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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Psalm 68: Shaddai cont.

I thought I gave Shaddai rather short shrift last time so I am going to continue with this topic. There are three derivations of Shaddai that I did not mention. In this comment on my previous post, ElShaddai Edwards addresses two of them.
    It is easy to see how there are massive cultural and linguistic overlays and assumptions to dig through in finding relevant meanings in translating El Shaddai.

    For example, the "mountain" translation tradition is connected to the Akkadian (i.e. Mesopotamian, from whence Abram originally came) word sadu. Evidently "mountain" was a common Semitic word for gods residing on a cosmic mountain that was the center of the earth.

    Abram then travels south and encounters "El", the father god of the Canaanites. Put El and a local variant of sadu together and you have the Father God of the Mountain.

    A different linguistic path is that "el" is used as a "god of" modifier of whatever attribute followed. So "El Shaddai" would mean "God of Shaddai", perhaps the local god of the ancient city of Shaddai located on the banks of the Euphrates river in northern Syria, perhaps near Haran, where Abram lived after leaving Ur with his father, Terah.
The third association which I did not mention is "He is sufficient." Here is the entry from Jewish Encyclopedia.com
    The word Shaddai (), which occurs along with El, is also used independently as a name of God,chiefly in the Book of Job. It is commonly rendered "the Almighty" (in LXX., sometimes παντοκράτωρ).

    The Hebrew root "shadad," from which it has been supposed to be derived, means, however, "to overpower," "to treat with violence," "to lay waste." This would give Shaddai the meaning "devastator," or "destroyer," which can hardly be right. It is possible, however, that the original significance was that of "overmastering" or "overpowering strength," and that this meaning persists in the divine name.

    Another interesting suggestion is that it may be connected with the Assyrian "shadu" (mountain), an epithet sometimes attached to the names of Assyrian deities.

    It is conjectured also that the pointing of may be due to an improbable rabbinical explanation of the word as ("He who is sufficient"), and that the word originally may have been without the doubling of the middle letter. According to Ex. vi. 2, 3, this is the name by which God was known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
I can't provide more than that. However, I can explore in further depth how Shaddai came to be translated into English as Almighty when there is no linguistic rationale for that whatsoever. So, next time, where did the name "Almighty" come from? Not from Shaddai!

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2 Comments:

At Mon Nov 05, 08:09:00 AM, Blogger Bob MacDonald said...

I really like the etymology of sufficiency - the suggestion for this meaning is in BDB - nice idea. I wonder how it could be substantiated.

 
At Mon Nov 05, 10:12:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I don't have BDB. Can you quote it?
Is BDB available on the internet?

 

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