Before I submit the question I would like to preface with the fact that I am a Christian, though I do not hold the doctrine of the trinity as I see this to be a post New Testament thought sprung from a mixture of Greek philosophy and pagan beliefs. I don't wish to address that, but I am simply using it to show the angle I am approaching this question from.

If this question is of the wrong format please let me know what to do to improve it, but I'm looking for some knowledgeable input from (I assume) Jewish people. The initial question is more rhetorical to establish the context of the three bullet points.

Also I am not familiar with the day to day traditions of the Jewish people, so if something in this post is disrespectful to that, please brush it off as ignorance and accept my express apology.

My question is.

Given the STRICT monotheistic nature of the Jewish religion (Deut 6:4), and with the Old Testament scripture as the foundation of the New Testament, how do we see this development brought forth while still "maintaining" the idea of being monotheistic?

It seems like an odd departure from the ideas established in the OT.

There are a few subjects regarding this question that I feel would be valuable to address.

  • What was the Hebrew understanding of the Holy Ghost in the OT? And how could this result in a co equality of persons in the one God?

We see countless times in the OT that the Spirit of the Lord was upon a prophet, and that the Spirit of the Lord was acting in a particular way or doing a particular. Also, NT Jews (namely, Mary and the disciples of John) did not appear to be shocked when they heard of this Holy Ghost. It seems had this been addressing another person in God they would be a little confused upon hearing this, but it instead they are not shocked at all as if they knew it was simply a way of addressing God in a role of interaction with humanity.

  • What was the Hebrew understanding of the Messiah in the OT? And how could this result in a co equality of persons in the one God?

Without predication, the OT displays that the messiah who is to be born will be called, among other things; Immanual, Wonderful Consoler, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Holding the view that Jesus is God, it seems a far leap to say this person was co-eternal and co-existent with God the Father through all eternity rather than Jesus simply being another way God revealed himself to humanity, just this time as a genuine human. e.g. The burning bush, the glory that was revealed to Moses in Exodus 33, the angel to Jacob, the men to Abraham, and so on.

  • Is there any hint of a singular, tri personal Jehovah found in the OT?

People like to reference Genesis 1:26 as a reference to plurality in God.

People reference the plural nature of Elohim as referencing multiple persons in God (although if taken at face value, the word would mean God's, which is a belief I doubt anyone from the trinitarian faith would intentionally profess.)

People like to reference the compound nature of achad as a reference to a plurality of persons. (although from this arises the same issue as the above mention)

Again, I hope this question(s) is in a format acceptable, and I hope to gleam some good information about the Jewish understanding of God's nature.

  • You seem to be asking two separate questions -- one is about the nature of monotheism in Judaism with specific explication of selected verses which have historically been mined to justify a polytheistic read by non Jews; the other is about the potential for the development of polytheistic thought within Judaism (or the nature of the evolution into polytheism by later trinitarians. That second one is (IMHO) beyond the scope of this site but judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/11139/… is related.
    – rosends
    Apr 22, 2019 at 20:16
  • @rosends yea, the first question i asked was kind of to establish my thinking for the whole post. Like "how could this happen." it was more rhetorical, i can remove it if it would help the post. Apr 22, 2019 at 20:27
  • @rosends your use of the work "polytheistic" raises a good point. The term trinity is an attempt to denounce the idea of being theistic, but it seems that when you examine the components of the doctrine all you're left with is practical tri-theism. Can you or others comment on this? Apr 22, 2019 at 21:03
  • 1
    I just wanted to cast the net wider, allowing for the "heretical" binity argument, and the "pantheon" claimants, plus the Jewish notion of shituf (partnership) as idolatry as well.
    – rosends
    Apr 22, 2019 at 21:08

2 Answers 2


The basic answer is that

Given the STRICT monotheistic nature of the Jewish religion (Deut 6:4)

There is no connection between the Torah and any developments of other religions.

Please note that the terms Old Testament and New Testament were invented by the Christians in order to promote their (incorrect) replacement theology.

As regards your bullet points, the term Holy Spirit is misused by the Christians to make if sound as if it is a separate being rather than a metaphor used to show an action of G-d. It is similar the the metaphors that we have used recently in the haggadah of Passover such as an Outstretched Arm etc.

BTW the term ghost is a mis-translation to make it sound like a separate being.

The messiah is a human being and does not have any god-like powers. In fact, it means someone who was anointed to a position. This means that the kings and priests were officially anointed with oil to become invested with the power of their position. We use the term the messiah to refer to the king that G-d will send for the final redemption. Maimonides in THE LAWS OF KINGS AND THEIR WARS goes into these laws and discusses what it means.

Genesis 1:26 does not use a plural for G-d as in Hebrew the plural form is used to show authority.

For example, Exodus 21:6

וְהִגִּישׁ֤וֹ אֲדֹנָיו֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְהִגִּישׁוֹ֙ אֶל־הַדֶּ֔לֶת א֖וֹ אֶל־הַמְּזוּזָ֑ה וְרָצַ֨ע אֲדֹנָ֤יו אֶת־אָזְנוֹ֙ בַּמַּרְצֵ֔עַ וַֽעֲבָד֖וֹ לְעֹלָֽם:

And his master shall bring him to the judges, and he shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore his ear with an awl, and he shall serve him forever.

Uses the plural term for master even though it has a singular meaning. Also note the the term for judges is the same as the word used for G-d (with the attribute of Power). This is a completely secular meaning and does not denote godly power.

The meaning in Genesis is thus singular. In fact the talmud and commentaries ask this as Rashi explains

Let us make man: Even though they [the angels] did not assist Him in His creation, and there is an opportunity for the heretics to rebel (to misconstrue the plural as a basis for their heresies), Scripture did not hesitate to teach proper conduct and the trait of humility, that a great person should consult with and receive permission from a smaller one. Had it been written: “I shall make man,” we would not have learned that He was speaking with His tribunal, but to Himself. And the refutation to the heretics is written alongside it [i. e., in the following verse:]“And God created (וַיִּבְרָא) ,” and it does not say,“and they created וַיִּבְרְאוּ.” - [from Gen. Rabbah 8:9]

I should also note that the word echad is not a compund unity but a completely singular and unique reference. As Rashi says on Devarim 6:4

The Lord is our God; the Lord is one: The Lord, who is now our God and not the God of the other nations-He will be [declared] in the future “the one God,” as it is said: “For then I will convert the peoples to a pure language that all of them call in the name of the Lord” (Zeph. 3:9), and it is [also] said: “On that day will the Lord be one and His name one” (Zech. 14:9). (see Sifrei)


First, permission from the community (Sanhedrin 91a):

Geviha ben Pesisa said to the Sages: Give me permission and I will go and deliberate with them before Alexander of Macedon. If they will defeat me, say to them: You have defeated an ordinary person from among us, and until you overcome our Sages, it is no victory.

Although I voted to close this discussion for being too broad, I've found one false premise that all of your questions are based on - that the OT is the source for our religious beliefs and our day-to-day religious conduct.

It is not. Since the era of the destruction of the second Temple, we rely exclusively on our sages' Oral Tradition including their interpretations of the OT. In other words, the Talmud and all of its interpreters is our source of Judaism and not the OT.

So when answering your questions we don't look at the OT to find the answers but turn to our Sages' tradition. So here's our Sages view on your questions:

  1. "the Holy Ghost in the OT" - no such thing. There's G-d, there are non-material angels and there are humans. Nothing in-between. See Rambam Hilchot Yesodey Hatorah.

  2. "understanding of the Messiah in the OT" - Messiah is a regular person, A descendant of King David, who's worthy to be appointed as a King. Nothing more, no holy spirit here. See Rambam Hilchot Melachim.

  3. No, no such hints whatsoever as G-d is one. While He is called different names it is because of our inability to see His oneness but only the manifestations.

I hope this helps. Now, before this question is closed, I'd recommend you not to ask questions about comparative religion as they are considered off-topic, in other words, we don't like talking about other religions.

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