“adonai Tsvaot” (hebrew Insight)

The Hebrew Adonai Tsvaot (יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֑וֹת) has been used differently in different contexts. For example, in “A Mighty Fortress is our God” hymn in old, but still comprehensible English, the translator of the original German version in referring to the same idea has:

“Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.”

I once heard in a church service stated that the worshipers have no reason to be confused – the Lord Sabaoth simply refers to the Lord of the Sabbath! (Nothing can be further from the truth of course as we will see momentarily).

In Isaiah 6 we read that the great prophet heard angels call out to each other:  “Holy, Holy, Holy is Adodai Tsvaot!” (קָד֛וֹשׁ קָד֖וֹשׁ יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֑וֹת)

The last two words make up a phrase “Adonai Tsvaot” – “Lord God Almighty, the Lord of Hosts or Lord Sabbaoth” as it is sometimes translated. The very last word is “tsvaot” (צְבָא֑וֹת). The word “tsava” (צְבָא֑) means “army” and together with the plural feminine ending “ot” (ֹוֹת) we get “of the Armies.” More literal translation, therefore, is “Lord of the Armies”.

Nothing illustrates this use better than the example of Joshua meeting the ultimate Messenger of the LORD in Joshua 5. When Joshua first sow this Great Warrior, he inquired if he was for “them” or for their enemies. The answer he got was – no.

Not letting Joshua wonder too long the Heavenly Warrior added, “for I have come as the Commander of the Army of the LORD.” (לֹ֗א כִּ֛י אֲנִ֥י שַׂר־צְבָֽא־יְהוָ֖ה עַתָּ֣ה בָ֑אתִי).

Israel’s God is not satisfied with assisting Israel’s army (fighting on her side). He will lead Israel into battle Himself.

Joshua immediately understood to whom he was talking. He fell face down and quickly took of his shoes as Moses did before him at the sight of God in the burning bush for the place upon which his feet stood was holy.

NOTE: To enroll into new LIVE online “Jewish Background of the New Testament” course taught by me, please, leave your info by clicking HERE. (eTeacherBiblical is registering students for 50% of the regular tuition cost of its courses).

About the author

Dr. Eli Lizorkin-EyzenbergTo secure your spot in our new course “The Jewish Background of New Testament” - CLICK HERE NOW

You might also be interested in:

Where To Study Biblical Hebrew –...

By Julia Blum

The Lessons Of Exodus

By Julia Blum

Join the conversation (38 comments)

Leave a Reply

  1. gustavo vargas angel

    Kat, shalom¡ The semblance of the Almighty God was introduced to us through the person of Jesus Christ, giving us and leaving it to share with else inhabitants of the world, believe it, listening it or not, the word shall have been preached and played, on this way, I think, the Kingdom of Heavens will be a minute closer than yesterday, and the will

  2. ruth hirt

    Amen. HE is the L-RD G-D Tzvaoth, The L-RD G-D of Host, The Mighty ONE !!! Hallelu YAH !!!

  3. Kat

    gustavo, Shalom
    Peace to you – The highest good for you is Christ’s image conformed in me.
    Romans 8:29

  4. gustavo vargas angel

    Kat,shalom¡ Your call, as mine, came from the O.T., because there is scheduled the job that you shall do in any moment,the right one; read your call again, and think about, asking the Lord may give you the necesary light to understand. Adonay aleicum.

  5. Kat

    Stephen, blessings in your excellent path of learning. Three words describe why the pace at which I learn is hindered: Ten Commandments, under law, Peniel. I believe we are in the New Testament, but my call came from the Torah. Why? His word is transforming in my life, not fading. ( 2 Cor 12-18) Lets never stop learning!
    Peace be with you!

  6. Roque Candia

    Dios. Victoria final. Amor y justicia son tan grandes, que hay que vivirla aún sabiendo derrota certera. La Fé es victoria, pero hay que seguir a Dios, aún en el infierno. Sería dificil, pero lo valioso debe imponerse.

  7. Ramon Antonio

    Very inspired writing on this important name. Just remember that Joshua thought he was before God but the angel himself corrected him that he was not God but his commander of armies.
    Interesting thing this issues of the encounters in the Bible. Merit a deeper study.

    1. Cathy Arvin

      Ramon, I don’t see anywhere that Joshua believed He was G-d, but I believe that it showed He was the image of the invisible G-d by the fact of Him telling Joshua to remove His sandals for where they were standing was Holy ground. Just as G-d told Moshe. Is it not written over and over “YHVH of Hosts?” Does He not use HIS Name in the verse?

  8. Kat

    I would like to have a deeper understanding of this word. I see often there is a separation of Jews and non-Jews, Torah and New Testament, New Covenant and Old Covenants. …. How should this concept be applied in our attitudes in “joining”?

    1. Stephen Lockwood

      Kat: I am going to take the point here in replying to your question, as I feel it is very important. Too often we let others decide what the scripture means, whether they are our Pastor/Priest/Rabi (they have the College Degrees, don’t they)? Or we come across somebody who seems to have studied the Bible a lot, and they have a very forceful personality, so they get a following, and wanting to feel included we follow them too.
      Personally, I felt that Yehovah wants us to think for ourselves. But how can we know what the “Word of Yehovah” really is, unless we can read it for ourselves. I therefore embarked on a path of learning through e-Teacher in their Biblical Hebrew course. For me, it is the best bet, because you have set class times and are on live video with your teacher. This then breaks down some of the barrier of Jew and Goyim (Non-Jew), as you now have access to the true meanings of Torah. BTW (by-the-way), as to the separation of Torah and New Testament, it is full of Torah both the Gospels AND the Letters.
      As to the separation of New and Old covenant, personally I believe that we are still in the “Old Covenant” times, as New Jerusalem has not descended, and Messiah is not yet our light (Rev. 21).

      Again, this is your decision as to how you want to go forward in your learning. Remember, Paul told us to “Work out our Salvation, with fear and trembling” (Philip 2:12). That is an active statement. Our belief is not something static, it MUST be dynamic. You never stop learning.

      Peace be with you.

      1. Sonia Ann Azzopardi

        You should never stop learning God’s way not man’s way there is a complete difference, please read my comment also to you at the bottom.

  9. gustavo vargas angel

    I think we should take the side of praying roughly by PEACE, given by the Lord of the armies, because otherwise, could be a very unpleasant third world war( I do not think overreacting) Best for you.

  10. elijahworkz

    In light of the information wars that are going on between Russia and Ukraine and the West – I think it’s a good reminder that if we’re fighting in God’s army – we’re always going to be on the same side.
    He doesn’t take sides – we need to choose His side.