0

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He divided the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. But the LORD’s portion is His people, Jacob His allotted inheritance. He found him in a desert land, in a barren, howling wilderness; He surrounded him, He instructed him, He guarded him as the apple of His eye

I've recently been doing quite a bit of bible study. One of the terms I've researched is "Sons of God" and its usage in the old testament. The general consensus appears to be that usually when this is used it is referring to spiritual beings - Angels in heaven. Such as its usage in Job 1, Job 2.

I've read multiple different versions of Deuteronomy 32:8 most of which include the term "sons of God" - others which include "sons of Israel". Some which even reference Caanite Gods. I can't make sense of the passage using "sons of Israel" My reading of it seems to make more sense if this was talking about "sons of God" as in spiritual beings working for the most high god (Angels). The passage would then mean: That God divided mankind into groups / tribes / countries .... so that the number of groups equaled the number of angels in heaven. He then gave each Angel in heaven one of the groups of people as an inheritance they were assigned to watch over and protect. Abraham, Isaac, Jacobs blood line is then said to be the group that were given to Yahweh (the lord) as his inheritance.

Is this the correct understanding of this passage ?

3
  • In context to the scriptures "sons of Israel" is the correct translation. Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 13:23
  • Ok thanks. If this is the case can you explain the meaning of this passage. As the meaning seemed to make sense with "Sons of God" (Ben Elohim) translation. When I use the alternate "Sons of Israel" translation - for me it makes no sense. I can't understand what its saying. Why would god divide the nations according to the number of the sons of Israel ? Why is jaccob then the lords inheritence ? The two don't appear to fit together any more in my reading.
    – Marshall
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 13:33
  • To do justice to your research, you can not ignore the work Dr Michael Heiser has made available regarding this section in Deuteronomy. I won’t answer as it would simply be a rehash of his work. - drmsh.com
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 18:25

2 Answers 2

1

What is the meaning behind Deuteronomy 32:8?

In the Torah, Devarim (Deuteronomy) 32:8 states: “When the Most High gave nations their lot, when He separated the sons of man, He set up the boundaries of peoples according to the number of the children of Israel.” ( בְּהַנְחֵ֤ל עֶלְיוֹן֙ גּוֹיִ֔ם בְּהַפְרִיד֖וֹ בְּנֵ֣י אָדָ֑ם יַצֵּב֙ גְּבֻלֹ֣ת עַמִּ֔ים לְמִסְפַּ֖ר בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל)

  1. Sons of Man (בְּנֵ֣י אָדָ֑ם) is the literal English translation of the Hebrew “Beni Adam”.

  2. Children/Sons of Israel (בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל) is the literal English translation of the Hebrew “Beni Yisrael”.

  • Regarding "Sons of God", The Hebrew term [בְּנֵ֤י הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙] 'Beni-HaElohim' used in [Genesis 6:4] refers to the Nephilim (נְּפִלִ֞ים) as "sons of the gods".

In Iyov (Job) 1:1, we see the Hebrew word “Beni Elohim” used to describe Angels not Sons/Children of God: “Now the day came about, and the angels of God came to stand beside the Lord, and the Adversary, too, came among them” (וַיְהִ֣י הַיּ֔וֹם וַיָּבֹ֙אוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים לְהִתְיַצֵּ֖ב עַל־יְהֹוָ֑ה וַיָּב֥וֹא גַם־הַשָּׂטָ֖ן בְּתוֹכָֽם)

Angels of the-God (בְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים) in Job 1:1 a canonized verse of the Hebrew Tanakh does demonstrate the Hebrew word “Beni” (בְּנֵ֣י) represents three concepts : Sons/Children/Angels.

  • Angels of God (מַלְאֲכֵ֣י אֱלֹהִ֔ים) are shown to be messengers “Malaki” from God in Genesis 28:12 to share news of blessings to Yisrael.

Judges 13:1-3 makes the distinction that the Sons/Children of Yisrael (בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל) receive God’s Word and the Angel of YHVH (מַלְאַךְ־יְהֹוָ֖ה) delivers God’s Word.

In Conclusion, We could deduce that Job 1:1 demonstrates a mistranslation of “Beni Ha-Elohim” as Angels of God (מַלְאֲכֵ֣י אֱלֹהִ֔ים) instead of “Sons of the-God”, since the Sons/Children of God (בְּנֵ֤י הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙) referenced also in Genesis 6:4 were “Nobles” who gathered to receive God’s Word instead of deliver His Word like a messenger “Malak YHVH” (Angel of the Lord) referenced in Judges 13:3.

6
  • 1
    Thanks for the response. Are you aware of the reason for the different translations into English ? Are their potentially multiple sources used or is this just a very weird translation ? It seems odd to me that they would translate Beni Yusrael into "Sons of God". Based on my previous research when this term was used in Job for example the Hebrew was ben "הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים hā-’ĕ-lō-hîm,
    – Marshall
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 13:19
  • The Aramaic term [בַר־אֱלָהִֽין] 'Bar Elohin' used in [Daniel 3:25] is "Son - of God". The Hebrew term [בְּנֵ֤י הָֽאֱלֹהִים֙] 'Beni-HaElohim' used in [Genesis 6:4] refers to the Nephilim (נְּפִלִ֞ים) as "sons of the gods". Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 13:44
  • Angels of God (בְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים) in Job 1:1 a canonized verse of the Hebrew Tanakh does demonstrate the Hebrew word “Beni” (בְּנֵ֣י) represents three concepts : Sons/Children/Angels. Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 13:51
  • Angels of God (מַלְאֲכֵ֣י אֱלֹהִ֔ים) are shown to be messengers “Malaki” from God in Genesis 28:12 to share news of blessings to Yisrael. Judges 13:1-3 makes the distinction that the Sons/Children of Yisrael (בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל) receive God’s Word and the Angel of YHVH (מַלְאַךְ־יְהֹוָ֖ה) delivers God’s Word. Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 14:25
  • I think I found my answer The Masoretic (BHS) reads: When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, When He separated the children of men, He set the borders of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel. בהנחל עליון גוים בהפרידו בני אדם יצב גבלת עמים למספר בני ישראל The Septuagint reads: 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. ὅτε διεμέριζεν ὁ ὕψιστος ἔθνη ὡς διέσπειρεν υἱοὺς Αδαμ ἔστησεν ὅρια ἐθνῶν κατὰ ἀριθμὸν ἀγγέλων θεοῦ
    – Marshall
    Commented Aug 15, 2020 at 14:55
0

What is the meaning behind Deuteronomy 32:8-10?

Deuteronomy 32:8-10 (NKJV)

8 When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the [a]children of Israel. 9 For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. 10 “He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the [b]apple of His eye.

When in the wilderness, the Israelites were warned not to violate the boundaries of other nations, such as Moab and Ammon. Genesis 15:13-21

Deuteronomy 2:4-5 (NASB)

4 And command the people, saying, “You will pass through the territory of your brothers the sons of Esau who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful; 5 do not [a]provoke them, for I will not give you any of their land, even as little as a [b]footstep because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession.

Deuteronomy 2:18-19 (NASB)

18 ‘Today you shall cross over Ar, the border of Moab. 19 When you come opposite the sons of Ammon, do not harass them nor provoke them, for I will not give you any of the land of the sons of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot as a possession.’

Exodus 23:31 (NASB)

31 I will fix your boundary from the [a]Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.

The Most High swore when he reserved for Abraham's descendants, the Israelites, the land in the Middle East that he had promised to Abraham's. Moses says on this:

Deuteronomy 32:8-10 (YLT)

8 In the Most High causing nations to inherit, In His separating sons of Adam -- He setteth up the borders of the peoples By the number of the sons of Israel. 9 For Jehovah's portion [is] His people, Jacob [is] the line of His inheritance.

God cares and is sensitive for their welfare when he speaks of his servants as "the pupil" of his eye, metaphorically representing their preciousness in his sight and his quickness to act on their behalf when touched by the enemy.

Deuteronomy 32:10

10 He findeth him in a land -- a desert, And in a void -- a howling wilderness, He turneth him round -- He causeth him to understand -- He keepeth him as the apple of His eye.

6
  • I am going to split my answer because it is too long to be incorporated in one comment. Why does everyone assume that sons of God refers to angels? This is not apparent from the text. Angels in Hebrew (malak) means messengers and many people in the Bible are messengers and therefore angels. Haggai is called the malak of God. Genesis 32:3 Jacob sent malak to Esau but it was people. You can just research the Hebrew word malak to see many such instances. Furthermore, no angel was ever called son. Hebrews 1. Israel was God's son. We as the church are God's sons, incorporated in THE son, Christ Commented Jul 13 at 4:29
  • The problem is that the translations of the Hebrew Bible have replaced the words 'ben' for children and malak for angels in most instances and this has brought about a crises in identity and the doctrine of angels which is pretty much not scriptural. Furthermore, the context of Deut 32:8,9 is not God dividing the nations under the rulership of 'angels' but God looking for a possession, an inheritance. The scripture tells us we are His inheritance. No spiritual being understood by the church as angels because of incorrect understanding of scripture receives an inheritance - a nation. Commented Jul 13 at 4:32
  • The point of the scripture is that God was looking for an inheritance - it was first physical Israel, and evolved to become spiritual Israel, the sons of faith. Galatians 3:7. These are His sons in the earth with one mission: to be His witnesses to the nations Isaiah 43:10. Therefore the dividing of the sons of Adam which are the people or nations in Deut 32:8,9 was done according to the sons of Israel so that there would be His witnesses amongst them all. Israel does fit the context because verse 9 speaks of Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. Why does God chose Jacob? Commented Jul 13 at 4:37
  • Because Jacob was one who wrestled with God. Jacob from birth exhibited a desire and zeal to be the firstborn son. He grabbed the heel of Esau, and he 'stole' the birthright. He had a heart for God - he understood what it meant to be the firstborn son, and he pursued it zealously. This attribute is what God looks for in the sons of Adam so that they can become by faith, the sons of God through Christ, and therefore God's inheritance. Commented Jul 13 at 4:39
  • Elliot's commentary on this portion of scripture has it almost right. I quote: "The true meaning of the passage is given by St. Paul in his speech at Athens: “He determined (for all nations) times before appointed, and the setting of the boundaries of their habitation, that they might seek the Lord.” The nations were so disposed in the world, and so developed, that each might have its opportunity of seeking Jehovah, in due season, through contact with His people." "The chosen people were to be His messengers (malak) to the nations. He chose Israel for His own portion, Commented Jul 13 at 4:48

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.