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Judaism: conceptions of God

Early Hebrew peoples distinguished themselves from the surrounding cultures by emphasizing the worship of only one God. Later prophets said that even more than this, there is, in fact, only one God over all peoples and all creation. God, in Judaism, is the Creator of all, the Ruler of all, the Righteous Judge.

God is without form and cannot be portrayed by any image or likeness of anything known to us on earth. God is autonomous, self-existent not dependent on anything or anyone. In fact, all else is dependent on God for its existence.

In Judaism, God reveals himself and names himself to Abraham, the Patriarchs, Moses, and the ancient prophets. Godís name is his nature; his name manifests all the divine qualities and characteristics, it comprises the essence of God as he is. For many in Judaism, the name of God is so holy it cannot be written or even spoken aloud.

The nature of God is seen in his actions, his promises, his demands for righteousness and justice. God lives with his people, concerned about all the smallest details of their lives; acting for them, with them, among them. He asks only that we also live each moment consciously with him, seeking to please him with each thought, word, and action.

God is eternal, autonomous, self-existent. God is not dependent on the worship of his people; our worship does not give life to God, but infuses Godís life into our spirits. It is by our worship that we live.

God is without boundaries or limitations; he is everywhere and in everything. There is nowhere we can go, in this life or in the next, where we are outside of Godís presence. It is we who absent ourselves, turning our conscious attention away from God and toward ourselves. When we turn back toward God we find he has been there all along.

God longs for the conscious companionship of our spirits; he delights in the soul that is turned toward him in love, and feels deep sorrow whenever we turn away from him. His love is that of a mother, a father, a lover, a dear friend.

Unlike Christian theologians, the rabbis and early sages of Judaism did not focus their efforts in comprehending, explaining, and arguing about the nature of God. They were intent, instead, on discussing and unraveling how one is to love, please, and serve God in all the changing circumstances, times, and places in which we find ourselves.

God is who he is and is far beyond comprehension by the human mind. As Isaiah the prophet recorded God saying: ďMy ways are not your ways; nor are my thoughts your thoughts; they are as distant from your ways of knowing as the heavens are from the earth (55:8-9)Ē. God is not to be comprehended by the mind, but experienced by the heart.

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