Names of God

h¹b
If your life is not in jeopardy for what you believe, you’re probably on the wrong side!
Developing a Systematic Messianic Theology
This day in Jewish History ABOUT THIS WEB SITE - THINGS YOU SHOULD PROBABLY KNOW
You will need to download and install the free Greek &
Hebrew fonts
to properly view and print from this site.
Search our Site
Bookmark and Share

Names of God

This article was written in response to a question from one of my students:

“In what instances are the names of God used? I listened to a study one time that briefly touched on it but I'm still unsure. The person conducting the study was all over the place and very hard to follow. He said “Elohim” refers to God as Creator… Yahweh, as deliverer — and beyond that he lost me completely.”

I don’t have an answer for all of HaShem’s many Names and how they are used on what occasions, but I have gleaned at least of partial list of His many Names and Titles (and some of their uses) that I thought might interest you.

In Judaism, both Rabbibical and Messianic, the appellation [1] HaShem is probably most frequently used to avoid uttering the Name of God that is to sacred to be pronounced. HaShem is the Hebrew term that translates into English as “The Name.”

First and foremost, if HaShem has a “personal” Name we should probably consider that it is the Name that we consider too sacred to pronounce, represented by the four letters known as the Tetragrammaton. In Hebrew that Name is represented by the letters yud-hey-vav-hey [hwhy], and in English by the letters YHVH or YHWH. When represented in most English Bibles, “The Name” is represented by the word “LORD” in small capital letters.

The use of a V or W as the third letter depends on what part of the world you are from. In most parts of the world Jews (that is, those who speak Hebrew as a primary language) call the third letter “vav” and pronounce it the same as the English letter V. In other parts of the world the same letter is called “waw” and is pronounced like the English letter W. That’s why you will see it represented both ways. (It’s kind of like Hawaii or Havaii for the island state.)

There is, in fact, no adequate English translation for YHWH. The approximation “I AM WHO I AM” is inadequate, in that the Hebrew language doesn’t have a verb equivalent to the English verb “to be” — hence to translate the Name as “I AM” (first person singular, present tense, of the verb “to be”) is not actually grammatically accurate. Additionally, the “tenses” in Hebrew are determined more from the context than from the actual word construction; this is one of the reasons that I believe that Hebrew is the language spoken in Heaven and taught by HaShem to Adam and Cheva [Eve] in Gan Eden [the Garden of Eden]. It is the language that was spoken by all of humanity up until the dispersion from Babel, and I am convinced it will be the language of the olam haba [the world to come, or “heaven”]. I think it very appropriate that the eternal Creator, Who exists outside of the space/time continuum that He created, should teach our first parents to speak a language which has no tenses; that is, no past, present, or future tense per se.

Thus any approximation we attempt to provide for “YHWH” that uses any form of the verb “to be” will remain inadequate: “I am Who I am” or “I will be Who I will be,” neither really works for Him Who was, and is, and is to come. Possibly the “best” English equivalent  might be “The Self-Existent One” or simply “The Eternal.”

This is the Name by which He speaks of Himself in direct relation to His covenants, and is therefore most often referred to as His “Covenant Name.”

One thing that we know with absolute certainty, the word “Jehovah” is definitely not His name. In fact, “Jehovah” is not even a real word, and certainly neither Hebrew nor Aramaic, in that neither languate has a letter equivalent to “J” and neither language has a “jay-sound.” The word “Jehovah” is therefore completely impossible to utter in either Hebrew or Aramaic. Go here for an expanded discussion.

The Hebrew word for “Lord” is Adonai and is traditionally used as an alternate to God’s actual name. In Jewish and Messianic writing, when the word is used in place of the Tetragrammaton [hwhy], it is rendered in small capitals as ADONAI. When the Hebrew scriptures use the Tetragrammaton and the word “Lord” together, it is rendered most English Bibles as “LORD God” or in Jewish writing as “ADONAI Elohim.”

 In the rest of this discussion the notation “YHWH” designates the Tetragrammaton, and is no way an attempt to write, translate, or interpret “The Name.” It simply indicates that the four Hebrew letters representing “The Name“ are used in the Hebrew text of the Tanakh. When reading the four letters YHWH out loud, respect for the Creator dictates that it be pronounced as “ADONAI.”

There are 16 Names/Titles of HaShem which are compounded from the Name YHWH (ADONAI), with an approximation of the meaning of the Title, with a reference to a verse or verses in which it is used):

  1. YHWH-Elohim / the Eternal Creator (usually represented in English Bibles as “LORD God”) / Gen. 2:4-25)

  2. Adonai-YHWH / Lord YHWH; Master YHWH; YHWH our Sovereign (usually represented in English Bibles as “Lord GOD”) / Gen. 15:2,8

  3. YHWH-Yireh / YHWH our Provider; YHWH Who Provides;  YHWH Who Sees / Gen. 22:8-14

  4. YHWH-Nissi / YHWH our Banner / Exod. 17:15

  5. YHWH-Ropheka / YHWH our Healer / Exod. 15:26

  6. YHWH-Shalom / YHWH our Peace / Judges 6:24

  7. YHWH-Tsidkeenu / YHWH our Righteousness / Jer. 23:6; 33:16

  8. YHWH-Mekaddishkem / YHWH our Sanctifier / Exod. 31:13; Lev. 20:8; 21:8; 22:9,16,32; Ezek. 20:12

  9. YHWH-Saboath / YHWH of Hosts; YHWH of Armies / 1 Sam 1:3, etc; used 281 times

10. YHWH-Shammah / YHWH is Present / Ezek. 48:35

11. YHWH-Elyon / YHWH Most High / Ps. 7:17; 47:2; 97:9

12. YHWH-Rohi / YHWH my Shepherd / Ps. 23:1

13. YHWH-Hoseenu / YHWH our Maker / Ps. 95:6

14. YHWH-Eloheinu / YHWH our God / Ps. 99:5,8,9

15. YHWH-Ekoheka / YHWH your God / Exod. 20:2,5,7

16. YHWH-Elohay / YHWH my God / Zech. 14:5

Some of the additional Names and Titles of God include the following:

  1. Elohim (2,701 times) / Plural of Eloah; literally, Gods / the Supreme God; the Creator God. Used to indicate the relation of HaShem to man as Creator, in contrast with YHWH which indicates Him in covenant relationship with His creation. The word elohim literally means mighty ones and is used also of false gods, idols, and the elders of Israel.

  2. YHWH (6,437 times) / The Eternal One / The covenant Name He revealed to Israel, and therefore became their national Name for Him. Represented in most English Bibles as LORD (all upper-case) or small capitals (LORD) except when used with Adonai (Lord) as part of a compound designation. For example: YHWH-Elohim would be LORD God, whereas Adonai-YHWH would be Lord GOD.

  3. El (220 times) / Strength; the Strong and Mighty One; the Almighty; the Most High God

  4. Eloah (56 times) / Deity; God; the Divine One

  5. Elah (76 times) / God (used only in Ezra and Daniel)

  6. Tsur (once) / Rock; Refuge (Isa. 44:8)

  7. El-Elyon (250 times) / Most High God; the Mighty One; Highest Sovereign; the First Cause; possessor of the heavens and earth

  8. El-Shaddai (218 times) / Almighty God / El signifies Strong One; Shaddai signifies Breasted One. Signifies HaShem as the Strong Nourisher, Strength-Giver, Satisfier, All-Bountiful, Fruitful One, Life Giver; Supplier of the needs of His people. Used in the narrative of making Avraham and Sarah fruitful.

  9. Adon (30 times) / Ruler, Master, Lord, Possessor

10. El-Olam / Literally, the Mighty Everything or the Mighty Eternity. The name of HaShem which expresses His eternal Being as well as His authorship of all eternal things, plans, and purposes in the universe. The word “olam” conveys the idea of time out of mind, eternity, everlasting, perpetual, always, everyplace and every time; the entire universe. It is translated in the KJV as “everlasting” 67 times, “ever” 238 times, “evermore” 15 times, “perpetual” 22 times, and “eternal” 11 times; it is also translated as “ancient,” “always,” “of old,” “for ever and ever,” “at any time,” “never,” “alway,” “the world,” and “long.” In every case, it expresses that which is without end whether used of HaShem, covenants, possessions, hills, mercy, distance, direction, or other subjects.

 11. Yah / An abbreviation of YHWH

12. Ancient of Days

13. Father

14. Most High

This list doesn’t include any of the titles of Messiah or of Ruach HaKodesh, which would be a whole other study in and of itself. I am sure that there numerous additional Names and Titles that I have missed.

_________________________

This information is gleaned from numerous locations throughout Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible by Finis Jennings Dake, Dake Bible Sales, Inc., Lawrenceville GA 30246, copyright 1963. Prices on the publisher’s website range from $42.99 to $89.99, depending on the binding. I bought it in 1976 for $55. I found it online recently for from $23 to $25 on Amazon.com and from $30 to $70 on Half.com. Dakes’ approach and interpretation appears to be “hyper-Pentecostal” so I approach his commentary with considerable caution; but I doubt that you will find a more extensive and exhaustive resource for sheer statistics about the Bible. It is only available in the King James Version.

____________

  1. An appellation is a title used in place of a name, also called a circumlocution (a roundabout way of referring to someone or somethig), to avoid the use of the actual name. In Judaism, the name of God is considred too sacred to be pronounced except on the rarest of occasions, so alternate forms of reference are nearly always used instead. [RETURN]

Page last updated on Saturday, 27 August 2016 04:30 PM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes after May 3, 2015 are identified as "Revisions”)