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Orthodox Israelite Belief – Two Persons called Yahweh

From Professor Mike Heiser, Academic Editor of Logos Bible Software and author of website, The Two Powers:

For the orthodox Israelite, Yahweh was both sovereign and vice regent occupying both 'slots' as it were at the head of the divine council. The binitarian portrayal of Yahweh in the Hebrew Bible was motivated by this belief. The ancient Israelite knew two Yahwehs one invisible, a spirit, the other visible, often in human form.  The two Yahwehs at times appear together in the text, at times being distinguished, at other times not.

Early Judaism understood this portrayal and its rationale. There was no sense of a violation of monotheism since either figure was indeed Yahweh. There was no second distinct god running the affairs of the cosmos. During the Second Temple period, Jewish theologians and writers speculated on an identity for the second Yahweh. Guesses ranged from divinized humans from the stories of the Hebrew Bible to exalted angels. These speculations were not considered unorthodox. That acceptance changed when certain Jews, the early Christians, connected Jesus with this orthodox Jewish idea. This explains why these Jews, the first converts to following Jesus the Christ, could simultaneously worship the God of Israel and Jesus, and yet refuse to acknowledge any other god. Jesus was the incarnate second Yahweh. In response, as Segal's work demonstrated, Judaism pronounced the two powers teaching a heresy sometime in the second century A.D.

Here's his video on 'The Two Powers' in the Hebrew Bible

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAzdtt1FY3g"]

There's quite a bit on my own blog about this:

The Angel of the LORD part 1

The Angel of the LORD part 2

The Angel of the LORD part 3

Trinitarian passages in the OT

Some multi-Personal passages in more depth – Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah

But Professor Heiser says it a lot better and with a lot more learning behind him.

His website on The Divine Council is also fascinating.

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3 thoughts on “Orthodox Israelite Belief – Two Persons called Yahweh

  1. Tim V-B

    That Divine Council website is, as you say, fascinating. Good to see him mentioning various verses familiar to those of us who have been arguing for appearances of Christ in the OT (e.g. Gen 19:24, 1 Samuel 2). The chapter about the Word of the LORD is a great place to start.

    If the Divine Council stuff is true, it's an eye opener to the nature of the spiritual world. Esp the idea that in God delivered the nations over to various 'sons of God' (heavenly beings). But does that make more sense of, say, Ephesians 2 - where the Jew-Gentile unity of the church proclaims God's wisdom to the heavenly beings?

    Really intriguing.

  2. Reuben Huffman

    Thanks for pointing this out. I'm in the middle of reading Heiser's Unseen Realm book. It seems to tie alot of loose ends together.
    Glen, I really am encouraged and built up by your ministry. So my heart is warmed to see you pointing your audience to another favorite of mine, Dr. Mike Heiser.
    "though sundered far, by faith we meet around one common mercy seat"

  3. Glen Scrivener

    Thanks Reuben, and glad to hear you're a Heiser fan too. This post has flushed out a few others.

    In the early church (and for the reformers) these views were utterly mainstream!

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