In the King James Bible, Exodus 20:3 reads Thou shalt have no other gods before me. If you’re Christian this is part of the first comandmant of the Decalogue, for Jews (note the Jooglebomb) this is part of the second statement of the Decalogue.
The only way I can read this is that there certainly are other gods, and that’s cool, but they aren’t to be worshipped above Yahweh, Jehovah, God. This explanation fits with Exodus 20:5 – Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. A jealous God would certainly order His flock not to put other gods before Him.
So are Christianity and Judaism polytheistic? I’m not thinking in a saints-taking-the-place-of-minor-deities type of polytheism, I’m thinking more of a sure-Zeus-is-real-just-don’t-worship-him deal.


9 responses to “The Decalogue and Polytheism”

  1. Nope.
    It says don’t have any other gods before / besides God. Meaning, do not believe in any other gods. Don’t believe in them as intermediaries (“before”) and don’t believe in them as separate entities (“beside”). Meaning, don’t believe in them at all.
    Technically, the verse says “don’t believe that other gods exist” rather than “other gods don’t exist”. But this is just one verse. Look at it in context. Throughout the Bible, it says that other gods are “nogods” and just figments of people’s imaginations.
    jealous God: this is a notorious mistranslation. The Hebrew here implies strength and zeal of a paternal figure. The English “jealous” implies weakness and pettiness.

  2. Wait a minute Ami, you’re saying the bible was mistranslated? There are actually things in the bible that aren’t correct? The exact words of God, or lord, master of the universe, have been mistranslated by hacks? We’ve been living a lie all this time? This is an atrocity!

  3. The other day, I was having a smart cappuccino with Vishnu at a cafe on the banks of La Rive Gauche when we touched on this very subject. Well, I don’t need to tell you, the debate got quite heated, when who should happen by but Siddartha Gautama (Who ordered a sandwich after we had already finished our meals!). The three of us reminiced about when religions were pretty much all polytheistic thousands of years ago, and how no one’s got it right, when Guatama orders double desserts. Not being one to turn down dessert, I asked for another spoon. In the end, we all thought that the Ten Commandments was a highly overrated film with some pretty good acting by Yul Brenner and Edward G. Robinson. Friday night we’re heading over to Zeus’ for Karaoke. I hope יהוה shows up, he does a killer Peaches and Herb.

  4. Deity Luncheon: 12:15PM // Feinman Bar Mitzvah: 6:00PM

    After commenting on a brief religious discussion on about the Decalogue and polytheism I realized that it would be pretty interesting to have lunch with a couple of Gods (and or prophets, sages etc.). What would you talk about?…


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