There are so many names for God in the Bible. It’s all pretty confusing to the average person. They have their choice of Elohim, Yahweh, Jehovah, El, El Shaddai, among others. God always seems to have a different name. It’s a mystery. That is, which God is really God – just one of them, all of them or none of them?

The Bible, of course, begins with Genesis. Genesis 1 is pretty straightforward. It’s a creation story and God is referred to as “Elohim” (in the Hebrew texts). The first three verses of Genesis 2 are actually the ending of the creation story of Genesis 1. It’s a very tricky way of segueing from Genesis 1 to make the reader think that Genesis 2 is a continuation of Genesis 1 when, in fact, it is a rewriting of the creation story with respect to the creation of man. So, let’s try and break it down.

An interesting change takes place starting with Genesis 2:4. Suddenly, God is called the “Lord God” instead of simply “God”. Why would anyone want to change his name? “Lord God” is a translation from the Hebrew “Yahweh Elohim.” It’s like calling an entity God God. If your name was Rudolph, would anyone ever call you Rudolph Rudolph?

Using the name Yahweh Elohim is only meaningful if the Elohim are a group of entities and by adding Yahweh to Elohim the reader understands specifically who the writer is writing about, namely Yahweh (of the Elohim). Again, if your name was Rudolph, some people would refer to you using both your first and last names (in that case Rudolph Masterson, or whatever last name). If, instead, they simply referred to you as Masterson, then a third-party would only know that you were a member of the Masterson family but not specifically which member.  So, Elohim designates the family and Yahweh is a specific member of the Elohim.

There has been considerable debate among scholars as to whether the term “Elohim” is a singular or plural term. If Elohim were plural, then that would certainly explain why in Genesis 1:26 it says, “And God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness’….” (emphasis mine). Wikipedia, for example, discusses the term Elohim saying: “Hebrew grammar allows for this nominally-plural form to mean ‘He is the Power (singular) over powers (plural)’, or roughly, ‘God of gods.’” This corresponds to the following Bible verses: 

  • Joshua 22:22 – “The God of gods, the Lord, the God of gods….”
  • Psalm 136:2 – “O give thanks unto the God of gods….”
  • Deuteronomy 10:17 – “For the Lord your God is the God of all gods….”

Those bible verses are rather controversial in that they state that there was more than one god. Maybe, that’s why in Genesis 35:7, the word Elohim, which is obviously plural in that context, was translated as a singular (God). I say obviously because the Hebrew verb which accompanies the word “Elohim” in Genesis 35:7 is plural and that’s why Elohim should have been translated as a plural (gods).  I said should have been and, yet, it has always been translated as a singular without any real justification. Why?

My favorite bible verse about many gods is Psalm 82:1,6 which reads, “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods…I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.”  Here yet another name, Elyon in the Hebrew text, is introduced and is translated as “most High”, meaning the highest of the gods. Yes, the highest, higher than all of the other gods (Elohim).  

So, the mystery remains.  Which one, if any, was truly God? Well, the highest of them all was apparently Elyon, not the Elohim and certainly not Yahweh.



Chapters 10 and 11 of Genesis give a list of all nations.  It’s referred to as the “Table of Nations”.  As for Yahweh, he was allotted Israel by the Most High (presumably God), as can be seen in Deuteronomy 32:8-9, as follows:

“When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s (Yahweh) portion is his people; Jacob (Israel) is the lot of his inheritance.”

So the Israelites were in fact a Chosen People, chosen for Yahweh that is (as opposed to having been chosen by Yahweh). As for Yahweh, himself, he was not the Prime Creator (i.e. the Most High) and really should not be referred to as God. The title Lord which is given to Yahweh in most places in the Bible is sufficient, albeit misleading. Truth be told, he wasn’t even a god.

“Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?”

     – Exodus 15:11





Whose God Is It?


In the biblical stories, God is often referred to as YHWH, sometime spoken Yahweh, by the ancient Hebrews.  Much later, Yahweh would be given the name Jehovah which is a name that is still in use today. Among other things, Yahweh was said to have created Adam and Eve and later would enter into a covenant with Abraham which would eventually lead to the creation of the nation of Israel.  Such was the basis for Judaism and their worship of one god, and the beginning of monotheism as a form of worship.

Yes, others might argue that monotheism actually began with the Egyptians and their Pharaoh Akhenaten or even with Zoroastrianism, but Judaism is where monotheism took root and eventually spread to other religions.  Christianity, a later monotheistic religion, would adopt the Jewish Bible (essentially the Old Testament) as part of their own Bible.  In so doing, they also took on the mantle of Yahweh/Jehovah, the supposedly one and only god.  Little did they know, however, exactly what that entailed and even today most Christians don’t realize who Jehovah was, or wasn’t.

Let’s rewind, back to the beginning.  If we assume for the purpose of this discussion that the chronology in the Bible is accurate, then the following can be gleaned about the god(s) that the Hebrews/Israelites worshipped.  According to the Jewish Calendar, Adam and Eve were created circa 3700 BC.  So let’s count it down.  Based on the biblical genealogies, Abraham lived around 2000 BC, or 1,700 years after Adam and Eve.  During that period, the Hebrews worshipped many gods (the Old Testament is replete with references to multiple gods, especially in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy).  This is why Yahweh admonished the Hebrews, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

It’s also why a covenant might have been required between Yahweh and the Hebrews, since they actually had a choice of who to follow.  Obviously, if Yahweh was the prime creator (the first cause) or the one and only god, there would be no choice and no covenant would have been required.  There would have been no reason for Yahweh to have said, “And I will take you to me for a people and I will be to you a God” (Exodus 6:7).  It would not have been necessary for the prime creator to enter into such a covenant to be their god (because it would have been true ipso facto), and neither would he have referred to himself as “a God” (one of many); rather, he would have referred to himself simply as “God”.

Yet for the 1,700 years up to the time of Abraham, the Hebrews worshipped many gods instead of Yahweh; according to the Bible, even Abraham’s father did (Joshua 24:2).   But if they truly believed that Yahweh was the creator and helped Noah save mankind, how could they possibly have worshiped other gods?

Now, Moses was said to have lived around 1500 BC.  So roughly 500 years after Abraham, the Israelites still weren’t worshipping Yahweh as the one true god. This was one of the reasons supposedly for the Ten Commandments.  Yet despite Moses and notwithstanding the Ten Commandments, it would still be another 1,000 years or so before the Torah would be written and accepted as the religious belief system of the Jewish people (for example, see 2 Kings 22:8-13).  In the end, it took 3,000 years before the Israelites would officially pay homage to Yahweh.

How is it then that Yahweh was not worshipped by the Israelites over that incredible period of time even though the Jewish people feared him and recognized his status and his power?  How come, indeed.  The Dead Sea Scrolls, the original Septuagint and another recently discovered ancient manuscript shed new light on an important biblical passage, Deuteronomy 32:8-9.  The acceptable translation of this passage should be either “sons of God” or “the number of the gods”.  These sons of god were also made reference to in other biblical passages, for example Genesis 6:2, Job 1:6, and Job 38:7.  These passages relate to the fact that the early Canaanite religions believed in a pantheon of gods called the Elohim, or children of El (the sons of God).  The Elohim is the Hebrew term which is generally used for, and translated into, the word “God” in the Bible.  As for Yahweh, he would have been simply one of the Elohim, one of the creative spirits who fashioned the universe (Note: none of which were actually God, the prime creator).  Each member (Elohim) of the divine assembly were given a nation to rule over (see the Table of Nations in Genesis 10-11); and Yahweh, he was given Israel.

It was therefore difficult for the writers of the Torah to have taken the old stories, which related to a worship of many deities, and woven them together into a coherent story about the one and only god. For example, in Psalm 82:1, “God presides in the great assembly; he gives judgment among the gods”.  It’s tough to go from that to the concept of only one god.  So what exactly then is one to make of the Old Testament?  In truth, it’s simply a history of Jewish religious thought and how it evolved over thousands of years, from the creation to the actual writing of the Torah; how it changed from the worship of many deities to the worship of the one and only Yahweh.

So why is any of this important?  Well, down through the ages man has made a habit of using the name “God” to describe the deity of their own personal belief system.  All one can say, at best, is that such a deity is in reality only “a god”, or the God Below God as I like to refer to him.  I have endeavored to write about the biblical god story, not because I necessarily believe it, but because I feel that the story in the Bible, as written, is deserving of further explanation.  So tell me, in your opinion, whose god is it anyway?