Truth, Understanding, Insight

Names Divinely Appointed

12th June 2004, hej,seh,mgh


8) ‘Sons of God’

Job 1:6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and the adversary came also among them. (See also Job 2:1)

The recent translation of this passage by the Jewish JPS committee of the Tanach (Old Testament) translates the Hebrew (ben elohim) above translated as ‘sons of God’ as ‘divine beings’. A Hebrew person reading reads literally ‘sons of mighty ones’. ‘Ben’ is the common word for ‘son’ and ‘Elohim’ is elsewhere translated as the Anglo-Saxon ‘God’ (good).

Why might a Jewish committee be hesitant to translate that the adversary of Job was one of the sons of God?

Was it not Jesus’ claim that he was the son of God? (A title used 47 times in the NT of Jesus) The Jewish leaders’ reaction at that time is recorded in John 10:32-35.

Jesus answered them, “Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?
The Jews answered him, saying, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makes thyself God.”
Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?”

The Jews accusation at that time was that Jesus, in saying he was the son of God (v36), was making himself equal with God. Jesus points out under the Law all are ‘ Gods’ (‘mighty ones’). He is quoting Psalm 82 and the original idea in Exodus 22.

Psalms 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.
Exodus 22:28 Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.

Rulers = the gods. The word translated ‘gods’ here is in the Hebrew exactly the same as the one translated ‘God’ in Job. It is the Hebrew ‘elohim’, and all it means is ‘mighty’ in plural (the “im” extension in Hebrew is plural as ‘s’ is ‘words’). It doesn’t even mean “almighty”.

In Genesis 23:6 Abraham and his household are called by the Sons of Heth ‘Elohim’ It is translated in the AV ‘mighty prince’. In Exodus 15:15 the Dukes of Moab are “El”(ay-il) also translated ‘mighty’. In 2 Kings 24:15 the leaders of Israel are described as “El” (and they were going into captivity!). Ezekiel uses the same word of the Israeli leaders saying literally “He has taken all the ‘El’ of the land”(ch17:13).

In Psalm 29:1 David writes literally, “Oh, ye sons of God give to the Lord glory and strength”. ‘Sons of God (El)’ has been translated ‘mighty’ in the AV. Psalm 89:6 uses the same phrase 'sons of God (El)' of the servants of God.

Job in chapter 41:25– mentions that the “El” that oppose God are afraid - in the AV it reads “the mighty are afraid” it could have been translated ‘the gods are afraid’.

Those who read the Hebrew Psalms and the Law read ‘ben Elohim’, which is a term meaning ‘son of mighty’ and is used of religious leaders (Hebrew ‘Gibbor’ is used of ‘mighty’ warriors), but Jesus was claiming to be Messiah and was self titling himself as the son of God.

It may be that because Christians today still use this term of Jesus– the Jews on the JPS committee decided on “divine beings”.

(Also the JPS committee translated Ezekiel's title as ‘Son of man’ and as ‘mortal’. That also is a title of Jesus. True, Jesus was mortal, in that he died. But ‘son of man’ does not mean mortal or ‘dying’, but rather ‘son of Adam’. Adam had a choice to either obey or not obey. Adam’s sons do also.)

If we do a word search for ‘sons of God’ in ‘Online Bible or E-Sword ’ (free and downloadable from the web) the following will turn up.

Genesis 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
Genesis 6:4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
Job 38:7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

We can see why these 'elohim' were not translated ‘mighty’. Remember in the Hebrew there is no distinction from the passages in the Psalms already quoted above. We could translate ‘God’ in all these passages for ‘mighty ones’. (Have you substituted it? – does it still makes sense?). It is clear the references in Genesis are to the sons of Seth, who served their Creator, later corrupting the way. But who were the sons of the mighty ones at creation? If you read the Hebrew, it was not YHWH who created but “the mighty ones”!

We are the ‘sons of God’.

Then we look at the New Testament and we find something surprising– just as David and other O.T writers used the term ‘sons of Elohim’ of the people of God (Israel) in the NT it re-appears! We are the ‘sons of God’ if we serve him! Nothing new here in the New Testament!

John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Romans 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.
Philippians 2:15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
2 Corinthians 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

We are called now the sons of God if we are of the faithful. Just as Jesus is. And just as Israel were.

Paul, without doubt, says it best.

“Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded but fear”. Romans 11:20.

Something to ponder. The sons of God of Job’s day, were just like us, including Job’s adversary! And Jesus says of the twelve including Judas, “have I not chosen you twelve”!! John 6:70.

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