Bible Divine Names for God in Hebrew
Understanding the Hebrew divine names for God in the Bible and realizing the importance of His relationship to everything in the universe, including us, may help Bible students form a clearer perception of God. In most instances, the names used in English translations are God, Lord, or Almighty. Some translations use different font types to help acquaint readers with the subtle differences of each divine relationship.
It may be enough to know that each instance of God defines a relationship, and the best human analogy I can give is we relate to others differently as a child, grandchild, sibling, spouse, parent, employee, or friend. You can think of more, I’m sure, yet our purpose in each role varies as we interact and respond differently to those around us. The divine names for God in Hebrew provide further evidence that fuller understanding of Scripture is enhanced when we go beyond the English translations.
Divine Names for God in Hebrew and English Definitions
The following divine names for God are listed alphabetically including a phonetic guide to pronounce each.
Adon (aw-DONE) is the Lord as Ruler in the earth.
Adonai (ad-o-NOY) is the Lord in His relation to the earth carrying out His purposes of blessing.
Adonim (aw-doh-NEEM) is the plural of Adon as owner of all, or the Lord Who rules His own.
El (ALE) is the Almighty or Elohim in all His strength and power as creator and omnipotent.
Eloah (el-O-ah) is Elohim to be worshipped in connection with His Will rather than His power.
Elohim (el-o-HEEM) is God as the Creator.
Elyon (el-YONE) is the most high God as the possessor of heaven and earth and Dispenser of blessings.
Jah (YAW) is Jehovah as having become our salvation.
Jehovah (yeh-ho-VAW) is God in covenant relation to those created.
Shaddai (shad-DAH-ee) is always translated Almighty relating to His power to supply all needs.
Combinations of these divine names are used, also, so El Shaddai would be God Almighty, and Jehovah is very often combined with additional Hebraic titles for very specific relationships. To learn more, my advice is using the electronic version of the King James Version of the Bible that is embedded with a Strongs Concordance and available for free from E-Sword.net. Their electronic KJV red letter Bible allows readers to switch between regular text and the Strongs version easily, and the full Bible search function for words or phrases is invaluable.
Letters J and Y and Transliteration
Consider the above examples of pronunciation for a moment and transliteration concerns. The letter “J” does not have an equivalent in the Hebrew alphabet, so for accuracy each occurence has the letter “Y” in the guide to pronunciation. This is true, also, for Jesus (ee-ay-SOOCE or yay-SOOCE) in Greek, Joshua which is Jehoshuah (yeh-ho-SHOO-ah) in Hebrew, and from which Jesus in Greek and Yeshuah (yeh-SHOO-ah) in Hebrew is derived.
You may encounter variations based on the traditions of man or those who reference the third of the ten commandments for authority. Certain persons believe that the sacred names should never be spoken which explains the practice of removing vowels from Jehovah (Yehovah) for YHVH as one variation. The “J” was introduced in translations from Hebrew because the Olde English sound that we know for “Y” was rendered “J” at that time. This was carried over into the New Testment in translations from Greek, also. This may also explain names like Jon (YON) and Johan (yo-HAN) in modern Scandinavia being pronounced as they are.
Appropriate Use of Divine Names
Concerns about transliteration may be unfounded in the case of the divine names. If you are drawn to God and believe on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the very names you choose in prayer or as a witness are appropriate as spoken in your native language. God knows your heart and your mind, so seek Him in reverance without worrying about what others might say about the right and wrong of divine names.
Some English speaking Bible scholars insist that when speaking Jesus’ name that only the Hebrew version of Yeshuah is appropriate. Christ, whether spoken of as Jesus or Yeshuah, is the same Lord of all. You know who you mean, and so does God, so believers should not be distracted from the truths that really matter. Again, it may be enough to at least be aware of the richness of the original languages and manuscripts of the Bible without splitting hairs over spelling or pronunciation.
In conclusion, it is important to seek wisdom and understanding as you learn about God, and drawing on the original languages of the Old Testament and New Testament are essential to fuller understanding. This article and information about the divine names for God in Hebrew are intended to stimulate your interest in words and phrases from the original texts that may have lost some meaning in the English translation.