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In Deut. 4:19, it is written,

19 When you look up to the sky and see the sun, moon, and stars - the whole heavenly creation - you must not be seduced to worship and serve them, for the LORD your God has assigned them to all the people of the world. NET, ©1996

On this verse, Jeffrey Tigay remarked,1

...Deuteronomy acknowledges that [Yahveh] ordained the worship of the heavenly bodies by other nations (4:19).

Footnotes

        1 p. 140

Is Mr. Tigay’s understanding correct?


References

Tigay, Jeffrey H. Texts, Temples, and Traditions: A Tribute to Menahem Haran. “The Significance of the End of Deuteronomy.” Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1996. (137–143)

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    I guess Biblical cosmology sees the lights in the firmament as beings Job38:7 and not as physical gas balls. It is clear that the nations were given over to the sons of God and split up according to their number Deu32:8 ESV DSS LXX. Rev8:11 says the star’s name was Wormwood, again a person. Dan4:13 speaks of watchers/(stars) coming down from heaven. So it’s evident that these beings were given to the nations to follow, unfortunately these beings corrupted themselves Psa82. Thank you for this question Mar 30 '21 at 0:35
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chalaq, חָלַק seems to be a tricky word to translate, and that's the word in question here. Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible page 9 of Index-Lexicon to the Old Testament, gives some 26 possibilities, with three of those being 'inexact translations'. Those three are, 'be divided', 'distribute', and 'divide'.

I note that 'portion' can be one translation, and that the NIV renders Deuteronomy 4:19 as:

"And when you look up into the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars - all the heavenly array - do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshipping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven."

Young's Literal Translation likewise puts the last phrase as:

"...hath apportioned to all the people under the whole heavens"

The King James Version states that as:

"...hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven."

However, it needs to be noted that whatever that word chalaq, חָלַק means, the text immediately states that all nations on earth have the sun, moon, and stars - this is not distinguishing between the nations that worship such inanimate objects in the sky, and the Israelites. The verse is warning the Israelites not to worship the creation, as do the other nations, but the Israelites have just as much been apportioned the heavenly bodies as all other nations have.

This is substantiated by God's decree that he has made the sun, moon and stars

"...to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth" (Genesis 1:14-15 NIV).

The entire planet, and all peoples dwelling on the earth, have equal benefit of those heavenly bodies. That is the portion of Eskimos as much as it is those living in Australasia, and everybody inbetween.

This indicates that the text in question is warning God's covenant people against worshipping heavenly bodies, as do the other nations, for God had given them to all for entirely different purposes. So, I would be inclined to answer your question with, "No, he didn't, and if that's what Mr. Tigay thinks, I think he's mistaken."

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In short - NO! No worship of anything other than YHWH is allowed under any conditions.

  • Ex 20:3 - You shall have no other gods before Me.
  • Ex 34:14 - For you must not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
  • Deut 6:13, 14 - Fear the LORD your God, serve Him only, and take your oaths in His name. Do not follow other gods, the gods of the peoples around you.
  • Deut 9:19, 20 - If you ever forget the LORD your God and go after other gods to worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD has destroyed before you, so you will perish if you do not obey the LORD your God.
  • Matt 4:10 - “Away from Me, Satan!” Jesus declared. “For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’
  • Acts 10:25, 26 - As Peter was about to enter, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet to worship him. But Peter helped him up. “Stand up,” he said, “I am only a man myself.”

So, what does Deut 4:19 imply? I believe it implies the same as Matt 5:45 -

He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

That is, the benefits of the entire environment, land and soil, air and water, sunshine and rain, the wonder of the stars and moon, etc, are benefits given to all people AND provided by God Himself. This was the fundamental mistake that many pagans made - they worshiped the creation rather than the creator!

Benson suggests this understanding:

Deuteronomy 4:19. Lest thou shouldest be driven — Strongly inclined; to worship them. Which the Lord hath divided unto all nations — Which are not gods, but creatures, made not for worship, but for the use of men; yea, of the meanest and most barbarous people under heaven, and therefore cannot, without great absurdity, be worshipped, especially by you, who are so much advanced above other nations in wisdom and in knowledge, and in this, that you are my peculiar people.

The Pulpit Commentary is even more pointed:

Which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven, God had allotted (חָלַק) to all mankind the heavenly bodies for their advantage (Genesis 1:14-18; Psalm 104:19; Jeremiah 31:35); it was, therefore, not competent for any one nation to seek to appropriate them as specially theirs, and it was absurd for any to offer religious service to objects intended for the service of man. Targum: Which the Lord thy God prepared for all peoples under heaven; Vulgate: Quae creavit Dominus Deus tuus in ministerium cunctis gentibus. This seems better than the interpretation that God had "allotted them for worship, i.e. had permitted them [the nations] to choose them as the objects of their worship" (Keil, etc.); for:

  1. There is no distinction here between the Hebrews and the other nations of the earth; "all nations" includes them as well as the heathen.

  2. Though God permitted the heathen to worship the heavenly bodies, he never allotted these to men in order that they might worship them. "It noteth God's bounty in giving all people the use of those creatures, and the base mind of man to worship such things as are given for servants unto men" (Ainsworth). Deuteronomy 4:19

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    “Ex 20:3 - You shall have no other gods before Me.” — Which was spoken to the Israelites, not the other nations. Mar 30 '21 at 1:15
  • I think @DerÜbermensch the distinction follows whereby, the heavenly beings (1Cor15:40,41) were given to the nations BUT not to be worshipped. God didn’t tell the nations to worship them, even though He did give the nations heavenly beings to rule over them as intermediaries. So in part I agree with Dottard (not sure who dv-ed), namely that only God was to be worshipped. Mar 30 '21 at 1:37
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“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.” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭

Depending where you place the emphasis you could come away thinking that God gave the nations the hosts of heaven to worship. Notice the ESV has “things” in the text which makes worship the object of the sentence but in fact the giving of the heavenly hosts of the nations was the object of the sentence.

That is what is actually being communicated in the Hebrew. Yes, true the nations did worship the heavenly hosts, however they heavenly hosts were not given to the nations to be worshipped. And the heavenly hosts were never intended to receive worship but they later corrupted themselves.

If the heavenly hosts correspond to the nations being allotted to the nations then the heavenly hosts are in fact beings

“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭32:8‬ ‭(DSS,LXX)

This ties in to numerous other texts that show a relationship between the heavenly hosts and the sons of God.

In short the translation is confusing but that’s not to say God gave the nations heavenly hosts to worship. He merely gave the nations heavenly hosts to guide them and to represent the nations Job9:33. And not like modern astrology but like ancient astrology which was being led spiritually not by the position of the star in the firmament but what the spiritual guide was telling the human to do in their spirit.

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Deuteronomy 4:19 – Did Yahveh ordain the worship of the heavenly bodies by the nations?

That depends on the definition of "ordain". In a sense, everything is ordained by God.

In another sense, "ordain" means God decrees it officially in the Scripture. Did God say in Deut. 4:19:

The gentiles shall worship the heavenly bodies

19 When you look up to the sky and see the sun, moon, and stars - the whole heavenly creation - you must not be seduced to worship and serve them, for the LORD your God has assigned them to all the people of the world.

The operative word here is H2505, chalaq, חָלַק. The word carries a wide range of meanings from "share" to "decree".

Brown-Driver-Briggs

I. חָלַק verb divide, share (Late Hebrew id.; Aramaic חֲלַק field, חוּלְּקָא portion, divide, determine, decree ...
1 divide, apportion
2 assign, distribute
3 assign, impart
4 share
5 divide up

Deuteronomy 4:19 – Did Yahveh ordain the worship of the heavenly bodies by the nations?

If you interpret H2505 strongly as "decree", then yes.

If you interpret H2505 weakly as "share", then maybe not.

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