Who Are the "Gods" Referred to in Psalm 82?

Who are the "gods"?

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Jonathan95

Puritan Board Sophomore
Psalm 82

1 God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.

2 How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.

4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

5 They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.

6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

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


Reading Poole's commentary he seems to side with them being human kings. Although, I heard a sermon recently where they were seen as demonic rulers.
 

jw

Administrator
Define demonic rulers. Spirit rulers, tasked with defending the poor, needy, and fatherless? :rolleyes:
 

Jonathan95

Puritan Board Sophomore
Define demonic rulers. Spirit rulers, tasked with defending the poor, needy, and fatherless?
From the sermon I heard, it's a reference to the "gods" of the nations. How they should have done justly in leading the people but they rebelled against God and were cast out as demons and they continue to lead people astray today. Similarly were texts brought out from the NT where Paul speaks of the ruler of this world. Principalities and powers, etc.

It's a paraphrase of the sermon's main points but yeah, that's what I gleaned from it.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
see how beney ha-elohim is used throughout Scripture. I don't want to fight the Heiser debates, but beney ha-elohim almost (or actually never) never means human dudes.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Basically just follow the Hebrew, follow the logic of it. Read critical commentaries. I've been attacked on this point, with one Reformed guy threatening to call my session. I was just quoting the Hebrew. Here are some studies I've done on it.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
The problem with human rulers is that you have the same language in Psalm 89, and the council is clearly held in the sky. So now we have rabbis in the sky, oy vey!
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Ephesians 6:12 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
James White disagrees with Heiser.

I said human rulers but, Heiser has some interesting ideas.

White was woefully underqualified for that discussion. It was quite painful. He didn't even pretend to interact with the Semitic languages and culture.
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
Jonathan,

Surprisingly, this is very close to what I intended to search the forums for today. I voted human rulers because I have always personally interpreted the passage that way and I have heard it preached as human rulers.

That being said, I have almost finished reading Heiser's Supernatural per a strong recommendation from one of my dispensationalist friends. Much of his work is on the "divine council" he understands to be referenced in Ps. 82. I have been meaning to do a word study on elohim but on a whole I have found quite a few of Heiser's claims in the book to be rather unconvincing. I know Supernatural is intended more for lay persons so he does not intend to be overly technical, but there are quite a few eyebrow raising claims he makes (particularly when it comes to theology proper or soteriology) that are difficult to ignore.
 

Adam McKinney

Puritan Board Freshman
Does anyone have 'pro-human' scholarship they would recommend for this passage? Or more broadly scholarship on the view of Elohim that is critical of Heiser's divine council interp.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Does anyone have 'pro-human' scholarship they would recommend for this passage? Or more broadly scholarship on the view of Elohim that is critical of Heiser's divine council interp.

That's where it gets strange. Some of the scholars will say Ps. 82 refers to beney ha-elohim, while referring other similar passages to human guys. The best place would be to scour the bibliographies or commentaries. The problem with that, is that 99% of the commentaries that deal with this passage, simply assert one side or the other. You usually don't find any argumentation.
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
I voted Demons/Spiritual Beings because ... I read the quoted text below and it occurred to me that if William Wrede is correct, and 'only children and poets speak of these things today,' how can we believe of all that is supernatural in the Scriptures ? Do we, or do we not, wrestle against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places ? I believe we do. If I believed otherwise what other parts of Scripture do I dispense with ?
In 'Perspectives Old and New On Paul,' Stephen Westerholm explains the viewpoints of many Pauline scholars of bygone days, among them William Wrede. In leading into his section on Wrede's take on Paul Westerholm writes,
"Fundamental to Paul is his insistence that Paul was a man of his day, not ours. Paul's thinking was determined by laws we know not to be valid. He believed in beings that only children and poets speak of today.
Where we see abstract terms, Paul, like all the ancients tended to see real and effective powers. If, in spite of all this, countless of our contemporaries still believe they share the views of the apostle, this is only because they misinterpret him.
They spiritualize and psychologize, they read as metaphor what Paul took to be real, they make fundamental what is secondary and miss what is basic altogether. To present the true Paul to such readers is no easy task: "it is harder to interpret Paul's doctrine to one who half understands him than to one who knows nothing about him."
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
John 10:34-35, Jesus quotes Ps.82:6, and appears to refer it to human judges.

The difficulty with that is it has Jesus saying, "I'm not divine but human just like you." Of course, Jesus could be adding a new dimension to the interpretation. As it stands, as Psalm 82 and 89 parallel each other in part, and Psalm 89 clearly has the beney ha-elohim in the clouds, that rules out human judges.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
The difficulty with that is it has Jesus saying, "I'm not divine but human just like you." Of course, Jesus could be adding a new dimension to the interpretation. As it stands, as Psalm 82 and 89 parallel each other in part, and Psalm 89 clearly has the beney ha-elohim in the clouds, that rules out human judges.

Are you meaning that the phrase is referring to beings that are actually divine?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
Are you meaning that the phrase is referring to beings that are actually divine?

"Divine" can prejudice the discussion either way. I don't like to say "angels," because angels are just messengers. They aren't demons, either. A demon is an unclean spirit, not a world-ruler. The beings are closer in content to what Paul refers to as archons, kosmokratoras, etc.
 

Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
"Divine" can prejudice the discussion either way. I don't like to say "angels," because angels are just messengers. They aren't demons, either. A demon is an unclean spirit, not a world-ruler. The beings are closer in content to what Paul refers to as archons, kosmokratoras, etc.

How does your interpretation avoid the objection you raised to Rev Buchanan's interpretation?
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
How does your interpretation avoid the objection you raised to Rev Buchanan's interpretation?

I look at it in points of ultimate origin. Does Jesus come from a transcendent spiritual, invisible to use Heiser's term, realm or is he just another guy from the space-time realm?

Yes, he has a birth from Mary, but ala Orthodox Christology, he comes from beyond earth
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
Jonathan,

Surprisingly, this is very close to what I intended to search the forums for today. I voted human rulers because I have always personally interpreted the passage that way and I have heard it preached as human rulers.

That being said, I have almost finished reading Heiser's Supernatural per a strong recommendation from one of my dispensationalist friends. Much of his work is on the "divine council" he understands to be referenced in Ps. 82. I have been meaning to do a word study on elohim but on a whole I have found quite a few of Heiser's claims in the book to be rather unconvincing. I know Supernatural is intended more for lay persons so he does not intend to be overly technical, but there are quite a few eyebrow raising claims he makes (particularly when it comes to theology proper or soteriology) that are difficult to ignore.
Dispensationalists aren't your friends, Adam. They're not your real friends. We're your real friends. ;)
 

Andrew P.C.

Puritan Board Junior
"The Gods are All that deale in the managing of publique Affairs; as they stand, (some of them at least) ranked in their order, and distinguished by their imployment,Pro. 8. 15, 16. Prov. 8. 15, 16. Kings, Princes, Nobles, and all the Judges of the earth, even All, whether supra or subordinate, from the Head of Gold to the feet of yron and clay; for so the Psalmist expounds himselfe in the following part of the Psalme;Joh. 10. 35. and our Saviour confirmes and warrants the interpretation."

 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
The difficulty with that is it has Jesus saying, "I'm not divine but human just like you." Of course, Jesus could be adding a new dimension to the interpretation. As it stands, as Psalm 82 and 89 parallel each other in part, and Psalm 89 clearly has the beney ha-elohim in the clouds, that rules out human judges.
I look at it in points of ultimate origin. Does Jesus come from a transcendent spiritual, invisible to use Heiser's term, realm or is he just another guy from the space-time realm?

Yes, he has a birth from Mary, but ala Orthodox Christology, he comes from beyond earth

That is going beyond what Christ Himself is saying. His point is not about the nature of the people referred to in Psalm 82, but addressing said people as "gods". As Gill explains:

" thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God; for what he had said in John 10:30 is equivalent to it; and in it he was rightly understood by the Jews, and what he here and afterwards says confirms it: the argument is what the Jews call , "from the lesser to the greater", and stands thus; that if mere frail mortal men, and some of them wicked men, being made rulers and judges in the earth are called gods, by God himself, to whom the word of God came in time, and constituted them gods, or governors, but for a time; and this is a fact stands recorded in Scripture, which cannot be denied or disproved, then surely it cannot be blasphemy in Christ, to assert himself to be the Son of God, who existed as a divine person from all eternity; and was so early set apart to the office of prophet, priest, and king; and in the fulness of time was sent into this world, to be the author of eternal salvation to the sons of men. "

Christ is exposing the Jews' hypocrisy for accusing Him of blasphemy because He referred to Himself as the Son of God when Scripture itself refers to mere humans as gods. If the "gods" of Psalm 82 are not human but some form of purely spiritual beings then that would suggest Christ is saying it is right to refer to these beings as gods in the sense of being divine. If "gods" does not necessitate some sort of divinity then I don't see the problem with it being used to refer to humans. The mere fact that angels and demons occupy the immaterial, rather than material, world does not make them any more gods than humans. Not to mention the fact that the Psalmist could easily have referred to them as angels or demons or spirits. That's not the term he used.

White was woefully underqualified for that discussion. It was quite painful. He didn't even pretend to interact with the Semitic languages and culture.

In what respect? Because he didn't go to a "good" university and isn't published in peer reviewed journals? Do you know the trash that is published in peer reviewed journals? How about a church-reviewed journal? Heiser is a snob who is only concerned with what his friends in academia think. He pays no heed to those who are doing actual ministry. The Christian does not need to bother with analysis of semitic culture. We have Scripture. And for what it's worth, White has taught Hebrew. He seems to know his stuff.

Ephesians 6:12 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Indeed and reading "gods" as human rulers does not in any way contradict this statement. Through whom are the agents of spiritual darkness working? Through our human rulers, through those in the media, our institutions, even through ordinary people. I think it is wrong to read this passage as referring to some wholly separate entity occupying high places, but rather as the devil and his spirits working through human beings (of course they also operate independent of human agents). We must, of course, defend the supernaturalism of Scripture and be very sensitive to attempts to analogise and psychologise it. But we mustn't do harm to the text by forcing a supernatural interpretation where it doesn't belong as an overreaction.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
In what respect? Because he didn't go to a "good" university and isn't published in peer reviewed journals?

Because he didn't deal with the Hebrew.
We have Scripture.

Which depends on Semitic languages. Read Deut. 32 in Hebrew. Shedim is an Akkadian loan word. 'Eloah is a defective noun. You can't simply dismiss the Bible's Semitic culture.
White has taught Hebrew. He seems to know his stuff.

That's great, then he should have had no difficulty dealing with it.
 
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