God or Gods of creation

How many family and friends were introduced to the first line of Genesis (called Bereishit in Hebrew): “In the beginning, God created heaven and earth…” (King James Version) or “God created the heavens and the earth…” (New International Version) or some similar translation. However, something fun happens if you know a little Hebrew. Whoever wrote the first line in the original Hebrew, started it this way: “In the beginning, Gods created the heavens and the earth. . .” Gods? Yes, Gods. The person who wrote this clearly used the word: Elohim (אֱלֹהִ֑ים). That -im ending in Hebrew indicates plural. More than one. Gods. Line after line in the first chapter go like this: “And Gods said” this; “And Gods created” that; “And Gods blessed” the other thing; and my favorite, “in the image of Gods were created man AND woman.” Elohim were not sexist in this first creation story, thank Gods. Elohim also created the weekend – everyone needs a day off. Blessed be those Elohim !

These Gods continued their busy creating through the first chapter of Genesis/Bereishit and onward for four lines into chapter two of Genesis/Bereishit. Then something odd happened. In line five, the unpronounceable name YHVH (יִֽהְיֶ֣ה) showed up as the creator God. YHVH created man out of the dust. Wait a second – what happened to the man and woman that Elohim created in the first chapter? YHVH planted a garden with some trees between some rivers, then created some animals and birds for the man to name (what happened to the birds and animals created by Elohim in the first chapter?), and took a bone from the man’s side to create a woman, and later on got pissed at the woman and the man for munching on an apple. Clearly YHVH was one entity, not a plural number of entities. YHVH was also pretty angry (as we learn in later stories) and definitely not into equality of the sexes.

A rabbi who I know once explained it like this: when the Hebrews were compiling these stories twenty-five hundredish centuries or so ago, they recalled their oldest nomadic traditions when they worshipped many Gods from the Semitic culture: Baal, Asherah, Astarte, and El (the singular form of Elohim) among others. As the nomads settled into a kingdom, the national God, YHVH, began taking precedence; however, the worship of YHVH did not preclude the worship of the older Gods. After the exile to Babylon, the religious authorities began to further emphasize a monotheistic worship of YHVH; but those sweet, non-sexist Elohim remained in their tribal consciousness. May they never be forgotten.

Author: Jonkesstagram

GenX, he/him, interfaith, left-of-center, geja auxlang fan; hoping for a world of compassion and justice

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