The Elohim: What (or Who) Are They?

The following post explaining the origin of the Elohim is adapted from Dr. Michael Heiser’s The Unseen Realm.

We all have watershed moments in life, critical turning points where, from that moment on, nothing will ever be the same. One such moment in my own life came when I rediscovered the word elohim.

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Why Does the Bible Say God Battled Sea Monsters at Creation?

When we think of creation, we think of everything beginning with God’s spoken word—as Genesis 1 tells us. But some Old Testament writers concentrate on another aspect of creation—and a weird one at that. In Psalm 74, in the middle of God’s ordering of the sea and dry land, his establishing of the sun, moon, stars, and the seasons, we find another event: God destroying sea monsters.

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Did the Writer of Chronicles Try to Scrub Away David’s Dirty Past?

Corporations cook their books. Politicians get caught taking bribes. Scientists fudge data. Should the writer of Chronicles be judged the same way?

It’s widely known that the books of 1–2 Chronicles are a reiteration of the history of Israel found in the books of 1–2 Samuel and 1–2 Kings. What isn’t as well known is that the writer of Chronicles carefully and deliberately omits any negative material about David and Solomon from his historical record. Try to find the account of David’s adultery and murder of Uriah in 1 Chronicles—you won’t be able to.
Why would the Chronicler omit it?

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Think These Biblical Passages Contradict? Not So Fast.

Photo by Luke Palmer on Unsplash

One of the more vexing problems in the Old Testament is how to parse the parallel accounts of 1  Chronicles 21:1–17 and 2 Samuel 24:1–25.

1 Chronicles 21:1–2:

Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, ‘Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.’

2 Samuel 24:1–25:

Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’ So the king said to Joab, the commander of the army, who was with him, ‘Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people.’

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The Important Detail We Forget about the Story of Naaman

Elisha’s healing of Naaman the leper, commander of the army of the king of Syria, is a familiar story to many (2 Kgs 5:1–27). Naaman hears that Elisha, the prophet of Israel, can heal him, so he makes the trip. When the two meet, Elisha tells him rather dismissively that he needs to take a bath in the Jordan River. Naaman doesn’t take this well and prepares to go home. At the behest of some servants, he consents to dip himself in the Jordan. He is miraculously healed by the simple act. The display of power, so transparently without sacrifice or incantation, awakens Naaman to the fact that Yahweh of Israel is the true God. Here’s where the story usually ends in our telling, but that would result in the omission of one very odd detail—what Naaman asks to take back home.

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Even in the Bible, Good Doesn’t Always Win

When exposed to evil, we might doubt God’s presence. Soldiers’ accounts and memoirs often recall times of doubt as they grappled with war, atrocity and, ultimately, the struggle between good and evil. While Scripture is clear that good will triumph, it also says evil will win its share of battles. Second Kings 3 records a war event where evil won.

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Goliath Isn’t the Only Giant in the Bible. Here’s Where They Came From.

If they haven’t read it, most people have at least heard the story of David and Goliath of Gath (“the Gittite”). The names of the hero and villain have iconic status. But how many people know anything about the giant Goliath, other than that he lost his head to a boy named David from Israel?

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With God in the Boardroom: The Heavenly Council & Divine Providence

Few characters in the Bible are as maligned for their wickedness as King Ahab of Israel. While Ahab’s predecessors “did evil in the sight of the Lord,” Ahab had an agenda: “[He] did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him” (1 Kgs 16:33).

Ahab’s rule includes Baal worship, forbidden foreign covenants (Syria) and foreign alliances (Jezebel), and the murder of Naboth. In 1 Kings 22, the prophet Micaiah warns Ahab of his impending fate. This isn’t run-of-the-mill prophecy. It’s mixed with a vision of how God came to the final details of His decision: a divine boardroom discussion.

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Does This Textual Variant Have Theological Implications?

After the great flood, everyone had one language. Humanity congregated in the region of Babylonia (“the land of Shinar”) and started building a tower that would reach into the heavens (Gen 11:1–9). God stopped the project by transforming the single language into many—dispersing humanity over the earth and creating the nations and regions listed in Genesis 10. Most people think it ends there, but there’s more. The story picks up again in Deuteronomy 32:8–9. And the story changes, depending on what Bible version you use.

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If Something in the Bible Is Weird, It’s Probably Important

One of the things I enjoy telling people in conversations about Bible study is that “if it’s weird, it’s important.” Numbers 5:11–31 certainly qualifies in both respects. The strangeness of the passage is easily detectable, but only careful Bible study makes its importance apparent.

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