This is a commentary on what a Noachide must believe, made out of careful consideration of what the bible says about itself. Previous: Exegesis II.
So far we have discovered how to seek God and follow him. We have grown to rely on His promises, that they are sure and trustworthy. We have learned where we came from, in the Adamic Covenant, and why we are here, and we have learned where we're going, in the Seven Laws of Noah and even in Noachide Law.
However in this article, we will take a fresh look at Noachide Law – not from the Jewish perspective but from the perspective that we have been commanded to create courts of Justice, and therefore the onus is on us to determine a fair set of laws.
To be fair, we live in a distinctly Judeo-Christian world. We must admit that many of the things we believe may have been influenced by other religions; even idolatrous religions. Therefore as we continue to study it is natural that the issues we will be most interested in are the issues which have been spoken of by other religions. These issues must be corrected before further understanding can work it's way into our soul. Out with the bad, in with the Good!
So by this time we will get to the point where we are as much stating a fundamental worldview as it reveals itself out of the Bible, as responding to certain widely-held, but generally incorrect beliefs.
Who is God? What does he want us to do? What is God's 'plan for man'?
Please see Exegesis Exhibit B for a list of passages we have found applicable to this section.
This Fundamental states that G-d is the only Eternally Pre-existent Absolute Be-ing (Absolute Existence), transcendent in His unlike otherness, the Absolute Incorporeal Unity to Whom no other unity in the universe is similar. G-d is without composition or plurality, objectively or conceptually, One from whatever side you view the matter and by whatever test you examine it. Accidents (i.e., qualities, attributes, relations, circumstances) that are applied to corporeal beings are not applicable to G-d. Combination, separation, place (space), dimension, time, beginning, end, change – all these are not applicable to G-d. He transcends all of these. G-d is beyond description. He transcends any attribute, quality or characteristic that we may attribute to Him. There is no similarity between Him and the creatures that He created. Existence, Life, Power, Knowledge and Will when applied to G-d do not have the same meaning as when applied to us, and the difference is not only one of degree. His Be-ing is absolutely simple (i.e., free from combination or composition), to which nothing is superadded. Whatever attributes are found in Scripture are either attributes of His acts (e.g., a merciful act), or they are to be understood as negations of imperfection (e.g., “strong” means “not weak”). Any Scriptural passages that do not seem to accord with the foregoing are metaphorical.
“The allegation of the existence within Him (G-d) of distinction (i.e., distinct characteristics), with the result that one attribute is not identical with the other, is equivalent to their saying that He (G-d) is really a physical being. … For anything that harbors distinction within itself is unquestionably a physical being” (Rav Saadyah Gaon, Emunoth VeDeoth 2:5).
The only alternative would be to consider each distinct attribute a distinct coexisting spiritual entity. This would be polytheism (See Guide 1:58).
Therefore, as emphasized by Rabbenu Bahya ben Pakudah, we must know G-d through contemplating the traces of His activity, which testify to His existence, not through contemplating His Be-ing, His Essence, which is beyond contemplation. When we have removed Him from our imagination and senses as if He had no existence, and have found Him through the traces of His activity as if He is not removed from us, we have attained the ultimate knowledge of G-d possible for human beings.
This sublime and exalted transcendence of G-d is called the holiness of G-d (Kuzari 3:17). “'The Holy One' expresses the fact that G-d is sanctified and transcendent above any attribute of created beings; if He is referred to in terms of attributes, it is only by way of metaphor” (Kuzari 4:13).
“All the foregoing is undoubted by any Israelite from east to west among all the [Jewish] inhabitants of Arabic lands” (Rabbenu Avraham ben Rambam). Whoever dissents from this exalted, sublime, transcendent concept of G-d's holiness, and attributes likeness, form or place (space) – or any other attribute of created entities – to G-d, the Creator, “such a dissenter is a oin (a sectarian heretic), and he has no share in the world to come” (Rabbenu Avraham ben Rambam, ibid.). Such a heretical dissent is a form of idolatry (ibid).Tohar haYihud (“The Oneness of God in It's Purity”)
As an aside, this statement aligns with the commentary in both the WSB and ASC shown in our bible study sessions; the statement of we can know God from his actions and not from a knowledge or understanding of Him (see: Genesis 1 Bible Study Lessons The First Day and Second through Sixth Day).
This was perhaps the most surprising idea to me personally. I had always thought that the worship of God was via having a personal relationship with him. Pryaing to him, loving him, and so forth. And it's true, we are as much commanded as invited to do so. Yet, having such a relationship is not enough; it could be, for example, tainted by idolatry. Such as the idolatry of worshiping Baal alongside God (as mentioned by Elijah) or the idolatry of worshiping Milcom alongside God (mentioned in Ezekiel) and many other such examples.
Instead, God continuously sets his worship in the keeping of his commandments. It is entirely by keeping these commandments and no others, that he defines what worship is acceptable to him. Even the manner of otherwise normal worship is specified and excluded apart from the manner of the worship of other cultures.
under construction / to be continued