Elohim

Elohim

Overview
Elohim is a grammatically singular or plural
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 noun
Noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

 for "god" or "gods" in both modern and ancient Hebrew language. When used with singular verbs and adjectives elohim is usually singular, "god" or especially, the God. When used with plural verbs and adjectives elohim is usually plural, "gods" or "powers". It is generally thought that Elohim is a formation from eloah, the latter being an expanded form of the Northwest Semitic noun il
Ilah
is an Arabic term meaning "deity" or "god". The feminine is ; with the article, it appears as . It appears in the name of the monotheistic god of Islam as , translated, that is, "the god"...

 ' onMouseout='HidePop("25497")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/El_(god)">ʾēl
El (god)
is a Northwest Semitic word meaning "deity", cognate to Akkadian and then to Hebrew : Eli and Arabic )....

 ).
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Encyclopedia
Elohim is a grammatically singular or plural
Grammatical number
In linguistics, grammatical number is a grammatical category of nouns, pronouns, and adjective and verb agreement that expresses count distinctions ....

 noun
Noun
In linguistics, a noun is a member of a large, open lexical category whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the object of a verb, or the object of a preposition .Lexical categories are defined in terms of how their members combine with other kinds of...

 for "god" or "gods" in both modern and ancient Hebrew language. When used with singular verbs and adjectives elohim is usually singular, "god" or especially, the God. When used with plural verbs and adjectives elohim is usually plural, "gods" or "powers". It is generally thought that Elohim is a formation from eloah, the latter being an expanded form of the Northwest Semitic noun il
Ilah
is an Arabic term meaning "deity" or "god". The feminine is ; with the article, it appears as . It appears in the name of the monotheistic god of Islam as , translated, that is, "the god"...

 ' onMouseout='HidePop("25497")' href="http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/El_(god)">ʾēl
El (god)
is a Northwest Semitic word meaning "deity", cognate to Akkadian and then to Hebrew : Eli and Arabic )....

 ). It is usually translated as "God" in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, referring with singular verbs both to the one God of Israel, and also in a few examples to other singular pagan deities. With plural verbs the word is also used as a true plural with the meaning "gods". The related nouns eloah  and el  are used as proper names or as generics, in which case they are interchangeable with elohim.

Mark S. Smith said that the notion of divinity underwent radical changes throughout the period of early Israelite identity. Smith said that the ambiguity of the term Elohim is the result of such changes, cast in terms of "vertical translatability" by Smith (2008); i.e. the re-interpretation of the gods of the earliest recalled period as the national god
National god
The concept of a national god is most closely associated with the God of Israel who in the Torah is described as the sole God to be worshipped by the nation of Israel...

 of the monolatrism
Monolatrism
Monolatrism or monolatry is the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity...

 as it emerged in the 7th to 6th century BCE in the Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 and during the Babylonian captivity
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

, and further in terms of monotheism
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 by the emergence of Rabbinical Judaism in the 2nd century CE. A different version was produced by Morton Smith
Morton Smith
Morton Smith was an American professor of ancient history at Columbia University. He is best known for his controversial discovery of the Mar Saba letter, a letter attributed to Clement of Alexandria containing excerpts from a Secret Gospel of Mark, during a visit to the monastery at Mar Saba in...

. Despite the -im ending common to many plural masculine nouns in Hebrew, the word when referring to the Name of God
Names of God in Judaism
In Judaism, the name of God is more than a distinguishing title; it represents the Jewish conception of the divine nature, and of the relationship of God to the Jewish people and to the world. To demonstrate the sacredness of the names of God, and as a means of showing respect and reverence for...

 is grammatically singular, and takes a singular verb in the Hebrew Bible.

The word is identical to the usual plural of el meaning gods or magistrates, and is cognate to the l-h-m found in Ugaritic, where it is used for the pantheon of Canaanite Gods, the children of El and conventionally vocalized as "Elohim" although the original Ugaritic vowels are unknown. Most use of the term Elohim in the later Hebrew text imply a view that is at least monolatrist at the time of writing, and such usage (in the singular), as a proper title for the supreme deity, is generally not considered to be synonymous with the term elohim, "gods" (plural, simple noun). Hebrew grammar allows for this nominally-plural form to mean "He is the Power (singular) over powers (plural)", or roughly, "God of gods". Rabbinic scholar Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 wrote that the various other usages are commonly understood to be homonym
Homonym
In linguistics, a homonym is, in the strict sense, one of a group of words that often but not necessarily share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings...

s. The plural form ending in -im can also be understood as denoting abstraction, as in the Hebrew words chayyim ("life") or betulim ("virginity"). If understood this way, Elohim means "divinity" or "deity".

Etymology



The Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible
Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible
The Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible is an academic reference work edited by Karel van der Toorn, Bob Becking and Pieter W. van der Horst which contains academic articles on the named gods, angels, and demons in the books of the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint and Apocrypha, as well as the...

 defines "elohim" as a plural of eloah, an expanded form of the common Semitic noun "'il" (ʾēl). It contains an added heh as third radical to the biconsonantal root. Discussions of the etymology of elohim essentially concern this expansion. An exact cognate outside of Hebrew is found in Ugaritic ʾlhm, the family of El, the creator god and chief deity of the Canaanite pantheon, in Biblical Aramaic
Biblical Aramaic
Biblical Aramaic is the form of the Aramaic language that is used in the books of Daniel, Ezra and a few other places in the Hebrew Bible and should not be confused with the Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Bible known as targumim....

  and later Syriac Alaha "God", and in Arabic [[ʾilāh]] "god, deity" (or Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

  as " The [single] God").

"El" (the basis for the extended root ʾlh) is usually derived from a root meaning "to be strong" and/or "to be in front".

Canaanite religion



The word el (singular) is a standard term for "god" in other related Semitic languages including Ugaritic.

In the Ugaritic Baal cycle
Baal cycle
The Baal cycle is a Ugaritic cycle of stories about the Canaanite god Baal, also known as Hadad the god of storm and fertility. They are written in Ugaritic, a language written in a cuneiform alphabet, on a series of clay tablets found in the 1920s in the Tell of Ugarit , situated on the...

 we read of "seventy sons of Asherah
Asherah
Asherah , in Semitic mythology, is a Semitic mother goddess, who appears in a number of ancient sources including Akkadian writings by the name of Ashratum/Ashratu and in Hittite as Asherdu or Ashertu or Aserdu or Asertu...

" (KTU
Keilschrift Texte aus Ugarit
Keilschrift Texte aus Ugarit or KTU is the standard source reference collection for the cuneiform texts from Ugarit. The editors include Manfried Dietrich Keilschrift Texte aus Ugarit or KTU is the standard source reference collection for the cuneiform texts from Ugarit. (Keil is the German for...

2 1.4.VI.46).

Elohist


Elohim occurs frequently throughout the received text of the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

. In some cases (e.g. Exodus 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, and refers to the polytheistic notion of multiple gods (for example, Exodus 20:3, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me.").

The choice of word or words for God varies in the Hebrew Bible. According to the documentary hypothesis
Documentary hypothesis
The documentary hypothesis , holds that the Pentateuch was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives, which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors...

 these variations are evidence of different source texts: Elohim is used as the name of God in the Elohist
Elohist
The Elohist is one of four sources of the Torah described by the Documentary Hypothesis. Its name comes from the term it uses for God: Elohim; it is characterised by, among other things, an abstract view of God, using "Horeb" instead of "Sinai" for the mountain where Moses received the laws of...

 and the Priestly source
Priestly source
The Priestly Source is one of the sources of the Torah/Pentateuch in the bible. Primarily a product of the post-Exilic period when Judah was a province of the Persian empire , P was written to show that even when all seemed lost, God remained present with Israel...

, while Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

 is used in the Jahwist
Jahwist
The Jahwist, also referred to as the Jehovist, Yahwist, or simply as J, is one of the sources of the Torah. It gets its name from the fact that it characteristically uses the term Yahweh for God in the book of Genesis...

 source. The difference in names results from the theological point being made in the Elohist and Priestly sources that God did not reveal his name, Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

, to any man before the time of Moses.

While the Jahwist presented an anthropomorphic God who could walk through the Garden of Eden looking for Adam and Eve, the Elohist frequently involves angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

s. For example, it is the Elohist version of the tale of Jacob's ladder
Jacob's Ladder (Bible)
Jacob's Ladder is a ladder to heaven, described in the Book of Genesis, that the biblical patriarch Jacob dreams about during his flight from his brother Esau.-Source:...

 in which there is a ladder of angels with God at the top, whereas in the Jahwist tale, it is just a dream in which God is simply above the location, without the ladder or angels. Likewise, the Elohist describes Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

 actually wrestling with God.

The classical documentary hypothesis as developed in the late 19th century assumed that the Elohist portions of the Torah were composed in the 9th century BCE (i.e. during the early period of the Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

). This is far from universally accepted today, as there is evidence of a later "Elohist redaction" (post-exilic
Second Temple Judaism
Second Temple Judaism refers to the religion of Judaism during the Second Temple period, between the construction of the second Jewish temple in Jerusalem in 515 BCE, and its destruction by the Romans in 70 CE This period witnessed major historical upheavals and significant religious changes that...

) during the 5th century BCE which makes it difficult to determine whether a given passage is "Elohist" in origin, or only as a result of late redaction.

Hebrew Bible


The word Elohim occurs more than 2500 times in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, with meanings ranging from "god" in a general sense (as in Exodus 12:12, where it describes "the gods of Egypt"), to a specific god (e.g., 1 Kings 11:33, where it describes Chemosh "the god of Moab", or the frequent references to Yahweh
Yahweh
Yahweh is the name of God in the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jews and Christians.The word Yahweh is a modern scholarly convention for the Hebrew , transcribed into Roman letters as YHWH and known as the Tetragrammaton, for which the original pronunciation is unknown...

 as the "elohim" of Israel), to demons, seraphim, and other supernatural beings, to the spirits of the dead brought up at the behest of King Saul in 1 Samuel 28:13, and even to kings and prophets (e.g., Exodus 4:16). The phrase bene elohim, usually translated "sons of God", has an exact parallel in Ugarit
Ugarit
Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

ic and Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n texts, referring to the council of the gods.

Grammar - singular or plural



In Hebrew the ending -im, mainly indicates a masculine plural. However with Elohim the construction is grammatically singular, (i.e. it governs a singular verb or adjective) when referring to the Hebrew God, but grammatically plural elohim (i.e. taking a plural verb or adjective) when used of pagan divinities (Psalms 96:5
Psalm 96
Psalm 96 is one of the psalm in the biblical Book of Psalms. One of the Royal Psalms, Psalm 93-99, praising God as the King of His people.-Judaism:*Is the second paragraph of Kabbalat Shabbat....

; 97:7
Psalm 97
Psalm 97 is one of the psalm in the biblical Book of Psalms. One of the Royal Psalms, Psalm 93-99, praising God as the King of His people.-Judaism:*Is the third paragraph of Kabbalat Shabbat....

).

"gods" plural, with plural verb


The noun elohim is used with a plural verb in 1 Samuel 28:13. The witch of Endor tells Saul that she sees 'gods' (elohim) coming up (olim עֹלִים, plural verb) out of the earth; this seems to indicate that the term was used to mean something like 'divine beings' among spiritists in ancient Israel.

God of Israel, with singular verb


In the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

 Elohim, when meaning the God of Israel, is mostly grammatically singular. Even in Genesis 1:26 "Then God said (singular verb), 'Let us make (plural verb) man in our image, after our likeness'." Elohim is singular. Gesenius and other Hebrew grammarians traditionally described this as the pluralis excellentiae
Pluralis excellentiae
The pluralis excellentiae is the name given by early grammarians of Hebrew such as Gesenius to a perceived anomaly in the grammatical number and syntax in Hebrew. In some cases it bears some similarity to the pluralis majestatis or "royal we". However the idea of excellence is not necessarily...

 (plural of excellence), which is similar to the pluralis majestatis
Pluralis majestatis
The majestic plural , is the use of a plural pronoun to refer to a single person holding a high office, such as a monarch, bishop, or pope...

 (plural of majesty, or "Royal we").

Gesenius comments that Elohim singular is to be distinguished from elohim plural gods and remarks that:
There are a number of notable exceptions to the rule that Elohim is treated as singular when referring to the God of Israel, including Gen. 20:13, 35:7, 2 Sam. 7:23 and Ps. 58:11, and notably the epithet of the "Living God" (Deuteronomy 5:26 etc.), which is constructed with the plural adjective, Elohim Hayiym but still takes singular verbs.
In the Septuagint and New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 translations of Elohim has the singular even in these cases, and modern translations follow suit in giving "God" in the singular.
The Samaritan Torah has edited out some of these exceptions.

Abraham's "the gods caused me"


In Gen 20:13 Abraham, before the Philistine king Abimelech
Abimelech
Abimelech was a common name of the Philistine kings.Abimelech was most prominently the name of a king of Gerar who is mentioned in two of the three wife-sister narratives in Genesis...

, says that "the gods (elohim) caused (plural verb) me to wander". The Greek Septuagint and most English versions usually translate this "God caused", possibly to avoid the implication of Abraham deferring to Abimelech's polytheistic beliefs.

Angels and Judges


In a few cases in the Greek Septuagint, Hebrew elohim with a plural verb, or with implied plural context, was rendered either angeloi ("angels") or pros to kriterion tou Theou ("before the judgement of God"). These passages then entered first the Latin Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, then the English King James Version as "angels" and "judges", respectively. From this came the result that James Strong, for example, listed "angels" and "judges" as possible meanings for elohim with a plural verb in his Strong's Concordance
Strong's Concordance
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, generally known as Strong's Concordance, is a concordance of the King James Bible that was constructed under the direction of Dr. James Strong and first published in 1890. Dr. Strong was Professor of exegetical theology at Drew Theological Seminary at...

, and the same is true of many other 17th-20th Century reference works. Both Gesenius' Hebrew Lexicon and the Brown-Driver-Briggs Lexicon list both angels and judges as possible alternative meanings of elohim with plural verbs and adjectives.

However, the reliability of the Septuagint translation in this matter has been questioned by some. In the case of Gesenius, he lists the meaning without agreeing with it. Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg
Ernst Wilhelm Theodor Herrmann Hengstenberg , was a German Lutheran churchman and neo-Lutheran theologian.He was born at Frondenberg, a Westphalian village, and was educated by his father, who was a minister of the Reformed Church and head of the Frondenberg convent of canonesses...

 published the conclusion that the Hebrew Bible text never uses elohim to refer to "angels", but that the Septuagint translators refused the references to "gods" in the verses they amended to "angels."

Ambiguous readings


Sometimes when elohim occurs as the referent or object (i.e. not subject) of a sentence, and without any accompanying verb or adjective to indicate plurality, it may be grammatically unclear whether gods plural or God singular is intended. An example is Psalm 8:5 where "Yet you have made him a little lower than the elohim" is ambiguous as to whether "lower than the gods" or "lower than God" is intended. The Septuagint read this as "gods" and then corrected the translation to "angels", which reading is taken up by the New Testament in Hebrews 2:9 "But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus".

Other plural-singulars in Biblical Hebrew



The Hebrew language
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 has several nouns with -im (masculine plural) and -oth (feminine plural) endings which nevertheless take singular verbs, adjectives and pronouns. For example Ba'alim "owner": "He is lord (singular) even over any of those things that he owns that are lordly (plural)." Alternately, Elohim is sometimes regarded as a plural of excellence
Pluralis excellentiae
The pluralis excellentiae is the name given by early grammarians of Hebrew such as Gesenius to a perceived anomaly in the grammatical number and syntax in Hebrew. In some cases it bears some similarity to the pluralis majestatis or "royal we". However the idea of excellence is not necessarily...

 rather than number.

Jacob's ladder "gods were revealed" (plural)


In the following verses Elohim was translated as God singular in the King James Version even though it was accompanied by plural verbs and other plural grammatical terms.
Here the Hebrew verb "revealed" is plural, hence: "the-gods were revealed". The Authorized Version wrongly translates: "God appeared unto him". This is one of several instances where the Bible uses plural verbs with the name elohim.

The Divine Council of Elohim


Marti Steussy in “Chalice Introduction to the Old Testament” discusses: “The first verse of Psalm 82: ‘Elohim has taken his place in the divine council.’ Here elohim has a singular verb and clearly refers to God. But in verse 6 of the Psalm, God says to the other members of the council, ‘You [plural] are elohim.’ Here elohim has to mean gods.”

Mark Smith referring to this same Psalm states in “God in Translation:…” “This psalm presents a scene of the gods meeting together in divine council…Elohim stands in the council of El. Among the elohim he pronounces judgment:…”

H. M. Stephenson in “Hulsean Lectures for…” (p14) discusses Jesus’ argument concerning this Psalm (82) in John 10:34-36 “And then, in answer to the charge of blasphemy, he (Jesus) replies ‘Is it not written in your Torah (viz in the Asaph Psalm xxxii) ‘I said Ye are gods? If he called them gods unto the word of God came, the Scripture cannot be broken.’ Now what is the force of this quotation ‘I said ye are gods.’ It is from the Asaph Psalm which begins ‘Elohim hath taken His place in the mighty assembly. In the midst of the Elohim He is judging.’”

That righteous humans ascend to become part of a council of holy gods/elohim composed of one-time mortals is a tenet also discussed in depth by Wade Cox Michael S. Heiser and Martha Helene Jones. As such this use of elohim is recognized as distinctly different from YHVH/YHWH who, being infinite has no image. and who becomes the spirit of all the living.

Sons of God



The Hebrew word for son
Son
A son is a male offspring; a boy or man in relation to his parents. The female analogue is a daughter.-Social issues regarding sons:In pre-industrial societies and some current countries with agriculture-based economies, a higher value was, and still is, assigned to sons rather than daughters,...

s bene occurs with various nouns such as a collective, such as Psa. xlix, 3, bene adam "sons of men," "sons of Adam"; bene Yisrael "sons of Israel, Israelites.

The Hebrew term bene elohim ("sons of God
Sons of God
Sons of God is a phrase used in Levantine Bronze and Iron Age texts to describe the "divine council" of the major gods.- The term "sons of God" :...

" or "sons of the gods") in, e.g., Genesis 6:2 compares to the use of "sons of gods" (Ugaritic bn il) sons of El
El (god)
is a Northwest Semitic word meaning "deity", cognate to Akkadian and then to Hebrew : Eli and Arabic )....

 in Ugaritic mythology. Karel van der Toorn
Karel van der Toorn
Karel van der Toorn is a Dutch scholar of ancient religions. From 2006 to 2011 he was chairman of the Board at the University of Amsterdam, where he was a professor since 1988 and until he became the chairman of the Board.-Source:...

 states that Gods can be referred to collectively as bene elim, bene elyon, or bene elohim.

Rabbinic Judaism



Elohim occupy the seventh rank of ten in the famous medieval Rabbinic scholar Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

' Jewish angelic hierarchy
Jewish angelic hierarchy
Maimonides, in his Yad ha-Chazakah: Yesodei ha-Torah, counts ten ranks of angels in the Jewish angelic hierarchy, beginning from the highest:- Kabbalistic angelic hierarchy :...

. Also Maimonides told that:
I must premise that every Hebrew knows that the term Elohim is a homonym, and denotes God, angels, judges, and the rulers of countries, ...

Christian Bible translations


Hebrew elohim in English translations of the Bible
English translations of the Bible
The efforts of translating the Bible from its original languages into over 2,000 others have spanned more than two millennia. Partial translations of the Bible into languages of the English people can be traced back to the end of the 7th century, including translations into Old English and Middle...

 is usually rendered as gods when occurring with a plural verb and referring to pagan deities
Canaanite religion
Canaanite religion is the name for the group of Ancient Semitic religions practiced by the Canaanites living in the ancient Levant from at least the early Bronze Age through the first centuries of the Common Era....

, and as God when occurring with a singular verb and referring to the God of Israel. In doing so the English translations generally follow the use of theos (θεος) in the Greek Septuagint and New Testament citations of the Old Testament. A number of older versions, such as the King James Version, include translations of elohim with plural verb as "angels" or "judges" in certain instances, again following the Septuagint in those cases.

In a small number of private translations published by the Sacred Name Movement
Sacred Name Movement
The Sacred Name Movement is a movement within Adventism in Christianity, propagated by Clarence Orvil Dodd from the 1930s, that claims to seek to conform Christianity to its "Hebrew Roots" in practice, belief and worship. The best known distinction of the SNM is its advocacy of the use of the...

 the word "Elohim" is used in many places in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 where the word theos is found in the Greek text (such as John 1:1 and John 10:36). Though there are no attested early Biblical manuscripts of the New Testament in Hebrew, and it is generally agreed that the Aramaic Peshitta
Peshitta
The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD...

 is a translation from Greek, the editors of such Sacred Name Bibles
Sacred name Bibles
The term Sacred Name Bibles and the term sacred-name versions are used in general sources to refer to editions of the Bible that are usually connected with the Sacred Name Movement...

 appeal to the fact that the Syriac word Aloha, the source of Hebrew Eloah, is found in the Syriac bible
Peshitta
The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD...

 text.

See also

  • El (deity)
  • Elohist
    Elohist
    The Elohist is one of four sources of the Torah described by the Documentary Hypothesis. Its name comes from the term it uses for God: Elohim; it is characterised by, among other things, an abstract view of God, using "Horeb" instead of "Sinai" for the mountain where Moses received the laws of...

  • Elyon
    Elyon
    Elyon is an epithet of the God of Israel in the Hebrew Bible. is usually rendered as English "God Most High"....

  • Genesis creation narrative
  • Ilah
    Ilah
    is an Arabic term meaning "deity" or "god". The feminine is ; with the article, it appears as . It appears in the name of the monotheistic god of Islam as , translated, that is, "the god"...

  • Names of God
    Names of God
    Names of God, or Holy Names, describe a form of addressing God present in liturgy or prayer of various world religions. Prayer involving the Holy Name or the Name of God has become established as common spiritual practice in both Western and Eastern spiritual practices...

  • Names of God in Judaism
    Names of God in Judaism
    In Judaism, the name of God is more than a distinguishing title; it represents the Jewish conception of the divine nature, and of the relationship of God to the Jewish people and to the world. To demonstrate the sacredness of the names of God, and as a means of showing respect and reverence for...