The Divine Names and Titles.

Part VI. — El, אל ("God").

By the Rev. Dr. Bullinger.

Taken from Things to Come Magazine, October, 1896


IN our last paper we spoke of the word Elohim (God).

We come now to two other forms of the word: El and its derivative, Eloah (Chaldee, Elah).

There are two words (or roots), which are constantly used to signify the Divine Being, which are continually rendered by the same word "God," One is אל and its derivatives, the other is אלה with its derivatives. Certainly these words as used by the Holy Spirit are not intended to convey the same exact idea, but to exhibit to the limited understanding of man some of those different relationships which the Divine Being sustains, or of those offices which He fulfils with respect to humanity, and which it has pleased Him to make known upon earth.

These names and titles are not particularised in our translations, except in a very incomplete and general way. Our object in these papers, is to make Bible-students independent of all translations, and enable them so to mark and note these different words and their occurrences in their Bibles, that they may always know and not confuse what the Holy Spirit has been pleased so perfectly to reveal for our learning. As several of these different words often occur in the same verse, it will be seen how important this subject is.

In our last chapter we saw that the word Elohim was from the root אלה alah, and that this, as it is the first, so it is the one most commonly used of all the Divine Titles. Its primitive meaning is to will and then to affirm that will by an oath. Its first occurrence is Gen. xxiv. 41.1

As its derivative, Elohim is plural, and it seems to point to the oath or covenant of the three persons of the Godhead which was precedent to the whole work of creation and of redemption; and which was centred in the second person of the Trinity. It embodies — the will of the Father, the work of the Son, and the wonderful power and operation of God the Holy Ghost. True, it is used in connection and is always associated with creation, but it refers not so much to the power which created, but to the creation as being the outcome of the Divine will. This word, as we have said, occurs some 2,700 times, and is always rendered by the word "God."2

But other words are rendered by the same word "God," and therefore it is important, nay, imperative that we should know what these words are, and where they occur, so that what has been revealed to us by God should not be hidden from us by man. If, therefore, the reader will now note and use the information which follows, by marking the exceptions, where "God" is not the equivalent of the word Elohim, he will know all that need be known on this subject.

אל, EL.

The other root which we have spoken of, אל El, is equally translated "God," although a different meaning is presented by it to the mind. The word is a root in itself unless it be a contraction of the obsolete roots, אול or איל, to be strong, to be before or in front of; hence, to go before, begin. In any case the primitive idea is the strength or power of Him who creates, rather than the will out of which creation came. It conveys the conjoint ideas of omnipotence and omnipresence. And El is the Omnipotent All-pervader; creating all by almighty power, and pervading all in His providence (Ps. civ. 21); being before all in time and upholding all that He has created.

"Almighty" would therefore appear to be the better definition, rather than the word "God," which is clearly most inadequate, being merely an abbreviation of the English word good, and having no connection therefore with the meaning of the Hebrew word.

The usage of the word El may be traced out by a study of the places where it occurs. It is first seen in Gen. xiv. 18-22, where His majesty is set forth by being used with Eliyon, "the Most High."

In Gen. xvi. 13, He is the God who seeth all. In xvii. 1, He supplies all, and is all-powerful to provide all, Ps. civ. 21. In Gen. xxi. 33 and Ps. xc. 2, etc., He is everlasting. In Ps. lvii. 2, He is "the God that performeth all things" for His people.

El is sometimes transliterated in composition as El in Beth-el (Gen. xxxv. 7), the house of El. And Immanu-El, El who is with us (Isa. vii. 14; viii. 8, 10).

It is sometimes used in its meaning strong, in the idiom "mountains of El," Ps. xxxvi. 7. "Cedars of El," Ps. lxxx. 1 1, i.e., the highest and loftiest of their kind. These exceptional renderings are pointed out in the following list of the 249 occurrences of the word El: —

Gen. xiv. 18, 19, 20, 22; xvi. 13; xvii. 1; xxi. 33; xxviii. 3; xxxi. 13 (twice), 29 ("power"); xxxiii. 20 ("El"); xxxv. i (2nd), 3, 7 ("El"), 1 1 (2nd); xliii. 14; xlvi. 3; xlviii. 3; xlix. 25; Exod. vi. 3; xv. 2 (1st), 1 1; xx. 5 (2nd); xxxiv. 6, 14 (twice); Num. xii. 13; xvi. 22 (1st); xxiii. 8, 19, 22, 23; xxiv. 4, 8, 16, 23; Deut. iii. 24 (2nd); iv 24 (2nd), 31 (2nd); v. 9 (2nd); vi. 15 (2nd); vii. 9 (3rd), 21 (2nd); x. 1 7 (4th); xxviii. 32 ("might"); xxxii. 4, 1 2, 1 8, 2 1; xxxiii. 26; Josh. iii. 10;xxii. 22 (1st and 3rd); xxiv. 19 (2nd); Judges ix. 46; 1 Sam. ii. 3; 2 Sam. xxii. 31, 32 (1st), 33, 48; xxiii. 5; Neh. i. 5 (2nd); v. 5 ("power"); ix.31,32 (2nd); Job v. 8 (1st), viii. 3, 5, 13, 20; ix. 2; xii. 6 (1st); xiii. 3, 7, 8; xv. 4, 11, 13, 25; xvi. 11; xviii. 21; xix. 22; xx. 15, 29 (2nd); xxi. 14, 22; xxii. 2, 13, 17; xxiii. 16; xxv. 4; xxvii. 2, 9, 11, 13; xxxi. 14, 23, 28; xxxii. 13; xxxiii. 4, 6, 14, 29; xxxiv. 5, 10, 12, 23, 31, 37; xxxv. 2, 13; xxxvi. 5, 22, 26; xxxvii. 5, 10, 14; xxxviii. 41; xl. 9, 19; Psalms v. 4; vii. 11 (2nd); x. 11, 12; xvi. 1; xvii. 6; xviii. 2, 30, 32, 47; xix. 1; xxii. 1 (twice), 10; xxix. 1 ("mighty"), 3; xxxi. 5; xxxvi. 6 ("great"); xlii. 2 (2nd), 8, 9; xliii. 4 (2nd); xliv.20 (2nd); 1. 1 ("mighty"); lii. 1, 5; lv. 19 (1st); lvii. 2 (2nd); lxiii. 1 (2nd); lxviii. 19, 20 (1st and 2nd), 24 (2nd), 35 (2nd); lxxiii. 11, 17; lxxiv. 8; lxxvii. 9, 13, 14; lxxviii. 7, 8, 18, 19, 34, 35 (2nd), 41; lxxx. 10 ("goodly"); lxxxi. 9 (twice); lxxxii. 1 ("mighty"); lxxxiii. 1 (2nd); lxxxiv. 2; lxxxv. 8; lxxxvi. 15; Ixxxix; 6 ("mighty"), 7, 26; xc. 2; xciv. 1 (twice); xcv. 3 (1st); xcix. 8 (2nd); cii. 24; civ. 21; cvi. 14, 21; cvii. 11; cxviii. 27, 28 (1st); cxxxvi. 26; cxxxix. 17, 23; cxlvi. 5 (1st ) cxlix. 6; cl. 1; Prov. iii. 27 ("power"); Isa. v. 16; vii. 14 ("El"); viii. 8 ("El"), 10; ix. 6; x. 21; xii. 2; xiv. 13; xxxi. 3; xl. 18; xlii. 5; xliii. 10, 12; xliv. 10, 15, 17 (twice); xiv. 14(1st), 15 (2nd), 20, 21 (2nd), 22; xlvi. 6, 9 (2nd); lvii. 5 ("idols"); Jer. xxxii. 18; xlviii. 13 ("El"); li. 56; Lam. iii. 41; Ezek. x. 5; xxviii. 2 (2nd and 4th), 9 (2nd); xxxi. 11 ("mighty one"); xxxii. 21 ("strong"); Dan. ix. 4 (2nd); xi. 36 (three times); Hos. i. 10; xi. 9, 12; Jonah iv. 2; Micah ii. 1 ("power") vii. 18; Nahum, i. 2; Zech. vii. 2; Mai. i. 9; ii. 10, 11,


Continued in Part 7


1) The word "oath" in verse 8 is different — shevooah, to use or  call seven, probably to alay seven victims, or call seven witnesses in ratification of some agreement.

2) We have already explained that whom "God" is in capital letters (GOD), it represents Jehovah.