Exodus 13:21-22. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. Exodus 14:24. During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.

So God himself shows up in front of Israelites as a pilar of fire.

That means:

  1. God sometimes materialize (at least visually), as a pillar of fire
  2. God can be seen (at that time as a pillar of fire)

Is it okay to worship that pillar of fire because the Torah itself says the pilar is God?

Of course, secularists would say that the pillar is just an erupting mountain.

Even if it's not, it'll still be just one of God's hologram/theopany/illusion/show, which mean it's still God's creation.

So is the pillar God's creation, or God' himself?

related question: If God was never incarnated, how come He sat in front of Abraham's tent and appeared among the oaks of Mamre?

If God can show up as pillar of fire, what would stop Him from showing up as humans?

  • 5
    What is your basis for asserting that G-d "can show up as pillar of fire"? That does not reflect a plain reading of the text, which states "in a pillar", not "as a pillar". Is your question more about whether or not G-d could have a specific location?
    – yoel
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 4:11
  • 3
    I don't understand where you're getting the idea that God is the pillar of fire. As far as how God can be located within the pillar of fire, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shekhinah
    – Daniel
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 4:14
  • Oh it's in pillar, not as a pillar. I see. That's the catch. Missed that.... in, as...., well, you know slight different.
    – user4951
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 8:55
  • It still mean God can have a location rather than just always "everywhere" mode, which still defy our normal theology do we?
    – user4951
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 8:56
  • Oh Jews don't believe that God is everywhere? That some places are sacred? I've been thinking that perhaps our idea of God gets simpler and simpler and yet more powerful... First, it's God of the jews in Sion. Now He is God of everything everywhere.
    – user4951
    Commented Oct 14, 2013 at 14:27

1 Answer 1


Think of everything in the universe as things that are not God, but through which God, the creator, communicates. Some things distract us from God, they are opaque. Some things let us experience God, they are see-through. It's not that the fire itself was Hashem but it let them know how closely He was communicating with them so it was very see-through and holy. The same is true of beauty, miracles, kindness, events, places, rituals, and other created things.

Including humans. No human is God...a human can only express a glimpse of His glory, and each of us shows a different glimpse... but each of us can become more see-through and let others know our creator more closely, when we obey and serve Him!

As to your related question about appearing to Abraham, I think the idea is God did speak directly through messengers (translated angels) but they also were servants, holy/see-through messengers, created to bring His words. For sure Jews do not worship such angels as entities deserving focus and relationship 'as God' in their own right in a human's relationship with our maker...but Judaism does appreciate how angels (and holy things, people, places, times) draw our attention to the nearness of God, relating with creation and with us individually.

  • It'd be great if you could provide sources and a clarifcation of what you mean by "opaque" vs "see-through."
    – Shmuel
    Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 4:32

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