Just What, Exactly, Does the Word “Elohim”, aka God, Mean?

  • The word “God” is usually translated from the Hebrew word “Elohim”
  • By its usage in the bible, Elohim cannot mean “God”
  • The meaning of Elohim has been in our face this whole time (in my opinion),  defined at the very opening of the narrative

According to people who do this for a living, the word “Elohim” can be found, in the bible, over 2,000 times. Wow! That’s a lot.  It’s often translated as “God” and has been, practically, universally accepted as such. However, any cursory reading of the bible should raise your eyebrow, regarding that definition, if you’re a sensitive reader.  When one reads “God”, one is left thinking of this definition, found in Webster’s Dictionary.

capitalized the supreme or ultimate reality: such as
the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe
b Christian Science the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit infinite Mind

However, in addition to the creator of the heavens and earth, so too has man and thing been called Elohim, in the bible itself!  How can an animate object, even the work of man’s hands, even a figurine carved from wood or stone, be “the incorporeal divine Principle ruling”.  Clearly, it cannot. Clearly, man cannot. So, what is there to Elohim, to where man and thing can be called by that name, and it be sensible? Well, what if I told you that the meaning of the word was before our eyes this whole time? And with that meaning, it’s usage in those difficult areas become less troubling.
Elohim is first used in Genesis 1:1.

Bereishit, bara Elohim … ~ Genesis 1.1

Within that same chapter, the word is used several times, but what is this word that we’ve been introduced to?  Let’s flip the book two more page to possibly find out.

Here,  I won’t go to great lengths to recount the narrative of Adam and Eve as most are familiar with it and information about it is but a simple search away. For this purpose of this piece, I want to point out two things, the serpent’s statement and Elohim’s confirmation of that state.

As the serpent tries to convince Chava/Eve to eat of the fruit — a matter that it eventually succeeds in — the serpent says “For Elohim knows that on the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened and you shall be like Elohim, knowledgeable of good and bad”.  Folks, did we just read that! Here, the serpent is saying to be Elohim, or at least like him, thus possibly the definition of the word, is to be “knowledgeable of good and bad”. But what does this mean? We’ll return to to that a bit below.

Later, after the sin was committed, an astonishing thing happens. Elohim, himself, confirms those particular words of the serpent!

Then the Lord Elohim said, “Behold, the man has become like us, to know good and bad.” ~ Genesis 3:22

Oh wow! Can this be what it means to be Elohim? But what does it mean? I suggest, and this is speculation on my part, that it’s a matter of authority.  Adam was commanded, by Elohim, not to eat the fruit of the tree that was in the center of the garden. Here, regarding what man may eat and not eat,  Elohim made a declaration of what was good and bad. That declaration, and that declaration alone, is the deciding factor of what’s good and bad.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes … ~ Genesis 3:6

Here, Eve, herself, made an internal declaration of what was good, evening opposing her maker, by saying, to herself, that a thing was good that Elohim did not say was good for food! This is the beginning of the sin. This is the usurpation! Adam and Eve, by eating of the fruit (note: the fruit itself is not the important part, but rather the command — see upcoming post), they decided for themselves what was good and bad, encroaching on the domain Elohim. Thus, they became like Elohim, knowledgable of good and bad, or rather, perhaps, deciding what’s good and bad!

In my opinion, that is the sin! And throughout the life of this blog, as we move forward in our readings — in case you haven’t noticed, we’re going in a linear fashion, narrative by narrative, in order — we’ll discover that what is written in the bible seeks to remedy this very thing! By man’s choice, he usurped “authority” and by man’s choice, he must give deference to the true Elohim, the true knower of good and bad.

Now, we can see why man and even objects are sometimes called Elohim. Because man does practice the ability to decide what’s good and bad  (governments, hello!) and men place that power within objects too (idol worship, etc…).

Feel free to comment below. Your voice is important.

Stay tuned…

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