A view that I often hear taught or believed by some is that Monotheism was not the original viewpoint of Judaism. They contend that Judaism slowly moved away from polytheism into monotheism almost in an evolutionary movement of the religion.
Those who take this view bring up scriptures where other gods are mentioned in a way that seems to acknowledge that other gods actually do exist. One example they might use occurs in my favorite Bible story of all with Elijah.
Elijah is in a stand off with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, he tells the priests of Baal to set up a sacrifice and pray to Baal to burn it up. In this instance Elijah could be seen as acknowledging that other gods actually do exist because he tells them to ‘call out to their god’ or ‘call out to your god’. I am sure many adherents of ‘evolutionary monotheism’ would see this as acknowledgement that multiple gods exist, but there is one huge problem to this. . . Baal never does anything.
Instead of Baal maybe burning part of the sacrifice and Yahweh burning up the whole sacrifice to show he is the supreme God, Baal does absolutely nothing. In fact Elijah the mocks the priests saying ‘if Baal really is a god, maybe he is thinking, or busy, or traveling! Maybe he is sleeping so you will have to wake him!”. Clearly, though Elijah called Baal a ‘god’ he never really believed Baal even existed.
Furthermore, adherents to this evolutionary monotheism view have ignored passages that blatantly preach against it. For a Jew the most glaring example would be Deuteronomy 6:4 which is known as the Declaration of Judaism or the Shema says: “hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
Other verses also make it abundantly clear in Isaiah 45:5 ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.’ or Isaiah 43:10 “Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me”.
Clearly these verses teach that there is simply one, monotheistic God, and no others exists, nor will ever exist. Anyone who denies a strictly monotheistic view of God while accepting these verses must go through some theological gymnastics to come to such a conclusion.
Evolutionary monotheism ignores the obvious teachings of scripture as well as the clear history of Judaism as a whole. There has never been any other God and there will never be any other God but him.