‘Like God’
‘Like gods’?

Genesis 3:5

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In Old Testament Hebrew, an extremely common word for God is Elohim (sometimes transliterated – put into English characters – as ‘elohiym).

Like ‘s’ at the end of an English word, ‘im’ at the end of a Hebrew word often indicates plural. So in some contexts Elohim sometimes means God, and sometimes it means gods.

For example, in Genesis 1:1, (“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”) Elohim is used and it clearly refers to God. In some other contexts, such as Deuteronomy 32:17 (“They sacrificed to demons, . . . to gods that they didn’t know, to new gods that came up recently, which your fathers didn’t dread”) Elohim does not mean the true God, but should be translated gods.

Sometimes, the context does not make it clear. For this reason, some Bible versions translate the last part of Genesis 3:5 as gods. However, the verse commences, “for God knows that in the day you eat it . . .” In this part of the verse, Elohim is always translated God.


Bible Versions Used
(Unless otherwise specified)

King James Version

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World English Bible
(Slightly Modified)

Appears in the text

For more information, see Bible Version Dilemmas