The general rule [citation needed] is that "holy" mentions of God's name are pronounced "Elokim;" but, where the same word is used to mean "judges" or "other gods," the pronunciation follows the spelling: "elohim."

How should the word be pronounced in Breishis 32:29? There, the word is used to refer to an angel (but see also here). It clearly doesn't refer to God, but it's not "elohim acheirim" either. How should this word be pronounced in this verse? Is it קדוש, or is it not?

כי שרית עם אלהים ועם אנשים ותוכל

  • When reading verses inside, I'm not so sure you have to refrain from using Shemot. – Baby Seal Jul 22 '14 at 5:02
  • Related:judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/43524/… – user5540 Jul 22 '14 at 6:54
  • @BabySeal Thanks for the edit, and the answer :) – MTL Jul 22 '14 at 13:11
  • Also @BabySeal -- I wasn't reading inside, I was looking at a gemara ;) [....does your rule hold for gemara as well?] – MTL Jul 22 '14 at 13:34
  • I am Not sure.. – Baby Seal Jul 22 '14 at 14:38

Minchas Shay says it's a matter of dispute:

יש מרז״ל מפרשים אותו קדש ויש מפרשים אותו חול עיין ב״ר וחולין פרק גיד הנשה ועיין מ״ש סוף פ׳ ויצא

Some of our rabbis explain it as holy, and some explain it as secular. See B'reshis Raba and Chulin (the chapter Gid hanashe) and see what I wrote at the end of the section Vayetze.

Following the links:

B'reshis Raba (78:3) first cites a view that "elo?im" refers to the angel himself, and then another that it refers to God.

Chulin (92a as explained by Rashi) cites Raba as saying that "elo?im" refers to the [human] leader of the Jewish nation.

And Minchas Shay himself at the end of Vayetze cites Maseches Sof'rim as saying that "elo?im" there (32:3) is holy.

  • Funny, I came across the passuk now through it's mention in גיד הנשה....I don't think what Rashi says there is the פשוט פשט of the passuk though.....Rashi there (sv כשהוא אומר) also says that "כי שרית" refers to the מלאך – MTL Jul 22 '14 at 13:15
  • Thanks for doing some impressive research on this question.....you might want to take this info (and maybe some from Baby Seal's answer also) and answer this question – MTL Jul 22 '14 at 13:20

Onkelos translates:

וַאֲמַר, לָא יַעֲקוֹב יִתְאֲמַר עוֹד שְׁמָךְ--אֱלָהֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל: אֲרֵי רָב אַתְּ קֳדָם יְיָ וְעִם גֻּבְרַיָּא, וִיכֵילְתָּא

And he said 'No longer shall your name be called Jacob-- rather Israel: For you have contended before God and with man, and been able.

So Elokim seems appropriate, per his translation.

Targum Pseudo Jonathan translates the word as מלאכייא דיי‏, angels of God. That is much more ambiguous, on the one hand the Targum pluralizes angels, implying that Elohim is referring to the angels. On the other hand the Targum still mentions God, implying that Elokim refers to Him. This Targum often incorporates multiple meanings in to the basic translation. In any event it seems to include a understanding of the word as being divine.

Elokim seems to be the safest bet.

  • Didn't think to look at the תרגומים, good move :) – MTL Jul 22 '14 at 13:21
  • Forgive me, I'm an Italian noahide and I'm not able to read the Aramaic. Can you please tell me with what exact Aramaic term Onkelos translates Elohim in verses 29 and 31 of this passage of Genesis? – Amos74 Nov 11 '18 at 12:05
  • @Amos74 in verse 29 he translates עם אלקים, "with God" as קדם יי, "before God". In that case the יי refers to God and is as I understand an abbreviation. – Baby Seal Nov 11 '18 at 14:15
  • @Amos74 in verse 31 he translates the word אלוקים as מלאכא דיי, "angel of God" – Baby Seal Nov 11 '18 at 14:30
  • Than you very much! – Amos74 Nov 11 '18 at 15:16

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