The Christian Broadcasting Network

God's Names in the Old Testament
Resources for Spiritual Growth
Foundations of the Faith Q & A

Free Online Course - Foundations of the Faith

What are the major divisions of the 39 books of the Old Testament? Answer...

What are the three primary names of God from the Old Testament? Answer...

What are the three parts of man? Answer...

What is original sin? Answer...

The first sin in the universe came through ________ . Answer...

What was the primary title that Jesus used to describe himself during his earthly ministry? Answer...

Work out your ________ with ________ and ________, for it is God that works in you. Answer...

Jesus said, 'You are Petros,' which means ______ in the Greek, 'and on this Petra,' which means ______ 'I will build my Church.' Answer...

When Jesus returns, He will establish His kingdom on earth for ______. Answer...

What is the oldest Christian creed? Answer...


God's Names in the Old Testament

By Craig von Buseck Contributing Writer

Question: What are the three primary names of God from the Old Testament?

Answer: Yahweh, Adonai, Elohim



Yahweh and Jehovah are two different English transcriptions of the non-vocalized Tetragammaton -- the four consonants standing for the ancient Hebrew name for God. Both Jews and Christians accept the name Yahweh as being God's Hebrew name, as it was preserved in the original consonantal Hebrew text.

The original Hebrew text was not vocalized, as YHWH was considered too sacred to pronounce. Instead, the name Adonai (my Lord) was substituted in reading. By the time a vowel system was invented, the Hebrews had forgotten how to pronounce YHWH, and so they substituted the vowels for Adonai, resulting in the name "Jehovah." This is the sixteenth century form of YHWH with “a,” “o” and “a” (the vowels from Adonai, “my Lord”) inserted between each consonant -- Latinizing the word, changing the “Y” and “W” to “J” and “V.”

Most modern scholars agree with the editors of Jewish Encyclopedia of 1901-1906 that when the added vowel points to the consonantal Hebrew text, they had not placed the correct vowel points of God's name above and below the consonants of YHWH. Instead modern scholars believe that the Masoretes had placed a modified version of the vowel points of Adonai above and below the consonants of YHWH to indicate to the Jewish reader that he was to substitute Adonai for the proper name in reading the Scriptures.

Thus, "Yahweh" is believed by many modern scholars to be the likely original pronunciation.

God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites: Yahweh, the 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; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation. (Exodus 3:15 [CSB] Holman Christian Standard Bible)


The name Adonai, translated "Lord" (only the "L" capitalized), occurs approximately 300 times in the Old Testament. No other name applied to is more definite and more easily understood than this.

It is almost always used in the plural possessive form meaning "My Lords." Many Christian scholars believe that this represents Old Testament evidence for the Trinity, as also found in the name "Elohim" -- though there is much debate on this point.

In Hebrew, 'adon' means one possessed of absolute control. It denotes a master, as of slaves (Gen. 24:14, 27), or a ruler of his subjects (Gen. 45:8), or a husband, as lord of his wife (Gen.18:12). This same word is used of men approximately 215 times in the Old Testament and is predominantly translated as "master." When used of men, it is always used in the singular form.

The true meaning of this name in the Hebrew language indicates "mastership" or "ownership". From this, we can clearly see God's outright ownership of all things in Heaven and Earth. This also clearly defines our role as servants to our Adonai.

The LORD (Yahweh) said unto my Lord (Adonai), sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. (Ps. 110:1 KJV – definitions added)


The most frequent Hebrew word for God after Yahweh, Elohim is used more than 2,500 times in the Old Testament. The origin of Elohim is prehistoric, and therefore unknown. This has caused many divergent uses of the word to appear in various cultures and religions. Several theories of the origin of the word have been suggested, including the connection to the Hebrew word "el" or "eloah."

Elohim is the earliest name of God in the Old Testament and persists along with other names until the latest period. Elohim is the third word in the Hebrew text of Genesis and occurs frequently throughout the Hebrew Bible.

The most likely roots for the name Elohim mean either "be strong" or "be in front," denoting the power and preeminence of God.

Jesus uses a form of the name from the cross.

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?" (Matthew 27:46).

In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1 NASB – definition added).

Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests

Free Online Course - Foundations of the Faith

More Inspirational Teaching

More from Spiritual Life

Craig von  BuseckCraig von Buseck is a published author, popular speaker and a contributing writer for He holds a Doctor of Ministry and an MA in Religious Journalism from Regent University. His most recent book by Regal Publishers, Praying the News, was co-written by CBN News anchor Wendy Griffith.

Craig is also the author of NetCasters: Using the Internet to Make Fishers of Men and Seven Keys to Hearing God's Voice. Craig has extensive ministry and speaking experience. He travels often to minister in churches and speak at writers conferences and professional events. Find other articles and interviews by Craig von Buseck on or at

Find Craig's books on ShopCBN

  • Translate
  • Print Page

Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?

A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.

Do You Know Jesus
Grow In Your Faith

Need Prayer?

Call 1-800-700-7000
Email your prayer request

Email iconSign up for E-mail Updates Full List