IS EL/ELOHIM A PAGAN GOD?
Some Messianic believers have a problem with the title ‘El’ or ‘Elohim’ used throughout the Scriptures.
This is based on the fact that ‘El’ was the given name of the chief deity of the ancient Canaanites. The Canaanites were the peoples who were settled in the area which was promised to Abraham and his descendants, which we now recognize as the area of Palestine and Israel.
It is historically evident and cannot be argued that this early civilization did in fact worship a deity called ‘El’ and their pantheon of gods collectively known as ‘Elohim’ (the plural form of El).
Before you go off on a tangent, it must be pointed out that the Canaanite civilization came AFTER the original Semite civilization – from the son of Noah – Shem (Shemites). Kena’an was the son of his brother Ham who’s geneology is recorded in Gen 10.
Here’s a quote from Wikipedia:
“The Canaanite languages or Hebraic languages are a subfamily of the Semitic languages, which were spoken by the ancient peoples of the Canaan region, including Canaanites, Israelites and Phoenicians.”
It isn’t too hard to figure out that Shem, the son of Noah knew Yahweh Elohim and as the generations forsook Yahweh and began to worship the creation rather than the Creator, used language that they were familiar with to name their ‘gods’.
This is testified by the fact that the Canaanites worshipped the ‘god of the sea’ by the name ‘Yam’ (the Hebrew word for ‘sea’ – H3220 ים yâm) and also the ‘god of death’ by the name ‘Mot’ (similar to the Hebrew word for ‘death’ – H4191 מוּת mûth).
This practice of worshipping other ‘gods’ by Hebrew names can also be seen amongst other ancient civilizations, but we must remember which came FIRST. If a nation today decided to worship the ‘god of apples’ and called it’s name ‘Apple’; does that make the word ‘apple’ a pagan word?
A perfect example is that the Egyptians suddenly began worshipping the ‘moon god Yah’ around the 12thdynasty… Some quick historical checking uncovers that Yoseph son of Ya’aqob was raised to the position 2nd to Pharaoh at that time (Gen 41:40-46). It is evident that because Yoseph worshipped Yahweh, the Egyptians simply assimilated ‘Yah’ into their pantheon of ‘gods’ and because Paraoh was considered the ‘sun god’ manifested on earth; Yoseph’s ‘Yah’ must be 2nd to the sun i.e. the moon.
‘El’ is not a name, but a title in Hebrew (H413 אל êl) meaning ‘Mighty one’ and ‘Elohim’ is the plural form meaning both ‘Mighty one’ and ‘Mighty ones’. Elohim is primarily used throughout Scripture as a title for both Yahweh and His Son, but is also used for other ‘mighty ones’ of other nations and even individuals (Exo 7:1)
The proof that ‘El’ came BEFORE the Canaanites is found in the Scriptures themselves in the names of hundreds of people and prophets bearing the prefix of suffix of ‘El’
e.g. ELiyahu (Elijah – my El is Yahweh), Yehezq’EL (Ezekiel – strength of El), Dani’EL, (El my judge) Yo’EL (Joel – Yah is El) ShemuEL (Samuel – heard of El) and on and on… Are all these the names of prophets and priests of pagan deities? Of course not!
Looking right in the beginning we find that the fourth from Adam had the name ‘Mehuya’el’ (smitten of El) and he in turn (Gen 4:18) begat Methusa’el (man of El). It is obvious that Yahweh was known as ‘El’ and ‘Elohim’ long before the Canaanite civilization came into being.
It’s hard to imagine that Yahweh would allow His chosen people to name so many people and places after Him if indeed ‘El’ were a pagan deity let alone call them a people after His Name – Yisra’EL (to overcome with El Gen 32:28).
JOVE AND YAHWEH
The same conclusion above can be applied to the so-called connection between Jove and Yahweh. The spelling of Jove – the Roman deity similar to Zeus is spelled in Latin IOVE (pronounced Yowe) which came much later in time and one could assume that it was a Latin attempt at transliterating the Name of YHWH.
Do not be distracted by these ‘revelations’ as they come and go. Yahweh has recorded His Name in the Hebrew Scriptures for all those who ‘study to show themselves approved’… Your best bet is to back to the original. Learn Hebrew – the ‘qodesh lashon’ (holy tongue) and allow Yahweh to teach you through His Ruach ha’Qodesh (Spirit).