Bereishit 3 22 And the LORD God said: 'Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree

  • Here is a major question I have,in judaisme It´s often said that Angels have no free will.And that Hashem is One and there can´t be multiple parts of Hashem and still be One.

  • Then who is "one of us " ?

  • And the LORD God said: 'Behold, the man is become as one of us, If these are angels and know good and evil how can one say they have no free will?The Lord said:one of us,and the angels have no free will?

  • The other options is that there are multiple parts in one Hashem? (but that is said not to be an option in judaisme)

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    I know that "Elohim" is plural, so perhaps it means that One God is a summary of many forces acting as one. Also, God seem to have dual form (male/female), so perhaps God was referencing both parts of Himself. Feb 8, 2016 at 22:21
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    why are you assuming "knowledge of good and evil" to be the equivalent of free will? That's a false dichotomy. Also, we see in midrash that occasionally angels get "punished," which shouldn't be possible if they lack free will. There's a distinction between free will and the capacity to make BAD choices - you won't stick you hand in a fire for an extended period not because you lack free will, but because doing so is stupid. Angels, seeing clearly the consequences of their choices, don't choose stupidly. Human "free will" is the result of glorious ignorance. Feb 9, 2016 at 2:29
  • @IsaacKotlicky "in midrash that occasionally angels get "punished," which shouldn't be possible if they lack free will"good point.The question of free will Is a big question,the point is that there is a view in Judaisme,that the Angels almost have no will or no free will."Human "free will" is the result of glorious ignorance. "So what are you saying,no one really has a free will?
    – Aigle
    Feb 9, 2016 at 10:25
  • @IsaacKotlicky"in midrash that occasionally angels get "punished"Where in the midrash?
    – Aigle
    Feb 9, 2016 at 10:52
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    @Eagel See the Rashi at the end of parshas Bereishis - one of the translation of the Nephilim were angels descending to earth to take brides from human women. Also: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/17414/… There are other places where angels are "punished" as well: israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/14070#.VrtHZhgrKUk The angels sent to Sodom were cast out of heaven until they ascended on the ladder in Jacob's Dream. Technically this last one is Targum Yehonasan, but it's fairly "canon" that angels have some free will. Feb 10, 2016 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


First, the Tiberian mesoretes dispute whether "mimenu" here is in the plural or not -- "mimenu" can also be rendered "than he" as in "has become someone like him" (or Him). Ben Naftali takes this position, and renders the word "מִמֶנוּ" (without dots in the 2nd mem or nun).

Rashi follows Ben Naftali's take on this verse. "Behold man will be unique among the creatures down below, the way I Am Unique 'up above'."

However, the Ibn Ezra and your translator follow Ben Asher. Ben Asher has it "מִמֶּ֔נּוּ -- of us", as your translator assumes. When it comes to vowelization and trope we always (nearly always?) follow Ben Asher; in this case a really pedantic Torah reader would read mimmennu, with the syllables /mim-men-nu/, although only 2 /m/ sounds and one /n/.

Ben Asher dominates our tradition. That may explain why the translator takes his tradition for granted in this matter too.) It may just be that the verse talks about angels knowing what good and evil are; that doesn't necessitate their having free will to choose good or evil. After all, angels exist on a plane where the laws that are most relevant are not those of physics, but of morality. Even if they are moral by design rather than decision.

  • Thank you , I would argue that If you are created by Hashem and moral by design you do not really "Know" good and evil.Its like saying a fruit is good for you and drugs are bad for you,still they know not off good and evil.If there is a mind to consider good and evil,there must be somekinda free will on some level.
    – Aigle
    Feb 8, 2016 at 20:15
  • Rocks don't know good and evil. Angels only know gravity as theoretical knowledge, if at all, but they do know good vs evil. After all, not only to they behave as per Gcd's Design themselves, part of that following His Design is supporting us people when we do and resist us when we work against it. Feb 8, 2016 at 20:55
  • I still cant see anywhere in the Torah,that would show me that Angels have no free will.
    – Aigle
    Feb 8, 2016 at 22:02
  • "Also, we see in midrash that occasionally angels get "punished," which shouldn't be possible if they lack free will."comment above
    – Aigle
    Feb 9, 2016 at 10:55

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