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Elohim different views

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  • Elohim different views

    Here is one explanation of elohim.

    The ending “im” is really the Hebrew “YM” (yod-mem), and makes the word plural. The Hebrew root “EL” means “strength”, and is understood to be rendered plural by the ending “YM”. Since YHWH is ONE, this often confuses people. The root “EL” is not being used as a name, but is used descriptively as “WHAT” He is. Since the term “EL” means strength, it is really the “strengths” that are many, not the Being. If we only define the word “EL” as “mighty-one”, then we can lose our focus on the root idea very easily. The strengths are really what are plural.
    This explanation does not address the issue when elohim is used in the Bible where it does not refer to God.

    Here is another explanation of elohim which better understands the biblical worldview concerning the spiritual world.

    Psalm 82:1 ESV elohim
    A Psalm of Asaph.
    God (elohim) has taken his place in the divine council;
    in the midst of the gods (elohim) he holds judgment:

    These following English versions are where the second use of the Hebrew word “elohim” avoids translating elohim as gods or divine beings. These English versions are taking liberty with the text so as not to provide a reading that suggests there are divine beings (translated gods) other than God.

    ICB, TLB, MSG, NASB (rulers), NIRV, NLV (rulers), TPT (judge and ruler), VOICE (so called gods), YLT (God hath stood in the company of God, In the midst God doth judge.)

    Most other English versions use “gods” or “divine beings” to translate elohim. The use in English of God or gods is also misleading translation of elohim. To translate elohim as “gods” or even as “divine beings” reveals to the English reader there are many gods as in paganism. However, the class of spiritual beings referred to in Hebrew as elohim includes created spiritual beings as well as God the Most High Creator. All are spiritual beings are elohim.

    For any but those who have become aware of the biblical meaning of elohim from Hebrew, translating elohim alternatively as God or gods is confusing. It would be expedient if there were an English translation which translated this Hebrew word with the transliteration of the Hebrew (elohim). When elohim refers to God let it be translated Elohim and when referring to the category of spiritual beings let the translation be elohim. In each case the reader would be able to consult the introduction to explain the difference between ELOHIM and elohim. Familiarity would allow the regular Bible reader to recognize the differences just as they do with in many English versions which use LORD for YHWH and Lord when the meaning is “lord.”

    I have Michael S. Heiser to thank for this clarity on the meaning of elohim.

  • #2
    In the above post there is the suggestion to transliterate the OT word “elohim” rather then translate it because the translations are misleading. What follows is another case.

    The Hebrew word Lucifer appears as a transliteration in a few English versions.
    Generally it is translated by all other versions. This word appears only in Isaiah 14:12.

    Isaiah 14:12 KJV
    How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

    Only the following versions use the transliteration of the Hebrew word, therefore rendering the Hebrew as Lucifer instead of the meaning in Hebrew of: day star, star of the morning, morning star, or shinning one.

    Only these versions interpret the Hebrew word as a proper noun.

    KJV (original 1611 using the 1987 printing)
    NKJV (original 1611 updated 1982)
    KJ21 (original 1611 revised 1994)
    BRG (2012 Textus Receptus),
    DARBY (1890),
    DRA (English translation of the Latin vulgate. 1899 edition but first translated in 1582 in Rheims and in 1609 in Douai),
    JUB (2000)
    TLB (1971)
    MEV (2014 Textus Receptus and the Jacob ben Hayyim edition of the Masoretic Text, using the King James Version as the base manuscript.)
    WYC (originally translated in 1382. The KJV used the earlier versions of the WYC as a guide.)

    Which is preferred?


    • #3
      Back to ELOHIM for other thoughts

      Psalm 82:1 God and gods?
      What does this Hebrew word mean?

      The Good News Translation provides an accurate English translation of the Hebrew word in question as does the GNV.

      God presides in the heavenly council; in the assembly of the gods he gives his decision:

      A Psalm committeth to Aspah. God standeth in the assembly of gods: he judgeth among gods.

      The Hebrew text uses the same word, elohim, which is translated in the GNT and GNV as God and gods.
      This is how the majority of English versions translate elohim in Psalm 82:1.
      From this verse would you think there are many gods?

      To avoid letting the text reveal the idea that there are many gods as is indicated in many English translations, the following English versions have made a theological decision, not a translation decision, to have the English version support the theological idea of one god.
      The underlined words are the English “translation” of the Hebrew word elohim.

      Translations using rulers or leaders
      God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers.
      A psalm of Asaph. God takes his place at the head of a large gathering of leaders. He announces his decisions among them.
      God takes His stand in the great meeting of His people. He judges among the rulers.
      Asaph’s poetic song All rise! For God now comes to judge as he convenes heaven’s courtroom. He judges every judge and rules over every ruler, saying,

      Translations using company of God.
      -- A Psalm of Asaph. God hath stood in the company of God (El), In the midst God doth judge

      Translations using heavenly or divine beings
      A Psalm of Asaph God takes his stand in the divine assembly; among the divine beings he renders judgment:
      A psalm of Asaph. God presides over heaven’s court; he pronounces judgment on the heavenly beings:

      Translations using a transliteration of the Hebrew word translated as God and gods.
      A psalm of Asaf: Elohim [God] stands in the divine assembly; there with the elohim [judges], he judges:
      (Mizmor of Asaph.) Elohim standeth in the Adat El; He judgeth among the elohim [See Ps 82:6 and Yn 10:34].

      The Hebrew word elohim has the form of the Hebrew masculine plural ending, but may be understood in the similar way sheep, deer, fish, or aircraft are both singular and plural in English usage. In these cases for the English word it is the verb or modifiers which determine if the noun is plural or singular.
      The sheep is lost. How many sheep? One.
      The sheep are lost. How many sheep? Two or more.
      In Hebrew it is the verb which functions to determine if elohim is singular or plural.

      Further confusing the reader of English versions is the translation of more than one Hebrew word as God or gods.

      By always using the same English word to translate elohim when referring to God and another when referring to gods would aid in understanding the text. Fortunately, for the names of God in the Bible there is the NOG English version which uses the transliteration of the Hebrew for Elohim when it means God and translates elohim as gods when it does not. Many English translations use Lord or Jehovah to translate YHWH and God to translate elohim when referring to YHWH but are inconsistent in translating elohim when it does not refer to God. Not all translation issues are so simple.

      The ISV and NLV translations are adequate in communicating the ideas of Psalm 82:1 correctly. Here are some options for Psalm 82:1 that help in a correct understanding of the Hebrew word elohim.

      The Divine stands in the assembly of the divinities: he judges among the divinities.

      The Supreme Heavenly Being stands in the assembly of the heavenly beings: he judges among the heavenly beings.

      The English version one chooses is very important if the Bible is used for study and not just casual reading. Even the well attested to NASB, as a faithful literal translation, allows theology to override the literal meaning of the text. In all popular English versions, allowing other factors than what the text means is far more common than one would wish. Bible study ought to start with a word for word comparison of several English versions if one cannot read the Greek or Hebrew texts.
      Last edited by glen smith; April 10, 2018, 03:24 AM.


      • #4
        Glen B Smith <[email protected]>
        To:Lou Newton

        Jan 11 at 11:36 PM
        After reading the posting on keeping the Sabbath I thought I would send this to you since it is about the first commandment. You might not wish to post this on the forum because I don't think it would be meaningful or helpful o your active members. If you post it, it might be placed under word studies and my postings on Elohim. I don't think any would read it there. First Commandment; What does it reveal and not reveal?

        Exodus 20:3 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
        3 Do not have other gods besides Me.

        The English translations of first Commandments does not read:

        You shall have no false gods besides me.

        You shall have no idols or graven images besides me. (second commandment)

        There are no other gods besides me.

        The first commandment in the English translations assumes the reality that there are other gods because it admonishes Israel to have no other gods before YHWH.

        The same assumption is found in Jeremiah 35:15 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB).

        15 Time and time again I have sent you all My servants the prophets, proclaiming: Turn, each one from his evil way of life, and correct your actions. Stop following other gods to serve them. Live in the land that I gave you and your ancestors. But you would not pay attention or obey Me.

        And again in Deuteronomy 6:14 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

        14 Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you,

        For the most part the modern, English reading Christians believe in monotheism, * i.e. there is only one God. Because of this belief the biblical references to gods are usually delegated to mean idols or demon powers. The theological confusion derives from the English translations. English versions translate the Hebrew elohim as either God or gods depending if elohim refers to the God of Israel or to foreign gods, and the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHWH is translated as Lord (all caps). By inserting the Hebrew transliteration for these words in the passage the Hebrew text offers other explanations.

        Exodus 20:2-4 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

        2 I am the Lord (YHWH) your God (Elohim), who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
        3 Do not have other gods (elohim) besides Me.
        4 Do not make an idol (graven image) for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.

        With this information it is determined that the elohim of Israel is YHWH and no other elohim are to be worshipped (beside or before YHWH). This passage and others do not deny that there are other elohim besides YHWH but confirms there are other elohim. The English readers problem for correctly understanding the biblical text originates with the use of God or gods to translate elohim. This directly defies the English modern idea of monotheism. A biblical study will reveal that the Hebrew word Elohim does not mean God or gods but to beings not limited by the physical creation, i.e. spiritual beings. Inserting spiritual being(s) for elohim in Exodus 20:2-4 aids in seeing what is actually revealed.

        2 I am the Lord (YHWH) your God (spiritual being), who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
        3 Do not have other gods (spiritual beings) besides Me.
        4 Do not make an idol (graven image) for yourself, whether in the shape of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters under the earth.

        Israel has a conflict with worshipping YHWH who is the only God and worshipping other spiritual beings who are not gods.



        The English word monotheism is a modern word; it was coined in the 17th century. And it’s a contrast word to atheism, the belief that there is no god, and to polytheism, the belief that there are many gods. Monotheism is often understood as one god with a denial of the existence of other deities.