Scholars’ View of Elohim
Scholars’ interpretations of Elohim and about the creation of man in Genesis 1 vary. The ancient Jewish philosopher Philo (Philon) insisted that “Only God knows the reason”. However, it also “reflects the human characteristics together with good and evil.” Early Christian scholars thought this referred to Christ at the creation scene.
((Mysteries of the Bible: The Enduring Questions of the Scriptures, Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, N.Y. (Publisher), P.g. 21, ISBN-10 0895772930))
Until now, Biblical scholars have explained that it means, God Himself or angels.1 They also insist it represents the Trinity, that is, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This contradiction comes from incorrectly perceiving the intrinsic meaning of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one.
Occasionally, when Elohim refers to God, in order to express God’s majesty (greatness), it also takes on the majestic plural form or an emphasized plural form. Some scholars insist the plural noun Elohim is a word from a polytheistic background.2
‘Elohim (אֱלהִים)’ is the most commonly used term when referring to God in the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew language is also the Old Testament original text. More precisely, it is a plural noun with the meaning of ‘Gods’, or ‘gods’. ‘Elohim’ is ‘Eloah (אֱלוֹהַּ)’, the singular noun form which means ‘God’, or ‘god’ with the plural form ‘im’ (ים) attached to it. Elohim appears more than 2500 times in the Old Testament original text. It is a different concept from ‘Jehovah,’ the ‘name’ of God.
Elohim’s exact etymology is unknown, although it is supposedly derived from ‘El (אֵל)’, which means ‘power and ability’.2 El, which means strength, ability, is used in reference to God as well. ‘Penuel(פְנוּאֵל)’ means ‘Face of God’. ‘Immanuel(אֵֽל עִמָּ֥נוּ)’ means ‘God is with us’. And ‘Elijah’ means ‘The LORD is God(אֵלִיָּ֨הוּ)‘. These are some examples.
The word Elohim appears from the first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1. ‘God’ in the phrase, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” is expressed as ‘Elohim’ in Hebrew. As previously mentioned, Elohim is also interpreted as ‘Gods’. Although it means God, who created the heavens and the earth, is more than one, it is an expression that turns the general common sense that God is one, upside down.
Elohim and the Enigma-Like Word ‘Us’
Reader’s Digest, a monthly magazine in the United States published a book 『Mysteries of the Bible』 and brought up the topic of the enigmatic “Us”, in Genesis. This raised a question about the scene in which God created man, described in Genesis 1.
((Mysteries of the Bible: The Enduring Questions of the Scriptures, Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, N.Y. (Publisher), ISBN-10 0895772930))
“THE CLIMAX of Genesis 1 and the heart of its mystery comes in the description of the creation of adam, the Hebrew term meaning “human being” or “humanity”… God does not say “Let there be man.” Instead he says, “Let us make man (adam) in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26)… This passage has long been a puzzle for interpreters of the Bible.”
The reason why the expressions ‘Elohim’ and ‘us’ are a mystery is that it does not correspond to the Christian faith that God is one. Surprisingly, the Bible contains many expressions such as ‘Elohim’ and ‘us’. All throughout the Bible, it is revealed that God is not one.
Let Us Make Man
From the first chapter, the Bible gives off a strong impression that God is two through God’s creations. When taking a closer look at Genesis 1:26 mentioned in 『Mysteries of the Bible』, you will discover, God is not just one.
God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” and created man and woman. In other words, God modeled humans after Themselves. As a result male and female were created. This shakes the foundation that God is just one. God being one is an inherent characteristic which is generally known about God. This is because it implies the existence of not only a male image of God but also a female image of God [[God the Mother]].
Two Gods, that is, both Gods’ existence also appears in the Babel tower incident. To the arrogant who built a skyscraper and tried to challenge God, Elohim (Gods) said, “Let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”3
The prophet Isaiah heard God’s voice seeking a prophet through a revelation. The passage also contains the word ‘us’. At that time the prophet Isaiah recorded the situation. “Then I heard the voice of the Lord… “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” “4
More than One God
The Bible is breaking the concept of God’s one-ness through the placing of words such as ‘Elohim’ and ‘us’ in many places. In particular, Genesis 1, when God is creating man, emphasizes God’s male image existence and God’s female image existence.
The concept of man is a counterpart to a woman. Man’s existence is counterevidence to a woman’s existence. It is natural for human beings, males and females including living organisms to live together in harmony. It is hard to imagine a world where there are only men and not women. The distinction between man and woman is very natural, but, the distinction between the male image God and female image God is awkward and unfamiliar. Similarly, Christianity has long had faith only to the God of the male image. However, the Bible clearly reveals the existence of two Gods; God of the male image and God of the female image.
- Mysteries of the Bible: The Enduring Questions of the Scriptures, Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, N.Y. (Publisher), P.g. 21, ISBN-10 0895772930
- Agape Bible Dictionary, Agape Seowon, ‘God’, ISBN 89-7469-396-8 01230
- Genesis 11: 1-7
- Isaiah 6:8