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The Heavenly Council
in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament

  The Hebrew Bible is a book of concrete images. Its writers speak of God in terms of everyday “creation reality,” not philosophical abstractions.

I believe symbolical imagery conveys theology. And the imagery of the Heavenly Council conveys a great deal of important theology about God and about the Messiah.

The concept that God is surrounded by a council (Heb. edah, sod) or host (tseva) of divine servants runs throughout the Hebrew Bible, from Genesis to Daniel. And its imagery spans all of time, from the primeval moments of creation to the enthronement of the Son of David as king over “all the peoples, nations, and languages.”

Let us make Adam in our image, according to our likeness. (Genesis 1:26)

I saw YHVH sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right and on his left. (1 Kings 22:19)

Who among the sons of the divine beings is like YHVH,
A God greatly feared in the council of the holy ones,
And awesome above all those who are around him? (Psalm 89:6-7)

The Ancient of Days took his seat ...
Thousands upon thousands were attending him
And myriads upon myriads were standing before him. (Daniel 7:9-10)

This imagery also pervades the New Testament. It lies behind statements such as:

When [Yeshua] had made purification of sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. (Heb 1:3)

I charge you in the presence of God and of Messiah Yeshua and of the holy angels. (1 Tim 5:21)

We see the imagery in the vision of New Jerusalem in Hebrews 12 and the throne visions in Acts 7 and throughout Revelation.

Orthodox Judaism and orthodox Christianity eventually abandoned this biblical imagery because it undermined the theological formulas by which each chose to define themselves. As a result, today most people within those traditions do not see this meaning-laden biblical imagery in context.

The imagery is further obscured by trivialized, romantic, even pagan depictions of angels in medieval Christian art and pop culture.

Click HERE to open and download the brief, summary article. It's a PDF and runs 13 pages.

My original research thesis behind this article was done at Pepperdine University in California. You can download two PDF chapters from the thesis:

Chapter 2: The Divine Council in the Hebrew Bible. PDF (24 pages)

Chapter 5: The Divine Council in Second Temple Judaism and the New Testament. PDF (23 pages)

 

 

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