Elaboration on the Word “Elohim” in Light of Psalm 82

Elaboration on the Word “Elohim” in Light of Psalm 82.

Psalm 82

A psalm of Asaph.

1 God (Elohim) presides in the great assembly;

he gives judgment among the gods (Elohim):

2 “How long will you defend the unjust

and show partiality to the wicked? Selah

3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;

maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.

4 Rescue the weak and needy;

deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

5 “They know nothing, they understand nothing.

They walk about in darkness;

all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

6 “I said, ‘You are “gods (Elohim)”;

you are all sons of the Most High (beney Elyon).’

7 But you will die like mere men;

you will fall like every other ruler.”

8 Rise up, O God (Elohim), judge the earth,

for all the nations are your inheritance.

The psalmist uses the term Elohim four times, twice as a reference to the Creator, and twice in reference to certain angels in heaven.

Now, beney Elohim and beney Elyon are terms that refer to the “sons of God”.

Although Adam and Yeshua are called “son of God”, it is far more commonly used to refer to what we today would call angels, or angelic princes (as in Daniel 10).

Interesting that the same creatures called Elohim, are also called beney Elohim….

In most English translations, this word is erroneously translated in reference to it’s subject (“gods”, or when applied to YHWH, “God”), rather than it’s literal meaning.

“Elohim” cannot be accurately translated as “god” or “gods” – it is a title descriptive of a god (sing.), gods (pl.), powers and divinities, yet not having the literal meaning of “god” or “gods”.

I conclude that the term “Elohim” may refer to God, (false) gods, angels, powers, principalities, thrones and dominions; frankly, the term may be used to accurately describe all these things, leading us to understand that it simply does not mean “almighty God”, though it CAN be used to describe him, and accurately so.

I believe Elohim is, evident from its usage, an impersonal term.

Let’s say it means “powers”, or “(the) mighty”; furthermore, it is a word which doesn’t really change meaning whether it is in the plural or singular.

God can be (or have) many powers, while the word powers can still accurately describe (much less powerful) angels.

This is also understood by the root and etymology of the word itself; it is linguistically related to words such as:

might, pillar, ram, tree-trunk; [1] all being words indicative of strength, force and height, rather than divine objects of worship.

In short, the word expresses power, rather than divinity. It is often used to describe the Divine One, but it does not literally mean “Divine One”.

Incidentally, the “you” in v.2 is plural; this leads us to conclude the angelic princes are the “you” who show partiality to the wicked, and that God is not the one being addressed in this verse.

This fits perfectly with the description of rebellious angels in Daniel 10 and Eph. 6:12.

Abel Zechariah, 1 Feb. 2011

Strong’s reference numbers:

Might: #352c, #353 and #2428,
Pillar: #352b,
Ram: #352,
Tree-trunk: #352d, #424 and #427,
Stag: #354,
Wall or Rampart: #2426.

For a fuller overview one should see all of Strong’s #352-365, #2426-2431, #5920-5931, #5942-5952.


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