Ancient Hebrew Gods or Elohim of the Old Testament in the Bible
The Bible is a misleading authority in regards to the ancient Hebrew gods or elohim. They are mentioned therein around 2,000 times, but nearly all translators and biblical commentators—for nearly 2,000 years—have mistakenly, or intentionally, chosen, in almost every instance, to convert them into a singular “God” or combination of so-called “divine names” that implies that one Hebrew god rules the universe.
You can verify the plurality of the Hebrew god by checking any Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, or The Criticism and the Verdict of the Monuments where Oxford professor of Assyriology A. H. Sayce also verified their plurality. In his learned and courageous declaration, he openly maintained:
Elohim is a plural noun, and its employment in the Old Testament as a singular has given rise to a large amount of learned discussion, and, it must also be added, of a learned want of common sense. Grammarians have been in the habit of evading the difficulty by describing it as a “pluralis majestatis,” “a plural of majesty,” or something similar, as if a term in common use which was grammatically a plural could ever have come to be treated as a singular, unless this singular had once been a plural. We can construe the word “means” with a singular verb, but nevertheless there was once a time when “means” was a plural noun.
We may take it for granted, therefore, that if the Hebrew word Elohim had not once signified the plural “gods,” it would never have been given a plural form, and the best proof of this is the fact that in several passages of the Old Testament the word is still used in a plural sense. Indeed there are one or two passages, as for example Gen. i. 26, where the word, although referring to the God of Israel, is yet employed with a plural verb, much to the bewilderment of the Jewish rabbis and the Christian commentators who followed them. It is strange how preconceived theories will cause the best scholars to close their eyes to obvious facts.
The Israelites were a Semitic people, and their history down to the age of the Exile is the history of a perpetual tendency toward polytheism. Priest and prophet might exhort and denounce, and kings might attempt to reform, but the mass of the people remained wedded to a belief in many gods. Even the most devoted adherents of the supreme God of Israel sometimes admitted that he was but supreme among other gods, and David himself, the friend of seers and prophets, complains that he had been driven out of “the inheritance of Yahveh” and told to go and “serve other gods” (1 Sam. xxvi. 19). What can be plainer than the existence of a persistent polytheism among the bulk of the people, and the inevitable traces of polytheism that were left upon the language and possibly the thoughts of the enlightened few?
Yahveh, or Yahweh, was one of only several Hebrew gods—as Sayce has just pointed out—that the ancient Jews (one tribe of the Hebrews) worshiped. The Hebrew god El (the singular form of elohim) is another. The horns on this god, and others, denote power, and a representation of him is carved into a stone monument from Ras Shamra and illustrated below. Exodus 34:14 even specifically names one of the Hebrew gods, “whose name is jealous,” and says he “is a jealous God.” Of what he is jealous, we do not know. Baal, another Semitic god from Ras Shamra, is also cut into non-flammable stone, as a durable witness for posterity, and reproduced below.
Stone memorials of an enthroned singular Hebrew god El (left)
& the horned Semitic god Baal (right) at Ras Shamra
Nevertheless, in opposition to the popular monotheistic notion that Jews and Christians entertain today—of one almighty God of Israel always ruling everything—then and now—stands even more historical evidence that shows this notion originally emerged from an earlier age ruled by several gods.
Monotheism (a belief in only one God) sprang forth from polytheism (the worship of many gods) at a relatively recent time in human history, and it progressed slowly, and only began to flourish several centuries after the time of Christ. It developed from the later Hebrew worship of a sole God, Yahweh—as, in The Religious Teachings of the Old Testament, Albert C. Knudson, a professor in the Boston University School of Theology, so aptly pointed out:
"The sole godhead of Yahweh was a truth that was only gradually attained. The different steps in this development may be distinguished with a fair degree of clearness. We begin with the Mosaic age. It was to Moses, as we have seen, that the establishment of Yahweh-worship was due. Previous to his time the Israelites seem to have been polytheists. On one of the cuneiform tablets discovered by Winckler at Boghazkj and belonging to the pre-Mosaic age we read of “the gods” of the Habiri[i] or Hebrews, and in Josh. 24.2, 14f. and Ezek. 20.7f., 24 we are told that both in Mesopotamia and Egypt the Israelites worshipped other gods. The very name “Yahweh” also points in the same direction. The manifest purpose of such a name was to distinguish the god of Israel from other gods. If the Hebrews had not believed in the existence of other deities, there would have been no need of giving a personal name to the Divine Being through whom they were delivered from Egypt. He would have been to them simply God.
"Then, too, it is a significant fact that the common Hebrew word for “God,” Elohim, is plural in form. This plural, it is often said, was not numerical, but simply enhancive of the idea of might, a plural majesty. And this was no doubt to a large extent true of later usage. But originally the plural form must have had a polytheistic background. People could have begun to use the plural “gods” to express the idea of divinity only at a time when they believed in the existence of a plurality of divine beings. This is illustrated by the Greek use of theoi and the Latin use of dei. The plural, Elohim, points, then, back to an earlier polytheistic stage of belief. And this stage we naturally locate in the pre-Mosaic period.
"What Moses did was to put monolatry in place of the earlier polytheism. He did not deny the existence of other gods, but proclaimed Yahweh as the sole god of Israel. He did not say that there was but one God, but insisted that it was Israel’s duty to have but one God. But while he thus did not teach monotheism [like the wayward do now], the monolatry he established was an important step in that direction."
In fact, The Emphasized Bible even goes so far as to translate Amos 5:26 thus: “But ye carried the tent of your king-idol, and your Saturn-images—the star of your gods, which ye made for yourselves.” This is a more accurate translation than that in the King James Bible—wherein the Hebrew word used for “God” is actually elohim, which once again, should be translated “gods,” just as the Emphasized Bible translates it. Apparently its translators saw no great danger in rendering elohim as a divine plural in this particular instance. But, like the thousands of times in the King James Translation, and in other translations as well, the translators apparently thought it was safer and wiser if the naive flock would read just “God,” so that the greatest deception of two millennium—that is, that there is but one (Hebrew) God ruling this infinite universe—could be effectively propagated to future generations for perhaps another thousand years. It is time for religious shepherds to teach their naive flocks the truth for a change.
[i] See our article relating to this type of arbitrary spelling by clicking: Ancient Hebrew
The Holy Bible: Amended King James Version, put out by the Philadelphia Publishing Association, one of many versions of the bible that we have on hand, points to another problem with the translation of the Hebrew gods in the our Bibles. In its introduction, speaking of the Hebrew god "Yahweh," this version points out that "this name is erroneously rendered Jehovah in Ps. 83:18 and elsewhere in the King James Version, which also inconsistently substitutes the titles ''God'' and ''Lord'' in its place nearly 7000 times. The only indication given the reader that these words refer to Yahweh, is that the first letter of each word is printed with a large capital, while the last letters are printed with small capitals—a distinction many do not notice. In this amended version of the King James Bible, the titles of God and Lord are translated, but the name is transliterated. Accordingly, Yahweh, the Hebrew pronunciation of the divine name, is carried over into the English vocabulary, but the Hebrew titles elohim, el, adonai, and adon, are translated into their English equivalents: gods, god, lords, and lord, respectively." King James translators, along with the others down through history, did a fantastic job of covering up divinities of the Bible with simply the word "God." With reference to A. H. Sayce's comment about the elohim or Hebrew gods being described as "a plural of majesty," here is a typical explanation, by a Jewish spin doctor, in the following piece of religious propaganda: In a 1940 edition of THE PENTATEUCH AND HAFTORAHS, Hebrew Text, English Translation and Commentary Edited By THE CHIEF RABBI (Dr. J. H. Hertz), he explained the word "God" after "In the beginning," the first words in the Bible, as follows: "God. Heb. Elohim. The existence of the Deity is throughout Scripture assumed: it is not a matter for argument or doubt. Elohim is the general designation of the Divine Being in the Bible, as the fountain and source of all things. Elohim is a plural form, which is often used in Hebrew to denote plenitude of might. Here it indicates that God comprehends and unifies all the forces of eternity and infinity." "That God comprehends and unifies all the forces of eternity and infinity" is certainly true, but the God of our infinite universe is hardly the jealous deity that found refuge between the Hebrew cherubim on Moses's Ark (Arc) of the Covenant. And, of course, we all know what happens when we "assume," it makes an ass out of you and me; but yet Dr. Hertz claims "it is not a matter for argument or doubt." There's nothing like speaking with a forked tongue, or talking out of both sides of one's mouth at the same time. This is the essence of modern-day "spin," and this Jewish spin doctor would put Doctor Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, to unabashed shame! Just think of how much more truth we would know and peaceful this world would be if self-ordained wisemen had not been allowed to meet religious fools and teach them lies. The devastating results of some are still being witnessed today, in such examples as the destruction of the World Trade Center!Ark of the Covenant.
This page was last modified on Tuesday, January 19, 2016