What do God’s different names mean?

September 15th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 16 comments

Question:

I am looking for some good Jewish/Hebrew information about the names of God. Has Rabbi Daniel Lapin written or spoken on that topic anywhere? 

I love what I have learned from him and I would like to learn more on this topic.

Anne

Answer:

Dear Anne,

One of the amazing things about studying the Torah is that you never reach a point where you can say, “Well, now I know everything.” The question you are asking illustrates how reading passages with a focus on a specific idea—in your case the name used for God—can reveal an entire new level of meaning.

Sometimes, the name for God that is used changes our entire understanding of an episode. In The Gathering Storm: Decoding the Secrets of Noah, we reveal how early in Genesis God’s name changes (in the Hebrew, of course), and how looking at certain sections through the lens of which name is used gives an entirely new perspective on what we thought we understood.

Sometimes a Name connoting mercy is used and other times the Name associated with justice. In some places, for instance in Esther, there are hidden mentions.  We often point them out in our TV show and in our writing.

One of the chapters in our book Buried Treasure: Life Lessons from the Lord’s Language (which is on sale right now!) discusses even another name of God. We hope this gives you a starting point for a deeper study of Scripture.

Keep asking questions,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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16 comments

Timothy Mauch says:

After reading the question, I was hoping for more than a book promotion. Oh, well. I guess we all need to advertise.

Susan Lapin says:

Timothy, We’re sorry you were disappointed but appreciate the good nature of your reply. To our way of thinking, there is no way to answer a question like that in the 200-300 words allotted. Ann actually mentioned one name in particular but we didn’t know what Hebrew she was translating, so couldn’t deal with her specific interest. But since we have dealt with some of the names in more detail in other places, we thought readers who are interested would appreciate knowing where they can look. We don’t mention our resources in, I’d say, about 85% of answers, but sometimes it just hits the spot in our view.

Sean Isaacs says:

As a regular reader of your answers, I agree that very rarely have I seen you promote your products in your answer. I have purchased all of your materials and can validate that there is much wisdom and insight that can never be gleaned by reading a short answer.

Susan Lapin says:

Thanks for jumping to our defense, Sean. We do only rarely mention products in ATR, but I can understand if someone is new that they wouldn’t know that.

Pamela Fisher Peltonen says:

I have purchased all of your books, and audio CD’s. I enjoy them very, very much!!!

Susan Lapin says:

Thanks, Pamela. We appreciate the supportive words.

Lloyd DSouza says:

Dear Susan
I am a catholic living in Bombay, India, but regularly reading and following Rabbi Lapin. I also purchased his book Business Secrets From the Bible, and I love the wisdom. However, there is still no clear answer to Anne’ question and what has been on my mind. And that is ” what are the different names of God”. I would really like to know the Jewish names and the meaning. Could you please help? Thank you.

Susan Lapin says:

Lloyd, we chose this Ask the Rabbi partially to help people understand that we can’t give answers in this format that need lengthy and complicated discussions. At the same time, the question is a fantastic one. That’s why in various resources, where we have more space, we sometimes touch on one or another name.

Don says:

Indeed, this is one subject where, as many names of The Almighty as there are and the intricacies of each name, the best one can do sometimes is direct one to a reference given the limitations of space. The subtleties and implications of “I Am” alone go beyond the limits of the response space. Thank you both

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you, Don.

Tom says:

Thanks for the resource Daniel and Susan.

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you!

Nancy says:

Pointing to a specific Rabbi Daniel Lapin book answers the question, “Has Rabbi Daniel Lapin written or spoken on that topic anywhere?” rather directly as well as adequately.

Susan Lapin says:

You’re right, Nancy!

Elayne says:

I too am an avid reader and customer of your emails, pod casts, and products. Maybe with all the hunger an upcoming project people are asking for is a concise book about the attributes of God revealed through His names. Something to be used as a companion guide while studying scripture not unlike a dictionary, reference, or commentary. Another idea would be about the Holidays.
Many Christians have written on these topics and I do own some but being a student of yours reveals I need a Rabbi – as he has states often – and I know there are important details I just don’t have because most don’t have the depth of Hebrew. Please be our Rabbi and educate us by giving us tools to use as we study scripture.

Susan Lapin says:

Elayne, what you are suggesting is something we are contemplating.

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