Monday, October 17, 2011

All the host of heaven

You saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully, so that you do not become corrupt and make for yourselves an idol, an image of any shape, whether formed like a man or a woman, or like any animal on earth or any bird that flies in the air, or like any creature that moves along the ground or any fish in the waters below.

And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars—all the heavenly array—do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the LORD your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.
Deut 4:15-19 NISV

The Hebrew word in this warning against idolatry - apportioned to the pagans by God of Israel - is
כל צבא השׁמים  kol zeva hshamaim accurately translated by King James Version as all the host of heaven(s).

In the Hebrew Bible God of Israel is Lord of Hosts, zebaot.  (In modern Hebrew army - zahal, zeva hagana israel)

The punishment for idolatry, worshipping other gods such as the heavenly hosts, was death:

If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant, 3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky, 4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. 6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7 The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.
Deut 17:2-7 NISV

The Host of Heaven seems to have the primary meaning of celestial objects as targets of religious worship.

There are also personifications, gods that awake the ire of God of Israel.

But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.
Amos 5:26 KJV

Difficult reading of otherwise little known divinities, perhaps
lifted up Sakkuth your king / and Kaiwan your idols, / your star-gods;

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