Gender of El

Samuel Payne sam at sampayne.worldonline.co.uk
Mon Feb 19 03:49:45 EST 2001


The recent instructive discussion of grammatical gender raises a further
very interesting point for the Hebrew Scriptures.

Why is God described in masculine terms in the Hebrew Bible? Is it because
the WORD "el" is grammatically masculine? (I would presume that no-one would
suggest that God is PHYSIOLOGICALLY masculine.) Or is it some pattern of
symbolism, comparable to that of Philo later, where perhaps way back in ANE
usage male Gods stood for intellectual (spiritual) realities, and their
female consorts for physical or emotional realities? (God/Heaven the
"father" and Earth/Matter the "mother"? - with "Heaven" fertilising the
Earth with rain and sun to bring forth life?)

There is, of course, the occasional passage where God is referred to in
feminine terms.

Samuel Payne





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