Adon literally "lord, patron." Adon has an uncertain etymology it is generally believe to be derived from the Ugaritic ad, “father.”[1]: 531

Ugaritic tradition

The pluralization of Adoni "my lord" is Adonai "my lords."[2] Otto Eissfeldt theorizes that Adonai is a post positive element attested to in Ugaritic writing. He points to the myth of the struggle between Baal and Yam as evidence.[1]: 531 Some theorize that Adonai was originally an epithet of the God Yahweh depicted as the chief antagonist of "the Ba`als" in the Tanakh. Only later did the epithet come to be used as an euphemism to avoid invoking the deity's proper name, Yahweh.

In Canaanite/Ugaritic tradition, ʾadn ilm, literally "lord of gods" is an epithet of El.[1]: 532 However, ʾadn "lord" could also be an epithet of other gods. When Yam is described as being at the zenith of his might, he is proclaimed ʾadn or "lord" of the gods.[1]: 532 In some Ugaritic texts the term ʾadn ʾilm rbm meaning "the Lord of the Great Gods" is used to refer to the lord and father over deceased kings[1]: 532[3] Some think that this is a reference to Baal. Other suggest this is a reference to a human necromancer traveling to the land of the dead. Karel van der Toorn disagrees he believes that it is a reference to Milku, Yaqar or Yarikh or possibly El[1]: 532 Ugarit family households were modeled after the structure of the divine world, each headed by an ʾadn meaning in this context "master" or "patron". Generally, this was the patriarch of the family and there may be some relation between ʾadn and the Ugarit word for "father", ʾad.[4]

Other ancient sources

In Syrian Tammuz was referred to as Aduni-turi “my lord is my rock” among others similar names. The Assyrians seem to have copied this. In late Assyrian inscriptions Tammuz came to be known as Adunu “lord”. Inscriptions date from 850 BCE to 660 BCE with most being nearer the later have been found. This likely caused Tammuz to become associated with Adonai among the Hebrews.[5]

Among the Phoenicians a God named Adonis separate from Tammuz was worshiped.[6] Adonis is thought to have been derived from adon.[7] By the time of Sappho, a cult worshiping Adonis had emerged in Ancient Greece.[8] The early Christians came to associate Adonis with Tammuz.[6] This association is not explicitly made until the 3rd century CE.[1]: 8–9

Hebrew bible

In the Hebrew bible Adoni “my lord”, pronounced adonee, from the root Adon “lord”, is always a non-Deity title usually referring to a human superior or occasionally an angel. Adonai "my lords" is reserved for The One God alone. In Jewish tradition the pluralization is used to distinguish God from earthly lords and to increase his majesty.[2] May modern critical scholars see Adonai as a remnant of a polytheist past and that the meaning of the word only later came to refer to The One God. It is thought that at least some biblical authors used the word originally in a polytheist sense.[1]: 531 In the Hebrew bible no human is addressed as Adonai. On the other hand Adoni is reserved for human superiors. In a messianic reading of Psalm 110.1 an important verse in Christianity the Messiah is called Adoni, the lord of David.[9][10][11][12]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter Willem van der Horst, ed (1999). Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible DDD. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Leo Rosten (2010) [1968]. The New Joys of Yiddish: Completely Updated. Crown Publishing Group. pp. 3. 
  3. Cyrus H. Gordon, Gary A. Rendsburg, and Nathan H. Winter, ed (1987). Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and Eblaite Language, Volume 1. Eisenbrauns. pp. 211. 
  4. Stephen L. Cook, Jane Morse, Corrine L. Patton, James Washington Watts, ed (2001). The Whirlwind: Essays on Job, Hermeneutics and Theology in Memory of Jane Morse. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 48–49. ISBN 978-1-84127-243-6. 
  5. James Hastings, John Alexander Selbie, Louis Herbert Gray, ed (1922). Encyclopædia of Religion and Ethics: Suffering-Zwingli. T. & T. Clark. pp. 191. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Walter Burkert (1982). Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual. University of California Press. pp. 194. 
  7. Maximillien De Lafayette (2010). Description,Translation,Explanation of Babylonian,Sumerian,Akkadian,Assyrian,Ugaritic,Anunnaki,Phoenician Cylinder Seals,Slabs,Inscriptions,Tablets,Symbols. pp. 283–284. 
  8. M. L. West (1997). The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth. Oxford University Press. pp. 448. ISBN 978-0-19-815221-7. 
  9. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Lord. pp. 157. 
  10. Hastings Dictionary of the Bible Vol. 3 : Lord. pp. 137. 
  11. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the OT. pp. 22. 
  12. Herbert Bateman (1992). Psalm 110:1 and the NT: Bibliothecra Sacra. pp. 438. 

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