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What does El-Shaddai mean?
"El Shaddai" is first found in Genesis 17:1 where the Lord appeared to Abram for the sixth time (7th if you believe that Melchizadeck was Christ) and then changed his name to Abraham.
The most simple translation is God (el), THE ALL-MIGHTY ONE (shadday), to clearly differentiate the One true God from other gods, as el was a common term for any god at that time, age and area.
It is significant that it is THE Name that God uses in reference to Himself as He begins to set aside a people for Himself, to be uniquely His as a possession, and to be uniquely His as His representatives on this planet. It was at this point that God revealed himself as "THE ALMIGHTY GOD", or the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient One.
A.W. Pink, in Gleanings in Genesis says, "The revelation which God here made of Himself was well suited to the occasion. This was the first time that He revealed Himself as "the Almighty." None but One who possessed all power could meet Abrams need at this time. Ninety and nine years of age, his body dead; Sarah barren and long past the age of child-bearing - how could they have hope to have a son? But with God all things are possible. And why? Because He is El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One."
In Genesis 28:3, the second reference of "El Shaddai", we find that here Isaac is speaking to his son Jacob using "El Shaddai" as the name of the Lord God.
The third occurance (second time God revealed Himself as such) is in Genesis 35:11, where God is now revealing Himself personally to Jacob indicating this is His Name and changing Jacobs name to Israel (as He changed Abram to Abraham); Israel (Jacob) uses this name of God in speaking to his sons in Gen. 35:11 prior to their return to Egypt and Joseph. It is only El Shaddai that can fulfill His word to Jacob, "A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come forth from you."
The Bible, and all of history, is a progressive revelation of God to man - who He is, what He is like, etc. Accordingly, when we get to Exodus, and God is revealing Himself now to Moses, God Himself indicates that El Shaddai, The Almighty God, was only a partial revelation of Who He is, as He revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But now, with Moses, a greater revelation is being given - the further revealing Name of Jehovah, or Yahweh, or as the Hebrews would indicate in deep reverence (prior to the full revelation of Christ in His life, death, burial and ressurection) as "Y_h-w_h" - too holy a name to even pronounce.
It is generally accepted that Job is the oldest book in the Bible. It is commonly accepted that Job lived during the patriarchal age, and possibly even predated Abraham. For Job a common title for God was "El Shaddai"
The sense of the Hebrew word Shadday is All Powerful, All-Mighty. The word, El, also means God, and/or strength. So it appears that there is a double emphasis on the thought here. There are some 48 uses of the term in the Old Testament, and studying the context of the whole makes it very clear that in most of these references, the emphasis is on Gods all-pervasive power, influence, and authority in all of creation.
The same term, The Almighty, is found in the New Testament (see II Corin. 6:17,18). Today, most Christians accept the meaning of El Shaddai as being both The All-Mighty, All-Powerful and Only True God, and the One who has further, finally, and completely revealed Himself in the New Testament and in the Lord Jesus Christ to be All-in-All:
"God Almighty - El Shaddai, the Father-Mother God - proved sufficient for everything. The wonder of El Shaddai (the power to create new things in the old world) runs through the whole kingdom of grace." "The Everlasting Yea is reached when we perceive that God is El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient God."
- Oswald Chambers, Not Knowing Where
And He [the Lord Jesus Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to HAVE FIRST PLACE IN EVERYTHING. For it was the Fathers good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
- Colossians 1:15 - 20
"Christ is ALL, and in ALL."
- Colossians 3:11