Home > WHAT GOD'S SPIRIT ADDS TO US > FAITH

FAITH (; comp. , Deut. xxxii. 21):

 

In Biblical and rabbinical literature, and hence in the Jewish conception, "faith" denotes not belief in a dogmatic sense (see Saul of Tarsus), but either (a) faithfulness (from the passive form "ne'eman" = "trusted" or "trustworthy," Deut,l.c.; comp. Deut. xxxii. 4: "a god of faithfulness" ["emunah"; A. V. "truth"]; Ps. xxxvi. 6 [A. V. 5]; Prov. xx. 6, xxviii. 20 "a man of faithfulness" [A. V. "a faithful man"]; Hosea ii. 22 [A. V. 20]: "I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness"; Jer. vii. 28: "faithfulness [A. V. "truth"] is perished"; Ecclus. [Sirach] xlvi 15) or (b) confidence and trust in God, in His word, or in His messenger (Hab. ii. 4: "The just shall live by his faith"; comp. Gen. xv. 5 [A. V. 6]: "He [Abraham] believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness"; II Chron. xx. 20: "Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established"; Isa. vii. 9: "If ye will not believe [that is, have faith], surely ye shall not be established").

In this sense of perfect trust in God the Rabbis laud and insist on faith as highly meritorious (see the classical passage on "amanah" in Mek., Beshallaḥ, 6 with reference to Ex xiv. 31); whereas those lacking faith ("meḥusare amanah," Mek., Beshallaḥ, Shirah, 2; comp. ὀλιγοπιτοὶ [= "men of little faith" = ], Matt. vi. 30), are greatly blamed; the world's decline is brought about by the disappearance of "the men of faith" (Soṭah ix. 12).

Only in medieval times did the word "emunah" (faith) receive the meaning of dogmatic belief, on which see Articles of Faith.