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1 Corinthians 9:11
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Section 10, Chapter 9
More on the Names of God
In the Bible
|Page 5 of
Fourth, His faithfulness is not
diminished by human short-comings.
When God appeared to Moses in
the burning bush, telling him to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt, poor
Moses came up with a whole list of reasons why he was the wrong man for the job.
Mosesí short comings were the following: He had no standing with either the
Israelites or the Egyptians for such an undertaking (Ex 3:11); he didnít even
know the name of the One who was sending him (3:13); he was plagued by doubts
and fears (4:1); he lacked the eloquence that most leaders possess (4:10);
finally, there was the very mundane consideration that his employer might not
release him from his responsibilities (4:18). However, God would not allow Mosesí
personal shortcomings to interfere with Israelís deliverance from Egypt. He
had made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and nothing would prevent Him
from keeping His Word. So He made provision for each of Mosesí five concerns
and the rest, as they say, is history.
El Hagadol meaning: The Great God.287
This is found in Deuteronomy 10:17: "For Yehovah361 your Elohim
is the Elohe291 of Els and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and
the awesome El359 who does not lift up faces [show partiality] nor
take a bribe." Note that all primary names for God are used here: Yehovah,
Godís proper name; Elohim, describing the composite unity of our one
God Elohe; elohim which also can be used as a plural noun to
describe the lesser gods of the nations; Adonai, Yehovah is Lord
of lords; and El, the shortened form of Elohim.
Other names used in this passage for God are
(El Hagibor) meaning The Mighty, Strong, Valiant God.288
(El Hanorah) meaning: the fearful God; dreadful, terrible, awful,
holy, marvelous, wonderful God.289 In this passage God
wants us to know that He is greater than our enemies. "You
shall fear Yehovah your Elohim; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you
shall swear by His name." (Deut 10:20)
Second, God is great because He
is not subject to human shortcomings. ". . . and the awesome
El359 who does not lift up faces [show partiality] nor take a
bribe" (Deut 10:17). With Him there is no partiality and He takes bribes
from no one. He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). he is not impressed
with wealth, influence, or social status. He doesn't care what kind of car you
drive, how many boards of directors you serve on, or how many people jump when
you say "Jump." We are all equal in God's sight. Someday when we stand
before Him, everyone will be judged on the same basis.
Third, God is great because He
defends the weak. He takes up the cause of the fatherless and the
widow, and He loves the "stranger," or the alien (v. 18). People no
one else will stand up for, God stands up for. Those who are too weak, and have
no way of defending themselves, God defends. This is what makes Him El
Hagadol, the Great God.
Note the contrast between Godís measure of greatness and
the worldís measure of greatness. The world says there are only two kinds of
peopleóthe weak and the strong, the predators and the prey. Itís like Darwinís
maxim of "survival of the fittest," or natural selection. Only the
strong survive. But what does God say? He says true greatness is measured not by
status or achievement, but by how we treat the weak and the oppressed. It is
measured by how we protect those who cannot protect themselves, and how we
provide for those who cannot provide for themselves (See Ps 146:5-9).
Fourth, God is great because His
works are great. "He is your praise and He is your Elohim,
who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.
Your fathers went down to Egypt, seventy persons in all, and now Yehovah your
Elohim has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven" (Deut 10:21-22).
The next name for God we want to discuss is
(El Shaddai) meaning: the Almighty, Omnipotent, All-Sufficient
God.290 Genesis 17:1 states, "Now when Abram was ninety-nine
years old, Yehovah appeared to Abram and said to him, I am El-Shaddai290;
walk before Me, and be blameless." What does El-Shaddai mean? The
commentaries offer a variety of answers. The most common view among Bible
Scholars is that Shaddai comes from a similar-sounding Akkadian word
meaning "mountain" or "breast." If El Shaddai means
"the Mountain God," they would say it speaks of the majesty and
grandeur of God. If it means "Breast of God," they would say it speaks
of God as the One who nurtures and sustains His People. Strong's Exhaustive
Concordance states that shaddai comes from the primitive Hebrew root shadad
meaning "to deal violently with, despoil, devastate, ruin, destroy, or
spoil." Which one is right? Joseph Azreil, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi in
Israel recognized as an expert Hebraist and Torah scholar states that Shaddai
means "sufficiency." Therefore, El Shaddai means "the God
Who Is Enough." When Jewish parents have had enough of the noiseness of
their children, they will say in Hebrew: "Dai, dai!" which
means "Enough, enough!" So El Shaddai is "the God Who Is
It is especially significant that God revealed Himself in
Genesis 17 as El Shaddai. At this juncture in their lives, Abram and
Sarai were wrestling with the fact that God had promised them something they
thought was impossible. He told them they were going to have many descendants.
Furthermore, they would be the progenitors of not just one nation, but many
nations. "And He took him outside and said, Now look toward the heavens,
and count the stars, if you are able to count them. And He said to him, So shall
your descendants be" (Gen 15:5). That was the promise. What made it seem
impossible was that both Abram and his wife, Sarai, were well beyond their
childbearing years: "Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah
was past childbearing" (Gen 18:11). Sarah had already undergone the
reproductive change of life that marks the end of a womanís fertility.
Abram and Sarai decided the Lord needed their help to fulfill
his promise. They devised a plan for Abram to take his wifeís Egyptian
handmaiden, Hagar, and have a son by her. They decided to carry out this plan.
Abram was 86 years old when his son Ishmael was born. Ishmael was half Hebrew
and half Egyptian.210/8-9 However, God was not pleased. It was an
offense to the Lord that Abram and Sarai had not believed that He could fulfill
His promise to them. So after the birth of Ishmael, there was a 13-year period
of silence during which God said nothing to Abram. It is very noticeable because
from Chapter 12 to Chapter 16 there are many references to the Lordís
appearances to Abram. But at the end of Chapter 16, when Ishmael is born, those
revelations end abruptly. The Lord does not say anything more. The grieved
silence of God lasted for 13 years, the length of the interlude between Chapters
16 and 17.
Finally, at the beginning of Chapter 17, after 13 years had
passed, and Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, "I
am El Shaddai." God was telling Abraham that He did not need his
help to fulfill His promises to him. Then God He repeated His promises: one,
He would make Abram the father of many nations (v. 4); two, He would establish
an everlasting covenant between Himself and Abram, for Abramís descendants,
and for generations to come (v. 7); and, three, He would give them the whole
land of Canaan (v.8). He even changed Abramís name to Abraham which means,
"father of a multitude."206
Abraham had no problem with anything the Lord said right up
through Verse 14. Then the Lord said something that stunned Abraham:
"Then Elohim said to Abraham, As for Sarai your wife,
you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless
her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she
shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her." (Gen
This was a surprise to Abraham because the first born always
received the inheritance, therefore, he thought that the promises would be
fulfilled through Ishmael. God, however, went back to his original promise that
Abraham would have a son through Sarah. As a result Abraham fell on his face and
said to himself, "Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And
will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" (Gen 17:17). To God,
however, he said, "Oh that Ishmael might live before You!" (Gen 17:18).
Abraham wanted God to fulfill his promise through Ishmael. God could not do this
because Ishmael was not the son He had promised to Abraham. That was why God had
introduced Himself to Abraham in Chapter 17 as El-Shaddai. He wanted
Abraham to know that no matter how hopeless the situation may appear, and no
matter how impossible it may seem, God is Enough. He is the Sufficient God.
He also has a sense of humor. Abraham had laughed at the
notion that he and Sarah could have a child in their old age. So when the time
came, the Lord instructed them to name their son Isaac, meaning "he
laughs."416 Every time they said his name, it would serve as a
reminder that nothing is impossible with El Shaddai.
In the word
there are three letters:
y. The ancient rabbis took
those three Hebrew letters and made an acrostic. The v
(shin) stands for shaqad, which means "watching." The
D (dalet) stands for
deleth, which means "door." And the y
(yod) stands for Yisrael, which, of course, is "Israel."
So in this symbolism, the name Shaddai signifies the One who "watches
the doors of Israel. he is the One who guards Israel.428/4
On the doors of Orthodox Jewish families is a mezuza
which is a little metal or wooden tube affixed to the right door post. Inside
the tube is a tiny parchment inscribed with two passagesóDeuteronomy 6:4-8 and
11:13-21. It is customary for Jewish people to kiss the mezuza when they
pass through the door. To them, it is a literal fulfillment of the command:
"And you shall write them on the doorposts (Heb.,
tzWzm]) of your house and
on your gates." (Deut 6:9).428/4-5
On the outside of the
the word Shaddai is visible. Again, it is Shin-Dalet-Yod:
"Watching the Doors of Israel." So the presence of
tzWzm] (the plural form of
the word) on the doors of their homes is a reminder to the Jewish people that
God is El Shaddai, and that He is the One who watches over them.
Suggested Further Reading:
of God 2
Cassuto, U. The
Documentary Hypothesis. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, the
Hebrew University, 1941. First English edition, 1961.
Segal, M.H. The PentateuchóIts Composition and
Its Authorship. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1967.
Archer, Gleason. Jr. A
Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody
Press, 1964, 1974, 1996. Moody Press. Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Used
Motyer, J.A. The Revelation of the Divine Name.
London: The Tyndale Press, 1959.
Free, Joseph P. "Archaeology and Higher
Criticism," Bibliotheca Sacra. January, 1957. Vol. 114,
- Free Joseph P. "Archaeology and the Historical Accuracy of
Scripture," Bibilotheca Sacra. July, 1956. Vol. 113.
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Bibliography & Notes
Section 10 Chapters