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De Moor on God's Essential Vindicatory Righteousness: Vindicatory Acts and Essential Righteousness

We proceed to the Second Argument, which I promised was going to be taken from the Foundation of this Vindicatory Righteousness, which is God’s Divine Righteousness, or His Natural Holiness, which implies that His aversion to sin is to be demonstrated in act. This holiness, with the punishment of sin flowing from it necessarily, Joshua sets before the Israelites, Joshua 24:19, saying: Ye cannot serve Jehovah; that is, in the retaining of your Idols: or he thus indicates in a general way how difficult it would be, indeed how ἀδύνατον/impossible, to serve God in the manner that He prescribed, on account of the sinful imperfection always in this life adhering even to the most holy; so that the Israelites might live with so much greater care and ἀκριβείᾳ/precision and solicitously keep themselves from error: namely, because God is Most Holy; that is, the superlative is here denoted by the anomalous Hebrew expression, כִּֽי־אֱלֹהִ֥ים קְדֹשִׁ֖ים ה֑וּא, for Holy Gods is He, as Rabbi Bechai[1] observes on the beginning of Genesis, writing: וכן אלהים קדושים הוא הכולל הקדושות כלם, and thus, Holy Gods is He, for He comprehends all Holinesses. And not only Most Holy; but also loving exceedingly this Holiness and its cultivation; and contrariwise bearing with the greatest annoyance its neglect, אֵֽל־קַנּ֣וֹא ה֔וּא לֹֽא־יִשָּׂ֥א לְפִשְׁעֲכֶ֖ם, He is a jealous God; He will not remit your transgressions, namely, because God is Most Holy; and manifesting this violated Holiness by that punishment which belongs to His Jealousy: in almost the same manner, with punishment derived from God’s Jealousy, as by ascending through the effect to the cause the former is related to the latter in that frightful delineation of Avenging Righteousness, Deuteronomy 4:24,כִּ֚י יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ אֵ֥שׁ אֹכְלָ֖ה ה֑וּא אֵ֖ל קַנָּֽא׃, for Jehovah thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. Hence God, inflicting punishments, is also said to be Sanctified, Leviticus 10:3, This is that Jehovah spake, saying, בִּקְרֹבַ֣י אֶקָּדֵ֔שׁ, in them that come nigh me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified. I will be sanctified, that is, I will be considered, acknowledged, and proclaimed as Holy: but, if those Priests should fail in their duty, I will appear as Holy, I will show myself to be Holy, when I avenge that neglect, and inflict punishments, which my Holiness demands; a manifest proof of which God had just now given in the θεηλάτῳ/God-sent death of Nadab and Abihu. Compare what things the Most Illustrious MARCKIUS discussed on this passage, Exercitationibus Textualibus, Part II, Exercise VIII. Add that notable passage of Isaiah 5:16, וַיִּגְבַּ֛ה יְהוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת בַּמִּשְׁפָּ֑ט וְהָאֵל֙ הַקָּד֔וֹשׁ נִקְדָּ֖שׁ בִּצְדָקָֽה׃, but Jehovah of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, and God that is holy shall be sanctified in righteousness, where, while some deviate from the simplicity of the words, the Most Illustrious VITRINGA appears to have touched upon the sense best in his Commentario upon this passage, The sense of the words (these are the words of that most illustrious Man) are simple; even if the Jews should fail in their duty to sanctify God, that is, to glorify Him in the exercise of Judgment and Justice, which was said in verse 7: nevertheless, God was going obtain this His end in another way; namely, He is to be exalted and sanctified by the severity of His judgments against a rebellious, covenant-breaking, impious people. And so Judgment and Justice are here to be referred to τὴν δίκην, the Vindicatory Righteousness of God, as elsewhere in Scripture, etc., the Sanctification of God is the glorification of God as Holy, etc.

[1] Bahya ben Asher was a thirteenth century Spanish rabbi and scholar. He produced a commentary on the Torah, which takes into account the literal meaning of the text, its logical and philosophical implications, traditional Rabbinic interpretation, and a Kabbalistic/mystical interpretation of text, following Nahmanides.

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