Psalm 97:7; Psalm 138:1 "the gods"
ben.crick at argonet.co.uk
Mon Oct 2 21:25:28 EDT 2000
On Mon 2 Oct 2000 (19:43:32), tmcos at hotmail.com wrote:
> 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.
The angels are not regarded as gods; rather the gods are called 'angels' to
deny them any illusion of deity.
Psalm 8:5 is rendered in Hebrews 1:6 KAI PROSKUNHSATWSAN AUTWi PANTES AGGELOI
QEOU, possibly from the LXX of Ps 8:5; or from the LXX of Deuteronomy 32:43
which expands on the MT by adding this clause.
In Psalm 97:7 Hi$:TaXa:Wu-LoW KoL-'e:LoHiYM is taken is indicative, not
imperative, by some English versions such as RSV and NRSV. All the gods bow
down and worship YHWH; compare the statue of Dagon which fell before the ark
of YHWH (1 Samuel 5). The Psalmist is evidently unwilling to grant any real
existence to the gods of the Babylonians (and others), which were mere idols
made of wood or stone or metal and only existed in the minds of their
mistaken worshippers. Ps 97:7 portrays the idolaters as dumbfounded by the
impotence of their vaunted gods. There is a delicious pun on 'e:LiYLiYM and
'e:LoHiYM. These 'e:loHiYM are nothing more than P:SaLiYM ... 'e:LiYLiYM.
Jerome in the Vulgate uses /angeli/ as a sort of Qere' for 'eLoHiYM in the
Vulgate, following the LXX. All rivals to YHWH, real or imaginary, must
worship their Creator. So also in Psalms 95:3 and 96:4-5.
Psalm 138:1 again sees Jerome substituting /angeli/ for 'e:LoHiYM, /in
conspectu *angelorum* psallam tibi/, following the example of the LXX. The
Targum renders /judges/, following the usage in Psalm 82:1, 6. The Syriac
renders it /kings/, compare Psalm 119:46. Kings and judges in Israel were
considered as representatives of God, reigning and judging in His Name.
Revd Ben Crick, BA CF
<ben.crick at argonet.co.uk>
232 Canterbury Road, Birchington, Kent, CT7 9TD (UK)
More information about the b-hebrew