“The Shema is the central prayer in the Jewish prayer book. It is generally one of the first prayers a Jewish child learns. The Shema defines what it means to be Jewish as it has since the days of Moses:
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad—“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4).”
If the the Shema states that God is one, doesn’t that contradict the Christian doctrine of the Trinity?
If the LORD is One, then how can He be also Three? The word “echad” (the ch is more of a throaty h sound) in the above verse is the Hebrew word for one. But, if we believe God is a Trinity how do we reconcile this apparent contradiction?
Well, in Genesis 2:24 the same word “echad” is used to describe how a husband and wife will become one flesh.
In Genesis 11:6, the tower of Babel narrative describes the people as being one (echad).
Ezra 2:64 the whole assembly is gathered together (echad). But the people in the assembly numbered 42,360. In these verses, echad represents a unified oneness, not a numerical oneness.
Now, I can’t say that echad always represents a unified oneness. Sometimes it can represent a numerical oneness (Ex. Numbers 13:2, Deut.17:6) . So how do we know the difference?
As usual, the answer lies in the context. The word for God in the Shema is plural אֱלֹהִים (‘Elohiym). Just like Genesis 2:24, chapter 11 verse 6, Ezra 2:64, and others not listed here, echad means a compound unity.
You will see the word Eloheinu above and perhaps think that’s different than the plural Elohiym. The only difference is Eloheinu means “Our God” but the root word is still the plural word Elohiym.
Therefore, we see that even before the Trinity was understood as we understand it today, the Hebrews of the Old Testament understood there was a vastness and complexity to the Godhead. The very first word used for God in the Bible (Genesis 1:1) is the plural word Elohiym.
So there is no contradiction. God does not change (Malachi 3:6).
“In the beginning You laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.They will perish, but You remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing You will change them and they will be discarded. But You remain the same, and Your years will never end.”