Monday, February 27, 2017


Joseph Herrin (02-27-2017)

It would be nice if such news were the truth. Not that I am having too much trouble determining what the proper names of God are. The above story is a satirical piece placed to fool the slumbering masses, and some Christians that do not check out their sources.

In the effort to provide meanings for the names of all the historical figures in the Bible, I am finding that with most cases, the best that people have been able to give us are their guesses. We can list the guesses of the most renowned sources and very often not come away with any agreement. The list of books to check that offer such meaning are HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, NOBSE Study Bible Name List, Brown Driver Briggs Theological Lexicon, and Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names. On very many of the names in question the source is silent. Others are bold enough to make guesses on the most untraceable names.

After spending a week trying to piece together the meanings of names, I have decided to leave blank all of those upon which the Scriptures remain silent. The book of Genesis is filled with such lists. There are relatively few names whose meaning is given in the text. An example would be Eve (Hava) whose name is given the following testimony.

Genesis 3:20
Adam called his wife Hava [life giver], because she was the mother of all living.

A good way to check out the meanings of names is to look at the other words describing them and check for their roots. This was easily enough done in this case. The word translated “living” is a partial of the name Hava meaning “alive,” or “living thing.” There are a large number of names that are given with no explanation or meaning. All names meant something in the Old Testament, unlike names today. People today are accustomed to naming their children whatever sounds good. There are still some people who give their children names according to the meaning, but it is not like it once was. When Hava experienced the murder of one son by another, she gave a good deal of thought to what the next one would be named.

Genesis 4:25
Adam knew his wife again. She gave birth to a son, and named him Sheth [appointed], “for Elohim has appointed me another child instead of Hebel, for Kayin killed him.”

When names are given, or are known, I have decided to list their meanings in the Bible. I could find a meaning for every name, but they would not be right. The reason for creating this Bible is to clarify the truth. Truth would not be helped by adding name meanings that are wrong. Instead, I would leave it to the individual to seek out the meaning.

The names of man are much more confused than the names of Yahweh. Even here there is some room for sorting, or fixing, wrong names. El Shaddai is one such case. No one knows certainly what the name meant. Most of the Bibles have translated it as “God Almighty.” When one looks at the Scriptures in which it appears, a much more likely meaning comes forth.

Genesis 17:1-2
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yahweh appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am El Shaddai [Possibly “The Mighty One Who Gives Blessings of the Breasts”]. Walk before me, and be blameless. I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.”

Genesis 28:3
May El Shaddai [the Mighty One Who Gives Blessings of the Breasts] bless you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, that you may be a company of peoples, and give you the blessing of Abraham, to you, and to your seed with you, that you may inherit the land where you travel, which Elohim gave to Abraham.”

Genesis 35:11
Elohim said to him, “I am El Shaddai [the Mighty One Who Gives Blessings of the Breasts]. Be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations will be from you, and kings will come out of your body.
Genesis 43:14
May El Shaddai [the Mighty One Who Gives Blessings of the Breasts] give you mercy before the man, that he may release to you your other brother and Benyamin. If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

Genesis 48:3-4
Yacob said to Yoseph, “El Shaddai [the Mighty One Who Gives Blessings of the Breasts] appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, and said to me, ‘Behold, I will make you fruitful, and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your seed after you for an everlasting possession.’”

These are five of the six El Shaddai appearances in the book of Genesis. By examining the name, and the things which follow, it is clear that the name was intended to mean [the Mighty One Who Gives Blessings of the Breasts]. Wikipedia has an interesting article on this entry.

Shaddai meaning fertility
An alternative view proposed by Albright is that the name is connected to shadayim which means "pair of breasts" in Hebrew (from shad breast and ai-im, an ending signifying a dual noun. It may thus be connected to the notion of God’s fertility and blessings to humanity. In several instances it is connected with fruitfulness: "May God Almighty [El Shaddai] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers…" (Gen. 28:3). "I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]: be fruitful and increase in number" (Gen. 35:11). "By the Almighty [Shaddai] who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb" (birkhōt shādayim wārāħam)(Gen. 49:25).

The last Scripture cited in the passage above is Genesis 49:25. In it there seems a sure sign of the meaning of El Shaddai.

Genesis 49:24-25
The arms of his hands were made strong,
by the hands of the Mighty of Jacob,
(from there is the shepherd, the stone of Israel),
even by the El [the Mighty] of your father, who will help you;
by the Shaddai [One Who Gives Blessings of the Breasts], who will bless you,
with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that lies below,
blessings of the breasts, and of the womb.

The word “shad” means breasts. It is plain from all of these passages that Shaddai has to do with fertility. It is not a word that tells people that Yahweh is Almighty. Somewhere in time past someone made this very bad guess, and all of the English Bibles have followed suit. This is the reason for bringing out this Bible. It is the intent to give names their right place, knowing that a person’s or beings name meant a great deal.

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Joseph Herrin
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