Understanding God's Word

 

Who are the Sons of God?

 

 

Most Christians familiar with their Bible know the story of Job. While there is much to be learned and to understand why Job suffered, as he was an upright man, there are some questions that most sermons on Job do not answer or even entertain. The reason is that we have been indoctrinated with certain religious traditions and taboos that have kept our minds closed and it is time for a paradigm shift in understanding the Bible from the perspective of the original Bible authors.

While I am not a scholar I study and read a lot of scholarly books and articles about the Bible. And thanks to the Internet and the widespread availability of Online Bible sources, including the original Hebrew and Greek words, Bible study has been transformed to a new level. What I have come to learn is that there is so much variation in Bible translations, apparently because there are so many manuscripts to choose from. Then there is the change in language word usage and meaning requiring Bibles to need revision. With new archaeological finds and discoveries of more manuscripts, we have better understandings of what certain ancient terms or words mean.

This means that not only the translators and scholars need to weigh their choices and adjust to new insights, but we as Christians also need to keep up and stay in the flow of what is coming to light. This article is about a new understanding of a strange idea to our monotheistic belief in one God. God is still one but in the Old Testament, there are several references to divine gods who work with Yahweh. Some call them angels but that is not correct. The Hebrew Bible distinguishes between the words "sons of God" (beney elohim) and angel (mal'ak). The former is a phrase used to identify divine beings with higher-level responsibilities or jurisdictions. The latter is a phrase to describe an important but still lesser task: delivering messages.

The problem arises in those who believe that if there are other divine gods, divine councils, or courts then we are believing in multiple gods and polytheism and our God Yahweh is not the supreme God and One. Thereby all potential words or translations about "other gods" are either incorrectly translated or interpreted to "avoid" any connection to polytheism. This article will present some of those mistranslations or misinterpretations and what the ancients really understood about God, His heavenly council, and the original understanding of the divine and human rebellions that are recorded in the Old Testament.

Elohim is one of God Yahweh's names but elohim also refers to plural "gods". For example, in Psalm 82:1 "God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment." Elohim occurs twice in that single verse. The meaning of the verse is the Elohim Yahweh presides over an assembly of elohim. The plural word elohim is used thousands of times in the Old Testament. It can be used for any spiritual being whether an angel, son of God, gods and goddesses of other nations and even demons.

The Book of Job
In the Book of Job is the first time we see a divine council—if we have eyes to see with a little help from the Holy Spirit and scholars who have studied Semitic languages and know their Hebrew Bible well! Everything is going very well for Job until God has a meeting with the "sons of God" and (the) satan appears with them.

"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it" (Job 1:7)

In the previous article much was discussed about the Son of God and was Jesus the only begotten or was it the Christ universal that was the only begotten Son, as many in the New Age movement believe. Another similar term is used in the Old Testament numerous times, "sons of God", and the term is not referring to Jesus or the Christ. Nor does it have the same meaning in the Old Testament that it does in the New Testament. In the former, sons of God are the heavenly host. After the coming of Jesus Christ the estranged humankind, due to their sins, have been redeemed by Christ's sacrifice and sinless life. They can now be called the "sons of God" as well as the angelic hosts.

In Job 2:2 the sons of God again appear before God, with (the) satan in tow. This second discussion with God by this satan leads to his being able to bring calamity to Job physically but not to take his life, as he did with Job's sons and daughters. Nothing is said about who the sons of God are but having this counsel in heaven with God leads us to believe that they are spiritual beings. Since they are "sons" of God, they are also created beings. God Yahweh is the supreme creator of all.

These sons of God are definitely not human judges, as this discussion is held in heaven not on earth, as this satan answers the LORD's question "From whence comest thou? (Job 2:2) and with his answer, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." Later in Job, it is confirmed that these are beings who are sons of God or the heavenly hosts. They are divine beings who have a higher level of responsibility than angels. We have this confirmed when God chastises Job from the whirlwind and asks him, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?… when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7). Since God had not created mankind before he laid the foundations of the Earth these sons of God were divine beings who were created before man.

The use of the word "satan" here is most likely not the Satan adversary we know in the Garden of Eden. The Hebrew word "satan" means adversary and is a title describing the role the angel or son of God is playing in God's council. Satan here also has the definitive article "the" in front of it and in Hebrew, as in English, the word "the" is not used in front of proper names. Ten or more times "satan" is used in the Hebrew Bible. Six of those times refers to a human who is an adversary. The other times are used in connection with angelic beings or in Hebrew beney elohim translated as 'sons of God'. These divine adversaries are not evil—at least they didn't start out as evil—but serve on Yahweh's council by making sure that his rule and law is properly upheld. In the Old Testament, the Serpent was not connected with the name "Satan" anywhere in the Hebrew Bible. See the footnote for further explanation.1

As described in the following Bible commentary on the meaning of this satan going "to and fro" on the earth, 'the satan' is carrying out his job on earth being the eyes of God. Just like in the Garden of Eden when the Lord God calls out, “Adam, where art thou?" nothing is hidden from God's sight. God in His omniscience knew exactly where Adam was hiding and wanted Adam to answer, and likewise, God knew exactly what 'the satan' was doing and had a reason to ask, for this satan, the council with him, and eventually, for us, the readers of the Word.

From the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

"From going to and fro" As the word is used by the Satan of himself there is, naturally, no shade of self-condemnation in it: rather the reverse, he speaks with a certain consciousness of his assiduous faithfulness. The term is used of “the eyes of the Lord, that go to and fro,” 2 Chronicles 16:9. What is suggested is the swiftness and ubiquity of his survey of men. Similarly walking up and down is said of those benevolent emissaries sent forth from heaven in the interest of the suffering righteous of the earth, Zechariah 1:10-11; Zechariah 6:7

In Job's story, we read that Satan was given permission by God to test Job after this satan proposes to God that Job was only righteously loving and trusting God because all in his life was good. God does not say Job will pass the test but that this satan has permission to make havoc in Job's life. At first, Job is praising God but by the end of his trial, he is questioning God. His pride surfaces and he presumes to put God on trial for he believes he has done no wrong to deserve this "unjust" action against him. Finally, God rebukes him which is written in four chapters—from chapters 38-41.

So it is that Job is the one who is put on trial by God—appearing in a tornado—and asks Job 77 rhetorical questions, like, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?; Tell me, if you possess understanding!" (Job 38:4); "Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, or made the dawn know its place?" (38:12);  "Have you considered the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know it all!" (38:18).

We learn from Job that suffering has a multitude of purposes that only God knows and to presume that we know better than God is presumptuous, to say the least. In this story, we may also learn why God allows evil in the earth and why the fallen angels, devils, and 'the' satan appear to torment both the innocent—and those not so innocent.

The First Rebellion
According to Dr. Michael Heiser, biblical Old Testament scholar and Christian author, in the Old Testament, there are three divine rebellions. The first rebellion is the Serpent's (who is later labeled Satan) who tempted Adam and Eve to sin against God's will. The Serpent Satan was an "anointed guardian cherub". We learn this from Ezekiel 28 when Ezekiel shares the words of God with the King of Tyre and compares his sins to the Eden "anointed guardian cherub" in Ezekiel 28:11-19. This divine cherub was a son of God or elohim in God's divine council who thought he was wiser than God. This guardian was judged by God and expelled to "crawl on the ground" meaning he was thrown down into the realm of the dead, the underworld, Sheol, the unseen world. Many scholars have made Adam this sinful being in Ezekiel's Eden comparison but this is not correct, as Adam was never a cherub and he was never judged and thrown down to the ground level or into the underworld. Instead, he and Eve were cast out of Eden.

Isaiah 14 it begins with the King of Babylon being called an "oppressor" (Isaiah 14:4) who ruthlessly persecutes the nations (Isaiah 14:5-6). The prophet writes that Sheol, the underworld is waiting for the king and there the Rephaim are, the other dead kings and he will become like them, one of the living dead. Then beginning in verse 11, like in Ezekiel, the tone switches to a being compared to the "morning star".

“How you are fallen from heaven,
    O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
    you who laid the nations low!
 You said in your heart,
    ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
    I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
    in the far reaches of the north;
 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.

These verses have been linked to a being called Lucifer, as the prophet is talking about a morning star and some translations use the word Lucifer instead of "O Day Star".2 No other place in the Bible do you see the word Lucifer. The king is being compared to a divine being who has fallen from heaven but it is not Lucifer.

Earlier I referenced Job 38:7 where the sons of God were called “morning stars” but the Hebrew word here in Isaiah 14:12 translates as “shining one, son of the dawn” particularly connected with the planet Venus. Isaiah is comparing this divine fallen being as enamored of his own brilliance. “I will make myself like the Most High” declaring himself above all the other “stars of God”, i.e. members of the divine council.

As in Ezekiel, this fallen being will be "cut down to the ground". As well, the fallen cherub in Ezekiel was also a "shining one" covered in precious stones. Both these prophets are comparing the king's actions to the fallen cherub in Eden.

The Second Rebellion
The second rebellion is rarely seen or addressed as such since the Second Temple period. It is hidden in Genesis 6 involving the "sons of God".

This story in earth's history appears before Job's story and may enlighten us about our planet, the fallen angels, demons, and sons of God, as well as the continuing sinfulness of mankind. It begins in Genesis 6:1-8.

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, "My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."

There were giants (Nephilim) in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

There are three main interpretations of who these sons of God are.

  • The view that the sons of God were angels was the predominant understanding for centuries by early Christians and the Jews. This view was widely held in the first century by important Christian leaders including apologist Justin Martyr, (110-165 AD), Clement of Alexandria (150–215 AD), Christian writer Tertullian (155–240 AD), Irenaeus (130–202 AD) and theologian Origen of Alexandria (184–253 AD). Jewish historians such as Flavius Josephus and Philo of Alexandria (20 BC–50 AD) believed also that these sons of God were angels who cohabited with earthly women.

Most of these Jewish and early religious fathers widely accepted the angelic Watchers view as the sons of God because they were familiar with the pseudepigraphical book of 1 Enoch (aka The Book of Enoch) and Jubilees. In 1 Enoch, the sons of heaven (the Watchers) saw the daughters of men and decided to take them as wives and beget children. Two hundred angels take an oath to bind themselves with curses to carry out the plan to leave their sacred positions and descend on Mt Hermon. After taking wives they teach women how to adorn themselves and use cosmetics and men how to make weapons of war. They teach all humans “magical medicines, incantations, the cutting of roots and about plants” and other ungodly ways.

The result of this union between woman and angel is unnatural, and the women bear violent giants. The giants’ violence and voracious hunger cannot be sustained by humans and they turn on the humans and devour them, as well as setting off a “domino effect” of violence against the creatures on the earth. Thereby evil began to multiply upon the earth.

The biblical book of Jude quotes from the Book of Enoch in verses 14-15, “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’” Jude also has these words alluding to the angels that mated with humans: "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6).

2 Peter has a similar angel verse, "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; (II Peter 2:4). 2 Peter also copies or paraphrases a lot of Jude, as well as incorporating Enochic material directly. These Biblical verses promote that some of the angels were not content with their ‘proper abode’ and therefore began to live among mankind as men. God’s judgment upon them was to place them in bonds so that they can no longer promote their evil purposes on earth.

This does not mean because some of 1 Enoch was referenced in Scripture that the entire Book of Enoch is true or inspired by God, but it was part of the Jewish oral tradition and reading material that they accepted as having historical significance and those verses did become a part of the Hebrew Bible we accept as God's inspired Word.

  • The angelic view fell into disrepute among Christian theologians from the fourth to the eighteenth century. The idea that angels could cohabitate with humans was highly objected to after Saint Augustine, the Catholic Bishop of Hippo, wrote his objections in The City of God. He promoted the theory that "the sons of God" simply referred to the genealogical line of Seth, who were committed to preserving the true worship of God.  Thus, the male offspring of Adam through Seth were "the sons of God," and the female offspring of Adam through Cain were "the daughters of men."  He advocated that the problem was Seth's family had interbred with the family of Cain, thereby intermingling the bloodlines and corrupting the pure religion. Saint Augustine had enormous influence and his view became the dominant one among biblical scholars. Yet, was Augustine right in his interpretation or views?

Augustine reveled in sin from an early age, he wrote. He lived with his concubine for 15 years, had a child with her, and only agree to marry another to please his mother. He went right to another woman in the interim waiting for his eleven-year-old fiancée to come of age, only to desert that engagement as well.

He was a Manichean adherent for almost eleven years before he converted back to Christianity, mostly because he was very attracted to Plato's ideas as he thought Plato's teachings were the highest. Plato was one of the Greek writers that started to deny that any of the gods were real and Augustine began studying the Bible through his lens. Augustine also didn't speak Hebrew, he wasn't a Jew and thereby he was not able to consult the original languages of the Word of God. He also struggled so mightily with his own sexual sins that he simply read himself into Genesis 6:1-4. He brought his Gnostics beliefs into Christianity that the flesh was sinful and impure, while the spirit was light and life. In regards to women, he exhorted good Christians to simultaneously love a woman's personality, yet "to hate in her the corruptible and mortal conjugal connection, sexual intercourse and all that pertains to her as a wife." Women do not even bear the image of God, according to Augustine, unless they are joined to a man.

Augustine felt that the God of the Old Testament was at odds with the God of the New Testament because the former God was capricious and vindictive. In order to accept the Old Testament God, he made its interpretation allegorical. Augustine made sense of the Old Testament by teaching that the stories about God in the Old Testament only taught about God in pictures, like parables. According to Augustine, the Old Testament was not a perfect revelation of God and his character but contained bits and pieces about God that we had to figure out with allegorical interpretation. Augustine's influence was so great that, for a thousand years, his method of interpreting the Bible was the official method of interpretation used by the Church.

Also, the Manicheans believed in the Book of Enoch and Augustine might have in addition, based his objections to the angelic view to separate himself out from their beliefs. And, not surprisingly, those in Augustine's time began rejecting the historical supernatural angelic interpretation because of theological objections that arose to angels cohabiting with humans.

  • The third view of who were the sons of God came In the second century AD when the Jews changed their earlier view about the Watchers, to "the sons of God" were the sons of pre-Flood rulers or magistrates.  This belief became the standard explanation of rabbinical Judaism after Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai pronounced a curse upon those Jews who believed that the angels were responsible for the Nephilim.  This interpretation was accepted by the most respected Jewish sages of the Middle Ages and became the standard explanation of rabbinical Judaism. This view is not widely accepted by modern scholars.

Noah
What immediately follows in Genesis 6:9 is the Flood of Noah. In Genesis 6:4 it is related that the Nephilim were on the earth in those days and even afterward. The Nephilim were one of the primary reasons for the great flood in Noah’s time. Who they were and if they were giants and were giants ever really on the earth is another whole story that will be covered in the near future.

The LORD regretted making human beings on the earth because all the world and people had become wicked but Noah and his sons. Noah was not a perfect human being in the sense of moral character, as all man has sinned. "Noah was perfect in his generations" (Gen. 6:9), meaning according to some scholars that his genetics were pure, and he was from the untainted seed of woman, not that he was sinless.

Remember that after Noah leaves the Ark the first thing he does is create a vineyard, gets drunk, and lies naked in his tent. What follows is up for debate in what we are meant to understand why a curse was placed upon his grandson.

As Genesis 9:20-23 relates one of Noah's sons, Ham, sees his father's nakedness and he tells his brothers so they go in and cover their father. When Noah awakes and finds out what happened while under his stupor he does a strange thing, he curses Ham's future son, Noah's future grandson, Canaan, and blesses his other sons for covering him up. (Gen. 9:24-27) Some scholars believe Canaan came through Noah's wife and Ham. The language used in Gen. 9:22 "to see a father's nakedness" always means to have sex with another man's wife.

Wikipedia makes a reference to this line of reasoning and cites Dr. Rabbi David Frankel who supported this view. In Douglas Van Dorn's book, Giants: Sons of God he reasons out the idea that what exegetes since antiquity have tried to identify as to what the possible deed Ham did, was actually maternal incest. The other choices are either paternal incest or castration. Ham, when he first enters his father's tent and sees his father passed out and uncovered, has sex with his mother. Whatever sin Ham does it is a sexual offense.

The Third Rebellion - The Tower of Babel
The next major rebellion and the last cast in the Old Testament came after the Tower of Babel. This story is very important in Jesus' mission and fulfillment of prophecy while on earth and in heaven. I will cover that further on.

In this story, a warrior Nimrod, founds a kingdom, including a city named Babylon in the land of Shinar (Gen. 10:8-10). The descendants of Noah had not obeyed the commandment of God to fill the earth. Rather than scatter themselves and fill the earth they congregated in the fertile plain of Shinar. (Note: Centuries later Babylon, and King Nebuchadnezzar and his army would destroy the Jewish Temple, sack the city of Jerusalem after a siege that lasted a year and after killing many people they carried most of Jerusalem's inhabitants into exile in Babylonia.)

The people wanted to make a name for themselves, and begin constructing a tower out of brick that would reach into the heavens. (Gen. 11:4) Up until this point, the Bible says that all the people spoke one language. It’s possible that they were building this tower to prevent themselves from scattering and to build a monument to their greatness or to reach the gods or God in heaven or bring the gods down to earth. They may also have wanted to ascend to become like gods themselves (Isaiah 14:13-14). The Bible does not say. Whatever their reason God sees no good coming from humanity working toward this end, and says to the heavenly host:

“If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” (Genesis 11:6-7, emphasis added)

Notice in that verse that God uses the word "us". We see this "us" in the creation of man where God says in Gen. 1:26 "Let us make man in our image" and in Genesis 3.22 "Then the LORD God said, 'Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.' "

In both of the above chapters, the Lord God ends with doing it Himself. Most Christians believe this 'us' refers to the divine Trinity. Dr. Heiser points out that "Seeing the Trinity in Gen 1:26 is reading the New Testament back into the Old Testament, something that isn’t a sound interpretive method for discerning what an Old Testament writer was thinking." As seen in Job and other verses such as Gen 3:22 “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil" we have God addressing a group–the members of his divine council.

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth and confused their language and they stopped building the city. (Gen. 11:8-9) With this stroke, some 70 nations of the world are divided. (In the previous chapter 10 seventy grandsons of Noah are enumerated, each of whom became the ancestor of a nation.) The most important nation in the Old Testament is nowhere to be found–Israel–it comes later through Abraham's lineage.

If we go to Deuteronomy 32:8-9 we may find the "sons of God" again.

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.

I say "may" because the translations all vary. Some say "sons of Israel", "sons of Adam" and two say "sons of God". The Septuagint (the earliest extant Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) says "Angels of God". This is due to differences in opinion to what the different manuscripts of the Old Testament say. Then, in the 1940s, fragments of scrolls were discovered in the Qumran Caves in the Judaean Desert dating from the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. These Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts. Researchers have collected nearly a thousand, mostly incomplete scrolls, from the fragments found in eleven caves.

The oldest complete Torah (the first five books of the Bible believed to be written by Moses) only dates to the 11th or 12th century. That makes the Dead Sea Scroll fragment on this chapter much older and most likely the original words. The main reason not to accept the translation "sons of Israel" is quite obvious, once it is pointed out. There was no Israel created yet.

Directly after the Tower of Babel incident, God calls a man, named Abram, out from the land of the Chaldeans—the same people group that built the Tower of Babel. God renames him Abraham, that is, 'the father of a multitude of nations. Abraham becomes the first Jew and the Father of Israel. God tells Abram that his descendants will be given a land, and that through him, all the other nations of the world will be blessed. Abraham becomes the father of Isaac, who becomes the father of Jacob, whose children become the nation of Israel. Through Abraham God is setting the grounds to gather back again the scattered humanity and nations. "And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice" (Gen. 22:18).

In the Book of Deuteronomy Moses instructs a new generation in the laws of God before they are to enter Canaan, the new promised land. If we go to Deuteronomy 32:8-9 we may find the "sons of God" again.

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.

I say "may" because the translations all vary.3 Some say "sons of Israel", "sons of Adam" and two say "sons of God". The Septuagint (the earliest extant Greek translation of the Hebrew bible) says "Angels of God". This is due to differences in opinion to what the different manuscripts of the Old Testament say. Then, in the 1940's, fragments of scrolls were discovered in the Qumran Caves in the Judaean Desert dating from the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. These Dead Sea Scrolls are ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts. Researchers have collected nearly a thousand, mostly incomplete scrolls, from the fragments found in eleven caves.

The oldest complete Torah (the first five books of the Bible believed to be written by Moses) only dates to the 11th or 12th century. That makes the Dead Sea Scroll fragment on this chapter much older and most likely the original words. The main reason not to accept the translation "sons of Israel" is quite obvious, once it is pointed out. There was no Israel created yet.

The Divine Council in Psalm 82
Why is this Psalm important? It is God Yahweh pronouncing judgment on those appointed by God to positions of power, who have “shown partiality to the wicked” and have failed to “defend the weak, the poor, and the fatherless”. The psalm pronounces a severe judgment:  Even though God created these beings as “gods” and “sons of the Most High,” they will “die like men, and fall like one of the rulers”. It is important we understand who Yahweh is pronouncing judgment upon, as Jesus refers back to this Psalm saying "I said ye are gods". Who are the gods?

Psalm 82:1 says "God (Elohim) has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods (elohim) he holds judgment." The meaning of the two occurrences of "elohim" has been debated by scholars, with some suggesting both words refer to Yahweh, while others propose that the God of Israel rules over a divine assembly of other gods or angels. 

The traditional view is that they were the judges, men appointed by God to lead Israel after the time of Moses and Joshua and prior to the advent of Israelite kings. Judges were appointed to administer justice, without favoring rich or poor and without succumbing to self-interest.

Dr. Heiser explains the Hebrew usage of the word elohim in this verse. "The first elohim must be singular since the Hebrew grammar has the word as the subject of a singular verbal form (“stands”). The second elohim must be plural since the preposition in front of it (“in the midst of”) requires more than one. You can’t be “in the midst of” one. The preposition calls for a group—as does the earlier noun, assembly. The meaning of the verse is the Elohim Yahweh presides over an assembly of elohim." The conclusion is these gods are not man, or Israelites - they are sons of God, Watchers or divine beings.

There is one more reference in this Psalm to a divine council. Psalm 89:6-7 asks, “Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings? In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared.” We don't get an answer in Scripture as to why God has a heavenly council when He makes all the decisions and knows all. Yet we can know that there is only One Supreme God, Yahweh and many spiritual beings called elohim. And none is like the Lord as stated in this verse.


In the dividing of the nations and languages at the tower of Babel Yahweh’s inheritance was Israel (which God immediately sets in motion to create with Abraham) and the territories of other nations belong to the elohim to rule because Yahweh decreed it. Why? After the flood as the earth's population grows but man begins to worship the gods instead of their creator, Yahweh. This rebellion of man culminates in building a ziggurat at Babel. The predominate tower-like structures in southern Mesopotamia at the time were ziggurats. Since their belief was that gods lived on mountains their purpose was to bring the divine down to earth.

Man's disobedience caused Yahweh to divide them up and give them to the lesser gods of His council. They were to worship the lesser gods because Yahweh was done with them. Man continued to reject Yahweh and served other gods so Yahweh disinherited those nations as his people. He would begin anew with His portion, Israel, that was not yet created, and form a covenant with those people and make them His own.

Whatever those sons of God/elohim/Watchers did with their alloted nations, we do not know but we know that these elohim were meant to rule better than they did and they became corrupt and were judged by God.

How this relates to Jesus and the New Testament will take a lot more detail and will continue in part II.

____________________________________

1The worldview of Jewish readers of Genesis 2–3 profoundly changed in the centuries since the story was first written. After the canon of the Hebrew Bible closed, beliefs in angels, demons and a final apocalyptic battle arose in a divided and turbulent Jewish community. In light of this impending end, many turned to a renewed understanding of the beginning, and the Garden of Eden was re-read—and re-written—to reflect the changing ideas of a changed world. Two separate things happened and then merged: Satan became the proper name of the devil, a supernatural power now seen to oppose God as the leader of demons and the forces of evil; and the serpent in the Garden of Eden came to be identified with him. While we begin to see the first idea occurring in texts two centuries before the New Testament, the second won’t happen until later; Eden’s serpent is not identified with Satan anywhere in the Hebrew Bible or New Testament. (How the Serpent Became Satan, by Shawna Dolansky, Biblical Archaeology Society.)

2The reason Lucifer has been understood to be a proper name of the Devil has to do with the Latin translation of the Hebrew term Helel. This word was understood, by some, to be a proper name for the king of Babylon. It means "light bearer," or Lucifero in Latin. The Latin title became a popular name for this evil figure. When the King James translators rendered the Hebrew term into English, they kept the popular term "Lucifer" for the Devil. The name Lucifer appears nowhere else in the King James Version.

3Bible Translations:

  • Masoretic Text. The Hebrew Scriptures as traditionally received. The two oldest copies of it are the Aleppo Codex and the Leningrad Codex—ca. 10th century ad.
  • Septuagint. A Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures. The oldest copies are in Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus—ca. 4th century ad.
  • Dead Sea Scrolls. Over 100,000 fragments of text, comprising more than 800 biblical and non-biblical manuscripts—ca. 250 BC–AD 70.
  • The NET Bible (New English Translation) is a completely new translation of the Bible with 60,932 translators’ notes. It was completed by more than 25 scholars – experts in the original biblical languages – who worked directly from the best currently available Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts.