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The OT Evidence for God’s Uni-Plurality

The following excerpt is taken from my rebuttal to Muslim polemicist Abdullah Kunde which can be found here https://www.answering-islam.org/authors/shamoun/rebuttals/kunde/trinity1.html.

In this section of my rebuttal, I cite the passages from the Hebrew Bible where plural nouns, pronouns, verbs, participles, etc. are employed for the true God, thereby affirming that the inspired OT prophets knew and spoke of the one true God existing as a plurality of divine Persons. So enjoy!

Kunde’s comments are brimming with errors.

First, no informed Christian believes that God’s use of plural pronouns proves “that there’s more than one of him,” e.g. that there is more than one God, since Christians are committed to the biblical revelation that there is only one eternal God (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4-5, 13; 4:35, 39; 32:39; Joshua 2:10-11; 1 Samuel 2:2; 2 Kings 5:15, 17; Psalm 86:10; Isaiah 37:16, 20; 43:10-11; 44:6-8; 45:5-6, 21-23; 46:8-11; Jeremiah 10:6; Zechariah 14:9; Malachi 2:10; John 5:44; 17:3; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Galatians 3:20; 4:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:17; 2:5; James 2:19; Jude 1:25).

Second, the use of plural verbs, adjectives, participles, etc., for God would not prove that there are three or more gods. Rather, the use of such plurals would provide strong support for the Trinitarian position that the one true God exists as more than one Divine Person. Such plurals would also refute the assertion of Muslims like Kunde, as well as so-called “Biblical” Unitarians, that God is a singular Person.

Third, the plural of majesty is unattested in Biblical Hebrew, especially with respect to the use of plural verbs and adjectives. Moreover, there isn’t any good evidence that such a linguistic device was known or in use by Arab writers at Muhammad’s time. Certainly, there is no indication that the author(s) of the Quran was/were aware of it or employed it in the Muslim writing. See the following articles for the evidence:

The Plural of Majesty: Allah is Neither Plural nor Majestic

Allah’s Use of Plural Pronouns – Pt. 1Pt. 2Pt. 3Pt. 4Pt. 5.

Kunde is simply reading back into these documents a later and more recent linguistic feature in order to explain away the obvious problems that such plural verbs and adjectives create for his unitarian beliefs.

Fourth, Kunde is simply grossly mistaken when he audaciously asserts that the Hebrew Bible NEVER employs plural verbs and adjectives with plural nouns for God. The inspired Hebrew Scriptures do in fact use plural verbs, adjectives, etc., for the one true God, just as the following examples prove.

The first example:

For God knows (ki yode’a elohim) that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God (ke’lohim), knowing (yoda’e) good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

The verb “knowing” is a plural participle modifying the noun Elohim. Thus, a more literal translation would read, “you will be like Gods/divine beings who know good and evil.” This is further supported by what God says later on in the same text:

“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of US, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.’” Genesis 3:22-23

The second example:

“Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let US make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let US build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let US make a name for OURSELVES, lest WE be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ And the Lord came down (wayyerred YHWH) to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let US go down (nerada), and there confuse (wanabala) their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused (balal) the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:1-9

Nerada is the plural form of yarad and nabala is the plural of balal. Here, Yahweh describes his actions of coming down and scattering the peoples by himself in the plural. Yahweh’s use of the plural (“Come, let us go down and there confuse…”) is obviously meant to parallel the language of the multitude (“Come, let us…”). The major difference between these two parties is that whereas the people at Babel consisted of a multitude of separate and distinct human beings, Yahweh, on the other hand, is a singular Being who exists as a community of divine Persons within himself.

The third example:

“And when God (Elohim) caused me to wander (hita’u) from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.’” Genesis 20:13

The verb hita’u, translated “cause to wander”, is the plural of ta`ah. The text can therefore be translated as, “When Gods (Elohim), they caused me to wander from my father’s house.”

The fourth example:

“and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God (Elohim) had revealed himself (nigelu) to him when he fled from his brother.” Genesis 35:7

The verb that modifies the noun God (Elohim) is nigelu (revealed), which is plural for galah. Thus, the verse literally reads, “Gods, They revealed themselves to him.”

The fifth example:

“For what great nation is there that has a god so near (Elohim qarobim) to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him?” Deuteronomy 4:7

The adjective qarobim is the plural form of qarob. The verse can thus be translated as, “gods who are so near.” The text is likening Yahweh to gods who are nearby their people to save and protect. The passage is basically saying that, unlike the other nations, the Israelites have been privileged to have their Gods nearby to answer them anytime they call on them.

The sixth example:

“But Joshua said to the people, ‘You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God (Elohim Qadoshim hu). He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.’” Joshua 24:19

The word translated as “Holy” is the plural adjective qadoshim (“Holy Ones”). The passage can, therefore, be rendered as, “Gods, the Holy Ones is he.”

The seventh example:

“And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went (halaku Elohim) to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods?” 2 Samuel 7:23

The words, “God went,” are in the plural and literally reads, “Gods, they went to redeem.”

The eighth example:

“Mankind will say, ‘Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God (Elohimwho judges (shophetim) on earth.’” Psalm 58:11

David uses the plural shophetim, which if we were to translate it literally would say, “Gods, They judge the earth.”

The ninth example:

“I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One (qadoshim). Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! Proverbs 30:3-4

Qadoshim in verse 3 is a plural adjective, and is translated as such in the NRSV:

“I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the holy ones.”

Agur speaks of how terribly ignorant he is of the Holy Ones, and then goes on to mention the incomprehensible acts of God and his Son. This basically establishes that qadoshim here is a numerical plural since Agur clearly refers to two distinct entities, e.g. God and his Son who shares in his Father’s sovereignty and incomprehensibility.

And now for our final examples:

“But none says, ‘Where is God my Maker (`osay), who gives songs in the night,’” Job 35:10

The word ‘osay is the plural participle of asa’ and literally means, “my Makers.”

“Let Israel be glad in his Maker (`osayw); let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!” Psalm 149:2

The text literally says “his Makers” because ‘osayw is a plural participle.

“Remember also your Creator (bora’eyka) in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’;” Ecclesiastes 12:1

Bora’eyka is a plural participle, which is literally, “your Creators.”

“For your Maker (`osayika) is your Husband (bo`alayika), the LORD of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.” Isaiah 54:5

The word `osayik is the plural participle of asa’ and bo`alayika is the plural noun form of baal, and can, therefore, be read, “For your Makers are your Husbands.”

None of these references can be simply brushed aside as cases of the plural of majesty since the OT provides additional evidence that the inspired writers knew that there was more than one Divine Person responsible for creating and making all things.

For instance, the OT emphatically testifies that God used his Spirit to create and give life to the entire creation:

The Spirit of God (rucha el) has made me, and the Breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4

By his Spirit (barucho) the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.” Job 26:13

“As God lives, who has taken away my right, and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter; as long as my breath is in me, and the Spirit of God (warucha eloha) is in my nostrils; my lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit.” Job 27:2-4

“If he should take back his Spirit (rucho) to himself, and gather to himself his Breath, all flesh would perish together, and man would return to dust.” Job 34:14-15

God’s Holy Spirit is also responsible for replenishing the earth and reviving or resurrecting the dead:

“For the palace will be forsaken, the populous city deserted; the hill and the watchtower will become dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; until the Spirit (rucha) is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is deemed a forest.” Isaiah 32:14-15

“When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their spirit, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your Spirit (ruchaka), they are created; and you renew the face of the ground.” Psalm 104:29-30

“Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’” Ezekiel 37:12-14

Interestingly, not only do the OT writers affirm that God used his Spirit to create and fashion all things, they further testify that God also employed his Word to do so:

By the Word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all their host by the Breath/Spirit (ubarucha) of his mouth.” Psalm 33:6

What makes this all the more interesting is that the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Septuagint (LXX), translates the phrase “by the Word of the LORD” as to logo tou kyriou. What this means is that God used his Logos to make the heavens.

Lo and behold, this is precisely what the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures teach, i.e. that it was by the Logos of God that creation was brought into being:

“But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word (to tou theou logo) the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.” 2 Peter 3:5

However, the NT takes this a step further and identifies God’s Logos as Jesus Christ, the Logos who became flesh!

“In the beginning was the Word (ho logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men… He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” John 1:1-4, 10, 14

Hence, Jesus is the Logos or Word whom God used to bring the entire creation into existence!

John isn’t the only inspired writer who believed that Christ was the divine Agent that the Father employed to create and sustain all things:

“He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities — all things were created through him and FOR HIM. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. “ Colossians 1:13-18

“In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the ages. He is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact imprint of his substance, upholding all things by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your fellows.’ And, ‘You, Lord [the Son], did found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all grow old like a garment, like a mantle you will roll them up, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never end.’” Hebrews 1:1-3, 8-12

At the same time, however, the inspired Scriptures are equally clear that only one God created and sustains all things:

“Indeed, I know that this is true. But how can mere mortals prove their innocence before God? Though they wished to dispute with him, they could not answer him one time out of a thousand. His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He ALONE stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea. He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south. He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.” Job 9:1-10

Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again? Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese, clothe me with skin and flesh and knit me together with bones and sinews? You gave me life and showed me kindness, and in your providence watched over my spirit.” Job 10:8-12 – Psalm 139:13-16

“Did not he who made me in the womb make them? Did not the same one form us both within our mothers?” Job 31:15

“This is what the LORD says—your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who ALONE stretches out the heavens, who spreads out the earth BY MYSELF,” Isaiah 44:24 – cf. 40:13-28; 42:5; 45:12, 18-23; 48:13; 64:8

“Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?” Malachi 2:10

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” Acts 17:24-28

“and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” Ephesians 3:9

“Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything.” Hebrews 3:3-4

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11

This is precisely why the historic Christian faith has always affirmed monotheism and outright rejected tritheism. Even though the Holy Bible forces all true believers to accept that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as three eternally distinct divine Persons, these same inspired writings equally forbid the people of God from believing that they are three separate gods.

Further Reading

The Trinity in Genesis 3:5 and 22 https://answeringallah.com/the-trinity-in-genesis-35-and-22/

God in the Garden of Eden Pt. 1 https://answeringallah.com/god-in-the-garden-of-eden-pt-1/

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