Housmail HM#140                                                                                March 2013

By Allon Maxwell

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Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is ONE LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
(Deuteronomy 6:4)

Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is,
Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is ONE Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
 and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength:
this is the first commandment.
(Mark 12:29)

The Hebrew word ECHAD is the direct equivalent for our English cardinal number ONE.

Jews who live in Israel and speak Hebrew in daily life, will tell you that in everyday use, it means simply the cardinal number ONE. In the Hebrew OT, it appears 952 times and is translated as ONE 687 times.

According to Strong’s Bible Concordance it can also mean, less commonly:
       first 36, another 35, other 30, any 18, once 13, eleven + 06240 13,
       every 10, certain 9, an 7, some 7, misc. 87;


In more recent times, some Trinitarians have confused the issue by claiming that ECHAD actually means something they call “COMPOUND UNITY”.

They use this invented term, of dubious origin, to liken GOD to a bunch of grapes! A bunch of grapes, they say, may be comprised of many grapes while actually being a single bunch. And from there they make their ridiculous false claim that in Deut 6:4, ECHAD means the trinity!

This “Compound Unity theory”, is a bit like trying to compare apples with oranges! And it doesn’t fit at all with the Trinitarian creeds. A bunch can be separated into individual grapes, (substances) and once separated, cannot ever be put back together! Anyone familiar with the Athanasian and Nicene creeds knows that amongst traditional Trinitarians, this comparison would be regarded as quite unacceptable! The God of the Trinitarian creeds is ONE INDIVISIBLE SUBSTANCE (“ESSENCE” in the older versions of the Athanasian Creed) which cannot be separated into individual components!

It is interesting to note that this alleged meaning is not acknowledged by reputable scholars, including our English Bible Translators. Nor is it supported in any of the several Concordances, Lexicons, and Hebrew Grammars, I have been able to consult.

Here are a couple of quotes which put it plainly. The first is from Uri Marcus, a Jew who lives in Jerusalem and speaks Hebrew in daily life.
“Capitalizing off this law of physics, trinitarians have rolled out one of their greatest hoaxes aimed at intimidating non-Hebrew speakers into yielding before their absurd “tri-unity” presumption. Their fantasy claims that the Hebrew word "אֶחָד: Echad - ONE” somehow describes a “compound” or “composite” unity, which conveniently turns one, into more than one, reasoning that everything in the material universe is either composed of pieces of a greater whole (the composite), or that the whole comprises of more than one part until we get down to the basic, indivisible (and as yet undiscovered) primary part. What backfires however, is their comprehension of the simple adjective “ONE” which functions exactly the same in all languages, including Hebrew. It is a universal truth: “ONE” (1) has never and will never refer to a number greater than itself. Each thing or person is still defined as ONE thing or person, with ONE body, for which singular pronouns are always employed when referring or talking to or about it, him or her. When referring to G-d, there is no exception.”
Quoted from “The End of a Messianic Lie” by Uri Marcus pages 85-6, footnote 29
The second is from Anthony Buzzard, a retired teacher of Hebrew at Atlanta Bible College.
The Hebrew Word for One Means One
Faced with a traditional creed which contradicts the strict unitary monotheism of Jesus and of the Bible, some believers in Jesus as Messiah, even, remarkably, Messianic Jews, have felt compelled to find a way to justify their departure from Jesus’ creedal monotheism. This has led to one of the most bizarre exercises in the distortion of simple words known, I suppose, to the history of ideas. It needs to be exposed as a bold venture in twisting the straightforward terminology by which the God of the Bible declares that He is one single Person.
The assault on common sense, simple language facts, and biblical authority we are speaking of has to do with the Hebrew word echad, which is the cardinal number “one.” In counting in Hebrew one says echad, sh’nayim, shalosh: “one, two, three...”
Extraordinary verbal acrobatics have been performed with the word echad by some Trinitarians, in an effort to convince the public that the number one does not mean one. It is a tactic of desperation.
It takes in only those who are not alert to the meaning of simple words.
The obstruction of the straightforward meaning of the Hebrew echad (one) must rank amongst the most amazing pieces of bogus propaganda found in theological writing.
Quoted from “Jesus Was Not a Trinitarian”, by Anthony Buzzard, Pages 307-308.


As we saw above, on a few occasions the OT word ECHAD is translated as the ordinal number, “first”. (36 times out of a total of 952 occurrences)

Trinitarians sometimes incorrectly claim that this means that ECHAD in Deut 6:4, should be translated as an ordinal number! The English translators, they say, have got it wrong. The LORD, they say, is not ONE, but (only) FIRST! And that since there is a “FIRST” LORD, there must also be others! And consequently, they say, Deuteronomy 6:4 actually supports the Trinity!

The Hebrew lexicons tell us that Hebrew does have a word which is a dedicated ordinal number for “first”. (reashon – ראשון )

However, Jews don’t always use that ordinal when they want to say things like “first day”. Instead they use the cardinal and say “ONE (ECHAD) day”!

This is NOT because ECHAD is a true ordinal number in its own right! It is a special use of the cardinal number which illustrates one of the many ways in which Hebrew thinking patterns are VERY different to English! When a Jew says ECHAD YOM, the literal meaning is “day ONE” (cardinal) – NOT “FIRST day”. e.g. Genesis 1:5.

A literal word for word translation of the Hebrew in Genesis 1:5 would be:

and·he-is-becoming evening and·he-is-becoming morning day one
From the Online Hebrew English Interlinear Bible

Of course if it is simply transposed, this would make little sense to English speakers. A proper translation has to take into account the obvious “Tower of Babel” differences in thinking patterns between Hebrew and English. To do this our English translators have changed the Hebrew cardinal to an English ordinal, and rendered it as:

“The evening and the morning were the first day”.

For additional confirmation, see Gesenius:
“In other places, as Gen. 1:5; 2:11, אֶחָד (ECHAD) does not lose the common idea of a cardinal”.

There is no justification whatsoever for these misinformed Trinitarian claims that the original cardinal word, ONE, (ECHAD) can be arbitrarily reassigned as an ordinal, (FIRST) anywhere or everywhere it appears, just to suit their theological bias.


Of course the Hebrew word ECHAD does not appear in the Greek NT.

Instead, when Deut 6:4 is quoted by Jesus in the GREEK NT (Mark 12:29) the word ECHAD is translated by the Greek EIS (Strong’s 1520)

EIS (Strong’s 1520) means the cardinal number ONE. From the Greek Lexicon in my computer Bible program:
1520 εις heis hice
(including the neuter [etc.] hen); TDNT-2:434,214; numeral
AV-one 229, a 9, other 6, some 6, not tr 4, misc 18; 272
1) one

Appendix 1
From the Greek Lexicon in “The Online Bible” Computer Program

0259 דחא ‘echad ekh-awd’

a numeral from 0258; adj; {See TWOT on 61?}

AV-one 687, first 36, another 35, other 30, any 18, once 13, eleven + 06240 13, every 10, certain 9, an 7, some 7, misc. 87; 952

1) one (number)
1a) one (number)
1b) each, every
1c) a certain
1d) an (indefinite article)
1e) only, once, once for all
1f) one … another, the one … the other, one after another, one by one
1g) first
1h) eleven (in combination), eleventh (ordinal)

0258 דחא ‘achad aw-khad’

perhaps a primitive root; v; {See TWOT on 605?}

AV-go thee one way or other 1; 1

1) (Hithpael) to go one way or another, to be sharp

Appendix 2






ekh·äd' (Key)

Part of Speech


Root Word (Etymology)

A numeral from אָחַד (H258)

TWOT Reference


Outline of Biblical Usage

1) one (number)

a) one (number)

b) each, every

c) a certain

d) an (indefinite article)

e) only, once, once for all

f) one...another, the one...the other, one after another, one by one

g) first

h) eleven (in combination), eleventh (ordinal)


Authorized Version (KJV) Translation Count — Total: 952

AVone 687, first 36, another 35, other 30, any 18, once 13, eleven + 06240 13, every 10, certain 9, an 7, some 7, misc. 87

Appendix 3 Continued
Echad – From Gesenius Online