There are many feminine aspects to God. One of them is El Shaddai. Usually translated as “Almighty God,” a better translation may be “Breasted God” or “All Sufficient God.”
Most English translations translate the word El Shaddai as “God Almighty” probably because it was thought that Shaddai came from a root verb (shadad) meaning “to overpower” or “to destroy.” But that’s not the whole story.
Now we all know El means God. But did you know shad means “breast” in Hebrew (“breasts” = shadaim) : “Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast (shad)” -Ps 22:9. And the word dai means “enough” or “sufficient.” El Shaddai, thereby indicates sufficiency and nourishment as from a mother’s breast.
The name El Shaddai comes to us from Genesis 17:1, as the LORD appears to Abram telling him that he is being blessed to become the father of nations:
When Abram was ninety-nine years old Yahweh appeared to him and said, “I am El Shaddai [sufficient in nourishment as from the breast]. Live in my presence, be perfect, and I shall grant a covenant between myself and you, and make you very numerous.” And Abram bowed to the ground. God spoke to him as follows, “For my part, this is my covenant with you: you will become the father of many nations. And you are no longer to be called Abram; your name is to be Abraham, for I am making you father of many nations. I shall make you exceedingly fertile. I shall make you into nations, and your issue will be kings.” –Gen. 17:1–6 NJB
God was telling Abram, “Hey, you’re about to be a father of many, many children! But don’t worry because I am El Shaddai!” Now if you heard that you were about to become a father not of just one child but of numerous amounts of children isn’t El Shaddai the name you would want to hear? The name El Shaddai indicated to Abram that God [not only the Father God but also the Mother God] would be there to nourish and sustain the many children that were about to come into being. God would nurture and sustain Abraham’s children into fruitfulness.
It is also in Jacob’s blessing given in Genesis 49:25 that we come to realize that El Shaddai indicates sufficiency, nourishment and help in child rearing:
The God of your father, who will help you,
by the El Shaddai who will bless you
with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
blessings of the breasts and of the womb. –Gen. 49:25
Jacob’s blessing (above) given to his son Joseph was letting him know that the God of Help (Eliezer)– the El Shaddai–was about to bless Jacob with both help and the blessings of the breast and the womb.
God as the one who both nurtures and breast feeds is an important theme throughout the Bible. In the New Testament, we find that El Shaddai is still feeding Her many children with the breast milk of learning:
Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. –1 Pet. 2:2–3.
Babies, however, are expected to mature. They must be weaned. When a baby gets stuck–stuck on the nipple, so to speak–it means growth is not happening as it should:
About this we have much to say that is hard to explain, since you have become dull in understanding. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need [breast] milk [from El Shaddai], not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. –Heb. 5:11–14
And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with [breast] milk [from El Shaddai], not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? –1 Cor. 3:1–3
The breast milk of El Shaddai’s teaching only gets us so far. At some point, children must mature. Once we do mature, that’s when things really get interesting because then the Holy Spirit begins treating us not so much as little children but as friends.
Do you ever feel like you’re stuck on the nipple, so to speak?