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Uniplurality in the Hebrew Scriptures

How the Hebrew Scriptures Show One God with Multiple Persons By. Timothy W. Dunkin

{Note: This article is taken from Dunkin’s now defunct website. I post it here for the benefit of the readers since it is an excellent discussion of the OT evidence for the multi-Personal nature of God.}

One of the most serious disagreements which Jews have with Christian theology concerns the doctrine of the Trinity. “The Tanakh,” it is claimed, “knows nothing of the Trinity.” The Trinity was invented by the early church and was completely unknown in Judaism, so some would assert. However, these are far from true, and in the following, I endeavor to demonstrate that the Hebrew Scriptures affirm the uniplurality of God in a way which prefigures the three-in-one Godhead revealed more fully in HaBrit HaChadassah.

Before embarking on this examination, a brief overview of exactly what is the Trinity is in order. This is necessary because so many out there (especially those who attack the Trinity) do not seem to have the slightest idea of what Christianity really is teaching on this matter. Let us begin what the Trinity is not. Simply put, the Trinity is not “three gods” (tritheism), as some forms of unitarianism (including Islam) teach. My experience has been that those who make the “three gods” claim, especially if they are Muslim, generally do so out of purposeful ignorance, because they are not willing to actually investigate or receive any insight into what Christians are really saying. The Trinity also is not “one God successively appearing as three different modes,” as is taught by modern day modalists such as the Oneness or “Jesus Only” Pentecostals. Modalism, as a general system, teaches that God is one person which reveals Himself at different times as different manifestations, but would reject that God reveals Himself as three separate and distinct manifestations at the same time. Errors such as these abound, though, because the Trinity is a difficult concept to grasp. For this reason, heresies concerning the Trinity were some of the most numerous and persistent in all the early church period.

In contravention to these, the Trinity is a uniplural monotheistic conception of God. It is monotheistic in that New Testament Christianity quite clearly teaches and affirms the sole existence of God as deity (Romans 3:29-30, Galatians 3:20, I Timothy 2:5). At the same time, the New Testament is quite explicit in teaching the deity of the Father (John 17:1-3, I Peter 1:2, etc.), the Son (John 1:1-3, Titus 2:13, etc.), and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4, II Corinthians 3:17-18, etc.). Are these three taught to be separate Gods, and should they be taken as such? Absolutely not. The Trinity, as taught in Scripture and as affirmed by Christianity since its earliest days, consists of three distinct personalities of God which are united in essence and being (Matthew 28:19, II Corinthians 13:14). The three Persons of the Godhead are distinct in function and action, but yet, they share a common essential nature and existence. Thus, while the Father is not the Son is not the Spirit, being distinct personalities of the Godhead, they yet share the common essence of God but are not understood by Christians to be three separate Gods (which would imply heterogeneous essences).

It is for this reason that all three persons of the Godhead can appear together as distinct beings, as in Matthew 3:16-17, a succinct Scriptural refutation of modalism such as taught by the Oneness Pentecostals and other Sabellians. Yet, it can also be said of them, “these three are one” (I John 5:7), as was done by Tertullian and Cyprian so long ago. No picture can be drawn which would completely illustrate this concept, but some can come close. Imagine, if you will, a great river. Our river flows along its course until it reaches a certain point where we cut two additional channels, and the water now flows into all three. One channel leads to a hydroelectric dam, where the water cascades and electricity is generated. The second channel flows into a depression creating a lake where we can fish, swim, and otherwise recreate ourselves. The third channel is used to float logs to a downstream sawmill. After these three channels find their use, they are directed back together, uniting, and continuing on downstream. Though each of these three channels is put to a different use (distinct personality, if you will), they all retain the same essence of being water from this particular river(having the same proportion of dissolved chemicals, oxygen content, etc.) The water in any one channel is the same as that in the other two (but not necessarily the very same as water from some other river in some other channel). They share the same nature and reality, though they each find differing uses, follow differing paths, etc. This is a crude picture of the Godhead, with three personalities of God sharing the same being and essence, yet God manifesting Himself in three distinct ways to interact with mankind according to His purposes.

The point to this article is not to expound upon the New Testament teaching of the Trinity, per se, and as such, I shall refrain from entering too deeply on this subject. However, from the above, it should be easily seen that Christians do not teach either tritheism or modalism. Now, if non-Christians wish to misinterpret what Christians teach on this subject, there is nothing but the threat of cognitive dissonance stopping them. However, the anti-trinitarian of whatever persuasion cannot rightly claim that Christianity has, does, or should teach anything other than the trinitarian uniplurality with which the churches have been familiar for nearly twenty centuries. The reader who has questions and objections about the Christian teaching of the Trinity should find them more than answered at Glenn Miller’s excellent overview of the Trinity.

The Testimony of the Peculiar Hebrew Plural-Singular Grammatical Construction

Now to the matter which concerns us in this article, that of the uniplurality of God which is presented in the Hebrew scriptures. The best place to begin investigating this issue would be in the many places throughout the Hebrew scriptures where we find God referred to as “Elohim,” a masculine plural declension of “Eloah.” Yet, wherever God is concerned, this plural form is coupled with a singular verb construction. Thus, the being of God is spoken of as a plural entity, while yet also as a singular being. This type of singular-with-plural grammatical construction is found in numerous places, with probably the most programmatic being,

“And God [Elohim] said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…. (Genesis 1:26)

The verb “said” in the above verse is a masculine singular, but yet the verb “Elohim” is plural. Incidentally, this verse, as well as the one following, are further of interest because in verse 26, “our image” and “our likeness” take a first person plural (“our”) declension for the noun. Yet, in verse 27, “So God created man in his own image,” “image” has a third person masculine singular (“his”) declension and the verb “created” which is coupled with the plural form “Elohim” has a singular conjugation. The singular God is said to have an “image” in both a singular and a plural sense (“his” image and “our” image) and in both verses, the plural Elohim form is directly coupled with a verb with a singular conjugation. At any rate, other examples of this type of noun-verb number disagreement would include Genesis 3:22, Genesis 11:7, Joshua 24:19, etc. One especially forceful example of this grammatical construction in which the phenomenon is brought to the forefront is in Isaiah 6:8,

“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us….”

Here, the Lord is specifically said to be speaking, and in mid-sentence He changes His self-reference from singular to plural. In this passage, the Lord appears to be seeking to emphasize His uniplural nature. This seems to bear with the context of the passage, as in v. 3 prior, we see the three-fold ascription of holiness to God. These constructions differ pointedly from the places in the Hebrew scriptures where false gods of the nations around Israel are referred to as “elohim” in that the plural noun is nearly always coupled with a plural verb conjugation (with a very few exceptions which will be dealt with below).

These singular-plural constructions have proven perplexing to Jewish commentators at various times. Rav Samuel ben Nachman wrote, expressing his own understanding that the singular-plural constructions tended to support the position of the trinitarian Christians,

“When Moses was engaged in writing the Torah, he had to write the work of each day. When he came to the verse, AND GOD SAID; LET US MAKE MAN, etc., he said: ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Why dost Thou furnish an excuse to heretics?’ (for maintaining a plurality of deity). ‘Write,’ replied He; ‘whoever wishes to err may err.’”1

Nachman saw that Genesis 1:26 was furnishing “an excuse to heretics” in that it gave them reason to believe and teach “a plurality of deity.” His statement against the plurality of the singular deity strongly suggests that he has the trinitarian doctrine in mind. Rabbi Simlai also recognized the difficulty produced by this singular-plural phenomenon, and was at a loss to provide a convincing explanation for it when questioned about it by “heretics.”

“Wherever you find a point supporting the heretics, you find the refutation at its side. They [the heretics] asked him again: ‘What is meant by, AND GOD SAID: LET US MAKE MAN?’ ‘Read what follows,’ replied he: ‘not, “And gods created [email protected]=Y!w^ [plural verb] man” is written here, but “And God created ar*b=Y!w^ [singular verb]’ (Genesis 1:27). When they [the heretics] went out his disciples said to him: ‘Them you have dismissed with a mere makeshift, but how will you answer us?”2

Here, he basically blew some smoke at the “heretics.” They had questioned him about why Genesis 1:26 uses a plural noun with the singular verb conjugation, and he responded with a non-answer where he simply assumes the “elohim” to be singular (simply impossible) and joins it with the singular verb in v. 27, without any explanation as to why the “elohim” in v. 27 was any different than that in v. 26. His pupils recognized the deficiency of his response.

One of the most common arguments forwarded against reliance upon this singular-plural grammatical oddity is to suggest that the plural nouns used to refer to God are in fact the “plural of majesty,” also known as “the royal we.” God was merely speaking of Himself in majestic terms befitting His position and dignity. Unfortunately for the unitarians who make this argument, it has no basis in fact, and is an anachronism of much later usage back onto the earlier Hebrew revelation. As Nassi has pointed out, the Hebrew scriptures show no evidence of any figure using the plural of majesty to refer to themselves, not David, not Pharaoh, not Nebuchadnezzar, nor any others who might rightly be expected to have used this artifice had it existed in their day. Further, Nassi points out that the use by monarchs of “the royal we” always appears in the form of direct commands or addresses, yet the biblical use of “Elohim” finds just as much use in narrative and descriptive passages.3

In fact, the plural of majesty does not even seem to have found any sort of widespread use until the rise of centralized, strong nation states in Europe during the Renaissance. Classics scholar and self-described monarchist Richard Toporoski argues that the artifice first appeared in the reign of Diocletian (284-305 AD), and that its use in Europe was carried on and passed down by the Germanic kings who eventually brought about the fall of the Western Empire.4 Richard Davies also pointed out that the “plural of majesty” did not exist until more modern times, and certainly wasn’t applicable to the Hebrew scriptures.5 Concerning the “plural of majesty,” Genesius states,

“Jewish grammarians call such plurals…plur. virium or virtutum; later grammarians call them plur. excellentiaemagnitudinis, or plur. maiestaticus. This last name may have been suggested by the ‘we’ used by kings when speaking of themselves (cf. already I Macc. 10:19, 11:31); and the plural used by God in Genesis 1:26, and 11:7, Isaiah 6:8 has been incorrectly explained in this way…It is best explained as a plural of self-deliberation. The use of the plural as a form of respectful address is quite foreign to Hebrew.”6

Even within strictly rabbinical sources, the plural of majesty was not considered to be a really viable explanation for these troublesome passages. Ibn Ezra quotes Rav Saadiah Gaon’s commentary on Genesis where that commentator attempts to explain Genesis 1:26 on the basis of a majestic plural artifice. Ibn Ezra refutes this view, and suggests that God was speaking to the angels in consultation instead.7 Ibn Ezra’s position, often itself suggested by modern Jewish and other unitarian expositors, fails both because of it would ultimately suggest that the angels share the same “image” as God, and also because Isaiah 40:12-14 clearly denies that there was any others besides Himself from whom He took counsel in creation.

Another objection forwarded by unitarians is that there are instances in the Hebrew scriptures where other beings besides God are referred to as “elohim” and coupled with a singular verb conjugation or other grammatical part. This can be found in reference to various false gods such as Dagon (Judges 16:23, I Samuel 5:7), Chemosh (Judges 11:24), Baal (I Kings 18:24), and Baal-Zebub (II Kings 1:2) and to the spirit of Samuel (I Samuel 28:13). Moses is also referred to in this manner (Exodus 4:16), and a similar construction using the plural “adoney” (lit. lords of) is applied to Joseph as master of Egypt (Genesis 42:33).

What first needs to be understood is that, statistically speaking, these examples are insignificant. The vast majority of places where “elohim” is used to refer to something other than God, the grammatical construct is entirely plural. What makes these scattered examples even less significant is when we weigh them against the 2500+ times in which the singular-plural construction is used with “Elohim” where God clearly is the referent, either specified or contextually. This dichotomy strongly suggests that we are being directed to the peculiar use of this artifice with respect to God.

There is some suggestion that “intensifying plurals” may find use in the Hebrew scriptures (these not being “plurals of majesty” in the normally understood sense, however.)

“A plural form of the Heb. noun eloah describing Deity. Some erroneously regard it as the plural of El (q.v.), but it is not from the same root. It is usually translated ‘God,’ although sometimes it is a true plural and must be understood as “gods” (Ex 12:12; Gen 35:2,4; Deut 29:18; 32:17). It is sometimes applied to men as God’s representatives (ex 21:6, RSV; 22:8-9,28, RSV). The term may refer to angels (Ps 8:5, cf. RSV; 82:1), although these passages are debated. Usually elohim takes a singular verb. However, it seems occasionally to govern a plural form of the verb (Gen 20:13; 35:7; II Sam 7:23; Ps 58:11, Heb.). What is the significance of this apparent inconsistency? Some would regard it as evidence of the polytheistic origin of the term. In fact, other people of the same era used divine titles in a similar way. The Akkad. plural ilanu (gods) was applied to a single deity. Pharaoh was addressed as ilania (“my gods”) by his Canaanite vassals in the Amarna letters. In the OT the plural Elohim is applied to Chemosh, the god of the Ammonites (Jud 11:24); Ashtoreth, the goddess of Sidon (I Kgs 11:5); and Baal-Zebub of Ekron (II Kgs 2:1).

“The significant fact, however, is not the origin of the word, for this cannot be definitely known. Rather, it is the way it is used of Israel’s God in the OT. When used of Yahweh, it refers to the sole God of the world, who is addressed in the plural as the fullness of Deity…..”8

Freedman notes also,

“The striking feature of the OT texts lies in the use of this plural form Elohim in order to designate the one God of Israel. One could think of a plural of majesty; however, it is most probable that this plural should be understood in the sense of an intensification and eventually as an absolutization: God of gods, the highest God, quintessence of all divine powers, the only God who represents the divine in a comprehensive and absolute way. In this function the term Elohim can stand as a surrogate for the name of the biblical God; e.g., Gen 1:1 (P): In the beginning Elohim created the heaven and the earth.”9

Even with this, however, it seems to be suggestive that this intensification would be practiced so freely with God, but yet would be so scattered with other figures in the Bible to whom it would rightly (though perhaps not as intensively) be applied. This intensification which is applied to God over 2500 times makes barely a whimper towards anyone else, even though the Hebrew scriptures seem to show no qualms about applying other honorifics which are used of God to men as well (king, lord, master, etc.) Further, outside of the Hebrew writings, this structure is rare in other Ancient Near East documents. In fact, in nearly all Ancient Near East documents from outside Israel, plural forms refer to plural referents, not to either a “plural of majesty” or an intensive pluralization, with a few exceptions mentioned above by Francisco. This all suggests that the extensive Hebrew usage is signifying something out of the norm, and that its use goes far beyond a simple intensifying plural.

Further, in the examples given above as being raised in objection by unitarians, we see that these need not necessarily be considered as independent examples of one other than God being referred to with intensifying language. For instance, the references to the various false gods (Chemosh, Dagon, the Baals) are presented in a dialogical and narrative format. They were part of accounts being rendered for Israelite readers. As such, it would seem logical that these accounts would be written so as to present the information in a way which would appear most familiar and therefore understandable to the Israelites. The passages involved would be trying to emphasize to their readership what these false gods were supposed to be to their Philistines and Moabites worshippers. Just as Israel viewed YHWH to be the Highest God, their Lord, their Master, etc., so the pagans viewed their gods in similar terms. What better way to emphasize this to Israelite readers than to couch the terminology in such a way that they would most readily identify with. It is almost as if the text is implicitly saying, “Israelites! Just as YOU think of the Lord our Elohim, so do these pagans think of THEIR gods.” An analogous situation would be for the Christian today who thinks of God, and for whom a writing might give the Muslim deity Allah the title “god,” so that the Christian can identify and understand what Muslims believe about their own object of worship.

The use of “elohim” in I Samuel 28:13 is perhaps related, and may reflect a carrying over of Canaanite usage into Hebrew so as to aid in Israelite understanding of the events portrayed. In this passage, Saul has consulted the witch of En-Dor, who calls up the spirit of Samuel. When Samuel appears, the witch is frightened, and cries out, “I saw gods (elohim) ascending out of the earth.” This plural reference to the spirit of Samuel is taken by some to be evidence against the notion that “elohim” reflects a uniplural understanding of the Godhead, since Samuel obviously only had one spirit. However, del Olmo Lete informs us of some specifics of the Canaanite pantheon, in which the gods ilhm (thought to be cognate with “elohim”) appear. The ilhm do not find a place among the major gods in the pantheon, which argues against the idea of ilhm being a “majestic plural.” He suggests that the ilhm were kings who had been deified after death.10 Now, the witch at En-Dor likely resided in an area still more heavily populated with the indigenous Canaanites, since 28:3 tells us that Saul had made a purge of witches and wizards prior to this consultation. This purge, naturally, would have been less effective in an area still not fully secured by the Israelites, which we know was the case in some places well into the time of David (e.g. which is why David still had to conquer Jerusalem from the Jebusites). This witch may have either been Canaanite herself, or else an Israelite who had apostatized and fallen into the practice of necromancy. When this witch brought up the spirit of Samuel, she may have assumed that he was one of the ilhm found in Canaanite mythology, and even have thought others would be coming up with him. Hence, her use of a plural word like “elohim” to describe the entity brought before her.

The use of intensive language to refer to Moses and Joseph (who is not specifically called an “elohim,” but is referred to with the similar “adoney”) reflects the issue of relativestatus, and does not reflect anything indicative about God Himself either way. Moses was being told that he would be a “god” unto Pharaoh, which as God’s messenger for the task, meant that Moses would be performing the miracles, etc. which would make him appear to wield and have on call much more power than Pharaoh could muster. Further, as YHWH’s representative through whom He dealt with Pharaoh, Moses was vicariously invested with the authority of God, as manifested to Pharaoh, and thus could have been (relatively) understood in terms of “elohim” to Pharaoh, as Elohim was to the Israelites (like our example concerning the false gods above). Indeed, it seems possible, given what was seen above about Pharaoh being referred to as ilania by his vassals, that Moses’ being called “elohim” may have been an implicit slap at Pharaoh’s pretentions. Likewise, Joseph’s intensification comes as a result of the much greater power (of life and death!) which he held over his brothers and the entire land of Egypt, which in a vicarious and figurative sense would have made him appear to wield the same sort of power as the Lord (Adonai) did, thus why the term was used by Joseph’s brethren in describing to Jacob the events of their visit to Egypt.

Because of these, we should see that the use of “elohim” and other supposedly intensifying language may not actually be “intensifying” beyond the simple fact that this sort of “god-like” language is being used to help Israelite readers better understand what they were dealing with. Hence, these might not be independent examples of “intensifying pluralization,” and as there is then no basis for comparison, there is really no necessity to consider the singular-plural usage of Elohim with regard to God as an intensifying plural.

Ultimately, we should recognize that the use of the plural “elohim” is in and of itself not a proof for the uniplurality of the Godhead, but it is suggestive of that fact, especially when combined with the appearance in the Hebrew scriptures of apparent interpersonality within God Himself.

“The significant fact, however, is not the origin of the word, for this cannot be definitely known. Rather, it is the way it is used of Israel’s God in the OT. When used of Yahweh, it refers to the sole God of the world, who is addressed in the plural as the fullness of Deity. We can be sure that no polytheistic elements are allowed to appear in Gen 1. Yet, it is here that the plural is most obvious (Gen 1:26). Regardless of one’s explanation of the reason for the plural emphasis here, he cannot ignore the plain meaning of the passage. In some sense God is plural; yet He is also singular (cf. the singular verbs in v. 27). Although the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is not taught in the chapter, it emerges from it.”11

Multipersonality in the Godhead

As Francisco stated above, there is a testimony of multipersonality with the Godhead (a term here used to refer simply to the nature and being of God, not the more specific Christian sense of “Trinity”). A survey of some relevant passages in the Hebrew scriptures will hopefully illuminate this point.

Genesis 19:24, “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;”

In this passage, we clearly see two distinct aspects of YHWH (appears in both places in the Hebrew text) acting in concert, yet as distinct personalities. One YHWH is the active element, raining the fire down upon Sodom and Gomorrah. The other YHWH is the passive originator of that fire. This construction is very unusual for the Hebrew Scriptures, with God’s actions presented in the third person as acting upon God in another third person manifestation. That these two YHWHs were understood as distinct personalities by early Jewish commentarians is shown in that the Targum of Jonathan at this verse inserts “the Memra of the Lord” in place of the first YHWH.

Genesis 48:15-16, “And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads…”

Here, Jacob is calling upon God to bless his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh, and he refers back to God’s prior provision, while calling the angel of the LORD with whom he had so many dealing AS God, equating the two. Jacob remembers that God had fed him all his life long, and that the angel had redeemed him from evil, in the parallel construction commonly found in Hebrew, whereby a statement is made, and then restated using different terms. Thus, he seems to be referring to God and to this hypostatic messenger both as being God.

Isaiah 48:12-17, “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things? The LORD hath loved him: he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans. I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him: I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous. Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me. Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.”

Here, the LORD God, the Redeemer of Israel, is speaking, identifies Himself as “the first and the last” (a title for God, Isaiah 44:6), and yet refers to “the Lord God” and “his Spirit” as seemingly separate beings which have “sent” Him (i.e. interacted with Him in a personal way). Thus, He is the Lord God, and yet, the Lord God and His Spirit, have both sent Him. Again, we note that this construction of third person God apparently interacting with third person God is extremely unusual in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is not a typical way in which God is referenced.

Isaiah 63:7-11, “I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where is he that put his holy Spirit within him?”

Here, we again see indication of separate personality which is tied in with God. The Lord was the Saviour of the children of Israel, yet “the angel of his presence” also saved them, and their rebellion “vexed” His holy Spirit, indicating personality on the part of that Spirit…how can an impersonal object be “vexed”?

Hosea 1:7, “But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.”

Again, we see one who is identified (v. 3) as YHWH utilizing another who is called “YHWH Eloheyhem” (note the plural construction there!) to save the house of Judah.

Additionally, we see the Hebrew Scriptures containing several passages in which the “angel of the LORD” (hw*hy= Ea^l=m^) is spoken to, dealt with, or acts in ways which befit God alone.

Genesis 16:7-13, “And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. And he said, Hagar, Sarai’s maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?”

Hagar is visited by the angel of the LORD, and is given a promise for her son Ishmael similar to that which God gave to Abraham for Isaac. In v. 12, she calls upon “the name of the LORD that spake unto her,” suggesting that this angel is a hypostasis of the LORD Himself. Normally in the Hebrew scriptures, when a non-divine messenger is relaying a message from God, it is clearly indicated in the text that the messenger cannot be confused with God (such as when a prophet states, “the word of the LORD came unto me, saying…” or “The LORD spake unto Moses saying…”).

Genesis 32:28-30, “And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

In our passage above, after wrestling with the angel all night, Jacob states that he had “seen God face to face.” That phrase leaves no doubt that Jacob understood the angel to BE God, for he had seen no other entity BUT that angel “face to face” in that episode. Further, when Jacob asked the angel His name, the angel said, “Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?” This could indicate to us that the angel was emphasizing to Jacob that he ALREADY KNEW His name, since the angel had just renamed Jacob “Israel” (meaning “he will rule as God”), and told him that he had power with God as well as with men. Jacob thus inferred from this answer that he was dealing with God then and there, leading to his exclamation in v. 30.

Joshua 5:13-15, “And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.”

Here, Joshua is confronted by the captain of the Lord’s host, appearing in the form of a man, who commands him to remove his shoes because of holy ground. As can be seen from the incident of the burning bush with Moses, what makes ground holy is the immediate presence of God, as He calls and directs His servants for some special service (see Exodus 3, also Isaiah 6). This suggests that the captain of the Lord’s hosts was informing Joshua as to who He was, in a way which Joshua (being Moses’ tutelary) would have readily understood.

Judges 13:3-22, “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son….But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.” (v.3, 21-22)

In this portion, Manoah and his wife are dealt with by the angel of the LORD. After being instructed on how to raise the child they would be given, the angel of the LORD “does wondrously” when they offer up a kid to God, and ascends into heaven from the flames of the altar. After this, Manoah realizes who they had really been interacting with, and exclaimed that they had “seen God.” One other interesting portion of this passage is v. 16, “And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD.” Here, the angel of the LORD directs Manoah to offer the kid to the LORD, which would seem to suggest that the angel was disclaiming Himself from being the LORD. However, the verse explicitly states that Manoah did not yet realize that the stranger was the angel of the LORD, and for him to make the offering to the angel of the LORD would, for all intents and purposes, have been idolatry in Manoah’s heart. The angel knew this and was commanding Manoah to abstain from what, to him, would at that particular time have been a possible temptation to idolatry.

Zechariah 3:1-5, “And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD stood by.”

Here, the angel of the LORD appears to Joshua the high priest. The angel performs the act of cleansing Joshua from his iniquities, which is something only God can do (Isaiah 43:25).

In these and other places, we see that the Targumim (Aramaic commentarian translations of the Hebrew scriptures made mostly during the intertestamental period) would often interpret these places where God appears to display multiple distinct persons by substituting “the MEMRA of the LORD” (Memra is Aramaic for “word”) in place of one of the persons of YHWH. This seems to indicate that the Targumists understood there to be distinct persons of God acting in concert, sharing the same essence of Godhead. Further, the substitution of “Memra of the LORD” would often be made where “angel of the LORD” is found in the Hebrew text, which suggests the understanding that the angel of the LORD was a manifestation of God Himself, with the messenger being so closely associated with the sender of the message as to be considered a divine hypostasis (see my article on Jeremiah 23:5-6 for more detail).

We see that this interpretation did find some support among the rabbis living before the modern age. Rav Simeon ben Jochai states concerning the Angel of the LORD,

“There is a perfect Man, who is an Angel. This Angel is Metatron, the Keeper of Israel; He is a man in the image of the Holy One, blessed be He, who is an Emanation from Him; yea, He is Jehovah; of Him cannot be said, He is created, formed or made; but He is the Emanation from God. This agrees exactly with what is written, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Of tsemach dwd, David’s Branch, that though He shall be a perfect man, yet He is The Lord our Righteousness.”12

Further, Rav Moses be Nachman says,

“It is said: An Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire, and (Elohim) God called unto him. This is all one, namely, whether he saith The Angel, or (Elohim) God spake to him out of the midst of the bush. . . Therefore be not astonished that Moses hid his face before this Angel; because this Angel mentioned here is the Angel, the Redeemer, concerning whom it is written; I am the God of Bethel; and here, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. It is the same of whom it is said, My name is in Him.”13

As such, the understanding of the angel of the LORD as being YHWH Himself cannot be explained away solely as a Christian innovation.

The Testimony of the Sh’ma

Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:”

Sh’ma Yisrael YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Echad

Deuteronomy 6:4 is part of the great Jewish confession of faith known as the Sh’ma. It was a great commitment of faithfulness made on the part of Israel to God, and is often considered to be the foundational statement of Jewish monotheism. As such, this verse is also one which many unitarian apologists, Jewish or otherwise, turn to in their efforts to put a difference between the testimony of the Hebrew scriptures and that of HaBrit HaChadassah.

However, far from opposing the idea of uniplurality in the Godhead, the Sh’ma is actually somewhat supportive of this concept. What must be understood is that the fact that the Sh’ma says that God is one does not have much bearing on the issue of uniplurality versus strict unitarianism. It is referring to God being “one” in the sense of uniqueness, set apart from all others which are called gods. He has no peers, no equals, none who can rightly and justly share the name and preeminence of “God” with Him. It, in its natural context, says nothing about God being “unitarian.”

The uniplurality of God is suggested, however, by the use of “echad” in the Sh’ma, which is a word for “one” which is indicative of compounded unity, rather than absolute, monolithic oneness. The consistent use throughout the Hebrew scriptures is of this sort: either describing a “one” which is made up of many (such as a bunch of grapes) or a one which is part of many like to it (such as one sheep among a whole flock of sheep). Given the consistent and vigorous emphasis of the Hebrew scriptures upon the uniqueness and monotheism of God, it is highly unlikely that the latter is meant with “echad” in the Sh’ma. But, the former fits in quite well with the multipersonal data seen above from other passages of Scripture. The word also is used in the strictly ordinal sense, as a number, which in no way detracts from the “compound” overtones of the word as they plainly appear throughout the Hebrew scriptures. Wolf says concerning this word,

“This word occurs 960 times as a noun, adjective, or adverb, as a cardinal or ordinal number, often used in a distributive sense. It is closely identified with yachad “to be united” [ed. note: not the same as yachid, see below] and with ro’sh “first, head,” especially in connection with the “first day” of the month (Gen 8:13). It stresses unity while recognizing diversity within that oneness….. The concept of unity is related to the tabernacle, whose curtains are fastened together to form one unit (Ex 26:6, 11; 36:13). Adam and Eve are described as “one flesh” (Gen 2:24), which includes more than sexual unity. In Gen 34:16 the men of Shechem suggest intermarriage with Jacob’s children in order to become ‘one people.’

“Later, Ezekiel predicted that the fragmented nation of Israel would someday be reunited, as he symbolically joined two sticks (37:17). Once again Judah and Ephraim would be one nation with one king (37:22). Abraham was viewed as ‘the one’ from whom all the people descended (Isa 51:2; Mal 2:15), the one father of the nation.

“Diversity within unity is also seen from the fact that ehad has a plural form, ahadim. It is translated ‘a few days’ in Gen 27:44; 29:20, and Dan 11:20. In Gen 11:1 the plural modifies ‘words’: ‘the whole earth used the same language and the same words.’ Apparently it refers to the same vocabulary, the same set of words spoken by everyone at the tower of Babel. The first ‘same’ in Gen 11:1 is singular, analogous to ‘the same law’ of the Passover applying to native-born and foreigner (Ex 12:49; cf. Num 15:16), or to the ‘one law’ of sure death for approaching the Persian king without invitation (Est 4:11).

“In the famous Shema of Deut 6:4, ‘Hear, O Israel…the LORD is one,’ the question of diversity within unity has theological implications. Some scholars have felt that, though ‘one’ is singular, the usage of the word allows for the doctrine of the Trinity. While it is true that this doctrine is foreshadowed in the OT, the verse concentrates on the fact that there is one God and that Israel owes exclusive loyalty to Him (Deut 5:9; 6:5). The NT also is strictly monotheistic while at the same time teaching diversity with the unity (Jas 2:19; I Cor 8:5-6).”14

Several interesting points are thus made. Wolf notes that the Sh’ma concentrates upon the uniqueness of God, not upon the unity of God as it relates to diversity-within-unity, a later emphasis which did not arise until the Medieval period. “Echad” in the Sh’ma can engender a oneness drawn from a greater diversity which I mentioned above in that God can be considered as “one” among the many objects of worship that man might choose from, He is “one” from among the “many,” the true being separated out from the mass of false gods. This sense would seem to correlate with the emphasis which the context of the Sh’ma passage puts on the LORD being Israel’s object of worship, and the fidelity which Israel must give to God, putting away all false idols. However, the converse sense of compound oneness, that of a diversity within God’s one, can also certainly be understood from the Sh’ma, as it uses that word “echad” which is so many times elsewhere used with the specific intent of indicating compounded unity, coupled with the manifested multipersonality within God’s revealed nature which was seen above.

Wolf elsewhere notes in his article that “echad” can be used to refer to “one,” in the sense of a certain, individual. He gives the examples of Solomon alone being chosen by the LORD (I Chronicles 29:1), a certain individual being chosen (Judges 13:2), or a certain blessing being given (Genesis 27:38). None of this is necessarily contrary to the diversity-unity concept of “echad,” as we should note that Solomon was chosen alone from among David’s other sons, Solomon’s erstwhile peers. Likewise, the reference to Manoah in Judges 13:2 refers to him from among the larger body of Danites, and the one blessing which Esau begged for from his father in Genesis 27:38 is framed in such a way as to suggest that there were a number of possible blessings which Isaac could bestow upon his unfortunate son.

Adding to the force of diversity-unity for “echad” is that Wolf also notes several places where phrases like “as one man” are used in a compound sense to describe a national or tribal body (Numbers 14:15, Judges 20:8, I Samuel 11:7). Zephaniah 3:9 speaks of the people serving God “with one shoulder,” suggesting the idea that they served God “shoulder to shoulder,” with a united purpose and activity. In Exodus 24:3, Israel entered God’s covenant “with one voice.”

Given above were several representative examples of how “echad” appears in the Hebrew scriptures in a distributive sense. Even when it is used in a cardinal or ordinal manner, it often carries with it an implied “one from among many” sense. However, unitarians have attempted to provide some pushback verses in the Hebrew scriptures which purport to show a non-diverse sense of the word “one.” Most of these, however, only address the use of “echad” in one of its two diversity-unity senses, that of a group of aggregate parts making up a whole. They yet fail to address the sense of one unit being spoken of from among a larger group of like things. Typical examples of verses provided by Jewish and other unitarian rebuttal literature are:

“And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.” (Exodus 9:7)“And it came to pass, while they were in the way, that tidings came to David, saying, Absalom hath slain all the king’s sons, and there is not one of them left.” (II Samuel 13:30)

“So shall we come upon him in some place where he shall be found, and we will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground: and of him and of all the men that [are] with him there shall not be left so much as one.” (II Samuel 17:12)

“There is one [alone], and [there is] not a second; yea, he hath neither child nor brother: yet [is there] no end of all his labour; neither is his eye satisfied with riches; neither [saith he], For whom do I labour, and bereave my soul of good? This [is] also vanity, yea, it [is] a sore travail.” (Ecclesiastes 4:8)

In each of these, the “one” is part of a larger aggregate of like objects. The “one” of the cattle of the Israelites is drawn out as a representative from that whole body of animals. The “one” in “not one” of the king’s sons left alive, objectifies a single theoretical son from among the body of all David’s sons, and the same sense is seen in II Samuel 17:12 where not one man is left from among an original group of men. Contextually, Ecclesiastes 4:8 is speaking of one who is alone, but is drawn from among the “two” seen in v. 9. In each case, no argument can be made for an absolutist unity such as is taught by unitarians today.

Now, there is a word which could conceivably be used to more definitely indicate monolithic unity in the Godhead, and this is “yachid,” a word indicating “onliness” (though this is not necessarily that definitive either). Gilchrist tells us that the word,

“Appears eleven times (KJV twice uses ‘darling,’ RSV renders ‘my life’ following the poetic parallel with naphsi or Ps 22:20, [H 21]; 35:17 (NIV ‘my precious life’) and ‘desolate’ in Ps 68:6 [H 7] (ASV follows KJV). LXX translates it seven times with agapetos ‘beloved’ and four times with monogenes ‘only begotten.’ The Ugaritic cognate is yhd. Theologically, yahid is important as it impinges on NT Christology. The word basically refers to an only child (cf. Ug yhd ‘either “a person without kith or kin” or “an only son” subject to military service only under extenuating circumstances,’ UT 19: no. 410).15 Jephthah’s daughter is described accordingly, ‘now she was his one and only child, besides her he had neither son nor daughter’ (Jud 11:34). Consider the pathos elicited in Amos 8:10 where the judgment of God is described as ‘a time of mourning for an only son’ (cf. Jer 6:26; Zech 12:10). However, in Gen 22 Abraham is told, ‘take now your son, you only son (yahid), whom you love (‘ahab), Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah.’ Here the LXX uses agapetos rather than monogenes ‘only begotten’ as in Jud 11:34. monogenes may be more specific. If so, it could not apply to Isaac who had Ishmael as a half brother. It must be pointed out, however, that even monogenes may ‘be used more generally without reference to its etymological derivation in the sense of “unique,” “unparalleled,” “incomparable,”‘ (TDNT, IV, p. 738; see especially nn.5-6).

“In what sense is Isaac a yahid = agapetos? Obviously, an only child is especially dear to parents. It is tempting to see here the idea of ‘incomparable’ and ‘without parallel’ anticipating the Messiah in his ‘unique’ relationship to the Father who claims him as ho huios mou ho agapetos ‘my beloved son’ (Mt 3:17; 17:5 and parallels). This expression finds its equivalence in John’s ho monogenes huios ‘the only begotten son’ i.e. “the unique son” (Jn 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; I Jn 4:9). The supreme act of God is evidence of His love for the world. This was prophetically typified by Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. In Ps 22:20 and 35:17 yahid = monogenes is variously translated ‘my darling,’ ‘my only life,’ referring to the uniqueness of the soul.”16

Thus, we see that “yachid” takes on some very specific meanings of “only,” which while not directly affirming the unitarian belief about God, does seem to lend itself more readily to that opinion. “Yachid,” however, can quite easily refer to “onliness” in the sense of “uniqueness” as we saw above, and its intentions clearly seem to describe, whether literally or figuratively, solitary entities, not necessarily unitarian ones.

We should note that the “compound oneness” overtones of “echad” were obvious enough to be noticeable to Jewish theological observers in times past, even if rabbis today will not admit the implications of “echad.” Later commentarians who translated the works of Moses Maimonides, a medieval Jewish scholar and commentarian, rendered “yachid” in place of “echad” for his citation of the Sh’ma. To be charitable, this translation was probably not due to a purposeful sectarian motive, since we can understand the reasoning for this alteration to be the desire to even more strongly affirm the sole position and uniqueness of Israel’s God, over and against a drive to define a strict and novel unitarian view of God. The translation may have even been taking a surreptitious swipe at the Muslims in whose lands Maimonides and his commentators lived, emphasizing to the Jewish people in Muslim lands that their God was the correct one, in opposition to the Islamic dogma that Allah is the same being as the God of the previous Scriptures, thus acting as an inoculant against assimilation.

Regardless of what the true purpose was for this change, we certainly can see that it has become a foundation for the modern unitarianism of Judaism. This unitarianism, however, is a development since Maimonides’ time, and runs contrary to the testimony of earlier Jewish theological sources, and even some after him.

“Hear, O Israel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai is one. These three are one. How can the three Names be one? Only through the perception of faith; in the vision of the Holy Spirit, in the beholding of the hidden eye alone….So it is with the mystery of the threefold Divine manifestations designated by Adonai Eloheinu Adonai – three modes which yet form one unity.”17

Surprisingly, the above quotation is not from a Christian source, but is rather from a 1st century AD Jewish book, the Zohar, written by Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai and his son Rabbi Eliezar. The Zohar contains several other “uncomfortable” passages for the rabbis and for unitarians.

“‘Come and see the mystery of the word YHVH: there are three steps, each existing by itself: nevertheless they are One, and so united that one cannot be separated from the other. The Ancient Holy One is revealed with three heads, which are united into one, and that head is three exalted. The Ancient One is described as being three: because the other lights emanating from him are included in the three. But how can three names be one? Are they really one because we call them one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.’18  We have said in many places, that this daily form of prayer is one of those passages concerning the Unity, which is taught in the Scriptures. In Deut. 6:4, we read first YHWH Yehovah, then, Eloheinu our God, and again, YHWH Yehovah, which together make one Unity. But how can three Names [three beings] be one? Are they verily one, because we call them one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and, in fact, with closed eyes. This is also the mystery of the voice. The voice is heard only as one sound, yet it consists of three substances, fire, wind, and water, but all three are one, as indicated through the mystery of the voice. Thus are (Deut. 6:4) Yehovah our-Elohim, Yehovah is one!, but One Unity, three Substantive Beings which are One; and this is indicated by the voice which are One; and this is indicated by the voice which a person uses in reading the words, Hear, O Israel, thereby comprehending with the understanding the most perfect Unity of Him who is infinite; because all three (Jehovah, Elohim, Jehovah) are read with one voice, which indicates a Trinity. And this is the daily confession of faith of the unity, which is revealed by the Holy Spirit in a mystery. Although there are so many persons united in the unity, yet each person is a true-one; what the one does, that the other does.”19

“Here is the secret of two names combined which are completed by a third and become one again. And God said Let us make Man. It is written, The secret of the Lord is to them that fear him (Psalm 25:14). That most reverend Elder opened an exposition of this verse by saying Simeon Simeon, who is it that said: “Let us make man?” Who is this Elohim? With these words the most reverend Elder vanished before anyone saw him … Truly now is the time to expound this mystery, because certainly there is here a mystery which hitherto it was not permitted to divulge, but now we perceive that permission is given. He then proceeded: We must picture a king who wanted several buildings to be erected, and who had an architect in his service who did nothing save with his consent. The king is the supernal wisdom above, the Central Column being the king below: Elohim is the architect above … and Elohim is also the architect below, being as such the Divine Presence (Shekinah) of the lower world.”20

“All those supernal lights exist in their image below some of them in their image below upon the earth; but in themselves they are all suspended in the firmament of the heaven. Here is the secret of two names combined which are completed by a third and become one again. ‘And God said, Let us make Man ….’”21

Is it any wonder that rabbinical students in many schools are discouraged from studying the Zohar? Yet, the early testimony to a uniplural understanding of God does not end with the Zohar.

“‘There are ‘Three’, but each exists by Himself.’22 ‘When God created the world, He created it through the Three Sephiroth, namely, through Sepher, Sapher and Vesaphur, by which the Three Beings are meant . . . The Rabbi, my Lord Teacher of blessed memory, explained Sepher, Sapher, and Sippur, to be synonymous to Ya, Yehovah, and Elohim meaning to say, that the world was created by these three names.”23

“… the exalted Shechinah comprehends the Three highest Sephiroth; of Him (God) it is said, (Ps. 62:11), ‘God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this.’ Once and twice means the Three exalted Sephiroth, of whom it is said: Once, once, and once; that is, Three united in One. This is the mystery.”24

“‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.’ This verse is the root of our faith, therefore Moses records it after the ten commandments. The reason (that there is said YHWH, Lord, Eloheinu, our God, and YHWH, Lord) is, because the word SHEMA [ed. note sh’ma] does not here signify ‘Hear’ but to gather together, to unite, as in 1 Samuel 15:4, ‘Saul gathered together the people.’ The meaning implied is The Inherent-Ones are so united together, one in the other without end, they being the exalted God. He mentions the three names mystically to indicate the three exalted original Ones.”25

Rabbi Bechai, commenting on Genesis 1:1, states that,

“…the word Elohim is compounded of two words, that is, ‘These are God.’ The plural is expressed by the letter yod (y).”26

These statements clearly show that the current radical unitarianism of Judaism was not always the case among earlier Jewish theologians and religious masters. What needs to be understood is that much of the early Jewish contention with Christianity did not necessarily centre upon the Christian idea of uniplurality in God, but rather upon the specific claim that Yeshua of Nazareth was the Messiah and that He was God. Some “anti-missionaries” such as Tovia Singer attempt to rebut the point from these quotations by early rabbis by claiming that they are “taken out of context.” This argument, however, is a stopgap designed to discourage would-be investigators from searching out the matter of what the early rabbis had to say (on this as well as a number of other issues). It is also something of a red herring. Often, early Jewish writings, especially many portions of the Talmud, are in a format more like a compilation than anything else, and have little in the way of “context” in the sense of an continuous and connected flow of thought. Many of the writings are sectioned by topic, and within these sections, the quotations which Christians use certainly are “in context.” Further, we should note that those who originally brought these statements by the early rabbis to the attention of the larger world were themselves rabbis, men who had intensively studied the very writings and theology under discussion.


The Trinity is one of the doctrines held by the Christian faith which is most-oft attacked by unitarians, especially Jewish teachers who regard it as inimical to God as He has revealed Himself in the Hebrew Scriptures. However, the testimony of those very same scriptures punctures this preconception. We can quite clearly see that the testimonies of multipersonality as it appears manifested in the Godhead, the unique and telling grammatical plural-with-singular construction relating to God, and the Sh’ma with its use of “echad,” all combine to paint a definite picture of plurality of manifestation within the framework of the unity of the one and only God. This, further, was recognized by many early Jewish writers and teachers who frankly discussed their interpretations of various portions of scripture along these lines, including the all-important Sh’ma. Far from being a later Christian invention, the uniplurality of God was well-known within Judaism, even in the time of Christ. The early Christians, most of whom for the first few decades were themselves Jews, were merely following a continuity of theological illumination which was inherited from the rabbis and commentators of Israel before them, and which was to continue on both in the early churches, and also in the later Jewish teachers. The shift from emphasizing God as a unique and sole deity to emphasizing Him as an absolute internal unity is of fairly recent derivation.

End Notes

(1) – Rabbi Samuel ben Nachman in Genesis Rabbah, VIII.8, p. 59
(2) – Rabbi Simlai, Genesis Rabbah, VIII.9, p. 60
(3) – T. Nassi, The Great Mystery, p. 6
(4) – R. Toporoski, “What was the origin of the royal ‘we’ and why is it no longer used?,” Times of London, May 29, 2002. Ed. F1, p. 32
(5) – R. Davies, Doctrine of the Trinity, p. 227
(6) – F.H.W. Genesius, Hebrew Grammar, eds. E. Kautzsch and A.E. Cowley, p. 398
(7) – Ibn Ezra, Commentary on the Pentateuch, at Genesis 1:26
(8) – C.T. Francisco, Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, eds. C.F. Pfeiffer, J. Rhea, and H.F. Vos., Vol. I, p. 523, “elohim”
(9) – D.N. Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. II, “elohim”
(10) – G. del Olmo Lete, Canaanite Religion According to the Liturgical Texts of Ugarit, throughout the first chapter
(11) – C.T. Francisco, Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, ed. C.F. Pfeiffer, J. Rhea, and H.F. Vos, Vol. I, p. 523, “elohim”
(12) – Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai, The Propositions of the Zohar, cap. xxxviii, Amsterdam edition
(13) – Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, Commentary on the Pentateuch, at Genesis 22:11
(14) – H. Wolf, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, eds. R.L. Harris, G.L. Archer, and B.K. Waltke, Vol. I, Aleph-Mem, p.30
(15) – UT = C.H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook
(16) – P.R. Gilchrist, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, eds. R.L. Harris, G.L. Archer, and B.K. Waltke, Vol. I, Aleph-Mem, pp. 372-373
(17) – Zohar, Vol. III, p. 134, Soncino Press ed.
(18) – Zohar, Vol. III, p. 134, Soncino Press ed.
(19) – Zohar, Vol. II, p. 43, Soncino Press ed.
(20) – Zohar, Vol. I, pp. 90-91, Soncino Press ed.
(21) – Zohar, Vol. I, pp. 90-91, Soncino Press ed.
(22) – Rabbi Eliezer Hakkalir, The Book of Creation, p. 89
(23) – Rabbi Eliezer Hakkalir, The Book of Creation, pp. 28-29
(24) – Propositions of the Zohar, Vol. III, p.113, Amsterdam ed.
(25) – Rabbi Menachem of Recanati, Commentary on the Pentateuch, p. 267, at Deuteronomy 6:4, Venice ed.
(26) – Rabbi Bechai, Commentary on the Pentateuch, p. 2, col. 1, at Genesis 1:1

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