When the Jews Believed in Other Gods

The bible is rife with references to deities other than Yahweh: The prophets didn't deny these gods existed, they just didn't think Jews should worship them

Elon Gilad
Elon Gilad
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2,200-year-old altar with bull
2,200-year-old altar with bull: Somebody was worshipping gods other than YahwehCredit: Gil Cohen Magen

There is but one God, according to Jewish religious dogma. No other exists. We tend to assume that our forefathers devoutly believed the same. But the truth is that the Bible also shows, time and again, that wasn't the prevailing system of belief among the ancient Israelites.

The different scribes who wrote most of the biblical canon believed the incorporeal world was populated by a multitude of gods, but that the Hebrews should not worship any of these other deities, only Yahweh (which is what scholars call henotheism or monolatry). This is explicitly stated in the Second Commandment: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

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