There are many titles ascribed to our Lord in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. These have been variously translated by Lord and God using different type faces. It would have served English readers better if in a forward an explanation had been given, and a transliteration used instead of a translation. For example, the sacred name YHVH, known as the holytetragrammaton, and which no one knows how to pronounce because the Rabbis have kept it a secret over the ages – the A.V. Bible uniformly translates as LORD. It would have been more convincing to have left it as JEHOVAH, or VAHVEH. A single example will show how much better this would make the text, as follows. Elijah was reproving the Israelites for their “fence-sitting” and (according to the A.V.) he says, “If the LORD be God, follow him, but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21) The word Baal has the same meaning of ‘lord”, and therefore the force of Elijah’s words is somewhat diluted by the translation. But “If JEHOVAH is God, follow him, but if Baal, then follow him,” has more punch, and a clearer significance. Our present enquiry concerns another of God’s titles, which is uniformly translated “God Almighty” in the AV., as well as many of the more recent translations. In the Hebrew it is EL – SHADDAI, and it is well worth the trouble investigating the meaning of this expression to see whether the translators have done justice to the Hebrew.
EL is the most basic Hebrew word for GOD. From it is derived the word ELOAH, also translated God, and ELOHIM, the plural word, which again is translated God. From EL comes the Arabic word ALLAH, of universal usage by the Moslems. But what about the word SHADDAI? Have the translators done justice to the word by using the expression ALMIGHTY? Having done a bit of searching in the various dictionaries and lexicons at our disposal, we have found something more precious, more meaningful and more revealing than the word ALMIGHTY can convey. It is this that we would like to share with our readers.
The root of SHADDAI must be a word using the Hebrew letters SHIN and DALETH. We find the simplest root in SHED (pronounced SHAYD), which Gesenius tells us means “lord”, but its two occurrences in the O.T. refer to demons, which ‘lord it’ over human beings. There is obviously no connection here. Hastings 5-volume Bible Dictionary has an article about EL-SHADDAI, in which the contributor suggests, first of all, the root ASHER – DAI which means “the all sufficient one.” No one would doubt for a moment that God is “the all sufficient one.” But it doesn’t express anything beyond that which is axiomatic, any more than does the word ALMIGHTY. The next suggestion in Hastings is the root SHADAD, which means “the destroyer” To consider this as applying to God is equivalent to making God equal to Shiva, the Hindu god, commonly referred to as “the destroyer.” No more needs to be said. “Hastings” throws little if any light on this subject, except to cause the reader to become more bewildered than ever!
Realising the futility of these suggestions, the article then proceeds to scour other languages for a root. For example the Assyrian word SHADU is brought forward, meaning “mountain.” It is perplexing in the extreme, however, to think of “God the Mountain” having anything useful to convey to us. Finally, the root SHADAH is entertained, but immediately dismissed, simply because the word means “wife”.
That is a summary of the information we found in Hastings, Gesenius’s Lexicon, and several other English Bible Dictionaries. In the Companion Bible, Dr.E.W.Bullinger (the editor) had this to say about EL – SHADDAI.
“It is God (El) not as the source of strength, but of grace; not as Creator, but as the Giver.Shaddai is the All-bountiful. This title does not refer to His creative power, but to His power to supply all the needs of His people. Its first occurrence is in Gen.7:1, and is used to show Abraham that He who called him out to walk alone before Him could supply all his need.”
This we believe to be the crux of the matter. EL – SHADDAI is GOD ALL BOUNTIFUL. But still it doesn’t satisfy the student of Hebrew as to the origin of the word. Is there something that has been overlooked? Turning to the EncyclopaediaJudaica, the simple root SHAD is alluded to. Although this might have seemed to be the obvious choice to the writers of Dictionaries, it was not even entertained by them. And for why? Because SHAD means the female human breast.Combined with DAI, meaning “sufficiency” we get something like “GOD THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE BREAST”. On the surface this seems meaningless, but a moment’s reflection causes one to think otherwise. In Genesis 49:25, Jacob is speaking about the future for his sons, and referring to Joseph he says,
“EL – SHADDAI will bless you with the blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep beneath, and blessings of the BREASTS and the womb.”
To a baby, the human breast is the child’s “all sufficiency”. It could be that Bullinger accepted this in translating EL – SHADDAI as “God the All-bountiful.” Here we have a warm and meaningful expression, depicting God as the One who “suckles” all mankind, providing him with air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, homes in which to dwell, and the Inspired Word to know the meaning of life.
If the idea of the female breast being used by God should seem out of place, then we might profitably consider such verses of Scripture as Isaiah 60:16, where the prophet says,
“Whereas you have been forsaken and hated – – you shall suck the milk of the Gentiles, and suck the BREAST of kings, and you shall know that I am JEHOVAH, your Saviour and your Redeemer, the mighty one of Jacob.”
Such idiomatic and picturesque language is very much a part of the Hebrew tongue. An interesting statement is found in Exodus 6:2-3, which needs examination. It reads as follows.
“And God (ELOHIM) spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am JEHOVAH, and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as EL – SHADDAI, but by my name JEHOVAH I did not reveal myself to them.”
But the name JEHOVAH appears in Genesis as far back as chapter two! One is left with the impression that Moses was commanded to edit the family records he possessed, and to insert the holy Name wherever the Lord told him to. A possible proof of this is found in the book of Job, where EL – SHADDAI occurs 31 times. This writing, often attributed to Moses, who was contemporary with the events of that time, perhaps relates to the days when Moses was in the land of Midian.
We should like to take these thoughts about EL – SHADDAI one step further. Can it be that the female aspect of SHADDAI is not so out of place as one might first suspect? We have written in the past about our understanding of the Trinity as being God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, the Mother, and God the Son, thereby being the Divine Family Pattern, by which all humanity is formed. Regardless of the opposition we have received from some quarters about the possibility of a Female being in the Godhead, we stand by what we believe the Lord conveyed to us directly in 1968, that the Holy Spirit is truly God the Mother. If this be so, then the noun SHADAH, meaning “wife” may not be so unacceptable as the Dictionaries made it out to be.
Even if the ancient patriarchs never had the full revelation, there is no reason why it should not now be accepted. Still we may speak about EL – SHADDAI as God All-Bountiful, but can we not also understand that the expression refers to the Holy Spirit, as God the Wife of Jehovah? In the book of Proverbs, the Holy Spirit is spoken about under the title of WISDOM. In chapter 8 we are told that She was “constituted at the outset of God’s ways, before His works of old.” She was there before the world was established on its corner stone. We believe that She was “brought forth” from within the Godhead in a manner exemplified by the creation of Eve from within Adam. The earthly was a picture of the heavenly. And just as a son is born of a woman, having conceived from the man, so the Lord Jesus was “brought forth” from within the Godhead, so to speak, from God the Father and God the Mother. All Three are essentially God. All are uncreated. God was presenting Himself to His angelic and human creation in the form of a family, easily understood and continually enacted as generation follows generation on earth.
It is quite amazing how much opposition there is from some quarters to the suggestion that there may be females in heaven. Are we to believe that in the resurrection all our women folk will become men? And why should we think that all the angels are male? That is another rather unintelligent conclusion that has no basis in fact. Angels have appeared to human beings throughout all history, both male and female. We’ll conclude with a quotation from Clement of Alexandria (Paidagogus 1.6)“The word is everything to the child, both father and mother, teacher and nurse – – The nutriment is the milk of the Father – – and the word alone supplies us children with the milk of love, and only those who suck at this breast are truly happy. For this reason seeking is called sucking; to those infants who seek the Word, the Father’s loving breasts supply milk.”