Friday, February 23, 2007

Creation revelation redemption

The creation/revelation/redemption sequence goes way way back. It is well known that this sequence of themes appears in the blessings surrounding the Shema and the central blessings of the Amidah throughout Shabbat. Here are three more places where these themes appear in the liturgy that have not, to my knowledge, been previously identified. (If any of these have been identified elsewhere, please say so in the comments.)

1) Nehemiah 9:6-11, which appears toward the end of pesukei dezimrah in the daily liturgy.

Creation: verse 6 ("you made heaven ... earth ... the seas ...")
Revelation: verses 7-8 ("you chose Abram ... made a covenant with him ...")
Redemption: verses 9-11 ("you split the sea before them, and they passed through the sea on dry land...")

2) Psalm 19, the first of the special psalms added on Shabbat and holidays.

Creation: verses 2-7 ("The heavens declare the glory of God")
Revelation: verses 8-11 ("The Torah of God is perfect")
Redemption: verses 12-15 (this time it's individual rather than collective redemption, and the narrator is asking to be saved from sin.)

3) The three communal responses in the kedushah.

Creation: קדוש קדוש קדוש ה' צבאות מלא כל הארץ כבודו - God's glory fills all of creation.
Revelation: ברוך כבוד ה' ממקומו - from Ezekiel's vision of revelation. here the emphasis is on God's "place" rather than God's creation.
Redemption: ימלך ה' לעולם א-להיך ציון לדר ודר הללויה - looking to a future redemption, when God will rule the whole world. The interpretation that identifies this verse with future redemption is supported by the paragraph preceding this line in the kedushah of Shabbat shacharit (בקרוב בימינו לעולם ועד תשכן and ועינינו תראין מלכותך and such).


  1. i had considered the nechemiah one and the birkot kriat shema. also: malchiyot, zichronot, shofarot. rosh hashana is a bit more complicated, but it's themes are very rooted in this triad.

  2. shalosh regalim, possibly, although not in that order.

    pesach- redemption

    shavu'ot- revelation

    sukkot - creation (kind of iffy, but definite nature themes)