The God of Exodus

Fr. Paul Tarazi, in his The Old Testament Introduction – Vol. 1 Historical Traditions, makes the argument “Yahweh is the God of an event” and the event that He is known by is the exodus.

“Therefore, it was never important that he reside in a particular place. Indeed, the prophet would systematically remind the king, princes, and the priests that the deity residing in the Jerusalem temple was not the God of Jerusalem, but of the exodus. This is confirmed by the absence, according to the biblical record, of his image in the holy of holies, an absence adamantly required by the God of exodus himself.

….He was so much another kind of god that he would not have qualified as a god by the standards of the Ancient Near East! The gods were fashioned in the image of the earthly kings who were considered to be their representatives. The capital city with the temple where the god resided was viewed as his city, as having actually been built by him. This was due to the fact that cities (and kingdoms) were seen as epitomes of the human world, as microcosms of creation. The capital city of a great kingdom was thought to be at the center of the earth and was said to have existed since the beginning of time. The list of its kings extended to the time of the first king who had been appointed by the god of that city to rule the kingdom, namely, the entire creation, according to the divine laws with which he had been entrusted. In other words, the beginnings of cities, kings, and gods were presented as extending into mythological times, beyond the reach of human memory. Such was not the case with Yahweh. Not only did he not build Jerusalem, not only was he against the appointment of a king, but his “beginnings” as Yahweh did not extend into mythological times, as was the case with the other deities. In a strict sense then, to the people of that time he was not a “god” – he did not “qualify” as one – but he was “the One who saved the people from Pharaonic bondage.” No wonder he did not act like the other gods. They needed a city and a king in order to “be”. Yahweh, on the other hand, needed nothing other than he himself already was: Yahweh, the One who was “present” in the flesh and blood of those who would otherwise be rotting in bondage, in non-existence, in nothingness. His followers would try time and again to make him into a “god”, bound to saving his city without which he himself would be non-functional, if not non-existent. But time and again he would fight his way back into the exodus, into their historical, daily lives, reminding them that he is the One who makes them what they are: free from the city, free from the king and his bondage but not free from him who ‘feed them from bondage’!

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One thought on “The God of Exodus

  1. Yes, Fr Tarazi says and writes some fresh things about Yahweh, the God of Israel and our God, and without having studied or read his books, I know some of his ideas through my oldest son who studied under him at seminary. I think of Yahweh, of God, in much the same way as he does. My attachment to the original Jerusalem Bible, which writes the Divine Name as Yahweh, comes from my experience of God precisely as ‘him who freed me from bondage.’ This is why I don’t see myself as a ‘religious’ Christian. I understand and distinguish the idea of a god from that of THE BEING, a living Entity that is everything that mere gods claim to be but aren’t.

    The Jews were and are a special people for this very reason: that they let THE BEING, Him-Who-Is, the only Living God, be Himself and reveal Himself through them, and that finally, in an individual One of them, through His mothers acquiescence, let Him show Himself to us as Man, as Who He really IS, and for ever.

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