Elohim

🏷  Bible name Genesis divine name hidden ruler pun · name   —   by Gerry · Aug 2020 · 955 words

The main Biblical name of God, Elohim, written אלהים ˀlhym Elohim is actually a plural, which also means “the rulers”. Singular forms like El or Allah can likewise mean “mighty one” or “ruler”.

Semitic El & Elohim for “gods” & “rulers”

The Semitic term אל ˀl El, plural אלהים ˀlhym Elohim, means “god” & “gods”, but also “lord” & “lords”. It is used for both gods & human lords. Equating gods & aristocrats was not uncommon in ancient pre-classical times: The Egyptian term Netjer was also used for both gods & high-level aristocrats.

Hebrew ˀl = God, god, ruler; ˀlhym = God, gods, rulers

אל el : God, god, gods, mighty, Mighty One, power, strong; applied to men of might and rank — Old Hebrew (Strong)

אלהים ˀlhym : God, god, gods; divine being; great, judges, mighty, rulers; Plural of ’elowahh; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates — Old Hebrew (Strong)

אלוהים ˀlwhym : the Almighty God of Israel; rulers, judges; divine ones; angels; gods, deities — Hebrew (Wikt)

Elohim as “rulers”

Elohim doesn’t merely mean “ruler”, but even “rulers”, in plural. This worked well in the old languages where rulers were gods anyway, but produced headaches for translators of later versions.

There’s one particularly odd sentence in Psalms 82:1:

Just a few verses later in Psalms 82:6, even NASB translates as “gods”, yet gods who will “die like men”. So they’re beings with self-proclaimed god-like power, who’ll still die like men. I think we know that sort.

A Psalm of Asaph. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

KJV Psalms 82:1

A Psalm of Asaph. God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers.

NASB Psalms 82:1

mzmwr lˀsp ˀlhym nṣb bˁdt ˀl bqrb ˀlhym yšpṭ

מזמור לאסף אלהים נצב בעדת אל בקרב אלהים ישפט

TNK Psalms 82:1

I said, You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High.

NASB Psalms 82:6

I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

KJV Psalms 82:6

ˀny ˀmrty ˀlhym ˀtm wbny ˁlywn klkm

אני אמרתי אלהים אתם ובני עליון כלכם

TNK Psalms 82:6

Elohim as “judges”

There’s also a range of verses in Exodus 21, where translators couldn’t decide whether Elohim means “God” or “the rulers”. Here, KJV translated Elohim as “the judges”, NASB & ESV translate as “God”. Obviously, Elohim can mean both.

If the verses are encoded spook law, the original text was probably written ambiguous on purpose.

then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.

NASB Exodus 21:6

Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.

TNK Exodus 21:6

whgyšw ˀdnyw ˀl hˀlhym whgyšw ˀl hdlt ˀw ˀl hmzwzh wrṣˁ ˀdnyw ˀt ˀznw bmrṣˁ wˁbdw lˁlm

והגישו אדניו אל האלהים והגישו אל הדלת או אל המזוזה ורצע אדניו את אזנו במרצע ועבדו לעלם

TNK Exodus 21:6

If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property.

ESV Exodus 22:8

If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor’s property.

NASB Exodus 22:8

If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, to see whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods.

KJV Exodus 22:8

ˀm lˀ ymṣˀ hgnb wnqrb bˁl hbyt ˀl hˀlhym ˀm lˀ šlḥ ydw bmlˀkt rˁhw

אם לא ימצא הגנב ונקרב בעל הבית אל האלהים אם לא שלח ידו במלאכת רעהו

TNK Exodus 22:8

El & Elim as “rulers”

There are several Bible verses where human rulers are called El or Elim, which are variants of the same word root. For example, Nebuchadnezzar is called an El in Ezekiel 31:11, here written איל ˀyl.

I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness.

wˀtnhw byd ˀyl gwym ˁšw yˁšh lw kršˁw gršthw

ואתנהו ביד איל גוים עשו יעשה לו כרשעו גרשתהו

Ezekiel 31:11

Job 41:25 calls rulers Elim, which seems to be a “simple” form of Elohim.

When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.

mštw ygwrw ˀlym mšbrym ytḥṭˀw

משתו יגורו אלים משברים יתחטאו

Job 41:25

In the parallelism in Exodus 15:15, Edom’s rulers are called Alpha, Moab’s rulers are called Eli.

Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.

ˀz nbhlw ˀlwpy ˀdwm ˀyly mwˀb yˀḥzmw rˁd nmgw kl yšby knˁn

אז נבהלו אלופי אדום אילי מואב יאחזמו רעד נמגו כל ישבי כנען

Exodus 15:15

🏷  Bible name Genesis divine name hidden ruler pun · name