The ‘gods’ know nothing

Reading Psalm 82:5-7 NIV
“The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken."
“I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.”

Whats your understanding for ‘gods’ reference in this passage.


@ahoxha I think what can be said with certainty is that Psalms 82 is a rebuke of unjust rulers who serve false gods. Jesus used this passage to defend His right to call Himself God’s Son in John, which seems to imply that human rulers are in view at least in verse 6.

John 10:34-36 -Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?

The NET Bible offered a nice summary of the various views of the referent of the term ‘gods’ in the overarching passage: pagan false gods, human rulers appointed by God or angelic beings.

The present translation assumes that the Hebrew term אֱלֹהִים(ʾelohim, “gods”) here refers to the pagan gods who supposedly comprise El’s assembly according to Canaanite religion. Those who reject the polemical view of the psalm prefer to see the referent as human judges or rulers (אֱלֹהִים sometimes refers to officials appointed by God, see [Exod 21:6; 22:8-9](javascript:{}); [Ps 45:6](javascript:{})) or as angelic beings (אֱלֹהִים sometimes refers to angelic beings, see [Gen 3:5](javascript:{}); [Ps 8:5](javascript:{})).

These gods, though responsible for justice, neglect their duty. Their self-imposed ignorance (which the psalmist compares to stumbling around in the dark) results in widespread injustice, which threatens the social order of the world (the meaning of the phrase all the foundations of the earth crumble ).

Normally in the OT the title Most High belongs to the God of Israel, but in this context, where the mythological overtones are so strong, it probably refers to the Canaanite high god El (see v. 1, as well as [Isa 14:13]).

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Let me preface this by saying that this view is based on what the people of that time believed about the world they lived in and how they understood that there was a supernatural connection between heaven and earth.

Here is a fourth view which that for me makes more sense.

The article is by Michael Heiser. I think I am safe in saying that he is a leading scholar on this subject, the subject of a divine council, a council that was made up of created divine beings made up of the sons of God, angels and other spiritual beings with YAWH as the unique or Most High. If you want to know more I will link you to a book by Heiser.

Now to your question, in a nutshell Heiser’s contention is if we are to understand Psalm 82 as a verse about God chastening mortal rulers or Jew elders why would Jesus use this verse to claim that he is God? If being a mortal ruler or a Jewish elder was sufficient to make the claim that you were divine, much less the Son of God. If this was the understanding of the Jewish crowd then I can’t see were this would have provoked the crowd to want to seize him as anyone who was a ruler or elder could also claim to be a son of god?
It makes less sense to view this as Jesus’ use of these verse if they are believed to be polemic against the Canaanites god El and his divine assembly.

Would be interested in your comments.

Hi Jimmy and Sean thank you for jumping to provide feedback. I am getting familiar with Michael Heiser thought process and his non traditional approach. I have watched some of the bible project about divine council and ‘gods’ and they seem in line. I had hard time accepting the references to ‘gods’ as mankind other than divine creatures.