Fri Mar 16 01:39:12 EST 2001

Tony and Solomon,

My recent research on ADON resulted in the following information:

Several forms of 'DN are used of God:
'ADON = Lord, as in "Lord of all the earth"
'ADONI = my Lord (singular) [found in 'ADONIYAH, name David gave his son]
'ADONAY = my Lord (plural) used as an honorific plural like 'ELOHIYM
'ADONAY = O Lord or Lord of All [an afformative]
LADONAY = to my Lord or to the Lord

The meaning behind 'ADONAY is based on one's personal relationship with God
[my Lord] as well as a designation of honor [O Lord].  In 'ADONAY both
meanings run concurrently, context emphasizing one meaning more than the
other.  The plural form is used throughout Scripture and means a few times
"my Lord" but most often "the Lord."  The personal address, 'ADONI or "my
Lord" was probably used first then developed to using the plural form
'ADONAY, still meaning "my Lord" and used with a singular verb.

ADONAY is discussed under the category of 'honorifics plurals' ["Honorifics
and the Like"] in An Introduction to Biblical Syntax, eds. Bruce Waltke and
M. O'Connor, which also considers the afformative possibility.  An extensive
discussion of 'ADON and 'ADONAY is found in the Theological Dictionary of
the Old Testament, eds. G. Johannes Botterwick and Helmer Ringgren, trans.
John T. Willis, which also points to Ugaritic texts which follow the same
pattern of use for this word.

I would be interested to hear from others on the use of this word in
Gen.18:3, 27 and 19:2, 18.

Russell Rankin
Maple Grove, MN, USA
rrankin at

-----Original Message-----
From: Numberup at [mailto:Numberup at]
Sent: Thursday, March 15, 2001 6:30 PM
To: Biblical Hebrew
Cc: Biblical Hebrew
Subject: Re: Adonay

The _Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament_ by Harris, Archer, and
Waltke notes
that 'DONAI appears more than 300 times in the HB, and may represent an
plural or plural of majesty." (Vol. 1, page 13)  Some translations thus
render 'DONAI
(with) YHWH  (cf. Genesis 15:2) as "O Sovereign LORD" (NIV);  "LORD
(CEV);  "Sovereign Lord Jehovah" (NWT), indicating that the word means more
than just
ordinarily "lord."

Solomon Landers

Tony Costa wrote:

> Dear Friends,
>   I understand that the Hebrew word 'DON means "lord, master", but it also
> appears as 'DONAI and is also used of God. At first glance, it looks like
> is in the construct state, but I am understand that it is actually in the
> plural and means "my lords", and is so used even in contemporary Judaism
> place of the Divine Name when reading the MT. Your comments would be
> appreciated.
>                                          Tony Costa

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list