Can God Create Another God?
Since God’s essence transcends the created limitations of time and space, it is a fundamental belief in Judaism that God has no form or body. God also has no beginning or end as Isaiah taught, “I am the first, and I am the last, and besides me there is no other God” (Isaiah 44:6).
Judaism stood in strong contrast to ancient pagan religions that professed these beliefs. Myths like Hercules had no place in a religion that promoted pure monotheism.
Scholars agree that these pagan myths influenced the early church, and to attract gentiles, they portrayed Jesus as God in a body.
Some Christians argue that God can do anything. I counter their argument by asking if God can create another God or destroy himself. These are philosophical paradoxes. Since both creating and destroying represent a beginning and end of something, this would contradict the true nature of God’s essence.
The Torah anticipated these questions when it explicitly forbids us from believing God has any form, as it says, “Watch yourselves very carefully. Since you saw no form on the day that God spoke to you at Sinai… so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman” (Deuteronomy 4:15-16).
Despite this clear warning against envisioning God in a body, Christians desperately sight passages from the Jewish bible to prove their point. One example is Jeremiah 23:6 that says when the messiah arrives, the people will call him “God is our Righteousness” Christian claim that this name proves that the human messiah will be God.
However, as if anticipating the missionary argument, Jeremiah explains that this expression indicates that God will “cause righteousness to sprout forth from David, and he will administer justice and righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:15). Furthermore, Jeremiah 33:16 also refers to the city of Jerusalem as “God is our righteousness.”
In the same way the city of Jerusalem is not God; neither is the Messiah. However, they both share the purpose of exemplifying that God is righteous.
Biblical names that include God’s name indicate how something is associated with God, and not that it is God.
This idea is made evident in this week’s Torah portion Vayeitzei (Genesis 28:10–32:3) when Jacob fathers eleven of the twelve founders of the tribes of Israel. After the birth and naming of each son, the Torah explains the reason for their name.
For example, Yehudah, Yaacov’s fourth son, means “to thank God” (Genesis 29:35). The Hebrew letters of Yehuda’s name contain letters that refer to the name of God and the word for thanks.
Throughout the Jewish bible, many names contain the name of God. For example, Isaiah “Yesha'yahu” means “God is Salvation,” Daniel means “God is my Judge,” and Hezekiah “Chizqiyahu” means “God is my strength.”
No one would suggest that these biblical figures were God, just because God’s name is contained within their name. Each name communicates a recognition of how God played a role in their life, and their mission to proclaim God in the world.
As descendants of the great biblical figures, we share their mission to proclaim the righteousness of God to the world. We accomplish this by giving thanks to God and dedicating our lives to the moral, ethical, and spiritual teachings of the Torah.
Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz
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