The Berean Expositor
Volume 40 - Page 234 of 254
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seem a trifling waste of time. We find, however, that not only is the word "God" in
Gen. 1: 1 the plural Elohim, but it is followed by the verb in the singular, and that this is
the general rule. Had there been no overwhelming necessity, Moses would never have
introduced so disturbing a word into the opening verse of revealed truth as the plural
form Elohim. The word El was known to him (Gen. 14: 18; Deut. 7: 9, etc.). He
knew also the word Eloah (Deut. 32: 15) a title used by Job over forty times.
To every believer in the inspired Scriptures, it must be evident that the plural form
was a necessity, and its choice Divinely dictated. The strange fact that the plural Elohim
is construed with a singular verb must be a necessity also, for no one would perpetrate
`by inspiration of God' a grammatical error. We are immediately confronted with a
revelation which indicates that the subject matter lies outside of the ordinary experiences
of mankind. The mystery is not solved in Gen. 1: 1 but it is recognized, and if we will
but notice its presence, we shall have made the first step towards its solution, at least, in
part. The employment of the plural Elohim in Gen. 1: 1 is not an isolated instance of this
peculiar fact, for the use of the plural "God" with the singular verb is the rule throughout
the O.T. Isaiah who so insists upon the unique Person of the Creator, says:
"Thus saith God the LORD, He that created the heavens, and stretched them out"
(Isa. 42: 5).
Dr. John Lightfoot draws attention to the need for care in translating this verse, and
reads "He that created . . . . . and they that stretched them out" which is confirmed by the
note in the Companion Bible on this verse. Who are intended by `they'? Again in
Ecclesiastes where we read "Remember now thy Creator" (Eccles. 12: 1), the word
Creator is plural "Creators". At the confusion of tongues the Lord said "Let US go
down" (Gen. 11: 7) where the grammatical construction is the same as that used in
Gen. 11: 3 "Let US make brick". What was grammatically true of many when speaking
of man, is grammatically true of ONE when speaking of God. At the creation of man,
this use of the plural is marked "Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness".
Yet this is followed by the words, "so God created man in HIS own image" (Gen. 1: 26,
27). With whom did God take counsel? The Scriptures make it clear that He does not
stoop to take counsel with any creature (Isa. 40: 14).
It is easy to submit the holiest and most solemn of mysteries of Scripture to ridicule,
and those who object to the teaching of Scripture here brought forward, dismiss the idea
as absurd that God, Who is One, should hold a consultation with Himself. It may
transcend anything that comes within our own experience, but is that to us the final word?
However, there still awaits us one passage that cannot be thus set aside.
We are told in Gen. 18: 1 that "The LORD appeared unto Abraham in the plains of
Mamre", and the title used here is "Jehovah". Abraham saw three men, two of them,
"the two" literally, being subsequently called `angels' in Gen. 19: 1. At the confusion
of tongues, the plural is used "Let US go down" but now the singular is used "I will go
down now", "To Me", "I will know" (Gen. 18: 21). "The men" turned their faces
towards Sodom, as we find in the next chapter, "but Abraham stood yet before the LORD
(Jehovah)" (Gen. 18: 22). It is to Jehovah that Abraham prayed, and it is Jehovah Who