Question #31 – Is the “Elohim-Echad-Yachid Argument” in proving the our stand on the Trinity and the Deity of Christ correct and strong?
Answer: It is not strong. There are loopholes in the argument. This argument being the first one presented by many of our apologists in the churches of Christ appears to be the strongest proof as felt by some preachers. The argument could easily be demolished in a public debate. That is why I am much alarmed by the insistence of some preachers who continue using it. It is not a well-researched argument. So let’s show more details.
1. Elohim Is a Generic Term
The word Elohim is the generic term for the English word “God, god, goddess”. It may refer to the true Deity of the Bible. It may refer to the deities and idols worshipped by pagan tribes. In Greek it is Theos. And Apostle Paul says in 1 Cor. 8:5, “For although there may be so-called gods (Theoi) in heaven or on earth – as indeed there are many ‘gods’ (Theoi) and many ‘lords’.” The first letter Theta in the Greek is the same whether it refers to the true God or to the pagan Deities. In Hebrew, it is the same first letter Aleph. In English translations, it is generally agreed by translators that when Elohim or Theos refers to the true Deity, it is a capital letter, but if it refers to another Deity, it is small letter. So the size of the letter does not give a conclusive verdict.
Also it should be remembered that the word Elohim could refer to the following:
- The true Deity of the Jews and Christians,
- pagan gods,
- pagan goddesses,
- somebody, something great,
- somebody, something that is very great.
(Young’s Analytical Concordance of the Bible, Hebrew Index, p. 15).
2. Several Ideas about the Plural Form of the Word Elohim
a. Its plural form may point to a plural of majesty or plural of respect. Note this authority who says: “Eloah, god. This Hebrew name for ‘God’ corresponds to the Aramaic elah and the Ugaritic il (or if denoting a goddess, ili) x x x Certain scholars regard the word as being a singular version of the common plural form Elohim, a plural of majesty.” (Hebrew Expository Dictionary, William White, Jr., p. 97). Native Ilocano or native Tagalog speakers use plural pronouns when conversing or addressing a high ranking government official although that person is much younger than the speaker. We use plural pronouns when talking with much older people.
b. Some see the plural form Elohim as the plurality of attributes. Whereas the Greeks assign Gods and Goddesses for every single attribute, all these superior characteristics are present in the Elohim of the Hebrews and Christians. For example among the Greeks there is one God of the Sea, another one God for the underworld, still another God of Order, God of Wine, God of Healing, God Messenger, God of Fire, etc.. One Goddess of Beauty, another Goddess of Wisdom, and so on.
c. Others see the plural form of a word as referring to the multiplicity or superiority of an attribute of a person. For example, a person is named Ephraim which ends in “IM”. The person is only one, single individual but the attribute is higher than the ordinary. Ephraim means “doubly fruitful.” Our brother Ephraim is one person, not three persons. Another brother is Adoraim which name ends in “IM”. The word means “double honor.” He is a single person, not three persons. Some descendants of Abraham & Keturah in Genesis 25:1-4 are named Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim all ending in “IM.” Asshurim means “mighty ones.” Leummin means “peoples”. Letushim means “sharpened” which refers to the greatness of the character of sharpness.
d. Still, others point to the angels that surround God in His glorious heavenly abode because God is the God of Hosts and angels are messengers who implement the wishes of God to explain who were addressed by the one speaking. And angels are also called Elohim according to authorities of the Hebrew language. Please the Hebrew Index at the back part of the Strong’s Concordance and also the Hebrew Index at the back part of Young’s Analytical Concordance.
What is in man that is created in the image of God? Is not the image of man created after God similar to the image possessed by angels which are: free will, conscience, sense of beauty, sense of justice, ability to develop a sense of truth? Job 38:4-7 makes us understand that the sons of God who shouted at the sudden appearance of the cosmos are the sons of God who are angels. See Job 1:6.
Conclusion: The “im” ending, although it generally points to plurality, it does not always mean a plurality of persons. It could also mean a plurality of respect, a plurality of attributes, or greatness of a characteristic of one, singular person.
Sample interrogation: (a) The name Ephraim is plural form, does brother Ephraim possess a plurality of persons? __ Yes, __No. (b) Each three son of Keturah in Genesis 25:1-4 has plural form ending in IM, does each one possess a plurality of persons? __Yes, __No.
3. Elohim Is the Antecedent of Pronouns
a. It is argued that the presence of the plural pronouns “us, our, our” in Genesis 1:26 proves the presence of a plurality of persons in the antecedent noun Elohim.
b. If the number (plural or singular number) of the pronoun is the argument, then let us follow that line of argument: There are eight (8) singular pronouns in Genesis 1 (NKJV) whose noun antecedent is Elohim, does it follow then that Elohim could be singular in person because there are more singular pronouns in the same chapter of Genesis where you base your argument? __Yes, __No.
c. We may add Isaiah 43 for analysis. Yahweh Elohim (LORD God) is the speaker who is addressing the people of Israel. I could count no less than 54 singular pronouns in the chapter. Is Elohim then in this chapter one person because all the pronouns are singular? If not, why not if we follow the premise that the number of the pronoun is the number of a sperson in the antecedent noun?
d. Exodus 7:1, Moses was made Elohim by Yahweh in the presence of the Egyptian Pharaoh.
e. Exodus 32:1-8, One, single golden calf is called Elohi
- “These are your gods (Elohim), O Israel” – v. 4. No idea of the plurality of persons or items in it.
- “These are you gods (Elohim), O Israel” – v. 8 No idea of the plurality of persons or items in it.
f. Pagan Gods, Idols are called Elohim
- Caananite deity – Judges 8:33, “…Baal-berrith their Elohim.” No idea of the plurality of persons.
- Moabites’ deity – Judges 11:24, “…Chemosh thy Elohim.” No idea of the plurality of persons.
- Philistines’ deity – Judges 16:23, 24 – “…Dagon their Elohim … our Elohim … praised their Elohim.”
- Ammonites’ deity – 1Kings 11:33, “… Milcom the Elohim”
- 1 Samuel 5:7, the idol of a prophet is called Elohim. No idea of the plurality of persons.
- Philistines’ deity – 2Kings 1:2, 16, “…inquire of Baalzebub the Elohim of Ekron”
- Assyrian deity – 2Kings 19:37, “…house of Nisroch his Elohim”
- Canaanite goddess of fertility & war is called Elohim. Ashtaroth-KJV; Ashtoreths-NKJV.
- Another Canaanite goddess is Asherah, is pluralized as Asherahs in Judges or Asherim in Judges 3:7.
- Isaiah 42:17 reads, “…say to the molten images, ‘You are our Elohim…”
Conclusion: Considering the above analyses, to generalize that the number of persons in the word Elohim is governed by the number of the pronouns in the chapter is a weak argument because there are more singular pronouns than plural pronouns pointing to the noun Elohim. Also, it is wrong to generalize that the word Elohim always contains a plurality of persons because there are many persons or items other than the true God that is called “Elohim” and yet these persons or items are singular. Plural form of the people’s respective deities, therefore, point to the honor, respect, worship, veneration paid to those deities. Not referring to the plurality of those deities.
Sample Interrogation: You affirm that the word Elohim always has a composite or plurality of persons:
- (Q1) “When Moses was made by Yahweh as Elohim to Pharoah, did he become a plural in person? Do you know that in the Hebrew text there is no “as or like”? __Yes, __No
- (Q2) ´There was one golden calf idol and it was called “Elohim” by the Hebrews in Exodus 32, did they mean there was a plurality of persons in that one, single idol calf? __Yes, __No.
- (Q3) “The pagan idol Dagon is called Elohim in Judges 16:23-24, do you have any document to show that the people believe there was a plurality of persons in that one idol? __ Yes, __No.
- (Q4) “Do you now agree that the word Elohim does not always refer to a plurality of persons or items in things or persons pointed to as Elohim? __Yes, __No.
4. Does Echad/Chad Always Refer to Plural Items/Persons?
It is argued that the word “Echad/Chad” is unity, harmonic, composite “one”, meaning there is a plurality of items or persons within the word. Is the argument correct? My answer is NO. See Young’s Analytical Concordance, pp. 716-718 (one, once=echad, one=chad), and p. 719 (only=echad). Analyze the following:
|Echad Verses with Singular Items/Persons Included||Echad Verses with Collective Noun Found|
|a. Gen. 1:9, “one place”||a. Gen. 2:24, “one flesh”|
|b. Gen. 2:21, “one of his ribs”||b. Gen. 11:6, “people (is) one. . . all one”|
|c. Gen. 3:22, “man is become as one of us”||c. Gen. 34:16, “become one”|
|d. Gen. 4:19, “one (was) Adah||d. Gen. 34:22, “be one people”|
|e. Gen. 10:25, “name of one”||e. Gen. 41:5, 22, “one stalk”|
|f. Gen. 11:1, “one language||f. Gen. 41:25, “dreams of Pharoah are one”|
|g. Gen. 19:9, “this one came to sojourn”||g. Exodus 24:3, “people answered with one voice”|
|h. Gen. 42: 11, 13, “one man”||h. Num. 31:28, “one soul of five hundred”|
|i. Exo. 1:15, “name of one”||i. Judges 20:1, “gathered together as one man”|
|j. Exo. 9:6, “cattle of Israel . . . not one. ..”||j. Judges 20:8, “people arose as one man”|
|k. Exo. 11:1, “bring one plague”||k. Judges 20:11, “knit together as one man|
|l. Exo. 18:3, “name of one was Gershom”||l. 1Sam. 11:7, “people came out w/ one consent”|
|m. Exo. 25:19, “one cherub”||m. 1Chron. 12:38, “were of one heart”|
|n. Exo. 25:32, 33, “one side . . . one branch”||n. 1Chron. 13:11, “they were in one reckoning”|
|o. Exo. 29:1, “one young bullock”||o. 2Chron. 5:13, “singers (were) as one”|
|p. Exo. 29:15, “one ram”||p. 2Chron. 18:12, “to the king with one assent”|
|q. Lev. 5:4, 5, “guilty In one of these”||q. 2Chron. 30:12, “to give them one heart”|
|r. Lev. 8:26, “one cake”||r. Ezra 3:1, “gathered together as one man”|
|s. Lev. 14:10, “one ewe lamb”||s. Neh. 8:1, “gathered together as one man|
|t. Lev. 23:9, “sacrifice one kid”||t. Jer. 32:39, “give them one heart, one way”|
|u. Num. 1:44, “each one”||u. Ezek. 11:19, “give them one heart”|
|v. Num. 6:14, “one he lamb . . . one ewe lamb”||v. Ezek. 37:17, “join them . . . into one stick”|
|w.Num. 6:19, “one unleavened cake”||w. Ezek. 37:22, “make them one nation in the land”|
|x. Num. 7:14, “one spoon”||x. Mal. 2:10, “Have we not all one father?. . . one”|
|y. Num. 11:26, “name of one . . . Eldad”||y. Mal. 2:15, “he make one? . . . wherefore one”|
|z. Eccles. 4:8, “There is one . . . and . . not a second”||There are a few more collective nouns with Echad.|
Aside from those cited above verses, you can find more than a thousand more verses where the word Echad is used that modify one item or one person. Whereas, Echad, modifying a collective noun or composite noun is used in only about 30 verses.
Conclusion: We have submitted our document. If you have a contrary view, please show me your document. Do not immediately believe just because a certain writer or preacher has said that “echad” is plural one or composite one. Therefore, to generalize that all Echad verses contain plural items or persons is patently wrong.
- Q1. “You claim that Echad in the Hebrew Bible is always a composite or a collective noun which means that there are 2 or more items in, is that correct? __Yes, –No.
- Q2. In Genesis 2:21, is it not true that God took one rib of Adam to create Eve and the Hebrew word there is Echad? __Yes, __No.
- Q3. In Eccles. 4:8, it talks about one person, not two persons who toil endlessly, and the term on a person is Echad, is that one person, singular person? __Yes, __No.
- Q4. Do you now agree that the Hebrew word Echad also refers to single, singular items or persons? __Yes, __No.
5. Is It True that Yachid Is Absolute One, Singular One?
It is argued that the Hebrew word Yachid is absolute one, meaning not more than one, not two (2) or more. Can this be proven? No, this word does not always mean absolute one or exclusive one. It primarily means beloved one or unique one.
List of verses where “Yachid” that maybe translated “Singly, lonely, only” are found in Young’s Concordance, p. 719:
a. Genesis 22:2, “your only (yachid) son Isaac”. But Ishmael is also called son of Abraham.
b. Genesis 22:12, “not withheld your son, your only (yachid) son, from Me.” But Ishmael is also Abraham’s son.
c. Genesis 22:16, “thine only (yachid) son, Isaac, whom thou lovest”
d. Prov. 4:3, “. . . Tender and the only one (yachid) in the sight of my mother.”
e. Amos 8:10e, “I will make it like mourning for an only (yachid) son.”
f. Zech. 12:10, “as one mourneth for his only (yachid) son”
g. Jer. 6:26, “make thee mourning, (as for) an only (yachid) son”
Conclusion: We have submitted our document. If you have a contrary view, please show me your document. Do not immediately believe just because a certain writer or preacher has said that “yachid” is absolute one and you generalize that all yachid verses contain absolute, single, singular item or person.
Sample interrogation: You affirm that the word “Yachid” is an absolute one, not two:
- Q1. In Genesis 22:2, 12, 16, Isaac is called the only (yachid) son of Abraham, do you mean that Isaac is the absolute one son and there was no other son of Abraham? __ Yes, __No.
- Q2. Do you know that Ishmael is the first son of Abraham born some 13 years earlier than Isaac? __Yes, __No.
- Q3. Do you now agree that the word Yachid does not always mean absolute one, does not always mean a singular one but it can mean a beloved one or unique one? __Yes, __No.