“And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said: Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.” -Genesis 32:29
There are many names for the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. God, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, Awmen, and Allah are just a few. Which names come from the Torah? And, what do these names mean? Why are they used? In this article we will briefly cover seven of the names of God used in the Torah.
1. Elohim אלהים
In the opening chapter and verse of the Bible, we are given God’s name: Elohim or ‘Elohiym. “In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Elohim is typically translated as “God,” though it actually means “Gods.” From the Trinitarian perspective, this may refer to God as a whole; God the Father, Son, and Spirit in one being that fills the whole of creation. In the Godhead perspective this term may be understood as the Father, Son, and Spirit working as one. It may also at times refer to the Father and Mother, or the Masculine and Feminine aspects of God as one. It is a female singular (Eloh) with a male plural (im). This implies there must be a Divine Feminine. In addition, Psalm 82 uses this name of God to describe the Divine Council.
2. YHVH Elohim אלהים יהוה
In chapter 2 of Genesis, the name of God changes or evolves to YHVH Elohim. “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the YHVH Elohim made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4). This first term, YHVH, is also known as the Tetragrammaton, translated as Yahweh, Jehovah, Yehovah, or LORD among others. Elohim translates to “Gods,” as shown above. YHVH Elohim is typically translated as “the LORD God,” and may denote that YHVH is a part of the Elohim collective “One God.”
3. YHVH יהוה
Also known as the Tetragrammaton, YHVH is said to be the unpronounceable name of God. Jews believe this name may not be spoken outside the temple. Christians, understanding that we are the temple of God, would likely see no problem saying The Name. And it was common to speak The Name. In ancient times as in the older texts of the Bible we read people saying The Name (see Ruth 2:4). This term is usually translated as Yahweh, Jehovah, Yehovah, Yod-Hei-Vav-Hei, or LORD. While there is a rich history belonging to this name, one reason it may be used is because it denotes the four aspects of God: Yod the Divine Masculine or the Presence of God (Shekinah), Hei the Divine Feminine, Vav representing Jesus Christ, and Hei the second time representing the Holy Ghost or the Glory of God- the Voice of God (masculine form). YHVH is Jesus Christ, who represents the Father in the flesh.
4. Yah יה
Yad י Hei ה, Yah representing The Creator or the Divine Masculine (Heavenly Father), and Hai, the revelation, the Divine Feminine (Heavenly Mother). There is a misunderstanding that this is a shortened form of YHVH, however, we see these two names of God used together in the Bible. For example, Isaiah 26:4 reads: “Trust ye in the YHVH forever: for in YH, YHVH is everlasting strength.” This name of God is actually the lost teaching of the Parent Gods, Elohim: Avinu (God the Father) and His wife Shekinah (Queen of Heaven). To some this will mean the male and female portions on the one divine being. To others it will refer to two separate Gods, equals in all things, sealed as one for eternity.
5. Ahyeh Asher Ahyeh אהיה אשר אהיה
When Moses asked God who he should tell the Israelites sent him, Elohim said to Moses: “I AM THAT I AM, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14). Ahyeh Asher Ahyeh or Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh is generally translated as “I AM that I AM.” It means “I AM (the One) that Makes/Creates.” A simpler way of translating this would be “The Creator.” In the Greek, Jesus’ words are translated to ego emim (see John 8:58). Ego is Greek for self identification, or I. Emim roughly means, “I exist,” or self-exitance, or eternally being/existing. In John 8: 58 then Jesus is saying, “Before Abraham was, I existed forever,” which is a very powerful statement, as is seen in the reaction of those that heard him.
6. El Roi אל ראי
El Roi is a name for God only used once in the Bible: Genesis 16:13. “And she called the name of YHVH that spake unto her, El Roi, for she said: Here I also have seen him that seeth me.” She gave this name or title to God because He had sent a messenger, and angel, to comfort her and let her know that Abraham’s promise would be kept through Ishmael. And, we have seen this promise fulfilled by the rise of Islam, both in the number of people that have converted to the religion, and the hostility Islam has seen, as prophesied in verse 12 of the same chapter. Though frequently overlooked, this is a powerful name of God as it reminds us that God does see our pain, our sorrows, and our vulnerabilities. And, God sends us help in our times of need, even if we do not see it or understand.
7. El Shaddai אל שדי
El Shaddai is the name God used to talks to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob (Exodus 6:3). El is Hebrew for “God.” It can also be translated as “Lord.” Shaddai is generally translated as “Almighty,” so “God Almighty” or “Lord Almighty.” However, the exact meaning for Shaddai is up for debate. The root word, “shadad” (שדד) means “destroyer.” or “to make desolate.” This may suggest God as a destroyer or as the strongest of the gods. Kabbalisticly this could refer to God’s ability to destroy the Ego of sin within us and the world. Shaddia could also refer to a place, such as a wilderness or mountains. We see something like his in the Septuagint translation from the Hebrew to the Greek in Psalm 91:1. There “Shaddai” is translated to “the god of heaven.”