“Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.”

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Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, “Ha-Mashiach: The Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures,” p. 118.

“Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.”
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!”

Deuteronomy 6:4

Deuteronomy 6:4, known as the Shema, has always been Israel’s great confession. It is this verse, more than any other, which is used to affirm the fact that God is one and to contradict the concept of plurality in the Godhead. But is it a valid use of this verse?

In Hebrew, the very words “our God” are in the plural. Hence, the verse literally reads “our Gods.” However, the main argument against the plurality of the Godhead lies in the word “one,” which is the Hebrew word “echad.” A study of the Hebrew Scriptures shows that the word “echad” does not mean an “absolute one,” but a “compound one.” For example, in Genesis 1:5, the combination of evening and morning comprise one [echad] day. In Genesis 2:24, a man and a woman come together in marriage, “and the two shall become one [echad] flesh.” In Ezra 2:64, we are told that the whole assembly was as one [echad], though of course, it was composed of numerous people. Ezekiel 37:17 provides a rather striking example where two sticks are combined to become one [echad]. Thus, the use of the word “echad” in Scripture shows it to be a compound unity, not an absolute unity.

There is a Hebrew word which does mean an absolute unity, and that is the word “yachid.” This word is used in numerous places with the emphasis being on the meaning of “only one.” If Moses had intended to teach God’s absolute oneness, this would have been a far more appropriate word to have used. In fact, Maimonides noted the strength of yachid and chose to use it in his “Thirteen Articles of Faith” in place of “echad.” However, the Shema does not use “yachid” in reference to God.

Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, “Ha-Mashiach: The Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures,” p. 118.

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