Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Bible, word by word, continued

The third word in the Tanakh is Elohim, bereshit bara Elohim. It is always translated God, and therefore perhaps the mystery surrounding the word is appropriate.

For, literally, in the Hebrew, Elohim should be translated "Gods." Plural. eloh + im. But nobody does that, not even the Mormons, accused though we are of polytheism. We designate Elohim as the sacred, personal name of the Father, who is one Being, as differentiated from Jehovah, the Son.

I am told that Allah of the Muslims derives from the same root, without that puzzling pluralization.

Perhaps a secularist would resolve the mystery by deciding that the early Hebrews were polytheists and Elohim is a leftover from that distant age, preserved like literary amber in the text of the Tanakh by the reluctance of later scribes to alter the ancient wording.

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