Yesterday I showed that beings other than God could be called God in the Old Testament and other ancient Jewish literature.  It seems strange, but there it is.   I continue now with an especially important case in point: the king of Israel.  In this case there doesn’t seem to be much ambiguity about the matter.

Again, this is from my book How Jesus Became God.


Hebrew Bible scholar John Collins points out that the Israelite notion that the human king could be considered in some sense divine ultimately appears to derive from Egyptian ways of thinking about their king, the Pharaoh.[1]   Even in Egypt, where the king was God, it did not mean that the king was on a par with the great gods, any more than the Roman emperor was thought to be on a par with Jupiter or Mars.  But he was a God.   In Egyptian and Roman circles, there were levels of divinity.   So too, as we have seen, in Jewish circles.   Thus we find highly exalted terms used of the king of Israel, terms that may surprise readers who – based on the kind of thinking that developed in the fourth Christian century — think that there is an unbridgeable chasm between God and humans.  Nonetheless, here it is, in the Bible itself, the king is called both Lord and God.

For example, Psalm 110:  “The LORD says to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”  The first term LORD – traditionally printed in capital letters in English – is the Hebrew name of God YHWH, often spelled Yahweh.  The four Hebrew letters representing that name were The rest of this post is for members only.  Wanna keep reading?  Gotta be a member.  But it doesn’t cost much to join, and every penny you pay goes to charity.  So what’s the downside???