Take the 2-minute tour ×
Christianity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (NRSV), part of Moses' song:

When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods; the LORD's own portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share.

Can someone tell me what this means? God is one of many gods and he got Israel? God divided the earth among his angels? Or is he talking about idolatry?

share|improve this question
    
That's pretty clear polytheism. –  TRiG Jun 13 '12 at 17:43
3  
The question seems to hinge on the interpretation of a Hebrew word. I would suggest migrating this to Hermeneutics.SE, where the hardcore exegetes and textual critics dwell. –  Jas 3.1 Jun 13 '12 at 18:50
    
Good idea. Here it is: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1952/… –  Matt White Jun 14 '12 at 2:31
add comment

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Footnote from the NLT:

As in Dead Sea Scrolls, which read "the number of the sons of God", and Greek version, which reads "the number of the angels of God"; Masoretic Text reads "the number of the sons of Israel".

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks. This explains the different translations. For more information, see the answer to my other question here: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/1952/… –  Matt White Jun 18 '12 at 18:59
add comment

I'm curious which translation you're using?

This should probably be a comment rather than an answer, but I wanted to include some common translations for comparison.

It looks like it's more commonly translated as "sons/children of God/Israel"

Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (YLT)
In the Most High causing nations to inherit, In His separating sons of Adam -- He setteth up the borders of the peoples By the number of the sons of Israel. For Jehovah's portion [is] His people, Jacob [is] the line of His inheritance.

Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (ESV)
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders[a] of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.[b] But the Lord's portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.

Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (NASB)
“ When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of [a]man, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel. “ For the Lord’s portion is His people;Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.

Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (KJV)
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.
For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

Deuteronomy 32:8-9 (NIV)
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.[a] For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.

share|improve this answer
    
Sorry, should have put that in my question. I'm using NRSV. –  Matt White Jun 13 '12 at 13:51
    
Interestingly, "The Message" chooses to follow the NRSV and say "divine guardians". –  Matt White Jun 13 '12 at 13:56
    
That is interesting. I can see how "divine guardians" and "gods" could be synonymous, but I could also see how it could be read as "guardians of the the divine," which could refer to the "sons of Israel" in their special role as God's chosen people. –  Steven Jun 13 '12 at 15:56
add comment

The word, "'elohiym" in Hebrew can properly be seen as meaning, "God", "gods", "divine beings". So, you might say that the meaning was that he was keeping house of Jacob apart from the rest of the world and marking it as, "his" in the chosen sense of the word.

This reinforces the idea that being "holy", in Hebrew, really means being separate, set apart (see Strong's).

share|improve this answer
add comment

I believe that the interpretations of gods, sons of God, divine beings, and even guardian angels makes more sense. Before i explain why i just want to make it clear that i am in no way claiming polytheism. It is no mystery that the word elohim or gods is often used in reference to angels, please keep this in mind. First lets look at the context and read it according to one of the interpretations i listed above, lets use "gods" for the sake of my point. "When the Most High apportioned the nations, when he divided humankind, he fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the gods; the LORD's own portion was his people, Jacob his allotted share." It is obvious that this points back to the Tower of Babel. After God divided up the nations, in the very next chapter he calls Abraham in genesis 12: 2-3 I will make of you a great nation and will bless you. I will make your name respected, and you will be a blessing.

3 I will bless those who bless you, those who curse you I will curse; all the families of earth will be blessed because of you.” God divide the nations and appointed to them gods or sons of God because of their disobedience to go spread across the earth yet according to the promise to Abraham we see that he has not completely forgotten about all the nations. The divine beings he appointed to them do not hold the same position as YHWH for he created them. God gave these gods the nations, to rule over them in his name but these beings did not obey God instead they ruled with injustice. My evidence for this can be found in psalms 82 which talks about the divine council. It reads: God takes his stand in the divine council; he gives judgment among the gods(He is the head of this council, they are in no way his equal): 2 “How long will you judge unjustly by granting favor to the wicked? 3 Give justice to the lowly and the orphan; maintain the right of the poor and the destitute! 4 Rescue the lowly and the needy. Deliver them from the power of the wicked! 5 They don’t know; they don’t understand; they wander around in the dark. All the earth’s foundations shake. 6 I hereby declare, “You are gods, children of the Most High—all of you!(if you want to give the argument that these gods are human then surely the next verse won't make any sense) 7 But you will die like mortals; you will fall down like any prince.” 8 Rise up, God! Judge the earth because you hold all nations in your possession! Some translation may read "for you shall inherit all nations" Through the seeds of Abraham shall God call all nations back to himself and he has through the Lord Jesus Christ. Because the Bible declares that All power in Heaven and on Earth has been given to him-Matthew 28-13. In a way this sort of explains why every nation and culture had all these gods. I am not saying that i am right am certainly not imposing my point of view on anyone so please feel free to disagree.

share|improve this answer
    
Welcome to the site! While I don't disagree with what you're saying, I'd invite you to read the FAQ, as well as these posts: meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/692/… and meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/1379/… –  David Stratton Nov 18 '12 at 14:14
1  
I encourage you to revisit your post and clean it up for readability. Rather than asking forgiveness for errors, fix them---no one's angry at you, but it would improve the quality of your post! –  Kazark Nov 18 '12 at 19:17
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.