One of the things we miss out on in our English Bibles is the variety of names for God used in the original Hebrew. Each one points to an intensely personal encounter with Him. The English doesn’t leave the names out, you just have to learn to recognize them. I’ll touch on four of the most used names.
God – This is Elohim, the most commonly used name. The ‘im’ ending means it’s plural, but it takes a singular verb, indicating the three-in-one God. It’s the name used in Genesis 1:1. The first part of the word “El” is used in other names for God like El Elyon, the
The first part of the word “El” is used in other names for God like El Elyon, the most high God, and El Shaddai, Almighty God. (Interesting side note: When Jesus cries out from the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” He uses a singular form.) “El” appears in proper names too, like Daniel- God is my judge, Ezekiel – God will strengthen, and Samuel – asked of God.
LORD or GOD – (Usually appears in all caps or small caps) This is Jehovah, the covenant name God gave to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14. He called Himself the I AM, highlighting His eternal, self-existent nature. He is the covenant-maker, and the promise-keeper. This name is also used in proper names
This name is also used in proper names too, and shows up as “jah” or “iah” at the end of a name, like Isaiah – Jehovah has saved. It also appears at the beginning of names as “Jo” like in Jonathan- Jehovah has given or “Je” like the Old Testament kings Jehoshaphat- Jehovah is judge or Jehoiakim- Jehovah raises up.
Lord – This is Adonai. It’s used when the writer is focused on God’s personal rule over him. David uses it in Psalm 51 as he confesses and asks forgiveness. The Hebrews used this name rather than take a chance on misusing God’s covenant name, Jehovah.
LORD of hosts – This is a special one, translating the Hebrew name Jehovah Sabaoth. That word looks a lot like sabbath, but it’s the word for army. This is the vision Isaiah sees in chapter 6, Jehovah the Warrior King.
There are many others including El Roi: God Who Sees (Genesis 16:12), Jehovah-Jireh: The Lord Will Provide (Genesis 22:13-14), and Jehovah-Rohi: The Lord My Shepherd (Psalm 23:1).
As you read, notice which names are used in the verses that stand out to you.
Which name is most meaningful to you?