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Foundational Passages &
Grammatical-historical Exegesis. Each biblical document, and
each part of a biblical document, must be studied in its
context—both its immediate literary context and the wider
situation in which it appeared. This calls for an understanding of
the following elements:
 Biblical languages
 Types of literature represented
 Historical background / geography
 Life setting
Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 611-612
 The
context for understanding the Hebrew OT is
the Roman Catholic Church
the Protestant Reformation
pre-late 19th century Christianity
20th/21st century evangelicalism
The context for understanding Genesis is the
context in which it was written.
God did not create a new culture for Israel that was
foreign to the rest of the known world at the time.
God worked in and through ancient Israel as it
culturally was. He did not change Israel’s worldview
so He could dispense revelation to them.
God’s revelation to Israel was culturally decipherable
(i.e., they could understand it) and culturally
consistent (it was not alien to the culture).
Inspiration operates within a cultural context chosen
by God in his sovereign wisdom.
We honor God’s decision to reveal truth to humanity
WHEN, WHERE, in what CULTURE, and to WHOM he
did by letting the Bible be what it is … not making it
what we’d like it to be.
 God
of Israel (Psalm 82:1 and other pss)
 The
gods of Yahweh’s divine council (Psa. 82:1)
gods of various nations (for example…)
• Ashtoreth, the god(dess) [elohim] of the Sidonians, Chemosh, [elohim]
of Moab (1 Kings 11:33), Milcom, the god [elohim] of the Ammonites
Demons [shedim] (Deut 32:17 = KJV; BHS)
Disembodied human dead (1 Sam 28:13)
Angels (?) – Genesis 35:1-7 (cp. Gen 32)…
elohim = “place of residence”
gods of council
El / Athirat
sons of El
sons of God
Dt. 32:8-9 / princes of
Daniel 10
mal’akim / angels
Observations: Who is Absent?
The word “demons” (shedim) in the
HB is rare (Deut 32:17; Psa
106:37); not with Sheol; the
rephaim are mentioned in Sheol
At Ugarit, MOT was the lord of the
Underworld / Sheol, but is not listed
in the pantheon or offering lists
(feared but not worshipped).
Helel ben Shachar is demoted [to
Sheol (“satan” not used for him
or with Sheol in OT)
The human dead are in Sheol;
righteous hoped for removal.
sons of God
Dt. 32:8-9 / princes of
Daniel 10
mal’akim / angels
Ugarit / El & Baal
God of Israel
“at the source of
the two rivers”
Zion and Eden are
“well watered”
sacred gardens /
mountains (Gen
2:8-14; Eze
28:13-16; Joel
3:18; Ezek 47:112)
“midst of the
double deep
“Mount Tsaphanu”
yarketê tsaphon
Zion is “the
heights of
tsaphon” (Psa
48:1-2; Isa 14:13)
“mount of
assembled council”
puhru moʿed
har moʿed
“mount of
assembly” (Isa
El’s Abode
Yahweh’s (El) Abode
Decrees issued from the
“tents of El”
ḏd ʾil
El and the gods lived in
“tents” & “tabernacles”
msǩ nt
ʾhl moʿed
msǩ n
Yahweh “lived” at
the “tent of
meeting” and
El and council meet in a
“house” and “temple”
“Lord’s house”
Ex 24:9ff.; 27:9
(“courtyard” of
Baal’s palace had
“paved bricks” & a
“court” that shone like
“lapis lazuli”
Tents (see below)
The Greek form of
the name “Babel” =
“Babylon” and is
from the native
Akkadian Bāb-ilim,
which means "Gate
of the god", which
summarizes the
religious purpose of
• A manifestation of ANE cosmology,
• The earth was a disc of land which
surrounded by a salt water ocean,
both of which floated on another sea
of fresh water called Apsu.
• Above was a solid dome firmament;
stars fixed on it.
• A world mountain formed an axis
mundi that joined all three layers.
• The role of the temple was to act as
that axis mundi, a meeting place
between gods and men.
• Rectangular with four corners
pointing in cardinal directions to
symbolize the four rivers which flow
from the mountain to the four world
And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven,
and when you see the sun and the moon and the
stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away
and bow down to them and serve them, things that
the LORD your God has allotted to all the peoples
under the whole heaven. 20 But the LORD has taken
you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of
Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance.
Deut 17:3 – Israel apostasized;
called demons in Deut 32:17
Genesis 11 = the disinheriting of the nations
Genesis 12 = Call of Abram to create a new for Himself (His
“portion” – Deut 32:9)
The OT Story:
• Israel vs. the nations
• YHWH vs. their gods
 Examples: 1 Samuel 26:17-19; 2 Kings 5:17-19
• Deut 32:8-9 (cp. Deut 4:19-20) = basis for OT explanation
for the pantheons of the nations
 Played out in election / recipient of revelation
 Played out in the wars under Moses and Joshua
 Jerusalem an Amorite site at one time (Ezek 16:3)
1. “The LORD is our God; the LORD is one.”
2. “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
3. “The Lord our God is one Lord.”
4. “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.”
5. “Our one God is the LORD, the LORD.”
POINT: The Shema presumes divine plurality; other gods are
over the nations – they are real and were put there by Yahweh
Corollary Question
“none besides me”; “none like me”
not denials of the existence of other
elohim; statements of incomparability.
these “denials” occur in the same chapters and books as
those that refer to other elohim (Deut 4, 32; Isaiah 40-66)
these “denials” phrases are used elsewhere we denial of
existence cannot be possible.
‫‪Hebrew phrases from them‬‬
‫‪Denial Passages‬‬
‫‪ 1‬וְ אֵ ין ִמבַּ לְ עָ ַּדי‬
‫ּומבַּ לְ עָ ַּדי אֵ ין א ִ‬
‫‪ִ 2‬‬
‫‪ֲ 3‬היֵׁש אֱֹלוהַּ ִמבַּ לְ עָ ַּדי וְ אֵ ין צּור בַּ ל־י ָָדעְ ִתי׃‬
‫ֱֹלהים ִמבַּ לְ עָ ַּדי‬
‫‪ 4‬וְ אֵ ין־עֹוד א ִ‬
‫‪ 5‬זּול ִָתי אֵ ין א ִ‬
‫‪ַ 6‬איִן זּול ִָתי׃‬
‫‪ 7‬וְ אֵ ין עֹוד‬
‫‪ 8‬וְ אֵ ין עֹוד אֶ פֶ ס א ִ‬
‫‪ 9‬כִ י־אֶ פֶ ס בִ לְ עָ ָדי‬
‫‪ 10‬וְ אֵ ין בָ כֶם זָר‬
‫‪ 11‬לְ פָ נַּי ֹלא־נֹוצַּ ר אֵ ל‬
‫‪See Isa 47:8, 10; Zeph 2:15‬‬
‫‪Deut 4:35‬‬
‫‪Deut 4:39‬‬
‫‪Deut 32:12‬‬
‫‪Deut 32:29‬‬
‫‪Isa 43:10-12‬‬
‫‪Isa 44:6-8‬‬
‫‪Isa 45: 5-7‬‬
‫‪Isa 45:14‬‬
‫‪Isa 45:18‬‬
‫‪Isa 45:21-22‬‬

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