Blog Archive

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Eloah, Elohim, El / God

For July, each post examines an Old Testament name of God.

Eloah, Elohim, El / God

prounounced: "el-OH-ah," "el-oh-HEEM," "ale"

The heavens declare the glory of God [El];
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
~ Psalms 19:1 (NKJV)

"Do not fear, nor be afraid ...
You are My witnesses.
Is there a God [Eloah] besides Me?
Indeed there is no other Rock;
I know not one."
~ Isaiah 44:8 (NKJV)

In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.
~ Genesis 1:1 (NKJV)

Three Hebrew names are all translated into English with the somewhat generic name "God."

The Hebrew El can also be somewhat generic. Its meaning is "mighty," and it's the same word used for a false god. When used of YHWH, its translation is sometimes "mighty" and sometimes "God." It is often used with other names—El Shaddai, El Elyon, El Olam—to emphasize the identity and might of God associated with those names. Used in combination with other names, various translations differ on which English word to use. Perhaps more important than whether El should be translated as "God" or as "Mighty" in any given context is an understanding that the name El cannot be separated from its definition "mighty."

The Hebrew Eloah is a singular masculine noun used in poetical and prophetic passages. It appears 51 times to refer to God, of which 41 occur in the book of Job (where it is two times used by God of Himself). Of the other ten uses, four times it is accompanied by the word Tsur as a name of God. Tsur means rock—not a stone such as for a sling, nor a larger building stone. This is a boulder or cliff. Think "Rock of Gibraltar." [More on that in an upcoming post.] When used outside the book of Job, Eloah appears in contexts which rebuke disobedience and idolatry, and emphasize YHWH is the one and only God to be heeded.

Elohim is plural—a majestic form of Eloah, suggested as thus a reference to the plural majesty of God. Baker & Carpenter’s Hebrew Dictionary defines that the plural form of this word may be regarded (1) as intensive to indicate God's fullness of power; (2) as majestic to indicate God's kingly rule; or (3) as an allusion to the Trinity.

Where El designates might, Elohim more clearly refers to supreme and final authority. Elohim usually refers to YHWH, but elohim is also used of earthly judges—absolute authority in the absence of a sovereign king. Elohim is also used in the Old Testament by Gentiles in contexts which evidence recognition of the supreme authority God (or the Creator God) in a polytheistic culture.

The very first words of Scripture affirm such preeminence with the words, "In the beginning, Elohim . . ."

Himself without beginning, and having within Himself the sole power to create, Elohim is the plural God who alone has a right to receive reverence and primary obedience from His intelligent creation—the supreme Authority Who seeks fellowship with children of dust.

Your feedback is appreciated. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. I am sending love and prayers your way my friend.

  2. Denise and T. Anne, I'm so glad to see you both here on a restful Sunday. You both bless me in a big way.



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