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WHY IS “ELOHIM” PLURAL?

WHY IS “ELOHIM” PLURAL?

We read in Gen. 1:1, “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth”. “Elohim” is  plural for “El”. Many believe that the reason that “Elohim” is plural is that it refers to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As we consider Gen. 32:24-30 we will see that “Elohim” cannot refer to the Father.  That passage records Jacob’s physical struggle with “a Man”. And then in verse 30 we read, “…. I have seen Elohim face to face and my life is preserved”. If the title “Elohim” includes three Persons, including, of course, the Father, then we have a rather glaring contradiction in the Word of God as we read in John 6:46, “Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He Which is of God. He hath seen the Father”. Jacob saw Elohim. If “Elohim” implies the three Persons of the Trinity, then Jacob would have seen the Father. But no man has ever seen the Father, except for Christ. Therein, lies the contradiction in seeing three Persons implied in the plurality of “Elohim”.

Let us also consider the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew “ruach” is the word used in the title “Holy Spirit”. The definition of “ruach” as given in the Appendix No. 9 in the Companion Bible is excellent. “The meaning of the word is to be deduced only from its usage. The one root idea running through all the passages is invisible force. As this force may be exerted in varying forms, and may be manifested in divers ways, so various renderings are necessitated, corresponding thereto. Ruach, in whatever sense it is used always represents that which is invisible except by its manifestations.”

As mentioned above, Jacob saw Elohim “face to face”. Just as Jacob could not have seen the Father, so also Jacob could not have seen the Holy Spirit, Who is invisibl

Why then is “Elohim” plural?  in order to answer that question we must understand that God has one Name in the sense that it tells us Who He is,, and that Name is “Jehovah”. Isaiah 42:8, “I am Jehovah, that is My Name…”. Please note this verse begins, “I am Jehovah”. This verse tells us much more than what God is called, which is the usual reason for a name. It is important to understand that “name” is sometimes used as the figure of speech Metonymy of Adjunct, which is defined in the Companion Bible as, “When something pertaining to the subject is put for the subject itself”. In this verse the phrase “My Name” is used as that which pertains to Jehovah, Who is the subject. “Name” is used as a figure of speech for Who God is. 

Figures of speech are used to enhance a truth. What truth is being enhanced by the use of the figure of speech in Is. 42:8? In my opinion, it is used to enhance the truth of Who God is. A definition of “Jehovah” might be helpful in making this point. Dr. Bullinger gives the following definition of the word “Jehovah” in the Companion Bible: “Jehovah means the Eternal, the Immutable One, He Who Was and IS and IS TO COME”. So when we read “I am Jehovah, that is My Name” we are reading, I am “the Eternal, the Immutable One, He Who Was and IS and IS TO COME”, that is Who I am.

If “Elohim” is not God’s name what is it?  We know that God, whose name is “Jehovah”, is spirit and as such we can know nothing of Him unless He chooses to reveal Himself, and He has done that. He has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ Who is the manifestation of Jehovah (please see the paper on this web-site Jesus Christ Is Both Jehovah And The Manifestation Of Jehovah for the Scriptural evidence). But the point is that He has revealed Himself through His various offices. With each office comes a title. His Old Testament titles include, “Elohim”, “El”. “Eloah”. Tzoor”, “Jah”, “Elyon”, Shaddai”, “Adon” and all of the ten Jehovah titles, i.e., “Jehovah-Jireh”, “Jehovah-Ropheka”, Jehovah-Nissi”. “Jehovah-MeKaddishkem”, “Jehovah-Shalom”, “Jehovah-Zebaoth”, “Jehovah-Zidkenu”, “Jehovah-Shammah”, “Jehovah-Elyon”, and “Jehovah-Roi”.

I suggest that the reason “Elohim” is plural is to indicate the fact that creation was accomplished by God in several offices. The body of this paper will quote the passages that have to do with creation and will show that creation was accomplished by God in several of His offices.

 Who Created The Heavens And The Earth?

Gen. 1:1, “In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth”.

Gen. 1:7, “And Elohim made the firmament….”.

Gen. 2:4, “These are THE GENERATIONS OF THE HEAVENS AND OF THE EARTH which they were created in the day that Jehovah Elohim made the earth and the heavens”.

Job 9:2 reads, “How shall man be just with El…?  The next 7 verses go on to say what El has done.  In verse 8 we read, “Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the seas”.

Job 38:1-6, Then Jehovah answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said………..Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth?…Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or Who laid the corner stone thereof”.

Ps. 8:1, “O Jehovah our Adonim, How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!”  In verses 3-5 we read, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers…”

Ps. 33:6, “By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made”.

Ps. 89:11-12, “The heavens are Thine, the earth also is Thine;   As for the world and the fullness thereof, Thou hast founded them.  The north and the south Thou hast created them…”. To Whom does this passage refer?  That question is answered in verse 8, which reads, “O Jehovah Elohim of hosts, Who is a strong Jah  like unto Thee?”

Ps. 95:3-7, “For Jehovah is a great El, and a great King above all gods; in His hand are the deep places of the earth; the strength of the hills is His also, the sea is His, and He made it; and His hands formed the dry land. ..O come let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before Jehovah our maker.  For He is our Elohim…”.

Ps. 90:1-2, “Adonai, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art El”.

Ps. 102:24-25, “I said, ‘O my El, take me not away in the midst of my days’: Thy years are throughout all generations.  Of old hast Thou laid the foundation of the earth” and the heavens are the work of Thy hands”.

We read in Ps. 104:5, “Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever”.  The “Who” of this verse refer back to verse 1, “Bless Jehovah (according to the Companion Bible the Hebrew reads “Jehovah Himself”) O my soul. O Jehovah my Elohim”.

Ps. 121:2, “My help cometh from Jehovah Which made heaven and earth”.  Also Ps. 124:8, “Our help is in the name of Jehovah, Who made heaven and earth”, and 134:3, “Jehovah That made heaven and earth Bless thee out of Zion”.

We read in Ps. 136:1,  “O give thanks unto Jehovah; for He is good”.  The rest of the Psalm describes that goodness, but we will limit our study of this Psalm to verses 5-9, “To Him that by wisdom made the heavens…To Him that stretch out the earth above the waters….To Him that made great lights……The sun to rule by day…..the moon and stars to rule by night”

Ps. 146:5-6, “Happy is he that hath El of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in Jehovah his Elohim, Which made heaven and earth and all that therein is”.

Is. 37:16, “O Lord of Hosts (Heb. Jehovah Sabaioth) Elohim of Israel…..Thou hast made heaven and earth”.

Is. 40:22, “It is He That sitteth upon the circle of the earth…..That stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in”. To Whom does the pronoun “He” refer in this verse?  We read in verse 18, “To Whom then will ye liken El?

Is. 40:25-28, “To Whom then will ye liken Me, or shall I be equal?  saith the Holy One……Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting Elohim, Jehovah, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not……”..

Is. 42:5, “Thus saith El Jehovah, He That created the heavens, and stretched them out; He That spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; He that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein”.

Is. 45:11-12, “Thus saith Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, …..I have made the earth and created man upon it; I even My hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded”.

Is. 45:18, “Thus saith Jehovah, that created the heavens; Elohim Himself That formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited; I amJehovah”.

Is. 48:12-13, “Hearken unto Me, O Jacob and Israel, My called, I am He: I am the first, I also am the last.  Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right had hath spanned the heavens: which I call unto them, they stand up together”.

Is. 51:13, “And forgettest Jehovah thy Maker, That hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth….”.

Jer. 10:10-12, “But Jehovah is the true Elohim, He is the living Elohim and the everlasting King…..He hath made the earth by His power, He hath established the world by His wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by His discretion”.

Jer. 27:4-5, “…..Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the Elohim of Israel…. I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me”.

Jer. 32:17, “Ah Jehovah Adonai! Behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee”.

Jer. 51:15, “He hath made the earth by His power, He hath established the world by His wisdom and hath stretched out the heaven by His understanding”. To Whom does the pronoun “He” refer?  That question is answered in the previous verse, i.e. verse 14 which reads, “Jehovah of Hosts hath sworn by Himself…”..

Zech. 12:1, “The burden of the word of Jehovah for Israel, saith Jehovah, ‘Which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him”.

Zech. 12:1, “The burden of the word of Jehovah for Israel, saith Jehovah, ‘Which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth…”

Who Created The Sun, The Moon And The Stars?

Gen. 1:16, “And Elohim made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also”.

Ps. 8:1, “O Jehovah our Adonim, How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!”  In verses 3-5 we read, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained;….. what is man that Thou art mindful of him…..for Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels”.

Ps. 33:6, “By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth”.

We read in Ps. 136:1,  “O give thanks unto Jehovah; for He is good”.  The rest of the Psalm describes that goodness, but we will limit our study of this Psalm to verses 5-9, “To Him that by wisdom made the heavens…To Him that stretch out the earth above the waters….To Him that made great lights……The sun to rule by day…..the moon and stars to rule by night”.

Who Created Man?

Gen. 1:26, “And Elohim said, ‘Let Us make man in our image, after Our likeness…”.

Gen. 1:27, “So Elohim created man in His own image…”.

Gen. 5:1, “This is THE BOOK OF THE GENERATIONS OF ADAM.  In the day that Elohim created man, in the likeness of Elohim made He him”.

Gen. 6:6, “And it repented Jehovah that He had made man on the earth…”.

Gen. 6:7, “…..And Jehovah said I will destroy man whom I have created…”

Job 10:2, “I will say unto Eloah….”.  Then in verse 8 we read, “Thine hands (Eloah) hath made me and fashioned me round about….”.

Job 31:14-15, “What then shall I do when El riseth up? ……Did not He That made me in the womb make them, and did not One fashion us in the womb?”.

Ps. 8:1, “O Jehovah our Adonim, How excellent is Thy name in all the earth!”  In verse 5 we read, “what is man that Thou art mindful of him…..for Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels”.

Ps. 95:3-7, “For Jehovah is a great El, and a great King above all gods……… let us kneel beforeJehovah our maker.  For He is our Elohim…”.

Is. 43:7, “Even every one that is called by My name; for I have created him for My glory, I have formed him, yea I have made him”. To determine Who is the speaker in this verse we must go to verse 3, which reads, “I am Jehovah, thy Elohim, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour…”.

 Is. 44:2, “Thus saith Jehovah That made thee and formed thee from the womb….”.

Is. 45:11, “Thus saith Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, …..I have made the earth and created man upon it”.

Is. 49:5, “And now saith Jehovah that formed Me from the womb….”.

Is. 51:13, “And forgettest Jehovah thy Maker…”.

Jer. 27:4-5, “…..Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the Elohim of Israel…. I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me”.

 Who Breathed Into Adam’s Nostrils”

Gen. 2:7, “And Jehovah Elohim  formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into the nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul”.

Job 33:4, “The Spirit of El hath made me, and the breath of THE ALMIGHT (Heb. Shaddai) hath given me life.”

Zech. 12:1, “The burden of the word of Jehovah for Israel, saith Jehovah, ‘Which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him”.

Who Created The Beasts Of The Field?

Gen. 1:25, “And Elohim made the beast of the earth….”.

Jer. 27:4-5, “…..Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the Elohim of Israel…. I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto Me”.

CONCLUSION

Where we read that Elohim has created, we also read that Jehovah, El, Eloah, Jah, Shaddai, Adonim, Adonia, Sabaioth and the Holy One have created. These are obviously not ten different Creators, they are titles of the One God, Whose name is Jehovah.

This paper was written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond please e-mail me at: janjoyce@aol.com

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