Elohim -- human or divine in Exodus 21-22?

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Fri Sep 1 05:49:18 EDT 2000

I know this is one interpretation. But I have never seen a good reason not
to translate "God" rather than "judges" in these passages. In verses 8-9
(English), 7-8 (Hebrew) the disputing parties are to be brought before God
i.e. to the sanctuary, and God will judge the case, perhaps through
something like Urim and Thummim or perhaps through his human
representatives, the priests. The same applies in Exodus 21:6, where the
servant's ear is to be pierced in the sanctuary. Have I missed something? Is
there any good reason not to interpret like this?

I do see an apparently plural verb form YAR:$IY(UN before ):ELOHIYM in verse
8 (Hebrew) which suggests that the subject is understood as plural. But this
little subordinate clause is missing an object - ):A$ER does not function as
an object, we would expect an object pronoun suffix on the verb. The
Samaritan reading quoted by BHS, YAR:$IY(EN.UW (presumably the vowel points
are reconstructed) provides this object suffix on a singular verb. This
could well have been the original reading, with the final W mater lectionis
not originally written in this rather archaic text. Any comments on this

Peter Kirk

----- Original Message -----
From: "Harold R. Holmyard III" <hholmyard at ont.com>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at franklin.oit.unc.edu>
Sent: Friday, September 01, 2000 1:33 AM
Subject: Elohim -- human or divine in Psalm 82?

> What do you do with Exodus 22:8-9; 28? These verses use the term "gods" to
> speak of human judges.
> Yours,
> Harold Holmyard
> ---
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