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A word for “God” in the ancient Semitic languages. The word could be used as either a proper or a common noun. As a proper noun, El normally refers to a specific Canaanite god, regarded as the ruler among the gods, but the Bible speaks of El as the “God of Israel” (Gen 33:20). Thus, we find that Hagar encounters El-roi (Heb., “God of Seeing,” Gen 16:7-14). At Beer-sheba Abraham worships El Olam (“Eternal God,” (Gen 21:33). The name El Elyon (“God Most High”) was associated with Jerusalem (Gen 14:18-20). Jacob has a revelation of El-bethel (“God of Bethel”) at Bethel (Gen 35:7). Yahweh is known first as El Shaddai, and even the name Israel is a compound that includes the divine name El.

  • Powell, Mark Allan, ed. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Abridged Edition. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2009.