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Psalm 110 – Two Lords

Please explain what this verse means: “The Lord said unto my Lord, "Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1). Doesn’t this verse imply there is another Lord besides God?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Thank you for raising your important issue. According to the Talmud (Sanhedrin 108b), the second lord refers to Abraham. King David is praising God for helping his lord Abraham in his battle against the four kings (Genesis 14). (See vv. 4-5 which refer to Melchizedek and to battling kings.) Abraham and his servants were so severely outnumbered that there was no way he could have overcome his opponents through his own efforts. It was rather as if God had told Abraham to sit down as a spectator, and to simply watch God’s salvation.

Others explain that this psalm was written by an unnamed different author in King David’s honor (as the psalm begins “To David” – implying the psalm was dedicated to him rather than being written by him). Thus, “my lord” is a reference to David, and the psalmist is praising God for all the salvations He wrought on behalf of the king (Ibn Ezra, Radak, see Malbim).

I should note that the second “lord” in Hebrew is not “ado-nai” – the term the Torah reserves for God, but “adoni”. The latter is a simple Hebrew word which means “my lord” but is not sacred. Throughout the Torah that word is used in reference to honored human beings but never to God, e.g. Genesis 18:3, 23:6, 24:18, 31:35, 33:8, 34:14, 44:18, etc. Thus, it was incorrectly capitalized in your translation. In fact, Hebrew has no capital letters so capitalizations which are found in English translations are merely based on translators’ assumptions, and as you can see, are not always reliable.

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