I believe Asaf is speaking in Psalm 82:1 (ESV):

A Psalm of Asaph.

God has taken his place in the divine council;
    in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:

Then God is speaking in Psalm 82:2-4:

How long will you judge unjustly
    and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless;
    maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy;
    deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

I believe Asaf or God could be speaking in Psalm 82:5:

They have neither knowledge nor understanding,
    they walk about in darkness;
    all the foundations of the earth are shaken.

It's hard to say. But, who is speaking in Ps. 82:6 (I said, "You are gods.")?

I said, You are gods,
    sons of the Most High, all of you;
nevertheless, like men you shall die,
    and fall like any prince.

(Quotation punctuation, which was added by the translator and did not exist in Biblical Hebrew, has been removed.)

Is there some way to determine who is calling people "gods"?

Clearly it's Asaf speaking in the final verse:

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
    for you shall inherit all the nations!
  • I just made a pretty radical edit to fill in the context and expand on what the hermeneutic issue was being asked about. If I messed anything up, feel free to either edit further or (if I really botched things) rollback. Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 17:44
  • All seems fine to me! Thank you for giving me your thoughts.
    – user862
    Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 23:23
  • Jon's question on the same passage: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/2297/…
    – Cynthia
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 14:01
  • I just realized this question exists. Don't have time to answer at the moment, though. Read the NET Bible footnotes on this psalm for some great info. There are good odds this was a Ugaritic psalm that was co-opted by the Hebrews.
    – Dan
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 19:54

1 Answer 1


Okay. Not getting much of a response, so I examined the scriptures closer.

In v. 1, Asaf writes that God is standing in the congregation of God and judging among the "gods"/ judges. The usage of the 3rd person indicates Asaf's own thought.

However, in v. 2, the person speaking asks a question, "How long will you judge...and accept…?" The Hebrew words translated as "judge" and "accept" — תִּשְׁפְּטוּ and תִּשְׂאוּ — are conjugated in the 2nd person, plural number. Thus, the individual speaking is speaking to a group of people. The change in person and number, from 3rd person singular ("God is standing") to 2nd person plural ("you (pl.) judge….you (pl.) accept"), indicates a change in the speaker. Asaf, the author of the entire 82nd psalm, is now writing the words of God who is speaking and judging among the "gods"/ judges. The reader may thus understand it as though God Himself is speaking. This same perspective occurs in vv. 3-4.

In v. 5, the verbs change from 2nd person plural (in vv. 2-4) to 3rd person plural (יָדְעוּ, יָבִינוּ,יִתְהַלָּכוּ ). This indicates that Asaf himself is speaking again and recording his own thoughts/ words about the "gods"/ judges.

In v. 6, the verb changes to 1st person singular, אֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי ("I said"). Accordingly, the speaker must be God who was speaking in vv. 2-4. The 2nd person plural pronoun אַתֶּם ("you (pl.) are") and the word כֻּלְּכֶם ("all of you (pl.)") indicate that God is still speaking to the "gods"/ judges, to whom he was speaking in vv. 2-4.

What are your thoughts?

  • 1
    That's how I read the Psalm and it's how the translators of the ESV seem to punctuate it. Looks good to me. (It does take some time for a question to be seen. I just missed it before leaving work last night. But self-answered questions are just fine on this site.) Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 17:48

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