SV: Elohim -- human or divine in Psalm 82?

Rolf Furuli furuli at
Thu Aug 31 09:03:45 EDT 2000

Dear George and Annika,

Jesus, as he is quoted in John 10:34-35, believed that )E:lohim in Psalm 82
referred to man and not a mythological pantheon of gods. Angels are also
called )E:lohim; compare Psalm 8:5-7 and Hebrews 2:6,7. The same was true
at Qumran.



Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo

>Oh, what a coincidence! Just a few hours before this mail arrived I
>happened to read the article by Simon B. Parker: "The Beginning of the
>Reign of God - Psalm 82 as Myth and Liturgy", Revue Bible 102 (1995), pp
>532-559. Parker has, among other things, a very good general exposition on
>the mythological assumption that each nation had its own god, or that each
>god had a nation to which it had been allotted.
>Parker has two interesting points concerning Ps 82: First, YHWH is not the
>one presiding the assembly of gods; it is El or Elyon. It is, however,
>YHWH who charges the other gods with maladministration and annonces their
>downfall, and after that he takes over and exercises a righteous rule over
>the world.
>Secondly, the narrative section of the psalm (vv 1-7), reflecting a
>Canaanite origine, "explains" in the form of the myth the unrighteousness
>in the world. Nevertheless, YHWH has predicted the downfall of the gods,
>though this is not yet realized. Therefore, in vers 8, the Israelite
>community prays in the form of a liturgical cry to YHWH to exercise his
>rule over the world. In this sense, this psalm is properly Israelite, and
>quite compatible with the strict monotheistic teaching of Second Isaiah.
>Från: 	George Athas
>Skickat: 	den 29 augusti 2000 16:59
>Till: 	Biblical Hebrew
>Angående: 	Elohim -- human or divine in Psalm 82?
>|  As I understand it, Satan's promise to make them "gods" was as specious
>as all
>|  his other words to Eve in the garden. In the BHS, 'e:LoHiYM can be used of
>|  human beings, but it nearly always refers to "judges" sitting to judge
>|  by the Law of Moses. The much discussed 'e:LoHiYM of Psalm 82 are a case in
>|  point. That Psalm is a call to human judges to dispense right judgment:
>not to
>|  "gods" in some sort of supernatural pantheon on high. They will die
>like the
>|  puny humans that they are (verse 7). Their vain pretension to godlike
>|  was due to the Serpent's deception.
>The only humans to be called 'gods' in the Hebrew Bible are Moses (and
>even that is just a
>simile) and the king to whom Psalm 45 is addressed. Psalm 82 makes much
>more sense as a sitting of the divine court. Note that "Elohim" takes his
>stand in the counsel of "El" --
>a very direct word meaning "deity". The Psalm ends asking "Elohim" to
>judge or govern the
>earth in place of the other gods (who are barely worthy of that title) and
>so to take
>possession of all the nations. That is, the Psalmist asks for the
>overthrow of all
>national deities who each govern their own national domain because they
>are inept, and
>instead asks for "Elohim" to take the reigns as a single autocratic ruler
>who is able to
>restore order. This certainly has repercussions for human judges, but it
>is the divine
>court which is in view in Psalm 82 -- not the average city gate court.
>Best regards,
>- Anglican Chaplaincy, UNSW;
>- Southern Cross College,
>Sydney, Australia
>Tel Dan Inscription Website
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