Elohim -- human or divine in Psalm 82?

George Athas gathas at globalfreeway.com.au
Mon Sep 4 09:51:11 EDT 2000


Hi Harold.

| I do not have many study tools here, but both F. Delitzsch and The NIV
| Study Bible take Psalm 82 to describe human judges. The study Bible sees
| them standing before the heavenly court. Your interpretation is plausible,
| but it really seems to be the jurisdiction of men more than angels to
| secure justice for the poor and the orphan.

Deut 10:18 -- It is a divine duty to defend the orphan and widow, completely within the
domain of a deity.

| These were responsibilities for
| the leadership in Israel. The idea that God is chastising the gods of the
| nations for failure in this regard seems a bit foreign to me. The OT denies
| the reality of the gods of the nations; it does not give them an identity
| and then belittle them for failure.

There are gods in the Hebrew Bible -- one is living and true (Yahweh) and the others are
dead and false (eg, Molekh, Baal...). It still calls these false gods "gods", even though
in the author's mind they may not even exist. Ps 82 seems to either reflect a time when
henotheism in Israel/Judah was waning, or a writer who felt able to employ the imagery of
a divine court without corrupting his monotheism or monolatry. The whole point of the
Psalm is that the gods of the nations are really dead.

| I do not say that your view is impossible. I just do not find it as
| probable as the one that I am presenting.

I guess we'll amicablly agree to differ.  :)

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