Saturday, November 1, 2014

Is "Elohim" a Plurality?

The Term 'Elohim' is used for many objects in the Hebrew Scriptures- i.e. human rulers and judges, heathen deities and for the Supreme Deity or His Council. The term is generic and is used in both plural and singular forms.
Elohim, when referring to God is distinctly used in a singular sense and literally means "Supreme Deity" or "Greatest Deity". I'll explain grammatically below.


The Grammar of El

The word El derives from the Canaanite El or Al that at one time referred to their primary deity's NAME perhaps even a few thousand years prior to Abraham. The covenant of Israel with one sole Creator deity was a radical departure to the ancient Mesopotamian world's pantheon of deities. And like Christianity and Islam have done to Judaism’s terms, the Torah uses some of the same words but imparted new meaning upon them to fit their paradigm. There is little doubt that the Torah redefined words already known, to have new applications for this radical new monotheistic religion that has only one incorporeal God or El. By the  time of the writing of the Torah, the word EL had already been used in their language as the word for 'deity' rather like the English word 'god' means deity. Jewish law is clear, it permits and commands worship of only one El. This is what distinguished Abraham’s covenant of faith with all other nations of that era. It was a faith based upon a covenant with one God who is alone. The name of the EL of Klal Yisrael was established when Moses asked and God answered, YHVH. The covenant of Israel is and remains exclusive to this El..this Elohim, the Supreme and indivisible monotheistic deity. The covenant at Sinai reestablished the dedication of Israel as a people exclusive to this God along with the knowledge this sole Creator is never exclusive to the covenant nation. Our English word God has a very similar path to meaning of deity. The ancient Visgoth's, a Germanic people worshipped Gott as their 'primary' deity. Gott became a synonym for deity, and then became the word God for English speakers. In German, the word Gott still means God. When a German speaking person today prays to Gott or an English speaking person addresses a prayer to God we are no more praying to that now obscure Visgoth deity than the ancient Hebrews of the covenant of Israel were praying to the Sumerian deity or to any pantheon of Canaanite deities. From the time of Abraham onward, the defining nature of the covenant of Israel was that it became and remained dedicated to one El, meaning 'one God', exclusively.

Eloh-IM as a Singularity
In Hebrew grammar the suffix 'IM' denotes EITHER plurality OR Importance. If one is to determine if a NOUN is a singular or plural with the suffix IM, the use in the Torah shows us whether or not it is a singular noun or a plural noun. Meaning, if it refers to more than one thing or just one thing alone.
There are other Hebrew words that end in IM when it does not refer to a plurality (i.e. chayim/life, panim/face for instance).

Hebrew grammar can appear odd to English speakers, in that a suffix that can denote plurality may also be used to impart great importance to the noun.

In every single instance that Elohim is used in the Torah to refer to God, the verb use is singular. Elohim as a title for God as the "Supreme Deity" over all their idolatrous neighbor's false gods, no more refers to a plurality than saying "Supreme Deity " means many deities.