Plural Noun Adonai
According to Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Director of Ariel Ministries:
Whenever that word (Adonai) is used of God, it’s always found in the plural. The singular form is never used of God.
The pattern is consistent and the door remains open for the idea that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a complex, indivisible unity.
Plural pronouns are also used of God. For example, Genesis 1:26 says:
And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
The plural pronouns us, our, and our in the above quote refer to God. The use of the plural in Genesis 1:26 is noted by Jewish commentators. Various explanations have been suggested by them such as:
Angels (Rashi, Midrash), God and the earth (Rambam), all of creation (Vilna Gaon), plural of majesty (many), the souls of the righteous unborn (Genesis Rabbah), plural of deliberation (Genesis Rabbah), different aspects within God’s being (Zohar), the Word of God (Targumim).
The use of the plural is noted because it “obviously presents a great difficulty, considering the ‘oneness’ and ‘unity’ of the Almighty.”
The lack of consistency and the variety of explanations indicates uncertainty and lack of consensus regarding the answer to this “great difficulty.” However, there is no great difficulty if the oneness and unity of the Almighty is a complex, indivisible unity. Other examples include Genesis 3:22, 11:7; and Isaiah 6:8.
Another line of evidence is the fact that God is also described by plural participles. For example, Isaiah 54:5 says:
For He who made you will espouse you-His name is “LORD of Hosts.” The Holy One of Israel will redeem you-He is called “God of all the Earth.”
The term “made you” and “espouse you” are plurals in the Hebrew text and literally read “your makers” and “your husbands.” The reference is to God. Then the verse switches back to the singular “His Name.” The verse switches back to the plural -the word “God” in the final line. Finally, it ends with the singular “He is called.” The interplay between the singular and the plural would be appropriate if the nature of God is a complex, indivisible unity.
Dr. Michael Brown shares two thoughts on the Bible’s description of God in plural terms:
So, while these references to God or LORD in the plural don’t in any way prove Trinitarian beliefs, they are certainly in perfect harmony with everything we’re trying to say here, namely that in some way the LORD’s unity is complex.
…these verses most definitely don’t exclude such beliefs.
- ^ Fruchtenbaum, A.G., The Trinity Radio Manuscript #50 (Tustin, CA., Ariel Ministries, 1983), p. 5
- ^ Tanakh: The Holy Scripture, Genesis 1:26
- ^ Harvey, Richard, Issues (Perlman, Susan, ed.), “A Look at the Trinity From a Messianic Jewish Perspective”(San Francisco, CA), vol. 10.8, pp. 5-8
- ^ Pelcovitz, Rabbi Raphael, Sforno, A Commentary on the Torah (Brooklyn, NY: Mesorah Publications, 1987),vol. 1, p. 17
- ^ Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures, Isaiah 54:5
- ^ Brown, Dr. Michael, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), p. 10