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Polytheism and Ancient Israel

It has been rightly pointed out that when someone or something is given more importance in the lives of people than God, those become idols. Essentially, false gods. They get money, attention, study, adoration — there are people who know sports teams inside out. Others understand politics so well, they could run countries. Although there are no overt and formal acts of worship, we are effectively a polytheistic society. No wonder the real God is judging us! Ancient Israel was monotheistic at first, but one jasper thinks they were polytheistic before they believed in Yahweh.

Prayer of Moses after the Israelites go through the Red Sea, Ivan Kramskoy, 1861

Yes, the neighboring nations of Israel were polytheistic. We know that. For a supposed scholar of biblical archaeology to disregard the biblical text and agree with some scholars who reject biblical authority is baffling. The Bible is known for being historically accurate, and it clearly attests to ancient Israel knowing the true God. We also know that they were corrupted by those other nations because they followed their pagan ways, enraging God. Then they would get in trouble, cry out to the true God, he would send a rescuer, then they worshipped properly. Then they'd do it all again...lather, rinse, repeat.

A recent article in Biblical Archaeology Review asked the question of when monotheism emerged in ancient Israel. In contrast to many scholars, the author, Philip D. Stern, answered that biblical texts (especially early songs/poems) clearly show that monotheism emerged early in Israel’s history. He highlighted Exodus 15 (the song of the sea, just after the exodus occurred and the Egyptian army was drowned), 2 Samuel 22, Psalm 18 (the song of deliverance when David was finally free from internal insurrection and outside enemies), and Deuteronomy 32:1–43, where God makes a declaration about himself to Moses (and the children of Israel). In all these cases, God is ascribed majesty and glory as the only God and as supreme ruler of all the nations.

To read the rest, click on "When Did Monotheism Emerge in Ancient Israel?"