From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

GODS. —The single passage in the Gospels where the word θεοί occurs ( John 10:34 f.) affords an excellent example both of the style of Jesus’ arguments with His Jewish adversaries and of His attitude to the OT. The phrase, ‘I said, Ye are gods,’ is a literal quotation of  Psalms 82:6 (LXX Septuagint 81:6), and is introduced as such by the word invariably employed for that purpose (ἔστιν γεγραμμένον, cf. γέγραπται of  Matthew 4:3;  Matthew 4:6-7;  Matthew 4:10) It is plain that in quoting these words Jesus is arguing after the manner of the well-known argumentum ad hominem , from His use of the personal pronoun ‘your,’ as well as from His application of the title ‘law’ to the Psalms (ἐν τῷ νόμῳ ὑμῶν, cf. τῶ ὑμετέρῳ in  John 8:17; and for a similar use of the term ‘law,’ cf.  John 12:34;  John 15:25). It is an appeal to authority, the validity of which His hearers would be the first to recognize. It was impossible for them to escape a conclusion so immediately the outcome of premisses universally accepted as true. At the same time it is an argument a fortiori . If their beloved Law, to which they were constantly appealing, hesitated not to designate as ‘gods’ (אֳלהים) the judges whose partiality and injustice provoked their arraignment by God, and the solemn warning to ‘judge the weak and fatherless, do justice to the afflicted and destitute’ ( Psalms 82:3), surely the charge of blasphemy came badly from those men who recognized in this Law their final court of appeal. His claim to be ‘the Son of God,’ whom the Father, in a unique sense, both ‘sanctified and sent,’ could be judged by His works, and it was sufficient to contrast those works which they could daily witness with the works of men whom God designated ‘sons of the Most High’ (בְּנִיעָלְיוֹן  Psalms 82:6).

Jesus in this place seems to adopt the interpretation of this Psalm which is given by the Targum, and which applies the title ‘gods’ to the earthly judges acting in their capacity as representatives of God. He, moreover, countenances the extension of the term ‘Law’ to other portions of the OT besides the Pentateuch. This was a common practice in the writings of the Jewish Rabbins, who spoke of ‘the threefold Law’—Pentateuch, Prophets, and Hagiographa ( Shabbath , 88 a ). Compare also the Talmudic tractate Sanhedrin , fol. 91, 92, for the question of R. Joshua, ‘In what manner is the Resurrection of the dead proved from the Law?’ with the answer that it is said in  Psalms 84:4 ‘They shall praise thee’; not ‘they have praised thee.’ To the same question propounded by R. Chaia the answer is that the Resurrection is proved from  Isaiah 52:8 (see Wünscbe, Neue Beitrage zur Erlauterung der Evangelien aus Talmud und Midrash ).

There is another explanation current among the Jews which applied the term ’elôhim in this place to the israelites who stood before Mt. Sinai and received the law (τρὁς οὕς ὁ λογος τοῦ θεοῦ ἐγένετο,  John 10:35). If, said they, their fathers had not sinned in the matter of the golden calf, they would have been as the angels; they would neither have begotten children nor been subject to death. For this reason it was, according to this interpretation, that the Psalm says, ‘they shall die like men’ (כְּאָרָם v. 7), in spite of the fact that they were so marvellously privileged (see the Talmudic tractate Zarah, fol. 5. 1, quoted in J. Lightfoot’s . Heb. et Talm. [Note: Talmud.] , vol. iii. p. 359).

The evidential value of the whole passage with respect to Jesus’ attitude to the OT Scriptures will, to some extent at least, be measured by the nature of the clause, ‘the Scripture* [Note: It is to be noted here that ἡ γραφή does not mean the OT in general, for which the word would be αἱ γραφαι, but refers to the particular passage quoted (cf.  John 20:9;  John 2:22 etc.).] cannot be broken.’ If it is parenthetical, we have a direct assertion by Jesus that He regarded the OT as containing elements of abiding significance, and, moreover, that its meaning found its final and true explanation in His person and life (cf.  John 13:18 and  Matthew 5:18 etc.). On the other hand, it is by no means certain that the clause is of the nature of a parenthesis, and not dependent upon the preceding conditional particle (εἰ). In this case the sense would be ‘if the Scripture cannot be broken,’ which would have the effect of presenting the argumentum ad hominem in a still stronger and more merciless form. This is again made more forcible by His use of the emphatic pronoun (ὑμεῖς), as if He intended to say, ‘How is it possible for you, of all people, in face of the fact that you assert the inviolability of this passage, to find fault with the claims which I have put forward, and to say that I am a blasphemer?’ (see Plummer in Cambridge Greek Test. , and Westcott’s Gospel of St. John, ad loc. ).

It might be possible for an objector to urge that the whole argument was unworthy of the dignity of its alleged Author, and was too like what His hearers would themselves employ. On the other hand, we know that He did not shrink, at times, from meeting the Jews on their own ground (see art. Accommodation, p. 19 ff.), and indeed it would seem that He had no option but to do so, if His teaching was ever to penetrate their understandings. Nor did He at any time avoid confounding His adversaries out of their own mouth (cf.  Matthew 22:45,  Luke 10:36 f. etc.). At the same time it is evident that there is a profounder significance attaching to the quotation than at first sight appears, and it is in this fact that we have a more certain guide to the estimation in which the OT writings were held by Jesus. Whatever may have been the personal character of those who were designated ’elôhîm in the Psalm, they were men unto whom the word of God had come, and who derived their title to be in a sense Divine from the fact that God delegated to them an authority which was His to give, and that He communicated His will through them to the people over whom they were placed.

The phrase ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ, occurring as it does in this passage, can hardly have been recorded by the author of the Fourth Gospel without a conscious reference to that Personal Word, about whom he speaks in his Prologue. The Logos, pre-existent and active, was the means by which God was effecting the eternal movement of man towards Himself and of Himself towards man. This movement became finally complete in the union of the Incarnation, when God and man met in an everlasting unity (ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο,  John 1:14). Nor was this marvellous synthesis ‘sprung upon,’ so to speak, the human race. It was being foreshadowed continually in the OT. The prophetic ‘Thus saith the Lord’ (cf. e.g.  Isaiah 38:1,  Jeremiah 19:1,  Hosea 4:1 etc.) was the outcome of a consciousness which felt its power to speak and act as God’s earthly representative, and the fitness of this claim is vindicated by the oft-repeated assertion, ‘The word of the Lord came unto [me]’ (cf.  Jeremiah 16:1;  Jeremiah 10:1;  Jeremiah 9:17,  Isaiah 8:1,  Joel 1:1 etc.; see the emphatic הָיֹההָיָה in  Ezekiel 1:3, where the prophet lays stress on the reality of his experience).

The union of God and man accomplished in the ‘Word made flesh’ was indirectly suggested in the bold words of the Psalmist, ‘I said, Ye are ‘ elôhîm ,’ and it is not difficult to believe that in repeating this expression Jesus had in His mind the realization of this profound idea, and that He desired to disclose it as an accomplished fact to those who had ears to hear and hearts to understand ( Matthew 13:15).

J. R. Willis.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

in the plural, is used of the false deities of the Heathens, many of which were only creatures to whom divine honours and worship were superstitiously paid. The Greeks and Latins, it is observable, did not mean, by the name God, an all-perfect being, whereof eternity, infinity, omnipresence, &c, were essential attributes; with them the word only implied an excellent and superior nature; and, accordingly, they give the appellation gods to all beings of a rank or class higher or more perfect than that of men, and especially to those who were inferior agents in the divine administration, all subject to the one Supreme. Thus men themselves, according to their system, might become gods after death, inasmuch as their souls might attain to a degree of excellence superior to what they were capable of in life. The first idols, or false gods, that are said to have been adored where the stars, sun, moon, &c, on account of the light, heat, and other benefits which we derive from them. ( See Idolatry . ) Afterward the earth came to be deified, for furnishing fruits necessary for the subsistence of men and animals; then fire and water became objects of divine worship, for their usefulness to human life. In process of time, and by degrees, gods became multiplied to infinity; and there was scarce any thing but the weakness or caprice of some devotee or other, elevated into the rank of deity; things useless or even destructive not excepted. The principal of the ancient gods, whom the Romans called dii majorum gentium, and Cicero celestial gods, Varro select gods, Ovid nobiles deos, others consentes deos, were Jupiter, Juno, Vesta, Minerva, Ceres, Diana, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Vulcan, and Apollo. Jupiter is considered as the god of heaven; Neptune, as god of the sea; Mars, as the god of war; Apollo, of eloquence, poetry, and physic; Mercury, of thieves; Bacchus, of wine; Cupid, of love, &c. A second sort of gods, called demi-gods, semidii, dii minorum gentium, indigetes, or gods adopted, were men canonized and deified. As the greater gods had possession of heaven by their own right, these secondary deities had it by merit and donation, being translated into heaven because they had lived as gods upon earth.

2. The Heathen gods may be all reduced to the following classes:

(1.) Created spirits, angels, or demons, whence good and evil gods; Genii, Lares, Lemures, Typhones, guardian gods, infernal gods, &c.

(2.) Heavenly bodies; as, the sun, moon, and other planets; also, the fixed stars, constellations, &c.

(3.) Elements; as air, earth, ocean, Ops, Vesta; the rivers, fountains,


(4.) Meteors. Thus the Persians adored the wind: thunder and lightning were honoured under the name of Geryon; and several nations of India and America have made themselves gods of the same. Castor, Pollux, Helena, and Iris, have also been preferred from meteors to be gods; and the like has been practised in regard to comets: witness that which appeared at the murder of Caesar.

(5.) They erected minerals or fossils into deities. Such was the Baetylus. The Finlanders adored stones; the Scythians, iron; and many nations, silver and gold.

(6.) Plants have been made gods. Thus leeks and onions were deities in Egypt; the Sclavi, Lithuanians, Celtae, Vandals, and Peruvians, adored trees and forests; the ancient Gauls, Britons, and Druids, paid a particular devotion to the oak; and it was no other than wheat, corn, seed, &c, that the ancients adored under the names of Ceres and Proserpina.

(7.) They took themselves gods from among the waters. The Syrians and Egyptians adored fishes: and what were the Tritons, the Nereids, Syrens, &c, but fishes? Several nations have adored serpents; particularly the Egyptians, Prussians, Lithuanians, Samogitians, &c.

(8.) Insects, as flies and ants, had their priests and votaries.

(9.) Among birds, the stork, raven, sparrow hawk, ibis, eagle, grisson, and lapwing have had divine honours; the last in Mexico, the rest in Egypt and at Thebes.

(10.) Four-footed beasts have had their altars; as the bull, dog, cat, wolf, baboon, lion, and crocodile, in Egypt and elsewhere; the hog in the island of Crete; rats and mice in the Troas, and at Tenedos; weasels at Thebes; and the porcupine throughout all Zoroaster's school.

(11.) Nothing was more common than to place men among the number of deities; and from Belus or Baal, to the Roman emperors before Constantine, the instances of this kind are innumerable: frequently they did not wait so long as their deaths for the apotheosis. Nebuchadnezzar procured his statue to be worshipped while living; and Virgil shows that Augustus had altars and sacrifices offered to him; as we learn from other hands that he had priests called Augustales, and temples at Lyons, Narbona, and several other places, and he must be allowed the first of the Romans in whose behalf idolatry was carried to such a pitch. The Ethiopians deemed all their kings gods: the Velleda of the Germans, the Janus of the Hungarians, and the Thaut, Woden, and Assa of the northern nations, were indisputably men.

(12.) Not men only, but every thing that relates to man, has also been deified; as labour, rest, sleep, youth, age, death, virtues, vices, occasion, time, place, numbers, among the Pythagoreans; the generative power, under the name of Priapus. Infancy alone had a cloud of deities; as, Vagetanus, Levana, Rumina, Edufa, Potina, Cuba, Cumina, Carna, Ossilago, Statulinus, Fabulinus, &c. They also adored the gods Health, Fever, Fear, Love, Pain, Indignation, Shame, Impudence, Opinion, Renown, Prudence, Science, Art, Fidelity,

Felicity, Calumny, Liberty, Money, War, Peace, Victory, Triumph, &c. Lastly, Nature, the universe, or το παν , was reputed a great god.

3. Hesiod has a poem under the title of Θεογονια , that is "The Generation of the Gods," in which he explains their genealogy and descent, sets forth who was the first and principal, who next descended from him, and what issue each had: the whole making a sort of system of Heathen theology. Beside this popular theology, each philosopher had his system, as may be seen from the "Timaeus" of Plato, and Cicero "De Natura Deorum." Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Arnobius, Minutius Felix, Lactantius, Eusebius, St. Augustine, and Theodoret, show the vanity of the Heathen gods. It is very difficult to discover the real sentiments of the Heathens with respect to their gods: they are exceedingly intricate and confused, and even frequently contradictory. They admitted so many superior and inferior gods, who shared the empire, that every place was full of gods. Varro reckons up no less than thirty thousand adored within a small extent of ground, and yet their number was every day increasing. In modern oriental Paganism they amount to many millions, and are, in fact, innumerable.

4. The name of God, in Hebrew, Elohim, is very ambiguous in Scripture. The true God is often called so, as are sometimes angels, judges, and princes, and sometimes idols and false gods; for example: "God created the heaven and the earth,"   Genesis 1:1 . The Hebrew Elohim denotes, in this place, the true God. "He who sacrificeth unto any god, ( Elohim, ) shall be put to death,"  Exodus 22:20 . And again: "Among the gods there is none like unto thee,"  Psalms 86:8 . Princes, magistrates, and great men are called gods in the following passages: "If a slave is desirous to continue with his master, he shall be brought to the judges,"  Exodus 21:6 , in the original, to the gods. Again: "If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges,"   Exodus 22:8 , in the original, to the gods: and in the twenty-eighth verse of the same chapter, "Thou shalt not speak evil of the gods" that is, of the judges or great men.

The Psalmist says that the Lord "judgeth among the gods,"  Psalms 82:1 . And again, God says to Moses, "I have made thee a god to Pharaoh,"

 Exodus 7:1 . The pious Israelites had so great an aversion and such an extreme contempt for strange gods, that they scorned even to mention them; they disguised and disfigured their names by substituting in the room of them some term of contempt; for example, instead of Elohim, they called them Elilim, "nothings, gods of no value;" instead of Mephibaal, Meribaal, and Jerubaal, they said "Mephibosheth, Meribosheth, and Jeribosheth." Baal signifies master, husband; and bosheth, something to be ashamed of, something apt to put one in confusion. God forbade the Israelites to swear by strange gods, and to pronounce the names of them in their oaths,   Exodus 23:13 .

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]

The words god and gods, Hebrew ELOHIM, are several times used in Scripture to express the power, office, or excellence of some created beings, as angels, magistrates,  Exodus 22:20,28   Psalm 86:8   97:12; often also for the false gods of the heathen. These were exceedingly numerous, and are denoted by various terms, signifying vanity, falsehood, etc. Among the first objects to be deified were the sun, the moon, and the chief powers of nature. Innumerable animals, deceased men, all ages, passions, and conditions of man, and every thing which fear, lust, malice, pride, or caprice could suggest, were made objects of worship. The gods of modern India are numbered by millions.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [4]

( אלהים , 'ĕlōhı̄m  ; θεοί , theoı́ ):

I. In the Old Testament

1. Superhuman Beings (God and Angels)

2. Judges, Rulers

3. Gods of the Nations

4. Superiority of Yahweh to Other Gods

5. Regulations Regarding the Gods of the Nations

6. Israel's Tendency to Idolatry

II. In the Apocrypha

III. In the New Testament

The Hebrew plural 'ĕlōhı̄m is generally known as the plural of "majesty" and is the ordinary name for God. The meaning of the plural seems to be "plenitude of powers." It denotes the fullness of those attributes of power which belonged to the Divine Being. Thus it is usually translated in the singular, "God," when referring to the God of Israel. When reference is made to the gods of the other nations the word is translated in the plural, "gods." The heathen nations usually had a plurality of gods. Among the Semites it was customary for one nation or tribe to have its own particular god. Often there were many tribes, or families, or communities, in one nation, each having a particular god. Thus, even among Semites a nation may have many gods and be polytheistic. Among the other nations, Iranian, Hamitic, etc., there were always a number of deities, sometimes a multitude. There are many references to these in the Old Testament. In a few cases where the plural is used, the singular would be better, e.g.   Genesis 3:5 the King James Version;   Exodus 32:4 ,  Exodus 32:8 ,  Exodus 32:23; Rth 1:15 the King James Version;  Judges 17:5;  Judges 18:24;  1 Samuel 17:43 . This, however, might be disputed.

I. In the Old Testament

1. Superhuman Beings (God and Angels)

The following are the more important usages of the word in the Old Testament: The translation of  Psalm 8:5 is disputed. The Septuagint and the King James Version translate it "angels," the Revised Version (British and American) and the American Standard Revised Version, "God," with "angels" in the margin. The Epistle to the He has the word "angels." This seems to be more in keeping with the Old Testament ideas of the relation between God, men and angels.   Genesis 1:26 has the plural "us," but it is not certain to whom it refers, most probably to the angels or mighty ones which surrounded the throne of God as servants or counselors; compare   Job 38:7 , and see Sons Of God . In  Psalm 97:7 the expression "worship him, all ye gods," may possibly refer to the gods of the nations, but more probably to the angels or mighty ones.

2. Judges, Rulers

Judges, rulers, are regarded "either as Divine representatives at sacred places, or as reflecting Divine majesty and power" (see Bdb , under the word).  Exodus 21:6 might better be translated as in the margin, "the judges." These were men appointed to represent God and adjudicate on important matters of law. Septuagint has "Criterion of God." In   Exodus 22:8 the word is used in the same sense, and   Exodus 22:9 would also be better translated "the judges";   Exodus 22:28 likewise. See also   1 Samuel 2:25;  Psalm 82:1 ,  Psalm 82:6 , where the reference is to those who act as judges.

3. Gods of the Nations

(1) The ancestors of Israel "beyond the River" had their gods ( Joshua 24:14 f). While there is no mention of idolatry before the Deluge, the ancestors and kindred of Abraham were idolaters. Ur of the Chaldees was the center for the worship of Sin, the Moon-god. Many others were worshipped in the various cities of Babylon. See Babylonia .

(2) The gods of Laban and his family ( Genesis 31:30 ,  Genesis 31:32;  Genesis 35:2 ,  Genesis 35:4 ) were household gods or terāphı̄m , and were stolen by Rachel and carried off in her flight with Jacob. See Teraphim .

(3) Gods of Egypt: For many centuries before the time of Abraham there had been numerous objects of worship in Egypt. Many of these were animals, birds and natural objects. Horus, the hawk, was one of the earliest of all. The cat, the bull, etc., were worshipped at times. The plagues of Egypt were specially directed against these wretched deities ( Numbers 33:4;  Exodus 12:12 ). Yahweh took vengeance on all the gods of Egypt. These terrible events showed that "Yahweh is greater than all gods" ( Exodus 18:11 ). He redeemed His people from the nations and its gods ( 2 Samuel 7:23 ). Jeremiah predicted the time when Yahweh should destroy the gods of Egypt ( Jeremiah 43:12 f;   Jeremiah 46:25 ).

(4) Of the gods of the Amorites ( Judges 6:10 ) no names are given, but they probably were the same as the gods of the Canaanites.

(5) The gods of the Canaanites were Nature-gods, and their worship was that of the productive and chiefly reproductive powers of Nature. Their service was perhaps the most immoral and degrading of all. The high places and altars of the different Baals, Ashtoreths, etc., were numerous throughout Canaan. These deities were always represented by images and Moses makes frequent reference to them with warnings against this seductive worship ( Deuteronomy 7:25;  Deuteronomy 12:3 ,  Deuteronomy 12:10 ,  Deuteronomy 12:31;  Deuteronomy 13:7;  Deuteronomy 20:18;  Deuteronomy 29:18;  Deuteronomy 32:16 , etc.). See also Idolatry; Baal; Ashtoreth; Asherah , etc.

(6) Gods of the Philis: The champion Goliath cursed David by his gods ( 1 Samuel 17:43 ). Perhaps it would be better rendered "god." Saul's and his son's armor was put into the house of their gods ( 1 Chronicles 10:10 ). See also Dagon; Baalzebub .

(7) The two golden calves erected by Jeroboam at Dan and Bethel to keep the people from going to Jerusalem to worship are called gods ( 1 Kings 12:28;  2 Chronicles 13:8 f). See Calf , Golden .

(8) The gods of Damascus: Ben-hadad was accustomed to worship in the house of the god Rimmon ( 2 Kings 5:18 ). No other names are mentioned, but from  2 Chronicles 28:23 it is clear that there were many gods in Syria. See Rimmon .

(9) Solomon's many wives worshipped their own gods, and he provided the means for their worship. Chief among these were Chemosh of Moab and Molech of Ammon ( 1 Kings 11:2 ,  1 Kings 11:4 ,  1 Kings 11:8 ). See Chemosh; Molech .

(10) The mixed peoples transplanted into Samaria by Sargon had their various gods and mingled their service with that of Yahweh, after being taught by a priest of Yahweh. The names of some of these gods were Succoth-benoth, Nergal, Ashima, Nibhaz, Tartak, Adrammelech ( 2 Kings 17:29 ,  2 Kings 17:30 ,  2 Kings 17:31 ,  2 Kings 17:33 ). See separate articles.

(11) Of the gods of Seir, which were brought to Jerusalem by Amaziah, the names are not given ( 2 Chronicles 25:14 ).

(12) The gods of the nations conquered by Sennacherib and his fathers, namely, Hamoth, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, Ivvah ( 2 Kings 18:33-35;  2 Kings 19:13 ). Also those conquered by Sennacherib's fathers, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, Eden or Telassar ( 2 Kings 19:12;  Isaiah 36:18 ,  Isaiah 36:19 ,  Isaiah 36:20;  2 Chronicles 32:13 f).

(13) Gods of Moab are mentioned in Rth 1:15;  1 Kings 11:1 ,  1 Kings 11:7 . Possibly Rth 1:15 should be translated "god." See Chemosh .

(14) Gods of Babylon: The graven images of her gods referred to in  Isaiah 21:9;  Isaiah 42:17; Bel and Nebo mentioned in  Isaiah 46:1; other gods of silver and gold ( Ezra 1:7;  Daniel 4:8 ,  Daniel 4:9 ,  Daniel 4:18;  Daniel 5:4 ,  Daniel 5:11 ,  Daniel 5:14 ,  Daniel 5:23 ).

(15) Nineveh's gods are merely referred to in  Nahum 1:14 . Sennacherib was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god when slain by his sons ( 2 Kings 19:37 ).

(16) The coastlands or borders and peninsulas of the Aegean Sea had numerous idol gods, shrines and devotees. Isaiah challenges them to prove that they are gods ( Isaiah 41:22 f).

Yahweh was "greater than all gods" ( Exodus 15:11;  Exodus 18:11 ); "God of gods, and Lord of lords" ( Deuteronomy 10:14 ,  Deuteronomy 10:17 ); "The Mighty One" ( Joshua 22:22 ); "to be feared above all gods" ( 1 Chronicles 16:25;  2 Chronicles 2:5;  Psalm 96:4 f);

4. Superiority of Yahweh to Other Gods

"King above all gods" ( Psalm 95:3;  Psalm 97:7 ,  Psalm 97:9;  Psalm 86:8;  Psalm 135:5;  Psalm 136:2;  Psalm 138:1;  Jeremiah 10:11;  Zephaniah 2:11;  Daniel 2:18 ,  Daniel 2:47 ). Jeremiah advances so far toward a pure and well-defined monotheism that he speaks of all other gods as "not gods." They have no existence to him ( Jeremiah 2:11;  Jeremiah 5:7;  Jeremiah 16:20 ). A similar position is taken in Isa 41; 43, etc.

5. Regulations Regarding the Gods of the Nations

The laws of Moses give no uncertain sound concerning them. The Decalogue begins: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Whatever may be the exact meaning of this, it is perfectly clear that Israel was to have nothing to do with any God but Yahweh ( Exodus 20:3;  Deuteronomy 5:7 ). No images shall be made of them ( Exodus 20:4 ,  Exodus 20:23;  Exodus 34:17;  Leviticus 19:4;  Deuteronomy 5:8 f). No mention shall be made of them (  Exodus 23:13;  Joshua 23:7 ). They are not to be worshipped but destroyed ( Exodus 23:24 ). They are to make no covenant with the people or their gods would be a snare to them ( Exodus 23:32;  Deuteronomy 6:14;  Deuteronomy 7:4 ,  Deuteronomy 7:25 ). A curse will follow any defection from Yahweh to them ( Deuteronomy 11:28;  Deuteronomy 28:14;  Deuteronomy 12:3 ,  Deuteronomy 12:10;  Deuteronomy 13:7;  Deuteronomy 20:18;  Deuteronomy 29:17 ). These gods are an abomination to Yahweh ( Deuteronomy 12:31;  Deuteronomy 20:18;  Deuteronomy 29:17;  Deuteronomy 32:37;  Ezekiel 7:20;  1 Kings 11:5;  2 Kings 23:13 ). They are to be as foreign gods to Israel ( 1 Samuel 7:3 f;   Joshua 24:20 ,  Joshua 24:23;  Judges 10:16;  2 Chronicles 14:3;  2 Chronicles 33:15 ).

6. Israel's Tendency to Idolatry

The constant tendency of Israel to go after other gods was first made manifest at Sinai ( Exodus 32:1 ,  Exodus 32:4 ,  Exodus 32:8 ,  Exodus 32:23 ,  Exodus 32:31;  Exodus 34:15 ). Hosea says ( Hosea 11:2 ), "The more the prophets called them, the more they went from them." Ezekiel declares ( Ezekiel 16:3 ), "The Amorite was thy father, and thy mother was a Hittite," referring doubtless to the idolatrous taint in the blood of Israel. The tendency manifested itself also at Baal-peor where Israel was led into the licentious rites of the Moabites ( Numbers 25:2 f). Moses saw the taint in the blood, foresaw the danger and repeatedly warned them (  Deuteronomy 17:3;  Deuteronomy 18:20;  Deuteronomy 29:26;  Deuteronomy 30:17;  Deuteronomy 31:18 ). Perhaps the most striking passages in Dt are chapters 13; 28; 30, where are pictured the consequences of going after other gods. Joshua also warns them ( Joshua 23:7 ), and the history of the period of the Judges is the story of their periodical defection from Yahweh and the punishment resulting therefrom ( Judges 2:12 ,  Judges 2:17 ,  Judges 2:19;  Judges 5:8;  Judges 10:6 f;   1 Samuel 8:8 ). Solomon himself gave an impetus in that direction ( 1 Kings 11:5-8 ). After the disruption, the religion of the Northern Kingdom became very corrupt ( 1 Kings 14:9;  2 Chronicles 13:8 f). The golden calves of Jeroboam opened the door for an inrush of idols and other gods. Ahab's marriage to Jezebel threatened to wipe out Yahweh-worship and substitute Baal-worship, and, but for the powerful ministry of Elijah and Elisha, might have effected such a result. Partly checked for a time, the evil broke out in other forms, and even the preaching of Amos and Hosea failed to turn the tide of idolatry. The result was the destruction of the kingdom (  2 Kings 17:7;  Jeremiah 3:6-8;  1 Chronicles 5:25 ). The Southern Kingdom fared better. Other gods were countenanced by Rehoboam, Abijah, Athaliah, Jehoram, Ahaz, Amon, Manasseh, Jehoiakim, etc. Reform movements were attempted by Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and Josiah, but did not wholly avail. In the reign of Manasseh the nation plunged into the worship of other gods. The ministries of Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc., availed not to stop the tide ( 2 Chronicles 34:25;  Jeremiah 11:13;  Jeremiah 5:19;  2 Kings 22:17;  Jeremiah 1:16;  Jeremiah 19:4;  Jeremiah 7:6;  Jeremiah 13:10;  Jeremiah 16:11;  Jeremiah 44:5 ,  Jeremiah 44:8 ). The nation was carried into exile because of its going after other gods ( 2 Kings 22:17;  Deuteronomy 29:25 f). The captivity had its desired effect. The Israel that returned and perpetuated the nation never again lapsed into the worship of other gods.

II. In the Apocrypha

The Apocrypha reiterates much of the Old Testament teaching: the defection of Israel (2 Esdras 1:6); the gods of the nations ( Judith 3:8;  8:18 ); the gods which their fathers worshipped ( Judith 5:7 f); the sin of Israel (Additions to   Esther 14:7 ). The Book of The Wisdom of Solomon refers to the "creatures which they supposed to be gods" (12:27; 13:2,3, 10; 15:15). Mention is made of the gods of Babylon ( Baruch 1:22;  6:6-57 passim; Bel and the Dragon 1:27).

III. In the New Testament

The expression "gods" occurs in six places in the New Testament: (1) Jesus, in reply to the Pharisees, who questioned His right to call Himself the son of God, quoted  Psalm 82:6 : "I said, Ye are gods." He argues from this that if God Himself called them gods to whom the word of God came, i.e. the judges who acted as representatives of God in a judicial capacity, could not He who had been sanctified and sent into the world justly call Himself the Son of God? It was an argumentum ad hominem (  John 10:34-37 ). (2) When Paul and Barnabas preached the gospel in Lystra they healed a certain man who had been a cripple from birth. The Lycaonians, seeing the miracle, cried out in their own dialect, "The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercury" ( Acts 14:11 f). Their ascription of deity to the apostles in such times shows their familiarity with the Greek pantheon. (3) As Paul preached Jesus and the resurrection at Athens the people said he seemed to be a setter forth of strange gods. The conception of only one God seemed to be wholly foreign to them (  Acts 17:18 ). (4) In  1 Corinthians 8:5 Paul speaks of "gods many, and lords many," but the context shows that he did not believe in the existence of any god but one; "We know that no idol is anything in the world." (5) While at Ephesus, Paul was said to have "persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they are no gods, that are made with hands" (  Acts 19:26 ). (6) The Galatians had been "in bondage to them that by nature are no gods" ( Galatians 4:8 ). Indirect references are also found in  Acts 17:16 , where Paul observed the city full of idols. Likewise in  Romans 1:22 f,25ff. Paul refers to the numerous gods of the heathen world. These were idols, birds, four-footed beasts and creeping things. The results of this degrading worship are shown in the verse following. See also Idolatry; God , Names Of .