A photo of an ancient stone tablet inscribed with the words "I AM WHO I AM" - a powerful representation of God's response to Moses when asked about His name.

What Did God Tell Moses His Name Was?

The story of Moses and the burning bush is one of the most iconic stories from the Bible. When Moses encounters the burning bush that is not consumed by flame in the Book of Exodus, he also encounters God. Many readers wonder – what name did God give to Moses when Moses asked who he was?

We’ll explore the significance of the name, what God says before and after revealing his name, and the greater context of this name within Exodus and the religion of the ancient Israelites.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: When Moses asks for God’s name at the burning bush, God answers ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ He then tells Moses that when the Israelites ask the name of the God of their ancestors, Moses should tell them ‘I AM’ has sent you (Exodus 3:14).

The Context Leading Up to God Revealing His Name

Moses’ Encounter at the Burning Bush

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro when he came upon a burning bush that was not being consumed by the flames (Exodus 3:1-3). As Moses approached to investigate this strange sight, God called out to him from the bush and told him to remove his sandals, as he was standing on holy ground.

God then identified Himself to Moses as the God of his ancestors – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

At this encounter, God told Moses that He had “indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt” and that He was sending Moses to Pharaoh to bring the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3:7-10). Even though Moses felt inadequate for the task, God assured him that He would be with him.

Still, Moses asked what he should say if the Israelites asked the name of the God who had sent him. This sets the stage for God to reveal His name.

Moses’ Calling and Mission

God specifically chose Moses to go before Pharaoh and demand the release of the Israelites from slavery. Even though Moses was “slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10), God insisted that Moses was the one to accomplish this vital task.

God even got angry at Moses when he tried to decline the calling based on his own perceived inadequacies (Exodus 4:13-14). Yet God promised Moses that his brother Aaron could speak for him and He equipped Moses with the staff and power to perform miracles before Pharaoh.

Still, Moses knew that both the Israelites and Pharaoh would demand to know the name of the God who had sent him on this mission. By asking God directly for His name, Moses was essentially asking for God’s credentials to validate the authority behind his calling.

God’s response would establish His identity as the one true God to all parties involved.

The Significance of God’s Name in Exodus

The Name ‘I AM WHO I AM’

In Exodus 3, when Moses asks God what His name is, God replies “I AM WHO I AM.” This divine name reveals that God is the eternal, self-existent One who is unchanging and present at all times. He is the source of all life and existence (Exodus 3:14).

This name connects to God’s promise to be with Israel and deliver them from Egypt, showing His compassion and covenant faithfulness. God affirms His presence and relationship with His people by giving them His personal name.

Connection to ‘I AM’ Throughout Exodus

The “I AM” name also connects to statements God makes throughout Exodus where He declares “I am Yahweh” or “I am the Lord.” He assures Israel “I am Yahweh your God” (Exodus 6:7), and says “I am Yahweh your healer” (Exodus 15:26).

During the plagues on Egypt, God distinguishes between the Egyptians and Israelites by repeatedly affirming “I am Yahweh” (Exodus 6:2, 29, etc.). The “I AM” name affirms God’s power over all creation and presence with His covenant people.

The Divine Name as Israel’s Heritage

Knowing God’s personal name was part of Israel’s unique covenant relationship with Him. In Exodus 3:15 God tells Moses to refer to Him forever by this name with the Israelites. The “I AM” name became sacred for Israel. In Exodus 20:7, God commands Israel not to misuse His name.

According to Exodus 3:13-15, the divine name was given to Israel as an eternal memorial, often invoked in blessings and oaths (Deuteronomy 6:13). This set them apart from the nations. God’s covenant name assured the Israelites of His abiding presence with them (Exodus 33:14-16).

What the Name ‘I AM’ Signifies About God

A God Who Is Always Present

When God told Moses that His name was “I AM,” He was revealing that He is the eternal, self-existing, ever-present God who is always with His people (Exodus 3:14). Throughout Scripture, God affirms that He is always present, seeing all things and sustaining all of creation by His power (Psalm 139:7-10).

This is an amazing comfort to believers. No matter what happens, God is always right there with us.

The Eternal, Unchanging God

“I AM” also reveals that God is eternal and unchanging in His nature and character. While the world around us shifts and changes every day, God remains the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

No matter what storms we face in life, we can anchor our hope and trust in His unchanging promises and faithfulness towards those who love Him.

A God Who Keeps His Promises

In revealing His name as “I AM,” God affirmed to Moses and the people of Israel that He is the same God who made promises to their forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He is the covenant-keeping God who never forgets or forsakes His promises (Deuteronomy 7:9).

This name assured them of His presence and favor as they faced slavery in Egypt and their journey to the Promised Land. It reminds believers today that we too can fully rely on God’s promises. When God says “I AM,” He is saying “You can count on me. “ What an awesome, trustworthy God we serve!


When God reveals his name of ‘I AM WHO I AM’ to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3, it signifies a major turning point for Moses and the Israelites. The name connects God’s constant presence and eternal nature with his promises to save his chosen people.

As God tells Moses to let the Israelites know ‘I AM’ has sent him to deliver them from slavery, the name forms a cornerstone of Israelite heritage and faith in God’s faithfulness across their generations.

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