God Has Names

Most modern Bible translations just use Lord, God, or Lord God… but did you know that the original Hebrew has all sorts of Old Testament names for that which cannot be named?

Here’s a list:

I’m working with the Jehovah (should be “Yahweh”) Rapha name at the moment. Here’s more on that one.

I wish all translations would just give us the original names, but you know they’re trying to enforce the “One God in Three Beings” concept, so they whittle it down and give us the whitewash treatment.

One translation that comes through, however, is the New Jerusalem Bible, which is the official Catholic English version in Europe.

Guess which version just leaped to the top of my reading list.

UPDATE:  Here’s another list, this one including Greek names from the New Testament.


8 thoughts on “God Has Names

  1. Hawk Sr. says:

    Mike: Besides some of the old standard reference texts, like The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible and a few others, there is a book by a French theologian called The Names of God. I have it somewhere and will look for it. It is a good read with considerable depth. This stuff is rich with historical meaning.

  2. Hawk Sr. says:

    Found it! The book is a 1958 translation of Theologie de l’Ancien Testament by Edmond Jacob. He has a section on the characteristic aspects of the God of the Old Testament, including a chapter on The Divine Names, an expression of the Loving God: A. El-Elohim, B. Yahweh, and C. Other titles.

    Thanks! You took me back to the days when I really studied!

  3. adreampuppet says:

    Hawk: I have to admit, I’m being drawn deeper and deeper into the many tributaries of meaning in the holy texts. Haven’t watched TV in weeks! (Okay, a little basketball here and there… but only for a few minutes….) Spong is a help for me… but to “really study” requires going into the primary material, and that’s really feeding me right now.

    I’d be interested in taking a look at that book someday… 😉

  4. Hawk Sr. says:

    Mike: I was just scanning your link on Jehovah Rapha, God heals. It is interesting to note that the international lectionary for tomorrow, Sunday, is from Matthew 9 and 10 where Jesus calls the apostles and sends them out with the message of healing and casting out all powers that would stand between the world and the realities of God’s kingdom — again values of healing, restoration, deliverance from powers that bring death. The kingdom is near, or here, depending on what gospel passage you read. So this aspect of God shows the centrality of what God’s followeres are to be about — radically inclusive healing, powers of life that defy powers of death, exclusiveness and alienation. So once again, a name of God tells the story of what we are about.

  5. Gariban says:

    My Dear friends thanks for opening a conversation about the names of God ,
    99 Names of God were explained clearly in the Qur’an by God and authentical sayings of prophet Muhammad(PBUH). There are books of information about these names clearly stating the names, name-adjectives and adjectives of God and how they are manifesting in the universe and on us. One of the most beatiful and comprehensive book in this area was prepared by Shaikh Tosun Bayrak Al-Jerrahi in Newyork. The name of the book is called “The name and the named”. You can obtain one from amazon I think.

    My dear friends, Let me share my opinion with you by commenting on a verse from bible in this case:

    “If a man has 100 sheep, but one of the sheep becomes lost, then the man will leave the other 99 sheep on the hill. He will go to look for the lost sheep. Right? And if the man finds the lost sheep, the man is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 sheep that were never lost. I tell you the truth. In the same way, your Father in heaven does not want any of these little children to be lost.” Matthew 18:12-14 (ERV)

    Who are these 99 sheeps?
    I will humbly try to explain what I understand from this verse with my poor knowledge in islam. In islam 99 names of ALLAH is known. ALLAH is a unique name and it is not equivalent to the name “God”. Equivalent of God in islam is “Ilah” or with the terms of Jesus in aramaic”Alahi”. Explaining the difference between the word “GOD or ilah in arabic” and “ALLAH” is another matter, long to explain here. Debates about this difference are turned in to battle due to illiteracy in knowledge.

    Those 99 names what we call “Asma ul Husna” are the sheeps which are bound to the One. They all come from the One.

    These 99 names manifest within the universe. But manifests with all names as “ALLAH” on the perfect man only. The word manifestation is a dangerous word and used wrongly in Christian literature. It is perceived as entering in to something and many Christians think that God manifested in flesh as Jesus. So they come up with crazy statements saying Jesus is God and fall in blasphemy. The person who coloured with the names of God and acts with the qualities of these names are not GOD. They are the people who beat their ego and become pure servants to GOD. They are neither joined to GOD nor separate from HIM. They are prophets or Insan-Al-Kamils(perfect human being, saints etc. although there are differences between the titles on saints in Sufism). Name “ALLAH” brings all the names together and combines them in to ONE. So When a person says ALLAH, he says all 99 names without knowing. ALLAH lended a bit of his names to human being . So in the seed of every human being, there are his names and adjectives in different combinations as potential!…

    ” And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful.” Al-Bakara 2/31.

    “Say: “Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names…..” Al-Isra 17/110

    See a list of names in the following link”http://www.islamicedfoundation.com/99names/99names.htm”

    Human does not own these names, they are his 99 sheeps given to him for a period of time. Human can not be named with all of these names either. For instance “Ar-Rahman:compassionate one” is a special name of ALLAH and can not be used by a human being. Human has to use these names by acting in accordance with the laws of God. If he behaves according to the names, then he is coloured with this name. He needs to milk these sheeps to drink from their milk. But he needs to tackle the wolf(his ego, Nafs-I amara, evil commanding self) first as he is constantly attacking to him.

    These 99 names are like the elements within the periodic table. They work in mysterious combinations and make alloys and composites. Sometimes these composites define other names. That is why the complete list of names are known only by ALLAH. This prayer said by prophet Muhammad sheds light on this issue:

    (O Allah, I am Your slave, son of Your slave, son of Your maidservant; my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the Unseen with You, that You make the Qur’an the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety)

    To benefit from the name “Al-Wahhab: The giver who gives without expecting any benefit for it”, he spends from what he has for the others without expecting anything from them. If he does this, he activates this potential name within him. He gets the benefit of that milk. If he shows mercy to God’s creation, he gets the milk from the adjective “Ar-Raheem: the merciful”. The person gets closer to God by getting the taste of these milks and being coloured with the colours of these sheeps.

    “Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah, said, “Allah has ninety-nite names. He who ‘ahsaha’ [enumerates them, believes in them, ponders their meanings, worships Allah by them and supplicates with them, and acts by them according to one’s belief in them] will enter Paradise. He is God other than whom there is no god, the Compassionate, the Merciful, the King, the Holy, the Source of Peace, the Preserver of Security…” The hadith continues to list ninety-nine names of Allah. ”

    Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah said, “Allah has ninety-nine names, one hundred less one. Whoever ‘ahsaha’ will enter Paradise. (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

    Who is the lost sheep that man was looking for?
    Well , I guess When we first recognise that 99, we will find 100th inshaallah(with God’s willing)!…


    With peace and love

  6. Hawk Sr. says:

    In a multiplicity of places, historical eras, sociological situations, and socio-economic realities, human beings borrow from each other, share insights in their quest for fullness and meaning, and find amazing sychronicity as they attempt to describe their gods, and then their God.

    Someday, maybe, I hope, that unification will incorporate universal respect and appreciation of the gods and the God that we have named, and lead us to get beyond our respective exclusivistic dogmas. God and the gods need not be limited to our finite attempts to name and corral them. Our respective prophets might lead us to embrace the infinite God who comes to us in the most finite conditions and helps us to understand that we truly are brothers and sisters. Sound naive? I prefer it to the options.

  7. bhawan says:

    Thanks sir, thanks for sharing some names of God with us, with their meanings

    I am from India, and I came to know from my master, I mean murshad Anandmurti Gurumaa, that there are 99 names of God

    I dont’ know why but since childhood I just love to listen Quran Aayats, sufi music and all…..

    I have heard these names in my sufi collection many times, but didn’t know the meaning, but now aware with some names

    Here I want to share with you some very interesting links, where you’ll find zikr, rumi poetry, about god and truth, how we can enjoy spirituality in everyday life and many things which have great great importance in the life of a person, who is working on his/her- ‘self’..

    Spiritual Store
    Spiritual Discussion Section

  8. Gariban says:

    Dear Bhawan,
    Many thanks for your kind words and the links. May ALLAH-AL FETTAH(GOD -The opener) open your ways to learn more from His infinite knowledge.

    Dear Hawk.Sr
    Many thanks to you for your nice comment. God’s adjectives and names were considered as seperate GODs by some communities along the history. You can see this in Hinduism and Greek mythology clearly. Qualities of One GOD were conceived as many GODs in some religions.

    When the scriptures were tampered by the people who would like to use the religion as a weapon or dominating tool, when the wise people who had the knowledge disappeared one by one, so many religions went down the drain. Words used in the old scriptures, lost their meanings as the new generations did not understand their meanings. As well as that, the main religion was contaminated by the traditions, misunderstood ancient sayings,cultural patterns and incorrect public beliefs. Whenever there is a chaos like that, ALLAH sent a prophet or He keeps a group with correct faith within the world at that time. It is the choice of person for him self to choose between right and wrong, good and evil. It is his choice to find the right connector to connect.

    Dear Hawk Sr. I would not call your thinking naive, your words are nice but you are optimistic.

    For instance a muslim can never respect the GODHEAD of a sect of today’s christianity or unify with his trinitarian doctrine. The minute he does this, he is out of his religion. Maybe , what I am saying sound harsh to some people but this is the truth. A musim believes the Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him) as Qur’an explained Him. He is an honoroble prophet, a word from ALLAH, a Spirit from ALLAH and son of Mary. A muslim believes the original bible which Jesus was preaching and he believes 124000 prophets including Jesus,Moses,Abraham, Isac,Jacob, Job,David …… but can not accept the GODHEAD, can not accept the Jesus as GOD or physical Son of GOD. There are places where you can come to a common ground with a follower of a religion in beatiful morals and ethics but a muslim has an untampered book in his hand to rely on. It is the word of GOD. Not word of Prophet Muhammad or the word of a historian or a saint!…If some description contradicts that book. He can never accept it nor unify his understanding of GOD with that description of GOD. GOD has many names and adjectives but there is a threshold somewhere. Every adjective defined as GOD by various cultures can not be accepted as the adjective of GOD. Deep subject to discuss!…

    I am giving below, a section from one of my research articles about the tolerance and behaviour of Prophet Muhammad to the ethnic communities from different religions:

    Relations of the Prophet Muhammad with ethnic communities :

    1.The Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) was the representative of the justice of Allah, He was even invited to be a judge by two Jewish tribes about a killing between two tribes since the jewish tribes(Kureyza and En-Nadir) were trusting his justice.( Ebu Daud, Al-Diyat 1, (4494), Akdiyah 10, (3591); Nesai, Kasame 7, (8, 18).)

    2.Narrated ‘Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila:
    Sahl bin Hunaif and Qais bin Sad were sitting in the city of Al-Qadisiya. A funeral procession passed in front of them and they stood up. They were told that funeral procession was of one of the inhabitants of the land i.e. of a non-believer, under the protection of Muslims. They said, “A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, “Is it not a living being (soul)?” Volume 2, Book 23, Number 399:

    (The hadith above shows us that how much He respected human life regardless of race, religion, nation etc.)
    The Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) even gave clear instructions about the behaviour of the muslim army :

    3.Narrated Anas bin Malik:
    A Jewess brought a poisoned (cooked) sheep for the Prophet who ate from it. She was brought to the Prophet and he was asked, “Shall we kill her?” He said, “No.” I continued to see the effect of the poison on the palate of the mouth of Allah’s Apostle Volume 3, Book 47, Number 786:

    4.Narrated ‘Aisha:
    The Prophet purchased food grains from a Jew on credit and mortgaged his iron armor to him Bukhari Volume 3, Book 34, Number 282

    5.Narrated Abdullah bin Umar:
    Allah’s Apostle gave the land of Khaibar to the Jews on the condition that they would work on it and cultivate it and they would get half of its yield. Volume 3, Book 50, Number 881:

    6.Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah:
    When my father died he owed a Jew thirty Awsuq (of dates). I requested him to give me respite for repaying but he refused. I requested Allah’s Apostle to intercede with the Jew. Allah’s Apostle went to the Jew and asked him to accept the fruits of my trees in place of the debt but the Jew refused. Allah’s Apostle entered the garden of the date-palms, wandering among the trees and ordered me (saying), “Pluck (the fruits) and give him his due.” So, I plucked the fruits for him after the departure of Allah’s Apostle and gave his thirty Awsuq, and still had seventeen Awsuq extra for myself. Jabir said: I went to Allah’s Apostle to inform of what had happened, but found him praying the ‘Asr prayer. After the prayer I told him about the extra fruits which remained. Allah’s Apostle told me to inform (Umar) Ibn Al-Khatab about it. When I went to ‘Umar and told him about it, ‘Umar said, “When Allah’s Apostle walked in your garden, I was sure that Allah would definitely bless it.” Volume 3, Book 41, Number 581

    7.Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) used to like agreeing on the points of people of the book(Christians and Jews) except if there is any command against their point which is revealed to him by Allah. He had compassion to all minorities .
    One afternoon Nejran Christians came to Madinah as 60 person group to discuss their rights and came to the presence of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) in his mosque(Al Masjid an-Nabawee). As their time of worship had just come, they prayed in the mosque. Although the rejections of his disciples(Ashab Al –Kiram), Prophet Muhammad allowed them to worship in the mosque. They then made their worship by turning their faces towards east. (Ibn-ul Hisham, Es-Sire, Beirut ts.I.573-574; Hameedullah, the prophet of Islam,I,619-620)
    After He made agreements with Nejran Christians,Prophet Muhammad sent a written agreement to them stating that their churches belong to them and they will not be harmed (Belazuri, Futuhul Buldan, 93.)

    8.When Mecca was conquered, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not punish the idol worshipper- Abu Sufyan who was number one enemy of the prophet, had taken prophet out of his homeland and had never given any rights to the prophet to live. The prophet (PBUH) had not even reminded him about the awful things that Abu Sufyan had done to him. After Abu Sufyan has accepted islam with his own will, the Prophet said” He who enters the house of Abu Sufyan is safe; he who closes the door upon him is safe; and he who enters the mosque is safeThe people scattered to their houses and in the mosque. . (Abu Dawud, book 19, Hadith No 3016)

    9. Hz.Omar(R.A) and Hz.Ali(R.A), used to carry out the law,”eye for an eye”, to any muslim killing a non-muslim during their ruling period. ( Cassas, Ahkam-ul Kuran, I,174-175 )

    10. Today, there are still a lot of christian monastaries, churches built from pre-islamic period in Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Anatolia and they have survived under islamic ruling.

    11. Prophet Muhammad(PBUH), sent Amr Bin Hazm Al Ensari to the the group of Beni Haris Bin Ka’b to teach islam. He had commanded with a written statement to them that Jewish and Christians will never be forced to convert from their religion.(İbn-i Hişam, age, II,593-594 )

    12.Messenger of Allah(PBUH) prepared and put in to force the first constitution in the history amongst the minorities, which was including 50 items related to allocating the rights and tasks of people between muslims, Medinian Arabs and Jewish tribes. 2nd and 25th item on this constitution were stating that jews and their allies are also a part of the nation as well as muslims and they have religious freedom.( İbn-i Hişam, es-Sire, beyrut ts.I,501-504; Hamidullah,el-vesaik ,s.,63-73, Hamidullah, İslam peygamberi, I,206-210, Buhari, İ’tisam 18 )

    13. Non-muslims were given rights to carry out their own rules during the period of Ottoman Empire without the interference of Ottoman authority. It was witnessed that the decisions taken by their own courts were accepted by the Ottoman authority.( Hamidullah, el-Vesaik, s.66-72).

    14.Ottoman regime, used to give freedom to the minorities for their religious and traditional educational requirements, as well as aiming to improve their comfort and economic conditions. (Ziya Kazıcı, “Osmanlı Devletinde Hoşgörü”, İst.Büyükşehir Belediyesi, 7-8 Mart 1998, İst. S.110-113)

    With Peace and Blessings

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