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                                      EL ELOHE ISRAEL GENESIS I5:7-I4.                  

                                                                                        יהוה

                                        An LXX, A & B for further REFINEMENT is recommended.   

 GENISIS 33: 20; First Mention. Interesting, isn't it, Hebrews Chapter 4:I2-I6. and how UPON rightly dividing the Torah/Bible one is immediately confronted in the Hebrew text (Gen. 1:1) with the word "Elohim" in the plural number; hence it is proper to begin building the basic foundational cornerstone with:

                                      I. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PLURAL NOUN אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim

 In the first statement of the Tenach/Old Test: בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃ "In the beginning ELOHIM created the heavens and the earth," the word which is translated "ELOHIM" is אֱלֹהִים, and is in the plural number, as is well known to all Hebrew scholars. All Hebrew nouns ending with ים―, im, are masculine and are in the plural number. As an example note the word, כְּרֻבִים which means more than one, the singular being כְּרוּב, cherub (see Psa. 18:10 (11). Another illustration is שְׂרָפִים which is the plural of שָׂרָף, saraph.

 For conclusive proof that אֱלֹהִים is in the plural number, and means more than one, look, dear reader, at the First Commandment found in Exodus 20:3.לֹא־יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל־פָּנָי׃

 "Not shall there be to you other gods before me" (Author's literal Tr.). The word אֱלֹהִים here is correctly translated "gods," meaning many gods, and is modified" by אֲחֵרִים which means "strange" or "other" and is likewise in the plural number.

 Another instance may be cited which is found in Deut. 13:2 (3).נֵלְכָה אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יְדַעְתָּם וְנָעָבְדֵם׃ saying,

 Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them." Here the words translated "other gods" are the same as occurred in the First Commandment (see Ex. 18:11 and Judg. 10:13).

 All translators, both Jewish and Gentile, correctly translate אֱלֹהִים "gods" in these and in all other passages where it refers to idols. Hundreds of instances could be adduced, but these are sufficient to make the point clear.

 If, when this word refers to heathen gods, it is to be translated grammatically and correctly in the plural number, why should the grammar be ignored and the word be translated as if it were a singular noun when it refers to Israel's God, since the facts are that it is a plural noun and means more than one?*

                            II. SIGNIFICANCE OF PLURAL VERBS USED WITH אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim

 In addition to the proof which is furnished by the plural noun אֱלֹהִים, the use of the verb in the plural number, used in connection with אֱלֹהִים, indicates that there is a plurality of Divine Personalities.† In Gen. 20 there is recorded a conversation which took place between Abimelech and Abraham, in which conversation Abraham (v. 13) said: וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר הִתְעוּ אֹתִי אֱלֹהִים מִבֵּית אָבִי "And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house." The word הִתְעוּ, hith'u, is in the plural number and has as its subject אֱלֹהִים. From the use of this plural verb the one legitimate inference that may be drawn is that Abraham recognized that there is a plurality of Divine Personalities.

 Again, this same fact is presented in Gen. 35:7, in which passage one reads that Jacob built an altar to the Lord, and called the name of the place אֵל־בֵּית אֵל, "For there the Gods revealed themselves unto him when he fled from the face of his brother" (Author's Tr.). The verb נִגְלוּ, niglu, is in the plural number and has for its subject הָאֱלֹהִים. There were more than one of the Divine Persons who revealed themselves to Jacob as indicated by the plural noun and the plural verb.

                           III. THE WORD "GOD" APPLIED TO TWO DIVINE PERSONALITIES

 The plurality of Divine Personalities is again seen by the fact that in several Scriptures there appears to be a distinction between "God" and "God." A typical case of this distinction is found in Psa. 45:6,7 (7,8). The inspired Psalmist in verse 6, addressing God, said: "Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: A sceptre of equity is the sceptre of thy kingdom." From this statement it is clearly seen that the Psalmist is addressing the Eternal, Omnipotent God, for such is the signification of אֱלֹהִים "God." still speaking within the conversation with God in verse 7 (8), the Psalmist furthermore, says: עַל־כֵּן מְשָׁחֲךָ אֱלֹהִים אֱלֹהֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן שָׂשׂוֹן מֵחֲבֵרֶךָ׃ "Therefore God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows."

 From this Psalm it is evident that the inspired Psalmist in verse 6 addressed God, who, according to the Targum, is the Messiah; hence אֱלֹהִים in verse 6 is in the second person; and in speaking to God the Messiah, the Psalmist speaks of "God, thy God" in the third person, who is the God of the Messiah; but since the Messiah is none other than God in human form, as will appear later on in this book, it is clear from this passage that there are at least two Divine Personalities who are eternal and omnipotent. Again, at least two Divine Personalities appear in Hosea's prophecy. In Hos. 1:2, 4, 6 the Lord speaks to Israel. Continuing His message to her in verse 7, the Lord says, וְאֶת־בֵּית יְהוּדָה אֲרַחֵם וְהוֹשַׁעְתִּים בַּיהוָה אֱלֹהֵיהֶם "I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them (Israel) by the Lord their God." If one man should promise another that he would do a certain work by a third person, it would be quite evident that the one who does the work is different from the one through whom he does it. Such is the case with this prediction. Hence the Lord who speaks is different from the Lord who actually delivers Israel. As another illustration of the distinction between the Divine Personalities, note Psa. 110:1: לְדָוִד מִזְמוֹר נְאֻם יְהוָה לַאדֹנִי שֵׁב לִימִינִי עַד־אָשִׁית אֹיְבֶיךָ הֲדֹם לְרַגְלֶיךָ׃ "YHWH saith unto my YHWH, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." This Psalm is likewise understood in rabbinical writings to be a messianic prediction. This statement being true, the Lord speaks to the Psalmist's Lord a certain revelation. אֲדֹנִי 'adoni, is here used with reference to the Messiah; hence He is divine. (See Chapter XIII of the Eternal God Revealing Himself for discussion of Psa. 110). Therefore from this passage it is also manifest that there are at least two Divine Personalities.

                      IV. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PLURAL NOUN אֲדֹנָי, 'adoni

 The word אֲדֹנָי is the plural construct form of the word אֲדוֹן with the suffix י–ָ which is the personal pronoun "my" first person, singular number, possessive case, and which is attached to a plural or dual noun. Hence this sacred name, which occurs hundreds of times in the Tenach and is applied to God only, is in the plural number. This fact likewise corroborates the position that there are more than one Divine Personality.

                           V. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PLURAL PRONOUNS

 A fifth group of facts pointing toward the conclusion of a plurality of Divine Personalities is the use of the plural pronouns in a number of passages which refer to God.

 A. The first example where this usage is found is in Gen. 1:26 which gives a conversation introduced by the words, וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים "God said, ":נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ, "Let us make man in our image, and according to our likeness." From this quotation one is forced to the irresistible conclusion that the speaker, who is God, and the one to whom He was speaking, are of the same divine essence or nature, for he uses the words, דְמוּת צֶלֶם demuth tselem, "image and likeness" in the singular number and attaches the plural personal pronoun "our" to these singular nouns. This fact in and of itself shows that the speaker and the one addressed are of the same image and substance. Hence since the speaker is God, the eternal God, the one spoken to is none less than the eternal God.

 B. A second use of the plural personal pronoun is found in Gen. 3:22, in which God says after man's disobedience וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים הֵן הָאָדָם הָיָה כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ "Behold, the man is become as one of us." Again, it is evident that the speaker, the self-existing God, speaks to another who is of the same nature as Himself, by the use of the expression כְּאַחַד מִמֶּנּוּ "as one of us." Such language as this God could not use in speaking to a created being. The language unquestionably implies the equality of the speaker and the one addressed.

 C. This same usage is seen in the account of the destruction of the Tower of Babel recorded in Gen. 11. In verse 7 God said הָבָה נֵרְדָה וְנָבְלָה שָׁם שְׂפָתָם "Come, let us go down, and there confound their language." The explanation of the two passages just discussed is the only satisfying interpretation of this passage.

 Solomon, to whom God gave special wisdom (I Kings 3:12), urged young people in the days of their youth to וּזְכֹר אֶת־בּוֹרְאֶיךָ "remember now thy creators" (Author's Tr., Eccl. 12:1). To the Hebrew student it is very plain that בּוֹרְאֶיךָ, bor'eka, is in the plural number, as is indicated by the accompanying vowel which joins the personal pronoun "thy" to the participle "creators." Again, in Psa. 149:2 יִשְׂמַח יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּעֹשָׂיו "Let Israel rejoice in his Makers." The personal pronoun יו ָ "his" shows that the participle is in the plural number and refers to Israel's God. The facts noted in this paragraph confirm the interpretation of the significance of the pronouns in paragraphs A, B, and C.

                          VI. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PLURAL ADJECTIVE

 In Deut. 4: 7 appears the following statement:
כִּי מִי־גוֹי גָּדוֹל אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ אֱלֹהִים קְרֹבִים אֵלָיו כַּיהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ בְּכָל־קָרְאֵנוּ אֵלָיו׃
"For what great nation is there, that hath a god so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is whensoever we call upon him?" In the translation of the Jewish Pub. Soc. אֱלֹהִים is translated as though it were a singular noun and capitalized, which fact shows that the translator understood that it referred to the God of Israel. Isaac Leeser translates it "gods." In the Revised Version it is translated by the expression "a god." These facts show a diversity of opinion as to whom Moses had in mind. This question, however, does not affect the grammar of the original text. The question is, "Is אֱלֹהִים singular or plural?" That it is plural is clearly seen from the adjective קְרֹבִים, kerovim, which is in the plural number and which modifies it. The singular of this adjective is קָּרֹב, karov.

 Another instance of the adjective in the plural number modifying אֱלֹהִים appears in Josh. 24:19,20: וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אֶל־הָעָם לֹא תוּכְלוּ לַעֲבֹד אֶת־יְהוָה כִּי־אֱלֹהִים קְדֹשִׁים הוּא אֵל־קַנּוֹא הוּא לֹא־יִשָּׂא לְפִשְׁעֲכֶם וּלְחַטֹּאותֵיכֶם׃ כִּי תַעַזְבוּ אֶת־יְהוָה וַעֲבַדְתֶּם אֱלֹהֵי נֵכָר וְשָׁב וְהֵרַע לָכֶם וְכִלָּה אֶתְכֶם אַחֲרֵי אֲשֶׁר־הֵיטִיב לָכֶם׃ "And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the Lord; for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgression nor your sins. If ye forsake the Lord, and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you evil, and consume you, after that he hath done you good." אֱלֹהִים is here modified by קְדֹשִׁים, kedoshim, which is in the plural number קָדוֹשׁ is singular. Therefore אֱלֹהִים is in the plural number since there must be agreement between the adjective and the noun which it modifies.

                                            VII. אֱלֹהִים TRANSLATED "JUDGES"

 Another fact which proves that אֱלֹהִים is plural is that in Ex. 21:6; 22:8,9,28 of the translation by Isaac Leeser it is rendered "judges." In the version of the Jewish Pub. Soc. in the text it is translated "God" with this marginal note, "that is, the judges." In the American Revised Version (marginal note) it is likewise translated "the judges." Whenever certain ones came for grievance to the judges, who were God's official representatives in Israel, Moses said that they were coming to God. Hence in a secondary sense the word might properly be rendered "judges." The point, however, here is that it is recognized by these translators as being in the plural.

                           VIII. THE MEANING OF אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהוָה 'el, 'elohim, yahweh

 The data which have been presented under the preceding divisions of this artical prove conclusively that there is a plurality of personalities in the Divine Being. Evidence corroborating this conclusion may be seen in a quotation from Joshua 22:21-29.

 21 Then the children of Reuben and the children of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh answered, and spake unto the heads of the thousands of Israel, 22 The Mighty One, God, Jehovah, the Mighty One, God, Jehovah; he knoweth; and Israel he shall know: if it be in rebellion, or if in trespass against YHWH (save thou us not this day), 23 that we have built us an altar to turn away from following Jehovah; or if to offer thereon burnt-offering or meal-offering, or if to offer sacrifices of peace-offerings thereon, let YHWHhimself require it; 24 and if we have not rather out of carefulness done this, and of purpose, saying, In time to come your children might speak unto our children, saying, What have ye to do with Jehovah, the God of Israel? 25 for YHWHhath made the Jordan a border between us and you, ye children of Reuben and children of Gad; ye have no portion in Jehovah: so might your children make our children cease from fearing Jehovah. 26 Therefore we said, Let us now prepare to build us an altar, not for burnt-offering, nor for sacrifice: 27 but it shall be a witness between us and you, and between our generations after us, that we may do the service of YHWH before him with our burnt-offerings, and with our sacrifices, and with our peace-offerings; that your children may not say to our children in time to come, Ye have no portion in Jehovah. 28 Therefore said we, It shall be, when they so say to us or to our generations in time to come, that we shall say, Behold the pattern, of the altar of Jehovah, which our fathers made, not for burnt-offering, nor for sacrifice; but it is a witness between us and you. 29 Far be it from us that we should rebel against Jehovah, and turn away this day from following Jehovah, to build an altar for burnt-offering, for meal-offering, or for sacrifice, besides the altar of YHWHour God that is before his tabernacle.

 The occasion which called forth these words was as follows. At the completion of the wars of conquest the men of the two and one-half tribes of Israel who settled on the east side of Jordan bade farewell to their comrades-in-arms (the warriors of the nine and one-half tribes who settled on the west side of the river) and started on their way home. Upon their reaching the Plains of Jericho, they erected an altar "by the Jordan, a great altar to look upon" (Josh. 22:10). Their purpose in building it was that it might serve as a memorial to which they in future generations could point as evidence in affirming that they were of the same stock as were their brethren on the west side of Jordan. When the news concerning the erecting of this altar reached the Israelites, who had just settled down in their own homes, they flew to arms and pursued their brethren, overtaking them in the Plains of the Jordan. Immediately they accused them of attempting to set up an altar for the purpose of worshiping God--contrary to the instructions given by Moses. In reply those accused stated the case as given in the quotation above. From the context it is clear that the accusers thought of this altar as a place of idolatrous worship. This idea is reflected in the answer to this false charge.

 In making their defense, the heads of the thousands of Israel declared: "God, Gods, Jehovah--God, Gods, Jehovah--he knoweth; and Israel he shall know: if it be in rebellion, or if in trespass against YHWH(save thou us not this day), that we have built us an altar to turn away from following YHWH. . . (lit. trans.). Let the reader note that the word for God, which is אֵל, 'el, is in the singular number. In apposition with it is אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim, which literally means Gods. Also in apposition with these words is יְהוָה, Yahweh, which means the Eternal One, or the Uncaused Cause of all things, and which is translated Jehovah. The use of אֵל, God, in the singular indicates the unity of the Divine Being. The employment of אֱלֹהִים, Gods, in the plural, which is in apposition with אֵל, 'el, God, is equivalent to an affirmation of a plurality of personalities in the Almighty. The word Jehovah, being in apposition with these terms, is used for the purpose of identifying those to whom the speakers refer by the use of the word Gods in the plural as being the God of Israel.

 The fact that the three terms, just mentioned, were used on this occasion is not accidental. For instance, there would have been no point in the use of the word אֵל, 'el, and then repeating it. Neither would there have been sense in employing the term אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim, and then repeating it. Moreover, this was not in accordance with Hebrew custom. For instance, in the priestly blessing the word YHWHappears in three parallel petitions (Num. 6:24-26). This same triple use of a term is seen in the cries of the seraphim, "Holy, holy, holy, is YHWHof hosts. . . ." as they worshiped the Lord (Isa. 6:3). As we notice the terms אֵל ,אֱלֹהִים ,יְהוָה God, Gods, Jehovah, we see three distinct forms. Evidently there was a reason for the employment of these different words. When we recognize that the first one is a noun in the singular number and means God, that the second is in the plural and signifies Gods, and that the third is the memorial name of the Almighty, which He revealed to Israel at Sinai, we may be absolutely certain that the biblical writers who use these terms employed them in order to express the exact thought conveyed by them when literally understood. There is nothing in this context to indicate a departure from their ordinary, usual significance. In such circumstances we are bound, therefore, to accept the literal meaning of each, if we wish to be logical and to arrive at the exact thought of the original speakers. Honest men, in ordinary life, who try to make themselves understood, as these men evidently did, employ words with their ordinary connotations. We have every reason to believe that these words are equivalent, as stated above, to an affirmation that the Divine Being is one in a definite sense of the term, that He is at the same time a plurality of personalities in a different sense; and that this Being is the one who entered into covenant relationship with Israel at Sinai, and who revealed His memorial name to the nation as Jehovah.

 In Psalm 50:1 we have the same idiom, word for word. It is rendered in the Revised Version as follows: "The Mighty One, God, Jehovah, hath spoken, And called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof." In the use of the word אֵל, God, in the singular, the unity of the Supreme Being is asserted; whereas the plurality of personalities subsisting in the one divine essence is set forth by the use of the word אֱלֹהִים, God. Thus this uni-plural, sovereign Being is identified as YHWHיְהוָה, "the God of Israel."

 In the light of the indisputable facts which have been presented in this chapter, we come to the conclusion that there is a plurality of personalities in the one God.

 As we have already seen, אֵל, 'el, is in the singular number and denotes one in the absolute sense of the term, but אֱלֹהִים is in the plural number and signifies more than two--three or more. The reason for this assertion is that the Hebrew had the dual number which, as all know, indicates two. It is true that the dual form in Hebrew, as in Greek, gradually disappeared and the plural number was used to take its place. Nevertheless, in the early stages of the language, when the dual was in use, it would have become a fixed form in referring to the Deity, if the early patriarchs had considered God as a dual being. The fact of their using the plural number indicated their understanding that there were at least three personalities in the Divine Being.

 Another case in point is found in Deuteronomy 10:17:
כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם הוּא אֱלֹהֵי הָאֱלֹהִים וַאֲדֹנֵי הָאֲדֹנִים הָאֵל הַגָּדֹל הַגִּבֹּר וְהַנּוֹרָא אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יִשָּׂא פָנִים וְלֹא יִקַּח שֹׁחד׃ "For YHWHyour God, he is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty, and the terrible, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward." Literally rendered, the sentence reads as follows: "For YHWHyour Gods is the Gods of the gods, the Lords of the lords, the God--great, mighty, and terrible--who regards not persons, nor taketh reward." Here Jehovah, the true God, speaks of Himself as being the Gods of Israel. He also designates Himself as "the Gods of the gods, and the Lords of the lords." These expressions echo the plurality of divine personalities of the one Sovereign Being. But to avoid the error of polytheism, He asserts their unity by using the word אֵל, God, in the singular number. Then He differentiates Himself from idols by asserting His absoluteness in greatness, power, and terribleness--He is the almighty sovereign.

 That I have put the normal construction upon Joshua 22:22 Psalm 50:1, and Deuteronomy 10:17 becomes apparent in the light that comes to us from Genesis 33:20: "And he erected there an altar, and called it 'el-elohe-Israel אֵל אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל  "This expression rendered literally is "God, the Gods of Israel." To translate the second word of this expression in the genitive relation does not make sense. If one should do so, it would read as follows "God of the Gods of Israel." But to render the first word, which is in the singular number, God of; and the third, Israel, is to recognize a normal Hebraic idiom, which makes good sense. Hence the rendering, "God, the Gods of Israel," is in keeping with the genius of the language and makes the text intelligible to all who wish facts and truth. Here again we see that the forms of the words used confirm the conclusions reached regarding God's being a unity and at the same time a plurality of personalities.

       IX. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim, WHEN USED AS A SINGULAR NOUN

 In the preceding sections of this chapter we have seen data which prove conclusively, without a shade of a doubt, that אֱלֹהִים 'elohim, is a plural noun and is rendered literally Gods. Every standard Hebrew lexicon which I have consulted shows this as a noun in the plural number, masculine gender. All standard Hebrew grammars tell us that ים―  im, is the regular ending of a noun in the masculine gender and plural number. About this statement there can be absolutely no question.

 Footnotes:

 *The writer is aware of the argument that the plural noun אלהים is the plural of "excellency, majesty." He admits frankly, that in the Semitic world such usage was common when subjects addressed their king or at times spoke concerning him; but in the passages examined in this section, and in numerous other passages, there is nothing in the context of any of them which warrants a departure from the strict grammatical interpretation of the words and the substitution of an interpretation invented to support a theological bias.

 Proof for the "plural of Majesty" is sought for, in such passages as Judg. 11-24: "Wilt not thou possess that which כמוש (Chemosh) thy God giveth thee to possess?" כמוש is in the singular number and is the name of the God of Moab, and in apposition with it is אלהיך "thy Gods." From this passage it is argued that since אלהיך is in apposition with כמוש and Since it is in the plural number, it is the plural of majesty, which conforms to the Semitic usage with reference to rulers. Therefore it is contended that אלהים אלהיך אלהינו etc., simply mean "God, thy God, our God," and are not to be taken in their primary, ordinary, literal meaning, the supposition being that when applied to the God of Israel they are the plural of majesty. In reply to this argument it is sufficient to note the fact that כמוש was not the name of one idol only, but it was the name of innumerable idols throughout the kingdom. Hence כמוש though in the singular form is a collective noun which embraced every idol of the realm. Hence אלהיך "thy gods" conforms strictly to the correct grammatical usage of the language and means "thy gods." The same explanation holds good with reference to Dagon in I Sam. 5:7 and like passages.

 †Personality is not to be confounded with corporeality. One is as much of a personality after death as he is before. Angels who have not human bodies are personalities. Likewise, God is רוח "spirit" without a material body yet He is a personality.

 1 The statement in Ex. 4:16 ודבר־הוא לך אל־העם והיה הוא יהיה־לך לפה ואתה תהיה־לו לאלהים "And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people; and it shall come to pass, that he shall be to thee a mouth, and thou shalt be to him as God," is considered by some to be overwhelming proof that אלהים, though plural in form, is singular in meaning. In support of this contention the question is asked, "How can אלהים be plural when Moses was to be to Aaron לאלהים ?" This question is quite proper and seems to bear directly upon the question under consideration.

 In replying to this argument it is sufficient to call attention to the fact that a comparison or parable has one point of contact with the truth to be taught, and no attempt should be made to make it fit in all points. The function of a comparison may be illustrated by two circles which are tangent the one to the other; hence there is but one point of contact. Thus it is with all comparisons; those illustrations are used whose outstanding characteristic will illustrate the matter in hand.

 The context of this passage points definitely to what the point of contact is between the illustration and the lesson to be taught. Verse 15 states that Moses should speak to Aaron and that the former should put his words in the latter's mouth. Verse 16 adds that he, Aaron, should speak to the people in behalf of Moses and that he (Aaron) should be a mouth for him (Moses). These data show that Aaron was to be the spokesman נביא for Moses. A spokesman or prophet in Israel was a representative of God, hence, since the message Aaron was to deliver the people was to be given him by Moses, he sustained the relationship of prophet to Moses; since God is the correlative term of prophet it was but natural that God should say that Moses should be to Aaron as God. This conclusion is furthermore confirmed by the fact that Moses being invested with the power of God to perform miracles and to deliver the chosen people was God's representative on earth. These facts being true, to speak of the reciprocal relationship between Moses and Aaron in these words "he shall be to thee for a mouth and thou shall be to him for God," was the only natural, normal comparison to be used. Therefore this passage has no bearing upon the meaning of אלהים. The same explanation is to be given for Ex. 7:1 and all similar passages.

 2 Some translators render the words under discussion in this manner: "God of gods, Jehovah, God of gods, Jehovah... "the following phrases are examples of this construction: "God of gods" in Dan. 11:36, "the God of thy father" in Genesis 49:25, "the God of Israel" in Ps. 68:35, "God of truth" in Ps. 31:5, and "the God of Jacob" in Ps 146:5. From a gramatical standpoint, to translate אֵל אֱלֹהִים, 'el 'elohim, as God of gods is correct, but there is nothing in the context to lead one to adopt this rendering. There are, however, weighty considerations that favor the translation given in the text above.
  
 (Continued-chapter I- The Plurality Of The Divine Personalities)

 Since this word has the plural ending and is listed by all lexicographers and grammarians as a noun in the plural number, we must accept this connotation in every instance unless there are facts in the context showing a departure from the ordinary, usual literal meaning. In this connection let me call attention again to what I term the Golden Rule of Interpretation which is: "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise."

 Every context must be consulted in order to get the full significance of a given term. For instance, in Exodus 21:5,6, the word הָאֱלֹהִים, ha'elohim, appears, but from the context we see that it refers to the judges, the representatives of God. Again, in Psalm 97:7 this same word occurs in the sentence: "Worship him, all ye אֱלֹהִים, gods." Here it refers to the angels who are called upon to worship the Supreme Being; but in Exodus 20:3, we have these words: "Thou shalt have no other אֱלֹהִים, gods, before me." Here our word signifies foreign gods or idols. This interpretation is demanded by the facts of the context. Such examples could be multiplied greatly, but these are sufficient to show that the word Elohim has various connotations and that each context must be examined closely to determine its meaning in a given case.

 We are to assume, however, that it has its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning in every case where the evidence does not point to a secondary or derived meaning. Whenever, therefore, there is no contrary evidence, we are to understand our word as referring to the plurality of persons subsisting in the one divine nature.

 To clarify the matter further, let us look at Genesis, chapter 1. In this stately narration, we see Elohim occurring thirty-two times. When we glance at the ending, we know that this is a noun in the plural number, masculine gender, and that it refers to the Eternal Creator. When we notice, in verse 26, that אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim, said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness . . . ," we know that this word can have only a plural connotation. A conversation was held among the Elohim in regard to making man. Someone spoke, addressing others, and urged that they, the speaker and the ones addressed, should make man in their own image. The one talking and those addressed had only one image and one likeness. This fact precludes our understanding that this proposal was spoken to created beings. Angels cannot create anything. The word בָּרָא, bara' which means to create, that is, to bring into existence that which had neither form nor substance, occurs fifty-odd times in the Hebrew Scriptures. Every time it appears in the active voice, God is the subject, because He and He alone can perform the act of creating. In view of this fact we may be absolutely certain that the speaker in this instance was not talking to created beings, but to other divine personalities, who have the power to create. Furthermore, we know that the Almighty has one image, being uncreated; the angels, being created, have a nature and image essentially different from God. But those engaging in this conference are in the same image and likeness--in the absolute sense of the term. There is but one likeness and one image. They therefore are of the same nature and essence. Since this conversation was held prior to the creation of man, and since those engaged in the conference are of one nature and substance, we see that these facts corroborate the position that the word Elohim is in the plural number. No other construction can be placed upon it in this context.

 But in certain other contexts this same word Elohim has a singular connotation. This fact, however, is not attributable to the form of the word, but to the facts of the context in which it appears. As an example of this usage, let us turn to Exodus 3:1-12:

 3 Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the back of the wilderness, and came to the mountain of God, unto Horeb. 2 And the angel of YHWHappeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3 And Moses said I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4 And when YHWHsaw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. 5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. 6 Moreover he said I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God; 7 And YHWHsaid, I have surely seen the affliction of my people that are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8 and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Amorite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite. 9 And now, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: moreover I have seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. 11 And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? 12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee: and this shall be the token unto thee, that I have sent thee; when thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

 According to verse 2, מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה, "the angel of Jehovah," appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. As we shall see in Chapter IV, this "angel of Jehovah" is called יְהוָה, Jehovah, himself. Upon seeing this unusual sight, Moses approached the spot but was forbidden to draw any nearer. This prohibition was uttered by Jehovah. This YHWHis none other than the angel of YHWHof verse 2. In verse 4 we see that this angel of YHWHwho is here called אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim, Gods, spoke "out of the midst of the bush" to Moses. This same speaker declared, according to verse 6, "I am אֱלֹהֵי 'elohe, the Gods of thy father, the Gods of Abraham, the Gods of Isaac, and the Gods of Jacob." Moreover, YHWHdeclared, according to verse 7, "I have surely seen the affliction of my people that are in Egypt . . . and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians. . . ." In verse 10 this same angel of Jehovah, in His talking to Moses, declared that He would send him to Pharaoh. According to verse 12, He promised to be with him and bring forth the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage.

 Moses inquired concerning the name of this angel, who is called both יְהוָה, Jehovah, and אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim. The divine answer was, אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה " I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you" (vs. 14). From all the facts of this passage, it becomes abundantly evident that one of the divine personalities appeared to Moses on this occasion. This one, as we have already seen, was called "the angel of Jehovah," Jehovah, and Elohim. Since there is but one divine personality mentioned in this passage, although three different names are applied to Him, one may come to the conclusion that אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim, though in the plural number, here has a singular connotation. Thus the facts of the immediate context show clearly that Elohim in this instance cannot have the plural signification, but is addressed to the one divine personality.

 Upon what principle can we account for the use of this plural noun and its being applied to a single individual? The explanation probably is to be found in the expression of Genesis 1:27, which we have already studied in Section V. Those engaging in the conversation recognized that they had a single image and likeness. In other words, there was in each of these personalities all that which is connoted by the term, the Divine Being. Expressed differently, I would say that in each of these the fullness of deity dwelt.

 Let us notice another passage in which the word Elohim, though plural in form, has the singular connotation. In Psalm 45 we see the fourfold portrait of King Messiah. In verse 2 He, by the psalmist who sees Him in vision, is recognized as a man and is addressed as such. But in verses 3-5 the same inspired writer, in vision beholding Messiah, sees Him as the Mighty One, who alone can cope with the world situation. Being transported to the end of this age--when wickedness and sin will prevail and those living righteous, true, godly, non-resisting lives will be persecuted--the psalmist urges this Mighty One to buckle on His armor and go into action against the forces and powers of wickedness. In verse 5 He is seen in action as He conquers the entire world. Then, in verses 6-8 the picture is changed. Here the psalmist beholds Messiah seated upon His throne of glory and wielding a scepter of equity and righteousness over the peoples of earth. Again, he addresses Him as he did while standing before the two former portraits mentioned above. This time he speaks to Him in this manner: כִּסְאֲךָ אֱלֹהִים עוֹלָם וָעֶד שֵׁבֶט מִישֹׁר שֵׁבֶט מַלְכוּתֶךָ׃ "Thy throne, 0 God, is for ever and ever: A sceptre of equity is the sceptre of thy kingdom." The suffix ךָ ֲ, aka (thy), attached to the word throne in the Hebrew is in the singular number. Nevertheless, King Messiah is here addressed as Elohim. Since this plural noun is applied to a single individual--King Messiah--it is evident that, though it is plural in form, in this connection it has a singular connotation.

 In verse 7 the psalmist continues to address King Messiah, uttering these words: "Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated wickedness: Therefore, אֱלֹהִים אֱלֹהֶיךָ, O God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Here again King Messiah is addressed by the use of the אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim, and is told that His God אֱלֹהֶיךָ, thy God (direct discourse), has anointed Him with the oil of gladness above His fellows. The term Elohim is applied to King Messiah who is told that His God had anointed Him. When one remembers that the psalmist, in vision, addresses King Messiah as the fairest of men--fairer than the children of men (vs. 2); when one also remembers that the psalmist again addresses the same one as the Mighty Warrior, from whose person there shine forth glory and majesty, who goes forth to conquer the world and becomes victor; and when one studies carefully verses 6-8, in which Messiah is twice addressed as אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim, one can see that Elohim, though plural in form, in this context has a singular connotation.

 In view of the fact that אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim (Gods), has, as I have just shown, a singular connotation in certain contexts, one may ask if it may not have this same special meaning in every case. My answer is a most emphatic denial. In the preceding sections of this chapter I have presented eight classes of facts which prove conclusively that Elohim is a plural noun carrying a plural meaning. Moreover, I have shown that it connotes a plurality of the persons or beings that are under consideration in a given context. In its original, primary, usual meaning it refers to the divine personalities known in the Hebrew Scriptures as אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, 'elohe Yisrael, the Gods of Israel. We are to understand that it has this connotation in every place where it appears unless the facts of the context indicate otherwise. In certain contexts the facts show that it refers to angels; in others, to judges who officiate as God's representatives at the sanctuary; and in other connections it designates idols. The facts, and only the facts of a given context, can decide the specific meaning in any case.

 But in certain contexts the facts prove, as I have shown above, that it has also a singular connotation. One cannot guess about a given case but must let the facts of each context indicate the meaning of the writer.

 As I shall show in the next chapter, Israel's Great Confession disproves the supposition now under consideration. According to it Moses declared, שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד׃ "Hear, 0 Israel, YHWH our Gods is YHWHa unity" (Deut. 6:4, lit. trans.). אֱלֹהֵינוּ, 'elohenu, as we shall see, is plural and literally means "our Gods." But the statement affirms that, though there is a plurality of divine personalities constituting the Supreme Being, they are in a real and unique sense a unity. So long, therefore, as words have definite meanings and language a set syntax, this Great Confession of Israel cannot be twisted to mean anything different from what it states plainly in the accurate translation given above--if it is studied and analyzed in accordance with scientific principles. For this and other reasons, that time does not permit my giving, I assert that Elohim primarily and usually refers to the three divine personalities constituting the Supreme Being. One cannot therefore read a singular meaning into this word unless the facts of a certain context indicate a departure from the literal meaning and demand a secondary or a metaphorical definition.

 In order to illustrate the fact that one cannot employ a secondary or a metaphorical use of a word indiscriminately wherever it occurs but must consult the facts of the context, let me call attention to the Greek word psall-o, which primarily, according to Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, means to pluck off, pull out. Out of this idea came the following: to cause to vibrate by touching, to twang. The next step in the evolution of the word was to touch or strike the cord, to twang the strings of a musical instrument so that they gently vibrate. Soon it came to mean to play on a stringed instrument, to play the harp. In the course of time it came to express the idea to sing to the music of the harp. Finally, in the New Testament it signified to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song.

 According to this lexicon the primary meaning of our word is to pluck off, or pull out. The fundamental idea of plucking or twitching a string runs through the history of the term. Even under the metaphorical meaning of the word--to sing God's praises--lies the fundamental idea of plucking a string or cord. In this case the vocal cords are the ones that are twitched and caused to vibrate in praising the Lord.

 For one to ignore the context of a given passage and to force the metaphorical meaning of singing praises to God upon the term everywhere it occurs is to violate the fundamental principles of grammar, logic, and exegesis. The facts of each context must guide one in ascertaining which of the several shades of meaning is intended in each case. In the same manner one cannot take the metaphorical meaning of the word 'elohim when it is applied to one of the divine personalities in a given context and force this meaning on it regardless of the context.

 As another illustration of the principle under discussion I wish to call attention to the word messiah, which is a good Hebrew term.

 If one will look at Leviticus 4:3,5,16, one will see that the word messiah, or "anointed," modifies the word priest. This fact shows that the priest was called the anointed of God--or messiah.

 The same term is applied to the prophets, some of whom at least were inducted into office by the anointing ceremony. In Psalm 105:15 we have this language:

 "... Touch not mine anointed ones, And do my prophets no harm."

 Here the appellation "anointed ones" corresponds to "my prophets" in this parallel structure. This fact shows that the prophet were likewise called anointed ones.

 Saul, the first king of Israel, was called God's "anointed." He was a "messiah" because he was inducted into office by the anointing ceremony. When the Lord wanted David anointed as king to supersede Saul, He had Jesse to bring his sons to Samuel the prophet. When the first one appeared before this man of God, he looking at the outward appearance, said, "Surely Jehovah's anointed is before him" (I Sam. 16:6). God informed the prophet that Eliab, who was then before him, was not the one. After Jesse had caused all his sons to pass before Samuel except the youngest, Samuel revealed the fact that none of those could be the anointed of the Lord. Finally, when David was brought, the Lord spoke to Samuel saying, "Arise, anoint him; for this is he." When the ceremony was performed, the Spirit of God came mightily upon David and from that time onward he was known as the Lord's "anointed."

 Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, is likewise called the Lord's messiah, as we see in Lamentations 4:20. Cyrus, the heathen king of the Medo-Persian empire, also is called the Lord's messiah.

 In I Samuel 2:10 we see a reference in Hannah's prophetic message concerning the Lord's anointed or messiah. An examination of the context shows that this statement refers to Israel's Messiah of the future. The same interpretation is to be placed upon Psalm 2:2. An examination of Daniel 9:25,26 makes clear the position that the Messiah mentioned in this prophecy is none other than Israel's future Redeemer, for whose coming the nation has looked through the centuries.

 From the facts just stated, one can see that the word messiah (anointed) has various shades of meaning. Its significance in a given case must be determined entirely by the facts of the immediate context and whatever information can be gathered from related passages. It would therefore be illogical for a person to take any one special meaning of the word messiah and force it on every passage where the term occurs. Usually whenever we speak of the Messiah we are thinking of Israel's Redeemer and the Saviour of the world. But we must not force this meaning upon every occurrence of the word. The facts of each context are, as stated repeatedly, to determine the special meaning which any word has in a given context. The same principle is true with reference to our understanding of the word Elohim, since it has, as we have seen, a number of meanings. Whenever the data of a given context show that this plural noun is used with a singular connotation, we must recognize this fact and interpret the passage accordingly.

 In submitting the facts of this chapter, may I say that it is impossible to impress too strongly upon the mind of the reader that Elohim (Gods), like words in all languages, has various connotations. In order to determine its particular meaning in a given case, one must examine all the data of the connection and must let facts and facts alone--not speculation and not tradition--point the index finger to the exact meaning. Whenever a person follows this rule with one desire in mind, namely, to know what is truth, he will arrive at the correct idea as to what was meant by the sacred writer.

 A final caution, which I must reiterate, is that the reader must get all the facts of a given context before arriving at the conclusion as to the meaning of the Hebrew term אֱלֹהִים , 'elohim, or any other word in a given language.

 Summarizing what we have learned in this chapter regarding Elohim, may I say that its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning is Gods. In certain contexts, as indicated by the facts of the text, it refers sometimes to angels; at others, to judges; and in still other connections it signifies idols. Whenever there are no facts in a given context indicating a derived or secondary meaning, one must understand this word to be used in the usual, primary, literal sense of Gods, a plurality of personalities.

 Moreover, we have learned that, although its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning is Gods--the plural number--there are certain contexts where the facts show that it is not used in this original, literal sense, but that it is employed to refer to only one of the divine personalities, who, as we shall presently see, constitute the supreme Being.

 But we must continue in the next chapter our investigation of this most important subject in order to learn the scriptural teaching concerning the unity of these divine personalities.

                     Chapter II THE UNITY OF THE DIVINE PERSONALITIES

 THOUGH there are more personalities than one in the Divine Being, they form a unity of which the Scriptures constantly speak. David, the great king of Israel, in his memorable prayer (II Sam. 7:22) declares the unity of God:

עַל־כֵּן גָּדַלְתָּ יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים כִּי־אֵין כָּמוֹךָ וְאֵין אֱלֹהִים זוּלָתֶךָ בְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר־שָׁמַעְנוּ בְּאָזְנֵינוּ׃

 "Wherefore thou art great, 0 YHWHGod: for there is none like thee, neither is there any God besides thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears." Isaiah, who had to contend with insidious idolatry which had crept into the nation, repeatedly affirmed that God is one as is seen in the following passages:

מִי פָעַל וְעָשָׂה קֹרֵא הַדֹּרוֹת מֵרֹאשׁ אֲנִי יְהוָה רִאשׁוֹן וְאֶת־אַחֲרֹנִים אֲנִי־הוּא׃

 "Who hath wrought and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, the first, and with the last, I am He" (Isa. 41:4).

אַתֶּם עֵדַי נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְעַבְדִּי אֲשֶׁר בָּחָרְתִּי לְמַעַן תֵּדְעוּ וְתַאֲמִינוּ לִי וְתָבִינוּ כִּי־אֲנִי הוּא לְפָנַי לֹא־נוֹצַר אֵל וְאַחֲרַי לֹא־יִהְיֶה׃ אָנֹכִי אָנֹכִי יְהוָה וְאֵין מִבַּלְעָדַי מוֹשִׁיעַ׃

 "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am He: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Jehovah; and besides me there is no savior" (43:10, 11).

כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגֹאֲלוֹ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אֲנִי רִאשׁוֹן וַאֲנִי אַחֲרוֹן וּמִבַּלְעָדַי אֵין אֱלֹהִים׃

 "Thus saith the Jehovah, the king of Israel, and his redeemer, the YHWHof hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God."* (44:6).

                               I. UNITY SEEN IN THE GREAT CONFESSION

 In harmony with the statements just quoted is the Great Confession of Israel found in Deut. 6:4, which is

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד׃
"Hear, 0 Israel: YHWHour Gods is YHWHa unity."

 Before we can begin an analysis of this most important exhortation, we shall do well to see the historical and theological background which made its enunciation imperative at that time. Israel, as we learn from the writings of Moses, had been delivered from Egyptian bondage. At the time of Moses' uttering this Great Confession, the nation was poised on the east side of the Jordan, awaiting the moment to be led across into the Promised Land. By this time Moses had, through the Holy Spirit, been enabled to write the revelation which God had given him and to put it before Israel. The Book of Deuteronomy, as all Bible students know, constitutes his final orations, which he delivered just before his decease. Having spoken these messages orally, he committed them to writing and deposited them with the other portions of the Word which he had already written. The Oracles of God which give the account of the creation of the universe and of beasts, birds, and finally of man, together with the history of the human race up to his day--particularly that of the Hebrews--were put in the language of the Hebrews.When Moses delivered "this law," which probably indicates the Book of Deuteronomy, to the priests and to the elders of Israel, he commanded them saying, "At the end of every seven years, in the set time of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before YHWHthy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing" (Deut. 31:10,11). After the conquest of Jericho and Ai, the Israelites advanced into the central section of the mountainous region of the country--to Shechem, the modern Nablus. In obedience to the command of Moses, Joshua had an altar built upon which burnt offerings and peace offerings were made to Jehovah. This altar was covered with plaster (Deut. 27:1-8) and upon it Joshua wrote the law of Moses. Then he read all the words of the law to the people.

 It is most highly probable that Israel, for the first time, as a people had an authentic record of the past. It is true that in Abraham's day there were commandments, statutes, and laws which Abraham had and which God had given (Gen. 26:5). Nevertheless, it is highly improbable that Israel, when she was in Egypt, had a definite, clear knowledge of God. In fact, we learn from Ezekiel 20:7 that Israel worshiped idols in Egypt. During her wilderness wanderings, as it appears from Amos 5:25-27, she engaged in certain types of idolatrous worship--notwithstanding the presence of Moses and Aaron. This interpretation of these verses, however has been questioned by some. But from all the data which we have, it is evident that Israel was strongly inclined toward idolatry even when Moses delivered his final orations to her.

 Moses knew, furthermore, that, when Israel read or heard the law read every seven years as commanded, she might misinterpret the evidence found in the Scriptures as justification for idolatry-polytheism. He therefore, under these conditions, enunciated her Great Confession and emphasized it in such a way as to make it stand out above all utterances in the law שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד׃ Shema‘, Israel, Yahweh ’elohenu Yahweh ’echad.

 It is now fitting that we should look at those passages which Israel might misunderstand and interpret as justification for polytheism. In the first place, let us note the use of Elohim, which as we have already seen is in the plural number. An undiscerning, carnal man could easily misinterpret the spirituality of God and His unity and see justification for idolatry in this word, especially so since Elohim, as we have already seen, was the regular term that was also applied to idols. Hence the uninformed man in Israel could say that the nation of the Hebrews should in fact worship different gods and at the same time think that he had scriptural justification for so doing. Moses, therefore, in his giving this Great Confession to Israel, doubtless had this possibility in mind and was attempting to warn against such a misconception regarding the Almighty.

 There was another fact that might have been misinterpreted and have caused Israel to engage in idolatry. That was the theophany mentioned in Genesis, chapter 3. In this passage we are informed that, when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, YHWHwas in the habit of appearing on the scene and holding sweet communion and fellowship with them. From the record we learn that after they had disobeyed the one prohibition laid upon them, they heard Him walking as He was coming to them in the cool of the day. Their eyes then were opened and they realized their condition, both spiritual and physical. They therefore hid themselves from His presence. Nevertheless, He came and conversed with them.

 We read of another of His appearances. In the record of this visit (Gen.16:1-14), He is called מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "the angel of Jehovah" (vss. 7,9,10,11). According to verse 13 Hagar, to whom this angel appeared, "called the name of YHWHthat spake unto her, Thou art אֵל, ’el, a God that seeth: for she said, Have I even here looked after him that seeth me?" This one who is called the angel of YHWHis also designated as YHWHhimself and as a God who sees. It is therefore clear from this passage that YHWHdid appear to Hagar--doubtless in a manner similar to the way in which He had appeared to Adam and Eve.

 We see still another theophany in Genesis, chapters 18 and 19. To Abraham as he sat in his tent door under the oaks of Mamre, there appeared three men. Two of these, according to 19:1, were angels; but the other was YHWHhimself, who talked most intimately with Abraham concerning the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah on account of their wickedness. We are told that, after the flight of Lot with his wife and daughters from Sodom, "Then Jehovah, יְהוָה, rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from YHWHout of heaven; 25 and he overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground" (Gen. 19:24,25). Let us notice that there are two divine personalities appearing in this record. One was upon earth, conversing with Abraham; the other, in heaven. The one upon earth rained down fire from the one in heaven upon the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. According to this record there are two personalities who are called by the name Jehovah.

 We see yet another theophany in Genesis, chapter 22. According to verse 11, the angel of YHWHcalled to Abraham out of heaven. The latter responded. Then the angel of YHWHcommanded him to withhold his hand from offering his son Isaac upon the altar as he was attempting to do in obedience to the command of the Lord. A second time did the angel of YHWHcall to Abraham out of heaven and added, "By myself have I sworn, saith יְהוָה, Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, 17 that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; 18 and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Gen. 22:15-18). The angel of YHWHupon this occasion did not come to the earth but spoke from the heavens to Abraham. He declared that he had sworn by Himself, and at that time he called himself Jehovah. In this incident we see a most marvelous manifestation of YHWHand His conversation with Abraham.

 We observe another unusual occurrence of like nature in Genesis 32:22-32. When Jacob was returning from Syria with his family and his goods to the Land of Promise, he wrestled with a stranger who appeared to him before he crossed the river Jabbok. As the sequel to the story indicates, this one was none other than אֱלֹהִים, God, who appeared to him as a man and wrestled with him during the night. Jacob realized that this one was the Lord; for he declared, "I have seen אֱלֹהִים, God, face to face, and my life is preserved" (vs. 30).

 Not only do we have these remarkable approaches of the Deity to man mentioned in the Books of Moses, but we have references to the Spirit of God. In Genesis 1:2, we read that רוּח אֱלֹהִים "the Spirit of God," was brooding upon the face of the waters. In Exodus 31:3 we likewise learn of the Spirit of God and of His endowing Bezalel with skill and cunning in order to do the work assigned him in the construction of the Tabernacle. Again we read of the same Spirit in Numbers, chapter 11.

 From these records, at which we have just looked, we see YHWHin heaven and YHWHupon the earth, and likewise the Spirit of God. When the ancient Hebrews heard these oracles of God read, there was always a possibility that the less spiritually discerning ones among them, as stated above, might see in these records justification for idolatry and might attempt to worship each of these under the forms of idols. Moses, knowing the tendency on the part of his brethren to paganism, warned them against it, declaring that, at the time YHWHdelivered the law at Horeb, they did not see any form whatsoever (Deut. 4:15-19). He therefore followed this exhortation with the Great Confession of Israel.

 Israel's past history demanded a clear, strong statement concerning this fundamental of fundamentals of her faith. Moses' knowledge by inspiration of what she would do in the future likewise made it imperative that he emblazon it, figuratively speaking, upon the skies before her eyes.

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד׃
וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ

 "Hear, 0 Israel, YHWHour Gods is YHWHa unity; and thou shalt love YHWHthy Gods with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength" (Deut. 6:4, 5; lit. trans.).

 In beginning an analysis of this confession notice אֱלֹהֵינו ’elohenu. According to all Hebrew grammarians this word is the construct form of אֱלֹהִים (gods) to which the personal possessive נוּ –ֵ, "our" in the plural number is added. To show that this form is in the plural and means "our Gods," only a few illustrations will be necessary. First, dear reader, examine Josh. 24:23: וְעַתָּה הָסִירוּ אֶת־אֱלֹהֵי הַנֵּכָר אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבְּכֶם וְהַטּוּ אֶת־לְבַבְכֶם אֶל־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ "Now therefore put away, said he, the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto Jehovah, the God of Israel."

 Note the similarity of these expressions: אֶת־אֱלֹהֵי הַנֵּכָר and אֶל־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. The former אֱלֹהֵי נֵּכָר is correctly translated "foreign gods," but the latter is translated "Jehovah, The God of Israel," though to be faithful to the text one must translate אֱלֹהֵי of both expressions in the same way, namely, "Gods of," the former being the gods of the foreigners, whereas the latter is the Gods of Israel. A perfect illustration of אֱלֹהֵינוּ, "our Gods," which is, as stated above, the construct form of a plural masculine noun with the plural suffix "our," is found in Deut. 5:3 in the word אֲבֹתֵינוּ, "our fathers." The singular of this word is אָב, 'ab, and the plural construct is אֲבֹתֵי, 'avothē, which form with suffix is אֲבֹתֵינו 'avothēnu. Obviously this word like אֱלֹהֵינוּ is a plural noun with the suffix "our."

 In Isa. 53 appear several examples of this same grammatical construction in verses 4 and 5. אָכֵן חֳלָיֵנוּ הוּא נָשָׂא וּמַכְאֹבֵינוּ סְבָלָם וַאֲנַחְנוּ חֲשַׁבְנֻהוּ נָגוּעַ מֻכֵּה אֱלֹהִים וּמְעֻנֶּה׃ וְהוּא מְחֹלָל מִפְּשָׁעֵנוּ מְדֻכָּא מֵעֲוֹנֹתֵינוּ מוּסַר שְׁלוֹמֵנוּ עָלָיו וּבַחֲבֻרָתוֹ נִרְפָּא־לָנוּ׃ "But our diseases did He bear Himself, and our pains He carried while we indeed esteemed Him, stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. Yet He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and through His bruises was healing granted to us (Author's Tr.).

 The words מִפְּשָׁעֵנוּ מַכְאֹבֵינוּ חֳלָיֵנוּ עֲוֹנֹתֵינוּ are translated "our iniquities," "our transgressions," "our pains," and "our diseases." When one reads the entire chapter he can see clearly that the servant of the Lord, namely, "my righteous servant" צַדִּיק עַבְדִּי, is suffering and is smitten of God because of the "diseases, pains, transgressions, and iniquities" of those to whom Isaiah refers as "us" i.e., the Hebrew nation. From these examples and hundreds of others which might be given, it is very clear that אֱלֹהֵינוּ is in the plural construct form and means "our Gods."

 The next point in this confession to note is אֶחָד. 'echad. This word is a numeral adjective meaning "one" and is derived from the verb הִתְאַחֲדִי which verb occurs only once in the Tenach (Ezek. 21:21). From this context one sees that God predicted the coming of a foreign invasion against Jerusalem, and Ezekiel was commanded to smite his hands together and to prophesy. In verse 21 it occurs in the hithpa'el form, as seen above, and means "to unite self, to gather one's strength or forces (of the sword)." From these facts he sees that it primarily means, not one in the absolute sense of the term, but one in the sense of a unity.

 While the fundamental idea is that of a compound unity or the oneness of different elements or integral parts, it came to be used to express one in the absolute sense as the numeral one, which fact is seen by numerous examples throughout the Tenach. This fact being true, it becomes necessary to study the context wherever it occurs in order to ascertain which idea is conveyed in each particular case. To fail to observe this precaution and to read the idea of oneness in the absolute sense of the word into every example where it occurs is to ignore logic, to smash grammar, and to outlaw ordinary intelligence and common sense.

 As an illustration in which the inherent fundamental idea of a compound unity stands forth in bold relief, let the reader note the language of Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, etc. In verse 5 Moses said וַיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַיְהִי־בֹקֶר יוֹם אֶחָד׃ "And there was evening and there was morning, day one." This statement brings together two contrasting ideas--light and darkness--into a compound unity, which idea is normally expressed by אֶחָד. In verse 8 the same language occurs except the day was "day two"; the same thing is true with reference to verse 13 with the exception that the work just enumerated was done on the third day. In each instance עֶרֶב בֹקֶר "evening" and "morning" together made a unity, אֶחָד.

 The union of evening and morning, in the first instance, constituted the first unit of time--day one; the union of evening and morning, in the second instance, constituted the second unit of time--day two. The same facts are true of each succeeding day. Next, note Gen. 2:24: Here God said עַל־כֵּן יַעֲזָב־אִישׁ אֶת־אָבִיו וְאֶת־אִמּוֹ וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ וְהָיוּ לְבָשָׂר אֶחָד׃ "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." In this passage one sees two individuals, man and woman, and yet God said that they constitute a unity--a unity made by joining two opposites into a real oneness.

 That אֶחָד fundamentally carries the idea of a compound unity is seen in "Gen. 27:44, וְיָשַׁבְתָּ עִמּוֹ יָמִים אֲחָדִים עַד אֲשֶׁר־תָּשׁוּב חֲמַת אָחִיךָ "And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turn away." The word translated "few" is אֲחָדִים which is the plural form of אֶחָד, 'echad. Here the period of time elapsing until Esau's wrath subsided is considered as a unity consisting of integral parts, the idea of unity being expressed by the fundamental inherent idea of אֲחָדִים. It is put in the plural form to agree grammatically with the word יָמִים "days." The same usage appears again in 29:20 where seven years of time are thought of as a very short period, the unity of the period being expressed by the inherent idea of the same word, whereas it, like the illustration just mentioned, is in the plural number agreeing with "days" which is in the plural. Therefore these two examples show clearly that אֶחָד 'echad, primarily means a compound unity.

 Another illustration of this usage is found in Ezra 2:64. כָּל־הַקָּהָל כְּאֶחָד "And the whole assembly was as one" (Author's Tr.). Here forty-two thousand, three hundred and sixty people, each an individual and integral part of the gathering, were כְּאֶחָד "as one"--a unity. Another example where the fundamental idea of the word stands forth clearly is found in Gen. 11:1. וַיְהִי כָל־הָאָרֶץ שָׂפָה אֶחָת וּדְבָרִים אֲחָדִים׃ "And the whole earth was of one language and of one kind of words"; (literally translated) "one lip and oneness of words." Here the idea is that each person in the world spoke the same language and used the same words. There were many different people, and at the same time numerous words used by these various individuals, and yet all taken together constituted a unity אֶחָת, (feminine form of word) of language. Hence in this passage the original inherent idea shines forth vividly. Another striking example of this primitive idea is found in Ezek. 37:17. וְקָרַב אֹתָם אֶחָד אֶל־אֶחָד לְךָ לְעֵץ אֶחָד וְהָיוּ לַאֲחָדִים בְּיָדֶךָ׃ "And joining them one to the other unto thee as one stick; and they shall become one in thy hand" (Isaac Leeser Tr.). From the context one sees that Ezekiel performed a symbolic act, namely, he took two separate sticks, one representing Judah, and the other representing Israel, and was commanded to join them into one bundle. Thus the two separate sticks being joined together are spoken of as a unity אֶחָד of sticks, that is, a union of the two separate sticks. This symbolic act symbolizes the fact that at some future time the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah will be joined and will constitute a single united kingdom.

 Another most forceful illustration of this unity is found in Jer. 32:39 וְנָתַתִּי לָהֶם לֵב אֶחָד וְדֶרֶךְ אֶחָד לְיִרְאָה אוֹתִי כָּל־הַיָּמִים לְטוֹב לָהֶם וְלִבְנֵיהֶם אַחֲרֵיהֶם׃ "And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them." Under the new covenant all Israel are promised "one heart" לֵב אֶחָד, that is, all will see, think, and feel alike: hence לֵב אֶחָד "unity of heart."

 Since אֱלֹהֵינוּ 'elohēnu, can mean nothing but "our Gods," and since אֶחָד has as its primary meaning that of "unity," one is forced to the irresistible conclusion that the real meaning of Israel's Great Confession is that the Divine Personalities, who are referred to by the plural noun אֱלֹהֵינוּ, as has been shown above, constitute a real unity אֶחָד, just as man and woman form a unity אֶחָד. These Divine Personalities are one in essence, being, and nature, unity and co-operation in the highest degree existing between them. Such, fundamentally, is the real meaning of this fundamental dogma of Israel.

 Proof which corroborates this interpretation of Israel's Great Confession is found in the fact that when the nation lapsed into idolatry and her inspired prophets endeavored to win her back to God, they emphasized the truth that there is but one God. In all of their utterances concerning the proposition that there is but one God, they never did use their great confession. If it means what it is usually understood to mean, namely, that God is one in the absolute sense of the term, then it is unthinkable that the prophets never did use it in their fight against Idolatry. Therefore, they understood it to refer to God's unity and not to His being One in the absolute sense.

 At the time that Moses gave this great confession he forewarned Israel concerning other gods as is seen in Deut. 4:35, אַתָּה הָרְאֵתָ לָדַעַת כִּי יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים אֵין עוֹד מִלְּבַדּוֹ׃ "Thou hast been shown in order that thou mayest know that יְהוָה is the Gods; there is not any beside Him" (Author's Tr. here and in following one.). Again, in Deut. 4:39, וְיָדַעְתָּ הַיּוֹם וַהֲשֵׁבֹתָ אֶל־לְבָבֶךָ כִּי יְהוָה הוּא הָאֱלֹהִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וְעַל־הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת אֵין עוֹד "And thou shalt know this day and shalt lay it to thine heart that יְהוָה is the Gods in the Heavens from above and upon the earth from beneath; there is none other."

 The flood tide of idolatry seemed to reach its height in Israel in the days of Isaiah, the prophet, who was a contemporary of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. In his combating this error he constantly used the arguments based upon the Scriptures quoted in the last paragraph. Thus in Isa. 44:6 כֹּה־אָמַר יְהוָה מֶלֶךְ־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגֹאֲלוֹ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת אֲנִי רִאשׁוֹן וַאֲנִי אַחֲרוֹן וּמִבַּלְעָדַי אֵין אֱלֹהִים׃ "Thus saith the Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the YHWHof hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there are no gods" (Author's Tr.). Verse 7, וּמִי־כָמוֹנִי יִקְרָא וְיַגִּידֶהָ וְיַעְרְכֶהָ לִי מִשּׂוּמִי עַם־עוֹלָם וְאֹתִיּוֹת וַאֲשֶׁר תָּבֹאנָה יַגִּידוּ לָמוֹ׃ "And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I established the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and that shall come to pass, let them declare." Verse 8 וְאַתֶּם עֵדָי הֲיֵשׁ אֱלוֹהַּ מִבַּלְעָדַי וְאֵין צוּר בַּל־יָדָעְתִּי ׃ "And ye are my witnesses. Is there a God besides me? yea, there is no Rock; I know not any." Again, one sees Isaiah using a similar statement (Isa. 45:5) which, likewise, is based upon Deut. 4:35,39, namely, אֲנִי יְהוָה וְאֵין עוֹד זוּלָתִי אֵין אֱלֹהִים "I am יְהוָה and there is none else; besides me there are no gods." Isa. 45:6,7, לְמַעַן יֵדְעוּ מִמִּזְרַח־שֶׁמֶשׁ וּמִמַּעֲרָבָה כִּי־אֶפֶס בִּלְעָדָי אֲנִי יְהוָה וְאֵין עוֹד׃ יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חֹשֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא רָע אֲנִי יְהוָה עֹשֶׂה כָל־אֵלֶּה׃ "In order that they may know from the rising of the sun and from the West, that there is none beside me; I am יְהוָה and there is none else; forming the light and creating darknes; making peace and creating evil; I am יְהוָה who doeth all these things." Again, in vs. 21, 22 one reads as follows: הַגִּידוּ וְהַגִּישׁוּ אַף יִוָּעֲצוּ יַחְדָּו מִי הִשְׁמִיעַ זֹאת מִקֶּדֶם מֵאָז הִגִּידָהּ הֲלוֹא אֲנִי יְהוָה וְאֵין־עוֹד אֱלֹהִים מִבַּלְעָדַי אֵל־צַדִּיק וּמוֹשִׁיעַ אַיִן זוּלָתִי׃ פְּנוּ־אֵלַי וְהִוָּשְׁעוּ כָּל־אַפְסֵי־אָרֶץ כִּי אֲנִי אֵל וְאֵין עוֹד׃ "Declare and bring forth, yet let them take counsel together; who hath shown this from ancient times? Who hath declared it from old? Is it not I, and there are still no gods beside me: a God righteous and one who delivers; there is not any beside me. Turn unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth; for I am God and there is none else" (Author's Tr., 45: 21, 22). Once more, note the argument in Isa. 64:4 (3). מֵעוֹלָם לֹא־שָׁמְעוּ לֹא הֶאֱזִינוּ עַיִן לֹא־רָאָתָה אֱלֹהִים זוּלָתְךָ יַעֲשֶׂה לִמְחַכֵּה־לוֹ׃ "And from of old, men have not heard nor have they perceived with their ears, and eye hath not seen Gods beside thee, who work for the one waiting for him." As a last quotation from Isaiah note Chapter 26:13. יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ בְּעָלוּנוּ אֲדֹנִים זוּלָתֶךָ לְבַד־בְּךָ נַזְכִּיר שְׁמֶךָ׃ "Oh Lord, our Gods, other lords besides thee have had dominion over us, but by thee only will we make mention of thy name" (Author's Tr.).

 Hosea, whose ministry preceded that of Isaiah by some thirty-odd years, combated idolatry as did his successors. In Hos. 13:4 one reads וְאָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם וֵאלֹהִים זוּלָתִי לֹא תֵדָע וּמוֹשִׁיעַ אַיִן בִּלְתִּי׃ "And I am the Lord thy Gods from the land of Egypt; and you shall not know gods besides me, there is no savior besides me" (Author's Tr.).

 From the above quotations it is clear how the prophets met the problem of idolatry and what statements of the Torah they used to teach the lesson that there is but one true and living God. Since they nowhere used the language of the Great Confession in their hard fight for monotheism (the teaching that there is but one God), it is quite evident that they, who were guided and aided by the Lord, and to whom the Word of the Lord came, understood that it had no bearing on the issue. The prophets knew how to use the Word of God, as one sees from many illustrations which appear in their writings. Hence one must conclude that a forced meaning has been placed upon it, and that evidently the plain and obvious meaning of the words conveys the correct teaching, which is, as stated above, that the divine personalities revealed to Israel at Sinai constitute a unity though a plurality.

 Footnotes:

* The same teaching concerning God i.e., that there is none beside Him, is set forth in numerous passages a few of which are as follows: Num. 15-41- Isa. 43:3, 11; 45:5; 44:6; Deut. 4:35, 39; 32:39; Ex. 20:23; Hosea 13: 4; 2 Sam. 7: 22; I Kings 8: 23.

 1 In connection with this study it is well to call attention to the fact that the word אלהיכם, "your gods" appears in Josh. 3:3; 23:3; I Sam. 6:5; I Kgs. 18:25. (King James Tr.). In the first two passages it is translated "your God" because it applies to the God of Israel, but in the two latter passages the same identical word is translated "your gods" because it applies to heathen deities. A faithful translation of these words demands that they be translated the same in each instance.

 In Deut. 6:5 appears the expression אלהיך, "thy God" but in Gen. 31:32 the same expression is used by Jacob in his conversation with Laban in the former's speaking to the latter concerning the teraphirn which Rachel had stolen and is translated "thy gods." The fact is that the word is plural with a singular suffix added and should be translated as the plural in both instances.

 In Judg. 3:7 appears the expression אלהיהם and is translated "their God" because it refers to the God of Israel, but in the preceding verse the same word which applies to heathen gods is translated "their gods." The word is plural in both instances and should be thus translated.

 (Continued-Chapter II-The Unity Of The Divine Personalities)

 Another group of facts supports the conclusions to which one comes concerning the proposition that an erroneous interpretation has been forced upon this Great Confession. One of these facts is that יָחִיד, yachid, is used which primarily, as an adverb, means "only, altogether, surely" in numerous passages where everything is excluded, except the point at issue. Likewise, רַק, rak, is a synonym of יָחִיד. Another word which commonly was used to emphasize the idea of one to the exclusion of all others is that of בִּלְתִּי, bilti. An excellent illustration of this usage is found in Ex. 22:20 (19) "He that sacrificeth unto זֹבֵחַ לָאֱלֹהִים יָחֳרָם בִּלְתִּי לַיהוָה לְבַדּוֹ׃ any gods save unto יְהוָה only shall be utterly destroyed." אַךְ, 'ak, also is used with this same significance. These words, just mentioned, are the usual ones to emphasize the idea that there is but one of the persons or things mentioned; hence one arrives at the conclusion that had Moses meant to teach by the Great Confession the doctrine that there is but one Divine Personality, he would have expressed himself differently and would have used one of the regular words, in its proper construction, that excludes from consideration all others except the true God whose existence and nature he proclaimed. Since he did not choose such a restrictive word, evidently he was not affirming God's oneness in the absolute sense.

                        II. UNITY SEEN IN THE EXPRESSION "IN OUR IMAGE"

 This unity is again seen in the quotation, already used, from Gen. 1:26 where it is said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." In the words "image" and "likeness" is reflected the same unity, which words are in the singular number, since the speaker and the one spoken to are of the same image and likeness. These words could not truthfully be spoken to a being inferior to or less than God, the speaker.

                         III. UNITY SEEN IN EXPRESSION אֵל אֱלֹהִים, 'el, 'elohim

 From another angle the unity of the plurality of divine personalities may be seen in Gen. 33:20. Here appears a record of Jacob's erecting an altar at Bethel after his sojourn in Syria, which is stated in the following words: וַיַּצֶּב־שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ וַיִּקְרָא־לוֹ אֵל אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ "And he erected there an altar, and called it El-Elohe-Israel." אֵל is in the singular number and means God, the Mighty One; אֱלֹהֵי 'elohē, is in the plural number, as noted above; hence the combination of the words, אֵל אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל affirms the unity and the plurality of God at the same time. Again, the unity of the plurality of God is seen in the Second Commandment (Ex. 20:5) כִּי אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵל קַנָּא פֹּקֵד עֲוֹן אָבֹת עַל־בָּנִים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל־רִבֵּעִים לְשׂנְאָי׃ "For I am יְהוָה thy Gods, אֵל קַנָּא a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of fathers upon sons, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me" (Author's Tr.).

 In one word אֱלֹהֶיךָ, 'elohĕka, thy Gods, the Lord speaks of His plurality and at the same time of His unity in His use of the word אֵל, 'el. The plurality and the unity of God's nature again is seen in a wonderful statement made by the Israelites who settled on the East side of the Jordan and who were upbraided by their kinsmen on the West side for having set up a memorial altar, in the following quotation (Josh. 22:22): אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהוָה אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהוָה הוּא יֹדֵעַ וְיִשְׂרָאֵל הוּא יֵדָע אִם־בְּמֶרֶד וְאִם־בְּמַעַל בַּיהוָה "God, Gods, Jehovah, God, Gods, Jehovah, he knoweth, and Israel he shall know; if it be in rebellion, or in treachery against the Lord" (Author's Lit. Tr.). אֵל, 'el declares God's unity, but אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim, which is in apposition with it, affirms the plurality of the Divine Being, while יְהוָה, Jehovah, identifies this unity of personalities as the Covenant God of Israel (Ex. 6:2,3). In the "Ten Commandments" God says כִּי אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֵל קַנָּא "For I am YHWHthy Gods, a jealous God." Here the plural and singular forms appear, the former emphasizing the plurality of divine personalities while the latter predicates their unity.

         IV. UNITY SEEN IN THE USE OF A SINGULAR VERB WITH A PLURAL NOUN

 Another fact corroborating the unity of Divine Personalities is the use in the Hebrew of the singular verb with the plural noun אֱלֹהִים. Examples of this usage are seen throughout the entire Tenach. For many illustrations, however, see Gen. 1. בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים "In the beginning created Gods." The verb is in the singular number although the noun is plural. This peculiar combination is equivalent to an affirmation of the divine unity while admitting the plurality of the Godhead. This quotation serves sufficiently to make the point clear.

 CONCLUSION

 The question doubtless has arisen in the mind of the reader: Why, if Israel's confession is to be correctly translated, "Hear, 0 Israel, YHWHour Gods is YHWHa unity," has Israel throughout the centuries understood it to mean that God is one in the absolute sense instead of a compound unity?

 Prior to the days of Moses Maimonides, the unity of God was expressed by אֶחָד which, as has been proved beyond a doubt, has as its primary meaning that of a compound unity. Maimonides, who drafted the thirteen articles of faith, in the second one sets forth the unity of God, using the word יָחִיד, which in the Tenach is never used to express God's unity. This word occurs in twelve passages which the reader may examine for himself, which investigation will prove conclusively that it carries the idea of absolute oneness. (Gen. 22:2,12,16; Amos 8:10; Jer. 6:26; Zech. 12:10; Prov. 4:3; Judg. 11:34; Psa. 22:20(21), 35:17; 25:16; and 68:6(7). From these facts it is evident that a new idea was injected into this confession by substituting יָחִיד which in every passage carries the primary idea of oneness in the absolute sense for אֶחָד which primarily means a compound unity. Hence from the days of Maimonides on, an interpretation different from the ancient one was placed upon this most important passage. In the language of Jeremiah let the writer plead with every Hebrew reader, "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls" (Jer. 6:16). כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה עִמְדוּ עַל־דְּרָכִים וּרְאוּ וְשַׁאֲלוּ לִנְתִבוֹת עוֹלָם אֵי־זֶה דֶרֶךְ הַטּוֹב וּלְכוּ־בָהּ וּמִצְאוּ מַרְגּוֹעַ לְנַפְשְׁכֶם וַיֹּאמְרוּ לֹא נֵלֵך׃ Therefore let Israel now return to the original meaning of her Great Confession: "Hear, 0 Israel! YHWHOur Gods, is YHWHa Unity."

 Some people have had difficulty concerning the doctrine of the plurality and unity of the divine Personalities. The great theologian, Dr. Theodore Christlieb, stated the problem tersely in the following words:

 "The objections stirred by these might have been avoided by anticipation, had a firm hold been taken from the first of the truth indicated by the Hebrew form of the divine name ELOHIM (as will be more fully shown presently), that in God unity and plurality consist as correlatives which mutually require one another; that, as we have already indicated, it is the essential characteristic of the true doctrine of the divine nature, in contradistinction to Polytheism on the one hand, and an abstract Monotheism on the other, that both elements of true Being, unicity and multiplicity, do in God meet and interpenetrate one another in a perfectly unique and transcendental way."

                      Chapter III THE TRINITY OF THE DIVINE PERSONALITIES

 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 YHWHshall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah." 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׃

 "I will tell of the decree, YHWHsaid unto me, Thou art my son: this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee 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 Chapter XII, 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 JEHOVAH

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, Jehovah, 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 YHWHיְהוָה? 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 Jehovah?"

In the last verse of the chapter appears me statement, "And Jehovah, 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, Jehovah, appears to Moses in the wilderness in the burning bush. In verse 2 He is called מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה "the Angel of Jehovah," but in verse 4 this statement occurs: "And when Jehovah, 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 Jehovah," but in the latter statement He is called both יְהוָה, Jehovah, and אֱלֹהִים, God. This identification of the angel of the Lord with יְהוָה, Jehovah, 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, Jehovah, 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 YHWHof 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 Jehovah" 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 JEHOVAH

Frequently we read of the Lord, אֲדֹנָי. An examination of each context often shows clearly that this one is He who, throughout the Hebrew Bible, is known as the Father. From an examination of all the Scriptures, one concludes that He never did through historic times appear on earth by assuming human form and conversing with man. Frequently the designation "the Lord Jehovah" is the term that is applied to Him. Nevertheless there are many instances in which He is simply spoken of as the Lord or Jehovah.

V. THE WISDOM OF GOD

In the eighth chapter of the Book of Proverbs we read of wisdom. Verses 1-31 should be studied very carefully. To the casual reader it becomes abundantly evident that, in the first part of this chapter, wisdom is personified and is represented as a woman who goes out into the city to the public places where the crowds congregate and pass. She lifts up her voice and pleads with them to listen to her message and to accept it for their good.

This bold figure extends through the first thirteen verses. But when we reach verse 14, we see that this representation ceases and wisdom--which from this verse on is used in a different sense, in the masculine gender--begins to deliver his message. This transition of thought becomes apparent to the one who notes the fact that wisdom declares that he has might. In verse 15 he declares it is by him that kings reign, and princes decree justice. Moreover, princes by the same authority rule, and nobles of the earth exercise their authority. When we read verses 14-16 in the light of relevant passages, we see that the one who really has might and power and by whom kings and governors rule is none other than one of the personalities of the Godhead. Verses 17-21 are in the same strain.

But when we read verses 22-31, we see that this one is an Eternal Being who was in association with YHWHprior to the creation of the universe. According to verse 22, this one declares that "YHWHpossessed me in the beginning of his way, Before his works of old." The word rendered possessed also means formed. Our translators have chosen the former as the more probable meaning in this instance. With their opinion I concur. But the question may be asked: In what way did YHWHpossess this one, who calls himself wisdom, back in eternity prior to the creation? How does one person possess another? In answer let me say that we have the current idiom, "I have a friend," or, "I possess a good friend." The word possess or have indicates a personal relationship. Undoubtedly it has this significance in our passage. In verse 23 wisdom, continuing his speech, says that he was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was. He was set in his station or position of authority and power throughout eternity in the past, which had no beginning. In making this statement, he is affirming that he had an eternal existence along with God. In verses 24-26 wisdom continues in the same strain of speaking of his eternal existence with YHWHprior to the creation of the universe. Then in verse 27 he speaks of his having been present when YHWHprepared or established the heavens; he was there when the Lord set a circle upon the face of the deep. According to verse 28 wisdom was in association with God when the latter made firm the skies above, and when the fountains of the deep became strong. Verse 28 is talking about the events that occurred on the second day of reconstruction as set forth in Genesis, chapter 1. The events of this same chapter, occurring on the third day, are described in verse 29. In all the activity of those six days of reconstruction, wisdom was with God, as a master workman, and was the daily delight of the Almighty. When He created man, having made the earth habitable, wisdom was delighted with the sons of men. From all these statements it is clear that Proverbs 8:14-31 is talking about the existence of wisdom as a divine personality in association with God and co-operating with Him, not only in eternity prior to the creation of the world, but also in His reconstruction of the earth after the disastrous catastrophe recorded in Genesis 1:2.

As has been noted above, wisdom is personified and represented as a woman appealing to men and women to do right and to follow her ways. This is seen in verses 1-13. This description is blended with that of wisdom who is seen in the passage from verses 14 through 31. The blending of these two descriptions might be compared to a stereopticon lantern, which throws a picture upon the screen and which fades the first scene into a second one. As the observer looks at the first picture, it begins to fade and at the same time the dim outlines of another one starts to appear upon the screen. By the time the first one is gone, the second is in full view. Thus it is with this chapter. The picture of wisdom, represented as a woman, fades by the time we come to verse 14 and then wisdom, one of the divine personalities, is thrown upon the screen. Finally we behold Him as He was in association with God in eternity prior to the creation of the world. He also co-operated with Him during the reconstruction period of Genesis, chapter 1.

VI. THE WORD OF GOD

In Genesis 15:1 we are told that "the word of YHWHcame unto Abram in a vision." When he had this vision, he was in full possession of his mental faculties and could understand what was transpiring. Abram's experience on this occasion was different from that which the prophets usually had and which we call divine inspiration. His spiritual state was doubtless similar to that which Zechariah had and described in the following statement: "And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep" (Zech. 4:1).

An examination of the records of the different visions which the prophet had shows that he received them in succession on a certain night (see Zechariah, chapters 1-6). Concerning his receiving the fifth one (chap. 4), he declared that the angel who talked with him waked him. He was not literally asleep, for he had been receiving the earlier revelations. He therefore must have been awake and in full possession of all his mental faculties. Nevertheless, the spiritual experience which he had lifted him above that of his normal, wakeful, sane moments. The vision which was granted him lifted him as far above his normal, daily, intellectual life as the wakeful hours and mental activity of a person are above those of a period of sleep. Thus the vision in waking the prophet heightened his intellectual and spiritual faculties and lifted him to spiritual heights--far above temporal things--so that he could see and comprehend spiritual and eternal realities.

While Abram was in this condition of exaltation, the Word of YHWHcame to him and spoke a message of encouragement and hope. The circumstances related in connection with this experience are of such a personal nature that one is led to see in this particular case the appearance of one of the divine personalities, who is called "the Word of Jehovah."

Why is this one called the Word of Jehovah? Doubtless because of the fact that, as human words convey ideas of the speaker to others, so this one in His coming to different individuals conveyed the idea of God. It is therefore most appropriate that He should be called "the Word of Jehovah."

In Psalm 33:4-6 we have this language:

For the word of YHWHis right;
And all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loveth righteousness and justice:
The earth is full of the lovingkindness of Jehovah.
By the word of YHWHwere the heavens made,
And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

The psalmist calls upon the righteous to render praise and thanksgiving to God because "the word of YHWHis right; And all his work is done in faithfulness." In verse 4 the line, "For the word of YHWHis right," is parallel with the second line, "And all his work is done in faithfulness." The antecedent of "his" in the second line is "the word of Jehovah" in the first. Instantly we see that "the word of Jehovah" has a personal connotation. He accomplishes work, which He does in faithfulness.

In verse 6 we see by the first line that the heavens were made by "the word of Jehovah," and that all their hosts were brought into existence by the breath of His mouth. This verse being true Hebrew parallelism, "the word of Jehovah" is the one who created the heavens by the breath of His mouth and made all the hosts of them. From this statement we see that the term, word of Jehovah, is used in a personal manner. The one thus designated is the one who has created all things. Nevertheless, He is called "the word of Jehovah."

In verse 5 we read, "He loveth righteousness and justice: The earth is full of the lovingkindness of Jehovah." The antecedent of the "He" is "the word of Jehovah" in the preceding verse. He, the word of Jehovah, loves righteousness and justice. Evidences of His loving-kindness are to be seen throughout the world.

When we note the significance of all these facts, we come to the conclusion that the expression, "the word of Jehovah," is a term used to refer to one of the divine personalities -- the one who brought the material universe into existence.

In Psalm 147:15 we have this language:
"He sendeth out his commandment upon earth;
His word runneth very swiftly."

In this passage we have God's dispatching His "commandment" to some mission in the earth. Parallel with this thought is the one that His "word" runneth very swiftly. The "commandment" of the first line is parallel to the "word" of the second. Bible scholars have seen in this verse a reference to the same divine person mentioned in Psalm 33:4-6, who, as we have just seen, is one of the divine personalities that created the universe. From the passage under consideration we see that God the Father sent forth this one who is the Word of God and who travels very swiftly and accomplishes His mission.

Once again we have language similar to this in Isaiah 9:8: "The Lord sent a word into Jacob, and it hath lighted upon Israel." Here we have the same term in the Hebrew translated "word." The Lord YHWHsends Him forth on a mission to Israel which He performs. The characteristics of personality seem to stand out prominently in this passage.

Once again, we have another passage which seems to connote personality in the Word of God: "For as the rain cometh down and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, and giveth seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it" (Isa. 55:10, 11).

In this passage we learn that God has a purpose in sending the showers and that they accomplish what is intended. In the same manner, declares the Lord, His Word that goeth out of His mouth shall accomplish that to which He sends it. The prophet speaks of the Word's going forth from God, accomplishing His work and then returning. In this passage likewise scholars have seen the features of personality of the Word.

Once more, we see a usage similar to this but much more graphic. In Ezekiel 1:3 we read that "the word of YHWHcame expressly unto Ezekiel." Then in the next verse we read a description of the appearance of the glory of YHWHwho appeared, seated upon a portable throne. This one had the appearance of a man, and He gave Ezekiel his call and commission. Since the prophet tells us that the word of YHWHcame to him expressly and then begins to describe the coming of this one enthroned above the cherubim, who delivered the word of God to him and gave him his call and commission, we come to the conclusion that Ezekiel spoke of this one as the "Word of God." From this conclusion there can be no escape--if we are willing to let the language speak its own message and note the trend of thought.

Why is this one called the "word" of God and at the same time the "glory of the God of Israel" (Ezek. 9:3)? Words are the symbols of ideas. By them thoughts are conveyed. Evidently this divine personality conveys to man the thought of God and the message of God. He therefore because of this fact is doubtless called "the Word of Jehovah."

VII. TWO DIVINE PERSONALITIES IN THE ONE PASSAGE DESIGNATED AS "JEHOVAH"

Genesis, chapters 18 and 19, constitute a most marvelous revelation. I therefore ask the reader to turn to these chapters and study them carefully. Assuming that he has done this, I shall now call attention to the salient points in the narrative.

In Genesis 18:1 occurs the statement that YHWHappeared to Abraham when he was by the oaks of Mamre. Following this sentence is one to the effect that he looked up and saw three men who stood over against him. Abraham greeted them and prepared a special meal for their entertainment (vss. 3-8). After the feast Jehovah, who was one of the three visitors coming to Abraham, conversed with the patriarch and promised that at the same time the next year Sarah, Abraham's wife, would become the proud mother of a child of promise. Sarah doubted and was reprimanded for her unbelief (vss. 9-15).

 Footnotes:
*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.

(Continued-Chapter III --The Trinity Of The Divine Personalities)


 
From verses 16-21 we learn that the two men, who are in 19:1 called angels, left Abraham and YHWHand went towards Sodom, but YHWHand Abraham remained behind. At this time the Lord disclosed to Abraham His intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. This revelation was made to him upon the basis of his being a friend of God and because God purposed to use him in the unfolding of His plan to bless the world. This disclosure was a challenge to his faith and constituted an invitation for him to intercede in behalf of Lot and his family, who were residing in the doomed city (vss. 22-33). Since ten righteous people could not be found in Sodom, the Lord was compelled to destroy the cities of the Plain.

In 19:1-22 we have an account of the angels' reaching Sodom and being received by Lot. The Sodomites, learning of their coming, made an onslaught on the house of Lot. By the angels' smiting the mob with blindness, Lot and his household were protected. Early the next morning the angels prevailed upon him, his wife, and his two daughters to flee from the doomed city, which thing they did, going to Zoar.

That same morning when the sun had arisen, the Lord rained down fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The account of this stroke of divine judgment is expressed in the following scriptural language:

"Then YHWHrained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from YHWHout of heaven; 25 and he overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground" (Gen. 19:24,25). According to this passage Jehovah, who had been talking with Abraham personally, rained down fire and brimstone out of heaven from Jehovah, who was in glory. The language will yield no other meaning. Thus there are two divine personalities in this passage, designated as Jehovah. From all the facts of this context, it is clear that one of these assumed the form of a man, appeared in company with two angels who likewise assumed human forms, conversed with Abraham, and was entertained by him. This YHWHwho was still upon earth called down fire and brimstone from YHWHin heaven and by so doing destroyed the cities of the Plain.

In other passages of scripture we see two divine personalities who are designated as Jehovah. As an example of this, one should read Zechanah 2:8, 9. YHWHof hosts is talking and concludes His statement by saying that יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת שְׁלָחָנִי, "YHWHof hosts hath sent me." Thus it becomes quite evident that, according to this passage, YHWHof hosts sent YHWHof hosts. Though they are both called by the same name, they are two distinct personalities, but, of course, they are of the same divine substance and essence. A glance at Isaiah, chapter 50, shows a like circumstance. If one will read the first nine verses of this chapter, one will see that the speaker who, in these verses, uses the personal pronouns I, my and me, is YHWHhimself, as verse 1 indicates. Nevertheless this YHWHdeclares, in verses 4 and 5, what אֲדֹנָי יְהוָה, "the Lord Jehovah," had done for Him and, in verses 7 and 9, what He will yet do for Him.

An examination of this chapter shows that the prophet was carried forward from his own day--the latter half of the eighth century B. C. E.--to a time subsequent to that when the YHWHof this chapter, who is the speaker, has come to earth and has called His people. They do not answer Him but simply ignore Him furthermore a continued examination of the passage--especially verses 4-9, which are spoken, not from a standpoint subsequent to His coming to earth, but from that of the time of His visit--shows that He declares what the Lord YHWHhas done for Him and what He will yet do for Him as He works out the redemption of the human family and makes possible the salvation of mankind.

The Hebrew, like the Greek, anciently had a dual number which signified two. In the early stages of the language this form figured more prominently than in later Hebrew. Usually this form of the noun was employed when a pair of objects was mentioned. When for instance, a Hebrew wished to speak of a person's hands he put the noun in the dual number. The same thing was true with reference to eyes and feet. By the use of this form the writer indicated that there were but two. If there had been only two personalities in the Divine Being and the prophets had wished to emphasize that fact, they could have put the word for God in the dual number. But not one time did they resort to any such method. On the contrary, as we have already seen, they used a word, אֵל, 'el, for God in the singular and אֱלֹהִים, 'elohim, in the plural number, which facts show that there were at least three personalities constituting the Divine Being.

Frequently, however, Moses and the prophets used אֵל, El, God, in referring to the Divine Being, which is in the singular number and means only one. Occasionally they used אֱלוֹהַּ, Eloah, God. Beyond controversy this also is in the singular number. If the Divine Being were simply a single personality, the sacred writers could have used either of these words in the singular to convey that idea. In Joshua 22:22, however, appear both the singular and plural forms, which combination amounts to an affirmation regarding the unity of the divine personalities constituting the one God: אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהוָה אֵל אֱלֹהִים יְהוָה "God, Gods, Jehovah, God, Gods, YHWH. . ." (lit trans.).

The noun in the singular number doubtless stressed the unity of God, whereas the one in the plural laid emphasis upon the plurality of the Almighty. In the original the plural word for God is used with a verb in the plural number in Genesis 20:13 and 35:7. Evidently, since the Scriptures are infallibly inspired, there was a very definite reason why the noun for God, Elohim, is used here with a plural verb. These are some facts that we must consider in our attempt to find the scriptural truth with reference to the nature of the Eternal God.

VIII. THE TRINITY OF DIVINE PERSONALITIES

Isaiah, as well as Moses and all the prophets of Israel, was a Trinitarian. As proof of this fact all one has to do is to read and study carefully Isaiah 63:7-14.

חַסְדֵי יְהוָה ׀ אַזְכִּיר תְּהִלֹּת יְהוָה כְּעַל כֹּל אֲשֶׁר־גְּמָלָנוּ יְהוָה וְרַב־טוּב לְבֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר־גְּמָלָם כְּרַחֲמָיו וּכְרֹב חֲסָדָיו׃ וַיֹּאמֶר אַךְ־עַמִּי הֵמָּה בָּנִים לֹא יְשַׁקֵּרוּ וַיְהִי לָהֶם לְמוֹשִׁיעַ׃ בְּכָל־צָרָתָם ׀ לֹא צָר וּמַלְאַךְ פָּנָיו הוֹשִׁיעָם בְּאַהֲבָתוֹוּ בְחֶמְלָתוֹ הוּא גְאָלָם וַיְנַטְּלֵם וַיְנַשְּׂאֵם כָּל־יְמֵי עוֹלָם׃ וְהֵמָּה מָרוּ וְעִצְּבוּ אֶת־רוּחַ קָדְשׁוֹ וַיֵּהָפֵךְ לָהֶם לְאוֹיֵב הוּא נִלְחַם־בָּם׃ וַיִּזְכֹּר יְמֵי־עוֹלָם מֹשֶׁה עַמּוֹ אַיֵּה ׀ הַמַּעֲלֵם מִיָּם אֵת רֹעֵה צֹאנוֹ אַיֵּה הַשָּׂם בְּקִרְבּוֹ אֶת־רוּחַ קָדְשׁוֹ׃ מוֹלִיךְ לִימִין מֹשֶׁה זְרוֹעַ תִּפְאַרְתּוֹ בּוֹקֵעַ מַיִם מִפְּנֵיהֶם לַעֲשׂוֹת לוֹ שֵׁם עוֹלָם׃ מוֹלִיכָם בַּתְּהֹמוֹת כַּסּוּס בַּמִּדְבָּר לֹא יִכָּשֵׁלוּ׃ כַּבְּהֵמָה בַּבִּקְעָה תֵרֵד רוּחַ יְהוָה תְּנִיחֶנּוּ כֵּן נִהַגְתָּ עַמְּךָ לַעֲשׂוֹת לְךָ שֵׁם תִּפְאָרֶת׃

7 I will make mention of the lovingkindnesses of Jehovah, and the praises of Jehovah, according to all that YHWHhath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. 8 For he hath said, Surely, they are my people, children that will not deal falsely: so he was their Saviour. 9 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.

10 But they rebelled and grieved his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy and himself fought against them. 11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying, Where is he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? where is he that put his holy spirit in the midst of them? 12 that caused his Glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses? that divided the waters before them to make himself an everlasting name? 13 that led them through the depths, as a horse in the wilderness, so that they stumbled not? 14 As the cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of YHWHcaused them to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.

This block of Scripture is the introductory portion, a retrospect, of the petition which the nation of Israel will make in the year 1945-plus. The entire prayer is to be found in Isaiah 63:7-64:12.

In this petition the prophet was carried forward by the Spirit of God to the time of Jacob's trouble, the Great Tribulation, and saw his brethren in deep contrition, imploring deliverance by Almighty God. As their leader in spiritual matters, he burst forth into this petition, which is likewise a prophecy of that which shall surely be.

He began his supplication by stating that he would make mention of the lovingkindness of the Lord and of His praises along with His great goodness, which He has in the past bestowed upon Israel. It is impossible for anyone to magnify the Lord YHWHin the manner and to the extent that is worthy of His great heart. As an example of God's tender mercies to Israel, the prophet was led to speak of the salvation and deliverance which was wrought for her at the time of her deliverance from Egyptian bondage. In his doing so, he mentioned specifically the three divine personalities, as we see in the following verses which I shall re-quote. "For he said, Surely, they are my people, children that will not deal falsely: so he was their Saviour. 9 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. 10 But they rebelled, and grieved his holy Spirit: therefore, he was turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them" (Isaiah 63:8-10).

In verse 8 the Lord YHWHacknowledges that Israel is His own peculiar people, "children that will not deal falsely." Because of this fact--the covenant relationship into which God entered with Israel at Sinai, and which covenant in turn was based upon the one into which He entered with Abraham--"he was their Saviour." His great love for His covenant people led Him to plan and devise a means of redemption and deliverance for them from the galling, bitter bondage and oppression to which they were subjected in Egypt. Thus in a real sense He became their Saviour. Moreover "in all their affliction he was afflicted." Humanly speaking, the heart of God was grieved when He saw the injustice, cruelty, tyranny, and oppression to which His beloved people were being subjected. His heart is sympathetic to all human suffering. He does not willingly afflict the children of men. Whenever He permits any suffering to come upon His people, He is forced to do so on account of their attitude, actions, and sins. Whenever anyone therefore is suffering, as he believes, unjustly, he would do well to search his own heart and take an inventory of his life, asking the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to enable him to see where the difficulties lie. In all probability the Lord God will show to such a one the cause for which he is suffering.

The prophet, continuing the narration, declared, that "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." The expression, "the angel of his presence," is indeed unique and striking. Concerning this one the prophet declared that he saved them, that is, the angel of His presence saved Israel. Not only did He do that, but He also, in loving kindness and pity, bore them and carried them all the days of old. Who is this one? Light is thrown upon this passage by Exodus 23:20 and 21. "Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. 21 Take ye heed before him, and hearken unto his voice; provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgression: כִּי שְׁמִי בְּקִרְבּוֹ, for my name is in him." According to this promise God sent an angel before Israel throughout her wilderness wanderings. This one was to keep her in the way and to bring her into the place which He had prepared for her. Moreover the Lord warned Israel that she must hearken diligently unto His voice and not provoke Him, stating that "he will not pardon your transgression: for my name is in him." Let us note that this one had the right and authority to pardon sin but would not do so if Israel committed transgressions. The entire exhortation is strengthened by this statement, "for my name is in him." The word name in this clause is indeed unique and is not to be understood in an ordinary sense. As the Hebrews anciently employed this term, it signified the nature of God. For instance in Psalm 9:10 this language appears: "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee." Certainly in this passage the word name stands for God himself. Again we see the same usage in Psalm 91:14: "I will set him on high, because he has known שְׁמִי, my name."

Further light concerning this angel is given in Exodus, chapter 33. In verse 2 the Lord reiterated the promise that He would send an angel before Moses to prepare the way. According to verse 12 he told the Lord that, though he had been instructed to take the people up, the Lord had not made known whom He would send with him. Previous to this time the Lord had assured him that he had found favor in His sight. Then Moses asked the Lord that he might be shown the ways of the Almighty to the end that he might know Him--know Him in an experimental way and continue to find favor in His sight. In reply the Lord assured him saying,

"My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." Here the Lord promised that His actual presence would go with Moses and Israel in their journey to the Promised Land. Continuing his conversation with the Lord, Moses requested Him not to carry them up if His presence should not go with them. He was convinced that the Lord's presence with them in their journey was proof that he had found favor in the sight of the Almighty.

Thereupon the Lord again assured him that He would not only go along with him, but that He would also show him His glory. This promise is found in the following statement: "I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the name of YHWHbefore thee." The Lord fulfilled His promise by putting Moses in the cleft of a rock, passing by, and proclaiming His name (Ex. 34:1-7). In proclaiming His name, YHWHdeclared His attributes in the following words :

וַיַּעֲבֹר יְהוָה ׀ עַל־פָּנָיו וַיִּקְרָא יְהוָה ׀ יְהוָה אֵל רַחוּם וְחַנּוּן אֶרֶךְ אַפַּיִם וְרַב־חֶסֶד וֶאֱמֶת׃ נֹצֵר חֶסֶד לָאֲלָפִים נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וָפֶשַׁע וְחַטָּאָה וְנַקֵּה לֹא יְנַקֶּה פֹּקֵד ׀ עֲוֹן אָבוֹת עַל־בָּנִים וְעַל־בְּנֵי בָנִים עַל־שִׁלֵּשִׁים וְעַל־רִבֵּעִים׃

"And YHWHpassed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth; 7 keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation" (Ex. 34:6,7). From the entire narrative found in Exodus 33:1--34:9, one sees that the angel whom the Lord YHWHpromised would accompany Israel was none other than one of the divine personalities. He was one of those appearing in the form of an angel to Abraham. Concerning Him, God declared that He was His very presence.

It is indeed interesting and informative to study in the five Books of Moses the appearances and the activity of this angel who saved Israel, delivered her from Egyptian bondage, and bore her throughout her wilderness wandering. At the conclusion of the forty-year period of her stay in the wilderness, Moses delivered his final orations which appear in the form of the Book of Deuteronomy. In 4:37,38 we have a statement relative to this angel whom God called "his presence."

וְתַחַת כִּי אָהַב אֶת־אֲבֹתֶיךָ וַיִּבְחַר בְּזַרְעוֹ אַחֲרָיו וַיּוֹצִאֲךָ בְּפָנָיו בְּכֹחוֹ הַגָּדֹל מִמִּצְרָיִם׃ לְהוֹרִישׁ גּוֹיִם גְּדֹלִים וַעֲצֻמִים מִמְּךָ מִפָּנֶיךָ לַהֲבִיאֲךָ לָתֶת־לְךָ אֶת־אַרְצָם נַחֲלָה כַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה׃

"And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out with his presence, with his great power, out of Egypt; 38 to drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as at this day."*

With the information that we have gleaned from the chapters at which we have been looking, we can understand more fully the significance of the expression מַלְאַךְ פָּנָיו, "angel of his presence," in Isaiah 63:9. The language of this verse is of such a definite character that we are forced to the conclusion that this personality is not an ordinary angel upon whom God looks--one of those that stand before the Lord of the whole earth. This passage can mean only one thing; namely, that in the face of this angel is seen the very personality of the Almighty shining forth. There is, of course, reflected in his countenance the love, pity, and compassion of the Eternal God, as well as the sterner qualities of His nature.

Notwithstanding the mighty miracles and wonders which the Lord wrought in behalf of Israel in delivering her from Egyptian bondage and in His bringing her into the Land of Promise, the people "rebelled, and grieved his רוּחַ קָדְשׁוֹ, holy Spirit; therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them" (Isa. 63:10). The language, "they rebelled, and grieved his holy Spirit," is so very definite and personal that we cannot avoid the conclusion that this is one of the divine personalities. In Nehemiah 9:20 we are told that God gave His good Spirit to instruct Israel and withheld not manna from her. Concerning the fact that God's Spirit, the Holy Spirit, came and dwelt in Israel when the Lord God through the angel of His presence delivered her, Haggai made this statement: "For I [Jehovah] am with you, saith YHWHof hosts, according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, and my Spirit abode among you: fear ye not" (Haggai 2:4,5).

Turning back to our original passage, Isaiah 63:8-10, we see God who becomes the Saviour of Israel (vs. 8). In verse 9 the angel of His presence saved her in that He carried out the actual plan of the Almighty. Then in verse 10 we note the Holy Spirit whom she grieved and against whom she rebelled. Thus in these three verses we see three divine personalities. Isaiah was therefore a thoroughgoing Trinitarian--the same as was Moses.

In verses 11-14 we see a changed attitude in the nation of Israel. Here she is deeply penitent because of her disobedience and of her having grieved the Holy Spirit. Verse 11, which begins this section, starts with the temporal adverb then. This word points definitely to a certain time. In the Revised Version we have this reading in the text: "Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people." As a marginal rendering, we have these words: "Then his people remembered the ancient days of Moses, etc." Grammatically both of these translations are correct. That one which accords with the facts of the context and harmonizes with related passages is to be selected. When we remember that Isaiah 63:7-64:12 is a prophecy and at the same time a prayer which Israel will utter in the closing days of this age--as all the facts indicate--we are led to prefer the marginal reading. Then--at the time foreseen in the passage-His people (Jehovah's people) remember the ancient days of Moses. Such is the import of the prophecy, even though in the translation the past tense is employed. This verse becomes clear when we recall that Isaiah was carried forward in vision into the future and saw Israel praying as set forth in this section. In their distress and perplexity, when they realize that all human efforts will be of no avail, their minds will revert to the deliverance wrought for them by the triune Godhead when He brought them out of Egypt and settled them in the Land of Promise, the country vouchsafed to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for a perpetual inheritance. They will therefore ask the various questions which are found in verses 11-13.

The first of these questions is this: "Where is he who brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock?" The one concerning whom this query is made undoubtedly is the Lord YHWHconcerning whom it is said in verse 8 that He became their Saviour. The second question to be asked is: "Where is he that put his holy Spirit in the midst of them?" The Holy Spirit of this question clearly is the Holy Spirit mentioned in verse 10.

The next question in the series is: "Where is he that caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses?" (vs. 12). As stated above, the Lord Jehovah, the Father, is still the one who is represented as acting or supervising the deliverance from Egypt. It is He who "caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses. But who or what is meant by "his glorious arm?" "The arm of Jehovah" sometimes refers to His strength or power. At other times it indicates Messiah. The facts in each context must determine its particular significance in a given case. For instance, in Isaiah 51:9 we have this language: עוּרִי עוּרִי לִבְשִׁי־עֹז זְרוֹעַ יְהוָה עוּרִי כִּימֵי קֶדֶם דֹּרוֹת עוֹלָמִים הֲלוֹא אַתְּ־הִיא הַמַּחְצֶבֶת רַהַב מְחוֹלֶלֶת תַּנִּין׃ "Awake, awake, put on strength, 0 arm of Jehovah; awake as in the days of old, the generations of ancient times. Is it not thou that didst cut Rahab in pieces, that didst pierce the monster?

In verses 9-11 the facts show that this one who is called the "arm of Jehovah" is the one who combated Rahab and other monsters in primeval times. When this verse is read in the light of Job, chapters 40 and 41, one sees that leviathan and other sea monsters are used symbolically to refer to the first great rebel who revolted against God; namely, the anointed cherub who is now known as Satan, the devil. This anointed cherub was the highest type of being whom the Almighty could create. When he rebelled against God, there was no one who could deal with him except Deity himself--as one can see in chapter 9 of my volume, What Men Must Believe.

According to Isaiah 51:10 this same arm of YHWHis the one who dried up the sea, opened up the great waters of the deep, and allowed Israel to pass out of Egyptian bondage through the Red Sea into the wilderness. As we have already seen, the "angel of Jehovah" is the one who accompanied Israel and delivered her from her bondage. This "angel of Jehovah," as we know, was none other than YHWHhimself. From the facts of the context of Isaiah 51:9, we see that the expression, "the arm of Jehovah," is here a designation of Messiah.

In Isaiah 53:1 we have this language: "Who hath believed our message? and to whom hath the arm of YHWHbeen revealed?" In this passage the same words, which are translated, "the arm of Jehovah," occur as in Isaiah 51:9. An examination of the context of this verse shows that this "arm of Jehovah" is an individual--the Messiah of Israel--who suffers in behalf of the nation.

From Isaiah 40:10,11 we see that the "arm of Jehovah" signifies YHWHhimself:
"Behold, the Lord YHWHwill come as a mighty one, and his arm will rule for him: Behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and will gently lead those that have their young."

The Book of Isaiah, with the exceptions of chapters 36-39, is written in poetical form, the fundamental principle of which is Hebrew parallelism. A statement is made by the choice of certain words and then is repeated or modified by another statement expressed in different language. In the first part of verse 10 the declaration is made, "Behold, the Lord YHWHwill come as a mighty one." This same thought is repeated in these words "And his arm will rule for him." The "Lord Jehovah" in the first statement is "his arm" in the second. This second sentence becomes a comment upon the first. Thus we see here a prediction that this one who is designated as the arm of YHWHwill come as a warrior, a mighty hero, and will set up a reign of righteousness on the earth in behalf of the Lord Jehovah. From this passage we learn that the expression, the arm of Jehovah, is used to signify the Messiah.

Again, in Isaiah 52:10, appears this same arm of Jehovah. But in order for a person to understand it properly, he must examine the context, especially verses 7-10. The prophet saw a messenger bringing good tidings to Zion--tidings of peace and of salvation. The watchmen of Zion hear the glad message and burst forth into singing. They are convinced of the truthfulness of what is announced to them and are persuaded that they shall see "eye to eye when YHWHreturneth to Zion" (vs. 8). The implication of this statement is that YHWHwill have come to Zion, but will have left it prior to the time here foreseen by the prophet; but in this revelation he sees YHWHreturning to Zion to establish His reign. In view of this disclosure the prophet calls upon the waste places of Jerusalem and vicinity to break forth into singing. Of course, he is speaking of the people who can sing and rejoice.

Footnotes

 *9 Hear, 0 Israel: thou art to pass over the Jordan this day, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fortified up to heaven, 2 a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the sons of Anak? 3 Know therefore this day, that YHWHthy God is he who goeth over before thee as a devouring fire; he will destroy them, and he will bring them down before thee: so shalt thou drive them out, and make them to perish quickly, as YHWHhath spoken unto thee. 4 Speak not thou in thy heart, after that YHWHthy God hath thrust them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness YHWHhath brought me in to possess this land; whereas for the wickedness of these nations YHWHdoth drive them out from before thee. 5 Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart, dost thou go in to possess their land; but for the wickedness of these nations YHWHthy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may establish the word which YHWHsware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

6 Know therefore, that YHWHthy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people. 7 Remember, forget thou not, how thou provokedst YHWHthy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou wentest forth out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against Jehovah. 8 Also in Horeb ye provoked YHWHto wrath, and YHWHwas angry with you to destroy you (Deut. 9:1-8).

6 For thou art a holy people unto YHWHthy God: YHWHthy God hath chosen thee to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. 7 YHWHdid not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all peoples: 8 but because YHWHloveth you, and because he would keep the oath which he sware unto your fathers, hath YHWHbrought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that YHWHthy God, he is God, the faithful God, who keepeth covenant and lovingkindness with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations, 10 and repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face. 11 Thou shalt therefore keep the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which I command thee this day, to do them (Deut. 7:6-11).


In the latter section of Isaiah, chapters 40-66, we read of "the servant of Jehovah." Usually the term, "my servant," appears. The prophet uses this expression with three connotations: (1) It embraces the entire nation of Israel; (2) it includes only the faithful remnant of the nation; and (3) it indicates King Messiah, the ideal Israelite. The facts of the context must determine its significance in each case. For example, in Isa. 42:18-22, this expression occurs. An examination of these verses shows that it signifies the entire nation of the Hebrews. But in Isa. 41:8-16 the same expression occurs (vs. 8), but the facts of this context show that it has a limited signification here. For this Israel is gathered back from the four corners of the globe to the land of the fathers and is reinstated into fellowship with the Almighty. This fact, together, with all that is said in this particular paragraph, shows that the servant here has the restricted meaning of the remnant of the Hebrews. On the other hand, the same expression, my servant, occurs in 42:1-4. An examination of the facts of this passage shows that his servant has as his objective the introduction of a new world order, spiritually, socially, and politically. In other words, He establishes a reign of righteousness and justice on the earth in accordance with the principles of truth. This is not a man-size job; it is a God-size job. Only Deity can perform this task. In view of these facts we must understand the servant of this passage to refer to King Messiah who is God in human form. (I establish this thesis beyond a peradventure in my book: Messiah: His Nature and Person.) When one studies the facts as they appear in Isa. 52:13--53:12 one sees that the data demand that we understand the servant of this passage to be none other than King Messiah. (For a full discussion of this point see my book, The Eternal God Revealing Himself to Suffering Israel and Lost Humanity.)

 (Continued Chapter III-The Trinity Of The Divine Personalities)

 This is evident from the next statement, found in verse 9, "For YHWHhath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem." In the next verse follows the prediction: "YHWHhath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God." Thus this holy arm of YHWHin this connection can refer only to YHWHalone, who will return to Zion and take up His reign there.

From these examples it is very clear that Isaiah used the expression, "the arm of Jehovah," to refer to Israel's personal Messiah who will some day come and establish His reign of righteousness in Jerusalem and will reign from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth.

At the same time we must recognize the fact that Isaiah also used the expression, "his own arm," in the impersonal sense of Messiah's own strength. For example, in Isaiah 59:16 we have this statement: "Therefore his own arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it upheld him." An examination of this passage shows that the prophet in Isaiah 59:16-60:3 was speaking of the personal return of Messiah in glory when He will come as a great warrior to deliver Israel. At that time He will use His own strength and power. Such is the significance of our expression in this instance.

The same significance is to be seen in Isaiah 63:1-6. In this passage we have another vision of Messiah's coming to deliver His own beloved people Israel from the throes of persecution and warfare. He enters battle against her foes and his "own arm" brings salvation to Him, while His wrath upholds Him.

Having studied the two different usages of the expressions, "the arm of Jehovah" and "his own arm," we are now to return to the passage under consideration and determine its significance in Isaiah 63:12, in the sentence, "Where is he that caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses?" We have already seen that the "angel of his presence" mentioned in verse 9 was none other than the angel of YHWHwho is recognized as YHWHhimself, and yet he is distinct from the one mentioned as being Israel's Saviour in verse 8. We must also remember that YHWHmade His Holy Spirit to dwell in the midst of Israel and that later she rebelled against Him and grieved Him. Thus the Holy Spirit is recognized as God and as being separate and distinct from the Lord Jehovah. In view of all these facts it seems very clear that the one referred to as "his glorious arm" can be none other than this angel of His presence, the angel of Jehovah. This interpretation accords with the personal usage of our term as we have already seen in various passages of Isaiah.

Israel at this future time, as foreseen by the prophet, will likewise ask, "Where is he that divided the waters before them [Israel], to make himself an everlasting name?" (vs. 12). This query refers to YHWHGod, Israel's Saviour, who planned her redemption. Of course, the reference is to His opening up the waters of the Red Sea for Israel to pass through. The next question pertains to the same event, for the people will ask, "Where is he that led them through the depths, as a horse in the wilderness, so that they stumbled not?" (vs. 13). The Lord YHWHhere again is represented as the one who was leading them as they passed through the sea.

These questions are followed by the assertion: "As the cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of YHWHcaused them to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name" (vs. 14). After the wilderness wanderings, Israel came down from the high tablelands of Moab into the valley of the Jordan, crossed the river, and settled down in the Land of Promise. Their being led down into the valley and over into Canaan is compared, in this verse, to cattle's being led down into a cool valley beside the water in order to rest from the heat of the day. Thus the Spirit of God is said to have brought Israel down into her valley of rest by bringing her into the land. The Spirit here is none other than the Holy Spirit. The verse ends with a reference to YHWHthe Father in the language, "So didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name."

We may summarize the facts which we have learned from Isaiah 63:7-14. The prophet was carried forward, as we have already seen, to a time yet future and led the remnant of Israel in prayer, confession, and intercession (Isa. 63:7-64:12). In 63:8-10 he looked back to the deliverance wrought for their ancestors at the time of the Exodus and attributed it to the Lord YHWH(vs. 8), to the מַלְאַךְ פָּנָיו, "angel of his presence"--Messiah in His prenatal state (vs. 9), and to רוּחַ קָדְשׁוֹ, "his holy Spirit" (vs. 10).

At the time yet in the future which is here foreseen by the prophet, the people of Israel will be in dire need and distress and will ask the questions concerning the whereabouts of the Lord YHWHwho wrought their salvation from Egypt during the days of Moses. They will also inquire about the glorious "arm of Jehovah" who saved them and bore them along through the wilderness on their journey to Canaan. Moreover, they will ask about the Spirit of YHWHwho gave their ancestors rest when they entered the Land of Promise.

They will look up to heaven and pray for the three divine personalities constituting the Trinity to bring deliverance to them. They likewise will plead for Jehovah, "the angel of his presence"-- the Messiah of Israel to rend the heavens and come down to earth as He did at the time of His giving the law at Sinai. Moreover, they will confess their national sin and plead for His return. (Here read Isaiah 64:1-12.)

In the light of all the facts of this context we can see most clearly the three divine personalities constituting the one true and living God.

IX. THE RECOGNITION OF JEHOVAH, THE WORD OF JEHOVAH, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT BY THE ANCIENT SYNAGOGUE

In our investigation thus far we have seen that Moses and the prophets were Trinitarians. They believed in the three divine personalities who subsist in the one divine essence. This conclusion is inescapable--for the one who is willing to take the Holy Scriptures at their face value.

The ancient synagogue, as the heading of this section indicates, believed in אֲדֹנָי יֱהוָה, the Lord Jehovah, דְבַר־יְהוָה, the Word of Jehovah, and רוּחַ קֹדֶשׁ, the Holy Spirit. This fact is reflected in the Targums, the recognized Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text of the Scriptures. The two principal Targums are those of Onkelos on the Pentateuch and of Jonathan Ben Uzziel on the prophets, although there are others of various sections of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Scholars are disagreed as to the dates of these translations. Some try to place them after the Talmudic Period--after the third century of the current era. Certain ones tell us that they did not assume the present form in which they appear until the Middle Ages. Most of the arguments for assigning a late date to them are purely subjective. Reasoning from silence figures largely in the determination of these late dates. As is well known, this type of argument is very fallacious and cannot with confidence be relied upon.

What do the historical facts indicate? We know that up to the time of the Babylonian captivity the Jews spoke their native tongue, the Hebrew. When, however, they were deported to Babylon, they adopted the language of their conquerors--the Chaldean, or Aramaic--which from that time until the second or third century of the present era was the lingua franca of all southwestern Asia, including Palestine. Certain portions of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel are in Aramaic. For this reason these books were not translated into Aramaic. This is just what one, who knows the historical facts, would expect. That the Jews were speaking this language is evident from the Aramaic documents that have been recovered from the Elephantine district of Upper Egypt in which a large Jewish population flourished during the Persian Period. Aramaic was the language of this section of the world throughout the Persian and Greek periods. After the conquests of Alexander, the Greek language began to supplant the Aramaic. In the first century of the present era, Palestine was a bi-lingual country, the two tongues being Aramaic and Greek.

We see the first indications of the Targums, or translations of the original into the Aramaic, in Nehemiah 8:8: "And they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly; and they gave the sense, so that they understood the reading." An examination of this context shows that the sacred historian was recording the reading of the law to the returned exiles in Jerusalem after Nehemiah had arrived from the Persian capital. The people in daily life were no longer speaking the Hebrew but the Aramaic. Nevertheless in the services of the synagogue the Hebrew was used. Those who were reading the Word of God on this occasion naturally, since it was in their mother tongue, the Hebrew language, and doubtless many others of the older generation, understood the reading; but the younger generation, which arose during the Exile, spoke and understood only the Aramaic. For them it was therefore necessary that that which was read in the original should be translated into the tongue spoken by the masses. From this early beginning we can get an intimation of the character of the translation; namely, that it was a kind of paraphrase or explanation of the original.

The synagogue arose in the time of the Exile, became an authorized institution in Jewry, and has remained so until this day. At religious services the original was read; but during the time when the Aramaic was spoken by the great masses, a translation had to be made immediately for the benefit of the hearers. According to the rules, which were based upon custom, a verse from the law was read and was immediately rendered into Aramaic; but three verses of the prophets were read and then were rendered into the current language. These translations made in the synagogue were of course oral at first and doubtless from usage became stereotyped, more or less. In the course of time they were put into the permanent form of writing. Whether or not Onkelos was the one who translated the Targum of the Pentateuch, one cannot say positively. Neither can one be dogmatic with reference to Jonathan Ben Uzziel and his being the author of the Palestinian Targum. The authorship of these translations is not a vital question in this investigation. Only the time, or an approximation of it, is in this connection vital.

After the Greek had supplanted the Aramaic as the language of the people in general, there would be no occasion for the rise of these Aramaic Targums. Since the Greek had largely supplanted the Aramaic in popular usage no later than the second century of the present era, we are logical in concluding that these Targums were made and were in current use in the synagogues before or by the close of the second century of our era. It is quite likely that the same reason which led to the codification of the Talmud was the cause for committing the Targums to the permanent form of writing. The Jewish state had been destroyed, and Israel had been scattered to the four winds. This new situation demanded the reduction of both the traditional laws and the Aramaic translation of the Scriptures to be crystalized in writing. With confidence therefore we may believe that the Targums in their present form--with very few exceptions--date back before or at least to the first and second century of the present era. Upon this hypothesis we may conclude that these Targums reflect the ideas and the theological conceptions of the Synagogue in the centuries immediately preceding the present era. We may with confidence, then, come to the Targums and see reflected therein quite accurately the teachings of the great masters in Israel. Especially can we draw this conclusion with regard to the two Targums about which we have been studying, since they are the ones that appear along with the Hebrew text in Bibles edited by the rabbis. This fact gives official sanction, in a general way at least, to these Targums. With these indisputable facts in mind, let us now turn to them to see what we can learn concerning the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

We shall begin with Genesis 19:24 which reads in the American Revised Version as follows: "Then יְהוָה, Jehovah, rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from יְהוָה, Jehovah, out of heaven. . . ." Jonathan Ben Uzziel renders the original text of this passage as follows: "And the Word of the Lord caused to descend upon the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, brimstone and fire from the Lord from heaven." Here we see that the YHWHwho was upon earth and who caused the fire to come down out of heaven from YHWHis called "the Word of Jehovah." The translator then used the term, the Word of Jehovah, in referring to the one in the sacred text called Jehovah. Thus one of the personalities of the one true God of whom we have been reading and studying in the Scriptures is here by the translator designated as the Word of Jehovah.

In Genesis 1:27 we read: "And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him. ..." This same Targum of Jonathan Ben Uzziel renders the verse thus: "And the Word of YHWHcreated man in his likeness, in the likeness of Jehovah, YHWHcreated, male and female created he them." Here we see that our translator calls one of the divine personalities by the designation of "the Word of Jehovah."

This same Jerusalem Targum or paraphrase renders Exodus 3:14 as follows: "And the Word of the Lord [Jehovah] said unto Moses: I am he who said unto the world, Be! And it was: And who in the future shall say to it, Be! and it shall be. And he said: Thus thou shalt say to the children of Israel: I AM hath sent me unto you." Here again the one who is called the "angel of Jehovah" and also YHWHhimself, who spoke to Moses out of the burning bush, is called in this translation "the Word of Jehovah." Here, as in the passages just mentioned, one of the divine personalities is called the Word of Jehovah.

Once again we see another illustration of this interpretation in the case of the patriarch Jacob. Onkelos in his paraphrase rendered Genesis 28:20,21 as follows: "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If the Word of YHWHwill be my support, and will keep me in the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the Word of YHWHbe my God." From this quotation we see that Onkelos understood that one of the divine beings is called the Word of Jehovah.

Who was the lawgiver? We shall let the Jerusalem Targum of Jonathan on Exodus 20:1 tell us: "And the Word of the Lord spake all these glorious words [Ten Commandments]." In the original we are told that God spoke these words. Then in the translation we are told that the Word of YHWHspoke them. From this it is clear that our translator conceived of one of the divine beings as the Word of Jehovah.

Abraham had faith in the same one as did Jacob according to the Targum of Onkelos on Genesis 15:6: "Abraham believed in the Word of Jehovah, and He counted it to him for righteousness." In the Targum of Genesis 22:7 Isaac is said to have asked, "Where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?" To this Abraham replied, according to the Jerusalem Targum, "The Word of the Lord will provide me a lamb; and if not, then thou, my son, shall be the burnt-offering."

While we are considering the patriarch Abraham, let us ask in whose name did he pray? According to the Jerusalem Targum on Genesis 22:14, "Abraham worshipped and prayed in the name of the Word of the Lord, and said, Thou art the Lord who doth see, but Thou canst not be seen." He doubtless inculcated the same doctrine in Hagar, his handmaiden, who, according to Jerusalem Targum of Genesis 16:13 said, "Hagar praised, and prayed in the name of the Word of the Lord, who had revealed Himself unto her: she said, Blessed art Thou, 0 God, who liveth to all eternity who has seen my affliction."

Whom did Moses, the great lawgiver, worship? According to Jonathan Ben Uzziel in the Jerusalem Targum on Numbers 10:35,36, "It came to pass when the ark was lifted up Moses stood with his hands lifted up in prayer, and said; Stand up now, 0 Word of the Lord in the strength of thy might, and let the enemies of thy people be scattered, and those that hate Thee, flee from before Thee. And when the ark came to rest, Moses lifted up his hands in prayer and said: Return now, 0 Word of the Lord from the might of Thine anger and come to us in Thy mercies, which are so good, and bless the ten thousand, and multiply the thousands of the children of Israel." According to the Targum of Onkelos on Exodus 14:31, the children of Israel held the same faith as did Moses; for in translating the sentence, "They believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses," Onkelos rendered this passage, "and they believed in the Word of the Lord, and in the prophecy of Moses, His servant."

Moses charged the Israelites that they should fear the Lord their God, should serve Him, and should swear by His name. The Jerusalem Targum renders Deuteronomy 6:13, "Ye shall fear before the presence of the Lord your God and before Him ye shall worship, and by the name of the Word of the Lord ye shall swear in truth." Israel was strictly charged to swear by none other than by the Lord her God. Yet according to this Targum she was to swear by the name of the Word of the Lord. This translation then assumes that the one who is called the Word of Jehovah, and who is differentiated from Jehovah, is divine. The matter of swearing by the Lord appears again in Joshua 2:12, which by Jonathan is rendered, "Now therefore swear unto Me by the Word of Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father's house, and give me a true token." According to the same authority on Joshua 9:19, "But all the Princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the Word of the Lord, the God of Israel; and now, therefore, we dare not injure them." Quotations could be multiplied very greatly which show that the translators of the Targums in differentiating YHWHfrom YHWHoften called one the Word of YHWHand at the same time attributed the divine nature to Him who was thus designated. These examples are sufficient to establish the point under investigation.

I shall now call attention to only two examples illustrative of the position taken by the translators of the Targum in regard to the Holy Spirit who in the original Scriptures is recognized as a divine personality subsisting in the one divine essence. In Genesis 6:3 we are told that YHWHsaid, "My Spirit shall not strive with man for ever. . . ." In Jonathan's Targum on this verse we read, "Have I not given my Holy Spirit in them, in order that they should do good works, but behold, they have corrupted their works?" Once more, Jonathan Ben Uzziel rendered the question, "Who has directed the Spirit of YHWHor being his counsellor, has taught him?" in this manner: "Who has directed the Holy Spirit?" From these two quotations it is clear that the expression, the Spirit of the Lord, in the original is understood as a reference to the Holy Spirit, to whom, as noted above, all the attributes of deity in the Scriptures are ascribed.

In the Targums we find references to Metatron, to whom divine attributes are ascribed. This one is especially mentioned in the Talmud, Sanhedrin 38 B, in connection with the words of Exodus 24:1: "And he (God) said unto Moses, Come up unto the Lord, it is asked: 'Why does not God say: "Come up unto Me"?' The answer is this: 'It was Metatron, whose name is equal to that of God, to whom he was bidden to come up.' Logically, there is no difference here between God and Metatron. One must remember the significance attached to names by the Jews to realize the importance of this passage; the name was equivalent to its bearer (see further on this point below). In the passage just quoted, Metatron is said to bear the 'Tetragrammaton,' i. e., the four consonants יהוה which represent the unpronounceable name of God; another instance of the practical identity between God and Metatron"--Oesterley and Box in The Religion and Worship of the Synagogue. From various references to Metatron in the Talmud and Midrashic literature, we see that this name was applied to one of the divine beings. In certain passages He is represented as a mediator between God and ALL Israel. In others He is thought of as the consoler of God--as if the Almighty needed comfort.

Personal, divine attributes are likewise, in certain passages of rabbinic literature, ascribed to the Shekinah of glory. But it is not necessary to enter into an investigation of these passages. From the quotations which I have noted, it becomes clear that the official ancient interpretation of the synagogue was that דְבַר־יְהוָה, the Word of Jehovah, and רוּחַ קֶדֵשׁ, the Holy Spirit, were divine personalities and were distinguished from the one who is called יְהוָה Jehovah. From all the facts which we have learned thus far, we see that Moses and the prophets were Trinitarians, and the great leaders of Israel in pre-Christian times were likewise Trinitarians. In view of these facts, then, we can assert with all confidence that Christians who worship the Holy Trinity--the three divine personalities subsisting in the one divine essence--are simply worshiping the same אֱלֹהִים, God, who revealed Himself to Abraham and entered into a covenant with him, and who reaffirmed His covenant with his seed at Sinai. We Christians are worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

For a full and scholarly discussion of rabbinical teaching regarding the Memra of Jehovah, the Holy Spirit, the Metatron, and the Shekinah, see Judische Theologle auf Grund des Talmud und ver-wandter Schriften.--von Dr. Ferdinand Weber.

Although the Holy Trinity is taught both in Tenach and in the Targums--the official interpretation of the ancient synagogue--this teaching is set forth more clearly in the Christian Scriptures, the New Testament.

X. LOGICAL CONCLUSIONS DRAWN FROM THE EVIDENCE COLLECTED

From the Scriptures we have learned that there is a plurality of divine personalities, but that they constitute one Divine Being. Throughout the Scriptures we see three distinct personalities mentioned. From the context of the various appearances of these different ones we see that the characteristics of Deity are attributed to them. Thus we come to the conclusion that there are three divine personalities constituting the one true and living God.

There are not three Gods, but only one. But there are three personalities or distinctions subsisting in this one Divine Being. Although we use the words, "person" and "personal," in referring to the Holy Trinity, we are not using these words with exactly the same connotation which they usually have in regular parlance. On this point the late Dr. E. Y. Mullins summed up the scriptural position in the following words:

"It is to be noted that when we employ the terms 'person' and 'personal' in connection with the Trinity, we do not mean precisely what we have in mind when we apply the term to men. With men a person is a separate and distinct individual, having no essential connection with other individuals. In reference to the Trinity we mean by personalities inner distinctions in the Godhead. These distinctions, however, are qualified by the most intimate relations of unity. They express the meaning of a single divine life, not of three separate and externally related divine lives. There are not three Gods, but one. A divine person is not less than a human person, but more. The divine life is richer and more complete than the human."

Dr. A. H. Strong expressed the same idea in the following words:

"The necessary qualification is that, while three persons among men have only a specific unity of nature or essence--that is, have the same species of nature or essence--the persons of the Godhead have a numerical unity of nature or essence--that is, have the same nature or essence. The undivided essence of the Godhead belongs equally to each of the persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each possessing all the substance and all the attributes of Deity. The plurality of the Godhead is therefore not a plurality of essence, but a plurality of hypostatical, or personal, distinctions. God is not three and one, but three in one. The one indivisible essence has three modes of subsistence."

In these two quotations, which set forth the situation in clear, intelligible terminology, we see that there is only one divine substance or essence, but that there are three distinctions or personalities. That which constitutes personality, according to our knowledge, may scripturally be predicated of each of these divine distinctions. Of course personality in the Divine Being exists in the highest possible conception of that term. From the fact that man was made in the image and likeness of God, we may conclude that man's own personality is at least a dim reflection of the personalities subsisting in the Godhead.

If there were not such personalities in the Divine Being, we would have great difficulty in understanding the matter of self-consciousness. The term, thinker, demands an object of thought. Since, in eternity prior to the creation of the world, there was nothing external to God, so far as the Scriptures reveal to us, reason would indicate that, as God is an intelligent thinking Being, there evidently was an object of thought. The scriptural doctrine of the distinctions in the divine nature meets this philosophical demand.

Moreover, the idea of love presupposes a lover and the one loved. Love denotes personal relations. If love is one of the immanent attributes of the Divine Being, and both Scripture and reason point positively in this direction, we are led to conclude that the idea of God's eternal love demands an eternal object of His love. Love always flows out in self-communication to another. Since there is but one God, as the Scriptures universally teach, there must be these distinctions or personalities subsisting in the divine essence in order that love might be recognized as an eternal attribute of the Deity.

The doctrine of the Trinity satisfies this rational demand and renders it plausible. In order for us to see the force of this position more clearly, I wish to quote a paragraph from page 135 of my book, What Men Must Believe:

"But for the sake of investigation, let us assume that God is one personality and not a trinity subsisting in the same divine substance or essence, although we have already learned that, in the eternity which preceded the creation of the world, Elohim, Gods, the Trinity alone existed. Being such a one, He possessed certain attributes or perfections. These of course were essential to His nature and were not conditioned upon anything. Love could not have been one of these attributes, while He was in this state, because there could be no such thing as love without an object to love. This principle we see from an examination of our own natures. We are logical in making this analogy since man was made in the image and after the likeness of God. In looking at myself I know that I cannot love one who does not exist. To show this fact most clearly let me call attention to a certain incident. During World War I there was a certain unbeliever who had an only son, and who was criticizing certain other young men for not enthusiastically entering the armed forces. In his discussion of the question he avowed with emphasis that, if he had two sons, he certainly would want one of them to go to war while the other one stayed at home and assisted him in his business. He dubbed as unpatriotic any man who would not insist upon one of his sons going to the front. In answer to his statement his wife, who was a Christian, asked him which of the sons he would want to go to war, if he had two--his own son or the one whom he did not have. Upon being pressed for an answer, he confessed that he would want his real son, in whom his life was wrapped up--as all those acquainted with the family knew--to remain with him and assist in his business and to enter the career which he had planned for him. But he would want the other son, who had no existence, to go and fight. I am simply calling attention to this circumstance to demonstrate that a person cannot love one who does not exist. It is psychologically impossible. Hence this man was willing for his imaginary son to go but would never consent for his own son of flesh and blood to give up the career which he had planned for him in order to fight for his country."

Another fact demands the acceptance of the doctrine of the Trinity, which lies in the realm of morals and ethics. If the code of morals and ethics set forth in the Scriptures is simply an arbitrary set of regulations which God imposed upon man in his relations with his fellowman, there is no substantial basis upon which such a system rests. On the other hand, if the biblical code of ethics is grounded upon the very nature of Deity and the relations that exist among the persons of the Holy Trinity, there is indeed an eternal foundation for such a system. In this case the highest spiritual values obtain. To conceive of the Deity as one Absolute Being without distinctions or personalities is to reduce God to a merely intellectual being without any richness and wealth of moral nature. The Trinitarian conception of God alone furnishes an adequate basis for the highest ethics and morals.

Footnotes:


1 The translations from the Targums which I am giving are those made by Rev C. W. H Pauli and may be found in his booklet, The Great Mystery: or How Can Three Be One?

 (Continued Chapter III - The Trinity Of The Divine Personalities)

 Again, we see the reasonableness of the doctrine of the Trinity when we consider man's personality and his individualty. Personality implies relationship. We remain simply individuals as long as we stand aloof from others, but our lives are enriched and ennobled only as we come in contact with others. From the standpoint of personality therefore we conclude that the Trinitarian view of God explains personality in the highest sense of the term. This doctrine therefore furnishes the only rational basis for the existence of personality such as we are logically driven to believe God possesses.

Lastly, when we accept the Trinitarian view, we have a logical basis for understanding the object which the Almighty had in view in creation. That which is highest and noblest in our individual lives and social relations finds its prototype in the personalites and the relations existing in the Holy Trinity. Everything in nature and revelation points in the direction of the future when men's highest hopes will be realized. The relations existing here will be perfected after this life--in the great future that lies beyond the horizon of earthly existence. The Trinitarian conception affords a logical basis for our hopes to be realized then. In that eternal tomorrow all the social instincts of men will be met and satisfied, because that eternal sacred social order is grounded in the Trinitarian nature of God.

Having presented the salient facts regarding the Holy Trinity as they appear upon the pages of the Hebrew Scriptures, I wish to close this chapter with a quotation from my own writings, and a short statement from a very eminent Hebrew scholar.

"The reasonableness of the scriptural teaching regarding the triune nature of the Eternal God may be seen in the light of the following facts. The amoeba is a one-cell animal--the simplest form of life. On the other hand, man is the highest type of creature upon this earth. His anatomy is complexity itself in comparison with the amoeba. His intellectual and spiritual life is immeasurably higher than the infinitesimally small degree of intellect of this little germ--if indeed it has any. Between these two extremes of life there is an ascending scale of forms of creatures--each a little higher than the one on the next round of the ladder of existence below it. It is utterly impossible for the amoeba to understand even the simplest things about men--if indeed it has sufficient intellect to have a single thought. This little animal is on the lowest round of this ascending ladder of existence. But man who is on a round infinitely higher than the highest type of animal can look down and see the various forms of creatures below him. Since he sees this ascending scale of life below, and since he can look up the ladder and see, by faith, the Eternal God on the topmost round--infinitely above him so that his mind staggers with amazement in contemplation of Him--he comes to the conclusion that it is impossible for his finite mind to formulate, even in the most limited degree, an adequate conception of God and the nature of His being. As far as man is concerned, God may be, in the constitution of His being, infinitely more complex above him than he is above the amoeba in its complexity." - What Men Must Believe, pp. 138,139

"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."- Claude Montefiore.

 Chapter IV

 Elohim, The Divine Personalities, Working Out Man's Redemption

[Isa 48:1] Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah; who swear by the name of Jehovah, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth, nor in righteousness
[Isa 48:2] (for they call themselves of the holy city, and stay themselves upon the God of Israel; YHWHof hosts is his name):
[Isa 48:3] I have declared the former things from of old; yea, they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them: suddenly I did them, and they came to pass.
[Isa 48:4] Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;
[Isa 48:5] therefore I have declared it to thee from of old; before it came to pass I showed it thee; lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.
[Isa 48:6] Thou hast heard it; behold all this; and ye, will ye not declare it? I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, which thou hast not known.
[Isa 48:7] They are created now, and not from of old; and before this day thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them.
[Isa 48:8] Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from of old thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou didst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb.
[Isa 48:9] For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off.
[Isa 48:10] Behold, I have refined thee, but not as silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.
[Isa 48:11] For mine own sake, for mine own sake, will I do it; for how should [my name] be profaned? and my glory will I not give to another.
[Isa 48:12] Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel my called: I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.
[Isa 48:13] 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.
[Isa 48:14] Assemble yourselves, all ye, and hear; who among them hath declared these things? He whom YHWHloveth shall perform his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm [shall be on] the Chaldeans.
[Isa 48:15] I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him; I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous.
[Isa 48:16] 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 YHWHhath sent me, and his Spirit.
[Isa 48:17] Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am YHWHthy God, who teacheth thee to profit, who leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.
[Isa 48:18] Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea:
[Isa 48:19] thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the grains thereof: his name would not be cut off nor destroyed from before me.
[Isa 48:20] Go ye forth from Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans; with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth: say ye, YHWHhath redeemed his servant Jacob.
[Isa 48:21] And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts; he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them; he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.
[Isa 48:22] There is no peace, saith Jehovah, to the wicked.

The passage which we now have for consideration is one of the most profound portions in the Word of God. It therefore demands our closest scrutiny and most earnest consideration. In order to see its message, we must be scientific in our spirit and view honestly and conscientiously each bit of material that is set forth in this marvelous revelation. Let us, as we investigate this passage, have but one thought in mind--to get the exact meaning which the inspired writer had in view. We want truth and not error; we want facts and not fiction.

There are several principles which we must recognize before approaching the body of the text. In the first place let us note the fact that in Isaiah, chapters 40-48, the prophet foresaw the Babylonian captivity of Israel. We should, however, remember that Isaiah lived and ministered in the latter half of the eighth century, B. C., according to the accepted chronology, and that the Babylonian captivity did not begin until about 605 B. C.--one hundred years after Isaiah had completed his ministry. By prophetic insight he foresaw that Cyrus the Persian would capture Babylon and would issue a decree for the Jews to return to their homeland and to rebuild their city and Temple (Isa. 44:27,28; 45:13). In chapters 41-45 the restoration of the Jews from Babylon loomed very large upon the political horizon. But when we come to chapters 46-48, Babylon and the Chaldeans are still in view. At this point, figuratively speaking, the prophet lifted his eyes and looked into the distant future, saw Babylon as the dominating metropolis of the world in the end time, and foretold its complete and sudden destruction. Proof of this assertion is to be found in Isaiah 47:5, 8, and 9. When Babylon suffers the fate that she can no longer be called the mistress of kingdoms, the prediction will be fulfilled. When she is overthrown according to the forecast of verse 9, two things occur to her "in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood; in their full measure shall they come upon thee, in the multitude of thy sorceries, and the great abundance of thine enchantments." Note the fact that her overthrow occurs in a moment on a given day. The retribution will be "in full measure." Did such a calamity overtake Babylon when Cyrus captured it? The answer is a most emphatic negative. The authority was simply taken over by the Medes and Persians, and Babylon continued to wield a mighty influence over the world! Even when Alexander the Great conquered the Medo-Persian Empire, he made Babylon his capital; and it was indeed the mistress of kingdoms. An examination of the history of Babylon shows that this prophecy has never been fulfilled.

According to Isaiah's prediction in chapters 13 and 14 Babylon will be overthrown suddenly in one day during the period which is known as "the day of Jehovah's wrath," the great Tribulation Period which is out before us. The prediction found in Jeremiah, chapters 50 and 51, foretells the complete and sudden overthrow of Babylon in the day of Jehovah. A careful study of these two predictions shows that it has never been overthrown in any such manner as foretold. Thus all these prophecies relating to the sudden and total destruction of Babylon await complete fulfillment.

The facts are, as they are recorded in history, that Babylon, after it had been taken over by the Medes and Persians, continued in a dominant position in the ancient world. When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire, he made it his capital. It continued into the present era. During these centuries it gradual declined until it ceased to be a factor in the world. As to the exact time when its sun sank below the historical horizon, one cannot be dogmatic. But of this fact we may be certain--it has never been destroyed in fulfillment of the oracles of Isaiah and Jeremiah. Since the Scriptures cannot be broken, we confidently expect these predictions to be fulfilled when the time arrives foreseen by the prophets.

As suggested above, Isaiah, chapters 46,47, and 48 constitute one single sermon in which the complete and sudden overthrow of Babylon looms large upon the prophetic horizon. (I ask the reader to peruse very carefully the three chapters referred to as a unit and note what is said concerning Babylon.)

When one reads Isaiah 48:1-16, one is impressed with the frequent recurrence of the personal pronouns, I, my, and me. The thoughtful reader instantly asks the question, "Of whom spoke the prophet this? of himself? or of another?" The well-versed Bible student knows that the prophets adopted two methods or forms into which they cast their oracles. Usually they appeared before their audiences as the ambassadors of the Almighty and introduced their messages with the formula, "Thus saith Jehovah," or "Thus saith the Lord Jehovah." In using these phrases, they disavowed authorship of their messages and attributed them to the inspiration which they received from the Almighty. The second method was that of impersonation. When they adopted this mode of expression, they did not employ the formula, "Thus saith Jehovah." They simply enacted the role of the one whom they impersonated--the Lord Jehovah, or YHWHthe Messiah. In doing this, they spoke and acted as if they were the one whom they were impersonating.

Whenever a prophet therefore uses the personal pronouns, I, my, and me, one must look at all the facts of the context to determine whether or not he is speaking of himself, his experiences and actions, or, whether he is impersonating one of the personalities of the Deity. We are to assume that he is speaking of himself unless in his speech he moves out into a circle of experiences which transcend that of mortal man. Whenever the prophets do this, they make it plain that they are thus impersonating one of the Deity.

What is the situation in Isaiah, chapter 48? In verse 3 the speaker declares that he was the author of all prophecy in the past, and that he suddenly fulfilled and carried out the predictions that he had made. Did Isaiah or any prophet ever do such a thing? The answer is an emphatic no. In verse 12 he calls upon Israel to hearken to him and declares that "I am he; I am the first, I also am the last." Here he claims to be the Absolute One. According to verse 13 he asserts that he is the creator of the universe. When we see such statements, we know that Isaiah was not speaking of his own experiences, but that he was thus impersonating the Creator of all things. Since we see that the prophet was not speaking of himself but of the Creator, we must determine which one of the persons of the Holy Trinity he was impersonating. In Isaiah 42:1-4 we see that the prophet played the role of the Almighty; but in verses 14-18 of this same chapter, he enacted the part of the one who is sent to the earth to take the world situation in hand. When we recognize these facts and study this passage in the light of related predictions, we see that it is God the Father who sends God the Son, the Messiah of Israel. Study carefully Psalm 2, which passage was recognized by the ancient Synagogue as being a messianic prediction. The divine personality, in verses 6-9, relates what another of the Trinity said to Him: "Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee." Obviously the Father here addresses the Son, to whom He in due course of time will turn over the government of all nations. The Son, the Messiah, then will take His great power and rule all peoples.

At this point of our investigation the question arises: What time or of what period of time was the prophet speaking in Isaiah, chapter 48? To answer this question, we must note the fact that in impersonating the Messiah, the prophet addressed Israel and urged her to give heed to the message. Moreover, the one whom he impersonated declared that the Lord God had sent him. When these two statements are seen in their proper relation, the one to the other, we know that this prediction foretells the time when the Creator of the world is sent from heaven to Israel by the Lord YHWHto deliver a message to her. The language when allowed to speak for itself can be understood in no other manner. Is this visit then simply a theophany, like those of which we read in the Torah of Moses? Or is it a more permanent and prolonged one? When this passage is read in the light of related ones, we see that it assumes what is foretold in other places of Scripture; namely, that the Messiah, the creator of the universe, would enter the world by miraculous conception and virgin birth in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. לָכֵן יִתֵּן אֲדֹנָי הוּא לָכֶם אוֹת הִנֵּה הָעַלְמָה הָרָה וְיֹלֶדֶת בֵּן וְקָרָאת שְׁמוֹ עִמָּנוּאֵל׃ "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." In view of all these facts it becomes quite evident then that the prophet impersonated Messiah when He would leave heaven and enter the world by miraculous conception and virgin birth.

I. THE PROPHET'S IMPERSONATION OF KING MESSIAH

The spiritually intelligent people in the prophet's audience, or those who read his prediction, would understand by this impersonation that he was setting forth Messiah's coming to earth for the benefit of mankind.

A. Israel Addressed

In verses 1 and 2 Messiah calls upon the house of Jacob and the men of Israel to give heed to his message. He speaks of them as those who came forth from the waters of Judah. By this bold figure, which appears in Deuteronomy 33:28 and Psalm 68:26, he compares the descendants of Jacob to a stream of water. He likewise designates the Hebrew people as those who swear by the name of YHWHand make mention of the God of Israel. At the same time he charges them with insincerity and lack of truth and righteousness. He makes the further revelation that they call themselves by the name of the holy city and lean, at least outwardly, upon the God of Israel; but their lives do not correspond with their profession. Moses and the prophets likewise spoke boldly against the Jewish people and condemned hypocrisy and unrighteousness at all times. Isaiah therefore says that the Messiah, when He comes, will likewise reprimand them for their lack of righteousness and godly living.

B. Messiah the Author of All Former Revelations

According to verse 3 Messiah, when He comes to visit Israel, declares that He is the author of all the predictions which have been uttered by the prophets from the beginning of time. That no one might misunderstand His meaning, He declares that "yea, they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them." This language is equal to an affirmation that He, the Messiah, has existed from the beginning of time. Otherwise He could not have uttered these oracles. But what is assumed in this statement is asserted in verse 12 below, which passage we shall study presently.

Not only does the Messiah inform Israel that it is He who has spoken through the prophets in the past, but that He is the one who has fulfilled those predictions. This truth He asserts in the following words: "Suddenly I did them, and they came to pass." In other words, Messiah claims that not only did He give the oracles, but that He has fulfilled those that pertain to events prior to the time here foreseen--prior to His coming to earth in fulfillment of this passage.

C. The Reason for Prophecy

The reason for God's making events known ahead of time is given in verses 4-6a in the following words: "Because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow brass; 5 therefore I have declared it to thee from of old; before it came to pass I showed it thee; lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image and my molten image, hath commanded them. 6 Thou hast heard it; behold all this; and ye, will ye not declare it?"

Note the fact that Messiah declares His knowledge concerning Israel's being obstinate. In speaking of this characteristic, He declares to the Hebrew people that, "Thy neck is an iron sinew, and thy brow, brass; therefore I have declared it to thee from of old." This revelation was made far in advance of the events lest an obstinate people who do not want truth might say, "Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them."

It is a fact well known to Bible students that evil spirits can speak through those who yield themselves to them and can foretell certain things. However, their knowledge of the future is very limited indeed. There are authentic cases on record of various things foretold by spiritists that actually have proved to be correct. It was evident that it was by superhuman power that these revelations were made known, but we must understand that the evil spirits are limited in their knowledge and in their activity. Messiah declares, according to this prediction, that He foretold events far in advance of their occurrence in order that there could not be a possibility for a thinking Israelite's declaring that said event would transpire because his idol or image had made the revelation. The complete and accurate fulfillment of prophecies that have been made centuries ago proves the authenticity and the inspiration of the original predictions.

If one is interested in this phase of truth, one would do well to procure a copy of The Wonders of Prophecy by John Urquhart. In this volume the author quotes from the prophets and then shows how the predictions have been literally fulfilled centuries after they were spoken.

In Isaiah 48:6 we have this language: "Thou hast heard it; behold all this; and ye, will ye not declare it?" According to the verse Messiah calls Israel's attention to the fact that she has had the prophetic word on the sacred page before her eyes. She has seen it, she has heard it, and she has beheld it. He therefore asks her will she not declare it; that is, confess that these prophecies uttered centuries prior to that time have been fulfilled and are being fulfilled, even those relating to His appearing to them.

D. The New Revelation and the New Creation

In verse 6b we have this statement: "I have showed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, which thou hast not known." The marginal reading in the Revised Version on this verse is, "I show thee new things from this time, etc." Either translation is correct, since the Hebrew verb does not carry the time element. This must be determined by the context and the flow of thought. The drift of the argument here demands the marginal reading, "I show, etc." Messiah asserts that He uttered these things beforehand and that at the proper time He has suddenly performed them. Then He tells Israel that He is showing her new things "from this time"--that is, from the time when He appears in her midst. He makes new revelations to her. She, in fulfillment of this prophecy, has a right to expect Messiah to make new disclosures of truth to her. According to verse 7 the "new things" mentioned in verse 6 are said to be "created now"; that is, the new things are created when Messiah appears in Israel in fulfillment of this prediction. As to what these new things are, the passage does not tell. This information must be gathered from related scriptures. Moreover, Messiah informs Israel that "thou heardest them not; lest thou shouldest say, Behold, I knew them." What are these new things which Messiah reveals when He comes, and which He creates from that time on--the things which the nation has not known, these hidden things? Possibly light may be thrown upon this question by a glance at Isaiah 61:1-3. In this passage we see that the prophet was again impersonating Messiah. In order that we might have the full picture before us, let us look at the prediction in both the original and the translation.

רוּחַ אֲדֹנָי יֱהוָֹה עָלָי יַעַן מָשַׁח יְהוָה אֹתִי לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנָוִים שְׁלָחַנִי לַחֲבֹשׁ לְנִשְׁבְּרֵי־לֵב לִקְרֹא לִשְׁבוּיִם דְּרוֹר וְלַאֲסוּרִים פְּקַח־קוֹחַ׃ לִקְרֹא שְׁנַת־רָצוֹן לַיהוָה וְיוֹם נָקָם לֵאלֹהֵינוּ לְנַחֵם כָּל־אֲבֵלִים׃ לָשׂוּם ׀ לַאֲבֵלֵי צִיּוֹן לָתֵת לָהֶם פְּאֵר תַּחַת אֵפֶר שֶׁמֶן שָׂשׂוֹן תַּחַת אֵבֶל מַעֲטֵה תְהִלָּה תַּחַת רוּחַ כֵּהָה וְקֹרָא לָהֶם אֵילֵי הַצֶּדֶק מַטַּע יְהוָה לְהִתְפָּאֵר׃

[Isa 61:1] The Spirit of the Lord YHWHis upon me; because YHWHhath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening [of the prison] to them that are bound;
[Isa 61:2] to proclaim the year of Jehovah's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
[Isa 61:3] to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, that he may be glorified.

That the prophet was impersonating Messiah is clear from his declaring that he does and will do things which neither he nor any other mortal could accomplish. He therefore is playing the role of Messiah who here claims that He is anointed with the Spirit of Jehovah, the Holy Spirit. The one who anoints Him is YHWHhimself. Thus we see the three persons of the Godhead. Messiah is anointed to engage in a personal ministry among the meek and humble of Israel. He proclaims the gospel of God's grace, binds up the brokenhearted, and proclaims liberty to the captives. For those who accept His message, He does something which He compares to the mending of broken pottery--He makes them whole again. This is a spiritual work of grace in the heart that is accomplished by divine power. Furthermore, He gives liberty and freedom to those who accept Him. The power of bad habits and of sin in the life is broken, and those who experience the creative power of God in their souls are liberated. Such is the work which the Messiah, according to this passage, performs for those who accept Him.

He also proclaims "the year of Jehovah's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God." All prophetic students know that the expression, "the day of vengeance of our God," is a period of seven years that is designated by Jeremiah as "the time of Jacob's trouble." It is spoken of as "the day of Jehovah." But preceding it is an era which the prophet designates as "the year of Jehovah's favor." The first period is thus compared to a year, whereas the other is thought of as a day. Since the latter is a space of seven years, we are logical in concluding that an approximate proportion exists between this period of grace and that of the day of vengeance which obtains between a year and a day. The day of vengeance is a period of seven years; the year of Jehovah's favor, according to analogy, would proportionally be a greater period of time.

Messiah is not only anointed to proclaim the long era during which God extends His grace and mercy toward people and the period following it known as the day of vengeance, but He is also anointed to comfort all that mourn, especially those in Zion, and to appoint them to official positions in His kingdom. The mourning mentioned here is none other than Israel's turning to Him with all her heart in genuine repentance of all sins and wrongdoing. Thus those who mourn in Israel will be crowned with garlands, will be made plants of righteousness in order that the Lord himself may be glorified. According to all the prophetic scriptures, God will be glorified only through the nation of Israel whom He has chosen as a channel of world blessing.

In Isaiah 61:1-3 we see that the prophet in impersonating the Messiah on this occasion revealed His personal ministry as He proclaimed the truth to the meek and foretold certain periods of time subsequent to His visit to the earth on this occasion. Thus certain things pertaining to the future are revealed in this passage. But in Isaiah 48:6,7, the prophet, as he impersonates Messiah, declares that He will make new revelations concerning things of which Israel, prior to this time, has never heard. These new disclosures doubtless are in addition to those that are foretold in Isaiah 61:1-3. This further revelation supplements that which has already been made known through the prophets. In other words, Messiah when He appears upon earth gives a fuller and more complete picture of these spiritual realities than the prophets made known. Israel therefore has a right to expect Messiah to make these additional revelations and to bring into being by His creative power things that have not existed prior to His coming.

E. The Uncircumcised Condition of Israel's Heart

"Yea, thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from of old time thine ear was not opened: for I knew that thou didst deal very treacherously, and wast called a transgressor from the womb" (Isa. 48:8). According to this verse Israel has not heard of the new things mentioned in verse 6b and the created things referred to in verse 7. The people therefore do not know them. Their ear is not opened to the truth, because the Lord knows they deal very treacherously and have been transgressors from the beginning. We have already seen in the preceding discussion that Messiah who is here speaking has from times immemorial, and all through the centuries, uttered prophecies and has brought them to pass suddenly when the time arrived for the fulfillment. But certain details concerning the things which He shows at the time of His appearance upon the earth and makes known have been kept in secret. As we have already seen, these things were partially known; but the details were withheld. The reason for concealing them is that the ear of the nation is not opened. The people themselves have been in the habit of dealing treacherously and have been called transgressors from birth. This indictment is in perfect alignment with that which Moses uttered, as we see in Deuteronomy 29:2-4:

2 And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that YHWHdid before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; 3 the great trials which thine eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders: 4 but YHWHhath not given you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.

In this passage Moses asserted that God performed many and marvelous wonders in the land of Egypt at the time when He delivered Israel. These things were accomplished in the presence of the people, "but," declared the lawgiver, "YHWHhath not given you a heart to know, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day." The heart of man in its natural condition cannot see nor appreciate spiritual realities. Though those mighty wonders of God had been performed before the eyes of the Israelites, they were unable to see the import and the significance of them because their eyes were not open to see the facts in the case and neither were their hearts receptive to the truth. Isaiah, in chapter 1, verses 2-17, declared that Israel--the whole nation--was in a sinful state. Jeremiah affirmed that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; there is therefore no telling what the unregenerated man will do (Jer. 17:9).

God always gives truth to those who want it; but from those who do not desire it, He withholds it. Jeremiah cried to his contemporaries saying,

15 Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud; for YHWHhath spoken. 16 Give glory to YHWHyour God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because Jehovah's flock is taken captive (Jer. 13:15-17).

From this passage we see that God calls upon people to hear and to give heed. He warned them against the danger of being proud. This call to give heed was an exhortation to them to receive the Word of God "before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness." The Lord pleads with people to be open to truth and to receive it; but, if they refuse to do this, He will send spiritual darkness upon them so that it will be utterly impossible for them to comprehend the truth.

If men choose their own ways in preference to God's will and Word, the Lord will choose their own delusions. This fact is set forth in the following quotation: "Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations: 4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did that which was evil in mine eves, and chose that wherein I delighted not" (Isa. 66:3b, 4). The same fundamental principle upon which God deals with men is set forth once more in Ezekiel 14:1-5.

14. Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. 2 And the word of YHWHcame unto me, saying, 3 Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them? 4 Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Every man of the house of Israel that taketh his idols into his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I YHWHwill answer him therein according to the multitude of his idols; 5 that I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.

From this quotation we see that the elders of Israel came to the prophet of God to inquire of the Lord concerning certain matters. At the same time they were wedded to their idols and delighted in various things connected with pagan worship. Thus their coming and inquiring for the word of God was hypocritical. The Almighty therefore said: "Every man of the house of Israel that taketh his idols into his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I YHWHwill answer him therein according to the multitude of his idols; 5 that I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols." Quotations like these could be taken from various prophets, but these will suffice to show the danger that there is in one's not opening one's heart, ears, and eyes to hear, see, and to receive the truth.

 Messiah, therefore, when He comes in fulfillment of Isaiah, chapter 48, declares that the fuller revelation has not, up to that time, been given to the people because they would not receive the truth but have continued in their own way. Let us, friends, realize the gravity of these great and fundamental truths and facts and be open to conviction and be ready to receive anything and everything that God has said. At the same time we must not swallow down everything that man says. We should investigate with open minds to determine whether or not a message that is brought to us is correct. After examination, when we see the truth, we should accept it.

F. Retribution Deferred

"For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off" (Isa. 48:9). Let us continually bear in mind that in this exposition the prophet is impersonating God, the Creator of the universe, whom the Lord YHWHsends to Israel. As we have seen, this is Messiah, who enters the world by miraculous conception and virgin birth. Since He accuses the people as a nation of dealing treacherously and being transgressors from birth, it is evident that they do not receive the message which He delivers. He tells them new things and confirms His message by His works; yes, He creates something new at that time. Nevertheless, the people do not hearken to his message. This attitude stirs His righteous indignation, anger, and wrath to their depth. Yet, for His own sake, He declares that He will defer His anger. If He should deal with them according to the merits of the case, He would send His summary judgments upon them and exterminate them from the face of the globe. But He will not, so He declares, do this thing for His own sake. This incident reminds one of the episode of the golden calf which Israel made at Sinai while Moses was in the mount, conversing with God. The Lord therefore told Moses to let Him alone in order that He might consume the people and make of him a mighty nation. Moses instantly began to implore the Lord to spare His people and to turn from His wrath. In his pleading, he asked the Almighty to remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would make their seed as multitudinous as the stars of heaven. The Lord heard the petition and spared the nation. This is such an important instance I wish to call attention to the historical narrative found in Exodus 32:7-14.

7 And YHWHspake unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, that thou broughtest up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: 8 they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed unto it, and said, These are thy gods, 0 Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 9 And YHWHsaid unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff-necked people: 10 now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them and I will make of thee a great nation. 11 And Moses besought YHWHhis God, and said, Jehovah, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, that thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak saying, for evil did he bring them forth, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. 14 And YHWHrepented of the evil which he said he would do unto his people.

In commenting upon the Lord's sparing Israel, the psalmist declared:
Therefore he said that he would destroy them,
Had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach,
to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them (Ps. 106:23).

From the facts we see that the Lord's anger was turned away and Israel was spared, not because of her own goodness, but because of the oath which He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

For a similar reason--"for mine own sake"--declares the Messiah, "will I defer mine anger." If it were not for His own sake, the Lord would cut off Israel from being a nation--would annihilate her from the face of the globe for not receiving His message when He comes in fulfillment of this prediction. But the Lord continues to remember His covenant which He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For His own sake and for that of the covenant, therefore, He restrains His anger and permits the Chosen People to continue to live.

G. Israel Chosen in the Furnace of Affliction

"Behold, I have refined thee, but not as silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction" (Isa. 48:10). A casual glance at Israel's history shows that God has purged the rebels from the nation at various times. For instance, the Hebrews left Mount Sinai and journeyed to Kadesh-barnea, the gateway from the wilderness of the south into the Promised Land. The Lord ordered them to march forward by faith into the land and take possession of their possessions. The people, giving heed to the distorted statements of the spies who had gone through the Land of Promise and who had reported adversely, refused to enter. Then on account of their unbelief the Lord did not permit them to do so but caused them to wander through the wilderness for forty years in order that all the rebellious ones might die off and that a new generation might arise to enter it. At various times one stroke of judgment after another fell upon the people. Thus the unbelievers in Israel were purged out. During the period of the Judges God permitted certain foreign nations to invade the land and to enslave the people. These measures were for the purpose of correction and for destroying the evil ones from among the people. Finally, in the last days of the monarchy in Israel the people became incurably wicked. There was but one thing which a holy God could do; namely, that of sending them into Babylonian captivity to purge and refine them. Thus the various crises, declares Messiah at His coming, have been for the purpose of cleansing and purifying the nation. But He states that in all of these past experiences He has not refined them "as silver." There are various methods of separating the wheat from the chaff, the good from the bad, and the goats from the sheep. All of Israel's former experiences have been sent upon her to purify and refine her, but she has never been caused to pass through any experience--up to the coming of Messiah in fulfillment of this prediction--that can be compared to being refined as silver or gold.

According to verse 10b of this passage Messiah declares, "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." There is a time yet lying in the future when the Lord will put her in this furnace of affliction and purge out her dross. This period of cleansing is called "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7). Malachi spoke of this same time when God will purify the nation.

3 Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, saith YHWHof hosts. 2 But who can abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: 3 and he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer unto YHWHofferings in righteousness. 4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto Jehovah, as in the days of old, and as in ancient years. 5. And I will come near to you to judgment: and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against adulterers. and against the false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the sojourner from his right, and fear not me, saith YHWHof hosts. 6 For I, Jehovah, change not; therefore ye, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed (Mal. 3:1-6).

H. Messiah Acts for the Sake of His Own Glory

"For mine own sake, for mine own sake, will I do it; for how should my name be profaned? and my glory will I not give to another" (48:11). For His own sake the Lord will purge Israel and cleanse her of all her dross. It is inconceivable that His name should continually be profaned because of the failures and he sins of His people. In this verse the prophet looks forward to the time beyond Israel's purging when all nations will accept the true and the living God and worship Him.

During the present time and throughout the past centuries much of the glory due to God has been given to idols, heathen gods; but in the Millennial Era, of which Messiah here speaks, glory and praise will be rendered to God alone. "And YHWHshall be King over all the earth: in that day shall YHWHbe one, and his name one" (Zech. 14:9). Thus God's glory will not be given to another in the Kingdom Age.

I. The Speaker of This Passage Reveals Himself as the Creator

"Hearken unto me, 0 Jacob, and Israel my called: I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. 13 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" (48:12,13). As we have already seen in studying verse 3, the speaker declares to Israel that He has uttered all the prophecies from primitive days, up to the time when He, being sent by the Lord YHWHspeaks to the nation. This fact shows His pre-existence prior to His being sent on this mission. That thought is in perfect accord with verse 12. Here the speaker calls upon Israel to hearken to Him. The basis for this exhortation is this fact: "I am he" This statement harks back to Deuteronomy 32:39 and is an affirmation of His absolute existence. He is the independent one--the one upon whom all material things, together with the inhabitants of the universe--depend. Moreover, He declares that He is both the first and the last--the one who has been in eternity in the past and who asserts that He will continue throughout all eternity in the future.

In addition to His affirmation concerning His eternal and absolute existence, the speaker reveals the fact that He laid the foundation of the earth and that He spread out the heavens. In other words, He claims to be the creator of the entire material universe. Although He is this, He, having been sent by the Lord Jehovah, comes and speaks to Israel--as one person does to another. This is the force of all the facts of this context--if the words are allowed to give their meaning without distortion, or modification.

Not only does the speaker declare His eternal existence and assert that He is the creator of the entire universe, but He also affirms that the material heavens and earth stand at attention when He commands--as soldiers to their superior officer. This bold figure is equivalent to an affirmation that all the earth and the heavenly bodies are moving at His command and are absolutely under His control. They have been His servants from the time of His creating them through the ages and will continue in obedience to His mighty behests.

J. The Convening of an Ideal Judicial World Tribunal

"Assemble yourselves, all ye, and hear; who among them hath declared these things? He whom YHWHloveth shall perform his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans" (48:14). The speaker, in the most dramatic manner, calls upon the nations to assemble themselves and to listen to His message. Then He challenges them with this question: "Who among them hath declared these things?" In this graphic action the speaker asks the peoples of the world to inform Him of anyone who has foretold the things that are mentioned in this passage, beginning with verse 6 and running through verse 13. There is no one who has done this; no one can do it. Though the claim is made for the pagan idols that they are gods, they cannot reveal the future. Of course this ideal tribunal is silent and cannot answer the speaker a word.

Then He makes a further revelation: "He whom YHWHloveth shall perform his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans." The marginal reading of the first part of this quotation is: YHWHhath loved him: he shall. . . ." Though both of these renderings are grammatically correct, that which is in the text is in accordance with the facts of the context and is to be preferred above the marginal rendering.

The prediction, "He whom YHWHloveth shall perform his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans," is an example of Hebrew parallelism. The first member of this structure is, "He whom YHWHloveth shall perform his pleasure on Babylon"; the second part is, "and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans." Who is the one, of this passage, whom YHWHloves? The answer is that it is the one who is mentioned in the words "and his arm shall be on the Chaldeans." We have already learned who the "arm of Jehovah" is; namely, that He is the Messiah of Israel who is God appearing on earth in human form. The one therefore whom YHWHloveth is none other than the Messiah. From the prediction found in these words we see that Messiah himself will perform all of God's pleasure upon Babylon and upon the Chaldeans.

As we have already seen, Babylon gradually declined through six or seven centuries and disappeared from the stage of action never suffered the sudden overthrow that is foretold in chapter 47 of our prophecy, as we have before seen; but it is scheduled to "stage a comeback and to be the world metropolis of the end time. When it thus rises from the dust and becomes the dominant factor in world politics, commerce, and trade, Messiah will perform all God's pleasure upon it by overthrowing it completely in a moment, in one day. This conclusion we cannot avoid when we study the three chapters-46, 47, and 48-together; for they constitute a single literary unit within the Book of Isaiah.

When we see this prediction is presented before the ideal tribunal by Messiah, we can understand more clearly the force of the language. When Messiah comes, He declares that He is the one who will complete the task of the overthrow of Babylon.

K. A Voice of Confirmation from Heaven

"I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him; I have brought him, and he shall make his way prosperous" (48:15). In this verse the personal pronoun, I, occurs four times. The question immediately arising is this: Is the speaker in this verse the same one who has been talking throughout the passage? In other words, is the Messiah still talking? It is altogether possible that it is He. If we assume this position, we must ask who is referred to by the pronouns, him, he, and his. There is no antecedent in the immediate context to which these can refer, if we accept this interpretation. It is altogether possible that the speaker looks at the one who will be at the head of Babylon and will be controlling things. Such an interpretation is altogether possible. If we accept this thought, we have Messiah saying that He will bring forward this one and cause his way to prosper. While this is a conceivable interpretation, it is hardly probable. Another suggestion which is by far more plausible is that verse 15 is parenthetical--just as verse 2 is. In the midst of Messiah's talking and speaking of Himself as the one whom YHWHloves and who will perform all the latter's desire upon Babylon, YHWHGod in heaven breaks in and declares that He, the Almighty, is the one who has spoken and who has called "him" (Messiah) and has brought Him forward. Under such a condition He (Messiah) will make His own way prosperous. When all the facts are taken into consideration, it seems probable that this interpretation is in accord with all the data. Such an understanding in the general flow of thought is not uncommon in Moses and the prophets. We may therefore take verse 15 as a voice of confirmation from heaven, declaring Messiah's call and stating God's purpose to use Him in putting down Babylon in the end of the age. Such an interpretation concerning Babylon is in keeping with all the facts of these three chapters, which, as we have already seen, form a literary unit.

L. The Three Personalities of the Trinity

"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 YHWHhath sent me, and his Spirit" (48:16). After the parenthesis of verse 15, Messiah, the speaker of this passage, calls upon this ideal tribunal to come near Him and to listen to what He has to say. His message is this: "From the beginning I have not spoken in secret; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord YHWHhath sent me, and his Spirit." To what beginning does the speaker refer? In all probability to the beginning of the human race. God has spoken always openly and never in secret. The element explaining this assertion is ". . . from the time that it was." Since this is Hebrew parallelism, the last clause evidently is a repetition of the preceding statement. Messiah here declares that He has existed from the very beginning. From other passages we know that He existed throughout all eternity of the past. For instance, in Isaiah 9:6 He who by miraculous conception and virgin birth is born unto the Jewish nation will be given a number of titles. Among them will be this one--Everlasting Father. This name can mean only that He has been in existence throughout all eternity of the past and will continue throughout the ages of the ages.

Messiah, the creator of the universe, is still speaking here and affirms that the Lord YHWH"hath sent me, and his Spirit." In this connection it is well for us to remember that Messiah is here sent to the entire nation and addresses it, as we have seen in the first verse of this chapter. Moreover, as we have already noted, Messiah's visit to the nation cannot be classified as a theophany such as those of which we read in the Books of Moses. An examination of the various accounts of such divine manifestations shows that just for a brief visit the angel of YHWHfrequently appeared to certain servants of God, delivered His message, and then vanished. Not so at this time, for He comes and calls upon the entire nation and delivers a message to it. This visit is of a more permanent character, for He declares that the Lord YHWHhas sent Him on this mission. To appear, as He had done of old to one individual with a single message, would not fill out the proportion of this picture, which is here national in its scope. A prolonged visit, one of a more permanent character than that of a mere theophany, is demanded by the facts of this context.

Along with the Messiah God sends His Spirit. The latter here is as much a person as the Creator, whom God dispatches to the earth. He is the same one of whom we have already learned in our investigation of Isaiah 63:7-14--the Holy Spirit. From this verse we again see very clearly that there are three divine personalities. This evidence confirms the conclusions reached in the preceding chapters.

With this last statement Isaiah ceased to impersonate the Messiah. A new phase of the revelation being given starts with verse 17. This fact is most significant and demands close scrutiny in connection with the following paragraph, which begins in this manner: "Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. . . ." From the introduction of the formula at this place in the narrative we see that the prophet has ceased to play the role of Messiah and begins to represent himself as His ambassador. In order for us to see the force of the stopping of the impersonation at this point, we must note the plaintive wail, "Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments!" (vs. 18-a). The rest of verse 18 and verse 19 should be studied carefully in this connection. Let us keep in sharp focus the fact that the message of verses 17-19 is delivered to the nation by Isaiah, the ambassador of Israel's rejected Messiah-Redeemer, only after he has ceased to play the role of Messiah. All the facts in the case demand the following interpretation: Isaiah's impersonation pictorially portrays to Israel Messiah, the Creator, and His appearance upon earth and His delivering His message to the nation. The people as a body do not hearken to His commandments. He disappears from the scene; that is, He leaves earth and returns to glory. After doing so, He sends a special ambassador to the nation to call attention to the fact that the people have committed the gravest error of their existence in not giving heed to Him. Thus from a study of this chapter every Hebrew can see that the prophet intended to inform the nation ahead of time that God the Creator, King Messiah, comes to them; shows them new truths to which their attention has never been called; creates something new in the earth; and, because they as a nation refuse to receive His commandments and to accept Him, He vanishes from the earth, returning to heaven. Thus verses 1-16 of this chapter are a dramatic presentation of Messiah's first visit to His beloved people.

II. SUBSEQUENT MESSAGE FROM THE REJECTED MESSIAH THROUGH ISAIAH, HIS AMBASSADOR

At this point of our investigation we must now look more closely at verses 17-19.

17 Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am YHWHthy God, who teacheth thee to profit, who leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go. 18 Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea: 19 thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the grains thereof: his name would not be cut off nor destroyed from before me.

A. Messiah Teaches and Guides Israel for Her Profit

As noted above, Isaiah, having completed his dramatic impersonation of Messiah, now presents himself before his audience as the ambassador of Messiah, Israel's Redeemer and Holy One. In Chapter III we analyzed Israel's Great Confession and found that its literal translation is: "Hear, 0 Israel, YHWHour Gods is YHWHa unity." As we read the Scriptures, we frequently come across the word Jehovah. In many instances the facts of the context in which this name appears show us which of the three persons of the Godhead is meant. Sometimes, however, it refers to the Holy Trinity--the three divine personalities considered as the one Supreme Being. In verse 17 Isaiah tells which of these has sent him, namely, Israel's Redeemer and Holy One, the one who has just been rejected; for He charges the people with not having hearkened to His commandments (the direct discourse is my commandments). The commandments referred to are those which Messiah gives when, in fulfillment of the impersonation, He comes and delivers a message to His beloved people. The one who redeemed Israel from Egyptian bondage was "the angel of Jehovah," YHWHhimself. This one who is designated as Israel's Redeemer must be the same angel of Jehovah, the Messiah. Thus according to this dramatic presentation, after Messiah comes to this earth, delivers His message to the entire nation, and accomplishes the work of redemption, He returns to heaven and sends a message back to the nation of Israel by one of His ambassadors. The special word is that He teaches her for her profit. When He spoke through the mouths of the prophets that have been from of old, He was doing it for Israel's good. The message that He delivers when He makes His personal appearance upon earth is likewise for her spiritual and eternal good. Moreover, the message which He sends to the nation after He returns to glory is designed for her national good--both through time and throughout all eternity.

The Messiah also informs her through the prophet as His ambassador that He leads her by the way in which she should go. He always does that which is best for her. Someone has said that God has several plans for each individual's life. These may be thought of as plan number one, number two, three, four, etc. If a person yields his life and walks with God by faith daily, the Lord will use him in the highest and holiest way possible. On the other hand, if he fails to yield himself to do the will of God and follows the Lord afar off, He will use him in a less honorable way--according to plan number two or three, or even four or five. The Lord never forces any man's will, but does under the circumstances the best for the individual that He can. It has been and will continue to be with Israel as it was with Jacob, the great ancestor of the Hebrew race. When his sons brought Joseph's coat, besprinkled with blood, he said: "It is my son's coat; an evil beast has devoured him . . . and Jacob rent his garments, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days . . . but he refused to be comforted . . ." (Gen. 37:33-35). Later when his sons returned from Egypt where they had bought grain, they opened their sacks and found their money therein. Then the old patriarch lamented saying, "Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me" (Gen. 42:36). To Jacob in his bereavement everything appeared to be against him. The facts in the case were that God was overruling all things that came into his life and the lives of his family for their ultimate good and for the blessing of all men (Gen. 12:1-3; Isa. 49:5, 6). That this is true is certain from Joseph's speech to his brothers after their father's death: "And as for you [Joseph's brethren], ye meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive" (Gen. 50:20). To the same effect is the inspired psalmist's interpretation of these historical events.

17 He sent a man before them;
Joseph was sold for a servant:
18 His feet they hurt with fetters:
He was laid in chains of iron,
19 Until the time that his word came to pass,
The word of YHWHtried him.
20 The king sent and loosed him;
Even the ruler of peoples, and let him go free.
21 He made him lord of his house,
And ruler of all his substance;
22 To bind his princes at his pleasure,
And teach his elders wisdom.
23 Israel also came into Egypt;
And Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.
24 And he increased his people greatly,
And made them stronger than their adversaries.
25 He turned their heart to hate his people,
To deal subtly with his servants.
26 He sent Moses his servant
And Aaron whom he had chosen.
*******
37 And he brought them forth with silver and gold;
And there was not one feeble person among his tribes.
********
44 And he gave them the lands of the nations;
And they took the labor of the peoples in Possession:
45 That they might keep his statutes,
And observe his laws.
Praise ye Jehovah. (Ps. 105:17-26,37,44,45.)

When we are experiencing sufferings, disappointments, and trials, we cannot see that they are all designed for our good. It is impossible under such conditions for us to see the pattern of events. When they are, however, passed and we can look back dispassionately upon such experiences and can study them in the light of the Word of God we can see that all things have been designed for our good. God does the very best He can for us under the circumstances. In all His dealings with us He must take into consideration our own wills, attitudes, and actions. Thus we limit Him by our imperfections, failures, and sins.

B. Israel's Rejection of Her Messiah Changes Her History

In keeping with these general principles which we have just noted, Messiah sends back to Israel the message, after His visit to earth, that He is leading her in the path in which she should go. That the path in which He leads her after His epochal visit is not the first choice that He has for her is evident from the fact that He is forced to complain, "Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea . .." (Isa. 48:18). Unfortunately Israel has never chosen God's first and best plan for her. As proof of this assertion I need only to call attention to the marvelous promise which the Lord made to her at Sinai, as recorded in Leviticus 26:1-13 and in parallel and related passages. An examination of these shows that, if she had only hearkened from the depths of her soul to the Lord when she entered the Land of Promise, He would never have laid upon her any of the diseases of Egypt. He would have given her rain in its season. The crops would have been abundant--so very much so that the people would have been unable to consume their supplies until another harvest would be gathered in and stored away. Moreover, according to His promise, if Israel had only been faithful to Him and had appeared before the Lord in the place where He chose to put His name--Jerusalem--the Almighty would have stood guard at her frontiers and would never have allowed one soldier of a hostile army to cross the borders. In other words, if Israel had only been faithful to the Lord, her land would have been a modern Utopia, Paradise regained. When she did not choose God's best but hindered His working in her behalf, He had to deal with her upon the basis of her spiritual and moral conditions. Thus she did not take His plan number one for her--the best possible.

 If a person will study carefully the entire prophecy of Leviticus, chapter 26, which is duplicated with fuller details in Deuteronomy, chapter 28, he will see that Moses outlines the entire history of Israel from the Exodus until she--the last generation of the remnant scattered among the nations--confesses her sins, her iniquity, and the iniquity of her fathers which they (the fathers) committed while in the land, and on account of which transgression God spewed her out of her own country and scattered her among the nations. When she thus in true penitence repudiates her iniquity, God will then remember her and the promise which He made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then He will restore her to her own soil. When one thus studies these outlines of Israel's history recorded by Moses, the great lawgiver, one sees that the nation has never accepted God's first and best plan. But we are thankful that, according to the prediction of her prophets, she will yet in the future choose His first and best plan and will yield to Him implicit obedience. When she does this, she will be made the head of the nations and will no longer be the tail as she is at the present time (Deut. 28:13).

Moreover, the prophet as an ambassador of Israel's rejected Redeemer tells the nation--after Messiah has returned to glory--that, if she had only hearkened to His commandment, "then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea: thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the grains thereof . . ." (Isa. 48:18,19). In this message to the nation he tells her that, if she had only obeyed Him and received His teaching when He came, He would have extended peace to her like a river and her righteousness would have been as the waves of the sea. In other words, Messiah, after His departure, sends back this message in which He informs her that, if she had only given heed to what He told her, her entire history would have been different. She would be enjoying peace, constant and permanent peace, in both the spiritual and physical realms. Moreover the promise made to Abraham concerning his seed's becoming like the sands of the sea would have been fulfilled. But since she does not hearken, according to this forecast, to the message of Messiah, she must suffer the consequences and penalties of her disobedience.

The final clause of verse 19 reads as follows: "His name would not be cut off nor destroyed from before me." The Hebrew is לֹא־יִכָּרֵת וְלֹא־יִשָּׁמֵד שְׁמוֹ מִלְּפָנָי and can be as correctly rendered: "His name shall not be cut off nor destroyed from before me." This rendering seems to accord with the facts of the context. Let us continually bear in mind that in verses 17-19 we have a message which Israel's Messiah, after He returns to glory, sends to His people who do not accept Him when He appears before them and delivers the great message found in verses 3-16 of this chapter. He tells them that, had they been obedient to Him, their peace would have flowed as a river and their righteousness would have been as the waves of the sea--the promise made to Abraham would have been fulfilled to them. But since they did not obey Him, these blessed results did not come into their lives. Although they do not accept Him when He appears, his (Israel's) name shall not be cut off nor destroyed from before the face of the Redeemer. In order to express the thought in good English, we could insert the word "yet" or "nevertheless" before this last clause. In that event it would read thus: "Nevertheless his name shall not be cut off nor destroyed from before me." This is in perfect harmony with the teaching of Moses and the prophets. God created Israel to be the channel of world-blessing. He is never forced by circumstances to change His designs and purposes. In making His plans, He takes into account the frailties of man and his lack of obedience to the divine will. Nevertheless He steers the course of history and will eventually bring events around when His will shall be done perfectly on earth as in heaven. He has chosen Israel to be the channel of world-blessing. Regardless of her failures and shortcomings He will work out His plan in her national life and bring her to the point where she will become an empty channel through which His blessings and power will flow to the whole world. In other words, in this statement which we have under consideration, the Redeemer assures His ancient people that under no conditions will He cast them off. Jeremiah proclaimed the same doctrine in the following passage:

35 Thus saith Jehovah, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who stirreth up the sea, so that the waves thereof roar; YHWHof hosts is his name: 36 If these ordinances depart from before me, saith Jehovah, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever. 37 Thus saith Jehovah: If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then will I also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith YHWH(Jer. 31:35-37).

This scripture assures us that Israel shall never cease as a nation and that the seed of Jacob shall always remain before God.

A similar promise, made in regard to Israel's Messiah, is found in the following passage:

19 And the word of YHWHcame unto Jeremiah saying, 20 Thus saith Jehovah: If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, so that there shall not be day and night in their season; 21 then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he shall not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured; so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me (Jer. 33:19-22).

God will never cast aside His ancient people whom He has foreknown. He will lead them along the path over which they should travel, as He has done in the past, and will continue to do so until He finally leads them through the furnace of affliction in which all impurities will be purged from the nation. Then ALL Israel,- Ephraim & Manasseh  Protestant Christianity and Judeans - Judah/Benjamin/Levi   will come forth as gold and silver, refined seven times. At that time Messiah will mount the throne of David and will reign over all nations.

                                             
 
 

 
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