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This Psalm has been dug into frequently for it's peculiar use of Elohim and conflating this name for God with children of God. It is quoted in John 10:34 as part of Jesus's discourse with the Jewish authorities.

I'm trying to understand verse 8, especially the first four words.

קוּמָ֣ה אֱ֭לֹהִים שָׁפְטָ֣ה הָאָ֑רֶץ

Here, the first word quma is a FEMININE singular imperative. This is a command to a female. But the target of the command seems to be elohim... The third word is another command to a female to "shapetah," which is a well attested verb "to judge". This seems to also be referring to elohim and the target of the judgment seems to be "the earth."

How are we to interpret the feminine gendered imperatives to elohim?

The rest of the verse seems to say "for you (masculine) will inherit all nations." Now the "you" which seems to be the feminine target of the previous imperatives is now a masculine second person pronoun (אתה). And this language of inheriting all nations seems to be language of the community of Israel which is sometimes referred to in feminine imagery.

The LXX isn't much help other than to confirm that this interpreter placed θεος in the nominative case (the subject of the imperative). The greek verbs do not have specific gender conjugation, only person and number.

How is the gender of the hebrew verbs and the gender of the nouns interplaying in this verse? This is very peculiar.

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  • For reference : Psalm 82:8 (Young's Literal) Rise, O God, judge the earth, For Thou hast inheritance among all the nations!.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 25 at 14:49
  • Thanks @NigelJ. It's fascinating how a so-called "literal" translation can't be literal with Hebrew. The atemporal nature of the verbs and the gendered conjugations are completely absent in English. It's all flattened into Young's interpretation. You can't hear what "she" is commanded to do in these verses.
    – Gus L.
    Jan 25 at 15:44
  • But the fact is that we need an English translation. And the fact is that some men (spiritual men) can be best trusted to express the concepts in our own language. Such as Robert Young, a devout, spiritual, trustworthy man. And his words can be checked against such other worthy translations as KJV and Green and JND and others. Only within that context (peer reviewed and authoritative expertise) do, I, personally attempt any further refinement.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 25 at 17:08
  • qumah : Verb-Qal-imperative-masculine singular/third person feminine singular Biblehub Ps 82:8.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 25 at 17:24
  • I expanded my answer below.
    – Perry Webb
    Jan 26 at 9:53

1 Answer 1

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Those two qal imperatives aren't feminine. They are 2nd person, masculine, singular. See quote from Gesenius below, that explains the ה ending.

  1. In the imperative with afformatives (קוּ֫מִי, קוּ֫מוּ) the tone is on the stem syllable (cf., however, עוּרִ֫י Ju 5:12 intentionally varied from עוּ֫רִי; also עוּרִ֫י Zc 13:7 and Is 51:9 beside עוּ֫רִי כִּ֣ימֵי; גִּילִ֫י Zc 9:9; צוּרִ֫י Is 21:2, שׁוּבִ֫י Ps 116:7, likewise for rhythmical reasons). So also the lengthened form, as שׁוּ֫בָה Jer 3:12, Ps 7:8, and עוּ֫רָה verse 7. But if an א follows in close connexion, the lengthened imperative usually has the form קוּמָ֫ה, &c., in order to avoid a hiatus, e.g. Ju 4:18, Ps 82:8; hence also before יְהֹוָה, Qerê perpetuum אֲדֹנָי (§ 17 c), e.g. Ps 3:8, 7:7 קוּמָ֫ה (cf., however, in the same verse עוּ֫רָה and in Jer 40:5, שֻׁ֫בָה before א), and so even before ר Ps 43:1, 74:22, &c. (רִיבָ֫ה). -- Gesenius, F. W. (1910). Gesenius’ Hebrew grammar (E. Kautzsch & S. A. E. Cowley, Eds.; 2d English ed., p. 199). Clarendon Press.

The best I can tell the qal imperative 3rd masculine singular קוּמָ֫ה always occurs with אֱ֭לֹהִים or יְהֹוָה in the MT. Thus, these may also be cohortative imperatives. Expressing the desire for God to arise rather than directly commanding him. Logos Bible Software conjugates קוּמָ֫ה and שָׁפְטָ֣ה in Psalm 82:5 as qal imperative 2nd masculine singular cohortative.

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