ECHAD (א ח ד)
Echad (‘Plural’ Oneness) and Yachid (‘Absolute’ Oneness)
I have seen Deut. 6:4 - “YHWH [Jehovah] our God, YHWH [Jehovah] one [Echad,
א ח ד in Hebrew]” - rendered in several ways. (I prefer "Jehovah [is] our God, Jehovah alone.") Some trinitarians misinterpret this. They usually say something like this: “At Deut. 6:4 the word ‘one’ is echad  in Biblical Hebrew, which means ‘composite unity’ or ‘plural oneness’.”
The examples that they cite which are supposed to verify this understanding for echad are usually either Gen. 2:24 - “They [two persons] shall be one [echad] flesh,” or Gen. 1:5 - “the evening and the morning were the first (or one) [echad] day,” or Numbers 13:23 - “one [echad] cluster of grapes.”
In addition to insisting that echad means “plural oneness” some of them also insist that, if God had intended the meaning of “absolute oneness” (singleness, only one individual) at Deut. 6:4, he would have used the word yachid (or yacheed).
So let’s examine the intended meanings of echad and yachid and the scriptures cited above.
First, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to find that some recognized trinitarian authority on Biblical Hebrew had written somewhere that echad means “united or plural oneness.” but I haven’t found one yet!
Here is what I have found written about echad by authorities on Biblical Hebrew:
The only definition given for echad in the very trinitarian New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance is: “a prim[ary] card[inal] number; one”. We find no “plural oneness” there!
The highly respected Biblical Hebrew authority, Gesenius, says that echad is “a numeral having the power of an adjective, one.” He then lists the various meanings of echad as:
“(1) The same,”
“(3) some one,”
“(4) it acts the part of an indefinite article,”
“(5) one only of its kind,”
“(6) when repeated [echad ... echad] ‘one ... another’,”
“(7) [K echad] AS one man.” [The initial consonant of this word, “K,” actually means “as” or “like,” so in this special form the meaning is close to that of a plural oneness. But this is not the form used at Deut. 6:4 !! ]
Gesenius also lists a plural form of the word (achadim) which means “joined in one, united.” This, too, is not the form used at Deut. 6:4 which context shows, instead, to have meaning #5 above. - See Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, #259, Baker Book House. Surely, if God (Jehovah) were really a union of persons, a united one, this form which truly means “united one” would have been used to describe “Him” repeatedly in the Holy Scriptures. But it and all other words with similar meanings were never used for God (or Jehovah)!
By using a good Bible Concordance (such as Strong’s or Young’s) we can find all the uses of echad in the Bible. Unfortunately (due to space limitations), Young’s and Strong’s both list the rare plural form (achadim in Hebrew letters) and the “AS one” (Kechad) form along with the common singular form (echad) without distinguishing among them.
Nevertheless, since both the plural form achadim and the kechad form are used quite rarely (see Ezek. 37:17 and 2 Chronicles 5:13 for examples), we can see that the overwhelming majority of the uses of echad listed in these concordances (over 500) obviously have the meaning of singleness just as we normally use the word “one” today.
If you should find a scripture listed as using echad in your concordance that definitely has the meaning “plural oneness” or “together,” or “as one,” you should check it out in an interlinear Hebrew-English Bible. If the word in question is really the echad form of the word (as at Deut. 6:4), then it will end with the Hebrew letter “d” (similar to '7') in the Hebrew portion of your interlinear. If, however, it is really the plural form of the word (achadim), then it will end in the Hebrew letter “m” (similar to 'D'). And if the word is really Kechad (“AS one”), it will begin with the Hebrew letter “k” (similar to a backward 'C'). Remember, though, that Hebrew reads from right to left (so the LAST letter of a Hebrew word is really the letter at the extreme LEFT.)
Using your concordance along with an interlinear Hebrew-English Bible in this manner, I don’t believe you will ever find echad (as used at Deut. 6:4) literally meaning “plural oneness”!
Further emphasizing the impropriety of this “plural oneness” interpretation of echad are the many trinitarian renderings of Deut. 6:4. In the dozens of different trinitarian Bible translations that I have examined none of them have rendered Deut. 6:4 (or Mark 12:29 in the Greek NT) in such a way as to show anything even faintly resembling a “plural oneness”!!
Even the highly trinitarian The Living Bible, which, being a paraphrase Bible, is able to (and frequently does) take great liberties with the literal Greek and Hebrew meanings in order to make better trinitarian interpretations, renders Deut. 6:4 as “Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone.” Notice that there’s not even a hint of a “plural oneness” Jehovah!
The equally trinitarian (and nearly as “freely” translated as The Living Bible) Good News Bible (GNB) renders it: “The LORD - and the LORD alone - is our God.” - Compare the equally “free-handed” (and trinitarian) The Amplified Bible.
And even among the more literal trinitarian translations of Deut 6:4 we find:
“The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” - New Revised Standard Version.
“The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!” - New American Bible.
“The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” - The Holy Bible in the Language of Today, Beck (Lutheran).
“Yahweh our God is the one, the only Yahweh.” - New Jerusalem Bible.
“Yahweh is our God, - Yahweh alone.” - The Emphasized Bible, Rotherham.
“The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” - An American Translation (Smith-Goodspeed).
“The Eternal, the Eternal alone, is our God.” - A New Transation, Moffatt .
The trinitarian ASV (also the RSV) gives 4 different possible renderings of Deut. 6:4. One of them is identical with The Living Bible, and none of them includes an understanding of a “plural oneness” God!
The paraphrased The Living Bible also renders Mark 12:29 (where Jesus quotes Deut. 6:4 and an excellent spot for him to reveal a “trinity” God --- or even just a “plural oneness” God) as: “The Lord our God is the one and only God.” Notice the further explanation of the intended meaning of this scripture at Mark 12:32, 34. “’... you have spoken a true word in saying that there is only one God and no other...’ Realizing this man’s understanding, Jesus said to him, ‘You are not far from the Kingdom of God.’”
Why doesn’t this highly interpretive trinitarian paraphrase Bible (or any other Bible for that matter) bring out a “plural oneness” meaning at these scriptures (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29) if that can be a proper interpretation for echad?
Surely, if the trinitarian scholars who made this Bible had thought there was even the slightest justification for an echad = “plural oneness” interpretation, they would have rendered it that way: “Jehovah is a composite unity;” or “Jehovah is the United One;” or “Jehovah is a plural oneness;” etc.
Instead they have clearly shown that God (who inspired it), Moses (who wrote it under inspiration), and even Jesus himself (who taught that it was part of the most important commandment of all - Mark 12:28-29, LB; GNB; etc.) intended this scripture to show God as a single person only!
Similarly, the three annotated trinitarian study Bibles I own would certainly explain any intended “multiple-oneness” meaning for echad at Deut. 6:4 (if there were any possibility of such an interpretation). But the extremely trinitarian New American Bible, St. Joseph ed., gives no hint of such an understanding of echad in its footnote for Deut. 6:4 (or anywhere else). And the trinitarian The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 1977 ed., likewise gives no hint of such an understanding in its footnote for Deut. 6:4 (or anywhere else). And that trinitarian favorite: The NIV Study Bible, 1985, also gives no hint of such a meaning for echad in its footnote for Deut. 6:4 (or anywhere else). The only possible reason for all these trinitarian study Bibles ignoring this “proof” is that it simply is not true!
The examples given by some trinitarians to show a “plural oneness” meaning for echad don’t stand up either. The Gen. 2:24 example of a man and wife becoming “one (echad) flesh” certainly does not mean one literal body of flesh is composed of two people.
A man and wife becoming “one flesh” also doesn’t mean that two different persons suddenly become equal or identical. They are still two distinct individuals (one is lord and head over the other according to the Bible) and do not share nervous, circulatory, skeletal, etc. systems. They both did not have to (and, in fact, did not) come into existence at the same time, nor do they both have the same minds, personalities, nor even equal authority!
So, then, how did the Bible writers understand that the two became “one”? It should be enough to show that being “one” with someone else merely shows how two (or more) people are “united in purpose” as though they were one person in that respect only (purpose). - See the ONE study.
Notice how the following scripture uses the very same “one flesh” reference:
Another way a man and wife can be considered “one flesh” has to do with what the word “flesh” (basar) meant in ancient Biblical Hebrew. Any good concordance will show you that “flesh” (basar) in Bible usage often means a close relative. Gen. 37:27 is an example of this: “for he is our brother and our flesh.”
And the equivalent NT Greek word for “flesh” (sarx) could be used in the same manner. At Ro 11:14, “my flesh (sarx)” - KJV is also rendered: “my fellow Jews” - RSV; “my own race” - MLB, TEV, GNB, NEB; “my own people” - NIV; “my fellow countrymen” - NASB.
The King James Version even translates this OT Hebrew word (basar) as “KIN” at Lev. 18:6 and 25:49. The New English Bible translates it “blood-relation.” With this common understanding for “flesh” it is clear that the expression “one flesh” at Gen. 2:24 can simply mean that the two married people are now to be considered as closely related as “blood-relatives.” In other words, their closest “flesh” (relatives) used to be their parents. Now they are to consider their new relationship to one another as being even stronger than that with their parents: “therefore shall a man leave his mother and father” - Gen. 2:24.
To argue that a man and woman somehow, in some mysterious supernatural way, literally become one flesh, is simply not what was intended in the original language.
It is no more mysterious than my saying that my wife Karen and I (and our children, Randy and Robin) have become a single (or “one”) family (“relationship,” “kin”). I certainly don’t mean to imply some “mysterious” plurality by the word “single” even though there happen to be two (or four) members in that one family (relationship, “flesh”). Or, a person could have dozens of members in his one, single family (“flesh”). Or, a person might be the sole surviving member (“absolute mathematical oneness”) of his one family - it’s still only one family and the singularity or plurality of its composition has nothing whatsoever to do with its being one single family!
It’s no different from talking about two families, three families, etc. We are talking about a definite mathematical number of families, not the numerical composition within those families. The “one flesh” example works exactly that same way.
A few “echad = multiple oneness” trinitarians even claim that a man and woman becoming “one flesh” means “they are one in nature ... one in human nature as the Father and Son are one in the God-nature.”
This kind of reasoning would mean that the man (or the woman) before marriage (before they “became one flesh”) was not by himself already equally “one” in human nature with the rest of mankind! Then what kind of nature did this person possess before he married?
Each person (whether they ever marry and become “one flesh” or not) obviously already possesses human nature equally with any other human being. But when they marry, they are supposed to become one in purpose, goals, etc., the closest of relatives, not suddenly become human beings and thereby gain human nature!
Strangely, one recent anti-Watchtower letter sent by a relative to a local Witness used the above example for “one” in marriage being “one” in nature and then said:
“‘the marriage relationship portrays the mystical oneness and union of Jesus, the Bridegroom with His Bride, His Church’ just as it portrays that the man and his wife ‘are ... one in nature ... as the Father and Son are one in the God-nature.’”
Yes, this writer was actually saying, then, that just as the Father and Son are one, so the man and wife are one, and so Jesus and his Church (all his true followers) are one! In other words, in trinitarian terms, Jesus and his Father are equally God; and Jesus (God in every sense, they would say) and his Church (also equal in nature with Jesus) must then be equally God also!!
Clearly it means, instead, that Jesus, the bridegroom, and his bride, his church (of “brothers”) are one in purpose only (as are God and his Son). -
“That they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they may also be in us ... that they may be one even as we are one.” - John 17:21, 22, ASV.
Even if the Hebrew echad were used here at John 17:22 for “one” (as the famous Lutheran trinitarian scholar, Franz Delitzsch translated it in his Hebrew New Testament), it is obvious that it does not mean some mysterious plural oneness wherein the individuals are all equally the Father, or equally the Son, and certainly not all equally God! (In any case, John would have used the masculine form of “one” in the NT Greek, heis, at John 17:22 if he had intended any of the above “trinitarian” meanings. Instead, he used the neuter form, hen, in NT Greek which signifies a union of purpose - see the ONE study).
Delitzsch also translates the NT Greek heis at 1 Cor. 9:24 (“only one” - NIV, NEB, TEV, GNB, RSV; “only one person” - The Living Bible) as echad ! There is certainly no “plural oneness” intended here! - Hebrew New Testament, Delitzsch, The Trinitarian Bible Society, 1981.
If a person will not acknowledge the obvious figurative meaning of “one” as “united in purpose,” then he is saying that as man and wife become absolutely equal in nature by marriage (and as Jesus and the Father are “absolutely equal in nature” and are, therefore, equally God) so do Jesus and his Church become “one” or “equal in nature” and, therefore, the Church (Jesus’ “brothers”) is equally God!
Such reasoning is obviously ludicrous and illustrates what was really figuratively intended by “one” in marriage and other relationships: they are as though they were literally “one” in only one respect: unity of purpose!
As the bride is to become “one” in purpose with her husband (although he is designated to be head over his wife - 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23), so, too, those chosen ones are to become “one” in purpose with Jesus (although he is to be their head - Eph. 5:23; 1 Cor. 11:3 - so he does not conform to their will and purpose, nor are they equal to him, but they willingly conform to his purpose so that they may be “one”), and so, in like manner, Jesus has become “one” in purpose with his Father (the only true God - John 17:3) who is his head. The Father does not conform to the will and purpose of Jesus, nor is Jesus in any way equal to the Father, but Jesus willingly and perfectly conforms to his Father’s purpose and will! - “The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman (wife) is the man; and the head of Christ is God [not ‘Christ is equal to God’].” - 1 Cor. 11:3, ASV.
So, why couldn’t the absolute mathematical oneness of echad at Deut. 6:4 be describing a figurative unity of purpose just as the Greek “one” (hen) does at John 17:21, 22?
That is, if Jesus can describe certain chosen men, and his Father (God alone), and himself figuratively as all being “one” (in purpose only), why couldn’t God be telling us at Deuteronomy 6:4 that he is more than one person, all of whom are united in purpose? One reason is that the word used for “one” in this sense is neuter (hen). But the word used for “one” at Deut. 6:4 in the ancient Greek Septuagint (and at Mk 12:29 in the New Testament) is the masculine heis! - cf. Mk 2:7.
We also know that such an interpretation is ridiculous because of the clear context of Deut. 6 (and the clear statements of the rest of the Bible). Nowhere in Old or New Testament is God said to be more than one person. No one would have possibly understood Deut. 6:4 as meaning “Jehovah is a ‘many persons united in one purpose’ God” at that time or for thousands of years thereafter (certainly not until hundreds of years after Jesus’ death - see the HIST study, parts 2-5).
The context of Deut. 6:4 and 6:13-15 shows that God is not speaking of all persons who could be considered to be “united in purpose” with the Father (this would have included the Father and the Word, of course, but it would also have included the millions of faithful angels, and today it would include a large number of faithful Christians!). Remember that when “one” is used figuratively for “united in purpose” it is always describing a relationship between certain individuals or groups who are identified in context. There is no such identification (nor even the slightest suggestion of such an identification) found in Deut. 6.
We cannot believe that Deut. 6:4 is saying that all those who are “united in purpose” with Jehovah are Jehovah! But that is the only figurative use we could possibly have for echad at Deut. 6:4. Otherwise we are left with the literal meaning (mathematical oneness, a single individual) of echad (which is obviously intended in the vast majority of uses of echad and which is obviously intended at Deut. 6:4, 13-15 and further explained at Mark 12:29, 32.)
Just as no Bible translation (including all the many trinitarian translations I have examined) renders Deut. 6:4 with any kind of suggestion that “Jehovah is a multiple unity,” no translation suggests it should be rendered with the understanding that “Jehovah is united in purpose.”
It is also clear from other Bible statements that God is a single person: the Father in heaven. (Jehovah is never described as “the Son,” “the Messiah,” “the Holy Spirit,” or any other individual but the Father - Deut. 32:6; Is. 63:16; 64:8; Jer. 3:4; 3:19 - and conversely, no heavenly person except Jehovah is ever called the Father! - Matt. 23:9.)
Notice how Jesus used the word monos (“only,” “alone”) to describe God (Jehovah, the Father) at John 17:1, 3. “Father ... they should know thee the only [monos] True God.” Or, “Father ... who alone art truly God” - NEB.
But let’s look at another example where echad is supposed to literally mean “plural oneness.”
Almost anything we can name is composed of different elements or parts. If I should say, “Randy was the first (another way echad may be rendered into English) runner to cross the finish line,” I am not referring to the fact that he has two legs (or flesh, blood, and bones) which together help compose the whole of that one (or “first”) individual. I am saying (as everyone well knows) that, at the time he crossed the finish line, Randy was the only one who had done so (whether he had one or two legs, etc.). In the same sense of absolute mathematical order I would say that the very next runner (whether it should happen to be a woman, horse, octopus, snail, etc.) is the second individual runner to cross the finish line regardless of how many legs, arms, etc. that racer has. So, Robin, the second runner to cross the finish line is no more a “plural twoness” than Randy, the first one, is a “plural oneness”!
Therefore, “the evening and the morning were the first [echad] day [‘one day’ - RSV]” - Gen. 1:5, KJV - means exactly what it says, just as “the evening and the morning were the second [sheni] day” - Gen. 1:8 - means exactly what it says and so on through six days!
“The first [echad] day” does not in any sense refer to the individual parts which compose that day (or a “plural oneness”) any more than “the sixth day” refers to a “plural sixness” making up that single day! They are absolute mathematical numbers and do not refer to internal composition but, instead, to single, individual things.
And so it is with the example of “one [echad] cluster of grapes” at Numbers 13:23. Here again “one” [echad] obviously means only one (singleness, absolute mathematical oneness) for whatever word it is applied to.
It is the word “cluster” in this scripture which means “one thing composed of many individual items,” but there is only one single (absolute mathematical oneness) “cluster”!
This is no different from one (echad) single tribe (whether composed of one single, last person or millions of persons) at Judges 21:3, 6 and two tribes (whether each is composed of one person or millions) at Joshua 21:16. Echad literally means “single,” “only” as can plainly be seen at Exodus 12:46, “one house;” Ex. 33:5, “one moment;” Numbers 7:21, “one bullock, one ram, [etc.].”
A few trinitarians insist that not only does echad mean “plural oneness,” but that, if singleness were intended by the Bible writer, the Hebrew word yachid would have been used at Deut. 6:4.
Here is how it was presented to me by one trinitarian:
“The word for ‘one’ in this great declaration [Deut. 6:4] is not Yachid which is an absolute oneness but rather echad which means ‘united one.’ Had the Holy Spirit desired to state absolute mathematical oneness in this all-important declaration, He could have easily used the word yachid, couldn’t He?”
We have already seen the absolute falsity of the “echad-means-’plural-oneness’” idea. But what about yachid? Did the Bible writers really use it whenever they meant “absolute mathematical oneness”? We have already seen that they really used echad for “absolute mathematical oneness,” and a good concordance will show they did this consistently—many hundreds of times!
Yachid, on the other hand, is only used about 12 times in the entire Bible and then only in a narrow, specific sense.
The Old Testament language authority, Gesenius, tells us that yachid is used in three very specialized ways: (1) “only” but primarily in the sense of “only begotten”! - Gen. 22:2, 12, 16; Jer. 6:26; and Zech. 12:10. (2) “solitary” but with the connotation of “forsaken” or “wretched” ! - Ps. 25:16; 68:6. (3) As yachidah (feminine form) meaning “only one” as something most dear and used “poet[ically] for ‘life’ - Ps. 22:20; 35:17.” - p. 345 b.
We find yachid is never used to describe God anywhere in the entire Bible! But it is used to describe Isaac in his prefigured representation of the Messiah: Gen. 22:2, 12, 16. It is also used at Judges 11:34 for an only-begotten child. The ancient Greek Septuagint translates yachid at Judges 11:34 as monogenes (“only-begotten”): the same NT Greek word repeatedly used to describe Christ (even in his pre-human heavenly existence - 1 John 4:9). Monogenes, however, like the Hebrew yachid, is never used to describe the only true God, Jehovah (who is the Father alone).
So, if Jehovah were to describe himself as “forsaken” or “wretched,” or were speaking poetically about his “dear life,” or were describing himself as the “only-begotten son” (which he never does anywhere in the Bible!), then he might have used yachid.
But since he was describing his “mathematical oneness” at Deut. 6:4, he properly used echad!
As we pointed out at the beginning, there are Hebrew words that mean “plural oneness,” but echad is not one of them. As another example, notice the clear meaning of echad as “absolute mathematical oneness” at Gen. 42:11 where the sons of Jacob say, “we are all one [echad] man’s sons.” They certainly weren’t saying “we are all sons of different men who together make up a ‘plural oneness’ man.”! Instead, the inspired Bible writer wrote that they were all sons of one [echad not yachid] single, solitary man.
We see the same thing at Malachi 2:10 even though we find two different interpretations by trinitarian translators.
Some translate it:
“have we not all one [echad] father? Has not one [echad] God created us?” - RSV.
The meaning of this rendering seems to be that everyone has a single person as his earthly father and, by comparison, we also all have a single [echad] person as our God and Creator in heaven.
Other trinitarian scholars translate Malachi 2:10 as:
“Have we not all the one Father? Has not the one God created us?” - NAB (1970 and 1991).
“Is there not one Father of us all? Did not one God create us?” - NJB.
“Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us?” - JB.
“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” - NKJV.
“Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?” - The Amplified Bible.
“Is there not one Father to us all? Has not one God created us?” - MKJV, Green.
“Don’t all of us have one Father? Hasn’t one God created us?” - In the Language of Today, Beck.
“Do we not all have one Father? Has not one God made us?” - NLV.
We clearly see in these trinitarian translations that the common Hebrew use of parallelisms was intended by the inspired Bible writers. That is, the first half of the verse is differently worded but parallel in meaning with the second half. Therefore, the first half refers to God just as the second half does, so the translator has capitalized “Father” to make such an interpretation unmistakeable. The meaning in this interpretation, then, is:
“We all have one [echad] Father (the only person who is God),” and, in parallel meaning,
“We all have one [echad] Creator (a single person as God).” - Compare 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6.
No matter which interpretation you prefer, it is clear that the comparison with (or parallel with) a single individual father (whether we interpret it as the single male human parent or the single person, God the Father), who is called “one [echad] father/Father,” is a single individual who is called “one [echad] God”! The comparison (or parallel) would be senseless if echad meant one single person for “father/Father” (as it must) in its first half and “plural oneness” persons for “God” (as it clearly doesn’t) in its second half!
The inspired Bible writers at Gen. 42:11, Malachi 2:10, and Deut. 6:4 could easily have used a word that really means “united one” - but they didn’t! The inspired Bible writer at Deut. 6:4 could also have easily said (and definitely should have said if it were true) that “God is three persons who together make up the one God” or even just “the one God is three persons,” but he didn’t, and neither did any other Bible writer! He should also have used yachid repeatedly in the Bible for God if Jehovah is ever to be understood as being Jesus (“the only-begotten”), but no Bible writer describes Jehovah that way, ever!
A footnote for Deut. 6:4 in the very trinitarian The New American Bible, St. Joseph ed., 1970, says:
“this passage contains the basic principle of the whole Mosaic law, the keynote of the Book of Deuteronomy: since the Lord [Jehovah] alone is God, we must love him with an undivided heart. Christ cited these words as ‘the greatest and the first commandment,’ embracing in itself the whole law of God (Mt 22:37f and parallels [especially see Mark 12:28-34]).”
As the ASV renders it in a footnote for Deut. 6:4 - “Jehovah is our God; Jehovah is one”. Yes, the great distinction between Israel and all the nations around them was that they worshiped only one [”absolute mathematical oneness”] person as God (as they always have, and as they still do today - see the ISRAEL study).
The only honest interpretations of “this great declaration” of Deut. 6:4 are “Jehovah our God is only one [echad] person” or “Jehovah our God is only one God”!
Judging by the literal meanings of both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek (NT and Septuagint OT) Scriptures Deut. 6:4 actually says: “Hear Israel, Jehovah the God of us, Jehovah is one” (Sept. Greek) and “Jehovah our God, Jehovah [is] one” (Hebrew - Interlinear Bible). But in any case echad clearly refers to a single, solitary [absolute mathematical oneness] being, not a “multiple oneness”!
So even the very trinitarian literal translation, the New King James Version, (like the very trinitarian ETRV  paraphrase Bible) translates echad at Deut. 6:4 correctly as: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Jehovah] our God, the LORD [Jehovah] is one!”
The meaning is clear. It is expressed perhaps even more clearly in the popular trinitarian paraphrase Bible, The Living Bible: “Jehovah is our God, Jehovah alone.”
* * * * *
Note: Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian ‘proof’ being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the preceding information, all of which helps disprove specific trinitarian “proofs,” may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics (especially when I have presented a number of alternates). Jehovah’s Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others. – RDB.
1. Or echod according to Dr. Walter Martin’s use of this preposterous “evidence” - p. 69, The Kingdom of the Cults, 1985 ed.
2. In English the words “a” and “an” are indefinite articles. For example, then, ‘one [echad] cow’ in Hebrew could mean ‘A cow’ in English - it certainly would not mean ‘a plural oneness cow’! In fact this whole “proof” is exactly like saying “a” is a multiple oneness indefinite article. And, of course, they would find a few (out of thousands of others) uses like “a committee,” “a month,” “a musical trio,” etc. and brilliantly conclude that “a” here has to be a multiple oneness, because “committee, or “trio,” etc. is composed of more than one person!
3. As for any use of yachid by a 12th or 13th century A.D. Rabbi (as a few trinitarians resort to in defense of “yachid” for God), what has this to do with what Scripture actually says? Maimonides (or Moses Ben Maimon) lived from 1135-1204 A.D. and was a well-known Jewish philosopher and commentator.
For what it’s worth, Maimonides also wrote: “Can there be a greater stumbling block than [Christianity}? …. [Trinitarian Chrisianity] caused the Jews to be slain by the sword, their remnants to be scattered and humbled, the Torah to be altered, and the majority of the world to err and serve a god other than the Lord.”- Mishnah Torah, “The Laws of Kings and Their Wars,” chapter 11.
And Steve Gross writes:
“Let me quote Evelyn Garfiel, author of Service of the Heart: A Guide to the Jewish Prayerbook (Jason Aronson, Inc., 1958, 1989). Here she is discussing the Yigdal prayer (pp 52-54):
“ ‘ …. It must be stated categorically that this ‘Confession of Faith’ [the ‘Thirteen Creeds’ of Maimonides] as it has sometimes been called, has no legal, doctrinal standing in Judaism; that it is not, in any case, the Jewish creed. It was written (in his Commentary to the Mishnah) by Maimonides when he was twenty-three years old, and he never referred to it again in all the rest of his writings.
“ ‘The need to formulate the Jewish religion in a clearly stated creed had apparently not been felt in the previous two millennia of its existence. It was only in the late Middle Ages, when Aristotelian philosophy dominated the whole intellectual world, that Maimonides was impelled to try to set down the basic axioms of Judaism as he understood them, and in the light of the philosophy current in his day.
“ ‘During his lifetime and for many years afterward, Maimonides was bitterly opposed by many Rabbis. They felt that something extraneous to the genuine Jewish tradition was being injected into it by this precipitation of Aristotelian philosophy and by these strange formulations of belief... Crescas, in some ways the most subtle and brilliant of the Jewish philosophers, Nachmanides (the Ramban), Abarbanel, and others all registered strong opposition to Maimonides Creeds. ….
“ ‘The Shulhan Arukh ... does not even mention the Thirteen Creeds. Someone - perhaps a printer, but no one knows exactly who - included the Creeds in an edition of the Prayer Book sometime after 1400....’ ” [emphasis added - RDB]
4. Among the Hebrew words that can mean “united oneness,” such as achadim and Kechad, are the various forms of yachad. The New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance, 1981, p. 1529, tells us that #3161 yachad means “to be united” and #3162 yachad means “unitedness”.
Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, 1980, pp. 430, 431, also describes the various forms of yachad: “yachad appears about 46 times and in all periods of Biblical Hebrew. Used as an adverb, the word emphasizes a plurality in unity.” Used as a verb “yachad means ‘to be united, meet.’” And, although the noun yachad occurs only once, it is still used “to mean ‘unitedness.’”
You will not find yachad in any of its many forms that mean “united” or “plurality in unity” ever used to describe God!!
However, we do find other Hebrew words that, like echad, clearly mean “single,” “only,” “alone,” etc. and these words are used to describe the one person who alone is the Most High God.
For example, The New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance, p. 1496, tells us that #905 bad (“bod”) means “separation, apart, alone.”
Also Nelson’s Expository Dictionary of the Old Testament, pp. 280, 281, states, “in most of its appearances (152 times) this word [bad] is preceded by the preposition le. This use means ‘alone’ (89 times): ‘And the Lord God said. It is not good that the man [Adam] should be alone [bad] ....’” - Gen. 2:18.
Yes, Adam was the only person of humankind in existence, and, therefore, he was described by God as being alone in that special sense (bad in Hebrew). (There were myriads of spirit persons, the angels. There was God Himself. There were innumerable other creatures. And yet, Adam, as the only one of mankind, was alone [bad]!) Then, as soon as God created another person of his own kind for Adam, he was no longer alone (bad)!
This use of bad (“alone”) is frequently used to describe the person who is God. For example, 1 Sam. 7:3, “direct your hearts unto Jehovah [a personal name] and serve him [masculine singular] only [bad].” - ASV.
And 2 Kings 19:15, “O Jehovah, the God of Israel, that sittest above the cherubim, thou [second person singular] art the God, even thou alone [bad].” - ASV.
And Psalm 83:16, 18, “Fill their faces with confusion, that they may seek thy name, O Jehovah. .... That they may know that thou [singular] alone [bad], whose name is Jehovah [singular personal name], art the Most High over all the earth.” - ASV. - (Also see Neh. 9:5, 6; Ps. 86:10; Is. 37:16.)
5. With a “symbol for the Trinity” on the title page which symbolizes “that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are ... indivisibly One God.” Published and copyrighted by Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1982.
6. “Listen, people of Israel! The Lord [Jehovah] is our God. The Lord [Jehovah] is one!” - Holy Bible - Easy-to-Read Version, World Bible Translation Center, Fort Worth Texas, 1992.