"You have made him a little lower than Elohim."
"You have made him a little lower than the angels."
The Hebrew text of Psalm 8:5 reads "lower than Elohim." The Hebrews writer quotes this passage as, "lower than the angels." The obvious implication is that angels are elohim. However, Trinitarians have an aversion to identifying angels as "elohim." Because of this, some Trinitarian apologists actually have the audacity to claim the Hebrews writer was mistaken to quote this Psalm as a reference to angels.
The Problem with the Claim
1. What the Hebrews Writer is Quoting
The usual Hebrew word for angel is mal'ak. The Hebrews writer is quoting Psalm 2:7 where the word in question in the original Hebrew text is not mal'ak. The Hebrew word here is Elohim which is the Hebrew word commonly translated as "God" or "gods." However, Hebrews 2:7 quotes the verse as referring to angels with respect to the Hebrew word Elohim.
What is man that you are mindful of him? Or the son of man that you care for him? You have made him a little lower than Elohim (Psalm 8:5).
What is man that you are mindful of him? Or the son of man that you care for him? You have made him a little lower than Angels (Hebrews 2:7).
2. The Septuagint (LXX)
The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament translated by Jews themselves a couple of centuries before Jesus was born. We know from the passages which the Hebrews writer quotes, that he is quoting the Septuagint. At Psalm 8:5, the Septuagint reads, "You have made him a littler lower than the angels." In other words, the ancient Jews translated the Hebrew word Elohim in this passage as "angels" and the inspired writer of Hebrews is accepting this translation to be correct since he uses it and accepts that it is indeed a reference to angels.
Analysis of the Facts
1. The Jewish Understanding
About two centuries before the birth of Jesus, Jewish scribes translated the word elohim into Greek as "angels" when they translated Psalm 8:5 into the Greek lanugage. Obviously, they were interpreting the word elohim, to refer to angels or they would not have translated the verse as they did.
2. The Inspired Hebrews Writer's Understanding
The Hebrews writer also understood that the word elohim was a reference to "angels." In other words, he is endorsing the Jewish translation of the Hebrew word elohim as "angels." Unless we wish to entertain the inspired writer made a mistake, and that we really cannot trust the words of the inspired writers of Scripture, we must take his word for it.
Additionally, the writer is writing to Jews, the Hebrew people whose native language is Hebrew. They would have known what Psalm 8:5 says in the Hebrew text (elohim). However, it is possible that this letter was written to the Alexandrian Jews who may have only read from the LXX and that is why the Hebrews writer is quoting from this version of the Hebrew scriptures.
But whether Hebrews was written to Alexandrian Jews who didn't speak Hebrew, or not, the Hebrews writer is still endorsing this translation. The only recourse is to suppose he was either ignorant of the original Hebrew text. Given the flavor and content of the book of Hebrews, this is extremely unlikely. The entire book is written to Jews and is written within an expected understanding of the framework of Jewish thought and culture. Even if one was to entertain the notion that the writer did not know the original Hebrew text of Psalm 8:5, one is still left with the problem that the Holy Spirit did not guide the writer to the truth but allowed him to perpetuate an error.
3. Paul to the Galatians
Paul also appears to indicate that the Jews referred to angels as "gods" in his letter to the Galatians although they are not truly gods by nature. Compare Galatians 3:19 and 4:3, 8-10 (cf. Acts 7:53, Col 2:15,18).
Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator....the Law was our tutor to lead us to Christ... Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave... he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. However at that time, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods. (Galatians 3:19-4:8).
4. Significant Old Testament Passages
There are also several Old Testament texts which the reader might want to consider:
Yahweh your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords. (Deuteronomy 10:17).
There is no one like You among the gods, O Lord, Nor are there any works like Yours. Psalm 86:8
For Yahweh is a great God and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:3
For great is Yahweh and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but Yahweh made the heavens. Psalm 96:4-5.
Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods. Zion heard this and was glad, and the daughters of Judah have rejoiced Because of Your judgments, O Lord. For You are the Lord Most High over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods. (Psalm 97:7-9).
For I know that the Lord is great and that our Lord is above all gods. (Psalm 135:5).
Give thanks to the God of gods, for His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 136:2).
I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing praises to You before the gods. (Psalm 138:1).
The king answered Daniel and said, "Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery. (Daniel 2:47).
Then the king will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done. (Daniel 11:36).
One must remember also that graven images were not understood to be gods themselves but representations of divine beings that were understood by the nations to be gods. The reader must also consider the implications of the expression, "GOD of GODS." If this term means God of non-existent gods, are we also to suppose "King of Kings" means God is a King over non-existent Kings? That would be a pretty empty title. The same is true with the expression "Lord of Lords."
5. Psalm 82
The gods (elohim) stand in the congregation of God (El)
In the midst of the gods (elohim) He judges.
This verse is controversial. Many scholars believe it is referring to the judges of Israel especially in view of verse 6:
"You are gods (elohim)
and all of you are sons of the Most High but you shall die like men."
The judges of Israel are being identified as elohim with a Hebraic parallelism, "sons of the Most High." So if human beings are identified as elohim, it certainly stands to reason that angels could also be identified as elohim especially when we regard the theophanies in the Old Testament where angels are addressed as if God Himself is being addressed. We also know from the book of Job that angels are sons of God, sons of the Most High. So how can anyone argue that men can be called elohim but deny that angels can be called elohim? That doesn't make any sense. Even further, if angels are sons of God, would it also not make sense to refer to El and the sons of El as "Elohim" just as the Bible refers to Anak and the sons of Anak as "Anakim"?
It is certainly a testimony to the peculiarity of the Trinitarian mind which can accept that human beings are called Elohim but can't accept that angels are called Elohim.
6. A Little Lower
At Hebrews 2:6-8, the writer is quoting Psalm 8:4-6. Some translators have practiced translation sleight of hand concerning Hebrews 2:7 by translating the Greek text as "You have made him for a little while lower than the angels" or something similar. This makes it sound like God made a pre-existent Son to be temporarily lower than the angels. However, all we need to do is check a few facts to discover this is obviously a dishonest translation. Psalm 8:4-6 is referring to humans in general. This is clearly admitted by the 2015 NIV translation of Hebrews 2:6-8. Also, when we compare the "little while" translations of Psalm 2:7 with Psalm 8:5, they are not translating them the same way. Observe the inconsistency in the translations below.
|Translation||Hebrews 2:7||Psalm 8:5|
|ηλαττωσας αυτον βραχυ τι παρ αγγελους ||ηλαττωσας αυτον βραχυ τι παρ αγγελους|
||You made him for a little while lower than the angels||Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings|
||You have made him for a little while lower than the angels||Yet You have made him a little lower than God|
||You made him lower than the angels for a little while||and make them a little less than the heavenly beings?|
||You have made them for a little while lower than the angels||Yet you have made them a little lower than God|
||Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels||Yet thou hast made him little less than God|
Notice how they are translating the same words in two different ways. When it refers to all mankind they translate it one way but when the passage is applied to Jesus at Hebrews 2:7, they translate it another way. It is rather obvious that these Trinitarian translators are dishonestly mistranslating Hebrews 2:7 for the sake of Trinity doctrine. This is just one more case of the translation trickery implemented by Trinitarian translators. There is no excuse for it.
It is obviously not true that humans in general were pre-existent beings whom God made to be lower than the angels for a "little while." Psalm 8:4-8 is referring to God making human beings positionally lower than the angels (Hebrew: elohim). The verse is describing how God made humans to be positionally lower than angels when He created all things. Since Hebrews 2:6-8 is quoting this Psalm, and we also know what Psalm 8:5 means, we also know it is referring to how God created Jesus to be positionally lower than the angels. Let the reader then see why Trinitarian translators would want to corrupt the meaning of the text. But this particular lie is too easily exposed. Lies need to be covered up with more lies. And that would be the reason the NIV translators found need to mask their problem by doing this:
"What is mankind that you are mindful of them,
a son of man that you care for him?
You made them a little lower than the angels;
you crowned them with glory and honor
and put everything under their feet.”
In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.
Now it refers to God making humans lower than the angels, not Jesus. How convenient.
We are compelled by the evidence to accept the fact that the Hebrews writer accepts and endorses the ancient Jewish translation which translates the Hebrew word elohim as "angels." It is absurd to suppose everything in the Book of Hebrews is inspired except Hebrews 2:7. Unless the Scriptures are wrong, we are therefore compelled to conclude that angels are indeed "elohim."
Created: March 11, 2015
Last Revision/Update: March 22, 2016