First of all, I would like to get my qualifications for doing this study out in the open……..I don’t have any! This study is from a heart running after, towards and eagerly seeking God’s heart; a heart after Him. What follows is what t I learn through my research and my hunger to know God intimately. I am simply sharing what I discover.
To begin our study on the Names of God, we must first discuss the origin of the name or the words used to describe an attribute of God. The Names we are about to study are, for the most part, names that you will not see in your current translation of the Bible. The names, titles and attributes we study go back to the original text. For the Old Testament we research the Hebrew meaning to words and in the New Testament it’s usually Greek, with a little Latin thrown in on the side. Start by reviewing the preface or introduction of your Bible. There will be a history of that translation and the publisher often details how they researched and used the original text.
The English language has “watered-down” so much of the original meaning of words. Ancient Hebrew and Greek words were rich with meaning (and still are for that matter.) One scholar says that it is best to have an Ancient Hebrew perception of God rather than our modern western view. This is not a language study on Hebrew and Greek words, but we will look at some meanings that help show us how God used them to describe Himself through His Word. I highly encourage you to dive deep into the Word by doing your own word study as you meditate on Scripture. Looking at the meaning of original words makes Bible Study so exciting and fun. But….I warn you, Bible Study is addictive and contagious!
O LORD, I pray that we all become infected with an addictive desire to study your Word and fall madly in love with You. I pray that we see You as You are and that the Word we study finds a home in our hearts and that we not only know your Word, Father, but we live it out and become a beacon of hope to those you send to us.
So let’s get started with the very first name that shows up in Genesis 1:1.
Elohim (EL-o-HEEM) is the name given to God as the Creator in the original Hebrew canon text of the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh). It appears in the very first sentence.
“In the beginning, God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth” GENESIS 1:1 (NIV).
Let’s start with a background on the word first used for God in the very first Scripture of the Bible.
EL comes from the Hebrew root אלה (‘ih) which means “strong, mighty, leader, authority” and was used to describe any god. When the Ancient Hebrews (hereinafter called “Ancients”) first used this word for God, it was written in pictograph form using the head of an Ox and a shepherd’s staff. Now this is where I get excited! The Ox represented strength and the staff represented authority. The Ancients saw God as the strong one with authority. But now it just gets even better! The staff also represented a staff on the shoulders….a yoke. When oxen were used to plow a field, two were “yoked” together, one older, stronger and more experienced, the other one younger and less experienced. The older guides and teaches the younger. The Ancients saw themselves yoked to God in this manner. I just absolutely love this depiction of God. Our Strong Authority guiding us and teaching us as we are yoked to Him. Do you also see the significance of the shepherd’s staff? I am awe struck just thinking about this. We will study the Shepherd later in this series.
Elohim is unique to the Hebrew language. It does not appear in any other ancient Semitic language. It is a masculine plural of EL or ELO’AH, the two most common ancient words used for divinity that translate as God. Hebrew, like many languages, has masculine, feminine, and non-gender words. This does not mean that a masculine word is only for males or a feminine word is only for females. It is simply a “form” of a word. Modern English has dropped this style of language and uses gender specific words.
The “im” at the end indicates more than one. The plural of the word does not mean plural “gods”. In English, plural means quantity, but in Hebrew it can also mean quality, something of great size or stature. In Hebrew the word Elohim is always used with singular verbs, adjectives and pronouns. Deuteronomy 10:17 (NIV) specifically says “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords…” Elohim is The God.
The name is unique! Would you really think that it would be anything else when it is a name used for God? A plural name used for one God! How exciting is that? Even in the name that is used in the first sentence of the Bible, there is a shadowing of the Trinity. Three Gods as One (also known as the Godhead).
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD (Yahweh) is our God (Elohim), the LORD is one.Deuteronomy 6:4 (ESV)
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, together as One, created the heavens and the earth. One in essence, one in character, yet three persons united as one.
As you study the scriptures and questions below, think about all that God has created….even yourself. See the beauty and sovereignty that belongs to God. Ask God to show you His creation throughout the week. We often do not see his beauty because of what sin has done to His creation. But God will show you, in the smile of a child, the beauty of a sunset, the peace of a meadow, or a raging sea. Elohim is God, and Elohim is Creator.
God (Elohim) as Creator study verses:
The answers follow, but I encourage you to look up the Scriptures and answer the questions on your own. Take your time, you may do them all at once or one a day or one a week. The process is up to you. You can even search for more Scripture on your own. That’s the fun part, digging for yourself and finding the treasures.
- In Genesis Chapter 1, what did God say about his creation? (Also see 1 Timothy 4:4)
- How many times did he say it?
- From Genesis Chapter 1, name some of the things created.
- In Genesis 1:1 and 1:14, what was created that has such significance to us humans here on earth? (You might have to ponder on this one a little bit).
- What did God create? (Isaiah 45:7) (Ephesians 3:9) (Colossians 1:16)
- How did God create the angels, heavens, waters, sun, moon and stars (Psalm 148:2-5)
- Who made rainbows and what is their purpose? (Genesis 9:12-17)
- Who made mankind? (Genesis 1:26-27)
- In whose image did God make man? (Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6)
- To whom do we belong? (Psalm 100:3) (1 Corinthians 6:19) (Romans 14:8)
- Why did God create appointed times and boundaries? (Acts 17:26-28)
- What job did God give mankind? (Genesis 1:28)
- In your opinion, have we done a good job?
- Does this change how you might treat God’s creation?
- What did God do that brought life to man? (Genesis 2:7)
- Knowing that God Himself breathed into the nostrils of Adam to give us life, what does that say to your heart about how “personal” he feels in his creation of you?
- What should all of God’s creation do and why should they do it? (Psalm 148:2-5)(Revelation 4:11)
- Is there any other God than the one who created the heavens and made the earth and all that inhabits it? (Isaiah 45:18)
- Who else was involved in the Creation? (1 Corinthians 8:6) (Hebrew 1:2) (John 1:1-3) (Genesis 1:2) (Job 33:4)
- According to Isaiah 40:12, how big is our God?
Please take a moment and write all the things you know about Elohim and God as Creator.
Answers (based on Scripture from the New International Version)
- That it was good
- 7 (seven is the number of perfection)
- Heavens, earth, light, (day and night), sky, land, seas, plants, trees, seed, fruit, sun, moon, stars, living creatures of the sea, birds, livestock, wild animals, man and woman.
- Time (let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, days and years).
- All things
- By command
- God made rainbows to be a sign of His covenant between Himself and the earth and all life that dwells upon the earth. When He sees it, He will remember the everlasting promise he made not to destroy by waters.
- Please note that it Says “let us”
- In God’s image and likeness
- To God, The Lord
- So that we would seek Him and reach out to Him.
- Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it. To rule.
- (your own words here)
- (your own words here)
- He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
- (your words here)
- Praise the name of the Lord because he created them.
- No, there is no other
- Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit
- Big enough to hold the universe in the span of his hand!
Read the story of creation in Genesis Chapter one.