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Pete’s Bible Trivia Bonanza #7

Do you know that the traditional Israelites believed in multiple god?

I’m sensing I ought to clarify that.

What I imply is that the Israelites, no less than for half/a lot of the biblical interval, assumed the existence of many gods. They weren’t monotheists (perception that just one god exists). That might come later of their story. However neither had been they polytheists (worship of a number of gods).

They had been monolatrous (Greek latreuō = worship): many gods exist, however just one God, Yahweh, is worthy of worship.

That’s why the 10 Commandments start “You shall haven’t any different gods earlier than me”—which is higher understood as “don’t worship different gods apart from me.”  And if the Israelites had been to bow down and worship them, then God would change into “jealous”(Exodus 20:3-5).

Relatively than saying, “There are no different gods, so get that thought out of your head,” they’re informed to not worship them.

The Israelites, in any case, lived in a world the place each nation round them had its personal excessive god. The Moabites had Kemosh, the Ammonites had Milcom, the Canaanites had Baal, and on it goes.

Gods had been as plentiful as hearth hydrants and site visitors lights.

The Israelites expressed their religion in Yahweh by the use of distinction to those different gods who had been understandably assumed to exist, not by discounting their existence—that may be asking an excessive amount of of them.

Think about immediately a decree coming down from the highest saying, “Chances are you’ll solely do your banking in one particular department (Major Road) of 1 native financial institution (Springfield Financial savings and Mortgage). Chances are you’ll not financial institution wherever else, neither at Wells Fargo, nor Residents Financial institution, nor even Financial institution of America. Nor could you do your banking on the varied ATM’s that dot each avenue and mall.”

To have informed historical Israelites that they had been to worship solely Yahweh as a result of, really, no different gods existed would have been as absurd as anticipating us to imagine that these different banks, branches, and ATMs don’t exist. “What do you imply they don’t exist?! We see them everywhere!” Similar holds for the traditional Israelites: excessive locations (altars), temples, and pictures/idols had been a part of their panorama, an “assumed actuality.”

And so we see (to call a number of extra examples) Psalm 95, a psalm that calls Israel to worship Yahweh alone and describes Yahweh as “an awesome God, and an awesome king above all gods” (v. 3). It’s arduous to interpret this as something apart from what it seems like: Yahweh is praised for being larger than the opposite gods.

Or have a look at the “divine council” in Psalm 82.Yahweh is the “Most Excessive,” just like the chairman of the board over the opposite gods and chiding them for not doing their job of ruling justly over the nations: “How lengthy will you choose unjustly and present partiality to the depraved?” (v. 2; see additionally Psalm 58:1-2).

Subsequent, the gods discover themselves out of labor.

I say, “You’re gods, youngsters of the Most Excessive, all of you;  nonetheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like every prince.” Stand up, O God, choose the earth; for all of the nations belong to you! (vv. 6-8)

This divine council exhibits up in Job 1-2, one other “heavenly board room” scene.

Another instance is Exodus 12:12. On the primary Passover, simply earlier than the tenth and last plague, we learn:

For I’ll move by the land of Egypt that evening, and I’ll strike down each firstborn within the land of Egypt, each human beings and animals; on all of the gods of Egypt I’ll execute judgments: I’m Yahweh.

The plagues are judgments on Egypt’s gods. Turning the Nile to blood is an assault towards the Nile deity; the plague of frogs is an assault on the Heqet, the goddess of fertility, depicted with the pinnacle of a frog; the plague of darkness is an assault on the solar god Ra, the excessive god of the Egyptian pantheon.

To say that the Israelites had been monolatrous is greater than merely making a tutorial remark. It helps us make sense of some passages and pulls again the curtain to assist us perceive a bit extra of Israel’s theology.

To say that Yahweh was above all the opposite gods and the one one worthy of worship could not imply a lot to us. It might even appear uncomfortably flawed for such a factor to be within the Bible.

However for the traditional Israelites, such a declare was countercultural and odd-looking. It was a daring and theologically potent declaration.

If we wish to perceive Israel’s theology, we have to take these and different passages at face worth.

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