El Shaddai. -- By: Thomas Laurie

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 047:186 (Apr 1890)
Article: El Shaddai.
Author: Thomas Laurie


El Shaddai.

Thomas Laurie

When Abraham was ninety and nine years old, the Lord appeared unto him, and said, I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be thou perfect. Gen. 17:1; compare 28:3; 35:11; 43:14:48:3; 49:25. The Hebrew reads, “I am El Shaddai” and in our English versions is rendered as above; the new version here feeing precisely the same as King James’ translation. Gesenius makes Shaddai a pluralis excellentiae from Shad, mighty, powerful; but the latter word is not found in his lexicon at all, though a word of the same form is rendered violence, oppression, also, desolation, destruction. He also derives Shaddai from the root Shadad, which he translates to practise violence, to oppress, to destroy, to lay waste, to desolate. If this is the correct derivation of El Shaddai, then it does not mean the omnipotent God, but the destroying or desolating God, which is hardly a true description of Him who is Love.

We may take it for granted that the Hebrew can furnish no better derivation for the word; for, if it could, no doubt Gesenius would have discovered it. Let us then turn to the Assyrian, and see if we can obtain any help from that source. In that language Shadu means mountains, and Shaddai would be the regular adjective form; as, Gimirraa or Gimirrai from Gimiru (Gomer), or Mutsrai from Mutsur (Egypt), Heb. Mitsraim; and if it is objected that Shaddai has the d reduplicated, while Shadu has not, it may be replied, that, in “The Inscriptions of Western Asia,” 3:14, 42, we find Shaddai Martsu, instead of the more common Shadu Martsu (a rugged mountain). This derivation is one proposed by Professor Friedrich Delitzsch, and Professor A. H. Sayce says of it:5 “It is possible that Professor Friedrich Delitzsch is right in proposing to see in Assyrian Shadu the explanation of the Hebrew title of the Deity, El Shaddai. At all events, God is compared to a rock in the Old Testament (Ps. 18:2).” It is proper to add, however, that some Assyriologists doubt the correctness of this derivation.

But supposing it the correct one,—and as yet we have none better,— then the meaning would be, the God possessed of the characteristics of a mountain. And that the Assyrians associated the idea of a mountain with their great God, is manifest from...

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