Do Orthodox Jews believe God really did create the world in just seven days?

Do Orthodox Jews believe God really did create the world in just seven days?
Do they believe it’s a metaphor? Honestly we know that it took longer. Was the 7 like 7 billion years or what? Also God punishments were cruel killing people for idolatry and stuff… why such a cruel God?

Best answer:

Answer by Mark S, JPAA
By and large, modern Orthodox Jews believe that the 7 days is just a metaphor.

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3 Responses to “Do Orthodox Jews believe God really did create the world in just seven days?”

  • The angels have the phone box. says:

    ‘Yom’ can mean a 24 hour period but doesn’t have to. It can mean an undefined period of time. Hebrew’s like that. It’s not as strictly precise as English. Never has been, never will be.

    The first extant example (that we still have, there may have been others) of a Jewish scholar looking to define that period of time in terms of billions of years dates to the 11th century. Aryeh Kaplan is a more recent example.

  • kaganate says:

    “literal” and “metaphor” are very difficult English words to apply to the Jewish understanding of Hebrew documents.

    Rabbi Isaac of Acco, writing in the late 13th/ early 14th century calculated (using the Hebrew scriptures) that the universe was 15,340,500,000 years old and that the first life on earth began 2,556,750,000 before the time of his writing.

    Since he was using only Jewish religious literature – we must say that he took it “literaly” to get to this number.

    This scholar was quoted with approbation by the greatest Kabalistic sages of the Rennaisance and therefore we can state that his view would be respected by all the most “ultra-orthodox” of Jews.

    @”angels…” – Kaplan quotes rabbi Isaak

    Regarding any alleged cruelty of God
    — it is difficult to speak in the broad and abstract about the whole of universal time.
    — it is all the more difficult to answer “why did God do any specific thing?”
    seeing as we are human and God is the eternal, all encompassing universal creative force.
    As it says in the Book of Job
    “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?…
    Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?…
    Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dayspring to know its place?…”

    Given that awareness of our limitation as a starting point —
    the following is the answer that seems right to me with my limitations –

    God is the ultimate creative (and thus destructive) universal force.
    In any given day, millions of creatures, whole planets, whole Galaxies are created and destroyed.
    This is the good and proper functioning of the universe.
    Thus, any “act of God” people may perceive as bad is a matter of error of human perception.

    The only reasonable place to put value judgements is on the behavior of people —
    a human being can do “good” and “evil”
    a human being can be “kind” and “cruel”

    Of course, as a “ethical religion” we presume that God runs the universe in a manner whereby in the ultimate scheme of things “good” human actions result in “good” outcomes
    and “evil” human actions results in “bad” outcomes for the perpetrator —
    this is the notion of “Divine Judgement”

    But we also believe that people are quite imperfect in their personal judgement and therefore all human beings stumble.
    Therefore, if “Divine Judgement” were absolute — humanity would not survive.
    Thus, there is “Divine mercy” – the allowance that not all “bad” acts will result in “bad” outcomes.
    But then — if there were too much “mercy” — then that too would be a problem — for then the “evil” ones prosper.
    Thus it seems that the “Divine good” is the balance of “justice” and “mercy” —
    and it all balances out in the end.

  • The Sage says:

    The 7 days could be real or they could be based on the verse in Psalms that a 1000 years in man’s eyes is like a day to G-d. (90:4) Even so, G-d did not need 1000 years to create the world. When G-d said “let there be light”, there was light. He did not need Franklin the get him electricity and Edison to get Him a light bulb. It was instant. What does it mean 1000 years – good question (see below).

    As to the question of cruelty. G-d created the world with a specific purpose in mind. He granted man life to fulfill that purpose. If a person acts in a way that is contradictory to that purpose he forfeits his right to live. G-d is merciful and gives a chance for repentance, but He has set limits on this. Adam was to die on the day he ate from the tree of knowledge. G-d mercifully used one of His days rather than man’s to allow Adam to live over 900 years. This may be at least one reason that G-d looks at 1000 years as a day.

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