Other gods describes deities other than the Abrahamic God of the Jewish and Christian faiths. The term comes from the Ten Commandments, where God said, "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3 ).
While the word "god" refers, in a general sense, to any deity that is or has been worshipped as part of a theistic belief system, when spelled with an upper-case "G," the term is normally referring to the God of the Abrahamic religions.
Other gods in the Bible
The Jewish and Christian Bibles contain references to more than just the Jewish and Christian God, but these gods are seen as false and having no real power, whether it be the golden calf or the images of Baal.
God in the Garden of Eden often uses the plural when referring to Himself:
- 'And God said, let us make man in our image.', (Genesis 1:26)
- 'And the Lord God said, Behold, then man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.' (Genesis 3:22)
- 'Let us go down, and there confound their language.'. (Genesis 11:7)
The Bible refers to Egyptian gods several times, but they are never presented as having real form or power. For instance, no god is ever discussed taking an action, having a thought, speaking, etc. There are references to collective worship of other gods, but God always takes out His wrath on the Egyptian people themselves and the consequences of that wrath are seen, since they are real and exist.
- 'And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment.' (Exodus 12:12)
- 'Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods?' (Exodus 15:11)
- 'Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods.' (Exodus 18:11).
- The Magi of Egypt are able to produce plagues of their own, but it is never stated this is due to the power of a god.
The First Commandment makes it clear that God will not tolerate the worship of these other deities:
- 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me. ... Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.' (Exodus 20:3, 5)
If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone them to death. (Deuteronomy 13:6)
Other biblical laws express the same idea:
- 'He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed.' (Exodus 22:20)
- 'Make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.' (Exodus 23:13)
- 'Thou shalt not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do after their works: but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images.' (Exodus 23:24)
- 'Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor with their gods.' (Exodus 23:32)
- 'For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.' (Exodus 34:14)
There is also this section on multiple gods: 'Thou shalt not revile the gods.' (Exodus 22:28) This follows from simple logic - how can one revile that which does not exist?
- 'God standeth in the congregation of the mighty, he judgeth among the gods.' (Psalm 82:1)
- 'Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O Lord.' (Psalm 86:8)
- 'For the Lord ... is to be feared above all gods.' (Psalm 96:4)
- 'Worship him, all ye gods.' (Psalm 97:7)
The Psalms are considered to be the poetic writings of David. In the Near East culture of the time, kings and other men of renown could be called "gods." There is no Biblical indication in any of the discussions of David or Israel's kings over almost 500 years where any god was ever considered to be real. For instance, no other god was ever said to have caused a storm or shown any other sign of actually existing.
The rest of the Bible
None of the 66 Biblical books written over 1500 years of history have any mention of any other gods at all in any form that would grant them living qualities.
Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft once wrote a short story called "The Other Gods."