"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one."
Because of passages like this one, known as the 'Shema of Moses', much of Christianity appears to believe that the Old Testament portrays a singular personage of God, rather than the Trinity that most Christians are accustomed to. In the minds of many, the portrayal of a triune God consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is only described much later in the New Testament. But this is far from the truth, because the plural nature of God is found virtually everywhere in the Old Testament when we examine the original Hebrew language that it was written in.
The truth is, even the very first sentence in the book of Genesis points to the Trinity of God, since the plurality of an 'Elohim' (Gods) is described as the Creator, not the singularity of an 'El' (God). In the same way, the names and attributes used for God throughout the Old testament are often plural renderings, from 'Adonai' (Lords) instead of 'Adon' (Lord), to 'Elohim' (the powers) and 'HaElohim' (all the powers) instead of 'El' (the power). Even some attributes of God are potrayed in plural form, such as the 'Panim' (faces) of God, rather than the 'Pan' (face) of God. These are not the only examples, but suffice to say there are literally hundreds that point to the plural nature of God.
Given this fact, it would probably come as no surprise that Abraham, Moses and the Prophets of Israel were ALL clearly trinitarians. While this would be hotly disputed by orthodox Jews today, and even some Christian denominations, I believe that the original Hebrew language and meanings clearly indicate this as fact. So today we're going to isolate and examine one of these Old Testament verses, the 'Shema of Moses', in order to demonstrate this point. The Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4 would read this way in it's original Hebrew;
* NOTE: Click here for the Hebrew Aleph-Bet with Paleo Hebrew and meanings.
You may recall from our summer sessions that when man's original language was confused at Babel, all languages west of Israel wound up reading from left-to-right, while all languages east of Israel, and including Israel, read from right-to-left. Therefore, what you see in the text above should be read from right-to-left, beginning with the word 'shema'. So the original Hebrew would then read this way;
"Shema Yeeserael Yehvah HaElohim Yehvah echad."
Okay, now we'll do a little translating. The first word is "shema", which simply means 'hear', while the next word is"Yeeserael", which is obviously 'Israel'. After that we have the name of the LORD, which is rendered in this instance as 'Yehvah'. Of course, other renderings could suggest 'Yahweh' or 'Jehovah' or 'Yahu' due to the variability of the Hebrew characters. Since ancient Israel forbid God's name to be pronounced, the original rendering has been lost. But for the moment, let's just use the translation "the LORD", since that is what we find in most western Bibles. Next, we have the term "Ha-Elohim", which is generally translated as 'God' in most versions, and that is followed by another "Yehvah" or 'Yahweh', which again we'll translate (for the moment) as LORD. And finally, we have the word"echad", which has been translated as 'one'. All told, we then have the following translation that is provided in most western Bibles;
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one."
That sounds fairly straight-forward on the surface, seemingly indicating one solitary God rather than a plurality. But as you may have already surmised from the opening paragraphs of this post, this English rendering is a gross mistranslation of this verse because it eliminates all of the plural forms of the original Hebrew. When we re-insert the plural forms of God's name, as we should, the proper transliteration reads this way;
"Hear, O Israel: Yahweh and our Elohim are a united one."
A "united one"? Hmmm. Why would Moses have to confirm to Israel that Yahweh and the Elohim were a UNITED ONE? Wouldn't that have been their natural assumption if God had been appearing to them in the wilderness as a singular God? Well, yes, and so we have to realize this was NOT what was happening. Instead, Israel was experiencing the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the wilderness, and Moses needed to eliminate their confusion with this statement. Having just come from Egypt, where a multitude of gods had been worshipped, Moses did not want them falling back into the idolatry of polytheism. He had to tell Israel that the three personages of God they were experiencing were actually ONE united essence.
From a structural perspective, here is how the proper translation is made; we have "Yahweh" AND our "Elohim", where the word Elohim is a plural, which immediately suggests something more than just a solitary figure. The word 'El' is generally rendered as 'God', but actually means 'Power', therefore the plural form 'Elohim' actually means 'Powers'. So in reality, this verse is saying "Yahweh and our Powers". And then as the clincher, the word 'echad' should not be translated as "one", but rather as 'united' or 'unified', which are the two primary definitions offered in Webster's Hebrew Dictionary;
"eekh ed" /-ahah/-adetee v UNITED: UNIFIED; (pres me-akhed; fut ye'akhed)
For something to become 'united' or 'unified', there must be MORE THAN ONE to begin with, right? This obviously points to a 'united' or 'unified' Godhead of Yahweh (Father) with the Powers (Son and Holy Spirit), rather than pointing to 'one' solitary personage of God. There is no other logical explanation. And we didn't have to jump through a bunch of exegetical hoops to arrive at this viewpoint. To the contrary, it is those that DENY the Trinity of God that have to display incredible footwork in order to morph the text into something other than what it is.
Of course, problems have developed with the 'Shema' because a prominent Rabbi in Israel changed the Shema almost 1,000 years ago to read differently than what is contained in the Bible. In order to erase the triune implications that were clear and apparent in Moses' original statement, Rabbi Moses Ben-Maimon (otherwise known as 'Rambam') substituted the word 'Elohenu' for 'HaElohim', and the word 'yachid' (alone) for the word 'echad' (united). So today, the Shema of Moses pronounced throughout Israel would sound like this;
"Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God Yahweh is alone"
But Rambam was not entirely successful in wiping out the allusion to the Trinity, because the word 'Elohenu' still implies a plurality. In reality then, the Shema that Israel pronounces today would actually read like this;
"Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our Gods Yahweh are alone"
It seems that God has a sense of irony and a sense of humor, because no matter how much Israel and certain Christian denominations attempt to eliminate or obfuscate the record of the Son, the allusions to His presence and His essence will still remain.
For any that have questions on these interpretations, I would encourage you to read Yoel Natan's "The Jewish Trinity", because the triune nature of God is coming under increasing fire in our day. To know the counterfeits, you first have to know the real thing.
Courtesy of Matthew