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Ask A Jew: Does God have a Gender?

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By Hyphen Parent

In Judaism, does God have a gender?

In Judaism, G-d doesn’t have a physical form, so in that sense, no G-d doesn’t have a gender.

That being said, G-d is referenced typically as male and occasionally as female for two different reasons—to help us understand G-d and because Hebrew is a gendered language.

In Hebrew, the masculine form of words is typically the default, although that does not necessarily mean the thing or person is male. Inanimate objects are assigned masculine or feminine. A word used to refer to a group will be the masculine form even if there are female members of the group. It’s only when a group is all female that the feminine plural form is used. So, sometimes, a group may not be all male, but may appear so from the language. The language may actually be gender-neutral, but in Hebrew, it appears to be masculine.

G-d is most typically described in Judaism using traditionally male descriptions—Our King, Our father, etc. Although, there are occasions where G-d is described using more typically female words and is compared to women. There is an idea that G-d has both masculine and feminine attributes.

Some prayer books, particularly among Conservative and Reform Judaism have made an attempt to use more egalitarian language. More often that not, that doesn’t involve changing the Hebrew descriptions of G-d, but rather our translations of the Hebrew.

In Judaism, G-d has no gender or sex. We, however, have gender and sex and language that emphasizes that, so we use that to explain G-d. Often those descriptions and concepts are male(Sometimes intentionally. Sometimes by default) and there are instances where G-d is described as female.

Hyphen Parent

About Hyphen Parent

Dorothy-Ann Parent (better known as Hyphen) is a writer, a traditional Jew, a seeker of justice, a lover of stories, the self-proclaimed Jewish Molly Weasley, hobbit-sized, and best not left unattended in a bookshop or animal shelter.

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