So especially אֱלֹהִים Godhead, God (to be distinguished from the numerical plural gods, Ex 1212, &c.). The supposition that אֱלֹהִים is to be regarded as merely a remnant of earlier polytheistic views (i.e. as originally only a numerical plural) is at least highly improbable, and, moreover, would not explain the analogous plurals (see below). That the language has entirely rejected the idea of numerical plurality in אֱלֹהִים (whenever it denotes one God), is proved especially by its being almost invariably joined with a singular attribute (cf. §132h), e.g. אֱלֹהִים צַדִּיק ψ 710, &c. Hence אֱלֹהִים may have been used originally not only as a numerical but also as an abstract plural (corresponding to the Latin numen, and our Godhead), and, like other abstracts of the same kind, have been transferred to a concrete single god (even of the heathen).
[124h] To the same class (and probably formed on the analogy of אֱלֹהִים) belong the plurals קְדשִׁים the Most Holy (only of Yahweh), Ho 121, Pr 910, 303 (cf. אֱלֹהִים קְדשִׁים Jos 2419, and the Aram. עֶלְיוֹנִין the Most High, Dn 718, 22, 25); and probably תְּרָפִים (usually taken in the sense of penates) the image of a god, used especially for obtaining oracles. Certainly in 1 S 1913, 16 only one image is intended; in most other places a single image may be intended; in Zc 102 alone is it most naturally taken as a numerical plural. In Ec 57 גְּבֹהִים supremus (of God) is doubtful; according to others it is a numerical plural, superiores.
[124i] Further, אֲדֹנִים, as well as the singular אָדוֹן, (lordship) lord, e.g. אֲדֹנִים קָשֶׁה a cruel lord, Is 194; אֲדֹנֵי הָאָ֫רֶץ the lord of the land, Gn 4230, cf. Gn 3219; so especially with the suffixes of the 2nd and 3rd persons אֲדֹנֶ֫יךָ, אֲדֹנַ֫יִךְ ψ 4512, אֲדֹנָיו, &c., also אֲדֹנֵ֫ינוּ (except 1 S 1616); but in 1st sing. always אֲדֹנִי. So also בְּעָלִים (with suffixes) lord, master (of slaves, cattle, or inanimate things; but in the sense of maritus, always in the singular), e.g. בְּעָלָיו Ex 2129, Is 13, &c.
[124k] On the other hand, we must regard as doubtful a number of participles in the plural, which, being used as attributes of God, resemble plurales excellentiae; thus, עשָֹׁי my Maker, Jb 3510; עשַֹׁ֫יִךְ Is 545; עשָֹׁיו ψ 1492; עשֶֹׁיהָ Is 2211; נֽוֹטֵיהֶם stretching them out, Is 425; for all these forms may also be explained as singular, according to §93ss.—נֹֽגְשָׂיו Is 312 might also be regarded as another instance, unless it be a numerical plural, their oppressors; moreover, מְרִימָיו him who lifteth it up, Is 1015 (but read probably מְרִימוֹ); שֹֽׁלְחָיו him who sendeth him, Pr 1026, 2221 (so Baer, but Ginsburg שֹֽׁלְחֶ֫ךָ), 25:13 (in parallelism with אֲדֹנָיו). These latter plurals, however (including מרימיו), may probably be more simply explained as indicating an indefinite individual, cf. o below.—For שֹֽׁמְרֶ֫יךָ ψ 1215 (textus receptus) and בּֽוֹרְאֶ֫יךָ Ec 121 (textus receptus) the singular should be read, with Baer.
- Even in Gn 3134, notwithstanding the plural suffix in וַתְּשִׂמֵם and עֲלֵיהֶם, since the construction of these abstracts as numerical plurals is one of the peculiarities of the E-document of the Hexateuch; cf. Gn 2013, 357, and §145i.
- On אֲדֹנָי (for אֲדֹנִי) as a name of God, cf. §135q.
- Euting, Reise in Arabien, p. 61, mentions the interesting fact that the subjects of the Emir of Ḥâyel commonly speak of their ruler as šiyûkh, a plur. majestatis= the great sheikh.
- בֹּֽעֲלַ֫יִךְ, which in Is 545 is in parallelism with עשַֹׁ֫יִךְ, must then be explained as merely formed on analogy.