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significant a character to establish such a rufe in opposition to the fact which is observable through the whole Hebrew Bible, viz., that this grammatical solecism is Never
USED WHEN SPEAKING OF KINGS AND GREAT MEN, nor is it
used in the other names of the Deity, but only in the words Elohim and Adonai. It is true indeed, that many learned Trinitarians have seen no argument for the Sacred Trinity in this peculiarity. Calvin, Mercer, Parens, DttTsius, the two Buxtorfs, Frederic Spanheim, G. J. Vossius, Leusden, Marckius, J. D. Michaelis and Eichorn, with many others, have supported the negative of the argument. But there is a host of able writers on the other side; Junius, Polyander, Piscator, James Alting, Danzius, Hoornbeck, Leidekker, Cocceius, Van Mastriclit, Buddeus, and many others, are ranked on the affirmative of the question; and with them, in the opinion of Dr. Smith, lies the weight of the evidence. Indeed, as he well remarks, the principal objections of the former class are done away by the fact, that this grammatical peculiarity of the Hebrew is regarded only as an intimation of the Trinitarian doctrine; and not as a direct and sufficient testimony; for surely it is something new in the art of reasoning if a piece of evidence which does not conclusively prove the whole case, must therefore be cast aside as altogether irrelevant. It is the distinguishing characteristic of the whole Mosaic dispensation, that it was designed to prepare the way of the Lord, as a wise and necessary introduction to the full revelation of the Gospel; and why should not a professed trinitarian expect and rejoice to see this characteristic in the all-important article of the Trinity, as well as in every other feature of the Christian system?
But the anti-trinitarian thinks himself strong in the assertion that the word Elohim stands in such a position in many passages as evidently to exclude the idea of plurality: and his examples are at hand. Thus we are told that it stands for one angel; as where Manoah says,(Judges xiii. 22.)' We shall surely die, for we have seen Elohim.' Here, however, the construction of the objector is a manifest error, for Manoah had found, from the wondrous doing of him whom he had taken for an angel, that he had been in truth conversing with the Deity. Of course, then, he used the common appellation Elohim, not in reference to an angel, but to the Supreme Being, and used it correctly.
The next instance claimed is that of Exod. xxxii. 4, where the word Elohim is applied to the golden Calf. 'These be thy gods (Elohim) O Israel, who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.' But to this, many sufficient answers may be given. First, that this is the language of the idolatrous multitude, 'they said, These be thy gods,' &c., and it would be strange, indeed, if the original meaning designed to he intimated by the term, was to be learned from the language of idolatry. Secondly, it should be noted that the pronoun and the verb are also plural, ' These be,' not This is, and it is plain, therefore, that it cannot pass for an instance of the pluralis excellentiac. The meaning would, then, be simply this; that as the people desired to have gods to go before them according to the Egyptian model, and had obtained one as a representative of the rest, they naturally use the language in a sense which referred to a plurality of deities. The next example of the anti-trinitarian occurs in the book of Judges xvi. 23, 24, where the Dagon of the Philistines is called by them, 'our Elohim,' to which may be added, says Dr. Smith, 1 Sam. v. 7, and we would add the case in 1 Kings xviii, where Baal is called ' your Elohim,' by the prophet Elijah. But truly an argument must be in great want of support which looks to such proofs for corroboration. Elohim was the name of the true God among the Israelites—a name universally understood to signify their Supreme Being by all who held intercourse with them. Of course the heathen and the idolater would apply it as suited their convenience to the object of their Supreme worship; and the prophet Elijah, in conversing with them, would use the term in the same sense. But what has this to do with the true meaning of the word, as applied originally to the Deity? How can the borrowing and misapplying of a sacred term by an idolater help the true believer to understand its proper signification?
It is further said to be applied to Moses, Exod. iv. 16. 1 And the Lord said to Moses, 'Behold I have made thee a God, (Elohim) to Pharaoh,' the Hebrew is 'for,' or 'instead of,' Elohim, and the meaning is too plain to be mis understood, simply implying that Moses was the appointed deliverer of the Divine messages and performer of miracles to Pharaoh; and thus we know that Pharaoh himself understood it, because—idolater as he was—he never confounded Moses with God, but clearly distinguished his true character.
The last of the common examples adduced by antitrinitarians, is that of the witch of Endor, where she exclaims, 'I saw Gods, (Elohim^) ascending out of the earth.' Now this is truly an unfortunate instance to prove that the plural, Elohim, meant only Samuel, for the participle (ascending) is plural too, clearly proving that the sorceress saw more objects than one. Besides which, the sorceress, like the idolater, is but a poor authority for the true meaning of the names of Deity.
Such are the principal examples relied on to answer the current prevailing style of the sacred volume, where at least two thousand five hundred cases have been enumerated of this union of the plural form Elohim, with singular nouns, verbs, and attributes: an anomaly so easily accounted for on the Trinitarian system, and so inexplicable on any other, that we do not well see how, among Trinitarians, there should ever have been more than one opinion on the subject.
We proceed to quote the conclusions of some learned men on the point in question, to show that the opinion we have espoused is sustained by high authority.
'After the closest attention,' says Dr. Smith, p. 521, 'that I can give to all the parts of the case, the impression on my mind is favorable to the opinion that this peculiarity of idiom originated in a design to intimate a plurality in the nature of the One God; and that thus, in connexion with other circumstances calculated to suggest the same conception, it was intended to excite and prepare the minds of men for the more full declaration of this unsearchable . mystery, which should in proper time be granted.'
In a note of the same author, we find this passage from the younger Buxtorf, who, although belonging to the negative side of the question, acknowledges nearly, if not quite, the opinion we have endeavored to maintain. Buxtorf. fil. Dissert. Philolog. Tbeol. Diss. v. <§, 44. < Not that I think,' says he, ' that this argument should be altogether rejected among Christians; for upon the same principle on which not a few of the Jews, as we have seen, refer this emphatical application of the plural number to a plurality of powers, or of influences, or of operations, that is ad extra, why may we not refer it ad intra, to a plurality of persons and to personal works? Yea, who certainly knows what that was which the ancient Jews understood by this plurality of powers and faculties?'
From Poole's Synopsis Criticorum, 1 vol. p. 2. we take
but a short passage, as the arguments presented by the remainder of the article will occur elsewhere. Commenting on the words ' Bara Elohim,' in the first verse of Genesis, he says, (b)' Here is insinuated the plurality with the unity of God, although the Jews may endeavor frivolously to deny it. And the ancient Hebrews acknowledged it. 'Come,' says. Rabbi Simeon Ben Jochai (in Zoar ad 6. Levit. Sectionem,) 'Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim : there are three grades, and each grade alone by itself, nevertheless they are one, and they are joined in one, nor is one divided from the other.'
From the Loci Theolog. of the justly celebrated Gerhard, Lib. de Natura Dei, Cap. 4. § 27, we cite a very full, and, as we deem it, satisfactory argument.
(c) 'This question,' says he,' is to be discussed: Whether from the name Elohim, which is translated, though in the plural, God, the plurality of persons in the Godhead can be demonstrated? Wolfgang Capito in Hexaem. p. 65, says that the Jews are divided into three opinions on the point. Some say that it is a noun of multitude, having a singular signification: others say that the signification is trulyplural, but that it denotes the powers and properties of God, and not the plurality of persons. Others refer it to the custom
(b) Dvtsn Nia Ad verbum, creavit Dii. Insinuatur hie pluralitas in Deo cum unitate; licet Judaei conentur frivole refellere. Agnoscunt et veteres Hebraei. Veni et vide mysterium verbi Elohtm .. sunt ires gra. dus, et quilibet gradusper se solus, i. e. distinctus; veruntamen sunt unus et in unum conjunguntur; nec unus ab altera dividitur, ait R. Simeon Ben Jochai in Zoar ad 6 Levitici Sectionem.
(c) 'excutienda erit quaestio: An ex nomine Elohim, quod in
plurali de Deo usurpatur, personarum in divinitate pluralitas demonstrari posait? Kefert Wolf. Capito in Hexaem p. 65. Judaeos hie in tres opinionesdividi: alii enim nomen multitudinis esse aiunt, qudd signincatu sit singulare: alii dicunt, quod significatio quidem sit multitudinis, interim non denotari ei perBonarum pluralitatem, sed Dei virtutes et pro