When you think of faith, what comes to mind?
Is it a religion (“my faith”), a friend who is always there, or a belief in something, perhaps God?
The Hebrew word for “faith” is emunah, pronounced eh•moo•NAH. (Most Hebrew words are accented on the last syllable, as you will see.) Let’s define faith three times and see if our notion of faith agrees.
Dictionary definition of faith (Dictionary.com)
- Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.
“This restores one’s faith in politicians”
Synonyms: trust, belief, confidence, conviction
- Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.
“She gave her life for her faith”
Synonyms: religion church, sect, denomination, (religious) persuasion, (religious) belief, ideology, creed, teaching, doctrine
- A system of religious belief
Plural noun: faiths
“The Christian faith”
- A strongly held belief or theory
“The faith that life will expand until it fills the universe”
Biblical definition of faith (Christian)
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11: 1
Faith is the connecting power into the spiritual realm, which links us with God and makes Him a tangible reality to the sense perceptions of a person. Faith is the basic ingredient to begin a relationship with God.
Faith is the assurance that the things revealed and promised in the Word are true, even though unseen, and gives the believer a conviction that what he expects in faith, will come to pass.
Jewish definition of faith
Emuna is trust and reliance upon God, both of which call forth behavior consistent with that stance of trust and reliance. It begins with acquiescing intellectually and by that means allowing a change in the heart to occur. At least twice a day, the Jews pray the “Aleinu.” In part it says: As it is written in Your Torah: “And you shall know today, and take to heart, that Adonai is the only God, in the heavens above and on Earth below. There is no other.”
They also pray the “Sh’ma”:
Hear O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is One. This prayer is essential to the Jewish faith. In Hebrew, it says: Sh’ma YIS-ra-eil, A-do-NAI E-lo-HEI-nu, A-do-NAI E-chad.
There is controversy over whether this essential Hebrew shows the Trinity or not. Many Christians and Messianic Jews assert that it does, indeed, show a “more than one, one.” They point to two words that certainly seem to imply more than a singular one.
The first word is E-lo-HEI-nu. It is translated “our God” (the “nu” at the end is the 1st
person plural suffix meaning “our”). Elohei is plural and can mean gods as well as God. (One thing to keep in mind is that sometimes Hebrew uses pluralization to mean greatness.)
The second word is e-CHAD (ch is pronounced like the end sound in the name Bach).
“Then they came to the Valley of Eshcol, and there cut down a branch with one אֶחָד, (echad) cluster of grapes; they carried it between two of them on a pole. They also brought some of the pomegranates and figs (Numbers 13:23).”
So you can see that the word can mean “one comprising many.” Taken together, it is said that the Sh’ma itself, crucial to the Jewish faith (emunah), can actually be translated “Hear O Israel, the Lord your Gods, the Lord is one (comprising many).”
A Jewish response to this is that echad is used many times to mean one and only one.
Deuteronomy 17:6 says: “At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one אֶחָד (echad) witness he shall not be put to death.”
Thus, there are legitimate arguments on both sides. However, it is not the Sh’ma alone that establishes the Trinity, but the preponderance of Scripture that reveals the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Thus, it is by emunah that we receive the knowledge of the Trinity as Christians that Jews do not see. With them, intellectualism
comes first followed by faith; with Christians and Messianic Jews, first is emunah, which then opens up our minds and hearts to receive knowledge.