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Merciful God

A question that puzzles me is how we can call Hashem merciful. Time and again in the Chumash and other books of the Tanach, He is portrayed as being full vengeful, jealous, infuriated, and so on. Please help me.


One side of Hashem’s revelation to us is as being merciful. Another side is as being jealous and vengeful. Another is as being strict in judgment. Why God decides to act sometimes with one attribute, and sometimes with others, is not something that we can understand.

However, Hashem did create the world, and that itself is sign enough that He desires life, as the verse states, “Life is His will.” But don’t think He desires life only for having people around doing whatever they please. He wants something from the world, and He therefore sometimes acts with judgment. He is merciful, however, in permitting us, sinful as we (and our fathers) are, to continue existing, and allowing us a second (3rd, 4th, 19th, and so on) chance.

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  1. Thank you for responding to my question. But maybe I didn’t compose it clearly. While the Almighty is clearly beyond description in His power and bounty in giving us life and sustenance, He is most certainly depicted very often in the Chumash and the rest of the Tanach as very far from being merciful. Hence, when we call Him merciful we are not being honest. We are, heaven forbid, actually lying. No?

    1. This is not dishonest. Hashem reveals Himself with many different attributes, and in our prayers to the merciful G-d, we appear Him as He is revealed with the attribute of mercy. Not all our prayers–for instance, prayers for the downfall of the wicked–appeal to Hashem acting with this attribute.

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