MembersThe God of Israel Is Not a Territorial Deity

One of the most notable arguments for this is the story of Jonah. The prophet believed that the God of Israel was a territorial deity and that he could flee from Him.

By Aviel Schneider | | Topics: Bible
Photo by Shutterstock

Jonah assumed that his God could only work in the Land of Israel. He fled abroad, running from his calling to bring God to foreigners in Nineveh. Some also suspect that Jonah feared a foreign people would repent faster than the chosen people.

All national gods at that time were territorial gods, that was a common concept at that time. In the land of Moab, Chemosh was the supreme deity of the Moabites. In Lebanon, Astarte was the deity of the Sidonians. Milkom was the god of the Ammonites, Dagon the national god of the Philistines, whose main temples were in Gaza and Ashdod. And in Eretz Israel reigned the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Adonai (Jehovah – יהוה).

Verses like the following in Deuteronomy 32 give insights into this time, where it says: “For יהוה is part of his people. Jacob is the region of his inheritance.” Israel also stands for the name Jacob, because God gave him that name. From this verse it is understood in the Hebrew Bible that יהוה reigns in the land of His...

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2 responses to “The God of Israel Is Not a Territorial Deity”

  1. Disciple 1978 says:

    Although Israel has been unfaithful as any Gentiles, Hosea teaches us that God always remains faithful. Jonah also teaches us that God doesn’t limited himself to our personal outlook on social justice. Amos majors on justice as idolators are instructed to worship God alone; Judges are not to take bribes, nor should politicians create official bodies to circumvent justice for the elite. God’s justice and mercy extends to all peoples. Christian antisemitism proceeds from a haughtiness that considers themselves more chosen than those of other religions. Israel has made the same mistake. Israel and her Messiah are God’s instruments to restore a right relationship with all mankind. Jewish and Gentile Jonah’s will always be disappointed with God’s justice and mercy, but the world can rejoice in it as they enjoy a life of salvation, commonwealth and blessing.

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