Meaning and Significance of the Names of God in Genesis

by Manfred Davidmann



Names of God
Meaning of the Names of God
Genesis: An Overview
References   {..}

Relevant Current and Associated Works

Relevant Subject Index Pages and Site Overview

Names of God

Understanding the meaning and significance of the names by which God is referred to in the Bible is of the greatest importance for understanding the meaning of the text of the Bible.

Translations into English from the Hebrew text refer to God using three designations, namely God, Lord God, and Lord.

Hebrew   English
Elohim   God
Yhwh Elohim   Lord God
Yhwh   the Lord


This designation is generally represented by its four consonants.

It was apparently regularly pronounced with its vowels until the destruction of the First Temple. But its pronunciation was avoided from the third century BCE. From then on the Hebrew word consisting of the consonants Yhwh was pronounced 'Adonay' and translated as 'the Lord' although 'Adonay' means 'my Lords'. Hence Yhwh is being translated as 'the Lord'. {1}

The true pronunciation of Yhwh was apparently 'Yahweh', meaning 'He causes to be, He brings into existence'. In the Middle Ages vowel points were added to the consonantal form of the Bible. 'Those used for Yhwh produced the form YeHoVaH and Christian scholars then introduced the name Jehovah.' {1}.

So Yhwh, regardless of how you pronounce it, means 'He causes to be'.


The word 'Eloha' means God, and its plural 'Elohim' means 'gods'.
Elohim is usually translated as if it meant 'God'.

Yhwh Elohim

Yhwh means 'He causes to be' and also 'He brings into existence'.
'Elohim' means 'gods' but here also is usually translated as if it meant 'God'.
So 'Yhwh Elohim' means God brings into existence.

Hence the meaning and significance of the names of God is as follows:

Meaning of the Names of God

Hebrew Name     ELOHIM     YHWH ELOHIM     YHWH
Translated as   God   Lord God   the Lord
Derivation of Name   God who creates, Creating God   God who brings into existence, God who originates, Originating God   He causes to be, What took place was, What happened was, What is happening
Meaning of Name   GOD or GOD (AS CREATOR).
God as creator, as creator of all that is good.
   GOD (AS ORIGINATOR)   GOD (AS CAUSE), as cause of what happened.

In other words, this is happening, is what happened.

Example 1: (Gen 7: 16)

And they ... went in (into the ark) ... as God (Elohim) commanded him; and the Lord (Yhwh) shut him in.

Example 2: From {3}

In (Gen 3: 17) the ground is cursed by God (Yhwh Elohim, as originator), meaning that it will be so.

(Gen 5: 29) states that God (Yhwh, as cause) has cursed, meaning that it is happening, that it is so.

For detailed comprehensive discussions, illustrations and comments on the meaning, significance and use of the different names of God in the Bible, see reference {2} from which this report has been extracted.

Genesis: An Overview

These reports describe and illustrate the meaning and intent of Genesis. Each is self-contained but together they provide the knowledge needed for understanding Genesis, its allegories and their significance. These allegories illustrate and define the difference between good and evil, and the importance of behaviour on social strength, well-being and good life under modern conditions.

Genesis begins by describing how the planet was created, in other words how it was formed, the changes which occurred as the planet aged, how plants and animals were formed, evolved and populated the planet. It describes how human beings evolved and also how the behaviour of life forms changed as human beings evolved.

When the Pentateuch (Torah, Five Books of Moses) was written, people had but little knowledge about science or evolution compared with what is known today. So concepts for which we now have precise terms were described rather than stated and expressed in religious terms so that they could be appreciated and followed by the population.

Understanding this we see that there is no conflict, no contradiction, no divergence, only awe-inspiring agreement, between what is stated in Genesis and what we now know about the evolution of human beings.

See The Meaning of Genesis: Creation, Evolution and the Origin of Evil

Chapters 5 and 6 then describe the behaviour of human beings before the flood. There is no conscious knowledge of good and evil and of the difference between them and their behaviour is like that of their primitive ancestors. Their behaviour is stated and condemned as evil. These two chapters of Genesis outline evil behaviour.

Chapter 5 shows people amassing possessions and wealth and dominating others by brutal strength.
See Genesis' Secrets: Pre-flood Evils and the Social Problems of Our Time
Chapter 6 adds unrestrained sexual behaviour
See Genesis: Morality, Sexual Behaviour and Depravity
and Chapter 6 also adds the gaining and misuse of power over others.
See Genesis: Nephilim, Dominance and Liberty

The flood follows and from here onwards Genesis shows a conscious knowledge developing of good and evil, stressing consequent reward and punishment, justice and retribution.

Human beings are shown to be becoming numerous and spreading out, behaving much as before the flood. Different communities developed different customs, traditions, ways of behaving and, with the life and travels of the Patriarchs, some learned to know the difference between good and evil, learned to behave humanely.
See Genesis: Differentiating Between Good and Evil
Genesis records what is, and is not, moral sexual behaviour and the consequences of depravity. Clearly stated is that the consequences cannot be avoided.
See Genesis: Morality, Sexual Behaviour and Depravity
Genesis considers the gaining and misuse of power over others. We are told the consequences of allowing some people to misuse their abilities to manipulate, control and enslave others. And the Pentateuch states social laws of behaviour and a social system which have to be kept as they enable people to gain and keep liberty and good lives of high quality.
See Genesis: Nephilim, Dominance and Liberty

The abovementioned reports also summarise corresponding present social problems and describe the Pentateuch's social laws and social system for overcoming them.

Further relevant knowledge and information necessary for understanding the meaning of Genesis can be found in the following reports:

Meaning and Significance of the Names of God in Genesis
Describes the meaning and significance of the names of God which are used in Genesis. These are of greatest importance for understanding the meaning of the text of the Bible.

Meaning and Intent of Genesis: Essential Notes on Hebrew Grammar
Lists and illustrates the grammatical rules which help to differentiate between references to individuals and references to groups or life forms. Essential information for understanding the meaning of Genesis.

Bible Translations, Versions, Codes and Hidden Information in Bible and Talmud
Shows how changes made in the past have obscured the original intended meaning. Describes the ways in which hidden information has been encoded and labelled so that its original meaning could not be misunderstood or misinterpreted.


{1}     Encyclopaedia Judaica
Keter Publishing House Jerusalem Ltd, 1974
{2}   The Meaning of Genesis: Creation, Evolution and the Origin of Evil
Manfred Davidmann
{3}   Genesis' Secrets: Pre-flood Evils and the Social Problems of Our Time
Manfred Davidmann

Relevant Current and Associated Works

Other relevant current and associated reports by Manfred Davidmann:
Title   Description
ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY and JUDAISM   Proves by methods of biblical archaeology what Jesus really taught, how Paul changed what Jesus had taught, how this became Christianity's official doctrine. Outstanding are sections on Paul and the Gospels, on concurrent corresponding changes in Judaism.
Liberation Theology: Basis - Past - Present - Future   Discusses Christianity's origins using Christian and Jewish sources. Liberation theologians emphasise compassion and leadership in the struggle for a better life. Shows that one can analyse effectively how the Christian Canon developed.
Struggle for Freedom: The Social Cause-and-Effect Relationship   Major review and analysis of the social laws and social system of the Torah and of the Social Cause-and-Effect Relationship. Also reviews the role of religion and of Judaism under modern conditions.
History Speaks: Monarchy, Exile and Maccabees   Major review and analysis of Jewish history, of King Solomon's reign and of the Maccabean dynasty, locating the causes of subsequent defeat of the people and loss of country. Covers Jewish belief and practice, social conditions and government.
At the Time of Jesus, This is What Actually Happened in Israel: The Truth about Hillel and his Times   Factual conclusive document describing what happened at the time of Jesus to Jewish belief and practice, based on research into texts published close to the events. A fully documented record of previously undiscovered material in the Talmud about Hillel.
One Law for All: Freedom Now, Freedom for Ever   Document describing the struggles within Judaism which accompanied the birth of Rabbinical Judaism, how people felt about what was happening, how the Talmud recorded events and what would have to be done to reverse the trend of events.

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Other Subjects; Other Publications

The Site Overview page has links to all individual Subject Index Pages which between them list the works by Manfred Davidmann which are available on the Internet, with short descriptions and links for downloading.

To see the Site Overview page, click Overview

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Copyright    ©    Manfred Davidmann    2000, 2006
All rights reserved worldwide.

13/03/00 Work Completed
03/08/00 To Website
01/09/00 Added second example and {3}.
03/06/01 Added 'Genesis: An Overview'.
28/04/02 Added 'Relevant Current and Associated Works'.

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