But how is proving what the Bible says with the Bible any less circular?This is not exactly constructive is it. Aren't you using the Bible (or at least a few favoured passages) to try to establish your thesis?!
Q "How do you know the early Israelites were polytheists?"
A "Because these few obscure Bible passages, which I claim to be older than other passages which don't fit my thesis, indicate it according to my own interpretation."
Q "But how do you know they are older and reliable?"
A "Because this fits my thesis"
The evidence of polytheism in ancient Israel is quite abundant."Abundant?" This is just an empty sound-bite that sounds good but has no substance to back it up.
How does one measure "abundant" except by personal opinion?
Other Ancient Near East Texts
A general caveat. It is intellectually dishonest to treat the Bible with a huge dose of scepticism yet accept other ANET without question. #justsaying One should also note that the Bible is far more realistic about the leading characters - even heroes like David have their faults described rather than whitewashed.
records of Sargon II, who took booty from Samaria which included 'the gods in whom they trusted', obviously referring to idolsI don't think anyone is denying that some ancient Israelites worshipped other gods. This is why they paid the price of defeat by Assyria and Babylon. However, they were going against their own monotheistic religion.
Nowhere in Psalm 82 are the Elohim "gods" equated to the gods of idols that were worshipped. And you know full well that Elohim has a range of meanings (e.g. the Heiser video). Here Heiser shows that, amongst other things, Elohim is used for demons (Dt 32:17) and angels (Gen 35:1-7). Psalm 82 isn't about worshipping other gods, it's about a divine council. To say this means polytheism is to put together disparate Bible passages and ideas in a presumptuous fashion. Psalm 82 says nothing about gods being worshipped, either by the other nations or the Israelites.
Although Micah may have been based in Judah his message was to both Judah and Israel. I wonder if you are putting in such irrelevancies so that if I don't respond to them you will then say "you didn't respond to all my points". Could that be because some of them don't merit any response?
Why would Yahweh need to be jealous if these other beings didn't actually exist?God is "jealous" because he's jealous for the hearts and minds of His chosen people Israel. This is about as basic an aspect of the OT as there could possibly be. The creator of the universe is not threatened by idols that need to be carried about and fixed so they don't fall over!
Kuntillet Ajrud and Khirbet el-Qom
Given the location and evidence of other languages, this could well be a case of non-Israelites worshipping Yahweh. Remember no one is denying that at times the Israelites worshipped other gods. The nation of Israel began at Mt Sinai and Yahweh made clear to them there that such worship was not to be done. Ditto Taanach cult stand etc.
The first Israelites were in fact Canaanites.Disputed. There have been threads about this in the past.
Verse 39 may be a later redaction that reflects post-exilic beliefsA classic example of "because this fits my thesis"
And can you demonstrate that the name Isra-El is not in reference to the Canaanite head god El?Just because Canaanite "El" and Hebrew "El", "Elohim" etc are cognate forms doesn't mean they refer to the same god. Elohim and El in the Bible are generic terms for God, gods, divine beings etc. (see above). I've already made this point in the thread.
You seem to be unwilling to admit that its nonsensical for people to worship something that they don't actually believe exists.No I haven't said that. What I have said is that the OT is mostly silent on what people actually believed. From classical sources we know that their worship of gods and the accompanying rituals was mostly done as a matter of form to try to ensure good fortune, rather than any particular belief in the gods themselves. (Tradition). If you say X believed Y when the text does not say so, you are making an assumption.
Ironically, this just happens to be the same name of the head Canaanite god just a few kilometers away. Coincidence?No, because in Hebrew "El" just means god amongst other things. It's a generic term.
El is equated with
a. YHWH in Num. 23:8; Ps. 16:1-2; 85:8; Isa. 42:5
b. Elohim in Gen. 46:3; Job 5:8, "I am El, the Elohim of your father"
c. Shaddai in Gen. 49:25; Num. 24:4,16
d. "jealousy" in Exod. 34:14; Deut. 4:24; 5:9; 6:15
e. "mercy" in Deut. 4:31; Neh. 9:31
f. "great and awesome" in Deut. 7:21; 10:17; Neh. 1:5; 9:32; Dan. 9:4
g. "knowledge" in 1 Sam. 2:3
h. "my strong refuge" in 2 Sam. 22:33
i. "my avenger" in 2 Sam. 22:48
j. "holy one" in Isa. 5:16
k. "might" in Isa. 10:21
l. "my salvation" in Isa. 12:2
m. "great and powerful" in Jer. 32:18
n. "retribution" in Jer. 51:56
I'd really like to hear your justification for choosing a translation that was made over 1,000 years later than the DSS and LXX"Translation" ?!?!? The MT was written in the same language as the original autograph: Hebrew!
The LXX is a translation (from Hebrew to Greek).
The date and character of the witnesses. In general, earlier manuscripts are more likely tofrom Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek NT (general principles apply to other texts as well).
be free from those errors that arise from repeated copying. Of even greater importance, however,
than the age of the document itself are the date and character of the type
of text that it embodies, as well as the degree of care taken by the copyist while producing the
This is just one of the criteria. Other being: geographical distro of witnesses, genealogical relationship of texts, internal factors e.g. generally prefer more difficult reading (sons of Israel is also difficult), generally prefer shorter reading etc. This section by Metzger is well worth reading as a brief intro.
By the way, Samuel Rolles Driver died before the DSS were discovered so his opinion is automatically disqualified.Wrong since he knew about the Septuagint reading.
You listed 5 scholars but never quoted their arguments, evidence, or refutationsI prefer to make my own arguments rather than hide behind "scholars".