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Because the English word "almighty" contains the word "mighty," some people might mistakenly assume that the two words are related, forming a contrast between two "levels" of might. In such thinking, being "almighty" ("all mighty" or "super-mighty" or "mightiest") would be contrasted with just being merely "mighty" - as though the word "mighty" implied something less than (or inferior to) "almighty." In reality, these are two totally different words, with different (though somewhat related) emphases.

The word "mighty" ("gibbowr," the Hebrew word examined in this study) has to do with strength, power, and ability to prevail. The word normally translated as "almighty," (which comes from a different Hebrew word - "shadday," and which occurs 46 times) has to do with self-sufficiency or (according to some) the "all-providing" character of God. Perhaps it has reference to his "invincible" nature. (Hebrew scholars are not in total agreement as to the exact meaning of this word.)

In the verses examined in this study, the Hebrew word "shadday" does not occur.

There is another Hebrew word ("tsawbaw'") that is translated as "Almighty" in some English translations, and as "hosts" or "armies" in others (examples: "the LORD of hosts" or "the LORD of armies"). This word, which occurs in two of the passages quoted in this study (Psalm 24:10 and Jeremiah 32:18), probably conveys the idea of "all mighty," better than the word mentioned above. But it is not used in the sense of a contrast between "mighty" and "all mighty." In each of these passages, both words are used in reference to the same person (God).

Dennis Hinks © 1993, 2004

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