In Moses’ time, God’s name was too holy to speak. One of the names for God, “Jehovah,” actually has no hard consonants, so in uttering it sounds like breath, or spirit – Ya-ho-wah. God’s name was so holy, in fact, it was forbidden to utter God’s name aloud.
Here, when Moses needs to claim God’s power as he faces a powerful and malevolent Pharaoh, God gives Moses a name he can use, (most accurately translated) “I am that I am.” In other words, “I Am.” It is not simply a God of doing, even though God was about to do a mighty thing. This is a God of being. Of existence. Of presence. This is the God that is all things, created all things, and nothing exists outside the existence of God.
What a wonderful thing to know that everything we do, say, and all that we are exists within the presence of a loving God! Never will I wander to a place where God cannot go. Never will I commit a sin that God cannot forgive. Everything that I am lives within “I Am.”
But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’: This is my name forever, and this my title for all generations.”