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Old 01-02-2001, 08:48 PM   #1
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Post Elohim?

How often is "god" referred to in the OT as "Elohim"? Doesn't that mean "the gods" (plural) or "King of the gods" (again plural)?

Just curious.
 
Old 01-02-2001, 09:11 PM   #2
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Elohim can mean both the plural "gods" (as the English rendered suffix "im" roughly translates as the plural for Hebrew nouns. Thus El (god) becomes Elohim (gods). But in the case when it is referring to YHWH, the Hebrew God, it is meant to show God in his majesty.

From Jews for Judaism (click on search, and type in "Elohim"):

"The use of the plural for such a purpose is not limited merely to 'Elohim, but also applies to other words of profound significance. For instance, Isaiah 19:4 uses 'adonim ("lords") instead of 'adon ("lord"): "Into the hand of a cruel lord" (literally "lords," even though referring to one person), and Exodus 21:29: "Its owner [literally, be'alav, "its owners"] also shall be put to death." 'Elohim means "gods" only when the Scriptures apply this plural word to the pagan deities. The pagan Philistines applied the title 'elohim to their god Dagon (Judges 16:23-24, 1 Samuel 5:7). The Moabites, likewise, used the word 'elohim to describe their god Chemosh (Judges 11:24). That the plural form of 'Elohim does not at all imply a plurality of gods is a fact attested to by the ancient Greek version of the Scriptures, the Septuagint, which renders 'Elohim with the singular title ho Theos ("the God")."

Christianity has maintained the same tradition, and we do not see this particular word as a proof text of the Trinity for example (it may be helpful to think of kings and queens that will often be seen referring to themselves in an imperial "we").

From The NET Bible, Note 2 from Genesis 1:1:

"2sn God. This frequently used Hebrew name for God (a$Oh!< [<yh!Oa$])(Note, the Hebrew font does not post on interet discussion boards) is a plural form. When it refers to the one true God, the singular verb is normally used, as here. The plural form indicates majesty; the name stresses God's sovereignty and incomparability-he is the "God of gods."

And from Blue Letter Bible/Strong's Concordance:

0430 'elohiym {el-o-heem'}

AV - God 2346, god 244, judge 5, GOD 1, goddess 2, great 2, mighty 2,
angels 1, exceeding 1, God-ward + 04136 1, godly 1; 2606

1) (plural)
1a) rulers, judges
1b) divine ones
1c) angels
1d) gods
2) (plural intensive - singular meaning)
2a) god, goddess
2b) godlike one
2c) works or special possessions of God
2d) the (true) God
2e) God


Hope this isn't more than you are looking for, but all three sites can be very good sources for Hebrew and Aramaic, and in the case of the latter two sites for Greek as well.

Peace,

Nomad

[This message has been edited by Nomad (edited January 02, 2001).]
 
Old 01-02-2001, 09:52 PM   #3
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Is the plural intensifier seen in secular literature of the same era, or is such a construction unique to the OT?
 
Old 01-03-2001, 08:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SingleDad:
Is the plural intensifier seen in secular literature of the same era, or is such a construction unique to the OT?</font>
We don't really have "secular" documents from the similar era (since the documents we have like the Talmud. But so far as I am aware the answer is yes, the suffix for the plural has not changed for the Hebrew language from antiquity to today (the Jews for Judaism site has Rabbis you can write to directly if you would like to confirm this 100%).

Hope this helps.

Nomad
 
Old 01-03-2001, 09:10 AM   #5
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What I mean is, do we have examples of the plural form being used as the intensifier of the singular in non-biblical documents, or are you inferring this usage from the fact that the bible uses a plural form to refer to the god?
 
Old 01-03-2001, 10:15 AM   #6
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As far as I know, the imperial or royal "we" didn't come into usage until after Biblical times and the custom had no roots in the Bible or Christianity. I may be wrong. Can anyone elaborate?

Likely, this is a remnant of pre-Jehovah pantheism (most of the incidents of God being plural in the OT were in Genesis, which has major borrowings from other Mid-East creation myths).
 
Old 01-03-2001, 10:17 AM   #7
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Originally posted by Christopher:

Likely, this is a remnant of pre-Jehovah pantheism (most of the incidents of God being plural in the OT were in Genesis, which has major borrowings from other Mid-East creation myths).

This raises an interesting question: what terms is used in the NT when Jesus refers to god? Plural? Singular?

-Pompous Bastard

 
Old 01-03-2001, 11:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by SingleDad:
What I mean is, do we have examples of the plural form being used as the intensifier of the singular in non-biblical documents, or are you inferring this usage from the fact that the bible uses a plural form to refer to the god?</font>
The Talmud is a non-Bibical source (typically dealing with questions on Biblical interpretation and hermeneutics), and what I was inferring is that if you want to get a better understanding of the Hebrew language and plural suffixes, I think you need to ask a Jew. I really do think your best bet would be to either write one of the Rabbis directly or pick up a Hebrew lingustics book.

Nomad
 
Old 01-03-2001, 11:06 AM   #9
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Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Pompous Bastard:

This raises an interesting question: what terms is used in the NT when Jesus refers to god? Plural? Singular?</font>
The word in Greek (the language in which the New Testament was written) is theos, and it is both singular and plural.

Nomad
 
Old 01-03-2001, 12:28 PM   #10
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What I'm looking for is a source not relating to the bible. Like some jewish guy writing home saying, "The Governor's palace(s) is huge!"

I'm trying to distinguish the decision to interpret the literal text,
"In the beginning, the king of the gods created heaven and the earth", to make it monotheistic by introducing the plural intensifier, or if the use of the plural intensifier was commonplace in non-biblical writings of the time.

Yes I know that judaism and christianity are monotheistic religions and that's been the interpretation for thousands of years, but I want to know if that interpretation was added to the text later or is skeptically deducible from non-theistic contemporary writing.
 
 

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