Understanding The Bible
Clarence E. Mason's
"Introduction to The Names Of God"


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Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible


  1. This study is a component part of Theology.
    1. Theology: "Theos" = God  +  "-ology" = discourse or knowledge Theology then is the knowledge or science of God.
    2. This material on the Names of God is included in the subject of Theology Proper, which is the study of God the Father, God the Son (termed Christology), and God the Holy Spirit (termed Pneumatology) in their Persons and attributes, but apart from their works.
    3. Specifically, the Names of God are included in the study of God the Father, the first Person of the Trinity.
  2. Bible names are usually significant.
    1. Bible names have meanings which convey some impression of the character of the ones who bear them.
      1. This is accentuated by changed names under new situations, e.g., Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, etc.
      2. In many instances God specifically directed parents in naming children in order to reveal some truth, e.g., Isaiah 8:3 and Hosea 1:6, 9.
    2. God also has revealed Himself to Man through His many significant names as follows:

      (sometimes El or Elah)
      El-o-heem' God (sometimes combined with Jehovah as "LORD God" Jehovah Elohim)
      Jehovah Je-ho-vah LORD or GOD (as in 'Lord GOD' = Adonai Jehovah)
      Adonai A-doe-nigh Lord
      El Elyon El-el'-y-on Most High God
      El Roi El-ro'-ee or El-roy' God who sees
      El Shaddai El-shad'-eye Almighty God
      El Olam El-o-lam Everlasting God
      Jehovah-Jireh Ji'-reh (or Jee'-reh) The LORD provides
      Jehovah-Nissi Nis'-see (or Nee'-see) The LORD my Banner
      Jehovah Shalom Shah-lom' The LORD our Peace
      Jehovah Sabaoth Sa'-buh-oth The LORD of Hosts
      Jehovah M'Qaddesh M-cod'desh The LORD Sanctifier
      Jehovah Tsidqenu Tsid'-ken-oo The LORD our Righteousness
    3. Not all of these are specific names, as several are rather descriptive designations of God in relationship to man. We include them in this study, however, because of the peculiar way in which God so revealed Himself to man on these various occasions.
  3. There are several significant portions of Scripture that draw our attention to a study of these names of God. For example:
    1. Exodus 3:13-15; 6:3
    2. John 17:6, 26
    3. Isaiah 42:8; 52:5-6
    4. Ezekiel 36:23
  4. It is unfortunate that our English names "God" or "Lord" convey no more than a title of deity.
    1. There is no connotation of character description.
    2. However, this is revealed through the names as given in the original Scriptures, the study of which we believe will enrich the student's knowledge of the Person of our great God.
  5. The critics of Scripture falsely state that Moses was a compiler of ancient religious beliefs and that the many names of God are really the gods of many tribes. Some worshiped their god Elohim; others, Jehovah: others, Adonai; etc.

    We affirm that Moses wrote by inspiration of God and that the Old Testament reveals the one true God in His multiple character as revealed through His many names.
    The derivations of the names of God--Elohim and Jehovah—are uncertain. There­fore, the significance of these names must be based primarily upon their use in the Bible.
    1. EL, ELAH, ELOHIM - translated God, literally "The Strong One"
      El (250 times)
      Elah (60 times)
      Elohim (over 2500 times)

      The main emphasis in this name of God is the strength of God. Observe that it is used 32 times in Genesis, for instance, where His power is being emphasized in the creation. Also, note Psalm 19:1.

      Some suggest that Elohim may have been derived from the verb alah (meaning to swear), which would cause the name to be translated the strong one who swears. If this be true, the attribute of faithfulness as well as omnipotence is indicated. Consider the following verses speaking of the faithfulness of Elohim: Gen. 1; 28:13-15; 46:1-5; 50:25; Ex. 3:1-6; Num. 23:19; 2 Sam. 23:1-5; Isa. 45:22-23.

      The student is to be reminded that Elohim is a plural form. When not translated God, it is translated gods. In such places, Elohim is used in connection with plural verbs and adjectives, as in Ex. 20:3; Dt. 13:2, contra Dt. 6:4. We believe that we see in this plural form the implied doctrine of the Trinity. Note Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa. 6:8. This emphasizes the uniplural nature of our triune God.

      Some have claimed that no doctrine of the Trinity is implied here but that this usage is what is called a "plural of Majesty." The claim appears to be unfounded, since it was never so used of kings.
    2. JEHOVAH - translated GOD or LORD
      Occurs 6823 times. It appears to be explained best as coming from hovah = "to be." A possible explanation:
      yehi - he will be
      hovi – being
      hah yah - he was

      In this regard, see Revelation 1:8.

      In summary, the root meaning of the word Jehovah may be the self-existing one; One who is what He is; the expression of God's Being. It is a title of reverential awe, expressing absolute and abiding existence. It was a name so filled with respect and honor that it was not audibly pronounced by the children of Israel. Cp. Ex. 3:14. This led to the insertion of the vowels of Adonai amid the consonants of this word considered too holy to utter.

      Jehovah is the name in which the Creator deals with the intelligent and responsible part of His work. As Elohim is the creatorial title, so Jehovah is a relationship name. In this regard, note that Jehovah does not occur until Gen. 2:4, after the creation of man. The covenants are made in the name of Jehovah, e.g., Ex. 19:1-3; 20:1; Jer. 31:31. In the so-called "universal books," such as Ecclesiastes, Daniel, and Jonah, Elohim is used almost exclusively. In the strongly theocratic books, Jehovah predominates.

      Three characteristics of Jehovah are:
      (1) His holiness: Lev. 11:44-45; 19:1-2; 20:26.
      (2) His hatred and judgment of sin: Gen. 6:3-7; Ex. 34:6-7; Ps. 1.1:5-6.
      (3) His love and salvation for sinners. The work of redemption in the OT is almost: always associated with Jehovah: Gen. 3:8, 21; Ex. 3:1-10; Isa. 53:1,5-6,10.
    3. ADONAI - translated Lord
      This name emphasizes; His authority. It applies to the relationship between master and slave. It is applied to man as well as to God. Cp. Gen. 23:6; 32:4.

      It is used to indicate the relationship between husband and wife, Gen. 18:12.

      Two principles apply to the relationship between master and slave or servant:
      (1) The master has the right to expect absolute obedience, Ex. 4:10-12; Josh. 5:14; 7:8-11; Isa. 6:8-11.
      (2) The servant has the right to expect explicit direction for his service and provision for his needs, Rom. 12:1-2; Phil. 4:19.
    1. EL ELYON - translated The Most High
      The name actually means the strongest strong one.

      El Elyon exercises His authority both in heaven and in earth. Its first occurence is in Genesis 14:18.
      (1) In heaven - Isa. 14:13-14.
      (2) In earth - Ps. 91:9-12; 47:2-4; 56:2-3; 2 Sam. 22:14-15.

      Note its special use in Daniel: 3:26; 4:17-37; 5:18-21; 7:18-27. It is used in this book for two purposes:
      (1) To comfort the people of God.
      God is shown still to be in control.
      (2) To rebuke proud kings of Babylon.
      Cp. Christ, Mt. .28:18.
    2. EL ROI - The Strong One Who Sees
      It is found only once in Scripture, Gen. 16:13.
      (1) Comfort - He sees the afflictions of His own.
      (2) Warning - He sees the hypocrisies of the human heart.
    3. EL SHADDAI - translated Almighty God, i.e., The God Who Is Enough!
      From El - Strong One
      Shad - breast

      El Shaddai carries the significance of the Ail-Sufficient One.
      Cp. Gen. 49:25; Job 3:12; Ps. 22:9; Isa. 28:9. Its first occurrence is in Gen. 17:1-20. There is a two-fold work:
      (1) He comforts and makes fruitful: Gen. 28:3-4; 35:10-12; 49:25;
      (2) Since His work is to make fruitful, He chastens: Ruth 1:20; Job (31 times in book), cp. John 15; Heb. 12:10-11.
    4. EL OLAM - translated Everlasting God
      El - Strong One
      Olam - hidden, secret, concealed

      Olam was used by Hebrews to indicate indefinite time: Lev. 25:32; Josh. 24:2. It came to mean eternity, as in Ps. 90:2. The first use of the name is in Gen. 21:33. It is used in a two-fold connection:
      (1) El Olam is inexhaustible. Cp. Isa. 40:28; Gen. 9:16; 17:7.
      (2) El Olam is the God of mystery. He cannot be understood except by revelation, Isa. 40:28.
    1. JEHOVAH JIREH - The LORD will provide
      Jireh = "to see; to see to it; to provide." It is only used in Genesis 22:13-14. Jehovah Jireh provides the necessary sacrifice. The idea of provider occurs often. Cp. Ps. 34:8-10; John 1:29; Rom. 8:32; Heb. 4:16; Phil. 4:19; Rev. 3:17. Abraham named the place Jehovah Jireh to remind the people that Jehovah provides.
    2. JEHOVAH NISSI - The LORD my banner
      Nissi == "conspicuous, to glisten, to gleam"; hence, the word is used to indicate a banner, ensign, or war flag. It is used in Exodus 17:15; the occasion is that of a battle with the Amalekites. Victory was gained when the leadership of Jehovah was recognized. Note the fact that Amalek was a descendant of Esau -- a type of fleshly man, Gen. 36:9-12. As Christians we are constantly opposed by the flesh. Cp. Gal. 5:13-17; Rom. 7:13-25; Heb. 12:1-2. Victory is gained through dependence upon the Holy Spirit and "looking unto Christ."
    3. JEHOVAH SHALOM - The LORD is peace
      Shalom = "the harmony of relationship or a reconciliation based upon the com­pletion of a transaction, the payment of a debt, the giving, of satisfaction. " Names of God, Nathan Stone, p. 15. Cp. the use of shalom: Dt. 27:6 (whole); Dan. 5:26 (finished); Gen. 15:16 (full); Ex. 21:34 (make it good). The majority of times it is translated peace (170 times).

      Jehovah Shalom is found in Judges 6:24. God is revealed as the peace-giver. Ps. 29:11; Isa. 26:2-4; 57:20-21. Christ is revealed to us as Jehovah Shalom. Isa. 9:6; John 14:27; 16:33; Col. 1:20; Rom. 5:1; Phil. 4:7-9. The student should distinguish between:
      (1) peace of God
      (2) peace with God
    4. JEHOVAH SABAOTH - The LORD of hosts (armies)
      Sabaoth = "to assemble." This title occurs only in the times of Israel's great need, i.e., times of crisis. Cp. 1 Sam. 1:3, 11; 4:4.
      (1) In the times of the Judges, 1 Sam. 1:3.
      (2) In the days of the establishment of the Kingdom, 1 Sam. 15:2; 17:45; 2 Sam. 5:10; 7:8.
      (3) In the time of national decay. It occurs 62 times in Isaiah and 72 times in Jeremiah.
      (4) During the restoration. Hag. 2:2-9; Zech. 4:6; Mal. 3:16-17.
      (5) In connection with promises of future national blessing, 2 Sam. 7:26-27; Isa. 9:7; Jer. 31:35.
    5. JEHOVAH M'QADDESH - The LORD thy Sanctifier
      Qadesh = "to pronounce clean; to set aside; to consecrate; to hallow."
      This title occurs in Exodus 31:13. Cp. Ex. 19:4-6, 10, 14; 25:1-8; 29:43; Lev. 21:23. It is still true that God is Jehovah M'qaddesh. He sets his people apart in this age. Cp. Heb. 10:10; 13:12; 1 Pet. 2:9; Acts 26:18; Eph. 2:20-21; 1 Cor. 3:16-17. God expects us to live as a people set apart. Cp. John 17:17-19; 1 Pet, 1:14-16; Rom. 6:4; Gal. 1:4; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:1; 5:26; etc.

    6. JEHOVAH TSIDQENU - The LORD our righteousness
      Tsedeq = "righteous." The name occurs only once, in Jeremiah 23:6. The Branch of David will be a righteous Branch. The Lord Jesus Christ is Jehovah Tsidqenu. Cp. Isa. 11:5; 61:10; Rom. 11:26; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 10:3-4.
    (Reread B, 3, on p. 2, with regard to the following compounds.
    1. JEHOVAH RAAH - The LORD is my Shepherd
      Raah = "to tend; to pasture."
      The title is used in Psalm 23:1. Cp. the NT picture of Christ:
      (1) Psalm 22 - Christ is the Good Shepherd who has given Himself for the sheep, John 10:11.
      (2) Psalm 23 - Christ is the Great Shepherd who has risen again from the dead to lead and care for His sheep, Heb. 13:20.
      (3) Psalm 24 - Christ is the Chief Shepherd who is coming in glory to reign and reward His under-shepherds, 1 Pet. 5:4.
    2. JEHOVAH EL GMOLAH - LORD God of recompense
      Gmolah = "to give one his just deserts; to requite." The name is used in Jeremiah 51:56. Note the fact that the right of judgment belongs to God. Cp. Dt. 32:35; Prov. 20:22; Rom. 12:17-21.
    3. JEHOVAH NAKEH - The LORD that smiteth
      Nakeh - "to strike." The name occurs in Ezekiel 7:9.
    4. JEHOVAH SHAMMAH - The LORD who is present
      Shawm = "there." The name occurs once in Ezekiel 48:35. The significance of this name is given to us all the way through Scripture, as we see the character of God. God has always desired the fellowship of men. He constantly seeks men. Cp. Creation; the days prior to the Flood; call of Abraham; the nation Israel; the present gracious invitation to the lost. Cp. Mt. 28:20; Christ is Jehovah Shammah to us today.
    5. JEHOVAH ROPHE - The LORD who heals
      Rophe - "to heal."
      This is used in Exodus 15:26.


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