When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” —Genesis 17:1-2
Francy’s story is the best thing to help us understand who El Shaddai is . A few weeks after the birth of her second child, she left both children with her husband Scott while she escaped to the hairdresser. Returning later than planned, she found her house in total uproar. Both children were crying. Since the baby had not yet learned to take a bottle, Scott was unable to meet the needs of his infant child. Within minutes, peace ruled as Francy nursed the baby, and Scott was able to console his two-year old son.
This is the concept God was teaching Abraham in Genesis 17:1-2—His all-sufficiency is everything we could ever need—“able” to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. As our parent, He blesses us as both our mother and our father. As a nursing mother is able to completely meet the physical and emotional needs of her child, God is able to care for, and console, us above all we can ask, think or dream of—the essence of El Shaddai.
THE BLESSINGS OF EL SHADDAI
The Hebrew name for God, “El Shaddai,” appears as “God Almighty” seven times in the Old Testament until the time of Moses. Almighty means Shaddai. The “El” of El Shaddai (and of El Roi and Elohim) means mighty, whereas some scholars say that El Shaddai means the Powerful One, or the Mighty One. “Rabbis believed the term meant the ‘One who is self-sufficient.’” The root word comes from shadah, to shed, to pour out. “I am that God who pours out blessings, who gives them richly, abundantly, continually.”
As you can see, scholars differ on the meaning of the root word of El Shaddai, which is no mistake, because He is all things. Kay Arthur in her book, The Peace & Power of Knowing God’s Name, leans toward the definition set forth by Andrew Jukes in The Names of God, explaining that the Hebrew word shad refers to “the breast,” or more exactly, a “woman’s breast.”
The Hebrew word for blessing means God’s favor, benefits, happiness and peace. What are these blessings poured out for us that we can expect from our Heavenly Father, El Shaddai? What are the conditions to receiving them, and who can receive them? The blessings are: increase, fruitfulness, promise of a homeland, deliverance from bondage, and protection. Let us review how Scripture relates each of these to El Shaddai.
Increase by El Shaddai
Remember, God’s confirmation of the covenant blessing God made to Abraham was nine months before Isaac was born. El Shaddai reassured him that he truly would increase his numbers through a child from his wife Sari. Abram meant “a high or exalted father;” whereas, God changed his name to Abraham (see Gen. 17:5), meaning “a father of a multitude.”
Increase for Abraham was not only in numbers of descendants, but in influence and leadership. His faithfulness, trust and obedience to God influenced the whole world, like water spilling over a barrel covering the earth. Who is not familiar with the reputation of Abraham and of his faith which claimed a new nation? Especially since the war in Iraq, we see the descendants of Ishmael claiming him as their father also.
Christmas was always a sad time for Denise and her husband Joe, because they had no children. Finally, able to give it over to God one Christmas, Denise prayed, “Lord, if You want me to be a career woman and not have kids, I’ll accept that. If You want me to be a mother, it’ll have to happen soon. If You want us to adopt a child, You’ll have to drop one in my lap because we can’t afford one. If You’re not going to give me a child, then You’ll have to take away the desire.” In seeking God’s will, Denise was to find He was willing for increase.
Fruitfulness by El Shaddai
Before Jacob left for his Uncle Laban, Isaac passed on the blessing to him, “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples” (Gen. 28:3). In turn, Jacob blessed his son Joseph with these words, “Joseph is a fruitful vine . . . because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb” (Gen. 49:22, 25).
Fruitfulness in every way is the promise of El Shaddai. Abram had to wait until he was ninety-nine years old, and Sari until she was ninety, to receive the child of promise, but it did happen. And, at the fulfillment of the promise came a name change for them both. [God told Abraham in Genesis 17:15 to call Sari, Sarah.]
Less than one month after Denise’s prayer, at an uncle’s funeral dinner, Joe’s mother approached him and Denise and said, “An unwed couple from within the family is expecting their sixth child and wants to give it up for adoption. They want to know if you want it. They want to keep it within the family.”
Denise’s heart leapt at those words, but they were almost like gossip, not a fact. The baby was to arrive in only two months, so they called the expecting man’s father. A meeting was planned with the parents. The couple did want to give the baby up for adoption.
The adoption cost only $1,000 for lawyer fees, but it was a fortune to Denise and Joe; however, just as a mother cares for her child, El Shaddai met their needs. Co-workers and friends gave of their best, and for the last remaining amount, Joe liquidated some assets. After a Bible study and sharing time, a friend named Patty donated her valuable social-service expertise for the background check for the adopting parents.
Denise had only two months to prepare for the baby. One particular day, with an unusual feeling of urgency, Denise shopped for her final baby supplies. The next day, the baby was born—one month earlier than expected.
After arriving at the hospital the night before, Denise and Joe heard the mother might be changing her mind. They prayed all night long in great anguish. The next morning, a beautiful baby girl was born, with one major complication, metopic crainiosynostosis, where the sutures of the cranium are closed rather than open to allow for growth of the child’s brain.
In the final outcome, the baby belonged to Denise and Joe. Surgery corrected the defect before the baby was six months old. Her forehead had appeared trianglar when looking from the top, but now she was normal, and the pressure on the brain was alleviated. The $100,000 hospital costs and surgery for the baby was paid with insurance from Denise’s job and financial aid. Meanwhile, two weeks after the adoption, Joe was laid-off from his job.
 Spiros Zodiates, Th.D., Executive Editor, The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 1990) p. 1782.
 Adam Clark, LL.D., F.S.A., & C., Clark’s Commentary Volume 1, Genesis-Derteronomy (Abington Press, New York, Nashville), p. 113.
 Kay Arthur, The Peace & Power of Knowing God’s Name, (Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, 2002) p.
 Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, Hebrew word 1293, p. 1717.
 Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” p.8.