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August 27, 2008

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I can't wait to see them.

Fascinating. I am excited to see them for myself as well.

And comparisons of those documents separated by a millennium demonstrated agreement and accuracy in the Old Testament we have.

Yeah, some. Also some disagreements. An interesting one is found at Dt 32:8-9. Here is how your NIV reads:

8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel. 9 For the LORD'S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.

Really this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Dividing by the number of the sons of Israel, and YHWH gets a portion?

But here's a Dead Sea Scrolls variant. Remember that Most High is El El Yon and LORD is YHWH. Here is how it reads.

8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, When He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of God. 9 For the LORD'S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.

In other words, El El Yon (the Most High) has many sons, one of whom is YHWH, and YHWH was given Israel as his portion, while other deities were given other peoples. This polytheism was written out and reflected in the much later Masoretic texts.

Jon,

I'm sorry to say this, but you don't know what you're talking about. It seems as if you a) don't have the backgound knowledge in Hebraic usage of "inheritance" and "portion" in general and specifically when applied to YHWH, and b) are badly misunderstanding what BOTH texts are saying. I'm kinda crunched for time right now, but if you want me to come back later and work through the text for you, I can. But I'm curious - how did you come across this variant (i.e., who were you reading)?

Didn't Josh McDowell, et al, already deal with the "J, P, E, D" theorists?

You don't suppose that YHWH, the most high, set the boundaries of Israel according to the number of children Jacob, through whom god was fulfilling a promise to Abraham, had?; And that he did so *because* he was fulfilling promises through Jacob as opposed to the rest of the world - a figurative "allotment" of all the rest of his creation?

There's nothing wrong with the passage. It makes perfect sense.

>>Really this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Dividing by the number of the sons of Israel, and YHWH gets a portion?

Jon, even if this turns out to be the most reliable variant (which it isn't necessarily), in the Bible, the phrase "sons of God" often refers to the people of God (and certainly this was the case by the time the Dead Sea Scrolls were written--just see how often Jesus uses the phrase this way). So "sons of God" could easily be interchangeable with "the sons of Israel." The "sons of man" are those who are outside the covenant. He separated the sons of man from the sons of God and gave the sons of God a portion of land big enough for them (according to their number). God set them apart from the other people as His portion (i.e., he set boundaries around them, separating them from the other people). That is a common concept in the OT--that is, one takes a portion of all one has and sets it aside as God's portion. This is an idea that would have been familiar to them. What you never see in the OT is someone taking everything he has and dividing it between many gods. That would have been an unfamiliar concept and so the less likely interpretation.

I'm sure Aaron could add more to this, but that's what he's referring to--there's a context for understanding portion and inheritance that can't be understood from reading that one passage alone.

>>He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of God. 9 For the LORD'S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance.

If you were correct, wouldn't it say "and the LORD'S portion is His people (as opposed to the other gods portions)," not "for"? The word "for," seems to imply that the purpose of all the separating was to set apart one specific group of people for Himself. This is all focused on one group of people--on the Most High showing His favor on one group, not on the idea of this being one of many god's portions.

Yes, Aaron, please do elaborate. If I'm wrong I'll be glad to know. That's what I'm here for. I heard this claim from Robert Price on the infidel guy podcast. One of the free ones. I think the first 10 or 11 are free. I can find out where he says this in the podcast if you'd like to listen. Try listening ot some of these and see if you're not impressed with the breadth of Price's knowledge about the Bible.

Of course I looked the claim up. Your NIV text note confirms the variant.

Agilius, I'm not sure I'm getting your reading. I'll try and ponder that one.

Amy, I can understand your reading. I can't say it's not conceivable. Keep in mind though that critical scholars regard the text as having been edited to write out the polytheism, so with that in mind this is making really good sense as I read it. But that's just one paradigm. You try it out and see how far it takes you. I'm not saying your paradigm can in no conceivable way account for it.

Not sure on the "for" thing. I know some Hebrew experts. I'll consult them.

Jon, I know I've said this before, but I want to say again that I always appreciate your tone and thoughtful opposition. You contribute to making this blog interesting!

I have a response, but I'm going to post it as a regular post rather than in this comment section, so watch for it.

This field never ceases to generate controversy. Museum exhibits have been abusively slanted towards an increasingly disputed theory, and plagiarism charges have surfaced against Lawrence Schiffman, author of the popular book "Reclaiming the Dead Sea Scrolls." See

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/plagiarism-and-dead-sea-scrolls-did-nyu-department-chairman-pilfer-chicago-historian-s-work

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