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#1 of 21 Old 11-26-2008, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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In Genesis, the literal translation of the first three words is "In the beginning created God" yet the word for God is the Hebrew word "elohim" the plural of "eloah." The existence of other gods is mentioned in the ten commandments. Why is the word "elohim" translated as a singular god?
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#2 of 21 Old 11-26-2008, 04:11 PM
 
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I think it indicates the triune or three/one nature of God. Even though He is one, He is also three, thus the plural form of the word.
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#3 of 21 Old 11-26-2008, 04:42 PM
 
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The existence of other gods is mentioned in the ten commandments.
On that--the fact that other gods and idols were mentioned doesn't mean they were considered to be 'real'. I believe they were mentioned phenomenologically--as in, other people worship Baal, it's wrong, don't do it. Not 'There's another actual God out there called Baal, but I don't like him'.

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#4 of 21 Old 11-26-2008, 04:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by christianmomof3 View Post
I think it indicates the triune or three/one nature of God. Even though He is one, He is also three, thus the plural form of the word.
I always regarded this as a New Testament / Christain concept.
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#5 of 21 Old 11-26-2008, 05:00 PM
 
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I always regarded this as a New Testament / Christain concept.
Yes it is, but that is the Christian interpretation of the use of the plural "elohim," and the phrase "Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." It is not the same as the Jewish interpretation.
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#6 of 21 Old 11-26-2008, 05:05 PM
 
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Our synagogue's education director brought this up one time in a study class and we were all "Wha?" She said it is a very tricky question: the Hebrew is definitely plural and there's scholarship on it and speculation, but we didn't have time to get into it further right then. I'd be interested in hearing from the other Jewish mamas who know more about this.
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#7 of 21 Old 11-26-2008, 08:47 PM
 
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I've only really read this brought up in the context of discussing the use of majestic plurals in other religious texts ... I've just always assumed that it was correct to do so and commonly accepted as such. Is it not?
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#8 of 21 Old 11-26-2008, 11:54 PM
 
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I think this is going to depend a little one if you want the Christian view or the Jewish view? (or some other....) b/c it will vary a bit...

the typical christian view if b/c of the Trinity (as mentioned) though this could be expounded upon a lot more, I'll leave it at that.

the Jewish view will obviously differ...

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#9 of 21 Old 11-27-2008, 12:54 AM
 
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Ooooh! Fascinating! Could you link some sources on that? I'd like to print something on this.

Speaking as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (we don't follow the Nicene Creed interpretation of the nature of the Godhead) I can add our perspective.

First, I should say we believe that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are separate beings.

And we believe that Christ created the world under the direction of God the Father. So, it's not at all strange to me that the words are "in Our image."

Here's a better written explanation of how we interpret these things:
Creation
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#10 of 21 Old 11-29-2008, 01:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Liquesce View Post
I've only really read this brought up in the context of discussing the use of majestic plurals in other religious texts ... I've just always assumed that it was correct to do so and commonly accepted as such. Is it not?
Yes.

AFAIK, according to Jewish traditon, it's one (or all) of a couple of things.

A comment on the all-pervasiveness of G-d.
Just proper referencing of G-d. (Where "Elohim" is found as a plural noun with singular verbs and adjectives - which happens often - it's just a title for G-d. This happens with other words, not just Elohim, so Jews would argue that it's probably not referencing a trinity.)

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#11 of 21 Old 11-29-2008, 06:03 PM
 
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Liquesce, the majestic plural is one explanation I've learned.



From a grammatical standpoint, it's not an actual numerical plural, as the verb in that sentence fragment ... bereisheet bara Elokim ... "created" in Hebrew is bara ... is in the 3rd person singular.

If it was a plural, "they created," the word would be bar'oo.





Judaism holds that G!d has a whole lot of names. Some used for certain reasons, others used for other reasons. The story of creation uses only the name Elokim.



The gematria (numerical value) of Elokim is the same as that of ha'teva, which means nature. One understanding, based on the meaning of Kel (which you would pronounce 'Eh-L' but which Jews would change the pronunciation out of respect for The Name ... same as the "k" in Elokim, which you all write with the "h," if you're wondering why I've got it with a "k") defined as might, or power. So that understanding would have it that G!d took all the forces of nature in the cosmos and created ... etc., etc.














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so Jews would argue that it's probably not referencing a trinity.)

Probably? I think you need a nap. Safe to say that definitely not is what you meant.
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#12 of 21 Old 11-29-2008, 08:13 PM
 
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Probably? I think you need a nap. Safe to say that definitely not is what you meant.


Cut me some slack! My parents just left.

DEFINITELY, I meant.

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#13 of 21 Old 12-01-2008, 06:07 AM
 
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I don't know about the 'royal we' thing. Was that used in ancient times? I thought it started in the medieval/Renaissance period to indicate the divine right of kings. If that were true, God would be unlikely to use it--I mean, it's not like He has to strengthen His position by allying Himself with God, for obvious reasons. Could well be wrong about when it started, though.

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#14 of 21 Old 12-01-2008, 07:46 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
I don't know about the 'royal we' thing. Was that used in ancient times? I thought it started in the medieval/Renaissance period to indicate the divine right of kings. If that were true, God would be unlikely to use it--I mean, it's not like He has to strengthen His position by allying Himself with God, for obvious reasons. Could well be wrong about when it started, though.
I've read discussion of its use in ancient Greek, not that I have any idea how accurate those discussions are; it was definitely in use in 6th century Arabic, which though I suppose that could be said to coincide with medieval times, it also was a Semitic language use in a monotheistic divinely self-referential context.
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#15 of 21 Old 12-07-2008, 03:25 PM
 
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Some scholars think that this particular usage is because this is one of the oldest stories in the Bible, and though it was written down by people who were monotheists, it was handed down orally from a time before the Hebrews worshiped only one God. The language usage was held onto.

There is a lot of evidence of the Hebrew's understanding of God developing over a very long time - it seems that at one time they saw their god as one of many tribal gods, then as the god above all these lesser gods, and ultimately the god of all. They continued to keep the stories or revelations that they thought revealed something important though, they just continued to add to them, and use new insights to interpret the old ones.

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#16 of 21 Old 12-07-2008, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Some scholars think that this particular usage is because this is one of the oldest stories in the Bible, and though it was written down by people who were monotheists, it was handed down orally from a time before the Hebrews worshiped only one God. The language usage was held onto.

There is a lot of evidence of the Hebrew's understanding of God developing over a very long time - it seems that at one time they saw their god as one of many tribal gods, then as the god above all these lesser gods, and ultimately the god of all. They continued to keep the stories or revelations that they thought revealed something important though, they just continued to add to them, and use new insights to interpret the old ones.
Thank you. This was the answer I was looking for. Do you know if any reading/sources?
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#17 of 21 Old 12-07-2008, 10:41 PM
 
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Thank you. This was the answer I was looking for. Do you know if any reading/sources?
I have a few suggestions, though they are reading sources from the Genisis chapter of a textbook I have, so I am not sure about the exact contents of each.

Creating the Old Testament: The Emergence of the Hebrew Bible, by Stephen Bigger

Genesis, by Gerhard von Rad

Understanding the Old Testament, by Bernhard Anderson

The textbook is called Education for Ministry, year 1, 4th edition, from the University of the South. It's not bad but very much a textbook, and I think it is only available if you take the course, though you might be able to borrow it from someone. It's an Anglican reference.

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#18 of 21 Old 12-09-2008, 06:43 PM
 
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Originally Posted by christianmomof3 View Post
I think it indicates the triune or three/one nature of God. Even though He is one, He is also three, thus the plural form of the word.
That's what we say about it, as well.

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we're : with and : and
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#19 of 21 Old 12-10-2008, 03:24 AM
 
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There is another account in Genesis which has the same singular/plural issue, in reverse. When "the Lord appeared to Abraham," he saw three men; he prostrated himself, called the three "My Lord," and referred to them as "Thee" (singular).
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#20 of 21 Old 12-10-2008, 09:59 AM
 
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Any misspellings or grammatical errors in the above statement are intentional;
they are placed there for the amusement of those who like to point them out.
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#21 of 21 Old 12-10-2008, 01:17 PM
 
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While/when G!d was visiting Avraham, three אנשים, men, visited him. There's no way to read it that kh'v'sh those three men were in any way a deity.

It says that very clearly in the text.

G!d comes to visit him, v.1.
Avraham sees the three visitors, v.2.
Avraham asks G!d to wait, v.3.
Avraham asks the visitors to make themselves at home, v.4&5.
Avraham rushes around to make the visitors feel at home, v.6 et al.





Welcoming visitors/guests is an enormous mitzva. And we learn the importance of it here, when Avraham actually went so far as to ask G!d to wait, so he could welcome strangers into his home properly.



The sing./pl. thing isn't an issue here.
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