Re: elohim

From: tgpedersen
Message: 17718
Date: 2003-01-17

--- In, "philippos2003 <philippos2003@...>"
<philippos2003@...> wrote:
> Etymology
> Elohim has been explained as a plural form of Eloah or as plural
> derivative of El. Those who adhere to the former explanation do not
> agree as to the derivation of Eloah. There is no such verbal stem
> alah in Hebrew; but the Arabist Fleischer, Franz Delitzsch, and
> others appeal to the Arabic aliha, meaning "to be filled with
> dread", "anxiously to seek refuge", so that ilah (eloah) would mean
> in the first place "dread", then the object of dread. Gen., xxi,
> 53, where God is called "the fear of Isaac", Is., viii, 13, and Ps.
> lxxv, 12, appear to support this view. But the fact that aliha is
> probably not an independent verbal stem but only a denominative
> ilah, signifying originally "possessed of God" (cf. enthousiazein,
> daimonan) renders the explanation more than precarious. There is no
> more probability in the contention of Ewald, Dillmann, and others
> that the verbal stem, alah means "to be mighty": and is to regarded
> as a by-form of the stem alah; that, therefore, Eloah grows out of
> alah as El springs from alah. Baethgen (Beitrage, 297) has pointed
> out that of the fifty-seven occurrences of Eloah forty-one belong
> the Book of Job, and the others to late texts or poetic passages.
> Hence he agrees with Buhl in maintaining that the singular form

> Meaning of the Word
> If Elohim be regarded as derived from El, its original meaning
> be "the strong one" according to Wellhausen's derivation of El,
> ul (Skizzen, III, 169); or "the foremost one", according to
> Nöldeke's derivation of El from ul or il, "to be in front"
> (Sitzungsberichte der berlinischen Akademie der Wissenschaften,
> 1880, pp. 760 sqq.; 1882, pp. 1175 sqq.); or "the mighty one",
> according to Dillmann's derivation of El from alah or alay, "to be
> mighty" (On Genesis, I, 1); or, finally "He after whom one
> strives", "Who is the goal of all human aspiration and
> endeavour", "to whom one has recourse in distress or when one is in
> need of guidance", "to who one attaches oneself closely",
> coincidentibus interea bono et fine, according to the derivation of
> El from the preposition el, "to", advocated by La Place (cf.
> Lagarde, Uebersicht, etc., p. 167), Lagarde (op. cit., pp. 159
> sqq.), Lagrange (Religions semitiques, pp. 79 sqq.), and others. A
> discussion of the arguments which militate for and against each of
> the foregoing derivations would lead us too far.
> If we have recourse to the use of the word Elohim in the study of
> its meaning, we find that in its proper sense it denotes either the
> true God or false gods, and metaphorically it is applied to judges,
> angels, and kings; and even accompanies other nouns, giving them a
> superlative meaning. The presence of the article, the singular
> construction of the word, and its context show with sufficient
> clearness whether it must be taken in its proper or its
> sense, and what is its precise meaning in each case. Kautzsch
> (Encyclopaedia Biblica, III, 3324, n. 2) endeavours to do away with
> the metaphorical sense of Elohim. Instead of the rendering "judges"
> he suggests the translation "God", as witness of a lawsuit, as
> of decisions on points of law, or as dispenser of oracles; for the
> rendering "angels" he substitutes "the gods of the heathen", which,
> in later post-exilic times, fell to a lower rank. But this
> interpretation is not supported by solid proof.
> According to Renan (Histoire du peuple d'Israel, I, p. 30) the
> Semites believed that the world is surrounded, penetrated, and
> governed by the Elohim, myriads of active beings, analogous to the
> spirits of the savages, alive, but somehow inseparable from one
> another, not even distinguished by their proper names as the gods
> the Aryans, so that they can be considered as a confused totality.
> Marti (Geschichte der israelitischen Religion, p. 26), too, finds
> Elohim a trace of the original Semitic polydemonism; he maintains
> that the word signified the sum of the divine beings that inhabited
> any given place. Baethgen (op. cit., p. 287), F.C. Baur (Symbolik
> und Mythologie, I, 304), and Hellmuth-Zimmermann (Elohim, Berlin,
> 1900) make Elohim an expression of power, grandeur, and totality.
> Lagrange (op. cit., p. 78) urges against these views that even the
> Semitic races need distinct units before they have a sum, and
> distinct parts before that arrive at a totality. Moreover, the name
> El is prior to Elohim (op. cit., p. 77 sq.) and El is both a proper
> and a common name of God. Originally it was either a proper name
> has become a common name, or it was a common name has become a
> proper name. In either case, El, and, therefore, also its
> form Elohim, must have denoted the one true God. This inference
> becomes clear after a little reflection. If El was, at first, the
> proper name of a false god, it could not become the common name of
> false god, it could not become the common name for deity any more
> than Jupiter or Juno could; and if it was, at first, the common
> for deity, it could become the proper name only of that God who
> combined in him all the attributes of deity, who was the one true
> God. This does not imply that all the Semitic races had from the
> beginning a clear concept of God's unit and Divine attributes,
> though all had originally the Divine name El.
> VIGOUROUX in Dict. de la Bible, s.v.; KNABENBAUER, Lexicon Biblicum
> (Paris, 1907), II, 63; KAUTZSCH in Encyclopaedia Biblica (New York,
> 1902), III, 3323 sq.; LAGRANGE, Etudes sur les religions semitiques
> (Paris, 1905), 19, 71, 77 sqq.

I was wondering, given all that terror Dei, whether that
<ilah> "dread" root had anything to do with the original causer of
dread, the poisonous snake, <naga> in another tradition.

(note the Cape York, Australia connection, for dragons and stuff).

Take the word of one who's tried, poisoning (whether acute or
chronic, snake or mercury) and objectless dread (I believe
Kierkegaard was the first one to distinguish fear ('Frygt') of an
object from objectless dread ('Angest'), whence eventually that
word's popularity in English; Kierkegaard fell on the street in his
forties, proclaimed "I want to die", and was taken to hospital, where
he proceeded to do so) are indistiguishable. Therefore the serpent is
a great symbol of panic fear.