6 I -- I have said, 'Gods ye are, And sons of the Most High -- all of you, http://yltbible.com/psalms/82.htm

So how many gods are there? Who are "you" here? Are we all gods?

Here is the context. What was the jewish word for gods there?

1 -- A Psalm of Asaph. God hath stood in the company of God, In the midst God doth judge.

2 Till when do ye judge perversely? And the face of the wicked lift up? Selah.

3 Judge ye the weak and fatherless, The afflicted and the poor declare righteous.

4 Let the weak and needy escape, From the hand of the wicked deliver them.

5 They knew not, nor do they understand, In darkness they walk habitually, Moved are all the foundations of earth.

6 I -- I have said, 'Gods ye are, And sons of the Most High -- all of you,

7 But as man ye die, and as one of the heads ye fall,

8 Rise, O God, judge the earth, For Thou hast inheritance among all the nations!


3 Answers 3


A core belief of Judaism is that there is only one God.

This is a bad translation. The Hebrew is:

אֲנִי-אָמַרְתִּי, אֱלֹהִים אַתֶּם; וּבְנֵי עֶלְיוֹן כֻּלְּכֶם.‏

The word אֱלֹהִים can mean "God". It can also mean Judge, Idolatrous god/power (note the distinction between God and gods), Important Person.

In this context, others translate it as "godlike beings", "angels", "angelic creatures". But definitely not "Gods".

  • So Christians have bad translation? Again? So we all are godlike beings, instead of gods. What's the word אֱלֹהִים mean? Elohim? I hope learning hebrew is easier than mandarin because I tried and can't do the latter :)
    – user4951
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 6:27
  • 2
    If you want a good translation try The Living Nach (Psalms would be in volume 3), the Artscroll or Koren. The JPS 1917 translation is available online, but it is a bit old. Also see this list. Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 6:35
  • The important thing to remember is that Judaism was surrounded by paganism. There is no reason that Jews would not write about pagan beliefs that people held to be true.
    – avi
    Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 8:04
  • 1
    Some translate "judges" here, as per Me'iri.
    – jake
    Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 21:45
  • What does it mean sons of the And sons of the Most High -- all of you. Who are "you" here means, and who are "the Most High" here mean. Are we all sons of God? The phrases seems to be pretty hostile here.
    – user4951
    Commented Sep 27, 2011 at 17:23

I like the translation אֱלֹהִים as 'Power' or 'Powerful Ones.' That covers the different possible meanings of G-d, false gods, powerful people or angels. Those who are either powerful or are falsely thought to be powerful in this world.

In a Kabbalistic sense when G-d is referred to as אֱלֹהִים that represents G-d acting within nature, while Y-H-V-H represents G-d transcending nature.

Psalm 82 poetically plays on the different meanings of אֱלֹהִים to exhort judges to judge properly and support the weak and poor rather than favoring the rich and powerful. Here is my non-literal translation.

G-d 'stands' in the midst of judges and will judge them.

How long will you (bad) judges favor the wicked? Give justice to the weak, the orphan and the poor. Rescue the needy and powerless from the hands of the wicked.

They (corrupt judges) do not know nor do they understand that they walk in darkness.

I thought all judges were G-dly and powerful sons of the most High (i.e. good and righteous) But like all men, even powerful princes you will die.

Please G-d judge the world, you control all the nations.


The Talmud states,

We should be grateful to our forebears, for had they not sinned by making the golden calf, we would not have been born into the world, as it says in Psalm 82, “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’” After they sinned, however, the LORD told them, “Now that you have done evil, though, ‘You will die like mere men.’”

This is apparently from a midrashic understanding of Psalm 82, which was believed to have been given by God to Israel at Sinai:

It is written, “I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are sons of the Most High.’” When Israel stood at Mount Sinai and received the Torah, the Holy One, blessed be he, said to the angel of death, “You may have power over all the other nations, but not over this people, for they are my portion, and just as I live forever, so will my children be eternal.” … Yet you refused to remain faithful and did evil and said to the golden calf, “This is your God, O Israel.” Because you sinned, “You will die like men.” (Midrash)

In this midrash, the people of Israel were elevated to an angelic, divine level upon receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai. They became pure, immortal beings. This is what Psalm 82 refers to. However, upon sinning with the golden calf, they forfeited their divine status.

  • So Psalm 82 written long after Sinai is meant to be interpreted in Sinai context?
    – user4951
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 16:29
  • The midrash suggests that Psalm 82 was originally given around the time of Sinai. It wouldn't be without precedent; some of the psalms are believed to have Mosaic authorship, for instance. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 2:57
  • So it's not written by David? I thought David wrote psalm?
    – user4951
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 18:49
  • Many psalms were written by David. But many were written by Korach's descendants, Moses, Asaph, and others. Commented Jan 23, 2017 at 6:40

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