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The second lord in Ps 110:1 is adoni, not as misstated often adonai. Adoni is the non-Deity title all 195 times in the Hebrew Bible. Why so much (sometimes) inaccurate information in the discussion. In v 5 we have ADONAI which means the Lord God. The position is reversed here and one can have the Lord GOD at one's right hand as champion. But in v. 1 the adoni, my lord, is certainly not Deity

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Closely Related: From Judaism.SE ... Psalms 110:1 - Is Radak's or Rashi's Interpretation Authoritative?


1. Question:

Why so much (sometimes) inaccurate information in the discussion. In v 5 we have ADONAI which means the Lord God.

Setting Aside the Presuppositions about the term, "Adoni" - to just answer:

What factors are complicating a universally accepted interpretation of this verse?


2. Answer:

This controversy has arisen because of contradictory Rabbinical Jewish interpretations of this verse - both of which contradict the Christian "Messianic Interpretation".

To justify these interpretations, it is first necessary to associate "Adonai" with an actual person - a man: (such as Abraham, David, etc).

Attributing this promise to a person, distinct from "The Most High" - is very valid, (and necessitated by the context); because, "Adonai" literally means: " 'sir', 'master', 'lord', (even 'husband') "; And "The Most High" is making a promise to them.

However and But - ... because the"plain-reading" of the text does not suggest a specific name, (peshat rule of exegesis) - notable "Rabbinical Gymnastics" are used to make it work.

However, Christians object to these interpretations - on the grounds that these interpretations are linguistically, and exegetically unsound :


2.1. Radak's Commentary on Psalms 110, (Tehillim, Artscroll, Pslams 110:

Here, Radak suggests that "לְדָוִ֗ד מִ֫זְמֹ֥ור" instead means "A Psalm ABOUT David", in only this one instance, (citing from memory).

Quote from: Daily Tehillim, Psalms 110 - The Radak, however, explains this Psalm as a hymn composed by a poet in honor of David's victories over his enemies.

Note: Will update this when I find a source reference to cite Radak's commentary in English directly.

Christian Objection: If Psalms 110 begins with "לְדָוִ֗ד מִ֫זְמֹ֥ור", and every other instance in Psalms is translated as: "A Psalm BY David" - then there are no grounds to translate this construction differently - (to suit a theological bias).


2.2. Rashi's Commentary:

Rashi on Psalms 110:1, chabad.org link - The word of the Lord to my master: Our Rabbis interpreted it as referring to Abraham our father, and I shall explain it according to their words (Mid. Ps. 110:1): The word of the Lord to Abraham, whom the world called “my master,” as it is written (Gen. 23: 6): “Hearken to us, my master.”

Christian Objection: Taking the name: "Abraham" - from Genesis, (where God was talking to a "master"), and then injecting "Abraham" into a completely different context in Psalms, isn't valid anywhere else in Scripture - and shouldn't be valid here to suit some doctrinal bias. The context of Psalms 110 is sufficient to explanation itself, (as other Psalms do).

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Please provide some sources or further explanation for your point about inaccuracies

In Hebrew we have the following:

  1. אָדוֹן - adon - lit. Lord (God), lord (human), master (human)
  2. אֲדֹנִי - adoni - lit. my lord or my Lord (singular noun + singular suffix) - could be translated as either human or God depending on context
  3. אֲדֹנָי - adonai - lit. my Lords (plural noun + singular suffix) - translated as God or Lord, this is the typical construct for Lord.

What we have in 3 is the emphatic form of the noun. It is used in a similar manner to Elohim which is a plural noun that refers to the one God [source]. But that does not exclude option 2 from referring to God (because it is in the gloss for the root word). Whilst nearly all instances of adoni are rendered as human lords that does not automatically exclude Psalm 110:1 from referring to the deity twice. The KJV and a few other translations actually render a few other instances of adoni as my Lord (see Judges 6:13 and Daniel 12:8). However nearly all of the modern English translations render every instance of adoni as my lord except in the case of Psalm 110:1.

Context is key when translating. The ESV have renders it as "The LORD says to my Lord (deity)". Whilst the NIV have rendered it as "The Lord says to my lord (human)" with a footnote explaining it could also be Lord. The NASB has Lord whilst the NRSV has lord without footnotes. This can be attributed to the difficulty of understanding the poetic nature of the Psalms. Thus rendering the exact meaning unclear rather than any deliberate inconsistency.

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  • In Hebrew, a noun is usually a participle, gerund or verbal-noun. Presuming passive inflection, Elohim (אלהים) can mean many who are elevated, or multiple-events of elevation being experienced. The plural-sense makes it a verbal-noun. Therefore, all those conspiracy theories of elohim being multiple gods, miss this grammatical characteristic of Hebrew. e.g. (אכלים) could mean many people eating, or "food" (being eating by many). – Cynthia Avishegnath Sep 16 '16 at 8:47
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  • נאם יי
    • declares Hashem
  • לאדני
    • to my master (to you sir/honoured-one)
  • שב לימיני
    • sit at my right
  • עד
    • until
  • אשית אֹיביך
    • I establish your enemies
  • הדם לרַגליך
    • being-stool to your feet.

There are caes where [אדני] (masoret inflects as adonai) addresses Almighty. For example, Genesis 18:30,32 - Abraham addresses Hashem.

As stated by questioner, [אדני] has been used honorifically mostly towards humans far too many times. Fpr example, Genesis 24 - אדני is used by Abraham's servant to refer to humans.

Among many other cases where [לאדני] is used towards 2nd person honorifically:

  • Gen 32 [לאדני] is used honorifically as "to you sir", when Jacob was very specific telling his mlakhim/"angels"/errand-runners to address Esav honorifically as "my-lord/sire". Regardless that Esav was by now socially much lower position than Jacob.
  • Gen 44 Joseph being addressed in the 2nd person

So the verse simply means

Hashem says to you my-honoured-sire, sit to my right until I establish your enemies as your footstool.

There are no shortage of verses for example in Proverbs where the reader is addressed in the 2nd person.

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