The Sons of El
dwashbur at nyx.net
Tue Jan 19 14:04:49 EST 1999
Lloyd Barre wrote:
> Dear List Members,
> I am interested in your opinions on Deut 32:7-9. I have provided a summary of my view on it to get things going.
> Thank you.
> Lloyd Barre
> Think back to the older days,
> think over the years, down the ages.
> Ask of your father, let him teach you;
> of your elders, let them enlighten you:
> When Elyon gave the nations their inheritance,
> when he divided the sons of men,
> he fixed their bounds according to the number of the sons of El,
> Yahweh's portion is his people,
> Jacob his inheritance.
> The introduction begins with the statement that a student may
> learn of an ancient event, the knowledge of which first came to
> his grandfather's generation. The event was an executive decision
> by El who assigned his divine "sons" to rule over various peoples.
> Here Yahweh is made the preeminent "son of El" who has been
> assigned the people of Jacob. This theological scheme is
> illustrated in the following diagram:
> Sons of El
> Chemosh Dagon Baal Yahweh Milcom Hadad Qos
> | | | | | | |
> Moab Philistia Canaan Jacob Ammon Aram Edom
Please note that I will be pasting parts of several other posts into
this. I will do my best to give proper attribution.
I see several unproven assumptions in this. The first is the
assumption that `elyon == El. This has not been shown, and in
fact based on usage in the HB it cannot be shown with any
certainty. We have `elyon standing alone, in compound with El, in
compound with Elohim, in compound with YHWH and in parallel
with YHWH. So the structure above is built on assumption and
overly simplistic, at best.
Another assumption is the reading "sons of El." As Irene Riegner
The LXX says "according to the
number of angels of god," "aggelwn theos." BHS notes that an Old
version, the Syrohexaplaris also used this and that these versions
"correct" what the editors of BHS assumed was the original, "sons
[ )l ]," or sons of Elim [ )lym ]. If "sons of El" or "sons of the
gods" is correct, then "he fixed their bounds according to the
sons of El / gods" would certainly make sense. Before accepting
emendation, I would need to know the reason behind the
I quite agree; the emendation appears to be made on slim grounds
indeed. John Ronning offers this explanation:
As for the "sons of El/Elohim," the same song/poem says that God
Israel (v. 18). Deut 14:1 says "You are the sons of Yhwh your
shall not cut yourselves . . ." Hos 1:10/2:1 God's people are called
beney 'el xay, sons of the living God - the same verse has "the
Israel" perhaps providing the reason for the MT of Deut 32:8, the
interpretation being that the sons of God are the sons of Jacob who
into Egypt, numbering 70, being also the number of nations listed in
Genesis 10. The tradition behind the MT (if not the original reading)
evidently wanted to avoid the interpretation "angels of God" (LXX).
I find this unconvincing. The commentary of Keil and Delitzsch
(vol. 1 p. 470) says:
The Septuagint rendering, "according to the number of the angels
of God," is of no critical value,--in fact, is nothing more than an
arbitrary interpretation founded upon the later Jewish notion of
guardian angels of the different nations (sir xvii. 14), which probably
originated in a misunderstanding of chap. iv. 19, as compared with
Dan. x. 13, 20, 21, and xii. 1.
If this is correct, the reading "children of Israel" is much to be
preferred and the question of the "Sons of El" becomes moot. A
more pertinent question would be to address the context: is this
really talking about a prehistoric event when El or `Elyon divided up
the peoples, or does the following context suggest that what is
being described is the way YHWH separated Jacob/Israel out from
among the nations to be His specially chosen?
"Oh, the mind boggles!" -Wakko
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