Bible Study

12 Unique Names of God and Their Meanings

There are many different titles and names for God in the Bible. When we study the use of the name, in the context and setting of where it first occurs, it can teach us something new about the character of God. As we reflect on these 12 unique names of God, we can come to experience Him in new ways in our own lives.

What Are the 12 Names of God?

In Scripture, there are far more than 12 unique names of God. But I have compiled a short list here of the more familiar names: Elohim, Adonai, El Roi, El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, Yahweh, Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Shalom, Yahweh Tsuri, Yahweh Tsebaoth, and Yahweh Rohi.

Just pause for a moment and think of all the different names that we have. We have many relational names, others connected to our occupation, our family heritage, our nationality, or even where we live. Some of us have pet names, those affectionate very personal names given to us by loved ones! All these names reveal something unique about our character especially in the context of where they are used…

In the same way, the different names for God in the Bible reflect an unique aspect of His character revealed to His people. God does not change, and He is our Creator, Lord, and Master. He is the God who sees and cares for us. He is Almighty God, our Provider, our Redeemer, our Healer, and the Banner of love over our lives! To know that God is our Peace, that He is Sovereign, the Rock, and our Shepherd guide, brings a new depth to our faith-filled relationship with Him!

12 Unique Names of God and Their Meanings

As we look at these 12 unique names of God we start at the beginning – that we were created to be in fellowship with God. Reflecting on these different revealed aspects of God’s character helps us build up more of a 3D image of God!

If we look at a picture of someone we don’t know and are given their name, we may recognize them in the future, and maybe even remember their name, but we don’t know them…

In the same way we can have an abstract idea of who God is – but we need to be careful we don’t create our own picture of God. Studying Scripture deepens our understanding of who God is, as revealed in His word, and enhances our relationship with Him!

Unless otherwise stated all Bible quotations are from the NKJV.

Elohim God the Creator

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

The very first sentence in the Bible introduces God’s authority, sovereignty, and creative power. The Hebrew word used here for God’s name is ‘Elohim.’ The understanding of Elohim God the Creator is the foundation of our Christian faith. It underpins our belief in God’s Sovereignty, that He is the Creator of everything as the One true God.

Creation speaks to us of God’s rule, that all life is sustained by God. These are fundamental truths that shape our life now and are the basis of our hope for the future. When we believe that God is the beginning, that He is the source of all things, it enables us to see the possibility of new beginnings in life and beyond death.

Knowing that God is Elohim Mighty Creator of the world, can bring a sense of security and assurance in uncertain and tumultuous times!

What Does Adonai Mean?

“After this the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Genesis 15:1-2

Abram had just returned from battle, from rescuing his nephew Lot who had been taken captive by raiders. Abram had recovered not only Lot but the plunder that the raiders had taken from the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The king of Sodom was so pleased to get his people back that he offered to bless Abram by allowing him to keep the goods that he had recovered. But Abram refused to be obligated to this king of Canaan – he served the Lord only!

Adonai is the Hebrew word for Lord, with the perspective that we are God’s servants. We are to serve the Lord alone and to surrender our life to Him. We can trust in His protection, provision, and care for us – He is our source of all good gifts!

El Roi The God Who Sees Me

“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees, for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.” Genesis 16:13-14

This revelation of God as ‘El Roi’ which means ‘the God who sees me’ only appears once in all of Scripture. El is the preface used to describe the one true God, and Roi reveals the relational caring quality of His character.

God revealed His care and compassion to Hagar, Abram and Sarai’s Egyptian servant, who had no rights of her own, and was in a vulnerable position. He revealed this aspect of His character to a woman who was disadvantaged and distressed.

El Roi is one of the unique names of God that reveals His personal care – He hears our cry and sees us as individuals. The One who Jesus declared ‘has numbered the very hairs of our heads’ and knows all that we need!

Related Post: El Roi The God Who Sees Me

Picture of a cloudy blue sky above a glittering sea and the title 12 Names of God & Their Meanings with the names Elohim, Adonai, El Roi, El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, Yahweh, Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Nissi, Jehovah Shalom, Yahweh Tsuri, Jehovah Tsebaoth, and Yahweh Rohi.
12 Unique Names of God & Their Meanings

Who is El Shaddai?

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Genesis 17:1-2

Abram was seventy-five years old when he responded to God’s call to leave his father’s household, his people, and his country behind. God promised that He would make Abram into a great nation and Abram set out on this journey of faith.

Abram arrived in Canaan, and he had been there ten years when Hagar bore him a son, who he named Ishmael. By now Abram was eighty-six years old, but Ishmael was not the son of God’s promise. He was the result of Abram and Sarai’s own efforts to fulfill God’s promise – which would have long-lasting consequences.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old God revealed Himself as ‘El Shaddai’ Almighty God – the God of the impossible. When Abram and Sarai were far too old to have a child, God proved Himself faithful. The fulfilment of God’s promise came in His perfect timing when they would know without any doubt that their son Isaac was a gift from God.

El Shaddai is Almighty God the One we pray to for the impossible, believing in His faithfulness!

Does Jehovah Jireh mean The LORD Will Provide?

“Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Genesis 22:13-14

God tested Abraham’s faith and commitment, by instructing him to take his son Isaac and offer him as a burnt offering on Mount Moriah. He instructed Abraham to do something counter-intuitive and appeared to destroy all his God-given hopes and vision for the future. But Abraham, with faith, did not falter but immediately responded with obedience, trusting that God would provide the offering.

Understanding Jehovah Jireh the LORD will provide, as one of the unique names of God, seems straightforward and simple to comprehend. But there is a great deal of difference between having the knowledge and putting it into practice.

God’s provision may be through a new opportunity, or financial blessing. It could be sustaining strength through difficult circumstances, or peace and comfort through pain and suffering. When we come to know Jehovah Jireh, the LORD will provide, by our own experience, we truly know God’s faithfulness!

Yahweh LORD

“And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has sent me to you.’ “This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.” Exodus 3:14-15

The name Yahweh LORD is the personal name for God which He revealed to Moses when He called and commissioned him to lead Israel out of Egypt. This was the name by which God wanted to be known by His people – the name that expressed His character as, dependable, faithful, and trustworthy.

The name Yahweh became forever associated with God’s redeeming acts, as the God who rescues and saves. For Israel, Yahweh LORD became the sacred covenant name for God and eventually was only spoken aloud by the priests worshiping in Jerusalem’s temple.

After the destruction of the temple in AD 70, the name Yahweh was not spoken or pronounced by the people as they feared mis-using the LORD’s name. In Scriptural text, Adonai was substituted for Yahweh and the correct pronunciation was lost. Now in English Biblical text, the two names are distinguished with Yahweh translated as LORD and Adonai being shown as Lord.

What does Jehovah Rapha mean?  

“If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD, who heals you.” Exodus 15:26

In the names for God in the Bible, the first mention of Jehovah Rapha comes after the Israelites had escaped from slavery in Egypt. They had miraculously crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, and from there Moses had led the Israelites into the Desert of Shur.

After three days the Israelites had become desperate for water, and they arrived at a place called Marah. There was a well, but the water was undrinkable, it was bitter to taste. The people of Israel blamed Moses because He was their leader. But on a spiritual level, they were grumbling and complaining against God.

God showed Moses a certain tree, and when he threw a branch into the water, the water became fit to drink.  It was there at Marah that God revealed Himself as Jehovah Rapha the LORD who heals. He ‘healed’ or ‘cured’ the water to provide for His people.

God’s healing power in Scripture is manifested in many ways by healing water, land, and nations, as well as individuals. We pray to Jehovah Rapha the LORD who heals when we look for healing from physical illness or emotional or spiritual suffering.

Jehovah Nissi The LORD is My Banner

“And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; for he said, “Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will be have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” Exodus 17:15-16

God brought victory for His people in their first battle after leaving Egypt. The tribe of Israel was in danger of being overwhelmed by their enemy, but God moved supernaturally in their defense.

Joshua was leading the fighting and Moses was positioned on a hilltop overlooking the battle. As long as Moses with the staff of God in his hands kept his arms raised, the Israelites were winning. But when he lowered his hands, the Amalekites prevailed.

Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ arms, raised in appeal to God for victory, so that they remained steady until sunset. This enabled Joshua and the Israelite army to overcome their enemy. Moses set up an altar as a place of worship to commemorate the victory and he called the altar ‘The LORD is my Banner.’

Jehovah Nissi the LORD is My Banner, is one of the unique names of God that we can appeal to in prayer. We can visualize the image of the banner of God’s love over our household and our family in the middle of the fiercest battles, as we look in faith for victory!

12 Unique names of God & their meanings - A picture of banners flying in a strong wind and the title Jehovah Nissi with quote from Psalm 20:5
12 Unique Names of God & Their Meanings –
Jehovah Nissi the LORD is My Banner

Jehovah Shalom Scripture  

“So Gideon built an altar there to the Lord, and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace. To this day it is still in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.” Judges 6:24

The name Jehovah Shalom, The LORD is peace, is a name for God that first appeared in a story where there was no peace. Israel was experiencing poverty and hardship, as they were constantly under attack from the Midianites – until God intervened.

Gideon was threshing wheat – the little that he had – hidden in a winepress, out of sight of the enemy. An angel appeared to him with a greeting “The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.” At God’s command, the angel delivered a commission to Gideon. He was to go, in the strength that he had, to save Israel from constant enemy attack.

Gideon asked the angel for a sign of confirmation and went to prepare an offering. The Angel of the LORD waited until Gideon returned. Then He instructed him to place his offering, meat, and bread, on a nearby rock and to pour out the broth. The Angel reached out and touched the offering with the tip of his staff. Fire flared from the rock and consumed the offering. This showed that it was accepted by God, and then the Angel disappeared.

Gideon’s response was not reassurance from the sign he had just seen but rather horror as he realized he had seen the Angel of the LORD face to face!

Then the LORD said to him, “Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.”

Judges 6:23

Gideon received assurance from these words and built an altar dedicating it to the Lord with the title The-LORD-Is-Peace – which in Hebrew is ‘Jehovah Shalom’.

The unique name of God as Jehovah Shalom is fully revealed to us through the peace that Jesus has won for us by reconciling us to God. Now we can stand, without fear in the sight of God, through the righteousness of Christ!

Related Post: Jehovah Shalom The Lord is Peace

The LORD is My Rock Meaning

“There is no-one holy like the Lord; there is no-one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 2:2 NIV

This unique name for God was referenced first in Hannah’s prayer of praise when she dedicated Samuel, her longed-for child, to the Lord. Her years of barrenness were over, and God had delivered her from shame. Hannah’s joy was not only in her son but founded in God who had answered her prayer!

This name for God as our Rock, Yahweh Tsuri, depicts strength and stability as seen in so many of the Psalms. Yahweh Tsuri is the sure foundation for our lives, and an unfailing source of security for His people. The LORD is My Rock simply means He is the One we can rely and depend on all of the time!

“I will love You, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

Psalm 18:1-2

What is the meaning of Jehovah Sabaoth?

“This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the LORD of hosts in Shiloh…” 1Samuel 1:3

This man was Elkanah, and the first time in the Bible that God is described as the ‘Lord of Hosts’ is here in the account of the birth of Samuel. This could be described as a prophetic revelation, as the title ‘LORD of hosts’ traditionally became linked with the monarchy – as did Elkanah’s son Samuel.

Jehovah Sabaoth, or Yahweh Tsebaoth, is the name for God in the Bible which refers to His Sovereignty over all the powers of the Universe, natural and supernatural. But with particular reference to God as God of the armies, the head of the Heavenly armies, and the army of Israel. It is a royal title of great power.

The ‘LORD of Hosts’ is used frequently in Old Testament Scripture and one of the more familiar Bible verses is where David went out to face the giant Goliath:

“Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.”

1 Samuel 17:45

Goliath was mocking David, despising his youth and obvious lack of military experience. But David was relying, in faith, on the power of God to rescue His people as he stepped out in the name of the LORD of Hosts.

This name of God is one which we associate today with worship, that the LORD of Hosts rules and reigns overall and is worthy of all our praise!

Yahweh Rohi Meaning

“Then he blessed Joseph and said, “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day…” Genesis 48:15

At the end of his life, Jacob blessed his son Joseph, and his grandsons Manasseh and Ephraim speaking prophetic words over their lives. The way he described God was as ‘my shepherd.’ In the names of God in the Bible, this was the first of reference to God as Shepherd – Yahweh Rohi.

The nomadic shepherd leading his sheep, providing for their needs, and protecting them from danger was a common sight in ancient Canaan and within Israel itself. And so this became a popular metaphor for the relationship between God and His people.

“You are my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

Ezekiel 34:31

“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

Psalm 100:3

The role of the shepherd became associated with the king, and the religious leaders, to provide spiritual guidance. Probably the most well-known reference to the LORD as our Shepherd is in Psalm 23 – written by David, the shepherd boy who became a king! Someone who understood the role of shepherd and the responsibility of leadership.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Psalm 23:1

This psalm is a declaration of trust in God as our Shepherd-King, the only truly Good Shepherd. This became a title that Jesus used, in answer to the Pharisees, as to who He was, His role and ministry. They would have understood fully the implication of what He was saying!

Related Post: Why Did Jesus Describe Himself as The Good Shepherd

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