Fertility, Birth and El Shaddai: Thoughts On Adoption, Pt. 6

It is a widely known fact that antiquity had various gods and goddesses that were revered as fertility deities. Indeed, there were many fertility cults. I think, for instance, of Baal, Inanna & Dumuzi, Min, Isis and others. These sought after deities were not only connected with human fertility but also the fertility of the land; the two were intimately connected actually. This is not hard to understand by any stretch of the imagination; the forces behind nature were thought to be the same forces behind human reproduction.

Little known to some is the fact that fertility deities were both male and female. Often times the rain was associated with a male god “spilling” his seed and the blooming of crops was connected to the female deity giving birth. One thing this suggests to me is that, though the Bible often stresses the woman’s role in infertility, in the larger culture, men may have also sought divine guidance for such issues. But for an Israelite to seek after a false deity such as the ones listed above, this was viewed as disloyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Perhaps this sense of disloyalty was heightened by the fact that not only did Israel have a God who could be part of the pregnancy and birthing process but they also had a specific title for Him when He did take part in this role: Shaddai (or El Shaddai). In Hebrew, this name means “God of the hill or mountain”, which was also a way of saying “God present in times of fertility troubles”. (This is usually rendered "Almighty" in English translations.) Indeed, the “hill” or “mountain” was often representative of the female breast, a believed source of fertility and life.

In many of the passages where “Shaddai” is used, we certainly find fertility issues at play: Gen. 28.3, 35.11, 43.14, 48.3, esp. 49.25; Ru. 1.20-1; 1 Sam. 1.3, 1.11, 4.4, etc. Many more passages could be listed here. It is clear that Israel had many different names for God as they perceived His many different attributes and the many different ways they believed Him to be present in life’s circumstances. Clearly, these implications carry over into our lives today. Adapting this mentality to ours might look a bit different but not too different. While we have fertility clinics (not cults!), fertility doctors, fertility medicines and more, the fact remains today that many couples are just unable to conceive because of such issues.

Still, this should not hinder persons from calling upon El Shaddai. While failure in the reproductive process may lead many to feel like their body has stopped working, that there is something wrong with it or that they’re just not normal, today, Shaddai reminds us that there are other options for growing a family: adoption. In fact, Shaddai may often be more glorified via the adoption process than by the physical birthing process. Thus, as we move from adaptation to application with this, we might recognize that the failure to reproduce is not a process whereby we have to lose our own selves or our own lives in order to make one. The truth is, there are many children in the world today who need a loving family and an opportunity.

It is my belief that Shaddai can bring forth a harvest of love in your heart, that He can reproduce a genuine, sanctified love in you that will allow you to adopt a child in need. He can make fertile the soil of your heart and then bring forth a harvest of love. This renders an even greater understanding of Shaddai than before: no longer is He connected with land or physical birth only but spiritual birth too; again, He is able to birth love in your heart for a child who is just yearning and waiting to be loved by someone, by one of His people!

For other posts in this series, click here: Thoughts On Adoption.

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