The Sons of El
GregStffrd at aol.com
GregStffrd at aol.com
Tue Jan 19 01:15:19 EST 1999
In a message dated 1/18/99 6:42:26 PM Pacific Standard Time, barre at c-zone.net
<< 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.
Lloyd Barre >>
If the text of Deuteronomy 32:8 should read "sons of God," then we would
appear to have another instance where God is referred to as delegating
rulership of the nations to the angelic gods (compare Dan 10:13).
Some favor the reading, "sons of Israel" (see David E. Stevens, "Does
Deuteronomy 32:8 Refer to 'Sons of God' or 'Sons of Israel'?" BSac 154 [April-
June 1997], 131-141). But Paul Sanders (The Provenance of Deuteronomy 32 [OTS
37; Leiden: Brill, 1996], 155-159), whose arguments I find convincing, favors
"sons of God."
Sanders highlights M. Lana's observation that the reading of MT in Deuteronomy
32:8b "does not make good sense. In the Hebrew Bible the expression bny ysr'l
['sons of Israel'] always designates the people of Israel. The expression does
not refer to a fixed number (msfr ['number,' as used in De 32:8b]) of sons of
Jacob" (Sanders, p. 158; see note 292).
Sanders also notes that the LXX and Qumran fragments 4QDtq and 4QDtj support
the reading "sons of God." He further observes that scholars view the reading
of MT as an "adaptation of the older reading for theological reasons," since
"the older reading would have implied undue recognition of divine beings next
to YHWH" (Sanders, p. 157)
He also states: "Verse 12 and verse 39 say that there is no god 'with' YHWH.
These affirmations relate to his activity: YHWH is the only god who acts on
behalf of Israel. In that respect there is no other god with him. . . . Though
the conceptual background of the passage [De 32:8-9] may be archaic the
message of the passage is completely in line with the 'monotheistic'
affirmations in the song: other gods may exist---in fact they do---but for
Israel the only significant god is YHWH. He is even the highest god ('lywn)
and the other gods (bny 'lhym) are subordinate to him" (Sanders, p. 427).
<< 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
I see nothing, though, to indicate that "Yahweh is made the preeminent 'son of
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