Messianic Judaism

Different Manifestations, Same G-d: How the Rabbinic Midrash Resolves the Different Incarnations of HaShem

Discussing the Divinity of Yeshua with an Orthodox Jew often goes like this:
Messianic:  “I believe that HaShem is the only G-d.  And I believe that Yeshua is a manifestation of HaShem.”
Orthodox Jew:  “So then you believe in different gods.”
Messianic:  “No, I believe in One G-d who is capable of making different manifestations.”
Orthodox Jew:  “Judaism teaches that G-d does not manifest in physical form–much less differentmanifestations!”
But is that really true that Judaism uniformly teaches that G-d does not make different manifestations?
So let’s look and see if that’s the case.  We’ll particularly be looking at G-d as a “man of war” (Exodus 15:3), G-d as an “Old Man” (Daniel 7:9) as interpreted in a midrash from Mekhilta De-Rabbi Ishmael, Tractate Bahodesh.

Note that in the following midrash it says that G-d “appeared” variously as a “mighty hero” (i.e. a young man) and as an “old man” (note:  the old man reference is taken from the phrases “Ancient of Days” and “the hair of his head like the pure [white] wool” in Daniel 7):
“I am the Lord, you God (ADONAI Elohekha)” (Ex. 20:2).
Why is this said?
     For this reason.  At the sea he [God] appeared (to them) as a mighty hero (gibbor) doing battle, as it is said:  ‘The Lord is a man of war” (Ex. 15:3).
     At Sinai he appeared (to them) as an old man (zaqen) full of mercy, as it is said:  “And they saw the God of Israel, etc.” (Ex. 24:10).  And of the time after they had been redeemed, what does it say?  “And the like of the very heaven for clearness” (ibid.).  Again it says:  “I beheld till thrones were placed” (Dan. 7:9).  And it also says:  “A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him, etc.” (Dan. 7:10).
     (Scripture, therefore,) would not let the nations of the world have an excuse for saying that there are two powers (shetei rashuyyot), but declares:  “I am the Lord, your God” (Ex. 20:2) –
     I am he who was in Egypt and I am he who was at the sea.
     I am he who was at Sinai.
     I am he who was in the past and I am he who will be in the future.
     I am he who is in this world and I am he who will be in the world to come, as it is said:  “See now that I, even I, am he, etc.” (Deut. 32:39).  And it says:  “Even to old age I am the same”  (Isa. 46:4).  And it says:  “Thus said the Lord, the King of Israel, and his redeemer, the Lord of Hosts (ADONAI tzeva’ot):  I am the first, and I am the last” (Isa. 44:6).  And it says:  “Who has wrought and done it?  He that called the generations from the beginning.  I, the Lord, who am the first, etc. [and with the last I am as well]” (Isa. 41:4).
     R. Nathan says:  “From here one can give an answer to the heretics (minim) who say: ‘There are two powers (shetei rashuyyot).’  For when the Holy One, blessed be he, stood up and exclaimed:  ‘I am the Lord, your God’ (Ex. 20:2), was there any one who stood up to protest against him?
     If you should say that it was done in secret—has it not been said:  “I have not spoken in secret, etc.” (Isa. 45:19)?  “I said not to the seed of Jacob” (ibid.), (that is), to these (alone) will I give it.  Rather, “they sought me in the desert” (ibid.).  Did I not give it in broad daylight (pangas)?  And thus it says:  “I the Lord  speak righteousness, I declare things that are right” (ibid.),” Schafer, The Jewish Jesus, pg. 57, quoting from Mekhilta De-Rabbi Ishmael, Tractate Bahodesh
So what’s the point of this midrash?  The point is that no matter how differently G-d may manifest–whether He were to appear as a young man or as an old man–He is still the same.  Different manifestations, same G-d!

Source: Orthodox Messianic Judaism (

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