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Mizmor 082 – The Ultimate Judge
(א) מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף אֱלֹקִים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת אֵל בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁפֹּט:
(1) A mizmor by Asaph. G-d is present in every judicial assembly. He judges in the midst of the judges.
NOTE: For a PDF of this mizmor, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev. 0]
 Key Concepts of Mizmor 082 (The Ultimate Judge)
The prophet Asaph composed this mizmor as a condemnation of corruption in the courts wherever and whenever it may be found. Such a condition had occurred during the reign of Yehoshafat , a righteous king of Yehudah who appointed new judges throughout his kingdom. Yehoshafat placed special emphasis on the integrity of the judicial process. He told the judges that they were not just acting on behalf of man, but on behalf of Hashem. (See II Divrei Hayamim 19:7.)
In the mizmor Asaph points out that Hashem is the ultimate Judge, who monitors the activities of every court. Because of Hashem’s presence in the court, any failure of the judges in rendering fair and honest judgment is a direct insult to Hashem.
Asaph was especially concerned about the role of the justice system in protecting the interest of the needy and disadvantaged. As a result of their lack of influence among the decision makers in a community, poor people are vulnerable to being treated unfairly.
This mizmor is also noteworthy because it was designated as the Song of the Day (Shir Shel Yom) for the third day of the week. The connection between the subject of the mizmor and this particular day is based on the fact that the third day of Creation was the day on which the waters that covered the earth were withdrawn and dry land appeared. Thus, the world became habitable. The continued existence of our world depends on the maintenance of justice, which is the subject of the mizmor.
Exploring the Mizmor
The mizmor has four parts. After a brief introduction (Part 1), Asaph speaks for Hashem, accusing the corrupt judges of their crimes and telling them to reform their ways. Then in Part 3 Hashem pronounces a guilty verdict against the corrupt judges, telling them that His high hope for their special role in society has been disappointed. Hashem expected the judges to be acting directly for Him, since He has always considered Himself responsible for the administration of justice. Thus, when judges are worthy, they are like angelic beings, acting for Hashem in rendering judgment. If they are unworthy, they are no better, and much worse, than ordinary, mortal men.
In Part 4, Asaph concludes with a plea to Hasham to intervene in those cases where judges have acted corruptly and to rectify the situation so that true justice is restored.
(א) מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף אֱלֹקִים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת אֵל בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁפֹּט:
(1) A mizmor by Asaph. G-d is present in every judicial assembly. He judges in the midst of the judges.
PART 2. THE INDICTMENTHashem presents His case against the corrupt judges of the world:
(ב) עַד מָתַי תִּשְׁפְּטוּ עָוֶל וּפְנֵי רְשָׁעִים תִּשְׂאוּ סֶלָה: (ג) שִׁפְטוּ דַל וְיָתוֹם עָנִי וָרָשׁ הַצְדִּיקוּ: (ד) פַּלְּטוּ דַל וְאֶבְיוֹן מִיַּד רְשָׁעִים הַצִּילוּ:
(2) How long will you judge lawlessly, and show favor to the wicked, Selah? (3) Provide justice for the impoverished and the orphan. Vindicate the poor and the indigent. (4) Save the impoverished and destitute and rescue them from the hand of the wicked.
PART 3. THE VERDICTHashem reflects upon the guilt of the judges. Because of their failure to adhere to the principles of justice, they are no longer to be treated as angelic beings and will be suibject to mortality of ordinary men.
(5) They do not know nor do they understand. They walk in darkness, while all the foundations of the earth totter. (6) I had said “You are angelic. You are all sons of the Most High. (7) But you will die like like [ordinary mortal] man and you will fall like one of the princes.”
(ה) לֹא יָדְעוּ וְלֹא יָבִינוּ בַּחֲשֵׁכָה יִתְהַלָּכוּ יִמּוֹטוּ כָּל מוֹסְדֵי אָרֶץ: (ו) אֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי אֱלֹהִים אַתֶּם וּבְנֵי עֶלְיוֹן כֻּלְּכֶם: (ז) אָכֵן כְּאָדָם תְּמוּתוּן וּכְאַחַד הַשָּׂרִים תִּפֹּלוּ:
PART 4. AN APPEAL FOR DIVINE INTERVENTIONAsaph appeals to Hashem to take action against the corrupt judges.
(ח) קוּמָה אֱלֹהִים שָׁפְטָה הָאָרֶץ כִּי אַתָּה תִנְחַל בְּכָל הַגּוֹיִם:
(8) Arise, O G-d, judge the earth, for it is Your heritage [to care] for the oppressed among all the nations
Learning the Mizmor
(א) מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף 
אֱלֹקִים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת קֵל 
בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁפֹּט
A mizmor by Asaph  מִזְמוֹר לְאָסָף G-d is present in every judicial assembly — אֱלֹקִים נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת אֵל . He stands and judges in the midst of the judges  בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁפֹּט to ascertain whether they are judging fairly.
(ב) עַד מָתַי תִּשְׁפְּטוּ עָוֶל 
וּפְנֵי רְשָׁעִים תִּשְׂאוּ סֶלָה:
G-d says to the judges: How long will you judge lawlessly  עַד מָתַי תִּשְׁפְּטוּ עָוֶל and show favor to the wealthy wicked, Selah  וּפְנֵי רְשָׁעִים תִּשְׂאוּ סֶלָה to rule in their favor against the poor?
(ג) שִׁפְטוּ דַל וְיָתוֹם 
עָנִי וָרָשׁ הַצְדִּיקוּ:
Render justice for the impoverished and the orphan  שִׁפְטוּ דַל וְיָתוֹם to help them get fair treatment in the courts. Vindicate the poor and the indigent — עָנִי וָרָשׁ הַצְדִּיקוּ even when they are up against the rich and powerful.
(ד) פַּלְּטוּ דַל וְאֶבְיוֹן 
מִיַּד רְשָׁעִים הַצִּילוּ:
Go beyond the law to save the impoverished and destitute  פַּלְּטוּ דַל וְאֶבְיוֹן from their oppressors. Rescue them from the hand of the aggressive wicked  מִיַּד רְשָׁעִים הַצִּילוּ , who use force of arms when they cannot succeed in court.
(ה) לֹא יָדְעוּ וְלֹא יָבִינוּ 
בַּחֲשֵׁכָה יִתְהַלָּכוּ 
יִמּוֹטוּ כָּל מוֹסְדֵי אָרֶץ:
Hashem reflects upon the guilt of the judges: They do not know that there is a Judge above them nor do they understand the seriousness of their perversion of justice — לֹא יָדְעוּ וְלֹא יָבִינוּ . They walk in darkness for their eyes have been blinded by graft — בַּחֲשֵׁכָה יִתְהַלָּכוּ , while all the foundations of the earth totter  יִמּוֹטוּ כָּל מוֹסְדֵי אָרֶץ Their perversion of justice undermines the very foundations of the earth.
(ו) אֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי אֱלֹקִים אַתֶּם 
וּבְנֵי עֶלְיוֹן כֻּלְּכֶם:
I had said to them  אֲנִי אָמַרְתִּי “You were meant to be angelic in your moral rectitude  אֱלֹקִים אַתֶּם . You are all sons of the Most High  וּבְנֵי עֶלְיוֹן כֻּלְּכֶם for the office of judge is the calling closest to G-d. It is G-d’s work that you do (Devarim 1:17), and so you could have been eligible for immortality.”
(ז) אָכֵן כְּאָדָם תְּמוּתוּן 
וּכְאַחַד הַשָּׂרִים תִּפֹּלוּ:
But you will die like like ordinary mortal man  אָכֵן כְּאָדָם תְּמוּתוּן for you view your office as a symbol of power. And so you will fall from your high position like one of the world’s princes  וּכְאַחַד הַשָּׂרִים תִּפֹּלוּ who rule harshly, crushing and exploiting their subjects.
(ח) קוּמָה אֱלֹקִים שָׁפְטָה הָאָרֶץ 
כִּי אַתָּה תִנְחַל בְּכָל הַגּוֹיִם:
Asaph appeals to Hashem to take action against the corrupt judges: Arise, O G-d, judge the earth  קוּמָה אֱלֹקִים שָׁפְטָה הָאָרֶץ , for it is Your heritage to care for for the oppressed among all the nations  כִּי אַתָּה תִנְחַל בְּכָל הַגּוֹיִם .
The primary sources used in the interpretation of the verses in this mizmor are listed below.
א – רש”י, מצודות
ב – רד”ק
ג – רש”י, אבן עזרא
ד- רד”ק, מצודות, ספורנו, אבן יחייא
ה – רש”י, אבן עזרא, ספורנו
ו – מצודות, ספורנו, רשר”ה
ז – רד”ק, המאירי, נר לרגלי
ח – רש”י, רד”ק, אבן יחייא