In Genesis 22: 1 we read:

"And it came to pass after these things, that ha Elohim tested Abraham, and He said to him, "Abraham," and he said, "Here I am."

I see that the expression "ha Elohim" is constantly translated with "God" in all the Hebrew translations that I have consulted.

However, in a discussion about Abraham's trial that was held here in Italy at an evangelical Christian website, some Israeli Orthodox Jews intervened and claimed, based on what they say is contained in Midrashic traditions, that in reality the presence in the text of Elohim preceded by the article indicates that here reference is not made to HaShem, but to an earthly authority, to which HaShem would have given the task of punishing Abraham for having contracted a pact with the pagan king of Gerar Abimelech ( Genesis ch. 20), to whom Abraham would have given part of the land that had been promised to the descendants of Isaac. However, this "earthly authority" would have exceeded by ordering the death of Isaac, being the human sacrifice prohibited by the Law of HaShem (the Noahide Law , finding us before the Matan Torah, which effectively prohibits murder), an order, that of human sacrifice , which the Almighty could never have requested, not even in the form of a "test" against Abraham. Therefore, according to these Israeli Orthodox Jews "ha Elohim" in Genesis 22: 1 should be translated as "the authority"; according to one of these users, this authority should be identified with Shem ben Noach, who he claims to coincide with the figure of Melchizedek.

I asked these forum users to tell me what the precise Midrashic sources are in support of this interpretation, which I have never heard, but I have not received an answer.

I am indeed perplexed, and this for the following reasons:

-In Rashi's commentary there is no reference to this exegesis, and furthermore this master cites as sources Talmud Bavlì Sanhedrin 89b and Genesis Rabbah 5: 4 in which, except for my error, no reference is made to the intervention of this "authority ”, and instead the order is attributed to sacrifice Isaac directly to the Almighty;

-The Targum Onkelos translates “ha Elohim” of Genesis 22: 1 with Yud Yud, a name that the Targumins use exclusively for HaShem.

I therefore ask myself: but what are the actual Jewish sources that support the above interpretation?

  • None. I doubt they were even Orthodox.
    – N.T.
    Mar 21, 2021 at 20:36
  • We know HaShem is Ha-Elohim (The-Master) based on Bereishit 22:14. Mar 21, 2021 at 21:04
  • I do not see a secular meaning as this means Hashem as the Judge f the world and the Power over it. Mar 22, 2021 at 0:58

2 Answers 2


Who is Ha-Elohim ( הָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים ) | The-Master?

In Genesis 6:2, we read about sons of Ha-Elohim. Regarding Ha-Elohim, Rashi states :

בני האלהים THE SONS OF ELOHIM — The sons of princes and rulers (Genesis Rabbah 26:15). Another explanation of בני האלהים is that these were princely angels who came as messengers from God: they, too, intermingled with them (the daughters of men). Wherever the word אלהים occurs in the Scriptures it signifies authority, and the following passages prove this: (Exodus 4:16) “and thou shalt be his (אלהים) master”, and (Exodus 7:1) “See, I have made the (אלהים) a master.”

Later in Genesis 22:1, Avraham is confronted by The-Master.

Bereishit 22:1

Some time afterward, The-Master put Avraham to the test. He said to him, “Avraham,” and he answered, “Here I am.” ( וַיְהִ֗י אַחַר֙ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְהָ֣אֱלֹהִ֔ים נִסָּ֖ה אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֵלָ֔יו אַבְרָהָ֖ם וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הִנֵּֽנִי )

  • Who did Avraham consider The-Master? - HaShem.

We know HaShem is Ha-Elohim based on Bereishit 22:14 :

"And Avraham named that place, YHVH will see, as it is said to this day: On the mountain, YHVH will be seen.” ( וַיִּקְרָ֧א אַבְרָהָ֛ם שֵֽׁם־הַמָּק֥וֹם הַה֖וּא יְהוָ֣ה ׀ יִרְאֶ֑ה אֲשֶׁר֙ יֵאָמֵ֣ר הַיּ֔וֹם בְּהַ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה יֵרָאֶֽה )

Ha-Elohim | The-Master is HaShem.

  • Don't you think should be plural and not a person? The Master seems like a single person. Whereas the rabbis and rashi says a collection of persons. You need to read the Hebrew rather than the English. Mar 22, 2021 at 10:18
  • 1
    Seems like a sneaky justification for the pagan god Jesus Christ. Mar 22, 2021 at 10:38
  • @Blessed Geek ( שְׁמַ֖ע כִּֽי־שָׂרִ֧יתָ עִם־אֱלֹהִ֛ים | יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהֹוָ֥ה אֶחָֽד ) Mar 22, 2021 at 11:27
  • quora.com/… Mar 22, 2021 at 11:41
  • quora.com/… Mar 22, 2021 at 11:41

We don't need to look at any midrashim. There is an explicit pasuk:

דברים ד׳:ל״ה

אַתָּה הׇרְאֵתָ לָדַעַת כִּי יְ-הֹוָה הוּא הָאֱ-לֹהִים אֵין עוֹד מִלְּבַדּוֹ׃

To you it was shown, so you would know know, that Hashem is HaE-lohim; there is none else beside him.

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