The Glossary of Terms

The Almighty, or 'El Shaddai

Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, Volume 2, page 907

edited by R.Laird Harris, Gleason, L. Archer, Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1980)

Shaddai (shadday), (the) Almighty (KJV), is one of God's names in the OT, in some versions left untranslated and simply transliterated, but in the KJV translated as "the Almighty."

It is one of a series of divine names beginning with the element 'el...

Shaddai, as a divine title, is used forty-eight times in the OT. Most often it appears in Job (thirty-one times), on the lips of almost every person in this drama...

The translation "Almighty" goes back to ancient times, at least as far back as the LXX [Septuagint], which translates shadday [into Greek] as pantokrator "all-powerful." This is also reflected in the [Latin] Vulgate, omnipotens. The rabbinic analysis of this word is that it is a compound word composed of the relative she, "who" and the word day, "enough: she-day," the one who is (self)-sufficient" (Babylonian Talmud, Hagigah 12a).

In recent times these earlier suggestions have been all but rejected and new ones have been put in their place. We need to mention only some of the more tenable suggestions. One is that shadday is to be connected with the Hebrew verb shadad "to destroy," hence "my destroyer." A second possibility, and this is the most widely accepted today, is that shadday is to be connected with the Akkadian word, sadu "mountain." Thus El Shaddai would translate into English something like "God/El of the mountain," i.e. God's abode. The ending -ay is to be understood as an adjectival suffix (and thus the translation "of the..."), a morphological feature now demonstrated by Ugaritic... As El Shaddai God manifested himself to the patriarchs (Ex 6:3): specifically to Abraham, Gen 17:1; to Isaac, Gen 28:3; and to Jacob, Gen 35:11, 43:14; 48:3. The context for most of these references is the covenant, more precisely the command for obedience and faithfulness on the part of the vassal and the promise of progeny by God. It is not to the hills (natural phenomenon) that these men of faith looked for confidence but to the Lord of these hills, the Lord of the mountain (Ps 121:1-2).

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