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אלה/אל el/elah Strength, Power, Authority, Might

The etymological root meaning of “אל” (el) in Hebrew is believed to be associated with concepts of strength, power, or authority. This root is evident in various contexts. But the same word can have a variety of meanings completely unrelated. Generally a word like el is defined in a straightforward manner from context:

Hebrew Definition Explanation Strong’s Number
אל god (as in mighty, lofty one) Used to refer to “god” singular masculine H410
אל directional preposition (to, towards) Indicates motion or direction towards a place or entity H413
אל particle indicating negation (no, don’t) Used to negate verbs or statements like “do not” H408


However the word elah is not as straightforward, but notice that the nouns “curse” and “oak tree” are feminine nouns:

Hebrew Definition Explanation Strong’s Number
אלה these In the sense of “these,” “אלה” (eleh) is considered a demonstrative pronoun used to refer to people or things previously mentioned or easily identified. While it apparently functions as a plural demonstrative pronoun, it doesn’t have a plural suffix (ים- or ות-). These sorts of words would be called “irregular.” This is listed in the concordances as occurring about 746 times. H428
אלה terebinth or oak tree Feminine of ‘ayil; an oak or other strong tree — elm, oak, teil-tree. A type of tree common in the ancient Near East, often associated with strength or durability. H424
אלה curse feminine noun. From ‘alah; an imprecation — curse, cursing, execration, oath, swearing. A solemn promise or assertion, often invoking a divine witness H423
אלה to wail A primitive root (rather identical with ‘alah through the idea of invocation); to bewail — lament. Only one occurance given in Joel 1:8. H421
אלה to curse A primitive root; properly, to adjure, i.e. (usually in a bad sense) imprecate — adjure, curse, swear. H422


god “corresponding to ‘elowahh; God — God, god.” This is found in the Aramaic books Ezra and Daniel and one time in Jeremiah 10:11 in the plural form אלהיא elohaya. Jeremiah 10:11 is the only verse written in Aramaic in the whole book and it is peculiar to this word:

“Like this you are speaking to them, ‘The mighty ones [אלהיא] of the dual-heavens and the earth have not made. They are perishing from the earth and from below the dual-heavens of mighty one [אלה].”

Grammatical context determines the gender. Hence the feminine nouns of elah “oak/terebinth” and “curse.” But what about “goddess”? We don’t find any verses where the gender of elah as “god/goddess” is signified. What we do find is elah is frequently used in the context of “house of elah” or something similar, which itself seems to allude to the two “women”, i.e “the house of the harlot,” and “the house of lady wisdom.”

Some translations render elah in Jeremiah 10:11 as “these heavens” while others drop the word altogether. Ultimately, “these heavens” doesn’t make sense. “Heavens” is not anywhere else attached to a demonstrative plural pronoun. What are “these heavens”? Or is it more properly “below the dual-heavens of a mighty one“? Moreover, we find elahgod/goddess of heavens” in many places in the Aramaic:

לאלה שמיא “to the elah of dual-heavens” (Ezra 5:12)
אלה שמיא the elah of dual-heavens (Ezra 5:11)
לאלה שמיא to the elah of dual-heavens (Daniel 2:19)
אלה שמיא the elah of dual-heavens (Daniel 2:37)

What is notable here is that this phrase “elah of heavens” parallels the singular feminine “basilea of heavens” in the Greek NT spoken of by Jesus. Basilea we know can be translated as “queen” and while there is such a phrase as “queen of heaven” in the Hebrew Bible (Jeremiah 44) we don’t see an equivalent “king of heaven” except in the Aramaic in Daniel 4:37. And “god of heaven” doesn’t seem to appear anywhere else except in the case of the plural (unless it is 1st person possessive which is identical in form):

ואשביעך ביהוה אלהי השמים ואלהי הארץ

“And I have sevened yourself within He Is (“Yahweh”), my elah of dual heavens and my elah of earth…” (Genesis 24:3 RBT) 

If this passage speaks of a “goddess of heaven” and a “goddess of earth,” then we are given precedent for understanding other mysterious passages such as the dual women of Zachariah symbolized in the dual Lionesses at the right and left side of the throne in 1 Kings, otherwise prophetically called Ariel, Ariel, or as found in Lamentations, “a lamenting one and a mourning one” who are finally “pressed together” into one “Lioness of God.” But is all this just mere conjecture?

And Deuteronomy 32:17 has a unique phrase that has caused no small amount of confusion for translators:

“They sacrificed to destroyers, not elah elohim…” 

They can’t translate this as “these gods” because that sounds too polytheistic. Nor will they translate it “goddess of gods” because that would be “heretical” so they came up with an assortment of weird translations by adding prepositions as they deemed fit:  “to god, to gods” “to gods; to gods,” “no-gods, Gods,” or “no god! Gods…”

Elohe being a plural form (or 1st person possessive singular feminine), gods/mighty ones/my goddess. The feminine plural אלהות elohot does not occur in the Hebrew Bible.

The singular with possessive as אלהי “my elah” does in fact occur over 100 times. In Psalm 43:4 we find a plethora of versions all in the same verse which interestingly begins with “And I am coming into her” if we don’t ignore the feminine suffix:

ואבואה אל מזבח אלהים אל אל שמחת גילי ואודך בכנור אלהים אלהי

“And I am coming into her, toward the altar of mighty ones, a mighty one a mighty one, the joy of my revolution. And I am casting yourself within the harp, mighty ones of my mighty one [elah].”

Generally, translators have taken a lot of “poetic license” when it comes to odd phrasing especially in the poetic books.


See God is One, The Elohim, Exodus 3:14, The Trinity Everyone missed, and Her