Art Resource, NY

An angry Moses prepares to shatter the Tablets of the Law when he finds the Israelites worshiping the Golden Calf, in direct violation of the commandment “You shall have no other gods besides me” (Exodus 20:3), in this painting from a private collection by the 20th-century Australian painter Arthur Boyd. According to the Bible, the Israelites recognized and worshiped gods other than Yahweh at many stages throughout their history, and it finally led to their exile. But in the accompanying article, Jeffrey H. Tigay suggests that Israelite polytheism may not have been as widespread as the Bible claims. One important part of the evidence comes from onomastics—the study of names—and especially from those biblical personal names that incorporate the names of gods (called theophoric names). Tigay finds that when it came to naming their children, ancient Israelites showed an overwhelming preference for names with Yahweh in them.