The Berean Expositor
Volume 23 - Page 124 of 207
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#5.  Elohim and Jehovah.
God in His relation to creation and redemption.
pp. 103 - 108
We now enter upon the important study of the meaning of the title first used of God in
the Scriptures--Elohim. There are two avenues of approach to this study. One is to
discover, if possible, the root meaning of the Hebrew word; the other to learn from its
usage all that we may, so that the mental image we receive shall be as near the truth as
possible. The etymology of the word is beset with many difficulties. Some would derive
it from a word meaning "strong"; some from a word meaning "to worship". Havernick
goes to a Hebrew root now lost.
We feel that with so much diverse opinion, it may be as well to go afresh to the Book.
While the supposed root "to worship" is not found in the Scriptures, and while the root
for "strong" must be reserved for the title El, which is not to be confounded with Elohim,
a root in constant use, and, therefore, one well known to all readers of the original, is
alah = "to invoke, to make an oath and to curse". To this day, the words "swearing",
"cursing"  and  "oaths"  have a double meaning.  They may be the most solemn
utterances that can come from holy lips, or they may be the foulest blasphemies. The
word Elohim if derived from this root would indicate that God under this title was the
maker of an oath.
We are immediately in the presence of One Who has a purpose in creation and the
ages, and Who has engaged Himself to carry that purpose through. In this light we read
I Pet. 1: 19, 20,  where Christ is spoken of as the Lamb "foreordained before the
foundation (or overthrow) of the world". In this light, too, we read II Tim. 1: 9, where
we read of a purpose and a choice made in Christ "before the age times". Yet once more,
Eph. 1: 4 reveals a choice in Christ before "the overthrow of the world", and takes us
back to Gen. 1: 1, to the very presence of that God Who has sworn by Himself that to
Him every knee should one day bow, and every tongue should one day swear or confess.
The title Elohim occurs some 2,700 times in the O.T., its first occurrence linking it
with creation. If we now open the Scriptures at Gen. 1:, and read right on to Gen. 2: 3,
the only title of God that is used is Elohim. At Gen. 2: 4, however, we find a change to
the title of Jehovah-Elohim = "The Lord God", where the two great names of God are
united. Readers will be already acquainted with the fact that the book of Genesis is
divided into two sections, viz., 1: 1 - 2: 2--The introduction, and 2: 4 - 50: 26--The
eleven generations. There are only two portions of the book of Genesis in which these
two titles of God appear separately:--
1: 1 - 2: 2 uses the name of Elohim only.
10: 1 - 11: 9 uses the name of Jehovah only.