El is one of a number of terms used for God in the Hebrew Scriptures, in the so-called "Old Testament" (a not-entirely correct designation, since a great amount of Old Testament prophecy is yet to be fulfilled e.g. Daniel's Statue). Although El is properly used for the True God, the Canaanites also sometimes foolishly misapplied it to their lifeless, worthless pagan idols, since the word is common to the Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic languages, with a general meaning of power or majesty.
Names Of God
El is found many times in the Old Testament, where it is also incorporated with other adjectives or nouns for Names and attributes of The True God. Some examples:
"In the beginning God [in the original Hebrew Elohim, a plural form of Eloah] created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1 RSV) (see The Seven Days Of Creation)
"When Abram was ninety-nine years old The Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty [in the original Hebrew, El Shaddai]; walk before Me, and be blameless." (Genesis 17:1 RSV) (see Abraham, Man Of Faith)
"And Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, on his way from Paddan-aram; and he camped before the city. And from the sons of Hamor, Shechem's father, he bought for a hundred pieces of money the piece of land on which he had pitched his tent. There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel" [in the original Hebrew meaning Mighty is The God of Israel] (Genesis 33:18-20 RSV)
"So she called the name of The Lord Who spoke to her, "Thou art a God of seeing" [in the original Hebrew, El Roi, meaning The Living One Who sees me]; for she said, "Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing Him?" (Genesis 16:13 RSV) (see Hagar)
In The Names Of People
El was also quite often integrated in the names of people of Bible History, particularly Israel, which means he struggles with God. Some other examples:
Emmanuel, or Immanuel, meaning God with us, another Name for Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:23, Isaiah 7:14)
Daniel, meaning judgment of God, or God is my judge
Elijah, meaning God is the Lord, or the strong Lord
Elisha, meaning my God is salvation, or the God that gives help
Samuel, meaning God is exalted
Eleazar, meaning God helps
Elizabeth, meaning my God is good, or my God has promised
Ishmael, meaning God hears
Ezekiel, meaning God will strengthen
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