Psalms 82

 

מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף אֱלֹהִים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת־אֵל בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁפֹּט׃   82:1

Psal. 82:1   A psalm of Asaph's:

                     God stands in the congregation of God,

                               in the midst of the “gods” He would judge:

This is a strange verse.  The strangest part of it is the next-to-last word, but that’s not all that’s odd.  That word almost always means God or gods (or sometimes, judges).  In this case sages and scholars have been undecided about its meaning.  Many translations have judges for this word.  Others suggest angels.  Neither is considered decisive.  I have “gods,” because I suspect the word was used by Asaph, a subtle poet, to indicate the idolatry of those who judged without regard for the Lord’s Torah.  You may notice, if you are into the Hebrew to any extent, that the second word for God is found in the singular la, El.  I believe Asaph used this infrequent form to differentiate the word from this third occurrence of the word for God, thereby possibly hinting at his meaning that this word was to be treated differently.  The other somewhat strange aspect of this verse is the word used to mean stands in my translation.  The Hebrew word is seldom used to indicate the opposite of sitting or lying down.  It bears the connotation of dominating or being stationed.  It may have been used by Asaph to emphasize his impression of God’s next words, as in the next few verses.

עַד־מָתַי תִּשְׁפְּטוּ־עָוֶל וּפְנֵי רְשָׁעִים תִּשְׂאוּ־סֶלָה׃   82:2

Psal. 82:2   Until when will you judge wrong

                               and lift up persons of wickedness?            Selah.

שִׁפְטוּ־דַל וְיָתוֹם עָנִי וָרָשׁ הַצְדִּיקוּ׃   82:3

Psal. 82:3   Judge the poor and the fatherless,

                               declare the afflicted and the hungry righteous,

פַּלְּטוּ־דַל וְאֶבְיוֹן מִיַּד רְשָׁעִים הַצִּילוּ׃   82:4

Psal. 82:4   rescue the poor and the needy,

                               deliver from the hand of the wicked.

לֹא יָדְעוּ וְלֹא יָבִינוּ בַּחֲשֵׁכָה יִתְהַלָּכוּ יִמּוֹטוּ כָּל־מוֹסְדֵי אָרֶץ׃   82:5

Psal. 82:5   They do not know and they cannot understand;

                                in darkness they must go about.

                      All the foundations of the earth shall be shaken.

אֲנִי־אָמַרְתִּי אֱלֹהִים אַתֶּם וּבְנֵי עֶלְיוֹן כֻּלְּכֶם׃   82:6

Psal. 82:6   I say you are divine ones,

                                that all of you are children of the Most High,

אָכֵן כְּאָדָם תְּמוּתוּן וּכְאַחַד הַשָּׂרִים תִּפֹּלוּ׃   82:7

Psal. 82:7   but in fact you shall die as human,

                                and you shall fall like any of the princes.

Please notice that in v. 6 above, the third word, which I translate as divine ones, is also the typical word meaning God, Elohim.  I imagine Asaph may have been trying to continue his subtle message of v. 1, and contrasting that with the words following (in this verse).  While these idolatrous judges considered themselves above the law of God, they were merely human and would suffer the consequences of their sins like everyone else.

קוּמָה אֱלֹהִים שָׁפְטָה הָאָרֶץ כִּי־אַתָּה תִנְחַל בְּכָל־הַגּוֹיִם׃   82:8

Psal. 82:8   Arise, O God, judge the earth,

                                for You shall possess in all the nations.

 

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