“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.

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  1. George W Walker.

    One Reason Im Glad today, is that I saw this meaning, That which the Name Lord Sabaot- Tsavot.

    I love the Study of Hebrew.

    Wish i had known about this class and attempted to enroll and learn it LONG AGO.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      That’s great. Spread the wold. Let others know 🙂

      1. George W Walker.

        I need to study more, and as i do each day, learning anew, in class, though its not as deep or as much new knowlege, i actually without trying at all, a witness of what is possible, is obvious to anyone i know.

  2. Edward Siders

    REPLACE lies with TRUTH———— he will come , not to start a war, But to end all Wars ,

    1. Monique T Tedder

      I have been studying the Bible for a long time different version. Recently someone wrote you never get the fullness until to look at the Hebrew. Now that is my quest. I have leaned so much in a matter of minutes. Praise God. Thank you.

  3. Edward Siders

    SHALOM———– all i want to know is what my FATHER says . Besides he is the only one that knows . IF we ask him ,and listen to his voice inside of us . HE will tell us everthing we need to know .And it will not be what we think . Is the truth ——- WE have two minds one is on top of our shoulders . THE outher is inside our chest . which the scriptures call the mind of CHRIST . Rember the carnal mind can and will deceive us ever time we use it .

  4. gustavo vargas angel

    I think that you do not need a religion, (which according some people is opium for people), but you really need is a belief, just a little one, and that belief be based on G-d Almighty and His Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, They will do the rest of the job to do; And some day, closer than you think, Peace will be,for everybody,everywhere.

  5. Sonia Ann Azzopardi

    Tonight I watched them fighting, the Muslims and the Jews. Both blaming each other, no one wanting to lose. Fighting for their rights, and also their land, but what I see as their problem, is that their religons don’t go hand in hand. Knock down the Wailing Wall, demolish the mosque within, take away what they see is their religon, let them see what is truly within. They have a faith around them, they have a faith within, no BOOKS or buildings are needed, but the light burried under is growing dim. Imagine no religion, no need to fuss and fight, you know I think John Lennon, was the one who got it right.

  6. Dan Lim

    Thank you so much for such learning. I’m new here. Did I miss anything on the covenants?

  7. Sonia Ann Azzopardi

    Stephen if you think we are under Moses rules after reading the NT I think you should read it again, Christ fulfilled those rules and his burden is light, the Jewish laws can not be kept fully that is why Christ came to show us the true way to the KoH. I feel very sorry for those that do not c the light the way Christ taught it 🙁

  8. Sonia Ann Azzopardi

    It is not us fighting it in God’s army it means God has an angel army and there are many references to this when God goes ahead of Moses and David.
    Is there anyway I can get a proper English translation of the Jewish New n Old Testament?

  9. gustavo vargas angel

    Cathy: As I can remember, was Jesus who said “if you love me, keep my commandments”, but , as I poorly can understand, that words are referred to the highest commandments, of all: Love God all over the things and to your neighbor as to yourself, and according Jesus said, these are the most biggest commandments of the whole law . Doing it, u r Ok!

  10. gustavo vargas angel

    Kat: Jesus said “come to me such as such you are”, that is why you should not be worry about else people or circumstances”take your cross each day and follow me”, troubles?pains?suffer? Jesus sees your soul and heals it, giving peace to your mind and heart.( See psalm 23) David wrote in deep anguish,perhaps like yours. Best for you.

  11. Kat

    Ramon, was your comment to me? My focus was on three words Lord, Sabbath, Rest. I was not challenging whether Jesus is God (highly debated too), but questioning what He is Lord of to determine when He is Lord.

  12. Kat

    gustavo, I trust JESUS with my circumstances (2 Tim 1:12). I see my comment posted in the wrong place. This has been very helpful to improve my vocabulary 🙂 If I understand correctly, Adonai Tsvaot (Jesus) is my Commander when I enter His rest.

  13. Ramon Sanchez

    Web Joshua tales to the warrior in his front, he referís to him as my Lord. In biblical terms, this reference means God. It has been subject of thousands of pages the is due of the understanding of the various writers as who was the personification of God of when was God actually communicating directly. Thus, The Lord, the angel of The Lord,

  14. gustavo vargas angel

    Do not worry, Jesus has dead once , in flesh and blood, but His Spirit lives for ever in us, giving us new hope each day, thence, forget the paganics rites about death and resurrection yearly , that means nothing( excepting money in the bag).

  15. kat

    Perhaps I would use Jesus more in my dialogue if I saw the Festival of the First Fruits, rather than watching Jesus die each year.

    1. Cathy Arvin

      Kat, that is a great idea. Not only in the first fruits but in the Passover. He is in all the feasts. Jesus said to remember him when we do the Passover each year. (Do this in remembrance of Me.” Israel did not have to do anything to get out of Egypt except to put their faith in the blood of the lamb. Afterwards, G-d invites them into a covenant

  16. John Yarde

    What is wrong with Christian worshipping on Sundays. Are Christian obligated to the particles of Jewish festivals and belief system.

    1. Cathy Arvin

      John, read Ephesians chapter 2, Paul says that all believers who are in Christ are now fellow citizens, members of Israel. G-d never changed Sabbath – the church has no right to do so. We are told “If you Love Me Keep my Commandments.” So the Sabbath as well as the rest of the festivals are G-d’s appointed times to meet with Israel, all of Israel!

  17. gustavo vargas angel

    mine too, in this way, I am trying to do the best I understand. If you prefer, send me your personal e-mail, for a larger chat and a better understanding. This is your choice,anyway. Best for you.
    PD.: Daniel has my e-mail, by the way.

  18. gustavo vargas angel

    Shalom Kat, At first, Jesus was introduced to me by the reading of the Bible(however I had hear about, almost as a secret) and there began the wish to know, not much at beggining, some more after the years; Nowadays, HE(I think &expect) rules my whole acts. And like your, my call is in Old Testament as I said before, there is your job to do, and

  19. Kat

    Gustavo Shalom , At first God was not introduced to me by Jesus because the gospel I heard divided me into past and present. I ask Jesus to join me at a place in time- now (forgiveness). I recognized God when I ask Jesus to be the Commander of all of my life.. This would now include my past mindset of keeping the commandments. Adonai Tsvaot

  20. gustavo vargas angel

    …….Kat… of the Lord of all the things, the biggest and smallest, shall be accomplished. After that, you must await. Best for you.

  21. 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

  22. ruth hirt

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

  23. Kat

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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?

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.