Elohim, First Name - Genesis 1:1

The first name of God in the bible is Elohim. It is Elohim who created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1. El is the root of the word, and used in the generic ‘god’, unless capitalized as the proper name, El or God. What I find most interesting about the use of Elohim is that this is the pluralized form of the word. The direct translation according to the above then would be ‘Gods’, yet perhaps a more accurate form would be ‘Trinity’. From the first verses recorded by Moses, God presents himself as ‘plural’. Perhaps this refers to a certain lack of finite. We are finite beings, with beginning and end (at least a physical end). He is more: he is plural.

This draws to mind the omnipresence of God as well. We cannot wrap our minds around the being that is simultaneously in more than one place at a time. In fact, He is in all places at all times, omni – present.

Elohim is the name in the creation story. Perhaps this means that Elohim is to mean ‘God the Creator’. He is the originator of all the earth and what it contains. But the use is not limited to creation; the name is used the first 66 times in the Bible. It is found over 2,000 times total.

Elohim continues to be used throughout the Old Testament and El is used as part of compounds and phrases of his name in still more verses. I guess it is used a bit like we use ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ in that we can describe the person. We say my sister, the older sister, the black-haired brother. We generally use the descriptors that make that person different from others, or the characteristic that is most striking to us. Similarly, El is used in phrases of description, such as El Olam which means the eternal or everlasting God and El Elyon, meaning God most high or the Most High God.

Elohai is used to mean ‘My God’ or God of a person, such as in Exodus 3:15. God says to Moses that he is ‘The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.’ Here we have an example of how personal God is. Each of the men had a relationship, individual relationship with God. We can say collectively ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ but even the English translations left the individual nature of the relationship in the forefront. He is my God, just as he is the God of Abraham.

Perhaps I will close with Deuteronomy 6:4: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. The names used vary in this verse: Hear O Israel: Yahweh Elohim Yahweh one. So, we return to the plural form and yet the singular. The Triune God revealed himself first as plural yet insists on the singular nature. We see in the original language that the words lend themselves to the explanation of many in one, three in one. Three units acting in concert with one another to reveal his (their?) facets of character to us. Whatever the underlying point: He is plural, yet he is mine. He is yours.

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