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The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia


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Assumed author of those parts of the Hexateuch characterized by the use of the Hebrew word "Elohim" (= "God"). The term is employed by the critical school to designate one (or two) of the component parts of the Hexateuch. Jean Astruc (d. 1766), in his "Conjectures sur les Mé moires Originaux" (Brussels, 1753), was the first to call attention to the occurrence in Genesis and in Exodus 1 and ii. of two names for the Deity, "Elohim" and " Yhwh ," and to base upon this fact a theory concerning the composite character of the first Mosaic book. His hypothesis was developed by Johannes Gottfried Eichhorn ("Einleitung in das Alte Testament," 1780-83), and again elaborated by Karl David Ilgen ("Die Urkunden des Jerusalemischen Tempelarchivs," 1798), who coined the term "Elohist," applying it to two sources in which the Deity was consistently designated by "Elohim," distinct from a third in which "Yhwh " was used. This theory was adopted by Hupfeld ("Die Quellen der Genesis," 1853), whose acceptance of "Elohist" as a recognized term was followed by almost all subsequent writers on the Hexateuch from the critical point of view, though the connotation of the term was not definitely fixed at first. In earlier Hexateuchal analysis "Elohist" appears for the "Grundschrift" attributed to the first Elohist, and subsequently called the "Priestly Code" (Riehm, "Die Gesetzgebung Mosis im Lande Moab," 1854 Nö ldeke, "Untersuchungen zur Kritik des Alten Testaments," 1869 Dillmann, "Hexateuch Kommentar," 1875) but after Graf (taking up the suggestions of De Wette, Ed. Reuss, Wilhelm Vatke, and J. F. George), Julius Wellhausen and Kuenen, the symbol E (Elohist) has come to designate certain historical portions of the Hexateuch, while the so-called "Grundschrift is referred to by the symbol P (Priestly Code).

Peculiarities of E.
In the views of the critical school E forms part of the "prophetic strata" (Kuenen) of the Hexateuch, which, known collectively as JE, are held to be derived from two originally independent histories, with only occasional references to legal matters the symbol J (= Jahvist) applying to passages in which the name "Yhwh " is predominant. The work of E has not been preserved as extensively as that of J in many parts of JE only fragments of E are extant, while J on the whole presents a well-connected narrative. It is a moot point whether E originally contained the story of Creation but it seems certain that a goodly portion of the Elohistic patriarchal history has been lost, the first large section from E being Genesis 20 , which clearly supposes some preceding account of Abraham's career. In the biography of Moses, E again is used very sparsely. It is apparent from Exodus 33:6-11 that E must have given an account of the events at Horeb, though Joshua 24 , which seems to be a summary of E, makes no allusion to them. E names Aaron and Miriam along with Moses, and to a certain extent assigns to the two former the position of opponents. Joshua in E is preeminently the servant of Moses. As such he commands the military forces, and is also Moses' house-mate (Exodus 17 , 24: is clear that E regards Moses as the priest of the oracle and Joshua as his predestined successor. Aaron plays a subsidiary part throughout. Whether E regards Moses as the lawgiver depends upon whether the Book of the Covenant ( Exodus 20 -xxiv.) formed a part of E or not. The more recent critics incline to the opinion that it did not (see Holzinger, "Der Hexateuch," pp. 176-177, Leipsic, 1893).

Linguistic Characteristics.
The use of "Elohim" for "God" is the most notable characteristic of E. "Adonai" and "El" occur occasionally (Genesis 20:4 , 30:20 , 35:7 , 43:14 ). "Yhwh " was unknown before Moses (Exodus 6 ). E loves such combinations as "Elohe abi," "Elohe abika," and also employs "ha-Elohim" and "Elohim" as a nomen proprium even after, according to its own theory, " Yhwh " had been revealed as the proper appellation (comp. Genesis 31:5,29 , 42 46:1,3 Exodus 18:4 ). The aboriginal population of Canaan is designated as "Emori" (Genesis 48:22 Numbers 13:29 ). "Kena' ani" never occurs in E (see E. Meyer in Stade's "Zeitschrift," 1:139). "Horeb" is the name for the "mountain of God" (Exodus 3:1 , 18:5 ). Jacob, not Israel, stands for the third patriarch "Jethro" and "Jether" for Moses' father-in-law. "Ha-ish Mosheh" is peculiar to E. Other linguistic peculiarities are: the use of "amah" (maid) where J has "shifḥ ah" "ba' al" in its various significations "gadol" and "ḳ aṭ on" in the meaning "older" and "younger" respectively "dibber" with the preposition ב (to talk against: Numbers 12:1,8 21:5,7 ) "dabar" as object of dispute (Exodus 18: 22:8 ) "dor dor" (Exodus 3:15 ) "derek nashim" where J has "oraḥ nashim" "hennah" (hither) "zud" (to act arrogantly) "ḥ izzaḳ leb" "hokiaḥ " and "nokaḥ " as a judicial procedure "yeled" (boy, child) "lebab" "luḥ at ha-eben" "mush" "maḥ aneh" for temporary camp "maẓ a' " (to meet, to encounter) "nizme zahab" "nokri" for stranger "nissah" "niẓ ẓ el" (to take away and injure) "natan" (to allow) "ha' aleh" (to bring the people out [of Egypt]) "paga' " (to meet one) "hitpallel" "panim el panim" "paḥ ad Yiẓ ḥ aḳ ." Other expressions in addition to these have been urged as distinctive of E's vocabulary. For a complete list see Holzinger, l.c. pp. 183-190. Certain grammatical peculiarities are also ascribed to E, e.g. , the infinitives "halok" "de' ah" "redah" ( for ) "re' oh" full forms of the suffixes, e.g. , "kullanah" (Genesis 42:36 ) "lebaddanah" (Genesis 21:29 ). The style of E is loose, disjointed such forms as "wayehi ba' et ha-hi' " (Genesis 21:22 ), "wa-yehi aḥ ar (aḥ are) ha-debarim ha-elleh" (often), indicate this. E also indulges in long formulas of address. The name of the person addressed is repeated (Genesis 22:11 , 46:2 Exodus 3:4 ). Stereotyped introductions of dreams occur rather frequently ("ba-ḥ alomi wehinneh" Genesis 40:9,16 41:17,22 ). E compared with J is prosaic but he introduces poetic quotations (Exodus 15 Numbers 21:14,27 ). Secondary details mark his descriptions for example, he uses names of no particular consequence to the narrative (Genesis 15:2 , 35:8 Exodus 1:15 ) likewise learned glosses (e.g. , in Genesis 31:20,24 , "the Aramean" in Exodus 1:11 , "Pithom and Rameses") and fragments of Egyptian speech ("Abrek," "Ẓ otnat Pa' neaḥ ," Genesis 41:43,45 ). Chronological schemes are affected by E: "three days," (Genesis 40:12-19 Joshua 1:11 , 9:16 Exodus 3:18 , 5:3 , 8:23 , 10:22 , 15:22 ). E also displays a certain theological bias, in illustration of which may be noted the consistency with which "Yhwh " is avoided before "Moses."

General Characteristics of E.
The work of E is popular in character. It takes no exception to the popular notion that the localities involved in the patriarchal biographies are places of worship. "Ha-maḳ om" is one of E's special terms for such sacred places (Genesis 28:11 ). God is without hesitation anthropomorphized (Exodus 25: 31:18 32:16 33:7-11 Numbers 12:8 Exodus 4:17-20 7:17 9:22 10:12 14:16 17:5,9 Numbers 20:8,11 ). E speaks of matters pertaining to the cultus in a very naive way (sacrificial meals with non-Israelites: Genesis 31:54 Exodus 18:12 , 24:11 ). "Maẓ ebot" are very frequently mentioned as though legitimate. Idols are known, and Rachel steals those of her father. Holy trees are recognized (Genesis 35:4 Joshua 24:26 ). The "neḥ ushtan" (brazen serpent) is connected with Moses (Numbers 21:4-9 ). E maintains a sympathetic attitude toward popular religion. Still the making of the golden calf is clearly reproved (Exodus 32 ). Human sacrifice is condemned (Genesis 22 ). Notwithstanding these leanings toward popular conceptions, the Elohist takes the view of the early (literary) prophets. Yhwh is explained as "ehyeh asher ehyeh" ( Exodus 3:14 ). Providential purpose is assumed in the course of human affairs, as happenings, for instance, in Joseph's experience (Genesis 45:6-8 , 1:20). God is with the fathers even in a strange land (Genesis 31:13 ).

In the miracles as related by E a certain supernaturalism is unmistakable. The plagues are signs to accredit Moses as God's agent. They are to a large extent wrought by the staff of Moses, without the intervention of natural forces as in J (Exodus 17:9 et seq. ). The rô le ascribed to the Ark in E partakes also of the miraculous (Numbers 11:33 ), and the conquest of the land is accomplished not so much by the bravery of the tribes as by the miraculous designs and devices of God (Joshua 24:12 Exodus 23:28 comp. Joshua 10 ). The relations between Israel and God are of a moral character. The sinful nation forfeits God's good will (Exodus 33:3 b). God's revelations are in E transmitted in dreams and visions (Genesis 15:1 Numbers 12:6 ). God's angel, the usual medium in J, speaks, in E, from heaven (Genesis 21:17 , 22:11 ). The superhuman conception of the Deity is thus accentuated. Moses alone was dignified by direct divine communications (Numbers 12:6 et seq. ). The chiefs of Israel in E are pictured by preference as prophets. Abraham is a "nabi" (Genesis 20:7 ). Moses is the "' ebed Adonai" par excellence (Numbers 12:7 ) he is the "man of God" (Joshua 14:6 ). He mediates between the people and God (Numbers 11:2 , 21:7 ). Justice and morality are highly valued in E (see the Decalogue and the Book of the Covenant). The elders are repeatedly mentioned as guardians of the right (Exodus 3:16,18 4:29 17:5 18:12 19:7 24:1-14 ). In E, however, sympathetic interest in sacerdotal institutions is also manifest (Exodus 33:7-11 Numbers 12:4 ). Tithes are historically accredited (Genesis 28:22 ).

Locality and Epoch of E.
E belongs to the Northern Kingdom. Patriarchal biography is localized in the northern districts. Reuben is the magnanimous brother of Joseph (Genesis 37:22,29 42:37 ). Shechem plays a prominent rô le (Genesis 35:4 Joshua 24 ). Beth-el is recognized as a sanctuary (Genesis 28:22 ). Some Aramaic expressions (, Exodus 32:16 , Exodus 18:9 comp. Hosea 5:13 , 6:1, 7:1) confirm the impression. Kuenen and Cornill distinguish a North-Israelitish Elohist and another of Judaic tendencies (E¹ and E² see Kuenen, "Historisch-Critisch Onderzoek," etc., § 13 Holzinger, l.c. p. 214 Cornill, "Einleitung in das Alte Testament," pp. 47-49).

By the earlier critics E was considered to antedate J but after Wellhausen ("Gesch. Israels," 1:370 et seq. ) had pleaded for the contrary view, his opinion was accepted by E. Meyer, Stade, and Holzinger, while Dillmann and Kittel continued to defend the former position. The date of E is thus variously given. E. Schrader makes him older than Hosea and later than Solomon and the building of the Temple. Dillmann assigns him to a period prior to the decline of the Northern Kingdom, that is, to the first half of the ninth century B.C. Kittel is virtually of the same opinion.Kuenen assigns what he calls E¹ to 750 B.C. E² to 650 B.C. Stade ("Geschichte des Volkes Israel," 1:58,583) holds that E can not be older than 750 B.C. Lagarde regards 732 B.C. as the earliest possible date but, following Steindorff's arguments based upon the Egyptian phrase "Ẓ ofnat Pa' neaḥ " (forms not occurring in Egyptian before the twenty-second dynasty, and becoming usual only after 663,609 B.C. ), suggests 650 as the more nearly correct date. Cornill gives for E² 650 B.C. , and for E¹ 750 B.C. , the same as Kuenen.

Bibliography : Holzinger, Der Hexateuch , Leipsic, 1899 Steuernagel, Allgemeine Einleitung in den Hexateuch , Gö ttingen, 1900 Dillmann, Numeri, Deuteronomium , 2d ed., Leipsic, 1886 Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament , 9th ed., New York, 1902 Cornill, Einleitung in das Alte Testament , Freiburg, 1891 the commentaries, etc., of Kuenen, Kittel, Schrader, Bä ntsch, Budde, Reuss, and others Wellhausen, Komposition des Hexateuchs , Berlin, 1889 Ryssel, De Elohistæ Pentateuchici Sermone Carpenter and Battersby, The Hexateuch , pp. 42-48, London, 1900.J. E. G. H.

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Elohist'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. 1901.

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