THE UNITY OF THE DIVINE PERSONALITIES
THOUGH there are more personalities than one in the Divine Being, they form a unity of which the Scriptures constantly speak. David, the great king of Israel, in his memorable prayer (II Sam. 7:22) declares the unity of God: עַל־כֵּן גָּדַלְתָּ יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים כִּי־אֵין כָּמוֹךָ וְאֵין אֱלֹהִים זוּלָתֶךָ בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר־שָׁמַעְנוּ בְּאָזְנֵינוּ׃ "Wherefore thou art great, 0 Jehovah God: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God besides thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears." Isaiah, who had to contend with insidious idolatry which had crept into the nation, repeatedly affirmed that God is one as is seen in the following passages: מִי פָעַל וְעָשָׂה קֹרֵא הַדֹּרוֹת מֵרֹאשׁ אֲנִי יְהוָה רִאשׁוֹן וְאֶת־אַחֲרֹנִים אֲנִי־הוּא׃ "Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, the first, and with the last, I am He" (Isa. 41:4). אַתֶּם עֵדַי נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְעַבְדִּי אֲשֶׁר בָּחָרְתִּי לְמַעַן תֵּדְעוּ וְתַאֲמִינוּ לִי וְתָבִינוּ כִּי־אֲנִי הוּא לְפָנַי לֹא־נוֹצַר אֵל וְאַחֲרַי לֹא־יִהְיֶה׃ אָנֹכִי אָנֹכִי יְהוָה וְאֵין מִבַּלְעָדַי מוֹשִׁיעַ׃ "Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am He: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides me there is no savior" (43:10, 11). כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגֹאֲלוֹ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אֲנִי רִאשׁוֹן וַאֲנִי אַחֲרוֹן וּמִבַּלְעָדַי אֵין אֱלֹהִים׃ "Thus saith Jehovah, the king of Israel, and his redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God."¹ (44:6).
I. UNITY SEEN IN THE GREAT CONFESSION
In harmony with the statements just quoted is the Great Confession of Israel found in Deut. 6:4, which is שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד׃ "Hear, 0 Israel: the Lord our Gods is the Lord a unity." The first thing noticed about this confession is אֱלֹהֵינו "Elohanu." According to all Hebrew grammarians this word is the construct form of אֱלֹהִים (gods) to which the personal possessive נוּ -ֵ "our" in the plural number is added. To show that this form is in the plural and means "our Gods," only a few illustrations will be necessary. First, dear reader, examine Josh. 24:23: וְעַתָּה הָסִירוּ אֶת־אֱלֹהֵי הַנֵּכָר אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבְּכֶם וְהַטּוּ אֶת־לְבַבְכֶם אֶל־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ "Now therefore put away, said he, the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord, the God of Israel." Note the similarity of these expressions: אֶת־אֱלֹהֵי הַנֵּכָר and אֶל־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. The former אֱלֹהֵי נֵּכָר is correctly translated "foreign gods," but the latter is translated "the Lord, God of Israel," though to be faithful to the text one must translate אֱלֹהֵי of both expressions in the same way, namely, "Gods of," the former being the gods of the foreigners, whereas the latter is the Gods of Israel. A perfect illustration of אֱלֹהֵינוּ "our Gods," which is, as stated above, the construct form of a plural masculine noun with the plural suffix "our," is found in Deut. 5:3 in the word אֲבֹתֵינוּ "our fathers." The singular of this word is אָב, 'ab, and the plural construct is אֲבֹתֵי 'avothē, which form with suffix is אֲבֹתֵינוּ 'avothēnu. Hence it is quite manifest that this word like אֱלֹהֵינוּ is a plural noun with the suffix "our." II. UNITY SEEN IN THE EXPRESSION "IN OUR IMAGE"
In Isa. 53 appear several examples of this same grammatical construction in verses 4 and 5. אָכֵן חֳלָיֵנוּ הוּא נָשָׂא וּמַכְאֹבֵינוּ סְבָלָם וַאֲנַחְנוּ חֲשַׁבְנֻהוּ נָגוּעַ מֻכֵּה אֱלֹהִים וּמְעֻנֶּה׃ וְהוּא מְחֹלָל מִפְּשָׁעֵנוּ מְדֻכָּא מֵעֲוֹנֹתֵינוּ מוּסַר שְׁלוֹמֵנוּ עָלָיו וּבַחֲבֻרָתוֹ נִרְפָּא־לָנוּ׃ "But our diseases did He bear Himself, and our pains He carried while we indeed esteemed Him, stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. Yet He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and through His bruises was healing granted to us (Author's Tr.).
The words עֲוֹנֹתֵינוּ מִפְּשָׁעֵנוּ מַכְאֹבֵינוּ חֳלָיֵנוּ are translated "our iniquities," "our transgressions," "our pains," and "our diseases." When one reads the entire chapter he can see clearly that the servant of the Lord, namely, "my righteous servant" צַדִּיק עַבְדִּי is suffering and is smitten of God because of the "diseases, pains, transgressions, and iniquities" of those to whom Isaiah refers as 'us' i.e., the Hebrew nation. From these examples and hundreds of others which might be given, it is very clear that אֱלֹהֵינוּ is in the plural construct form and means "our Gods."²
The next point in this confession to note is אֶחָד, 'echad. This word is a numeral adjective meaning "one" and is derived from the verb הִתְאַחֲדִי which verb occurs only once in the Tenach (Ezek. 21:21). From this context one sees that God predicted the coming of a foreign invasion against Jerusalem, and Ezekiel was commanded to smite his hands together and to prophesy. In verse 21 it occurs in the hithpa'el form, as seen above, and means "to unite self, to gather one's strength or forces (of the sword)." From these facts he sees that it primarily means, not one in the absolute sense of the term, but one in the sense of a unity.
While the fundamental idea is that of a compound unity or the oneness of different elements or integral parts, it came to be used to express one in the absolute sense as the numeral one, which fact is seen by numerous examples throughout the Tenach. This fact being true, it becomes necessary to study the context wherever it occurs in order to ascertain which idea is conveyed in each particular case. To fail to observe this precaution and to read the idea of oneness in the absolute sense of the word into every example where it occurs is to ignore logic, to smash grammar, and to outlaw ordinary intelligence and common sense.
As an illustration in which the inherent fundamental idea of a compound unity stands forth in bold relief, let the reader note the language of Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, etc. In verse 5 Moses said וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד׃ "And there was evening and there was morning, day one." This statement brings together two contrasting ideas--light and darkness--into a compound unity, which idea is normally expressed by אֶחָד. In verse 8 the same language occurs except the day was "day two"; the same thing is true with reference to verse 13 with the exception that the work just enumerated was done on the third day. In each instance עֶרֶב בֹקֶר "evening" and "morning" together made a unity, אֶחָד.
The union of evening and morning, in the first instance, constituted the first unit of time--day one; the union of evening and morning, in the second instance, constituted the second unit of time--day two. The same facts are true of each succeeding day. Next, note Gen. 2:24: Here God said עַל־כֵּן יַעֲזָב־אִישׁ אֶת־אָבִיו וְאֶת־אִמּוֹ וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ וְהָיוּ לְבָשָׂר אֶחָד׃ "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." In this passage one sees two individuals, man and woman, and yet God said that they constitute a unity--a unity made by joining two opposites into a real oneness.
That אֶחָד fundamentally carries the idea of a compound unity is seen in "Gen. 27:44, וְיָשַׁבְתָּ עִמּוֹ יָמִים אֲחָדִים עַד אֲשֶׁר־תָּשׁוּב חֲמַת אָחִיךָ "And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away." The word translated "few" is אֲחָדִים which is the plural form of אֶחָד. Here the period of time elapsing until Esau's wrath subsided is considered as a unity consisting of integral parts, the idea of unity being expressed by the fundamental inherent idea of אֲחָדִים. It is put in the plural form to agree grammatically with the word יָמִים "days." The same usage appears again in 29:20 where seven years of time are thought of as a very short period, the unity of the period being expressed by the inherent idea of the same word, whereas it, like the illustration just mentioned, is in the plural number agreeing with "days" which is in the plural. Therefore these two examples show clearly that אֶחָד primarily means a compound unity.
Another illustration of this usage is found in Ezra 2:64. כָּל־הַקָּהָל כְּאֶחָד "And the whole assembly was as one" (Author's Tr.). Here forty-two thousand, three hundred and sixty people, each an individual and integral part of the gathering, were כְּאֶחָד "as one"--a unity. Another example where the fundamental idea of the word stands forth clearly is found in Gen. 11:1. וַיְהִי כָל־הָאָרֶץ שָׂפָה אֶחָת וּדְבָרִים אֲחָדִים׃ "And the whole earth was of one language and of one kind of words"; (literally translated) "one lip and oneness of words." Here the idea is that each person in the world spoke the same language and used the same words. There were many different people, and at the same time numerous words used by these various individuals, and yet all taken together constituted a unity אֶחָת, (feminine form of word) of language. Hence in this passage the original inherent idea shines forth vividly.
Another striking example of this primitive idea is found in Ezek. 37:17. וְקָרַב אֹתָם אֶחָד אֶל־אֶחָד לְךָ לְעֵץ אֶחָד וְהָיוּ לַאֲחָדִים בְּיָדֶךָ׃ "And joining them one to the other unto thee as one stick; and they shall become one in thy hand" (Isaac Leeser Tr.). From the context one sees that Ezekiel performed a symbolic act, namely, he took two separate sticks, one representing Judah, and the other representing Israel, and was commanded to join them into one bundle. Thus the two separate sticks being joined together are spoken of as a unity אֶחָד of sticks, that is, a union of the two separate sticks. This symbolic act symbolizes the fact that at some future time the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah will be joined and will constitute a single united kingdom.
Another most forceful illustration of this unity is found in Jer. 32:39 וְנָתַתִּי לָהֶם לֵב אֶחָד וְדֶרֶךְ אֶחָד לְיִרְאָה אוֹתִי כָּל־הַיָּמִים לְטוֹב לָהֶם וְלִבְנֵיהֶם אַחֲרֵיהֶם׃ "And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them." Under the new covenant all Israel are promised "one heart" לֵב אֶחָד that is, all will see, think, and feel alike: hence לֵב אֶחָד "unity of heart."
Since אֱלֹהֵינוּ 'elohēnu grammatically can mean nothing but "our Gods," and since אֶחָד has as its primary meaning that of "unity," one is forced to the irresistible conclusion that the real meaning of Israel's Great Confession is that the Divine Personalities, who are referred to by the plural noun אֱלֹהֵינוּ, as has been shown above, constitute a real unity אֶחָד, just as man and woman form a unity אֶחָד. These Divine Personalities are one in essence, being, and nature, unity and co-operation in the highest degree existing between them. Such, fundamentally, is the real meaning of this fundamental dogma of Israel.
Proof which corroborates this interpretation of Israel's Great Confession is found in the fact that when the nation lapsed into idolatry and her inspired prophets endeavored to win her back to God, they emphasized the truth that there is but one God. In all of their utterances concerning the proposition that there is but one God, they never did use their great confession. If it means what it is usually understood to mean, namely, that God is one in the absolute sense of the term, then it is unthinkable that the prophets never did use it in their fight against Idolatry. Therefore, they understood it to refer to God's unity and not to His being One in the absolute sense.
At the time that Moses gave this great confession he forewarned Israel concerning other gods as is seen in Deut. 4:35, אַתָּה הָרְאֵתָ לָדַעַת כִּי יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים אֵין עוֹד מִלְּבַדּוֹ׃ "Thou hast been shown in order that thou mayest know that יְהוָה is the Gods; there is not any beside Him" (Author's Tr. here and in following one.). Again, in Deut. 4:39, וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל־לְבָבֶךָ כִּי יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וְעַל־הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת אֵין עוֹד "And thou shalt know this day and shalt lay it to thine heart that יְהוָה is the Gods in the Heavens from above and upon the earth from beneath; there is none other."
The flood tide of idolatry seemed to reach its height in Israel in the days of Isaiah, the prophet, who was a contemporary of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. In his combating this error he constantly used the arguments based upon the Scriptures quoted in the last paragraph. Thus in Isa. 44:6 כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגֹאֲלוֹ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אֲנִי רִאשׁוֹן וַאֲנִי אַחֲרוֹן וּמִבַּלְעָדַי אֵין אֱלֹהִים׃ "Thus saith the LORD, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there are no gods" (Author's Tr.). Verse 7, וּמִי־כָמוֹנִי יִקְרָא וְיַגִּידֶהָ וְיַעְרְכֶהָ לִי מִשּׂוּמִי עַם־עוֹלָם וְאֹתִיּוֹת וַאֲשֶׁר תָּבֹאנָה יַגִּידוּ לָמוֹ׃ And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I established the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and that shall come to pass, let them declare." Verse 8 וְאַתֶּם עֵדָי הֲיֵשׁ אֱלוֹהַּ מִבַּלְעָדַי וְאֵין צוּר בַּל־יָדָעְתִּי׃ "And ye are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? yea, there is no Rock; I know not any." Again, one sees Isaiah using a similar statement (Isa. 45:5) which, likewise, is based upon Deut. 4:35,39, namely, אֲנִי יְהוָה וְאֵין עוֹד זוּלָתִי אֵין אֱלֹהִים "I am יְהוָהand there is none else; besides me there are no gods." Isa. 45:6,7, לְמַעַן יֵדְעוּ מִמִּזְרַח־שֶׁמֶשׁ וּמִמַּעֲרָבָה כִּי־אֶפֶס בִּלְעָדָי אֲנִי יְהוָה וְאֵין עוֹד׃ יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא רָע אֲנִי יְהוָה עֹשֶׂה כָל־אֵלֶּה׃ "In order that they may know from the rising of the sun and from the West, that there is none beside me; I am יְהוָה and there is none else; forming the light and creating darkness; making peace and creating evil; I am יְהוָה who doeth all these things." Again, in vs. 21, 22 one reads as follows: הַגִּידוּ וְהַגִּישׁוּ אַף יִוָּעֲצוּ יַחְדָּו מִי הִשְׁמִיעַ זֹאת מִקֶּדֶם מֵאָז הִגִּידָהּ הֲלוֹא אֲנִי יְהוָה וְאֵין־עוֹד אֱלֹהִים מִבַּלְעָדַי אֵל־צַדִּיק וּמוֹשִׁיעַ אַיִן זוּלָתִי׃ פְּנוּ־אֵלַי וְהִוָּשְׁעוּ כָּל־אַפְסֵי־אָרֶץ כִּי אֲנִי אֵל וְאֵין עוֹד׃ "Declare and bring forth, yet let them take counsel together; who hath shown this from ancient times? Who hath declared it from old? Is it not I, and there are still no gods beside me: a God righteous and one who delivers; there is not any beside me. Turn unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth; for I am God and there is none else" (Author's Tr., 45:21, 22).
Once more, note the argument in Isa. 64:4 (3). וּמֵעוֹלָם לֹא־שָׁמְעוּ לֹא הֶאֱזִינוּ עַיִן לֹא־רָאָתָה אֱלֹהִים זוּלָתְךָ יַעֲשֶׂה לִמְחַכֵּה־לוֹ׃ "And from of old, men have not heard nor have they perceived with their ears, and eye hath not seen Gods beside thee, who work for the one waiting for him." As a last quotation from Isaiah note Chapter 26:13. יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ בְּעָלוּנוּ אֲדֹנִים זוּלָתֶךָ לְבַד־בְּךָ נַזְכִּיר שְׁמֶךָ׃ "Oh Lord, our Gods, other lords besides thee have had dominion over us, but by thee only will we make mention of thy name" (Author's Tr.).
Hosea, whose ministry preceded that of Isaiah by some thirty-odd years, combated idolatry as did his successors. In Hos. 13:4 one reads וְאָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וֵאלֹהִים זוּלָתִי לֹא תֵדָע וּמוֹשִׁיעַ אַיִן בִּלְתִּי׃ "And I am the Lord thy Gods from the land of Egypt; and you shall not know gods besides me, there is no savior besides me" (Author's Tr.).
From the above quotations it is clear how the prophets met the problem of idolatry and what statements of the Torah they used to teach the lesson that there is but one true and living God. Since they nowhere used the language of the Great Confession in their hard fight for monotheism (the teaching that there is but one God), it is quite evident that they, who were guided and aided by the Lord, and to whom the Word of the Lord came, understood that it had no bearing on the issue. The prophets knew how to use the Word of God, as one sees from many illustrations which appear in their writings. Hence one must conclude that a forced meaning has been placed upon it, and that evidently the plain and obvious meaning of the words conveys the correct teaching, which is, as stated above, that the Divine Personalities revealed to Israel at Sinai constitute a Unity though a Plurality.
Another group of facts supports the conclusions to which one comes concerning the proposition that an erroneous interpretation has been forced upon this Great Confession. One of these facts is that יָחִיד yachid is used which primarily, as an adverb, means "only, altogether, surely" in numerous passages where everything is excluded, except the point at issue. Likewise, רַק rak is a synonym of יָחִיד. Another word which commonly was used to emphasize the idea of one to the exclusion of all others is that of בִּלְתִּי bilti. An excellent illustration of this usage is found in Ex. 22:20 (19) זֹבֵחַ לָאֱלֹהִים יָחֳרָם בִּלְתִּי לַיהוָה לְבַדּוֹ׃ "He that sacrificeth unto any gods save unto יְהוָה only shall be utterly destroyed." אַךְ, 'ak, also is used with this same significance. These words, just mentioned, are the usual ones to emphasize the idea that there is but one of the persons or things mentioned; hence one arrives at the conclusion that had Moses meant to teach by the Great Confession the doctrine that there is but one Divine Personality, he would have expressed himself differently and would have used one of the regular words, in its proper construction, that excludes from consideration all others except the true God whose existence and nature he proclaimed. Since he did not choose such a restrictive word, evidently he was not affirming God's oneness in the absolute sense.
This unity is again seen in the quotation, already used, from Gen. 1:26 where it is said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." In the words "image" and "likeness" is reflected the same unity, which words are in the singular number, since the speaker and the one spoken to are of the same image and likeness. These words could not truthfully be spoken to a being inferior to or less than God, the speaker.
III. UNITY SEEN IN EXPRESSION אֵל אֱלֹהִים 'el, 'elohim
From another angle the unity of the plurality of Divine Personalities may be seen in Gen. 33:20. Here appears a record of Jacob's erecting an altar at Bethel after his sojourn in Syria, which is stated in the following words: וַיַּצֶּב־שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ וַיִּקְרָא־לוֹ אֵל אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ "And he erected there an altar, and called it El-Elohe-Israel." אֵל is in the singular number and means God, the Mighty One; אֱלֹהֵי 'elohē, is in the plural number, as noted above; hence the combination of the words, אֵל אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל affirms the unity and the plurality of God at the same time. Again, the unity of the plurality of God is seen in the Second Commandment (Ex. 20:5) כִּי אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵל קַנָּא פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבֹת עַל־בָּנִים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל־רִבֵּעִים לְשׂנְאָי׃ "For I am יְהוָה thy Gods, אֵל קַנָּא a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of fathers upon sons, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me" (Author's Tr.).
In one word אֱלֹהֶיךָ, 'elohĕka, thy Gods, the Lord speaks of His plurality and at the same time of His unity in His use of the word אֵל 'el. The plurality and the unity of God's nature again is seen in a wonderful statement made by the Israelites who settled on the East side of the Jordan and who were upbraided by their kinsmen on the West side for having set up a memorial altar, in the following quotation (Josh. 22:22): אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהוָה אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהוָה הוּא יֹדֵעַ וְיִשְׂרָאֵל הוּא יֵדָע אִם־בְּמֶרֶד וְאִם־בְּמַעַל בַּיהוָה "God, Gods, the Lord, God, Gods, the Lord, He knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or in treachery against the Lord" (Author's Lit. Tr.). The word אֵל 'el declares God's unity, but אֱלֹהִים 'elohim which is in apposition with it, affirms the plurality of the Divine Being, while יְהוָה Jehovah, identifies this unity of Divine Personalities as the Covenant God of Israel (Ex. 6:2,3). In the "Ten Commandments" God says כִּי אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵל קַנָּא "For I am the Lord thy Gods, a jealous God." Here the plural and singular forms appear, the former emphasizing the plurality of Divine Personalities while the latter predicates their unity.
IV. UNITY SEEN IN THE USE OF A SINGULAR VERB WITH A PLURAL NOUN
Another fact corroborating the unity of Divine Personalities is the use in the Hebrew of the singular verb with the plural noun אֱלֹהִים. Examples of this usage are seen throughout the entire Tenach. For many illustrations, however, see Gen. 1. בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים "In the beginning created Gods." This quotation serves sufficiently to make the point clear.
The question doubtless has arisen in the mind of the reader: Why, if Israel's confession is to be correctly translated, "Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord our Gods is the Lord a unity," has Israel throughout the centuries understood it to mean that God is one in the absolute sense instead of a compound unity?
Prior to the days of Moses Maimonides, the unity of God was expressed by אֶחָד which, as has been proved beyond a doubt, has as its primary meaning that of a compound unity. Maimonides, who drafted the thirteen articles of faith, in the second one sets forth the unity of God, using the word יָחִיד, which in the Tenach is never used to express God's unity. This word occurs in twelve passages which the reader may examine for himself, which investigation will prove conclusively that it carries the idea of absolute oneness. (Gen. 22:2,12,16; Amos 8:10; Jer. 6:26; Zech. 12:10; Prov. 4:3; Judg. 11:34; Psa. 22:20(21), 35:17; 25:16; and 68:6(7). From these facts it is evident that a new idea was injected into this confession by substituting יָחִיד which in every passage carries the primary idea of oneness in the absolute sense for אֶחָד which primarily means a compound unity. Hence from the days of Maimonides on, an interpretation different from the ancient one was placed upon this most important passage. In the language of Jeremiah let the writer plead with every Hebrew reader, "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls: but they said, We will not walk therein." (Jer. 6:16). כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה עִמְדוּ עַל־דְּרָכִים וּרְאוּ וְשַׁאֲלוּ לִנְתִבוֹת עוֹלָם אֵי־זֶה דֶרֶךְ הַטּוֹב וּלְכוּ־בָהּ וּמִצְאוּ מַרְגּוֹעַ לְנַפְשְׁכֶם וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֹא נֵלֵך׃ Therefore let Israel now return to the original meaning of her Great Confession: "Hear, 0 Israel! Jehovah Our Gods, is Jehovah a Unity."
Some people have had difficulty concerning the doctrine of the plurality and unity of the divine Personalities. The great theologian, Dr. Theodore Christlieb, stated the problem tersely in the following words:
"The objections stirred by these might have been avoided by anticipation, had a firm hold been taken from the first of the truth indicated by the Hebrew form of the divine name ELOHIM (as will be more fully shown presently), that in God unity and plurality consist as correlatives which mutually require one another; that, as we have already indicated, it is the essential characteristic of the true doctrine of the divine nature, in contradistinction to Polytheism on the one hand, and an abstract Monotheism on the other, that both elements of true Being, unicity and multiplicity, do in God meet and interpenetrate one another in a perfectly unique and transcendental way."
¹ The same teaching concerning God i.e., that there is none beside Him, is set forth in numerous passages a few of which are as follows: Num. 15:41; Isa. 43:3, 11; 45:5; 44:6; Deut. 4:35, 39; 32:39; Ex. 20:23; Hosea 13:4; 2 Sam. 7:22; I Kings 8:23.
² In connection with this study it is well to call attention to the fact that the word אלהיכם "your gods" appears in Josh. 3:3; 23:3; I Sam. 6:5; I Kgs. 18:25. (King James Tr.). In the first two passages it is translated "your God" because it applies to the God of Israel, but in the two latter passages the same identical word is translated "your gods" because it applies to heathen deities. A faithful translation of these words demands that they be translated the same in each instance.
In Deut. 6:5 appears the expression אלהיך "thy God" but in Gen. 31:32 the same expression is used by Jacob in his conversation with Laban in the former's speaking to the latter concerning the teraphirn which Rachel had stolen and is translated "thy gods." The fact is that the word is plural with a singular suffix added and should be translated as the plural in both instances.
In Judg. 3:7 appears the expression אלהיהם and is translated "their God" because it refers to the God of Israel, but in the preceding verse the same word which applies to heathen gods is translated "their gods." The word is plural in both instances and should be thus translated.
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