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Why is G‑d Called "Elokim"?

Why is G‑d Called "Elokim"?

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Question

I understand that the Tetragrammaton is the G‑d's true name. So why is G‑d also referred to in the Torah as "Elokim"? Isn't one name enough?

Response

When Abraham started off, people understood that there is one original G‑d who is the essence of being. This is what we refer to with the four-letter name, the Tetragrammaton, whose code name in Kabbalah is "Havaya." That name can only be written in singular form. In fact, it is basically a conjugation of the verb "to be."

They knew of this concept of Havaya, but they considered it far too lofty an idea, seemingly inaccessible and irrelevant to their lives. Instead, they connected to the many forces of nature. They called these "Elohim"—meaning, "mighty forces."

Abraham came along and said, "You guys got it all wrong. Havaya is Elohim! It's all one! He is the essence of being and He is all the forces of nature in one big package!"

That's why, as the Biblical commentator Baal HaTurim points out, the Hebrew letters in the name Elohim have the same gematria (numerical value) as "haTeva"—which means the natural order.

For more on the relation of these two names of G‑d, see Shaar HaYichud V'ha-Emunah by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. You can find that here.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Didier ben egas February 1, 2016

How can I call upon his name if the have been changed and distorted? Reply

Pfleegor September 18, 2014

Did Abraham, Moses and David all agree on this point? I am fascinated with the verse that says something along the lines of, "You are all elohim, children of Elyon." Reply

Zalman February 18, 2013

Elokim in plural read article-response (which might be too brief and clever) - better yet, follow the link and study from the source.

Additional Helpful observations: all the verbs associated with Elokim show that it is singular, One hashem. Bara (not Bar'u) Elokim, Vayomer (Not vayomru) Elokim. etc.

But why does the name Elokim itself seem to be plural? This refers to how G-d's greatness appears in this awesome multifarious universe. We see Him thru the mny details. His "presence rests" in multiple synagogues, gatherings, people. As Rabban Gamliel in talmud sanhedrin told a heretic: like one sun shines thru many windows. But we must remember that he is really all one - all that we see i really all One, Him, infinitely beyond nature or time, etc... Learn the recommended Tanya link....

but why Let US make man? In OUR image?
See rashi scroll to verse 26, here: chabad.org/parshah/torahreading.asp?aid=7781&p=1&showrashi=true

and Maimonides, scroll to 8, here: chabad.org/904979 Reply

Anonymous mb, sc February 25, 2011

Elokim Thank You... Reply

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman (author) February 24, 2011

Re: Elokim We are careful not to pronounce G-d's name in vain. Some say this only applies to the four-letter name of G-d, but others are of the opinion that it applies to all the "seven names that cannot be erased." So, to ensure that people do not pronounce this name in vain, it's become customary to write it with a "k" instead of an "h". Reply

Anonymous mb February 23, 2011

elokim? How is elohim and elohim the same word? How did the change from k to h take place? Reply

thalia Capitol Heights, Maryland September 20, 2010

Thank you I can believe how many idol worshippers can't get the spelling right. And no, they don't want you to tell them the truth. They want to put the spelling on the one True G-d. Reply

Anonymous Hasbrouck Heights, N.J.. USA July 1, 2010

Elokim Thank you for helping me understand the meaning and translation of the word Elokim Reply

don Moeller kelseyville, california, usa February 17, 2010

elokim I think you will enjoy reading the novel "Infinity in the palm of her hand" by Giocanda Belli.
As Adam and Eve learn to live outside "the Garden", Eve and the Serpent philosophize. The Serpent seems to be there when Eve is most in need of asking questions. Not that the Serpent answers directly, but she does make suggestions based upon her insight into the ways of Elokim, for whom the Serpent has worked for eons.
I came to your website while looking for better information about use of "Elokin" than I had found elsewhere.
Thank you. Reply

Haim Pereira de Sousa Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil March 25, 2009

Thank you, Matt !! why some distort so much?
We should thank Matt for his guts while saying what he think. Should in any other way (HaShem forbidd), studying Torah could become easy and if no one oppose to it, would it be easier for us to pay less attention on 'Naaseh VeNishma'...?

Again, thank you Matt! Reply

Tzvi Freeman Thornhill, Ontario March 22, 2009

Re: RABBI FREEMAN TO THE RESCUE If there are those that want to believe that other beings from outer space came and created humans in their image to serve them--and then want to bring proof from the Torah to support it, I think it is quite futile to argue. Unless you wish to take on the flat earth society and the society for the prevention of continental drift at the same time. Reply

simple yid toronto, CA March 22, 2009

RABBI FREEMAN TO THE RESCUE PLEASE! Rabbi Freeman, please do us all a favour, and kindly prove this gentleman "matt" wrong! For the sake of G-d! Reply

Matt November 19, 2008

Why is God's name Elohim Don't beleive this folks. just more monothiests trying to cover the tracks of the ancient gods who made male and female in their own image. Elohim is plural of Eloah, El, enough said. Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7, 1:Samuel 4:8, Exodus 22:28. Do these seem like forces to you??? The Elohim mighty ones created us in their own image. simple. Reply

Gisele Brooklyn, NY February 15, 2008

How interesting this ques. and ans. are! I had no idea how complex the names of G-d are. Thanks for giving us all a precise clear explanation. It helps for us to be closer to G-d.
Shabbat Shalom. Reply

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