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Where Did "God" Come From?

The English word God originated from an old Anglo-Saxon word which itself was derived from the Germanic word Gott which was used to refer to all sorts of "gods," not necessarily the True God (just as "god" still is). In English-language translations of The Holy Bible (the Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew, while the New Testament mostly in Greek) "God" is used to translate a number of actual Divine Names, specific to the True God, as recorded in the Scriptures. Using "God" as a name for God rather than a statement of what He is can perhaps be compared to calling your best friend "Human" instead of by their actual name.

Elohim

The Tetragram Elohim, from the Hebrew pronounced el-oh-heem, is the most frequently recorded name for God, more than 2,500 times in the Old Testament. Elohim is actually the plural form of its root word, but singular in usage - after all, there is only one God (see The Logos).

Examples where Elohim was translated as God:

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1:1 KJV)

"And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness" (Genesis 1:26 KJV)

The Tetragram

The second most common Name for God is the YHVH, or "Tetragram" as it has been called. It is shown in the illustration along with the names of the Hebrew letters and their approximate sounds (note that Hebrew is written right to left).

The ancient pronunciation of the YHVH is uncertain, and there have been a number of interpretations. The most common is "Jehovah," which some Bibles use in their translation, while others render the YHVH as "Lord." For example, for Exodus 20:2-3, the American Standard Version has, "I Am Jehovah thy God, Who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me," while the King James Version has, "I Am The Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."

There are also a number of Names which use the YHVH in combination. Examples, using the "Jehovah" interpretation: Jehovah-ropheka, "Jehovah that heals" (Exodus 15:26), Jehovah-meqaddeshkem, "Jehovah Who sanctifies you" (Exodus 31:13), Jehovah-tsabaoth, "Jehovah of hosts" (1 Samuel 1:3), "Jehovah-elyon, "Jehovah Most High (Psalm 7:17), Jehovah-roi, "Jehovah my shepherd (Psalm 23:1)

El

El is used over 200 times as a Name for God, often in combination as El, Eloah and Elyon. Many of the faithful people of God had "el" in their name e.g. Elijah ("The Lord is God"), Daniel ("The Lord is my Judge"). Another name for Jesus Christ was Immamuel (Matthew 1:23) which means "The Lord is with us."

Shaddai

Shaddai is found almost 50 times in the Old Testament, and is usually translated as Almighty. It was first recorded when God spoke to Abraham: "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, The Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I Am the Almighty God; walk before Me, and be thou perfect. And I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly." (Genesis 17:1-2 KJV)

Theos

In the New Testament "God" is used for the original Greek word Theos

Examples of Translations

"And Moses said unto God, "Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, 'The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you'; and they shall say to me, 'What is His Name?', what shall I say unto them?" And God said unto Moses, "I AM THAT I AM:," and He said, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you." And God said moreover unto Moses, "Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is My Name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations." (Exodus 3:13-15)

"For thou shalt worship no other god: for The Lord, whose Name is Jealous, is a jealous God: Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods." (Exodus 34:14-15 KJV)

"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." (Matthew 6:9-13)

Fact Finder: What is the Third Commandment?
Exodus 20:7
See also The Ten Commandments


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