God is one and only one

God is one.

Singular gods were common in the ancient world. Single gods were not.

Marduk, called מרדך in Hebrew, is Babylon’s singular god but not Babylon’s only god.

G!d, named ה‘ אלהינוּ in Rambam’s Hebrew, is Judaism’s singular god — but also Judaism’s only god. There is tremendous spirituality and mysticism in this perspective that is impossible to consider here.

The Hebrew מרדך seems to interpret the Greek, which merely transliterates the Sumerian. This tells us an interesting story.

מרד means “revolt,” which comes from the idea of descend (ירד). Revolutions always descend into chaos, which leads us to…

דך means “wretched.”

This is not a screed directed at Babylon’s pagan traditions. The Babylonian gods were portable, they could literally be taken anywhere, and we see glimmers of this in Bréshit (Genesis) — did not Rachél and Léah take their father’s gods and hide them? They did, and it came very close to starting a war when Lavan accused Ya’aqov of the theft.

The ancient Israelis did not have a portable god. Tehila (Psalm) 137 asks …

קלז“ד אֵ֗יךְ נָשִׁ֥יר אֶת־שִׁ֣יר יְיָ֑ עַ֝֗ל אַדְמַ֥ת נֵכָֽר
137:4 How are we to sing a G!dly song on foreign soil?

It is this question that leads the ancient Israelis to name their descent into chaos and oppression after Marduk.

Reb Arie

A chaplain, spiritual director, and educator, Arié Chark (“Reb Arie”) is Rector at The Metivta of Ottawa. A strong sense of personal mission has led Reb Arie to convene various civil society projects under the auspices of The Metivta of Ottawa, including the Ottawa Roundtable and the Abrahamic Chaplaincy Board.