And also outside the Bible. They are frequently mentioned together in Mesopotamian texts, and to this day, a typical breakfast in the Arab Middle East features yogurt and honey.


There is another possibility, however. Anthropologist Yosef Ginat (privately) compares the rural Arab custom of anointing a mother’s nipples with honey to encourage nursing.


Wheat’s “kidney-fat” is finest wheat, as grape’s “blood” is good wine. Kidney-fat and blood were among the portions reserved for God in Israelite sacrifice.


Although the nesting behavior is maternal, the verbs in this section are masculine. The problem is that Hebrew does not distinguish between the sexes of animals, except for mammals. The bird species in question (Hebrew nesðer), conventionally rendered “eagle,” is more likely a vulture, also a symbol of maternity in Egyptian hieroglyphics.


See Edouard P. Dhorme, “L’Emploi métaphorique des noms de parties du corps en hébreu et en akkadien,” Revue biblique 31 (1992), pp. 230–231; William F. Albright, “The Names Shaddai and Abram,” Journal of Biblical Literature 54 (1935), pp. 180–187; and Frank M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1973), pp. 55–56, n. 44.


Similarly, Psalm 22:10–11 (English Versions 9–10) describes Yahweh as the patron deity of childbirth and breast-feeding, while Isaiah 49:15 and Psalm 131:2 compare the love between God and Israel to that between a mother and her suckling child. Reversing the flow, Christian art often depicts a human female suckling God himself!


See, e.g., David Biale, “The God with Breasts: El Shaddai in the Bible,” History of Religions 20 (1982), pp. 40–56.


Albright and Cross attempt to combine these approaches (see n. 5). But there are many other possibilities—so many, in fact, that I consider the original etymology of Shadday unknowable. Even “Almighty” might be correct.


An alternative translation reads “The blessing of your (divine) Father, the Hero and Highest / Blessings of everlasting mountains, / The luxuries of eternal hills.” This variant translation modifies the vowels in the received Hebrew text, partly following the Greek Septuagint and partly using imaginative reconstruction. Other interpretations are possible.


See Phyllis Trible, God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, Overtures to Biblical Theology 2 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978).