THE TRINITY OF GOD
HAVING seen in the preceding chapter that, though there is a plurality of Divine Personalities, they are one in nature and essence, let us now continue this investigation to ascertain, if possible, how many persons are mentioned in the Tenach.
I. THE SPIRIT OF GOD
In Gen. 1:1,2 appear the words אֱלֹהִים and וְרוּחַ אֱלֹהִים. The first word refers to a plurality of Divine Persons, and the second expression singles out one of these and states the special work which He did. In Job 26:13 appears the following statement: בְּרוּחוֹ שָׁמַיִם שִׁפְרָה "By His Spirit the heavens are garnished." In this passage the personality of the Spirit is clearly seen. The Spirit of God is not an influence emanating from God as heat goes forth from fire, or coldness from ice; but is one of the Divine Personalities active in creation. In Psa. 51:11(13) David in his pleading for mercy and restoration to God's favor prayed, וְרוּחַ קָדְשְׁךָ אַל־תִּקַּח מִמֶּנִּי "And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me." The Holy Spirit was dwelling in his heart "To revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite" (Isa. 57:15). Once more, the personality of the Spirit may be seen in Isa. 11:1,2, which is a passage concerning the מָשִׁיחַ Messiah. וְיָצָא חֹטֶר מִגֵּזַע יִשָׁי וְנֵצֶר מִשָּׁרָשָׁיו יִפְרֶה׃ וְנָחָה עָלָיו רוּחַ יְהוָה רוּחַ חָכְמָה וּבִינָה רוּחַ עֵצָה וּגְבוּרָה רוּחַ דַּעַת וְיִרְאַת יְהוָה׃ "And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit, and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." Here the prophet speaks of the Spirit of the Lord in terms of that which He does for and through the Messiah. Since to the Spirit are ascribed the very elements of personality--wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear--the only conclusion to which one can reasonably come is that the Spirit mentioned here is the Spirit of God, a Divine Personality. That the Spirit is God, hence omniscient and omnipresent is clearly set forth in Psa. 139:7, אָנָה אֵלֵךְ מֵרוּחֶךָ וְאָנָה מִפָּנֶיךָ אֶבְרָח׃ "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence."
II. THE SON OF GOD
Another one of these Divine Beings is addressed as "my son" by the Lord God of Israel. In Psa. 2 the writer, David, in order to support the prediction that God will enthrone King Messiah upon His holy hill of Zion, quoted a decree which the God of Israel spoke to one whom He addressed as His son, which decree is as follows: אֲסַפְּרָה אֶל־חֹק יְהוָה אָמַר אֵלַי בְּנִי אַתָּה אֲנִי הַיּוֹם יְלִדְתִּיךָ׃ שְׁאַל מִמֶּנִּי וְאֶתְּנָה גוֹיִם נַחֲלָתֶךָ וַאֲחֻזָּתְךָ אַפְסֵי־אָרֶץ׃ תְּרֹעֵם בְּשֵׁבֶט בַּרְזֶל כִּכְלִי יוֹצֵר תְּנַפְּצֵם׃ "The Lord said unto me, Thou art my son: this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel." Hence this language was addressed not to an angel, but to the Son of God.
According to parallel passages the reign of Messiah is to be one of universal righteousness, justice, and peace (see Isa. 11 and parallel passages). Since He whom God calls "my Son" will administer such a universal righteous reign, it is evident that He is not an ordinary man who is a faithful servant of God, for no man (even though he be a son of God in the sense of his being faithful servant of God), regardless of his qualifications intellectually, morally and spiritually, can administer a kingdom in which absolute righteousness and justice is dealt out to everyone. The truthfulness of this statement is borne out by the stubborn facts of history. Therefore this One whom God terms "my Son" is THE SON OF GOD in a unique and peculiar sense, the Son of God par excellence. This conclusion is corroborated by other statements of this Psalm and parallel passages. As will be seen in Psalm 2:1-3, in the "end time" there will be a confederacy or a United States of the nations. The peoples of the world will oppose the worship of the God of the Hebrews and the Messiah of the Christians. The governments of the world will use all of their resources in order to enforce a resolution, which shall be adopted by a world congress, to blot out both Judaism and Christianity from the globe. Since man is "incurably religious" he will have a ready substitute to take their place which, doubtless, will be the worship of man, the beginnings of which spiritually-minded Bible students for a number of years have seen slowly but surely developing. The world consolidated politically and economically, headed up into one mighty, colossal organization and entrenched in its position by modern science and "a knowledge, falsely so-called" together with a philosophy and religion made to order, constitutes a most formidable antagonist to Him whom God calls "my Son."
In addition to the outward, visible organization of world power, from other portions of the Tenach one learns that there is a supernatural world of evil, malignant spirits under the leadership of Satan, who inspires and instigates all opposition against God and the people of God. The truthfulness of this position is seen in the contest which Moses, the great law-giver, had with the magicians of Egypt (Ex. 7-13). These magicians actually at first duplicated the miracles of Moses, not by sleight-of-hand tricks, nor wisdom, but by Satanic power. For instance, their rods became serpents just as really as Moses' rod became a serpent. Again, in answer to Daniel's prayer an angel was dispatched by the Lord to him, who was delayed twenty-one days by "the prince of the kingdom of Persia," and was not permitted to continue his journey until Michael, one of the chief princes, came to his rescue (Dan. 10). From Psa. 106:34-38 one sees that all idolatry, which is in opposition to the worship of the true God, is inspired by demons. Again, from Isa. 24:21 it is evident that there is a host of evil spirits who are opposed to God: "And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord will punish the hosts of the high ones on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth." The leader of this host is undoubtedly "the anointed cherub" who was cast out of the presence of God, who is a most bitter enemy of God, and who raises up opposition to Him on every occasion.
The combined forces of Satan and his innumerable hosts of servile spirits, uniting with the forces and resources of the world confederacy, constitute the most amazing array of power against God with which no human being can possibly, under any conditions, cope successfully. Only the Omnipotent God can handle such a situation. Hence since he whom God calls "my son," at whose right hand the Eternal God goes forth (Psa. 110:5-7), does successfully overthrow and demolish such titanic opposition, he is none other than one of the divine persons referred to by אֱלֹהִים "Gods."*
In this connection the question arises "If the one referred to by the expression 'my Son' is God, why is He called God's Son?" This is indeed an intelligible question. The mention of "Son" suggests the correlative term "Father." Humanly speaking, a father is older than his son, but, as seen from the preceding argument, THE SON OF GOD is one of the Divine Personalities; hence the Son co-existed with the Father from all eternity (Mic. 5:2). This fact being true, in what sense is He a Son? The only interpretation, which to the writer appears to harmonize with all of the data and which does not conflict with any Scriptural teaching, is that the terms "Father" and "Son" are used, not to express the relationship existing between these two Divine Persons in the beginning, but are terms, adapted to man's understanding, to express the relationship existing between them from the time of the fulfillment and onward of the promise, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Therefore Isaiah, in this passage, looking forward toward the future said that the Eternal God would come to earth and be born in the form of a child. His birth is not according to natural generation, but, according to Isa. 7:14, "... behold, the virgin shall conceive and shall bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel," it is supernatural. All men have natural fathers and mothers, but the Everlasting God in being born of the virgin does not have an earthly father but is begotten by the miraculous power of one of these Divine Eternal Persons; hence strictly speaking, He, the GOD-MAN, is the Son of God. The inspired writer in Prov. 30:4 had this same GOD-MAN in view when he asked the following question: מַה־שְּׁמוֹ וּמַה־שֶּׁם־בְּנוֹ כִּי תֵדָע׃ "What is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou knowest?"
III. THE ANGEL OF THE LORD
In Gen. 16, there appears an account of the appearance of מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "the angel of the Lord" to Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, when she had been driven away by her mistress. In verse 7 this Divine Person is called מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "angel of the Lord"; but in verse 13 Moses makes the following statement: "And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, THOU ART A GOD THAT SEETH: for she said, Have I even here looked after him that seeth me?" Moses here says that Hagar called the Name of the Lord Who spoke with her "Thou art a God that seeth." It is clear from what Moses says that this angel of the Lord was none other than one of the Divine Beings. Again, in the eighteenth chapter one reads of another marvelous appearance of God. In verse 1 the statement is made, וַיֵּרָא אֵלָיו יְהוָה בְּאֵלנֵי מַמְרֵא "and the Lord appeared unto him (Abraham) by the oaks of Mamre"; in verse 2 one reads, "three men stood over against him." Abraham immediately ran from the tent door to meet them and addressed them as אֲדֹנָי "Lord." This term, as is known to all Hebrew scholars, is one of the Divine Names. After the usual oriental hospitality had been extended to the visitors, the Lord יְהוָה said, "I will certainly return unto thee when the season cometh round; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son." Sarah in unbelief laughed at the idea, because of which conduct the Lord said unto Abraham, "Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old? Is anything too hard for the Lord יְהוָה? At the set time I will return unto thee, when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son." From this quotation it is quite clear that the speaker was Jehovah, יְהוָה who promised to return a year hence and to grant to Abraham and Sarah a son. וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־אַבְרָהָם לָמָּה זֶּה צָחֲקָה שָׂרָה "And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh?" Furthermore, He asked the question concerning Himself, "Is anything too hard for יְהוָה the Lord?"
In the last verse of the chapter appears me statement, "And the Lord, יְהוָה went his way, as soon as he had left off communing with Abraham." From these facts is drawn the irresistible conclusion that one of these supernatural individuals who appeared in human form on this occasion was one of the self-existing Divine Personalities, one of the אֱלֹהִים "Gods."
The fact of the appearance of one of the Divine Personalities for the purpose of communicating with Abraham His friend, shows the possibility of His assuming human form whenever the occasion arises. Again, in Ex. 3 the Angel of יְהוָה, "the Lord," appears to Moses in the wilderness in the burning bush. In verse 2 He is called מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "the Angel of the Lord," but in verse 4 this statement occurs: "And when the Lord יְהוָה saw that he turned aside to see, אֱלֹהִים (God) called unto him out of the midst of the bush and said, 'Moses, Moses.'" In verse 2 the One appearing to Moses is called מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "Angel of the Lord," but in the latter statement He is called both יְהוָה "Lord" and אֱלֹהִים "God." This identification of the Angel of the Lord with יְהוָה "Lord," and אֱלֹהִים "God" is confirmed by the fact that this Angel of the Lord in speaking of His appearance to Moses said, "that they may believe that יְהוָה Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee" (Ex. 4:5).
In Mal. 3:1,2: "Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and הָאָדוֹן the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith the Lord of Hosts." The prophet, in the first place, predicts that the messenger of the Lord shall precede Him and prepare the way for Him; and, secondly, that He, הָאָדוֹן the Lord, will suddenly come to His temple. The messenger who goes before the face of the Lord and prepares His way is undoubtedly Elijah the prophet who is mentioned in the last two verses of Malachi's prophecy. When Elijah prepares the way, the Lord comes suddenly to His temple. As to who is referred to by הָאָדוֹן "Lord," there is no doubt that he is speaking of one of the Divine Persons; but who is meant by the expression מַלְאַךְ הַבְּרִית "Angel of the Covenant?" If the law of Hebrew parallelism obtains here, the answer is plain, namely, that the names "Lord" and "Angel of the Covenant" refer to the same personality. The flow of thought points definitely and positively to the conclusion that such is the case; hence only one individual is here spoken of. From the facts which have been learned from the passages in which the מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "angel of the Lord" occurs, there is but one conclusion to be drawn, namely, that this "angel of the Lord" is one of the Divine Persons.
IV. THE LORD GOD
Throughout the Tenach appear the words אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה which, from the context in which they appear, refer also to one of these Divine Persons. Furthermore, one of these Personalities is sometimes addressed as הָאָדוֹן "the Lord."
V. THE TRINITY OF DIVINE PERSONALITIES
Thus far one has seen that the following names, the Lord, the Lord God, Spirit of God, Son of God, and the Angel of the Lord are applied to one or more of these Divine Personalities. With these facts in mind the reader may advance a step by investigating Isa. 48:12-16. שְׁמַע אֵלַי יַעֲקֹב וְיִשְׂרָאֵל מְקֹרָאִי אֲנִי־הוּא אֲנִי רִאשׁוֹן אַף אֲנִי אַחֲרוֹן׃ אַף־יָדִי יָסְדָה אֶרֶץ וִימִינִי טִפְּחָה שָׁמָיִם קֹרֵא אֲנִי אֲלֵיהֶם יַעַמְדוּ יַחְדָּו׃ הִקָּבְצוּ כֻלְּכֶם וּשְׁמָעוּ מִי בָהֶם הִגִּיד אֶת־אֵלֶּה יְהוָה אֲהֵבוֹ יַעֲשֶׂה חֶפְצוֹ בְּבָבֶל וּזְרֹעוֹ כַּשְׂדִּים׃ אֲנִי אֲנִי דִּבַּרְתִּי אַף־קְרָאתִיו הֲבִאֹתִיו וְהִצְלִיחַ דַּרְכּוֹ׃ קִרְבוּ אֵלַי שִׁמְעוּ־זֹאת לֹא מֵרֹאשׁ בַּסֵּתֶר דִּבַּרְתִּי מֵעֵת הֱיוֹתָהּ שָׁם אָנִי וְעַתָּה אֲדֹנָי יֳהוִה שְׁלָחַנִי וְרוּחוֹ׃ "Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called: I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Yea, my hand hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spread out the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together. Assemble yourselves, all ye, and hear: who among them hath declared these things? He whom the Lord loveth shall perform 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; from the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God hath sent me, and his Spirit." Here are three Divine Beings: אֲדֹנָי יְהוָה "the Lord God"; שְׁלָחַנִי (sent) "Me" (the speaker Who has created the universe); and רוּחוֹ "His Spirit." As to the divine nature of the first one mentioned there can be no doubt. The speaker refers to Himself as "Me" since the Lord God hath sent Him. "Me" is attached to the verb of which "the Lord God" is the subject, and as has already been seen, the context shows that He (the speaker) created the world; hence He is God, since other passages ascribed the creation of the world to God. The third one is the Spirit of God, and, as seen above, possesses all the characteristics of God; hence is the third of the Divine Beings.
The three Divine Persons forming the Trinity again appear in Isa. 63:8-10 וַיֹּאמֶר אַךְ־עַמִּי הֵמָּה בָּנִים לֹא יְשַׁקֵּרוּ וַיְהִי לָהֶם לְמוֹשִׁיעַ׃ בְּכָל־צָרָתָם לֹא צָר וּמַלְאַךְ פָּנָיו הוֹשִׁיעָם בְּאַהֲבָתוֹ וּבְחֶמְלָתוֹ הוּא גְאָלָם וַיְנַטְּלֵם וַיְנַשְּׂאֵם כָּל־יְמֵי עוֹלָם׃ וְהֵמָּה מָרוּ וְעִצְּבוּ אֶת־רוּחַ קָדְשׁוֹ וַיֵּהָפֵךְ לָהֶם לְאוֹיֵב הוּא נִלְחַם־בָּם׃ "For he said, Surely, they are my people, children that will not deal falsely: so he was their Savior. 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 grieved his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them." In verse 8 the prophet refers to what the Lord God said concerning Israel's being His people. In verse 9 he states that "the angel of His presence saved them." As seen in the preceding section, the angel of the Lord is one of the Divine Personalities. In Ex. 23:20,21 appears the angel who was to go before Israel in the journey to the promised land. This angel is none other than "the angel of the Lord," for, said God, "My Name is in Him." To proclaim the Name of God is to set forth God's wonderful character (Ex. 34:6,7). Hence when God said that His Name was in this angel He was simply declaring that the angel was not an ordinary created being, but one of the Divine Personalities. In referring to this same Divine Person God said, "My presence shall go with thee and I will give thee rest. And he said unto Him, if Thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence" (Ex. 33:14,15). Therefore the angel of His Presence in the passage which is under consideration is one of these Divine Persons. In verse 10 the prophet said that Israel "rebelled, and grieved His Holy Spirit," Who, as seen above, is a Divine Person; hence this passage likewise teaches that there are three Divine Persons Who constitute a Unity.
The doctrine of the Trinity is not, therefore, a doctrine which the Christians have imagined and formulated but is the clear teaching of the Tenach. Not only do the Jewish Scriptures teach the doctrine of the Trinity, but a thoughtful consideration of the second article of the "Thirteen Principles of the Faith" to which Judaism subscribes shows that the unity of God is not an ordinary unity, for it states that "The Creator, blessed be His Name, is a Unity, and that there is no unity in any manner like unto His, and that He alone is our God, Who was, is, and will be." The word "Unity" in this article of faith does not affirm oneness in the absolute sense, i.e., a oneness to the exclusion of all others, but it connotes a compound unity for it is different from unity in the absolute sense, since there are millions of illustrations of unity in the absolute sense.
Furthermore, Zohar, in commenting on Deut. 6:4, says, "Hear, oh Israel, Jehovah our God, Jehovah is One," saying, "Why is there need of mentioning the Name of God three times in this verse?" Then follows the answer, "The first Jehovah is the Father of all; the second is the Stem of Jesse, the Messiah, Who is to come from the family of Jesse through David; and the third One is the Way, Who is the Lord (meaning the Holy Spirit, Who shows us the way, as pointed out before), and these three are One." Likewise, Mr. Claude Montefiore, an eminent Hebrew, says, "I am well aware that in the purest and most philosophical presentation of the Christian doctrine of Trinity no infraction of the Divine Unity is intended. It will be needful for the Jewish theologians to consider anew the interpretation of the Trinity."
* In this connection it is well to consider a counter interpretation which is frequently placed upon this passage, namely, that the one addressed "Thou art my son" is any faithful servant of God. In reply to this position it is sufficient to note the fact that if the expression "my son" means any and all of the righteous servants of God, then there will be many sons who will have universal sway over the world. This conclusion, however, is contrary to the teaching, not only of Psa. 2, but of all of the Tenach. In verse 6, the expression "my king" refers to one, and it is to him that universal, absolute authority is given. There can be but one absolute monarch at any one time; therefore the interpretation under investigation conflicts with the teaching of the passage. Hence it is incorrect.