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← Previous Next → The Sôd of YHWH và the Endowment
William J. Hamblin
Interpreter: A of Latter-day Saint Faith và Scholarship 4 (2013): 147-154
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Abstract: In the Hebrew Bible, the Sôd of God was a council of celestial beings who consulted with God, learned His sôd/secret plan, & then fulfilled that plan. This paper argues that the LDS endowment is, in part, a ritual reenactment of the sôd, where the participants observe the sôd/council of God, learn the sôd/secret plan of God, & covenant to fulfill that plan.

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In its broader sense the Hebrew term sôd (סוד) means a confidential discussion, a secret or plan, a circle of confidants, or council.1 Nearly all scholars now agree that sôd, when used in relationship khổng lồ God, refers to the heavenly council/sôd of God, which humans may sometimes visit khổng lồ learn divine mysteries or obtain a prophetic message to lớn deliver khổng lồ humankind.2 The celestial members of this council are variously called the “host of heaven” (1 Kings 22:19), “gods” or “sons of God” (Ps. 82:1, 6), or “Holy Ones.” Sôd can refer to either the divine council itself or lớn the deliberative secret results of that council—that is the secret plans of the council—which a prophet is sometimes permitted lớn learn or to lớn reveal to lớn humankind. Only those who are part of the divine sôd/council know the sôd/secret plan, and only those who are given explicit permission may reveal that sôd to humankind.3 This concept is illustrated in a number of biblical passages:

In 1 Kings 22:19–23, the prophet Michaiah describes his vision of the sôd as follows:

19 I saw Yhwh sitting on his throne, & all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand & on his left; 20 & Yhwh said, “Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up và fall at Ramoth-gilead?” & one said one thing, and another said another. 21 Then a spirit came forward & stood before Yhwh, saying, “I will entice him.” 22 and Yhwh said khổng lồ him, “By what means?” & he said, “I will go out, và will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.” and he said, “You are to entice him, và you shall succeed; go out và do so.” 23 Now therefore behold, Yhwh has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; Yhwh has declared disaster for you.4

Notice here that Michaiah participated in the sôd of Yhwh và therefore knows Yhwh‘s secret plan and therefore can accurately prophesy, whereas the other court prophets, with no knowledge of Yhwh‘s sôd, are deceived. Note, too, the important motif that God is sitting on his throne surrounded by his sôd. (22:19). Biblical divine enthronement scenes & throne theophanies often imply a meeting of the sôd.5

In Isaiah 6, Isaiah enters the presence of Yhwh seated on his throne in the temple (6:1). There he meets with the divine council (6:2–3) and is invested with a mission to reveal the deliberations of the council khổng lồ humankind (6:8–9). Cảnh báo that in Isaiah the sôd of Yhwh meets in the celestial temple, where Yhwh sits enthroned just as in Michaiah’s vision.

Jeremiah 23:16–18 describes Jeremiah’s response to lớn prophets who prophesy victory for Judah over Babylon. Jeremiah writes:

16 Thus says Yhwh of hosts: “Do not listen lớn the words of the prophets who prophesy to lớn you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of Yhwh. 17 They say continually lớn those who despise the word of Yhwh, ‘It shall be well with you’; & to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ 18 But who among them has stood in the sôd of Yhwh to see & to hear his word, or who has paid attention khổng lồ his word và listened?

Jeremiah 23:21–22 continues this theme, when Yhwh himself speaks:

21 “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my sôd, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, và from the evil of their deeds.”

The obvious implications of these two passages is that Jeremiah has “stood in the sôd of Yhwh,” just lượt thích Michaiah & Isaiah before him, và therefore knows Yhwh‘s sôd/secret plan, which he can reveal khổng lồ humankind through his prophecies. The distinction between a true prophet & a false one is that the true prophet has “stood in the sôd of Yhwh,” while the false prophet hasn’t. This precisely parallels the description of Micaiah’s vision of the sôd, while the false prophets don’t know God’s sôd/secret plan.

Psalm 82 offers a fascinating description of the “council of God”:

1 God (אלהים ělōhîm) has taken his place in the council (עדת ʿǎdat) of God (אל ʾel); in the midst of the gods (אלהים ělōhîm) he holds judgment. . . . 6 I said, “You ʿǎdat> are gods (אלהים ělōhîm), sons of the Most High (בני עליון benê ʿelyôn), all of you.”

In this meeting of the “council of God,” God calls the members of his sôd “gods” and “sons of the Highest.”

Amos 3:7—a passage often quoted by LDS—describes Yhwh‘s sôd as follows: “For the Lord Yhwh doesn’t vì chưng anything (דבר dābār) 6 without revealing his sôd khổng lồ his servants the prophets.” Amos provides here a summary principle paralleling the explicit examples of Michaiah, Isaiah and Jeremiah given above. God reveals the sôd (secret plan) of his sôd (divine council) khổng lồ his prophets.

Psalm 25:14 adds an interesting covenantal aspect to the sôd. “The sôd of Yhwh is for those who honor him; he reveals his covenant (berît) to them.” In this verse knowledge of the sôd of Yhwh is directly linked with the revelation of his covenant.

Finally, Job provides a mô tả tìm kiếm of God’s sôd, composed of the “sons of God,” meeting in council (Job 1:6, Job 2:1). In Job 15:8, Eliphaz insists that Job has not sat in the sôd and therefore cannot understand God’s will regarding Job.

All of this is, of course, familiar to lớn many Latter-day Saints, since these texts have been compared to lớn several passages in LDS scripture which also describe the sôd of Yhwh (e.g., 1 Nephi 1:8–18; Abraham 3:22–23).7 I would like, however, to lớn move one step further & suggest that we should understand the LDS Endowment as a ritual and dramatic participation in the sôd/divine council of God, through which God reveals khổng lồ the covenanter his sôd/secret plan of salvation—the hidden meaning and purpose of creation and the cosmos. When we consider the Endowment drama in this way—remembering that in Isaiah the meeting place of the sôd of Yhwh is in the temple (Isa. 6:1)—the Endowment fits broadly in the biblical tradition of ritually observing or participating in “the council/sôd of Yhwh” described in these biblical texts.

General Bibliography (Chronological Order)

Robinson, H. “The Council of Yahweh.” of Theological Studies 45 (1944): 151–57.

Cross, F. “The Council of Yahweh in Second Isaiah.” of Near Eastern Studies 12/1 (1953): 274–77.

Kingsbury, E. “Prophets và the Council of Yahweh.” of Biblical Literature 83 (1964): 279–86.

Brown, R. The Semitic Background of the Term “Mystery” in the New Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968.

Miller, p. “The Divine Council and the Prophetic hotline to War.” Vetus Testamentum 18 (1968): 100–107.

Mullen, T. The Assembly of the Gods: The Divine Council in Canaanite & Early Hebrew Literature. Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1980.

Miller, p “Cosmology and World Order in the Old Testament: The Divine Council as Cosmic-Political Symbol.” Horizons in Biblical Theology 9 (1987): 53–78.

Fleming, D. “The Divine Council as Type Scene in the Hebrew Bible.” PhD diss, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 1989.

Bockmuehl, M. Revelation và Mystery in Ancient Judaism và Pauline Christianity. Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1990.

Malamat, A. “The Secret Council & Prophetic Involvement in Mari và Israel.” In R. Liwak & S. Wagner, eds., Prophetie und geschichtliche Wirklichkeit lặng alten Israel. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1991. 231–36.

Mullen, T. “Divine Assembly,” ABD (1992): 2:214–17, nicely summarizes the concept.

Nissinen, M. “Prophets & the Divine Council.” In Kein Land für sich allein: Studien zum Kulturkontakt in Kanaan, Israel / Palastina und Ebirnari für Manfred Weippert zum 65. Geburtstag. Vandenhoeck: Universitatsverlag Freiburg Schweiz, 2002. 4–19.

Heiser, M. “The Divine Council in Late Canonical and Non-Canonical Second Temple Jewish Literature.” PhD diss., University of Wisconsin—Madison, 2004.

Heiser, M. “Introduction khổng lồ the Divine Council.”

Lenzi, A. Secrecy và the Gods: Secret Knowledge in Ancient Mesopotamia và Biblical Israel. Helsinki: Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2008. 221–71.

Thomas, S. The “Mysteries” of Qumran: Mystery, Secrecy, and Esotericism in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Leiden và Boston: Brill, 2009. 82–95.

LDS Bibliography (Alphabetical Order)

Barney, K. “Examining Six Key Concepts in Joseph Smith’s Understanding of Genesis 1:1.” BYU Studies 39/3 (2000): 107–24.

Bokovoy, D. “Joseph Smith and the Biblical Council of Gods” (2010). Http://

Bokovoy, D. “ ’Ye Really Are Gods’: A Response to Michael Heiser concerning the LDS Use of Psalm 82 and the Gospel of John,” FARMS Review 19/1 (2007): 267–313.

Heiser, M. “You’ve Seen One Elohim, You’ve Seen Them All? A Critique of Mormonism’s Use of Psalm 82.” FARMS Review 19:1 (2007): 221–66.

Ostler, Blake, Exploring Mormon Thought, Vol. 3: Of God và Gods. Salt Lake City: Kofford, 2008.

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Peterson, Daniel C. “ ’Ye Are Gods’: Psalm 82 and John 10 as Witnesses to lớn the Divine Nature of Humankind.” In The Disciple as Scholar: Essays on Scripture và the Ancient World in Honor of Richard Lloyd Anderson. Ed. Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Parry, và Andrew H. Hedges. Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000. 471–594.

Shirts, K. “The ‘Adat El, ‘Council of the Gods’ và Bene Elohim, ‘Sons of God’: Ancient Near Eastern Concepts in the Book of Abraham.” of issues at: