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Psalm 82: A Glimpse Into Heaven And the Meaning of Elohim

  • The use of the Hebrew word elohim and how it relates to the biblical view of heaven described in Psalm 82 has troubled scholars for years.
  • The word elohim is used 2,602 times and has five distinct meanings. It can be used as either plural or singular and it doesn’t always refer to the “traditional” God. 
  • In the context of Psalm 82, elohim also references lesser spiritual beings and quite possibly the fallen angels either before or after the creation of the world.

Psalm 82 is one of the most eye-opening chapters of the Bible. For some people, this may come as a startling revelation. This chapter is one that scholars have re-examined in recent years by referencing the original Hebrew, and coming to a better understanding of what this Psalm tells us. Not only does our understanding of this verse get rearranged, but it also clarifies Genesis.

A new view of heaven

Some people may find the revelations from Psalm 82 we are about to discuss upsetting to their previous viewpoint, but they are also eye-opening, as they present us with a completely new view of heaven.

Defining Elohim

Before we look at Psalm 82 in full and what it applies, we first need to examine the Hebrew word “Elohim” and what it meant to people at the time the Bible was written.

The modern concept of God

Much of the confusion has to do with the way we modern English speakers define the word “God.” When we say the word God, we are not only referring to the person of God, but also simultaneously God’s attributes. When we use God in English we are referring to a single omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent being. Our definition of that word not only speaks to a being, but also speaks to those particular powers and attributes. This is where the confusion lies, when we translate the word Hebrew word Elohim to mean God.

ELOHIM HAS 5 DISTINCT MEANINGS

The Hebrew word “Elohim” is found 2602 times in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). In English, it typically gets translated as God. However, in Hebrew, Elohim had at least five distinct meanings depending on the context in which it is used.

In Hebrew, Elohim is both singular and plural, so it can refer to God or gods depending on its usage and context. Elohim can also refer to angels (Genesis 35:7, 32:1-2).

The five distinct meanings of Elohim in Hebrew are: God (Yahweh/YHWH); gods of the divine counsel; angels; demons; disembodied dead.

The take away we should consider most with the word Elohim, is that, it always refers to spiritual beings, those without physical bodies, that inhabit the spiritual plane of reality. The word Elohim does not always refer to “deity attributes” and this is a mistake we make in our English translation.

Decoding Psalm 82

Specifically, we are going to look at Psalm 82 lines 1 and 2, and lines 6 through 8. However, if we only look at modern English translations the word Elohim is replaced by God and blurs our understanding. Therefore, to best show how the word Elohim changes our understanding of the meaning of this verse, will first look at a translation in the Orthodox Jewish Bible, then translate it into English in the King James version

PSALM 82 – ORTHODOX JEWISH BIBLE

1 (Mizmor of Asaph.) Elohim standeth in the Adat El; He judgeth among the elohim [T.N. see Ps 82:6 and Yn 10:34].

2 Ad mosai (How long) will ye judge unjustly, and show partiality to the resha’im? Selah.

6 I have said, elohim ye are; and all of you are Bnei HaElyon.

7 But ye shall die like adam, and fall like one of the sarim (princes).

8 Arise, Elohim, judge ha’aretz; for Thou shalt inherit kol HaGoyim.

PSALM 82 – STRONG’S KING JAMES VERSION

1 {{A Psalm of Asaph. }} 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.

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.

Lines 1 & 2: God among gods

Now that you understand the word Elohim is both singular and plural, in lines 1 and 2 of Psalm 82, we see that God is standing within a congregation of gods. In other words, God isn’t the only god. God oversees a divine Council of lesser gods (designated by the lowercase “g”). Truly and surely, these lesser gods do not possess the omniscient, omnipresent and all-knowing attributes of the God Yahweh.

But what this does identify is that there are other elohim that operate as a divine Council that God uses to assist him with judging mankind, because we see in verse two that he is reprimanding them for judging unjustly.

Lines 6-8: These lesser gods will be punished

Because of the confusion of the Hebrew word Elohim, some scholars assume that God is talking to mankind in these lines. However, God is telling this divine counsel that they will “die like men.” If this divine counsel was already men, God wouldn’t need to make such a distinction. God is telling these spiritual beings that they can suffer eternal death, just as mankind can.

Summary:

Viewing Psalm 82 with the knowledge of the multiple meanings of the Hebrew word Elohim, and understanding that it does not always signify the single God that we worship, but rather spiritual beings, is definitely a moment that completely realigns our view of heaven. It shows us that God oversees a number of beings in the heavenly realms that help Him with the judgment of mankind on Earth. Whether these Elohim are angels or some other type of spiritual being, is unclear.

In addition, we see that these spiritual beings also have free will, are not infallible or perfect, and as such, they are also susceptible to eternal punishment. In this light, it also brings more clarity to our understanding of why angels fell and rebelled from God, as these spiritual beings also have free will.

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Jimmy Parsons

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