Re: [textualcriticism] Deuteronomy 32:8 - according to the number of the children of Israel.
- I think the first question is, if we *dare* to accept a text different from the MT. The Dead Sea Scrolls show that there existed different text types. The MT is a choice made by editors. If in Dt 32: 8 a Qumran text and the LXX support 'Sons of God', I don't see any problem to accept that text as original.
That 'Sons of God' can designate angels or demons is well known. So I don't see any problem to interprete the text as (I quote from the message of schmuel):" the Lord delegated jurisdiction over the nations to his angelic host (cf. Dan. 10:13-21)". Only the word 'his' does not fit Dan 10. The angels that are ruling the nations there are demons except for Michael.
The reading 'Sons of Israel' can be due to a reader who could not accept this interpretation. Between 'El' and 'Israel" the difference is only three letters in Hebrew. The words are ending the same way (alef - lamed). So confusion is possible, thought our reader.
If we take the view that God separated the nations according to the number of 12 sons of Israel, we get problems. There are more nations than only 12. There are clearly more demons/angels. So also for practical reasons the reading 'Sons of God' should be preferred.
Theologically the view that God put demons/angels over the nations can be defended. In the (temple-)tower of Babel the devil got his worship. By creating the nations and putting them under demons/angels God used the principle 'Divide et impera'. The famous text (Mt 28: 19) where Jesus wants that the *nations* become his disciples makes clear that the kingdom of God should conquer the nations that are ruled by demons by making disciples.
God was "reserving for himself Israel, over whom he rules directly". The first person we read about in Genesis after the history of the tower is Abraham. God is preparing the nation He wanted to rule. At first there is only a family (convenant with Abraham). Later on there is a nation (covenant with the Jews in the desert). Before the deportation to Babel God leaves from Jerusalem (Hez 11: 22ff.). Afterwards Israel has its ruling angel, not God Himself: Michael.
Op 4/05/2012 5:01, schmuel schreef:
Deuteronomy 32:8 (AV)
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.
The question here is : "the number of the children of Israel." which is in all the Hebrew manuscripts.
All the traditional Reformation Bible editions and all the Jewish Bibles agree on this text.
However, the NETBible from Daniel Wallace and friends shows you some of the current thinking in modern scholarship
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
when he divided up humankind,
he set the boundaries of the peoples,
according to the number of the heavenly assembly.
3 tc Heb “the sons of Israel.” The idea, perhaps, is that Israel was central to Yahweh’s purposes and all other nations were arranged and distributed according to how they related to Israel. See S. R. Driver, Deuteronomy (ICC), 355-56. For the MT (bÿney yisra’el, “sons of Israel”) a Qumran fragment has “sons of God,” while the LXX reads (angelwn qeou, “angels of God”), presupposing (bÿney ’el) or (beney ’elim). “Sons of God” is undoubtedly the original reading; the MT and LXX have each interpreted it differently. MT assumes that the expression “sons of God” refers to Israel (cf. Hos. 1:10), while LXX has assumed that the phrase refers to the angelic heavenly assembly (Pss 29:1; 89:6; cf. as well Ps 82). The phrase is also attested in Ugaritic, where it refers to the high god El’s divine assembly. According to the latter view, which is reflected in the translation, the Lord delegated jurisdiction over the nations to his angelic host (cf. Dan. 10:13-21), while reserving for himself Israel, over whom he rules directly. For a defense of the view taken here, see M. S. Heiser, “Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God,” BSac 158 (2001): 52-74.
And this new text is followed by some of the other modern versions.
NRSV - according to the number of the gods;
NLT - according to the number of angelic beings.
MSG - within boundaries under the care of divine guardians.
ESV - according to the number of the sons of God.
So, per NETBible, the hundreds of Masoretic Text manuscripts are "undoubtedly" wrong :).
And the one DSS fragment is "undoubtedly" right.
Daniel O. McClellan (graduate student in Biblical Studies) explained the current thinking this way on an internet forum:
.... your Bible has numerous spurious texts and interpolations. Your Bible's version of Deut 32:8, for instance, has a tertiary alteration that was effected in the Common Era. The verse originally ended "according to the number of the sons of God" (cf. 4QDeut-j). Some Septuagint manuscripts changed it in the late Greco-Roman period to "angels of God," and the Masoretic texts centuries later finally removed the reference to divine beings by changing it to "sons of Israel." .
And the paper referenced above in the NETBible by Michael Heiser is available online:
Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God (2001)
And apparently all this represents something like the "state of the art" of Tanach (Old Testament) Textual Criticism, with everybody who is anybody agreeing on the originality of the DSS fragment and the inauthenticity of the hundreds of Masoretic Text manuscripts.
Another state of the art paper is :
A Note on the Text of Deuteronomy xxxii 8 (2007)
Yet, I see some little problems here, in methods of thinking, in creation of scenarios, in working with chronology, in evaluation of evidences, in circular presumptions and in logic.
So, I would like for now to simply leave this interesting question to the forum. We do not have much discussion of OT topics, but this one caught me by surprise and I found it fascinating to study out. I also think it can show us a lot about deficiencies in modern textual thinking.
- No problem. The dual cataloging system for the DSS is absurdly confusing to everybody, probably including the good folks who devised it.
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Date: Fri, 11 May 2012 08:32:49 -0700
Subject: Re: [textualcriticism] Re: 4Q37 and "sons of God"Apparently 4Q37 was the 37th mss recovered from Cave 4, now cataloged as 4QDeut-j, and conflated by none other than yours truly as 4QDeut37. So we can remove that ID number from the list right off! and are back to two DSS mss that contain the phrase in question.Daniel Buck