The Bible uses many different names for God. Each has its own significance and is used to convey different concepts. The following are the most commonly used names with some brief explanation.|
The Tetragrammaton - This is the "personal" name of God. The only place it may ever be pronounced is in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem during certain prayers by the Kohanim. Otherwise we are never permitted to pronounce this name. The significance of this name is discussed at great length in many places. The simplest explanation is that the name is a contraction of the words, "was, is
and will be". In general this name is understood in Biblical contexts to indicate the Divine attribute of mercy (as opposed to justice). One explanation for this is because we are taught that mercy is the most fundamental of God's attributes.
Elohim - This name is not to be pronounced except during prayer or while reading Biblical verses, otherwise the word "Elokim" is substituted. It literally means "gods" or "powerful ones". (Many of God's names are in the plural sense, similar to the "majestic sense", the royal "we".) The term "elohim" is also used in other contexts to refer to beings other than God, such as angels, human judges, or foreign gods ("elohim acherim" - "other gods"). In such contexts one should pronounce the word properly. This name is closely related with the names Elo'ah, Elohei, and El (these too should not be
pronounced). In the Bible this name generally indicates the Divine attribute of Justice.
Adonoy - "My Lords". This name is generally used in prayer as a substitute for the Tetragrammaton. I am not aware offhand of any deeper commentaries on this name (though I am sure such commentaries exist). One may perhaps say that this name can be understood as representing the personal relationship between God
and the individual.