Mark 12:29 of The American Standard Version says, Jesus answered, The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one.' “ and Deuteronomy 6:4 of Young's Literal Translation says, Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah; Is there anything complex about the word "one" in these verses? How many YHWH are there?
Great Question! The word in Deut 6:4 is a complex word, אֶחָֽד׃ (’e·ḥāḏ). One of the best known and quoted occurrences of this word is in Gen 2:24
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
In Gen 41:26 we see another example of this:
The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one.
Here is another case where many are referred to as one, Ex 24:3:
When Moses went and told the people all the LORD's words and laws, they responded with one voice, "Everything the LORD has said we will do."
Thus, the word אֶחָֽד׃ (’e·ḥāḏ) can mean a multiple unity, usually of purpose or action.
In the Old Testament, God is referred to in many places as more than one person such as:
- Zech 2:6-12 – the LORD (= YHWH) claims three times that He has been sent by the LORD.
- Isa 48:11-16 – again, the LORD has been sent by the LORD.
- Isa 63:7-10 – the LORD (described as a Father) sends His divine servant (the angel of His presence) and His Holy Spirit who is grieved (compare Ps 78:40).
- Ex 23:20 – the angel of the LORD’s presence has the power to forgive sin (but will not). This and the previous reference clearly make the angel of the presence the preincarnate Jesus.
- Hos 1:7 – the LORD saves by the LORD their God.
- Prov 30:1-4 – the Son of God is as unfathomable as God Himself
Thus, the Shema (Deut 6:4) does not exclude Jehovah being more than one person, BUT Jehovah is One. (Gen 2:24 reminds me of the fact that my wife and I (two people) for a single marriage.)
The NT (in Phil 2:10) even quotes passages like Isa 45:23 as specifically applying to Jesus when they were originally written about Jehovah.
The question about Deut 6:4 involves two words: LORD (YHWH) and God. Let me take them one at a time.
Ps 110 - The Father alone is YHWH (verses 1,2 & 4), as Jesus is called Lord (Adonay) in verses 1 & 5.
Ps 2 confirms that LORD is name for Father only, as "His Anointed One" is called Adonay (verse 4)
Lots of verses from Ps 22 are quoted by NT writers as applying to Jesus since His arrest. (Mt 27:35,39,43,44,46; Mk 15:29,34; Lk 23:27,34; Jhn 19:24,28,34; Heb 2:12; 5:7). Here Jesus calls on God, his YHWH. This Psalm ends: "Future generations will be told about Adonay. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn - for he has done it." YHWH thus belongs to the Father only.
Isa 48:6 YHWH said: "From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you", and immediately started telling about his arm (being Jesus from Isa 30:30, 40:10, 51:5,9; 52:10, 59:16, 62:8, 63:5, 64:12, 66:14). YHWH said He will bring him (Jesus), and then Jesus himself says that YHWH has sent him - without making himself YHWH.
As nobody has ever seen YHWH (Ex 33:20, Jhn 6:46), Jesus appeared in physical form to Abraham in Gen 18, Him being addressed as Adonay. Scripture do reveal YHWH as speaker here, as early OT people knew nothing of Jesus' existence, but had to know that YHWH is the One and only God over them.
Therefore, also when Isaiah saw Adonay seated on a throne underneath seraphs (Ezekiel's vision was YHWH on a throne high above seraphs)m and had a conversation with Adonay (Isa 6:1-13), the seraphs still worshiped YHWH, unseen through Isaiah's eyes. This is similar to Jesus' announcement that although every knee will bow before him, the praise will still be given to YHWH (Isa 45:23-24), also seen in Phil 1:7 and 2:11. Likewise, the seraphs around the throne in Rev 4:8 never stop worshipping YHWH, although Jesus is there too (Rev 5:6). Jesus provides consistency with the prayer to his Father (Jhn 17:6,26)
See how the NIV has alternative translations of Deut 6:4 in the footnotes as a result of uncertainty about what the original text was: "Hear, o Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD" or "The LORD is our God, the LORD is one" or "The LORD is our God, the LORD alone."
'God' as Name is introduced as the Name of more than one Heavenly Being (Gen 1:26), to become the Family Name, like the surname of a human family. Jesus sometimes operated with this Family Name when He visited earth in physical form (Gen 32:24-30, Ex 24:9-11, Deut 10:10, Judg 13:22) or just spoke through a prophet, like Isa 45:21b-23. That happened in the OT only, and was given recognition by Matthew (1:22) and John (1:1-2, 18). Those three occurrences together with Jhn 20:28 deal with the word 'God' as Name for Jesus. All further references to God are applied to the Father only by those two disciples, who received first hand teaching for three and a half years.
The word 'God' as title is attributed to YHWH, with most abundant references in Deuteronomy, as follows: the LORD, the God of your Fathers - at least 4 times; the LORD, your God - at least 150 times; the LORD, our God - at least 20 times.
Scripture consistency opens a door with Rev 19:11-16 to:
see that the One who will rule the nations, who treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty has already started this process as Adonay in the OT. See Lam 1:14-15; 2:1-3,5,7,18-20; 3:31-39,58; Isa 3:17-18; 7:14,20; 8:7-8; 9:8,13; 10:12; 30:20; Dan 1:2; 9:15-19. Throughout all these passages YHWH's supreme authority is interwoven, for example Lam 2:8,17; 4:11,16; 5:19-22.
know that Jesus' title 'Lord' in the NT is the same Lord (Adonay) of the OT.
One YHWH having many paniym (faces, facets, operational capacities), each having a different name:
Exo 6:3 - KJV: And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.
Isa 9:6: - For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Hebrew people knew full well that God Almighty had several definite operative capacities, each having a different name commonly used to describe God Almighty operating within that capacity. Dr. Gary Hedrick of Messianic Perspectives, concerning his podcast entitled, "The Hebrew Names of God, Part 1," explains:
In ancient times, names were much more significant than they are today. They were carefully chosen, and were sometimes conferred by God himself. Names were descriptive of a person’s lineage, character, and in some cases even his destiny. Likewise, God applies a variety of Hebrew names and titles to Himself because He wants us to know more about His character, nature, and attributes.
Clearly, the speaker in Psalm 2:7 is the WORD of God--the declarant--the "me"--the Son--the begotten one--who was "made' flesh as the Son of God whose name was prophesied in Isa 9:6, supra, to be called, "Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Each different operation of God Almighty within His special operative capacity reveals that paniym (or face) to stay within the lane of that capacity while operating as such, as we see in Jesus' obedience to the Father while operating in the capacity of the Son while under the Law of Moses.