I normally do not respond to those I disagree with, but in this case I am going to make an exception. I make this exception fully aware that others will disagree, and that is fine. I am referencing a facebook post from a friend of mine. She is a gender equality champion within the church, and advocates for the inclusion of women in pastoral roles. That debate is not what this post is about, but in recent days she has had many posts that say that God is both a father and a mother. That is also a post for another day, but today’s post has to do with her definition of El Shaddai. In a facebook post from October 3 she writes that El Shaddai means “many breasted one.” I disagree for the following reasons:
El is another name translated as “God” and can be used in conjunction with other words to designate various aspects of God’s character. El Shaddai occurs 48 times in the Bible. Out of the 48 occurrences it appears 42 times in the patriarchal period: 9 times in the Torah, 2 times in Ruth and 31 times in Job. It occurs only 6 times outside of this period: 4 times in the prophets and 2 times in the Psalms.
Another word much like Shaddai, and from which many believe it derived, is shad meaning “breast” in Hebrew (some other scholars believe that the name is derived from an Akkadian word Šadu, meaning “mountain,” suggesting strength and power).
This refers to God completely nourishing, satisfying, and supplying His people with all their needs as a mother would her child. Connected with the word for God—El—this denotes a God who freely gives nourishment and blessing, He is our Sustainer.
Knowing that God is El Shaddai matters. It matters because it reminds us that the Lord is our mighty God, and like Him there is no other. Theology matters and if we do not have a right theology then our concept of God is off. God is the author and sustainer of life, but we should not twist words to fit our own ideologies and personal theological preferences.
This post is short compared to others, but I felt that the correct meaning of the word was important. God bless you.