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Zebaoth – der Thronende

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image of Vetus Testamentum

Zebaoth is the most frequent attribute for Jhwh in the Hebrew Bible. It's connotation is god's majesty and power. Yet its etymology and original meaning are still under debate. In modern research as well as in the OT, sebāot is connected with the root sābā, meaning "host". The changing identifi cations (the hosts of Israel's army, the stars as Jhwh's heavenly hosts, all of Jhwh's creation) and the modern interpretations (esp. as an abstract plural or plural of intensity) as well as the grammatical problems of the combination "Jhwh sebāot", point to the idea, that sebāot had an non-Hebrew origin and was taken over and understood in Hebrew context. The paper then takes up and advances the suggestion of M. Görg, that sebāot has an Egyptian origin, in the sense of "belonging to/owning the throne". This is explained and advanced in its linguistic development, and in relation to the political and religio-historical situation of Canaan at the turn from the Late Bronze to the Early Iron Age, including the archaeological evidence concerning Shilo in relation to nearby Aphek, the Egyptian administrative center at that time. So, Zebaoth designates the enthroned, powerful god in his majesty; this basic understanding is held through, though understood in the light of the Hebrew word for hosts, which were identified in different—appropriate—ways.


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