A Rabbi Defines The Trinity

What Is God's Name?

Photo Attribution: Wikipedia

What’s In A Word?

The use of the word “Elohim” for God has been hotly debated for centuries concerning the Trinity. To be fair, it has also been used of angels and false deities (including wood, stone, and gold idols etc) as well, so its use and meaning is defined by its context. I was reading through Genesis One the other day and found an interesting commentary concerning Elohim (emphasis mine):

An eminent Jewish rabbi, Simeon ben Joachi, in his comment on the sixth section of Leviticus, has these remarkable words: “Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet notwithstanding they are all one, and joined together in one, and are not divided from each other.” See Ainsworth. He must be strangely prejudiced indeed who cannot see that the doctrine of a Trinity, and of a Trinity in unity, is expressed in the above words. [1]

There can be no doubt that the Elohim in the first chapter of Genesis is God speaking. Even though this quote of the rabbi Simeon ben Joachi is a commentary on Leviticus, it’s clear that this reference is of God. As you can see here, this rabbi inadvertently defines the Trinity! A further clarification on these degrees (persons) is when God speaks in plural pronouns such as “us” and “our” etc. In Genesis 1:26 we have a great example of such language. [2] Some have tried to get around the obvious by claiming that these are examples of the “plural of majesty”. The problem is however, that, the plural of majesty did not exist in the Hebrew scriptures [3]. In reality, such language was not in use until the Byzantine era in the 4th century. [4] To recap, when we read where God said “Let us make man in our image”, we can safely say that this is the Trinity speaking; creating man in the image of God.

 

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Endnotes

1. Adam Clarke’s Commentary On The Bible (e-Sword)

2. (King James Version) Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

3. Uniplurality In The Hebrew Scriptures
http://www.studytoanswer.net/judaism/uniplurality.html#notes

4. http://www.bible.ca/trinity/trinity-oneness-unity-plural-of-majesty-pluralis-majestaticus-royal-we.htm

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About Razor Swift

Rich Christian who is the founder of Razor Swift, seeks to open hearts and minds through the platform of apologetics. It's his desire to approach Biblical, faith, and other issues from a different perspective rather than just preaching to the choir in the Christianese dialect. He maintains that faith and reason mustn’t necessarily be at odds with each other, but can be complementary. May no stone lay unturned.
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4 Responses to A Rabbi Defines The Trinity

  1. Faruq says:

    Hi my name is Faruq, I’m just curious Is this suppose to be a victory for Trinitarians or what is also termed as “discovering pearls” ? Just trying to understand, cause I’m not seeing how this commentary changes anything. I personally know the trinity to be a lie traceable to egypt. Why do you believe different and have hope in this commentary ?

    Faruq

  2. Yeremyah says:

    It is most interesting that you did not inform your readers that the Rabbi was not a Trinitarian, nor were any of his disciples, nor that he is the author of the Zohar, the heart of Kabbalah, nor that the quote is from the Zohar, a book which says nothing about the Trinity and in fact goes to great lengths to ensure that the student never for a moment thinks that God is ontologically divisible.

    When you quoted this single verse out of context I believe you violated your own principles:

    “There are groups out there (yes we’re picking on the cults again) that constantly twist context by isolating a verse or collecting other isolated verses and reading them as a conclusion that was never meant to be.”

    “Meaning that you read twenty verses before and twenty after a particular verse to decipher its meaning/context. I take it a little step further sometimes, where I’ll just read the chapter before and the one after to get an even better scope of context, when applicable.”

    “Culture – In the West we often forget that the Bible is truly a Middle Eastern book. It’s beneficial to keep this in mind when we read it. For example, there are Jewish idioms used throughout the Bible that might not make sense to us, but by learning the different ones used, it will help us gain clarity.”

    “Some words have a multiplicity of meaning depending on the context of its usage. You will find such a study helpful for when you see someone (perhaps we are guilty too) misapplying the language incorrectly whether on purpose or by accident.”

    Kabbalah also has its very own languages, the text is written in Aramaic, but the words have esoteric meanings not appareny, even to uninitiated Aramaic readers. Since you have never read this passage in the original language, nor learned the meaning of the words, nor read the Zohar in any language whatsoever, nor been a student of Kabbalah under the training of a Master how can you possibly have any understanding as to what is meant by this single isolated verse?

    But even within the context of the verse itself, it can never be applied to the Trinity which speaks of three “persons”. The Zohar does not speak of any persons. The passage refers to three dargiyn “degrees” which literally translated means three steps or rungs on a ladder. Have you ever heard the Trinity describes in such a way? What definition of the Trinity contains the language of “rungs” or “steps” or “ladder”? And this is merely the simple meaning. The context is not at all about anything remotely about the Trinity but about the significance of the various niqqudot applied to the tetragrammaton.

    There is not a single Orthodox Rabbi that has ever believed or taught the Trinity doctrine and it is certainly not described nor taught in the Zohar and is never taught in Kabbalah. You are attempting to reinterpret something radically out of religious, cultural, linguistic and topical context and presenting your alien conclusion that the original author never intended. Although such absurdity may be readily accepted by uncritical Christian audiences, these kinds of claims would not even be momentarily entertained by an Orthodox Jew in any age. Finding support for the Trinity from within Judaism will forever remain a desperate fantasy of the Christian missionary.

    • razorswift says:

      “It is most interesting that you did not inform your readers that the Rabbi was not a Trinitarian, nor were any of his disciples, nor that he is the author of the Zohar, the heart of Kabbalah, nor that the quote is from the Zohar…When you quoted this single verse out of context I believe you violated your own principles:”

      You need to reread the quote carefully, Clarke says:

      “He must be strangely prejudiced indeed who cannot see that the doctrine of a Trinity, and of a Trinity in unity, is expressed in the above words.”

      I followed up with:

      “..this rabbi inadvertently defines the Trinity!”

      Whether he taught, or believed the Trinity is irrelevant to my premise that he STILL defined it; using the key word “inadvertently”. Have a good one my friend.

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