Does God speak of other Gods?

I was discussing the Bible the other day with my better half and I was reminded of one passage that in Catholic school always irritated me:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (Gen 1:26)

I have always wondered why God said “our” instead of “my”. Every version of the Bible I have thumbed through has it worded in the plural. Who are these others that God is speaking of? Are we to believe there are other gods?

My girlfriend (who is very Christian) states that God is speaking of the Trinity. I find it hard to believe that the early writers of The Bible would have the forethought to include Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the first pages of the Old Testament but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Is it supposed to be taken as the Trinity? Is it just an issue with the translation into English? Could it be that the early writers believed that there were many gods? If so, are there any other references to multiple deities in the Good Book?


King James version has it as

that is, Us/Our is capitalized.
Perhaps it’s referring to a sort “royal we”/majestic plural wiki link

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

I believe he is talking to the angels who are supposed to have existed with God before the creation of the world.

Makes sense since Yahweh is supposed to be way above any earthly monarch. If Margaret Thatcher can use the royal we I’m sure he can too.

I’d go with the “royal we,” it makes sense (to me, at least).

The Bible (if you roll that way) is the word of God, and makes mention of several other gods. A popular example is Hadad (better known as Ba’al), a Semitic deity. The commandments also specifically prohibit holding any other god before God. This seems to imply (to me, at least) that there are other gods, but these gods are to be shunned by followers of the ten commandments. But that’s a matter of interpretation, I s’pose.

The NIV study notes say that it is God as “Creator-King” speaking to the heavenly court.

Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary goes with the Trinity explanation.

I am woefully ignorant of the Hebrew involved, but Elohim, one of the words used for God, is technically a plural form. ( Of course, Elohim is properly translated as a singular, but it does give at least some justification for extending the Trinity concept back to the Old Testament, especially when the current formulation of the Trinity concept isn’t explicitly stated even in the New Testament - it’s just our best interpretation of what is there.

The Conservative Rabbi I studied with said, “it was the board of directors.”

I agree with Alphaboi i always assumed he was talking to the angels in heaven.

God has had a spirit (which I assume would be Holy) since the beginning of the Bible as far as I’m aware.

Genesis 1: 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

As distinct from God himself. I assume. His Spirit is doing the magic, but he’s elsewhere, in heaven, making the orders.

Jesus wasn’t born yet, so it isn’t a reference to the trinity. Although I imagine it’s all speculation and opinion. We don’t have the original writers to consult.

Genesis 3:22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever

Genesis 11:7 “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their
language, that they may not understand one
another’s speech.”

Isaiah 6:8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”

Elohim and Adonai (translated as God and Lord respectively) are both plural nouns I think (Eloah and Adoni would be singular). God is infinite, he’s both singular and many. Modern Christianity has him as a trinity to describe the three most important facets of God.

Why would god say us? Isn’t that like putting the angels on the same level as himself?

The spirit would still be god. So their would be no need to say us. If he is the “us”. lol

There are many references to “foreign gods” in the Bible, but much of the time they don’t necessarily seem to imply that those foreign gods actually exist, just that some people worship them–even the staunchest monotheist would not deny that followers of other religions, polytheists, and “idolaters” exist, whether or not the objects of their worship do.

A few passages which do seem to imply that other gods may exist (even if the God of the Bible is better than they are):

Exodus 12:12:

Exodus 15:11:

Exodus 18:11:

The first line of the 82nd Psalm is (King James Version) “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.” Some other versions substitute “rulers” (New American Standard Bible) or put quotation marks around “gods” (New International Version), while other modern translations simply portray God as being chief or ruler in an assembly of other gods.

I assumed it was Jesus and the Holy Spirit, both which are essentially aspects of God.

Colossians 1:16-17 “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

Which have been documented.


Then there’s 2 Kings 3:26-27, which talks about an Israelite invasion of Moab, which has revolted against Israel. Moab is being crushed:

It’s thought the original last line was “The fury of Chemosh against Israel was great; they withdrew and returned to their own land.” But whether those words are there or not, the implication is that the king of Moab sacrificed his son to Chemosh (the Moabite god), and Chemosh drove the Israelites out of Moab.

There was also no need in drowning every living thing on the planet. Need is hardly imperative for god’s actions.

The Genesis story has its roots in Pre-Judaic Canaanite polytheism. The word for “God” in the E source (Elohim) actually means “gods” (plural") in Hebrew.

The Israelites originally had the same pantheon as the rest of the Canaanites. Yahweh even once had a girlfriend named Asherah.

There was no “royal we” convention in Hebrew, by the way. Some of the text of the Hebrew Bible simply contains artifacts of older, polytheistic or henotheistic sources.

The original text (i.e., the Hebrew) is indeed plural: our image. The common Christian interpretation is that this is a reference to the trinity; the common Jewish explanations are either (a) the use of “we” as royal plural is quite common in other ancient texts; and (b) God could have been speaking to the “heavenly host” (angels and such.)

To add to the confusion, one common Hebrew word for God is Elohim, which is a plural noun. The word usually means God, but could mean “gods.” Again, the explanations as above.

There are two views of the comments by MEBuckner on “other gods,” depending on who and when one thinks the texts were written.

(1) If you think that the earliest texts were written over time, by many authors, then there is an evolution in thought, in the concept of God. In the earliest texts, God is simply the most powerful of all gods, and very anthrophomorphic (He “walks” with Abraham, he appears in human form, he has fingers, hands, breathe, etc.). Over time, the concept evolved that the other “gods” don’t exist, and the anthropomorphism declines (or becomes purely poetic.)

(2) The term “gods” or “other gods” is used to mean “things worshipped as gods.” Ancient Hebrew is a fairly straightforward lanugage, and the writings are in a poetical form: “things worshipped as gods” was just too clumsy, and the audience hearing the words knew what was meant by “other gods.”

The concept of “executing judgement” on the gods of Egypt is just a poetic short-hand for a complex richness of concepts. Remember that Pharaoh was deemed a god of Egypt, and is seen in the bible as a symbol for cruelty and injustice. So “executing judgement” on the gods of Egypt includes the concept of showing the world that there is a Power for Right in the world, that is stronger than the powers of injustice.

Of course, it’s possible to accept both (1) and (2), they are not necessarily mutual excludable.

PS - This is textual analysis, not history, so please, don’t tell me “it never happened.” We’re analyzing poetry, not science.

I disagree, to me it implies that you are, indeed, permitted to have another god, so long as YHWH/God/the LORD as your PATRON god, at the time that book would’ve been written (or the events taken place at least) it would’ve been ballsy at best to outright shun all other gods in front of the present company, the Canaanite (especially fertility) gods and such were quite important to various parts of the tribe. The Ten Commandments were just saying (in my interpretation) “Look guys, you can worship whoever, just me FIRST” (though this also adds the possibility of calling Ba’al a false god a lie to make a point/example, which opens up a whole new can of worms, but you can also argue that just because Ba’al was fake doesn’t preclude other non-YHWH deities from existing).