Elohim (אֱלוֹהִים , אלהים ) is a Hebrew word which expresses concepts of divinity. It is apparently related to the Hebrew word ēl, though morphologically it consists of the Hebrew word Eloah (אלוה) with a plural suffix. Elohim is the third word in the Hebrew text of Genesis and occurs frequently throughout the Hebrew Bible. Its exact significance is often disputed.
In some cases (e.g. Exodus 3:4, "... Elohim called unto him out of the midst of the bush ..."), it acts as a singular noun in Hebrew grammar (see next section), and is then generally understood to denote the single God of Israel. In other cases, Elohim acts as an ordinary plural of the word Eloah (אלוה), and refers to the polytheistic notion of multiple gods (for example, Exodus 20:3, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."). This may reflect the use of the word "Elohim" found in the late Bronze Age texts of Canaanite Ugarit, where Elohim ('lhm) denoted the entire Canaanite pantheon (the family of El אל, the patriarchal creator god). It may also refer to a Henotheistic strand of Judaism. In still other cases, the meaning is not clear from the text, but may refer to powerful beings (e.g. Genesis 6:2, "... the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them for wives... ," Exodus 4:16, "He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you [Moses] were Elohim to him [Aaron]... ," Exodus 22:28, "Thou shalt not revile Elohim, or curse a ruler of your people... ," where the parallelism suggests that Elohim may refer to human rulers). See Sons of God for more information.
In most English translations of the Bible (e.g. the King James Version), the letter G in "god" is capitalized in cases where Elohim refers to the God of Israel, but there is no distinction between upper and lower case in the Hebrew text.
The form of the word Elohim, with the ending -im, is plural and masculine, but the construction is usually singular, i.e. it governs a singular verb or adjective when referring to the Hebrew god, but reverts to its normal plural when used of heathen divinities (Psalms 96:5; 97:7). There are many theories as to why the word is plural:
A plural noun governing a singular verb may be according to oldest usage. The gods form a heavenly assembly where they act as one. In this context, the Elohim may be a collective plural when the gods act in concert. Compare this to English headquarters, which is plural but governs a singular verb: there are many rooms or quarters, but they all serve one purpose. Thus, it is argued, the meaning of Elohim therefore can mean one god, with many attributes.
The alternative polytheist theory would seem to explain why there are three words built on the same stem: El, Elohim, and eloah. El, the father god, has many divine sons, who are known by the plural of his name, Elohim, or Els. Eloah, might then be used to differentiate each of the lesser gods from El himself.
While the words El, Elohim, and eloah are clearly related, with the word El being the stem, some have claimed it is uncertain whether the word Elohim is derived from El through eloah. These have suggested that the word Elohim is the masculine plural of a feminine noun, used as a singular. This would imply indeterminacy in both number and gender, although, as mentioned above, from Canaanite texts in Ugarit, this is what appears to be intended in this case. However, to many this is speculative and confusing, although consistent with many other Jewish and Christian views of the nature of the Godhead.
Note that contrary to what is sometimes assumed, the word Eloah (אלוה) is quite definitely not feminine in form in the Hebrew language (and does not have feminine grammatical gender in its occurrences in the Bible). This word ends in a furtivum vowel (i.e. short non-syllabic [a] element which is part of a lowering diphthong) followed by a breathily-pronounced final [h] consonant sound — while feminine Hebrew words which end in "ah" have a fully syllabic [a] vowel which is followed by a silent "h" letter (which changes to a [t] sound in the grammatical "construct state" construction, or if suffixes are added). The pronounced [h] (or he mappiq) of Eloah never alternates with a [t] consonant sound (the way that silent feminine "h" does), and the [a] "furtivum" element in Eloah is actually a late feature of masoretic pronunciation traditions, which wouldn't have existed in the pronunciation of Biblical times.
The meaning of Elohim is further complicated by the fact that it is used to describe the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel, raised by Saul in 1 Samuel 28:13. The witch of Endor tells Saul that she sees 'gods' (elohim) coming up out of the earth; this seems to indicate that the term was indeed used simply to mean something like 'divine beings' in ancient Israel.
It is worthy of note that, in the Biblical Hebrew (as well as in many other languages, such as Yaqui) the customary grammatical "plurality" of a word is often simply that: a grammatical plural. The use of "plural" forms for singular nouns is common in the Hebrew Bible, and often connotes quintessence, uniqueness, or might rather than plurality (though it may connote both). Thus, the phrase "מלך מלכי המלכים" ("melekh maləkêi ha-məlâkhim") does not refer to "a king, kings of kings", but to "a king of unsurpassed kingship"; שיר השירים, ("shir ha-shirim") does not refer to "a song of songs", but to "a song that is the quintessential song"; ימים רבים ("yamim rabim") refers to "a great sea" as easily as to "great [or 'many'] seas". A clue to this is the Hebrew grammatical term for "plural": lâshon rabbim, meaning a term of grandiosities.
The plural sense of "Elohim" is generally recognized by the LDS Church as meaning "the council of the gods", often interpreted as the Godhead, in the creation story. This is particularly evident in Pearl of Great Price/Abraham#Chapter 4 of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price.
In the computer game Homeworld 2, there is a minor character named Captain Elohim.
In the comic series 'Lucifer' (most prominently in #29) a "tiny demon of the Elokim" appears