The Names of God: Jehovah-Jireh

Learn about the Lord God our Provider.

Jehovah-Jireh-Name-of-God
"The sacrifice of Isaac," 1603-1604, by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610). (c) DEA Picture Library / Getty Images

Throughout the Bible, there are dozens of unique words and phrases used to identify and describe the Being we know as "God." These different words and phrases come from multiple languages and are often used in very specific situations -- yet they all describe the same Deity: God.

In other words, God has dozens of different names. [Note: You can click here to read about why God has so many names. And click here to see a quick list of those names and their meanings.

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In this article, we'll look specifically at a name revealed during a very important -- and very tense -- moment of the Old Testament. That name is Jehovah-Jireh.

What It Means

Jehovah-Jireh is one of God's compound names, which means it involves two words joined together to create a new and unique name for God.

In this case, the compound starts with the word Jehovah, which is one of the most important of God's names throughout the Bible. Jehovah is the name God used to reveal Himself to Moses and the people of Israel; it means "I Am That I Am." The second word in this compound name is Jireh (or Yireh), which comes from the Hebrew root word meaning "to see."

When you put both words together, the name Jehovah-Jireh means "The LORD will see to it." Or, as it's more commonly translated, "The LORD will provide."

[Note: If you've ever wondered why the Bible sometimes uses "LORD" in reference to God instead of "Lord," you can find the answer here.

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Examples

Most of God's compound names were born out of important moments in the Bible when God's servants wanted to express something unique about His character. Jehovah-Jireh is an excellent example of this phenomenon. Specifically, Abraham first used that name after God commanded him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac -- and then miraculously provided a new sacrifice in Isaac's place.

We typically think of that story as a measuring rod for Abraham's faith, and it was. But the story also highlights God's role as the One who provides for our needs.

If you're not familiar with the story, it begins with these troubling words:

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Genesis 22:1-2

God's instructions seem terrible for the simple matter of commanding a father to kill his son. But there was even more involved for Abraham. Isaac was the fulfillment of God's promise that He would build a great nation of people through Abraham's descendants. Therefore, to kill Isaac was to destroy a dream that Abraham had literally waited decades to come true (see Genesis 12:1-3 and 21:5).

Thankfully, the Scriptures make it clear in Genesis 22:1 that God was testing Abraham. He did not want Abraham to follow through with the murder. In fact, He did not allow Abraham to follow through with it:

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.
Genesis 22:9-13

We find the name Jehovah-Jireh in the very next verse:

So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide [Jehovah-Jireh]. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
Genesis 22:14

As a side note, it may seem cruel when we think about God testing Abraham in this way. It's certainly surprising. Yet when we think of this story in light of the entire scope of God's Word, we see it as another picture of God's amazing grace and provision.

The place where Abraham offered his son was Mount Moriah. Today, we know that same place as Mount Zion, or Jerusalem. That means nearly two thousand years after Abraham was spared from sacrificing Isaac, God allowed Himself to be sacrificed on the cross. Jesus -- the Lamb of God -- was killed on that same mountain. His death opened the door for all people to receive the gift of eternal life.

How appropriate, then, that Abraham had already named that place "the Lord Will Provide."