Recently saw this video from The Bible Project with title "The Divine Council". This comes from the Psalms 82:1, ESV, which states

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

What is the meaning of the term "divine council"? Is Psalms 82:1 acknowledging the existance of other gods? How do we reconcile this with passage such as Isaiah 44:6?

  • Is the sixth verse not clear enough ?
    – Lucian
    Commented Mar 7, 2020 at 10:19
  • @Lucian there's an article also from a Christian pastor defending it to be a myth. Commented Mar 7, 2020 at 11:35
  • I just read the article you linked to and I was disappointed that the author didn’t provide proof for his claims. He is appealing to authority (his) and not to Scripture. Where does it say that they will not be given a proper burial if they don’t judge well? It doesn’t, it says they will die like men (who are generally buried next to their ancestors) as opposed to they will not be buried alongside their ancestors. He says this idea in the Bible is dangerous because non Christians and cults also believe something similar, that’s NOT a measure for truth, “believe the opposite of heretics“. Commented Mar 7, 2020 at 13:01

4 Answers 4


I think the Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary gives a good explanation of what's going on. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/kad/psalms/82.htm

What's important to note is what did Jesus say that caused the Jews to say that He was claiming to be God? John 10:30, literally says, "I and the Father, we are one." One what?

According to the previous verses John 10:25-39, Jesus is saying that the sheep are equally safe in His hand and in His Father's hand. The power of the Son is equal to that of the Father. In other words, there is no argument that even before this confrontation the Son and the Father are one in purpose.

From John 10:30 Jesus asserted the essential unity of the Father and the Son in the word "one" (hen). It is a neuter number to indicate equality of essence, attributes, design, will and work. Jesus distinguishes the "I" from ththe "Father" and uses the plural verb "are" denoting "we are." Thus these words separate the persons withing the Godhead, but "one" asserts their unity of essence or nature as identical.

In verse 24 the Jews asked Jesus to tell them plainly who He was. This verse is plain. He does not say "I am Christ," but "I and my Father are one"--God! The Jews reacted (vs31) "The Jews took up stones AGAIN to stone Him." Vs32, "Jesus answered them, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?"

Vs33, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man make Yourself out God." Jesus then quotes Psalm 82:6, why? Jesus is certainly "NOT" claiming He is less than God or the Jews somehow misunderstood Him. The Jews could not have misunderstood Him because Jesus Himself is His own commentator because He brings up the subject of "gods" when He quoted Psalm 82:6.

What Jesus is simply doing is taking the Jew's statement about Him blaspheming to its logical conclusion to show that they are being inconsistent. In effect, Jesus is saying, "If you say that I am blaspheming, you must also hold that God is blaspheming because He said to those by whom the word of God came, "ye are gods."

Nowhere does Jesus take back His statement and say that He is not one with the Father. He in fact draws a clear distinction between Himself and those by whom the word of God came when He says that He was sanctified and sent into the world by God.

It should also be noted that the Jews had it in for Jesus (and His claims/what He said) at John 5:17-18. At John 8:56-59. John 19:7 and at the complete trial record at Matthew 26:57-66.


Sometimes in the Old Testament, people were called gods because they carried out the prerogatives of God - to judge, etc. For example:

Exodus 7:1 And the Lord said to Moses: Behold I have appointed thee the God of Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.

Exodus 21:5-6 And if the servant shall say: I love my master and my wife and children, I will not go out free: 6 His master shall bring him to the gods, and he shall be set to the door and the posts, and he shall bore his ear through with an awl: and he shall be his servant for ever.

The Psalm itself defines these as children of God:

I said ye are gods, sons of the most, all of you.

Jesus makes reference to this verse, and it is telling.

Notice that Jesus said, "I am the Son of God," and it is this, not "I am God," that they interpreted to mean He was claiming to be God himself, that is, equal with God (as the author John himself notes is what Jesus did in fact: John 5:18). So immediately we know that Jesus was, as is quite obvious from the testimony of this and all of the Gospels, using "Son of God" in a higher sense than merely an angel or adopted son of God - claiming to have "come forth from God" in a unique sense (i.e. "the Father" and "the Son" mutually imply a begotten relationship, and not an adoption relationship).

So Jesus argues that if those to whom the Word of God came (i.e. the Jews) could be called "sons of God" - and even here, the more explicit "Gods" - then how much more can the Word of God Himself be called God, who, according to the very first words in this Gospel, "[is] God?" (John 1:1) (i.e. whereas these are only called it by way of bringing attention to their divine authority, and not to their nature).

There is no reason that "elohim" (Gods) had any more semantic range than it does in English, only its range of use (such as calling judges "gods" whom we wouldn't normally call in English gods, but whom Hebrew rhetoric evidentally does).

The fact that Jesus makes an 'if these can be called, then how much more I' argument proves that it was not just a known word for some 'divine council in heaven' (which would be known and expected to be used of them) but in fact the opposite - its use was as striking as it was to us today - as is implied by the "I said you are gods" followed by an emphatic repetition-via-synonym common to Hebrew rhetoric, "sons of the Most High, all of you" - whereas, no matter who they were imagined to be, would not be gods by nature, or really divine, because "Before me there were no gods formed, neither shall there be after me" (Isaiah 43:10).

  • Elohim cannot be equivalent one for one to the English word god. And secondly elohim and sons of God are also not equivalent. Moses and the seventy elders after they received God’s Spirit over them were called elohim but the sons of God never refers to humans in all Scripture. Psa82:7 automatically destroys that possibility of them being human because if they were human they would have died anyway unless they were heavenly beings with eternal existence then dying like (mortal) men makes sense in the text. Plus psalm 89 says these meetings were in the sky and so on. Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 15:10
  • I disagree with your assessment, and think, like Exodus 21:6 (and 22:8-9), that the Jewish people under Mosaic Law called judges "gods." The context supports this, "God stations himself in the assembly of gods; he judges among gods. How long shall you judge iniquitous judgement, and lift up the countenance of the wicked? Render judgement to the poor man, and the orphan; grant justice to the humble, and the poor." Saying they will die like men although they were called gods is because, as I reasoned above, they were only ever called gods by office, and not by nature. Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 22:06
  • 1
    Neither of us can 'prove' either way, because we only have the text which is without its own explanation. We have to go by uses of "gods" elsewhere; and when I see judges being judged by God for being unjust and showing partiality, I conclude that it's referring to the judges mentioned in Exodus 21 and 22 which are obviously judges and not mysterious never-identified or described divine beings. My interpretation assumes the least about the text, whereas you assume more creatures, together with a dubious link to the 89th Psalm whose relationship to this Psalm I can't see for the life of me. Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 23:01
  • 1
    "For who in the heavens is comparable to the Lord? who among the sons of [false] gods is like him?" You are reading lots into the text which isn't there. That's where I think you've went wrong. Commented Mar 7, 2020 at 20:46
  • 1
    beni elim means "sons of gods" not "sons of God" Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 13:39

You have three questions.

  1. The meaning of devine council is actually this, a divine council, the assembly of gods, some gods which come together to pass a resulution.

  2. So the answer of your second question is yes. Ps 82 is agree with the opinion, that other divine beings exist.

  3. Jes 44,6 is disagree with the opion that other gods exist. It is not special that two texts in the OT have diffrent conceptions. If nobody belife that other gods exist, why should been written Jes 44, 6?

The divie council is a motif in the OT, which can read some times (Dtn 32,8f.43 (just in Qumran and Septuaginta); 1 Kings 22,17-24; Ps 29; 82; 89; Hi 1f.). Other texts refers to the sons of God (Gen 6,1-4; Hi 38,7). All this text a agree with the opinon that one god is the chief god and the other 'gods' or 'divine beings' are subordinated. In Ps 82 the chief god convicts the other gods to the death, he is more migthy than the other gods.

So in my opinon ist the important aspect the question: What is god? Whith Thomas von Aquin or Aristoteles is god the most high being, there is nothing over him. So god, JHWH, is the chief god, the other divine beings are subordinated. The OT call them 'sons of god' (בני אלהים), gods (אלהים), holy (קדשים), messenger (מלאך) or same thing other. The texts of the OT are 2500 years old. Our wish to get a clear defintion is incompatible with the OT. The sons of god are not like JHWH, they are subordinated but divine beings, today we call them angels.

Hope, I could help with this short answer.


Divine council and the Bible

The NRSV, NABRE and HCSB give the same rendering as the ESV

ESV 82:1

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

Psalm 82:6 (ESV)

6 I said, “You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you;

82:1, 6​ You are "gods and "sons of the Most High. Both verses refer to human judges in Israel. This is appropriate, since they were to serve as God’s spokesmen and representatives.

The Jews were falsely claiming that Jesus made himself God. Had Jesus claimed that He was God, the Jews would have been right in stoning him for blasphemy. But Jesus argues that he claimed to be less than God. and to prove this he quoted from Psalm 82:1-2, 6-7 Read John 10:33-36 (ESV)

Elo·himʹ is used in the Scriptures with reference to God himself, to angels, to idol gods (singular and plural), and to men. At Psalm 8:5, the angels are also referred to as ʼelo·himʹ, as is confirmed by Paul’s quotation of the passage at Hebrews 2:6-8. The word ʼelo·himʹ is also used when referring to idol gods. Sometimes this plural form means simply “gods.” (Exodus 12:12; 20:23) and at Psalm 82:1, 6, ʼelo·himʹ is used of men, human judges in Israel. Jesus quoted from this Psalm at John 10:34, 35 – Ozzie Nicolas 1 min ago

  • 1
    Actually there is no evidence this is speaking of humans. You are not starting from a Biblical standpoint but an extraBiblical presupposition introduced somewhere in the 3rd-4th century. V7 says they will die like men. If according to you they were men then that’s an empty threat because they were men and were going to die anyway. That’s just one argument against your interpretation. There are many others including the fact that psalm 89 says this meeting was in the sky. Men might meet on high mountains but men don’t meet in the sky only the gods and God has meetings in the sky. Commented Mar 6, 2020 at 15:01
  • 1
    @ Nihi Sine Deo , please note, At John 10:33-34 Gods: Or “godlike ones.” Jesus here quotes from Psalm 82:6, where the Hebrew word ʼelo·himʹ (gods) is used of men, human judges in Israel. They were “gods” in their capacity as representatives of and spokesmen for God. Similarly, Moses was told that he was to “serve as God” to Aaron and to Pharaoh.​—Ex 4:16, Exodus 7:1. The same applies to Psalm 82:1 Commented Mar 16, 2020 at 20:39
  • Elohim is principally used of the heavenly hosts and only twice in relation to humans. Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 0:35
  • Elo·himʹ is used in the Scriptures with reference to God himself, to angels, to idol gods (singular and plural), and to men. At Psalm 8:5, the angels are also referred to as ʼelo·himʹ, as is confirmed by Paul’s quotation of the passage at Hebrews 2:6-8. The word ʼelo·himʹ is also used when referring to idol gods. Sometimes this plural form means simply “gods.” (Exodus 12:12; 20:23) and at Psalm 82:1, 6, ʼelo·himʹ is used of men, human judges in Israel. Jesus quoted from this Psalm at John 10:34, 35 Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 9:33
  • That’s not the only interpretation of John 10 and not the most logical either Commented Mar 17, 2020 at 12:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.