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Genesis 10-11: The Tower Of Babel, The Fall Of The gods, And The Divine Council Worldview

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Abstract: The historical account of The Tower Of Babel is a story all Christians are familiar with. It’s hard to think, therefore, that such a familiar historical narrative could be misunderstood in several ways, and it’s theological significance be overlooked entirely. I will explain two things in this paper, one of them is what many preachers get wrong, and the other one is what they don’t even mention in their sermons. (1) That the sin of the tower builders was not trying to build their way to Heaven, but to bring God or the gods down to their level to do their bidding, (2) That what happened in this historic event was more than a mere human rebellion. There was a divine rebellion in heaven that occurred simultaneously. 70 fallen angels (or “gods”) were allotted to the nations that sprang from the Babel event. This is where the gods of the nations and the non-Yahwist religions of the world come from. (3) But there are also gods who serve Yahweh in a council. They deliberate and make decisions with Him. They carry out His will. They are gods, but not of the same sort that rebelled at Babel. This is known as “The Divine Council Worldview”. 

Genesis 11 – What The Passage Says 

“Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” (verses 1-9, NIV)

Topic 1: To Take Humans Up Or To Bring God Down? 

The way that this text is preached in many churches is that the people of Babel we’re trying to build their way up to God. That was the purpose of the tower, to build a sort of ladder to help them get up to heaven where God is. They also did not want to be scattered across  the world . They wanted to stay in one place. It was a sin on their part because they were trying to get to God in their own timing and in their own way rather than waiting for God’s timing and God’s way. In addition, in huddling together all in one place, they were disobeying the mandate given in Genesis 1:28 to “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” In order to get the filling of the Earth to happen, God supernaturally changed the languages of many of the workers thus forcing them to branch off into different cultures and nations.

This reading of the text could not be farther removed from its Ancient Near Eastern context. As Old Testament scholar John Walton explains “In the southern Mesopotamian setting that we have in Genesis chapter 11, the land of shinar, in the kind of context, it gives us a city featuring this remarkable tower. We come to understand that the tower is what was called in the ancient world a ziggurat. Now, is a ziggurat is a very well-known piece of architecture. It was built next to the temple and it was part of Sacred Space. In Sacred Space, people really wouldn’t spend a lot of time there. They wouldn’t be able to go near it. They wouldn’t want to go near it. It was a dangerous place and that tower was not made for people at all. That Tower was made for God to come down.”1

Of course, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with this at first glance. Bringing God down so you can worship Him seems like a perfectly legitimate endeavor. However, notice that the text says that they were building the tower in order to make a name for themselves. They were doing it in order to make their name exalted not to exalt the name of Yahweh. Of course, it is debated among scholars about whether they were trying to bring Yahweh down or some pagan gods down. But, even if it was Yahweh they were trying to bring down, their motives still weren’t pure. If it was pagan gods that they were trying to bring down, then their motives were even more heinous for not only were they trying to exalt their own name out of pride, but they were trying to summon gods to worship that we’re not the one true God. If this scenario is the case, then there’s no wonder why Yahweh was so upset that they were doing this that he would come down, confuse their languages in order that they would not be able to communicate with one another, and ergo the building project would be forced to come to an abrupt halt.

I lean towards the pagan gods summoning scenario more on the basis of what else happens in this text that we find out from later Old Testament books. That leads me to the next topic that I want to talk about in this paper.

Topic 2: Gods Allotted To The Nations

Deuteronomy 32:8–9 8 says “When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples 

according to the number of the sons of God. But the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” 

This text says that when God “divided mankind” and “fixed the borders of the peoples”, he divided them up “according to the number of the sons of God.” Who are the sons of God? Well, before we get to that, let’s first ask this question; when did God divide mankind and fix the borders of the people? Obviously, this happened at The Tower Of Babel event! Deuteronomy 32:8-9 is explicitly referencing Genesis 11. This Deuteronomy passage tells us some of what we already know from Genesis 11, namely the dividing of the nations across the face of the Earth whereas previously, they were one people with one language. However, this passage adds some detail missing from the Genesis account; namely that the nations were divided “according to the number of the sons of God.” 

We can have some light shed on this allotting of the sons of God to the nations by turning to Psalm 82. 

Psalm 82 says “God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment: ‘How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.’ They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. I said, ‘You are gods,  sons of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, like men you shall die, and fall like any prince.’ Arise, O God, judge the earth; for you shall inherit all the nations!”

In this psalm, we read that God has a divine council, a council of beings that the text calls “gods” two different times (verse 1 and verse 6). The Hebrew word translated as “gods” is elohim and it occurs two times in the first verse. Elohim has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the elohim he holds judgment.” Old Testament scholar Michael S. Heiser says this in his book The Unseen Realm: Recovering The Supernatural Worldview Of The Bible. Heiser writes that “Psalm 82: 1 is especially interesting since elohim occurs twice in that single verse. In Psalm 82: 1, the first elohim must be singular, since the Hebrew grammar has the word as the subject of a singular verbal form (‘stands’). The second elohim must be plural, since the preposition in front of it (‘in the midst of’) requires more than one. You can’t be ‘in the midst of’ one. The preposition calls for a group— as does the earlier noun, assembly. The meaning of the verse is inescapable: The singular elohim of Israel presides over an assembly of elohim.”2

Heiser goes on to say “The first verse has God presiding over an assembly of gods. Doesn’t that sound like a pantheon— something we associate with polytheism and mythology? For that very reason, many English translations obscure the Hebrew in this verse. For example, the NASB translates it as: ‘God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers.’”3 Heiser then goes on to say that we don’t need to cover up what the Hebrew text is telling us and that we don’t need to be protected from our Bible. The biblical writers weren’t polytheists, but neither were they absolute monotheists. I think none of the official “theist” titles really apply to what The Bible teaches. I believe that a new term needs to be coined; Monoprimatheism. 

The biblical authors did not teach that Yahweh was just one god among many, but neither did they teach that Yahweh was the only God that exists. 

The Reality Of The gods

In several biblical passages throughout the Old Testament, we find phrases from the biblical authors exalted Yahweh; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, above the gods of their pagan neighbors. Let me give just a few examples. Psalm 97:9 says “For thou Lord art high above the Earth. Thou art exalted far above all gods.”  (KJV, emphasis added). Exodus 15:11 says “Who is like unto these O Lord among the gods? Who is like thee glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders!?” (KJV, emphasis added). 1 Kings 8:23 says “And he said ‘Lord God of Israel, there is no god like thee in heaven above or on earth beneath who keep thy covenant with thy servants that walk before thee with all thy heart.” (KJV, emphasis added) Psalm 86:8 says “There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord, Nor are there any works like Yours.” (ESV, emphasis added). 

The biblical authors compare Yahweh to other gods! They say that Yahweh is greater among all other gods. No one is like Him. He is exalted above them all! There is no one among the gods like Yahweh! 

Old Testament Scholar Michael Heiser says this in a YouTube video he made on the subject; “The question Christians must wrestle with is ‘how do statements like this make sense if these other gods do not really exist?’ Think of how it would sound if someone tried to exalt Jesus to an imaginary creature. It would not only be offensive to say ‘Jesus is better than a leprechaun’, it would be illogical. The same is true for the comparison between God and the other deities in the Old Testament. The ancient authors are not comparing God to imaginary beings.”3 Heiser goes onto say that in order for the aforementioned biblical texts to not be illogical nor blasphemous, the gods to which these biblical texts refer to must be real. I think Heiser is absolutely right.

Is The Bible Polytheistic? 

There are a variety of different usages of elohim which shows that it did not always refer to Yahweh, the God of Israel. It was used to refer to

  • Yahweh, the God of Israel (thousands of times— e.g., Gen 2: 4– 5; Deut 4:35)
  • The members of Yahweh’s council (Psa 82: 1, 6)
  • Gods and goddesses of other nations (Judg 11:24; 1 Kgs 11: 33)
  • Demons (Hebrew: shedim— Deut 32: 17) 3
  • The deceased Samuel (1 Sam 28: 13)
  • Angels or the Angel of Yahweh (Gen 35:7)4

After wrestling with this concept in my mind for a week after being exposed to this notion of other elohim in scripture, I came to this conclusion. I think it’s a powerful one, and it explains much. It doesn’t threaten monotheism as I first thought. It occurred to me that The Hebrew term “elohim” is synonymous with our English word “Spirit”. A Spirit is just an immaterial unembodied (or disembodied) mind. God is a spirit, but there are also evil spirits (demons), good spirits (angels), and many of us would say that diseased humans in the intermediate state are “spirits”. However, although there are many “spirits” there is only one omnipotent, omnscient, omnipresent, uncreated, morally perfect spirit (i.e God). The Hebrew word elohim seems to have been used in exactly the same way. Yahweh is an elohim and there are many other elohim, but there is only one omnipotent, omnscient, omnipresent, uncreated, morally perfect elohim (i.e Yahweh). Certainly, Yahweh, angels, demons, and even deceased humans would fall under the modern western definition of “Spirit”. They fall under the Ancient Hebrew definition “elohim”. There is only one Ultimate Supreme Elohim. There is only one Maximally Great Spirit. That is Yahweh (The Father, Son, and The Holy Spirit). All others are lesser elohim/gods/spirits.

This is why I said that The Bible really teaches Monoprimatheism than i does Monotheism or Polytheism.

But Doesn’t The Bible Explicitly Say That There Is Only One God? 

Doesn’t The Bible contain numerous statements that there is only one god? What about 1 Timothy 2:5-6 which says “For there is one God and one mediator between God mankind; the man Christ Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for all people?”  Paul says very clearly in this passage “There is one God”. How could Paul have made it any plainer than the only real deity that exists is Yahweh? God said through the prophet Isaiah “understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.” (Isaiah 43:10 b, NIV) and “Thus says the LORD, the King and Redeemer of Israel, the LORD of Hosts: “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God but Me.” (Isaiah 44:6 ESV) and “I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5b). Deuteronomy 4:35 says “You were shown these things so that you might know that The Lord is God; besides Him there is no other.”

The passages seem pretty clear cut. The only deity that exists is Yahweh. If Yahweh is the only real God, any other gods must be imaginary. Adopting this interpretation would be fine if it weren’t for the various verses in the previous subsection that compares Yahweh to other deities which, as Michael Heiser and I argued, would be illogical and blasphemous if these other deities weren’t real. If the comparison passages (e.g Psalm 86:9) and denial passages (e.g Deuteronomy 4:35) are both taken literally, there is a contradiction in The Bible. But since the entirety of The Bible comes from an inerrant God (see Proverbs 30:5 and 2 Timothy 3:16), we know that The Bible cannot contradict itself. An error on the part of us as interpreters must have occurred somewhere. So, where did that interpretive error occur?

I think the interpretive error occurred in taking the “denial passages” as denial passages. It is far more plausible and likely that these are not at all denial passages, but statements of incomparability. By saying “I am God and there is no god besides me”, “There is no god but Me and there will be none after Me”, and The Lord is God. Besides Him is no other”, Yahweh and the prophets are saying that Yahweh is the greatest God there is. They are saying that He is the most supreme entity in the universe!

This can easily be seen when you look at other passages of scripture like Isaiah 47 in which God is pronouncing judgment upon the nation of Babylon. We know it’s about Babylon because God addresses the city by name in verse 1. In Isaiah 47:8, God says which says “Now, therefore, hear this, you lover of pleasures, who sit securely, who say in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me; I shall not sit as a widow or know the loss of children’” (ESV) Zepheniah 2:15 says of Nineveh, “This is the city of revelry that lived in safety. She said to herself, ‘I am the one! And there is none besides me. …”

Now, obviously, neither Babylon nor Nineveh were saying that they were the only nations that existed on the face of the planet. That would be a clearly absurd and ridiculous thing to say. Rather, these cities used language to assert incomparability. They were not making the absurd claim that they were the only nations that existed and any other nations were figments of peoples’ imaginations. They were saying that they were the greatest nations on Earth.

Back To Psalm 82 and It’s Relation To The Tower Of Babel

In Psalm 82, we have God judging “gods” whom he calls his sons in verse 6 “I said ‘you are gods. Sons of the Most High, all of you.”  And God sentences them to capital punishment for ruling nations unjustly and showing partiality to the wicked. “Sons Of The Most High” is pretty obviously synonymous with the term “Sons of God”. After all, who is The Most High? Yahweh is! (see Genesis 14:22, Psalm 57:2, Psalm 78:35, Luke 8:58). These “Sons Of The Most High” are being condemned by God for judging the nations unjustly. When and where were divine sons of God given nations to rule over? Deuteronomy 32:8-9 says that the sons of God were alloted to the nations when God fixed the borders of the nation at The Babel event. 

Therefore, The Bible teaches that upon rejecting Yahweh’s authority, Yahweh gave them over to the gods they served (cf. Romans 1:24). Brian Godawa writes in his booklet on Psalm 82 that “the Sons of God are in authority over these nations, both geographically and spiritually. This allotment is in contrast with Yahweh’s allotment of Jacob. The seventy nations were allotted to the Sons of God, in the same way that Yahweh allotted to himself the nation of Israel, described as (the people of) ‘Jacob.’”5

Another Psalm reflects the same injustice of the ruling gods and their guilt before God’s Word. Psalm 58:1–2 1 says “Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods? Do you judge the children of man uprightly? No, in your hearts you devise wrongs; your hands deal out violence on earth.”

But one question that is sometimes asked is whether these gods were evil from the beginning or whether they became evil sometime after being allotted to the nations. 

I agree with Brian Godawa who gives the following reasons for thinking that the sons of God were fallen at the time they were allotted to the nations. Brian Godawa writes: 

“First, the dominant paradigm of The Old Testament is the nation of Israel is set apart by Yahweh to be a light to the darkened world of the Gentile nations, considered as a whole to be against God (Isa 49:6; Psa 2:1-2). All the nations worshipped gods that were not Yahweh. And even by the time of the New Testament, the Jews considered the word Gentile to be synonymous with sinner (Matt 5:47; 10:5; 18:17; Act 4:25-26). Paul writes in Galatians 2:15, ‘We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners.’ So the biblical understanding of nations in Genesis 11, Deuteronomy 32 and Psalm 82 are Gentile nations who are considered idolaters. 

Second, let us not forget that all the nations created at Babel consisted of people in rebellion against Yahweh at the very start. The confusion of tongues and division of mankind was a judgment for sinful man who had sought deity with their pagan temples to the gods. So the context of Deuteronomy 32:8-10 is division as judgment, not as neutral separation. 

Third, earlier in Deuteronomy, Moses clarifies God’s command not to worship the heavenly host, defined interchangeably as both gods and as astronomical bodies (sun, moon and stars). But he states that he allotted those gods to all the other peoples.”6

And then Godawa cites this passage, Deuteronomy 4:19–20 19, which says “And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that Yahweh your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven. But Yahweh has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day.”

This allotment of the gods/host of heaven to the peoples is reminiscent of the description of God “giving up” pagans to their idolatrous worship of creation in Romans 1. Do note that in Ancient Near Eastern thinking, the stars were considered to be gods.7 

Godawa also says that if the gods started off as good, but then became bad, then they had to have done so pretty quickly because the biblical nations are described as idolatrous extremely early in the text. 

God Against The gods

In Deuteronomy 32, Moses is rehearsing how Israel sinned during their wilderness trek by worshipping other gods. When we get to verse 17 we read this statement (note the underlining): “They sacrificed to demons, not God, to gods (elohim) they had never known, new gods (lit., new ones) that had come along recently, whom your fathers had not feared.” The important observation is that the Israelites sacrificed to demons, and those recipients of the sacrifices are also called gods (elohim). Paul also says that the pagan gods are demons in 1 Corinthians 10:20.

Brian Godawa made use of this biblical fact in his Chronicles Of The Nephillim and Chronicles Of The Apocalypse novel series. Brian has a large number of demonic characters working behind the scenes in these two novel series. The demonic entities take on the identity of the gods in the various polytheistic religions of the world such as Apollyon (Satan) the Roman sun god, Zeus the god of thunder, Baal, the Israelite storm god, Asherah, and others. Heiser and Godawa both got me thinking. What if the polytheistic gods aren’t figments of pagan imagination, but demons trying to lead people away from Yahweh? It would make sense. After all, wanting to be God is what initiated the demonic rebellion in the first place. It wouldn’t at all be implausible for the demons to masquerade as pagan gods, inspire all sorts of wild stories about them, and lead people to worship them. Why not? Deuteronomy 32 and 1 Corinthians 10:20 say that there are demons behind idols!

Looking at The Bible in its ancient context leads to this conclusion; there are many gods, there is only one God. There are many powerful supernatural beings, but there’s only one ultimate supreme supernatural being. This ultimately leads to an alternate reading of other Bible passages, such as the first commandment “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) or Jeremiah 46:25 “The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes, on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings, and on those who rely on Pharaoh.” How can God punish gods if these gods don’t exist? Well, we don’t need to say that they don’t exist. We can say that they’re demonic entities. Deuteronomy 32 and 1 Corinthians 10:20 tell us this. As for the first commandment, God says that we should not worship these other supernatural beings.

When I wrote my book Inference To The One. True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods, I gave the Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Cosmic Fine-Tuning Argument, The Local Fine-Tuning Argument, The Moral Argument, The Ontological Argument, and the historical evidence for Jesus’s death and resurrection, and I gave the argument that this is why I believe in the biblical God instead of all other gods, because the God that the Kalam, Fine-Tuning, Moral and Ontological Argument presents us – as I explained in the book –  these arguments presented us with a Being that has certain attributes and when you compare these attributes with the God of the Bible, they fit like a hand in glove. This is what I call “The Divine Identity Argument” and because especially those last two (The Moral and Ontological Arguments) because the God of the Bible in the God of these natural theology arguments resemble each other identically (and there is no attribute between the God of The Ontological Argument and the God of the Bible for example) therefore they are one in the same. The God of The Ontological Argument is Yahweh. And this is reinforced when you look at other religions – the polytheistic religions, the pantheistic religions, Judaism and so on and you see that no other conception of deity within the world’s religions has a God like that these natural theology arguments show exist. 

But in light of what I talked about here, in light of the Divine Council worldview, in light of what Michael Heiser called the Deuteronomy 32 worldview, when I wrote the second edition of my book, I renamed it. I named it The Case For The One True God: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Historical Case For The God Of Christianity. 

Because I thought that leaving the original title would be a little misleading. Inference To The One True God: Why I Believe In Jesus Instead Of Other Gods. I believe that Baal and Asherah and Apollyon and Zeus, I believe that they are real entities. They’re demons! They are created supernatural beings who were in God’s Divine Council, they served Him once upon a time but they rebelled and they were allotted to the different nations. So I renamed my book The Case For The One True God: A Scientific, Phlosophical, and Historical Case For The God Of Christianity. I think the arguments are more or less the same. The Ontological Argument, The Kalam Cosmological Argument, The Moral Argument, they prove the existence of a deity that has attributes X, Y, and Z and the God of the Bible also has X, Y, and Z. They are completely identical and there’s nothing to distinguish the two, and every other conception of deity falls short. They don’t look anything like The Maximally Great Being of The Ontological Argument, they don’t look anything like the Creator that brought the universe into being ex-nihilo at the big bang and so therefore The God of these arguments is the God of the Bible. 

But I leave the existence or non-existence of entities like Baal and Marduk and open question. Now I’m thinking that perhaps in a third edition of the book I might include an appendix that talks about the Divine Council worldview because when I when I first got into apologetics, I was basically trying to answer “Why do I believe in Yahweh but I consider all these other gods to be imaginary or non-existent?” Eventually through my studies I found these arguments and I found the historical evidence for the death and resurrection of Jesus, and then I found out that Christianity has a really good case for it. But I was still like “Okay so now I have a good reason to believe that the God of the Bible exists. That Bible is divinely inspired and so on and so forth, but where did all these other gods come from? Where did all the other religions come from? Did the ancient peoples just pull them out of their butts?” Did they just come out of people’s own imaginations? It was an anomaly. But did this whole Ancient Near Eastern Biblical backdrop that Michael Heiser and Brian Godawa are making more well-known (Heiser through his podcast and books and Godawa through his novels), it makes sense. I know where these other gods came from! I know where these other religions came from! You know, it is God against the gods. God is in a spiritual war against lesser divine beings who want to pull people into worshipping them instead of worshipping the one true God, the creation instead of the Creator. 

Topic 3: Enough About The Bad Guys, Let’s Talk About The Good Guys.

We talked a good bit about the evil gods who rebelled against Yahweh in Genesis 11, but the Divine Council worldview is far more than just about the members of the Divine Council who got fired. God’s Divine Council still exists. There are still gods who serve Yahweh. You can see this as you go through the Bible. 

One council scene is in 1 Kings 22. In this passage, King Ahab and Jehosaphat are trying to decide whether they should go to war against Ramoth-gilead. Ahab inquires of all his prophets and his prophets tell him that he will succeed in his war quest. Michaiah gives him the same answer at first, but Ahab is suspicious given that Michaiah never prophecies good things for him, as Ahab had told Jehosaphat in this same chapter. After commanding Michaiah to tell him what he really heard from The Lord, Michaiah says this “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.’” (verses 19-23)

Clearly in this passage, Michaiah is given a vision of God deliberating with His divine council. God asks who will go to entice Ahab to go to Ramoth-Gilead to die (because Ahab was a very evil king who deserved it), and the various council members gave their ideas. Finally one comes along and says that he will do it by being a lying spirit in the mouths of all of Ahab’s prophets. Now, God is omniscient, so He knows which plans will work and which plans won’t work. So he accepts this council member’s idea and turns down the other ones. 

In Daniel 7:9-10 the council meets to decide the fate of empires:

“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.”

The council (“court”) took their seats (v. 10) and the meeting began. There’s also a less explicit council scene in Daniel 4. In this Bible passage, Nebuchadnezzar is told that due to his arrogance, God would judge him by making him go nuts and live in the wild like an animal for a little while. In Daniel 4:13, the text says that “a watcher, a holy one” is who visits him to tell him this. This Watcher says that the decree to make Nebuchadnezzar go crazy is “by decree of the Watchers” (Daniel 4:17). And yet, are we to say that God’s council is acting autonomously? Of course not!. A few verses later, Nebuchadnezzar’s fate is described as “a decree of the Most High” (Daniel 4:24). So we see that God and His divine council deliberated and made this decision together. 

Objection: Why Would An All Powerful, All Knowing God Need A Council? 

It is often asked why God, if He is all knowing, would need to deliberate with created beings in getting things done in the world. And, if God is all powerful, why He needs created beings to carry out any of those decisions. The short answer is that He does not need a divine council, but nevertheless, He has chosen to allow His divine sons a role to play in divine decision making. God could do it all Himself, but he chooses to work with his god-sons. God knows which ideas will work and which ones won’t, so if a council member has a bad idea, we need not worry about Yahweh going with it. 

By the same token, God doesn’t need human beings to preach the gospel either. God could miraculously make a copy of John’s gospel descend from Heaven to all of the unevangelized, or Jesus could appear to unevangelized people in dreams, or God could do any number of things. Nevertheless, God has chosen to work with his human children in the spreading of the gospel just as He chooses to work with his divine children. 


A lot happened at The Tower Of Babel incident. It wasn’t merely the invention of new languages. God spread out humankind and fixed their borders according to the number of the Sons of God. 



1: John Walton, “The Meaning Of The Tower Of Babel” – July 8th 2014, Seedbed, — 

2: Heiser, Michael S.. The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (pp. 26-27). Lexham Press. Kindle Edition.

3: Michael S Heiser, “So What Exactly is an Elohim?

chapter excerpted from Mike’s first draft of his next book” — 

4: List taken from Michael Heiser’s book The Unseen Realm: Recovering The Supernatural Worldview Of The Bible, page 35 

5: Godawa, Brian. Psalm 82: The Divine Council of the Gods, the Judgment of the Watchers and the Inheritance of the Nations (p. 24). Embedded Pictures Publishing. Kindle Edition

6: ibid. 

7: See William Derham, “Astro-theology: or, A demonstration of the being and attributes of God, from a survey of the heavens,” printed by W. and J. Innys, 1721, Jan Irvin, Jordan Maxwell, Andrew Rutajit, “Astrotheology and Shamanism”, Book Tree, 2006, ISBN 978-1-58509-107-2. H. Niehr, “Host of Heaven,” Toorn, K. van der, Bob Becking, and Pieter Willem van der Horst. Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible DDD. 2nd extensively rev. ed. Leiden; Boston; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brill; Eerdmans, 1999., 428-29; I. Zatelli, “Astrology and the Worship of the Stars in the Bible,” ZAW 103 (1991): 86-99.

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. John Doe

    Hey Evan, just asking but if there were 70 “gods” over the Gentile nations,why there much more deities around the world,esp in Hinduism?

    1. Evan Minton

      That’s a very good question. My thinking is that the reason The Bible doesn’t mention more gods is the same reason why don’t mention more nations. They were only aware of so much geographical area. To them, those 70 nations were the whole world. They don’t mention China, Norway, or Japan. These were outside of their scope.

      1. Terry

        Good answer Evan. I have read many of Dr. Heiser’s peer reviewed material including many of his books. Dr. Heiser answers this question in the same manner. Like you pointed out in your blog, the world of the ancients was small compared to today. On another note, one can apply the Hebrew number 70 to symbolically cover all nations, which I suppose could lend credence to all nations then and in the future.

  2. joe

    Helpful. I want to get some of the books mentioned here.

    Rev has ‘creatures’ surrounding The Throne. Could these be some of ‘the gods”?

    1. Evan Minton

      Since an “elohim” was a member of the supernatural realm, synonymous with the way English speakers use the word “Spirit”, I’d say so. These were likely divine council members. Cherubim to be more precise; since cherubim are known for having a variety of humanoid animalistic forms. The Seraphim are specific subset of cherubim. They are serpentine in appearance (see my talk on Genesis 3 in the video section of this website).

  3. audrey

    if the 70 gods lost their power and dominion after the Resurrection of Christ, how come nations are still being deceived till today?

    1. Evan Minton

      That’s like asking “If Jesus conquered sin and death, why are people still sinning and dying?”. Because the Kingdom Of God isn’t going to be fully inaugurated over night. It’s a growth. Like a mustard seed. The Kingdom of God is “already, but not yet”.
      Moreover, Satan and the other fallen running around and continuing to cause trouble for individual persons is not the same thing as actually owning the nations corporately.

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