Refining Fire Fellowship: Email copy 5 Aug 2013Posted: September 19, 2015
This is my initial email sent to the elders after their request from our first meeting in August. My email is below and Kevin Lovell’s response is above.
Thanks brother. I will not be able to dig into this until next week, but I will be responding to you in a couple weeks for sure.
Lord bless you as you seek Him
On Aug 5, 2013, at 9:38 PM, Sean Holbrook <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Hey brothers,You said you wanted the information I had researched and why I questioned it. This is long, but I want to try to be thorough with questions regarding this verse in the Shema. I tried to cover everything I looked at and I have questioned so far. I’m going to get more thorough in cataloging my studies and questions here soon.From the beginning, these are the link sources I have and used.http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/kjv/echad.html BDBG Lexicon Definitions with KJV translation.http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H259&t=KJV BLB with Gesenuis’ Lexicon Below if you click to show more entry. This also includes strong’s outline of usage.I will be the first to admit, I cannot read Hebrew… so in this, I’m at the mercy of translators and just knowing Hebrew reads from right to left. From the basic definitions of all links(even though two are alike)–you can see this word “echad” functions much like our numeral word “one.”We use “one” to denote “numeral,” “a”(indefinite article), “certain”(meaning specific),” “first,” and “one after…” and “once,” or “only.”“each” or “every” I don’t believe we use “one” as far as I can think in English. If I’m wrong, show me I’d definitely look at it in example.Gesenius’ Lexicon is not the easiest for me to understand because he also quotes many other languages, such as German, Latin, and Arabic. I went through each of his verse references for any definition of “echad” that seemed to imply a plurality—but plurality was denoted in other words in the sentence’s context or had a different form. Again, I don’t know Hebrew–it is just a different form. This form, fits the first form given by Gesenius’ Lexicon from Deuteronomy 6:4אֶחָֽד is the form used in Deuteronomy 6:4 at the end of the very for “one.”In Gesenius’ Lexicon, definition number (7) gives “as one man. i.e. together” as a definition, but again this is a different form כְּאֶחָד and the context shows from the verses he quotes the plurality is not denoted from “echad,” but “congregation” from Ezra 2:64 and “sons” in Ezra 3:9. “alike” is a translation within this same definition, but “they both” from the word before denotes the plurality from the example of Ecclesiastes 11:6 From here on in this definition the form of “echad” matches Deut 6:4 usage from what I read. Then he quotes Isaiah 65:25, which “wolf and the lamb” denotes the plurality. Judges 20:8, has “the people” which denotes the plurality. 1 Samuel 11:7 quoted gives “they” as the plurality had “one” consent.In Gesenius’ Lexicon, definition number (9) gives “altogether” as a definition from Jeremiah 10:8. This is a different form seen here וּבְאַחַת The context implies “they” as a plurality were “as one” together from the English I read.At the very bottom Gesenius gives a completely different form and a second set of definitions starting again with (1), (2) and (3). the “Pl.” may denote plurality… I don’t know. Usually I would *think* it does, but I looked around for what the “i.q.” meant in his lexicon and it was a latin phrase(it looked latin) that meant “the same as.”(2) and (3) are the only two implying possibly a plurality.(2) gives the quote from Ezekiel 37:17, but this is used completely different showing the plurality since “echad” is said 3 times in a row. I would think he’s making a distinction between this and definition (6) above where he mentions if “echad” is said repeatedly or 3 times in a row. But again, I’m no expert… I’m just trying to figure that out.Looking at the quote from Ezek 37:17 I see the plurality does not come from the third “echad”, but “them” since it’s repeatedly saying “echad.”(3) is quite interesting. It is a different form אֲחָדִים , but it is the only one that seems to denote a plurality within itself combined with “days”. Genesis 27:44 and Gen 29:20 both translate “echad” as “few” or “some” depending on the translation. “Few” fits, but so does “some.” You can read the context of those for yourself as it’s talking about staying “a few days” or “some days” in Gen 27:44 and Gen 29:20 is Issac making a comparison about his 7 year servitude for Rachel as “some days” or “few days.”That’s all I have looking at those lexicons—but I will quote a few verses below to show other usage in the same form denoting one and only one still, but the “one” comes from the word “echad” is modifying.If there’s something you think I missed or a clear plurality denoted within the Hebrew “echad” or a sentence quoted by those I used that denotes plurality within the “one” itself, show me. Also if you know Hebrew much better than me and can explain the forms better—I’m all ears brothers. I’m sticking with Greek for now mainly : )I’m going to go back to my original issue, because it’s the strongest objection I think I have—and that is that I believe this is not really about the word “echad” having some special meaning, but rather it’s a grammatical issue or fallacy. Because I’ve been studying Greek, I’ve been also refining my English grammar to make sure I understand the Greek. I’m finding out its very important in my studies.From the examples given in the teaching even in the English I see error based on grammatical fallacies of applying the plurality to the wrong word. I think it’s a type of “composition” fallacy. But I have to look at it more closely to make sure I’m not straw-manning that.Genesis 1:5 was your first example.5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first dayThe problem I have is “evening and morning”(the plurality, or two in this case) are not referring to the “first”—but to “day.” “First” is only a numerical adjective of the ultimately 7 days of creation(6 technically) which is modifying “day.”If that wasn’t the case in this example, then what would we do with Gen 1:8 about the “second” day and “evening and morning.” Is second a plurality within itself? Yes it can be in context, but in this case it’s about numeral order of days. “evening and morning” are still referring to “day,” not to second.. or this error could be multiplied in now applying 2 parts of a “day”(evening and morning” to the third, then fourth etc… days.The next example you gave was Genesis 2:2424 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.This is the same type of issue I believe, as “they” is the plurality referring back to “man…his wife.” The two, they become one, singular flesh. Obviously this is some sort of spiritual truth I think we all agree, but also represented in the union of husband and wife. “one” is not denoting the plurality though in this context, “one” is modifying “flesh.”This can be shown by substituting in the English “a,” for example. “a” does not denote a plurality, even if the word “one” is removed. “they” still denotes the plurality into “a flesh.”The last example given was Numbers 23:1323 Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes;I believe again, that “one” is the adjective modifying the word “cluster” which is made of “grapes.” Both of those words denote the plurality. I cannot see how “one” would denote the plurality, it’s denoting one–cluster of grapes. I still have one cluster. One still means one even if there are many parts within that cluster.Overall, “echad” is used over 950 times in the Scriptures. “yachid” is only used 12. I don’t see this as a strong argument for it’s usage since “yachid” in it’s context is not being used like we might use the phrase “absolute oneness” and to say this word could have been used in Deut 6:4 According to Gesenius’ Lexicon you can see the definitions here and usage. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3173&t=KJVIt is used as “only” in regards to children/begotten, “solitary” meaning “forsaken” and “only” meaning dear, or precious. The last definition within the 3rd is poetic for “life.” The way this adjective is used just does not fit the way the teaching seems to imply it should if it was used. YHWH is not an “only” child, “forsaken” or “solitary” in the sense of being alone(feeling), nor “precious” in that context of Deuteronomy 6:4.אֶחָֽד is used many other places in the same form where the context is clearly “one.” For example:Genesis 11:1 “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.”1 language and 1 speech is implied by context of all the earth, not pluralities within that one. I think the second “one” is a different form though, the first is the same.Deuteronomy 1:23 “And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:”1 person is only implied in the one, from the twelve men—one of each tribe. One is not implying plurality within itself, but “twelve” and “tribe.”Deuteronomy 17:6 “”Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.”1 singular witness.Exodus 9:6 “So the LORD did this thing on the next day, and all the livestock of Egypt died; but of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died”1 singular animal out of many implied by “livestock”I think there are many more examples but this is already long enough. This is just what I’ve found.Now I haven’t at all studied the word “elohim” used for God and many other words. That is another study I have yet to even look at–but I can pre-emptively know an objection will be “elohim” is plural, so the plural is within that. That’s a possibility. The issue I have at the offset of that is that if plurality was really there in the context of Deut 6:4, then it would be translated “gods” based on the context. I don’t believe it is, since it’s outright trying to point out the one YHWH as one God. I cannot see how any Jew would have understood this as a plurality of persons within one God either… which gives a kind of twist on how Jesus quoted this verse and applauded another Jewish man for understanding it.In Mark 12:28-34 If Jesus only meant His Father as the one God(YHWH) by quoting the shema, and that’s how Jews understood it–it *implies* Jesus would have been mis-leading the man by applauding that man for being close to the Kingdom of God. He applauded the man for claiming “He is one and there is no other than He.” and said He answered wisely. Jesus meant His Father in quoting the shema as far as I can logically tell—otherwise, it implies Jesus would be worshiping Himself in the trinity. That doesn’t make sense to me. If you can make sense of that, I will listen to an explanation though. This is something else that boggles me in the trinity internally.I’ve got to go, this took me a long time to type out and to make sure I had the links. Hopefully it’s not overwhelming. Also please let me know if I came across in any way arrogantly or anything. I know my motives in explaining and typing this were nothing of that sort—but sometimes I get accused of it. I want to be sure my attitude doesn’t come across harshly or authoritatively, and text can be easily mis-understood. I don’t want to be blind to something I might be doing in text without even noticing it.Thank you guys again for the talk and sit down last night. I really appreciate it. It felt very good to speak with you both about it and it gave me great peace now that I know you know I’m studying this deeply. I have been looking and questioning things for so long and it was causing me much unrest in not having anyone to really speak with about it. I love you guys and very grateful to God for your humility in listening to me and hearing me out and being willing to look at it again. Most people wouldn’t even allow me to question online without just dismissing me for no reason.God bless,Sean