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Frequently the word Elohim (the Hebrew word for God) is used to assert that God is plural. Naturally, this occurs because the word Elohim is plural in form. In Hebrew the “-im” ending indicates a plural like the “-s” ending in English. However, language is a tricky thing. Sometimes one will come across a word that ends in an “s” but is not plural (like “news”). The same occurs in Hebrew. Even so, rather than make the case myself (since my understanding of Hebrew is very limited), I have found several excellent Bible dictionary entries that make the point very well. Please note that most of these entries were written by people who believe in the Trinity, but even so, they do not use the plural form of the word Elohim to make their case.
A typical example of the many word games Trinitarians and others use as they endeavor to promote their false god.
Adapted from The Journal of Hebraic Renewal, which reprinted it from Focus on the Kingdom magazine.
Documented by Yuri A. Nesteruk
Numbers 6:22-27 "And Yahweh spoke to Mosheh, saying, "Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying, ‘This is how you bless the children of Ysryl. Say to them: Yahweh bless you and guard you; Yahweh make His face shine upon you, and show favour to you; Yahweh lift up His face upon you, and give you peace." "Thus they shall put My Name on the children of Ysryl, and I Myself shall bless them."
Deuteronomy. 6:4-9 "Hear, O Ysryl: Yahweh our Almighty, Yahweh is one! "And you shall love Yahweh your Almighty One with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your might. "And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart, and you shall impress them upon your children, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up, and shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
to See the following "QUOTE" from: MyJewishLeaning.com. "Most scholars, however, think that it was taken from the Canaanite language. The Canaanites were the indigenous people of the land of Israel and they seem frequently to have addressed their individual gods as "my gods." "
Subject: Question 3.47: Why is G-d referred to in the plural in the book of
The plural (for example, in Genesis 1:26) has been the source of
wonder for most of the commentators. The following are some of the
* G-d wanted to teach a personality trait to man. Therefore, even
though He didn't require their input into the decision, G-d turned
to the angels and asked them if they would participate. This act
of respect thereby became a fundamental feature of human
* There are more than one Hebrew nouns that end in "-im" that are
not plural. For example, Mayim (water) and Chayyim (Life). The
same is true of Elohim. Sometimes the "-im" ending is used to
connote power, not plurality. Whatever the grammatical origin of
this word, it is used in the Hebrew Bible as a *singular* noun.
* Some scholars view the use of Elohim as a plural that expresses an
abstract idea (e.g., zekunim, "old age"; neurim, "time of youth"),
so that Elohim would really mean "the Divinity."
* It might come from historical usage in the language at the time.
It may be derived from Canaanite usage, and the early Israelites
would have taken over elohim as a singular noun just as they made
their own the rest of the Canaanite language. In the
Tell-el-Amarna Letters Pharaoh is often addressed as "my gods
[ilaniya] the sun-god." In the ancient Near East of the second
half of the second millennium B.C.E. there was a certain trend
toward quasi-monotheism, and any god could be given the attributes
of any other god, so that an individual god could be addressed as
elohai, "my gods" or adonai, "my lords." The early Israelites felt
no inconsistency in referring to their sole God in these terms. SOURCE
Rabbi Stanley Greenberg of Temple Sinai in Philadelphia wrote: "Christians are, of course, entitled to believe in a Trinitarian conception of God. but their effort to base this conception on the Hebrew Bible must fly in the face of the overwhelming testimony of that Bible. Hebrew Scriptures are clear and unequivocal on the oneness of God The Hebrew Bible affirms the one God with unmistakable clarity Monotheism, an uncompromising belief in one God, is the hallmark of the Hebrew Bible, the unwavering affirmation of Judaism and the unshakable faith of the Jew."
He went on to say "... under no circumstances can a concept of a plurality of the Godhead or a trinity of the Godhead ever be based upon the Hebrew Bible."
"But, in fact, the verb used in the opening verse of Genesis is "bara," which means "he created" - singular. One need not be too profound a student of Hebrew to understand that the opening verse of Genesis clearly speaks of a singular God."
As Gesenius, the father of Hebrew grammarians, has said, when Elohim is applied to Yahweh, or any single deity, it is the plural of excellence or majesty, not a plural of beings. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament concurs. It says, "The plural ending is usually described as a plural of majesty and not intended as a true plural when used of God. This is seen in the fact that the noun elohim is consistently used with singular verb forms and with adjectives and pronouns in the singular."
"Us...Our. Plurals of majesty" - The Ryrie Study Bible, (Dallas Theological Seminary), Chicago: Moody Press, 1978, p. 9
"The plural pronoun us is most likely a majestic plural from the standpoint of Hebrew grammar and syntax" - Liberty Annotated Study Bible, Lynchburg: Liberty University, 1988, p. 8
Is the Hebrew word for God in the plural meaning more than one?
The Hebrew word translated as "God" is elohiym. It is the plural form of elo'ah. While elohiym is plural. this does not mean that it is more than one. In Hebrew, a plural word may indicate quality as well as quantity. As an example, the Hebrew word ets is a tree. If there are two trees this would be written as etsiym meaning trees, qualitatively large. A large tree such as a Redwood could also be written etsiym, qualitatively large. As elohiym is plural, it can be translated as "gods" (quantity) or a very large and powerful "god" (quality). The creator of the heavens and the earth is far above any other god and is therefore elohiym, not just an eloah. The context the word is used will help to determine if the plural is qualitative or quantitative. If the plural noun is the subject of a verb, the verb will indicate if the subject is singular or more than one. For instance in Genesis 1:1 the verb bara (created) identifies the subject of the verb as masculine singular. The next word is elohiym (the subject of the verb) and is understood as a singular qualitatively large noun, God and not gods. Ancient Hebrew Research Center
Elohim (אלהים) is a Hebrew word which expresses concepts of divinity. It is apparently related to the Hebrew word ēl, though morphologically it consists of the Hebrew word Eloah (אלוה) with a plural suffix. Elohim is the third word in the Hebrew text of Genesis and occurs frequently throughout the Hebrew Bible. Its exact significance is often disputed.
In some cases (e.g. Ex. 3:4 ...Elohim called unto him out of the midst of the bush...), it acts as a singular noun in Hebrew grammar (see next section below), and is then generally understood to denote the single God of Israel. In other cases, Elohim acts as an ordinary plural of the word Eloah (אלוה), and refers to the polytheistic notion of multiple gods (for example, Ex. 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.). This reflects the use of the word "Elohim" found in the late Bronze Age texts of Canaanite Ugarit, where Elohim ('lhm) was found to be a word denoting the entire Canaanite pantheon (the family of El, the patriarchal creator god).
In still other cases, the meaning is not clear from the text, but may refer to powerful beings (e.g. Gen. 6:2 the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them for wives..., Ex. 4:16 and you [Moses] will be as Elohim to him [Aaron], Ex. 22:28 Thou shalt not curse Elohim, or curse a ruler of your people, where the parallelism suggests that Elohim may refer to human rulers). SOURCE
"Biblical Hebrew occasionally employs something scholars call the 'majestic plural'. In effect it is a plural ending added to a deity's name to confer status or majesty. In the Old Testament the best example is Elohim which does not mean 'the gods' but is rather the god El with the majestic plural im appended." - David M. Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History (1993), p. 228
Elohim is a generic term that can also refer to a whole gamut of other beings from angelic entities to simply human judges. (Yoch. 10:34, based on Psalm 82:6) It literally means "mighty ones". The verbs are all singular, showing that YHWH (the specific name of this Elohim who created, as seen in 2:4) is so extraordinarily superior to His creation that a plural word is used to descrbe Him, much like the Queen of England’s “We are not amused.”
Genesis 1:26 - Then Elohim said, "Let Us make Mankind in Our image, according to Our likeness—and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the heavens, and the beasts, and all the earth, and all the living things that crawl upon the earth."
Us: again, the “majestic plural” (see note on v. 1). Targum Pseudo-Jonathan says He was speaking to the angels who minister before Him and were created on the second day. It is not to be read as a literal plurality, for every other deity worshiped by the pagans is called an elohim as well (1 Shmu’el 5:7, 1 Kings 11:33), and each of these was considered a singular entity. It would too greatly diminish the One who is greater than all else if we were not to use the “royal we”. Should we see Yahshua as being included in this? Not in the way Christian doctrine postulates. While the “word” that Philo called a "lesser YHWH" was not entirely separable from "the" YHWH, the "One without end" in mystical terms, still he was subordinate to the Father, whom no one could ever survive seeing. He is called YHWH's "branch" or "arm", and makes known to us as much about the Father as our finite beings can tolerate, so that Yahshua can indeed say "He who has seen me has seen the Father" without contradicting the fact that he is another entity sent by the Father, who worships the Father as his Elohim and promises to one day raise us to his level. (1 Yochanan 3:2) In our image: i.e., able to relate to "Us". The word “image” really means "shadow", and indeed we present an "outline" of what He is like, but in Scripture, "shadow" is often used to mean being under His protection. Likeness: resemblance of moral character; similarity, but not identity. However, in v. 27, only the image is mentioned again. Not until chapter 3 do we see another appearance of the concept of being "like Elohim", but there it was coveted wrongly. Still there is nothing we can see that bears His likeness (Yesh./Isa. 40:18); David does not expect to bear His likeness until He is resurrected. (Ps. 17:15) To accomplish that, the Word of YHWH had to take on the likeness (same word as used here in the Septuagint/LXX) of men (Romans 8:3; Phil. 2:7), and die a death that could finally conquer death. Only as we participate in the "likeness" of his death can we also be raised to finally bear His likeness. (Rom. 6:5) Rule over: guide toward the fullest potential and benefit of all. SOURCE
A deep and continuing study of the Scriptures will reveal to the discerning student that ELOHIM is "A god or the God" of anyone who worships a god, or the true God of the Scriptures. The word is NOT the name of a god but is descriptive of the god one worships. When Ruth clung to Naomi who was returning to Bethlehem, she told Naomi..."Thy people shall be my people and THY God MY God". (Ruth 1:16)...... meaning that she would accept whichever "god" Naomi worshiped as the one she would worship. Naomi worshiped the LORD (Jehovah), (the) ELOHIM of Israel.
STRONG'S CONCORDANCE describes ELOHIM as follows..."....plural of 433 (Eloah); gods in the ordinary sense; but specially used (in the plural, especially with the article..("the") of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative; angels...exceeding God (gods), goddess, godly, (very) great, judges, mighty."
PLURAL AND SINGULAR:
Whilst it is used many times in the PLURAL, ELOHIM is also used in the singular, and we list some instances of both usages.....
Exodus 22:20.........."He that sacrificeth unto ANY god (Elohim), save unto THE LORD (Jehovah) ONLY, shall be utterly destroyed.".... PLURAL.
Judges 6:31.............."If he be a god (Elohim) let HIM plead for himself"............. SINGULAR.
1 Kings 12:28..... "Behold thy gods..(Elohim), O Israel"...2 calves......... .. PLURAL.
Judges16:23........ "Dagon, THEIR god"...(Elohim)...an idol..ÖÖÖÖÖÖ. SINGULAR.
1 Kings 18:21,24... "If Jehovah be God,(Elohim) follow HIM, but if Baal, follow him"................... SINGULAR
THE TRINITY CLAIM:
Many writers espousing the dogma of the Trinity, claim that the very frequent use of the plural word ELOHIM is strong proof of their claim. However....IF SUCH AN UNSUSTAINABLE CLAIM IS TRUE, THEN OBVIOUSLY THE SINGULAR USE OF THE WORD SHOULD NEVER OCCUR........."IF" GOD..ELOHIM...IS A "PLURALITY" OF 3 PERSONS IN NUMBER, THEN ELOHIM CAN NEVER BE ANY OTHER THAN THAT.
"I WILL BE WHOM I WILL BE":
We learn from Exodus 3:14, that the name of the almighty .."I WILL BE WHOM I WILL BE"....declares the purpose of a multitude, (see Rev 7:9..."a multitude no man could number")..AND CERTAINLY.NOT A TRINITY. (NOTE: Ex 3:14 contains the incorrect translation, I AM THAT I AM). In fact, where ELOHIM refers to JEHOVAH, IT IS ALMOST ALWAYS IN THE SINGULAR SENSE and thus by claiming ELOHIM TO BE THREE, the dogma of the Trinity is indeed blasphemous, for it alters the simple truth of the Scriptures.
When we read the expression..."GOD SAID", we are in fact reading..."GOD..(HE) SAID", and thus, if we are inclined to think of Elohim in the terms of "the plural of majesty", or "the mighty ones", then the term..."GOD (HE) SAID" would have to be read as.."GOD (THEY..the mighty ones) SAID", a term which cannot be vindicated from Scripture. If God is said to have done something or said something, either through an agent or an agent's writing, it is Jehovah who has spoken or who has done that thing. When we read in Genesis 18-1, that the "Lord" appeared unto Abraham, and spoke to him, we are well aware that in fact three angels appeared to Abraham, one of which was chief of the three. That one spoke to Abraham the words of the Father and was thus acting for the Father and thus, by Abraham, he would be called Lord. The Father spoke through this Elohim who was His agent in meeting with Abraham.
FATHER AND ELOHIM:
The Scriptures show that the LORD (Jehovah) who is to be manifested in a multitude, is presently both Father and God...(Elohim), to all who believe He is the Father, as the following passages of Scripture affirm;
Gen 26:24...... "I am the God (Elohim) of Abraham".
Gen 28:13......"I am the Lord (Jehovah) God (Elohim) of Abraham".
Gen 31:5........."The God (Elohim) of my (Jacob's) father".
Isaiah 64:8......."O LORD (Jehovah), thou art our Father (Ab)".
Mal 2:10........ "Have we not all one father (Ab)...hath not one God (El), created us?".
Psa 68:4-5......"Sing to God (Elohim)...His name is the LORD (Yah)...father (Ab) of the fatherless is God (Elohim), in His holy habitation".
The Hebrew Word 'Echad' - Is It Singular Or Plural ("Compound Unity")?
Historic Judaism does not give echad the meaning of unity or plurality as is seen in the Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 14, p.1373: "Perhaps from earliest times, but certainly from later, the word echad (one) was understood also to mean unique. God is not only one and not many, but He is totally other than what paganism means by gods." Note also The Jewish Commentary, Soncino Edition, p.770: "He is one because there is no other Elohim than He; but He is also one, because He is wholly unlike anything else in existence. He is therefore not only one, but the Sole and Unique, Elohim." SOURCE The following passages that use the Hebrew word 'Echad' most certainly mean one, as in the number one.
And Yahweh turned a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not a single (Echad) locust was left in all the country of Egypt (Exodus 10:19).
For the Yahweh had said to Moshe, "Say to the people of Yisryl, `You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment (Echad) I should go up among you, I would consume you.” (Exodus 36:5).
... and her two sons, of whom the name of the one (Echad) was Gershom.” (Exodus 18:3).
"Ö..Take one (Echad) young bull and two rams without blemish” (Exodus 29:1).
"Then you shall take one (Echad) of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shallÖ” (Exodus 29:15).
One (Echad) lamb you shall offer in the morning, andÖ” (Exodus 29:39).
one (Echad) young bull, one (Echad) ram, one (Echad) male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; 16: one (Echad) male goat for a sin offering; (Numbers 7:15).
"A single (Echad) witness shall not prevail against a man for any crimeÖ” (Deuteronomy 19:15).
So Yahweh caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one (Echad) of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; (Genesis 2:21).
And Lamech took two wives; the name of the one (Eahad) was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah (Genesis 4:19).
To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one (Echad) was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother's name was Joktan (Genesis 10:25).
We are all sons of one (Echad) man, we are honest men, your servants are not spies." (Genesis 42:11).
And they said, "We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one (Echad) man in the land of Canaan; and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one (Echad) is no more." (Genesis 42:13).
... if you are honest men, let one (Echad) of your brothers (Genesis 42:19).
... we are twelve brothers, sons of our father; one (Echad) is no more, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.' (Genesis 42:32).
And the priest shall take one (Echad) of the male lambs, and offer it for a guilt offering (Leviticaus 14:12).
Ö then he shall take one (Echad) male lamb for a guilt offering to be waved (Leviticus 14:21).
... also two turtledoves or two young pigeons,..the one (Echad) shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering (Leviticus 14:22).
And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one (Echad) ram for a burnt offering (Leviticus 16:5).
And you shall offer one (Echad) male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of peace offerings Leviticus 23:19).
... and he shall offer his gift to Yahweh, one (Echad) male lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering, and one (Echad) ewe lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering, and one (Echad) ram without blemish as a peace offering, (Numbers 6:14).
For Yahweh had said to Moshe, "Say to the people of Yisryl,`You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment (Echad) I should go up among you, I would consume you.” (Exodus 33:5).
"A single (Echad) witness shall not prevail against a man for any crimeÖ” (Deuteronomy 19:15).