What is the Shekinah glory of God?

by Matt Slick
2/13/2017 

Shekinah means "dwelling," or "one who dwells."  So, the Shekinah glory of God would refer to the personal presence of God. The word Shekinah does not occur in the Old or New Testaments in the original languages. However, it entered Christian theology as a term via the targums and rabbinic literature after the Old Testament was completed and before the New Testament period began.  It was used to describe the very presence of God.  Therefore, it was used by rabbis in reference to the Lord's presence among his people (Exodus 19:16-18; 25:8; 40:34-38; 1 Kings 6:13). The rabbis used the term in reference to the glory of God filling the temple (2 Chronicles 7:1), his presence at the cloud (Exodus 14:19; 1 Kings 8:10–13), and his dwelling in the mountain ( Psalm 68:16-18; 74:2; Isaiah 8:18; Joel 3:17).  Another way of describing it would be to use the term "glory of God" since the phrase is used to describe his presence (Psalm 19:1; Ezekiel 43:2; Luke 2:9; Acts 7:55).

Phrases used in the Bible that fall under the Shekinah are

  • Cloud, (Exodus 34:5; 40:34-38; Leviticus 16:2; Numbers 11:25; 14:14; 16:42 )
  • Cloud of the Lord, (Exodus 40:38; Numbers 9:15; 1 Kings 8:10–11)
  • Glory of God, (Exodus 16:10; Ezekiel 43:2; Luke 2:9; Acts 7:55)
  • Glory of the Lord, (Exodus 24:15–16; 1 Kings 8:11; Ezekiel 1:28; Luke 2:9)
  • Pillar of Cloud, (Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19–20; Numbers 12:5)
  • Presence of the Lord, (Genesis 3:8; Leviticus 10:2; Numbers 16:7; Judges 5:5; Psalm 97:5)
  • Radiance, (Habakkuk 3:4)
  • Thick cloud (Exodus 19:9, 16; Exodus 20:21)

In the Old Testament, various people would see God  (Genesis 17:1; 18:1; Exodus 6:2-3; 24:9-11; Numbers 12:6-8). They would be in his presence. However, we know from the New Testament that they were not seeing the person of God the Father (John 6:446; 1 Timothy 6:16). They were seeing the pre-incarnate Christ. Of course, God would manifest himself in different forms in the Old Testament such as wind, a cloud,

In the New Testament, the manifestation of God, the manifestation of his presence, occurs in the person of Jesus. Jesus is the Word who became flesh (John 1:1, 14). In him, all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form (Colossians 2:9). He is called "the radiance of his glory and the exact representation of his nature," (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, to see Jesus was in effect, to seek God (John 14:9).  Jesus is the Shekinah presence of God.

Quotes

  • Shekinah, "A circum-locution used in rabbinic literature to signify God’s presence." 1
  • "Transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “the one who dwells” or “that which dwells.” The term enters Christian theology from its use in the Targums and rabbinic literature to describe the immanent presence in the world of the transcendent Deity."2
  • "The Shekinah (Heb. šeḵinâ), the radiance, glory or presence of God dwelling in the midst of his people, is used by Targumist and Rabbi to signify God himself..." 3

 

 

 

  • 1. Bromiley, Geoffrey W., ed. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988.
  • 2. Elwell, Walter A., and Philip Wesley Comfort. Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Tyndale Reference Library. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001.
  • 3. Wood, D. R. W., and I. Howard Marshall. New Bible Dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.
 
 

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.