Northwest Semitic word for "god"
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El (Hebrew: אֵל) is the Hebrew word for "god". In the Hebrew Bible, it occurs as a name of God and as part of the divine names El Elyon, El Shaddai and Elohim. It is conventially translated into English as "God".
- וְאַתָּ֞ה אָמַ֤רְתָּ בִֽלְבָבְךָ֙ הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם אֶעֱלֶ֔ה מִמַּ֥עַל לְכוֹכְבֵי־אֵ֖ל אָרִ֣ים כִּסְאִ֑י וְאֵשֵׁ֥ב בְּהַר־מוֹעֵ֖ד בְּיַרְכְּתֵ֥י צָפֽוֹן׃
- Isaiah 14:13
- Once you thought in your heart, "I will climb to the sky; higher than the stars of God I will set my throne. I will sit in the mount of assembly, on the summit of Zaphon."
- For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.
- You said in your heart, "I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon."
- וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ בְּזֹאת֙ תֵּֽדְע֔וּן כִּ֛י אֵ֥ל חַ֖י בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֑ם וְהוֹרֵ֣שׁ יוֹרִ֣ישׁ מִ֠פְּנֵיכֶ֠ם אֶת־הַכְּנַעֲנִ֨י וְאֶת־הַחִתִּ֜י וְאֶת־הַחִוִּ֗י וְאֶת־הַפְּרִזִּי֙ וְאֶת־הַגִּרְגָּשִׁ֔י וְהָאֱמֹרִ֖י וְהַיְבוּסִֽי׃
- Joshua 3:10
- "By this," Joshua continued, "you shall know that a living God is among you, and that He will dispossess for you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites."
- And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
- This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites.
- הָאֵ֖ל תָּמִ֣ים דַּרְכּ֑וֹ אִמְרַ֤ת יְהֹוָה֙ צְרוּפָ֔ה מָגֵ֣ן ה֔וּא לְכֹ֖ל הַֽחֹסִ֥ים בּֽוֹ׃
- 2 Samuel 22:31
- The way of God is perfect, The word of the Lord is pure. He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
- As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
- As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.
- וְעָשָׂ֨ה כִרְצֹנ֜וֹ הַמֶּ֗לֶךְ וְיִתְרוֹמֵ֤ם וְיִתְגַּדֵּל֙ עַל־כׇּל־אֵ֔ל וְעַל֙ אֵ֣ל אֵלִ֔ים יְדַבֵּ֖ר נִפְלָא֑וֹת וְהִצְלִ֙יחַ֙ עַד־כָּ֣לָה זַ֔עַם כִּ֥י נֶחֱרָצָ֖ה נֶעֱשָֽׂתָה׃
- Daniel 11:36
- The king will do as he pleases; he will exalt and magnify himself above every god, and he will speak awful things against the God of gods. He will prosper until wrath is spent, and what has been decreed is accomplished.
- And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
- The king will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will say unheard-of things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed, for what has been determined must take place.
- It seems almost certain that the God of the Jews evolved gradually from the Canaanite El, who was in all likelihood the "God of Abraham" … If El was the high God of Abraham—Elohim, the prototype of Yahveh—Asherah was his wife, and there are archaeological indications that she was perceived as such before she was in effect "divorced" in the context of emerging Judaism of the 7th century BCE.
- David Leeming: The Oxford Companion to World Mythology. Oxford University Press, 2011.
- Although the biblical narratives depict Yahweh as the sole creator god, lord of the universe, and god of the Israelites especially, initially he seems to have been Canaanite in origin and subordinate to the supreme god El. Canaanite inscriptions mention a lesser god Yahweh and even the biblical Book of Deuteronomy stipulates that "the Most High, El, gave to the nations their inheritance" and that "Yahweh's portion is his people, Jacob and his allotted heritage" (32:8–9). A passage like this reflects the early beliefs of the Canaanites and Israelites in polytheism or, more accurately, henotheism (the belief in many gods with a focus on a single supreme deity). The claim that Israel always only acknowledged one god is a later belief cast back on the early days of Israel's development in Canaan.
- Joshua J. Mark: "Yahweh". World History Encyclopedia, 2018.
- It is highly likely that Abraham's God was El, the High God of Canaan. The deity introduces himself to Abraham as El Shaddai (El of the Mountain), which was one of El's traditional titles. Elsewhere he is called El Elyon (The Most High God) or El of Bethel. The name of the Canaanite High God is preserved in such Hebrew names as Isra-El or Ishma-El. They experienced him in ways that would not have been unfamiliar to the pagans of the Middle East. We shall see that centuries later Israelites found the mana or "holiness" of Yahweh a terrifying experience. On Mount Sinai, for example, he would appear to Moses in the midst of an awe-inspiring volcanic eruption, and the Israelites had to keep their distance. In comparison, Abraham's god El is a very mild deity. He appears to Abraham as a friend and sometimes even assumes human form. This type of divine apparition, known as an epiphany, was quite common in the pagan world of antiquity.