Yahweh tempts people

The Bible

Origin, world of thought, theology ...

1. Personality in Hebrew Thought

We have already seen several times that Israel does not reflect the terms in an occidental way. And we have also already stated that our concept of person does not appear in this way in Hebrew thought.

With regard to the human being, however, we have already realized that all the essential characteristics of a person are present in the Hebrew image of the human being. And we will now find that all these characteristics also play an eminently significant role with regard to God.

And above all the element of speaking.

2. To be addressed by Yahweh

The people of Israel experience their God very concretely when they are addressed by Yahweh as one who speaks. Therefore God experiences it as "I" and "He", yes as a "Self".

The word revelation itself shows this God as a personal God.

3. God is an "I"

Accordingly, this God constantly confronts Israel personally with his "I".

The prophets, who see themselves as the "mouth" of Yahweh, do not speak in the style of the messenger saying by accident, that is, by means of a divine saying in the first person. No matter if she

  • Use self-opening words such as
    "I am Yahweh your God from Egypt" (Hos 12:10),
  • no matter whether they give instructions
  • or also historical words of judgment and grace

proclaim that it is always about the "I" of Yahweh. And speaking occidentally it is about his person, with whom Israel is confronted in this speaking.

The "I" of Yahweh is often underlined. For example, it is placed separately at the beginning of the proverb in the form of a pronoun, although the Hebrew already allows the person to be recognized by the verb form (cf. Hos 5,3; 13,5, etc.). This gives the pronoun the sense of: "I, yes I ..."

The pronoun is often found doubled, especially in Deutero-Isaiah (cf. Isa 43:11, 25; 48:15, etc.).

The "Bundescharta" of the Decalogue, which is handed down in Ex 20 and Dtn 5 and was proclaimed in the great festive worship services, is highlighted with the solemn "I" in the long form, אָנֺכִי [">anokHi "], to:

"I am Yahweh your God ..."

4. Freedom and sovereignty of God

In addition to the "I", the term person also belongs to us

  • Understanding,
  • Wisdom,
  • will
  • and freedom.

This is what constitutes a person's self.

a. God's absolute sovereignty over Deutero-Isaiah

We also know this phenomenon in the message of God from Israel, even if it is formulated differently there.

In particular, in the sovereignty of his rule, God's "selfhood" shines through in the Bible. So it says in Deutero-Isaiah:

"I say: my plan is fixed; what I like, I do." (Is 46:10.)

This statement can even be called the basic tenor of the message of salvation from Deutero-Isaiah, the great prophet in exile.

b. Freedom according to the testimony of the Exodus book

A later revision of Ex 33: 1-23 formulated the subject of the absolute freedom of Yahweh in a very succinct saying in a divine saying, namely in a summary of all relevant experiences of Israel with Yahweh, especially those that the prophets conveyed. It says there:

"I bow graciously to whom I bow graciously; I have pity on him whom I have mercy." (Ex 33.19.)

So, as comprehensive as his will to grace is, Yahweh applies his grace to the one to whom he wants to lean it, in complete independence. He does not allow himself to be bound by any conditions. Which - luckily for us - of course also means that he is ultimately not bound by the condition of human advance performance.

c. The free election of Israel according to the testimony of the book of Deuteronomy

This is especially true for the election of Israel. In Israel and, of course, elsewhere, it was precisely she who repeatedly asked the "why" of this election. In all attempts at explanation, the people of God according to Dt 9: 6 must never

"... speak in his heart: because of my righteousness, Yahweh brought me here to take possession of this land." (Dtn 9.6; see Dtn 7.7.)

The sole motive given for Yahweh's decision is his freedom. And in this case this freedom expresses itself as freely giving love. ⋅2⋅

5. God's face and heart

The fact that Yahweh is a person - as we have already seen with regard to humans - is made particularly clear in Israel through two terms in terms of language: Yahweh has a face and a heart.

I have already shown that these expressions can almost be understood as substitutes for "person" and "personality".

a. The face of the Lord

פָּנֶה ["panæh"] or פָּנִים ["panim"], the "face", is - as we already know - initially "that which is turned towards". And man experiences God's devotion especially in cult.

  • That is why the visit to the place of worship is described as "appearing before Yahweh's face" (Ex 34.20; Deut 10.8; 18.7; Ps 86.9 and others).
  • And when Yahweh gives help there, it means "showing his face" (Ps 4,7; 31,17).
  • And this becomes very clear in the so-called "Aaronic priestly blessing" of Num 6:25: Yahweh's favor and his blessing come from "the illumination of the divine face" (cf. Num 6:25; cf. also: Ps 44,4; 89, 16 et al).

b. The heart of Yahweh

In addition to the face of God, the Bible also speaks of Yahweh's heart.

The term לֵב ["live"], "heart" in Hebrew encompasses the entire interior of a person. So the heart circumscribes knowledge, will and mind. So Yahweh also has a "heart". ⋅3⋅

The divine sayings of the prophets expressly speak of God's heart:

  • "My heart is turned inside of me, all my pity is kindled." (Hos 11,8)
  • "My heart beats him (= Efraïm), I have to have mercy on him." (Jer 31:20)

More personal statements about Yahweh than these passages in the prophets are actually hardly conceivable.

6. Personality of God as a nuisance

However, this personal conception of God has repeatedly been a "nuisance" in the intellectual history of mankind. Eastern thinking in particular sees it as something that breaks the infinity and infinity of the divine.

In this context, personality as the designation of an existence in "self-possession" and "being-in-oneself" means anything but the limitation of being.

Philosophically speaking, one would have to say that in man limited being is related to itself in a limited way and in God unlimited being is related to itself in an unlimited way. This is exactly what the paradoxical biblical speech of finitude transcendence on the one hand and personality in Yahweh on the other means.

In this view of things, the search for terms such as "divine superpersonality" or the like is superfluous. Such a conceptual creation can easily lead astray and end there, where God is referred to as "the infinite" in the sense of an all-encompassing "it" seeks to grasp. Biblical revelation radically contradicts a monistic pantheism of this kind.

God is not just the "depth dimension of being" either. And it is also more than "that which is unconditionally about people". Alfons Deissler writes:

"Anyone who knows that they are under the word of the Bible, despite all the need to adapt their message to the modern mentality, in the end cannot hide the fact that one has to" imagine "God personally and thus face a personal God. and trying to operate "you" and "self" of God out of the Bible, in whatever name and for whatever purpose, must know that his operation ends with a corpse, that the acceptance of a personal God in the face of the many evils and sufferings in the world The Bible itself already knows its weighty difficulties. Jeremiah and "Job" are famous examples of this. Their rebellion is not rejected in principle, but they are called upon to endure the mystery in order to allow God to be God precisely through this. " ⋅4⋅


See: Alfons Deissler, The Basic Message of the Old Testament (Freiburg 1972) 43-47; Alfons Deissler, Introduction to the Old Testament - compilation according to an authorized lecture transcript from the winter semester 1969/70 or an unauthorized transcript based on tape recordings from the winter semester 1976/77 with partial additions for the winter semester 1979/80 (Albert Ludwig University Freiburg i . Br.) 172-173.

Compare: Hos 11: 1; Dtn 4.37-38; 10.15; Times 1,2-3.

See Gen 6,6; 1 Sam 13:14; Hos 11,8; Jer 3:15; 6.8; 15.1; 31.20; Ps 33:11; Job 36,5 et al.

Alfons Deissler, The Basic Message of the Old Testament (Freiburg 1972) 46-47.