Seven Prime Names: 5. El Elohim (אל אלהים)
In our look at the different names of God (what they mean, how they can draw us closer to Him in relationship) we come now to El Elohim (or just ‘Elohim’) – God the creator (but more than that, as we shall see). Elohim is the first name for God used in the Bible and in fact is the fourth word:
In the beginning Elohim created heaven and earth. (Genesis 1:1)
Elohim means ‘creator, mighty, strong and supreme judge’ which is appropriate when talking about the One who made everything. We cannot imagine the effort required, but for God it was not an effort as He is ‘mighty and strong.’ And He made it ‘right’ – correct and just.
Elohim is linked to Eloha (mighty, strong, prominent, with compassion and integrity), that we looked at last time. It is the plural of Eloha and this has been seen as an early (the fourth word of the Bible, remember!) acknowledgement of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. After all, both Jesus and the Holy Spirit were there:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. (John 1:1 and 1:14)
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2)
Elohim is a collective plural and ranges alongside Eloah, Elohi and then Elohim itself. It is similar to flower, flowers and (for Elohim) bouquet of flowers – we talk of a bouquet as ‘singular, but it refers to the plural because when there is only one flower there cannot be a ‘bouquet.’ In the same way, Elohim is singular but referring to the plural: Father, Son and Holy Spirit is ‘God’ – three in one. And as ‘judge’ He has power to dispense justice and make it part of our very being:
“But this is the promise that I will make to Israel after those days,” declares God: “I will put my teachings inside them, and I will write those teachings on their hearts. I will be their Elohim, and they will be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)
When Jesus was on the cross, crying out to His Father, he could have chosen so many ways of addressing Him: Yahweh as the Eternal One; Adonai as Lord or El Shaddai as God Almighty, to name but three. We miss a lot reading the English:
And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’) (Mark 15:34)
Eloi (‘My God’) is the vocative of Elohim and shows Jesus calling upon His personal God and recognising God for who God is: ‘My God, Creator, Mighty, Strong and Supreme Judge.’ Jesus, dying for our sins, received judgement (the wages of sin is death) which in turn showed compassion on us.
Help me, O LORD my Elohim. Save me because of your mercy. (Psalm 109:26)
[from Timothy Pitt]