Most High

The Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, or Greek that is translated as “(God) the Most High” or “Most High God” in English is translated in various way:


The Ancient Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible used the word pantokrator (παντοκράτωρ) or “Ruler of All” as a translation of the second part of the Hebrew term YHWH Tz’vaót (יְהוָ֨ה צְבָא֜וֹת) or “Lord of hosts” (see here) and occasionally ʼĒl Šadạy (אֵל שַׁדַּי‎), translated in English commonly as “God Almighty.” In the deuterocanonical/apocryphal books, pantokrator might have also been used in the original writing. The New Testament uses it one time in the writings of Paul (2 Cor. 6:18) and several times in the book of Revelation (see esp. Rev. 1:8).

One of the most influential icon styles of the Orthodox church has developed from this concept: Christ Pantocrator. In this icon style, Christ is looking straight at the viewer, his right hand is typically spelling a short form of “Jesus Christ” (see the bottom of the entry on Jesus and icons for an explanation), and his left hand holds a New Testament. His head is often surrounded by a halo.

The earliest preserved icon is found in the Greek Orthodox Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai from the 6th century:

In order to express the two natures of Christ, the two sides of the face are not symmetrical. The right side might represent the qualities of his divinity, while his left side represents human nature. (Source )

Orthodox icons are not drawings or creations of imagination. They are in fact writings of things not of this world. Icons can represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. They can also represent the Holy Trinity, Angels, the Heavenly hosts, and even events. Orthodox icons, unlike Western pictures, change the perspective and form of the image so that it is not naturalistic. This is done so that we can look beyond appearances of the world, and instead look to the spiritual truth of the holy person or event. (Source )

See also LORD of hosts.

Translation commentary on Sirach 50:14

Finishing the service at the altars, and arranging the offering to the Most High, the Almighty: The plural altars is idiomatic; the singular “altar” (Good News Translation) is preferable in translation. The Handbook believes that Revised Standard Version and Good News Translation slightly misrepresent this verse. Verse 15 describes the drink offering. The drink offering is part of the sacrifice ritual (the service); it does not take place after this ritual is over, as Good News Translation especially says. Moreover, if arranging the sacrifice refers to putting in order the wood and the pieces of the animal carcass on top of the altar, this has already been done. We think New English Bible has the right idea with “14 To complete the ceremonies at the altar and adorn the offering of the Most High, the Almighty, 15….” The drink offering (verse 15) is the completion of the ceremonies (finishing the service) and putting the final touches on it (arranging). Interpreting the Greek in light of the Hebrew, the meaning of the Greek verb translated arranging is probably “do in the correct way.” An alternative model for this verse is:

• In order to complete the ceremonies at the altar properly for this offering to the Most High, the Almighty, ….

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on Sirach. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2008. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.