In English, a monotheist may say there is only one god, namely Hashem.

The Hebrew would be something like, "There is only one elohim, Hashem".

There is a problem with that statement. Many bible verses claim that Hashem is not the only elohim around. Angels, judges, rulers, are called elohim too.

Maybe Hebrew simply does not have a word that exclusively mean god. Their next best word, eloah/elohim, can mean too many things. So, Hashem is the only _ ? What should I fill in the blank? He's not the only elohim. Too many bible verses claim there are other elohim too. Angels are elohim too. Judges are elohim too.

In other languages we have classes of being, called gods. The monotheists can simply claim that Hashem is the only member of those beings. In Hebrew, Hashem is the only member of what?

  • Seems more like a question on Hebrew Language – Shmuel Brin Mar 2 '14 at 4:27
  • Well, trying to find a monotheistic claim that's unambiguous in the whole tanach is not easy. Perhaps those statements can't be expressed in hebrew at all. – user4951 Mar 3 '14 at 2:06
  • I am looking around that angel actually. Finding clear monotheistic statement in the tanach that don't use really ambiguous words like elohim. – user4951 Mar 3 '14 at 5:03

You have rightly pointed out that in Hebrew, the word אלוהים also means judges, and can also have other meanings as well. But your argument against saying that Hashem is the only Elohim is purely semantic. English also has words with multiple meanings, and we have no difficulty determining the intended meaning from context. That is how we know, for example, that when an object is stolen from an unpaid watchman, he is to appear before judges. You are right that sometimes the word could (at least logically) be read in a few different ways. However, if we are to say that Hashem is the only Elohim, it is obvious what we mean.

There is one more big problem with your question. אלוהים (elohim) is not the generic Hebrew word for the word "god". It is a particular name for our God. That word is אל (el). We could easily say that Hashem is the only el, and then there is no problem of strange seeming-pluralization.


By the way, before you comment on this. The plural of אל is אלים (Elim), not אלוהים (Elohim). It is a different (though obviously related) word.

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