Thanks Mucho (a Christian Website) - II Cor. 5:21

"El Shaddai"
by Amy Grant

The words to the chorus of "El Shaddai" are as follows:

El Shaddai, El Shaddai
El Elyon-na Adonai

Age to age, you're still the same
By the power of your name
El Shaddai, El Shaddai,
Erkamka-na Adonai

I will praise and lift you high
El Shaddai

Michael Card, a who has some familiarity with Hebrew, wrote these lyrics.   El Shaddai (אל שדי) is usually translated "God Almighty," and is found throughout the Bible.   The two other Hebrew expressions (El Elyon-na Adonai and Erkamka-na Adonai) that he uses were chosen because they appear in two very intriguing passages in the Bible.

El-Elyon (אל עליון) The first time we see the expression El Elyon (the extra "na" syllable in the song is added for poetic effect) in the Bible is in Genesis 14:18.   In Genesis 12, God had told Abram (whose name was later changed to Abraham) to leave his home and go into the Negev; Abram obeyed.   Abram is now living in a strange land, and this strange man, Melchizedek (a name which in Hebrew means "my king is righteous") approaches him.   So far as we know, Abram and Melchizedek had never met before.

By way of greeting, Melchizedek blesses Abram in the name of some deity named El Elyon.   We have no reason to believe that Abram had ever heard of this god before.   We would expect Abram to refuse to accept a blessing from a stranger that was given in the name of a strange god.

But Abram not only received the blessing, he gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything !

Why did Abram accept this stranger so quickly, and so completely?   Because a revelation was made to Abram in a supernatural way (as when it was revealed to Peter that was the Messiah - Matt. 16:13-17).   Abram somehow knew that El Elyon was just another name for HIS OWN God, and that Melchizedek was a special priest of God, just as Abram himself had a special relationship with God.

It has been suggested that Abram represented the specific, face-to-face revelation of God, while Melchizedek represented the Romans 2 revelation of God.   This meeting between the two of them in Genesis 14 would show us that there is no conflict between them.

Erkamka Adonai (ארחמך יהוה) This expression is from Psalm 18:1 which is properly translated, "I love you, Lord."

The verb (erkamka   —   again, the extra "na" syllable in the song is added for poetic effect) is a form of racham, which is used 41 times in the Old Testament.

In the New International Version (the 1984 incarnation), racham is translated as follows:

      1. "[Have, show] compassion, [be] compassionate"   —   25 times.

      It is always the Lord doing it, that is, the Lord being compassionate, except in Isaiah 49:15, where a mother is being compassionate to her nursing baby.

      2. "[Have, show] mercy, [be] merciful"   —   13 times.   Again, it is always the Lord doing it, except I Kings 8:50   —   where conquerors are showing mercy.

      3. "Pity"   —   one time   —   Jeremiah 16:5.   A reference to the Lord withdrawing his pity.

      4. "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal . . . "   —   Proverbs 12:10.

      5. "Love"   —   one time   —   Psalm 18:1.

ALL English translations of the Bible (not just NIV) translate racham as "love" in Psalm 18:1.

In other words, wherever this verb is used in the Bible, whether it has to do with



    caring for an animal, or

    a merciful conqueror,

the one who is ACTING is greater than (in a higher position than) the one who RECEIVES the racham.

... with the one exception: Psalm 18:1.   In this verse, something very special and mysterious is going on.   David says to his God, who of course is GREATER than he is, "I love you.   I love you with racham love, as if I were a sheltering mother to you, Lord."

I won't try to pontificate or speculate about the theological implications of this; remember, this strange use of racham happened exactly one time in the Bible, so there's really nothing to compare it with.