The Perception Of God In Judaism And Theological Problems It Causes To Modern Thinkers

In Judaism, or any monotheistic religion, God is recognized as the Supreme Being who had brought all into existence. God, also known as YHWH, was believed to have led the Israelites out of Egypt. YHWH was significant for He brought the Torah into existence at Mount Sinai, which encompasses the biblical law of Judaism and the way of life for its followers. Today, the God of Israel has been reconfigured into modern religious thought and we can praise Him a number of ways. We can explore this reconstruction by tracing the evolution of the God of Israel from the mountaintop deity in the south during the Bronze/Iron Ages to the widely worshipped being of modern Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. This evidence comes from the Hebrew bible and archaeology. I will then chart ways that the ancient God of the Israelites had posed theological problems to modern thinkers, leading to reinventions of the divine.

Canaan was known as the Fertile Crescent and was heavily populated for it lay near the Persian Gulf, had a plethora of rainfall, and home to large cities. Within the Canaan region was Israel and Judah, the two kingdoms of Israelites. YHWH, the god with the name too holy to be spoken, was worshipped just south of Jerusalem. Proof of YHWH comes in many forms. One of piece of evidence, for example, was the Song of Debra from the Book of Judges 5:3-5: 3 “Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to[a] the Lord; I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song. 4 “When you, Lord, went out from Seir, when you marched from the land of Edom,the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water. 5 The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai, before the Lord, the God of Israel. From this, we learned that there is a mountain God from southeast of Judah who brought rain. The “One of Sinai” has to be YHWH, the one who delivered the Torah to Moses. Another piece of evidence that describes not only YHWH, but his fierce nature that made Him the God of battle was Psalm 68: 8-9 which states, “O God, when you went at the head of Your army, when you marched thru the desert, selah. ” YHWH was a leader. We can gather from the Torah that He was the one who brought the rains for fertility, He took charge of the land with rains, and He is from the south. YHWH was down south, while his father (El) and brother (Ba’al) were up north. During 1200 BCE-6 C, geography was important in determining which God a community worshipped.

Today, we would question, “Is God truly universal?” However, we will soon be able to see that yes, God is universal. First, we must understand more of His evolution through time. David had conquered and ruled over Jerusalem for a long time. David’s son, Solomon, is credited with creating the temple of YHWH; however, he just added onto the the temple of the Sun goddess named Shamash. There is evidence in the Hebrew bible that states how Solomon built the temple. Then Solomon said,“The Lord intends to dwell in the dark cloud; I have indeed built you a princely house, the base for your enthronement forever. ”The temple had long halls that led to the backroom and an open worship altar outside in the front. The backroom had held the worship area for YHWH for he preferred the darkness. Shamash was worshipped in the sun and YHWH worshipped within the darkness. In Joshua 10:12-13 the synchronization of the sun and moon occurred when Joshua commanded the sun to stand still. At this point, he recognized that the moon halted. With this temple, Solomon had introduced Y to Jerusalem and also synced two different gods. Other sanctuaries were built to worship YHWH.

One biblical account seems to prove that there was YHWH worship in the north as well. There is mention of worship of a bull statue in Bethel from Dan. Bulls were very strong and symbolized only the strongest of deities. Romer doesn’t think that this was sole worship for YHWH but for both Him and Ba’al. There was no inscription at sights in Jeroboam of this worship but there was the biblical account. Ba’al, the god of storms in the north, was the brother of YHWH but there was no affinity between the two. The two brothers were synchronized, and explained worship of YHWH in north, in the story of 1 Kings 18:24 when Elijah summoned two groups. One group believed in YHWH and one group believed in Ba’al and the true god will strike the altar of the group who believed in the true god. YHWH lights Elijah’s altar and Ba’al didn’t respond to his followers therefore, YHWH is God of not only the south, but also the north. YHWH was worshipped everywhere, just under a different name. He was symbolized by massebas which were small rounded statues standing vertically. Betyls were smaller masseba statues and they symbolized the female deities. YHWH worship had spread all over Canaan regions.

The question I asked before, about whether or not God is universal because he was separated by geography, will now be answered. The destruction of Jerusalem had sparked a monotheistic impulse. This resulted in the exile of the Israelites and the belief of God being everywhere because if he is with them but is also with their family members, then He is everywhere. God is powerful everywhere, not just in one land. Deuteronomy 6:1-5 states that “The Lord is one. ” The expelled people had introduced Moses to YHWH. YHWH had chosen Moses to be a prophet and delivered to him the Torah, which Moses had spread by mouth and eventually Josh wrote it down after learning his story by heart. Moses had written down the words from God word for word because it was gravely important. Thus, the foundation of Judaism today. Judaism follows the Torah, for it is the constitution that governs those willing to follow it. Only to Moses, Judaism’s prophet, did God reveal a different side of himself. The birth of the Torah was a huge milestone because it detailed the God we know today. For example, it degenders God, which has lasting effects utilized by different groups. Also, it shows the loving, unenvious, and the creator we are used to reading about instead of the mean, jealous, inferior god that was worshipped then. Traditional Judaism lays emphasis on God being personal, while modern interpretations of Judaism emphasize that God is an idea. In Judaism’s War Scroll, one can be saved from evil forces if they are clean, which has made a major impact on Christianity. Judaism influenced many religions today, such as Christianity and Islam. Christians follow the Old Testament (Torah) and eventually based a New Testament off this. Christians believe that evil can be solved by deities rivaled to our God, for example: Satan, a Hebrew word. The Book of Job implies that God is control of the good and bad in which he had created. Isaiah 45:5 says “I, YHWH, do all of that. ” Christians, like Judaism and Islam, believe in the idea of cosmic dualism: having God fighting evil forces. This leads to the fact that Christians conceive the idea of Apocalypticism. In this belief, God hides Himself while evil forces flourish, which explains why bad things happen to good people.

Judaism was a major influencer for evidence of apocalypticism comes from the war scrolls detailing how God had angels of light fighting against angels of darkness. God is waiting to release full on army; the only way to prepare ourselves is through prayer, penance, and purification. Bathing was essential in preparation for war to reveal our cleanest self possible to God. Jesus, Christianity’s prophet, was a wandering apocalyptic preacher who inspired others. Christians view their religion based off the Holy Trinity: the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit. These roles are heavily influenced by the Hebrew bible and come together as a hypostatic union. The son of God, Jesus, is mentioned throughout the Quran; thus, Islam is heavily based on Judaism as well. The Torah to Judaism is the Quran to Islam. The chief deity, Allah from the Torah, is often depicted using large standing stones, much like masseba for YHWH. Mohammad, during the enlightened period, had been told to recite the word of God and eventually found the words pouring out of his mouth. When he tried to jump off a cliff, an angel named Jibril (much like Judaism’s Gabriel) stopped him and calls for worship; many followers were Jewish, which explains the reason why Judaism is more similar to Christianity. Islam means one who submits themselves to their god and share wealth with others. All these religions being discussed have monotheistic beliefs and trust that their god is the creator and their are beings on Earth that bridge the word of their god to the minds of the people in the chosen land.

Today, everyone demonstrates some knowledge of these religions and allows them to base their beliefs off something. The Civil Rights movements have demonstrated deep religious roots. The followers of these movements have a religious understanding and even created their own “Black Theology” on old beliefs combining with new ideas. In my opinion, the Civil Rights have been a huge stride towards the reconfiguration of God for African-Americans. Black theology was about black oppression and giving hope through the power and freeing messages in the Bible. Back during the Bronze Ages even, God’s word has remained freeing from oppression. Jesus fought for liberation and black power is the message of Christ. Africans felt that they cannot serve God if they are not free from white oppression. Jesus preached about loving thy neighbor and that parallels the belief that all people deserve equality because all human worth is derived from the same God’s love; one cannot love without their being some risk. God is there to support the oppressed. These beliefs are traditional problems from back in the day. The God that was introduced as loving in the Torah is the same God that influences their motivations. The people following his word just want to be free and love God the way everyone else is able to. The violence that has occurred during this movement can also be compared to the violence that happened during the Bronze and Iron ages with wars. The God that the Africans choose to belief in is not an angry and jealous God but a loving one that everyone can believe in.

Ultimately, the God that we have reconfigured can be similar to the one believed in traditional thought, but people all believe in him for different motivations. The God who we refer to as the ultimate being hasn’t always been as highly valued as the God we worship today. The evolution of God was not just a single event, but a series of them. God is significant for delivering the Torah to Moses and laying the foundation for many of our religions today. By tracing the evolution of God from the Bronze and Iron ages to His influence on modern religions, we are able to explore and understand the history of God and truly learn about His importance. When exploring the ways that the ancient God of Israel had challenged theological problems to modern thinkers, we are better at understanding the true impact He has made.

10 October 2020
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