Golems, Creation, Midrash, the Quran

Even though Zionist Islamophobes attempt to fabricate a Judeo-Christian tradition that stands in opposition to Islam, the Abrahamic faiths form a unitary system, and each constituent community can learn from the others as the following exegetically integrated analysis of scriptural accounts of the creation demonstrates.

While many Christian and Muslims express opposition to materialist theories, religious Jews seem to have fewer problems with the scientific approach to the origin either of the universe or of the human race.

The plain meaning of the Septuagint, Biblia Sacra Vulgata, and King James versions of Genesis 1:1 looks creationist:

ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν

in principio creavit Deus caelum et terram

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

In order to reconcile this verse with those succeeding, the Rabbinic commentator RASHI applied a midrashic (i.e., comparative or homiletic hermeneutic) analysis of the Hebrew Biblical text to reinterpret the meaning word-by-word and opened the door to scientific thinking about cosmogony.

1. In the beginning of God's creation of the heavens and the earth.

 

א. בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱ־לֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ

 


In the beginning of God’s creation of: Heb. בְּרֵאשִית בָּרָא. This verse calls for a midrashic interpretation [because according to its simple interpretation, the vowelization of the word בָּרָא, should be different, as Rashi explains further]. It teaches us that the sequence of the Creation as written is impossible, as is written immediately below] as our Rabbis stated (Letters of R. Akiva , letter “beth” ; Gen. Rabbah 1:6; Lev. Rabbah 36:4): [God created the world] for the sake of the Torah, which is called (Prov. 8:22): “the beginning of His way,” and for the sake of Israel, who are called (Jer. 2:3) “the first of His grain.” But if you wish to explain it according to its simple meaning, explain it thus: “At the beginning of the creation of heaven and earth, the earth was astonishing with emptiness, and darkness…and God said, ‘Let there be light.’” But Scripture did not come to teach the sequence of the Creation, to say that these came first, for if it came to teach this, it should have written:“At first (בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה) He created the heavens and the earth,” for there is no רֵאשִׁית in Scripture that is not connected to the following word, [i.e., in the construct state] like (ibid. 27:1):“In the beginning of (בְּרֵאשִית) the reign of Jehoiakim” ; (below 10:10)“the beginning of (רֵאשִׁית) his reign” ; (Deut. 18:4)“the first (רֵאשִׁית) of your corn.” Here too, you say בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אלֹהִים, like בְּרֵאשִׁית בְּרֹא, in the beginning of creating. And similar to this is,“At the beginning of the Lord’s speaking (דִּבֶּר) to Hosea,” (Hos. 1:2), i.e., at the beginning of the speaking (דִּבּוּרוֹ) of the Holy One, Blessed be He, to Hosea, “the Lord said to Hosea, etc.” Now if you say that it came to teach that these (i.e., heaven and earth) were created first, and that its meaning is: In the beginning of all, He created these-and that there are elliptical verses that omit one word, like (Job 3:9): “For [He] did not shut the doors of my [mother’s] womb,” and it does not explain who it was who shut [the womb]; and like (Isa. 8:4): “he will carry off the wealth of Damascus,” and it does not explain who will carry it off; and like (Amos 6:12): “or will one plow with cattle,” and it does not explain: “if a man will plow with cattle” ; and like (Isa. 46: 10): “telling the end from the beginning,” and it does not explain that [it means] telling the end of a matter from the beginning of a matter-if so, [if you say that Scripture indicates the order of creation] be astounded at yourself, for the water preceded, as it is written: “and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the water,” and Scripture did not yet disclose when the creation of water took place! From this you learn that the water preceded the earth. Moreover, the heavens were created from fire and water. Perforce, you must admit that Scripture did not teach us anything about the sequence of the earlier and the later [acts of creation].

 


בראשית ברא: אין המקרא הזה אומר אלא דרשני, כמו שדרשוהו רבותינו ז"ל בשביל התורה שנקראת (משלי ח כב) ראשית דרכו, ובשביל ישראל שנקראו (ירמיה ב ג) ראשית תבואתו. ואם באת לפרשו כפשוטו כך פרשהו בראשית בריאת שמים וארץ והארץ היתה תהו ובהו וחשך ויאמר א-להים יהי אור. ולא בא המקרא להורות סדר הבריאה לומר שאלו קדמו, שאם בא להורות כך, היה לו לכתוב בראשונה ברא את השמים וגו', שאין לך ראשית במקרא שאינו דבוק לתיבה של אחריו, כמו (שם כו א) בראשית ממלכות יהויקים, (בראשית י י) ראשית ממלכתו, (דברים יח ד) ראשית דגנך, אף כאן אתה אומר בראשית ברא א-להים וגו', כמו בראשית ברוא. ודומה לו (הושע א ב) תחלת דבר ה' בהושע, כלומר תחלת דבורו של הקב"ה בהושע, ויאמר ה' אל הושע וגו'. ואם תאמר להורות בא שאלו תחלה נבראו, ופירושו בראשית הכל ברא אלו, ויש לך מקראות שמקצרים לשונם וממעטים תיבה אחת, כמו (איוב ג י) כי לא סגר דלתי בטני, ולא פירש מי הסוגר, וכמו (ישעיה ח ד) ישא את חיל דמשק, ולא פירש מי ישאנו, וכמו (עמוס ו יב) אם יחרוש בבקרים, ולא פירש אם יחרוש אדם בבקרים, וכמו (ישעיה מו י) מגיד מראשית אחרית, ולא פירש מגיד מראשית דבר אחרית דבר. אם כן תמה על עצמך, שהרי המים קדמו, שהרי כתיב ורוח א-להים מרחפת על פני המים, ועדיין לא גלה המקרא בריית המים מתי היתה, הא למדת שקדמו המים לארץ. ועוד שהשמים מאש ומים נבראו, על כרחך לא לימד המקרא סדר המוקדמים והמאוחרים כלום


Further analysis and comparison of scripture shows that the Quran both explains or elaborates Jewish and Christian written scripture while it critiques the Talmudic oral tradition as explained in Quran 3:78.

وَإِنَّ مِنْهُمْ لَفَرِيقًا يَلْوُونَ أَلْسِنَتَهُم بِالْكِتَابِ لِتَحْسَبُوهُ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنَ الْكِتَابِ وَيَقُولُونَ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللّهِ وَمَا هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللّهِ وَيَقُولُونَ عَلَى اللّهِ الْكَذِبَ وَهُمْ يَعْلَمُونَ


[And lo! there is a party of them who distort the Scripture with their tongues, that ye may think that what they say is from the Scripture, when it is not from the Scripture. And they say: It is from Allah, when it is not from Allah; and they speak a lie concerning Allah knowingly. (78) ]

The Quranic verse refers to distortion of the Book (the Bible) with their tongues possibly via oral or hermeneutic traditions and not to twisting (or falsification) of the actual written Biblical text.


The verse Genesis 1:26 can be interpreted to suggest that God was not the sole creator.

כו וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים, נַעֲשֶׂה אָדָם בְּצַלְמֵנוּ כִּדְמוּתֵנוּ; וְיִרְדּוּ בִדְגַת הַיָּם וּבְעוֹף הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּבַבְּהֵמָה וּבְכָל-הָאָרֶץ, וּבְכָל-הָרֶמֶשׂ, הָרֹמֵשׂ עַל-הָאָרֶץ.

26 And God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.'

RASHI explains נַעֲשֶׂה (Let us create) as an expression of God's modesty and as an effort to forestall the jealousy of the angels in whose image man was created. The Midrash Genesis Rabbah 8:5 specifically addresses the involvement of the angels in the creation of man.

Original Text:

א"ר סימון בשעה שבא הקב"ה לבראת את אדם הראשון, נעשו מלאכי השרת כיתים כיתים, וחבורות חבורות, מהם אומרים אל יברא, ומהם אומרים יברא, הה"ד (תהלים פה) חסד ואמת נפגשו צדק ושלום נשקו, חסד אומר יברא שהוא גומל חסדים, ואמת אומר אל יברא שכולו שקרים, צדק אומר יברא שהוא עושה צדקות, שלום אומר אל יברא דכוליה קטטה, מה עשה הקב"ה נטל אמת והשליכו לארץ הה"ד (דניאל ח) ותשלך אמת ארצה, אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקב"ה רבון העולמים מה אתה מבזה תכסיס אלטיכסייה שלך, תעלה אמת מן הארץ, הדא הוא דכתיב (תהלים פה) אמת מארץ תצמח, רבנן אמרי לה בשם ר' חנינא בר אידי ורבי פנחס ורבי חלקיה בשם רבי סימון אמר, מאד, הוא אדם, הה"ד וירא אלהים את כל אשר עשה והנה טוב מאד, והנה טוב אדם, ר' הונא רבה של צפורין אמר עד שמלאכי השרת מדיינין אלו עם אלו ומתעסקין אלו עם אלו בראו הקב"ה, אמר להן מה אתם מדיינין כבר נעשה אדם.

Translation:

R. Simon said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, came to create Adam, the ministering angels formed themselves into groups and parties, some of them saying, ‘Let him be created,’ whilst others urged, ‘let him not be created.’ As it is written, [according to the standard interpretation] "Loving-kindness and truth met, justice and peace kissed," [but this midrash explains, "Loving-kindness and truth fought together, justice and peace combated each other"] (Psalms 85:11). Loving-kindness said, ‘Let him be created, because he will dispense acts of loving-kindness’; Truth said, ‘Let him not be created, because he full of lies’; Justice said, ' Let him be created, because he will perform acts of justice’; Peace said, ‘Let him not be created, because he is full of strife."’ What did God do? God held Truth and cast it to the ground, as it is written, "and truth will be sent to the earth." (Dan. 8:12) The ministering angels said before the Holy One, "Sovereign of the Universe! Why do you despise Thy seal [truth]? Let Truth arise from the earth!" Hence it is written, "Let truth spring up from the earth." (Psalms 85:12) All our Rabbis say the following in the name of R. Hanina, while R. Phinehas and R. Hilkiah say it in the name of R. Simon: Me'od (' very’) is [in reference to] Adam; as it is written, "And God saw everything that God had made, and, behold, it was very good." (Genesis 1:31), i.e. and behold Adam was good.

R. Huna the Elder of Sepphoris, said: While the ministering angels were arguing with each other and disputing with each other, the Holy One created the first human. God said to them, "Why are you arguing. Man has already been made!"
[AJWS translation]

 

The reference to Dan. 8:12 is probably the basis of the legend of the Golem when it is combined with Genesis 2:7.

ז וַיִּיצֶר יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶת-הָאָדָם, עָפָר מִן-הָאֲדָמָה, וַיִּפַּח בְּאַפָּיו, נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים; וַיְהִי הָאָדָם, לְנֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה.

7 Then the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.


"Adam is described in the Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 38b) as initially created as a golem when his dust was "kneaded into a shapeless hunk". Like Adam, all golems are created from clay" and can be brought to life "writing the word Emet (אמת, "truth" in the Hebrew language) on its forehead."

In last paragraph of the midrash, Rav Huna shows how to read Genesis 1:26 to avoid any suggestion of a plurality of creators when he explains נעשה not as "Let us make" but as "is created" by applying different vowels.

The Quran addresses the same aspect of creation as the midrash:

2:28

How can ye reject the faith in Allah?- seeing that ye were without life, and He gave you life; then will He cause you to die, and will again bring you to life; and again to Him will ye return.

 

Kayfa takfuroona biAllahiwakuntum amwatan faahyakum thumma yumeetukumthumma yuhyeekum thumma ilayhi turjaAAoona

 

2:29

It is He Who hath created for you all things that are on earth; Moreover His design comprehended the heavens, for He gave order and perfection to the seven firmaments; and of all things He hath perfect knowledge.

 

Huwa allathee khalaqa lakum mafee al-ardi jameeAAan thumma istawa ila alssama-ifasawwahunna sabAAa samawatin wahuwa bikullishay-in AAaleemun

 

2:30

Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said: "Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?- whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know not."

 

Wa-ith qala rabbuka lilmala-ikatiinnee jaAAilun fee al-ardi khaleefatan qalooatajAAalu feeha man yufsidu feeha wayasfiku alddimaawanahnu nusabbihu bihamdika wanuqaddisu lakaqala innee aAAlamu ma la taAAlamoona

 

2:31

And He taught Adam the nature of all things; then He placed them before the angels, and said: "Tell me the nature of these if ye are right."

 

WaAAallama adama al-asmaakullaha thumma AAaradahum AAala almala-ikatifaqala anbi-oonee bi-asma-i haola-iin kuntum sadiqeena

 

2:32

They said: "Glory to Thee, of knowledge We have none, save what Thou Hast taught us: In truth it is Thou Who art perfect in knowledge and wisdom."

 

Qaloo subhanaka laAAilma lana illa ma AAallamtanainnaka anta alAAaleemu alhakeemu

 

2:33

He said: "O Adam! Tell them their natures." When he had told them, Allah said: "Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and I know what ye reveal and what ye conceal?"

 

Qala ya adamu anbi/humbi-asma-ihim falamma anbaahum bi-asma-ihim qalaalam aqul lakum innee aAAlamu ghayba alssamawatiwaal-ardi waaAAlamu ma tubdoona wamakuntum taktumoona

 

2:34

And behold, We said to the angels: "Bow down to Adam" and they bowed down. Not so Iblis: he refused and was haughty: He was of those who reject Faith.

 

Wa-ith qulna lilmala-ikatiosjudoo li-adama fasajadoo illa ibleesa abawaistakbara wakana mina alkafireena

 

2:35

We said: "O Adam! dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden; and eat of the bountiful things therein as (where and when) ye will; but approach not this tree, or ye run into harm and transgression."

 

Waqulna ya adamu oskunanta wazawjuka aljannata wakula minha raghadan haythushi/tuma wala taqraba hathihi alshshajaratafatakoona mina alththalimeena

 

2:36

Then did Satan make them slip from the (garden), and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been. We said: "Get ye down, all (ye people), with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood - for a time."

 

Faazallahuma alshshaytanuAAanha faakhrajahuma mimma kanafeehi waqulna ihbitoo baAAdukum libaAAdinAAaduwwun walakum fee al-ardi mustaqarrun wamataAAunila heenin

 

2:37

Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.

 

Fatalaqqa adamu min rabbihikalimatin fataba AAalayhi innahu huwa alttawwabualrraheemu

 

2:38

We said: "Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

 

Qulna ihbitoo minhajameeAAan fa-imma ya/tiyannakum minnee hudan faman tabiAAahudaya fala khawfun AAalayhim wala hum yahzanoona

 


Quranic verse 2:30 directly explains the meaning of Biblical verse 1:26 without possible polytheistic or gnostic demiurgic interpretations and discusses the dispute over Adam's creation without the mythological personifications. Quranic verse 2:32 addresses the truth that God gave to man or instilled in him while RASHI's commentary on Biblical verse 1:26 may give some insight into Iblis' refusal to make obeisance before Adam in Quranic verse 2:34 and the subsequent fall from the Garden. The Quranic narrative finishes in an expression of hope, for God promises prophetic guidance to Adam and his descendants.