A Name Too Holy to be Said

The most famous name of God in the Hebrew Bible is a name that is considered too holy to be spoken. This “unutterable name” is comprised of four Hebrew letters –יהוה YHWH – and might have been pronounced Yehovah in biblical times. What is certain is that this name is connected to the verb “to be” and likely means “the essence of being.” Today, when we read the Bible aloud in Hebrew, we pronounce this word Adonai (“my masters”).  

The God of the Desert

In Genesis, God reveals himself to the patriarchs Abraham and Jacob by using the enigmatic title אֵל שַׁדַּי El Shaddai. This name is comprised of two Hebrew words: El meaning “God” and Shaddai which is perhaps connected to the word שדה sadeh meaning “field” – a reference to God revealing himself to his people in the wilderness. Another theory is that Shaddai comes from the Hebrew word שד shad meaning “breast” – a reference to God as a nurturing mother figure. 

Unlock the Mysteries of Scripture

God is also referred to as Adonai Tzevaot יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת over 200 times in the Hebrew Bible. This means the “Lord of the Armies.” The ancient Israelites conceived of God as the commander of various brigades of celestial soldiers: angels, stars, and the forces of nature that make up the universe. When you can read the Bible in Hebrew, you possess a powerful key to unlock the mysteries of Scripture. Enroll in our live, online Biblical Hebrew course and get to the core of Scripture’s message.