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how the only and singular God speaks plurally, Let us make man in our own image and likeness, when he ought to have said, I will make man in my image and likeness, as being simple and alone? Again in the following passage, Behold Adam is made as one of us. Does he deceive or jest, that being one and alone and singular, he should speak like many; or did he address himself to the angels, as the Jews interpret it, who do not acknowledge the Son at all; or whether was it that he was Father, Son and Spirit, and so showing himself Plural, he spoke to himself in the plural •form? Yea, because the Son was united to him, the second Person, his Word, and the third Person, the Spirit, in the Word, therefore he spoke plurally, Let us make, and, Our, and, Us.'
With regard to the peculiarity of the Hebrew language mentioned in the discourse, I am happy to avail myself of the very luminous statement of Rev. John Pye Smith, D. D., author of 'The Scripture Testimony to the Messiah,' 1 vol. p. 501, who has treated this subject with great learning and ability, and whose work is the most recent that I have seen.
'The attention of Scripture critics in both ancient and modern times,' says this writer, 'has been drawn to a remarkable peculiarity in the Hebrew language and its dialect the Chaldee: a peculiarity which, so far as I have
tur? Faciamus hominem. ad imaginem et similitudinem nostram; cftra debuerit dixisse, Faciam hominem ad imaginem et similitudinem meam, ut pote unicus et singularis, Sed et in seqaentibus: Ecce Adam factua est tanquam unus ex nobis; fallit aut ludit, ut cum unus, et solus, et , singularis esset, numerose loqueretur: aut numquid angelis loquebatur, ut Judati interpretantur, quia nee ipsi filium agnoscunt; an quia ipso erat Pater, Filius, Spiritus, idep pluralem se praestans, pluraliter sibi loquebatur: Imo quia jam adhaerebat illi filius, secunda persona, sermo. ipsius, et tenia spiritus in sermone, ideo pluraliter pronunciavit, FaciSi mus, et, Nostram, et, Nobis.'
been able to learn, has not its parallel in any other known language. A little explanation will make it intelligible to those who. have never paid attention to these studies.
The most usual appellation of the Deity in the original Scriptures of the Old Testament is (j) Elohim, (or, as commonly read by those who reject the points, Aleim,) which is constantly translated GOD: but. it is the regular plural of (k) Eloah, which also occurs, though much less frequently than in the plural form, and is always translated in the same manner.
'This plural appellative is generally put in agreement with singular verbs, pronouns, and adjectives: as in the first sentence of the Pentateuch, (l)Elohim created;— in Latin the anomaly can be expressed more fully, i. e. creavit Dii; or in French, les Dieux erect.' Here the nominative is plural, and the verb is singular. 'This is the ordinary construction through the whole Hebrew Bible.'
'The singular form Eloah occurs perhaps sixty or seventy times: twice in the Hymn of Moses (Deut. xxxii.) Several times in the Prophets, forty times in the book of Job, and in the other books sixteen times: but the plural Elohim occurs about two thousand five hundred times.' Simonis Lex. ah Eichorn. p. 119. Hal. 1793.
'Elohim is generally supposed to be the only one of the Divine names which appears in the plural number, but Drusius, Buxtorf, Heeser, Eichorn, Gesenius, and other distinguished scholars, have maintained that (m) Adonai (Sovereign) and (n) Shaddai, (the all-sufficient) are plurals of an obsolete and unusual form. The former of these words is of the same family with (o) Adon, (Lord, Master, Sovereign,) which, both in its singular and in its plural form,
(j)O'nVN (k)m^N (1) Dv6n N-o (m) Isin
(n) iw (o) fttH
is applied to the Divine Being, as well as to human possessors of authority.'
'From this use of Adonim, or in its construct form Adoni, the plural of Adon, and from another case which will shortly be noticed, the Rabbinical grammarians have deduced a rule that substantives signifying dominion, dignity, or honor, are put in the plural form though denoting a singular object,and are joined in agreement with verbs or with adjectives in the singular and this is technically styled the plural of excellence, pluralis exccllentiae.
But as if to destroy this whole invention, it appears that in the wisdom of God the word ' Elohim' is often put into agreement with verbs pronouns and adjectives in the plural likewise. In most of the following examples this will be plainly seen.1 Where, however, the structure of the English does not admit of its being translated^ the Latin, annexed, will, show it distinctly.
(p) Gen. xx. 13. 'Elohim caused me to wander;— vagari me fecerunt Dii.
(q) Gen. xxxv. 7.' The Elohim were revealed to him;'—
(r) Deut. v. 26. 'that hath heard the voice of the living Elohim'—Deorum viventium.
(s) Josh. xxiv. 19.1' to serve Jehovah, for he is the Holy Gods—Dii sancti ipse.
(t) 1 Sam. xvii. 26. ' the ranks of the living Gods'— Deorum viventium.
(u) 2 Sam. vii. 23. 'Whom Gods have gone to redeem unto himself;'—quem Dii iverunt ad redimendum sibi.
Dtt^n Ttn ii'nn (p) dtt'jNn Hsn Tsh (q) o"n Dt6n Stp Vdet tVN (r) diEHp nvn^N >3 nrtm I-tn nay1? (s) cm CPJlbN Tyoijid (t) Dj?1? nns1? Dttvn o^n -t&'n (u)
(v),Ps. Iviii. 12. ' Surely there is Elohim, Judges, in the earth,' Deos Judices.
(w) Ps. cxlix. 2. 'Israel shall rejoice in his Makers.' laetabitur Israel in Creatoribus suis.
(x) Prov. ix. 10. ' The beginning of wisdom is the fear • of Jehovah, and the knowledge of the Holy ones—Sanc'torum—' is understanding.'
(y) Is. liv. 5. 'For thy Creators is thy Husbands; nam mariti tui Creatores tui;—
(z) Jer. x. 10. ' Jehovah is the God of truth, he is the living Gods,' ipse Dii viventes.
It is plain that the rule of the pluralis excellentiae, above stated, does not account for these passages, even were it otherwise shown to be correct. But before we come to our conclusion let us examine the other places of Scripture upon which this rule is attempted to be sustained.
1st. The noun substantive Baali,'the construct plural of Baal, (signifying the possessor of any thing, and in its secondary sense, a husband, a master, or an owner of any description of property) is said to occur sometimes in a plural form with a singular sense. The instances from which this opinion is inferred are extremely few, and they all refer to such kind of ownership as are a burlesque on the notion of the plural of excellence, as for example where we read of the owner, or Baal, of an ox, or ass, or of a covered well.
2. A very small list of other words is produced, such as Ezek. xxix. 3, 'The great Dragon,' (or the Crocodile) and 'Behemoth' in the book of Job, but the occurrence of
f1N3 diBBP d^N B" (v) WJD lJN1WvnD»l (w)
Too Dicnp njpi mrft V?n rtNTi nnan nSnn (x) T&7 T^a •o (y) o»n Dt6n m noK Dt6k mm (a) these is too rare to establish any principle of interpretation, nor was the rule ever invented on account of them, since they may be rendered quite as well without its aid. . . .
It is further worthy of remark that the full plural, Baalim, never occurs but in a proper plural application, and it has been supposed that it signified the deceased heroes whom the heathen deified after death, as was customary with all the pagan nations of antiquity. Thus Spencer, De legib. Heb. (Tubing. 1732.) p. 511, speaking of the Divine command to cut down the groves of the heathen, observes, that (a) ' the custom of the age had appropriated groves to the worship of the infernal deities, and therefore they constituted the proof of the established worship of their deceased heroes, that, is in the Hebrew, Baalim.' Be this, however, as it may, inasmuch as the cases adduced in support of this rabbinical rule are not cases of the full plural, but only such as have the pronominal suffix, Dr. Smith ingeniously supposes, that the noun Baal was brought within the range of analogy with the nouns Sn father, n« brother, &c., through colloquial usage. When any of those names of relationship is used with a pronominal suffix it takes the \ as T-« thy father, his brother, Stc. Now *bpa is the only form in which this supposed plural of Baal is found, so that if Dr. Smith's conjecture be correct, these supposed plurals of excellence in the owners of the ox and ihe ass, will appear to be the construct form of the singular, and nothing more.
On the whole, therefore, Dr. Smith concludes that the cases, excluding Elohim and Adonai, which are supposed to prove the plural of excellence, are too few, and of too in
(a) 'Quod secnli consuctudo lucos Diis inferis pene proprios fecisse, eosque cultus rofc Baalim (i. e. mortuis heroibus) praestiti siqua luculenta constituisset.'