God the Creator

Unlike the creation stories of other Near Eastern cultures, the biblical creation story is not concerned with God's origins.

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When, on high, the heaven had not been named,

firm ground below had not been called by name,

naught but primordial Apsu, their begetter,

and Mummu‑Tiamat, she who bore them all,

their waters commingling as a single body;

No reed hut had been matted, no marshland had appeared,

when no gods whatever had been brought into being, uncalled by name,

their destinies undetermined

Then it was that the gods were formed within them.

Tiamat and Apsu gave birth to gods who challenge them and provoke them into jealous fits of rage. From these heavenly battles the world was formed, a place of chaos, suffering, and disaster.

For biblical Judaism, however, the world was a place of goodness and fullness if humans lived according to the moral law. The Hebrew God who created a universe from nothing presides over a world that is inherently good and perfectible. In this purposeful universe, "God saw all that He created and it was very good." The biblical view introduced the idea that a moral cord binds the world and human destiny together.

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Dr. David S. Ariel

Dr. David S. Ariel is head of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. He was previously president of Siegal College of Judaic Studies (formerly the Cleveland College of Jewish Studies). He is author of Spiritual Judaism: Restoring Heart and Soul to Jewish Life and The Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism.