How Many Ways Can “Elohim” Be Translated?


In his FaithlifeTV lecture series, The Unseen Realm, Dr. Michael S. Heiser noted that the Hebrew word elohim, most often translated God, nonetheless is translated other ways in our English Bibles. With my curiosity piqued, I wanted to discover those English translations of this Hebrew word.

Even though there are several ways in Logos to accomplish this task, I’ll show you the one I used:

  • Open an English Bible with the interlinear option such as the ESV to a passage with the Hebrew word elohim such as Genesis 1:1 (A)

  • Right click on the English translation of elohim such as God in Genesis 1:1 (B)
  • Select from the right side of the Context menu the Hebrew lemma (the one with the ring icon) (C)
  • Select from the left side of the Context menu Search this resource (D)

  • Click Analysis view on the search panel (E)
  • Notice the search results are placed in a spreadsheet (F)

  • Right click on any of the columns headers in the spreadsheet (G)
  • Select from the menu your desired headers for the spreadsheet, but make sure you have at least selected Result (H)

  • Drag the column header Result (I) to the area above the headers (Mac User: hold down the Option key as you drag the header) (J) to group the search results according to the English translations
  • Right click on one of the English results like God (K)

  • Select Collapse all (L)

  • Notice in one list all of the English translations of the Hebrew lemma elohim! (M)

To dig into the significance of this list be sure to check out Dr. Michael S. Heiser’s book, The Unseen Realm or the FaithlifeTV lecture series of the same name.

For more detailed information about Searching and the Analysis view, secure your copy of the Logos 7 Training Manuals Volumes 1-3  in print or digital.

Also be sure to follow the new MP Seminars Faithlife group and receive a FREE download of the commentary Ephesians: Verse by Verse by Dr. Grant Osborne.


Morris Proctor
is a certified trainer for Logos Bible Software. Morris, who has trained thousands of Logos users at his two-day Camp Logos seminars, provides many training materials.

Comments

  1. When I do this for KJV the results show that אֱלֹהִים is translated “haste” twice, both times in Psalm 70:1 – This is not correct. It only occurs once, and even there it is not translated “haste”. It doesn’t breed confidence in this “Analysis”.

    • Thanks for your comment, Dan. There are some technical things going on here, which I’ll explain below if you are interested. For a simpler representation of translation possibilities of a lemma, you can get a beautiful graph by choosing “Bible Word Study” in step D (instead of “search this resource”) in the process above.

      About “Make haste”: If you open the text of the KJV to Ps 70:1, you’ll notice this phrase is in italics, indicating it was supplied by the translators; there is no verb in the Hebrew. When you open the interlinear ribbon in Logos, you can see that the one word “Elohim” has been translated into the whole phrase “Make haste O God.” So “haste” isn’t wrong per se, but it is misaligned. That is, when we lined up the KJV text with the original language, we selected “haste” as the primary point to connect the lemma, and that admittedly wasn’t the best choice. KJV was the very first interlinear project we did, back in the early 2000’s, and while we’ve improved our alignment on newer translations like ESV, it looks like this instance was never corrected.

      So, why is Analysis view counting this result twice? Well, it might seem odd, but this is by design. Analysis view is all about showing you as much detail as possible– including when there is more than one possibility for any given detail. Look in the Root column. Notice that elohim has two roots, showing either that the word changed over time, or we aren’t sure where the word actually came from. Analysis view exposes both, to fully inform your study.

      Analysis view is a powerful tool, especially if you are working on a statistical analysis of corpus.

      • Thanks for the reply, Adam. Thank you for your helpful response. I agree that the Analysis view is a powerful tool. I appreciate all the work Logos has done to give us these tools. However, it is only as powerful as it is accurate. My point was that the results of the example search for אֱלֹהִים aren’t really accurate. אֱלֹהִים only occurs once in Ps 70:1, not twice. So when doing a search for אֱלֹהִים, the numbers aren’t really accurate. They are not accurate for “God” because the translation “haste, O God” should have been included under “God.” So the count for “God” should go up by 1. Doing one more quick example, looking down the Analysis page, “the” is listed as a translation for אֱלֹהִים three times. Obviously that is not correct. We find out that it is really “the judges”, but it is only twice, not three times. So the number of times אֱלֹהִים is translated “judges” should go up by 2 (not 3). If we needed to know the number of times that אֱלֹהִים is translated as “judges” we would have to give careful attention to other suspect translations of אֱלֹהִים. I am not trying to nit-pick. All of the above is pretty obvious with a cursory look at the results. What concerns me is other potential examples in other texts which might not be so blatant. If the KJV is not accurate in its results, what reliability factor can we assign to other translations? Don’t get me wrong, my hat is off to you guys and gals for all this tagging. Amazing! But perhaps there should be a warning somewhere that “results may not be totally accurate.” We still need to analyze the “Analysis” rather than blindly accept it. Thank you all for the amazing work at Logos! We are all trying to make it better by working together. 😊

  2. Robert Werth says:

    What a timely article! I am currently reading (studying) Dr. Heiser’s book, “The Unseen Realm”. I opened my Logos software specifically to dig into this topic as he does around page 62 in the book. I am enjoying it immensely! Thank you for posting this article!