHAT? The crucial difference between the two options is that whereas the words ”I am” standing alone can be understood as God’s self-designation, the ”I will be” cannot. When it comes to the Jewish Bible translations produced during the last 2300 years, there has been no consensus as to how the Exodus 3:14 should be translated, but fortunately we do have the Septuagint – translated by holy men of God. Moreover, it was not only God who spoke in the bush but the angel of the Lord, and the angel of the Lord is likely JESUS CHRIST – or else we are stuck with numerous Bible contradictions. (Note, that the angel of the Lord is not a created angel.)
Just because the two expressions are different doesn’t mean that they are different in meaning, and both expressions are basically synonymous in meaning since they point to the timeless existence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why couldn’t for instance ”the eternal God, the alpha and the omega” and ”the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end”, be about the same person even though the words are slightly different? Had Jesus wished to say that he merely existed for a long time before Abraham—he could have said so by using the imperfect tense emen instead of the present tense eimi, and thus be saying ”Before Abraham came into existence, I was”, but he didn’t say that.
If you find different renderings of John 8:58, it’s due to translators’ attempts to best express the Greek construction into the other language. We should be careful to not claim that a translation is ”wrong” if there are different ways to convey the original meaning. Should the interpreter translate an expression by using a word for word translation (with the risk to confuse the reader), or should he instead try to convey the true meaning? If you’re unsure of the translation, then go to the original languages (Hebrew or Greek), to see the original expressions used, and also make a comparison with the Septuagint. However, no one should be required to study a foreign language in order to understand the Bible – which contains God’s simple words for his people. Exodus 3:14 is hardly the only Biblical reference to Jesus as God.
The Septuagint (the OT in Greek) equals ”ego eimi” with God the Creator
Deut. 32:39 See now that I, EVEN I, AM HE (ego eimi LXX), and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.
Isaiah 41:4 Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he (ego eimi LXX).—10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.—13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
Isaiah 43:10 Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I AM HE (ego eimi LXX)(ego eimi ego eimi – I AM I AM LXX) that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
Isaiah 46:4 And even to your old age I am he (ego eimi LXX); and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.5 To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?
Isaiah 48:12 Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.13 Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.—15 I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.16 Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me.17 Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
Isaiah 51:12 I, even I, am he (ego eimi ego eimi – I AM I AM LXX) that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
Isaiah 52:6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he (ego eimi LXX) hat doth speak: behold, it is I.
According to these passages Yahweh can say that he is the I AM because:
- He gives life
- He sustains and delivers
- No one can deliver out of his hands
- He is from ancient of days
- He forgives and blots out sins
- He alone declares the future and brings it to pass
- He comforts his people
Compare his claims with the claims of the Jesus
- He gives eternal life
- He raises the dead
- He sustains and delivers
- He is able to prevent anyone from delivering out of his hands
- He preserves believers from perishing
- He came down from heaven, i.e is from ancient of days
- He predicts the future and has it come to pass
- He forgives and blots out sins
- He gives comfort to his people
John. 6:16 And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.20 But he saith unto them, It is I (ego eimi); be not afraid.21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.
Matt. 8:24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
Ps. 107:24 These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.28 Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.31 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Matt. 14:24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. (not known KJV)
John 8:23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he (ego eimi), ye shall die in your sins.25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.—28 So Jesus said, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.
John 13:18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he (ego eimi).20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
The 10 times ”ego eimi” is used without a predicate in John
- John 4:26 Jesus said to her ”I who speak to you am He [ego eimi].”
- John 6:20 But He said to them, ”It is I [ego eimi]; do not be afraid.”
- John 8:24 ”I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am [ego eimi], you shall die in your sins.”
- John 8:28 Jesus therefore said, ”When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [ego eimi]”
- John 8:58 Jesus said to them, ”Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am. [ego eimi]”
- John 9:9 He kept saying, ”I am [ego eimi] the one.”
- John 13:19 ”From now on I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am” [ego eimi].
- John 18:5 They answered Him, ”Jesus the Nazarene.” He *said to them, ”I am [ego eimi].” And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them.
- John 18:6 When therefore He said to them, ”I am,” [ego eimi] they drew back, and fell to the ground.
- John 18:8 Jesus answered, ”I told you that I am [ego eimi]; if therefore you seek Me, let these go their way,”
Lightfoot (see Biblehub) suggests that the occurrences of the absolute ”ego eimi” in John 8 and 13.19 should be translated ”I am”, since the two words in the Greek are the same as those of the LXX in certain OT passages, like Deut. 32.39 and Is. 46.4 where God is the speaker, and thus confirms his Godhead.
Do read this article about the pre-existence of Jesus before the creation of the world.
In Exodus it is the Angel who is identified as Yahweh and the great I AM
Deut. 33:13 And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath,—16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.
Malachi 3:1 states that the temple belongs to the Angel of the covenant, i.e. ”the Lord who you are seeking will come to his temple.” This again proves that the Angel is Yahweh. Malachi also calls this Angel ”the Lord” which in Hebrew is Ha Adon, and this is never used for anyone other than Yahweh. The fact that Malachi had no problem applying this title to the Angel demonstrates that Malachi believed that this Angel was God. There are even some Jewish sources that link Malachi 3:1 to Exodus 23:20-23:
”BEHOLD, I SEND AN ANGEL. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: ‘He who guarded the patriarchs will also guard the children’; for so you find in the case of Abraham that when he blessed his son Isaac, he said: The L-rd, the G-d of heaven … He will send His angel before thee (Gen. xxiv, 7). And what did Jacob say to his children? ‘The angel who hath redeemed me from all evil, etc. (ibid. xlviii, 16). He hath redeemed me from the hand of Esau, from Laban, and he it was who fed and sustained me during the years of famine’ (referring all this to an angel – one sent by G-d for that particular purpose). G-d said to Moses: ‘Now also, He who guarded the fathers will protect the children,’ as it says, BEHOLD, I SEND AN ANGEL. Wherever the angel appeared, the Shechinah appeared, as it says, And the angel of the L-rd appeared unto him in a flame of fire. (Ex. iii, 2), and immediately after, it says, G-d called unto him (ibid., 4). Moreover, salvation cometh to Israel wherever they cry unto Him (whenever Israel cries unto G-d and the angel appears, he is a herald of salvation); at the thorn-bush – Behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto Me (ibid. 9); in the case of Gideon – And the angel of the L-rd came … and the angel of the L-rd appeared … and the L-rd … said: Go in this thy might, and save Israel (Judg. vi, 11-14). In the millennium, likewise, when he (the angel; he will be the herald announcing the coming of the L-rd and of true salvation) will reveal himself, salvation will come to Israel, as it says,Behold, I send My messenger, and he shall clear the way before Me (Mal. iii, i).” (Rabbi Dr. S.M. Lehrman, Midrash Rabbah: Volume III: Exodus [London: The Soncino Press, 1983], pp. 412-13)
Jewish Tradition viewed Malachi 3:1 as a prophecy of the Messiah:
The Lord is the King Messiah; He is also the Angel of the Covenant. Rabbi David Kimchi
The Lord is both the Divine Majesty, and the Angel of the Covenant, for the sentence is doubled. Aben Ezra
The Lord may be explained of the King Messiah. Mashmiah Jeshua, fol.76
For those who cannot look upon the Son Himself, behold Him in His reflected light, even thus do they regard THE IMAGE OF GOD, WHO IS HIS ANGEL, THE WORD [Logos], as God Himself. (De Plant Noe) Philo Judaeus
I AM in different languages – Ex. 3:14
Is it likely that all Hebrew and Theology scholars across the globe, all made a huge translation error?
2 Mos. 3:14 Gud sade till Mose: ”Jag är den Jag Är.” Och han sade vidare: ”Så skall du säga till Israels barn: Jag Är har sänt mig till er.” (SFB)
14 Gud sade till Mose: »Jag är den jag är.» Och han sade vidare: »Så skall du säga till Israels barn: ‘Jag är’ har sänt mig till eder. (1917)
14 Og Gud sa til Moses: Jeg er den jeg er ; og han sa: Så skal du si til Israels barn: ”Jeg er” har sendt mig til eder. (Det norsk bibelselskap 1930)
14 Þá sagði Guð við Móse: ”Ég er sá, sem ég er.” Og hann sagði: ”Svo skalt þú segja Ísraelsmönnum: ,Ég er` sendi mig til yðar.” Icelandic Bible
14 Alors Dieu dit à Moïse:—Je suis celui qui est. Puis il ajouta: Voici ce que tu diras aux Israélites: Je suis m’a envoyé vers vous. (La Bible du Semeur)
14 Dieu dit à Moïse: Je suis celui qui suis. Et il ajouta: C’est ainsi que tu répondras aux enfants d’Israël: Celui qui s’appelle «Je suis» m’a envoyé vers vous. Nouvelle Edition de Genève – NEG1979
14 Y respondió Dios a Moisés: YO SOY EL QUE SOY. Y dijo: Así dirás a los hijos de Israel: YO SOY me envió a vosotros. Reina-Valera 1960
14 Dios dijo a Moisés:— Soy el que soy.Y añadió:— Esto responderás a los israelitas: “Yo soy” me envía a ustedes. La Palabra (Hispanoamérica)
14 Gud svarede Moses: ”Jeg er den, jeg er!” Og han sagde: ”Således skal du sige til Israeliterne: JEG ER har sendt mig til eder!” (Dette er Biblen på dansk)
14 Dio disse a Mosè: «Io sono colui che sono!». Poi disse: «Dirai agli Israeliti: Io-Sono mi ha mandato a voi». (Conferenza Episcopale Italiana)
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (ESV)
14 And God answered Moses, I AM THAT I AM. Also he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. (Geneva Bible)
14 And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you. (KJV)
14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘[c]I AM has sent me to you.’” (NASB)
14 And Elohim said unto Moshe, Eh-heh-yeh ashair Ehheh- yeh (I AM WHO I AM); and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the Bnei Yisroel, EHHEH-YEH (I AM) hath sent me unto you. (Orthodox Jewish Bible)
14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (NIV)
14 Gott sprach zu Mose: “Ich bin, der ich bin!“ Und er sprach: So sollst du zu den Kindern Israel sagen:“Ich bin“, der hat mich zu euch gesandt. (Schlachter 1951)
14 ”Zijn naam is: Ik ben Die Ik ben”, was het antwoord. ”Zeg maar tegen hen: ‘Ik Ben’ heeft mij gestuurd! (Het Boek, NL)
14 Respondeu Deus a Moisés: EU SOU O QUE SOU. Disse mais: Assim dirás aos olhos de Israel: EU SOU me enviou a vós. (João Ferreira de Almeida Atualizada)
14 God said to Moshe, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am/will be what I am/will be],” and added, “Here is what to say to the people of Isra’el: ‘Ehyeh [I Am or I Will Be] has sent me to you.’ (Complete Jewish Bible)
Church fathers believed that Jesus is the I AM and God
THE FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN MARTYR
CHAPTER LXII – Its Imitation By Demons
And the devils, indeed, having heard this washing published by the prophet, instigated those who enter their temples, and are about to approach them with libations and burnt-offerings, also to sprinkle themselves; and they cause them also to wash themselves entirely, as they depart [from the sacrifice], before they enter into the shrines in which their images are set. And the command, too, given by the priests to those who enter and worship in the temples, that they take off their shoes, the devils, learning what happened to the above-mentioned prophet Moses, have given in imitation of these things. For at that juncture, when Moses was ordered to go down into Egypt and lead out the people of the Israelites who were there, and while he was tending the flocks of his maternal uncle(1) in the land of Arabia, our Christ conversed with him under the appearance of fire from a bush, and said, ”Put off thy shoes, and draw near and hear.” And he, when he had put off his shoes and drawn near, heard that he was to go down into Egypt and lead out the people of the Israelites there; and he received mighty power from Christ, who spoke to him in the appearance of fire, and went down and led out the people, having done great and marvelous things; which, if you desire to know, you will learn them accurately from his writings.’
CHAPTER LXIII – How God Appeared To Moses
And all the Jews even now teach that the nameless God spake to Moses; whence the Spirit of prophecy, accusing them by Isaiah the prophet mentioned above, said ‘The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib; but israel doth not know Me, and My people do not understand.'(2) And Jesus the Christ, because the Jews knew not what the Father was, and what the Son, in like manner accused them; and Himself said, ‘No one knoweth the Father, but the Son; nor the Son, but the Father, and they to whom the Son revealeth Him.'(3) Now the Word of God is His Son, as we have before said. And He is called Angel and Apostle; for He declares whatever we ought to know, and is sent forth to declare whatever is revealed; as our Lord Himself says, ‘He that heareth Me, heareth Him that sent Me.'(4) From the writings of Moses also this will be manifest; for thus it is written in them, And the Angel of God spake to Moses, in a flame of fire out of the bush, and said, I am that I am, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of thy fathers; go down into Egypt, and bring forth My people.'(5) And if you wish to learn what follows, you can do so from the same writings; for it is impossible to relate the whole here. But so much is written for the sake of proving that Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and His Apostle, being of old the Word, and appearing sometimes in the form of fire, and sometimes in the likeness of angels; but now, by the will of God, having become man for the human race, He endured all the sufferings which the devils instigated the senseless Jews to inflict upon Him; who, though they have it expressly affirmed in the writings of Moses, ‘And the angel of God spake to Moses in a flame of fire in a bush, and said, I am that I am, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,’ yet maintain that He who said this was the Father and Creator of the universe. Whence also the Spirit of prophecy rebukes them, and says, ‘Israel doth not know Me, my people have not understood Me.'(6) And again, Jesus, as we have already shown, while He was with them, said, ‘No one knoweth the Father, but the Son; nor the Son but the Father, and those to whom the Son will reveal Him.'(7) The Jews, accordingly, being throughout of opinion that it was the Father of the universe who spake to Moses, though He who spake to him was indeed the Son of God, who is called both Angel and Apostle, are justly charged, both by the Spirit of prophecy and by Christ Himself, with knowing neither the Father nor the Son. For they who affirm that the Son is the Father, are proved neither to have become acquainted with the Father, nor to know that the Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. And of old He appeared in the shape of fire and in the likeness of an angel to Moses and to the other prophets; but now in the times of your reign,(8) having, as we before said, become Man by a virgin, according to the counsel of the Father, for the salvation of those who believe on Him, He endured both to be set at nought and to suffer, that by dying and rising again He might conquer death. And that which was said out of the bush to Moses, ‘I am that I am, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and the God of your fathers,'(9) this signified that they, even though dead, are let in existence, and are men belonging to Christ Himself. For they were the first of all men to busy themselves in the search after God; Abraham being the father of Isaac, and Isaac of Jacob, as Moses wrote.
DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO
CHAPTER XXXIV – Nor Does Psalm LXXII Apply to Solomon, Whose Faults Christians Shudder at.
Further, to persuade you that you have not understood anything of the Scriptures, I will remind you of another psalm, dictated to David by the Holy Spirit, which you say refers to Solomon, who was also your king. But it refers also to our Christ. But you deceive yourselves by the ambiguous forms of speech. For where it is said, `The law of the Lord is perfect, ‘you do not understand it of the law which was to be after Moses, but of the law which was given by Moses, although God declared that He would establish a new law and a new covenant. And where it has been said, `O God, give Thy judgment to the king, ‘since Solomon was king, you say that the Psalm refers to him, although the words of the Psalm expressly proclaim that reference is made to the everlasting King, i.e., to Christ. For Christ is King, and Priest, AND GOD, AND LORD, AND ANGEL, and man, and captain, and stone, and a Son born, and first made subject to suffering, then returning to heaven, and again coming with glory, and He is preached as having the everlasting kingdom: so I prove from all the Scriptures.