There are claims that ancient Torah isn't a monotheistic text.

I looked at Genesis 1:1.

We have this famous pattern of elohim (plural of eloah) followed by singular verb.

This is related to Why is Elohim translated as God rather than gods in Genesis 1:1?

One of the answer says that

The plural is probably a plural of majesty or intensification

So we have several probability:

  1. It can mean plural gods (but then it's followed by singular words)
  2. It can be the way hebrew language works. Like news is good. So some words are plural even though the meaning is singular.
  3. It could mean majestic we.
  4. It could mean super god/maha dewa like in hindu concept
  5. It could mean that a bunch of gods act in unity and hence the plural elohim followed by singular words
  6. It could mean that hebrew religions have been monotheistic all along

It seems that the pattern suggest that the being doing the stuffs is singular. Yet the being is called elohim instead of eloah. It seems the plural form is there to suggest stress things out. It's as if we're not dealing with a regular god/eloah. We're dealing with a "super god" which the english people latter called "God".

So the pattern, showing up all over the bible, seems to do imply that the torah, at least the part using the pattern, has a monotheistic assumption.

That suggests that one "elohim" (whatever that means) creates the earth and the sky.

Can that be a monotheistic claim?

Is there any other possible interpretation?

Basically torah have this feature of elohim followed by singular words. So elohim is a plural words. However, the sentence describes one being because it's followed by singular words.

Does that feature implies monotheism? What about other gods worshiped by other cultures around israel? Do they also have "elohim" followed by singular words suggesting that there is "one" elohim?

Does the moabites called Chemosh, their god elohim too and often uses singular words to describe them? Things like elohim cooks dinner, etc. What about the babylonian? Is Marduk called "gods" too in babylonian languages?

  • Can you give an example of the literature saying that the Torah is polytheistic?
    – user10231
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 15:40
  • Did a word do it or was there words?
    – Decrypted
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 20:36
  • I am not saying that genesis 1:1 makes a monotheistic claim. I am asking if elohim followed by singular words mean something along, "super god creates heaven and earth." That is in a sense, a monotheistic claim. So Yahweh is not just an eloah. He's a super eloah, and hence called elohim.
    – user4951
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 15:06
  • How to go to chat?
    – user4951
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 17:18

3 Answers 3


When 'elohim is used with a plural verb it is normally read as a plural noun, gods. However, when it is read with a singular verb or in a singular context, it is to be read as singular, God.

Genesis 1:1-2:4a is attributed to the Priestly Source, who is believed to have written during the latter part of the Babylonian Exile or even after the Exile, at a time when Judaism was definitely monotheistic. Unlike some of the earlier sources, the Priestly Source is always monotheistic. The Source does not directly claim here that there is only one God, because that is always an underlying assumption that can not be denied and therefore does not need defending.

  • I modified the question. There are many theories of this elohim followed by singular words thingy. Is this only occuring in ancient judaism or do we have something similar in more obviously polytheistic culture like cultures around Israel?
    – user4951
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 14:39
  • So this pattern of elohim followed by singular words do necessarily refer to a one monotheistic "God"?
    – user4951
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 14:41
  • or at least some sort of super god? like super eloah?
    – user4951
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 15:08
  • @JimThio Elohim was used as a name for God only among the Israelites and Judahites. Elo-ah (אלוה) is the expanded form of el (אל), both with the meaning of a god. The surrounding West Semitic peoples referred to the father of the gods as El (although in time Baal became a more important god), so there is an equivalence between the general West Semitic El and the Hebrew Elohim. If you need to discuss this further, I recommend we go to chat. Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 19:44
  • So, only Israelites and Judahites have this Elohim followed by singular words. So they do have something "unique" about their beliefs.
    – user4951
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 17:19

@user4951 Please consider one more possibility "elohim" is a personal proper name of one entity and therefore the verb "created" is singular.


Taking it literally...Let US...OUR..assuming our is in the Hebrew?...I take this to be 'gods' each making male AND female ...together...at the same time...in the image of themselves...so Chinese, East Indian, African etc. Together they did this...and perhaps that is the singular verb. The LORD..GID...would be Jesus. Thou shalt have...no other gods before Me. So, there are other gods, and Yehoshua is first, Almighty.

Each one of these gods is worshipped by their group. I can't see YHWH needing the Royal We.

  • 1
    Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange, thanks for contributing! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. | This doesn't show its work, which is a requirement on this site. Don't just tell us what you know, tell us how you know it.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 8:20
  • @2FollowHim The us and our do indicate that there are more than one Creators as the world elohim indicates. Ecclesiastes 12:1 literally means "Remember your Creators ...." Commented Dec 7, 2018 at 14:18

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