Messianic: "I believe that HaShem is the only G-d. And I believe that Yeshua is a manifestation of HaShem."Orthodox Jew: "So then you believe in different gods."Messianic: "No, I believe in One G-d who is capable of making different manifestations."Orthodox Jew: "Judaism teaches that G-d does not manifest in physical form--much less different manifestations!"
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Different Manifestations, Same G-d: How the Rabbinic Midrash Resolves the Different Incarnations of HaShem
Discussing the Divinity of Yeshua with an Orthodox Jew often goes like this:
But is that really true that Judaism uniformly teaches that G-d does not make different manifestations?
So let's look and see if that's the case. We'll particularly be looking at G-d as a "man of war" (Exodus 15:3), G-d as an "Old Man" (Daniel 7:9) as interpreted in a midrash from Mekhilta De-Rabbi Ishmael, Tractate Bahodesh.
Note that in the following midrash it says that G-d "appeared" variously as a "mighty hero" (i.e. a young man) and as an "old man" (note: the old man reference is taken from the phrases "Ancient of Days" and "the hair of his head like the pure [white] wool" in Daniel 7):
“I am the Lord, you God (ADONAI Elohekha)” (Ex. 20:2).
Why is this said?
For this reason. At the sea he [God] appeared (to them) as a mighty hero (gibbor) doing battle, as it is said: ‘The Lord is a man of war” (Ex. 15:3).
At Sinai he appeared (to them) as an old man (zaqen) full of mercy, as it is said: “And they saw the God of Israel, etc.” (Ex. 24:10). And of the time after they had been redeemed, what does it say? “And the like of the very heaven for clearness” (ibid.). Again it says: “I beheld till thrones were placed” (Dan. 7:9). And it also says: “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him, etc.” (Dan. 7:10).
(Scripture, therefore,) would not let the nations of the world have an excuse for saying that there are two powers (shetei rashuyyot), but declares: “I am the Lord, your God” (Ex. 20:2) –
I am he who was in Egypt and I am he who was at the sea.
I am he who was at Sinai.
I am he who was in the past and I am he who will be in the future.
I am he who is in this world and I am he who will be in the world to come, as it is said: “See now that I, even I, am he, etc.” (Deut. 32:39). And it says: “Even to old age I am the same” (Isa. 46:4). And it says: “Thus said the Lord, the King of Israel, and his redeemer, the Lord of Hosts (ADONAI tzeva’ot): I am the first, and I am the last” (Isa. 44:6). And it says: “Who has wrought and done it? He that called the generations from the beginning. I, the Lord, who am the first, etc. [and with the last I am as well]” (Isa. 41:4).
R. Nathan says: “From here one can give an answer to the heretics (minim) who say: ‘There are two powers (shetei rashuyyot).’ For when the Holy One, blessed be he, stood up and exclaimed: ‘I am the Lord, your God’ (Ex. 20:2), was there any one who stood up to protest against him?
If you should say that it was done in secret—has it not been said: “I have not spoken in secret, etc.” (Isa. 45:19)? “I said not to the seed of Jacob” (ibid.), (that is), to these (alone) will I give it. Rather, “they sought me in the desert” (ibid.). Did I not give it in broad daylight (pangas)? And thus it says: “I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (ibid.),” Schafer, The Jewish Jesus, pg. 57, quoting from Mekhilta De-Rabbi Ishmael, Tractate Bahodesh
So what's the point of this midrash? The point is that no matter how differently G-d may manifest--whether He were to appear as a young man or as an old man--He is still the same. Different manifestations, same G-d!
Posted by Peter at 1:20 PM