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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

God

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The two principal Hebrew names of the Supreme Being used in the Scriptures are Jehovah and Elohim. Dr. Havernick proposes the reading Jahveh instead of Jehovah, meaning 'the Existing One.'Both names, he admirably proves, are used by Moses discriminately, in strict conformity with the theological idea he wished to express in the immediate context; and, pursuing the Pentateuch nearly line by line, it is astonishing to see that Moses never uses any of the names at mere random or arbitrarily, but is throughout consistent in the application of the respective terms. Elohim is the abstract expression for absolute Deity apart from the special notions of unity, holiness, substance, etc. It is more a philosophical than devotional term, and corresponds with our term Deity, in the same way as state or government is abstractedly expressive of a king or monarch. Jehovah, however, he considers to be the revealed Elohim, the Manifest, Only, Personal, and Holy Elohim: Elohim is the Creator, Jehovah the Redeemer, etc.

To Elohim, in the later writers, we usually find affixed the adjective 'the living' (;;;; ), probably in contradistinction to idols, which might be confounded in some cases with the true God.

The attributes ascribed to God by Moses are systematically enumerated in , though we find in isolated passages in the Pentateuch and elsewhere, additional properties specified, which bear more directly upon the dogmas and principles of religion, such as e.g. that he is not the author of sin (), although since the fall, man is born prone to sin (; , etc.). But as it was the avowed design of Moses to teach the Jews the Unity of God in opposition to the polytheism of the other nations with whom they were to come in contact, he dwelt particularly and most prominently on that point, which he hardly ever omitted when he had an opportunity of bringing forward the attributes of God (;;; , etc.;; , etc.;; , etc.).

In the Prophets and other sacred writers of the Old Testament, these attributes are still more fully developed and explained by the declarations that God is the first and the last (), that He changes not (), that the earth and heaven shall perish, but He shall endure ()—a distinct allusion to the last doomsday—and that He is Omnipresent (; , etc.).

In the New Testament also we find the attributes of God systematically classified (; ), while the peculiar tenets of Christianity embrace, if not a farther, still a more developed idea, as presented by the Apostles and the primitive teachers of the church.

The expression 'to see God' (;; ) sometimes signifies merely to experience His help; but in the Old Testament Scriptures it more usually denotes the approach of death (;;; ).

The term 'son of God' applies to kings (; ). The usual notion of the ancients, that the royal dignity was derived from God, may here be traced to its source. This notion, entertained by the Oriental nations with regard to kings, made the latter style themselves gods ().

'Sons of God,' in the plural, implies inferior gods, angels (; ); as also faithful adherents, worshippers of God (;; ).

'Man of God' is sometimes applied to an angel (; ); as also to a prophet (;; ).

 

 

 

 

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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'God'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/g/god.html.

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