Elohim -- human or divine in Psalm 82?

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Sat Sep 2 14:22:53 EDT 2000

Dear George,

You write:

>I see that you raise this because of the plural verb associated with
>Elohim in 22:9.
>However, I do not think this negates the notion that God is still being
>talked about in
>these verses. The judges would be representative of God and his decision.
>Cf Exo 18:19ff.

Yes, God is in view in Exodus 22:8-9.  But some translations and
commentators take "elohim" to refer to the human judges. The NIV is one. If
Exodus 22:8 called human judges "gods" in their representative role, then
Jesus may refer to this precedent in John 10:34. The word of God came to
judges in response to a request from the citizenry for divine settlement of
a dispute.

John 10:34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye
are gods?
John 10:35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the
scripture cannot be broken;
John 10:36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into
the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

That is, the interpretation of Psalm 82 as referring to the heavenly
council may be incomplete. If the heavenly council is mentioned, it may be
only to elevate the status and responsibilities of the human judges, which
functioned like a council of God on earth. The psalmist may compare the
early council to the heavenly one. He may direct his words towards that
earthly council, since it was prone to corruption in its duty of rendering
justice for the weak and needy:

Psa. 82:2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the
wicked? Selah.
Psa. 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and
Psa. 82:4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

The psalmist goes on to say that despite their elevated status they will
die as mere men. The words "like mere men" correspond to the Hebrew
K.:)ADAM, or "as man." Because of their merely human status, God would
ultimately have to be the One who judges the earth:

Psa. 82:8 Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

				Harold Holmyard

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