The second principle of Judaism is that there is only one G-d. Again, many Christians will insist that they are monotheists and believe in only one G-d, but most Christians actually believe in a triune god – 3 persons that somehow (through what even they refer to as a “mystery”) equals one.
The concept of a triune god is completely foreign to the Torah and to Judaism. The word theophany is a GREEK word. There is no such concept in Judaism, it is the OPPOSITE of Judaism which teaches G-d is incorporeal. He has no body, now shape, no form.
G-d is outside of time and space. He has no physical attributes at all, and is completely unique. He is unconditionally independent of anything. His is a Oneness that knows no parallel. The emphasis on G-d's Unity rejects the subtle influences of polytheism which could exist even in a monotheistic system (such as the trinity). “I am the first and I am the last and besides Me there is no other.” (Yeshayahu / Isaiah 44:6).
The belief of G-d as One and unique is repeated time and again in the Torah. Jews recite it in the Sh’ma twice daily “Hear (Listen) O Israel, The L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One.” (D’varim / Deuteronomy 6:4).”
While G-d communicates with us and uses various external ways to interface with humans (through angels, through a burning bush and a cloud) He Himself is none of these things. G-d’s essence itself is indivisible and we are forbidden from imagining any form associated with Him. Something that transcends both time and space cannot be described as consisting of three different aspects. The moment we attribute any such distinctions to G-d’s essence, we negate His absolute Oneness and unity.
Missionaries will point to times when human terms are used to describe G-d. It may speak of G-d’s arm (for example). Yet the T’nach also tells us that G-d has seven eyes that wander through the earth (no body, just eyes!) – based on Zechariah 4:10. Sh’mot / Exodus 19:4 describes G-d with wings like a vulture, and so on. . . Those terms are taken as not literal – although missionaries insist that descriptive terms that seem human must be literal – even though the T’nach tells us time and again that G-d has no form, that we never saw a form for Him and that no one can see Him and live. . .
"But beware and watch yourself very well throughout your life, in case you forget the things that your eyes saw, and in case these things depart from your mind; and you are also to make them known to your children and to your grandchildren, [about] the day you stood before HaShem your G-d at Horev (Sinai) . . . HaShem spoke to you (the entire nation, 3 million people) . . . you heard the sound of the words, but you saw no image - there was only a voice." (D'varim / Deuteronomy 4:9-12).
Trinitarians will go to great lengths to try to find triune gods in the T’nach. Even though time and time and time again the T’nach tells us G-d is one and there is no other.
Earlier I quoted D’varim / Deuteronomy 6:4 which clearly says “G-d is One” – and yet missionaries will take the Hebrew word for “one” (אֶחָד / ehad) and insist that it means more than one. They say that ehad can be a compound unity.
אֶחָד / ĕcḥad can be a compound unity (see B'reshit /Genesis 2:24 as an example) – but far more often it is an “absolute one” and not compound at all. It is NOT found in D'varim / Deuteronomy 6:4 – the Sh’ma, which says“Listen, O Israel – the L-rd your G-d, the L-rd is ONE”
The word "One" in this Deuteronomy 6:4 is an adjective, and it describes the proper noun "the L-rd" (SINGULAR), which rules out the possibility of a "compound unity" in this passage. It is an "absolute one."
Other examples of this “absolute one” can be found in 2 Samuel 13:30: "Absolom has slain all the king's sons, and there is not one of them left"and 2 Samuel 17:12:"And of all the men that are with him we will not leave so much as one."In Hebrew nouns are singular or plural – similar to English.
Some missionaries will latch on to the statement "Let us make man", found in B'reshit / Genesis 1:26 -- insisting that the "us" refers to the plurality of G-d.
Yet, B'reshit / Genesis 1:26 begins with the words "And G-d said." In Hebrew it begins with the word וַיֹּאמֶר / vayomer “and he said” -- HE -- singular.
Hence B'reshit /Genesis 1:26 begins “and G-d (SINGULAR) said let us make man." If G-d were a trinity it would be plural. But G-d is ONE, not three. If G-d were a plurality the sentence would begin with the plural וַיֹּאמְרוּ / vayom'ru “and they said.” It does not. It is singular. The plural term can be found as in B'réshıt / Genesis 11:3, 11:4; 18:5, 18:9 as well as throughout the Torah – but whenever G-d speaks it is singular “and He said.”
This is because G-d IS singular – one, not three.
Since G-d is one in the passage, who is the "us"? There are various opinions. Possibly G-d is speaking of Himself as a king refers to himself in the plural. Perhaps He is speaking to His royal heavenly court. . . The Ramban's explanation is the "us" refers to the planet earth itself -- because man is made of the earth (body) and of the soul (from G-d) -- so G-d is including the earth as being part of the "us" which created man.
Line 27 (the very next line) repeats over and over again that G-d is singular, G-d is one: "And G-d created man in His image; in the image of G-d He created him; male and female He created them."
Some missionaries will insist that the word in Hebrew for "one" (אֶחָד / ĕḥad) does not really MEAN one. This is patently ridiculous. The word for "one" in Hebrew works exactly as the word "one" does in English. Read the word אֶחָד / ĕḥad in verses like B'réshıt / Genesis 21:15 Hagar put her dying child, Ishmael, "she cast the child under one of the bushes". If this were a "compound unity" there would be many shurbs (a group of shrubs). Do Trinitarians imagine Hagar putting Ishmael under many different shrubs all at the same time (וַתַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶת־הַיֶּֽלֶד תַּֽחַת אַחַד הַשִּׂיחִם “she threw the boy under ĕḥad [one] of the shrubs”)?
B'réshıt / Genesis 22:2 says "take your son, your only one" and -- if אֶחָד / ĕḥad) does not really MEAN one would not the translation say something about taking Isaac up onto multiple different mountains? But it does not say that -- it says וְהַעֲלֵֽהוּ... עַל אַחַד הֶהָרִים אֲשֶׁר אֹמַר אֵלֶֽיךָ “take him up... onto ĕḥad [one] of the mountains that I will tell you about."
Obviously the word "one" in English (or אֶחָד / ĕḥad in Hebrew) can refer to a compound unity (like one ocean containing trillions of drops of water, or one bunch of grapes containing many individual grapes) or an absolute unity (e.g. one grape) -- and it is important to know which is which a true "one" or a compound unity by grammar and by context.
Torah is clear that G-d is one, and not a compound unity. G-d is not a trinity -- He is One.
D'varim / Deuteronomy 6:4 is very clear. G-d IS singular – one, not three.
Everytime trinitarians see the number three in the T'nach they tend to say it points to the triune god. But the T'nach is clear: G-d is one.
“That you will know that G-d, He (ה֣וּא – singular) is the (singular) Supreme Being and there is none besides Him." (singular) D'varim / Deuteronomy 4:35.
"Now, O L-rd our G-d, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that You ALONE, O L-rd, are G-d.” (T'hillim / Psalm 113:5).
"Before Me (SINGULAR) no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me (SINGULAR). I (SINGULAR), even I (SINGULAR), am the L-rd, and besides Me (SINGULAR) there is no savior.” (Yeshayahu / Isaiah 43:11).
"So said the L-rd, your Redeemer, the ONE who formed you from the womb, “I am the Lord Who makes everything, Who stretched forth the heavens alone, Who spread out the earth ALONE (לְבַדִּ֔י).” (Yeshayahu / Isaiah 44:24).
"I am the L-rd, and there is no other; besides Me there is no G-d… I will strengthen you…I order that they know from the shining of the sun and from the west that there is no one besides Me; I am the L-rd and there is no other!” (Yeshayahu / Isaiah 45:5-6).
One last attempt by trinitarians to "prove" that even Jews believe in a "complex unity" G-d is the misuse of the Kabbalistic concept of the Sefirot. Jews for Jesus goes so far as to say "kabbalah teaches that G-d is indeed a compound unity." This is totally false.
קַבָּלָה / Kabbalah is the Jewish mystical doctrine. Kabbalah is complex and difficult to understand without years of Torah education. Far too many today are trying to "dabble" in the deep waters of Kabbalah without first learning how to swim (and understand the basics, and foundations of Judaism). At its heart Kabbalah explores G-d's interaction with the world, and the purpose of Creation.
At the heart of Judaism, as expressed in the Rambam's second principle is the complete and total unity of G-d. As the Rambam wrote “I believe with perfect faith that G-d is One. There is no unity that is in any way like His. He alone is our G-d He was, He is, and He will be."
Kabbalah accepts this principle. The error of trinitarians when considering the sefirot (the ten ways G-d interacts with the universe) is that they confuse how He interacts with His creation (the ten / שכינה /
Sefirot). The ten are:
חכמה / Chochmah - wisdom,
בינה / Binah - understanding,
דעת / Da'at - knowledge,
חסד / Chessed - kindness,
גבורה / Gevurah - strength,
תפארת / Tiferet - beauty,
נצח / Netzach - victory,
הוד / Hod - splendor,
יסוד / Yesod - foundation,
מלכות / Malchut - kingship.
In some lists כֶּתֶר / keter / crown may be found instead of דעת / Da'at - knowledge.
Kabbalah teaches that everything that happens in the spiritual worlds takes place through the Sefirot. but the Sefirot are not G-d. No Jew prays to or through any of the emanations -- they are simply our way of trying to describe how we perceive G-d's interactions -- it is forbidden to pray to anyone or anything other than the One G-d. To repeat: the Sefirot are not G-d, and the Kabbalists warn that one should not pray to them. The missionaries are simply misusing the concept of Kabbalah, as they misuse the meaning of the word for "one" and any other out of context concept they can find to give some credence that Jesus could have been a part of a triune G-d. 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, not 1.
Principle number 2: "We believe that this Primal Cause [G-d] is One. [His is] not like the oneness of a pair, nor like the oneness of a species, nor like man, whose complex oneness may be divided into many units, nor like the oneness of a simple body, which is one in number but may be divided and separated without end. Rather, He is One with a Oneness that knows no parallel in any manner. This is the Second Principle, as affirmed by the verse (D'varim / Deut. 6:4): "Hear O Israel, G-d is our L-rd, G-d is One."
Sophiee Saguy has been countering false missionary claims about Judaism and the T'nach (Jewish bible) for nearly twenty years. You may find her on FaceBook and at the Messiah Truth forum.