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How Torah based Jews Understand the Hebrew Tanakh's View of the Creator


Well-Known Member
This thread is to address a question bough up by @firedragon . I will start off by restating what was originally asked and restated what was originally given as answers in the following posts.

firedragon wrote:

I would like to consult a Jew or two on this matter because this is a very common Christian claim.

I am no Jew, and I have no expertise in Hebrew yet I do know that most Jews if not all have a heavy take on the Hebrew language and the Tanakh as a whole. So if there are any Jews who could contribute, I will be truly grateful.

This thread is to address a particular claim of many Christian apologists where they claim Elohim being a plural which I believe as I have been told by Jews is a plural of majesty (Pluralis Majestatis) or a plural of determination depending on the context of the sentence like "we" does not mean its a plural in numbers because God is still one. Sorry I am not spelling out Gods name Jews believe in for personal reasons but try and just engage with the argument if you could.

Christian apologists also try and reconcile this with the Shema and the Lord being one or echad is also meaning a plural.

In all honesty this to very many people is pretty straightforward where a plural in a word like Elohim is not plural in numbers where in the instance of Moses being sent as an Elohim, Moses cant be several people but one. I think even bringing this up for Jewish scholars is an insult to their basic linguistics but this is an outcome.

So I would like to open this discussion and I hope, even though Jewish contributors are not huge in number some could contribute in this discussion. And I will be grateful.

1. Elohim is plural, and means 3
2. Echad is also plural, and still means 3

I think, in all honesty, this is a ridiculous equation.



Well-Known Member
What you asking is a very good question. It is also good that you have seperated out who can correctly address it. So, I will answer in short and then I will provide more detail.
  1. The word (אלהים) in ancient Hebrew does not mean what the word "god" means in English. In fact, it doesn't even mean what the word (θεός) in Greek means in the New Testament.
  2. Because the word (אלהים) doesn't mean what "god" means in English or even what (θεός) means in Greek - thus, (אלהים) being plural or singular carries with it a completely different concept.
  3. In ancient Hebrew the term (אלהים) can be applied to anything and anyone who has power or strength - the term does not on its own mean deity.
So, that being said. The claim of the Jewish people throughout Jewish history has been that when the Creator of all things made the following clear:

The following graphic of the first paragrah of the Torah that talks about Hashem, alone in singular, created all of reality. The yellow bracket is in front of the first word of the (בראשית) at a beginning/start. (Hebrew is read from right to left same as with Arabic) The red brackets are around (ברא אלהים) which means "Elohim created" using a singular verb (ברא) "created" to describe what (אלהים) did. This means that the verb being describing the action of a singular noun. In Hebrew verbs are modified when they are for plural vs. singular.

Torah Quote #1

Torah Quote #2

The above, Torah Quote #2, is a warning, in a section of the written Torah called Devarim, where Mosheh ben-Amram (you would say Moses) warned the people of Israel to remember what they/we were shown at Mount Sinai. We were shown so that we would know that Hashem is the only (הוא האלהים) Source of Creation/Judge/power of all, and there are no other powers/entities/etc. with Hashem/in the presence of Hashem/on the level with Hashem/etc.

I.e. the Israeli/Jewish nation who received the Torah at Mount Sinai had the Torah revealed as a national revelation. They passed on what they experienced from Hashem, and what they learned from Mosheh ben-Amram, about Hashem and what Hashem is not to their students, children, and grandchildren and that is how modern day Jews know what is meant in the Torah.


Well-Known Member
Now, to really dig deep into your question you first have to understand what the Jewish claim is about the Torah (written and Oral) and how Israelis/Jews of the passed received it and how it was preserved so that Israelis/Jews of today have it. The following videos may help.



Well-Known Member
Specific to your question the following is what I posted earlier. It address the original question.



Well-Known Member
Below is a quote from what was previously discussed between firedragon and dybmh.

firedragon wrote: Elohim, was not a reference to the Shema. Its general.

dybmh worte:

I have seen Christian propaganda which re-writes the shema, translating Eloheinu as "our Elohim". The misquote seems to originate from this person: C. W. H. Pauli - Wikipedia in the document titled: "Plurality in the Godhead or How Can Three Be One?" see section 7.

""Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." In these words we hear first the singular Jehovah, then the plural Elohim, our God (strictly Gods), and then again the singular, Jehovah, concluding with One (Echad), meaning to say, "These Three substantive Beings are the One God."

So, it's something to watch out for.


Well-Known Member
firedragon wrote: Elohim is plural but not a plural in numbers.

rosends responded:

This is not an open and shut case. The Ramban (Nachmanides) writes in his commentary on Gen 1:1

ואמר אֱלֹהִים בעל הכחות כלם, כי המלה עיקרה "אל", שהוא כח, והיא מלה מורכבת, "אל הם", כאלו "אל" סמוך, "והם" ירמוז לכל שאר הכוחות; כלומר, כוח הכוחות כולם.
AND ‘ELOKIM’ (G-D) SAID. The word Elokim means “the Master of all forces,” for the root of the word is e-il, meaning force, and the word Elokim is a composite consisting of the words e-il heim, as if the word e-il is in a construct state, and heim, [literally] “they,” alludes to all other forces. Thus Elokim means “the Force of all forces.”

so the word, in its use when referring to God is fully singular and the final letters (according to the Ramban) do NOT constitute a plural suffix, but instead a plural pronoun incorporated into the larger singular noun to import meaning.


Well-Known Member
rosends wrote:

Elohim is a word which can be used as a singular or as a plural, depending on the context. Just check the verb. If the verb or adjective that goes along with it is in the singular (as it usually is) then the noun is in the singular. When God says he will make Moses into "an elohim" it is used in the singular. When God speaks and the verb is in the singular (as it always is when God speaks) the word is a singular noun. When God forbids worshipping "other" elohim, and the "other" formulation is a plural one, then the word "elohim" is used in the plural.

As for "echad" the word means "one." Can the word "one" indicate a collection of parts making a singular whole? Sure -- in the real world, very little is just "one" until you get into subatomic particles. But the word means "one" and is a singular grammatical form.


Well-Known Member
dybmh wrote:

Here is a list from The Torah where Elohim is determined to be plural. Note they all connote negative / prohibited activities

Gen 3:5 - The serpent is tempting Eve:
כִּי יֹדֵעַ אֱלֹהִים כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְכֶם מִמֶּנּוּ וְנִפְקְחוּ עֵֽינֵיכֶם וִֽהְיִיתֶם כֵּֽאלֹהִים יֹֽדְעֵי טוֹב וָרָֽע׃
For God knows that in the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.​
Exodus 18:11 - elohim describes the other gods, not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי כִּֽי־גָדוֹל יְהֹוָה מִכָּל־הָֽאֱלֹהִים כִּי בַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר זָדוּ עֲלֵיהֶֽם׃
Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods; for in the thing where they dealt proudly he was above them.​
Exodus 20:3 - the first of the 10 commandments, the prohibition against worship of other gods

לֹא־יִֽהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל־פָּנָֽי׃
You shall have no other gods before me.​
Exodus 23:13 - Elohim plural refers to "other gods", negative valence

וּבְכֹל אֲשֶׁר־אָמַרְתִּי אֲלֵיכֶם תִּשָּׁמֵרוּ וְשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים לֹא תַזְכִּירוּ לֹא יִשָּׁמַע עַל־פִּֽיךָ׃
And be mindful of all the things that I have said to you; and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard from your mouth.​
Exodus 32:1 - The beginning of the Golden Calf episode, the assembly is asking Aaron to construct idols.

וַיַּרְא הָעָם כִּֽי־בֹשֵׁשׁ מֹשֶׁה לָרֶדֶת מִן־הָהָר וַיִּקָּהֵל הָעָם עַֽל־אַֽהֲרֹן וַיֹּֽאמְרוּ אֵלָיו קוּם עֲשֵׂה־לָנוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר יֵֽלְכוּ לְפָנֵינוּ כִּי־זֶה מֹשֶׁה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הֶֽעֱלָנוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֹא יָדַעְנוּ מֶה־הָיָה לֽוֹ׃
And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mount, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, Arise, make us gods, which shall go before us; and as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what became of him.​
Exodus 32:23 - Also part of the Golden Calf episode; Aaron is explaining that the assembly wanted idols.

וַיֹּאמְרוּ לִי עֲשֵׂה־לָנוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲשֶׁר יֵֽלְכוּ לְפָנֵינוּ כִּי־זֶה מֹשֶׁה הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הֶֽעֱלָנוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם לֹא יָדַעְנוּ מֶה־הָיָה לֽוֹ׃
For they said to me, Make us gods, which shall go before us; and as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what became of him.​

Deut 4:28 - Moses is talking about Elohim, plural, as idols

וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּם־שָׁם אֱלֹהִים מַֽעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי אָדָם עֵץ וָאֶבֶן אֲשֶׁר לֹֽא־יִרְאוּן וְלֹא יִשְׁמְעוּן וְלֹא יֹֽאכְלוּן וְלֹא יְרִיחֻֽן׃
And there you shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.​
Deut 5:7 - a restatement of the first of the 10 commandments, Elohim, plural, is used for other gods, not the God whom should be worshipped.

לֹא־יִֽהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל־פָּנָֽי׃
You shall have no other gods before me.​
Deut 6:14 - Elohim, plural, refers to other gods of the surrounding nations

לֹא תֵֽלְכוּן אַֽחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים מֵֽאֱלֹהֵי הָֽעַמִּים אֲשֶׁר סְבִיבֽוֹתֵיכֶֽם׃
You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people who are round about you;​

Deut 7:4 - Elohim plural refers to other gods which should not be followed

כִּֽי־יָסִיר אֶת־בִּנְךָ מֵֽאַֽחֲרַי וְעָֽבְדוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וְחָרָה אַף־יְהֹוָה בָּכֶם וְהִשְׁמִֽידְךָ מַהֵֽר׃
For they will turn away your son from following me, that they may serve other gods; so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you, and destroy you speedily.​
Deut 8:19 - Elohim plural refers to other gods, following them results in perishing

וְהָיָה אִם־שָׁכֹחַ תִּשְׁכַּח אֶת־יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהָֽלַכְתָּ אַֽחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וַֽעֲבַדְתָּם וְהִשְׁתַּֽחֲוִיתָ לָהֶם הַֽעִדֹתִי בָכֶם הַיּוֹם כִּי אָבֹד תֹּֽאבֵדֽוּן׃
And it shall be, if you do forget the Lord your God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I warn you solemnly this day that you shall surely perish.​
Deut 10:17 - a distinction is made between the singular God of Moses and the other plural gods.

כִּי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶם הוּא אֱלֹהֵי הָֽאֱלֹהִים וַֽאֲדֹנֵי הָֽאֲדֹנִים הָאֵל הַגָּדֹל הַגִּבֹּר וְהַנּוֹרָא אֲשֶׁר לֹֽא־יִשָּׂא פָנִים וְלֹא יִקַּח שֹֽׁחַד׃
For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God,mighty and awesome, which favors no person, nor takes bribes;​
Deut 11:16 - Elohim plural refers to prohibited worship derived from self-delusion

הִשָּֽׁמְרוּ לָכֶם פֶּן־יִפְתֶּה לְבַבְכֶם וְסַרְתֶּם וַֽעֲבַדְתֶּם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וְהִשְׁתַּֽחֲוִיתֶם לָהֶֽם׃
Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and you turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;​
Deut 11:28 - serving Elohim, plural, results in a curse

וְהַקְּלָלָה אִם־לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּ אֶל־מִצְוֺת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶם וְסַרְתֶּם מִן־הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר אָֽנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיּוֹם לָלֶכֶת אַֽחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹֽא־יְדַעְתֶּֽם׃
And a curse, if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which you have not known.​
Deut 13:3 - following Elohim, plural, is a sign of a false prophet

וּבָא הָאוֹת וְהַמּוֹפֵת אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּר אֵלֶיךָ לֵאמֹר נֵֽלְכָה אַֽחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹֽא־יְדַעְתָּם וְנָֽעָבְדֵֽם׃
And the sign or the wonder, comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, Let us go after other gods, which you have not known, and let us serve them;​
Deut 13:7 - Elohim, plural, are gods not known to the Israelite nation

כִּי יְסִֽיתְךָ אָחִיךָ בֶן־אִמֶּךָ אֽוֹ־בִנְךָ אֽוֹ־בִתְּךָ אוֹ אֵשֶׁת חֵיקֶךָ אוֹ רֵֽעֲךָ אֲשֶׁר כְּנַפְשְׁךָ בַּסֵּתֶר לֵאמֹר נֵֽלְכָה וְנַֽעַבְדָה אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא יָדַעְתָּ אַתָּה וַֽאֲבֹתֶֽיךָ׃
If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend, which is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known, you, nor your fathers;​
Deut 13:14 - wicked people promote Elohim, plural

יָֽצְאוּ אֲנָשִׁים בְּנֵֽי־בְלִיַּעַל מִקִּרְבֶּךָ וַיַּדִּיחוּ אֶת־יֹֽשְׁבֵי עִירָם לֵאמֹר נֵֽלְכָה וְנַֽעַבְדָה אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹֽא־יְדַעְתֶּֽם׃
Certain men, wicked persons, have gone out from among you, and have drawn away the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known;​
Deut 18:20 - a prophet who promotes Elohim, plural, shall be killed

אַךְ הַנָּבִיא אֲשֶׁר יָזִיד לְדַבֵּר דָּבָר בִּשְׁמִי אֵת אֲשֶׁר לֹֽא־צִוִּיתִיו לְדַבֵּר וַֽאֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר בְּשֵׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וּמֵת הַנָּבִיא הַהֽוּא׃
But the prophet, who shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who shall speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.​
Deut 28:14 - following Elohim, plural, is not the correct path

וְלֹא תָסוּר מִכָּל־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר אָֽנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיּוֹם יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאול לָלֶכֶת אַֽחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים לְעָבְדָֽם׃
And you shall not go aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.​
Deut 28:36 - Elohim, plural, refers to idol worship

יוֹלֵךְ יְהֹוָה אֹֽתְךָ וְאֶֽת־מַלְכְּךָ אֲשֶׁר תָּקִים עָלֶיךָ אֶל־גּוֹי אֲשֶׁר לֹֽא־יָדַעְתָּ אַתָּה וַֽאֲבֹתֶיךָ וְעָבַדְתָּ שָּׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עֵץ וָאָֽבֶן׃
The Lord shall bring you, and your king which you shall set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known; and there shall you serve other gods, of wood and stone.​

Deut 28:64 - same as above, Elohim, plural, refers to idol worship

וֶֽהֱפִֽיצְךָ יְהֹוָה בְּכָל־הָעַמִּים מִקְצֵה הָאָרֶץ וְעַד־קְצֵה הָאָרֶץ וְעָבַדְתָּ שָּׁם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹֽא־יָדַעְתָּ אַתָּה וַֽאֲבֹתֶיךָ עֵץ וָאָֽבֶן׃
And the Lord shall scatter you among all people, from one end of the earth to the other; and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known, of wood and stone.​
Deut 30:17 - serving Elohim, plural, is being drawn away

וְאִם־יִפְנֶה לְבָֽבְךָ וְלֹא תִשְׁמָע וְנִדַּחְתָּ וְהִֽשְׁתַּֽחֲוִיתָ לֵֽאלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וַֽעֲבַדְתָּֽם׃
But if your heart turns away, so that you will not hear, but shall be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;​

Deut 31:18 - God turns away from those who follow Elohim, plural

וְאָֽנֹכִי הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר פָּנַי בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא עַל כָּל־הָֽרָעָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה כִּי פָנָה אֶל־אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִֽים׃
And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evils which they shall have done, in that they are turned to other gods.​
Deut 31:20 - Turning to Elohim, plural, is provoking God and breaking the covenant

כִּֽי־אֲבִיאֶנּוּ אֶל־הָֽאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לַֽאֲבֹתָיו זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ וְאָכַל וְשָׂבַע וְדָשֵׁן וּפָנָה אֶל־אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וַֽעֲבָדוּם וְנִאֲצוּנִי וְהֵפֵר אֶת־בְּרִיתִֽי׃
For when I shall have brought them into the land which I swore to their fathers, that flows with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and become fat; then will they turn to other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.
Deut 32:17 - Elohim, plural, are equated to powerless spirits

יִזְבְּחוּ לַשֵּׁדִים לֹא אֱלֹהַּ אֱלֹהִים לֹא יְדָעוּם חֲדָשִׁים מִקָּרֹב בָּאוּ לֹא שְׂעָרוּם אֲבֹֽתֵיכֶֽם׃
They sacrificed to powerless spirits, not to God; to gods whom they knew not; to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.​