Ten Names, Twenty Attributes image

Ten Names, Twenty Attributes

There are ten proper names for God in the Hebrew Bible, explains Herman Bavinck (following Jerome). And when we classify his attributes into incommunicable ones (which we do not share) and communicable ones (which we can, and should), there are twenty. Again, there is plenty here to help preachers and teachers:

Start with the Hebrew names:
- El: the simplest name, translated “God,” which occurs around two hundred times
- Eloha: the singular of Elohim, which is only very occasionally used in a poetic context (Ps 18:32; Job 3:4)
- Elohim: the much more common plural word for God (2500 times), which is usually used with a singular verb or adjective
- Sabaoth: the God of “hosts” or “armies”
- Elyon: usually translated the “Most High,” this is the name used by Melchizedek and Balaam (Gen 14:18; Num 24:16)
- Esher ehye: “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be”
- Adonai: translated “Lord” in lower case, and rendered as kurios in Greek: master, lord, king
- Yah: shortened form of Yahweh, particularly common in names (Elijah, Zechariah, etc)
- Yahweh: much the most common name (6800 times), expressed as “the LORD” in capitals in most English Bibles
- Shaddai: “all-powerful” or “Almighty,” and particularly common in the patriarchal stories in Genesis (Gen 17:1 etc)

Obviously these names are frequently combined with each other - Yahweh Sabaoth (the LORD of hosts), El-Shaddai (God Almighty), Yahweh Adonai (the Lord GOD), and so forth - as well as with other words as part of God’s “compound” names: Yahweh-Yireh (the LORD will provide), Yahweh-Rohi (the LORD my shepherd), and so on.

Then there are the attributes or perfections of God, which are divided into two categories, depending on whether or not they are properties we can share.

Incommunicable Attributes
1. Independence, self-sufficiency, aseity
2. Immutability, changelessness, impassibility
3. Eternity (infinity with respect to time)
4. Immensity, Omnipresence (infinity with respect to space)
5. Unity (oneness with respect to quantity)
6. Simplicity (oneness with respect to quality)

Communicable Attributes
7. Spirituality
8. Invisibility
9. Knowledge, omniscience
10. Wisdom (“knowledge from another point of view”)
11. Truthfulness, veracity
12. Goodness, love, compassion, grace
13. Righteousness, justice
14. Holiness, otherness
15. Will, sovereignty
16. Freedom
17. Power, omnipotence
18. Perfection
19. Blessedness, delight, self-sufficiency, happiness
20. Glory, greatness, majesty

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