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The Hebrew Word "Elohim"


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#1 Evangelion

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 12:31 AM

The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon defines elohim thus:
elohyym
'ĕlôhýym

1) (Plural.)

1a) Rulers, judges.
1b) Divine ones.
1c) Angels.
1d) Gods.

2) (Plural intensive - singular meaning.)
2a) God, goddess.
2b) Godlike one.
2c) Works or special possessions of God.
2d) The (true) God.
2e) God.

Part of Speech: noun masculine plural.

A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: plural of H433.

Same Word by TWOT Number: 93c.

Elohim appears 2250 times in the Old Testament. It is translated "God" when used in reference to the one true God, but also translated:

(a) "god" when used in reference to a false god or "gods" when referring to a number of false deities,
(b) "god" or "gods" in reference to human beings,
© "angels,"
(d) "judges",
(e) "mighty," in reference to a human prince and thunder, and
(f) "great", in reference to Rachel's competition with her sister.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#2 Evangelion

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 12:34 AM

Elohim is an extremely flexible word, and its application is tremendously diverse.
  • In Genesis 31:30, 32; 35:2, 4 and many other places, it is used in relation to idols, which represented the false gods of other nations.
  • In Psalm 8:5, elohim has been rendered "angels," and this translation is endorsed by Paul in Hebrews 2:7.
  • In Exodus 21:6; 22:8, 9, 22, 28, elohim has been rendered "judges." They "shall bring him unto the judges" (elohim.) They are so described because they judged on behalf of Yahweh and with His authority. Because they represented the authority of heaven, they were given the name elohim, and so the Revised Version has rendered most of these places as "God."
  • Genesis 3:5 (which, in the KJV is rendered "Ye shall be as gods,") appears in the Revised Version as "Ye shall be as God." The reference in Exodus quoted above appears as: "His master shall bring him unto God."
  • In Exodus 7:1, the term is applied to Moses: "I have made thee a god to Pharaoh." He received this title because he acted with Divine authority and power before the King of Egypt.

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#3 Evangelion

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 12:35 AM

Elohim is not the only Hebrew noun that can be plural in form but singular in meaning. Such Hebrew noun forms are sometimes used for abstract nouns and as intensifiers. Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar devotes several pages to this subject. The following list is not exhaustive, but it illustrates the point.

Bearing in mind that the masculine plural ending is -im, while the feminine plural ending is -oth, consider these examples:
  • zequnim
    zequnim - old age (Genesis 21:2, 7; 37:3; 44:20.)
  • ne`urim
    ne`urim - youth. David was only a boy (na`ar), but Goliath "has been a fighting man from his youth [ne`urim]." (I Samuel 17:33.)
  • chayyim
    chayyim - life. This is used in the song "To life, to life, lechayyim" in the movie Fiddler on the Roof.
  • gebhuroth
    gebhuroth - strength. The singular form gebhurah is the usual word for strength, but the plural form is used in Job 41:12.
  • tsedaqoth
    tsedaqoth - righteousness. The singular form tsedaqah is the usual word, but tsedaqoth is used in Isaiah 33:15 - "he who walks righteously [or "in righteousness"]."
  • chokmoth
    chokmoth - wisdom. Chokmah is the usual form, but chokmoth is used in Proverbs 1:20.
  • 'adonim
    'adonim - lord. 'Adon means "lord," and 'adonim normally means "lords," but Isaiah 19:4 says, "I will hand the Egyptians over to the power of a cruel master ['adonim]."
  • behemoth
    behemoth. This word normally means "beasts", but in Job 40:15 it refers to one particular animal.

Edited by Fortigurn, 17 July 2006 - 10:02 AM.

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#4 Evangelion

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 12:39 AM

Whenever elohim refers to the one true God, it is always accompanied by singular verbs, although the word elohim itself, is plural. Whenever elohim refers to more than one false god, it is accompanied by plural verbs. This is significant. Grammatically, elohim refers to the one true God only, although the word is plural. If the reason elohim is used of the true God is to indicate He is more than one, plural verbs would have to be used.

For example, in the first verse of the Bible, the third person masculine singular verb bara ("created") is used with elohim. Since the verb is singular, it is required that He who did the creating is singular. In this case, the only option left to explain the plural form of elohim is that elohim refers to the fullness and intensity of the attributes of God.

In Exodus 32:4, where elohim is used of a plurality of false gods, the verb "brought...up out: is third person common plural. The plural verb demands that elohim be referring to more than one false god. Although in this case only one golden calf was made, it was considered a representative of the Egyptian gods.

In Deuteronomy 4:28 a series of third person masculine plural verbs, "see," "hear," "eat," and "smell," are used to describe the inabilities of false gods (elohim.) This demonstrates that if the intention of elohim is to indicate more than one, plural verbs will be used. If the intention of elohim is to indicate only one, singular verbs are used.

When the inspired Greek of the New Testament quotes from an Old Testament reference where elohim is used of the one true God, the Greek theos is singular. (As in Psalm 45:6-7 & Hebrews 1:8-9.) When the New Testament quotes an Old Testament reference where elohim refers to people or false gods, the plural form of theos is used. (As in Psalm 82:6 & John 10:34-35; Exodus 32:1 & Acts 7:40.)

The Greek languages does not use plurals in the same way as the Hebrew (that is, to indicate intensity, fullness, and plurality of attributes.) Since both the Hebrew and the Greek are inspired, if the point of elohim, when used of the true God, was to indicate God is more than one, the Greek would use the plural form of the noun. The fact that the Greek uses the singular theos where the Hebrew scriptures use the plural elohim of God Himself, is more than sufficient to prove that He is One, not three.

In Psalm 45:6, elohim is used of the Messiah alone. There is only one Messiah, but the plural noun is used to indicate his immeasurable majesty. (And of course, no Trinitarian would try to argue that the Messiah himself is more than one person!)

In Genesis 1:26, elohim (plural) said (third masculine singular), "Let us make (first person common plural) man (noun masculine singular) in our image ("image" is a masculine singular noun with a first person common plural suffix), after our likeness ("likeness" is a feminine singular noun with a first person common plural suffix)."

Grammatically, the words, "make," "us" and "our" in this verse cannot refer to elohim alone, for the verb connected with elohim ("said") is singular. If God had intended here to include only Himself in His address, He would have used a singular verb and pronouns. If God actually consisted of more than one person, we would expect to see the plural form of "make" and the plural pronouns "us" and "our" - but in this case, the verb "said" would be plural as well. (Which it is not in Genesis 1:26.)

Johannes Drusius (a 16th Century Protestant professor of Oriental languages at Oxford University) recognised the weakness of the standard Trinitarian argument from the Hebrew word elohim:In ‘Elohim created’ it is thought that a mystery is concealed and that a plurality of persons is implied. For what reason? Because a plural noun is construed with a singular verb. This is partly true and partly false as to the sense. For when Elohim is spoken of one, its significance is singular, being used of the one God everywhere and of an individual angel, calf, idol and man.

And our opinion is demonstrated by other arguments. Both Jerome and Procopius call it a noun of the common number, because it is used of one God and of a plurality. But if this is true, and of this there cannot be any doubt, the argument drawn from the number falls to the ground; for when employed of an individual, what child would say that this noun has ever a plural sense?

Who would affirm that there are various cities of the names of Athenoe, Theboe Salonoe, because these are each spoken of in the plural number? Who would deny that there is one supreme heaven, which the apostle terms the third and David the heaven of the heavens, because in Hebrew it is called shamayim in the dual form, or as preferred by Jerome in the plural? Who would infer that there are many darknesses because in Latin the corresponding word is not employed in the singular number? (tenebrae).

There is equally a mystery — but which no one recognizes — in the plural baalim (lords). This word is sometimes used of one lord and having a singular sense; as well as in adonim (lords) when said of the One God.

Because I have written that the noun Elohim does not from its termination signify the Trinity, I am accused of being a Unitarian Arian, when my adversaries should rather be called Sabellians (Modalists) since they make the holy sprit the spirit of himself and say that Christ was self-begotten and what is very absurd constitute a plurality in individual persons.

For though they do not say so expressly, yet all of this necessarily results from their opinion. So true it is that ‘when fools fly from one fault they run into the contrary.’ And when unlearned men avoid errors they fall into others.

Drusius' argument was later vindicated by another great Orientalist - Wilhelm Gesenius: The language has entirely rejected the idea of numerical plurality in 'elohim (whenever it denotes one God).... [This] is proved especially by its being almost invariably joined with a singular attribute" (such as a singular adjective or verb).
For more information on the subject, consult Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, pages 396-401, 1909 edition. (See also the article here at the Jews for Judaism Website, where Genesis 1:26 is analysed.)

Edited by Evangelion, 19 July 2006 - 10:51 AM.

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#5 Evangelion

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 12:41 AM

The Trinitarian interpretation, therefore, is totally inconsistent. It requires us to accept that the word "us" denotes a plurality of creators (whereas the Trinitarian dogma teaches that only one person - Christ - was responsible for creation), and when we get to verse 27 (where the Creator is referred to in the singular form), this entire argument implodes in a puff of logic.

Observe:
  • Trinitarians take the "God" of verse 26 as a reference to one person of the Trinity.
  • Trinitarians take the "God" of verse 27 as a reference to all three persons of the Trinity.
This is a wantonly inconsistent hermeneutic. In order to be consistent, verse 27 would have to say "So God created man in their own image. In the image of God created they him; male and female created they them" (corresponding to the "us" of verse 26.) This would confirm that more than one person is referred to by the singular use of "God" in verse 27. It would certainly lend support to the Trinitarian reading. And yet, we find that in both cases, singular pronouns are used.

[*]Trinitarians cannot claim that the word "he" in verse 27 is used to denote the Godhead as a whole, without (a) running contrary to Trinitarianism, and (b) contradicting their own argument from verse 26.
[/list]As some Trinitarian exegetes have realised, the “plurality of persons” argument simply doesn’t do justice to the text:
Early dogmaticians were of the opinion that so essential a doctrine as that of the Trinity could not have been unknown to the men of the Old Testament. However, no modem theologian who clearly distinguishes between the degrees of revelation in the Old and New Testaments can longer maintain such a view.

Only an inaccurate exegesis which overlooks the more immediate grounds of interpretation can see references to the Trinity in the plural form of the divine name Elohim, the use of the plural in Gen. i. 26, or such liturgical phrases of three members as the Aaronic blessing of Num. vi. 24-26 and the Trisagion (q.v.) of Isa. vi. 3.

On the other hand, the development of Christology and, later, of the doctrine of the Trinity has undoubtedly been influenced by certain passages of the Old Testament.

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1957), Vol. 12, p. 18.

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#6 Evangelion

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 12:49 AM

The grammar of Genesis 1:26 itself demonstrates that when God (the singular “Elohim”) spoke, He included someone else in His statement. But to whom did He speak? The Jews believe that in Genesis 1:26 God addressed His angels when He said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." It was not a literal invitation, for only God Himself was responsible for the creation of man - but it was a reference to persons other than Himself.

Standard authorities - yes, even Trinitarian authorities - confirm the point.

Thus:
  • The Old Testament can scarcely be used as authority for the existence of distinctions within the Godhead. The use of ‘us’ by the divine speaker (Gen. 1:26, 3:32, 11:7) is strange, but it is perhaps due to His consciousness of being surrounded by other beings of a loftier order than men (Isa. 6:8).
    Davidson, A. B., (1963), Hastings Dictionary of the Bible.
  • I do not find the difficulties raised against the view that God was consulting the angels compelling... When angels appear in the OT they are frequently described as men (Gen. 18:2). And in fact the use of the singular verb in v. 27 does in fact suggest that God worked alone in the creation of mankind. ‘Let us create man’ should therefore be regarded as a divine announcement to the heavenly court, drawing the angelic host’s attention to the master stroke of creation, man. As Job 38:4, 7 puts it: ‘When I laid the foundation of the earth all the Sons of God shouted for joy’ (cp. Luke 2:13-14).”
    Wenham, Gordon J. (1987), Word Biblical Commentary on Genesis.
  • The plural form of the verb has been the subject of much discussion through the years, and not surprisingly several suggestions have been put forward. Many Christian theologians interpret it as an early hint of plurality within the Godhead, but this view imposes later trinitarian concepts on the ancient text. Some have suggested the plural verb indicates majesty, but the plural of majesty is not used with verbs. Westermann (Genesis 1-11, 145) argues for a plural of "deliberation" here, but his proposed examples of this use (2 Sam 24:14; Isa 6:8) do not actually support his theory.

    In 2 Sam 24:14 David uses the plural as representative of all Israel, and in Isa 6:8 the Lord speaks on behalf of his heavenly court. In its ancient Israelite context the plural is most naturally understood as referring to God and his heavenly court (see 1 Kgs 22:19-22; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Isa 6:1-8). (The most well-known members of this court are God's messengers, or angels. In Gen 3:5 the serpent may refer to this group as "gods/divine beings." See the note on the word "evil" in 3:5.) If this is the case, God invites the heavenly court to participate in the creation of mankind (perhaps in the role of offering praise, see Job 38:7), but he himself is the one who does the actual creative work (v. 27).

    Of course, this view does assume that the members of the heavenly court possess the divine "image" in some way. Since the image is closely associated with rulership, perhaps they share the divine image in that they, together with God and under his royal authority, are the executive authority over the world.

    Footnote in the New English Translation. (Online Edition.)
This interpretation of Genesis 1:26 is (a) consistent with the text in a way that the Trinitarian “plurality of God” interpretation is not, and (b) compatible with both Jewish Unitarianism and modern Biblical Unitarianism. It is the most reasonable interpretation, and it is the most logical interpretation.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#7 Evangelion

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 12:50 AM

A popular alternative to this view is the idea that God referred to himself in the language of royalty (known as the pluralis majestatis.) Writing in his Hebrew Grammar, Gesenius advances the following explanation:
Greatness, especially in a metaphorical sense, as associated with power and sovereignty, is plurally expressed. Hence, there are several nouns which are used in the plural as well as the singular, to denote Lord or God (Pluralis majestaticus vel excellentioe) e.g. Eloahh. God is scarcely found in the singular, except in poetry; in prose; commonly elohim; adon, lord, old form of the plural adonai, the Lord, kat exochen (God), shaddai, the Almighty.

Often the idea of greatness is no longer associated with the form, the mind having accustomed itself to contemplate the powerful in general as a plural. Another example of the plural majestatis is the use of we by Deity in speaking of Himself (Gen. 1:26; 11:7; Isa. 6:8) and by kings. The German language has it not only in this latter case, but in addressing a second person by Ihr and Sie. This plural is also found in modern Arabic and Persian.

The use of pluralis majestatis is not a common feature of the Bible, but at least one passage appears to make use of it:
Ezra 4:17-18.
Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time.
The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me.
Of course, that's only one verse... but the Trinitarian case rests on a mere four verses, which is hardly substantial itself.

Let's look at two of them.

First, the well-known “tower of Babel” story:
Genesis 11:6-7.
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
But who went down? All three "divine persons"? Only two? And which of them? It cannot be Christ, because (a) this would mean that his appearance in Bethlehem would have been his "second advent" (not than his first), and (b) the author of Hebrews (whom I believe to be Paul) is leading us up the garden path when he contrasts the former modes of revelation ("by the prophets") against the latter mode ("in these last days... by his Son.") It cannot be the Father ("Whom no man hath seen, nor can see.")

This doesn’t leave us with too many options. But when we compare these verses with other passages in which references to God’s angels are interchangeable with references to God Himself (such as Genesis 18 & 19), we find that it is possible to harmonise the evidence of Scripture without resorting to a "plurality of persons" within the Godhead.

Next, the vision of Isaiah…
Isaiah 6:8.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
...in which God is surrounded by His heavenly court, and addresses them directly - as He does in the following passage:
I Kings 22:19-22.
And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.
And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.
And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him.
And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.
Isaiah certainly believed that God was taking counsel with those around him, because he offered to take God's message to the people, and it should come as no surprise to us that God accepted this offer, just as He did in I Kings 22. I see no evidence for a "plurality of persons" here.

The problem for Trinitarians who take Genesis 1:26 as a reference to the alleged "plurality" of God, is that (a) only four passages in the entire Bible can be advanced in support of this argument (and in one of those, we are expressly told that God is surrounded by His angels), (b) if God had intended to reveal Himself as a "plurality", it is peculiar that He didn't make it clearer, and © there is simply not enough consistency in the argument itself, let alone the Biblical data.

No Trinitarian has ever succeeded in explaining why God attempted to "prove" His alleged "plurality" by referring to Himself in plural form within the meagre scope of a pitiful four verses, which, if taken as a reference to plurality, flatly contradict the grammatical consistency that we find elsewhere in the Bible.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#8 Evangelion

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 12:54 AM

The Jews themselves have traditionally believed that the so-called "plurality passages" speak of God addressing His angelic host. Contrary to the claims of modern Evangelicals, this interpretation did not originate as a knee-jerk reaction to later Christian arguments concerning the alleged deity and pre-existence of Christ, but had, in fact, been taught for centuries before his birth.

The incontrovertible proof of this fact is found in the book of Jubilees - part of the OT pseudepigrapha. While obviously uninspired, this book throws a brilliant light on the Jewish mindset of the pre-Christian era.

An excerpt to the introduction of Jubilees now follows:
The Book of Jubilees is in certain limited aspects the most important book in this volume for the student of religion. Without it we could of course have inferred from Ezra and Nehemiah, the Priests' Code, and the later chapters of Zechariah the supreme position that the law had achieved in Judaism, but without Jubilees we could hardly have imagined such an absolute supremacy as finds expression in this book.

This absolute supremacy of the law carried with it, as we have seen in the General Introduction, the suppression of prophecy -at all events of the open exercise of the prophetic gifts. And yet these gifts persisted during all the so-called centuries of silence - from Malachi down to N.T. times, but owing to the fatal incubus of the law these gifts could not find expression save in pseudepigraphic literature. Thus Jubilees represents the triumph of the movement, which had been at work for the past three centuries or more.

And yet this most triumphant manifesto of legalism contained within its pages the element that was destined to dispute its supremacy and finally to reduce the law to the wholly secondary position that alone it could rightly claim. This element of course is apocalyptic, which was the source of the higher theology in Judaism, and subsequently was the parent of Christianity, wherein apocalyptic ceased to be pseudonymous and became one with prophecy.

The Book of Jubilees was written in Hebrew by a Pharisee between the year of the accession of Hyrcanus to the high priesthood in 135 and his breach with the Pharisees some years before his death in 105 B.C. It is the most advanced pre-Christian representative of the midrashic tendency, which has already been at work in the Old Testament Chronicles. As the Chronicler had rewritten the history of Israel and Judah from the basis of the Priests' Code, so our author re-edited from the Pharisaic standpoint of his time the history of events from the creation to the publication, or, according to the author's view, the republication of the law on Sinai.

In the course of re-editing he incorporated a large body of traditional lore, which the midrashic process had put at his disposal, and also not a few fresh legal enactments that the exigencies of the past had called forth. His work constitutes an enlarged Targum on Genesis and Exodus, in which difficulties in the biblical narrative are solved, gaps supplied, dogmatically offensive elements removed, and the genuine spirit of later Judaism infused into the primitive history of the world.

His object was to defend Judaism against the attacks of the hellenistic spirit that had been in the ascendant one generation earlier and was still powerful, and to prove that the law was of everlasting validity. From our author's contentions and his embittered attacks on the paganisers and apostates, we may infer that Hellenism had urged that the levitical ordinances of the law were only of transitory significance, that they had not been observed by the founders of the nation, and that the time had now come for them to be swept away, and for Israel to take its place in the brotherhood of the nations.

Our author regarded all such views as fatal to the very existence of Jewish religion and nationality. But it is not as such that he assailed them, but on the ground of their falsehood. The law, he teaches, is of everlasting validity. Though revealed in time it was superior to time. Before it had been made known in sundry portions to the fathers it had been kept in heaven by the angels, and to its observance henceforward there was no limit in time or in eternity.

Writing in the balmiest days of the Maccabean dominion,in the high-priesthood of John Hyrcanus, looked for the immediate advent of the Messianic kingdom. This kingdom was to be ruled over by a Messiah sprung, not from Levi - that is, from the Maccabean family, as some of his contemporaries expected- but from Judah. This kingdom would be gradually realized on earth, and the transformation of physical nature would go hand in hand with the ethical transformation of man till there was a new heaven and a new earth. Thus, finally, all sin and pain would disappear and men would live to the age of 1,000 years in happiness and peace, and after death enjoy a blessed immortality in the spirit world.


From the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. (See here.)
It will be seen that the author's theology is a trifle awry - but the essential lineaments of the true Jewish message which necessarily underpins the Christian gospel itself, are clearly visible. Passages where "The LORD" appears and converses directly with humans, are understood by the author of Jubilees as references to "the angel of God's presence"; the name-bearing angel who is known in the Jewish mystical writings as Metatron. This is, of course, exactly what Christadelphians have been saying all along...
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.

#9 Evangelion

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 12:55 AM

Let us now turn our attention to Jubilees chapter 2, in which the traditional Jewish interpretation of the Genesis creation is carefully described by Mastêmâ, chief of the angels:
And the angel of the presence spake to Moses according to the word of the Lord, saying: Write the complete history of the creation, how in six days the Lord God finished all His works and all that He created, and kept Sabbath on the seventh day and hallowed it for all ages, and appointed it as a sign for all His works.

For on the first day He created the heavens which are above and the earth and the waters and all the spirits which serve before him - the angels of the presence, and the angels of sanctification, and the angels of the spirit of the winds, and the angels of the spirit of the clouds, and of darkness, and of snow and of hail and of hoar frost, and the angels of the voices and of the thunder and of the lightning, and the angels of the spirits of cold and of heat, and of winter and of spring and of autumn and of summer and of all the spirits of his creatures which are in the heavens and on the earth, (He created) the abysses and the darkness, eventide [and night], and the light, dawn and day, which He hath prepared in the knowledge of his heart.

And thereupon we saw His works, and praised Him, and lauded before Him on account of all His works; for seven great works did He create on the first day.

Jumping to chapter 3, we find Mastêmâ describing the creation of woman:
And on the six days of the second week we brought, according to the word of God, unto Adam all the beasts, and all the cattle, and all the birds, and everything that moves on the earth, and everything that moves in the water, according to their kinds, and according to their types: the beasts on the first day; the cattle on the second day; the birds on the third day; and all that which moves on the earth on the fourth day; and that which moves in the water on the fifth day. [Notice that the Bible ascribes this work to Yahweh. The author of Jubilees is clearly drawing on the principles of agency and representation when he claims that this work was performed by the angels.]

And Adam named them all by their respective names, and as he called them, so was their name.

And on these five days Adam saw all these, male and female, according to every kind that was on the earth, but he was alone and found no helpmeet for him.

And the Lord said unto us: 'It is not good that the man should be alone: let us make a helpmeet for him.'

And the Lord our God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him, and he slept, and He took for the woman one rib from amongst his ribs, and this rib was the origin of the woman from amongst his ribs, and He built up the flesh in its stead, and built the woman.

And He awaked Adam out of his sleep and on awaking he rose on the sixth day, and He brought her to him, and he knew her, and said unto her: 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called [my] wife; because she was taken from her husband.'

Therefore shall man and wife be one and therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh.

In chapter 5, Mastêmâ describes the fall of the angelic watchers:
And it came to pass when the children of men began to multiply on the face of the earth and daughters were born unto them, that the angels of God saw them on a certain year of this jubilee, that they were beautiful to look upon; and they took themselves wives of all whom they chose, and they bare unto them sons and they were giants."
In chapter 10, Mastêmâ describes the confusion of languages at Babel:
And the Lord our God said unto us: Behold, they are one people, and (this) they begin to do, and now nothing will be withholden from them. Go to, let us go down and confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech, and they may be dispersed into cities and nations, and one purpose will no longer abide with them till the day of judgment.'

And the Lord descended, and we descended with him to see the city and the tower which the children of men had built.

And he confounded their language, and they no longer understood one another's speech, and they ceased then to build the city and the tower.

For this reason the whole land of Shinar is called Babel, because the Lord did there confound all the language of the children of men, and from thence they were dispersed into their cities, each according to his language and his nation."

Yes, the "angels" interpretation is indeed an ancient one, preceding the Christian era by many centuries - and the author of Jubilees incorporated it into his book, along with many of the other traditional explanations which had existed long before his time.
'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.

Credo.




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