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08-13-06-The Names of God-El Shaddai

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Elohim—Sovereign Creator and Ruler of the Universe, Jehovah/Yahweh/Yah—The Self Existent One--“I AM WHO I AM” who chose to make covenant with man so as to bring redemption to him.  These are the names and revelations of God’s character that we have looked at so far.  It is impossible to describe God in one word or name, so He used many different names to give revelations of Himself to mankind. 

In revealing Himself to Moses as Jehovah, God made a statement that prior to this time He was known as God Almighty, but Moses would know Him as LORD (Jehovah). 

¨     Exodus 6:3 (NIV) I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by My name the Lord (Jehovah) I did not make Myself known to them.

This verse tells us that to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or what we call the patriarchs, God was know by the name God Almighty or in the Hebrew El Shaddai.  So let’s look at where this name is revealed to them.  God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans (modern Iraq) when he was 75 (Gen 12:4) and promised to make him a great nation (Gen 12:2), to make his seed as the dust of the earth (Gen 13:16) and like the stars of heaven (Gen 15:5).  Abram believed God when He made these promises to him (Gen 15:6), but years had passed and there was still no sign of the fulfillment—i.e. no son as an heir, let alone an innumerable number of children.  So after 11 years without a son (Gen 16:16), Abram took things into his own hands and Ishmael (from which we have Arabs & the Muslim religion) was born from his wife’s maid, Hagar.   Then 13 years later, God appears to Abram at a time when humanly it was impossible for him or Sarai to have children.

¨     Genesis 17:1-2 (NIV) 1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord (Jehovah) appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty (El Shaddai); walk before Me and be blameless. 2 I will confirm My covenant between Me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

God was confirming His promise to Abram in a way that He was showing him that nothing is impossible for Jehovah.  It is in this context that God reveals Himself to Abram as El Shaddai, or God Almighty.  But what does El Shaddai mean?  The word almighty suggests all powerful, or power to be able to do anything and everything at any time.  This is true and we have already seen this revelation in His name Elohim or the word El.  So God would not have been saying I am Almighty Almighty (El Almighty).  Therefore we must look further to understand the word Shaddai.

7706 שַׁדַּי [Shadday /shad·dah·ee/] n m dei. From 7703; TWOT 2333; GK 8724; 48 occurrences; AV translates as “Almighty” 48 times. 1 almighty, most powerful. 1a Shaddai, the Almighty (of God).[i]

8724 שַׁדַּי (shaday): [oth n.masc.]; ≡ Str 7706; TWOT 2333—1. LN 12.1-12.42 (title) the Almighty, i.e., a title for the true God, often with a focus on the power to complete promises of blessing and prosperity (Ge 49:25; Nu 24:4, 16; Ru 1:20, 21; Job 5:17; 6:4, 14; 8:3, 5; 11:7; 13:3; 15:25; 21:15, 20; 22:3, 17, 23, 25, 26; 23:16; 24:1; 27:2, 10, 11, 13; 29:5; 31:2, 35; 32:8; 33:4; 34:10, 12; 35:13; 37:23; 40:2; Ps 68:15[EB 14]; 91:1; Isa 13:6; Eze 1:24; Joel 1:15+); 2. LN 12.1-12.42 unit: אֵל שַׁדַּי (˒el shaday) God Almighty, i.e., a title for the one true God (Ge 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; Ex 6:3; Eze 10:5+)[ii]

Let’s look at the context again of this scripture.  What was the problem that Abram was dealing with?  No son or heir.  God had promised to make his seed fruitful (dust of the earth and stars of the heavens), yet there were no children—not one.  Abram had tried to make it happen and that turned out to be a big mess.  So naturally what does Abram need at this point to see God’s promise fulfilled—a son (at least one to get started with)?  Now look again at Gen 17:2 and notice what God said He would do as a result of the revelation He was giving Abram: “and will greatly increase your numbers.”  God is revealing to Abram that He is the God who will bless Abram, the one who can produce the seed that he needs to continue his lineage.  God could have chose to reveal Himself to Abram as Righteousness (Jehovah Tsidkenu), Peace (Jehovah Shalom) or any other name that He has, but He chose the name El Shaddai because this is the name that fit the need of Abram. 

El Shaddai is the name by which God revealed himself to Abram when cutting the covenant (Gen. 17:1) and to Jacob at Bethel (35:11; 48:3).

¨     Gen 35:11-12 (NIV) And God said to him (Jacob), 11 “I am God Almighty (El Shaddai); be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”

¨     Gen 48:3-4 (NIV) 3 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty (El Shaddai) appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me 4 and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and will increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

The name is used in blessings by Isaac (28:3) and Jacob (43:14). Jacob on his death bed blesses his sons and says concerning Joseph:

¨     Gen 49:24-25 (NIV) 24 But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, 25 because of your father’s God (Elohim), who helps you, because of the Almighty (Shaddai), who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb.

Notice how Jacob describes the blessings that come from El Shaddai—blessings from heaven, from below, and from the breast and womb.  Jacob knew his God as El Shaddai

In these appearances by El Shaddai to Abram, Isaac, & Jacob, God promises to bless them and make them fruitful increasing their numbers (Gen 17:2; 26:24; 35:12; 48:4; 49:25).  Another interesting fact is that God changed their names (Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel) because He called them what He was declaring them to be under His blessings. 

From looking at the scriptures there can be no denying the fact that when El Shaddai comes on the scene He promises to bless abundantly.  It is God as El (Elohim—sovereign mighty ruler, creator), but it is God as Shaddai who abundantly blesses with all kinds of blessings.

That leads us to a greater understanding of the name, because the word Shaddai is connected with the word for breast or mountain (just as Jacob declared above).  So Shaddai means one who nourishes, supplies, or satisfies.  Now adding the El in front of Shaddai means that El Shaddai is “the One mighty to nourish, supply, or satisfy.”  Naturally with God the idea would be intensified, so El Shaddai is “the one who brings forth and pours out sustenance and blessing.”  So El Shaddai is the all sufficient, all bountiful One who blesses.

Now friends, there is a characteristic of God here that we don’t want to miss.  Let me clearly state that God is our Father (Rom 8:15), so there is no confusion on what I am about to say.  There is a maternal side of God that is hard to describe, but is very important.  I did not say He was female (nor is He male), but I am talking about attributes or characteristics that we see in a mother.  Who comforts best a mother or a father?  When you had a bo-bo as a child who did you run to first—mom or dad?  Usually, it is the mother because she is built by God to care and comfort for her child.   Her breasts are designed to nourish her baby, but there is also something comforting about lying on her breasts and hearing her heartbeat.  Now listen to an amazing scripture:

¨     Isaiah 66:10-13 (NIV) “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her.  11 For you will nurse and be satisfied at her comforting breasts; you will drink deeply and delight in her overflowing abundance.” 12 For this is what the Lord says: “I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled (bounced) on her knees. 13 As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.”

This prophecy was made at a time when the kingdom of Israel was divided (Israel-North, Judah-South) and the northern kingdom of Israel had been carried away into captivity by Assyria.  It is a promise that one day Israel will be restored and there will a time of great rejoicing.  But look at the language that is used to describe the relationship between God and Israel.  These are words that we would normally attribute to a mother and in fact in vs. 13 He clearly says “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”  So God is describing Himself as a mother to Israel. In other words He is El Shaddai!

So what I am saying is that in the name El Shaddai there is the tender loving care and comfort that provides for our needs and abundantly blesses us.  Now I ask you if God were all powerful (which He is) and did not have this tender side to Him, what would we do when we sin?  We would run and hide in fear and shame (just like Adam and Eve did in the garden) because we would know that we did wrong and would expect to be punished.  However, because of the loving, tender side of God we can have forgiveness for our sins.  Instead of running away from Him, we should run to Him and let Him take us in His arms and comfort us!   Now we must not forget that God is holy and that He cannot stand sin, but we must also remember that He is a God of grace and mercy.  If He were not, none of us would have a chance because of our sin nature.

I want to put scripture to this thought from the New Testament to show that God is the same El Shaddai today that He was in the time of the Patriarchs.  Today the Holy Spirit is our Comforter.  Jesus told His disciples at the last supper that He was going to the Father so He could send the Holy Spirit to live in us and be our Paraclete—Helper, Intercessor, Comforter:

¨     John 14: 16-17 (NIV) And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.—Comforter (AMP, ASV, NKJV, KJV, NASB-margin)

The Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that lives inside us when we get born-again.  He is the one who intercedes for us, who teaches us, who leads us, who trains us in righteous living.  He is the one who convicts when we sin.  He is the part of El Shaddai that loving comforts us when we need it.

¨     2 Cor 1:3-5 (NIV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

El Shaddai is the God of all comfort.  He always has been and always will be the God of all comfort.  It is through Christ that His (El Shaddai’s) comfort flows to us.

The other characteristic of El Shaddai is that He abundantly blesses us.  He is the all sufficient one who abundantly blesses.  Deut 28 is the chapter that talks about abundant blessings for those who obey the Lord.  The parallel to that passage is found in Phil 4:19:

¨     And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

El Shaddai will meet all our needs because that is who He is.  Jesus taught about Him while He was on the earth:

¨     Matt 6:31-33 (NIV) So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father (El Shaddai) knows that you need them. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

¨     John 10:10 (NIV) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (abundantly-- KJV, NKJV, NASB).

Jesus came so that we could have an abundant life.  That is because abundance is the characteristic of El Shaddai, the Father.

¨     Eph 3:20-21 (NIV) 20 Now to Him (El Shaddai) who is able to do immeasurably (exceeding abundantly-NASB) more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Jesus told us that we must become like little children if we want to enter into the kingdom of God (Matt 18:3).  What do you need today?  Run into the arms of El Shaddai and find all that you need!  Boldly run to His throne room of grace and receive the grace and mercy that you need (Heb 4:16)!  Do you need peace?  Run to the Prince of Peace.  Do you need Hope?  Run to the God of Hope (Rom 15:13).  Do you need Healing?  Run to Jehovah-Rophe our Healer and receive your healing by the stripes on Jesus’ back.  Do you need His comfort and strength today—run into His loving arms and feel His comfort and strength flood over you!   Whatever you need today, it is all waiting for you in the loving arms of El Shaddai and He wants to bless you abundantly with it because that is His nature as the All Sufficient One!


n n: noun

m m: masculine

dei dei: deity

TWOT Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament

GK Goodrick-Kohlenberger

AV Authorized Version

[i]Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the test of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (H7706). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.

n. noun, or nouns

pr. proper (i.e., not common, but very limited in scope)

oth others, other sources

masc. masculine

Str Strong’s Lexicon

TWOT Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament

LN Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon

EB English Bible versification

+ More references in bhs

[ii]Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.) (HGK8724). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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