Elohim -- human or divine in Psalm 82?

George Athas gathas at globalfreeway.com.au
Sat Sep 2 19:34:06 EDT 2000

| 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.

I agree that the judges were representatives God. But the judges themselves are not
"gods". Jesus reply in Jn 10 makes far more sense if he is referring to divine beings,
because he is making the claim that he himself is divine. If he was merely referring to
human judges, then he is simply calling himself a man. I don't think this is what the
Gospel is trying to say. On the contrary, it is making the claim that Jesus is God.

| [...]
| 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.

Then what purpose does it serve to say that the "gods" (presuming they are men here) would
die like mere men if they were always going to die as mere men? If it was always going to
be the case, then why say "like mere men"? No, in the case of Ps 82, the gods of the
divine council are condemned to die like mere men because they fail to govern the earth
properly. No one expects the gods to die as mere men, so their condmenation to die as mere
men is quite telling. This Psalsm calls for an end to henotheism with its national deities
each ruling a particular domain, and calls for a new monotheism in which a single deity
governs the entire earth. Notice that the scope isn't simply national Israel, but
universal. The gods of the nations -- not the judges of Israel -- have failed to govern
the world. Therefore God must needs sack this cabinet and assume autocratic control

Best regards,
- Anglican Chaplaincy, UNSW;
- Southern Cross College,
Sydney, Australia
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