Question #30 – Some Bible teachers insist that the term ELOHIM is plural because of the “im” ending is plural, therefore, they conclude that when God said in Genesis 1:26, “Let us make man in our image” there are three persons speaking or involved in there. Is this argument on the plural persons in the term Elohim consistent and valid?
Answer: No, it is not consistent and valid. The “im ending” in Hebrew may suggest plurality in some words, but it does not mean it always points to a plurality of persons. Just as the “letter S” or ES” may be a sign of plurality in the English language, but not every word ending in S is plural. Example: NEWS, Reyes, Fuentes, Dolores, Tavares, Santos, delos Santos. There are single items, single persons who have plural form names. Let us study the case of the term used by Yahweh God in Exodus 7:1 and the One Golden Calf recorded in Exodus 32:1, 4, 8.
Exodus 7:1: “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I have mad you like God to Pharoah, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. . .” (Exo. 7:1, NIV)
“And Jehovah said unto Moses, See, I have made thee as God to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.” (Exodus 7:1, ASV)
My comment: The Hebrew form of Elohim in Exodus 7:1 is the same Hebrew form in Genesis 1:1. Yahweh God addressed Moses in Exodus 7. Yahweh makes Moses an Elohim to Pharaoh. Did Yahweh make three persons out of Moses in the presence of Pharaoh? No, not three persons. That term “Elohim” has the idea of power and authority and superiority and respect that the sovereign ruler of Egypt will give to Moses. Moses will show Pharaoh powerful events culminating in the death of all firstborns in every household both human and animals. Also the dividing of the Red Sea and the millions of Israelites crossing of the Red Sea on dry land. Finally the drowning of Pharaoh’s army in the depth of the Sea!
Exodus 32:1, 4, 8: “. . . Come make us gods . . . they gathered abound Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. . . He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, ‘These are your gods,’ O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” x x x ‘Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD.’ x x x They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (32:1,4,8, NIV)
“. . . Up, make us gods, . . . gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us. . . And he received it at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it a molten calf: and they said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. x x x ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to Jehovah x x x they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it, and said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” (32:1, 4, 8, ASV)
“. . . kame eis hemas Theous (v.1) . . . kame eis hemas Theous. . . Houtoi einai hoi Theoi sou x x x x (v.4) x x x x Houtoi einai hoi Theoi sou, Israel. . .” (v.8) (Biblos)
My comment: In the Biblos (Greek) translation of the Hebrew text of Exodus 32 as shown above, Elohim is translated in English in the plural although the number of the item is singular, sole, one image, one golden or metal calf. The plural forms (Theous & Theoi) in the Greek suggest the idea of respect, majesty in the minds of the worshipper. Not the plurality of persons in the one, single item, metal calf image. Make a research on the name “Adoraim” which means “double honor.” His person is not double, but the honor of the one person. Also, search the meaning of the name “Ephraim” which means “doubly fruitful.” His fruitfulness is double, not the number of his person. We have a brother named Ephraim. The ending of his name is plural. Is brother Ephraim composed of at least two persons? I hope that these illustrations are sufficient proof of my stand.
Suggestion: Let us not submit the “Elohim-Echad-Yachid” theory as our main argument in presenting our stand on the Trinity or Triune Godhead. To begin with, I suggest that in the creation, the Three Persons (God the Father, Christ and the Holy Spirit) were present and are described as Creators. At the time of Prophet Isaiah, there was already a strong intimation of a Trinity in the context of Isaiah 48:1-22. See the Trinity in vs. 16, “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord Jehovah hath sent me, and his Spirit.” Carefully analyze who the speaker is in the context of the chapter, the “me” who is sent, then his shift to the third person referring to the “Lord Jehovah” as the sender and also the Spirit as another sender/or sent.
In another lesson, I shall show that the argument that “Echad” as always plural as a collective noun is also not true. In still another lesson, I shall show that the argument that “Yachid” as always “absolute one” is also not true. Maraming salamat.