Did Old Testament Israel think God caused everything?


When reading the Old Testament, it seems to me that the ancient Israelites thought that God caused everything, e.g. - God caused Pharo to have a hard heart. A leaf fell from a tree. Did they think God caused this? Did they believe in free will? It seems to me that they believed in free will. Some help here please. By the way, enjoy a piece of cake on me. I haven’t give up chocolate :slight_smile:


Yes, they did. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t believe in free will, though: rather, they looked at everything that happened around them as God’s direct intervention in their lives.

It had to do with a viewpoint that wanted to affirm that everything that happens is something that happens with God’s approval/participation/will. :shrug:


I don’t think the Israelites believed that God directly controlled the path of every bird as it flies and every leaf as it falls, and that he directly controls every molecule of air as the wind blows.

I don’t know how anyone can draw the conclusion that the Isrealites had some sort of doctrine or general belief in God’s direct intervention of every aspect of creation and our lives. Surely some believed it, as some do now, but I am not aware of it being spoken of or written about anywhere. I’d like to see some writing about it or citation from Scripture if that is what is being proposed.



No, I’m just wondering about their understanding of God’s actions in this world. The Moslems believe that a leaf fell. They believe that God directly caused the leaf to fall- here and now. Did the ancient Israelites also believe something close to this-- God hardened Pharo’s heart. Some help. By the by, I like reading your posts Tim.


From what I’ve read (which isn’t an awful lot on that specific subject) it is my understanding that in the sense that God is the fundamental cause, and that nothing happened without His approval, yes, but not in the sense that God is proximate cause. That is, God was not thought of explicitly reaching out and plucking the leaf from the tree, but that God designed whatever processes by which the leaf fell (knowing that it would fall) and that He could quiet easily cause something else to happen instead if He so chose.

Unfortunately, I can’t find a link at the moment, but Fr. Barron explained it well, I thought (if I can find one, I’ll post it). You can actually see the same sort of way of speaking in recentish (1800s? plus or minus a century or two) Christian writtings as well: explorers saying that God brought them food because they found animals when hunting etc. The idea isn’t so much that every action is an isolated case of God deciding what will happen independently of everything else and of reaching out - possibly in opposition to nature - to make it happen, but that even purely natural phenomenon occur at God’s pleasure and under His control. Providence, in short.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think the ancient Isrealites viewed it much differently.


Probably. It was common belief across cultures at the time.


OK- sounds good. since this seems to be the case that the ancient Israelites believed it to be the case, it also makes sense to me that the Muslims took this belief and morphed it to absolute causation by God of the movement of every molecule, every ripple of water, every human thought or action. thanks. you all have answered my question. gracias. happy Lent. enjoy this piece of cake.


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