Abarim Publications' online Biblical Hebrew Dictionary
The verb אחר ('ahar) occurs only seventeen times in the Bible, but its derivatives are much more prominent. The verb means to tarry or delay (Genesis 34:19, Judges 5:28), or cause to delay (Exodus 22:28, Deuteronomy 23:22). Note that in the Hebrew sense of reality, not the past but the future comes behind (because yesterday comes first, then today and tomorrow follows). This verb's derivatives are:
- The adjective אחר (aher), meaning another, or literally: one coming behind (Genesis 4:25, Psalm 109:8).
- The adverb, preposition or conjecture אחר (ahar), meaning behind (Genesis 22:13), after (Psalm 68:25), hinder part (2 Samuel 2:23) etc. This word occurs often in the construct-plural form: אחרי, literally meaning something like 'the behinds of' but can be translated with 'since' (Genesis 41:39, Judges 19:23) or literally 'the rear ends of' (1 Kings 7:25). Frequently it refers to a 'leaving behind' or discarding, or a 'moving behind' in the sense of getting something out of the way (1 Kings 14:10, compare to Matthew 16:23).
- The adjective אחרי (aharay), meaning afterwards (Proverbs 28:23).
- The substantive אחור (ahor), meaning back part, rear, backward (Genesis 49:17, Isaiah 50:5).
- The adverb אחרנית (ahoranit), meaning backwards (Genesis 9:23, Isaiah 38:8).
- The adjective אחרון (aharon), meaning hindermost, last, latter (Genesis 33:2, Exodus 4:8). This word also applies to the Mediterranean Sea, known as the "hinder" or "future" sea, whereas the Salt Sea was the east or "past" sea. Hence the adjective אחרון (aharon) may also mean, or rather imply, western (Deuteronomy 11:24).
- The feminine noun אחרית (aharit), meaning after part, following part or even latter part. It often occurs in conjunction with the word for 'days' (ימים, yomim, in this case serving as marker of an unspecified time frame, but obviously exceeding 'a few days') to form a phrase that often gets translated as the spectacular but rather abstract 'end of days', but which rather denotes the 'following days', or simply the future (Genesis 49:1, Deuteronomy 31:29, Isaiah 41:22). In Psalm 109:13 our word occurs in the sense of 'posterity', which is obviously the same as the future of a man's legacy.
The familiar phrase אלהים אחרים (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 7:4 and over sixty more locations) is usually translated with 'other gods' but this term may not be as straight forward as it may seem.
The first word of this phrase is אלהים ('elohim), which means 'powers' and is both the word for God and for the rules upon which the universe runs (the so-called Logos in which all things hold together — Colossians 1:16-17). The second word is the plural adjective אחרים, which true to form, follows the plural of the word it modifies.
The whole phrase denotes not simply 'other' powers or deities, for the very simple reason that there aren't any. The 'powers that be' and that run the universe are a singular deity that can't be divided into an array of independently operating entities that somehow derive from the big one. Worshipping one particular force renders one element a degree of importance that it doesn't have and disregards the oneness and thus the ultimate identity of the Creator.
Worshipping אלהים אחרים, or 'derived deities', equals theological pornography.