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I was watching a debate where a Mormon claimed to a Christian that early Jews believed that other gods existed besides YHWH, but they only had a covenant with a single god (YHWH). He never got a chance to share his references. I suppose he could be referring to Talmud or something but I am not familiar with any Jewish writings outside of the Bible.

Does anyone know of any early Jewish writings that would either confirm his statement or at least explain where he might have gotten that idea from?

The words henotheism or monolatry have been used to describe this belief.

I can see how something like "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me" could be referencing gods which actually existed or it could be simply referring to non-existent "gods" that people claimed were real and would worship.

So I guess the question might also come down to, how did early/ancient Jews interpret that? It's possible to believe other gods exist without worshiping them because you believe your god is more powerful.

I'm more concerned with Moses onward as much about God was clarified in the Torah and Mosaic teachings.

Any Talmudic or other references to support would be really cool thanks!

  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/11139/… – rosends Jun 2 '19 at 18:19
  • Welcome to MiYodeya Samir and thanks for this first question. Great to have you learn with us! – mbloch Jun 2 '19 at 18:36
  • @rosends it is similar but not the same question. He specifically asked if there was sufficient evidence to support the theory that Israel practiced monolatry. I am asking if Jews were always monotheistic. You can see in his description that he also asks "Is this a well accepted theory?" And that is what people respond to. I'm not asking if it's well accepted, I'm asking if there is any reason at all for us to believe that at one point the Jews may have not been monotheistic. Therefore the answers on his question do not answer my question. The answers target his specific question. – Tyler Jun 3 '19 at 2:26
  • There is a pious Jewish tradition, later embraced by both Christianity and Islam, about Abraham destroying his father's idols, and then putting the hammer in the hands of the one he spared. This can be seen as a metaphor for monotheistic Judaism's self-awareness of its rise from pagan polytheism. – Lucian Jun 5 '19 at 22:38
  • @Samir welcome to Mi Yodeya. The best way to get your question reopened is to edit and explain clearly how your question differs from the duplicate. I'm a little confused about whether you're asking about early Jewish writings (how early?) or any point in history or something else. Thanks. – Monica Cellio Jun 11 '19 at 2:42

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