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EL SHADDAI: Old Testament Names of God

Updated: Sep 10, 2022

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to take a deep dive into our third Old Testament name of God, EL SHADDAI, as found in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible.

(el shad-di') All-Sufficient One, Lord God Almighty

Use in the Bible: In the Old Testament El Shaddai occurs 7 times. El Shaddai is first used in Gen 17:1.

Variant spellings: None

TWOT Reference: 2333

Strong's Reference: H7706

El Shaddai in the Septuagint: theou saddai - God Shaddai; pantokratôr (for Shaddai) - the Almighty

EL SHADDAI, EL SHADDAY: ĕl shăd’ ī (אֵ֣ל שַׁדַּ֔י, God of the mountain(s) or God Almighty). An epithet of God in the patriarchal narratives and as an archaism in many poetic passages of the OT.

Meaning and Derivation: El is another name that is translated as God and can be used in conjunction with other words to designate various aspects of God's character. Another word much like Shaddai, and from which many believe it derived, is shad meaning breast in Hebrew (some other scholars believe that the name is derived from an Akkadian word Šadu, meaning mountain, suggesting strength and power). This refers to God completely nourishing, satisfying, and supplying His people with all their needs as a mother would her child. Connected with the word for God, El, this denotes a God who freely gives nourishment and blessing, He is our sustainer.

Further references of the name El Shaddai in the Old Testament: Genesis 17:1; Genesis 28:3; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 43:14; Genesis 48:3 El Shaddai through the Old Testament We discover El Shaddai throughout the years of the Patriarchs. Although the surrounding nations had many gods, the Hebrews had one, the Almighty. We see this name for God in Genesis 17:1 when Abraham spoke with God, and also in Genesis 28:3 and 35:11. Jacob asked God Almighty for mercy for his sons concerning their brother Joseph. Later, he described to Joseph how the Almighty appeared to him at Luz. God told Moses of His encounters with Abraham and Jacob as God Almighty, and He added a new name in Exodus 6:2-3—the LORD. Ezekiel also mentioned God’s might and power. There is considerable debate surrounding the name Shaddai. Among Christians, the most common interpretation of Shaddai today is mighty, and El Shaddai would translate to God Almighty. Coinciding with this, one suggested root meaning for El Shaddai is The Overpowerer, meaning God will do what He purposes to do, overpowering all opposition.

This calls attention to the Lord’s sovereign might to do whatever He purposes to do (Exodus 15:6; Matthew 19:26). The qualification, whatever He purposes to do, is important, for the orthodox doctrine of omnipotence does not mean that God would do everything and anything. For example, He cannot tempt anyone with evil (James 1:13), nor does He do anything that would violate one of His other attributes. God’s knowledge is not limited in any way, for instance, because that would violate His omniscience (Isaiah 46:8–10; 1 John 3:20). Finally, the Lord’s strength is perfect, it can neither be augmented nor diminished (James 1:16–17), and no one can stop Him from accomplishing His will (Psalm 115:3). Some interpret Shaddai as sufficient, and God is the All-sufficient One. Either interpretation—mighty or sufficient—works for me, because the Almighty is the God who is enough! He is more than sufficient to meet any need. He is power and provision. In great compassion, He sustains, nourishes and protects us. He takes our weaknesses and gives us strength. He takes our inadequate resources and in His sufficiency uses them for His great and powerful purposes. Yet another possible meaning of El Shaddai is The God of the Mountain. Some Messianic teachers say Shaddai comes from the Akkadian word shaddu, meaning mountain. God lives in heaven, but He also inhabited a mountain top—Mount Sinai. It was on this mountain Moses met with God and received the Ten Commandments. It might be argued God’s presence on that mountain reminded the Israelites of His power and provision. The God of the Mountain was the same God who mightily led His people from Egypt and appeared to them as a cloud by day and a fire at night. He is the God who expected obedience to His commands, and swiftly and powerfully took action against those who rebelled and ignored His will. As we have said, the name El Shaddai is found in Job more than any other book of Scripture. This is not unexpected since Job himself gets a particularly clear revelation of God’s power (Job 38–42). Though he spends most of the book seeking to question Him, God’s display of wisdom and power forces Job to be silent (Job 40:3–5).

The Bible frequently borrows Semitic words from the surrounding culture of its day and invests them with new meaning. Therefore, tracing the use of the term in pagan contexts can help us understand why certain terms are used and not others. In this case, there is a lot of debate over the name El Shaddai. Some believe it originally meant something like the thunderer, reflecting paganism’s frequent identification of weather patterns with specific gods. Given what Scripture tells us about the Lord, it is not surprising this title would be used to describe His power. Of course, the Bible differs with paganism in affirming that God is not to be identified with the created order. He rules over creation and is not Himself subject to it (Gen. 1).

May we establish, nurture, and grow a sincere love for the word of God, and study it lovingly & faithfully.

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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