[b-hebrew] Plural Verbs/Adjectives Modifying Elohim

Kevin Riley klriley at alphalink.com.au
Wed Dec 5 00:09:13 EST 2007

You are making the assumption that 'Elohim should have a singular verb, but
as it is used as a plural very early in Genesis and in other early books I
would not be willing to assume that.  If we could get a good idea of the
time when each book was written in its current form, we might be able to see
if ideology influenced the grammatical agreement over time - assuming that
we understand the ideology correctly.  I'd also be reluctant to be too
dogmatic on what the ideology of the writers was at any time, but that is
outside the scope of this list.  I would not conclude too much about the
ideology of any writer based solely on his use of grammatical agreement.  I
have no problem with any author introducing errors of the grammatical sort
[or any sort] into the text, as I do not belief in inerrancy in any text.
Kevin Riley
-------Original Message------- 
From: Yosef Shalom 
Date: 5/12/2007 2:26:30 PM 
You said... 
"It is normal to use a plural verb and adjective in relation to a plural
noun That isn't a case of attraction, as I understand it. There is
grammatically no alternative. 
I agree but I think you are missing a vital point here. YHWH was considered
to be one god, in radical contrast to the pagan elohim (true plural), and
the usual and overwhelmingly consistent approach in the Hebrew Sciptures is
to combine Elohim (when speaking of YHWH) with singular verbs (which I'm
sure you know.) 
In other words, when speaking of YHWH, it is expected to use the singular
verb in tandem with elohim, even though that seems to go against strict
grammatical rules. That's what's "normal." It doesn't matter that elohim is
plural as applied to YHWH. They understood YHWH to be one god. 
Therefore, attraction would be a possible explanation for those extremely
few 'exceptions to the rule' where a plural verb occurs with Elohim (YHWH).
What was to be expected to happen on an ideological level (singular verb
used) DID NOT HAPPEN, but what did happen was what would be grammatically in
line with a plural, objectively considered. 
That's why Gordon is seeing attraction as a reason why this happened. The
biblical writer should've used the singular verb according to conventional
usage from a theological viewpoint with reference to YHWH, but instead the
writer gave in to the temptation to "go with the flow" of grammatical
consistency, objectively considered, I.e. "elohim is plural so OF COURSE I
should use a plural verb. Oops, I momentarily forgot that the true Elohim is
one, and so I needed to "go against the flow" and use a singular verb." (in
all that, I'm not alleging that the biblical writer introduced error into
the text. Rather, he was just doing what is common to human language.) 

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