The Meaning of Exodus 6:3 Explained

Exodus 6:3

KJV: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.

YLT: and I appear unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty; as to My name Jehovah, I have not been known to them;

Darby: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as the Almighty God; but by my name Jehovah I was not made known to them.

ASV: and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty; but by my name Jehovah I was not known to them.

What does Exodus 6:3 Mean?

Context Summary

Exodus 6:2-9 - God's Name Confirms His Promises
The statement of Exodus 6:3 is at first sight, startling, because we remember several passages in Genesis where that sacred name appears. But this arises from the fact that much of Genesis was composed long after the people had left these sad experiences behind them; and it was natural to apply to God the name which was familiar to them all at the time of writing. To the patriarchs God was El, the Strong; to their descendants he was the unchanging Jehovah, who fulfilled promises made centuries before. See Malachi 3:6. Notice the seven I wills, and the three I AMs. How often with us, as with Israel in Exodus 6:9, our faith and hope are hindered by physical or temporal circumstances. But our God knows our frame and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. Therefore He can make allowances. [source]

Chapter Summary: Exodus 6

1  God renews his promise by his name JEHOVAH
9  Moses vainly attempts to encourage the Israelites
10  He and Aaron are again sent to Pharaoh
14  Genealogies of Reuben, Simeon and Levi, of whom came Moses and Aaron
26  The history resumed

What do the individual words in Exodus 6:3 mean?

and I appeared to Abraham Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty but [by] My name Yahweh not I was known to them
וָאֵרָ֗א אֶל־ אַבְרָהָ֛ם יִצְחָ֥ק וְאֶֽל־ יַעֲקֹ֖ב בְּאֵ֣ל שַׁדָּ֑י וּשְׁמִ֣י יְהוָ֔ה לֹ֥א נוֹדַ֖עְתִּי לָהֶֽם

וָאֵרָ֗א  and  I  appeared 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Nifal, Consecutive imperfect, first person common singular
Root: רָאָה 
Sense: to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider.
אַבְרָהָ֛ם  Abraham 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: אַבְרָהָם  
Sense: friend of God and founder of Hebrew nation via God’s elective covenant.
יִצְחָ֥ק  Isaac 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יִצְחָק  
Sense: son of Abraham by Sarah his wife and father of Jacob and Esau.
וְאֶֽל־  and  to 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Preposition
Root: אֶל  
Sense: to, toward, unto (of motion).
יַעֲקֹ֖ב  Jacob 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יַעֲקֹב  
Sense: son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, and father of the 2 patriarchs of the tribes of Israel.
בְּאֵ֣ל  as  God 
Parse: Preposition-b, Noun, masculine singular
Root: אֵל 
Sense: god, god-like one, mighty one.
שַׁדָּ֑י  Almighty 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: שַׁדַּי  
Sense: almighty, most powerful.
וּשְׁמִ֣י  but  [by]  My  name 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, masculine singular construct, first person common singular
Root: שֵׁם  
Sense: name.
יְהוָ֔ה  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
נוֹדַ֖עְתִּי  I  was  known 
Parse: Verb, Nifal, Perfect, first person common singular
Root: דָּעָה 
Sense: to know.
לָהֶֽם  to  them 
Parse: Preposition, third person masculine plural