El Shaddai

Trevor Peterson 06PETERSON at cua.edu
Tue Dec 24 10:17:21 EST 2002


>===== Original Message From Chris Watts-westmaas <watts-westmaas at zonnet.nl> 
=====
>The next word that has bugged me is the word: SHADDAI, root sdy.  I have
>read briefly that this finds itself back to the akkadian: SADU/SADDU'a,
>meaning 'mountain';  Also that 'SADU' - mountain wilderness and 'SADEH' -
>uncultivated field go back to the root - Shin, Dalet, Yud.

There are other suggestions as to the etymology. George Mendenhall suggested 
in a presentation at the SBL meeting last month in Toronto that it is a 
geographical referent. I forget where the pair of mountains he was considering 
were located. But he added repeatedly that the biblical writers probably did 
not remember where the name originated. They simply knew it as a traditional 
designation for a particular deity.

>In view of all
>this how on earth do we arrive at Shaddai to mean Almighty in the context
>of GOD Almighty.  Could it not possibly be that God revealed Himself to
>Abraham in the context of his wilderness wanderings as 'GOD of the
>WIlderness'?

As with any other word study, etymology should be considered only with 
significant reservations, especially when dealing with proper nouns, which can 
have varied (and questionable) traditional etymologies. I don't know that God 
Almighty is the best translation--probably better, as with any proper noun, to 
transliterate it. It might have some support from versions, but I don't have 
any handy here to check right now.

Trevor Peterson
CUA/Semitics




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