KosherTorah School for Biblical, Judaic & Spiritual Studies
Torah Monotheism & the Truth about Other Gods
by Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright © 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.
Torah teaches that everything in existence came forth from God. Modern science believes that everything in this universe came forth from the Big Bang. Either way you look at it, everything that is, no matter how different things appear, all come from a singular source.
Everything in our universe is made up from the same three common elements. These three common denominators underlying everything in creation are known to us as protons, neutrons, and electrons. These three subatomic particles build every atom, which build every molecule, which build everything with mass in the universe.
Everything in our universe, from the innermost portion of a supernova in space, to the hamburger you had for lunch, everything is built from the same atomic particles, which themselves came into being in the Big Bang. Essentially, everything that forms us, and everything that forms stars is identical.
The singularity of one led to three, and three led to multiplicity. This may sound mystical, even Kabbalistic, but this is basic science. Then again, when one properly understands mysticism and Kabbalah, one discovers that the teaching therein are describing the same realities as does science, but in a very different set of terms, and language.
Ultimately, the singularity is the singularity. One is one. One is the Source. Therefore, to understand the Source is to understand all that has comes forth from the Source. Yet, however mystical or scientific we may (or may not) be, we are a long way away from understanding the Singularity Source of all things. The first step in understanding it, however, is to first acknowledge that it exists.
The proclamation of the Singularity of all things was first verbalized by Moses. He proclaimed to the Israelite people saying, Listen Israel, the Active Being of all Existence completely and intimately controls all in existence, the Active Being of existence is not just “a” singularity, but “the” Singularity. With regards to the Singularity, there can only be one.
We are more familiar with the ethnic, religious expression of the concept, with the words, Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Ehad (Listen Israel, YHWH our God, YHWH is one, Deut 6:4). Unfortunately, the poetic, metaphorical words of Moses have long been subject to numerous misinterpretations, to the point of transforming a scientific truth into a religious myth.
Torah monotheism has long been mythologized. In truth, there is only the singularity, but just because there is the singularity does not mean that there are not many different “gods.” There is a tremendous amount of confusion as to what is and what is not a god. For those who believe that the Biblical message is that there is only one God, and no others, they had better go back and reread their Bibles.
The Bible makes it quite clear that there are many gods. Yet, of all these gods, who are indeed gods by Biblical standards, none of them are the Creator. In other words, the gods too are part of creation, and are not synonymous with the singular Creator. When Torah proclaims monotheism, it is proclaiming a singular Creator, and a singular (integrated) creation. It is not denying the existence of other gods, who are clearly referenced in numerous places.
Religions have long misunderstood both the Creator God and the other gods, with almost none focusing on the singularity, which as we have seen, is the one true ultimate reality. Religions compete with childlike jealousy and pettiness. Religions claim ever so foolishly, “my God is bigger than your God, my God is better than yours.” This is why Torah monotheism proclaimed focus on the Creator alone. In this way, people would not fall into the pit of infantile competition.
The other gods spoken about in the Torah are identified in later prophetic tradition as being the angels who God, the Creator has ordained to take control of, and direct human affairs. In the Bible, and late literature they are referred to as the Watchers. In later Rabbinic literature these Watchers are said to be structured in a political body very similar to political bodies here on Earth. This body of Heavenly government is called the Supernal Sanhedrin, or the Heavenly Court.
Granted, the majority of literature discussing this topic addresses it in a metaphorical, symbolic way. Nevertheless, there must be some truth underlying these symbols. Essentially, the Watcher angels, according to Torah tradition, are the actual gods of the different nations, and religions. This is how Torah tradition addresses the issue of polytheism, and answers the challenge to Torah monotheism.
If there is any literal truth to these beliefs, then it only reinforces the ultimate Torah message of singular authority and power in the universe. Essentially, the Heavenly Court serves under God, and is totally subservient to Him. The other gods may indeed reign over their individual nations (religions), but that is where their authority, and influence ends.
In light of this spiritual hierarchy, it is clear that Heavenly authority spreads out from one to many. Indeed, even one of the most fundamental Names of God, Elohim, is also used throughout the Bible to refer to judges, and authorities, be they angelic, or even human. The name Elohim is clearly in the Hebrew plural tense. This indicates its multiplicity. When Genesis 1:1 says that Elohim created the Heavens and the Earth, the Midrash indicates that this was done in cooperation with the Heavenly Court. The meaning, and implications of this deserve to be explored in an essay in its own right.
The Elohim Aherim (other gods) mentioned throughout Scripture, are interpreted by Torah tradition to be the Watcher angels, and their support staff who execute their functions. These Watcher angels are thus, what is referred to as, the “gods of the nations.” One can delve into centuries of Rabbinic commentaries, and opinions to discover many different views, and revelations about these entities.
One of the most interesting legends, based on the Bible and Enochian literature, state that the “sons of Elohim” mentioned in Genesis 6, were actually subordinate angels under the Watcher overlords. They came to Earth, took human form, and sired hybrid human children. Many of the ancient legends of gods coming down from the sky, and cohabiting with human beings seems to have an echo in the Torah/Jewish tradition. The stories of the gods of old, or the demigods, might have been built upon such encounters. Who knows? Maybe there really was a real Zeus, Odin, Poseidon, or Thor?
According to Biblical tradition, we see that there are other gods, none of whom are to be confused with the Creator, God of gods, YHWH. YHWH is The Elohim. The others are also Elohim, but subordinate to YHWH, their Creator. They are Elohim, in office only, as prescribed by the mandates of Heavenly government.
Now, what of the many peoples of the nations of the world, that each pray to, and worship the god(s) of their nation, or of their religion. Is such worship, and such religion considered idolatry in light of Torah monotheism? Don't be so quick to answer in the affirmative.
Torah tradition is quite clear that those human beings not bound by Mosaic law, which means to include everybody on Earth, with the exception of Israel, have every right to pray to, and worship their individual Elohim, each in accordance to their own religious standards. According to Torah law, there does not have to be anything idolatrous about this at all. Apparently, God's jealously for exclusive worship stopped at the borders of Israel, and Torah.
So the nations of the world pray and worship each their own god, or each their own concept of God. What does YHWH, the Elohim, the Creator, the Lord of all the Earth, and the God of Israel have to say about all this? To answer this question we can turn to the words of Biblical prophecy, and let YHWH speak for Himself.
“For, from the rising of the sun until its setting, My Name is great among the nations, and everywhere offerings are burnt and offered up to My Name; yes, a pure oblation, for My Name is great among the nations, says the YHWH of Hosts.” (Malachi 1:11)
YHWH says it. His Name is great among the nations, far beyond the borders of Israel, Jews, and Judaism. Every offering dedicated on an altar of foreign worship, if it is a “pure oblation,” it is accepted by YHWH. So even when a person is observing the religion of one's culture, praying and worshiping God according to their own understanding of who and what God is, YHWH finds this acceptable, as long as the individual worshiper is sincere.
Essentially, everyone believes that their god is the one true God. Thus when one prays, if such a one believes that their version of God is the one true God, and they pray and worship with true devotion and sincerity, then YHWH does not hold against such a one the mistakes of their theology. Regardless of its form, YHWH accepts the worship of all, based upon its sincerity, and its intent.
This radical inclusiveness, surprisingly, is normative Judaism. The Talmud (Men 110a) states, “For they call Him [YHWH, who they do not even know by that Name, or as having any association with Torah or Jews], the God of the gods. Even one who has an idol knows that He is the God Who is over all of them, and everywhere they donate in My Name.”
“My Name,” YHWH accepts the worship of even idol worshipers, as if it was an offering made directly to Him. Even the standard Biblical commentator Rashi, quotes this Talmudic understanding to help us comprehend YHWH's message of inclusiveness based upon a worshiper's sincerity.
The message of Torah monotheism is not a childish competition of “my god is better than your god.” Torah monotheism proclaims the singularity of all existence. This means that all of us, and everything around us, are essentially one. We are all part, and parcel of a greater Whole, that encompasses all. This is the message of Torah monotheism.
The mission of Torah, on the other hand, is to proclaim this, its message. The message is one of singularity, oneness, and wholeness. Rather than argue or bicker over who's religion is better, or closer to God, every individual should simply acknowledge the reality and Presence of God, and seek to serve Heaven with the deepest devotion, and most sincere worship.
Rather than fight over what divides us, the Torah message is to live together in peace, united by the common denominator that unites us all.
The other gods, who are the faithful Watcher angels, serving as the Heavenly Sanhedrin also seek the fulfillment of the Torah message. Part of their mandate is to guide those under their dominion to this ultimate goal. Global embrace of this message is what is prophesied for the Messianic era. Eventually, the mission of Torah will be accomplished.
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The Written Works of Ariel Bar Tzadok
Copyright (C) 1997 - 2015 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.