God as EL or ELOHIM

God as EL or ELOHIM

 By Larry Fayer

Let’s look at the first of three words used to define God in the Old Testament Scriptures.  The Hebrew words are EL and ELOHIM.  The difference between them is EL is singular and ELOHIM is plural.  In your English Bible, the word is “God.”

This word, in either singular or plural, is used more than 2700 times in the Old Testament.

Just like the English word god, the word refers to both OUR GOD and other gods men have made.  It was used to refer to Moses: And the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like god to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet” (Exodus 7:1 ESV).   And it was used to describe the gods of Egypt in Exodus 12:12 ESV, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.”

This word is used to refer to our God in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” It is interesting that most of the time when it is used to describe the God of Creation it is in the plural.  Some believe that it is for emphasis.  I wonder if it also points out what is often referred to as “the Godhead” since we know, for example in Genesis 1:1, that Jesus was involved also (see John 1:1-14, Colossians 1:16).

Although the word is used for both God and gods, there are significant differences.  There are a lot of things we humans can and do make into a god.  Mankind has often made gods out of people, places and things.  But there is only one God who created the universe and everything in it.  He is truly God of gods.  He is the one and only one we should serve.

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