Names of God: Elohim (Our Creator)

Tonight we are beginning our study of Joanne Ellison’s His Great Name. We will be working through Chapter 1 “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and Chapter 2 “Elohim.”  If you do not yet have a copy of the book, I will have three extra on Tuesday.  As we read through Ellison’s book an interesting resource you may want to access is Biblegateway’s “Names of God” version of the bible.  This version is very similar to the NIV but it does not translate the different names of God.  The link is HERE.

The first name of God that we encounter in Scripture is “Elohim” – “In the Beginning, Elohim created . . .” Genesis 1:1a.  The word “Elohim” is generally thought to derive from the word “el” or “eloah” which is the Semitic word for “mighty” and is the generic biblical Hebrew term for “god.” For example, the first line in Psalm 29 in the 1979 BCP is “Ascribe to the LORD, you gods” whereas the KJV reads “Give unto the LORD, you mighty ones.”  The word could also derive from the Hebrew word “alah” or “to swear or take an oath” as in a covenant. However, even this alternative etymology has the sense of power and authority to act.  (As an aside, “Elohim” becomes “Allah” when translated into Arabic.) 

The odd characteristic about the word “Elohim” is that the word is plural.  In Hebrew, a word is made plural by adding the suffix “-im.” One chrub, two chrubim.  In the first line from Psalm 21 above, the Hebrew which is translated as “gods” or “mighty ones” is “el-im.”  Although the word is technically plural, as a name for God the word is only accompanied by singular verb forms and pronouns. Therefore, although the word is plural it is only used as a grammatical singular.  The reason for the plural form is left to speculation.  The general understanding is the plural is similar to the “royal we” to denote God’s majesty. 

Dinner is at 6. The menu is ham, collards, black-eyed and Sea Island red peas and cornbread. Discussion about 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here. Please come even if you haven’t completed the readings.

   I will ask Elohim, my rock,
      “Why have you forgotten me?
          Why must I walk around in mourning
            while the enemy oppresses me?”
   With a shattering blow to my bones,
       my enemies taunt me.
          They ask me all day long, “Where is your Elohim?”
    Why are you discouraged, my soul?
        Why are you so restless?
           Put your hope in Elohim,
              because I will still praise him.
                He is my savior and my Elohim.

Psalm 42:9-11(NOG)

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