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The Meaning of 'Elohim'

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    JaxsonRaineposted 5 years ago

    Let's talk a little about the word 'Elohim' in Hebrew.

    Elohim is the plural form of Eloah, which is a word for God/god. Elohim, then, is often translated as gods, but more often translated as God. So, how does this apply to Christian theology?

    Trinitarianism has the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three separate persons, yet one being. This idea reconciles how the Father, Son, and Spirit are all referred to as God with scriptures that say there is only one God.

    But, if we consider the plurality of Elohim, then it is fine to think of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as three separate individuals, which are one God(without having to think of them as being separate yet one being).

    This is a simplification, but this thought of the meaning of the word God in the Bible makes more sense to me than the Trinitarian idea. Your thoughts?

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      Deborah Sextonposted 5 years ago in reply to this

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      In Hebrew Elohyim is called Plural, but it really means dual.

      GOD IS ONLY ONE with Dual attributes, meaning he is Merciful but also Just

      This may be hard to understand but this never means two.

      I will find a Hebrew website that can explain it better than me

      Example of Dual singular The Hebrew term bene elohim ("sons of God)

      It does not say sons of Gods

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        JaxsonRaineposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        I mentioned that it was a simplification, and I know most of what is out there explaining it.

        First, it's not always singular, in Genesis it is paired with plural verbs. Secondly, I'm not so naive to think that the Bible is inerrant... it has passed through too many hands, and been used as justification for political power, for thousands of years. It contains errors, so I try to look at the overall message.

        If you look at the NT, we see that Christ and the Father are clearly separate beings, but they are both God. The plurality of Elohim fits this perfectly, as it is one God, but that 'title' or 'office' of God contains the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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          Deborah Sextonposted 5 years ago in reply to this

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          So sorry I responded. But you said plural. In Genesis it is singular, God and not Gods. I speak Hebrew.

          I didn't call you naive. What an ego. I've never heard of you before

          Yahshua (Jesus to you) is not God. There is only one God Yahshua and God made that clear.

          No need to respond, since you bite I won't be back.

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            JaxsonRaineposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            It is singular in one pairing, but plural in another.

            I didn't say you called me naive, I was just explaining my position. I personally believe there have been men who have corrupted parts of the Bible that didn't fit with their views and/or aspirations of power. Contradictions in the Bible support this view. If you thought I was biting then you read something that wasn't in my tone. I apologize.

            If you believe the NT, then Jesus and the Spirit are both God as well.

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      practicposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      It sounds reasonable. Jesus also prayed that His followers "may be one, as we [Jesus and His Father] are." (John 17:11). Clearly that means one in character, purpose, aim, etc. It doesn't mean that their human natures are merged into one lump.

      When it comes to the nature of divinity, I think it is holy ground. We can only understand what God has revealed of His nature, and even that is difficult for us to understand with our limited faculties.

      What He has revealed, however, which is far more important, is His character, which we all can have. That is the unity Jesus prayed for, and which He had with His Father.

      1. profile image0
        JaxsonRaineposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        I've been very interested in the nature and characteristics of God, as we are commanded to be perfect as the Father is perfect.

        You could have a perfect marble, but would that be as marvelous as a perfect human being? I don't think so... I think each thing has its own measure of perfection, and as we were given the Father as our measure, that means we should be like him... that's why I seek to know him better.

        Thank you, I appreciate your input... The one thing I've found is the more you learn, the more there is to learn.

  2. profile image0
    Deborah Sextonposted 5 years ago

    From http://www.altupc.com/altupc/articles/elohimpl.htm


    The first time the word "God" is mentioned in Scripture (Genesis 1:1), it is translated from the Hebrew ELOHIM. This word, which appears 2250 times in the Old Testament, is translated "God" when used in reference to the one true God1, but it is also translated "god" when used in reference to a false god2 or "gods" when referring to a multiplicity of false deities, "god" or "gods" in reference to human beings4, "angels,"5 "judges."6 mighty," in reference to a human prince7 and to thunder8, and "great,": in reference to Rachel's competition with her sister.9

    To understand how ELOHIM is used of the true God, it is essential to understand how it can be used in such a variety of ways. ELOHIM is a masculine plural noun. ELOHIM, the singular form of the word, appears 54 times and is also used in reference to both the true God and to false gods. ELOAH is from the Hebrew EL, which appears 226 times. EL signifies strength and power.

    The "im" ending on a Hebrew word (as in ELOHIM) makes the word plural, like putting an "s" on the end of many English words. But, unlike the English language, the plural form of a Hebrew word may not signify more than one. Though the Hebrew plural can certainly refer to more than one (and the Hebrew language also has a dual ending, signifying two), the Hebrew also uses plural forms when only one subject is in view, to indicate intensity (something like the "est" ending on some English words), fullness, something that flows, or multiplicity of attributes.

    C. L. Seow points out that when ELOHIM is used "as a proper name, or when referring to Israel's God, it is treated as singular. Elsewhere it should be translated as 'gods.'"10 When ELOHIM is used is used of Israel's God, "the form of the noun is plural, but the referent is singular. This is sometimes called 'plural of majesty.'"11 Though ELOHIM is plural, it must be accompanied by plural modifiers and plural verb forms to function as a plural noun. If accompanied by singular modifiers and singular verb forms, it functions as a singular noun.12

    ELOHIM can be accurately translated two ways: the singular "God" (or "god") or the plural "gods." If it is translated "gods," and in this case the plural form of the word must not be taken to indicate a plurality of gods, but a plurality of the majestic attributes of the one true God and that He is the supremely powerful one. The plural ending either makes a word plural, meaning more than one, or it makes a singular referent more intense. The latter is the case where Elohim refers to the one true God. Grammatically, then, ELOHIM does not suggest that Israel's God is plural or more than one. If the reason for the plural ending is to indicate more than one, the word must be translated "gods." This is not acceptable to the monotheism of the Old Testament. (See, for example, Deuteronomy 6:4.)

    Whenever ELOHIM refers to the one true God, it is always accompanied by singular verbs, although ELOHIM is plural. Whenever ELOHIM refers to more than one false god, it is accompanied by plural verbs. This is significant. Grammatically, when ELOHIM refers to the one true God only, although the word is plural. If the reason ELOHIM is used of the true God is to indicate He is more than one, plural verbs would have to be used.

    For example, in the first verse of the Bible, the third person masculine singular verb "created: is used with ELOHIM. Since the verb is singular, it is required that He who did the creating is singular. In this case, the only option left to explain the plural form of ELOHIM is that ELOHIM refers to the fullness and intensity of the many majestic attributes of the one true God.

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      practicposted 5 years ago in reply to this

      It's not necessary to understand Hebrew in order to see that there were a plurality of divine Persons at work in the creation.

      First, "the Spirit of God moved upon the waters."

      Second, God spoke, "Let us make man in our image..." The use of "us" and "our" indicates more than one.

      Third, in the New Testament, we are informed that all things were created by Christ (although this truth can also be reasoned out of the Old Testament).

      So Christ was there creating, but not independently: He was following the will and commands of His Father. And the Spirit was there putting the commands into action.

      1. profile image0
        JaxsonRaineposted 5 years ago in reply to this

        You have to wonder as well, why would God talk to himself about what he was planning to do for creation, if it's only one Person?

        1. Disappearinghead profile image88
          Disappearingheadposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          I talk to myself sometimes when I'm planning to do something; why should God be any different?

          Personally, I think the Trinity is a redundant concept. It was not taught in the Church until the 4th Century, and was certainly not taught by Jesus or the apostles. Today, its presence can only be found by inference or interpretation. As it is not explicitly taught, we cannot form a doctrine.

          Just as God who is omnipresent in the whole universe simultaneously and the Holy Spirit is a term used to denote His presence when it is on the Earth in action, so Jesus is a term used to denote His presence upon the Earth in the flesh. Jesus was the manifest presence of the Father Himself. We simply don't need a trinity to understand the nature of God.

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            practicposted 5 years ago in reply to this

            There is a teaching of the Trinity which is composed of fine philosophical arguments and hair-splitting distinctions. You find this kind of doctrine in the writings of the (so-called) early church fathers from the 2nd to 4th centuries. Much of this is nonsense.

            However the idea of more than one persons in the Godhead is Biblical. As a simple example, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." The Father gave the Son.  Or the voice spoken at the baptism, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Or look at Proverbs 8:22-31.

            The mystery of God, as it is termed in the Bible, also speaks to the idea of multiple persons in the Godhead. It is "God manifest in the flesh." Yet the Father dwells in light which no one can approach. So one manifestation of God is in the body of creatures, the other is unapproachable by created beings...yet another is present everywhere (the Spirit). These are distinct ideas.

            Lastly, I would say that the image evoked by a loving wise father, and a happy obedient son, are among the most precious things we find on this earth. I can't imagine that God would create these comforting, lively pictures of Himself, and yet be utterly a stranger to them in His own nature.

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        Deborah Sextonposted 5 years ago in reply to this

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        This Plural is not more than one. It is Dual Singular. One God.

        You DO have to know Hebrew to understand. You're basing understanding of Language on the concepts of English. Scripture was written in and translated from Hebrew. So why do you say knowing Hebrew doesn't matter? Of course it does.

        If you had actually read what I posted.

        We and Us does not indicate more than one in Hebrew. You're judging it on English

        It does not say Christ was the Creator, it says the Word..God's voice..Let there be..and there was.

        AS I Said

        The "im" ending on a Hebrew word (as in ELOHIM) makes the word plural, like putting an "s" on the end of many English words. But, unlike the English language, the plural form of a Hebrew word may not signify more than one. Though the Hebrew plural can certainly refer to more than one (and the Hebrew language also has a dual ending, signifying two), the Hebrew also uses plural forms when only one subject is in view, to indicate intensity (something like the "est" ending on some English words), fullness, something that flows, or multiplicity of attributes

        C. L. Seow points out that when ELOHIM is used "as a proper name, or when referring to Israel's God, it is treated as singular. Elsewhere it should be translated as 'gods.'"When ELOHIM is used of Israel's God, "the form of the noun is plural, but the referent is singular. This is sometimes called 'plural of majesty.'"Though ELOHIM is plural, it must be accompanied by plural modifiers and plural verb forms to function as a plural noun. If accompanied by singular modifiers and singular verb forms, it functions as a singular noun.

        1. brotheryochanan profile image61
          brotheryochananposted 5 years ago in reply to this

          agreed

          although i like to define elohim as powers.

          Nice that you mentioned the plural modifiers after the plural word. In english this form has to be maintained to be proper.

 
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