Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Elohim (אלהים) is a Hebrew word which expresses concepts of divinity. It consists of the Hebrew word Eloah (אלוה) with a plural suffix. Elohim is the third word in the Hebrew text of Genesis and occurs frequently throughout the Hebrew Bible. The most commonly accepted root of this source among Jewish scholars is that the word literally translates to "powers" meaning God is the One in control of these powers.

Bereshit bare Elohim et hashamayim ve'et ha'arets (Genesis 1:1, Jewish Transliterated text)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1, English Text)
This word choice may be contrasted with the Tetragrammaton, which appears throughout the second telling of creation, in Genesis 2. The documentary hypothesis usually attributes Genesis 1:1 to the priestly source.

Tetragrammaton (from the Greek τετραγράμματον, meaning 'four-letter [word]'), and are usually transliterated JHWH in German, and YHWH or YHVH in English.

In some cases (e.g. Ex. 3:4 Elohim called unto him out of the midst of the bush..), it acts as a singular noun in Hebrew grammar, and is then generally understood to denote the single God of Israel. In other cases, Elohim acts as an ordinary plural of the word Eloah (אלוה), and refers to the polytheistic notion of multiple gods (for example, Ex. 20:3 "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."). This reflects the use of the word "Elohim" found in the late Bronze Age texts of Canaanite Ugarit, where Elohim ('lhm) was found to be a word denoting the entire Canaanite pantheon (the family of El, the patriarchal creator god).

In still other cases, the meaning is not clear from the text, but may refer to powerful beings (e.g. Gen. 6:2 the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them for wives.., Ex. 4:16 and you [Moses] will be as Elohim to him [Aaron], Ex. 22:28 Thou shalt not curse Elohim, or curse a ruler of your people, where the parallelism suggests that Elohim may refer to human rulers).


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