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   by Jacob Solomon

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G-d (Elokim) spoke to Moses and said to him, "I am G-d (Hashem)" (6:2).

This is the answer that G-d gave to Moses when he complained that his appearance before Pharaoh caused the conditions of the suffering Israelites to deteriorate rather than improve. 'Elokim' generally refers to G-d's Middat Hadin - Divine Attribute of Justice, but Hashem denotes His Middat Harahamim - Divine Attribute of Mercy. His reply continues - I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as Kel Shadai, but I did not make myself known to them by My Name Hashem (6:3).

Why is there a change from Middat Hadin to Middat Harahamim in same verse?

Rashi gives two explanations of G-d's response to Moses' complaint. The first is to show that now is the time for the saving of the Israelites in Egypt. He gives the plain meaning of the text as His contrasting the attitude of the Patriarchs when they suffered setbacks to Moses' current setbacks. The Patriarchs accepted, but did not question. They had unwavering faith. But Moses questioned. G-d response to Moses was a gentle; "I am Hashem" - the G-d of Mercy, upon whom you may trust for the realization of the Divine Promise of the Exodus, and the entry of the Israelites to the Promised Land. The emphasis is on G-d's teaching Moses of His trustworthiness, not on rebuking him for complaining. He had shown what He needed to show to the Patriachs (Kel Shaddai), but no more. He did not show them his attribute of Divine Mercy. Only now, G-d is showing that very side of Himself - to Moses exclusively.

Rashi then brings the Midrashic explanation, which reads the words with a different emphasis. The reference to the Patriarchs is a direct rebuke to Moses: as the Midrash puts it "Woe on account of those (the Patriarchs) who have died and are no longer alive". Unlike you, Moses, they suffered their trials and tribulations stoically and without grumbles.

It seems possible to suggest that both explanations are indeed the plain meaning. Such is the nature of the Torah that parts can have two or more meanings at the same time.

Thus the response; "I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as Kel Shaddai…" is meant to be read as rebuke and an explanation at the very same time. The use of Elokim indicates that it is a rebuke - indicating that more was expected of Moses on his elevated spiritual level. And the use of Hashem emphasizes the kindly explanation within the rebuke, in this case of his Divine Mercy…

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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