When the Jews Believed in Other Gods

Centro Estudios Judaicos del Sur de PR

Image result for 2,200-year-old altar with bull: Somebody was worshipping gods other than Yahweh Gil Cohen Magen

2,200-year-old altar with bull: Somebody was worshipping gods other than Yahweh (Gil Cohen Magen)

By Elon Gilad

There is but one God, according to Jewish religious dogma. No other exists. We tend to assume that our forefathers devoutly believed the same. But the truth is that the Bible also shows, time and again, that wasn’t the prevailing system of belief among the ancient Israelites.

The different scribes who wrote most of the biblical canon believed the incorporeal world was populated by a multitude of gods, but that the Hebrews should not worship any of these other deities, only Yahweh (which is what scholars call henotheism or monolatry). This is explicitly stated in the Second Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

The verse “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?” (Exodus 15:11) is even more explicit about  other gods existing alongside Yahweh.

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