The Masculine and Feminine nature of Elohim

In our modern culture we tend to view God in masculine terms and imagery. While the word Elohim is a masculine noun, it does not have to imply that the Elohim is masculine. To illustrate this, notice that the word Elohim is used for a female goddess in the following verse.

For Solomon went after Ash'toreth the goddess [Elohim] of the Sido'nians. (1Ki 11:5, RSV)

 In the first chapter of Genesis we receive our first glimpse of the nature of Elohim’s gender.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. (Genesis 1:27, KJV)

Notice that in this verse it states that Elohim made humans in his image, but then it defines this image as male and female. From this we can conclude that the attributes of God are both masculine and feminine. We can then surmise that he placed his masculine attributes within the man and his feminine attributes within the woman and when a man and woman come together and become one[1], they together become the image of Elohim.

Another reference to the masculine and feminine nature of God can be found in the following passages.

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. (Psalms 24:10, KJV)

Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. (Psalms 41:13, KJV)

In the first verse is the phrase “LORD of hosts,” which in Hebrew is Yahweh Tseva’ot. The word tseva’ot is the plural of the word tsava, a feminine noun meaning “force.” When two nouns are placed together they are in the construct state, therefore this phrase would be translated as “Yahweh of the forces.”

In the second verse is the phrase “LORD God,” which in Hebrew is Yahweh Elohim.” The word Elohim , as we have already identified, means “one[s] of power and authority,” or simply “powers.” Again, this phrase consists of two nouns put together to form a construct and should be translated as “Yahweh of the powers.”[2]

Notice that these two phrases are synonyms, one using a feminine plural word meaning “forces,” the other a masculine plural word meaning “powers.”

Also note that Yahweh is not the tseva’ot but a part of it, Yahweh is a part of the “forces.” In the same manner, Yahweh is not the Elohim, but a part of it, a part of the powers. I will go into more detail about Yahweh later.

The idea of a single male deity is unique to our modern era. In all the ancient cultures, the Elohim was a male and female. In Egypt it was Osiris (masculine) and Isis (feminine). In Canaan it was El and Elat (also known as Asherah). To the Greeks it was Zeus and Hera. To the Romans it was Jupiter and Juno. To the Germans it was Odin and Frigg. I am not necessarily trying to make the claim that the Elohim of the bible are a god and goddess, just that the attributes of Elohim are both masculine and feminine.

[1] Genesis 2:24

[2] For the translators to translate this phrase as “LORD God,” not only ignores the word “Yahweh,” which does not mean “lord,” but also the construct nature of the phrase.