Archive for category The LORD
Wasn’t he the individual who was present at Stephen’s execution and consented to it?
Scriptures demonstrate clearly that the reason Stephen was murdered was because he had uttered the sacred name Yahweh, thereby committing blasphemy under Jewish law. (See Stephen and Yahweh)
There can be no doubt that Paul held to the “ineffable name” doctrine as espoused by the religious leaders of his day.
After Stephen’s death, did Paul have a change of heart regarding this “ineffable name” doctrine?
Is there any evidence proving that the sacred name Yahweh was somehow involved with this infraction of Jewish law that led to Stephen’s murder?
Let us begin our investigation of Scriptures for the facts.
Many would say no for a variety of reasons, one of which is that the name Yahweh is not found in any existing Greek manuscripts.
Is this really the total truth?
Proof that the original apostles adhered to the sacred name doctrine is found in numerous places in the New Testament. James shows his respect for the sacred name when he warns the disciples against favoring a rich man over someone poor:
But you dishonoured the poor. Do not the rich oppress you, and do (not) they drag you before tribunals? Do not they blaspheme the good name which is called upon you? (James 2:6-7)
Scriptures seem to indicate that John was rather outspoken at times when going about doing Yahweh’s work.
Just how outspoken was John with regard to the sacred name Yahweh, especially while among the religious leaders of Judea?
If you have an interest in finding out then it is suggested that you continue reading on.
The importance of using the name Yahweh and avoiding a substitute is enhanced by the willingness of Yahweh’s loyal prophets among the Israelites to die rather than abandon the sacred name. Moreover, these prophets always prophesied in the name of Yahweh, as every book of the Scriptures reveals.
Was there actually any scriptural basis for the extreme hatred of Yahushua by these religious leaders resulting in their wanting Yahushua dead?
To those religious leaders who were eventually responsible for Yahushua’s conviction and death sentence, the messiah had this to say:
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
Are there any facts to indicate that Yahushua did in fact commit the scriptural crime of “blasphemy” thereby justifying his execution?
If you’re interesting in finding the answers you might want to continue reading as we proceed with our investigation.
Seems like a reasonable question but is it actually true?
Why was there such extraordinary anger and hostility directed toward Yahushua the messiah by the religious leaders? What actually caused this hostility which resulted in the death sentence for the messiah?
Could it be that there was something else going on with Yahushua that led to his unlawful murder?
Could that “something else” have something to do with Yahushua using the sacred name Yahweh?
If you’re interested in finding out the truth of the matter, it is highly suggested that you continue reading on as we begin our investigation of the facts.
We know that during the 1st century C.E. the people of Judaea and Galilee were strictly prohibited from speaking the name Yahweh by the religious leaders.
Was Yahushua in agreement with this prohibition, or did he see the situation quite differently?
If you’re interested in discovering the truth of the matter, then it might be a good idea for you to continue on with our investigation.
Some may even cite as proof of this notion the third commandment in Scriptures.
You shall not take the name of Yahweh your eloahi to worthlessness; for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name to worthlessness. (Exodus 20:7)
On the other hand, there would seem to be contradictions in Scriptures if one were to suppress usage of the sacred name Yahweh.
So how and when did the concept of the “Ineffable Name” doctrine come about?
If you’re interested in finding out, then you’re invited to explore the details by reading on.
It can also be demonstrated beyond any doubt that the sacred name was revealed by Yahweh to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaak, and Jacob and was utilized by their households.
How then is it possible that a popular interpretation—which contends that Yahweh never revealed his name to Abraham, Isaak, or Jacob and that it was only first revealed to Moses—can be used to offset the entire book of Genesis and numerous other verses throughout the Scriptures?
You are invited to investigate this seeming contradiction in Scriptures by embarking on the trail of truth to discover the facts of the matter.
When the argument that the name was only first revealed to Moses is closely examined, we find that the entire case rests with only one passage.
And eloahim spoke to Moses and he said to him, “I am Yahweh; and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaak, and to Jacob as el shaddai (the almighty one), and (by) my name Yahweh I did not reveal myself to them; and also I established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Kanaan, the land of their sojournings, which they sojourned in it.” (Exodus 6:2-4)
This statement, the explanation goes, proves that the sacred name was not revealed to any man, including the patriarchs Abraham, Isaak, and Jacob, until Moses, who lived hundreds of years later.
Further, since Moses was sent to the Israelites in Egypt with this name (Exod. 3:13-16), their thought continues, this proves that the name Yahweh was meant only for the Israelites.
Christian and Moslem groups hold this basic tenet as the reason why they need not use the sacred name.
The Jewish assemblies (who forbid the use of the sacred name by anyone except those they declare pious, and then only on special occasions), meanwhile, judge this passage to prove how extremely sacred the name Yahweh is. For the Jews it justifies their taboo against its use.
If one were to apply a cursory investigation, since most people already desire this popular interpretation to be valid, this commonly held understanding of Exodus 6:2-4 would seem plausible.
AN IMMENSE FLAW
But it is plagued with one immense flaw: if their translation and understanding of this verse is correct then large portions of the Scriptures are blatantly in error. One would be forced to choose between one of two assumed “traditions” of the Scriptures proposed by the priestly school as to when the personal name Yahweh first came into existence.
By definition, such a choice would entail a great contradiction between different parts of the Scriptures. Even if one is prone to believe in a totally human origin for the Scriptures, it would be hard to justify why its authors would have allowed such an obvious antithesis between this popular understanding of Exodus 6:2-4 and the rest of the Bible.
A close examination of Exodus 6:2-4 in context with the story being told, however, demonstrates that the presently popular interpretation of this passage is in error.
Yahweh was not informing Moses that the sacred name was unknown by Abraham, Isaak, and Jacob, but to the contrary, that he had in fact revealed it to them as part of his Covenants of Promise. For this reason Yahweh would bring the Israelites out of Egypt to take possession of the promised land.
To prove this understanding, we must first examine the background of the presently popular interpretation of Exodus 6:2-4 and then proceed with a detailed study of the context of the verse.
First it should be recognized that in ancient Hebrew there were no vowel marks written beneath the letters, as is customary today, nor were there commas, question marks, periods, quotation marks, or other such punctuation. How a sentence was to be understood and read depended entirely upon its context.
The next problem that arose was the lapse of time between when the original books were composed and understood until the return of the Jewish captivity from Babylonia during the sixth through fifth centuries B.C.E.
This knowledge was once again suppressed during the forced Hellenization period of Judaea by the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who died in 163 B.C.E.
The loss of various subtle understandings of scriptural verse was counterbalanced by the development of Jewish “traditions” and schools of “interpretations,” which flowered from the latter half of the second century B.C.E. until the second century C.E. These traditions and interpretations were the source of much contention between the messiah and the Jewish religious leaders of the first century C.E. (see Matt. 15:1-9; Mark 7:7-9; Gal. 1:13-14; Col. 2:7-10; 1Pet. 1:18; 1Tim. 4:1-7)
As the years proceeded these traditions and interpretations came to be finalized in written form and are now known as the Mishnah and the various Talmud and Midrash documents.
One of the mistaken interpretations developed by the Jewish religious leaders was the notion that the personal name Yahweh was far too sacred for any common man to utter. Beginning sometime after the mid-second century B.C.E., the high priest, on only special occasions, and a few other chosen (who learned the name in secret), were permitted to express its sound.
FORBIDDEN BY JEWISH LAW
For all others it was forbidden by Jewish law. When the Jewish religious leaders came to the verse in Exodus 6:2-4, they chose to understand it as further evidence of their new and radical interpretation about the sacrosanctity of the name Yahweh.
Our earliest evidence of this interpretation comes in the works of the first century C.E. Jewish historian Josephus. With regard to Yahweh’s revelation of his personal name to Moses, as recorded in Exodus 3:1-16, Josephus writes:
Then the deity revealed to him (Moses) his name, which ere then had not come to men’s ears, and of which I am forbidden to speak. (Jos., Antiq. 2:12:4)
The belief that Moses was the first man to hear the personal name Yahweh is clearly disproved by numerous quotes from Genesis. Nevertheless, this inventive interpretation was needed in order for the Jewish religious leaders to justify their stand on not using the sacred name.
The debate over whether or not an average man should speak the personal name of the almighty also became the chief bone of contention between the messiah and the Jewish leaders.
The early assemblies following the messiah believed in speaking the sacred name. But during that period the Pharisaic elements which had joined these assemblies spread their own interpretation about.
By the second century C.E. many of those calling themselves Christians had become adherents to the “ineffable name” doctrine of their Jewish brothers. It became official Christian dogma at the beginning of the fourth century when the Roman Church was founded under Constantine. From this point on it was considered “Jewish” to use the sacred name (despite the fact that the Jews forbade its use).
“TWO TRADITIONS” THEORY
To justify the apparent contradiction between the popular understanding of Exodus 6:2-4, and the evidence produced by the book of Genesis that the name Yahweh was previously known, biblical scholars developed the “two traditions” theory. This theory opened the door for some critics to argue that such books as Genesis and Exodus were not really composed until sometime in or after the days of kings David and Solomon (tenth century B.C.E.).
If we accept this view then there exist grounds for the belief that the Jews invented the sacred name. To do so also entails an acceptance of a contradiction in the Scriptures of major proportions, a belief that Moses did not write Genesis or Exodus.
More to the point, it allows for the supposition that the Scriptures are a lie—all which are unwarranted when set against the evidence.
The problem with the so-called contradiction between the popular interpretation of Exodus 6:2-4, and the prior revelation and use of the sacred name reported in the book of Genesis is solved once we take a much closer look at the context in which the statement at question takes place.
The comments given in Exodus 6:2-4 came as the result of events which had just recently transpired. We begin by observing that after the Exodus the Israelites sent a letter to the king of Edom recalling that before they came out of Egypt “we cried to Yahweh, and he heard our voice, and sent a messenger (i.e. Moses), and has brought us out of Egypt; and behold, we are in Kadesh, a city at the edge of your border” (Num. 20:14-16). This passage, written by Moses, reveals that prior to his calling the Israelites had pleaded to Yahweh to save them.
Next, in the first part of Exodus we are informed of how Yahweh appeared to Moses at the top of Mount Sinai (Horeb) and revealed that he was “the eloahi of his fathers, the eloahi of Abraham, the eloahi of Isaak, and the eloahi of Jacob” (Exod. 3:6).
Yahweh enlightened Moses to the fact that he had now come to bring his people, the Israelites, out of Egypt and take them into the land of Kanaan as he had promised their forefathers (Exod. 3:1-10; see Gen. 15:12-14). As part of this task Yahweh was sending Moses both to Pharaoh and the Israelites in Egypt advising them of this message.
One might think that Moses would have met this invitation with great joy and enthusiasm. To the contrary, Moses had a great incentive to stay out of Egypt.
Earlier in his life he had killed an Egyptian whom he had found beating on a fellow Israelite. This act caused Moses to be placed under a sentence of death by Pharaoh. To save his life he fled to the land of Midian along the Gulf of Aqaba. There he found safety in the house of the priest-king named Jethro, whose daughter he married (Exod. 2:1-22).
Moses knew that as long as Pharaoh still lived he was under a death sentence in Egypt; Moses had not yet learned of the recent death of Pharaoh nor did he know that all the men who were seeking his life were now dead (Exod. 4:18-19).
Fearing the consequences of his arrival, Moses immediately tried to find an excuse for not going. As this story develops, Yahweh becomes increasingly angry with Moses because of his continuous efforts to evade the journey to Egypt:
And Moses said to eloahim, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring out the sons of Israel from Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)
We should immediately take note of the fact that Moses did not test out the identity of his divine visitor. He did not ask, for example, “Who are you,” but rather “Who am I.” This detail is our first indication that Moses already knew that the “eloahi” of his fathers was Yahweh.
Yahweh then assured Moses by telling him he would be with him in this endeavor. But, Moses, who at every opportunity sought a way to escape these orders, then tried to find another justification as to why he need not go. He asked Yahweh:
Behold, I shall come to the sons of Israel and say to them, “The eloahi of your fathers has sent me to you” and they will say to me, “What is his name?” What shall I say to them? (Exodus 3:13)
The first point to be cognizant of is that if the almighty’s name was “eloahi” there would have been no purpose for Moses to ask this question. Here is one more proof that eloahi is not a personal name.
Second, the above question was not asked by someone who was anxiously trying to follow the words of Yahweh, but rather, the words of someone trying to be relieved from going! If Moses knew who his ancestors were, then he would certainly have known the name of their eloahi.
ISRAELITES AND MOSES ALREADY KNEW
The entire discussion is set with the backdrop that both the Israelites in Egypt and Moses already knew the name of the eloahi of their fathers. What Moses was, instead, trying to do was find just cause not to go to the Israelites living in Egypt.
Moses was attempting to excuse himself on the grounds that the Israelites in Egypt knew the name of their eloahi and would test him on that issue. The eloahi who was now speaking to him, nevertheless, had not admitted to his name. How then could he go to them without this information?
In response Yahweh angrily said, “I am who I am!,” and told Moses to tell the sons of Israel, “I am has sent me to you (Exod. 3:14).” Later, we are told Yahweh “again” responded to the question of Moses by saying:
You shall say this to the sons of Israel, Yahweh, the eloahi of your fathers, the eloahi of Abraham, the eloahi of Isaak, the eloahi of Jacob, has sent me to you; this is my name to forever, and this is my memorial to generation upon generation. (Exodus 3:15)
Yahweh’s initial reply, “I am who I am,” was not simply a casual remark made to a man asking him a plausible question. It was spoken out of anger and displeasure because Moses had asked such a foolish question in an obvious attempt to keep from traveling to Egypt.
This circumstance is verified by what happened next. After once more telling Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egypt and then informing him of the events that were to transpire, Yahweh was met with still another excuse from Moses as to why he should not go:
And Moses answered and said, “And, behold, they will not believe me and will not listen to my voice; for they will say, ‘Yahweh has not appeared to you.’ ” (Exodus 4:1)
This passage is extremely important for understanding the context of all that was taking place. First, it shows that Moses was continuing to seek reasons why he should not go. Second, Moses does not say that he would be rejected because the Israelites did not know who Yahweh was.
Instead, Moses states that the Israelites would ridicule him with disbelief that Yahweh had appeared to him. If they had not known of Yahweh they would have said, “Who is Yahweh?,” as Pharaoh did (Exod. 5:2).
The fact that Moses expected them only to deny Yahweh’s appearance proves that the Israelites already knew Yahweh but they would doubt that he had sent Moses as a prophet.
Indeed, the very notion that the eloahi of Abraham, Isaak, and Jacob would have revealed himself to Moses by a different name is absurd. As A. B. Davidson observed, the name Yahweh “can hardly have been altogether new to Israel before their deliverance. A new name would have been in those days a new god” (Dict. of the Bible, 2, pp. 199-200)!
ABRAHAM, ISAAK, AND JACOB
Clearly Yahweh had revealed himself to Moses as being the same eloahi that Abraham, Isaak, and Jacob had served. He was the eloahi of the ancestors of the Israelites, not someone new.
The attitude of Yahweh demonstrated by these passages is further established by the fact that after Yahweh gave Moses signs to take with him into Egypt, Moses continued to seek ways to flee from his duty. This time his excuse was his inability to speak well:
And Moses said to Yahweh, “Please adonai, I am not a man of words, either from yesterday or from the third day (before) or since you spoke to your servant; for I am heavy of mouth and heavy of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)
Yahweh angrily responded:
Who has made man’s mouth? or who makes (the) dumb, or (the) deaf, or (the) seeing, or (the) blind? Is it not I, Yahweh? (Exodus 4:11)
Yahweh then reassured Moses that he would provide him with what he needed to say. Seeing all of his objections answered, and no valid reason for not being sent, Moses now resorted to one final attempt. He simply asked Yahweh to send someone else in his place:
Please adonai, now send by the hand (another) who you will send. (Exodus 4:13)
This reply exceeded Yahweh’s patience, for as part of Yahweh’s response we are told, “And the anger of Yahweh glowed against Moses (Exod. 4:14).” Yahweh now gave Moses his brother Aaron to act as a spokesman.
Moses, with all options exhausted, made preparations to return to his home in Midian and then to go to Egypt (Exod. 4:14-20). Yahweh, meanwhile, sent Aaron, the brother of Moses, to meet Moses at Mount Sinai while Moses was returning from Midian to go to Egypt (Exod. 4:18-5:1).
MOSES AND AARON IN EGYPT
Next, Moses and Aaron arrived in Egypt and came to the sons of Israel, telling them all that Yahweh had spoken. The Israelites did not meet these words with, “Who is Yahweh?” Instead we are told, “the people believed; and they heard that Yahweh had visited the sons of Israel, and that he had seen their affliction; and they bowed down and worshipped (Exod. 4:31).”
All of these statements reveal that Moses and the Israelites were already fully aware of who Yahweh was. More importantly, they also show the attitude of Moses and Yahweh’s anger toward it. This anger was further accentuated after Moses spoke to Pharaoh. Instead of listening to Yahweh’s command, Pharaoh placed the Israelites under an even heavier state of servitude than had previously existed.
As a result, the overseers of the Israelites came to Moses and Aaron complaining that it was their fault that Pharaoh now sought to kill their people. Upset by these words and the turn of events, Moses returned to Yahweh and complained that Yahweh’s word had not been fulfilled:
And Moses returned to Yahweh, and said, “Adonai, why have you done evil to this people? Why then have you sent me? And since I came in to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people; and you did not certainly deliver your people.” (Exodus 5:22-23)
It was to this complaint and lack of trust, following Yahweh’s anger at Moses for trying to contrive a way out of going to Egypt, that Yahweh made his important response in Exodus 6:2-4. Yahweh’s reply must be gauged against the history of his anger and the impertinent comments just made by Moses.
Yahweh’s response, as a result, was one of chastisement as he informs Moses that Moses was way out of line, for Yahweh would indeed bring his people out of Egypt!
A RHETORICAL QUESTION
The anger of Yahweh toward Moses is vital to understanding the context in which his response in Exodus 6:2-4 was made to Moses. As part of his answer, Yahweh tells Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them, and with a strong hand he will drive them from his land!”
Affirming his intentions, Yahweh then continues by reminding Moses that he had appeared to Abraham, Isaak, and Jacob. With a berating tone in his voice, Yahweh follows these words with the Hebrew sentence (reading right to left):
ושמי יהוה לא נודעתי להם
them-to me-reveal-I not [did] Yahweh my-name-and
When these words are read in context with Yahweh’s tone of voice they become a rhetorical question, not a simple statement: “and (by) my name Yahweh, (did) not I reveal myself to them?”
Yahweh then adds that he had established his covenant with these men to give them the land of Kanaan. He emphasized his name because it was by his name that he swore to fulfill his oath and keep his word.
How then could Moses doubt that Yahweh would bring the Israelites out of Egypt? Was not the honor of his sacred name, which he had revealed to Abraham, Isaak, and Jacob, attached to the Covenants of Promise?
MOSES CHASTISED BY YAHWEH
Once we understand that Yahweh was chastising Moses utilizing a rhetorical question, all of the facts fit perfectly together. Exodus 6:2-4, rather than defeating, actually confirms Genesis and the other books of the Scriptures.
A CORRECT TRANSLATION
Cognizant that question marks must be supplied in any English translation, the correct understanding of Exodus 6:2-4 is as follows:
And eloahim spoke to Moses and he said to him, “I am Yahweh; and I appeared to Abraham, to Isaak, and to Jacob as el-shaddai (the almighty el); and (by) my name Yahweh, (did) not I reveal myself to them? And I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Kanaan, the land of their sojournings, which they sojourned in it.”
Neither are other translators of this Hebrew verse unaware of this inflection. For example, The Holy Bible, New International Version footnotes this sentence with the alternate reading, “and by my name the Lord [i.e. Yahweh] did I not let myself be known to them? (NIV, p. 74, n. c.)”
If we trust that the Scriptures do not contradict themselves, or even if one simply acknowledges that the original author of Exodus would not have been so ignorant as to have allowed for such a contradictory statement as the popular interpretation of Exodus 6:2-4 would contend, we are compelled to the conclusion that this verse must be understood as a rhetorical question.
Once arriving at this judgment, we find that there is absolutely no basis for the belief that the name Yahweh was only first revealed in the days of Moses or that it was meant only for the Israelites or Jews.
For more information regarding the name Yahweh check out the publication by Qadesh La Yahweh Press titled The Sacred Name Yahweh.
After your perusing of Part 1 we are now ready for the next installment of our investigation regarding the issue of the possibility of more than one Yahweh in Scriptures.
Picking up from where we left off in Part 1 what we want to do next is to recognize that the true nature of Yahweh eloahim is revealed by the evidence that eloahim is the generic term for a family of ruach beings headed by a supreme eloah named Yahweh.
The subordinates and supernumeraries within this family are in Hebrew often individually referred to as a מלאך (malak), plural מלאכים (malakim), translated into Greek as ἄγγελος (angelos), and into English as “angel.”
A malak is someone you “despatch as a deputy; a messenger,” especially an “ambassador” sent by Yahweh. The word is applied to both ruach beings (angels) and humans, although each case is easily distinguished by its context. Originally, it was an office one holds and not a generic term.
Strange as it may seem, when one examines the evidence contained in Scriptures, it will reveal a surprising truth that many have never considered.
Simply put, the evidence will divulge that there are plural individuals in Scriptures referred to as Yahweh!
This concept will be demonstrated by addressing the issues surrounding the Hebrew generic terms representing “deity” and “divinity.”
We’re going to start by examining the singular form אלה (eloah), its common usage as the plural אלהי (eloahi) and as the collective noun אלהים (eloahim), as well as the scriptural concept behind the expression “Yahweh eloahim.”
Let’s proceed onward to examine the evidence.
The Hebrew word אלה or אלוה (eloah)—אלהא (eloaha) in Aramaic—is a generic term derived from the title אל (el; a mighty one) and means a “mighty living being.”
Further defining what an eloah being is, we are informed that the substance of the highest eloah being, father Yahweh, is ruach (spirit, an unseen force, energy) (John 4:23-24), and that he is also described as a being of light (1 John 1:5).
This most high eloah is also defined as a consuming fire (Isa. 30:30; Heb. 12:29), a being who dwells in a devouring fire which, for mankind, is an unapproachable form of light (Isa. 33:14; 1Tim. 6:16).
Yahweh is often referred to by the singular term eloah (Aramaic form, Dan. 2:19, 45, 47, etc.). In one of the Psalms, for example, we read, “For who is eloah besides Yahweh (Ps. 18:31).” Moses writes regarding Yahweh:
And he (Yeshurun = the Israelites) abandoned the eloah who made him, AND scorned the rock of his salvation. They aroused his jealousy with foreign things, with abominations they provoked him to anger. They sacrificed to demons not to eloah, to eloahim (deities) whom they did not know, new ones who came lately; ones your fathers had not dreaded. (Deuteronomy 32:15-17)
Father Yahweh is referred to in the Aramaic portions of Daniel and Ezra as “the most high eloaha (= Heb. eloah) (Dan. 3:26),” as “אלהך (eloah-k; your eloah) (Ezra 7:14),” and as “the living eloaha, your eloah (Dan. 6:20).”
Meanwhile, in the Hebrew Scriptures he is called “Yahweh, the most high el (Gen. 14:22),” “the most high el (Gen. 14:18-20),” and, as the head of the eloahim family, “the most high of eloahim (Ps. 78:56).”
There are also a number of examples where the singular term adon (sovereign) is used when speaking of only one eloah named Yahweh.
For example, in Joshua we read about the priests who were “bearing the ark of Yahweh, adon of all the earth (Josh. 3:13).” Similarly, in passages from the book of Psalms we are told:
The mountains melt like wax before the face of Yahweh, before the face of the adon (sovereign) of the whole earth. (Psalms 97:5)
The earth trembles before the face of the adon (sovereign), before the face of the eloah of Jacob. (Psalms 114:7)
Accordingly, Yahweh is regularly defined by the singular generic term eloah and by the singular titles el and adon.
Plural Forms: Eloahi and Eloahim
The plurality expressed by the generic terms eloahi and eloahim are well demonstrated throughout Scriptures, being used for both pagan deities and Yahweh alike.
As we proceed with our investigation, we shall deal with the collective noun forms of eloahim and eloahi when applicable only to Yahweh. For now, we need to first deal with the evidence for the plurality of these two generic forms.
When not referring to Yahweh, the simple plural form of eloah is אלהי (eloahi), meaning more than one eloah being. A simple plural represents two or more things expressed with a plural verb (e.g., are, were) and plural pronoun (e.g., they, them, these).
The collective noun form of eloah is אלהים (eloahim), although at times this term is also treated as a simple plural. A collective noun denotes a plurality of persons or objects in a single group (e.g., the English words family, government, clergy, sheep, army, seed).
As a single group, this noun requires a singular verb (e.g., is, was) and pronoun (e.g., he, his, this) despite the fact that there is a plurality within the group. When used as a collective noun, eloahim stands for a single group or family of eloah beings.
The simple plural of eloahi and eloahim is demonstrated in a number of ways. When speaking of pagan deities, for example, we find such expressions as “all,” “them,” “their,” and “these.”
We read of “ALL the foreign eloahi (Gen. 35:4), “ALL the eloahi of Egypt (Exod. 12:12),” “Yahweh is greater than ALL the eloahim, for in the thing wherein THEY dealt proudly (he was) above THEM (Exod. 18:11).”
Some typical examples of these expressions are found in Deuteronomy:
You will break down the carved images of their eloahi, and destroy THEIR names out of that place. (Deuteronomy 12:3)
. . . and has gone and served other eloahim, and bowed down to THEM. (Deuteronomy 17:3)
For they went and served other eloahim, and bowed down to THEM, eloahim whom they knew not. (Deuteronomy 29:26)
But if you turn away your lebab, and you will not listen, but are drawn away, and bow down to other eloahim, and serve THEM . . . (Deuteronomy 30:17)
There are nearly two hundred examples of the simple plural usage of eloahi and eloahim found in the Masoretic Text. All of these have been translated in the Greek Septuagint by the plural terms θεοῖς (theois), θεῶν (theon), and so forth, which mean “deities” or “divinities.”
Golden Calves and Ark of Yahweh
There are even references in Scriptures where Yahweh is understood in the simple plural. When the Israelites built the two-headed golden calf at Mount Sinai (SNY, p. 78, n. 13 and Fig. 2), for example, they made a festival to Yahweh and, as we twice read, they proclaimed, “THESE are your eloahi, Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt (Exod. 32:4, 8).”
Later, when the Palestim saw “the ark of Yahweh” being carried out by the Israelites to the battlefield against them, they shouted, “Woe to us! Who will deliver us out of the hand of THESE great eloahim. THESE are the eloahim who struck Egypt with every plague in the wilderness (1 Sam. 4:5-8).”
In the days of King Jeroboam of Israel, the king built TWO golden calves representing Yahweh. Jeroboam then, pointing to these two idols of Yahweh before he placed one in Dan and the other at Bethel, notified the people, “Behold, your eloahi, Israel, which brought you out of the land of Egypt (1 Kings 12:28).”
In Hebrew, and only when used by those more correctly adhering to Yahwehism in reference to Yahweh eloahi in unity, the generic term eloahi, as well as eloahim, take on the qualities of a collective noun. As a result, in Hebrew the verbs and pronouns used for Yahweh eloahim and Yahweh eloahi are also singular.
As will be demonstrated in a forthcoming post, this approach is used for Yahweh eloahi to distinguish the special unity among the royalty within the greater body of the eloahim from their unity as expressed with the entire eloahim family. We will have more to say about this unity as we proceed with our investigation.
Indeed, the collective noun forms of eloahim and eloahi, when the reference is to Yahweh, explains why the Greek Septuagint translated these terms by the singular θεός (theos), which in turn came into English as the singular term God.
But over time the family and unity aspect of these two words have been, for the most part, lost in a movement toward strict monotheism (i.e., the notion that eloah, eloahi, and eloahim are all to be taken as only one personality in the deity) and later Trinitarian monotheism (three co-equal persons in the single god-head or deity).
For most readers, only the idea of singularity in the deity has generally been retained. This transformation of meaning has done substantial harm to any good understanding of just how these terms were originally used and has served to disguise the existence of more than one Yahweh (the greater and the lesser) standing in unity.
Not Plural of Majesty
The use of the plural forms eloahi and eloahim, meanwhile, cannot refer to a “plural of majesty,” as some strict Jewish monotheists advocate—a phrase invented as an attempt to explain away the plurality innate within the terms eloahi and eloahim, while maintaining the idea of monotheism as a single personality.
This hypothesis is impossible because the singular form “eloah” is often found applied as a direct reference to father Yahweh. If there was a plural of majesty (i.e., use of a plural to magnify the importance of Yahweh) the plural forms would be consistently utilized throughout Scriptures.
A plural of majesty also does not explain why the terms eloah, eloahim, and eloahi are often applied to Yahweh in the same discussion.
There is simply no consistency in Scriptures that would conform to this strained concept. Further, the clear statements, as mentioned above, to the plurality of Yahweh eloahi and eloahim also dismisses any strict monotheism (only one personality in the deity).
Rather, the collective noun attributes of eloahim and eloahi denote unity among different eloah personalities in the concept of deity.
Neither do these terms suggest equality among those personalities, as argued by Trinitarians. The evidence will prove that an entirely different construct is being utilized by the authors of Scriptures.
Furthermore, the plural form “eloahim,” when referencing Yahweh eloahim, does not express polytheism (many independent deities). Its use as a collective noun speaks of unity and not of independent actions.
Rather, the evidence, as we shall see, shows that Yahweh eloahim is a patriarchy: a family of ruach beings headed by father Yahweh, who created all the others and organized them politically into a hierarchy.
We must agree, therefore, with the conclusions of the Encyclopaedia Judaica:
It [the eloahim] is not to be understood as a remnant of the polytheism of Abraham’s ancestors, or hardly as a ‘plural of majesty’—if there is such a thing in Hebrew. (Encyclopaedia Judaica, 7, p. 679. 1972)
Time to take a break everyone. When you’re ready just proceed to Part 2 as we continue our investigation.