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Deuteronomy 32:8 – How Did “Angels of God” In Septuagint Become “Children of Israel” In Our Bibles?

Posted by Job on July 18, 2008

From the Septuagint: ” When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God

From our Bibles: “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.”

By the way, Bible scholars based largely – though not entirely – on the study of Paul’s writings would interpret “divided to the nations their inheritance” to mean “the number of people from each nation that receive salvation.” This is based on Paul’s statement that his duty as an apostle (think missionary in this context) who saw his duty as an evangelist as serving in the role similar to that of an Old Testament priest giving praise offerings to God. Paul saw the praise and worship offerings by the tabernacle and temple priests as prefiguring Christian evangelists bringing people from the various tribes and nations to salvation.  

That is a big difference isn’t it? Let me tell you … Hebrews 2:5 is generally regarded as being influenced by the LXX (Septuagint) version of Deuteronomy 32:8. I just find it odd, because according to the LXX version, the number of people that will be born again and go to heaven was always predetermined, finite, AND EQUAL TO THE NUMBER OF ANGELS THAT GOD CREATED. Of course, 1/3 of the angels rebelled and were cast out. But in any case, if the version of Deuteronomy that the writer of Hebrews had was more correct than ours, then there really is no basis for opposing the notion of particular grace, commonly called limited atonement.

I am curious as to what the textual critics have to say about this one. I wonder if this goes back to the Massoretes, or if it goes back even further to Jerome’s Vulgate. (Then again, why would the Jewish community generally agree with the Vulgate?) The Dead Sea Scrolls contain at least SOME of Deuteronomy. This fellow says that the Dead Sea scrolls agree with the Septuagint. So does this more scholarly source.  … does anyone know how said scrolls can be investigated?

Update: Another bit of evidence that makes the LXX translation of Deuteronomy 32:8 almost certainly correct is Peter’s escaping jail in Acts 12. James had been killed prior to this, and when Peter was arrested they felt that he would meet the same fate. But when Rhoda saw Peter at the door and reported it, not believing it was Peter they stated “it must be his angel.” Christian thought at the time – and please keep in mind that these were all Jewish believers in Jesus Christ operating from a completely Jewish worldview, and I can say that because Jesus Christ was a Jew so that made “Christian” thought Jewish thought – was that everyone had a guardian angel assigned to their watch. (Other legendary things had been attached to this tradition over the years, such as the guardian angel’s taking on the appearance of the angel’s human charge.) Do angels “recycle” their assignments, getting new charges when their prior one dies? I will not go there. I will state, however, that I doubt that that common grace that God extends to the wicked – the sun and the rain falling on the good as well as the evil – goes so far as to give Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger or her buddy Adolph Hitler or his initial buddy Joseph Stalin angels to watch over, comfort, minister to, and aid in their depraved wickedness. It is a valid inference from Biblical doctrine that said angels would only be assigned to people that God considers His own.

3 Responses to “Deuteronomy 32:8 – How Did “Angels of God” In Septuagint Become “Children of Israel” In Our Bibles?”

  1. rey said

    See also that the LXX has extra wording in Deut 32:43. In bold are the extra words. In underline are the changes that are not additions but alterations of words.

    LXX: “Rejoice, ye heavens, with Him, and let all the angels of God worship Him; Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people, and let all the sons of God strengthen themselves in him; for he will avenge the blood of His sons, and He will render vengeance and recompense justice to His enemies, and will reward them that hate him; and the Lord shall purge the land of his people.”

    KJV: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”

    • rey said

      Compare the first expansion: “Rejoice, ye heavens, with Him, and let all the angels of God worship Him;” with Hebrews 1:6.

      Hebrews 1:6 “And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.”

      Is Hebrews 1:6 referring to the LXX of Deut 32:43 or to Psalms 97:7? “Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods.”

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