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לא יהיה לך אלהים אחרים על פני׃

(You shall have no other gods before / beside Me.)

"elohim" in Exodus 20:3 is a noun plural in number. By the context that "other" in Hebrew is also plural to confirm that "elohim" is plural and therefore not a personal proper name that could be singular if referring to one singular entity, is it a common noun about members of a kind of living being, a common noun about objects of worship, a common noun about judges, a common noun about those who are godly, a common noun about those who are mighty, a proper noun of a person, or others?

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We have various passages in scripture that assure us that idols are "nothings" which men make out of tree stumps and what not and are as intrinsically insignificant as any other piece of wood or stone:

CSB Jeremiah 10:8 They are both stupid and foolish, instructed by worthless idols made of wood!

But in other places such as in the Genesis account of the garden YHVH is juxtaposed against a very real rival who in the form of an extremely intelligent and powerful adversary.

In other places we see that God's real enemy, the Satan receives worship by proxy via the "nothings":

[Lev 17:7 NKJV] 7 "They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations." '

[1Co 10:19-22 NKJV] 19 What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. 22 Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?

Many think that the Satan is referred to in Corinthians as "the god of this world" (which in Hebrew would be the ELOHIM of this world):

[2Co 4:4 KJV] 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

There is also a sense in which other nations can be "false gods" in that they can be depended upon to save Israel in their dicey situations:

[Hos 14:1-3 CSB] 1 Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled in your iniquity. 2 Take words of repentance with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: "Forgive all our iniquity and accept what is good, so that we may repay you with praise from our lips. 3 "Assyria will not save us, we will not ride on horses, and we will no longer proclaim, 'Our gods! ' to the work of our hands. For the fatherless receives compassion in you."

So when God says not to have any "elohim" ("gods") before him he means:

  • do not regard idols as anything because they are "nothings"
  • do not regard idols as anything because they are proxies for devils
  • do not listen to the very real enemy, the Satan as he is a liar and a thief
  • do not depend on the might of nations but on the LORD
  • Thank you for your answer! So you take "elohim" as a common noun in plural form and means gods all inclusively -- idols that are nonliving things or fallen angels or the might of nations and are being worshiped. Can it also include the members of the kind of ever-living beings ? – Chin-Lee Chan Nov 19 '18 at 12:30
  • Rather than viewing the prohibition as referring to a list of forbidden beings (real and imagined) I think it best to take it entirely inclusive and just day, "Don't trust anyone implicitly except Me!". – Ruminator Nov 19 '18 at 12:33
  • I take it only referring to the real Gods (each of them is an ever-living being who is and who was and who will be), excluding non-living idols and their corresponding real objects (anything in the heavens above (angels), the earth below (including human beings), or the waters under the earth) that are covered by the second commandment. So my translation is "You shall have no three or more other Gods before Me." "three or more" because "Originally, 3 (Hebrew noun) numbers were indicated, singular (one), dual (two), plural (three or more)." LaSor Handbook of Biblical Hebrew vol.2, 1979 p.75. – Chin-Lee Chan Nov 19 '18 at 13:35
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    You say: "Many think that the Satan is referred to in Corinthians as "the god of this world" (which in Hebrew would be the ELOHIM of this world)." I think the singular/plural would be preserved in going from Greek to Hebrew. So the god of this world shpuld be eloah vs elohim. – Revelation Lad Nov 19 '18 at 17:12
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    @Chin-LeeChan The word in Daniel 2:47 is the Aramaic equivalent to the Hebrew אֱלוֹהַּ so your observation is possible. My point is the Greek is singular θεὸς (god) not plural θεοὶ (gods). In 1 Corinthians 8:5 Paul expresses a similar thought of false gods (plural). As he uses both the singular and plural in addressing the same group, I believe the better approach, if one is trying to make a connection to the Hebrew, is to preserve the distinctions in the original texts. Thus, IMO, it is impossible for Paul to be thinking the Elohim of this world is the deceiver. – Revelation Lad Dec 7 '18 at 16:02
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GOD

"OT words for God. A cluster of three words, possibly from the same ancient root, are translated "God" of "god" in the NIV and NASB. These are el, eloah, elohim. Each is a generic terms, meaning "god" or "mighty one." Normally when one of these words occur in the OT, it designates either the true God or something the pagan nations viewed as a god. In only a few instances are these words used of angels or mighty human beings."-'Expository Dictionary of the Bible' by L.O. Richards p.312-313

also

"El and Elohim are from the earliest times the general names applied to the spirits or demons associated in popular belief with certain localities or natural objects such as trees, wells, rocks, stones, etc., Some of these numerous vague spirits attained in the course of time to a more definitely personal quality, advancing as the protective spirits of places and tribes to the stage of deity. An instructive passage is Gen. 33.20, 'And he [Jacob] erected there an alter and called it El-elohe-Israel'. El is here no longer a mere appellative, but has become a proper name, the name of the God of Israel, while at the same time it is the name of the alter itself, closely associated with the stone (cf. Gen. 28.18f) of which the alter consists."-'A Theologial Word Book of the Bible' Ed. by A. Richardson D.D. p.94-94

and further

“GOD … The names of God . . . As the words ‘el and theos can be used to refer to any supernatural power, of which there may be many, as well as to the supreme or absolute supernatural being. Because of this, translators of the Bible have felt free to use similar words in other languages which have a corresponding breath of meaning (e.g. ‘God’ in English), This is in contrast to Islamic translators of the Qur’an, for example, who retain the word ‘Allah as an untranslatable proper name, even thought there is no semantic justification for this. The Bible’s willingness to use ***generic**** words of deity to refer to the unique God of Israel confirms its assertion that some knowledge of him in innate in every rational creature and that pagan deities are but pale and corrupt reflections of this knowledge. In the Bible God reveals himself by the name YHWH, which is usually vocalized as ‘Yahweh’, but which at some point ceased to be used by the ancient Israelites . . . which has come into English via its Latinized form ‘Jehovah’.”-‘New Dictionary of Biblical Theology’ published by InterVarsty Press p.513

*”generic adj. 1 characteristic of or relating to a class; general, not specific or special. 2 Biol. characteristic of or belonging to a genus. generically adv. [Latin: related to *genus].”-Oxford Dictionary

In simple terms God is God, to the European mind, but not so the case to the Near Eastern mind (the Holy Scriptures where prepared for their culture originally) there is a lot more involved, which we should take into consideration when contemplating the Scriptures, as the above shows, many things are called God, god, gods etc. in the Bible so having the right prospective (and Scripture context) of this will help us to understand why Jesus can be "a god" (or divine one) and just as true, but with out being The Almighty God.

Humans are referred to as "God" or "god".

Exodus 4:16 "And he* must speak for you to the people; and it must occur that he will serve as a mouth to you, and you** will serve as God*** to him*." *Aaron; **Moses; ***N.W.T. (ftn) "As God.” Heb., le´•lo•him', pl.; Gr., the•on'; Lat., De'um."

Exodus 7:1 "Consequently Jehovah said to Moses: "See, I have made you God* to Pharaoh, and Aaron your own brother will become your prophet. *N.W.T. "(ftn.) “God.” Heb., ´elo•him'; Gr., the•on'; Latin, De'um."

N.I.V. Study Bible. Comment on Ex 7:1 (and Ex 4:16). "As God transmits his word through his prophets to his people, so Moses will transmit God's message through Aaron to pharaoh. The prophet's task was to speak God's word on God's behalf. He was God's "mouth" (4:15-16)."

Jesus Christ is the prophet ("The Word") for Jehovah, like Moses (and much more), whom was a prophetic picture of The Christ, as Moses was the godlike mediator of the Law Covenant, whereas Jesus is the godlike Mediator (1 Tim 2:5; Heb 12:24) of the New Covenant as Deuteronomy 18:15 reads "A prophet from your own midst, from your brothers, like me, is what Jehovah your God will raise up for you—to him YOU people should listen." See John 1:45; 6:14; Acts 3:22-23; 7:37.

Zechariah 12:8 “ . . .and the house of David like God. . .”

On the above ‘A New Commentary On The Holy Scriptures’ by S.P.C.K p.623 says:- “the house of David shall be as God. The royal house of David will figure as the representative of the divine leadership (cf. Ex 4 16) in the theocratic state.”

Psalms 82:1-8 "God is stationing himself in the assembly of the Divine One*; In the middle of the gods** he judges: "How long will YOU keep on judging with injustice And showing partiality to the wicked themselves? Be judges for the lowly one and the fatherless boy. To the afflicted one and the one of little means do justice. Provide escape for the lowly one and the poor one; Out of the hand of the wicked ones deliver [them]." They have not known, and they do not understand; In darkness they keep walking about; All the foundations of the earth are made to totter. "I myself have said, 'YOU are gods***, And all of YOU are sons of the Most High. . . ." *N.W.T. (ftn) "Or, “God.” Heb., ´El; LXXVg, “gods”; Sy, “angels.”" **N.W.T. (ftn) "Or, “godlike ones.” Heb., ´elo•him'; LXXVgc, “gods”; Sy, “angels”; T, “judges.”" ***N.W.T. (ftn) "Or, “godlike ones.” Heb., ´elo•him'; Gr., the•oi'; Syr., da´•la•hin; Lat., di'i; T, like angels.”

N.I.V. Study Bible. Comment on Ps 82:6. "I said. Those who rule (or judge) do so by God's appointment (see 2:7 ; Isa 44:28) and thus they are his representatives- whether they acknowledge him or not (see Ex 9:16; Jer 27:6; Da 2:21; 4:17.32; 5:18; Jn 17:11; Ro 13:1). gods. See note on v. 1*. sons of. See note on v, 1, Most High. See note on Ge 14:19." *"An early rabbinic interpretation (see Jn 10:35-35) understanding the "gods" (vv. 1,6) to be unjust rulers and judges in Israel, of whom there were many . . . ."

K.J.V. Companion Bible, Ps 82:1 **"gods Elohim: used of earthly judges as representing Him. Cp. Ex. 21.6; 22.8, 9, 28 (quoted in Acts 23.5.). Hence Moses is so spoken of (Ex. 7. 1). (it is used also of idols as representing even a false god.) See John 10. 34, 35."

"Verse 6. Ye are gods — Or, with the prefix of k ke, the particle of similitude, µyhlak keelohim, “like God.” Ye are my representatives, and are clothed with my power and authority to dispense judgment and justice, therefore all of them are said to be children of the Most High."-Clarke's Commentary OT, Vol. 3 Job - Song of Solomon by Adam Clarke p.1084

Psalm 82:6 “I myself have said, ‘YOU are gods, And all of YOU are sons of the Most High.

It is clear that Jesus is “God’s Son” by his own admission (John 10:36), also God’s (Heb 1:5), and is one of many such, as the Scriptures make clear, excepting he is a very special an "Only-begotten" one, see John 1:14,18.

As God’s “sons” can be also be called “gods” by God himself (as above) and being as Jesus or “The Word,” who is God’s “son” (John 1:14), can then, by context and connection, be correctly referred to as “a god” or one of the many of God’s “sons” called “gods” human or otherwise!

Just a bit of info.

  • My definition of a God is that a God is an ever-living intelligent being based on Revelation 1:4 "who is and who was and who will". Any intelligent being who has this characteristic is a God. What is your definition of a God? – Chin-Lee Chan Nov 19 '18 at 14:06
  • The Bible teaches that there is only one Almighty God, that is "Jehovah;" "the Most High" (see K.J.V. Psalm 83:18). – user26950 Nov 19 '18 at 14:28
  • The word "God", Hebrew or Greek, is a relative term, sometimes it refers to The Almighty and or the various things you pointed out, context shows which is which. Define Him; ABOVE AND BEYOND ALL!!! To him the entire cosmos is smaller then this "." full stop. Isa. 40:22 There is One who dwells above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He is stretching out the heavens like a fine gauze, And he spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. – user26950 Nov 19 '18 at 14:38
  • An angel is an angelic spirit of the angel kind. A human being is a spirit with a body with human DNA or genome. Angels and human beings all have beginnings of their existence. Most high position seems valueless if there was only one Being existing before Creation. So YHWH introduced Himself to Moses to introduce Him as "I AM THAT I AM" about His supreme existence instead of "the Most High". Please consider adjusting your definition of the God kind of beings.. – Chin-Lee Chan Nov 19 '18 at 15:54
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    @Chin-Lee Chan Jesus is quoting from the Hebrew not the Greek as he would not follow the false pratice of substituting "YHWH" for "Adoni" or "Kurios" by the scribes whom he condemed for not following the scriptures beside, The LXX retained "YHWH" in Hebrew lettering among the Greek text. Go To - ibiblio.org/bgreek/test-archives/html4/1996-03/12555.html See Matthew 6:9. – user26950 Nov 28 '18 at 17:33

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