The material nature of the radiance of YHWH and its theological implications

Nissim Amzallag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Kabôd-YHWH is a technical term designating the radiance of the god of Israel. Such a phenomenon is specifically identified in the Bible with three physical realities: volcanic lava, solar activity and molten metal. The antique representation of the sun as molten metal, and the volcanic symbolism of the furnace reveal that these three expressions of kabôd-YHWH are interrelated. Among them, it appears here that kabôd-YHWH refers first of all to molten metal. This introduces a fundamental difference between radiance, specifically related to YHWH through molten metal, and brilliance (and by extension glory, wealth, strength and vitality) of gods and mortals derived from properties of solid state metals. Beyond the status and powers of supreme deity conferred by this metallurgical radiance, identification of kabôd-YHWH as shapeless molten metal also clarifies the origin of one of the most singular characteristic of ancient Yahwism: the strict interdiction of figuration of the god.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-96
Number of pages17
JournalScandinavian Journal of the Old Testament
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2015


  • Israelite theology
  • Kabôd-YHWH
  • divine radiance
  • pre-Israelite yahwism
  • smelting god
  • solar worship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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