Sunday, August 07, 2005

Punishing Gods

Numbers 33:4 - "And the Egyptians were burying those among them whom God has struck, every firstborn; and on their gods God had inflicted punishments."

God needs to punish what are non-existant? More evidence of the henotheistic writer; they exist, but Hashem is the strongest.

13 comments:

Ben Avuyah said...

Nice !

I'll take a guess at the top two apologetic answers we will likely see.
1) Not their actual gods, but the idea of their gods was hurt because they couldn't protect them.

2)loshon binei adam.

have you ever noticed how every time the torah says something cryptic it's evidence it could only be from god, and every time the torah says something provincial enough to make your ears ring it's loshon binei adam...

Anonymous said...
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Menuval said...

If you can get hold of it, I highly recommend The Religion of Israel by Yehezkel Kaufman; he addresses exactly this question. If I have time later I will write a summary.

elf said...

Kaufman argues that the Israelites didn't understand paganism at all. This would seem evidence to the contrary...

Menuval said...

Elf,

He quotes this and similar verses right at the begining of his book. The rest of the book is dealing with the problem.

Mis-nagid said...

The rest of the book is dealing with the problem.

What problem?

Menuval said...

"Problem" is bad word. My mistake.

Enigma4U said...

One day, when my children have grown and flown the coop, and all the bloggers have run out of interesting things to say, and it's a slow year or two for news, I will sit down and make a compilation of all the henotheism references in the Tanach. Unless somebody beats me to it.

Anonymous said...

Another really good book on religion in ancient Israel is
"The Bible and the Ancient Near East" by Rendsberg and Gordon.

Rendsberg was my professor at SUNY, actually. Awesome guy. Religiously observant, too! Somehow teaching academic Jewish history and living traditional Jewish history didn't bother him.
-Alan Scott

alex said...

Is "their gods" the only acceptable Biblical translation of "elohayhem" ?
If you want, feel free to make this item 3 under Ben Avuyah's apologetics

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

"Is "their gods" the only acceptable Biblical translation of "elohayhem" ?"

It is the most sensical one. Even Artscroll says so and they're notorious for whitewashing stuff like this.

alex said...

Actually, we can't use Artscroll's translation as a proof either way. In Ex 34:17, they translate elohay as gods, even though the context is clearly idols, in this case molten. (There are other idols, such as rivers and animals.) In other words, "gods" is to be *equated* with "idols".

I'm surprised Ben Avuyah didn't add a third option in his preemptive list of apologetic answers. That would be 3) Their actual idols.

Orthoprax said...

Alex,

Either way really. The Torah views the idols as gods in themselves. But even so, if they are but stone, one can't really punish _them_ unless they are more than stone.

It could very well just be an odd turn of phrase, but I don't think a purely monotheistic writer would put it that way in the first place.