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The tetragrammaton, written in Hebrew as YHVH, meaning “I am
Who am”, signified the ineffable name of God which, having
been told to Moses directly by God, was so deeply sacred
that Jews were forbidden to say it lest it sound like a
claim to be divine. Thus, in prayer, they called God Adonai
(your Majesty) or Elohim (God, in the royal plural). When
our Lord said “Before Abraham was, I AM” He was thus saying
to the Jews very directly that He was God. Catholics used to
have a great reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus so that
they bowed whenever it was said but, alas, now, many have
become careless.