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Re: [textualcriticism] Deuteronomy 32:8 - children of Israel - examining the ancient text-lines

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  • Daniel Buck
    OK, I ll concede that my The Son of God recension theory may not apply here, as the MT does contain references to The Sons of God. That leaves us with
    Message 1 of 40 , May 5, 2012
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      OK, I'll concede that my "The Son of God" recension theory may not apply here, as the MT does contain references to "The Sons of God."
      That leaves us with parablepsis shortening ISRA'EL to 'EL to result in a corrupted LXX reading.  The Samaritan supports this line of reasoning.

      But I'd like to look a bit closer at the Targums.

      Jerusalem Targum from the Chaldee
      When the Most High divided the nations by lot, and distinguished the languages of the children of men, He appointed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel.

      This reading yields a rather specific number of twelve tribes, but without allocating them to twelve nations. It's still approximately as vague as the MT reading.

      Targum Ps-Jonathan
      When the Most High made allotment of the world unto the nations which proceeded from the sons of Noach, in the separation of the writings and languages of the children of men at the time of the division, He cast the lot among the seventy angels, the princes of the nations with whom is the revelation to oversee the city, even at that time He established the limits of the nations according to the sum of the number of the seventy souls of Israel who went down into Mizraim.

      Now we are back to the seventy-nations=seventy sons of Israel equation, a logical interpretation of the MT reading. But note, the sons of God are also featured. So again, if we begin with a "sons of Israel" reading, interpret that as numerically equating the principalities of the 70 nations, then it becomes very easy to read ISRA'EL as 'EL.

      Now, looking at the internal evidence, the NET has gained absolutely nothing in comprehensibility. It appears to indicate that the limit on human population is related to the number of angels, but the word "boundaries" doesn't fit the context. On the other had, from Jacob's perspective (knowing only of the seventy nations listed in Genesis 10-11), "Jonathan" makes perfect sense. There are seventy nations; I have seventy male descendants; therefore, there is a one-to-one correspondence.

      Now, there is one more possibility reflected in "Jonathan." Those who see "late recension" in every potential conflation will miss it, but it's possible that both readings were in the original text: the MT preserved one, the LXX the other. 

      Deuteronomy 32:8 
      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,
      according to the number of the children of Israel.

      And now either alternate reading becomes a simple case of parablepsis.

      Daniel Buck

      When the Most High  gave the nations their inheritance,
      when he divided up humankind,
      he set the boundaries of the people
      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)
      Michael Heiser

      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)
      Jan Joosten

    • Dave Washburn
      No problem. The dual cataloging system for the DSS is absurdly confusing to everybody, probably including the good folks who devised it. Dave Washburn
      Message 40 of 40 , May 12, 2012
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        No problem. The dual cataloging system for the DSS is absurdly confusing to everybody, probably including the good folks who devised it.

        Dave Washburn
        Check out my review show, No Life With Irving

        To: textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com
        From: bucksburg@...
        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

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