The term אֵלִים in Exodus 15:11a

Some biblical passages give clear proof of the belief about the existence of the other gods, among whom YHWH excels. For example, Psalm 86:8 reflects on how incomparable the works of YHWH. Around 586 B.C. together with the destruction of Jerusalem, Jewish polytheism was also dying and so the birth of a monotheistic Judaism was taking place. As a matter of fact, the end of the monarchy and the Babylonian exile were read and considered as punishments by that God who should have been worshiped exclusively. Therefore, the Deuteronomist reaffirms the story of Moses who promulgated the unique worship of YHWH and its laws. The editor, though in a historical form, encouraged obedience of the Mosaic Law, particularly the exclusive worship of YHWH, the monotheistic God who does not tolerate polytheism.

Ex 15:11a is within the context of a victory hymn that narrates the marvelous events performed by YHWH. Particularly, it speaks of the miraculous passage through the red sea and of the incomparability of YHWH with respect to the gods. Now, our task in this presentation is to examine the etymological value of the word אֵלִים ELIM that we find in Ex 15:11a and then to capture its semantic function within the Old Testament. We will use the Masoretic Text as the basic text.

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