Keeping His Name Holy – El-Shaddai

Keeping His Name Holy – El-Shaddai

Keeping His Name Holy – El-Shaddai.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, Yahweh appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am El-Shaddai; walk before me and be blameless.'” (Genesis 17:1).

El-Shaddai is a compound name. El is easy to figure out, but the meaning of Shaddai is uncertain. El simply means God, a shortened form of Elohim. But scholars differ on how to translate Shaddai. God’s power and might are implied in the different translations, but almighty may not be the primary meaning. Many believe that El-Shaddai is the most ancient of all the names of God. Shaddai could mean the following:

  1. Mighty Sustainer. A root word for Shaddai is shad, which means “breast.” The idea is that like a nursing mother, God will sustain, nourish, satisfy His people’s needs. Dai in Hebrew means “enough.” God’s attribute here is that He will sustain to the degree that all His people will have enough to not only survive but flourish. God is mighty enough to offer sufficient provision to all in need.
  2. God of the Mountain. Shaddai may come from another root word in an Eastern dialect, “shadu,” which means mountain. So Shaddai may refer to God’s unshakeable power to provide an immovable shelter for His people. At the same time, Shaddai maybe refers to God’s dwelling place on the sacred mountain. So it could be here that God called Himself the God of the Mountain.
  3. God of Abundance. Many times Shaddai in Scripture is named in the context of God providing an abundance of descendants. the super-blessings of fertility and fruitfulness. God might be saying here that He contains the might and power needed to meet the task of making a great nation, of extending the families of the patriarchs. God is up to the task of bringing children out of barrenness. He is telling Abram that His power is sufficient to fulfill this claim. He will simply overpower any obstacles in the way. Shaddai appears 48 times in the Hebrew Bible, and 31 times in Job alone. The first time Shaddai appears is in a conversation with Abram in Genesis 17:1, noted above.

A Prayer to El-Shaddai (el-shad-di’)

We proclaim your greatness, El-Shaddai, God Almighty, Fruitful One. Your power is unshakable, and your might is immovable. And yet you sustain and nourish us as a nursing mother, caring for us with the tenderness of an especially attentive parent. You are the inexhaustible source of life and blessing, and your power is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or imagine. You pour forth your blessings so that we  can be filled with all the fullness of God. As a mother comforts her child, so will you comfort us, and our heart shall rejoice. You are sufficient to satisfy us, Lord. Without the sweet power of your love, we can do nothing. We thank you that all power has been given to your Son, Jesus Christ, for we know He is up to the task of nourishing the world. We kneel before you, El-Shaddai, and adore your holy name. Amen.