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From Little God To Medium Sized God To Large God


Tyson
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On another site I brought up that most of curious of scriptures, Deuteronomy 32:7-9 where it appears Israel's god, Ywh (Yahweh), is numbered amongst the other gods (sons of God). For those in the know, this is not surprising as it is consistent with the regional beliefs of that day in that a supreme god ruled over a council of lesser gods who happened to also be his 70 sons. Well in the process of research, I happened to fall back on my many years of biblical studies and something dawned on me. Here it is:

 

 

If you take careful note, the early Hebrews did not see their god as the only true god. They merely viewed him as their god and one amongst many and the one to whom they were to show respect and praise. The song of Moses in Exodus 15, notably verse 11 reflects the belief of the day. Yahweh is compared to the other sons of El (God). Psalm 89, an older hymn also shows such a reflection. A word was coined for this - henotheism. It basically holds to the idea that there are many gods, but one is set aside for national worship.

 

The next step in the Israelite religious evolution was a period when the Israelites held their god to be more than just one god amongst many. They now held that he was the greatest of them all, their ruler, the head of the divine council, if you will. The term coined for this is monalatry, the belief that one god rules over the other gods. This step probably came around the times of the Judges/kings when there were warring religious factions, those trying to introduce new gods like Baal and those trying to prevent it by trying to maintain unity under the Yahweh cult. Having many gods means many temples which means someone would lose out on the financial windfall so it made sense to keep it simple. Worship one god even if there are others running about the place because that one god can rain fire from the sky and his prophet can kill of priests of other gods.

 

The final step was the transition to monotheism. Here were find the Jews claiming their god was the only god and the only true god and all other gods were merely fabrications of corrupt minds. This no doubt was reaction to the hated Babylonians who took their people captive in a foreign land. In a time when people believed gods went to war and played out their war games via the nations which served them, it was very easy for the Babylonians to ridicule the Jews and their god who had seemingly failed them, evidenced by their defeat. The Babylonian god (Marduk) proved stronger then the Jewish god (Yahweh) would have been the logic. Well, the Jews comforted themselves with a new idea. Their god was not weak. He was powerful, great and almighty. Hey, why stop there? He was also the creator of all things and the only true god there is. Conversely then, the Babylonian gods were fakes, imposters, the works of men's hands in the form of silver and gold. Jewish monotheism and modern Judaism was born.

 

Now there was a problem. How would they be able to go back and rewrite history and place themselves into the center of it all as god's chosen people, the apple of his eye, the love of his life and all the other ethnocentric babble? It became necessary to re-invent their backwater desert god they picked up in the Sinai sojourn and somehow show that the Most High God of the book of Genesis was none other than Yahweh laying low, working behind the scenes with characters like Noah, Abraham, Issac and Jacob to bring about his so called special people. By the stroke of an edit here and there, Yahweh assumes the character and titles of El, the regional high god. As for those other "gods," the editors made them created "angels," there to do Yahweh's bidding. They are not his brothers on equal footing with him as once held. They were now beings he created to show his ownership and superiority over them.

 

Which leads us back to Deuteronomy 32:7-9. Note carefully that the much older Dead Sea Scrolls states that the nations were divided amongst the "sons of God" according to their number (70) and Yahweh, one of the sons, was allotted Jacob (Israel). But that would smack of polytheism, something modern Jews beyond the Babylonian captivity could not allow so close to 1,000 years after the time of Christ, Masorite Jews writing up their Hebrew scriptures, changed "Sons of God" to "children of Israel" despite the fact that when the nations were divided, Israel was NOT a nation. I should also add, the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, written in Egypt a few years before the time of Christ reflect the transition I've spoken of. "Sons of God" becomes "angels of God" and the Masorite Text over 1,000 LATER has "children of Israel." Now you know why.

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Well thought out essay but much of the research (I tend towards the minimalist camp) is showing that Hebrews (and Israelites) were, in fact, polytheistic for many years...well into the Judges period (even after the return from Babylon actually...which seems to coincide with much of the actual work on the writings as we would know them). The fact that the "prophets," time and again, warn their people off the other gods is some evidence for this polytheism although it seems some authors leaned towards henotheism.

 

I'm not sure I'd agree with you that they turned the other gods into "angels." I've never really heard that before and I'm not sure I've seen much evidence for it. Messengers (helpers/angels/sons/etc.) assisting various gods is a pretty standard thing for most all the religions back then (especially the ones that influenced our group) so it seems only right they include that in their mythology. The patriarchs are a more likely match for other "gods" and important figures from other myths being recast than the angels (and heavenly host). For example in the story of Jacob you have him being the head of 70 offspring but 1 is very special. Moses, three others, and 70 chiefs of Israel wonder up the mountain to have a meet and greet with YHWH. Two variations of the El and 70 sons story still running around in the collective conscience of these people and so they recast the parts but keep the obviously familiar pieces (top guy and his 70 sons do something important).

 

Anyhow, I enjoyed reading your essay. I especially liked how you point out that the Jews got clever and decided that their god was still darn powerful even when he lost. "He's just teaching us a lesson." Must have really confused the Babylonians (I always envisioned it turning into a bit of a Monty Python sketch at that point..."Is not." "Is too." type of a thing). :) I remember those verses from Deuteronomy and I think they're important and need to be properly addressed. They haven't been (that I know of) by anyone I'd like to see address them. :) But it's fun to watch the apologists dance around and deny their own texts.

 

mwc

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Tyson...great piece of work in writing there! You always blow me away.

 

When I questioned the whole "gods" issue as a believer I was told it was just another way to say "men". Just like in the commandments when it says, "Thou shalt not have other gods before me..." I was told that "gods" were "things" or "people" that you put before God God.

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Well thought out essay but much of the research (I tend towards the minimalist camp) is showing that Hebrews (and Israelites) were, in fact, polytheistic for many years...well into the Judges period (even after the return from Babylon actually...which seems to coincide with much of the actual work on the writings as we would know them). The fact that the "prophets," time and again, warn their people off the other gods is some evidence for this polytheism although it seems some authors leaned towards henotheism.

 

I'm not sure I'd agree with you that they turned the other gods into "angels." I've never really heard that before and I'm not sure I've seen much evidence for it. Messengers (helpers/angels/sons/etc.) assisting various gods is a pretty standard thing for most all the religions back then (especially the ones that influenced our group) so it seems only right they include that in their mythology. The patriarchs are a more likely match for other "gods" and important figures from other myths being recast than the angels (and heavenly host). For example in the story of Jacob you have him being the head of 70 offspring but 1 is very special. Moses, three others, and 70 chiefs of Israel wonder up the mountain to have a meet and greet with YHWH. Two variations of the El and 70 sons story still running around in the collective conscience of these people and so they recast the parts but keep the obviously familiar pieces (top guy and his 70 sons do something important).

 

Anyhow, I enjoyed reading your essay. I especially liked how you point out that the Jews got clever and decided that their god was still darn powerful even when he lost. "He's just teaching us a lesson." Must have really confused the Babylonians (I always envisioned it turning into a bit of a Monty Python sketch at that point..."Is not." "Is too." type of a thing). :) I remember those verses from Deuteronomy and I think they're important and need to be properly addressed. They haven't been (that I know of) by anyone I'd like to see address them. :) But it's fun to watch the apologists dance around and deny their own texts.

 

mwc

 

 

Thanks MWC. Great reply. I mentioned the Jewish editors making feeble attempts to change the past beliefs of their ancestors by substituting "gods" with "angels" in an attempt to eliminate any idea that their god, according to their early traditions, rose from the ranks of other gods to become big God. This would mean *GASP* other gods existed/exists. I am aware that angelology appeared in their belief system during their near 200 year time under Persian rule due to the influence of Persian Zoroastrianism which happens to coincide with the period during which or just after they decided to place their writings into an organized canon after heavy editing. Of course I could be wrong on that, but with the information I have it makes logical sense to me. So by their later monotheistic reckoning, the divine council was no longer a court populated by gods who ruled over the various nations overseen by a supreme deity be it the old El guy or Yahweh. It was now a divine court ruled over by one god - Yahweh - and the other gods magically became angels ("princes"), beings created by Yahweh before the world began assigned to govern the various nations.

 

Yes, Deutero-Isaiah steps forward and starts bashing the Babylonian gods, emboldened, no doubt, that Cyprus was on the march toward Babylon and he would defeat the Babylonians and free the Jews or better yet, write the events AFTER the defeat goes down and then act as though you predicted the whole thing. That the Babylonians kicked our ass was because of Yahweh's allowance to "learn us a lesson" for being bad kids messing around with other people's gods, not that they were really gods mind you, because we all know those other gods were really created idols. Only our god is the true god and only god that exists.

 

I also recall a passage in Judges where Jepthath sends a delegation to Ammon in an attempt to settle a land dispute. The Jewish delegation presented the argument (and a confession reflecting the belief of the day) that the Ammonites were given their current borders by their god Chemosh (or was it Molech?) while Israel was given their territory by their god, Yahweh. 1,200 years later, such a notion would be unthinkable to monotheistic Jews because it would be Yahweh, their god and only true god, would have been responsible for land distribution and borders.

 

Finally, I agree wholeheartedly with you that this whole issue has been successfully kept in the back rooms of religious debate for obvious reasons. It completely undermines any idea that the biblical god is who Christians/Jews/Muslims claims he is. It weakens the positions of all who have taken the religions that sprung from this idea to rape, plunder, loot, control and manipulate over the centuries in the name of some imaginary deity whose career started out in some remote desert. I can attest to the fact that even many studious Christians become "babes in Christ" when confronted with this. Many of them have never heard of this and those who have come up with all kinds of verbal gymnastics to try to get around it.

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Tyson...great piece of work in writing there! You always blow me away.

 

When I questioned the whole "gods" issue as a believer I was told it was just another way to say "men". Just like in the commandments when it says, "Thou shalt not have other gods before me..." I was told that "gods" were "things" or "people" that you put before God God.

 

 

Why thank you Jubilant. Here I was thinking no one paid any attention to anything I wrote around here. I was thinking it was because I was the token black guy. LOL!!! Just kidding. Thank you very much. I actually have a one person fan club and a co-Floridian at that. lol

 

Yes my dear, I used to hear the same crap too. If I washed my car on Sundays, I was putting it before god and thus it was an idol. WTF??? Day after day I thank sense and reason I escaped with most of my brain still intact. Wow!

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When I questioned the whole "gods" issue as a believer I was told it was just another way to say "men". Just like in the commandments when it says, "Thou shalt not have other gods before me..." I was told that "gods" were "things" or "people" that you put before God God.

 

:grin:Jubilant... great insight! I always thought it meant to not have money or such as our god...

 

NEVER realizing they actually meant other 'gods'. :Doh:

 

Tyson and MWC, the OT was never too much of my thing, except for some of Genesis, Ecclesiastes, and a bit here and there. So I defer to your expertises. I sensed that those in Genesis were reconciling these gods into one, and not a contest. This is mainly from the story of the Temple of Babble. My understanding is this story has a moral, being that NO ONE (or group) is the best. Because people came from all around to a plains, some were making an altar (temple) to declare them the best, to make a 'name' for themselves. God had to distroy this altar lest they not understand the deeper mystery of god in that ALL are one and part of god. If anyone tries to say they are the best, this is just babble to others.

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When I questioned the whole "gods" issue as a believer I was told it was just another way to say "men". Just like in the commandments when it says, "Thou shalt not have other gods before me..." I was told that "gods" were "things" or "people" that you put before God God.

 

:grin:Jubilant... great insight! I always thought it meant to not have money or such as our god...

 

NEVER realizing they actually meant other 'gods'. :Doh:

 

Tyson and MWC, the OT was never too much of my thing, except for some of Genesis, Ecclesiastes, and a bit here and there. So I defer to your expertises. I sensed that those in Genesis were reconciling these gods into one, and not a contest. This is mainly from the story of the Temple of Babble. My understanding is this story has a moral, being that NO ONE (or group) is the best. Because people came from all around to a plains, some were making an altar (temple) to declare them the best, to make a 'name' for themselves. God had to distroy this altar lest they not understand the deeper mystery of god in that ALL are one and part of god. If anyone tries to say they are the best, this is just babble to others.

 

Oh, by the way, I mentioned the Jews editing their holy script to suit their religious position at the time of the edits, right? Some think that we critics are just making it up to further bolster our unbeliefs. You would be surprised to know just how many Christians actually believe God spoke to Moses and told him to write down everything in Genesis verbatim. Go ahead, ask one of them on the fly and listen to their answers. In fact, quite a bit have no clue who wrote the book of Genesis, where it came from and how it ended up in their Bibles. All they know is that it's there and they are supposed to believe it because it is part of "God's word."

 

Well take a peek at Genesis 36:31:

 

 

Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the children of Israel:

 

 

Let's do a little history here. Moses supposedly lived a little under a 1,000 years before Israel's first king, yet it is believe Moses wrote the book of Genesis. In the above passage, the writer (supposedly Moses) is recounting the kingship line of Esau/Edom. Okay that part is plausible as Esau lived BEFORE Moses, however, how does Moses know all these kings of Edom ruled BEFORE there were any kings in Israel when, one, Israel was NOT an official nation while Moses was alive much less ruled by any kings. It is quite clear that this had to be the hand of an editor writing at least during the time of Israel's kings almost 2,000 years AFTER the time of Esau. Now the question the Christian fear at this point is, if this is an example of a later edit to a supposed older book relating details from the earliest of times, what else could/would they have edited to fit into their particular bias? Hmm....

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Thanks MWC. Great reply. I mentioned the Jewish editors making feeble attempts to change the past beliefs of their ancestors by substituting "gods" with "angels" in an attempt to eliminate any idea that their god, according to their early traditions, rose from the ranks of other gods to become big God. This would mean *GASP* other gods existed/exists.

Okay, I think I'm seeing more what you meant when you made that statement. It's really, then, also the basis that allows xianity to exist as a trinitarian religion if I'm reading this correctly.

 

I would have to disagree with the word "feeble" though. To us their attempts might appear feeble but I'd say they were making some pretty major efforts to get this all worked out. It's probably quite difficult working with scrolls and poor lighting conditions (computers would have made their lives so much easier). :)

 

So by their later monotheistic reckoning, the divine council was no longer a court populated by gods who ruled over the various nations overseen by a supreme deity be it the old El guy or Yahweh. It was now a divine court ruled over by one god - Yahweh - and the other gods magically became angels ("princes"), beings created by Yahweh before the world began assigned to govern the various nations.

I may have to defer on this but it does come to mind that the term "princes" and the references to angels (if I recall correctly) as "sons of god" simply made YHWH top god but then made the attempt to refer to all his "creations" as his "sons" (including Israel). Does that demote "gods" to angelic status and further to that of Israel or does that promote Israel (and them alone) to a special status out of all humans? It seems to make the latter attempt but in light of xianity the former occured (everything was demoted except jesus who was promoted straight up to god himself). But as I said I'll defer go ahead and defer on this one.

 

Yes, Deutero-Isaiah steps forward and starts bashing the Babylonian gods, emboldened, no doubt, that Cyprus was on the march toward Babylon and he would defeat the Babylonians and free the Jews or better yet, write the events AFTER the defeat goes down and then act as though you predicted the whole thing.

Now this is where things get a little interesting. Not too many people get hauled off to Babylon in all this but those that do are some of the top people of Jerusalem. They have time to "think" while they're away and the religion takes a notable turn when they come back (well, while they're gone too). It's debatable whether the Torah was written while they were away in Babylon (and had easy access to the stories) or just after they returned but it's clear that some sort of "clash" occurs when the people who come back and those who stayed behind met up again.

 

Many of them have never heard of this and those who have come up with all kinds of verbal gymnastics to try to get around it.

I have to admit to being one of those. Xians are basically taught the OT matters but not really so know it but don't go out of your way to really learn it. We all know how crazy that truly is now. Even after cramming in as much "book learning" as I can I still have a long, long way to go. Old YHWH has hidden his tracks quite well and it takes mental gymnastics just to keep up with it. ;)

 

mwc

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When I questioned the whole "gods" issue as a believer I was told it was just another way to say "men". Just like in the commandments when it says, "Thou shalt not have other gods before me..." I was told that "gods" were "things" or "people" that you put before God God.

 

:grin:Jubilant... great insight! I always thought it meant to not have money or such as our god...

 

NEVER realizing they actually meant other 'gods'. :Doh:

I was taught the same exact things. It seems important to teach people that these people could never, ever, think that other gods were real. :loser::Wendywhatever:

 

Tyson and MWC, the OT was never too much of my thing, except for some of Genesis, Ecclesiastes, and a bit here and there. So I defer to your expertises. I sensed that those in Genesis were reconciling these gods into one, and not a contest. This is mainly from the story of the Temple of Babble. My understanding is this story has a moral, being that NO ONE (or group) is the best. Because people came from all around to a plains, some were making an altar (temple) to declare them the best, to make a 'name' for themselves. God had to distroy this altar lest they not understand the deeper mystery of god in that ALL are one and part of god. If anyone tries to say they are the best, this is just babble to others.

The story could also be to mock the giant piles of dirt that they kept building out in the middle of nowhere (alright, they were more than giant piles of dirt...giant mud brick temples perhaps up to 300 feet in height) to perform their ceremonies (and they were in the neighborhood of Babylon instead of nowhere) but each year the rains would come in and ruin them. So each year they would have to fix and/or rebuild the temple. The kept making them larger and large and they had problems structurally as well (cracks and collapse). If you wanted to make fun of these people that were spending much of their time building "fake" mountains to worship god a little story like the one in Genesis might just be the way you'd do it (I say fake mountains since people in that region would build alters at the tops of mountains back then...so building a fake mountain would be silly of course). Also, at this same time there was a push for a united, one world government and language in that area (Babylon/Persia and an Arabic language for government transactions). Someone who was against such a thing might just write in that god didn't want that as well. It works nicely when god hates the things we hate and likes the things we like. It helps sell the idea.

 

mwc

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Thanks MWC. Great reply. I mentioned the Jewish editors making feeble attempts to change the past beliefs of their ancestors by substituting "gods" with "angels" in an attempt to eliminate any idea that their god, according to their early traditions, rose from the ranks of other gods to become big God. This would mean *GASP* other gods existed/exists.

Okay, I think I'm seeing more what you meant when you made that statement. It's really, then, also the basis that allows xianity to exist as a trinitarian religion if I'm reading this correctly.

 

I would have to disagree with the word "feeble" though. To us their attempts might appear feeble but I'd say they were making some pretty major efforts to get this all worked out. It's probably quite difficult working with scrolls and poor lighting conditions (computers would have made their lives so much easier). :)

 

So by their later monotheistic reckoning, the divine council was no longer a court populated by gods who ruled over the various nations overseen by a supreme deity be it the old El guy or Yahweh. It was now a divine court ruled over by one god - Yahweh - and the other gods magically became angels ("princes"), beings created by Yahweh before the world began assigned to govern the various nations.

I may have to defer on this but it does come to mind that the term "princes" and the references to angels (if I recall correctly) as "sons of god" simply made YHWH top god but then made the attempt to refer to all his "creations" as his "sons" (including Israel). Does that demote "gods" to angelic status and further to that of Israel or does that promote Israel (and them alone) to a special status out of all humans? It seems to make the latter attempt but in light of xianity the former occured (everything was demoted except jesus who was promoted straight up to god himself). But as I said I'll defer go ahead and defer on this one.

 

Yes, Deutero-Isaiah steps forward and starts bashing the Babylonian gods, emboldened, no doubt, that Cyprus was on the march toward Babylon and he would defeat the Babylonians and free the Jews or better yet, write the events AFTER the defeat goes down and then act as though you predicted the whole thing.

Now this is where things get a little interesting. Not too many people get hauled off to Babylon in all this but those that do are some of the top people of Jerusalem. They have time to "think" while they're away and the religion takes a notable turn when they come back (well, while they're gone too). It's debatable whether the Torah was written while they were away in Babylon (and had easy access to the stories) or just after they returned but it's clear that some sort of "clash" occurs when the people who come back and those who stayed behind met up again.

 

Many of them have never heard of this and those who have come up with all kinds of verbal gymnastics to try to get around it.

I have to admit to being one of those. Xians are basically taught the OT matters but not really so know it but don't go out of your way to really learn it. We all know how crazy that truly is now. Even after cramming in as much "book learning" as I can I still have a long, long way to go. Old YHWH has hidden his tracks quite well and it takes mental gymnastics just to keep up with it. ;)

 

mwc

 

Thanks again MWC. The one part of your response I really enjoyed was where you spoke about the exile an those who returned. It cannot be underestimated the great [apparent] influence the Persians had on the Jews under whose rule they spent a considerable amount of time. I'm not sure if you also noticed this, but of the 4 great empires that dominated the Jews (Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome) only the Persians are NOT hated and scandalized. Psalm 137 is an example of hatred for the Babylonians. The whole intertestamental period and the Maccabean revolt proved the Jews (well at least their more radical ones) loathed the Greeks and I think we all know what they thought about the Romans. The Persians, however, flew under the radar yet their belief system is very prevalent in Jewish religious thought AFTER the Babylonian captivity (keeping in mind many Jews remained in Babylon). The Jews flourished under the Persians and in think that within this amicable situation where Persian kings funded the Jewish Exodus back to Judah, underwrote rebuilding projects and took keen interest in allowing the Jews to express their religious beliefs, the Jews would have been more open to the exchange of religious ideas.

 

Then there were those left behind. While the Jews retuning from Babylon would no doubt have come back home with big city influence, their fellow Jews left in their stagnancy might have not taken too well to them, however, I think in the book of Ezra we find a commission from the Persian king for Ezra to go back to Judah and teach those living there the words of the law. Some believe this might have been more than just the law of Moses an might have included Persian religious beliefs also. It certainly is a fascinating study. I'm trying to dig up as many clues as I can find to come to a solid conclusion.

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Thanks Tyson. The whole point of making Cyrus the Great the Messiah (and more important than just a simple anointing "messiah") and having him written up as such in the holy writings shows how many of the "prophets" felt about him (and his people/culture by extension I imagine). That he basically rebuilt the temple and all really bode well for him too. Sadly, this is all reinterpreted now to be "jesus" but history paints the true picture. Cyrus the Great was the hero that brought the people out of the desert and he's the one they were writing about. Plain and simple. The funny thing is people will believe "Daniel" who was never there as opposed to the people who were actually writing around the time these things were actually going on.

 

I personally think the Greeks aren't outright hated because they seem to have a love/hate relationship with Alexander the Great and the whole beginnings of it all. It's the Selucids and Antiochus IV in particular they come to loath (for good reason) and then the Hellenized culture he forces upon them...and yet they seem to embrace it nonetheless. It seems to me that they liked the culture until Antiochus "ruined" it by forcing it upon them and then it was associated with him (and later the Romans). So to embrace it (openly at least) was to embrace Antiochus/the Selucids/the Romans or even Herodian which might have seemed almost traitorous (this would simply be projected as a general rejection of the Greek Hellenized culture but it's obvious they didn't reject it outright as I already said).

 

mwc

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You're making me feel extremely ignorant here, Tyson. I took the time to research the verses you cited. I'd be the last person to dispute that the early hebrews were polytheistic, but I have to call into question your sources. King James is the only version I looked at. Where is the evidence for polytheism? If it's here in Deut 32 or Psalms 89, I'm not seeing it.

 

 

 

 

Deu 32:7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

 

Deu 32:8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

 

Deu 32:9 For the LORD'S portion [is] his people; Jacob [is] the lot of his inheritance.

 

 

King James Version (KJV)

Psalm 89

 

Psa 89:1 ¶ [[Maschil of Ethan the Ezrahite.]] I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.

 

Psa 89:2 For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.

 

Psa 89:3 I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant,

 

Psa 89:4 Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah.

 

Psa 89:5 And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O LORD: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints.

 

Psa 89:6 For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? [who] among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?

 

Psa 89:7 God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all [them that are] about him.

 

Psa 89:8 O LORD God of hosts, who [is] a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee?

 

Psa 89:9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.

 

Psa 89:10 Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that is slain; thou hast scattered thine enemies with thy strong arm.

 

Psa 89:11 The heavens [are] thine, the earth also [is] thine: [as for] the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.

 

Psa 89:12 The north and the south thou hast created them: Tabor and Hermon shall rejoice in thy name.

 

Psa 89:13 Thou hast a mighty arm: strong is thy hand, [and] high is thy right hand.

 

Psa 89:14 Justice and judgment [are] the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

 

Psa 89:15 Blessed [is] the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.

 

Psa 89:16 In thy name shall they rejoice all the day: and in thy righteousness shall they be exalted.

 

Psa 89:17 For thou [art] the glory of their strength: and in thy favour our horn shall be exalted.

 

Psa 89:18 For the LORD [is] our defence; and the Holy One of Israel [is] our king.

 

Psa 89:19 Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon [one that is] mighty; I have exalted [one] chosen out of the people.

 

Psa 89:20 I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him:

 

Psa 89:21 With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him.

 

Psa 89:22 The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him.

 

Psa 89:23 And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.

 

Psa 89:24 But my faithfulness and my mercy [shall be] with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted.

 

Psa 89:25 I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers.

 

Psa 89:26 He shall cry unto me, Thou [art] my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

 

Psa 89:27 Also I will make him [my] firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.

 

Psa 89:28 My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him.

 

Psa 89:29 His seed also will I make [to endure] for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.

 

Psa 89:30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments;

 

Psa 89:31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments;

 

Psa 89:32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.

 

Psa 89:33 Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.

 

Psa 89:34 My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.

 

Psa 89:35 Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David.

 

Psa 89:36 His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me.

 

Psa 89:37 It shall be established for ever as the moon, and [as] a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.

 

Psa 89:38 But thou hast cast off and abhorred, thou hast been wroth with thine anointed.

 

Psa 89:39 Thou hast made void the covenant of thy servant: thou hast profaned his crown [by casting it] to the ground.

 

Psa 89:40 Thou hast broken down all his hedges; thou hast brought his strong holds to ruin.

 

Psa 89:41 All that pass by the way spoil him: he is a reproach to his neighbours.

 

Psa 89:42 Thou hast set up the right hand of his adversaries; thou hast made all his enemies to rejoice.

 

Psa 89:43 Thou hast also turned the edge of his sword, and hast not made him to stand in the battle.

 

Psa 89:44 Thou hast made his glory to cease, and cast his throne down to the ground.

 

Psa 89:45 The days of his youth hast thou shortened: thou hast covered him with shame. Selah.

 

Psa 89:46 How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?

 

Psa 89:47 Remember how short my time is: wherefore hast thou made all men in vain?

 

Psa 89:48 What man [is he that] liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.

 

Psa 89:49 Lord, where [are] thy former lovingkindnesses, [which] thou swarest unto David in thy truth?

 

Psa 89:50 Remember, Lord, the reproach of thy servants; [how] I do bear in my bosom [the reproach of] all the mighty people;

 

Psa 89:51 Wherewith thine enemies have reproached, O LORD; wherewith they have reproached the footsteps of thine anointed.

 

Psa 89:52 Blessed [be] the LORD for evermore. Amen, and Amen.

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You're making me feel extremely ignorant here, Tyson. I took the time to research the verses you cited. I'd be the last person to dispute that the early hebrews were polytheistic, but I have to call into question your sources. King James is the only version I looked at. Where is the evidence for polytheism? If it's here in Deut 32 or Psalms 89, I'm not seeing it.

I know this wasn't directed at me but since I spotted your post...

 

Here's one quote from here:

The radical monotheism in the Hebrew religion was rather a late development, according to Dr. Hadley, certainly after the Babylonian exile of the Israelites in 587 BCE. One particular instance cited by Hadley in her talk was the lack of an attack on Asherah worship by Hosea, an 8th century BCE Hebrew prophet who spoke vehemently against worship of the god Baal. More importantly, Dr. Hadley made her point by explaining a handout of iconographic and inscription illustrations which pair the God of Israel with the goddess Asherah, or at least her symbol, a stylized tree.

This is a comment from after a talk on "The Cult of Asherah in Ancient Israel and Judah: Evidence for a Hebrew Goddess" by Dr. Judith Hadley.

 

A lot of the evidence is taken from the ground on archaeological digs. The bible does have some supporting evidence but when you dig up a bunch of ruins and unearth bunches of little idols in places where there should have been strict monotheism it says quite a bit. Then when you read the "prophet" of the day in the bible railing against the evils of idols found in said homes it tells you that a little "war" was going on in the hearts and minds of the people and they weren't all going for your YHWH like the official book would lead you to believe.

 

The fact that they were following the dietary restrictions, and other Jewish Laws, tells you that they were the right group of people and not outsiders that were maybe living in the same region and bringing in outside gods. No. These were Jews just choosing to have multiple gods (polytheists) and quite frequently Asherah (as stated in the book) a mother goddess. We also have cave inscriptions showing that YHWH had an Asherah so it appears he briefly took El's consort as his own before the great "competition" broke out between them. This is probably to remove women from power since the Asherah cult would have been matriarchal and the YHWH cult patriarchal. This was most likely the final showdown between who would be in charge and the men won (prior to this much of the Northern part of Canaan was believed to be matriarchal from what I've read).

 

Anyhow, the verses you're looking at need to come from the Dead Sea Scrolls and/or LXX (also Tyson should have had Psalm 82 and not 89). Anyhow, the NRSV uses a more critical text so it has what we need:

 

Deuteronomy 32

 

8 When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods; 9 the Lord's own portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share. 10 He sustained him in a desert land, in a howling wilderness waste; he shielded him, cared for him, guarded him as the apple of his eye.

Now this "Most High" would be "El" ("Elyon" in this case) dividing up us humans to each of his sons (gods of an individual nation), their inheritance from him. The "Lord," (YHWH) got "Jacob" (code for Israel) as his inheritance. He then took care of them out in the desert and so on.

 

Now compare that to the version you posted and see if the rewrite makes as much sense as this version.

 

Psalm 89

 

1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: 2 "How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? (Selah) 3 Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." 5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

 

6 I say, "You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; 7 nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince." 8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you!

This one's the same type of thing. God (Elohiym) judges the other gods (same word, elohiym, so he's either judging "angels" or jesus and the spirit for some reason...but he'd better not blaspheme the spirit). Anyhow, it's pretty obvious that whatever they are he considers them the children of the "Most High" (Elyon...which is "El" not YHWH until YHWH usurps the role so these are his "brothers" he's judging for now) and he condemns them to die apparently. It appears that YHWH has the "sin of pride" that Satan is accused of having...in fact he's playing the role of Satan right here and this is the role jesus is currently playing now since Satan "fell" (but only in xianity of course). Verse 8 is just "David" speaking to his "god."

 

Anyway, I hope this is somewhat helpful. Like I said, I know it wasn't directed to me but I happened to spot it. :) I'm sure that Tyson can fill in all the blanks I've managed to leave.

 

mwc

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MWC, thanks for your thoughtful well researched reply. However, the Deut and Psalm verses you cited seem completely different from the KJV verses I dug up. Seems the DSS are pretty controversial, and old King James went through some trouble to scratch out any references to polytheism, but I really don't know. What do you think accounts for the discrepancy?

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It is quite clear that this had to be the hand of an editor writing at least during the time of Israel's kings almost 2,000 years AFTER the time of Esau. Now the question the Christian fear at this point is, if this is an example of a later edit to a supposed older book relating details from the earliest of times, what else could/would they have edited to fit into their particular bias? Hmm....

Tyson, I don't think they edited a prior writing, yet maybe a prior story telling. As I understand, the Sumerians invented writing only 3000 BC, cuneiform, initially for inventory purposes. Come to think of it... how could Moses write the ten commandments unless much more recent than 3000 BCE? :Hmm:

 

However, preSemites, Akkadians, did infiltrate the Sumerians, over-took and absorbed the Sumerians and their culture, yet I doubt they were 'writing' pervasively any time soon. MWC may correct me on this, as MWC is the one who showed me a lot of it.

 

Below, found here:

Sumerian ceased to be an everyday spoken language by about 2000 BC, but scribes continued to copy out texts and word lists, often with Akkadian translations, because Sumerian became a prestigious and scholarly dead language, like Latin in the Middle Ages. Akkadian, the oldest known Semitic language, belonging to the same family of languages as Hebrew and Arabic, had become the everyday spoken language. Originally used alongside Sumerian, Akkadian was first written down around 2800 BC, initially for proper names within Sumerian texts, but from 2500 BC as full Akkadian texts.

 

The story could also be to mock the giant piles of dirt that they kept building out in the middle of nowhere (alright, they were more than giant piles of dirt...giant mud brick temples perhaps up to 300 feet in height) to perform their ceremonies (and they were in the neighborhood of Babylon instead of nowhere) but each year the rains would come in and ruin them. So each year they would have to fix and/or rebuild the temple. The kept making them larger and large and they had problems structurally as well (cracks and collapse).

 

MWC, of course I know that god didn't tear down the temple :) ... I'm speaking of the moral to the biblical fable. It may have developed around a real distructive event, IDK. Correcting myself, I believe it is the Tower of Babble which was a ziggurat.

 

Interesting site concerning this found here, however it does not seem to correlate with the biblical fable. :shrug:

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MWC thank you for filling in for me while I was out back fighting with my pool. Ah the joys of living in South Florida. Lol!!!

 

Anyway Huan, MWC pointed out my reference. The King James Version Bible used the Hebrew Masoretic Text as its source, a text that did not come into existence until at least close to 1,000 years AFTER the time setting of New Testament world. By this time the Jews were rabidly monotheistic. Well, both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint preceded the New Testament world much less the Masoretic text. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible which attempts to remain faithful to the much older Dead Sea Scrolls, renders the part of the passage in question as "sons of God" and NOT "children of Israel" as the Masoretic Text and it's clone, the King James Version states. It makes a tremendous difference in how the passage is interpreted and also how we understand the whole evolutionary process of Jewish religious thought.

 

Now, I was not necessarily making the claim that the Israelites were polytheists (though that can be proven to be true at times in their history). What I was trying to say is that there is proof in the early portions of the Bible they ADMITTED they acknowledged other gods existed and by virtue of admitting this, it can then be shown how they graduated from that level to admitting other gods existed but their god is the bestest, biggest, and baddest of them all to our god is the ONLY god there is and all others are non existent. It would then not be in the best interest of later Jewish spin doctors to live in a world where Jews before them had already made this big deal about their god being the only true god and none others exist yet have multiple references all over their sacred writings to the contrary. How do you fix that? Clean up said references as best you can even if it compromises a sensible rendering or even contradicts other areas. Make those gods angels or divine princes or something.

 

Further proof of late edits? Compare II Samuel 24:1 to I Chronicles 21:1. When compared you find an immediate [apparent] contradiction, but if you are aware and understand the religious history and change in thinking during the duration between the two passages (supposedly telling the same story) you will realize that prior to the Babylonian captivity and perhaps up into it, the Jews believed God allowed and manipulated evil to bring about the fulfillment of his will (in this case he was pissed at Israel for a reason we are not told and prompting David to number Israel so he could get pissed off gave him justification. Makes no sense, but it's the Bible we're talking about here). Later Jewish religious thought incorporated the idea that evil is initiated by a being known as Satan with a transition period in between where God used Satan to carry out evil as the two passages up top could also be alluding to.

 

Just as it can be shown Satan evolved in Jewish thought so did their god, both becoming what many today believe in.

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MWC, of course I know that god didn't tear down the temple :) ... I'm speaking of the moral to the biblical fable. It may have developed around a real distructive event, IDK. Correcting myself, I believe it is the Tower of Babble which was a ziggurat.

True enough. But there's always a reason for mocking someone and the Jewish authors are (in)famous for doing it in the bible.

 

And, yes, the big piles of bricks are ziggurats. ;) Not very good ones either despite their impressive size. If you've seen the pictures of the ones in Iraq, as opposed to elsewhere, they usually did just pile them around existing piles of dirt for inner support (quick and easy I guess but a cheat when you look at the pre-pyramids in Egypt or the ones in the Americas for example).

 

Interesting site concerning this found here, however it does not seem to correlate with the biblical fable. :shrug:

Looking at the site it seems the problem with it is that they are looking at the wrong period. You see, the reason for the mocking in the bible is that the one responsible for the tower is none other than Nebuchadrezzar II, the man that took many Israelites captive. He's the one that actually ended up finishing the tower (among a number of other supposedly amazing building projects).

 

So the story is an insertion that serves any number of purposes. It "explains" the nations and languages (but reading the text you can see that's already done) or it can be used to mock your captors and their piles of dirt that keep falling down (without calling them out by name). Since it has served those purposes it can obviously be retooled 2500 years after the fact and be used to teach a moral lesson that no one group is better than another but that is most definitely not the captive Israelite style.

 

mwc

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MWC thank you for filling in for me while I was out back fighting with my pool. Ah the joys of living in South Florida. Lol!!!

No problem. As I said...I happened to be around. :)

 

Now, I was not necessarily making the claim that the Israelites were polytheists (though that can be proven to be true at times in their history). What I was trying to say is that there is proof in the early portions of the Bible they ADMITTED they acknowledged other gods existed and by virtue of admitting this, it can then be shown how they graduated from that level to admitting other gods existed but their god is the bestest, biggest, and baddest of them all to our god is the ONLY god there is and all others are non existent. It would then not be in the best interest of later Jewish spin doctors to live in a world where Jews before them had already made this big deal about their god being the only true god and none others exist yet have multiple references all over their sacred writings to the contrary. How do you fix that? Clean up said references as best you can even if it compromises a sensible rendering or even contradicts other areas. Make those gods angels or divine princes or something.

The thing working for the priests/scribes back then was that the texts pretty much just lived in the Temple (and maybe some synagogues). The copies were probably fairly easy to control for the most part and they, being the ones doing the teachings, could smooth the edges of all these little "problems" that we notice today with our full and easy access to the texts. Just like churches today the people most likely "read" (knew from wrote) certain parts of the text and the priest said his special parts and the rest was largely ignored. This is probably why certain sections are more refined that others and these "rough" sections (like this Deuteronomy and Psalms section we're talking about right here) exist. Who knows how often these scrolls were pulled from the shelves and read, much less copied and the person doing this would actually make alterations instead of a straight copy?

 

Anyhow, my question is, does it seem reasonable to think that there was a point where a priest (Ezra?) decided that their theology had changed to the point that each and every scroll needed to be read, and probably rewritten, with a new form of their stories that reflected these new ideas or did it happen a little more naturally over time and the important scrolls (the Torah...or much of it) were dealt with right away (since they were always used) and the lesser scrolls got changed whenever their "update" cycle normally occurred? It seems the former is the usual assertion but the latter makes more sense and explains how some of the inconsistencies got in there (different people made the changes with different degrees of ability).

 

mwc

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