Ancient Hebrew Word Meanings
God ~ el/elo'ah
By Jeff A. Benner

There are two Hebrew words commonly translated as God, el and elo'ah. When reading the Bible it is better to have an Ancient Hebrew perception of God rather than our modern western view. The word el was originally written with two pictographic letters, one being an ox head and the other a shepherd staff. The ox represented strength and the staff of the shepherd represented authority. First, the Ancient Hebrews saw God as the strong one of authority. The shepherd staff was also understood as a staff on the shoulders, a yoke. Secondly, the Ancient Hebrews saw God as the ox in the yoke. When plowing a field two oxen were placed in a yoke, one was the older and more experienced and the other the younger and less experienced and the younger would learn from the older. The Hebrews saw God as the older experienced ox and they as the younger who learns from him. The plural form of elo'ah is elohiym and is often translated as God. While English plurals only identify quantity, as in more than one, the Hebrew plural can identify quantity as well as quality. Something that is of great size or stature can be written in the plural form and in this case, God, as the great strength and authority is frequently written in the plural form elohiym. The two letters in these Hebrew words are the ox head representing strength and the shepherd staff representing authority. Combined they mean "the strong authority" as well as "the ox with a staff" (a yoke is understood as a staff on the shoulders).

AHLB# 1012-A (N) and 1012-H (c)