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Subjects (abstracts): [El; Elohim; Etc.] Rivers of Life; Short Studies in the Science of Comparative Religions; Faiths of Man   Encyclopedia of Religions; God, gods, and the Sons of God

from: Rivers of Life, Major-General J.G.R. Forlong, Volume 1, 1883. [Monumental!]. [reprint, from Kessinger].

[Note: for spelling variants of J.G.R. Forlong, see 691].

[Index] "El, sun god, 22, 42, 55, 108, 109, 65, 175; house of, 179; words ending in, 180, 248, 271, 320, 341-347, 359, 411; as Shanai, 15, 234" [553].

[Index] "Elohim, 4, 7, 15; creator of world, 22; in Eden, 33, 42, 49, 51, 53, 71, 98, 103, 108, 109; and Eduth, 149, 151, 156; and Sinai, 159; changes name, 164; early Jewish God, 180, 271; a rock-god, 297, 305, 411, 523" [553].

[Index] "God, in Old Testament, 103; the Light, 104; first idea of, 110; serpent-solar, 177; changing idea of, among Jews, 179; a bread giver, 189; depraved Jewish idea of, 190; Asyro-Phenician Fish, 245; in serpent form, 273; male, 294; personal, 330; names of, 335; derivation of, 338; the creation of man, 347; duality of, 348; as battle insignia, 398; varying ideas of, 412; universal idea of death of a, 454; various names for, by all nations, 465; ideas of, 469; of savages, 536; development of a, 546" [555].

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"I long since came to the opinion, to which every student of Asiatic faiths must come, and which I am glad to say Bishop Colenso has now thoroughly established as correct, that the worship of the Jews was precisely that of the people amongst whom they dwelt, and that the only God they knew of in Arabia, or until they got into Canaan, was El-Elohe or Elohim, after which they adopted the God Yachveh of the Phenicians, calling him Yahveh, Jahveh, or Jhavh or Jhuh, which perhaps was the reason their Arabian brethren called them Jews. This change did not, however, apparently take place for many centuries after the era which we are asked to accept as that of the mythical Moses (1490 B.C.). It seems most probable that the tribes of...[apparently, a Hebrew symbol. resembles two Roman numeral ones, joined], that is, "Is-Ra-El," remained true to El and Arkite [?], or the more gross forms of Phallic faith, until the period of full contact with the great Solar-worshipping nations on their east, viz., the eighth century B.C., as the period treated of in 2 Kings xvii. There we are told that the King of Asyria sent men, no doubt priests, from the strongholds of Sun-worship, Ham-ath, Kootha and Sepharvaim, all words which taken in syllables or together signify the sun. A priest of El or of Beth-el went up to try and stop the defection, but it was of no use, see verse 29th and onward, for they feared not the Lord, who had "named Jacob, Is-ra-el" or a son of El. Of course the change had begun long before then, but this was probably the final flicker of the national worship of El.

Dr Inman [see 777] gives this subject much learned criticism in chapter x. of Vol. I. Ancient Faiths...." [179-180].

'The writer in Dr Smith's Bible Dictionary shows us under the head "Septuagint," that in the 3d century B.C. the Jews had become somewhat ashamed of their personal Jehovah, and that accordingly, in the translation of the Hebrew text into the Greek (as Christians now have it), "the strong expressions of the Hebrew are softened down, where human parts are ascribed to God." It would have been as well if Moses' remarks in Exodus, chapter xxxiii, and elsewhere, had been blotted out or still more softened down. THE JEWISH FAITH IS A COMMERCIAL ONE, AND CHRISTIANS HAVE ADOPTED THE SAME VIEWS OF REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS, though their [Christians] Heaven and Hell are quite foreign to ancient as also to modern Israelites. Both, as a mass, are far behind the great Pythagoras, who more than 500 years B.C., said, that "virtue consisted in seeking truth and doing good," the very same thing that advanced thinkers of this day say is the essence of all religion. Tersely put, true religion now seems to be, "Do good, and be good, and seek diligently after Truth."' [14-15].

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• • •

from: Short Studies in the Science of Comparative Religions, Embracing all the Religions of Asia, Major-General J.G.R. Forlong [1824 - 1904], With Maps and Illustrations, London, Quaritch, 1897. [a Classic!].
[Source: Ballantrae Reprint: 905/450-7998; e-mail:].

'Article VII


Translated "God" in English Bibles

Nothing can well be more interesting and important to the student of religions than an accurate study of the radical base of the divine names of Gods, Spirits or Ideals; and the attributes which ancient races attached to these, and their growth through the ages, for ideas must grow or die....

Here we wish to get at the very ancient but still living god Ideal of the Hebrews, which they expressed in Al, Ala or Alê, Aluê, and Alê-im--Anglice Elohim--and the "Eli, Eli" on whom Christ cried according to a Greek Gospel....' [333].

'With Hebrews, Al or Alê was "the Spirit, High and Strong One," who dwelt in sacred trees, fire, lofty hills like Sinai, and on Zions or solar mounts often called Takti Salms," Thrones or Abodes of salvation."....

Researches show that as in the case of most mythologies the first lispings of Hebrew faith had to do with trees, and especially the oak--usually the first temple, altar or Bethel of mankind. Under the Aluns, as "monarchs of the grove," Hebrews usually forgathered on solemn occasions, and here they communed with Jahvê, Elohim or Alêim, i.e. spirits, Jins or Nâts, as Asia commonly terms these....
we must...investigate accurately the fundamental data establishing this original arboreal cult, as it is found in the Old Testament, Koran and Hebrew traditions.' [334].

'AL. This is translated "God" 272 times in the Old Testament, and constantly identified with...[Hebrew word] Ail, a ram. The strong, high and virile one; an oak, pillar, post or upright thing, of Ezek. xxxi. 14; Job xlii. 8. Al, Ale and Ail are virtually throughout the Old Testament identical with the general signification of a god, terebinth, Alun [Hebrew word], or other preeminently robust tree, upright or high one; and the Ale-im (Elohim) are the Ailim, either gods, angels or rams and Ba'alim, Ashtoreth and graven images. Cf. 1 Kings xviii. 21; xi. 5; Ex. xxxii. 1, and Furst's Dict. 91/6.

Hebrews distinguished between their Al or 'Ol (the Syrian vocalization) and other gods, by calling theirs "the Al of Israel," and as such elemental spirits are numerous, the plural Ale-im was naturally used; but possibly this is not a pure Hebrew word, and therefore im may not be a plural affix. We know it as a common Arabik name of Allah--one of his ninety-nine names, as Al-'Alim....' [334-335].

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'ALE,...[Hebrew word], occurs 17 times in the Old Testament as an oak or terebinth, 99 times as "God," and 48 times as an oath, or "to swear" or "make firm" in "the Al's" name. It is a common invocation, as when Christ called in dying, "Alê, Alê! lamê sabakthani = "O Al, Al! Why abandon Me?"--a legend adopted by the Greek Matthew in his usual way, so as to bring in the Psalmist's (xxii. 1) cry: Ali, Ali, lamê 'Ozbathani, rendered in Greek: "E"le, E"le," and thought no doubt to apply to Heli-os or Elias, the Sun God, from the base...[H + Greek letter], Hel = Sel, "to shine."' [336].

'ALE-IM,...[Hebrew word]. This is almost universally considered the plural of Alê, but im will be more particularly examined hereafter. Alê-im occurs many hundreds of times in the Old Testament, occupying thirty closely printed columns of the quarto edition Eng. Heb. Concordance, with the significations usually of gods, spirits, oaks, rams, strong or great ones, lords of creation, kings, judges; and in Amarna tablets of 15th century B.C. [now, 14th century B.C.E.], he is "the Pharaoh" of the day, Baal or Ashr, and Ashêra or Ashtoreth and other worshipful images.' [337].

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'The arboreal cult of Hebrews was common to all Europe and Asia from prehistorik times, and especially in western Asia 800 to 300 B.C., when the rites beside the Oaks of Hebron differed little from those enacted by Pelasgi at Dodona. We must discriminate between the mere object and the spirit, as did the thoughtful and intelligent of every age and land. To bow before tree or bull (as did Samaritan Jews), conical stone or footprint, the image or picture of a Christ, Madonna or Saint, was not, said educated men, to worship the actual image, but only the Dévata, Ale, or spirit pourtrayed [sic] by form and attributes. Our fathers saw the Dryads in the Druses, and elves in streams and sacred wells, because spirits were supposed to be always present in objects like unto themselves. The Sun spirit could be worshiped, nay addressed in any circle, ; the moon in a crescent, and the Creator and fructifier in his lingaik agent; and the umbrageous solemn silence of the woods or sacred groves, bespoke the solemnity and impenetrableness of the great moving but ever silent Powers or Ale-im of Nature. Only to their chosen ones and their priests did the spirits show themselves or speak; through the Yahvê, Ale-im and other Ba'al-im of Hebrews, were neither so shy or reticent as elsewhere, often appearing and speaking in gardens, roads and wildernesses; not only in bestial but human form, as when Abram saw "the Lord" (Yahvê) in persons who pic-niked with him under an oak. So Gideon saw him as an angel sitting under an oak at Ophra (Judges vi. 11), and the god walked in shady places to avoid the heat of the day, and of course was in no sense an omnipresent and omniscient deity. Cf. Gen. iii. 8; xi. 5; xviii. 20/1.

The Elohim and all Alê-im, including Yahve, are spoken of as partial, hating, loving and jealous; as the Creator he was pleased and then displeased with his work--the world and man (Gen. i. 31; vi. 6). All ELOHIM repent alike of their good and their evil intentions (1 Sam. ii. 30/1; Jon. iii. 10); they associate with lying and deceitful spirits and are often unjust, and VISIT THE SINS OF PARENTS UPON INNOCENT CHILDREN, A CRUELTY CHRISTIANITY HAS VIRTUALLY ACCEPTED IN HER LEADING DOGMAS. The Elohim required bloody sacrifices, human and bestial--innocent and cherished victims, even the first-born of man and beast. They gloried in "creating evil as well as good" (Is. xlv. 7; Amos iii. 6); and so loved savory food and the burning odors of the sacrifices, that these were called "the food of the Elohim." They spoke in "a still small voice" (1 Kings xix. 11), in troubled dreams, and whispered in the rustling leaves of sacred trees, roared in fierce tempests, and the re-echoing thunders of lone, weird mountains, and stood in pathways like the flaming sword of Eden, and the spirit which turned aside the prophet's ass. They were seen in the ravings of madmen and the discourses of prophets, appeared alike to unbelievers and believers, and, as a rule, were the Yirea, the demoniacal, jealous, wrathful and terrible--a feature common to most early gods; for FEAR has always been man's first god, and whoso feared not had no gods, and was therefore called without religion. The god FEAR was in ancient Lakedaimonia the son and attendant on Mars, king of gods; and the temple of Phobos of FEAR stood beside the Ephorian halls of justice; and whosoever vowed, prayed or swore did so in the presence and name of this terrible deity--one the Hindu commonly calls Bhairava and our missionaries, "devils." According to AEschulos [c. 525 - c. 456 B.C.E.], Phobos, "Terror," was the first of the Triune gods to whom the seven chiefs swore, and Romans had many shrines to the goddesses Pavor and Pallor--"fear and trembling or timidity"--offering to them sacrifices of sheep and dogs. Iliad, iv. 500; v. 915, &c.' [345-346].

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'The Ale-im or Elohim were to Hebrews not universal, but local spirits of, under, and over the earth; partaking of its motion like the Ruh...[Hebrew word], winds, the "Spirits" which formed the earth and which Jahve called up to tempt poor Ahab to his ruin. Gen. i. 3; 2 Chron. xviii. 20-3. All misunderstood phenomena were Ale-im or "Spirits," and are so to this day.

These Alê-im experienced the effects of days and nights, heat and cold, and enjoyed rest and exercise as in cool shady gardens in the heat of the day. They partook of all human emotions as anger, jealousy, sympathy, &c., and even what is called death, for they want to "sheol or the grave," as we see in the strange séance where the witch of Eudor called them up. In the disjointed and crudely framed creation legends, all acts seem to have been a sort of pour passer le temps [to pass the time] on the part of the Aleim as well as Yahve. The legend advances step by step in a sort of happy-go-lucky fashion, and for the most part against the wishes, if not interests of the creator, who seems to have feared like the Olumpean gods in the case of Prometheus, that the created would attain too much knowledge and happiness, climb into heaven and live for ever.

Thus after creating the heavens, earth, and most creatures, a man was formed--not of forethought, but apparently "because there was no one to till the ground"; and not that the ground was to continue to be tilled, for the man was a poor solitary mortal, and how matters were to go on at his death, accidental or otherwise, does not appear. By another after-thought, Eve was created as a "companion to the Adam"--not at all as a generatrix, for procreation was also another after-thought, although strange enough the man and woman had been created "like to the Aleim," "male and female," or zakr u nakaba [see 763] = "sword and sheath."' [357].

'But enough; so do symbols like gods rise and fall, evolving and rarely [? (determinants, are time, etc.)] dying; and still therefore we see survivals of the vast old mythologies from which sprang as we so justly hold precious; nor are we in a position to blame those who in the dark past saw gods in trees and stones and running brooks.' [End of essay] [381-382]. [See: #12, 262].

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from: Faiths of Man   Encyclopedia of Religions, in Three Volumes, J.G.R. Forlong [1824 - 1904], Introduction by Margery Silver, University Books, 1964 (1906).
[a Classic!]. [reprint available from Ballantrae Reprint].

Volume 2, E-M

'Elohim. Hebrew: "god," and also "gods." See El.' [48].

'El. Elah. Elohim. Hebrew: "strong one." (Assyrian ilu, ili, ilani: Arabic Alah.) The name for "God" or "Lord" in all Semitic languages. [In Assyrian, and in the Amarna letters [14th century B.C.E.], the plural (Ili, or Elohim) is used as a singular, and as a title for kings. --Ed.] From the same root come names for high trees, Elah, "terebinth [Pistacia terebinthus (cashew family) (bark yields turpentine)]," and "oak" (also Elon and Allon); as also perhaps Ail "ram," Ayil "buck" [from the cognate root Ail "strong" --Ed.]. The Elohim, or Ale-im, were gods of trees--see Abraham's oak-tree shrines at Shechem and Hebron ("the oak of Moreh," Gen. xii, 6: xxxiii, 20: xxxv, 4: Josh. xxiv, 26: "the oaks of Mamre," Gen. xiii, 18: xviii, 1, 4: the "oak" of Bethel, Gen. xxxv, 8).' [41-42].

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from: God, gods, and the Sons of God, Privately Published Paper, David Sielaff, 1997.

'The Biblical record of "That Old-Time Religion" lacks consistency as understood and presented by the major denominations of Christian and Jewish faiths. Surprisingly, there is remarkable consistency of thought and presentation in one subject of the biblical record. That subject involves the Old Testament "Sons of God."1 ["1I will not discuss here the New Testament "sons" or "children of God," or even the New Testament "Son of God," but rather the "Sons of God" written about in the Old Testament."] [see #7, 186]

Monotheism is the doctrine and belief that there is only one God. Under this definition, Israel was not monotheistic, as this article will demonstrate. Israel (as described in the Old Testament) believed in "henotheism," defined in Webster's New World Dictionary as "belief in one god, without denying the existence of others." Clearly this was Israel's belief system. It was Israel's understanding that gods other than YHWH existed. It was the worship of these other gods that caused Israel to apostatize, suffer destruction and exile to Babylon. After the exile Israel never again sought after other gods, but they went to the other extreme, a denial that the other gods existed.

The purpose of this article is to present a scenario for the history of religion. The concept I propose regarding the "Sons of God" is the rediscovery of a class of powerful divinities that have been confused with angelic beings. The traditional Hebrew and Christian concepts of God have led to a basic (and intentional?) misunderstanding of the Hebrew and Christian terms, confusing the "gods," angels, and the creator "God." THEOLOGY, AS USUAL, HAS MUDDIED THE WATERS, PROBABLY FOR POLITICAL AND FINANCIAL REASONS. [see #2, 31, 184.; 831]

It can be demonstrated that these "Sons of God" are, in fact, the gods of the pagansaccording to the biblical text. Their offspring are the demi-gods and heroes of the myths of the nations around the world.'

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'Biblical Terms for "God"

"Elohim"2 means "gods" (small "g"). "El" and "Eloah" are the singulars. In Hebrew "Elohim" is a collective noun, usually plural but frequently used as a singular (like the English terms "kingdom," "army," "company" or "family"). The context and usage within a phrase determine whether the word is used as plural or singular. This is why in Genesis 1:26 we correctly read, in Hebrew as well as in English,

Let US make man in OUR image

after OUR likeness,...

So ELOHIM created man in HIS image,

in the image of Elohim created HE him ...

Gen 1:2627

The true status of man (adam) as from this often quoted psalm is surprising:

What is man [enosh], that you are mindful of him

And the son of man [adam] that you think of him?


and have crowned him with glory and honour.

Ps 8:56

The traditional translation is "little lower than the angels," assumed from theology. The Hebrew for "angel" does not appear in any manuscripts. The word used is Elohim. Of course, angels are Elohim, but one cannot presume the Elohim referred to in this verse are exclusively angels.3

Whenever "the God (Elohim) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" is spoken of in the Old Testament, it identifies a particular "El" of the "Elohim." The frequent combined term "YHWH Elohim" denotes YHWH as one of the Elohim, the chief El among the Elohim. The many comparisons of YHWH with other Elohim, such as Isaiah 45:5–6, 14, etc. are statements of comparison, not exclusion. When used with a definite article (ha-Elohim,...[Hebrew]), the meaning is intentionally singular in usage and context, much like the term "army" is used in a singular sense or in a plural sense.'

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'YHWH is the personal "name" of the chief "El" (or God) among the Elohim (gods), according to the Hebrew scriptures (Ex 6:3; 2 Chr 6:5–10, 7:14; Ps 29:1–2, 68:4, 83:18; Isa 12:4, 42:8, 52:6; Jer 33:2; Dan 9:19). YHWH is also a title, but is primarily a personal name.4 ["4For Hebrew...[Hebrew word], I use YHWH instead of "Lord," as in the King James Version."] Consider,

And Elohim said moreover to Moses,

"Thus you shall say to the children of Israel,


Elohim of your fathers,

Elohim of Abraham,

Elohim of Isaac, and

Elohim of Jacob,

has sent me unto you:

THIS IS MY NAME for the age,5

["5Olam in Hebrew means "age," not

"forever" as in the King James."] and

this is my memorial unto all generations.'"

Ex 3:15

In this verse Elohim is used singularly. In the next verse it is used both singularly and as a plural:

I am YHWH THY Elohim ...

Thou shalt have no other Elohim before me.

Thou shalt not make thee

any graven images, [of Elohim (implied)]

or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above,

or that is in the earth beneath,

or that is in the waters

Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them,

nor serve them:

for I, YHWH THY Elohim am a jealous El, ... Deut 5:69

When one considers YHWH as one of the Elohim these verses become clear. To consider YHWH as the only Elohim — or part of a "trinity" — makes the verse, and others like it, meaningless. Elohim other than YHWH do exist! EVERY USAGE OF ELOHIM DEMANDS THAT UNDERSTANDING! YHWH always sets himself apart from the other Elohim.

He is the greatest of the Elohim, beyond compare, yet from a consistent usage of Elohim, he is of the Elohim. See Ex 15:11; Deut 3:24; 10:17; 1 Kgs 8:23; 1 Chr 16:26; Ps 89:6–8; 96:4–5; 135:5; 136:2; Jer 10:6; Dan 11:36. Indeed, YHWH is the King of the gods,

For a great El is YHWH,

and a great KING ABOVE ALL ELOHIM. Ps 95:3

The Elohim are to worship YHWH:

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Give unto YHWH, O you SONS OF ELOHIM,

Give unto YHWH glory and strength

Ascribe to YHWH the glory due unto his name;

WORSHIP YHWH in the beauty of holiness.

Ps 29:12 ....'

"As YHWH was the God of Israel, or the God of the Hebrews, so the Old Testament denotes the gods of individual nearby nations:

Title Example Verse(s)

Elohim of Syria Judg 10:6, 2 Chr 28:23

Elohim of the Philistines Dagon Judg 10:6, 16-23

Elohim of the Sidonians Ashtoreth 1 Kings 11:33, Judg 10:6

Elohim of Moab Chemosh 1 Kings 11:33, Judg 10:6

Elohim of the sons of Ammon Molech 1 Kings 11:33, Judg 10:6

Elohim of Egypt Exod 12:12, Jer 43:12–13

Elohim of the Amorite Josh 24:15, Judg 6:10

Elohim of the sons of Seir 2 Chr 25:14

Elohim of Edom 2 Chr 25:20

Extrabiblical counterparts of such expressions are abundant.14

From the point of view of other nations YHWH was just one of the panoply of gods, nothing special...."

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"The Sons of Elohim were assigned to be the Elohim or gods of the nations. They performed unjustly, were judged by YHWH, their inheritance removed from them, and some were killed while others were exiled. Their judgment is shown in Psalm 82 at the time of David. At that time they were sentenced to death. The gods can die.24 ["24The germ for the "death of God" concept perhaps originated with these traditions or nonbiblical evidence of the death of these gods."]...."

'Christian expositors needed to avoid paganism as much as the Jews. One way to do this was to deny that the gods existed as real entities. Demonism was very real in the early church and all the gods were ascribed to be demons. Otherwise the gods did not exist or were powerful humans divinized in pagan imaginations.25 [see below]

According to the theory presented here, the "gods" and "heroes" of the myths of ancient cultures existed and the traditions were based on observation or even participation by the cultures involved. The mating with "divine beings" whether angels or Sons of Elohim is a common theme in most ancient mythologies.

The henotheism of Israel allowed YHWH's people Israel to acknowledge the gods of the other nations, as Solomon did for example. But even Solomon, the wisest of men, was seduced by his own wisdom and arrogance. He went beyond the safety of acknowledging the Elohim, to honoring them by building temples for foreign Elohim (1 Kgs 11). Israel slipped into apostasy under the divided kingdom.

Modern orthodoxies, in their wisdom and arrogance, deny that the other Elohim even existed. The result is confusion — confusion in reading the myths of the ancient gods, confusion in understanding the Old Testament and confusion with false concepts of monotheism and trinitarianism.


25Worries about syncretism and encroaching paganism began before Nicea in 325 A.D. It was an insurmountable problem after Nicea with the large influx of politically correct former pagans flooding into the churches. The Church failed. Paganism took over Christian theology with its greatest victory being the Trinity doctrine.' [End of article].

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