God Almighty

God Almighty is one of the English translations of ’El shaddai. This name of God occurs seven times in the Old Testament (though the name Shaddai (Almighty) is found on its own about forty times). Information about the root meaning of this name can also be found on the page about the Almighty (Shaddai).

There are different theories about the root meaning of the name. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, rabbinic tradition said the word shaddai derived from she meaning who and dai meaning “sufficient/enough.” The name could therefore mean “God who is enough or sufficient.”

Other sources suggest that shaddai is derived from shad, (a woman’s breast). Genesis 49:24-25 includes both words. In that case the name in English might be “Pourer or Shedder Forth,” “Bountiful God,” or “Exuberant God.”1

Yet another theory says that shaddai comes from the Akkadian word shadu for mountain.2

Finally, shaddai may relate to sadad, a word for devastation (Ps. 68:14; Isa. 13:6; Joel 1:15). 

Some rabbis saw an acrostic in the Hebrew letters that make up the name: Shin, dalet, yod, standing for shomer (watching), daltot (door), Yisra’el. God is indeed “the One who watches the doors of Israel.” A simple Hebrew letter shin is found on the Jewish mezuzah that many Jews attach to their doorposts. It stands for Shaddai.

Norman Stone says the ai ending is a plural possessive that indicates that we belong to God.

A name of God pictured in the Hebrew text: God Almighty (El shaddai) in Exodus 6:3.

God Almighty (El shaddai) in the Hebrew text of Exodus 6:3.

God Almighty in Hebrew:

’El shaddai

Strong’s Concordance numbers: 410, 7706b

Bible references: Gen. 17:1; 28:3; 35:11; 43:14; 48:3; Ex. 6:3; Ezek. 10:5

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, theLord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. (Genesis 17:1, NIV)

Other Bible versions have “Almighty God” (KJV) and “Strong God” (The Message Bible).

In the New Testament the words “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty” contain a name of God which sounds as though it might be related to ’El Shaddai. In fact, those words are a quotation from Isaiah but the name of God in Isaiah is Lord of hosts (Yahweh tseva’ot). The reason for the confusion is that in some places the Greek Old Testament used the word pantokratōr to translate the name Lord of hosts (Jer. 5:14; Amos 4:13). Where the title Lord God Almighty is found in the New Testament it is really a combined quotation of Isaiah 6:3, Jeremiah 5:14, and Amos 4:13, which refer to God as Lord of hosts or Lord God of hosts.

The Greek Old Testament also translates shaddai using pantokratōr which leads to our “Almighty.” Pantokratōr also led to a Latin word in the Vulgate Bible, omnipotens (from which we get our word “omnipotent”). Later Jewish translators (and five times in the Greek Old Testament) used hikanos, meaning “all sufficient,” to translate shaddai. In a sense this name states that God is the all-sufficient One.

 

  1. The Names of God © Copyright 1967 by Andrew Jukes p. 66. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. []
  2. See Isa. 60:15-16. Perhaps Ps. 121:1-2 tells of this “God of the mountain.” the ai ending being adjectival. []
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