Elohim – Creator

Ain Soph – The Unknown God

Chapter 2

Fred Mayers

Chapter 1 carried us back to “God” unmanifested in any way, and therefore Unknowable, but whom sheer necessity of logical thought obliged us to postulate. The Universe was not yet in existence, even as an idea.

The opening verse of the Bible describes what takes place, and sums up in one sentence everything that follows: “Firstly, Elohim created the heavens and the earth.” That is a literal translation of the Hebrew text, except that, like all the translations of the Bible, it leaves untranslated, and omits one curious little word: “eth.” Grammarians say that this little word is the “sign of the Accusative,” and leave it at that. But, it is not necessary to form the Accusative, – what, then, is its meaning and purpose? “Eth” is nothing more or less than the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This has evidently a hieroglyphic significance. Does it not instantly remind us of one of the sentences with which the last book of the Bible ends? I am Alpha and Omega. the First and the Last, the “Beginning and the End.” Does it not clearly suggest that when Elohim created the “Heavens” and the “Earth,” He “created” them in their entirety. from the Eternity that was before “time” to the Eternity that will be when time has ceased from their beginning in Himself, throughout the whole course of their evolution, to the final completion of their purposes?

This first verse of Genesis is the keynote to the whole Bible and every word in it should be carefully studied, Let us take it word by word: “In the beginning” (English A.V.) (B’resheth Heb.). The first point to notice is that the definite article “the” which appears in the English version is not in the original. It is this “the” which gives the entirely incorrect idea that “beginning” was a point of time. The word “resheth” is a purely abstract adverbial expression. It does not suggest “when” but “how.” “B’resheth” means “primarily” or “in principle.” It is worth noting that in Chapter 1, v. 1 of St. John’s Gospel (see Century Bible, “Genesis Notes”) the definite article “the” is also omitted in the original. The root of the word “resheth” is “resh” or “rash,” denoting “head,” “chief,” “leader,” “starting point,” and in a more abstract application, “principle,” etc. (Compare Arabic ras, same meaning; or Indian “rishi,” etc.).

“Elohim.” (English A.V. “God.”) – The name “Elohim” is one of the many different names, each with a clearly defined meaning, which are applied in the Bible to “God” considered under various aspects. We are accustomed to use the name “God” in a very “general” way, but the Bible used the various Divine names with significant discrimination. This name “Elohim” is a very interesting name, which will well repay study. In the first place it is a plural name. There is a singular form of the name: “Eloha,” i.e., a “god” (small “g”). “Elohim,” therefore, literally means “gods” – a word which we associate with almost any nation rather than the Hebrews. We read of the “gods many and lords many” of surrounding nations. What, really, were the “gods”? They appear to have been personifications of Divine Attributes, or the Forces at work in Nature. Around these “gods” the old mythologies were built.

It is very probable that the earliest idea of God that humanity acquired was a vague monotheism, such as the conception of the “Great Spirit” held by the North American Indians; but in the Mosaic age, polytheism was general. The idea of One Supreme, Eternal Being was perhaps never lost by the educated and spiritually – minded few, but it was in general crowded out by the idea of “gods.” There were “great gods” and “lesser gods.” They were worshipped as individual beings, and rather indiscriminately. It was quite a common thing to invoke the power of one ‘god” to counteract the power of another. The Bible gives many examples of this. But now we come to the second interesting thing about the name “Elohim,” which is that, although it is clearly a plural name, it is invariably used with a singular verb ; i.e., it is used grammatically as if it were singular. The significance of this is that although “Elohim” denotes, like the “gods” of the nations, the various powers, attributes, qualities, and activities of the Supreme Being, they are all conceived of as a Unity; they all work together as One; they express One Will, One Purpose, One Harmony; their activities are the manifestation of the Eternal One, the Absolute.

One might, therefore, explain the name “Elohim” as “He – the – gods,” or “the Unity of gods,” or “the Activities of the Eternal One,” i.e., God expressing and revealing Himself outwardly in creative activity.

How completely this harmonises with the New Testament “In (the) beginning was the ‘Word,’ and the ‘Word’ was with (literally ‘in’) God, and the ‘Word’ was God. All things were – made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that is made,” etc. “Elohim” was the Creative Aspect of God; He was the Creator and Maker of all things. So was the “Word.”

“Elohim” was the Revealer of the Eternal One. So was the “Word”: – “He hath declared Him.” “Elohim was the outward expression of God – the Divine “Image’’ “likeness” – which was to be formed ultimately, as we shall see later, in universal Man. So was the “Word.” The two names express the same idea, one in Hebrew idiom, and the other in Greek idiom. Each is, in the language of Theology, the “second person” of the Divine Trinity. But it will be noticed that the two names belong to different ages, and correspond to different stages of human evolution. The earlier name “Elohim” corresponds to an age in which man was still dominantly an instinctive being, far from being fully self – conscious. Although his gifts of Freewill and Reason were sufficient to differentiate him clearly from the animal, and he had already progressed considerably beyond the ability to light a fire or chip out a flint axe – head, yet in many ways he was still in his infancy. His “thinking,’ as has already been mentioned, was a passive response in the form of “dream pictures” to impressions received from the spiritual world around him, not the active creative “thinking” of the deductive reasoning mind.

He “pictured” the divine powers that he “felt” to be at work in Nature as the “gods.” The name “Elohim” brought the idea of “the gods” into a strictly monotheistic – conception. But, between the age of Moses and the Christian era, – man had developed. A succession of Teachers, Seers, Prophets, and Psalmists had done much, and in the Greek Civilisation “philosophic” thinking had also developed. It was not, – strictly speaking, what we now call “Scientific” thought, but it went much farther than the Ancient mentality. Man could now speak of “Divine Intelligence” – and begin to transform the Mythological “gods” into intellectual ideas. The Time had been reached when the Divine self – revelation could be made to men’s intelligence. God could “speak” directly to the minds and thought of men, and His “speech” was the “Word.” Just as “Elohim” was the Creative aspect of God in the Cosmos, so the “Word” is the Creative aspect of God working within man – in his mind, heart, spirit and daily life. The “Word,” in the person of Jesus “the Christ” incarnated the Divine in a human being – in human spirit, human mind, human feeling, and human living. For the first time, “man” in the “likeness of God” was fully realised in Jesus Christ.

*The name generally applied to God in the “Hermetic” writings.

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