No fully satisfactory explanation has been found for the divine epithet, Shaddai (šaddai ), which appears chiefly in the Pentateuch and Job (where it is used in imitation of the ancient style). The Hebrew verb šādad, which it resembles, means "to lay waste or to destroy"; it is unacceptable because Shaddai is invariably associated with a blessing (Gn 17.1–2; 28.3;35.11; etc.). Under the title of Shaddai God revealed Himself to Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex 6.3) as the God who protected and watched over them. Shaddai also connoted strength to ancient translators. The Septuagint (LXX) translates it as God, or Lord, or the all-powerful; Aquila and Symmachus use "the sufficient one"; while St. Jerome construes it as "the Almighty." The Akkadian šadû, mountain, suggests grandeur and power; other texts describe God as a rock or fortress [Gn 49.24; 2 Sm 22.2; Ps 77 (78).35; Ps 90 (91).2]. El-Shaddai may have been the ancestral name for God acquired by Abraham's family during its sojourn in Haran, not far from the north Mesopotamian mountains; later Yahweh was associated with Mt. sinai. Shaddai was not merely a local deity whom the Hebrews made their own; rather, he was a manifestation of the supreme God, el. The name Shaddai therefore marks a step in God's progressive revelation of Himself (Ex. 6.3).
See Also: elohim; yahweh.
Bibliography: b. w. anderson, Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, ed. g. a. buttrick et al. (Nashville 1962) 2:412. r. de vaux, Ancient Israel, Its Life and Institutions (New York 1961). w. eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, tr. j. a. baker (London 1961–).
[r. t. a. murphy]