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Elohim

Written By: CK Quarterman - Sep• 08•14

In the beginning (rê’shı̂yth) God (‘ĕlôhı̂ym) created (bârâ’) the heaven (shâmayim shâmeh) and the earth (‘erets).” (Genesis 1:1, KJV)

 

The first book of the Bible, Genesis, opens with a statement, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, KJV). When reading this, one thinks the Bible is telling about the first thing God did; however, it is not! The Bible unabashedly opens with the fact that God exists.

 

Beginning (rê’shı̂yth) – principal thing (Hebrew)

(KJV) 1631 Holy Bible, Robert Barker/John Bill...

God (‘ĕlôhı̂ym) – Elohim (Hebrew)

 

Genesis makes no bones about His existence. It states, “Principal thing Elohim”. Therefore, we must take this at face value. There was nothing in existence before God, and then we are told God created. There is much we can learn in this first verse, let us look at it in the Hebrew.
Elohim and EL

Elohim is plural. Why use a plural for a single god, in addition, why this odd plural form of Elohim. The name Elohim is unique to Hebraic thinking and is quite rare in the Hebrew language. No other Semitic language uses this word. The masculine plural ending does not mean “gods” when referring to the true God of Israel. When Elohim relates to a singular being (the true God or a false god), it takes a singular verb. References to more than one entity, as in the heavenly powers or the human judges, are when it takes a plural verb. However, when considering the Trinity, that form indeed allows for the plurality within the Godhead which is revealed in the New Testament.

This word’s identification of God, angels, man, and idols can only be understood correctly by remembering the root word “El” means power; including in the Canaanite or proto-Semitic languages (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). In such light, it is clear that the Hebrews applied the name Elohim to the true God because it conveyed one of his attributes – power. Therefore, the best understanding of Elohim is, “the all-powerful one.”

The name El, which in plural form is Elohim, has to do with the first experience that people had of nature’s power. El is also the Ugarit term for god. When used of the true God of Israel, El is usually qualified by additional words that further define the meaning and distinguish him from false gods. These other names for God are sometimes called “construct forms,” such as Elohei Kedem, God of the beginning. On the other hand, “eternal God,” is used in Deuteronomy 33:27 (KJV). Elohim is also often accompanied by the article ha-, meaning “the.” Interestingly, Elohim is used over 7000 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Elohim has the two letters “Aleph Tav”, the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet as a grammatical marker. It reminds one of Christ in the Book of Revelation stating that He is the Alpha and the Omega (1:8, KJV).

 

To better understand the word Elohim we need to look at Psalm 82:1:

“Elohim has taken his place in the assembly of EL, in the midst of the Elohim He holds judgment.”

The Syriac version renders it, “In the congregation of angels”

In this psalm, God takes his place as leader of the divine council. The psalmist pictures God standing in the “assembly of El,” where he accuses the angels of failing to promote justice on earth and carry out their responsibilities (Genesis 6:4). God pronounces sentence upon them by announcing that those angels will die like men. Their fate for unfairness and wickedness means they will also be cast into the Lake of Fire on Judgment Day.

 

 

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