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Carl R. Denti | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Mar 22 2020 1:21 PM

Have any of you done a complete word study on word Elohim in the Hebrew text.  If you have can you please tell is the word ever used in the plural of a singular subject other than our one true God.  And if so would you be so kind as to forward me those passages. 

I'm not too lazy, so as not to do the work, which I think would be very rewarding to do.  But I am 74 years old, have a full time job and pastor a small church.  I won't have time to do the search and prepare the material for my next class.

If anyone has done the work and would be willing to share it, I would be sincerely appreciative to you and very thankful unto the Lord.

Carl

Posts 3522
Milkman | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 22 2020 1:53 PM

Welcome.

Well I don't have that information, but I'm not sure that it's that hard to find someone on the forums who can help. Heiser's material will probably come into play somewhere down this road.

What I really wanted to reply was, simply to say, 'thank-you' for doing the Lords' work. FT job plus pastoring a small church. May the Lord continue to bless your hands. Men like you are examples and an inspiration us many of us!

thanks again.

mm.

mm.

Posts 1672
Allen Browne | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Mar 22 2020 5:17 PM

Carl R. Denti:
Have any of you done a complete word study on word Elohim in the Hebrew text.  If you have can you please tell is the word ever used in the plural of a singular subject other than our one true God.  And if so would you be so kind as to forward me those passages. 

Hi Carl. I'd be very cautious about making any categorical statements here. Natural language just doesn't have that precision.

As you know, elohim is a plural word, so it can mean gods or God. When it's the one true God, it generally has a singular verb, but that's not always the case. The number of cases where it refers to other spiritual beings (angels) is also contentious: in part because the underlying mindset changed over time (particularly after the exile).

Posts 151
Jerome Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 24 2020 10:59 AM

While my resource, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, will not directly answer your question about the Hebrew word Elohim, there are several notes and sets of cross-references that will come close to answering it.

Just now, I checked, starting at Genesis 1:1,

God. Heb. Elohim. H430. Gen 2:2; +Gen 19:29; +Exo 2:24; +Ps 45:6; Ps 89:11; Ps 89:12; Eph 3:9; *Col 1:16; Col 1:17; Col 1:18; Heb 1:2.

The "H430" links to the Strong's Concordance entry for Elohim.

Checking the Subject Index under Elohim I find the following entries:

Elohim. Deuteronomy 5:9 note.

Elohim, used of angels. Psalm 8:5 note.

Elohim, used of God the Son (Messiah). Psalm 45:6, 7.

Elohim, used of God in his covenant relationships. Genesis 19:29. Exodus 2:24. Psalm 45:6.

Elohim, used of false gods, idols, or heathen deities. 2 Chronicles 35:22 note.

Elohim, used of divinely appointed judges, magistrates. Psalm 82:6 note.

The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge is a resource available in Logos.

My updated and expanded edition of The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, which is titled The Ultimate Cross Reference Treasury, contains the following note at Genesis 1:1 which was not in the New Treasury:

God. Heb. Elohim. A plural noun, the singular form of which is Eloah, meaning "The Worshipful One;" it seems to point out a superabundance of qualities in the Divine Being rather than a plurality of persons, as it is applied alike to Jehovah and to the false gods of the nations. It is found almost invariably accompanied by a verb in the singular number (Robert Young, Concise Critical Comments, p. 1).

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 24 2020 2:30 PM

Carl R. Denti:
If you have can you please tell is the word ever used in the plural of a singular subject other than our one true God.

Yes, of the spirit of Samuel (1 Sam 28:13).

Posts 1672
Allen Browne | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 24 2020 6:30 PM

Francis:

Carl R. Denti:
If you have can you please tell is the word ever used in the plural of a singular subject other than our one true God.

Yes, of the spirit of Samuel (1 Sam 28:13).

There could be quite a few cases like that. Examples:

  • Judges 16:23 "Dagon their god"
  • 1 Sam 4:7 "A god has come into the camp" (so 5:8, 11)
  • Ex 22:20 "any god other than the Lord"

Try a case-sensitive search for:
god AND <Lemma = lbs/he/אֱלֹהִים>

Posts 5002
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 24 2020 6:41 PM

Francis:

Carl R. Denti:
If you have can you please tell is the word ever used in the plural of a singular subject other than our one true God.

Yes, of the spirit of Samuel (1 Sam 28:13).

This is the NET note: Heb “gods.” The modifying participle (translated “coming up”) is plural, suggesting that underworld spirits are the referent. But in the following verse Saul understands the plural word to refer to a singular being. The reference is to the spirit of Samuel. 
The NET Bible(2006). Biblical Studies Press.

Technically, as far as the grammar of v.13 is concerned, the verb is plural to go with the plural ':elohhiym. It is Shaa'uul's response in v.14 that gives the impression of a singular referent, but that actually doesn't affect the grammar of the previous verse.

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Mar 24 2020 8:33 PM

David Paul:
Technically, as far as the grammar of v.13 is concerned, the verb is plural to go with the plural ':elohhiym. It is Shaa'uul's response in v.14 that gives the impression of a singular referent, but that actually doesn't affect the grammar of the previous verse.

The question is not that easily settled. First, Elohim, even when it refers to YHWH can take either a singular or plural verb. This does not indicate one way or another whether it concerns YHWH and shows that there was fluctuation in usage which could be reasonably expected to come into play as well when Elohim is used of other singular referents than YHWH. Second, in 1 Sam 28:13 it is a bit of a stretch to explain why Saul, who evidently does not see what the woman sees, would be told that she sees gods and then reply "what is his form" (definitely singular). If Saul understood the plural to refer to a singular being, it makes sense that it would be because that is possible in terms of usage. In other words, the NET note is theologically tendentious. Third, in Exodus 32:4 Elohim certainly refers to a single idol yet the verb that follows (who brought you up) is plural. Here again inconsistencies in translation do not help. Compare different translations in English and you will see this is your god or these are your gods (same in other modern translations such as German). What would be the sense of pointing to one statue and say these are your gods though? 

Posts 18659
Forum MVP
Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, May 24 2020 10:59 PM

Carl R. Denti:
Have any of you done a complete word study on word Elohim in the Hebrew text.  If you have can you please tell is the word ever used in the plural of a singular subject other than our one true God.  And if so would you be so kind as to forward me those passages. 

Morph Search suggestion: lemma:אֱלֹהִים@N??P NOT INTERSECTS (<Person God> OR <Person Holy Spirit>)

includes mighty in Genesis 23:6, god in many verses (e.g. Judges 8:33, 9:27, 16:23-24), a shrine in Judges 17:5, panic in 1 Samuel 14:15

Keep Smiling Smile

Posts 5002
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 25 2020 3:10 AM

Francis:

David Paul:
Technically, as far as the grammar of v.13 is concerned, the verb is plural to go with the plural ':elohhiym. It is Shaa'uul's response in v.14 that gives the impression of a singular referent, but that actually doesn't affect the grammar of the previous verse.

The question is not that easily settled.

Actually, it is. PLURAL + PLURAL = PLURAL...all day, every day.

Francis:
Second, in 1 Sam 28:13 it is a bit of a stretch to explain why Saul, who evidently does not see what the woman sees, would be told that she sees gods and then reply "what is his form" (definitely singular).

Actually, it's no stretch at all. The thing to keep in mind is that Shaa'uul wanted to specifically talk to Sh'muu'eil AND HE TOLD THE WOMAN SO IN VERSE 11. Shaa'uul has tunnel vision and has one person in mind, so his response in v.14 is not driven by the woman's words (grammar), but by his impatient desire to speak to the person he told her he wanted her to "bring up" (context).

Francis:
If Saul understood the plural to refer to a singular being,

He didn't...he was only interested in a singular being.

Francis:
it makes sense that it would be because that is possible in terms of usage.

It doesn't make sense because it isn't possible in terms of usage.

Francis:
In other words, the NET note is theologically tendentious.

Actually, no...the NET is simply describing a plain fact accurately. Any tendentiousness is a result of your not recognizing that Shaa'uul's verbalization of his psychologically-driven context is not driven by the woman's grammar.

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 25 2020 8:34 AM

David Paul:
Actually, it is. PLURAL + PLURAL = PLURAL...all day, every day.

Throughout the OT, starting with Genesis 1, God (Elohim) is a plural noun yet refers to a singular entity. 

Elohim (pl.) created (sg.) Gen 1:1

Then Elohim (pl.) said (sg.) Gen 1:3

Elohim (pl.) saw (sg.) and Elohim (pl.) separated (sg.) Gen 1:4

And a huge number of other instances.

Yet here is another example that shows that number disagreement when it comes to the word (e)Elohim is not limited to references to YHWH only:

““Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?” (Deuteronomy 4:34)

The question implies a contrast with any of the deities of the nations around Israel. Looking at the wording of the first clause 

א֣וֹ׀ הֲנִסָּ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֗ים לָ֠בוֹא לָקַ֨חַת ל֣וֹ 

(o hanissah elohim lavo laqahath lo) 

it is clear that the foreign deity is referred to by the plural elohim yet is referred to as a singular entity (lo = to him(self), sg. suffix). 

In Judges 6:31, Gideon's father contends with those who wanted to kill his son because he had destroyed Baal's altar in these words: "If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar." The words are:

אִם־אֱלֹהִ֥ים הוּא֙ יָ֣רֶב ל֔וֹ כִּ֥י נָתַ֖ץ אֶֽת־מִזְבְּחֽוֹ

( im-elohim hu' yarev lo ki nathats eth-mizbecho)

Baal is referred to as elohim and all the other referrents (pronouns) are singular. 

Now I know that the OP originally asked about instances in which Elohim takes a plural verb yet seems to refer to a single entity other than YHWH. Still, this is relevant because it shows -- as stated earlier -- even when it does NOT refer to YHWH, there is tendency to have number disagreement in the usage of the word elohim.

So it's important for the OP, when looknig at this question, not to limit his search to verbs but also to look at pronouns for instance, anything that should normally be expected to reflect number agreement. Even if he does not read Hebrew (I don't assume either way), an interlinear Hebrew text (e.g., Lexham's) and an English literal translation can be set side by side with "corresponding selection" enabled. He would be able to see what word is used in Hebrew by selecting the English word then looking at how the manuscript transliteration reads and morphological information. It may be overwhelming at first but can be learned and increase the user's ability to DIY. Not only would he be able to see where "god" renders elohim (as opposed to el for instance) but also the number of the connected verb and pronouns. Tip: instead of trying to decipher morphology codes such as C-VaW3MP, you can hover over the Hebrew words and the tooltip will tell you the morphology in plain English at the bottom of the panel. 

Posts 5002
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, May 25 2020 11:29 PM

I have no issue with you wanting to encourage a wider scope of examination for this word in the OP's study. It's warranted. However, I do want to again draw attention to another issue that mirrors, or at least parallels, the point I made in my last post. When it comes to grammar, I am quite certain that many "issues that relate to grammar" are not "issues about grammar". Looking at particular "use cases" in the Bible and making "grammar rule deductions" from them is precarious and subject to error.

Francis:

Yet here is another example that shows that number disagreement when it comes to the word (e)Elohim is not limited to references to YHWH only:

““Or has a god tried to go to take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?” (Deuteronomy 4:34)

The question implies a contrast with any of the deities of the nations around Israel. Looking at the wording of the first clause 

א֣וֹ׀ הֲנִסָּ֣ה אֱלֹהִ֗ים לָ֠בוֹא לָקַ֨חַת ל֣וֹ 

(o hanissah elohim lavo laqahath lo) 

it is clear that the foreign deity is referred to by the plural elohim yet is referred to as a singular entity (lo = to him(self), sg. suffix).

In this case, YHWH ':Elohhiym is making a comparison TO HIMSELF; He uses ':elohhiym to refer to Himself regularly, not the least reason being that "He" consists of the Father and the Word, which is two, thus the "Us" of Gen. 1:26 and Gen. 11:7. Because YHWH chooses to emphasize the 'ehhaadh (oneness, i.e. unity, i.e. perfect agreement) of the Us, YHWH uses ':Elohhiym with a singular verb to reemphasize that unified agreement. The very fact that YHWH is comparing hypothetical "fictive beings" to himself explains why He uses the word ':elohhiym with a singular in this particular case. He's giving these hypothetical phantoms every possible opportunity to measure up, so He uses the language He uses when speaking of Himself.

If you want to make a "grammatical point" that results in a "grammatical rule", you need to find another case in which a comparison to the ACTUAL REAL SINGULAR "US" is not in play. This example (Deut. 4:34) is not that. Again, to restate my general point, sometimes there are "grammatical shuffles" that occur in language that are based on contextual circumstance and thus are not sufficient for making declarations about "rules of acceptable grammar".

The second example you give is a better example for making the point...yet it still has some potential snags.

Francis:

In Judges 6:31, Gideon's father contends with those who wanted to kill his son because he had destroyed Baal's altar in these words: "If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because someone has torn down his altar." The words are:

אִם־אֱלֹהִ֥ים הוּא֙ יָ֣רֶב ל֔וֹ כִּ֥י נָתַ֖ץ אֶֽת־מִזְבְּחֽוֹ

( im-elohim hu' yarev lo ki nathats eth-mizbecho)

Baal is referred to as elohim and all the other referrents (pronouns) are singular.

While this is better for making your case, I still feel there are some potential unrecognized hurdles that must be either identified or dismissed. One question I have is...are there any examples of Ba'al or other gods being referred to in the singular (i.e. as 'eil)? Another question I have is whether or not Gideon is likewise describing Ba'al by making a veiled comparative reference to YHWH by using the same language that YHWH uses to describe Himself. Remember, the WHOLE POINT of what Gideon is saying is that Ba'al is an imaginary phantom and this will be "demonstrated" (so to speak) by his certain impotence as compared to what YHWH could easily do as the REAL SINGULAR "US". Given such a circumstance, where comparison to ':Elohhiym is present, or at least plausibly suggested, I don't think that this example can be credibly called upon to demonstrate the notion that phantom gods are "naturally" described in Hebrew with the "plural/singular" construction. To establish that as a legit grammatical structure, you probably would need to find a purely pagan scenario in which comparison to YHWH is out of the question.

Fwiw, I am not even bringing up the fact that there are hundreds of examples of "case shifts" and other such grammar inconsistencies in the Bible, particularly in prophecy. There are an uncountable number of singulars translated as plurals and vice versa, shifts from first to third person and back again, and singular nouns/plural verbs & plural nouns/singular verbs scattered throughout Scripture. The NET Bible brings attention to many of these (though not all). Many of these are deliberate, not in the sense of being depictions of "Hebrew grammar rules", but rather are manipulated for intended prophetic effect. Approaching these instances as "grammar issues to be resolved" is to miss the point entirely.

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 26 2020 6:50 AM

I agree that the point is not about grammar per se. Grammatical misalignment is only a flag that raises a why question. The answer will vary based on the case. In the case of (e)Elohim, the tendency for number disagreement is too sustained to entertain some of the suggestions that apply to more sporadic instances in almost every other case in the OT. Instead of something unusual that could be deliberate to bring attention to something, the usage is so ubiquitous that it has become usual.

David Paul:
One question I have is...are there any examples of Ba'al or other gods being referred to in the singular (i.e. as 'eil)?

It's easy to find out the answer in Logos.

David Paul:
Another question I have is whether or not Gideon is likewise describing Ba'al by making a veiled comparative reference to YHWH by using the same language that YHWH uses to describe Himself.

The problem with this kind of suggestion is that a creative mind can always come up with ideas of the kind to try to defend an a priori point of view. The point raised by the question is theoretically possible, but it is difficult to see how such a question would have arisen if not from a sustained effort to keep defending the a priori point of view. If answered, another such objection can no doubt be found but then the discussion is no longer based on what is reasonably credible and likely. 

The more theoretical ideas need to multiply to try to do away with the difficulty a sustained phenomenon poses for a certain point of view, the less credible they and the whole enterprise become. It may look workable when cases are considered in isolation but not in view of the cumulative evidence. This is especially so when the ideas advanced are never confirmed explicitly in the texts in question and their immediate contexts. For instance, Genesis 1 does not indicate that the plural of Elohim and singular verbs indicate a Trinitarian unity (nor does Ehad in the Shema), nor the use of Elohim to refer to Baal by Joash's, Gideon's father, as a veiled reference and so on. There are ideas like these aplenty all all the spectrum of views from "conservative" to "liberal" that can neither be proved nor disproved and in the end are as such of little value. 

David Paul:
Because YHWH chooses to emphasize the 'ehhaadh (oneness, i.e. unity, i.e. perfect agreement) of the Us, YHWH uses ':Elohhiym with a singular verb to reemphasize that unified agreement.

This is by no means a necessary reading of the text and one that is altogether very unlikely for the context in which it was produced. It may work to invoke the Word here on the basis of the role in creation described in John 1 but it does not work when the usage is continued and applied to other deities in the rest of the OT. 

To return to the use of Logos for word studies, I think it should be clear to the OP that while we have tools, methods, and resources available in Logos to answer the question he raised, presuppositions will also play a big role in how the data is approached and interpreted. 

Posts 5002
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 26 2020 11:55 AM

Francis:
presuppositions will also play a big role in how the data is approached and interpreted.

No doubt...but there are two kinds of presuppositions: exegetical and eisegetical. Presuppositions derived from interior conditions and phenomena are not "problems". They are fundamental requirements for establishing the fullest and most accurate assessment of intent. This is all the more true given the Bible's prophetic propensities, which include "hiddenness", "concealment", and literal "word games", among many other such phenomena. The Bible is absolutely NOT a normal text with usual "naturally occurring" facets presented in a diachronic historical timeline. It is a wholly curated piece of art that is deliberately shaped and crafted to serve a dizzying array of prophetic purposes. Failing to distill the appropriate and necessary presuppositions for the text in question effectively shuts out any possibility of comprehending the text as YHWH's will requires. It is nothing less than the working out of Prov. 25:2.

Francis:

David Paul:
Another question I have is whether or not Gideon is likewise describing Ba'al by making a veiled comparative reference to YHWH by using the same language that YHWH uses to describe Himself.

The problem with this kind of suggestion is that a creative mind can always come up with ideas of the kind to try to defend an a priori point of view. The point raised by the question is theoretically possible, but it is difficult to see how such a question would have arisen if not from a sustained effort to keep defending the a priori point of view. If answered, another such objection can no doubt be found but then the discussion is no longer based on what is reasonably credible and likely.

Again, if the a priori view is eisegetical and unsupported elsewhere in the text-at-large (the entire Book), then your concerns are well-founded and likely will witness an ultimate "crash" in the subsequent attempt at sense-making. But Occam's Razor is not a fixed stake in the ground. It is a movable roadshow that resets with every additional piece of evidence and each artifact taken into consideration. The "simplest explanation" of a scenario for which little background is known is not the same as for a scenario that is understood to be intricate and complex in structure and design. Add intentional obfuscation, which YHWH explicitly admits to employing for reasons of His own, and the Razor's simplest explanation can become a wholly unexpected construct. To correctly unpack (or repack, as the case may be) a given text or passage, the key may well be having the correct presupposition, itself extracted from elsewhere in the Bible. To repeat a statement I made in another thread a few weeks back, it is impossible to properly interpret Genesis without making reference to Revelation. It may not sound like a simple explanation, but it is a simple as it gets.

Francis:
The more theoretical ideas need to multiply to try to do away with the difficulty a sustained phenomenon poses for a certain point of view, the less credible they and the whole enterprise become.

I don't dismiss this concern generally, but what I said above is still in force.

Francis:
It may look workable when cases are considered in isolation but not in view of the cumulative evidence.

Often, yes. My whole point is that sometimes, given its "hide and seek" nature and the Book's own prophetic road map, most postulated scenarios will fizzle out given enough time, but there absolutely IS a "key" that explains and ties together seemingly disparate elements of a given text or passage. Often it is not intuitive. Finding the correct set of presuppositions, akin to the teeth on a key, is fundamentally necessary to making progress with the passage under consideration.

I'm not speaking directly about the word ':elohhiym here. Nor am I attempting to make a strong case for a particular view, other than generally being careful not to assume oneself out of an accurate appraisal of a given passage. Your concerns have their place, as do mine.

Francis:
There are ideas like these aplenty all all the spectrum of views from "conservative" to "liberal" that can neither be proved nor disproved and in the end are as such of little value.

Without dispute, some questions cannot be resolved given the limitations of the text.

Francis:

David Paul:
Because YHWH chooses to emphasize the 'ehhaadh (oneness, i.e. unity, i.e. perfect agreement) of the Us, YHWH uses ':Elohhiym with a singular verb to reemphasize that unified agreement.

This is by no means a necessary reading of the text and one that is altogether very unlikely for the context in which it was produced.

Not "necessary" perhaps...unless it is in fact part of the key for interpreting the verse correctly.

Considering your comment about "context", we probably have to acknowledge disagreement on this point, given my deeply entrenched conviction that the Bible's context is the Bible. YHWH's eternal existence and His Authorship of the Book coincide to make every word in the Bible potentially accessible as part of the "immediate context".

Francis:

It may work to invoke the Word here on the basis of the role in creation described in John 1 but it does not work when the usage is continued and applied to other deities in the rest of the OT.

I would like you to flesh this out some. Are you saying that 'ehhaadh is textually associated with imaginary gods in the Bible? How so? If you like, show a search in Logos that elicits your statement.

Posts 2589
Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 26 2020 2:31 PM

Spamming threads with contentious, even dubious, theological propositions is not helpful.

Posts 3770
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 26 2020 3:41 PM

Lee:

Spamming threads with contentious, even dubious, theological propositions is not helpful.

@Lee, you're right time to stop here.

@David, I suggest we continue the discussion via the Faithlife messenger if you'd like to.

Posts 18659
Forum MVP
Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 26 2020 4:32 PM

Francis:
@David, I suggest we continue the discussion via the Faithlife messenger if you'd like to.

Faithlife has Discuss Plural Unified Gd group => https://faithlife.com/discuss-plural-unified-gd/activity (group followers can post to group, which allows various Elohim aspects to have their own posts and replies)

Another discussion option is Christian Discourse => https://www.christiandiscourse.net/

Keep Smiling Smile

Posts 5002
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 26 2020 7:44 PM

Lee:

Spamming threads with contentious, even dubious, theological propositions is not helpful.

You are so right, Lee...so I appreciate your willingness to sit this one out. Yes

Posts 5002
David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 26 2020 7:52 PM

Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :):
Another discussion option is Christian Discourse => https://www.christiandiscourse.net/

Is this the same Christian Discourse as was originally created a few years back and was shuttered for some time, or is it "a new creation"? I submitted a number of posts to the first iteration and I am still quite salty about having those ripped away without any warning. I was intending to use a couple of the threads as the basis for a book.

Posts 2589
Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, May 26 2020 7:58 PM

Francis:

@Lee, you're right time to stop here.

Thanks. We should stop feeding the trolls. I know of folks who keep away from the forums because of this behavior. I'm one of them. 

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