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The Sons of God of Deuteronomy 32:8 Revisited

This is a follow up to my post on the identity of the sons of God in Deuteronomy 32:8

Someone quoted a “scholar” who appealed to the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to prove his point that even the Jews that translated the Pentateuch into Aramaic viewed the sons of God in Deuteronomy 32:8 as the angels. However, here is what this particular Targum actually says in context:

“… When the Most High made allotment of the world unto the nations which proceeded from the sons of Noach, in the separation of the writings and languages of the children of men at the time of the division, He cast the lot among the seventy angels, the princes of the nations with whom is the revelation to oversee the city, even at that time He established the limits of the nations according to the sum of the number of the seventy souls of Israel who went down into Mizraim. [JER. When the Most High divided the nations by lot, and distinguished the languages of the children of men, He appointed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the tribes of the Beni Israel.]” Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee, by J. W. Etheridge, M.A., First Published 1862; bold emphasis ours)

Not only does Pseudo-Jonathan attest to both readings, i.e. God divided the nations in accord with the 70 angels AND the 70 Israelites that went down to Egypt, but the Targum of Jerusalem actually confirms “the sons of Israel” reading, not the angels of God rendering.

More importantly, this Targum provides further evidence that Michael S. Heiser is wrong. Recall what I wrote in my previous article that Heiser believes that the sons of God of the heavenly council are not the same as the angels. Yet in identifying the sons of God as 70 angels that rule over the nations, the Targum shows that the Jews that produced these Aramaic paraphrases did not distinguish the sons of God from God’s angels. Rather, the Jewish compilers of these documents believed that these spirit creatures are actually the same exact beings.

Therefore, if Heiser is right then these Jews were wrong, which means that one should not appeal to these Aramaic paraphrases for corroboration of Heiser’s view. However, if these Jews are correct in identifying God’s sons as the angels then Heiser is mistaken, and his viewpoint should thus be discarded. Once again, it seems that this a case of scholars and their followers wanting to have their cake and eat it too.

And speaking of the Targums, notice what the Targum of Psalm 82 says in regards to the identity of the elohim mentioned therein:

A hymn composed by Asaph. God, his presence abides in the assembly of the righteous who are strong in Torah; he will give judgment in the midst of the righteous judges.

How long, O wicked, will you judge falsely, and lift up the faces of the wicked forever?

Judge the poor and the orphan; acquit the needy and the poor.

Save the poor and needy, from the hands of the wicked deliver them.

They do not know how to do good, and they do not understand the Torah, they walk in darkness; because of thisthe pillars of the earth’s foundations shake.

I said, “You are reckoned as angels, and all of you are like angels of the height.”

But truly you will die like the sons of men; and like one of the leaders you will fall.

Arise, O Lord, judge all the inhabitants of the earth; for you will possess all the Gentiles. (

A rather interesting Targum indeed!

Instead of identifying the elohim as divine beings, the composer(s) of this Aramaic paraphrase of the Psalter describe(s) these gods as righteous human judges that study the Torah. The Targum further distinguishes these righteous human beings from the wicked whom the Targumist(s) liken(s) to angels, indicating that they are not spirit creatures that make up God’s heavenly council!

Hence, instead of helping their case, the Targumim actually provide further evidence against the position taken by scholars such as Michael Heiser.

This is what happens when we blindly parrot what “scholars” say, instead of going back and examining the sources for ourselves to see if what they claim is correct.

All scriptural citations taken from the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Holy Bible.

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