Yehovah Elohim — the Creator’s Majestic Name
Now that the heaven and the earth had been made after six days of creation, the narrator of the creation story for the first time reveals the Creator’s full Name to Mosheh — Yehovah Elohim. But this would not occur until the seventh day of the creation: the first Sabbath, when the phenomena of creation had been completely reached. Only then was Elohim referred to by His full Name: Yehovah Elohim.
The Name Elohim, which alone appears in Chapter 1, is associated with the creation of the universe and is thus proper for matters concerning power, authority, and laws of nature.
But what was the Creator’s name before Gen 1:1 had even begun?
The eternal Name Yehovah in connection with Elohim
The Name Yehovah is the personal Name of the Creator that had never been preceded by any phenomenon. According to the explanation given by Himself to Mosheh (Exo 3:14-15), this name alludes to the fact that He is eternal, as we read,
Thus, you are to say to the children of Israel, “Yehovah Elohim of your fathers, the Elohim of Avraham, the Elohim of Yitschak, and the Elohim of Ya’akov, has sent me to you. This is My Name forever, and this is My remembrance to all generations.” (Exo 3:15)
The two names may be distinguished thus: Yehovah is in fact a verb and is only used in the loftier style of poetry to signify awe, the highest Being to be awed. This name expresses action without indicating its commencement and/or completion, i.e., an action that is everlasting. For further knowledge on the matter, the reader may do well to read what we have written in The Hebrew Yehovah vs. the Roman Yahweh – Time of Reckoning Ministry.
The name Elohim however is a noun used in this case in its plural form which can be quantitative, i.e., more than one, or qualitative: large or great. The verb that comes with the noun identifies whether elohim is quantitative or qualitative. If the verb is singular, then Elohim refers to the Creator. But, if the verb is plural, then it refers to anyone who is in power and authority whether angels or humans.
Elohim literally means “powers” and figuratively “one in power and authority”. We find this meaning, for instance, in the passage in which YHVH vested Mosheh with the power and authority to speak and do wonders before Pharaoh. Before Pharaoh Mosheh acted as “elohim”: one of power and authority.
Words that describe the eternal YHVH, such as Adonai “masters” and Shaddai “mighty ones”, are also plural. Hence, Elohim, Adonai, and Shaddai are known as “royal plurals” which term is used to embody all the strength, power, and authority of the King of the universe. In this sense, Elohim expresses royal majesty.
What is interesting to note is that the Creator’s full Name appears in a reversed order Elohim Yehovah aligned with another name: El, as found in Psalms,
El Elohim Yehovah shall speak, And He shall call the earth from the rising of the sun to its going down. (Psa 50:1)
Thus aligned the three names are expressed by: (1) the repetition of the singular form אֵל El with the plural one אֱלֹהִים Elohim denotes the Creator as the Almighty, or literally Power of Powers, the Absolute who is to be revered; (2) יְהֹוָה Yehovah as the Being, absolute in His existence, i.e., the Eternal.
The universe is the creation of the attribute of power and authority expressed in the name Elohim, while the attribute of eternity is expressed in the Name Yehovah. Together both the attribute of power and authority and the attribute of eternity the narrator used to retell the creation story in Chapter 2 of Genesis.
Before the Beginning was …
In the beginning of the Hebrew Scripture (Genesis 2), both names of the Creator, Yehovah יְהֹוָה Elohim אֱלֹהִים, are mentioned no less than eleven times starting at verse 4 and onward,
These are the births of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that Yehovah Elohim made earth and heavens. … (Gen 2:4)
As we remarked, the Creator’s personal Name Yehovah is not mentioned in the creation narrative of the first six days up until now in Chapter 2.
But if the Name Yehovah refers to the eternity of the Creator—eternity that had never been preceded by anything nor by anyone—should we not expect for that matter to see it in Chapter 1?
And when we say that YHVH (The Eternal) existed before the creation of the universe, we should not make it appear that the verb “exist” implies some notion of time and space, because time and space had not been created yet.
Continuum, continuity, time
For the lack of a better term, we should say that YHVH had been continually existed in “continuum” before anything was created, because before even Genesis 1:1 had begun, there had been nothing and no one but the Eternal. For this reason alone, the appearance of the Name Yehovah in the creation week perhaps is more appropriate than the appearance of the name Elohim.
Perhaps, the narrator has not mentioned the Name of the Eternal in Genesis 1, because he wanted to concentrate the reader’s attention on completely new phenomena that came into existence during the six days of creation. Had it been his intent to inform us on the fact that the Eternal preceded the creation, he should have first introduced His Name Yehovah.
On the other hand, as the narrator was primarily concerned with the created things, he used only the name Elohim (Power, Authority) during the stage of the creation, for Elohim can be said about Him in connection with the creation that could have possibly come into being only when infinite power and authority were employed.
And since neither time or infinite space [of time] had been in existence but only continuum, when we perceive “time” in the narrative, we do not mean time in its common and general sense, but some type of measurement, which we will call “continuity”, a concept that commenced from Genesis 1:1 onward.
Mankind presented by the first man and woman were created to live in that continuity, which with all probability was projected to run forever. But due to sin, the mankind lost that continuity and was translated into “time”. This earthly time of ordinary duration has been allotted to exist for seven millennia, as we explained in the book The Reckoning of Time. In that sense the concept of time is more like “timing”, a measurement of duration of events in a certain period of time. But when time ceases to exist at the end of the seventh millennium, the continuity would resume again for eternity.
Simply put, the concepts we introduced here are: “continuum” of the Eternal, “continuity” that started with the creation and lasted until the sin of man, and “time” or “timing” in which we all exist now.
And we should not err to say that the Eternal Yehovah exists in any of these, but they all exist in Him.
Artificial partitioning of the creation week
The Name Yehovah appears along with the name Elohim in Chapter 2, wherein the creation narrative is retold with more and essential details lacking in Chapter 1.
In the Christian Bible, the Creator created the universe in six days (Chapter 1) but rested on the Seventh Day with which a new chapter begins. In this partitioning of the creation week therefore Sabbath appears to be an independent day altogether disconnected from the six days of creation.
It is the opinion of the present author that the division of the Christian Bible into chapters and verses exposes the intent of the Church to corrupt the signification of the Sabbath Day, as they do also the other Scriptures (2Pe 3:14-17). This the Church has achieved by taking the Sabbath out from the creation week and moving it to the beginning of Genesis 2: all for clear theological reasons.
Thus, the Church has separated the role of the seventh day Sabbath from the six days of creation. But Yehovah Elohim demonstrated to them that such an attempt if successful at all spells corruption of His Word. Refer to Heb 4:9-12 and what we have written in the article Paul commended us to observe Sabbath – Time of Reckoning Ministry regarding this matter.
With that said, if we restore the Sabbath Day to the six days of creation, where it most certainly belongs, the creation of the world is described in Gen 1:1 to Gen 2:3, and the retelling of the creation story begins with Gen 2:4 to Gen 2:25. It will thus become very clear to the reader later in this study as to why the full name of the Creator stands alone in it.
Mosheh must have noticed this and when it came for him to reiterate the laws of the Torah and lead the new generation into the renewal of the Covenant at Mount Nebo, he always referred to Him in Deuteronomy with both Yehovah and Elohim.
The Elohim as describing the Absolute
The use of the full Name is not intended to teach that Elohim who created the world is also Yehovah who is eternal, is if there were two creators, but that Yehovah the Eternal is Elohim the Power, namely, He is the Absolute Power that created the universe. For indeed, in every instance where Yehovah Elohim is used, it denotes that the Eternal is truly in Power and Authority, and this is the meaning of His full Name.
In this intensive sense Elohim depicts the Eternal Yehovah as the infinitely great and exalted Creator. In this sense, Elohim is used without the article ha “the” denoting that it as a proper name, not a title.
Therefore, the Hebrew term Elohim, whose plain meaning is to describe majesty, describes the One who possesses all the majestic powers through which the universe is created and sustained. In this sense, Elohim is in “royal plural” to denote the One who comprises all the heavenly powers within His essence and manifested Himself as the Creator Elohim with His power and authority in so many different ways.
Who is like You among the heavenly powers (elim), Yehovah? Who is like You majestic in holiness? (Exo 15:11)
A common sense does not allow us to translate elim (short of elohim) as “gods” (as KJV does), as if there were other “gods” beside Him. But more correct translation will be, as we have rendered it, “heavenly powers”, i.e., angels and/or all celestial forces.
In other words, before the phenomenon of the creation, He had been and is the Eternal Yehovah, and with the commencement of the creation, He revealed Himself to be the Powerful Elohim.
From this point of view the term Elohim describes the Eternal Yehovah in His capacity as Judge, as we read,
For Elohim is Judge; He puts down one and exalts another. (Psa 75:7)
Here, Elohim is appropriately used to describe Yehovah as He employs the attribute of Justice when judging the people. Elohim can also be used to refer to a human judge, as clearly seen in 1Sa 2:25 wherein the word “judge” (elohim) is juxtaposed to YHVH,
If one man sins against another, a judge shall judge him. But if a man sins against Yehovah, who shall pray for him? (1Sa 2:25)
But in places where it occurs with the definite article ha, i.e., haElohim (in Gen 5:22; Gen 6:9, etc.), it denotes a title and elevates it to the absoluteness of Yehovah, and in this sense it should be translated and understood to mean “Yehovah the Absolute” giving a prominence to the personal Name in a sense of absoluteness.
Until the time when …
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that Yehovah Elohim made earth and heavens. … (Gen 2:4)
This is how the second chapter of Genesis should begin after the Sabbath day is properly connected with the six days of creation. But “the generations of the heavens and the earth”?
If we want to understand what took place at that time and why it was said thus, we must pay attention to the words “in the day that Yehovah Elohim made earth and heavens”.
The “toledot (literally, “generations”) of the heavens and the earth” do not describe the origin of the universe, because Genesis 1 has already done this, but it describes what happened to the heavens and the earth after their creation.
This explanation makes Gen 2:4-6 the starting point of history describing the creation in more details serving as a prelude to the subsequent development of the world and the commencement of the history of the human race and the central position of man in the creation.
Then Yehovah Elohim formed man from dust of the ground and breathed into his nostril breath of lives. And the man became a living being. (Gen 2:7)
Man was formed from dust, the finest part of the material of the earth (i.e., the minerals). But man had not become a living being until into his nostril Yehovah Elohim breathed His breath of life.
In contrast, in the original record in Chapter 1 wherein the creation of man is described we find only Elohim, as we read,
And Elohim created the man in His image, in the image of Elohim He created him – male and female He created them. (Gen 1:27)
What is the distinction between the creation of man in the image of Elohim and the formation of man as a living being by Yehovah Elohim?
The distinction of man, as a living being in the likeness of Yehovah, was in his immortality symbolized by the meaning of His Name: “He who exists forever: the Eternal”. By this man was formed into a personal being, whose immaterial part was the breath breathed entirely by the Eternal.
The breath of the Eternal thus became the soul of man, and the soul of man therefore is nothing but the breath of the Eternal. Man[kind] therefore was created to live forever in the continuity with Yehovah.
The tree of life that was first introduced in Chapter 2 but not in Chapter 1 was to further impart the power of this transformation of man from the material into eternal life.
But the tree of knowledge of good and evil was too introduced in the same line of words. That tree led man to the knowledge of self-awareness and thus to mortality. And the rest is the history of mankind as we know it until today.
But this too will come to an end until The Time When the Messiah will be Subject to the Father – Time of Reckoning Ministry.
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May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days!
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