Grammar and etymology
Elohim is a
noun for "
gods" or "
Biblical Hebrew. In
Modern Hebrew, it is often referred to in the singular despite the -im ending that denotes plural masculine nouns in Hebrew.
In Hebrew, the ending -im normally indicates a masculine plural. However, when referring to the Hebrew God, Elohim is usually understood to be grammatically singular (i.e. it governs a singular verb or adjective). Similarly, the
Quran uses alīha as the plural of īlah for pagan divinities, and occasionally uses "Allahum" (O God! - plural) for the sole god (as opposed to "Allah"). The exact equivalent, in modern Arabic, of Elohim as meaning plural gods would be Ilāhīn (إلاهين), although it is rarely used in Arabic parlance. Note that human beings can also have names with plural endings, such as
Ephraim, the son of
It is generally thought that Elohim is derived from eloah, the latter being an expanded form of the Northwest Semitic noun ’il.
 The related nouns eloah (אלוה) and
el (אֵל) are used as proper names or as generics, in which case they are interchangeable with elohim.
 The term contains an added heh as
third radical to the
biconsonantal root. Discussions of the etymology of elohim essentially concern this expansion. An exact cognate outside of Hebrew is found in
Ugaritic ʾlhm, the family of El, the creator god and chief deity of the
Canaanite pantheon, in
Biblical Aramaic ʼĔlāhā and later
Alaha "God", and in Arabic
ʾilāh "god, deity" (or
Allah as "The [single] God").
"El" (the basis for the extended root ʾlh) is usually derived from a root meaning "to be strong" and/or "to be in front".