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Analyzing Deuteronomy 6:4

The Jewish creed pertaining to the oneness of God or monotheism is the aforementioned biblical verse and it is as follows :-
 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (ECHAD).” Deuteronomy (6:4); ESV
 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God; the Lord is one (ECHAD).”
 Source (Jewish)  :-
 The English transliteration of Hebrew :-
“Shma Yisra'el Adonay Eloheynu Adonay Echad.”
(Listen, Israel, God is our Lord, God is One.)

 Source :-

 The orthodox Jews believes that God is absolute in terms of personality and being like the rest of the Unitarians such as Jehovah Witnesses , Oneness Pentecostals and Muslims. On the contrary, the Christians (Trinitarians) holds the position that God is one in being and three in persons (Father, Son and the Holy Spirit) and these three are of one mind, inseparable and having one (equal)  essence and this manner they are United. Their Union is termed as ‘TRINITY’ meaning three (TRI) are United (Unity).
 The veracity of any belief should be established through the scriptures and here I am going to do the same. The readers may kindly take note that I am not a Hebrew speaker nor do I have any knowledge of Hebrew but my work would be based only upon the observations and intellect (logic).
 As we have seen above that Oneness of God is denoted by the Hebrew word ‘ Echad’ in Deuteronomy (Devarim) 6:4, I would firstly like to cite the meaningS of this word . Echad is used to denote four kinds of Unities in the Holy Bible which are as under :- 

  1. Numerical or Quantitative  (Unity of number)
  2. Sequential or Orderly (Unity of First in Order)
  3. Compound (Unity of being together)
  4. Unique (One of its own kind)

 Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance explains Echad :-
 “A numeral from 'achad; properly, united, i.e. One; or (as an ordinal) first -- a, alike, alone, altogether, and, any(-thing), apiece, a certain, (dai-)ly, each (one), + eleven, every, few, first, + highway, a man, once, one, only, other, some, together.”
 Source :-
My assertion regarding Echad can be corroborated by the lexical source above and in order to further strengthen my case, I would like to cite the illustrations of the three unities denoted by Echad from the biblical references.
(1) Numerical (Quantitative)  Unity

  1. “God said, 'The waters under the heaven shall be gathered to one (ECHAD) place, and dry land shall be seen.' It happened.” Genesis (Bereshit) 1:9

“.Vayomer Elohim yikavu hamayim mitachat hashamayim el-makom echad vetera'eh hayabashah vayehi chen.”
 Source :-

 God commanded that heaven be gathered to One place. It is specifying the numerical unity here as heaven had to be gathered to one place (and not more than one). One of Quantity……

  1. God said, 'They are a single people, all having one (ECHAD) language, and this is the first thing they do! Now nothing they plan to do will be unattainable for them!.” Genesis (Bereshit) 10:25

 “Vayomer Adonay hen am echad vesafah achat lechulam vezeh hachilam la'asot ve'atah lo-yibatser mehem kol asher yazmu la'asot.”
Source :-

 It is specified by God that all are having One language (NOT MULTIPLE OR MORE THAN ONE),. Therefore again Echad is representing numerical (quantitative) unity here.
 ( c )   “On the next day, God did this, and all the livestock in Egypt died. Of the Israelites' livestock, however, not a single one (ECHAD) was affected.” Exodus (Shemot) 9:6
 “Vaya'as Adonay et-hadavar hazeh mimochorat vayamot kol mikneh Mitsrayim umimikneh veney-Yisra'el lo-met echad.
 Source :-

 Here, the Echad is laying emphasis on the number of livestock of the Israelites that remained unaffected by the plague God sent into the land of Egypt saying that not a single of the livestock suffered or fell victim to epidemic. Again it’s a quantitative unity represented by Echad.
 (d)  “If [the woman] cannot afford a sheep, she shall bring two turtle doves, or two young common doves, one (ECHAD) for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering. The priest shall then make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” Leviticus (Wayiqra) 12:8
 “Ve'im-lo timtsa yadah dey seh velakechah shtey-torim o shney bney yonah echad le'olah ve'echad lechatat vechiper aleyha hakohen vetaherah.”
Source :-

The verse talks of 2 doves out of which one had to be for burnt offering (AND NOT BOTH). Again the number (one) is specified here. A quantitative unity ..
(e) “These are the tallies made by Moses, Aaron, and the twelve men who were princes of Israel, one (ECHAD) from each paternal family.” Numbers (Bamidbar) 1:44
Eleh hapekudim asher pakad Moshe ve'Aharon unesi'ey Yisra'el shneym asar ish ish-echad leveyt-avotav hayu.”
Source :-

It talks of one man ( NOT 2  MEN referring to the number) from each paternal family thereby specifying the number or numerical unity.

  1. I approved and appointed twelve men, one (ECHAD) for each tribe.” Deuteronomy (Devarim) 1:23

Vayitav be'eynay hadavar va'ekach mikem shneym asar anashim ish echad lashavet.”
Source :-

One man (NOT 2 MEN) from each of the 12 tribes of Israel was appointed. One man from each tribe, i.e numerical unity specifying the number 1.

  1. It must be done only in the place that God shall choose in [the territory of] one (ECHAD) of your tribes. Only there shall you sacrifice burnt offerings, and only there shall you prepare all [the offerings] that I am prescribing to you.” Deuteronomy (Devarim) 12:14

“Ki im-bamakom asher-yivchar Adonay be'achad shvateycha sham ta'aleh oloteycha vesham ta'aseh kol asher anochi metsaveka.”
Source :-

One of the 12 tribes (NOT MORE THAN ONE) of Israel had to be chosen by God as the above verse depicts. Its once again a numerical unity.

(2) Sequential or Orderly Unity

  1. The waters continued to diminish [visibly] until the tenth month.In the tenth month, on the first (ECHAD) of the month, the mountain peaks became visible.” Genesis (Bereshit) 8:5

Vehamayim hayu haloch vechasor ad hachodesh ha'asiri ba'asiri be'echad lachodesh nir'u rashey heharim.”

Source :-

Notice that the FIRST DAY OF THE MONTH is specified on which the mountain peaks could be seen. First day, i.e first in order thus referring to sequential or orderly unity.

  1. From the 14th day of the first month in the evening, until the night of the 21st (ECHAD) day of the month, you must eat [only] matzahs. “ Exodus (Shemot) 12:18

Barishon be'arba'ah asar yom lachodesh ba'erev tochelu matsot ad yom ha'echad ve'esrim (twenty) lachodesh ba'arev.”
Source :-

Echad here is denoting the ordinal number or the first day after the twentieth day, i.e 21st day. Therefore it’s a sequential unity here depicted by Echad.

                     ( c )    “Cast four gold rings for [the ark], and place them on its fourcornerstwo rings on one(echad) side, and two on the other side.”Ex./Sh. 25:12 

                              “Veyatsakta lo arba tabe'ot zahav venatatah al arba pa'amotav ushtey taba'ot al-tsal'o ha'echat ushtey taba'ot al-tsal'o hashenit.” 
Source :-

Echad here is denoting the first of the two sides, i.e ordinal or sequential unity again.

(d)“Speak to the Israelites and say:
The first day (ECHAD) of the seventh month shall be a day of rest. It is a sacred holiday for remembrance [and] sounding[of the ram's horn].” .” Leviticus (Wayiqra) 23:24

Daber el-beney Yisra'el lemor bachodesh hashvi'i be'echad lachodesh yihyeh lachem Shabaton zichron tru'ah mikra kodesh.”
Source :-

Echad here is denoting the sequential or orderly unity again as the first day of the seventh month had to be the day of rest.

             ( e )  “God spoke to Moses in the Sinai Desert, in the Communion Tent on the first [day] of the second month in the second year of the Exodus, saying:”
:.Numbers (Bamidbar) 1:1

                      “Vayedaber Adonay el-Moshe bemidbar Sinay be'Ohel Mo'ed be'echad lachodesh hasheni bashanah hashenit letsetam me'erets Mitsrayim lemor.”

Source :-

                   Echad here is denoting the sequential unity again as it is used for the very first day of the second month.

         ( f )  “On the first of the eleventh month in the fortieth year, Moses [also] spoke to the Israelites regarding all that God had commanded him for them.”
Deuteronomy (Devarim) 1:3
“Vayehi be'arba'im shanah be'ashtey-asar chodesh be'echad lachodesh diber Moshe el-beney Yisra'el kechol asher tsivah Adonay oto alehem.”

Source :-

              Echad here is again denoting the sequential unity as it is used for the very first day of the eleventh month in the 40th year.

                 (3)  Unified or Compound Unity

        ( a )   “A man shall therefore leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis (Bereshit) 2:24

                  “Al-ken ya'azov-ish et-aviv ve'et imo vedavak be'ishto vehayu levasar echad.” .

Source :-

            Echad is used to denote the union between man and woman here and therefore it is quite plain that its representing a compound unity here.

   (b)   “Moses came and told the people all of God's words and all the laws. The people all responded with a single voice, 'We will keep every word that God has
spoken.” Exodus (Shemot) 24:3

           “ Vayavo Moshe vayesaper la'am et kol-divrey Adonay ve'et kol-hamishpatim vaya'an kol-ha'am kol echad vayomru kol-hadevarim asher-diber Adonay

Source :-

Echad here is again denoting the compound unity here since it is used for one voice or unification of voices of a group of people. Every one had his/her own mouth to speak consequently they had separate voices as well. But since it is written that they answered with one voice, it actually implicates the unification of their voices.

( c ) “Make 50 copper fasteners. Place the fasteners in the loops, bringing the tent together and making it one.” .” Exodus (Shemot) 26:11
     “ Ve'asita karsey nechoshet chamishim veheveta et-hakrasim balula'ot vechibarta et-ha'ohel vehayah echad.”

Source :-

Echad once again is implicating the unification or compound unity as the combination or joining of the tents is resulting in formation of one tent.

  1. Unique (One of its own kind)
  1. And who is like Your people, like Israel, one (goy Echad) nation in the world, whom God went to redeem for Himself as a people, and to make Him a name, also to accomplish for you the greatness and fearful things for Your land, [in driving out] from before Your people, whom You did redeem for Yourself out of Egypt, [the] nations and their gods?” 2 Samuel (7:23); The Jewish Bible

Source :-

“ûmî ḵə‘amməḵā kəyiśərā’ēl gwōy ’eābā’āreṣ ’ăšer hāləḵû-’ĕlōhîm lifədwōṯ-lwō lə‘ām wəlāśûm lwō šēm wəla‘ăśwōṯ lāḵem hagəḏûllâ wənōrā’wōṯ lə’arəṣeḵā mipənê ‘amməḵā ’ăšer pāḏîṯā lləḵā mimmiṣərayim gwōyim wē’lōhāyw:”

Source :-

Israel, God’s own people are depicted as a Unique Nation here for they were the only one whom God selected out of nations to be His own people. Echad here is denoting the Uniqueness.

  1. And it shall be one (Echad)  day that shall be known to the Lord, neither day nor night; and it shall come to pass that at eventide it shall be light.” Zechariah 14:7; The Jewish Bible

Source :-

“wəhāyâ ywōm-’eā hû’ yiûāḏa‘ layhwâ lō’-ywōm wəlō’-lāyəlâ wəhāyâ lə‘ēṯ-‘ereḇ yihəyeh-’wōr:”

Source :-

The prophet Zechariah is talking about a Unique day here when there shall not be any darkness and at the end of the day there shall be light. Again Echad here is denoting Uniqueness.

  1.  “And the Lord shall become King over all the earth; on that day shall the Lord be one (Echad) , and His name one.” Zechariah 14:9; The Jewish Bible

Source :-

“wəhāyâ yəhwâ ləmeleḵə ‘al-kāl-hā’āreṣ bayywōm hahû’ yihəyeh yəhwâ ’eāûšəmwō ’eḥāḏ:”

Source :-

The Prophet Zechariah here is talking about a time when there shall be One Lord,  i.e no more deities with the exception of Yahweh God and is thus denoting the Uniqueness of the Almighty inside the scene. Echad again is denoting Uniqueness.

Here we finish dealing with various kinds of unities or oneness which the Hebrew word ‘ Echad ‘ signifies or denotes. Now we have a question arising that in Shema , i.e Deuteronomy (6:4) which kind of unity or oneness is applicable ?

If we may apply quantitative unity or sequential unity, the notion will be polytheistic which can be very well perceived by the illustrations of these two unities cited above.

However, keeping the Shema itself into consideration, we can have a clue of multiplicity of personalities in the Godhead since the Hebrew word ‘ELOHENU’ is first plural inflection of the Hebrew word ‘ Elohim’ which is a noun. One Jewish writer Ted Falcon too laid a bit of emphasis in this concern :-

" Eloheinu is the first-person plural possessive form of the Hebrew noun Elohim, which is translated "God" but literally means "our God." Yet strangely, this plural noun is virtually always translated as a singular. Our mystics understood this to be the One manifesting as the many. "

Source :-

Falcon in a very plain manner is expressing his amazedness at the strange comprehension of  Jewish Rabbis when they interpreted this as one manifesting as many. It lays a strong shadow of doubt on their understanding since they did endeavor to impose their own understanding upon the issue instead of presenting it in a way it is.
Therefore, to get more clarified on the subject, it requires examining of a few more biblical verses so that we may have a crystal clear picture of the matter. Let us have a view on the account of creation of man and his downfall :-

” God said, 'Let us make man with our image and likeness. Let him dominate the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock animals, and all the earth - and every land animal that walks the earth.'’ Genesis 1:26

Source :-

The plural pronouns ‘ US’ and ‘OUR’  used in the above reference are said to be an expression of majesty by the Almighty by some of the scholars. A few of them also asserts that God actually spoke to angels when He said “ Let us make man with our own image and likeness.”  But the very next verse reveals that God only created man :-
“God [thus] created man with His image. In the image of God, He created him, male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27

Source :- :-

And no where does the Holy Bible states that angels were created in the image of God which could have helped the deniers of God being multi personal. And the verse 27 depicts God as a sole creator of man without any assistance from angels.

If we go at the account or story of man’s downfall, we gets a more plain portrayal of the things under examination :-
“God said, 'Man has now become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now he must be prevented from putting forth his hand and also taking from the Tree of Life. He [can] eat it and live forever!' God banished [man] from the Garden of Eden, to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove away the man, and stationed the cherubim at the east of Eden, along with the revolving sword blade, to guard the path of the Tree of Life.” Genesis 3:22-24

Source :-

We saw in Genesis 1:27 that it was God who is in the picture of creation of man and woman and the same God drove the man out of Eden when he fell in sin. God did not involve any other being neither in the creation nor in driving Adam and Eve out of Eden. And if under this circumstance God said “Man has become one like us.” , then we have no other alternative with the exception to conclude that the Almighty is multi personal as the plural pronoun ‘ US’ is used by Him there.
Apart from the above we have an illustration where two Lords are portrayed thus establishing of more than one personality in Godhead :-

And the Lord caused to rain down upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire, from the Lord, from heaven.” Genesis (19:24)

Source :-

The famous bible expositor FINIS JENNINGS DAKE’s comment on this verse :-

A clear example of more than one person in the Godhead, also of the Bible teaching more than one Jehovah. The Heb. For Lord here is Jehovah.One Jehovah on earth rained fire and brimstone from another Jehovah in heaven (v 24).Scores of time the phrase the angel of  (from) the Lord (Jehovah) is used, and it is clear from the scriptures that this angel is both Lord (Jehovah)and God (16:7-11;22:116; Ex.14:19-31;Num. 22:22-35; Judg. 2:1-4;6:11-24;13:2-25; Zech. 1:9-19; 3:1-6; 12:8; etc; cp Acts 7:30-38). The literal meaning is that one Jehovah sends another Jehovah as His messenger.” Page no 26; Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible; Dake Publishing, Inc. P.O. Box 1050, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046 (U.S.A)
Dake while explaining this verse also focuses on the angel of Lord being both Lord and God at the various places in the Holy Scriptures.

One more bible commentator Adam Clarke though is in disagreement with Dake in this concern yet he doesn’t denies of the possibility of what Dake stated when he addressed two occurrences of ‘ the Lord’ here in this verse as strange. He also talked of the previous church Fathers and modern day commentators interpreting this verse in way Dake did. Let us see :-

“The Lord rained - brimstone and fire from the Lord - As all judgment is committed to the Son of God, many of the primitive fathers and several modern divines have supposed that the words ויהוה vaihovah and מאת יהוה meeth Yehovah imply, Jehovah the Son raining brimstone and fire from Jehovah the Father; and that this place affords no mean proof of the proper Divinity of our blessed Redeemer. It may be so; but though the point is sufficiently established elsewhere, it does not appear to me to be plainly indicated here. And it is always better on a subject of this kind not to have recourse to proofs which require proofs to confirm them. It must however be granted that two persons mentioned as Jehovah in one verse, is both a strange and curious circumstance; and it will appear more remarkable when we consider that the person called Jehovah, who conversed with Abraham, (see Genesis 18)., and sent those two angels to bring Lot and his family out of this devoted place, and seems himself after he left off talking with Abraham to have ascended to heaven, Genesis 19:33, does not any more appear on this occasion till we hear that Jehovah rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven. This certainly gives much countenance to the opinion referred to above, though still it may fall short of positive proof….”

Source :-

Clarke seems to be in a bit of doubt while interpreting this verse though he has laid much emphasis on the case with Abraham in Genesis 18 being similar to this one yet he also spoke that it is though indicated here, i.e the multiple personalities in Godhead but not in a plain manner. At last he has also interjected a shadow of doubt on his view of this case by saying that it may fail in the spheres of positive evidences.

Another commentator John Wesley has also spoken of this verse as a depiction of two different entities as the Lord :-
“Then the Lord rained - from the Lord - God the Son, from God the Father, for the Father has committed all judgment to the Son. He that is the Saviour will be the destroyer of those that reject the salvation.”

Source :-

To get the things more clear let us focus our attention on the following :-

The spirit of God made me, and the breath of the Almighty keeps me alive.” Job 33:4

“And the Lord said, "Let My spirit not quarrel forever concerning man, because he is also flesh, and his days shall be a hundred and twenty years." Genesis 6:3

“But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit, and He was turned to be their enemy; He fought with them.” Isaiah 63:10

The Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit is a personality distinct from God the Father and God the Son having same essence with the Father and Son.  Holy Spirit is said to made or create man as what Job (33:4) states. God says that His Spirit will not argue regarding man forever (Genesis 6:3) and prophet Isaiah said that the Israelites grieved the Spirit of God by rebelling against God (Isaiah 63:10)..
And all the above functions which are ascribed to the Spirit of God needs a personality for a mere power (as what a few personalities have postulated of the Holy Spirit) cannot be the Creator. It also cannot be the one who argues and is grieved. Thus, this substantiates the divine personality of the Holy Spirit.

One more citation from the book of Prophet Isaiah explicitly depicts the three personalities in Godhead :-

“Hearken to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, who was called by Me, I am He, I am first, yea I am last. Even My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand measured the heavens with handbreadths; I call them, they stand together. All of you, gather and hearken, who of them told these? The Lord loves him, who shall do His work in Babylon and [show] His arm [upon the] Chaldeans. I, yea I spoke, I even called him, I brought him, and his way prospered. Draw near to Me, hearken to this; in the beginning I did not speak in secret, from the time it was, there was I, and now, the Lord God has sent me, and His spirit.” Isaiah 48:12-16

There is no doubt that first of the  underlined words in the passage above are God’s words yet in the 14th verse there appears a slight clue of speech being broken and Isaiah have introduced his own words. However, that is not what the case is for in the 16th verse God again continues to speak while speaking unto Israel (Jews).
Some of the scholars have viewed verse 16 as the words of prophet Isaiah. But the same kind of addressing can be seen as God’s word else where :

” Not in secret did I speak, in a place of a land of darkness; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, Seek Me, in vain; I am the Lord, Who speaks righteousness, declares things that are right.” Isaiah 45:19

There is only one speaker in Isaiah 45:19 who is recognized as the Holy One of Israel and He is saying of not being spoken in the secret likewise Isaiah 48:16. Isaiah (48:12-16) therefore are the words of only one speaker i.e Yahweh God. An obvious view of God, Messiah (who is recognized as the Lord)  and the Spirit is there when the Messiah is portrayed as saying that Lord God has sent Himself and His Spirit. In fact, it is the Messiah who is the speaker right from the verse 12 onwards and has addressed Himself as the First and the Last.
John Gill’s words are as under for Isaiah 48:16 :-
Come ye near unto me, hear ye this,.... An address to the Jews, to attend the ministry of Christ, and hear the doctrine he had delivered to them:
I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the beginning of his ministry; which be exercised not in private houses, but in the synagogues of the Jews, and in the temple, whither a large concourse of people resorted, John 18:20,
from the time that it was, there am I; from the time that his ministry began there, he was in the same places, in Judea and Galilee, always publicly preaching the Gospel, and doing good: or rather, "before the time that it was, there was I" (n); Christ existed before his incarnation, before he appeared as the great Prophet in Israel; he existed as the Word and Son of God from all eternity, and was with God his Father from everlasting; he was by him, and brought up with him, and lay in his bosom so early:
and now the Lord God and his Spirit hath sent me; in the fulness of time, in the likeness of sinful flesh, to preach the Gospel, fulfil the law, and to redeem and save the Lord's people. Here is a glorious testimony of a trinity of Persons in the Godhead; Christ the Son of God is sent in human nature, and as Mediator Jehovah the Father and the Spirit are the senders of him; and so is a proof of the mission, commission, and authority of Christ, who came not of himself, but was sent of God, John 8:42, it may be rendered, "and now the Lord God hath sent me and his Spirit" (o); both were sent of God, and in this order; first, Christ, to be the Redeemer and Saviour; and then the Spirit, to be the Convincer and Comforter; see John 14:26.”

Source :-
Hence, the multiplicity of personalities (Father, Son the Messiah and Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit) in Godhead is proven or established comprehensively.
Now coming back on the main issue, what does the word ‘ Echad ‘signifies in Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) ?
We have seen Echad denoting various kinds of oneness yet the hebrew word for being united is ‘YACHAD’ :-

“Original Word: יָ֫חַד
Part of Speech: noun masculine; substantive; adverb; adverb
Transliteration: yachad
Phonetic Spelling: (yakh'-ad)
Short Definition: together

Word Origin
from yachad
NASB Translation
alike (1), all (4), altogether (2), altogether* (1), both (4), completely (2), each other (1), one accord (1), safely (1), together (26), together in unity (1), united (1).”
Source :-

But the thing to consider here is this that ‘ Yachad’ is synonymous to ‘ Echad’ for both represents the Unity in combined format. And the Hebrew word for absolute numerical unity is ‘ YACHID’ . Therefore if Yahweh God were absolute numeric in the terms of personality, we could have found ‘ YACHID’ in Deuteronomy 6:4 instead of ‘ECHAD’.

Hence Echad in Shema denotes both compound unity as well as uniqueness for three divine personalities are combined with each other forming the unity and is unique too for though there are many who are called gods but our God is one OR unique (Zechariah 14:9) .
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