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Home Book of Abraham Special Section Council of the Gods in Ancient Literature and the Book of Abraham

Council of the Gods in Ancient Literature and the Book of Abraham

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The 'Adat El, "Council of the Gods" & Bene Elohim, "Sons of God": Ancient Near Eastern Concepts in the Book of Abraham

Kerry A. Shirts

The Book of Abraham (Chapter 3)discusses the council of the Gods, their discussing the creation and birth of the spirits and the differences of the spirits, as well as the promises to the faithful spirits to the commands of God. These themes are not fully developed nor coherent in the Bible or any literature in Joseph Smith's day. "Since Cumorah" we have a rather remarkable picture of this process of gathering and interpreting the council of the gods, yet nowhere has it been found so fully described and logically presented than in the Book of Abraham in the 1830's fully a century before much was found, interpreted and analyzed. Much new archaeological information of the ancient Canaanites and Ugarit, as well as Phoenician inscriptions, have shed new light on the council of the gods.

What we will explore in this paper is the ancient aspects of the Premortal-existent council of the Gods, and note parallels with the Book of Abraham along the way, thus demonstrating, in our view, the Book of Abraham tying in with the ancient literatures as a part of a true restoration of some aspects of the Gospel had in ancient times. Considering the theological stance in Mormonism that the Gospel was had on earth from the very beginning, and since the Gospel has been had through many dispensations and apostacies through the millenia, there ought to be vestiges of the Gospel among the ancient world civilizations which parallel what was restored to us in this day in religious texts claiming to have the ancient Gospel.

R.H. Charles demonstrates the Bereshith rabba teaching "God takes counsel with the souls of the righteous before he creates the earth."1 Among these righteous who were in attendance we know of, thanks to the Jewish work, Sefer Haparshiyot, and the Midrash Kee Tov, were Adam, Noah, Abraham, Enoch and Moses. These souls in the council of the gods were said to be "with God before the creation of the world."2 These souls in the premortal-existence "were consulted with and did consult God on many vital matters, and especially on the matter of Creation."3 We are informed that the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch distinguishes between righteous and common souls:

"The storehouses in which the fore-ordained number of souls is kept shall be opened, and the souls shall go forth, and the many souls shall appear all at once, as a host with one mind. And the first shall rejoice, and the last shall not be sad."4 We further learn that the Midrash Tanhuma Pekude tells of some spirits who "kept their first estate" and therefore they were "added upon", that is, they entered into another world which "is more beautiful than this."5 (Cf. Abraham 3: 26)

Julian Morgenstern has analyzed the "council of the gods" at great length using Old Testament scriptures in light of recent discoveries that other scholars have picked up on and elaborated further until we have a rather complete description of the council of the gods in Heaven. Morgenstern begins by demonstrating that the Hebrew Elohim cannot mean judges or foreign rulers because the context of the entire Psalm 82 requires the context of "gods" meaning "divine beings."6 The reason is that in this Psalm as a whole, the "gods" being "divine beings" make sense because they are "...divine beings of a certain class who were actually condemned by Yawheh to die, or at least to become mortal, like human beings."7 Interesting in light of this is the notion that this "council of the gods" has a judicial function.

The technical term "to stand" (i.e. participate as a member), in the court is used both in Accadian - "uzuzzu" and in Hebrew - "ha'omedim" in Zechariah 3:3, which compares well with "'omed" in 1 Kings 22:19.8 The "Puhrum" - "assembly" of the gods was open to goddesses also. In the Gilgamesh Epic, "Ishtar reproaches herself for having advocated the flood in the assembly of the gods. We read that "In their (i.e. the gods) assembly her word is highly esteemed, is surpassing; she sits among them counting as much (with them) as Anum, their king. She is wise in intelligence, profundity, and knowledge."9 Later she relents some of the councils' decisions, and a fight breaks out, ultimately with Ba'al and El. Professor Van Der Woude has noted the idea that the "Sons of Light" are saved from the "Sons of Darkness" in this "Council" and specifically, the heavenly host helps Melchisedek "fight against Belial and his angels." This is the famous war in heaven theme, also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.10

This "council" is understood by Morgenstern as the assembly of El, who were the elohim. The "'adat El" was originally the "Council of El", though later it was also acknowledged as the "Council of Yahweh" which indicates "the mythological background of the expression and its North-Semitic origin..."11. The root of Yahweh's name (hwy) means "He declares," or "he speaks," while the Ras Shamra texts use hwt to mean "saying" or "commanding," all of which is reminiscent of this "council of the Gods" with lively discussions going on concerning the fates of mankind.12 Israel's neighbors, whether the Babylonians or Assyrians, knew the word awatu as "the word of the gods, their divine counsel, [which] was constantly sought and heeded. God speaks in effective words of power, sometimes cosmically but more frequently to make known their will for men, as law, instruction, encouragement, and promise."13 (Cf. Abraham 3: 25 - "We will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever their God shall command them." That indicates the word of declaration, while Abraham 3: 26 demonstrates the promise, "they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads forever and ever.") We know also that Yahweh gave his instructions through the Urim and Thummim and his judgments or decision (mishpat) so that his people could be guided in his ways (Numbers 27:21).14 God's counsel carries on from the heavenly council and commands, to the earth among men.

Interestingly, Abraham, who was also in that council in heaven among the gods, also had the Urim and Thummim (Abraham 3: 1). This idea is nowhere found in the Bible, yet the Masechet Soferim indicates that Abraham had stones which shone, while the Babba Bathra says Abraham wore a shining stone around his neck which healed the sick as they gazed on it.15 Interestingly, a miraculous light was associated with the ancient oracular lot, the Urim and Thummim, which ties in with Numbers 27:21, "the judgment of the Urim" [that is, the "light"] could conceivably have been given.16 More interesting still is the Peshitta's rendition of Ezra 2:63 (Nehemiah 7:65) which says a priest who can ask, and who can see [hz']. This term, Van Dam notes, "is used of prophets (seers) in the Old Testament."17 The significance of this for the council in heaven is seen with a few examples from the Bible. Micaiah claims he "saw" Yahweh on his throne, "and (I saw) all the host of heaven standing around him..." (1 Kings 22:19-23). Isaiah "saw" Yahweh sitting on his throne with the heavenly creatures standing around him, (Isa. 6:1-13). And Ezekiel's vision culminated in his "seeing" one "in the likeness as it were of human form, and sitting upon a throne propelled by heavenly beings, living creatures, or Cherubim," (Ezekiel 1:26; 10:15. One of Jeremiah's complaints was the false prophets had never stood in the heavenly council, (Jeremiah 23:18). The idea here is clear. "The prophet standing in the council heard Yahweh speak and relayed the oracle of the fates to the waiting congregation."18 Their "seeing" Yahweh and hearing his counsel could easily have been through the Urim and Thummim as "seers" giving the congregation the counsels of the council of Yahweh.

The Book of Enoch consistently mentions the "Lord of Spirits," which R.H. Charles claims means "the God of the spirits of all flesh," quoting Numbers 16:22; 27:16. He is also called the "Lord of hosts," and "Lord of Spirits" = "Most High God."19 The Book of Abraham, demonstrates the Lord of all the spirits of all flesh was involved with those spirits in his divine councils. "At Ugarit, El was considered to be the father of the original Canaanite gods, who were called "the family of El. After him his sons were called 'the sons of El,' or simply 'ilm. Genesis has the same considerations concerning El, where "after him others were called the sons of El (Genesis 6:2,4), who came together in the assembly over which El presided. (Job 1:6; 2:1). Elohim stands in the assembly of El, in the midst of gods ['elohim] he judges (Psalms 82:1)."20 At Ugarit the consistent description of El as the oldest god is because he was the father of the original pantheon (council) of all the other gods, his sons.21 Some Ugarit texts describe El as taking care of the welfare of both gods and men "and blesses them with progeny."2

This council of divine beings, even the very "Sons of God" - (bene Elohim) was an uncomfortable one for the ancient Jews after the Babylonian captivity. It directly shows a polytheism which was later shunned, even stamped out with changes in the scripture to erase any lingering traces, though these were not all successfully destroyed. This is clearly seen in Morgenstern's analysis as he tries to downplay the significance of Elohim being a plural, with the rather weak contention that Psalms 29:1 and 89:7 where we read of the Bene elim is actually "an artificial double plural formation of a singular ben 'el. Morgenstern admits that this attempt at making the plural as a singular was during the post-exilic Jewish theological thought because they felt the need "to reduce as much as possible the extreme polytheism of the original bene 'el. Bar elohim of Daniel 3:25 would then be a late singular formation from an Aramaic plural, bere elohim, equivilant to the Hebrew bene elohim."23 The bene elohim as "Sons of God" has recently been re-confirmed in a striking way by Textual Criticism.

Emanuel Tov has noted that the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:8) "referred to an assembly of the gods (cf. Ps. 82:1; 1 Kings 22:19), in which 'the Most High, 'Elyon,' fixed the boundaries of peoples according to the number of the sons of the God El." He goes on to admit "...the scribe of an early text... did not feel at ease with this possibly polytheistic picture and replaced "Bene El," (sons of El), with "Bene Yisrael", "The sons of Israel," thus giving the text a different direction by the change of one word... A similar change may be reflected in all textual witnesses of Ps. 96:7: 'Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength,' when compared with the presumably original (polytheistic) text of Ps. 29:1, 'Ascribe to the Lord, O divine beings, (Bene Elohim), ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.' Psalm 29, which also in other details reflects situations and phrases known from Ugaritic texts, does, in this detail, provide a polytheistic picture of the assembly of gods."24

P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., shows the rendering of "sons of God" at Deut. 32:8 has the support of the Septuagint [the Greek Old Testament also rendered LXX] and other versions. "The original can be taken to mean that Yahweh was one of the sons of God to whom Elyon parceled out peoples. The alteration of "h'lhym" (or perhaps 'l or 'lym) to "ysr'l" suppressed this interpretation."25 The LXX reads:

"When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God."26

Ronald S. Hendel simply said, "...somewhere along the line in the transmission of the standard rabbinic Bible someone felt the need to clean up the text by literally rewriting it and substituting "sons of Israel" for the original "Sons of God" in Deuteronomy 32:8." These "Sons of God" are "indeed divine beings."27 Gerhard Von Rad notes that "Creation is part of the aetiology of Israel!" And he further notes that "Another rooting of Israel in the plans of Jahweh for the world is to be seen in Deut. 32:8: 'When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the 'Elohim beings'; but Jahweh's portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage."28

William F. Albright believed that this verse should be read in conjunction with Job 38:7 - "When the morning stars rejoiced together And all the sons of God shouted with joy." Why? "Because there are many passages in the Old Testament where the stars serve as a simile for 'multitude'; specific references to 'counting' the stars are found at Genesis 15:5 [dealing with Abraham] and Psalms 147:4." Hence the idea here being that "according to the stars," meaning "God created and assigned abodes to a multitude of different nations, but of them all he chose Israel as his special charge."29 Mitchell Dahood says Psalm 147:4 means "To each star Yahweh gives a number and a name...He who brings forth their host by number, he calls them all by name."30 A punic inscription found in an ancient Etruscan city of Pyrgi reads: snt km hkkbm 'l, "(May) its years (be) like the stars of El," showing the idea of cosmological association with the "Sons of God" and the "stars," a rather common Near East motif.31 What is interesting is Genesis 15 Abraham is promised progeny as numerous as the stars, as does the Book of Abraham, 1:31; 2:9-11; 3:1-14. The occassion of the council of the gods is likewise the enthronement of the god Yahweh, an act symbolically repeated on earth with the kings of Israel.32

The Hebrew word dor while meaning "eternity" also has the connotations of "assembly, council." It is used in exactly the same meaning in the "Azitawaddu" inscription approximately in Amos' time (ca. 725 B.C.) where we read:

w-mh b'l-smm w-'l qn 'rs

"Let Baal of Heaven and El, the Creator of the Earth,

w-sms 'lm w-kl dr bn 'lm

and the Sun Eternal and all the assembly of the gods,

'yt hmmlkt h' w-'yt hmlk h'

destroy that kingdom and that king....33

Dor is equivilant in a sense with edah, "congregation," or even sod, "council," when it is used with words denoting "righteousness," because "God is in the assembly of the righteous." We further learn from Neuberg that Ps. 112:2 speaks of dor yesharim, "the assembly of the upright." A derivitive of dor, "assembly" is also at Ps. 84:11, "I prefer to remain standing at the threshold in the house of my God to being a member of the assembly in the tents of the wicked."34 Neiberg translates Amos 8:14 as "They that swear by Asherah of Samaria and say: By the life of thy gods, O Dan, and by the life of thy pantheon, O Beer-Sheba." He demonstrates that derek (the traditional way of reading the Hebrew word) is in a parallelism with 'eloheka, "thy gods," and it makes no sense at all. However, rendering the Hebrew word derek as the Hebrew word doreka (pantheon) forms a perfect parallel with 'eloheka, ("thy gods"). It shows that the gods are a pantheon of gods.35 This "pantheon", or "council" or "assembly" of gods in the Canaanite and Ugaritic view was "an assembly of the lesser gods," and "when taken over into Israelite poetry, is generally applied to the host of secondary supernatural beings who surround Yahweh, and prostrate themselves before him."36 And yet, another cuneiform text reads "Prince of the gods, whose utterance holds sway in the constituted assembly of the great gods..."37 In a tablet of the Keret Epic we read of El presiding over his assembly, where he addresses the gods [of that assembly] seven times.38

The ancient thought forms and ideas as well as ideologies of the "Council of the gods" meet us in the Sumerian and Akkadian religions. Psalm 29 " a Yahwistic adaptation of an older Canaanite hymn to the storm-god Baal..."39 Since the early 1900's we know "The Sumerians and Akkadians pictured their gods as human in form, governed by human emotions, and living in the same type of world as did men. In almost every particular the world of the gods is therefore a projection of terrestrial conditions...Thus in the domain of the gods we have a reflection of older forms, of the terrestrial Mesoptamian state as it was in pre-historic times. The assembly which we find in the world of the gods rested on a braod democratic basis..."40 In the Bible we see this where Rehoboam (1 Kings 12:6-8) made use of counselors and that the counsel of the wise is mentioned in Jeremiah 18:18. We also see the law and the priest and the prophet's word as parts of the affairs of the area.41

Conrad L'Heureux demonstrated that the marzeah, or symposium (feast, gathering, banquet, assembly) of El that is found in the Rephaim Texts of Ugarit "must be a reflex in the divine world of the symposium celebrated by the members of the earthly marzeah of El...each guild apparently had a divine patron."42 The heavenly marzeah had participants called rp'm, which we also find in the earthly marzeah, e.g., "May Krt be greatly exalted among the rp'm of the earth...the rp'm constitute an aristocracy of which the Canaanite kings were a part."43 Moses, and the prophets following him were proclaimed as "Speakers for Yahweh," showing the people that "they are sent from the divine king, the suzerain of treaties, to reprove and to pronounce judgment upon Israel..."44

Anciently the kings were also considered to be "Sons of El."45 Indeed, the prophets were also, as indicated in the account that when Rebekah died, God appeared to Jacob to comfort him, "and with Him appeared the heavenly family," which family was equated anciently with God's court, of which the prophets were members and attendees during many of their visions and theophanies.46

Professor Cross says the assembled gods in the council when dealt with in Israelite poetry "is generally applied to the host of secondary supernatural beings who surround Yahweh, and prostrate themselves before him."47 We are fairly sure that "the early poets of Israel were heavily influenced by the poetic imagery and modes of expression of the peoples with whom they came in contact."48 Robert Alter believes that it was Jacob, who subsumed the ancient Canaanite sky god, who was El, "the supreme god in the Canaanite pantheon," who now, thanks to Jacob's actions becomes the God of the people of Israel.49 And later on into Israel's history, we find such in the vision in Zecheriah 3:1-10, which shows "the Heavenly Court over which Yahweh presides as chief judge. This setting is deeply grounded in mythology, with Yahweh's Heavenly Court corresponding to the council of El. The concept of an assembly or council of the gods was a common motif throughout the ancient Near East."50

The assembly of gods were rather frequently assembled at the Ubshuukkinna, that is, a large court, where they met friends and relatives who had come from afar to participate in the assembly as important business was to be transacted, usually beginning with an embrace as a welcome into the company of the gods.51 The leadership of the gods was usually headed by the head god of the gods, who began the discussion which was "largely in the hands of the so-called 'ilu rabiutum', the 'great gods,' or better yet, the 'senior gods.'"52 This is strikingly similar to Joseph Smith's translation of Genesis 1:1 - "The head one of the Gods, brought forth the Gods."53 Joseph Smith's translation of the Hebrew word "Bereshiyth" according to the Hebrew Dictionary in Strong's Concordance means "the first, in place, time, order or rank - beginning, chief, first (fruits, part, time), principal thing."54 Joseph Smith's translation would come from "re' shiyth / bara' / 'elohiym / 'eth / hashamayim / v'eth / ha'arts," meaning - "The Head one of the Gods organized the heaven and the earth."55 Gesenius' Lexicon notes that the "beth" "When it refers to a multitude, in the midst of...among in." The lexicon shows that it can mean "among" as in "among the nations" (2 Ki. 18:5) It can also mean "before, in the presence of..."56

Morgenstern comments that in post-exilic biblical writings and apocalyptic literature, there was considered to be many troops or hosts of heaven (Cf. Ps. 148:2) each under its own leader or sar, i.e., "the God or Lord of all the hosts or troops of angels and therefore the Lord of their "princes," the sar sarim, as he is called in Daniel 8:25.57 In the 3rd tablet of the Enuma Elish (the Babylonian Creation Story) Marduk is given the command of the Assembly of gods, elevated to chief among the leading ranks.58 Anu was called the first(reshtu, Hebrew rosh!) god, father of the gods.59

When the discussion began, we are told, "the intrinsic merit of a proposal" was given due process and consideration, with "wise council" and a "testifying of intelligence." The gods were constantly "asking one another," all manner of things in the discussions eventually with the result that "issues were clarified and the gods had opportunity to voice their opinions for or against, at times espousing proposals they later bitterly regretted."60 This is precisely what we find in the Book of Abraham Chapter three. "These two facts exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they...I am more intelligent than they all." The Gods then make proposals, "We will go down for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell... Whom shall I send? And one answered...Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first. And the second was angry and kept not his first estate..." (Abr. 3: 19, 24, 27, 28, etc.,).

As we have seen "the function of this divine assembly were in part those of a court of law," as well as understanding that "the assembly is the authority which grants kingship."61 It is the same picture we find in the Book of Abraham, Ch. 3. Once the head god is chosen to carry out a particular function (Abr. 3:27) the god is clothed in a garment and having been armed, then carries out the battle against the gods who disagreed with him (Abr. 3:28) The war in heaven where the hosts of one side "fight against Belial and his angels."62 We know this is the case because at Job 1:6-12 and 2:1-7 we find Yahweh assembled with his heavenly host, designated as the "Bene Elohim", literally "the sons of God", and "One among their number, although one obviously discharging a particular and constant function, is hasatan."63 Namely that of "the adversary" or "the accuser" taking on a "role of fixed hostility to mankind."64

Morgenstern notes that the important thing in this picture, is not so much Satan as Yahweh, "the graphic picture of Yahweh, seated upon his throne, surrounded by His heavenly host, the 'bene elohim,' divine beings of rank inferior to Yahweh Himself, his personal attendants and ministers of his Will and purpose, gathered together as the ''adat 'el' to pronounce judgment."65 This is the same picture of events we find in the Book of Abraham. Morgenstern is using a composite picture of Old Testament and Ugaritic, Sumerian, and Akkadian lore to come up with all this scenario. "The picture here is identical with that in Isaiah 6; 1 Kings. 22:19-23 and Zecheriah 3," though it "unhesitatingly designates Yahweh's heavenly attendants as 'elohim', 'gods' obviously identical with 'bene ha'elohim' of Job 1:6 and 2:1. The tie in with Mormonism is more obvious when we see Satan was cast out of heaven incurring God's wrath, "but only some, and these impliedly only a small group, of the great hosts of angels. The rest, it says explicitly, restrained themselves."66

Mormonism is not uncomfortable to understand this being a third of the hosts of heaven. What was Satan's sin? "Give me thy glory!" Or as Morgenstern puts it, "And one from out the order of angels, having turned away with the order that was under him, conceived an impossible thought, to place his throne higher than the clouds above the earth, that he might become equal in rank to my power." And make no mistake about it, Satan was one of the "Sarim", that is the leaders, the head prince of his group.67 In Jewish thought, some angels were all for the creation and others were against it. We even read that "Certain angels through impious pride deserted God and were cast down from their high heavenly habitation into the lowest darkness of this air; but that number of angels which was left continued in eternal blessedness with God, and in holiness."68 Satan fell "he and his whole band" because he would not worship Adam. He and his hosts were stripped of their robes of glory and he was called "Satana, because he had turned away from God." In the Vita Adae Satan said to Adam "When thou wast formed, I was hurled out of the presence of God and banished from the company ["council"] of the angels."69 Satan appears in heaven under the title of "prince of Mastema" in Jubilees 17-18 as well. It was known in the early Jewish thought that Satan was in heaven, but a later redactor of the Testament of Abraham left out the name.70

The idea of some who kept not their first estate in the Book of Abraham clearly indicates the Jewish ideas of Satan being in heaven at first, but then falling. In the testamentary literature dealing with Abraham, Abraham is in a heavenly court scene with the "Angel of the Presence" and the "Prince of Mastema" juxtaposed, the "Prince of Mastema" accusing Abraham. He is put to shame though since Abraham remained faithful, so he was banished from court.71 The Hebrew Bible has a direct parallel as it describes Yahweh as presiding over the "Sons of Elohim," among whom was Satan himself, (Job 1:6; 2:1; Genesis 6:2,4).72 The "Angel of the Presence" in the Book of Abraham, as Jehovah is a nifty touch (Abraham 1:15-16). Jesus Christ was known also as the "Angel of Great Counsel," among a hierarchy of angels who guarded souls, hence the reason Origen compared the image of the Son as Seraph from Isaiah 6 tying into Isaiah 9.73 In fact, Christ can be an angel on account of his being a messenger of God. As the Angel of Great Counsel, Christ is the head of a hierarchy of angels as "a priviledged revealer of esoteric truth."74 Angels are called the comrades of Christ, since he was in council with them suggested by 1 kings 22.75

With this idea in mind we now know who the "we" are in Genesis 1:26, who were involved with the creation. "This would seem to be a brief fragment of the creation tradition basic to Genesis chapter one, in its oldest, pre-literary form, as it must have been current in Israel for some time prior to the composition of Pg about 400 B.C. According to this tradition Yahweh took counsel with his Heavenly host with regard to the creation [Cf. BofAbr. "we will go down for there is space there..."] of man."76 Interesting, in today's Torah commentary we read from the editor that the statement in Genesis 1:26, "Let us make man..." "is spoken to an angelic court"77 And further, Rabbi Akiba noted that in Genesis 1:26, God says: "Let us make man - 'Us' where 'Me' would have been sufficient. Why then 'us'? He obviously consulted is clear, then, He consulted angels before creating man."78 Rabbi Zadok taught however that "The Israelites are called sons of God, as it is said, 'Ye are the sons of the Lord your God' (Deut. 14:1). The angels are called sons of God, as it is said: 'When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy' (Job 38:7). And while they were still in their holy place in heaven these were called 'Sons of God.'"79 The Bene Elohim are "the sons of the Mighty Ones."80 In the Ugaritic poem of AQHT, at El's benediction, El swears that Dan'el will live on, "by which is meant that he will produce a life which will be an extension of himself, his own 'flesh and blood.' The implication is that only sons can be considered fashioned in the father's image, hence his continuity."81

Astonishingly, we find that Yahweh assigns mortality to the bene elohim. The word temutun means "ye shall become mortal."82 And it is to the bene elohim that Yahweh is telling this to, since " means that they must forfeit completely their original, divine nature, and with it undoubtedly whatever divine powers and prerogatives they possessed, and take on the nature of human beings and in particular become subject to death, become mortal."83 This is precisely what the Book of Abraham teaches. Granted Morgenstern comes up with a far different reason as to why this happens as compared to Mormon theology, but nowhere has this been found in print in Joseph Smith's day other than in the Book of Abraham. This concept was rather foreign in Smith's day, nay still is in much of Christendom even today. A most astonishing development, "It has a definite polytheistic basis, at least in its assumption that some divine being other than God Himself might claim supreme dominion."84

In Job the "Sons of God" "are individuals of the class god..."85 Research has shown that "Just as El was called Baniyu binawati, 'begetter of Creatures,' so Asherah [El's consort and wife] also has the appellation Qaniyatu elima,' 'She Who Gives Birth to the Gods...'"86 Scholars have noted that the bene Elohim in the Bible is not a metaphor of some kind. "The actual existence of the other gods is here assured."87

El is often called "the bull" or "the father bull." We read in a poem of Baal and Anath, of a prince Yamm who wishes to build a palace, wherein a prayer is offered beginning "Thy father Bull El favors Prince Yamm...[...]... [Sh]ould thy father Bull [E]l hear thee...."88 The reason for this epithet in archaeological information gleaned from various texts around the ancient Near East is the concept of "fertilizing power," or "virility."89 The exact counterpart to this in Egypt was Min, the god of fertility par excellence, whose sacred animal was the bull.90 Both Min and Amun were called "Bull of his mother," clearly reflecting the fertility aspect of their nature.91 The Pharaoh was often called the "ka nkt" - "the victorious bull."92 And the "Ka" bull of Egypt meant domination, leader, Lord.93 The bull (Stier) was the fertilizer of the young maidens, his seed ensuring they became pregnant.94 In the Bremmer-Rhind Papyrus, Osiris is called "Bull, who impregnates cows," and "great Bull, Lord of passion."95 The Ka-bull also indicates "the highest hierarchal position within a group."96 El fits right in with this idea as he is the head of the council of the gods, and Ba'al has to approach El's throne reverently.97 The "ha-Elohim" of Gen. 5:22, 24, may reflect an earlier source in which Enoch entered the assembly of gods or angels.98 It is more than of passing interest that El, the Patriarch of the gods; the creator; the highest conceivable god; the leader; the father of the gods; the head god of the council of all gods; the number one god, who fought to establish his headship in the family of the gods, as Frank Moore Cross remarks, also had a father!99 Thus the hierarchy concepts in the Book of Abraham seem to have ancient historical precedents. Granted imagery varies between cultures, but certain basic motifs have come through rather clear, namely the Sons of God, and the Council of Gods.

That no one is going to make up a story like that is clearly seen from the fact that no one in Joseph Smith's day or for hundreds of years before ever did make up such a story and claim it was scripture. Now it appears a standard ancient understanding thanks to recent discoveries and decades and decades of scholarship. Joseph Smith put it all together in succinct and exact form almost overnight as it were. And nothing is missing, nothing extra outrageous and incorrect is added. the story is remarkably depicted in the Book of Abraham.


1. R.H. Charles, The Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, Reprint, 2 vols.,(Oxford, 1979): 444, note 5.

2. Rabbi Nissim Wernick, A Critical Analysis of the Book of Abraham in the Light of Extra-Canonical Jewish Writings, Ph.d Dissertation, Brigham Young University, (1968): 22. Cf. George W. E. Nickelsberg, Jr., "Review of the Literature," in Studies on the Testament of Abraham, Scholars Press, (Missoula, Montana, 1976): 14, where Enoch is in the heavenly court, while Abraham has no peers among the angelic ranks.

3. Wernick, Analysis of the Book of Abraham, 24.

4. Wernick, Analysis of the Book of Abraham, 26f; James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha," 2 vols., (Doubleday and Co., New York, 1983): 1:141, note f, notes that the phrase "formation of the earth" (zemlunago) is reminiscent of Matthew 24:34, and could be a Christian gloss. But the passage is talking about the pre-existence of all souls. "Even Adam existed before he was sent to earth." And in 2 Enoch 32, Charlesworth notes that "The idea that Adam was demoted from a heavenly paradise to earth is found in Origen." (1:154, note c. The curious exegesis of Genesis 3:19-20 causes Charlesworth to say it is unique, in that, "It implies that Adam, made in a heavenly Paradise from materials brought from the earth, is now sent back to his native element to live there." (1:155, note b.) R.H. Charles, Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha, 2: 444, note 5, noted this doctrine of the pre-existence of souls "made its way into Jewish thought in Egypt. This doctrine was also taught by the Essenes according to Josephus, and "it became the prevailing dogma in later Judaism. All souls which were to enter human bodies existed before the creation of the world in the Garden of Eden... These souls were conceived of as actually living beings. 3 Enoch, explicitly states that the souls of the righteous have not been created yet (meaning been born on the physical earth), and that the celestial palaces contain many treasuries and storehouses. There are also the archives wherein all deeds of man are recorded in the heavenly books, which will be opened at the heavenly court for judgement, and there is also a reference to the storehouse wherein the heavenly beings are kept. (Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha, 1:240) The editor's comment at 3 Enoch 43:1 is interesting: "...the souls of the righteous and the spirits and souls which are yet to be created [i.e. to be born]...the pre-existence of the soul is implied throughout this chapter...and the benediction 'Elohay neshamah' recited on waking from sleep: 'Oh my God, the soul which thou gavest me is pure.'" (Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha, 1: 294). The Talmud itself refers to the pre-existence of souls with the curious comment: "The Son of David shall not come till all the souls are completed which are in the guph - (i.e. the pre-existence of souls is taught, and that they re kept in heaven till one after another appears in human form, and that the Messiah is kept back till all these shall have appeared), proof of this is derived from Isaiah lvii. 16," in Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Macdonald Publishing, 2 vols., (1898): 2: 728. Cf. Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha 1: 294 - "The storehouse of beings: Heb. 'gup habberiyyot.' This storehouse is mentioned in b. Yeb 62a; 63b; b.AZ 5a: b.Nidd 13b. Rashi explains the idea thus: There is a treasure-house ['osar] called 'gup' and at the time of creation all souls destined to be born were formed and placed there. "Gup" - a chamber like a body [gup]: the name for the special place for souls which are about to be born. "Gup" - A Curtain [pargod] which forms a partition between the Shekinah and the angels, and there are placed spirits and souls created since the six days of creation, which are to be put in bodies yet to be created."

5. Wernick, Analysis of the Book of Abraham, 22; We also read in the Zohar "And when these two, soul and spirit, have duly readied themselves, they are worthy to receive the 'super-soul'[neshamah], resting in turn upon the throne of the spirit [ruah]. The super-soul stands preeminent, and not to be perceived." Gershom Scholem, ed., Zohar: The Book of Splendor, Schocken Books, (New York, 1949): 44. Cf. David A. Cooper, God is a Verb, Riverhead Books, (1997): 107 - "The Zohar teaches that before God sends souls into the world, they are formed into male and female pairs." Isaac Luria taught there are "fundamental soul types..." p. 108. "The soul of man was originally clothed in a purely spiritual garment," in Gershom Scholem, On the Kabbalah and its Symbolism, Schocken Books, (New York, 1965): 71. Cf. the idea of the "grades of the soul" in Willis Barnstone, The Other Bible, HarperSanFrancisco, (San Francisco, 1984): 708f.

6. Julian Morgenstern, "The Mythological Background of Psalm 82," in Hebrew Union College Annual, 14(1939): 29-34.

7. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 34.

8. Frank M. Cross, Jr., "The Council of Yahweh in Second Isaiah," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, (hereafter JNES), (1952): 274, note 3. Cf. Robert Eisenman, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians, "Glossary of Hebrew Terms," Element Books, (Rockport, MA, 1996): 424, who maintains that this term, "'omdim", "'amod", etc. means, among other things, "a direct relationship with 'the Standing One' in Jewish/Christian/Elkasite/Ebionite ideology directly related too to the idea of 'the Primal Adam' in these traditions." Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 40, demonstrates this adat 'el is the same assembly as referred to at 1 Kings 22:19-23 (= 2 Chron. 18:18-21); Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7.

9. Thorkild Jacobsen, "Primitive Democracy in Ancient Mesoptamia," JNES (July 1943): 163, note 22.

10. A.S. Van Der Woude,"Melchisedek als Himmlische Erlosergestalt in den neugefundenen Eschatalogischen Midraschim aus Qumran Hohle XI," in Oudtestamentische Studien, Deel XIV, (E.J. Brill, NY, 1965): 365.

11. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 39 note 22; Mark Smith, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the other Deities in Ancient Israel, Harper and Row, (San Francisco, 1990): 9, for Yahweh enthroned amidst the heavenly council. Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, 7 vols., Jewish Publication Society of America, (Philadelphia, 1937): Vol. 5:3 notes "both Talmudim and the Midrashim frequently speak of God's court of justice consisting of the angels as members." Tertullian claimed the idea that God consultede angels was a Jewish anti-Christian attitude, since it excludes the idea of the Christian Trinity! (p. 3).

12. Raymond A. Bowman, "Yahweh the Speaker," JNES, 3/1(Jan. 1944): 5. These expressions are known as "the will of the god." (p. 6).

13. Bowman, "Yahweh the Speaker," 6-7. Bowman concludes that "Yahweh is particularly associated with the idea of revelation." He further notes that Yahweh was known as "the 'Speaker,' the 'Declarer of His Will,' the 'Revealer,' and the 'Counselor of His people.'" (p. 8).

14. Cornelis Van Dam, The Urim and Thummim: A Means of Revelation in Ancient Israel, Eisenbrauns (Winona Lake, Indiana, 1997): 260-261. The Encyclopedia Judaica, (Ktav Publishing, 1971): 118, claims that "according to Judah Halevi, the people of Israel is marked by a special "divine power" which enables it to enter into communication with God." The Dead Sea Scrolls fragment 4Q400 also claim that "in the congregation of all the gods (= elim), of [knowledge and in the councils of all the spirits of] God he engraved his precepts for all the spiritual works..." in Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English, Reprint, (Penguin Books, NY, 1990): 222. See also Florentino Martinez, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated, (E. J. Brill, NY, 1994): 34, the Damascus Document which indicates God "taught them by the hand of the anointed ones through his holy spirit and through seers of the truth."

15. Wernick, "Analysis of the Book of Abraham," 96-97.

16. Cornelis Van Dam, Urim and Thummim, 224. Cf. his discussion on the Teraphim, which also were anciently analagous to the Urim and Thummim, and which are closely associated with fire, light, and luminous phenomena, (226). Cf. Harry A. Hoffner, "Hittite Tarpis and Hebrew Teraphim," JNES, 27/1(1968): 61, where the Teraphim in an early Jewish interpretation was a metathesized form from an original PTRYM, "interpreters." Van Dam notes that even the Dead Sea Scrolls associate the Urim and Thummim with light, (16-20). Ulf Oldenburg, The Conflict Between El and Ba'al in Canaanite Religion, E. J. Brill, (1969): 17, notes that the God El is called "the King, Father of the Luminaries." Cf. the New Testament book of James 1:17, "The Father of lights." Also see Luke Timothy Johnson, The Letter of James, Anchor Bible, (Doubleday, NY, 1995): 196, luminaries or lights perhaps the planets, sun, moon, stars, etc., i.e., celestial phenomena.

17. Cornelis Van Dam, Urim and Thummim, 222.

18. The examples are from Edwin C. Kingsbury, "The Prophets and the Council of Yahweh," JBL, 83(1964): quote on p. 285; John Bright, Jeremiah, Anchor Bible, (Doubleday, NY, 1965): 152, "The phrase at Jeremiah 23:18, "who has stood in Yahweh's council," means the "heavenly court." H. W. Saggs, The Encounter with the Divine in Mesopotamia and Israel, University of London, (London, 1978): 145, where he shows the Hebrew term for "seer" and "prophet" could have been one, two, or three types of functionary, along with prophecy, "the word of Yahweh came spontaneously to a prophet was another form...[of communication]"

19. R.H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, 2 vols., Oxford (Clarendon Press, reprint, 1979): Vol. 2, 209, footnote 2, 211, footnote 12, 212, footnote 10.

20. Oldenburg, Conflict, 165; Mercea Eliade, ed., The Encyclopedia of Religion, 16 vols., (MacMillan, 1987): 5: 73; The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 18 vols., (McGraw-Hill, NY, 1967): 5: 236. Cf. the English-Hebrew Glossary of Thomas O. Lambdin of Harvard University, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, Charles Scribner's sons, (NY, 1971): 334, "El" means god. "Elohim" means God; Also J. Weingreen, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew, Oxford University Press, 2nd edition, (1959): 307; Cf. C. L. Seow, A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, Abingdon Press, (1995): 108, 1 Sam. 17:46 Israel has a God ("Elohim"); And of course, the famous Genesis 1:1 where God is called "Elohim," see Menahem Mansoor, Biblical Hebrew, 2 vols., Baker Book House, 7th printing (1991): 2:5-6.

21. Oldenburg, Conflict, 16.

22. Oldenburg, Conflict, 25.

23. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 39, note 22.

24. Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible, (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN, 1992): 269. He notes that H.D. Hummel says Ps. 29:1 refers to "the sons of El" sitting in the assembly of gods because the original text referred to El together with an enclitic mem. (p. 365).

25. P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., Textual Criticism: Recovering the Text of the Hebrew Bible, (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, MN, 1986): 59.

26. Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton, The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English, (Hendrickson Publishing, 5th printing, 1995): 276. Jon D. Levenson, The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son, Yale University Press, (New Haven, 1993): 46, notes that "in the Hebrew Bible... the line between God and his angel is so indistinct that the two can be interchanged artlessly (for example, Gen 16:7-13)." Frank Moore Cross notes that the Angel of the Presence is given Yahweh's name, Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, First Paperback(Harvard University Press, (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1997): 30. Margaret Barker, The Great Angel: A Study of Israel's Second God, (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1992): 34, demonstrates that "the Angel of Yahweh" was actually equated with Yahweh himself, especially in Gideon's vision. The Angel of the Presence also told Moses to write the words of creation, Florentino Martinez, The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated, 239, fragment of Jubilees.

27. Ronald S. Hendel, "When the Sons of God Cavorted With the Daughters of Men," in Herschel Shanks, Ed., Understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, (Random House, NY, 1992): 170, 172. For a contrasting view, David E. Stevens, "Does Deuteronomy 32:8 Refer to "Sons of God" or "Sons of Israel"?," Bibliotheca Sacra, 154(April 1997): 131-41. His entire premise against the term "Sons of God," is his incorrect understanding of polytheism in the ancient Near East, (p. 140); W. S. Prinsloo, "Psalm 82: Once Again, Gods or Men?," Biblica, 76/2(1995)demonstrates that the internal structure of the entire chapter demonstrates unequivocally that this is about gods who will become human. He notes that Smick correctly notes in this connection of the Psalm being about gods, "If then they are going to die like mortals, they are not mortals." (p. 227); Cf. Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic; Also Cyrus H. Gordon, "His Name is "One," JNES, 29/3(July 1970): 198, where he notes that in the Shema, the word "One" may very well be one of God's actual names, so we can read Deuteronomy 6:4 "Hear, O Israel, Yahweh is our God, Yahweh is One." This may not be necessarily saying there are not other gods at all. Frank Moore Cross, "The Development of Israelite Religion," in Bible Review, (Oct. 1992): 27, notes that the Shema literally translated reads "Hear O Israel: Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone." He concludes his thoughts on this saying "Israel was required to worship only one God...Israelite religion did not systematically deny the existence of other gods or divine powers. In Psalm 82, Yahweh stands up in the council of the gods and decrees the death of the gods because of their failure to judge their peoples justly, and then Yahweh takes over." From Sabatino Moscati we learn that the Sumerian religion "is a naturalistic polytheism," and that "the cosmos consists of a complex of laws instituted by the gods... the gods speak and their word becomes deed," Sabatino Moscati, The Face of the Ancient Orient, (Doubleday, Anchor Books, NY, 1962): 25; Cf Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess, Third Enlarged Edition, (Wayne State University Press, Detroit, MI, 1990): 41.

28. Gerhard von Rad, Theologie des Alten Testaments, trans. by D.M.G. Stalker, 2 vols, (Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1962): vol. 1: 138, note 5. According to this idea, the various gods (Elohim beings) each received an allottment from heaven. Cf. William F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity, (Hereafter as FSAC) 2nd ed.,(Doubleday, NY, 1957); T.J. Meek interpreted this to mean "He assigned the realm of the nations to the various deities!" (p. 269).

29. Albright, FSAC: 296-97.

30. Mitchell Dahood, Psalms III, 3 vols., (Doubleday, NY, 1970): 345; See Frank Moore Cross, "The Council of Yahweh in Second Isaiah," 274, note 1, where he notes "Yahweh is typically described in Old Testament literature as enthroned amid the worshipping host (stars) of heaven..." See also William F. Albright, FSAC, (p. 297), where star is a simile of heavenly multitudes, specifically the counting in Genesis 15:5 and Psalms 147:4. Also Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 92-93; Oldenburg, Conflict, 18, where he notes an Ugaritic text saying bn 'il [p]hr kkbm/ dr dt smm? = "the sons of El/the assemblage of stars/the generations of the heavens."

31. Mitchell Dahood, Psalms I, Anchor Bible, (Boubleday, NY, 1966): 175-76.

32. John J. Collins, The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature, (Doubleday, NY, 1995): 23 for elaboration on the enthronement of the King as a representative of God. Cf. Edwin C. Kingsbury, "The Prophets and the Council of Yahweh," JBL, 83(1964).

33. Frank J. Neuberg, "An Unrecognized Meaning of Hebrew Dor," JNES, 9-10(1950-51): 215.

34. Neuberg, "Unrecognized Meaning of Hebrew Dor," 216.

35. Neuberg, "Unrecognized Meaning of Hebrew Dor," 215; Cf. Alexander Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis, University of Chicago Press, 3rd printing, (Chicago, Illinois, 1963): 64 where he translates a fragment "When the gods in their assembly had created everything..." Cf. p. 96.

36. Frank Moore Cross, Jr., David Noel Freedman, "The Blessing of Moses," JBL, 67(1948): 201.

37. Frank Moore Cross, Jr., David Noel Freedman, "The Blessing of Moses," JBL, 67(1948): 202.

38. Frank Moore Cross, Jr., Canaanite Myth & Hebrew Epic, 181.

39. Mitchell Dahood, Psalms I, 3 vols., (Doubleday, NY, 1966: vol. 1: 175, note xxix.

40. Jacobsen, "Primitive Democracy", 167.

41. Cornelis Van Dam, The Urim and Thummim, 254, footnote 83.

42. Conrad L'Heureux, "The Ugaritic and Biblical Rephaim," Harvard Theological Review, 67(1974): 270-271.

43. Conrad L'Heureux, Rephaim, 271. Cf. 272, footnote 25, the authority of El is ordinarily exercised through the younger generation of gods whom we could call the executive deities. It is also possible to understand the term rp'm as "the assembly of the gods." The entire premise of Jacobsen's article "Primitive Democracy," is that the groups and assemblies on earth reflected what the gods had done in heaven.

44. James Muilenburg, "The 'Office' of the Prophet in Ancient Israel," in J. Philip Hyatt, ed., The Bible in Modern Scholarship, Abingdon Press, (Nashville, 1965): 96-97; Henry Frankfort, John Wilson, Thorkild Jacobsen, William A. Irwin, The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, University of Chicago Press, (Chicago, 1957): 136, where the assembly of the gods decided all decisions of the course of all things and the fates of all beings. Cf. pp. 181-183; 194-197.

45. Oldenburg, Conflict, 22.

46. Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews, Vol. 1: 414; Vol. 5: 318. Cf. Vol. 1: 313 for the convening of the court to decide the case of Michael and Samael concerning the fight between Esau and Jacob; Vol. 5: 122, the heavenly court being 71 in number as the heavenly counterpart of the earthly Sanhedrin in order to judge the serpent; Vol. 5: 238 a heavenly court consisting of sixty myriads of angels, assisting Abraham to decide the case of the Sodomites; Vol. 3: 23 God convenes his court to decide the fate of the Egyptians; Vol. 3: 417, Moses' death sealed by the heavenly court; Vol. 3: 440, one of the scrolls of the Torah which Moses wrote shown to the heavenly court, thus proving Moses' piety; Vol. 4: 114-115, David's throne set next to God's throne in the heavenly court with other Israelite Kings surrounding it; Marvin Pope, Job, Anchor Bible, (Doubleday, NY, 1965): 9, "Yahweh as king of the gods holds court as in the vision of Micaiah ben Imlah, 1 Kings 22:19-23, surrounded by his divine entourage of counselors and servants"; Carol L. Meyers, Eric M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah, Carol L. Meyers, Eric M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah, Anchor Bible, (Doubelday, NY, 1987): 7, "...prophets are members of the [heavenly] council who act as couriers to deliver God's judgment to the people"; John L. McKenzie, Second Isaiah, Anchor Bible, (Doubelday, NY, 1968): 17, "The heavenly council occurs in Job 1-2; 1 Kings 22:19-22; Jeremiah 23:18, 22. Whether the voices are to be identified with the heavenly council or not, they must be understood as heavenly voices, the voices of Yahweh's messengers. It is from them that the prophet receives his commission."

47. Frank M. Cross & David Noel Freedman, "The Blessing of Moses," in Journal of Biblical Literature (Hereafter JBL), 67(1948): 201.

48. Cross & Freedman, "The Blessing of Moses," 202. See also C. F. Whitley, "The Pattern of Creation in Genesis, Chapter 1," JNES, 17(1958): 32-40, for influence of the Enuma Elish on the writers of Genesis; Joseph Blenkinsopp, The Pentateuch, Anchor Bible Reference Library, (Doubleday, NY, 1992) for excellent discussions of Near East cultures' influence on the Bible in many generalities and specifics. William F. Albright found it obvious "that Israelite thought was indeed influenced by Canaanite mythological patterns," Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan, University of London, (1968): 168.

49. Robert Alter, Genesis, W. W. Norton & Co., (NY, 1996): 188.

50. Carol L. Meyers, Eric M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah, 182.

51. Jacobsen, "Primitive Democracy", 167.

52. Jacobsen, "Primitive Democracy", 168; Cf. Mitchell Dahood, Psalms II, Anchor Bible, (Doubleday, NY, 1968): 269, "the divine council, adat 'el, is highly reminiscent of Ugaritic 'dt il, the council of El... the picture of God in the midst of the assembly of the gods recurs again and again in the Psalter; Cf. Pss. 29:1-2; 77:14; 89:6-9; 95:3; 96:4; 97:7; 148:2." Cf. p. 230 where Dahood notes the holy ones at Ps. 77:14 are the gods comprising Yahweh's divine council. See also p. 313, for the Psalmist Yahweh has no peers in the divine assembly; Cf. Moshe Weinfeld, "Feminine Features in the Imagery of God in Israel: The Sacred Marriage and the Sacred Tree," in Vetus Testamentum, 49(1996), p. 527, El's council of gods were called "the holy ones," who are usually associated with his consort as well. "Thus we find in Ugarit alongside "ilm/bn qdsh," - "the gods/holy sons," "ilm bn atrt,", "the gods, the sons of Athirat," which seems to indicate that the sons of the mother-goddess Asherah are identical with the sons of El, "the holy ones."

53. Andrew F. Ehat & Lyndon W. Cook, Eds., The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, BYU Religious Studies Center, (Provo, Utah, 1980): 341.

54. Ehat & Cook, Words of Joseph Smith, 397, note 69.

55. Ehat & Cook, Words of Joseph Smith, 397, note 70. Cf. Theodor H. Gaster, The Dead Sea Scriptures, 3rd Revised, Enlarged edition, (Doubleday, NY, 1976): 76, where we read "the chief [Hebrew ro'sh] of the Grecian king...." See also Louis Zucker, "Joseph Smith as a Student of Hebrew," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 3/2(Summer 1968): 51-52 for discussing of Joseph Smith being influenced by his Hebrew studies to denote Elohim meaning a plurality of gods. Cf. Kevin L. Barney, "Joseph Smith's Emendation of Hebrew Genesis 1:1," Dialogue, 30/4(Winter 1997): 103-135.

56. Gesenius' Hebrew And Chaldee Lexicon, Baker Book House, (Grand Rapids, MI, 1979): 97. Cf. Brown, Briggs, Driver, A Hebrew and English Lexicon, (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1951): 88-89.

57. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background," 41, footnote 25.

58, Simo Parpola, "The Assyrian Tree of Life: Tracing the Origins of Jewish Monotheism and Greek Philosophy," JNES, 52/3(1993): 184.

59. Isaac Mendelsohn, ed., Religions of the Ancient Near East: Sumero Akkadian Religions Texts and Ugaritic Epics, Liberal Arts Press, (New York, 1955): 28. Cf. S. H. Hooke, Babylonian and Assyrian Religion, Hutchinson's University Library, (New York, 1953): 24, where Anu's abode is in the third heaven, and his rank among the others in the assembly is "Father, and King of the Gods"; Robert C. Denton, The Knowledge of God in Ancient Israel, Seabury Press, (NY, 1968): 137 noted Egypt, Babylon and Canaan's gods, due to various political changes in the environment, became either kings of the gods or members of the celestial council. Cf. p. 147 where he notes Yahweh's council was called into session only when dealing with human affairs (1 Kings 22:19-20; Job 1:6-8).

60. Jacobsen, "Primitive Democracy", 168. Cf. Leo Jung, "Fallen Angels in Jewish, Christian and Mohammedan Literature," Jewish Quarterly Review, 16(1925-1926): 54, "Numb. Rabba 19.3 - Gen. Rabba 17.5 "When the Holy One blessed be He desired to create man, He took counsel with the ministering angels. He said to them: "Let us make man in our image." Also Theodor H. Gaster, The Oldest Stories in the World, Beacon Press, (Boston, 1958): 53, where the gods are conversing about what to do about the noisy humans they have created.

61. Jacobsen, "Primitive Democracy", 169.

62. Van Der Woude, "Melchisedek als Himmlische Erlosergestalt", 365. On the god being clothed with the royal insignia, Jacobsen, "Primitive Democracy", 170; Leo Oppenheim's study shows that by the end of the first millenium B.C. the kusitu garment "shifted from secular to ceremonial use. From then on, gods, kings, and priests are clad in it... the Neo-Assyrian texts refer to the kusitu as to the exclusive royal dress." Esarhaddon gave his son this garment, showing the people who the future king was to be, "you have girt your son with the kusitu and (thus) you have endowed him with the kingship over Assyria." A. Leo Oppenheim, "The Golden Garments of the Gods," in JNES, 8(1949): 179. Cf. the generality of status symbols in antiquity, Meyer Reinhold, "On Status Symbols in the Ancient World," Classical Journal, 64/7(April 1969): 300-304.

63. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 41-42. Notice here that Satan is indeed one of the "sons of God"! Cf. p. 42.

64. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 42.

65. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 43.

66. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 93.

67. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 99.

68. Leo Jung, "Fallen Angels," 60-61.

69. Leo Jung, "Fallen Angels," 66. Cf. p. 51.

70. George W. E. Nickelsberg, Jr., "Review of the Literature," 44, and note 64; Cf discussion on Satan in the council as one of the "Sons of God" in heaven Riukah S. Kluger, Satan in the Old Testament, Northwestern University Press, (Evanston, Wyoming, 1967): 98-136.

71. George W. E. Nickelsberg, Jr., "Eschatology in the Testament of Abraham: A Study of the Judgment Scenes in the Two Recensions," in Studies on the Testament of Abraham, Scholars Press, (Missoula, Montana, 1976): 36-37; Cf. Carol Meyers, Eric M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah, 183, "The Angel of Yahweh is indeed a familiar biblical figure who stands at the head of the entourage of the Divine Council."

72. Oldenburg, Conflict, 174.

73. Joseph W. Trigg, "The Angel of Great Counsel: Christ and the Angelic Hierarchy in Origen's Theology," Journal of Theological Studies, 42/1(April 1991): 41.

74. Joseph W. Trigg, "The Angel of Great Counsel," 42. Cf. the fascinating discussion of Alan F. Segal, "The Risen Christ and the Angelic Mediator Figures in Light of Qumran," in James H. Charlesworth, ed., Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Doubleday, (New York, 1992): 302-322.

75. Joseph W. Trigg, "The Angel of Great Counsel," 35, 37.

76. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 58, note 46.

77. W. Gunther Plaut, The Torah: A Modern Commentary, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, (1981): 19.

78. Leo Jung, "Fallen Angels," 57.

79. Leo Jung, "Fallen Angels," 291.

80. Leo Jung, "Fallen Angels," 289.

81. Baruch Margalit, The Ugaritic Poem of AQHT, Walter de Gruyter, (NY, 1989): 282.

82. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 73; 2 Enoch 23:4,5 says: "all the souls of men, whatever of them are not yet born, and their places, prepared for eternity. For all the souls are prepared for eternity, before the composition of the earth," in James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 1: 879; R. H. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigraph, 2:415, We read in the Assumption of Moses that Moses knew God had assigned him his place, his topos, his calling as it were. "He designed and devised me, and He prepared me before the foundation of the world, that I should be the mediator of His covenant." Charles notes that "The Gentiles are fore-ordained to ignorance and blind conjecture, while Moses is the chosen agent of the true revelation...Moses is here assigned pre-existence as is the Son of Man in 1 Enoch. Later, Judaism, like the Alexandrian form of first century A.D., held the pre-existence of all souls alike." The "sons of Abraham" received "pure and immortal souls from God." Charles notes that this shows an original difference between good and bad souls before their incorporation in thebody." (Charles, vol. 2, Fourth Book of the Maccabees, p. 685); Hugh Nibley, "Treasures in the Heavens," in Truman G. Madsen, ed., Nibley on the Timely and Timeless, Religious Studies Center, (BYU, Provo, Utah, 1978): 66, footnote 19, notes many of the Patriarchs, Isaac, Jacob, Jeremiah, the Twelve Apostles, Peter, etc., are specifically said to have been chosen and set apart in the preexistence. In 1 Enoch the "elect and holy children will descend from the high heaven, and their seed will become one with the children of men." The "Prayer of Joseph" it begins with Jacob talking: "Abraham and Isaac were created before any work." (Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha, 2:713). It is also acknowledged that the notion of pre-existence in ancient Jewish materials "was quite widespread" while it was less common to read the claim that "the patriarchs or Moses were pre-existent." (Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha, 2:713, note d). In the "Apocalypse of Abraham" we have confirmation that Abraham was indeed one of the mighty and great ones. Abraham is being shown in vision the world, as in a round picture (like the hypocephalus, Facsimile #2 in the Book of Abraham) and the guide tells him:

"These who are on the left side are a multitude of tribes who existed previously... and after you some (who have been) prepared for judgment and order, others for revenge and perdition at the end of the age. Those on the right side of the picture are the people set apart for me of the people with Azazel; these are the ones I have prepared to be born of you and to be called my people." (Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha, 1: 700). The Old Slavonic word prougotovlenym is tebe means literally, "prepared out of you."(Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha, 1: 694, note o). We read later on the angel saying to Abraham, after he chased off Azazel, "an unclean bird" trying to ruin Abraham's sacrifice, and hence Abraham receives his heavenly garment, "Know from this that the Eternal One whom you have loved has chosen you."(Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha, 1: 695).

83. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 73.

84. Morgenstern, "Mythological Background": 105.

85. S. R. Driver, G. B. Gray, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Job, 2 vols., Charles Scribner Sons (NY, 1921): 1: 9-10.

86. William F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan, 105; Cf. Moshe Weinfeld, "Feminine Features" 515-529; Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess, 37; Frank Moore Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic, 30-33.

87. G. Ernest Wright, The Old Testament Against its Environment, SCM Press Ltd., (London, reprint 1962): 35-36.

88. James B. Pritchard, ed., The Ancient Near East, Princeton University Press, 6th paperback printing, (1973): 93.

89. Nelson Glueck, Deities and Dolphins:The Story of the Nabataeans, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, (1965): 205. Cf. Richard Cavendish, ed., Man, Myth, & Magic, 21 vols., Marshall Cavendish Corp., (1995): 15: 2028, his "bull" title indicates "strength and virility."

90. G. A. Wainwright, "The Origin of Storm Gods in Egypt," in Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, (hereafter JEA),(Dec. 1963): 14. A class of worshippers of Min were called the "Bellowers". Bulls we are also told were common representatives of the sky god in the Ancient Near East. This is proven by Willy Hartner, "The Earliest History of the Constellations in the Near East and the Motif of the Lion-Bull Combat," JNES, (Jan-April 1965): 1-16.

91. G.A. Wainwright, "Some Aspects of Amun," in JEA, XX(1934): 139. Amon sometimes took the form of a great black bull, in some hymns to that God. See Alan Gardiner, "Hymns to Amon From a Leiden Papyrus," in ZAS, (1905): 37. Min's bull was white and was a sky bull also associated with fertility, both of people and of the earth, see Wainwright, "Some Celestial Associations of Min," JEA, 21(1935): 152-170 for detailed discussion. King Nefer-kauhor was called "My-heart-is-the-bull, which could stand for any number of the bull gods of Egypt, the Apis of Memphis, the Mnevis bull of Heliopolis, etc., see William C. Hayes, "Royal Decrees from the Temple of Min at Coptus," in JEA, 31-34(1945-48): 16.

92. Alan Gardiner, "Egyptian Grammar," Griffith Institute, 3rd edition, (1994): 51. On p. 72 we read a titulary of Thutmosis III, which in part reads "Horus strong bull arising in Thebes." Also Hans Goedicke, "The Thutmosis I Inscription Near Tomas," in "Journal of Near Eastern Studies," 55, No. 3(1996), p. 161 where we read that Thutmosis was "under the majesty of Horus, "Victorious Bull." Horus is also said to be the son of Amun, seed of the god, offspring of the bull of the gods, etc. (p. 166). Cf. Anthony Spalinger, "Some Remarks on the Epagomenal Days in Ancient Egypt," in JNES, 54/1(1995): 35 where Osiris is called the "bull of the west." At Osiris' birth he was called "bull of his cavern." (p. 37). At Horus' birth he was called "the pure bull of his field." (p. 38).

93. Lana Troy, "The Ennead: The Collective as Goddess," in The Religion of the Ancient Egyptians, Cognitive Structures and Popular Expressions, the Uppsala Egyptological Conference, (Uppsala, 1988): 62.

94. Dieter Kurth, "Same des Stieres" und "Same", Zwei Bezeichnungen der Maat," Studien zu Sprache und Religion Agyptens, Band 1: Sprach Zu Ehren von Wolfhart Westendorf," (F. Junge, 1984): 278.

95. Raymond O. Faulkner, "The Bremmer-Rhind Papyrus I," in JEA, 21(1935): 124, 125.

96. Jose M. Galan, "Bullfight Scenes in Ancient Egyptian Tombs," JEA, 80(1994): 91.

97. Cross, Canaanite Myth, 39.

98. James R. Davila, "The Flood Hero as King and Priest," JNES, 54/3(1995): 212, utilizing James C. Vanderkam.

99. Cross, Canaanite Myth, 41.

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