We can take great comfort in the certain knowledge that God’s name (YHWH) is a verb, and not a noun or an adjective. God’s self-description in Exodus 3 is not static but active, appropriate to the God who is on the move, the God who journeys, and who sends his beloved on journeys, who takes all our attempts to be and become static and sends. YHWH is an archaic form of the verb “to be;” and when all the commentaries are taken into account, there remain but three outstanding possibilities of interpretation, none of them mutually exclusive.
First, I am who am. This is the interpretation of the Septuagint, which because it is so close to the ancients, holds some unquestionable authority. Thomas Acquinas used this translation in the 13th century to formulate his theology of God as the only being whose existence is Existence, all other beings being contingent on God, who is Being itself. A more precise translation is, “I am who causes (things) to be” – that is, I am the Creator.
Second, I am who I am. Or in other words, none of your business. God cannot be controlled by me when I invoke his name, as if God were a household god, like so much of what surrounded Moses in his day.
Third, I will be-there with you. Here the emphasis is on God’s continuing presence in his creation. God is being-there with us.
Addendum: When I attempt to say the name of God (YHWH) without vowels, I find myself breathing in and then out, with emphasis, and thus God becomes the very breathe of life.