Q. The Raelien movement who claimed to have cloned the first human say that in the original Jewish scriptures, Genesis1:26 "Elohim created mankind in their own image, in the image of Elohim they created them, male and female they created them." Based on independent scholar Zacheria Sitchin, the plural word "Elohim" means "those who came from the sky" and has the same meaning as the word "Annunaki" from the Sumerian tablets which are older than the Old Testament. The word "Elohim" was later translated into the word "God", once translated into this singular word, making Judaism the world's first monotheist religion, the belief in one god. All of the major Western religions (Christianity and Muslim) found their roots in Judaism based on this "false" translation, as per Sitchin. Is there any truth to this claim?
The revisionists are always busy. One of the key phrases in the question above is : “based on independent scholar Zacheria Sitchin…” The question could be asked “independent of what?” The answer is clearly “independent of objective research.” Let’s start where the Scriptures start:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Elohim is one of the three primary terms used to describe God in the Bible. God (Elohim) is the strong Creator who is the source of everything. The Lord (YHWH or Jehovah) is the covenant-keeping God who relates to man. Adonai (Master) reflects the servant/master relationship of man to God. Elohim comes from two Hebrew words 1) El, meaning “strong one” and 2) eloah the ancient term for God. The term Elohim is used over 2,570 times in the Bible to identify the Creator God, the One identified with the creation of this world, and all that it contains including people. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament ( R. Laird Harris; Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, Vol. 1, p. 44) “When indicating the true God elohim functions as the subject of all divine activity revealed to man as the object of all true reverence and fear from men.”
As with any literature or writing the fundamental principle in determining the meaning of a word is to study the word in its context. The key to the study of all biblical words is NOT their etymology or derivation, but their use with the ingredients of the context as defining issues. Elohim is a Hebrew word used in the Old Testament of the one true God who revealed himself to Man, and specifically to the nation of Israel by divine revelation in various ways through the patriarchs and the prophets.
In Genesis one the Scripture say:
26 ¶ Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
The Hebrew Word translated “God” in this verse is Elohim. Here we find the plural form of the word used which is intended to convey the idea that the ONE GOD who is the Creator is made up of a plurality of persons. Taking the entire Bible context into account when we define this word we know that Elohim describes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
It is interesting to note that Elohim occurs only in the Hebrew language . It does not occur in any other Semitic language, not even in Biblical Aramaic. Hebrew needed a term which conveyed both the idea of unity of the one true God, and yet allowed for a plurality of persons as found in the teaching of the Godhead, thus, the term Elohim was born.