Elohim In The Hebrew Quran

The Word Elo­him” in the Hebrew Qur’an

Often the mis­sion­ar­ies try to argue that the alleged ” divine name” for God is Yah­weh, and that since the word The Word "Elohim" in the Hebrew Qur'an 1 (Allah) is not ety­mo­log­i­cal­ly relat­ed to this name, it there­fore fol­lows that Mus­lims wor­ship a dif­fer­ent deity. How­ev­er, what they fail to recog­nise is that it is ety­mo­log­i­cal­ly accept­ed that the root word of The Word "Elohim" in the Hebrew Qur'an 2 (Elo­him) which is eloh, is indeed :

[…]a cog­nate form of the word allah, the des­ig­na­tion of deity used by the Arabs.1

This can­not be bet­ter exem­pli­fied than to see it in a Hebrew trans­la­tion of the Qur’an.

The Hebrew Qur’an : A Brief History

Hebrew Qur'an

Some expla­na­tion of the his­to­ry behind the Hebrew trans­la­tion of the Qur’an is need­ed. The jour­ney of trans­lat­ing the Qur’an into Hebrew is marked by notable mile­stones, begin­ning with the pio­neer­ing work of Her­mann Reck­endorf in 1857. This Ger­man Jew­ish schol­ar’s efforts opened the path for fur­ther trans­la­tions, each adding lay­ers of depth and under­stand­ing to the cross-cul­tur­al engage­ment with the Islam­ic holy text.

In 1936, Joseph Joel Rivlin (Yosef Yo’el Rivlin) offered a new per­spec­tive with his trans­la­tion, fol­lowed by Aharon Ben Shemesh’s ver­sion in 1971. The tra­di­tion of trans­lat­ing the Qur’an into Hebrew was con­tin­ued by Uri Rubin, whose trans­la­tion was pub­lished in 2005 by Tel Aviv Uni­ver­si­ty Press.

Each of these trans­la­tions has con­tributed to a rich­er under­stand­ing of the Qur’an’s teach­ings, under­scor­ing the pro­found con­nec­tion between Semit­ic lan­guages and the monothe­is­tic reli­gions that employ them to artic­u­late their spir­i­tu­al doc­trines. By ren­der­ing the Qur’an in Hebrew, trans­la­tors have not only facil­i­tat­ed aca­d­e­m­ic and reli­gious study but also high­light­ed the intri­cate web of lin­guis­tic and the­o­log­i­cal ties unit­ing Islam and Judaism.

Exam­ples of Elo­him In The Hebrew Qur’an

The fol­low­ing are some exam­ples from the Hebrew trans­la­tion of the Qur’an by Joseph Joel Rivlin, where­by the word elo­him” is con­sis­tent­ly trans­lat­ed from the Ara­bic allah” from the Qur’an in its orig­i­nal Arabic.

Quran 1:1

This appears in Qur’an 1:1 (Sura’ al-Fati­ha) of the Hebrew trans­la­tion2 :

The Word "Elohim" in the Hebrew Qur'an 3
B’shem Elo­him, ha-Rachamān, v’ha-Rachum

Com­pare it with the very same verse in the Ara­bic Qur’an :

The Word "Elohim" in the Hebrew Qur'an 4
Bis­mi Allāhi r‑Raḥmāni r‑Raḥīm

Both trans­late into Eng­lish as : In the name of God, Most Gra­cious, Most Mer­ci­ful.“3

Apart from the exam­ple giv­en above, we would like to present more exam­ples from the Hebrew trans­la­tion of the Qur’an, which uses the word Elo­him and Eloh. Note that the Hebrew trans­la­tion always ren­ders Ilah and Allah as Eloh and Elo­him, respec­tive­ly.

Quran 3:2

The fol­low­ing appears in Qur’an 3:2 of the Hebrew translation :

The Word "Elohim" in the Hebrew Qur'an 5
Elo­him, ein eloh mib­bal’adaiv, ha-Chai, ha-Qayam

The orig­i­nal Ara­bic ren­der­ing of Qur’an 3:2 is :

The Word "Elohim" in the Hebrew Qur'an 6
Allāhuilāha illā huwal-ḥayyul-qayyūm

which trans­lates into Eng­lish as : God ! There is no god but He, the Liv­ing, the Self-Sub­sist­ing, Eternal”.

Quran 3:18

The next image appears in Qur’an 3:18 of the Hebrew translation :

The Word "Elohim" in the Hebrew Qur'an 7
He’id Elo­him ki ein eloh mib­bal’adaiv, v’ha-Malakhim v’An­shei hada’at ya’idu ken

The orig­i­nal Ara­bic ren­der­ing of Qur’an 3:18 would be :

The Word "Elohim" in the Hebrew Qur'an 8
Shahi­da Allāhu innahu lā ilāha illā huwa wal-malā’ikatu wa ulul-‘ilmi qā’i­man bil-qisṭi lā ilāha illā huwal-‘azīzul-ḥakīm

This trans­lates into Eng­lish as : There is no god but He : That is the wit­ness of God, His angels, and those endued with knowl­edge, stand­ing firm on jus­tice. There is no god but He, The Exalt­ed in Pow­er, The Wise”.

Quran 6:1

This last exam­ple is from Qur’an, 6:1 of the Hebrew translation :

The Word "Elohim" in the Hebrew Qur'an 9
HaT’tchi­lah L’Elo­him, ash­er bara et ha-shamay­im v’et ha-arets, v’ya’as afe­lah v’orah…

The Ara­bic from Qur’an, 6:1 is :

The Word "Elohim" in the Hebrew Qur'an 10
Al-ḥam­du lil­lāhil-lad­hī kha­laqas-samāwāti wal-arḍa waja’ala aẓ-ẓulumāti wan-nūr…

The Eng­lish trans­la­tion is : Praise be to God, Who cre­at­ed the heav­ens and the earth and made the dark­ness and the light.…”

Con­clu­sions

The lin­guis­tic evi­dence link­ing Allāh” in Ara­bic to Elo­him” in Hebrew not only high­lights the com­mon Semit­ic roots shared by these lan­guages but also illu­mi­nates the shared con­cept of monothe­ism that is cen­tral to Islam, Judaism, and Chris­tian­i­ty. This con­nec­tion tran­scends mere pho­net­ic sim­i­lar­i­ties, delv­ing into the his­tor­i­cal and lin­guis­tic evo­lu­tion with­in the Semit­ic lan­guage fam­i­ly. The instances of Allāh” used in the Ara­bic Bible and Elo­him” in Hebrew trans­la­tions of the Qur’an under­score the acknowl­edg­ment of a sin­gu­lar, supreme deity across these Abra­ham­ic faiths, chal­leng­ing the notion of wor­ship direct­ed towards fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent entities.

This lin­guis­tic cor­re­la­tion effec­tive­ly coun­ters mis­con­cep­tions aimed at seg­re­gat­ing the con­cept of God in Islam from that in Judaism and Chris­tian­i­ty. It par­tic­u­lar­ly address­es unfound­ed asser­tions, such as the claim that Allāh refers to a moon god, by show­cas­ing the con­sis­tent trans­la­tion and appli­ca­tion of Allāh” and Elo­him” with­in monothe­is­tic con­texts. This serves to high­light a shared the­o­log­i­cal foun­da­tion that tran­scends cul­tur­al and lin­guis­tic dis­tinc­tions, firm­ly root­ed in the wor­ship of one God.

The use of Allāh” by Ara­bic-speak­ing Chris­tians and Jews, along­side Elo­him” in the Hebrew Qur’an, solid­i­fies the uni­ver­sal­i­ty of God across these tra­di­tions, with­out con­flat­ing the unique the­o­log­i­cal posi­tions con­cern­ing the nature of God, as seen in the Chris­t­ian doc­trine of the Trin­i­ty and the strict monothe­ism of Islam and Judaism. This dis­tinc­tion is cru­cial, as it respects the the­o­log­i­cal bound­aries that define each faith while acknowl­edg­ing their com­mon monothe­is­tic heritage.

Insha’Al­lah, the lin­guis­tic rela­tion­ship between Allāh” and Elo­him” reaf­firms the monothe­is­tic essence shared by Islam, Judaism, and Chris­tian­i­ty, chal­leng­ing divi­sive nar­ra­tives with a reminder of their inter­twined his­tor­i­cal and lin­guis­tic lega­cies. This con­nec­tion does not dilute the unique the­o­log­i­cal nuances of each faith but rather empha­sizes the core belief in a sin­gu­lar, omnipo­tent deity that under­pins the Abra­ham­ic traditions.

And only God knows best !Endmark

Cite this arti­cle as : Mohd Elfie Nieshaem Juferi, The Word Elo­him” in the Hebrew Qur’an,” in Bis­mi­ka Allahu­ma, Octo­ber 7, 2005, last accessed April 17, 2024, https://​bis​mikaal​lahu​ma​.org/​i​s​l​a​m​/​e​l​o​h​i​m​-​i​n​-​t​h​e​-​h​e​b​r​e​w​-​q​u​r​an/
  1. W.E. Vine, Mer­rill F. Unger, William White Jr., Vine’s Com­plete Expo­si­tion Dic­tio­nary, Thomas Nel­son Pub­lish­ers, Nashville, TN, 1996.[]
  2. See Yosef Yo’el Rivlin, Alkur’an /​tirgem me-‘Arvit, Devir, Tel Aviv (19361945). More infor­ma­tion is avail­able here.[]
  3. We have referred to A. Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur’an : Text, Trans­la­tion, and Com­men­tary for the Eng­lish trans­la­tion of the Bas­malah and the lat­er trans­la­tions of the Quran­ic vers­es involved.[]

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