Psalm 97:7; Psalm 138:1 "the gods"

Tony Costa tmcos at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 2 15:43:32 EDT 2000


Dear Friends,

   My question although of a grammatical nature does bend however towards a 
theological side. In Psalms 97:7 and 138:1 I notice that 'elohim' is 
translated in English in the plural as "gods", although in Hebrew it is a 
3rd person masculine plural noun. It is believed that the "gods" here is a 
reference to the angels. In Psalm 8:5, while the MT has 'elohim', and it is 
translated "...made him [man] a little lower than God." (NASB), the LXX of 
Psalm 8:5 has 'anggelos', "angels". Obviously, the LXX compositors took 
'elohim' in the MT to be the equivalent of "angels".
   In Psalm 97:7, "Worship Him, all you gods." (NASB) may appear as a 
reference to the supremacy of YHWH over the "idols" that were worshipped as 
gods. However, in Psalm 138:1, "I will sing praises  to Thee before the 
gods."(NASB) is quite different.
   Can anyone spare some light on this issue? Were the angels regarded as 
"gods" and if so, would this not constitute polytheism, or at least 
henotheism, which affirmed belief in one God without the exclusion of other 
gods? Or does this confusion lie in the ambiguity of the various  meanings 
and translations of 'elohim'? I think Rolf Furili (I apologize if I have the 
name mispelled) commented on this subject a while back. Any comments would 
be appreciated. Many thanks in advance.

                                                 Tony Costa
                                                 University of Toronto
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