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The Boundaries of the Nations

When the Most High [Hebrew: Elyon] gave to the nations their inheritance, When he separated the children of men [Hebrew: Adam], He set the bounds of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel. (Deuteronomy 32:8 , ASV)

In the Hebrew Masoretic text, the Hebrew for "children of Israel" is b'nei yisra'El, literally meaning "sons of Israel." If we are honest with the text, this really does not make sense as the "sons of Israel" did not exist at the time that these nations were being formed and separated. However, in the Dead Sea Scrolls we find b'nei Elohim, which means "sons of Elohim." It is pretty clear that the writers of the Masoretic text revised this passage and changed it from "sons of Elohim" to "sons of Israel." Why? Because the use of “sons of Elohim” implies a non-Monotheistic view of the Bible, so it was revised to be more Monotheistic friendly.


According to the above passage, Elyon (by the way, if you didn’t notice, this is not Yahweh) divided up the nations and set boundaries (borders) around them. These nations were "numbered" according to the "sons of Elohim." Genesis chapter 10, commonly referred to as the "Table of Nations," lists the nations descended from Noah through his three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. The total number of nations in this list is seventy.

The ancient city of Ugarit was discovered in 1928 in Syria. The height of the Ugaritic civilization was around the 12th Century BCE making them contemporaries with the Israelites. Also, the religion and language of the Ugarit people are very similar to that of the Israelites.   Excavations of the site revealed an ancient library filled with clay tablets. One such tablet states that El Elyon had seventy sons (the Elim) and each son was allocated to a specific people. Many of these sons of El are mentioned by name, including El of Shaddai and El of Beriyt.

Can you see the close parallels between Deuteronomy 32:8, Genesis 10 and the Ugarit tablets? According to these sources, Elyon divided up all the nations into seventy nations, one for each of his sons (Elim). Not a very monotheistic view of Elohim is it?

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