Sunday, January 30, 2011

18 New Testament Misconceptions No. 16

#16: Echad as Plurality

“Hear O Israel, YHWH is our Elohim, YHWH is One.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

This is enough evidence, right here, to convince most Jews that there is only One Elohim whose Name is YHWH. Three is not one regardless of how you do the math and that’s the problem. Man’s math and science and tradition as opposed to YHWH’s! Perhaps you’ve heard that in Deuteronomy 6:4 “one” is “echad”, which can mean a unity. If Elohim was exclusively singular, this would read “yachid” which can only mean one. Yes, “echad” does in fact have a compound singularity in it, such as having one synagogue with a hundred people inside. However, the situation is more complicated than this. The fact is, “yachid” is a very rare word, and in Hebrew the number one is “echad”, so it also refers to things that are exclusively singular. This does not mean, however, that Christians are entirely wrong in using “echad” as a pointer to the “Godhead.” Some of the greatest Jewish rabbis, sages and mystics have been doing just that for centuries.

Nevertheless, the reality is that “echad” is pointing to the fact that Elohim is infinite. 1 Kings 8:27 relates this very clearly. Not even the uttermost reaches of the heavens can contain Him. Therefore, we must say “echad” because while He is One, the number one cannot contain Him either. Infinity is greater than one!

On the other hand, Deuteronomy 6:4 agrees with the rest of Scripture which states:

“By the Word of YHWH the Heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth, all their hosts” (Psalm 33:6).

“But a shoot will grow out of the stump of Jesse. A twig shall sprout from his stock. The Spirit of YHWH shall alight upon him: A spirit of wisdom and insight, a spirit of counsel and valour, a spirit of devotion and reverence for YHWH” (Isaiah 11:1-2).

“Listen to Me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am He – I am the first, and I am the last as well. My own hand founded the earth. My right hand spread out the skies” (Isaiah 48:12).

The Spirit of YHWH sends several spirits also from YHWH to alight on a man and the Word of YHWH doing creation but wait – Isaiah says Elohim did that alone! Once again, Elohim is One, and infinity includes everything. That is why Trinity does not work, because it reduces Elohim to the level of His aspects, or the signs of His Infinity.

In the century before the birth of Mashiyach Judaism was an incredibly diverse and variegated phenomenon, with deep disagreements on just about every major issue. This plurality of belief is not only mentioned in detail by the first century historian Josephus (Antiquities 18.1.2) and in the Renewed Covenant Writings with regard to Messianic expectations, (Matthew 16:13-14), but it also permeates almost every aspect of what we know about life in Israel during that period. Even so, and of course acknowledging deep differences of opinion on the identity and power of Mashiyach, Torah – just before the dawn of the Common Era – paints a far different picture of “the Godhead.” Instead of three Marvellous persons, the infinite Elohim has spirits or aspects, and it is these aspects, imbued with His one marvellous nature, that manifest themselves in various ways. This is “echad”, not Trinity.

After the advent of Mashiyach, however, the Natzarim (Acts 24:12-14) revised this picture slightly. To them, the Word of YHWH (‘davar’ in the Hebrew of Psalm 33:6) became the Arm of YHWH, or Mashiyach, (Isaiah 53:1). It is the Arm of YHWH’s job to save (Exodus 6:6). Additionally, the “spirit of council” mentioned in Isaiah 11:1-2, was linked to the Ruach haKodesh that David prayed about (Psalm 51:11); again the main point being, they all came from Elohim and share in the one marvellous nature.

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