Why does Moses ask God’s name? The rules for Divine encounters are pretty clearly established by this point in the Bible. Asking an angel their name is something you should definitely not do. Asking God’s name would seem unthinkable. And yet, here in Parashat Shemot, immediately after encountering God at the Burning Bush, Moses does just that:
Moses said to God: “When I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is God’s name?’ what shall I say to them?” And God said to Moses, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh,” continuing, “Thus shall you say to the Israelites: ‘Ehyeh sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13–14)
Moses asks God’s name, but not directly. It is a more clever ask than, “What is Your Name?”Moses asks what he should say if the Israelites ask him “What is God’s name.” God’s answer is an equally clever response: Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, “I will be Who I will be.”
There is no record that Moses ever reports this name to the Israelites. Maybe Moses was just asking for himself all along. But, what Moses learned from God’s answer is something each of us can learn as well: Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh, “I am in the process of becoming who I am.”
It is when we recognize our ability to be the best we can be, that we begin to see more fully the image of God within us all.