Get To Know God Through His Names, Part 2: “Elohim” Majesty And Plurality.
We examined the name, or title, of God “El” in the last post.
Today, we will look at the title or name of God that is used over 2500 times in the Old Testament according to my research. It is the name, “Elohim” and it is the word that is translated as “God” most often in English Bibles. Almost every time you see the word “God” in your Bible, the Hebrew word behind it is “Elohim.”
This is technically the Hebrew plural form of the first holy name we examined in part 1 of this series, “El.” If you remember, we discovered that El literally means something like “mighty one” and can be interpreted to mean “The Powerful Head Chief who leads and guides like a shepherd.” Elohim, then, is the plural form of this and so it could be read as “mighty ones” in its literal meaning. In fact, the Hebrew word “Elohim” is sometimes translated as “gods” when the context warrants it.
The amazing thing about this is that it also sets forth the concept of the plurality of the Godhead and the Trinity!
To illustrate, here is one example from Genesis 1:26-27 – “And God (Elohim) said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (italics and parentheses mine)
These verses from the first chapter of the first book of the Bible use the word Elohim in both a singular and a plural way. God is presented as both “he” and “us” in Genesis 1. That’s more than a little bit confusing! The way to understand this is through understanding a little more about the original language...
There is a little known aspect of the Hebrew language that can be called the “majestic plural.” Simply put, this means that it is possible to give a plural title to one person or thing if it is great and majestic enough. When this happens, the rest of the biblical sentence is in the singular while the subject (like Elohim/God) is in the plural form. This plural form actually exclaims majesty and greatness. This would obviously apply with God more than anyone or anything else! This is exactly what happens with most verses where the sacred title “Elohim” appears.
So to review, when you see the word “God” in your Bible, the word is a "non-translated translation" of the title, Elohim. Elohim literally means something like “mighty ones” in Hebrew but it also means “The Mighty One” if it is used as a title of the one true majestic God of the universe. At the same time, the one true God is also presented as a Trinity in a concealed way throughout the Old Testament and in a revealed way throughout the New Testament!
Elohim is also explained to be and is used as the title for God in his role as the creator and sustainer of the universe within Jewish writings because this is the first title of the Holy One used in the first verse of the Bible – during the creation of all things.
“For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” – Proverbs 8:11
All Bible Verses are from the KJV Unless Otherwise Noted
All images used are in the public domain from Pixabay
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