The word theophory[1] refers to the practice of embedding the name of a god or a deity in, usually, a proper name. Much Hebrew theophory occurs in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. The most prominent theophory involves

  • names referring to El, a word meaning might, power and (a) god in general, and hence in Judaism, God and amongst the Canaanites the name of the god who was the father of Baal.
  • names referring to Yah, a shortened form of tetragrammaton
  • names referring to Levantine deities (especially the storm god, Hadad) by the epithet Baal, meaning lord. In later times, as the conflict between the Mosaic law and the more popular pagan practices became increasingly intense, these names were censored and Baal was replaced with Bosheth, meaning shameful one.

Notes on Translating Theophoric Names

It is important to remember when translating Hebrew theophoric names (particularly those using the "[noun] of God" formula) that the "of" has varying meanings, depending on the name. For example, the translation of Iruel reads "Fear of God." This does not mean "God-fearing," "Feared by God", or even "a Fear belonging to God," rather it means "Fear (as in Fear incarnate) in the service of God."

El theophory

The following is an alphabetical list of names referring to El and their meanings in Hebrew:

AbdielServant of God
AbielGod my Father
AbimaelA Father sent from God
AdbeelDisciplined of God[2]
AdielWitness of God
AdiraelMagnificence of God
AdrielFlock of God
AdvachielHappiness of God
AmbrielEnergy of God
AmmielPeople of God
AraelLight of God or Vision of God
Ariel, Auriel – Lion of God
ArmisaelMountain of Judgment of God
AsmodelGreatness of God
AxelPeace of God
AzaelWhom God Strengthens
AzazelGod Strengthens or Arrogant to God
AzraelHelp of God
Barakiel, Baraquiel – Lightning of God
BarbielIllumination of God
BarchielKindness of God or Ray of God
BardielHumiliated Son of God
BethelHouse of God
BetzalelShadow/Path of God
BithielDaughter of God
BoelGod is in Him
CamaelHe who Sees God
CastielMy cover is God
ChakelWisdom of God
ChamuelHe who Seeks God
DanielJudged by God or Judgement of God
EladGod Forever
Eli – a variant on the name of God, or "my God"
ElianaMy God Answers
Elias, ElijahWhose God is the Lord, God the Lord, The Strong Lord, God of the Lord, My God is the Lord My God is Jehovah, or My God is Jah. Reference to the meaning of both (Eli)-(Jah)
ElishaSalvation of God
ElishamaMy God Hears
ElishuaGod is my salvation
EliezerMy God Helps
ElimelechMy God is King
ElizabethMy God is Oath
ElkanahGod has Possessed, or God has Created
EmmanuelGod is with us
EzekielGod will Strengthen
EzequeelStrength of God
EzraelHelp of God
Gabriel, GavrielMan of God, God has shown Himself Mighty, Hero of God or Strong one of God
GaghielRoaring Beast of God
GamalielReward of God
HamalielGrace of God
HanaelGlory of God
ImmanuelGod with us
IruelFear of God
Ishmael, Ishamael – Heard by God, Named by God, or God Hearkens
YisraelStruggles with God or Prince of God
JekuthielGod will support
JezreelGod will sow
JoelJah is God
Lee-El, Lee-el, Leeel – For God
LelielJaws of God
LemuelDedicated to God
MahalalelThe blessed God, The shining light of God, or The glory of God
MalahidaelKing of God
MataraelPremonition of God
MichaelWho is like God? a question
MurielFragrance of God
Nathanael, NathanielGiven by God or God has Given or "Gift of God"
NemuelDay of God
OthnielHour of God
Peniel, Penuel, Phanuel – Face of God
PrielFruit of God
RamielThunder of God
RaphaelGod is Healing or Healing one of God
RazielSecret of God
ReuelFriend of God
SachielPrice of God or Covering of God
SalatheelI have asked God
SahaquielIngenuity of God
SamaelVenom of God
SamielBlind God, epithet for Baal or the Demiurge
SamuelName/Heard of God
SarielMoon of God
SatanaelAdversary of God
ShamshelLonely Conqueror of God
ShealtielI asked God [for this child]
SurielCommand of God
TamielPerfection of God
TarfielGod Nourishes
TzaphquielContemplation of God
UrielSun of God or Fire of God
Uzziel Power from God
VerchielShining of God
Za'afielWrath of God
ZadkielRighteousness of God
ZagzagelSplendor of God
ZaphkielKnowledge of God
Zeruel – Arm of God
ZophielBeauty of God

False El theophory

The name Abel, which appears to refer to El, in fact is not an instance of theophory. Abel can be translated as "breath", "temporary" or "meaninglessness".
The name Jael also appears to refer to El in English, but contains ayin rather than than the aleph of El.

Shaddai theophory

The following is an alphabetical list of names referring to Shaddai and their meanings in Hebrew:

ZurishaddaiShaddai is my rock

Yah theophory

The following is an alphabetical list of names referring to Yah/Yahweh and their meanings in Hebrew:

AbiahYahweh is my father
AbijahYahweh is my father
AbijamYam is my father (Yam is another name for Yah)
Adaiahornament of Yahweh
AdaliaYahweh is just
Adonijahmy lord is Yahweh
Ahaziahvision of Yahweh
Ahiahbrother of Yahweh
Ahijahbrother of Yahweh
AmariahYahweh says; integrity of Yahweh
Amaziahstrength of Yahweh
AthaliahYahweh is exalted
HananiahYahweh has given
HezekiahYahweh has strengthened
HodiahThe splendour of Yahweh
HodaviahGive thanks to the Lord
IsaiahSalvation of the Lord
JabinSon of Yahweh/Yahweh is a son
JekamiahYahweh raises
Jeremiah – "Raised by YahwehYahweh exalts"Yahweh Appointed""Yahweh's Chosen"
JoabYahweh is father
JoelYahweh is El/God
Jonathangift of Yahweh
Josiahsupported of Yahweh
MatityahuGift from Yah
NeariahServant of Yahweh
NedabiahYahweh impels
ObadiahYahweh's servant or worshiper
OdeliaThanks to Yah
PedaiahRedemption of the Lord
PelatiahYah has delivered
PelaiahYah has distinguished
PelaliahYah has judged
PekahiahYah has observed
SeraiahServant/prince of the Lord
ShecaniahOne intimate with Yahweh
ShephatiahJudged of the Lord
Yehoshua (Joshua, Jesus) – Yah saves"YAh is Savour" Yaweh is my Salvation"
Zebadiah, ZabdiGift of Yahweh
Zedekiahjustice of or righteous is Yahweh
ZephaniahYahweh hides or protects
ZechariahYahweh remembers

Baal theophory

The following is an alphabetical list of names referring to Hadad/Baal/Bosheth and their meanings in Hebrew:

Baal – master; lord
Baalah – her idol; she that is governed or subdued; a spouse
Baalath – a rejoicing; our proud lord
Baalath-Beer – subjected pit
Baal-berith – idol of the covenant
Baale – same as Baalath
Baal-gad – idol of fortune or felicity
Baal-hamon – who rules a crowd
Baal-hanan – Baal is gracious
Baal-hermon – possessor of destruction or of a thing cursed
Baali – my idol; lord over me
Baalim – idols; masters; false gods
Baalis – a rejoicing; a proud lord
Baal-meon – idol or master of the house
Baal-peor – master of the opening
Baal-perazim – god of divisions
Baal-shalisha – the god that presides over three; the third idol
Baal-tamar – master of the palm-tree
Baal-zebub – god of the fly (Origin of the book title "Lord of the Flies")
Baal-zephon – the idol or possession of the north; hidden; secret


  1. From the Greek θεοφορία from θεοφόρος from Θεός "God" and φόρος "bearer" from φέρειν "to bear"; confer Φωσφόρος.
  2. "Adbeel"retrieved from "Strong's Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicon"

See also