I. ELOHIM. (God) occurs 2,700 times. Its first occurrences connects it with creation, and gives it its essential meaning as the Creator. It indicates His relation to mankind as His creatures (see note on 2 Chron.18:31, where it stands in contrast with Yahaveh as indicating covenant relationship). 'Elohim is God the Son, the living "Word" with creature form to create (John 1:1. Col.1:15-17. Rev.3:14); and later, with human form to redeem (John 1:14). "begotten of His Father before all worlds; born of His mother, in the world." In His creature form He appeared to the Patriarchs, a form not temporarily assumed.
II. YAHAVEH (The Lord). While Elohim is God as the Creator of all things, Yahaveh is the same God in covenant relation to those whom He created (cp. 2 Chron.18:31). Yahaveh means the Eternal, the Immutable One, He Who WAS, and IS, and IS TO COME. The Divine definition is given in Gen.21:33. He is especially, therefore, the God of Israel; and the God of those who are redeemed, and are thus now "in Christ". We can say "My God", but not "My Yahaveh", for Yahaveh is "My God". The name Yahaveh is combined with ten other words, which form what are known as the "Yehovah Titles". They are as follows in the order in which they occur in the Hebrew Cannon. All are noted in the text when they occur.
1. Yahaveh-Yireh= Yahaveh will see, or provide.
2. Yahaveh-Ropheka= Yahaveh that heals you. Ex.15:26.
3. Yahaveh-Nissi= Yahaveh my banner. Ex.17:15.
4. Yahaveh-MeKaddishkem= Yahaveh that does sanctify
you. Ex.31:13. Lev.20:8; 21:8; 22:32. Ezek.20:12.
5. Yahaveh-Shalom= Yahaveh send peace. Judg.6:24.
6. Yahaveh-ZeBa'oth= Yahaveh of hosts. 1 Sam.1:3, and
7. Yahaveh-Zidkenu= Yahaveh our righteousness.
8. Yahaveh-Shammah= Yahaveh is there. Ezek.48:35.
9. Yahaveh-'Elyon= Yahaveh most high. Ps.7:17; 47:2;
10. Yahaveh-Ro'i= Yahaveh my Shepherd. Ps.23:1.
III. YAH is Yahaveh in a special sense and relation. It is Yahaveh as having BECOME our Salvation (first occ. Ex.15:2). He Who IS, and WAS, and IS TO COME. It occurs 49 times (7x7= Spiritual perfection intensified).
IV. EL is essentially the Almighty, though the word is never so rendered (see below, "shaddai"). El is Elohim in all His strength and power. It is rendered "God" as Elohim is, bt El is God the Omnipotent. Elohim is God the Creator putting His omnipotence into operation. Eloah (see below) is God Who wills and orders all, and Who is to be the one object of the worship of His people. El is the God Who knows all (first occ. Gen.14:18-22) and see all (Gen.16:13) and that performs all things for His people (Ps.57:2); and in Whom all the Divine attributes are concentrated. It is sometimes transliterated in proper names such as Immanu-'el, Beth-'el, &c., where it is translated, as explained in notes.
V. ELOAH is Elohim, who is to be worshiped. Eloah is God in connection with His will rather than His power. The first occ. associates this name with worship (Deut.32:15,17). Hence it is the title used whenever the contrast (latent or expressed) is with false gods or idols. Eloah is essentially "the Living God" in contrast with inanimate idols. Eloah is rendered "God".
VI. ELYON - first occ. in Gen.14:18 with El, and is rendered "the most high (God)". It is El and Elohim, not as powerful Creator, but as "the possessor of heaven and earth". Hence the name is associated with Christ as the Son of the Highest (Luke 1:35). It is Elyon, as possessor of the earth, Who divides the nations "their inheritance". In Ps.83:18, He is "over all the earth". The title occurs 36 times (6x6, the human number intensified). Elyon is the Dispenser of God's blessings in the earth; the blessings proceeding from a Priest Who is King upnHis throne (cp. Gen.14:18-22 with Zech.6:13; 14:9).
VII. SHADDAI is in every instance translated "Almighty". It is God (El), not as the source of strength, but of grace; not as Creator, but as giver. Shaddai is the All-bountiful. This title does not refer to His creative power, but His power to supply all the needs ofHis people. Its first occ. is in Gen.17:1, and is used to show Abraham that He Who called him out to walk alone before Him could supply all his needs. Even so it is the title used in 2 Cor.6:18,where we are caled to "come out" in separation from the world. It is always used in connection with El (see above).
VIII. ADON is one of three titles (Adon, Adonai, and Adonim), all generally rendered "Lord"; but each has its own peculiar usage and association. They all denote headship in various aspects. They have to do with God as "over-lord".
(1) ADON is the Lord and Ruler in the earth.
(2) ADONAI is the Lord in His relation to the earth; and as carrying out His purposes of blessing in he earth. With this limitation it is almost equivalent to Yahaveh. Indeed, it was from an early date so used, by associating the vowel points of the word Yahaveh with Adon, thus converting Adon into Adonai. A list of 134 passages where this was deliberately done is preserved and given in the Massorah (section 107-1150).
(3) ADONIM is the plural of Adon, never used of man. Adonim carries with it all that Adon does, but in a greater and higher degree; and more especially as owner and proprietor. An Adon may rule others who do not belong to him. Hence without the article it is often used of man. But Adonim is the Lord Who rules His own.
The three may be thus briefly distinguished:-
Adon is the Lord as overlord or ruler.
Adonim is the Lord as owner.
Adonai is the Lord as blesser.