the gods of the Hebrew Bible
The God revealed in the Hebrew bible is an integration of several different cultural traditions in the ancient Middle East. As the tribes of Israel established themselves as a distinct culture among the peoples of Canaan, differing images of God were eventually integrated into the oral and written traditions that shaped the Old Testament.
The Hebrew texts often refer to God by the Canaanite term Elohim (el-o-HEEM). It is based on the ancient Semitic root ‘el’ (ale) meaning ‘strong one.’ This word was often used as a generic term for a god since the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia. It was also the proper name of the Canaanite high god El, the father of humanity and all creatures. He was the father of all the other gods (elohim) in the Canaanite pantheon and was the husband of Asherah, the mother goddess. In our English Bibles, both El and Elohim are translated as ‘God.’ (It is interesting to note that Jesus would have used the related Aramaic term alaha (ahl-ah-HAH) to speak of God. The Arabic Allah derives from the same Semitic root.)
As the cultures mixed in the land of Canaan, the Hebrew people overlaid the Sinai tradition of a tribal god named Yahweh onto the established tradition of El, forming a creative combination of a deity who was not only a god of deliverance from slavery but was also the creator of the universe. As the stories of the two cultures merged, the different terms for God became somewhat interchangeable and are found throughout the Hebrew Bible.
In Hebrew, the name Yahweh is spelled with consonants alone (reading from right to left) as יהוה (yod-hey-vav-hey). In English, it is rendered (from left to right) as YHWH. Because the name has only consonants in Hebrew and no vowels, the exact pronunciation is unsure. Today, it is commonly pronounced as Yahweh (YAH-way), although in prior centuries Jehovah was the more common usage because German scholars transliterated the Hebrew as JHVH. (In German, J sounds like Y and V sounds like W.) The origin and meaning of the name is disputed, but it may be associated with the Hebrew verb hayah, “to be.” Some scholars believe it is a shortened form of a word that means “he causes to be” or “he creates.”
During the Enlightenment, German scholars began to detect these two distinct traditions by separating the El/Elohim texts from the Yahweh texts in the Hebrew Bible. They referenced these traditions in shorthand as “E” (for Elohist) and “J” (for Jahwist or Yahwist). In these texts, the word El is used for God about 238 times while Elohim is used about 2,600 times. The personal name Yahweh is used far more extensively, about 6,800 times. A later writer, concerned with priestly duties and laws, was labeled “P.” He favored the term Elohim.
Most of us would not know any of this because in many English translations, the name Yahweh is eliminated and is often replaced with the term ‘the LORD’ and at other times simply with ‘God.’ This began when the Hebrew Bible was first translated into Greek about three centuries before Jesus. This translation, called the Septuagint (SEP-too-a-jint) was created by and for Hellenistic Jews who lived throughout the Greco-Roman world. In order to avoid taking God’s name in vain, the Greek word kyrios (KOO-ree-ohs), meaning ‘lord,’ was substituted for יהוה (yod-hey-vav-hey). Unfortunately, this practice has continued to this day in most English translations. It would seem that modern translators are a bit embarrassed by the fact that the God of the universe was once the local god of a few tribes who roamed the deserts south of modern Israel herding sheep and goats.
Originally, Yahweh was the name of a tribal god, perhaps first of the Midianites (or possibly of the Kenites which may have been a related clan) and later of the Hebrews. According to the story recounted in Exodus, Moses (or Moshe)—the son of Hebrew slaves—is raised in the court of Pharaoh. As a young man, he kills an Egyptian overseer who was beating a Hebrew slave and then flees to the land of Midian to avoid prosecution. The location of Midian is not known for sure, but it was most likely located near the Gulf of Aqaba, which separates the Arabian and Sinai peninsulas. There Moses meets Jethro, a man from the Kenite clan who serves as a priest in Midian. Moses settles down with the Midianites, marries Jethro’s daughter Zipporah, and has a son named Gershom.
We are never told which god Jethro served as priest, but it seems likely that the Midianite/Kenite god was the God named Yahweh who was associated with a sacred site in nearby Sinai called ‘the mountain of Elohim’ (mountain of the gods), identified also as Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai. At this point, the writer of the Exodus story tries to integrate several different traditions about God into a single cohesive unity. While herding sheep near the mountain, Moses encounters Yahweh in a burning bush. When Moses asks the god’s identity, Elohim responds in this way:
Elohim said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “I AM has sent me to you.”’ (Exodus 13:14)
The Hebrew phrase translated “I am who I am” is ehyeh asher ehyeh (eh-YEH a-SHER eh-YEH). It can also be translated as “I am that I am” or “I will be what I will be.” Elohim continues:
Elohim also said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, “Yahweh, the God [Elohe] of your ancestors, the God [Elohe] of Abraham, the God [Elohe] of Isaac, and the God [Elohe] of Jacob, has sent me to you.”’ (Exodus 3:15)
In these two verses, four different names for God from four different traditions are linked: Elohim, Yahweh, ‘I AM WHO I AM,’ and the Elohe of the Mesopotamian ancestors.
Elohe is simply another variation of the root el that is usually translated as ‘God.’ Although it is unusual to find the actual Hebrew words still retained in an English translation of the Bible, the word elohe is found in the book of Genesis when Jacob buys a plot of land near the ancient Canaanite city of Shechem. He erects an altar near his tent and dedicates it to El-Elohe-Israel, translated as ‘God, the God of Israel’ or ‘the mighty God of Israel.’
The name ‘Israel’ itself is also based on the root word ‘el’ as a reference to God. We are told that just prior to settling near Shechem, Jacob wrestled with a man who he first thought might be an angel, but whom he eventually believes to be God (El). He is blessed by his divine opponent and receives the name Israel—in Hebrew Yisraʾel (yis-raw-ALE). Its meaning is disputed, but Israel may mean ‘El rules,’ ‘El struggles,’ or ‘El strives.’ However, the text itself proposes an alternate translation—that God is not the subject, but the object of the verb. Jacob is one who ‘strives with El.’ If one becomes aware of the many Hebrew names for God, one realizes the importance of the Canaanite tradition on the evolution of Hebrew religious ideas and the development of Yahweh.
Some scholars who have examined archeological sites in Israel believe that the biblical story of the exodus of twelve Hebrew tribes from Egypt is not very historical. Later Hebrew history shows a natural division among the tribes, evidenced in the split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah after the reign of Solomon. A case has been made that the southern tribes of Benjamin and Judah may have been captive in Egypt, but that the northern tribes probably emerged from Semitic tribes already dwelling in northern Israel at the time of the exodus. These peoples gradually merged into a single culture where their religious ideas and traditions were blended. It was the northern tribes who had the El tradition, while the southern tribes had the Yahweh tradition. Throughout the centuries these traditions were merged, but not always completely or smoothly.
In the ancient history of the Israelites, Yahweh was initially viewed as a tribal war god, a deity of liberation and conquest—leading the Hebrew slaves out of captivity in Egypt and enabling them to conquer the land of Canaan. As the Israelite culture became more settled over time and a national identity was formed, Yahweh took on additional roles—envisioned as a lawgiver, ruler, and judge over the people. Eventually, Yahweh became more than a tribal or national God. Yahweh took on the role of the ‘high god,’ superior to competing gods within the land of Israel and to the gods of surrounding nations. The early monotheism of the Hebrew people did not claim that there was only one God; rather it claimed that their God was superior to all the others. In the newly acquired role of high god, Yahweh became the creator of heaven and earth, supplanting the role previously held by El, the Canaanite high god.
The Canaanite El was sometimes referred to as Toru El (the bull god), identifying him with that ancient symbol of strength, power, and virility. The worship of a sacred bull was common in many cultures throughout the ancient world. In the book of Exodus, we are told that Aaron, the brother of Moses, fashioned a golden calf as a physical representation of Yahweh, which mirrored the sacred image of El. Although the attributes of El were gradually assimilated into the traditions of the Hebrew people, the Exodus story tells of the complete rejection of any symbolic image to represent Yahweh. The first two of the Ten Commandments recognize the ongoing problem of integrating other religious traditions into the developing Hebrew story.
You shall have no other gods [Elohim] before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them. (Exodus 20:3-5)
It is interesting to note that one of the chief consorts of El was the Semitic mother goddess Asherah (sometimes called Elat, the feminine form of El). Based on archeological discovery of figurines and inscriptions on storage jars in Israel, some scholars believe that at one time Asherah may have similarly been worshiped as the consort of Yahweh and was referred to as the ‘Queen of Heaven.’ Also associated with El were lesser gods—most often his sons—known by the title Ba’al (BAH-al) or Baal which means ‘master’ or ‘lord.’ The chief among these was Ba’al Hadad (BAH-al hah-DAHD), the son of El who was lord of the sky—the god of thunder and lightning—providing rain and fertility to the land. He was also known as the primary god in an assembly of gods that gathered on Mount Zaphon. As one reads the Hebrew Bible, the worship of Asherah and Baal is a recurring problem in the enforcement of monotheism and the Yahweh cult. Meanwhile, the tradition of El becomes merged with Yahweh as the supreme God who is the lawgiver and ruler of the Hebrew people and the creator of the universe.
a God who is like us
Our basic introduction to Yahweh and El as two variants of a supernatural theistic God is found in the first pages of the Bible beginning with the stories of Genesis. There are two very different creation stories in the first three chapters of Genesis, although many Christians are unaware of the different tales. They come from two independent sources who were writing hundreds of years apart in ancient Israel.
The earliest story was written about 800 BCE by an anonymous author who biblical scholars have labeled ‘J.’ from the German spelling of Yahweh—Jahveh. J’s story does not deal with the creation of the universe; instead, it focuses on the creation of humankind. Starting in the second chapter of Genesis, J writes that Yahweh shaped a male human being from the clay of the earth and breathed life into his nostrils. (Genesis 2:4 – 3:24) The man (adam in Hebrew) is created from the earth (adamah). Yahweh plants a garden, forms animals from the earth, and creates a woman from the man’s rib. When his creation is finished, Yahweh strolls through the garden in the evening breeze. Yahweh converses with the new creatures and gives them a few rules. Later, when Yahweh, in anger at their disobedience, expels Adam and Eve from the garden, Yahweh fashions clothing for them out of animal skins. This biblical God, who walks on earth, talks to his creations, and works with his hands, is clearly a human being writ large.
Anthropomorphic gods were the norm in the ancient world. The Greek Zeus, the Roman Jupiter, and the Norse Odin were all powerful male Gods who were pictured in human form. They were full of human emotion, were easily angered, and were capable of capricious acts of violence toward human beings. For instance, J tells us later in Genesis that Yahweh, disgusted with the direction his creation had taken, destroyed most earthly creatures in a massive genocidal and speciecidal flood. (Genesis, chapters 7 and 8)
Nearly 2,600 years ago, a wandering Greek philosopher and poet, Xenophanes of Colophon (c. 570-475 BCE), suggested that we humans always imagine a God like us. He wrote that if horses and oxen had hands and could draw pictures, their gods would look remarkably like horses and oxen.
But if cattle and horses and lions had hands or could paint with their hands and create works such as men do, horses like horses and cattle like cattle also would depict the gods’ shapes and make their bodies of such a sort as the form they themselves have.
An anthropomorphic likeness is probably the first thing that most people envision when they think about God. The ‘old man in the sky’ is the picture that Michelangelo used on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Whether it is an angry old man or a kindly grandfather, this is the image of God from our childhood, and for many, it carries into adulthood as well. When Jesus taught his followers to pray to “our Father,” this solidified the visual image for most Christians.
a God who lives ‘up there’
Around 600 BCE, two hundred years after J wrote his creation narrative, another writer—known to scholars as ‘P’ or the Priestly writer—described a deity who dwells apart from the world. In P’s poem of creation, found in the first chapter of Genesis, we meet a God who operates on a cosmic scale and creates the universe with the spoken word. Instead of the name Yahweh, P refers to God by the Canaanite term Elohim. This image of an almighty God goes hand-in-hand with an equally ancient worldview of a three-tiered universe—heaven above, the earth in the middle, and the dwelling place of the dead below. In this creation story, however, God begins with a two-tiered world: the heavens in a domed layer above and the earth in a flat layer below. The dwelling place of the dead which lies under the earth, alternately known as Sheol, Hades, and Hell, evolved later in Jewish thought.
P tells us that God created heaven and earth from a pre-existent primordial watery chaos:
And Elohim said, “Let there be a dome [some texts read ‘firmament’] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters. So Elohim made the dome and separated the waters which were under the dome from the waters which were above the dome. And it was so. Elohim called the dome Sky [some texts read ‘Heaven’].
And Elohim said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. Elohim called the dry land Earth and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. (Genesis 1:6-10)
A few verses later, God creates a variety of lights which he places in the heavenly dome—a greater light to rule the day and a lesser one to rule the night. Finally, God scatters a multitude of stars on the surface of the dome to twinkle at night.
Ancient civilizations believed that there were two primary bodies of water, one in the sky and one on the earth, and that something structural—a dome or firmament—was necessary to keep the water of the heavens (which fell as rain) separated from the waters of the earth (rivers, lakes and seas). Further, this dome was the structural support required for the movement of the sun, moon and stars above the earth. In early Mesopotamian thought, the earth was portrayed as a flat disk floating in a vast ocean. This is the same image portrayed in Genesis.
In addition to this primitive understanding of the nature of the universe, the two-tiered model was gradually identified with two aspects of reality, the natural below and the supernatural above. Parallel structures of power were seen to exist above and below the firmament. Just as an earthly king had a royal court filled with nobles, generals, priests, and servants, God was envisioned on a resplendent throne in the clouds surrounded by the supernatural creatures of a divine court—angels and archangels, seraphim and cherubim. When kings and their armies went to war, their national gods were imagined to battle each other in the sky with heavenly hosts or armies. The Hebrew Bible frequently refers to God as the Lord of Hosts (or Yahweh of Hosts) which means ‘Yahweh of the armies.’ For the ancients, the nation with the more powerful god determined the outcome of earthly affairs.
In later Jewish thought, a third tier was added below the earth. In Hebrew, it was called She’ol or Sheol—a place beneath the soil where both the bad and the good would go upon death. This is an obvious human conclusion since human bodies have been buried beneath the soil since Paleolithic times. Sheol is sometimes compared to Hades, the gloomy twilight afterlife of Greek mythology where people continued their existence as ‘shadows.’
In the Hebrew Bible, we find several instances of travel between the realms of heaven above and earth below. In a wilderness dream, the ancient patriarch Jacob envisioned a ladder connecting heaven and earth with angels climbing up and down. (Genesis 28:11-19) The story of Moses recounts that he climbed a tall mountain to approach God who had descended from the heavenly dwelling place in a cloud. (Exodus 19:1-25) And we are told the prophet Elijah ascended bodily into the skies above while still alive. (2 Kings, chapter 2)
In New Testament mythology, the travel between the three tiers of creation increases dramatically. Although the gospel of John does not actually say it, some interpreters of his writing suggest when John has Jesus refer to himself as the “bread of life,” he inferred that Jesus came down from heaven, as did manna in the desert to the early Hebrews. (John 6:31-51) Based on nothing more than this inference, this concept of Jesus’ descent from heaven was embodied in the fourth-century Nicene Creed. According to the Apostles’ Creed, after his death on a Friday, Jesus descended into Hades/Hell based on an obscure passage in the New Testament’s First Letter of Peter. (1 Peter 3:18-19) Although the four gospel accounts do not say anything about his descent from heaven at his birth or his descent into hell after his death, they do report that Jesus “rose” from his burial tomb on Sunday (which theoretically can be viewed as ascending from Sheol/Hades to earth). Later, Jesus ascended into the heavens. (Acts 1:6-12) At some point in the future, the church claims that Jesus will return by once again descending from the heavens. As Jesus comes down to the earth, the saints (both living and dead) will rise to greet him. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) Up and down, up and down, like an Otis elevator with three floors.
For a millennium and a half after the death of Jesus, Christians continued to believe in the literal reality of a three-tiered universe and a God ‘up there’ who is separate from us and our existence. Much of our theological language, including that of the fourth century creeds commonly used in churches today, still reflects this outmoded three-tiered flat-earth worldview.
a God who lives ‘out there’
In 1963, John Arthur Thomas Robinson (1919-1983), the Anglican bishop of Woolrich, a suburb south of London, published a small but controversial book titled Honest to God. In it, Robinson described a major theological shift which had occurred from a God ‘up there’ to a God ‘out there’ over the previous 500 years.
After the Copernican revolution in the sixteenth century, the three-tiered image of creation was gradually shattered. In 1514, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), the Polish astronomer, formulated the first explicitly heliocentric or sun-centered model of the solar system. ‘Up’ and ‘down’ no longer worked very effectively in relation to this new concept of the heavens and the earth.
Still, the advance of science has not stopped the church from continuing to use the ancient cosmology of a three-tiered universe. For many Christians, the language of the fourth-century creeds is no longer a literal reality but rather is accepted (or tolerated) as a poetic metaphor only. But this language restricts our thinking about God and makes it difficult for the church to progress beyond a pre-modern worldview in this increasingly postmodern world.
As John Robinson pointed out fifty years ago, the language of a three-tiered universe no longer works for many, even metaphorically. For instance, the idea of a Hell ‘down there’ has gradually diminished from the modern mind, because in the Copernican scheme we can no longer place it anywhere in the universe, as we understand it. Hell has no counterpart dimension for a heaven, which is now located somewhere ‘out there.’ The ancient language has begun to completely fall apart for most Christians. At least for those who give it any serious thought.
Thank you for your research.
You are welcome!
Excellent exposition. Well done. And agreed that ancient terminology is misleading nowadays and presents a stumbling block for rational discourse.
While you”re alysis clearly is rigorous (congratulations), I feel that there are some alternative interpretations of the evidence given. Sometimes we need to see the forest through the trees and the ethos-arc in recorded human history points to something… Else (pun intended). I’ve been doing similar word studies in Hebrew and Greek recently and have drawn different conclusions. Too much to type about here, but something that might be interesting to discuss some time in some form or fashion. 🙂
This is like theory?
Theory, based on archeological evidence.
Particularly helpful in introducing OT to high schoolers who need alternatives to faith_based myths imprefessed upon them in worship and home settings.
Well researched from a humanistic perspective but the base assumption ignores even the possibility of revelation from the Creator Himself. The assumptions that underpin all the interpretations is essentially that is no real inspiration. Instead of inspiration we assume that whatever tiny % of the total archeological and physical evidence we find, is enough to piece together accurate understanding of what occurred thousands of years ago.
That approach to evidence, an approach rooted in an assumption of anti-faith so to speak, inevitably leads to a limited interpretation of the evidence which can easily be laced with errors.
A perspective that at least considers the possibility that the assertions of the biblical authors, assertions of divine revelation, may actually be true is needed to get a balanced view of history when revelation and spiritual intervention is asserted.
Jesus replied, “You are mistaken because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. – Mt. 22:29
Someone doesn’t want to accept the truth.
There is a major error in this piece. The second creation of people and animals, based in the Garden of Eden, is not carried out by YHWH, but rather by YHWH-Elohim. A full understanding of the biblical narrative requires a link between the fissure in the integrated deity of the Garden (employing both names) which takes place in parallel with the expulsion of HaAdam and Eve from Eden.
It’s fascinating to me and telling that scholars seem to treat the Ancient Hebrews different from every other people group and tribe. For some reason, only the Hebrews don’t know their own history or language, and have purposely produced dozens of historical texts, poetry and songs to cover up their real history and instead deliberately fabricate a thousand years of history to cover up where they really came from and what they believed and who their King’s were and what God they worshipped. It’s the ultimate antisemitism.
Think about it. 2 developed a theory mighty das a hundred different versions of this theory. The starting point has to be that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are total fiction. Moses never existed. And the exodus never happened. The conquest of Canaan didn’t happen the way they say it did, etc etc in fact, until archaeologists started finding all the evidence of King David and Isaiah the prophet and Solomon and Hezekiah – the standard scholarly opinion was that the entire Torah and everything after that talked about Temple in Jerusalem was complete fiction! Many said they never lived in Jerusalem and that is why when they were given a home in 1948 by the UN it was said and still said falsely that they had stolen the ancient homeland of Palestinians and Arabs.
Watch the James Cameron documentary Exodus decoded. James Cameron himself says that the archaeological evidence laid out in the documentary has proven conclusively that the Exodus did happen but it happened the way that they Hebrew people said that it did in the Torah/Bible.
Very “learned” and very wrong. The irony of finding this on a page called followingjesus is striking and appalling. Nothing here helps me understand how Jesus is related to (El-)ohe/im and Yahweh. I am not a better follower of Jesus after reading this post, I simply have been handed a tainted way of looking at the Scriptures. One that undercuts their authority in my life –starting with the blasphemous poem offered in a spirit of down-the-nose amusement among the cognoscenti who know better than to take the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, I imagine. I will attempt to leave a longer post when I have more time. In the meanwhile know this, there are scholars with impeccable credentials who reject virtually everything apart from the Scripture references in your post. You who write such things, beware lest you are found to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. You who read such garbage flee to the safety of scholars and pastors whose teaching upholds the absolute authority of Scripture. There are alternative explanations for all of these passages that stand within the tradition of orthodoxy and which are much more intellectually satisfying.
I’m curious about biblical literalists who seem to think God is some kind of bearded fellow who lives in the sky and watches human activity like TV. How do you think the Bible was written? Did the Holy Spirit whisper the words across thousands of years and then to reactors in the 5th – 2nd centuries BCE? Or were scientifically illiterate priests and scribes doing theology involved in the process?
Oh get over it! The Kingdom is within… Let your eye be sinlgel and your body will filll with light…. Meditate. Tune in, drop out. Trmporarily banish ego and let the Universe/Jeus?Buddha/Azurah Mazda whoemever send you signals…messages.
The common denominator is that there is a God. We know His name and His title. Yahweh our Elohim and our Adinai. We do our best to understand Him but I don’t see we have all the right or enough words do describe Him in the fullest sense. He is one God in three persons, not three gods with one purpose. He is Omnipresent in Himself and His creation.
He is the creator of all things, our Savior and our Comforter. He is God, who lived as a man and lives within His people by way of His spirit. He made this world and gave it to man to live in it. He gave us free agency to make our own choices and live freely in this world with or without Him. He will not intervene in our affairs but will guide us though His Spirit if we ask and listen.
If you don’t want God, He will leave you alone. He will never force Himself on you or into your life. But life without God is death, darkness, meaningless and pointless in the end. Your only lot in life is to procreate like every other beast. If an animal you believe yourself to be than an animal you are, a body without a soul, just matter in the emptiness of space.
Lmao so like I’m an atheist. My whole life is my light. I feed the homeless, donate every dime I don’t need, volunteer my time, and work as a nurse. So is everything I’m doing pointless because I don’t do it in gods name?
By working through what the bible says, the whole point of life is to enjoy God and glorify him. By denying God’s existence then you can be doing neither. I wouldn’t go as far as to say these good things you are doing are pointless, they are clearly good things, but they do not satisfy the whole point of our existence.
It’s interesting that as an atheist your concern is about purpose. Logically working through atheism can only mean that everything is pointless since there is no reason for any of us being here, it’s all a chance happening.
No— it is best that you don’t do it in His name when that is not why you are doing it—
No, you’re awesome. They condemn themselves by judging by their own book…. You do you
All of this is conjecture. There is no concrete evidence to support any of it. Mans speculative mind in full force. No one knows!!!
Just when one thinks he knows and understands one finds that he really doesn’t know nor understands..
I hear you. I watched a video called “Two Gardens and a Snake” and I’m still trying to come to terms with it. This is what led me to this article. Also I have read Zechariah Sitchin’s interpretation of the Babylonian tablets and that left me wondering how their creation story compares to Genesis. Unfortunately, my pursuit has been interrupted for the past 3 years due to my pursuit for truth about the Pandemic which I think the documentary “The Great Reset” has outlined the true purpose of the vaccines. I wondered from the start if this was ‘the mark of the beast’ . I don’t think the game is over yet.
I very much appreciate your rigorous scholarship. Please keep it up. I am interested in knowing more about the fact that elohim is a plural word in Hebrew. Modern Jews and Christians translate elohim into the English word God, I would think, motivated by a desire to maintain a monotheistic narrative. Does Hebrew employ grammatical rules whereby verbs take on different forms to match a singular or plural subject? Why do we not, for example, interpret Genesis 1: In the beginning when gods were creating the sky and the earth…? This certainly would make sense when elohim soon thereafter says: Let US make man in OUR own image. Even if Hebrew grammar makes it clear the author means to singularize his god, the Hebrew plural word ending (im), seems to be a vestige from the polytheistic world from which the Hebrews began. Is there any other example of the word elohim being used to refer to one el alone in any other context throughout Mesopotamia or Canaan? Are we seeing in Hebrew Scriptures a fossil demonstrating the transition out of polytheism to henotheism, on its way to monotheism?
Yes there are grammatical rules. The word “created” used in Genesis is singular, that is why Elohim means God not gods.
Elohim is plural in Hebrew. It means gods. Let US make mankind in OUR image. That’s the most high speaking to the Elohim or its council of children who are in turn gods themselves.
It’s the “Royal ‘WE'”
Elohim represents the right brain.
Yahweh represents the left brain.
You cannot have a dreamer without an executor.
Cain and Able are examples of the extreme left and right brains.
A balanced mind is the mind of Christ.
The mind of christ seemed schizophrenic, based on what it says he said.
Jst learnt something new
God is out side of this physical world and is spiritual(spiritual realm) .. That is why he reveal his through the prophets, dreams, metaphors, parables, and finally Yoshua(Jesus)… Over and over mankind source for God, but does not want to accept him. we love to create a GOD that suits our needs so we continue any way we want even if it’s harms others.(destructive)…
This is brilliant.
While not footnoted, none of this is “mere speculation”. The author clearly has read widely on Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures and in particular, unlike most Christians, they understand things related to use of Adonai and Jehovah and El and Elohim and Asherah.
For everyone getting upset about this, I’ll just say, well, if there is a god, he could clear up any and all confusion in a heart beat. It makes you wonder why that hasn’t happened yet.
Thank you for sharing your research, very insightful I found in my own search for truth, thanks so much…
I am not anything close to being a religious scholar and I know nothing about Hebrew, so please forgive my ignorance when I ask you about this. Ehyeh asher ehyeh is the name that the god of the burning bush gives to Moses. This has been translated in a variety of ways all leading back to the Hebrew word Hayah meaning I am or I will be. The problem is, that this name really doesn’t make sense and scholars twist themselves up in knots trying to explain exactly why this weird phrase is a name for god. So here goes my tinfoil theory…When names are orally transmitted from one language to another, they are not usually translated. They are just TRANSLITERED. In other words, in American English my name is Jenniffer, in French it’s Guenièvre . It SOUNDS similar when it is said out loud except for the French accent and the changing of a few letters. If I go to France no one calls me “Juste Un”, which means “Fair one”, which is the TRANSLATION/meaning of my name. Is it possible that Ehyeh asher ehyeh begins in Hebrew with (Ehyeh asher) “I am who is… ” and ends with a transliteration of a name that sounds like ehyeh. In other words, god tells Moses “I am who is/will be… Ehyeh” with Ehyeh being a proper name that sounds like the Hebrew word for I am. The closest example I have for this is when I worked with a girl from Indonesia. I told her I had a brother named Bobby and she laughed, because that was the Indonesian word for pig. It is spelled Babi, but is pronounced the same as the name Bobby. I don’t know how Ehyeh sounds when spoken aloud and I don’t know the proper pronunciation of any of the names of other Gods during that time ex. Enki/Ea or El /Enlil etc… so I can’t make any comparisons on my own. But do you think could have been a possibility given that the Torah was originally passed down orally?
Anything is possible. Your point is well taken and well argued.
Your the only one that makes sense out of this lot. thanks
So who’s more powerful? Elohim or YHWH God? What are these beings made of? Matter like light or energy?
Can you pray to both? Are they both holy?
They are both human constructions of the ancient Hebrew communities. You may pray to whoever you want.
Elohim is the most high God his wife Ashera is our God that’s how they made both make and female in there image. In Genesis the term he him his are used as nouns.
God Ashera created the heavens and earth and ( he) said it was good. He is Elohim.
She is God.
In John the word was with God.
It’s a play on words the word is He.
Devas and Asuras. I highly favor your observation. Elohim is the law and order desire, and Deva executes the good and true into manifestation. They are a team !
At the end of the day, no one knows. It is all speculation and sophistry.
Indeed. Science cannot explain everything. Some things are sealed and never to be understood or revealed (revelation).
There is confusion with interpretation of YHWH (the almighty father in heaven), SONS OF YHWH (created directly by YHWH), SONS/Daughters OF MEN born of women (from the seed of Adam), hybrid/giants (daughters of men and sons of YHWH) Genesis 6
We are the children of the most high, and we cannot know and explain everything. Only YHWH knows and understands.
I would like to say that I LOVE the LORD and the LORD LOVES ME. The entire observation exists as an “inner state” of beingness. It is a system of established order for the purpose of conserving and protecting “the church.”
YHWH was one of the Elohim under Elyon. Elyon being the ‘most high’ of the Elohim and the ‘sky council’
Experiencing God’s will and turning out to be more similar to Christ occurs through perpetual cooperation and correspondence with Him.