El Shadai (hebrew Insight)

El ShadaiEl ShaDai (אֵל שָׁדַּי)is just one of the many names of God in Hebrew. El means “God.” The rest, however, is slightly more complicated.

In our Bibles, אֵל שָׁדַּי “El Shadai” is most often (mistakenly) translated as “God Almighty”. The main reason for this stems from an opinion that Hebrew word שָׂדַּי ShaDai is connected with the verb לְשְׁדוד liShDoD, which means “to destroy” or “overpower”.  For example, Hebrew word for “bandit” has the same root –שׁודֵד ShoDeD.

El Shadai אֵל שָׁדַּי does have another meaning though. The word שָׁד ShaD has a much closer grammatical connection to ShaDai and it means – “breast.” Moreover, when a word ends with an “i”or “ai” it is almost always means “my”. So, literally, “El Shadai” could very well mean “God (is) my Breast/s”.

If we consider this intriguing imagery as interpretive possibility we may see that the breast is one of the key symbols of sustenance and parental love passed on from God, the parent, to humanity, God’s child. So instead of “God Almighty”, El Shadai should probably be translated as “God All-sufficient” instead.

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

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  1. oveida

    Thank you for the clarity on El Shaddai, the name of God, the breast of God. I would like to hear more about its Hebrew meaning in reference to God as a Mother, El Shaddai. Thanks


    1. Doron Bates

      The expression SHADAY is the initials in Hebrew of S,Shomer,D,Dlatot,I,Israel
      Shomer is Guardian, Dlatot are Doors or Gates of Israel.
      SDI ; As Hebrew vowels are not letters but punctuation that its not written – when pronouncing SDI – the reader ads vowels for ease thus SDI became ShaDaI or ShaDaY
      This title was given to Hashem at the time of the plagues inflicted on Egypt.
      Houses that belonged to Israel were marked so that GOD would not inflict those plagues on them.

  2. Nathalie Rhabbles

    Thank you for this powerful revaluation on El Shadaï .

  3. Tarik Gulamo

    Very interest and congratulation for the explanation. If you put Shadday in translator, some of them will translate as “my breast”. And in Cabala Shadday El Chay is the name of the Yesod Sephirot, rulled by the arcangel Gabriel, witch is related with the Moon and the Water element. The Moon is the Great Mother, so breast is related with this king of energy. I also descovery the meaning of Elohim, and its related with the Holy Spirit, any idea? Regards

  4. Gene Linzey

    Brother Eli, Greetings from Arkansas, USA. Thank you for the explanation for El Shadai.

  5. Jasmine

    I adore this article. Since you have written this blog, have you come across new meaning of El Shaddai? Also, I was reading the comments. I don’t understand how El Shaddai can mean God is my breast and that He is a mountain as the same time. Please explain.

    1. Johnny A. Salazar

      El Shadai is all powerfull , omniputant, everything and nothing, everywhere and nowhere at the same time. El shadai is the very breath in the brest that gives life to a mear servant so unworthy, and undeserving as myself. All glory to my father in heaven, ruler of heaven and earth, king of kings God of God’s.

    2. DORON Brates

      Shadai comes from the initials n a mezuzah that Jews affidavit to the door frame outside the house. It is the initials of the words in Hebrew : shomer dlatot Israel – guardian of the doors of Israel . It’s based on the exodus from Egypt. God would not afflict any plagues on Jewish homes. This is done to this day – all jews have a mezuzah outside their front doors inscribed with the the initials : SHADAI. Inside the mezuzah there is a prayer written by a scribe .

  6. […] qualities.  One of the Old Testament names of God is El Shaddai and literally means “God is my Breast.” Matthew 23:37 and Luke13:34 say, “…How often I wanted to gather your children […]

  7. Jacinda, Episcopalians and El Shaddai

    […] interpretation of the ancient texts. She pointed to a story in Genesis that has God saying, ‘I am El Shaddai’, usually translated as God Almighty but here presented as ‘I am the Breasted One’. Apparently, […]

    1. maregaal

      This Is Maregaal, try El Shaddai as….
      First El is the ancient personal name of the God of Yisrael and before that the father of gods in the old Canaanite pantheon. Shaddai can mean mountain but the ancients worshipped on mountains so you can say, El of the Heights or El on High

  8. Cynthia Ebert

    This is an informative blog. I have been studying ‘Elohim and have of course looked at ‘El Shaddai. I remember years ago when a wonderful Jewish man Mr. Israel Mannes, an orthodox Jew who escaped Germany prior to the Holocaust, was trying to teach me Hebrew from a child’s primer I had at the time. I say “tried” because I wasn’t a good pupil back then. In one of our many discussions he began a soliloquy about ‘El Shaddai, and finished with, ” ‘El Shaddai, the one who says Shad! It is finished.” I didn’t even know enough to ask him any questions. Today, I am looking at the December 2013 threads.
    P. Albert
    Someone told me, it literally means: the G-d who said “enough!” – Ha El she
    amar SHe Daiv- Enough of the unrighteousness of wicked people towards
    G-d’s pious followers.
    I obviously do not know Mr. Mannes’ ultimate source for his statement. I only know that his father was a rabbi and began teaching him Hebrew when he was 3-years-old. I have nothing more to offer in this regard.

    I don’t want to read too much into this interpretation by Mr. Mannes. It loosely fits P. Alberts statement, “the G-d who said “enough!” in that when it is finally enough already, it is also finished. It also loosely fits your intrepretation that by being “breast” it can come to mean God all Sufficient. Both enough and sufficient are the end of needs, thus reflecting that whatever is the need, it is now enough, sufficient, complete and it is finished. Okay, I could be stretching it, but there is a loose connection between the 3 this way.

    I must confess I continued in my studies because of his many stories. He would wax on quite a bit about all things Jewish, according to his life and world view. I confess I was in it for the stories. Of the many conversations in my life, I remember his stories like they were yesterday. He was an utterly delightful person.

    This is just my mental whimsy today. I’m not calling it scholarship. I appreciate the better scholarship I read here. Thank you for this blog.

    1. Amanda

      On another train of thought – how lovely to hear of the stories of this Jewish brother’s life, surely you have been blessed 🙂