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[Dead Sea Scroll Variant] Deuteronomy 32:8-9 “Sons of God”

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Taken from here: http://jur.byu.edu/?p=3703

Jason Olson and Dr. Donald Parry, Hebrew Language

 

One impressive example of a textual variation that Dr. Parry and I found was Deuteronomy 32:8-9. I will present the divergent texts and offer an explanation below. The King James (Masoretic) Version of Deuteronomy 32:8-9 reads: 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. 9 For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

The Dead Sea Scrolls version reads: 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 sons of God. 9 For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. [J.A. Duncan, in Qumran Cave 4. IX: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Kings, ed. E. Ulrich and F.M. Cross, DJD XIV (Oxford: Clarendon, 1995), 90.]

The incredible significance of this variation is that God can have sons in pre-Christian era Jewish theology! Jewish tradition maintained that there were 70 nations of the world, so therefore post-Second Temple Judaism was able to make the connection that the Most High divided the nations according to the 70 sons of Israel. An even earlier Jewish theology, however, maintained that the 70 nations of the world were divided according to the 70 divine sons of the Most High God. This concept is fascinatingly preserved even in ancient Canaanite religion! A convincing conclusion to this argument is that Jewish scribes changed the scripture, after the advent of Christianity, to prevent the spread of the idea that God can have sons from public and/or Jewish knowledge. [John Wesley Etheridge, The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch; With the Fragments Of the Jerusalem Targum; from the Chaldee (London: Longman, Green, and Roberts, 1865), 662; and Manfried Dietrich, Oswald Loretz, and Joaquín Sanmartín, eds., The Cuneiform Alphabetic Texts: From Ugarit, Ras Ibn Hani and Other Places (KTU) (Verlag: Ugarit, 1995)]

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5 Comments

  1. I guess that 70 nations is a reference to the number of Jacob’s family members when they settled down in Egypt with Yusuf.

    If what was mentioned in the dead sea scrolls (1946-1956) is “sons of God”, that may explain the difference of translations I noticed:

    – “He assigned to each nation a heavenly being” Good News Translation (1966)
    – “He assigned a guardian angel to each of them” Contemporary English Version (1995)
    – “according to the number of the heavenly assembly.” NET Bible (2005)
    – “according to the number of the sons of God” English Standard Version (2007), New Heart English Bible (2010)
    – “according to the number of the children of God” International Standard Version (2011)

    While the the Hebraic text comportes “beni yisra’el” translated into:

    – “according to the number of the people of Israel”
    – “according to the number of the children of Israel”

    In the other case, we will have “beni Adam” Sons of Adam divided according to Sons of God.

    The commentaries also show that divergence, the meaning of “sons of God” isn’t new. In Pulpit Commentary (1880) they mention that meaning of having for each nation its guardian angel:

    The LXX. (Greek Old Testament) has “according to the number of the angels of God,” an arbitrary departure from the original text, in accommodation, probably, to the later Jewish notion of each nation having its guardian angel.

    Well, I can also understand sons of God as being his prophets.

    “The chosen people were to be His messengers to the nations.” Ellicott’s Commentary (1897)

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  2. Nice catch ! thanks for sharing 🙂

    I had the feeling that this was covering up the paganism that crept in by Jews into their texts, but then later changed it to make themselves less Christian, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. GomerOzDubar says:

    Even more importany the Deity spoken of here was the Midianite deity AL ILAH ( EL ELYON) which means THE MOST HIGH from semitic root ELI ( ALI).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. GomerOzDubar says:

    the proper verse of course is Debarim ( Deut) 32:8 8″When the Most High ALLAH gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel. 9″For Yahweh’s portion is His people; Yaqub is the allotment of His inheritance.”

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