all quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, translation by
David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., unless
I want to give my opinion on the Ineffable Truth of
the Oneness of HaShem, couched in the Revelation that the Son of God
and the Spirit of God share the same Essential Nature as God the
This somewhat ongoing study (updated as need arises) will take various
turns along the way. The commentaries will range from raw data
citations), to rabbinic Midrash (known in Christian circles as
discourse), to apologetics (critical reasoning), to possible polemics
on the offense against heresy). As a by-standing reader (and at
a participating one) I don’t want anyone to walk away without warning.
I am not infallible. Moreover, I
am not above correction. Please consider this commentary set as
an attempt to uncover Truth, but consider that my weakness is also your
weakness: personal opinion and personal conviction.
This particular topic is not a trivial
undertaking. But it certainly produces many mixed emotions among
is adherents. As a Messianic Jewish Rabbi, I am personally
about this particular topic. Folks are usually fairly convicted
one way or another as to the decision of whether or not Yeshua is YHVH
veiled in flesh or not. And they rightfully should be! For
in my opinion this conviction of necessity becomes a salvific issue
related to salvation) for believers. After reading the second
of my commentary you will understand why I make such a statement.
I would like to begin with a quote from
Kevin J. Conner, author of 'The Tabernacle of David', 'The Temple of
Solomon', and a very noticeable influence in the Eddie Chumney work
'The Seven Festivals of the Messiah'. Here is my quote:
'Truth must be seen in all of its
glorious facets as one related whole. One of the hardest things
to maintain in all of these various facets of truth that God is
bringing to the Church is BALANCE! It is a point worthy of
recognition that heresy in its
many forms originated in truth. In fact, it is impossible to have
heresy apart from truth. There can never be the counterfeit
the genuine article first. The counterfeit is never the
The original comes first; the imitation follows. So it is with
and error. Truth existed before error. Error uses truth to
launch out upon, build upon. What is heresy? Heresy is
an aspect of truth taken to an extreme and pushed out of proportion
the whole body of truth. It creates party-spirit in those that
is because TRUTH is not seen as one related whole that this
happens. No one facet of truth can be used to contradict or
distort another facet of truth, or otherwise heresy begins.
Taking one facet of truth and majoring on it alone to the neglect or
violation of other truth brings
discord; hence, the need for balance in every emphasis that is being
to the Church today. Balance is harmony, and harmony is having
parts combined in an orderly and pleasing arrangement.'
This is the first installment in my
personal ongoing study into the subject of the Incarnation. I
want to share with you what I believe the “Shema” (basically a quote
6:4) can be hinting at, using the typical Jewish answer first, and then
going on to explain how a non-Jewish believer can better “arm” himself
such an answer. This is simply an exercise designed to explain to
Christians why many Jewish People are unwilling to give up their
This commentary set is not to be used as a standard witnessing
among my people, but if the material proves helpful in explaining the
difficult topic to unbelievers and anti-missionaries, then the
commentary will have served its purposes.
"God is ONE. There is no other god
(or God) worthy of worship aside from YHVH." This is a typical,
monotheistic answer, based on a traditional Jewish view of Deut. 6:4,
aka, the Shema.
This subject will continue to baffle many
Jews and Christians alike: how can God be "One" and yet somehow
"three". The matter is really made clear when Christians explain
that correct Christianity does not believe in three gods! We
believe in ONE God who expresses himself in a "unity of three".
God is indeed one! The Shema affirms
this. The characters of the Scriptures, both “Old and New
this. The Shema is the "watchword of Jewish monotheism".
Shema is foundation. The word "shema" means "hear", "listen
It is a Hebrew imperative that carries the notion of an action-oriented
command. In other words, "Now that you have heard, go and do
about it!" My commentary on the Shema here introduces the
difficult concept of the "tri-unity"
of our unexplainable God. The ancients called HaShem "Eyn-Sof", a
term which quite literally means "without borders". Our God is
unknowable. Yet because of our finite minds, he has chosen to
himself in ways that we can perceive. However we shall have to
to gain a fuller perception of him, once we put off this corruptible
and our eyes are able to see through this mirror clearly instead of
The "trinity" is a doctrine that has long been
characterized by misunderstanding, both among my people, as well as a
few Christians. I believe that most of the confusion actually
stems from the language that we choose to use when describing the
unified nature of our somewhat incomprehensible God. However, the
Torah does not expect us to
label God and stuff him in box. Nor are we so smart that our
systematic theological viewpoints of him will ever fully describe his
glory. Yet the revelation that has been graciously granted to us
is a complete one, in that, all that we need to know to maintain a
relationship with HaShem is found within the pages of his Word, and
specifically, in the person of his only and unique Son Yeshua our
Let us first read
the actual pasuk (verse) itself:
"Sh’ma Yisra’el, ADONAI Eloheinu,
ADONAI echad" [Hear, Isra’el! ADONAI our God, ADONAI is one].
Anyone with knowledge of the Hebrew text will realize
that the word translated ADONAI is the four-letter name for HaShem,
YHVH, also known as the Tetragrammaton. The Jewish people use
this name only in a very sacred and personal way. To be sure, today
Torah-observant Jews, in reverential fear of misuse never speak
it. Because of the understanding that the Shema "defines" the
oneness of YHVH (which is what the Hebrew word echad implies), many
Jews are fiercely monotheistic. After all, is this not what the
plain sense (p’shat) of the verse in Deuteronomy is teaching?
The word "echad" teaches us that God is the ONLY God
that we are to serve. To be sure, some translations render this
verse as, "Hear Isra'el, the LORD is our God, the LORD alone."
This is the primary meaning conveyed by the use of this word
"echad". That God is our only God is paramount to correctly
understanding any revelation of him in his Word.
The TaNaKH is full of instances where God appeared in
"less than familiar" form. God has appeared as his Angelic
Messenger, as a Flame, as a Man with two angelic hosts, as Light, and
as a Thick Cloud. All of these revelations are uniquely and
completely God! Yet all were for the sake of the one being
visited. God of necessity must "veil" his glory so that we as
frail men are not consumed in his holiness!
Yet, the Renewed Covenant teaches us that Yeshua is
the final and most complete revelation of God that the world has ever
known! To look at Yeshua is to see the Father in flesh!
Such a revelation requires a metamorphosis of the heart of a man!
A natural man cannot understand the incarnation; only a man with a
renewed spirit can understand this revelation. In a crude way you
could liken seeing Yeshua like beholding someone in a mirror: the image
in the mirror exactly resembles that which the mirror is reflecting,
but in actuality you are beholding the mirror image! Such is
Yeshua! To look at him is to gaze at the exact mirror image of
the Father without actually beholding the
Father himself! Yeshua is the "veil" by which the Father covered
himself when walking among mankind. Yet Yeshua is more than
In his own words, "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." (Read John
According to some scholars every instance when a
mortal encountered the divine God they were in some way beholding
Yeshua! In this understanding Yeshua is the common factor in
every single revelation of God in the Scriptures. To be sure,
they declare that "No one has ever seen God; but the only and unique
Son, who is identical with God and is at the Father's side," (read John
Yet Yeshua is also uniquely the Son of Man.
Yeshua is NOT the Father, nor is God Yeshua. Rather, and I'm
stretching human language to its limits to explain this, Yeshua is the
flesh, the Word which was WITH God, and the Word which WAS God!
It is not as if Yeshua became God somehow. It is rather that God
the Word became a human being and we beheld such glory in the person
and work of the Messiah named Yeshua. Such profundity!
But, by understanding what the B’rit Chadashah (New
Covenant) teaches believers about the unity of Yeshua and the Father
(John 10:30), we are given the ability to interpret the Shema in a more
theologically correct light. ADONAI is echad…. Yet, according to
testimony, He and the Father also constitute an echad. Is HaShem
more than one?! No! Is Yeshua "meshugga" (Yiddish for
"crazy")? Of course not! This relationship of the Father to
the Son has long since been a problem for my people to grasp.
It also continues to baffle anyone
attempting to put God in a neat, theological box.
Do we believe in three gods?
No. That is the heresy called "Tritheism". Do we believe in
one God who simply wears three different "masks" to interact with
mankind? No. That is the heresy called "Modalism".
What we believe in is ONE God who expresses himself in a "unity of
three". The mystery is that each expression is uniquely God and yet
uniquely single. Ontology is defined as: "a branch of metaphysics
concerned with the nature and relations of being; a particular theory
about the nature of being or the kinds of existents". The ontological
implications of the very words, names, and "titles" used in the
Scriptures help us to relate to God himself. Observe: All of what the
word "God" implies is not exhausted in the use of the
words "his Son"; all of what the name "Yeshua" implies is not exhausted
in the term "the Father"; all of what the term "Ruach HaKodesh" implies
is not exhausted in "the Man Yeshua" and so on and so forth. We cannot
logically collapse each name, phrase, and title into the others without
doing damage to the import of the Scriptural references. Indeed to
to do so is to approach the Scriptures from an incorrect mind set.
the Hebraists thought of God in concepts of "this" and "that";
the historic Greek mindset approached God in concepts of "this’ or
"that". Some scholars refer to this as "Hebrew tension".
Yeshua is God veiled in flesh and
the Spirit of God is God himself. The matter of authority comes into
play when I examine the roles of each deity. The role of God is
as head over Yeshua and the role of the Ruach is as witness to
Yeshua. Yet the role of Yeshua is as witness of the Father and
the role of the Spirit is as active agent of the Father as well. The
part that brings it all
together is when we remember that true worship belongs to God and God
alone! As such, whenever Yeshua or the Ruach is also worshipped
we catch a glimpse of the "oneness" of the "three-ness" of God.
The Trinity is not easy to understand; in
fact, it is an ineffable truth, not graspable by the human mind. How
many heresies in Christian history have arisen because people attempted
to detract from the mystery of the Trinity, coming up with doctrines
that were more easily "digested" by the human mind. No, the doctrine of
Trinity cannot be reduced to the pale categories of human reason.
It is arrogant for anyone to think that he
or she can grasp the mystery of the Godhead! So the fact that the
doctrine of the Trinity is not readily understandable in terms of human
reason should not worry us. This is what the proper Christian’s
should be to any polemic against the doctrine of the Trinity. We, in
all humility and submission to God can only say this: God has revealed
himself as Trinity, i.e. the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We
do not rationally understand this; any explanation that we come up with
will be flawed. But since God has revealed himself as Trinity, we
to Him as Trinity even if we do not completely understand how he can be
Trinity! It is blasphemy to "reduce" God to something we can
The purpose of theology is not to "cut God down" to the size of human
reason but to elevate human reason to the contemplation of the Divine
Mystery -- the Mystery that teaches us that the One God -- ineffably,
incomprehensibly -- exists in a unity of "Three".
Are you confused yet? The
historic Greek mind would be! But the historic Hebrew mind lives
with these tensions as foundational Biblical truths! And yet some
skeptics will always twist and distort the Truth into something it was
not meant to be! I even imagine someone may eventually make this
very article say something that I did not intend for it to say.
But with language failing to fully describe the unknowable Eyn-Sof I
shall have to rely
on this "best approximation" for now. One day this glass that I
see through dimly shall be made clear!
Torah Teacher Ariel ben-Lyman