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Back to:  Answers to Arguments. . . Trinity    Trinity Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Ancient Jewish Writings
About the Trinity

 Jewish Teachings 
 About The Tinity 

1. The teaching of the Trinity is Found in Jewish Targums (O.T. in Armaic) and commentaries such as the Zohar. These Jewish sages taught that God appears in the form of three persons of the Godhead, three manifestations or three emanations.45/93-94

2. This fact indicates that the Jews rejection of Christianity up until the second century was not because of the teaching of the Trinity. They understood that the Messiah would be the Son of God. That is why so many Jews did accept him. It was not until the rebellion against Rome in AD 135 that this changed. During the three years of battle for Jewish independence led by the general Simeon Bar Kochba, many of his followers (including the famous Rabbi Akiba) declared that Bar Kochba was Israel’s true messiah.45/93-94 This forced Jewish Christians to withdraw from the Jewish forces fighting against Rome since they could only follow and give allegiance to the true Messiah: Jesus. Jewish Christians who took this stand were considered treasonous and therefore no longer welcome in the synagogues. This division between Jews and Christians has lasted for 2,000 years.

 Why First Century Jews 
 Accepted Jesus as God  

1. Jewish Targums, read in the synagogues, gave an understanding of the triune nature of God. God was taught as "Three in One" by Rabbis Simon ben Jochai and Eliezer.

 The  Zohar 

1. The Zohar is a book that was written by Rabbi Simon ben Jochai and his son Rabbi Eliezer in the years following the Roman army’s destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in A. D. 70.

2. In the Zohar the following statements about God are made: "How can they (the three) be One? Are they verily One, because we call them One?" "How Three can be One, can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit."46/43/verse 22 Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai instructed his son as follows: "Come and see the mystery of the word hw:hoyÒ, Yehovah: there are three steps, each existing by itself; nevertheless they are One, and so united that one cannot be separated from the other."47/65 He later indicated in another passage that these three steps as revealed in Elohim !yhiloa> (God) are three substantive beings or three divine persons united in one.

5. In another book written by Rabbi Simeon, known as The Propositions of the Zohar, records the mystery of the Shechinah glory of God in these words.

"... the exalted Shechinah comprehends the Three highest Sephiroth; of Him (God) it is said, (Ps. 62:11), "God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this." Once and twice means the Three exalted Sephiroth, of whom it is said: Once, once, and once; that is, Three united in One. This is the mystery."471/113

6. Another extraordinary reference to the Trinity is found in the Zohar:

"Here is the secret of two names combined which are completed by a third and become one again. ‘And God said Let us make Man.’ It is written, ‘The secret of the Lord is to them that fear him’ (Psalm 25:14). That most reverend Elder opened an exposition of this verse by saying ‘Simeon Simeon, who is it that said: "Let us make man?" Who is this Elohim?’ With these words the most reverend Elder vanished before anyone saw him ... Truly now is the time to expound this mystery, because certainly there is here a mystery which hitherto it was not permitted to divulge, but now we perceive that permission is given.’ He then proceeded: ‘We must picture a king who wanted several buildings to be erected, and who had an architect in his service who did nothing save with his consent. The king is the supernal wisdom above, the Central Column being the king below: Elohim is the architect above ... and Elohim is also the architect below, being as such the Divine Presence (Shekinah) of the lower world.’"48/90-91

 Other Rabbis 

Rabbi Eliezar Hakkalir, AD 70, taught the doctrine of three distinct beings revealed in the Godhead in his commentary on Genesis 1:1. He wrote:

"When God created the world, He created it through the Three Sephiroth, namely, through Sepher, Sapher and Vesaphur, by which the Three twywh (Beings) are meant . . . The Rabbi, my Lord Teacher of blessed memory, explained Sepher, Sapher, and Sippur, to be synonymous to Ya, Yehovah, and Elohim meaning to say, that the world was created by these three names."49/28-29

Rabbi Bechai, in his commentary on Genesis 1:1 (p. 1, col. 2) explained that the word Elohim !yhiloa> is compounded of two words, !h and la, that is, "These are God." The plural is expressed by the letter yod ( y ).

 The Shema
 "Hear, O Israel! Yehovah our-Elohim, 
 Yehovah is one!" Deuteronomy 6:4) 

In this passage Moses first uses the singular name of God, hw:hoyÒ Yehovah, then the plural name, !yhiloa> God, and then again the singular name, hw:hoyÒ Yehovah, and concluded with Hebrew dja meaning: One. This biblical statement declares that there is only one God which both Jews and Christians agree on. The term included Elohim indicates the nature of God as three in one. Jewish books written during the captivity in Babylon in 536 B.C. to the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 taught the mystery of the Trinity based on this very passage in Deuteronomy 6:4. The Zohar teaches:

"We have said in many places, that this daily form of prayer is one of those passages concerning the Unity, which is taught in the Scriptures. In Deut. 6:4, we read first h/:hyÒ Yehovah, then, !yhiloa> our God, and again, h/:hyÒ Yehovah, which together make one Unity. But how can three Names [three beings] be one? Are they verily one, because we call them one? How three can be one can only be known through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, and, in fact, with closed eyes. This is also the mystery of the voice. The voice is heard only as one sound, yet it consists of three substances, fire, wind, and water, but all three are one, as indicated through the mystery of the voice. Thus are (Deut. 6:4) ‘Yehovah our-Elohim, Yehovah is one!,’ but One Unity, three Substantive Beings which are One; and this is indicated by the voice which are One; and this is indicated by the voice which a person uses in reading the words, ‘Hear, O Israel,’ thereby comprehending with the understanding the most perfect Unity of Him who is infinite; because all three (Jehovah, Elohim, Jehovah) are read with one voice, which indicates a Trinity."48/90-91

Another Rabbi Menachem of Recanati wrote in his Commentary on the Pentateuch about the mystery of the Trinity. He wrote: "These are secrets which are revealed only to those who are reaping upon the holy field, as it is written

‘The secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him’" (Psalms 25:14). On Deuteronomy 6:4 he wrote concerning the Trinity:

"‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.’ This verse is the root of our faith, therefore Moses records it after the ten commandments. The reason (that there is said hw:hoyÒ, Lord, !yhiloa>, our God, and hw:hoyÒ, Lord) is, because the word [mv does not here signify ‘Hear;’ but ‘to gather together, to unite,’ as in 1 Samuel 15:4, ‘Saul gathered together the people.’ The meaning implied is The Inherent-Ones are so united together, one in the other without end, they being the exalted God. He mentions the three names mystically to indicate the three exalted original Ones."50/267

 Let Us Make Man in Our Image 

In Genesis 1:26 God said, "Let Us make man in Our image." Then in Genesis 1:27 Moses records "And Elohim created man in His image, in the image of Elohim He created him; male and female He created them," thus making it plain that the Us in verse 26 is clearly referring to God, not to angels as some people speculate. God makes plain in verse 26 that He is the Three in One.

Moses wrote in Genesis 11:5, "And Yehovah came down to see the city," using the singular noun. Yet in verse 7 is used the plural noun which is Yehovah again indicating the plurality of His nature when He said, "Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech."

Another passage in the Zohar indicates clearly that the Jewish sages understood the Trinity nature of God:

"The fourth precept is to acknowledge that the Lord is God, as we read: ‘Know this day, and lay it to thy heart that Yehovah [h/;hy]], he is Elohim’ [!yhiloa>] (Deuteronomy 4:39); namely, to combine the name Elohim "God" with the name Jehovah "Lord" in the consciousness that they form an indivisible unity."48/51

"All those supernal lights exist in their image below some of them in their image below upon the earth; but in themselves they are all suspended in the ‘firmament of the heaven.’ Here is the secret of two names combined which are completed by a third and become one again. ‘And God said, Let us make Man ....’"48/90-91

 Psalm 2:7: 
 "You are My Son, 
 today I have begotten You" 

Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai commenting on the Zohar:

"There is a perfect Man, who is an Angel. This Angel is Metatron, the Keeper of Israel; He is a man in the image of the Holy One, blessed be He, who is an Emanation from Him; yea, He is Jehovah; of Him cannot be said, He is created, formed or made; but He is the Emanation from God. This agrees exactly with what is written, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Of jmx dwd, David's Branch, that though He shall be a perfect man, yet He is ‘The Lord our Righteousness.’"51

The ancient Jewish sages understood the divine nature of the Son of God without question.

 The Trinity Was Also Taught in 
 the Ancient Jewish Targums 

A targum is a translation of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic. After being in captivity to Babylon for 70 years the Jews, with the exception of the priests, forgot the Hebrew language and were now fluent in Aramaic. As a result a paraphrase and commentary on the Torah was written in Aramaic so the people could be instructed. The two major Targums were the Targum of Jonathan and the Targum of Onkelos both written by Jonathan ben Uziel.

Genesis 19:24 states, "Then Yehovah rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yehovah out of heaven," The Targum describes Yehovah (hw:hoyÒ) in this passage as "the Word of the Lord," which we have already indicated is referring to the Son of God.

Exodus 3:14 states, "And Elohim said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM;’ and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, "Yehovah has sent me to you."’" The Targum on Exodus 3:14 uses the same title: "the Word of the Lord" to describe God. The Jerusalem Targum on Exodus 3:14 reads as follows: "And the Word of the Lord 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.’"52

 The Angel of Yehovah 
 And the Angel of the Covenant 

Genesis 22:11 "But the Angel-of-Yehovah.hw:hy] &a'l]m'] appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up. When Yehovah3068 saw that he turned aside to look, Elohim called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses! And he said, ‘Here I am.’"

Moses in this passage clearly indicates that the Angel of Yehovah is Yehovah. Rabbi Moses ben Nachman pointed out this fact:

"It is said: ‘An Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire,’ and (Elohim) !yhiloa>, ‘God called unto him.’ This is all one, namely, whether he saith The Angel, or (Elohim) !yhiloa>, ‘God spake to him out of the midst of the bush’. . . Therefore be not astonished that Moses hid his face before this Angel; because this Angel mentioned here is the Angel, the Redeemer, concerning whom it is written; ‘I am the God of Bethel;’ and here, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ It is the same of whom it is said, ‘My name is in Him.’53

References:

45. Jeffrey, Grant R. The Handwriting of God.
      Toronto, Ontario Canada:  Frontier Research
      Publications, Inc., © 1997 by Grant R. Jeffrey.
46. Zohar. Vol. ii.
471. Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai. The Propositions
        of the Zohar. cap. 38, Amsterdam edition.
47. Zohar. Vol iii. Amsterdam edition.
48. Zohar. Vol 1. Soncino Press edition.
49. Rabbi Eliezer Hakkalir. The Book of Creation.
50. Rabbi Menachem. Commentary on the
      Pentateuch. Venice edition.
51. Rabbi Simeon ben Jochai. The Propositions
      of the Zohar. cap. 38, Amsterdam edition.
52. Jonathon ben Uziel. Jerusalem Targum.
      Before Christ BC.
53. Rabbi Moses ben Nachman

Trinity Pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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