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

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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