Yes lord. I mean, yes Lord. Wait, no. Yes LORD. Yeah, that's it.

Lord is a word that has fallen out of use in day to day English. A long time ago it was a term of respect for someone held in honor or thought to be in a position of authority. Think Medieval Times: "Yes, my lord."



In the Hebrew scriptures, the word adon (pronounced ah-DŌN) had this same sense. It could also mean master (1 Samuel 20:38), owner (1 Kings 16:24), or husband (yikes, awkward, but see Amos 4:1 for an example). Now and then, adon was even used for God (Psalm 114:7). When it is, it's translated "Lord" in our English Bibles.

Usually, however, a special form of adon is used for God: adonai (pronounced ah-dōh-nigh). Adonai is different from adon in two ways (get ready for some grammar, people). First, it includes the 1st person singular possessive pronoun -- simply put, it means "my Lord." Also, it's plural. If you've been with me for the last few weeks, you know this doesn't mean "my lords." It's more likely this is what folks call the plural of majesty, which I discussed in my first post What's In A Name?. At some point, adonai began to be understood as a proper noun (a title or name). Usually in the Hebrew Scriptures it's translated simply as "Lord." Check out Genesis 20:4, Isaiah 49:14, and Psalm 35:23 in the NIV for some examples. In some translations you'll still find "my Lord" in these verses.

Now you know the difference between "Lord" and "LORD" when you're reading the Bible. You may want to read my second post What's In A Name? for a refresher on "LORD."

So what happens in our English Bibles when the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures refer to God as adonai yahweh? From what we've learned so far, we might expect to see "Lord LORD." Well, that's kind of a confusing name (or maybe just lame), so English translations have decided to use "Lord GOD," with GOD in uppercase to signify the divine name is present in the Hebrew, the same way they use LORD. Frankly, I'm not sure this is any less confusing, but I'm sure it's just as lame. For me, this is one more instance of our English translations inadvertently distancing us from the significance of the divine name of God. Next time, we'll look at "Lord" in the New Testament.

 

I know this video has very little to do with what I've been talking about, but it makes me laugh.

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