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Meaning and etymology of the name Shaddai

Shaddai Shaddai

Shaddai is a divine name but not a creation name. It is first used in Genesis 17:1 where YHWH introduces Himself to Abram, saying "I am El Shaddai."
God commands Abram to be blameless and promises him the covenant. Then He changes Abram's name to Abraham.

The meaning of Shaddai is difficult to establish. Septuagint and Vulgate translate with Almighty (pantokrator and omnipotens) but that's probably more out of enthusiasm than out of sound etymology (it really doesn't mean that). Some say that this name is derived from the verb shadad (shadad), meaning to destroy, hence: My Destroyer. Others furiously refute this because this meaning would go against the nature of God. Isaiah, however, seems to be in the camp of the first when he writes, "Wail, for the day of YHWH is near. It will come as destruction (shad) from Shaddai (13:6)"

Those of the latter camp suggest that Shaddai comes from sadu, a word meaning mountain in the Babylonian (Akkadian) language that Abram spoke. El Of The Mountain, or El of the Gathering.

Some other ideas:

The rabbinic theory is that Shaddai may be formed by the particle shin, meaning who, which, or where, or that, plus the word day, meaning sufficient, enough. Hence the name Shaddai contains the meaning of Self-Sufficient. This is particularly interesting in light of Psalm 8:5.

Shaddai may be a derivation of the unused verb shdh, which probably has to do with to moisten or to pour (judging from the cognates and derivatives). One of those derivatives is the word shad, breast, bosom, used both in erotic scenes and the practical usage of feeding babies. A relation with the name Shaddai is not unthinkable, as this is the name by which God initiates the covenant of which Jesus is the final fulfillment. The apostle Paul compares introduction to the basics of the gospel with feeding milk to infants (1 Cor 3:1-2).

The name Shaddai may have originated in Akkadian, meaning Mountain, but to a Hebrew audience that hears God introduces Himself as El Shaddai, it must have meant both Destroyer, Self-Sufficient One and Source Of Food For Babies.



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