Sounds like: adeer, a-dahr, eh-dehr
YHWH, Our Majesty
When we think of Majesty, today, often a figure of royalty comes to mind. In Canada we refer to our Queen as Her Majesty. In the Bible YHWH was, of course, described as addir (majestic). He was, and is, Our Majesty, King of the Universe.
There are many English words that help to give an understanding of the concept of the Hebrew word addir: majestic, yes, but also mighty, magnificent, outstanding and a visual example of grandeur. YHWH embodied all of these things.
In Psalm 93, both YHWH and the waters were described as addir, mighty/majestic:
The floods have lifted up, YHWH, the floods have lifted up their voice, the floods lift up their pounding waves.
More than the sounds of many waters, than the mighty [addirim] breakers of the sea, YHWH on high is mighty [addir].
The image of mighty waters and majestic YHWH came directly out of the story of Moses leading people out of Egypt, through the parted Sea of Reeds (aka Red Sea), and into the Promised Land.
We are all aware of this story. The waters rose up for the Hebrew people, creating a dry path on the seabed for the people to walk across. But when the Egyptians followed, the majestic waters came crashing down over them and they drowned. After the event, Moses sang a song of remembrance:
[Song of Moses:] Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to YHWH, saying:
“I will sing to YHWH, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.
YHWH is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
YHWH is a warrior; YHWH is His name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has thrown into the sea; and the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The waters cover them; they went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, YHWH, is majestic [ney-a’dari] in power; Your right hand, YHWH, destroys the enemy. And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You; You send out Your burning anger, and it consumes them like chaff.
At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up, the flowing waters stood up like a heap; the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoils; I shall be satisfied against them; I will draw my sword, my hand will destroy them.’
You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty [addirim] waters.
Who is like You among the gods, YHWH?
Who is like You, majestic [ney-a’dar] in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?”
YHWH was majestic in holiness and majestic in power and His adversaries sank like lead in the majestic waters. The repetition of the word addir drove the point home… God was majestic and He had control over the magnificent chaotic waters. There was nothing more majestic than YHWH Himself!
The rescue of the Hebrew people by YHWH was big news. It was an event that even neighbouring nations heard and remembered. To take down Egypt was big news! The fact that the grand nation of Egypt was brought to its knees with overwhelming and terrifying plagues was unforgettable!
Centuries after the Hebrew people left Egypt they fought against the Philistines. In one of the battles, the Hebrew army marched the Ark of the Covenant into war with them. When the Philistines heard this they were legitimately terrified and remembered Egypt’s fate:
1 Samuel 4:7-9
So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who will save us from the hand of these mighty/majestic [ha-addirim] gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Take courage and be men, Philistines, or you will become slaves to the Hebrews, as they have been slaves to you; so be men and fight!”
The Philistines did not fully understand YHWH, the God of the Hebrew nation. They were polytheistic, with numerous gods. The concept of “One God” was foreign to them. But they did understand that whoever was in charge of the Hebrew people, they were powerful! It must have been quite a shock for the Philistines when they won that particular battle! In victory they took the Ark of the Covenant into their possession, only to discover that YHWH could not be contained. [For more on that story, you can hear my message at North Tryon Church, PEI].
YHWH’s majesty had very little to do with winning human fights. Although He was often described as “mighty”, His grandeur had a more profound effect than any human could produce.
YHWH was outstanding, magnificent and utterly majestic. In Psalm 78:4 Asaph described YHWH as resplendent and more majestic [addir] than the mountains of prey.
King David recognized that there was no name more majestic than YHWH’s:
For the music director; on the Gittith. A Psalm of David.
YHWH, our Lord, how majestic [addir] is Your name in all the earth, You who have displayed Your splendour above the heavens!
From the mouths of infants and nursing babies You have established strength because of Your enemies, to do away with the enemy and the revengeful.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place; what is man that You think of him, and a son of man that You are concerned about him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than the gods/angels, and You crown him with glory and majesty!
You have him rule over the works of Your hands; You have put everything under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the animals of the field, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
YHWH, our Lord, how majestic [addir] is Your name in all the earth!
YWHW was majestic and He chose His people to partner with Him. Humans were made to be the image bearers of YHWH, so ideally they would be His Majestic Ones on the earth. David recognized that followers of YHWH reflected His majesty and those were the people David could trust:
A Mikhtam of David.
Protect me, God, for I take refuge in You.
I said to the YHWH, “You are my Lord; I have nothing good besides You.”
As for the holy ones who are on the earth, they are the majestic ones [w-addirey]; all my delight is in them.
Those who reflected YHWH reflected His attributes; they were magnificent!
YHWH was described as addir, but the Biblical authors also used the word to represent humans who were seen in public as having high status or grandeur within the community. In these instances addir has often been translated as “nobles”. We can find this in 2 Chronicles 23:20, Nehemiah 3:5, and Nehemiah 10:29.
Often these nobles were represented as leaders who were adversarial to the people. They were magnificent in their status and magnificent in their sins:
“Judah mourns and her gates languish; her people sit on the ground in mourning garments, and the cry of Jerusalem has ascended.
Their nobles [w-addirhem] have sent their servants for water; they have come to the cisterns and found no water. They have returned with their containers empty.
They have been put to shame and humiliated, and they cover their heads, because the ground is cracked, for there has been no rain on the land.
The farmers have been put to shame, they have covered their heads.
The leaders, symbolically seen as the shepherds to the people, had failed in their leadership.
“Wail, you shepherds, and cry out; wallow in the dust, you masters [addirey] of the flock; for the days of your slaughter and your dispersions have come, and you will fall like a precious vessel.
There will be no sanctuary for the shepherds, nor escape for the masters [mey-addirey] of the flock.
Hear the sound of the cry of the shepherds, and the wailing of the masters [addirey] of the flock! For YHWH is destroying their pasture, and the peaceful grazing places are devastated because of the fierce anger of YHWH.
These fallen addir represent a phrase we’re all familiar with: “Oh how the majestic have fallen”. According to the Bible, it wasn’t just the Hebrew nation whose mighty leaders had failed. Ezekiel 32 noted that the majestic nations [goyim addirim] (Ezekiel 32:18) had also failed and those nations included Egypt, Assyria, Elam, Meshech, Tubal, Edom, the chiefs of the north, and all the Sidonians.
The prophet Nahum identified that the king of Assyria’s addir had brought their downfall:
Your shepherds are sleeping, O king of Assyria; your officers [majestic ones: addireka] are lying down.
Your people are scattered on the mountains and there is no one to gather them.
There is no relief for your collapse, your wound is incurable.
All who hear about you will clap their hands over you, for upon whom has your evil not come continually?
The author of Psalm 136 praised God for eliminating mighty kings who stood against YHWH and His people:
To Him who struck great kings [m’lakim g’dolim], for His faithfulness is everlasting, and brought death to mighty kings [m’lakim addirim], for His faithfulness is everlasting!
Sometimes even items were described as majestic. YHWH made the law “great and majestic [w-ya’a’dir]” (Isaiah 42:21). And as we saw earlier, the waters were seen as mighty, wild and majestic.
In the writings of Micah, YHWH noted that His people were acting like enemies and stripping people of their magnificence (robes) like booty after a war:
[YHWH:] But of late My people have risen up like an enemy: You strip off the splendid [eder] robe from unsuspecting passersby like men returning from battle.
In Deborah and Barak’s Song of Victory, they noted that the people stood up to the nobles [majestice ones: l-addirim] (Judges 5:13), and one woman in particular, Jael, presented a “magnificent one” (Sisera) with a “magnificent bowl”:
“Most blessed of women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite; most blessed is she of women in the tent.
He asked for water, she gave him milk; in a magnificent [addirim] bowl she brought him curds.
She reached out her hand for the tent peg, and her right hand for the workmen’s hammer. Then she struck Sisera, she smashed his head; and she shattered and pierced his temple.
Between her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay; between her feet he bowed, he fell; where he bowed, there he fell dead.”
A majestic serving bowl presented the downfall of a mighty man.
Similarly, Isaiah noted that there were majestic enemy ships but they were no match for the majesty of YHWH:
Look at Zion, the city of our appointed feasts; Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an undisturbed settlement, a tent which will not be folded; its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its ropes be torn apart.
But there the majestic One [addir], YHWH, will be for us a place of rivers and wide canals on which no boat with oars will go, and on which no mighty [addir lo] ship will pass—
For YHWH is our judge, YHWH is our lawgiver, YHWH is our king; He will save us.
One item that repeatedly stood out as majestic was trees. Trees were often used to symbolically represent humans and how YHWH, the Mighty One, would deal with their rebellion:
Behold, the Lord, YHWH of armies, will lop off the branches with terrifying power; those also who are tall in stature will be cut down, and those who are lofty will be brought low.
He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an iron axe, and Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One [b-addir].
To address the rebellion, YHWH would also raise a majestic tree to be shade for all who rested under it:
This is what the Lord YHWH says: “I will also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, so that it may bring forth branches and bear fruit, and become a stately [majestic: addir] cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the field will know that I am YHWH; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am YHWH I have spoken, and I will perform it.”
The Majesty of Yeshua
The theme of bringing down the high tree and raising up the low tree was used in the scroll of Zechariah:
Open your doors, Lebanon, so that a fire may feed on your cedars.
Wail, juniper, because the cedar has fallen, for the magnificent [addirim] trees have been destroyed; wail, oaks of Bashan, because the impenetrable forest has come down.
As this chapter in Zechariah continued, the prophet was given instruction by YHWH to “Pasture the flock dommed to slaughter” (Zech. 11:4). YHWH saw the people as an afflicted flock with worthless shepherds who were more interested in power and wealth than compassion. So YHWH announced He would have no more compassion for them (Zech. 11:6). He instructed Zechariah to take an afflicted flock and shepherd them.
So I pastured the flock doomed to slaughter, therefore also the afflicted of the flock. And I took for myself two staffs: the one I called Favour, and the other I called Union; so I pastured the flock.
But things did not go well, and Zechariah ended his shepherding:
And I took my staff Favour and cut it in pieces, to break my covenant which I had made with all the peoples. So it was broken on that day, and so the afflicted of the flock who were watching me realized that it was the word of YHWH. And I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!”
So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then YHWH said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent [eder] price at which I was valued by them.”
So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of YHWH. Then I cut in pieces my second staff Union, to break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Thirty pieces of silver was the majestic price put on the Shepherd’s head. That was the price that the people deemed to be the value of their shepherd. It was also the price put on the head of Yeshua (Jesus) who proclaimed:
“I am the Good Shepherd; the Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
Judas received “that magnificent price” to betray his Rabbi, Yeshua the Good Shepherd:
Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
But they said, “What is that to us? You shall see to it yourself!”
And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and left; and he went away and hanged himself.
The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them in the temple treasury, since it is money paid for blood.” And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Yeshua’s betrayal was paid for, and His death, in turn, paid for our redemption. He was the majestic, humble, King who was coronated on the cross. He was crowned with thorns and raised up onto an execution rack. This was His magnificent act of sacrifice and that sacrifice paid the entrance fee for us to return to YHWH in His glorious Garden. When we end our days her on earth we can face YHWH and He will embrace us with open arms.
On many past occasions and in many different ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets. But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His nature, upholding all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty [Megalosynes] on high.
Yeshua (Jesus) was the visual example and exact representation of what God’s glory looked like. If you follow in the footsteps of Yeshua, you will be living out the mission statement for your divine purpose. You were meant to be a reflection of YHWH to those around you. You are His Image bearer, which means you are magnificent! Yeshua was the ultimate example of majesty and when you emulate His love, compassion, humility, kindness and mercy, you become mighty, majestic and outstanding… a visual example to all who see you of what grandeur really looks like!
Next week: Root
Post Script: Happy Mother’s Day to my Mum, Barbara Fisher, who does a beautiful job reflecting the kindness and generosity of Yeshua to all around her! You have been a wonderful example for me to follow, and I’m forever grateful that you are my Mum! Blessings to you.