Theophory in the Bible  

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Theophory is the practice of embedding the name of a god or a deity in, usually, a proper name. Much Hebrew theophory occurs in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. The most prominent theophory involves names referring to:

  • El, a word meaning might, power and (a) god in general, and hence in Judaism, God and among the Canaanites the name of the god who was the father of Baal.
  • Yah, a shortened form of Yahweh.
  • Levantine deities (especially the storm god, Hadad) by the epithet baal, meaning lord. In later times, as the conflict between Yahwism and the more popular pagan practices became increasingly intense, these names were censored and baal was replaced with bosheth, meaning "shame".


El theophory

The following is an alphabetical list of names referring to El and their meanings in Hebrew:

AbdielServant of God
AbielGod my Father
AbimaelA Father sent from God
AdbeelDisciplined of God
AdielWitness of God
Adirael – Magnificence of God
AdrielFlock of God
Advachiel – Happiness of God
AmbrielEnergy of God
AmmielPeople of God
Ariel, Auriel – Lion of God
ArmisaelMountain of Judgment of God
AzaelWhom God Strengthens
AzazelGod Strengthens or Arrogant to God
AzraelHelp of God
Barakiel, Baraquiel – Lightning of God
Barachiel, Bardiel – Kindness of God or Ray of God
BethelHouse of God
BetzalelShadow/Path of God
BithielDaughter of God
BoelGod is in Him
ChakelWisdom of God
ChamuelHe who Seeks God
CassielSpeed of God or God is my anger
Denzel – Fortress of God
DanielJudged by God or Judgement of God
EladGod Forever
ElianaMy God Answers
Elijah (Elias) – Whose God is Jah, God Jah, The StrongTemplate:Dubious Jah, God of Jah, My God is Jah. Reference to the meaning of both (Eli)-(Jah)
ElishaSalvation of God
ElishamaMy God Hears
ElishuaGod is my salvation
EliezerMy God Helps
ElimelechMy God is King
ElizabethMy God is Oath
ElkanahGod has Possessed, or God has Created
EmmanuelGod is with us
EzekielGod will Strengthen
Ezequeel – Strength of God
EzraelHelp of God
Gabriel, Gavriel – Man of God, God has shown Himself Mighty, Hero of God or Strong one of God
GaghielRoaring Beast of God
GamalielReward of God
HamalielGrace of God
HanaelGlory of God
HarelMountain of God
ImmanuelGod with us
ImrielEloquence of God
IruelFear of God
Ishmael, Ishamael – Heard by God, Named by God, or God Hearkens
Israel, YisraelStruggles with God or Prince of God
JekuthielGod will support
JerahmeelGod's exaltation
JeremielGod's mercy
JezreelGod will sow
JoelJah is God
JegudielGlorifier of God
KatrielCrown of God
Kazbiel – He who lies to God
KushielRigid One of God
Lee-El, Lee-el, Leeel – For God
LelielJaws of God
LemuelDedicated to God
MahalalelThe blessed God, The shining light of God, or The glory of God
MalahidaelKing of God
MataraelPremonition of God
MichaelWho is like God? a question
MishaelWho is what God is? a question
Nathanael, NathanielGiven by God or God has Given or "Gift of God"
NemuelDay of God
OthnielHour of God
Peniel, Penuel, Phanuel – Face of God
PrielFruit of God
RachmielGod is my Comforter
Ramiel/RamielThunder of God
RaphaelGod is Healing or Healing one of God
RazielSecret of God
RameelMercy of God or Compassion of God
ReuelFriend of God
SachielPrice of God or Covering of God
SahaquielIngenuity of God
SamaelVenom of God
SamielBlind God, epithet for Baal or the Demiurge
SamuelName/Heard of God
SarielCommand of God
SealtielIntercessor of God
ShamsielLonely Conqueror of God
ShealtielI asked God [for this child]
SurielMoon of God
TamielPerfection of God
TarfielGod Nourishes
TzaphkielBeholder of God
TzaphquielContemplation of God
UrielSun of God, Light of God or Fire of God
UzzielPower from God
VerchielShining of God
YophielBeauty of God
Za'afielWrath of God
ZadkielRighteousness of God (rabbinic)
ZagzagelSplendor of God
ZaphkielKnowledge of God
Zeruel – Arm of God
ZophielWatchman of God
ZurielRock of God

False El theophory

The name Abel, which appears to refer to El, in fact is not an instance of theophory. Abel can be translated as "breath", "temporary" or "meaninglessness" and is the word translated as "vanity" in Template:Bibleref2 in the King James Version.

The name Jael also appears to refer to El in English, but contains ayin rather than the aleph of El.

The name Eli also appears to refer to El in English, but contains ayin rather than aleph.

The name Rachel also appears to refer to El in English, but contains chet.

Shaddai theophory

The following is an alphabetical list of names referring to Shaddai and their meanings in Hebrew:

ZurishaddaiShaddai is my rock

Yah theophory

The following is an alphabetical list of names referring to Yah/Yahweh and their meanings in Hebrew:

AbiahYahweh is my father
AbijahYahweh is my father (2 Chron. 13:3)
Adaiahornament of Yahweh
Adonijahmy lord is Yahweh
Ahaziahvision of Yahweh
Ahiahbrother of Yahweh
Ahijahbrother of Yahweh
AmariahYahweh says; integrity of Yahweh
Amaziahstrength of Yahweh
AnaniahProtected by Yah
AthaliahYahweh is exalted
AzariahYahweh has helped
BatyahDaughter of Yah
BealiahYahweh is Lord
Dodavah(u)Beloved of Yahweh
ElijahMy God is Yah, God Yah. Reference to the meaning of both (Eli)-(Yah)
HananiahYahweh is gracious
GedaliahYahweh is great
HezekiahYahweh has strengthened
Hodaviah/HodiahGive thanks to Yahweh, The splendour of Yahweh
IsaiahSalvation of Yahweh
IsshiahYahweh exists
Jaden/YahdenYahweh has heard
JeconiahYahweh has firmly established
JedaiahYah knows
JedidiahBeloved of Yah
JehiahYahweh lives
JehoiachinYahweh is firmly established
JehoiadaYahweh knows
JehoshaphatYahweh is judge
JehoshebaYahweh is my oath
JehozadakRighteous is Yahweh
JekamiahYahweh raises
JeremiahYah exalts
JeshaiahSalvation of Yahweh
JesseYahweh exists
JoabYahweh is father
JochebedYahweh is glory
JoelYahweh is El/God
JohnYahweh is gracious
Jonathangift of Yahweh
JosephYah has increased
Josiahsupported of Yahweh
MalchijahYahweh is king
MicaiahWho is like Yahweh
MatityahuGift from Yah
NeariahServant of Yahweh
NedabiahYahweh impels
NehemiahYah comforts
Nethaniahgift of Yahweh
Netanyahugift of Yahweh
ObadiahYahweh's servant or worshiper
OdeliaThanks to Yah
PedaiahRedemption of Yahweh
PelatiahYah has delivered
PelaiahYah has distinguished
PelaliahYah has judged
PekahiahYah has observed
ReaiahYahweh has seen
RephaiahYah has healed
SeraiahServant/prince of Yahweh
ShecaniahOne intimate with Yahweh
ShephatiahJudged of Yahweh
ToviahGood of Yahweh or Yahweh is Good
UriahMy light is Yahweh
UzziahYahweh is my strength
Yahoshua (Joshua, Jesus) – Yahweh saves, Yahweh is Saviour, Yahweh is my Salvation
Zebadiah, ZabdiGift of Yahweh
Zedekiahjustice of or righteous is Yahweh
ZephaniahYahweh hides or protects
ZechariahYahweh remembers

Baal theophory

Ba'al is a generic term meaning master; it can also be translated "Lord". In the Bible, it is frequently a reference to Hadad, although it is sometimes used to refer to other specific deities, including Yahweh, and on other occasions is used to refer to an arbitrary lord of this area.

The following is an alphabetical list of names referring Ba'al, and their meanings in Hebrew:

Baal – master; lord
Baalah – her lord; she that is governed or subdued; a spouse
Baalath – a rejoicing; our proud lord
Baalath-Beer – subjected pit
Baal-berith – lord of the covenant
Baale – same as Baalath
Baal-gad – lord Gad, or lord of Gad, or lord of fortune/felicity
Baal-hamon – he who rules a crowd
Baal-hanan – Ba'al is gracious
Baal-hermon – lord of destruction / of a cursed-thing
Baali – my lord; lord over me
Baalim – lords; masters; (later Jewish use: false gods)
Baalis – a rejoicing/proud lord
Baal-meon – lord/master of the house
Baal-Peor – master of Peor; master of the opening
Baal-perazim – lord of divisions
Baal-shalisha – the lord that presides over three; the third idol
Baal-tamar – master of the palm-tree
Baal-zebub – lord of the fly (satirical corruption of Ba'al-zebul - lord of princes)
Baal-zephon – the lord/possession of the north/hidden/secret
Jerub-baal the lord contends


In later biblical and Jewish writing, some of the theophories in Ba'al were bowdlerised, with ba'al replaced by bosheth ((the) shameful (thing)):

Ishbosheth, from Ishba'al, man of ba'al.
Jerubbeshet, from Jerubbaal "Ba'al contends"

Yam theophory

Yam is the Canaanite god of the Sea.

Abiyam – My father is Yam (1 Kgs. 14:31)

Zedek theophory

Zedek (or Sydyk or Sedek) was the name of a Phoenician deity worshiped in Canaan. In Hebrew, "tzedek" (from the root tz-d-k) means "righteous".

The following is an alphabetical list of names referring Zedek, and their meanings in Hebrew:

Melchi-zedek – My king is Zedek
Adoni-zedek – My lord is Zedek
Rabi-zedki – My great one/master is Zedek (EA 170)


Apart from oblique references to Hadad by means of the word ba'al, some theophory references him directly:

Hadadezer - Hadad is my help
Rib-Hadda - Great is Hadad


Asenappar - Ashur is creator of an heir
Nebuchadnezzar - Nabu, preserve my firstborn son
Sennacherib - Sin has replaced brothers
Shalmaneser - Shulmanu is the best

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Theophory in the Bible" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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