Studies in the Bible and Jewish Thought

By Moshe Greenberg | Go to book overview

Biblical Attitudes Toward Power: Ideal and Reality in Law and Prophets
1990

Throughout the Torah ("the Law") and the Prophets, the relation between God and humanity is bedeviled by the issue of power.1 Tension inheres in the conception that while God has dominion in heaven and earth he has made man in his image and given him dominion over the earth and its resources.

YHWH our Lord,
How majestic is your name throughout the earth,
You who have covered the heavens with your splendor!...
When I behold your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and stars that you set in place,
what is man that you have been mindful of him,
mortal man that you have taken note of him,
that you have made little less than divine,
and adorned him with glory and majesty;
You have made him master over your handiwork,
laying the world at his feet. ( Ps. 8:2, 4-7)

Competition between the two dominions pervades the opening stories of the book of Genesis. Adam and Eve transgressed God's ban in the hope that they would become "like divine beings." A later generation planned to build a tower whose top would reach heaven. The Pharaoh of the Exodus, when commanded by God to let the Israelites worship, retorts insolently, "Who is YHWH that I should obey him? I do not recognize YHWH nor shall I let Israel go!" ( Exod. 5:2). The stories show a keen awareness of the pitfalls along the way of a human-

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