God intends for every married couple to experience satisfaction, intoxication, and intimacy in their marriage, and he has created breasts and given them to the wife to help accomplish this purpose.
There are hundreds of names for God in the Bible, and each one reveals a different aspect of his nature. It’s impossible to know for certain what the history and origin of each name is beyond what is revealed to us in the Bible, but this post will discuss one possible etymology for the name El Shaddai that reveals God’s nature as our provider and sustainer using the feminine imagery of breasts. After we lay that foundation, we’ll discuss how this imagery can be applied within your marriage.
El Shaddai is most commonly translated as “God Almighty” — El is a straightforward reference to God, but Shaddai is more hotly debated. One possible origin is the Hebrew word “shad” (שד) which means “breast”. Feminine imagery connected with God is unusual in the Bible, but clearly reasonable given the name’s contextual use in Genesis: five of the six uses of El Shaddai are in relation to fertility and fruitfulness. For example:
But his [Joseph’s] bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty [Shaddai], who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast [shad] and womb.
In verse 25 we see this beautiful poetic repetition where God’s name Shaddai is intentionally used alongside the word shad — God is the one who gives his people the blessings of the breast (and womb, for that matter).
Other uses of El Shaddai in Genesis have similar explicit connections to fertility and fruitfulness.
May God Almighty [El Shaddai] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples.Genesis 28:3
And God said to him, “I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you [ḥālāṣ, loins], and kings will be among your descendants.Genesis 35:11
God created women and femininity to reflect important elements of his nature, and it’s beautiful and useful to understand these attributes of God. (Remember: God is a spirit and neither male nor female; even though he has revealed himself to us primarily through masculine imagery, he is the origin and creator of both the ideal masculine and the ideal feminine.)
Now that we’ve laid this foundation, let’s consider this revelation of God’s nature alongside Proverbs 5, a passage that we’ve written about previously in the post Be Intoxicated Always in Her Love.
May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love.
Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife?
Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?
In this passage we can see three ways that a woman’s breasts incarnate aspects of God’s nature. For the purposes of this blog post, let’s focus on physical and sexual intimacy between a husband and wife, while recognizing that there are many other angles that could also be fruitfully explored.
- Satisfaction. This attribute of breasts is foundational to the imagery: breasts are nourishing, nurturing, and satisfying. They represent God’s provision for a need he has created in us. Every husband should look for satisfaction in his wife’s breasts, and every wife should recognize her breasts as a gift of provision from God — for the benefit of her husband and herself.
- Intoxication connects back to the imagery of the abundant fountain in verse 18. Every husband should be aroused, fascinated, captivated, and seduced by his wife’s breasts, and every wife should embody God’s delightful, joyful nature through her breasts.
- Embracing. Breasts are the heart of intimacy: safety, acceptance, comfort, belonging. Every husband should pursue intimacy with his wife through her breasts, and every wife should understand how God has created her breasts to enable loving intimacy with her husband.
Breasts are a physical embodiment of feminine aspects of God’s nature, and we should praise him for his creative provision!
God is the Trinity, and the Holy Spirit is Spirit but God the Father and Jesus the Son are not. And they are definitely masculine. It is very clear in the Bible. He can be the creator of feminine and still be masculine. He’s God.
In John 4:24 Jesus directly says that God is spirit. God is not male or female. Just like every human of both sexes has both masculine and feminine attributes, God also has both masculine and feminine attributes. We see Jesus demonstrate both masculine and feminine attributes, just like every human man does. I agree that the Father and the Son reveal themselves to us primarily through masculine imagery, but I think it’s important to remember that “we see through a glass, darkly” and only have a limited view of God’s totality. The name “El Shaddai” is a revelation from God that reveals some of his feminine attributes.
I have often wondered if there is a more direct and literal understanding about the relationship of a husband to his wife’s breasts. Anyone who has had a child and breast fed will be familiar with the concept of being “milk drunk”. There are some pretty amazing bonding hormones in breast milk. Obviously they are intended for mother-baby boding. But what if there are also for husbands.
What if God intended for husbands to nurse as well? Wouldn’t that help explain thinks like the command to for a husband to be “intoxicated by his wife’s breasts,” or lend real meaning to “being satisfied” with them?
It has been years since my wife weened our youngest and milk has long since dried up, but I still fondly remember tasting her milk directly from her. If your wife is still nursing, I would strongly encourage you to try nursing (if she’ll let you). It could be an a wonderful bonding experience for you both.