Did God really tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

Jan 19, 2022


Gen 22:1, And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham. And he said, here am I. ASV[1]

Gen 22:2, And he said, take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah. And offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. ASV

Many people, by having read an English Bible translation, believe that it was "God”[2] who told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar at a location that was to be revealed. But is that true? Well the answer is not that simple . . . . . but is it true? No! It is true that in many English translations it does read that "God" told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. However, it is not true that the Almighty Sovereign Creator of all that exists; the one who was revealed by name to Abraham in Exodus 3:14-15, told him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. According to most English translations of Gen 22:2, ASV, we really do not know for whom the offering was even intended.

Some necessary Basic Definitions are needed:

The word "God" is incorrectly used in many English Bible translations. In passages like Gen. 22:1, we see that the word God is used here to translate the Hebrew word “alueim” (ALH-YM)[3]. However, the Hebrew word alueim has the English meaning of power(s) or mighty one(s), which is a generic plural term. The proper definition for the Hebrew word is: “power(s) or mighty-one(s)” and refers to those who rule or teach (i.e. one who yokes with another) which can mean many various individuals. Alueim is also a plural word and in the Hebrew Bible is often applied to rulers, kings, or anyone with power or authority and it can refer to a-god. At times it can be used with the article in the singular and then refer to “Yahweh as the Mighty-one” so context of its use becomes very important.

The word "God" where used in many English translations however, with the English meaning is not used in either the Hebrew Scriptures or in the Greek NT writings. It is an Old Saxon replacement word that means “good” but in time it has unfortunately become associated as a generic term referring to the Almighty Sovereign Creator Power revealed in the Hebrew Bible, and to any unrelated god of various religious beliefs. In ancient times and among many primitive people a god was often man-made of wood or stone items that we would call idols. Even animals were sometimes called gods.

The word YHWH[4] (transliterated as Yahweh) written here with English letters, is the proper name of the Almighty-one, the Creator, the Life Force essence revealed to Moses in the Hebrew Bible. Yahweh has existed from all eternity past as has all that He has Created. His existence had no beginning and has no ending. He has no equal either in the Heavens, in the endless Universe or on the habitable Planets (Isaiah 42:5). He does not share His Creation with any other, neither does He inform any other of His purpose or intent (Isaiah 42:8). He alone possesses omnipotence.  Yahweh is the One and only eternal Mighty-one (Deut. 6:4). There is no other Power but He alone (Isaiah 44:6). Yahweh our Almighty Sovereign Creator Life-force Essence[5] exists eternally throughout all that is. It is He who possesses all wisdom. It is to Him only we must worship, and who only deserves our praise. 

The secrets of nature are possessed by the Almighty, for the Universe exists in the depth of His Divine expression, by His will and with His desire. When we address ourselves to Him in prayer, we must become as children speaking to a Father. For we know not the past, not the present, not the future; but that the Almighty is the Master of all time. Some will say that there are Bible passages where Yahweh appears before men in a human like form, and that he appears to speak directly to humans like Abraham and Moses, even face to face. That concept however, has lost what the entire Hebrew Bible has taught us about our Almighty Sovereign Creator. Forgotten is the Fact, that Yahweh is the Almighty Sovereign of HOSTS. Yahweh is eternal, incorporeal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, perfectly wise, perfectly just, and a non-physical Life-Force essence that fills His entire ever-existing and endless created Universe, sustaining and directing all. He uses His created Alueim, the celestial/terrestrial beings (aka angels, messengers) to maintaining everything according to His eternal plan.  . . . . Some are used for good will, and some are directed to destroy, but they will always perform according to the expressed will of the Almighty. Although occasionally one of Yahweh’s Celestial messengers may be addressed with the name Yahweh, it is simply because the messenger comes with Yahweh’s authority and given power.  Where homage by man is at times given to Yahweh’s appointed celestial/terrestrial messengers it will ultimately be directed to Yahweh, the One Almighty Himself. No human could ever comprehend or view the one who is “Eternal.”

Correctly translated, Genesis 12:1 should read similar to this:

Gen 22:1, "And he is coming after these things – and the mighty one is probing Abraham and he is saying to him: "Abraham!" and he [Abraham] is saying “it’s me!" AOYV

Gen 22:2, and he [mighty one] is saying, "take your son, your only one, whom you love – Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and send him up there upon one of the mountains that I [mighty one] will direct you to." AOYV

Background Explanation:

The offering of humans or of animals or of some other prized physical thing such as food- grains by way of fire "as a whole burnt offering" on an altar (a pile of rocks) was a common practice by some pagans in Abraham’s early culture. But this type of "offering" (a thing going up by fire and smoke) done to please or develop favor from a power in the heavens or to the Almighty Sovereign named Yahweh.  Although Human sacrifice was practiced by some pagan cultures, it was a practice that was forbidden by the Almighty Sovereign Yahweh. In fact, Yahweh calls Human sacrifice something that He hates. It was a pagan practice that was an abomination to Him. Read how Yahweh warns His people Israel NOT to follow those nations that practiced these abominable sacrifices:

Deut. 12:30-31, . . . ."for every abomination to Yahweh, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt (sacrificed) in the fire to their gods." ASV

Yahweh tells us in no uncertain terms that Human sacrifice is such a horrible concept to Him, that it did not even come into "His mind" and He never demanded it from His creation. See how Yahweh condemns Yahudah when they practiced this vile act against His will –

Jer. 19:5,and have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons in the fire for burnt-offerings unto Baal; which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind.” ASV

Now read in the next verse, what Yahweh’s penalty against Yahudah was for doing such wicked acts against His commandments?

Jer. 19: 7,I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead body’s will I give to be food for the birds of the heavens, and for the beasts of the earth." ASV

The truth is, Yahweh never changes, and what was not authorized by Him in one age and labeled as an abomination by Him, would not have been approved by Him in a previous age.

Abraham attempted to offer Isaac to Yahweh as a burnt offering, at a time in his life when he was still influenced by his ancient "pagan/heathen" culture. He was prompted to do this thing by an undefined power, a mighty one, who by an authority attempted to challenge or test him. In his devout and faithful mind but still influenced by his pagan culture, Abraham thought that the offering, of the "thing going up into the sky by way of fire and smoke” from such a great gift as one’s only son, “a burnt offering" would surely ultimately result in even greater blessings. This entire idea is of course horrible to us today, but unknown to Abraham at the time.

Gen 22:9, “and they [Abraham and his son] are coming to the place the [mighty one] said to him {Abraham], and he [Abraham] is building there the altar, and he [Abraham] is arranging the woods and he [Abraham] is trussing Isaac his son on the altar above the wood,

Gen 22:10, and Abraham is stretching his hand, and he [Abraham] is taking the knife to slay his son,

Gen 22:11, and the Messenger of Yahweh is calling to him [Abraham] from the skies and he [the messenger] is saying, Abraham! Abraham! and he [Abraham] is saying “it’s me!”  AOYV [6]

Gen 22:12, “And he [the messenger] is saying, do not stretch your hand to the boy, and he [the messenger] is saying, do not do anything to him, [the boy] because now I [the messenger] know that you [Abraham] are one fearer of mighty-one, and you [Abraham] have not kept back your son, your only one, from me [the messenger]." AOYV

According to Gen. 22:11, the messenger of Yahweh called to Abraham from the sky, and prevented him from killing his son. It was the same Messenger that also said to Abraham, “now I know that you are one fearer of mighty-one, and you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me." The test was a confirmation to the messenger of Yahweh that Abraham was willing to go all the way in offering up his son. The test was not intended to make a point before Yahweh the Almighty Sovereign Creator of all, who already knew the heart of Abraham, since he had earlier instructed Abraham through “a messenger” to leave the city of Ur, Gen. 12:1. The Almighty Sovereign Creator knows all things, declaring the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46:10; Prov. 19:21.

Yahweh prevented Abraham from slaying his son by having His messenger call out to Abraham from the sky, preventing him from offering his son Isaac as a "burnt offering." In Isaac’s place a ram was provided as a substitute offering.

Gen 22:15 “And the messenger of Yahweh called to Abraham a second time from the skies,

Gen 22:16 by myself I swear by avertment of Yahweh, that because of this thing you have done, and have not withheld your son, your only one,

Gen 22:17 that blessing I will bless you! And will cause you to increase – I will cause to increase your seed as the stars of the skies, and as the sand that is on the lip of the sea. And your seed will possess the gate of its enemies.” AOYV

In Gen. 22:15, we have the account of the messenger of Yahweh calling Abraham from the skies a second time. This time the messenger is presenting his statement to Abraham by using Yahweh, as is evident by the statement, "by myself I swear by avertment of Yahweh." Notice that the words "from me" is absent from the quote made by the messenger of Yahweh, indicating that the original test was not requested by Yahweh.

Although it is clear that Yahweh blessed Abraham for his attempt to offer Isaac to Him by way of a burnt offering (as a thing going up), it is also clear that the original request was NOT Yahweh’s doing; what Yahweh did was to instruct His Messenger and prevent this intended offering by Abraham. It is also clear, that Yahweh Himself never spoke directly to Abraham in this entire passage, but the message of communication came only through the messenger.

To the question, did Yahweh tell Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac? The answer is absolutely not! In fact Yahweh only spoke to Abraham through the messenger, but not directly, and then only to prevent Him from sacrificing his son Isaac. In this entire passage Yahweh never spoke to Abraham directly, but only through His messenger.

The contrast found in the Greek book of James (actually "James" is the book of Ya’acob), is a lesson in faithfulness, not in faith. Abraham was willing to "gift" his son Isaac, as was a pagan/heathen custom in his day. Yet the Messenger of Yahweh was instructed to prevent him from doing so. Although Abraham never completed his willingness to do the act it was still accounted to him as honorable, since he did have the "willingness" to gift back to Yahweh the most loved and precious possession he had been given, his only son Isaac.

Gen. 22 becomes clear when read in Hebrew, and critically studied to understand truth.



The Questions that are answered:

1. Is Yahweh not all knowing? In other words, would Yahweh not know Abraham's willingness to "gift" Isaac as a sacrifice?  Answer – of course Yahweh knows all.

2. Who really asked Abraham to offer Isaac? Was it Yahweh (who knows all), or was it an "alueim " (see vs 1) a “mighty one, a power”?

3. Who was this " alueim" that tested Abraham to see if he would offer Isaac?

4. Who was it that prevented Abraham from "gifting" Isaac by way of a burnt offering (see vs 11)?

5. Was this messenger (angel) the same " alueim " that enticed Abraham, or was it some other?

6. If another, then who enticed Abraham in the first place to offer up Isaac?

7. According to vs 12, who is really talking to Abraham?

8. Who did Abraham "fear" by intending to "gift" Isaac? Was it Yahweh, or was it really a messenger?

8. Who was it that now knows that Abraham was willing to "gift" Isaac, Yahweh or the messenger?

9. Who is the "me" in vs 12; is it the messenger, or was it Yahweh?


Yahweh does not entice, test, or require any "gifting" to Him by way of "burnt offerings" animal, human, or any food offered on an altar; He never has, and does not need it.

Gen 22:1, is an example where an honorable man still under his pagan/heathen culture, by custom and local influence was willing to do an act, which in his mind was a show and display of thankfulness to the Almighty Sovereign for his blessings. Although his understanding was miss-placed; in this instance, it was his willingness to do such act that became a blessing to him.

It is unfortunate, that this truth is hidden in most English Bible translations by use of the pagan derived words like "God" as a substitute for its true Hebrew meaning here of "power(s), mighty-one(s)." Furthermore, the Almighty Sovereign Creator has given to us His proper name of Yahweh, to be spoken as a "memorial for all generations." (Exodus. 3:15). When we fail this simple request we disgrace our Almighty Sovereign Creator and violate His Commandment to us found in Deut 5:2-22.

When the proper names are used in translation, and the proper meanings of the Hebrew words are translated into English, many of the Bible passages that first appear to be confusing become clear and errors will be displaced by the truth. Yahweh is NOT the one that tested or proved Abraham.

by John-William Millenaar

Assembly of Yahweh, Cascade



Permission is granted to reproduce this document, provided no changes

 except typo’s are made without permission of the author

[1] American Standard Version

[2]  God - a name derived from Anglo-Saxon origin which has the meaning of good, now commonly adopted to denote a supreme being, or an undefined entity or object for worship.

[3]  (Ela% A-LH-YM)alueim or elohim - Power: The power or might of one who rules or teaches. One who yokes with another. Often applied to rulers or a god. [Aramaic only] [freq. 95] |kjv: god|  (Ancient Hebrew Lexicon, Benner). With the  ים YM ending the word is plural- i.e. powers, mighty ones,

[4] https://aoycascade.com/Documents/Yahweh-yhwh.html

[5] Essence - the quality or nature of something that identifies it or makes it what it is

[6] Assembly of Yahweh Version