Nature of God – God as One and God as Creator

Jews believe that the non-physical nature of God makes it difficult for humans to understand him. However, Jews feel they can learn more about God and his characteristics from the Tenakh.

Jews believe that God has four main characteristics. These are One, Creator, Law-Giver and Judge.

God as One

Belief in one God (monotheism) is central to the Jewish faith. Jews believe that God is the only being who should be worshipped.

The Shema is a prayer from the Torah that is used in morning and evening services in synagogues to express belief in one God. Many Jews try to recite the Shema twice a day. The words of the Shema are: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). In full, the Shema consists of three paragraphs of verses taken from the books of Deuteronomy and Numbers.

God as Creator

Genesis, the first book of the Torah, explains Jewish religious teachings about how the world was created. The creation story in Genesis shows how God made the world and everything in it in six days and then rested on the seventh.

A visual representation of the days of Creation, from Genesis 1.

Genesis describes how God said, There shall be light (Genesis 1:3–5), which brought light into existence. God then separated light and dark to make day and night.

Genesis says repeatedly that God regarded everything he created as good. The first chapter of Genesis (1:26–8) states that God made men and women on the sixth day of creation. They were created by God in his image and likeness. Jews take this as evidence that God gave humans dominion over his creation, meaning that humans have a special responsibility to lead creation and look after the Earth. God also commanded the first humans to reproduce and fill the Earth with people.

God as Law-Giver and Judge

Jews believe that God created humans to live in a certain way, and he gave them many religious laws to help them live in a way that pleases him. These laws are called mitzvot, and there are 613 of these laws in the Torah.

The word ‘Torah’ means ‘law’ in Hebrew.

Jews believe that God will judge Jewish people on how well they have kept his laws. Those who have lived righteously will be rewarded but those who have not will be punished. Jews believe that God judges how good or bad people have been in order to decide their destiny in the afterlife. Many Jews believe that there will be a final Day of Judgement that will occur after the coming of the Messiah.

God will bring every deed into judgement … whether it is good or evil.Ecclesiastes 12:14

Other qualities of God

Jews believe that God is complex and has many qualities. They believe that God is:

  • Eternal – God has always existed and will always exist.
  • Omnipotent - God is all-powerful and able to choose to do all things that are consistent with his nature.
  • Good – God is omnibenevolent, which means he is full of love and wants only the best for his creation.
  • Knowing and everywhere – God is omniscient, knowing all and seeing all, and is omnipresent, meaning that his presence is everywhere, always.
  • Transcendent - God is above and beyond creation, and outside physical boundaries such as space and time. It is up to humans to act on his behalf and do his will.
  • Immanent – God is ‘in the world’. God acted in history in the past and continues to be active today, being concerned with humanity and interacting with the world.

According to Genesis 1, what did God create on the sixth day?

Human beings.