Pronounced either “Alaha” or “Alacha”, whereas the h/ch makes a guttural sound; the word ܐܠܗܐ occurs over a thousand times in the Peshitta, in a number of different contexts, but always means literally and exclusively “God”.
In Other Languages
- From the Hebrew elóah אֱלוֹהַּ from the Proto-Northwest-Semitic *ʾlh, a form of אל (i.e. "god"), which is a cognate with the Phoenician 𐤀𐤋𐤌, and the Akkadian 𒀭 and Ugaritic 𐎛𐎍.
- Arabic اله - not to be confused with the Arabic feminine noun "Allah" الله which comes from the Sumerian Moon goddess "Illitu".
- Sumerian - Illitu
- Akkadian - Lillit
- Babylonian - Lilith
- Midianite - Illata
- Hebrew - Lillit
- Aramaic - Lellat
- Syriac - Allat
- Arabic - Allat / Allah
The etymology of the Arabic name “Allah” is traced back to the Sumerian Goddess Illitu as follows:
In contrast, the Greeks translated the Biblical Aramaic ܐܠܗܐ with the word θεός (Strong’s Number 2316), which comes from the Phrygian δεως (deōs, meaning “to the gods”), and can refer to a “deity”, or “god”, and is sometimes used as the “title of a ruler”. Only in the 4th Century, with the translation of Constantine’s fifty Bibles, did the the word θεός come to take on the meaning of “God”, in the sense of a unified deity.
Use in Meditation
To understand the Aramaic usage though, one first has to understand the role of “Alaha” as a meditation, as a living, breathing thought about both Life and Creation. It is important that we spend time each day in silence, meditating on the word "ܐܠܗܐ " which flows through us.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Slow down your breathing, and slowly read what comes next.
The word for Spirit in Aramaic is ܪܘܚܐ (rûha/rûcha), which is also simultaneously the word for wind and breath. It is this Spirit of Holiness (ܪܘܚܐ ܕܩܘܕܫܐ) which God ‘breathed’ upon the waters at the Creation, imbuing them with Life (YAH/YHVH).
So now listen carefully to your breathing, to the word for breath, which you now take in through your nose and out through your mouth, listen carefully to it's sound...
Now superimpose the "al" of Alaha onto the inhalation and "aha" onto the exhalation of each breath. Imagine it as the rûha who took the form of the dove which landed on Jesus’ head, landing on you, on your breath, and hear the word repeated with each breath you take... Do you see how the sound of your body breathing is the sound of Alaha? How breathing itself causes the body to say the Aramaic word for God? Do you see how close to you divinity is? How much it is a part of you?
Do you see how it is that the moment that you no longer draw breath / spirit / wind into your person, that moment in which your body no longer recognizes the word Alaha, that your body will die? Do you see how the atheists of this world use Alaha to sustain their bodies, but fail to give thanks to He Who Is the true Lord of Life?
Recognising that God is inside of us is the first step to M'nasayoutha or the “templing” of the body. By definition a ‘temple’ is a place where one goes to conduct the ritual (ie ‘physical’) worship of God; and for Christians that place is within our flesh. Saint Ephraim, a Persian writing in Aramaic in the 4th Century, expressed plainly that with the coming of Christ “the human body has become God’s new Temple”, “replacing the Temple on Mount Zion”. (Against Heresies 42:4) “Therefore honour God with your body" (1st Corinthians 6:20). As Christians, we do not build temples to our God, but churches - places set aside, where people go in order to pray, seek personal healing or to be at peace; places of refuge, rather than places for the making of ritual sacrifices.
This is because the true ‘temple’ of Christianity rests inside each and every one of us. Jesus, who is known as MarYAH (Literally, "The Lord YHVH") in the Peshitta, commanded us to be of one flesh, members of His Body, that the new Temple of the Most High should reside in us.
Inside the temple, the soul becomes the throne of the Spirit of Holiness. Saint Makarios says, “The soul that is counted worthy to participate in the light of the Holy Spirit by becoming her throne and habitation, and is covered with the ineffable glory of the Spirit, becomes all light, all face all eye. There is no part of the soul that is not full of the spiritual eyes of light. That is to say, there is no part of the soul that remains covered with darkness.” (Homilies 1:2)
Saint Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?” (1st Corinthians 6:15) “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” (1st Corinthians 3:16-17)
The message could not be more clear - The body of a Christian is a temple, which is consciously set aside for the grace of God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (cf 1st Corinthians 6:19) and should in all ways, as much as possible, be kept free from corruption, “for he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit (with Him)” (1st Corinthians 6:17) “therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's!” (1st Corinthians 6:20)
Breathe in, breathe out, hear the word of Life spoken through you. Understand that Life is sacred.
- Theophilus Riley Floyd, Is Alaha in Aramaic the Same as Allah in Arabic?, Eidutha Journal of Aramaic and Ancient Christian Studies, 1:2, 2014