El Shaddai the Breasted God
By Molleen Dupree-Dominguez
Day 1 of 6: The Breasted God
“God revealed Godself once again to Jacob…
I am The Strong God.
Have children! Flourish!…”
Genesis 35: 9-13 (MSG)
El Shaddai is most often translated in English as “The Almighty.” That’s what you’ll see in the NIV and other mainstream translations of Scripture into English. Above, Eugene Peterson translates El Shaddai into “The Strong God.”
Both “The Almighty” and “The Strong God,” according to our inescapable inculturation that men are physically stronger than women, undoubtedly conjure the image of a large, muscular—perhaps even scary—man.
However, this is not the strength and power to which this passage refers, because had is the Hebrew word for “breast.”
Scholar Arthur Zannoni concludes: “Thus, literal translations of El Shaddai may be ‘God of the Breasts’ or ‘The Breasted God’”
Breasts, indeed, are mighty and strong. When a newborn infant is wailing—disturbing ears and spirits for miles around—who has the power to comfort and silence her? Who has the power to soothe her back into equilibrium? The one with the breasts!
She is the one who never forgets her child. The one whose scent is home, whose skin is instant comfort, whose voice is soothing music, whose milk contains the exact formulation of what the infant needs.
The nursing mother swoops in, not unlike a superhero, whipping out a swollen, leaky human breast and applies her power and—suddenly—all is peace. All is quiet. All can rest.
And so it is with the Divine. The Breasted God draws us close. She quiets our fears with gentle whispers. She soothes our weary bodies by her familiar scent. She has just what we need. She swoops in like a superhero. Or maybe she simply rolls over in the bed. She is so near and so perfectly equipped to meet our needs.
May I find the courage today to submit to the Breasted God, trusting that She has exactly what I need.