”All Things Under the Sun Are One, Are One”. Understanding Yahweh Monolatry in the Hebrew Bible

A3 Book section, Chapters in research books

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Antti Laato
Editors: David Willgren
Publication year: 2019
Publisher: Sheffield phoenix press
Book title: God and Humans in the Hebrew Bible and Beyond: A Festschrift for Lennart Boström on his 67th Birthday
Title of series: Hebrew Bible Monographs
Number in series: 85
Start page: 3
End page: 21
ISBN: 9781910928622


My starting-point is a relevant assumption that the so-called Sefer Jashar
was an early Israelite document the excerpts of which have been quoted in three
different places of the Deuteronomistic History (Josh 10:12-13; 2 Sam 1:18; 3
Kgdms 8:53). Two of these excerpts, Josh 10:12-13 and the Septuagint version of
1 Kings 8:12-13 (i.e. 3 Kgdms 8:53), are related to the Israelite belief in
Yahweh, but also to the sun or the Sun-deity.

In the Sefer Jashar it is presupposed
that the Sun and Moon were deities because they were worshipped. They could not,
however, resist Yahweh’s power to subjugate the land of Canaan under the feet
of Israel. Josh 10:12-13 and 3 Kgdms 8:53 express that Yahweh has shown his
mighty power over other deities and subjugated them as his servants. Therefore,
Israel should revere Yahweh and only Yahweh. The poetic texts in the Sefer Jashar
indicate that Yahweh takes over the Land of Canaan, and its older deities are
incapable of opposing the conquest of the Divine Warrior of Israel. The concept
of the divine council indicates the hierarchic structure of deities and it
seems that in the Jerusalemite version of the divine council Yahweh was regarded
as the leader of the council. In a corresponding way the Sefer Jashar
contains an idea that other deities are subjugated under the power of Yahweh. The
Sun is, therefore, one example of a “deity” who was under total control of
Yahweh, and we may assume that in many theological constructions, especially in
those which originate or have been reworked in the exilic and postexilic times,
the sun totally missed its divinity being only a great light in the firmament
(Gen 1:14-19). The Sefer Jashar was an early Israelite document which
emphasized greatly the sovereignty of Yahweh and the monolatric understanding
of the Israelite religion. The Deuteronomist could use it, but he reformulated
Josh 10:12-13 and 3 Kgdms 8:53 so that they promoted his intolerant monolatry in
an even clearer way.

Last updated on 2020-27-05 at 04:20