Deuteronomy 32:8, The Angels of the Nations

When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

//I wrote about this verse a couple months ago, but must not have gone into enough detail for some. So bear with me; here we go again, from a different angle, because this is one of the most interesting verses in the Bible to me.

Upon first glance, it seems to say that God apportioned an appropriate section of land to each nation. He did so not by counting the individuals in the nation, but by counting the number of Israelites. Huh?

This turns out to be a poor translation. “Children of Israel” is universally understood to mean the descendants of Jacob (later renamed Israel). But this isn’t even close to the original wording.

The Masoretic text reads “the number of the sons of Israel”. Stepping back to the Greek in the Septuagint (before Christ), it reads “the number of the angels of God.” Stepping back further to earlier Hebrew, as recently uncovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls, it reads “the number of the sons of God.”

The idea appears to be this: Each of the nations had a designated angel (son of God), such as the way the angel Michael is known as the representative of Israel. When the angels war, the nations war. While that nation is in power, their angel is in power, and vice versa.

An interesting example of this occurs in Daniel, chapter 10. Here, the representative angels are called “princes.” This appears to be the angel Gabriel speaking of wars with Persia and Greece:

“But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.” –Daniel 10:13

“[N]ow will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.” –Daniel 10:20-21


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