Elohim as "El" and Plural
We often see the personal character of Elohim when it is shortened, to El, and then coupled with another word. (Though some scholars question whether this is simply a shortening). Several names of popular OT characters have El in their name: Elijah (“El is Yahweh”) and Samuel (“Heard by El”) are two such examples.
When you remember the story of both Elijah and Samuel, you see the importance a name had in the Old Testament. Elijah is known as the prophet who was steadfast in proclaiming that Yahweh was the only true Elohim. Even the name Israel means “prince of El”.
Another interesting aspect of the name Elohim is that it is, in fact, a plural. Does this mean this is a clear reference to the Trinity? While that cannot be disproven, it also could not be proven from the plurality. Many scholars refer to this as a divine plural. I, however, agree with John Frame that this is a plural of abstraction:
“…that is, ‘a more or less intensive focusing of the characteristics inherent in the idea of the stem…rendered in English by forms in –hood, -ness, -ship”...Hebrew uses the plural form for abstract nouns such as youth, old age, maidenhood, and life. It may also (or alternatively) carry some force as a plural of amplication. Usually found in poetry, this plural is an emphatic statement of the root idea, as might and counsel.”
Jesus makes an interesting argument on this point in John 10:34 when he quotes Psalm 82:6. He argues that the Scriptures themselves refer to others than God Himself, how then can Jesus be accused of blasphemy because He claims to be God’s Son? I appreciate these words from D.A. Carson:
“In the heat of their opposition to what they hear Jesus to be saying, they are partly right (he does make himself equal with God), partly wrong (this fact does not establish a competing God), and profoundly mistaken (they have not grasped the drift of their own Scriptures to see how he fulfills them, nor have they known God well enough to perceive that the revelation he is and brings is in continuity with and the capstone of the revelation of God already provided).”
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