Elohim ( heb. אלהים Elohim), in Ashkenazi pronunciation Elauhim, Eloihim, is in the Hebrew Bible - the Tanakh - the term for "God", but is often also used as a proper name. He is almost exclusively for YHWH, the God of the Hebrews or Israelites, used, particularly in his role as creator of the world and in polemics against the worship of foreign gods in Israel.

Singular and plural forms

Elohim is the formal grammatical plural of Eloah. Does this designation to the God of Israel, they appear in the Bible always with verb forms in the singular and is then translated as "God." Only if by " ( other ) gods " is mentioned, the verb is plural.

Eloah appears in Tanach rarely and only on literary and theological history late points. He is in his Semitic basic form probably " Mighty " or " strong ". The same word is in Aramaic Elah or Elaha ( with attached article -a), in Arabic Ilah from which the articles Allah ( al- ilah, " the god " ) is.

The ratio of Eloah / Elohim to the word and proper nouns El is unclear. The three words in the Tanakh can also angels and even people refer to, for example, in Ex 4.16 EU:

" ... And he (Aaron ) shall be thy mouth, and thou (Moses) shalt for him God [ Elohim ] be. "

Therefore, Bible passages in which Elohim is ambiguous by the text environment, translated differently. So Luther translated the Bible Ps 8.6 EU:

"You [ YHWH] have [ the people ] made ​​him a little lower than God ..."

The Zurich Bible, however, translated here by 2007, "... as the angels ."


The Bible research assumes that the general term " Elohim " comes from the polytheistic gods of Canaan, the " Promised Land " to which the Hebrews around 1200 attracted BC, and that this in turn is from the Canaanite- Syrian chief god El -dependent. Thus, clay tablets were found with numerous divine names as in Ugarit, including the " El Aeljon " which there denotes the male creator deity. In 1 Deuteronomy 14, 18-20 (indicated by a text inset ) could be a reminder that this Creator God of the Israelites recognized early and later identified with YHWH, the liberator from Egyptian slavery ( 2 Genesis 3, 6.14). In this case, apparently the plural form was chosen to draw the multiplicity of gods in the one person of the one God. In the late apocalyptic Daniels (around 170 BC) the term appears in the context of the vision of the final judgment on ( Dan. 7: 1-14): " thrones were cast down ," it says in verse 9, so that even here there may be a late memory of a " Götterrat ".

The name of God, Elohim and YHVH are mentioned in the Pentateuch in different contexts. This was decisive indications and starting point for the documentary hypothesis of Old Testament exegesis in the 19th century: She claimed that the Pentateuch literature from two to four independently written source texts was assembled. The presumed author of the text strings that call God consistently Elohim called the Elohist in contrast to the Yahwist, rumored to have been the exclusive use of the proper name YHWH. The Julius Wellhausen classically formulated hypothesis of the Pentateuch is considered outdated.

Earlier Christian exegetes interpreted the plural form " Elohim" in conjunction with verbs in the singular as often veiled reference to God's Trinity (Trinity). Today it is rather understood as a pluralistic maiestatis.

Ratio of Elohim to YHWH

To uniquely distinguish the God of Israel from other gods, which could also be referred to as El / Elohim, named early tribes traditions of the Israelites to their God with the proper name of each patriarch of their clan, such as the El of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This clan gods were first well identified with each other, as the families grew together as a people.

The name YHWH is to Ex 3.14 EU only revealed and interpreted in the context of the calling of Moses to free his people from Egypt. It is therefore subject to the God of all Israel, and his self-revelation. The one time in the Bible statement, "I am who I am " or "I am the ." I am, " " is understood as a rejection of YHWH can be in contrast to other names and titles do not make God the object and Summon magic formula. This name can only be explained by his support itself; he binds this particular god to the particular history of Israel, distinguishes him from other gods, and is therefore not with "Elohim " is used interchangeably .. The New Testament has "Elohim" and the Greek "ho theos " (God ), " YHWH " but as the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible ( Septuagint ) consistent with "ho kurios " (the Lord ) translated and linked to the name "Jesus Christ" ( 1 Pt 1:3, for example, in the EU ):

  • Praise be to God [ theos ], the Father of our Lord [ kurios ] Jesus Christ ...