Names of God: Adonai

Musings, Names of God

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  ~ Matthew 7:21

It is sobering to think that all who call themselves Christians might not really have a relationship with Jesus Christ.  In the New Testament, Lord, is Kyrie but its counterpart in the Old Testament is Adonai. 

Adonai is one of the three names most often used for God in the Bible behind Elohim and YHWH. Elohim is formal and almost more like the title “God” where YHWH is more personal and identifying specifically the Hebrew God but Adonai means Lord or Master.

Adonai, like Elohim, is the plural form of Adon but when referencing YHWH it is used with singular verbs for an emphatic form indicating the plural of majesty or the “royal we” as it were.  Both Elohim and Adonai are sometimes applied to other Semitic deities and the singular adon could mean any lord or master and has been attributed to men and angels.  

Where there is a Master there is a slave or servant.  This name is first introduced in Genesis 15:2 when Abram speaks humbly before God inquiring how the LORD will make him the father of nations when he does not yet have even a single heir and again when he speaks on behalf of the residents of Sodom.

Another use of Adonai is a long-standing sign of reverence and humility.  The vowel points of Adonai are used to insulate the personal name revealed to Moses at the burning bush. See more about this in the post about YHWH.  Observant Jews even substitute the name Adonai when they read YHWH out of reverence for the personal Name.

There are heavy uses of Adonai in Isaiah and it occurs 200 times in Ezekiel and 11 times in Daniel Chapter 9. 

The use of the Name, Adonai, challenges the one who speaks it to live like they mean it.

If we call Him our Lord and Master are we willing to live subject to His will? 

Are we willing to submit our plans and aspirations for His Glory?

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FATHER, 

YOU ARE our ADONAI! You are our Lord and Master!  You are not just our Creator but YOU are our Sustainer and You Will holds the heaven and earth together.  

It is the height of arrogance to believe that we know better but our sin nature temps us again and again to question Your Supremacy and love for us.

You are Holy and You are more Righteous than any other being.  Christ’s love on the Cross and the power of the Holy Spirit reminds us of this and we pray that YOU will continue to teach us Your Ways!

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Names of God: YHWH

Names of God

Name/Attribute/Meaning: I AM; the self-existent, eternal God

Transliteration: YHWH, Jehovah, sometimes GOD (Genesis 15:2)

First Place the Name appears: Genesis 2:4

The Hebrew names Elohim and Adonai are applied to other Semitic deities but YHWH is unique to the God of the Bible. This name is often referred to as the tetragrammaton (Latin for four letters) and sometimes called the “personal name” of the Hebrew God. In English translations, YHWH is translated as the LORD with all capitals as compared to Adonai which is translated the Lord with only the first letter capitalized (Lord) Early Hebrew did not have vowel markers which were added later by the Masoretes to assist in reading. Scribes believed the name reflected by the Tetragrammaton to be so holy that it was never spoken aloud and a new writing utensil was employed, the word written, the utensil broken and not used again. Such reverence has actually caused the true pronunciation to be lost.

In order to further protect the name YHWH they began writing it with the vowels from Adonai creating YAHOWAH but continued to pronounce Adonai. When the first English translators encountered Jahowah they did not realize it was an artificial construct and transliterated it into English as Jehovah. The current English pronunciation of the YHWH is derived from simply adding the vowels “a” and “e” between the consonants of the Tetragrammaton to make it pronounceable and is interchangeable with Jehovah in compound names. Conservative Jewish tradition still does not read it aloud or use the transliterated version of Yahweh. (See Bible Project video about YHWH)

The revelation of this name to Moses was based on the Hebrew verb “to be” and is found in Exodus 3:14 when the LORD reveals Himself to Moses in the burning bush. The name “Elohim” is used in relation to creation throughout the first chapter of Genesis. In Genesis 2:4 the name YHWH is introduced in conjunction with Elohim (LORD God) in relation to the creation and relationship to humanity. Moses, the traditional author of the Torah, first five books of the Bible, would therefore have made the decision to insert the personal, relational name of God in Genesis 2.

Tell them that I AM sent you. He defies description yet allows us a glimpse of His Glory in this revelation of Himself.

YHWH is often used as the first part of compound descriptive names for God. It is easier to describe what God is not than to do justice to what HE IS…

All of His attributes modify each other perfectly. He is both mercifully just and justly merciful.

This is difficult to understand but allows us to glimpse the enormity of identifying God. 

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Father,

YOU ARE… What an incredible blessing it is to be able to turn to YOU!  To be able to know YOU on any level is an incredible gift but for YOU to choose to reveal YOURSELF to us and desire a relationship with us is beyond comprehension!

Thank YOU for reaching out to us and help us to never take this relationship for granted! To know YOU and be known by YOU is a priceless treasure!

Help us to continue to build on the foundation YOU have provided and seek to know YOU better in every area of our lives!

In Jesus’ Holy Name we pray, ~ Amen