Meaning, origin and etymology of the name Elohim

Elohim Elohim

Elohim is one of three Divine Names by which the Creator is known as He creates. The creation account is probably the most difficult and most enigmatic passages in Scriptures. It starts at the beginning and it doesn't really end.

There are three stages upon which the creation unfolds. The first stage stretches from Gen 1:1 to 2:4. During this time God is known as Elohim. From Gen 2:4 He is known as YHWH Elohim. The third stage starts around the Noah cycle and flows over into the Abraham cycle and beyond. Abraham, after all, was the first to
believe and became not only a new creation but also the first of a new continuum of new creations. During this stage God is known as Dabar YHWH, or Word Of God. For more on this read our article on the Chaotic Set Theory

'Elohim' is a plural word, which is peculiar because God is one (Deut 6:4). The etymology is generally deemed uncertain but most likely it comes from lh ('lh 93), and perhaps from elim, the plural of el, el, the common Canaanite word for god.

As told by Joel M. Hoffman Ph.D. in his delightful and riveting book Inthe Beginning: A Short History of the Hebrew Language - read our review - the Hebrews were the first to incorporate vowels in their written text, and by doing this the previously esoteric art of writing and reading became available to the masses.

Which leaves us to a discussion of the actual meaning of el:

In TWOTOT, Professor of OT at Covenant T. Sem, R. Laird Harris Ph.D. states, "Most frequently mentioned suggestions for an original meaning are "power" or "fear" but these are widely challenged and much disputed. It
may be noted that even if the origin of the word in Canaanite or proto-Semitic is from a root meaning power, this by no means indicates the connotation in Hebrew religious usage. Our word "deity" comes from a
root in Sanskrit to mean "sky" but we do not worship a sky-god."

Though certainly much debated, this Name (still most probably) has to dowith the first God-experience that people had; awe or fear for the powers of nature. This word is used for God Himself, but also so-called gods, the wooden or stone images people worshiped. Elohim is even used to (probably) mean 'angels' and even 'judges'. Bottom line: the Name Elohim has something to do with powers: The Powers That Be; The Many

Meaning, origin and etymology of the name El

El El

El is the generally accepted shortened form of Elohim, the genus God.
The way we, here at Abarim Publications, understand it, is that the wordel was either the common Canaanite
word for god, or a specific deity named such. When the Elohimite cult was introduced in the region, the name Elohim was formed independent of the word el or name El. When the reference to the Israelite God Elohim needed to be abbreviated (to serve as an element in names, for instance), the result was a second word el or name El, which was indistinguishable from the first one.

It's probably a bit like when someone from Faroffstan named Itzenbil (means 'mighty worried but rarely frowning' in his native language) moves into your neighborhood. Soon people start calling him Bill (short for Itzenbil), which is indistinguishable from Bill (short for William) who had been your neighbor for decades.

Originally El was the name of a Canaanite god, but Biblically the name El stands to Elohim the way Bob stands to Robert.
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  • El_(god).htm
    El (deity) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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