[b-hebrew] Plural Verbs/Adjectives Modifying Elohim

Yosef Shalom yossiyeshua at yahoo.com
Tue Dec 4 12:33:15 EST 2007

  This is my first post to this group.
  I have a question about the few instances in the Hebrew Bible where Elohim is modified by plural adjectives and/or verbs. Trinitarians point to this as evidence from the Hebrew of plural persons within the Godhead. But I came across an explanation from Nehemiah Gordon that seemed to be fairly convincing. It is located here...
  An example is Joshue 24:19, where the plural 'kedoshim' modifies Elohim.
  He cites the linguistic phenomenon called "attraction" which doesn't occur only in Hebrew but also in our own language.
  He cites an example from the American Heritage Book of English Usage which demonstrates how attraction works...
  Consider the statement -
  "When you get to the stop light, there is a gas station on the left and a grocery store on the right."
  Gordon states:
  "Strictly speaking this sentence should read "there are a gas station on the left and a grocery store on the right" since gas station and grocery store are two items and therefore require the plural verb "are". The American Heritage Book of English Usage explains: "Although this usage would seem to violate the rules of subject and verb agreement, the attraction of the verb to the singular noun phrase following it is so strong that it is hard to avoid the construction entirely.""
  In other words, because a singular noun follows the verb, there was a linguistic compulsion, hard to avoid, to make the verb singular, as demonstrated by the fact that if you were to use the technically correct plural "are," it reads awkward.
  Gordon goes on to show how this is exactly what we see in reference to Elohim. Since Elohim is plural, occasionally linguistic attraction takes place and the writer or speaker associates the verb or adjective in plural form, as the plural elohim attracts that rendering.
  I was just wondering if anyone here with expertise in Hebrew might be able to give an intelligent opinion on Gordon's explanation. For those who are trinitarians, try not to speak from that bias but consider the linguistic phenomenon of attraction in itself, and whether it at least potentially offers an explanation.

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