Saturday, August 6, 2016


In this study we look examine the name of God Elohim, and discover that God isn't the only one called elohim.  We also take a look at what idolatry really is.

Genesis 1:1-4
Genesis 48:15
1 Kings 8:59-60
Exodus 20:3
Psalms 86:8-10
Psalms 95:3
Judges 11:23-24
1 Kings 11:6-8
1 Kings 11:31-33
Deuteronomy 32:17
1 Cor 10:18-20
Exodus 20:4
Deuteronomy 32:8-9
Hosea 1:2
Isaiah 45:4-5
Deuteronomy 4:32-40

Genesis 1:1-4
1In the beginning God[Elohim] created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
  • The name used for God in all those verses is Elohim

Elohim - Definition

Elohim occurs 2,598 times in the bible

It is commonly referred to as a name of God
  • it is better understood as a title (like God or Lord)

The “im” designates that it's a plural word
  • Like cherub and cherubim or seraph and seraphim

In some cases Elohim behaves like a singular noun in Hebrew grammar, while other times it’s plural.  When it’s  singular, it’s generally understood to denote the God of Israel. In other cases, Elohim acts as an ordinary plural of the word Eloah, often referring to the polytheistic notion of multiple gods (for example, Exodus 20:3, "You shall have no other gods before me.").

It can be singular because Hebrew grammar allows for this nominally-plural form to mean "He is the Power (singular) over powers (plural)", or roughly, "God of gods".

You can't tell by itself whether Elohim is plural or singular from the Hebrew spelling; it depends on what verbs are associated with it.   In some bibles,Elohim is capitalized  when referring to God otherwise it is a lowercase  'e'

In our last lesson we saw that in the Jewish angelic hierarchy, Elohim is listed as one of the types of spiritual beings.


El and Eloh are titles for God and are also used in other Semitic languages representing their gods

El plural is Elim
Eloh plural is Elohim

Allah is a contraction of al ilah (ilah is another spelling for Eloh)
Means one true God
  • Arabic name for God

Elohim is used to refer to:
  1. YHVH
  2. Others


Genesis 48:15
15Then he blessed Joseph and said,
“May the God [Elohim] before whom my fathers
Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God [Elohim] who has been my shepherd
all my life to this day,

1 Kings 8:59-60
59And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, 60so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God[Elohim] and that there is no other.

Other Elohim

Exodus 20:3
3“You shall have no other gods [elohim] before me.
  • Who is speaking here?
    • God
  • Who were the “other gods”?
    • The pagan gods worshipped by the Hebrews and the other nations
    • God is calling them “elohim”
    • Therefore it can't be God’s formal name
  • So the word “elohim” when used in the plural refers to other “gods” that aren’t YHWH

Psalms 86:8-10
8Among the gods [elohim] there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
9All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
10For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God[Elohim].
  • Does David believe that there are other gods?
    • David believes that there are other “elohim”
  • This is declaring that God [YHWH] is the greatest among the elohim

Psalms 95:3
3For the Lord is the great God[El],
the great King above all gods[Elohim].
  • This language is similar to saying Lord of Lords and King of Kings
  • It implies that there are other Lords and there are other kings, but God is greater
  • Is this saying that other gods don’t exist?
    • No it is saying that God is greater than them
    • Why would God compare Himself to something that doesn’t exist

So there are other elohim.  There are other gods, but they are gods with a lowercase “g”.   This implies that there are other beings in the spirit realm referred to as elohim.  Remember that in the Jewish angelic hierarchy there was a level of angels referred to as “elohim”.  

Who Were These Other Elohim?

Judges 11:23-24
23“Now since the Lord, the God of Israel, has driven the Amorites out before his people Israel, what right have you to take it over? 24Will you not take what your god [elohim] Chemosh gives you? Likewise, whatever the Lord our God has given us, we will possess.
  • Who was Chemosh?
    • Chemosh was the national deity of the Moabites
  • How did worship of this God get introduced into Jewish religion?
    • By Solomon
    • Solomon married wives who worshipped foreign gods, and picked up some of their traditions

1 Kings 11:6-8
6Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done. 7Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon. 8Thus also he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and sacrificed to their gods.

1 Kings 11:31-33
31 He said to Jeroboam, "Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes
32 (but he will have one tribe, for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen from all the tribes of Israel),
33 because they have forsaken Me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess [elohim] of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god[elohim] of Moab, and Milcom the god [elohim]of the sons of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and observing My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David did.
  • Notice that each of these gods and goddesses was each over a different nation
  • Each nation had a local god/deity whom they worshipped
  • People from other nations would worship the foreign gods of other nations as well

Idols Represent Demons

Deuteronomy 32:17
They[Israelites] sacrificed unto devils[or demons], not to God[Eloah];
to gods [elohim] whom they knew not,
to new gods that came newly up,
whom your fathers feared not.
  • Were these idols just statues, or did the statues represent real beings?
    • They represented real demons
  • What does it mean: “to gods they knew not”?
    • These demons never interacted with the Israelites

1 Cor 10:18-20
18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?
19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything?
20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.
  • What does Paul say that sacrifices to idols are being sacrificed to?
    • Demons

This means that the pagans were actually sacrificing to demons not just man made statues
  • These demons were fallen angels
  • These demons were fallen elohim

We know that they are fallen because they allow people to worship them


What was the purpose of an idol?
  • We usually think of an idol as just an inanimate object, but a demon is a real spiritual being
  • This implies that the elohim that were being worshipped weren’t just statues, but actual fallen angels or spiritual beings
  • The other nations weren’t just praying to man made statues, but they were praying to the demons that the statues represent

The people didn’t literally worship the idols
  • Catholics don’t worship the statue of Mary
  • It’s a man made object that represents the real mother of Jesus
  • The being that the statue represents is real, but it shouldn’t be worshiped

The worship of idols (or images); the worship of polytheistic gods by use of idols (or images); the worship of created things (trees, rocks, animals, astronomical bodies, or another human being); and the use of idols in the worship of God.

The Mystery Revealed

Idols were made so that the deity/elohim would come and literally inhabit the idol.

They made images of things believed to be in Heaven with the hopes that the thing would literally come down and inhabit the thing made in it’s likeness

This was done in hopes of:
- gaining knowledge
- gaining material things
- doing something for them

Exodus 20:4
"You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.

God declared that He wouldn't be localized
  • don't make any images of Him
  • Many of the commands that God gave were to make clear that He was superior to these other gods/idols

God also came down to dwell with humans, but only in the Holy of Holies in the temple and tabernacle.

Elohim Got Assigned to Nations

Deuteronomy 32:8-9
8When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
when he divided all mankind,
he set up boundaries for the peoples
according to the number of the sons of Israel [sons of Elohim].
Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scrolls (see also Septuagint) sons of God [Elohim]
9For the Lord’s portion is his people,
Jacob his allotted inheritance.

God divided the nations up after the Tower of Babel.  When God made people to speak different languages, he assigned the various elohim to be over specific nations.    

God chose Abraham and His seed to His own people.

We also know that Michael had been assigned as the “Prince” over Israel.

YHWH Chose Israel

Isaiah 45:4-5
4For the sake of Jacob my servant,
of Israel my chosen,
I summon you by name
and bestow on you a title of honor,
though you do not acknowledge me.
5I am the Lord, and there is no other;
apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
though you have not acknowledged me,

Israel Was Unfaithful

The reason that God kept getting angry at the Jewish people was because they kept going back to worshiping these other gods.

Hosea 1:2
2When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”
  • The story of Hosea was an analogy of how the Israelites were adulterous and God kept taking them back
We can see now that much of the struggle of the Old Testament was God trying to win the Israelites over from chasing other gods

YHWH Alone

Deuteronomy 4:32-40
32Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? 33Has any other people heard the voice of Goda speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? 34Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
35You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. 36From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire. 37Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, 38to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.
39Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. 40Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the Lord your God gives you for all time.
  • Only God communicated plainly to His people


Elohim is not a name it's a title.  It can be used as a singular noun where it loosely means “God of gods” and refers to YHWH.  When used in the plural sense it refers to other spiritual beings some of which became the pagan gods of the nations.

Elohim are spirit beings that:
  • know good from evil
  • have the power of choice
  • Some have fallen

We don’t know that all of the elohim fell.    They should not be worshiped.

Idolatry was worship of, not just idols, but of actual spirit beings.   After God called Israel to be a nation for Himself, they were strictly forbidden from worshiping any of these other beings.

There are many elohim, but there is only one true God.
- He is the creator of all things visible and invisible
- He's the only one who is sovereign
- The other elohim are not deities 

The story of the people of Israel until the Babylonian Captivity includes the violation the commandment “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” as well as the one before it, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me". Much of biblical preaching from the time of Moses to the exile is predicated on the either–or choice between exclusive worship of God and idols.[6] The Babylonian exile seems to have been a turning point after which the Jewish people as a whole were strongly monotheistic and willing to fight battles (such as the Maccabean Revolt) and face martyrdom before paying homage to any other god

From the time of the Tower of Babel various nations were worshiping their own national gods along with other gods.  The Hebrews also took part in this culture.  

God chose Abraham to separate out a group of people to worship Him alone.  He gave them peculiar customs, and traditions, so that they would be distinguishable from other nations.  He commanded that they not intermarry with those who worshiped other gods in order to keep the idols and foreign worship out of their households.   

The encounter with Abraham began God’s plan to eventually bring all nations back to Him.  This was accomplished by sending His son Jesus to earth through the lineage of Abraham.  Jesus’ death allowed all nations to inherit the one true God, YHWH, as our God.  We now have the ability to not only worship God, but to also develop a personal relationship with Him.  

The pagans built idols with the hope of bringing their gods down to earth.  The Babylonians built structures with the hopes of reaching their gods.  The Israelites built a temple in which God dwelt.  We, as Christians, now have the ability to have God dwell within us.

  • The Hebrew word “Elohim” is used over 2,500 times in the Old Testament
  • It is a name or title used to refer to God
  • When Genesis 1 reads “In the beginning ‘God’ created the Heavens and the earth”, the word ‘God’ is the Hebrew word ‘Elohim’.
  • Although Elohim would naturally be a plural word, it can also be singular if the verb associated with it is singular
  • When used to represent the God of Israel, the word Elohim is singular, loosely means “God of gods”
  • The word elohim is also used to refer to the pagan gods worshipped by the non-Israelite nations
    • Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods [elohim] before me
  • This is similar to how in English we say “God” for the one true God, but use the same word with a lowercase ‘g’ to talk about lower beings - the pagan gods
  • Each nation had different pagan gods (elohim) that had dominion and influence over them
  • The nations would build idols to worship these gods
  • Paul stated (1 Cor 10:18-20) that these false gods were not just inanimate idols, but they represented actual beings in the spirit realm - demons
  • Thus idolatry was the worship of demons with the hope of having them inhabit the idols for the purpose obtaining knowledge, something material, or some acts of service from the demon
  • God singled out Abraham and his descendants to stop worshipping these pagan gods and to worship Him alone
  • Although God commanded the Israelites not to worship these other gods, they would periodically go back to worshipping them
  • God’s plan was to eventually bring all nations back to worshipping Him alone
  • This plan was to be accomplished through Jesus’ death on the cross which allowed that anyone who believed in Jesus as savior could be a “son of God” and be brought into the worship of the one true God alone

Presenter: Michael Leadon


The Unseen Realm by Michael Heiser


Extra Scriptures

Gen 35:7
There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God [Elohim] revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.

The Dead

1 Sam 28:11-14
Then said the woman, Whom shall I bring up unto thee? And he said, Bring me up Samuel.
12 And when the woman saw Samuel, she cried with a loud voice: and the woman spake to Saul, saying, Why hast thou deceived me? for thou art Saul.
13 And the king said unto her, Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? And the woman said unto Saul, I saw gods ascending out of the earth.
14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.

Higher Than All Others

Exodus 15:11
Deut 3:24
1 Kings 8:23
Psalms 97:9
Psalms 27:9
Neh 9:6
Psalms 95:3
Dan 4:35
1 Kings 22:9

2 Kings 23:15, 19-20
 15Furthermore, the altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down. Then he demolished its stones, ground them to dust, and burned the Asherah.
19Josiah also removed all the houses of the high places which were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made provoking the LORD; and he did to them just as he had done in Bethel. 20All the priests of the high places who were there he slaughtered on the altars and burned human bones on them; then he returned to Jerusalem.


Isaiah 45-47

The Trinity

Some scholars say that singular Elohim is not God the Father, but instead it represents the trinity

Genesis 1:1
1In the beginning God [elohim] created the heavens and the earth.
  • Who was the world created through?
    • Jesus

Genesis 1:2
2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God [Elohim] was hovering over the waters.
  • Some Jews believe that this was the Messiah 

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