The Most High God and the Jewish View
The Most High God and the Jewish View:
There are passages in the Torah where G-D communicates with certain individuals while He appears on earth as man, or as an Angel of the Lord. In these instances we know that it is G-D communicating because One: the text says it is, or Two: the communication displays the attributes of G-D such as Omnipotence or Omnipresence.
This is problematic for modern Jewish theology which defines G-D as Incorporeal(without a body), and without any physical form.
The Modern Rabbinical View:
The modern rabbinical view of G-D has been expressed in the following manner:
“The very idea that G-d would take on human form is repulsive to Jews because it contradicts our concept of G-d as being above and beyond the limitations of the human body and situation.” Rabbi ______
In order to support this view, Jewish rabbis treat biblical passages of G-D appearing in human form as “figures of speech,” or state that “G-D has no body”.
The following is taken from the online, Jewish Virtual Library:
“G-d is Incorporeal
Although many places in scripture and Talmud speak of various parts of G-d’s body (the Hand of G-d, G-d’s wings, etc.) or speak of G-d in anthropomorphic terms (G-d walking in the garden of Eden, G-d laying tefillin, etc.), Judaism firmly maintains that G-d has no body. Any reference to G-d’s body is simply a figure of speech, a means of making G-d’s actions more comprehensible to beings living in a material world. Much of Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed is devoted to explaining each of these anthropomorphic references and proving that they should be understood figuratively.
We are forbidden to represent G-d in a physical form. That is considered idolatry. The sin ofthe Golden Calf incident was not that the people chose another deity, but that they tried to represent G-d in a physical form.”
Granted, human representation of G-D in any form is idolatry. However,
if G-D CHOOSES to represent Himself in another form it is not idolatry.
In the Torah, G-D CHOSE to meet and eat with Abraham and Sarah. He CHOSE to represent Himself as a Pillar of Fire and a Cloud when leading Israel from Egypt. He CHOSE to appear as a Burning Bush in order to get Moses’ attention. Were these appearances idolatrous?
Dismissing G-D’s ability to appear in human form, or any form, contradicts two other Jewish definitions of G-D, His Omnipotence and Omnipresence. (See Jewish Virtual Library online) If God is all-powerful, He can appear in any form He chooses. And if He is Everywhere, He can appear in any form, anywhere, even on earth.
Did Moses consider those passages describing G-D in human form to be “forbidden,” when he originally set down the words? Wouldn’t Moses have eliminated those passages from Torah if he considered those passages idolatrous? For example, the following passage speaks of G-D on Earth and G-D in Heaven.
“Gen 18:22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?’
Genisis 19:24 Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the LORD out of the heavens.”
Moses must have recognized that he was writing about an Omnipresent
G-D who could be “in heaven” and “conversing on earth” simultaneously.
The Early Jewish Seekers:
During last few centuries BCE. and the first few centuries CE, there were some Jewish scholars with a unique view of G-D. They recognized that the written Torah described a G-D who occasionally choose to appear and/or act in our time-space world. They recognized the problem of a G-D defined exclusively as unseen and incorporeal, while in Torah this G-D appears occasionally on earth in human or material form, and communicates with humans.
The thinking of these Jewish sages can be found in some of the Targums. These were Jewish translations of the Torah with added commentary. The Targums were written down in the first centuries of the C.E. Some of the Targum commentary described G-D as a Duality; both an unseen, incorporeal G-D beyond time and space, AND, an extension of G-D who occasionally functioned on earth. They went so far as to propose names for the part of G-D who operated on earth. Names such as Memra, or, the Wisdom, or the Word of the Lord. 1
To the credit of those early Targum translators/commentators, they saw that the written Torah described a G-D who was both unseen and without form. But this G-D was also able to take on the appearance of a person or a physical object in order to communicate with mankind.
The Living Word of G-D
Everything changed after Yeshua Christos (Jesus Christ} presented Himself to the world about 30 CE. He claimed to be the embodiment of the Most High God on earth. And one of His Jewish apostles, John, reflected the Targum’s Duality view of G-D when he wrote this concerning Christ:
“In the Beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God………and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” John 1:1,14
The rejection of Yeshua by the Jewish religious authorities is well documented in the Gospels. It resulted in his crucifixion by Jewish and Gentile authorities. When Yeshua was announced as having risen from the grave, a new confrontation emerged between Jewish believers in Yeshua, and the Jewish and Gentile authorities who did not.
The New Rabbinical Judasim
After the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD by the Romans, Jewish religious practices were radically changed. The former sacrificial temple practices were replaced by a new rabbinical Judaism. The new rabbinical Judaism rejected the messianic Judasim of the early, predominately Jewish church, which was flourishing in the first century CE. The divide between rabbinical Judasim and the church became more pronounced in subsequent centuries. The Duality concept of G-D from the Jewish Targums, sounded too much like the Trinity concept of the Christians, and eventually was not acceptable in rabbinical Judaism.
If G- is truly G-D, All Powerful, All Knowing, Everywhere Present, He can choose to appear in any form He desires. He is not limited by our finite mental capacity. To G-D, “1 equals 2” is not a problem, nor “1 equals 10.”
The concept of G-D revealing Himself in human or material form on earth, was acceptable in the ancient Jewish communities in Palestine at the same time that Yeshua Christos lived and died.
The challenge for the Torah observant Jewish person is to read Torah as it was written by Moses and let Torah speak for itself. Seek the G-D who is described in Torah, not the G-D described by finite man.
1. Boyarin, Daniel. 2001. “The Gospel of the Memra: Jewish Binitarianism and the Prologue to John.” The Harvard Theological Review
The Most High God and the Jewish View, 2020
For more informations see: The Servant of the Most High God