The Trinity in Genesis 3:5 and 22

More Evidence for God’s Uni-Plurality from the Hebrew Scriptures

In this post I am going to provide further proofs from the Old Testament that the prophets knew and spoke of the one true God existing as a plurality of divine Persons, as opposed to being a uni-personal monad. My evidence comes from the following texts from Genesis:

“For God (Elohim) knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God (kelohim), knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

“Then the LORD God (YHWH Elohim) said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of US, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’—” Genesis 3:22

The tempter says to the first human couple that eating from the prohibited fruit will result in their becoming like Elohim, e.g. God, in knowing good and evil, with God himself saying that humanity indeed has become “like one of US,” as a consequence of having eating from the forbidden tree. I.e. Adam and Eve have become like one of them, with the plural being a reference to God himself.

I am going to show that God’s use of the plural “US” is not a reference to the first human couple being like God and his heavenly council in their knowledge of good and evil. Rather, I will seek to demonstrate that the plural here is in relation to God’s own internal Being, e.g., mankind has now become like the individual members of the Godhead, namely, Yahweh, the Angel/Messenger of God, and the Holy Spirit.

The first line of evidence comes from the following text where King David is likened to the Angel of God in his ability to discern good and evil and to know whatever takes place on the earth:

“And your handmaid thought, ‘The word of my lord the king will set me at rest’; for my lord the king is like the angel of God (ke-malak ha’Elohim) to discern good and evil. The LORD your God be with you!… In order to change the course of affairs your servant Jo′ab did this. But my lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the angel of God (malak ha’Elohim) to know all things that are on the earth.” 2 Samuel 14:17, 20

Besides the fact of this passage affirming the omniscience of God’s divine Messenger, the language deliberately echoes what we find in Genesis 3:5 and 22. This in turn supports the view that the Angel is one of the members of the Elohim who knows good and evil, and therefore confirms that the plural “Us” in Genesis 3:5 cannot be explained as a plural of majesty or a reference to the angelic host. Rather, it must refer to a distinction of divine Persons within the Being of God himself.

This is further proven elsewhere in our writings and discussions (the links to which will be provided below), in which we have shown that this particular Angel is not a creature but rather a specific Messenger sent by God that happens to be God as well. For the sake of brevity, we will limit ourselves to the following texts, which describe the Angel as an omniscient, omnipotent, incomprehensible Being capable of creating and giving life, and who is even identified and worshiped as God:

“The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, ‘Hagar, maid of Sar′ai, where have you come from and where are you going?’ She said, ‘I am fleeing from my mistress Sar′ai.’ The angel of the LORD said to her, ‘Return to your mistress, and submit to her.’ The angel of the LORD also said to her, ‘I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude.’ And the angel of the Lord said to her, ‘Behold, you are with child, and shall bear a son; you shall call his name Ish′mael; because the LORD has given heed to your affliction. He shall be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.’ So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘Thou art a God of seeing’; for she said, ‘Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?’ Therefore the well was called Beer-la′hai-roi; it lies between Kadesh and Bered.” Genesis 16:7-14

“In the mating season of the flock I lifted up my eyes, and saw in a dream that the he-goats which leaped upon the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled. Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am!’ And he said, ‘Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that leap upon the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go forth from this land, and return to the land of your birth.’” Genesis 31:10-13

“Manoah said to Yahweh’s angel, ‘What is your name, that when your words happen, we may honor you?’ Yahweh’s angel said to him, ‘Why do you ask about my name, since it is incomprehensible?’ So Manoah took the young goat with the meal offering, and offered it on the rock to Yahweh. Then the angel did an amazing thing as Manoah and his wife watched. For when the flame went up toward the sky from off the altar, Yahweh’s angel ascended in the flame of the altar. Manoah and his wife watched; and they fell on their faces to the ground. But Yahweh’s angel didn’t appear to Manoah or to his wife any more. Then Manoah knew that he was Yahweh’s angel. Manoah said to his wife, ‘We shall surely die, because we have seen God (Elohim).’ But his wife said to him, ‘If Yahweh were pleased to kill us, he wouldn’t have received a burnt offering and a meal offering at our hand, and he wouldn’t he have shown us all these things, nor would he have told us such things as these at this time.’” Judges 13:17-23 World English Bible (WEB)

Here we have the Angel claiming to have the ability to give Hagar descendants too numerous to count, and to even cause certain livestock to mate in order to increase Jacob’s fortunes. And not only is the Angel said to be God who visibly appears to God’s people and who sees and saves them from their afflictions, he even calls himself the God of bethel, i.e. the God of the very house which Jacob erected in honor and worship of Yahweh! (cf. Genesis 28:10-22)

The second line of evidence comes from what the OT writings in general, and Genesis in particular, have to say about the Spirit’s role in creation:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God (ruach Elohim) was moving over the face of the waters… Then God said, ‘Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:1-2, 26-27

Here we have another instance of God speaking in the plural, i.e. “US,” “Our”. The context makes it abundantly clear that the reason why God spoke of himself in the plural when creating mankind is because he was addressing the Spirit who was directly involved in making and fashioning the creation, a point made explicitly clear elsewhere in the OT:

His Spirit (be-rucho) made the heavens beautiful, and his power pierced the gliding serpent.” Job 26:13 New Living Translation (NLT)

The spirit of God (ruach El) has MADE me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” Job 33:4

“Heavens be made steadfast by the word of the Lord; and all the virtue of those by the spirit of his mouth (ube-ruach). (The heavens were made by the word of the Lord; yea, all the host of them, by the breath from his mouth.)” Psalm 33:6 Wycliffe Bible (WYC)

“When thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed; when thou takest away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When thou sendest forth thy Spirit (ruchaka), they are created; and thou renewest the face of the ground.” Psalm 104:29-30

The foregoing affirms that the one God who made man in his image is a multi-Personal Being consisting of both God and his Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is further depicted as being both omniscient,

“Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as his counselor has instructed him? Whom did he consult for his enlightenment, and who taught him the path of justice, and taught him knowledge, and showed him the way of understanding?” Isaiah 40:13-14

And omnipresent:

Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, thou art there! If I make my bed in Sheol, thou art there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Let only darkness cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to thee, the night is bright as the day; for darkness is as light with thee.” Psalm 139:7-12

As such, God’s Spirit would be included within the identity of the God or Elohim that mankind has become like in their ability to know and distinguish between good and evil. This accounts for why God said in the garden that humanity had now become “like one of Us,” instead of saying “like Me,” e.g., the first human couple had become like God, His divine Messenger/Angel and Spirit in knowing good and evil.

In light of the foregoing, here is how we would translate the texts from Genesis:

“‘For the Godhead knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, His Angel and the Spirit of God, knowing good and evil.’…   And the Angel (Voice/Word) of Yahweh said to God and the Spirit, ‘The man has now become like one of US, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’” Genesis 3:5, 22

Lord willing, in my next post I will provide the reasons why I believe the God who stated that mankind had become like the Godhead was the Angel/Voice/Word of God, which in turn means that it was actually the Lord Jesus Christ in his prehuman existence that uttered these words.

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural citations taken from Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Holy Bible.

Related Articles and Discussions

Plurality in the Old Testament Pt. 1, Pt. 2

Biblical Witness to the Deity of the Holy Spirit

Bart D. Ehrman Proves Muhammad is a false prophet Pt. 2a

Christian Analysis of the Shabir Ally versus Alan Storkey Debate

Examining More of Abdullah Kunde’s Inconsistencies Pt. 1

The Trinity Series Pt 1: The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, Pt 1b

The Trinity Series Pt 3: The Messenger of God as the Prehuman Christ, Pt. 3b

The Angel of the Lord is God






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