Regardless of what different beliefs Jews have, there is one prayer which always unites them together as one people - the Shema. "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, the Lord our God is one." In the same way, we will examine how the Scriptures reveals how God can be three and yet one in essence. In this study, we will also explore how God the Father and Son interact with his people.
The Trinity in the Old Testament
In Genesis 1:26-27, we find the first plural reference for God as he said Let us make man in our image, after our own likeness..."
In ancient polytheistic religions, each god had a higher or lesser status based on their skills, needs, and desires. Each god controlled some aspect of nature, but no single god had total and absolute control over the cosmos itself, except the true God of Israel: Elohim. Interestingly, it would seem that he is singularly one, but the plural word used is Gods, not one God. In Hebrew, the verb identifies the gender and number of the subject. The nun נ identifies the verb make as plural, therefore God is also plural. El which is a singular form of a god isn't written, neither is the singular form of Elohim which is Eloah, defined as one God, we find Elohim, the plural form to describe the God revealed to all of humanity, however, this portion of Scripture is silent on who makes up the compound unity of God.
From Gen. 3:22, we see there are persons in the plurality of God. They all have knowledge of good and evil.
The 2nd plural reference of God appears in chapter 3. Hebrew has 2 different words for one: Yachid (numerical and singular oneness) and Echad referring to a compound unity. Some interpret the word Echad to also be used in a singular sense, but is this statement true?
Genesis 11:7 "Come, let Us go down there and confuse their language so that they will not understand one another's speech."
The Hebrew word for "go down" is yarad, but the Hebrew prefix nun identifies the subject as plural. Again, we see the plurality of God being revealed towards humankind.
Deuteronomy 6:4 "Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One."
Listening in the Hebraic meant more than just to pay attention, it meant acting based on your understanding of a command or concept. In the polytheism of the ancient world, the gods had little regard for righteousness, but to fulfill their own selfish desires. YHWH, the God of Israel was however concerned with making a special covenant with his people and instructing them in righteousness. Israel was to serve and worship one God in faithfulness. This was the most important commandment in the Torah, but within the Hebrew text, we don't find the word Yachid, an absolutely singular word, but the word translated for one is "Echad" which is the word used for a compound unity.
The claim a god was one or alone was made by Enlil and Baal meant the supremacy of that god's rule. Oneness in this verse suggested a sociological statement rather than a metaphysical one. Another possibility is it demanded a unified view of YHWH compared to the views of other ancient Near Eastern people who had different shrines celebrating or stressing different views of their gods. For example, Ishtar of Arbela was seen as different from Ishtar of Uruk. This kind of division was not unknown in Israel as inscriptions refer to "YHWH of Samaria" or "YHWH of Teman." Such divisions were condemned.
The following passages will reveal the plurality of God in the Scriptures. According to "the Treasury of David: Containing an original exposition of the Book of Psalms", Simon de Muis has written that the Hebrew reads "makers" rather than one maker.
"Let Israel rejoice in their Makers."