Rembrandt's Sacrifice of Isaac

The Faith of Abraham and the Binding of Isaac

This is a talk that Drew Maust presented at Epping Forest Community Church (EFCC) on Sunday, January 30, 2022, as part of the church’s “Faith in Action” series. This is part two on the faith of Abraham. For part one, see “The Faith and Call of Abraham.” Listen using the player below or download the MP3.

Introduction

There are many interpreters of the Bible and many interpretations. Perhaps some of the most powerful are visual interpreters: artists, painters. The painting that you see behind me is Rembrandt’s “The Sacrifice of Isaac.”[1]

Introduction to Series on Faith

Last week we began to explore the faith of Abraham as presented in Hebrews 11. We talked about three parts of faith: 1) faith as knowledge, 2) faith as affirmation, 3) faith as commitment. In other words, learning about God’s truth, agreeing to God’s truth, and entrusting ourselves to God and his truth.

In the Christian life, we are on a cyclical journey through these three parts of faith. As we learn more about God, his Spirit opens our hearts to be receptive to his word. He then empowers us to live in light of that truth. In response, we entrust ourselves to him more and more and we continue learning. Knowledge, affirmation, commitment. This is the infinite journey of the Christian life. We embark on it when God calls us out to follow him, when he opens our eyes, when he pricks our hearts so that we turn our backs on our sinfulness and turn to him. Last week we heard about how God interrupted Abraham in the prime of life. Abraham responded by setting out in faith.

Hebrews 11:17-19

Today we are going to look again at Hebrews 11’s “hall of faith” for a final episode in the life of Abraham. In Hebrews 11:17-19, we read:

“It was by faith that Abraham, when he was put to the test, offered up Isaac; yes, Abraham, who had received the promise, was in the very act of offering up his only son, the one about whom it had been said that ‘In Isaac shall your family be named.’ He reckoned that God was capable of raising him even from the dead; and, in one sense, he did indeed receive him back from there” (BFE).

Abraham offering up Isaac has become one of the most famous and widely discussed pieces of world literature: the sacrifice, or binding, of Isaac as it is known in the Hebrew tradition (Aqedah).

Background to Genesis 22

The essential background to the story is that God had promised to bless Abraham and make him into a great nation (Gen 12:2). He and his wife Sarah, however, were unable to have children (Gen 11:30; 16:1). What’s more, Abraham and Sarah were both growing old, getting on in years. Sarah was well past the age of childbearing (Gen 18:11). As for Abraham, the author of Hebrews humorously calls him “as good as dead” (Heb 11:12). Ouch!

Given their condition, Abraham and Sarah had both laughed in response to God’s promise, with Abraham asking: “Can a 100-year-old man become a father, or Sarah, a 90-year-old woman, have a child?” (Gen 17:17 CEB). But God is faithful:

“The Lord was attentive to Sarah just as he had said, and the Lord carried out just what he had promised her. Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham when he was old, at the very time God had told him. Abraham named his son—the one Sarah bore him—Isaac” (Gen 21:1 CEB).

They had no trouble naming the child. Isaac (יִצְחָק) in Hebrew means, “He laughs.” But the laughter would fade fast as Abraham’s story makes a U-turn towards the serious.

God promised that through Isaac Abraham’s rightful descendants would be named (Gen 21:12). Isaac was therefore a promised child in many ways since the future of not only Abraham’s family, but an entire nation was depending on him. But now God puts Abraham to the test to see if Abraham will sacrifice Isaac back to him.

Genesis 22:1-19

In Genesis 22:1-19, we read,

1 After these events, God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!”

Abraham answered, “I’m here.”

2 God said, “Take your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah. Offer him up as an entirely burned offering there on one of the mountains that I will show you.” 3 Abraham got up early in the morning, harnessed his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, together with his son Isaac. He split the wood for the entirely burned offering, set out, and went to the place God had described to him.

4 On the third day, Abraham looked up and saw the place at a distance. 5 Abraham said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will walk up there, worship, and then come back to you.”

6 Abraham took the wood for the entirely burned offering and laid it on his son Isaac. He took the fire and the knife in his hand, and the two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?” Abraham said, “I’m here, my son.” Isaac said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the entirely burned offering?”

8 Abraham said, “The lamb for the entirely burned offering? God will see to it, my son.” The two of them walked on together.

9 They arrived at the place God had described to him. Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He tied up his son Isaac and laid him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to kill his son as a sacrifice. 11 But the Lord’s messenger called out to Abraham from heaven, “Abraham? Abraham?” Abraham said, “I’m here.”

12 The messenger said, “Don’t stretch out your hand against the young man, and don’t do anything to him. I now know that you revere God and didn’t hold back your son, your only son, from me.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a single ram caught by its horns in the dense under[growth]. Abraham went over, took the ram, and offered it as an entirely burned offering instead of his son. 14 Abraham named that place “the Lord sees.” That is the reason people today say, “On this mountain the Lord is seen.”

15 The Lord’s messenger called out to Abraham from heaven a second time 16 and said, “I give my word as the Lord that because you did this and didn’t hold back your son, your only son, 17 I will bless you richly and I will give you countless descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as the grains of sand on the seashore. They will conquer their enemies’ cities. 18 All the nations of the earth will be blessed because of your descendants, because you obeyed me.” 19 After Abraham returned to the young men, they got up and went to Beer-sheba where Abraham lived. (CEB)

Genesis 22:1-19 (verse by verse)

When we read the story of the binding of Isaac closely, there are a number of fascinating details that deserve closer inspection. Let’s take a look.

Verse 1

When the story opens, God calls to Abraham, “after these events.” We are not told exactly when this takes place, but it could be that Isaac is now at least a teenager. The author, though, is more interested in pulling back the veil on God’s plan. He wants to let us in on the little secret that what is about to take place is to “test” Abraham. Interestingly, this is the only time in Scripture where God is said to test an individual.[2] We may then be surprised that after all that Abraham has been through on his journey of faith, God still finds it fitting to test him. Could it be that now that Abraham has finally received his promised child his love for God has started to shrink? Will Abraham pass the test?

Abraham responds, “I’m here” or “Here I am!” This response carries a sense of willingness to listen carefully and respond favorably to whatever God is about to say. This will be the only thing that Abraham will say to God in this story.[3] “I’m here!” “Here I am!” “Yes, Lord.” Are we as quick to listen? Are we as willing to obey when God calls to us?

Verse 2

God then gives the surprising command to take his son and go to the land of Moriah. When speaking of Isaac, God piles on the description: “your son,” “your only son,” “the one whom you love,” “Isaac.” Everything that is said of Isaac adds weight to God’s request. God moves from the general to the specific, from the obvious to the near and dear. Just as he had earlier told Abraham to go from his land, relatives, and father’s house to an unknown land (Gen 12:1), so now he asks him to take his son, his only son, the one he loves… Isaac. Even before we get to the command, tension builds between love of only son and love of God.[4]

God commands Abraham to go using the same expression that we heard back at Abraham’s call: “You, go.” In Genesis 12, Abraham is asked to separate himself from his land, his family, their pagan rituals, and his past. Here, Abraham is being asked to separate from his future, a future of countless descendants whom God had promised through Isaac. Abraham had already sacrificed his past; would he now have to sacrifice his future?

“Go to the land of Moriah! Offer Isaac there as an entirely burned offering.” “An entirely burned offering” was typically an animal slaughtered, cut into pieces, and then presented on an altar of wood to be burned to ash. The worshiper sends the offering up in smoke as a total offering to God.[5] Would God now require Abraham to do the same with his own only son? Is he being asked to mimic a pagan ritual? And not just a pagan ritual, but one which entails murder? Is a father not supposed to love his child more dearly than himself! How can this be?

A dilemma presents itself: God is God. Abraham is a man of faith. Sacrificing a child is not only pagan, but a sin. What is Abraham to do?

Isaac is without a doubt the most precious sacrifice that God could have asked of Abraham. What a horrifyingly devastating, deeply personal idea.[6] To think what would become of Isaac. What would become of God’s promises? This command appears to stand in direct opposition to God’s character and his earlier promise to make Abraham a father of many nations (Gen 17:5). Will Abraham sacrifice the one person who can fulfill God’s promises, promises that were to bless Abraham’s descendants so that they thrive?[7] At stake are God’s reputation and the future of his people.

Verse 3

While we are left pondering this dilemma, the narrator proceeds to tell us that, “Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey.” Abraham shows no hesitation; he’s almost keen to obey God’s apparently unethical command. He rises early to make it happen. Where’s Sarah? No protest? While the story is focused on Abraham, it reveals nothing of what he (or she) must have been thinking. Abraham apparently busies himself with action while his servants stand idly by. Why didn’t they chop the wood?[8] Is Abraham now trying to stall? Where is Sarah?

Verse 4

Abraham treks for three days. On top of asking Abraham to do the unthinkable, this long journey must have triggered further mental anguish.[9] What was Abraham thinking all that time? What was Isaac thinking? We get no sense that Abraham is questioning or doubting or desiring to turn back. He is focused on obeying God’s word. His resolve to take God at his word is cementing further and further, day after day. He is obeying God because he wants to, not hastily on a whim.

Verse 5

“He said to his servants, ‘You two stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go up there. We will worship and then return to you.’” “We will worship and then return.” We? What does Abraham have in mind here? Is he simply confused?[10] Is he using “we” to hide his intentions from the servants and from Isaac?[11] Is he not going to follow through with the sacrifice?

The author of Hebrews takes this as a sign of faith, faith in God in the face of apparent contradiction: 1) sacrifice Isaac and 2) fulfill promises through Isaac. How can both be true? Just like Abraham received the promises, he trusts that he will also receive his son back from the dead. God is able to raise Isaac back up even from ashes. Job says, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away” (Job 1:21), but Abraham goes further: “the Lord gives, the Lord takes away, and the Lord gives back.”[12]

Verses 7-8

Finally, Isaac breaks the silence.[13] His words must have pierced Abraham to the heart. “Where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham’s response is curiously pregnant with ambiguity: “‘The lamb for the sacrifice?’ God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”

The words “the burnt offering, my son” are chilling indeed. It’s possible to read the Hebrew not as “My son, God will provide a lamb for the offering,” but “God will provide a lamb for the offering, namely my son.”[14] Is Abraham giving Isaac a hint of what is to come? There is no reply. “The two of them walk on together.”

Verse 9

Abraham constructs an altar, and the wood is readied for the fire. Isaac is bound. Surprisingly, the young man who had asked about the lamb for the sacrifice doesn’t ask about the ropes. “Why are you tying me up?” A much younger Isaac could have easily prevented his aged father from tying him up.[15] We may read something of Isaac’s obedience into this. Just as Abraham displays faith through obedience, so, too, Isaac shows trust in his father through cooperation.[16]

Verses 10-11

We now reach the most terrifying point in the story. Abraham is going to go through with it. Hand poised, knife drawn. If ever there was a time to crave divine intervention, it’s now. A voice resounds from heaven with urgency: “Abraham! Abraham!” Once again, Abraham’s response is one of supple attentiveness. “Yes? I’m listening.”

Verse 12

“Don’t harm the boy! … Now I know that you fear God[.]” Was God’s knowledge lacking? No. In the Bible, faithfulness must be demonstrated by action—faith action—to be confirmed in God’s sight. “Fearing God” means to honor him in worship, obedience, and an upright life.[17] It is not the same as being afraid of God. As someone pointed out, “We are afraid of God when we have [sinned] and feel guilty, but we fear Him when we are [ready] to [act so] that we can stand before Him.”[18] So, to fear God is to adopt a posture of total dependence, obedience, and confidence.[19] “It is obedience which does not hold back even what is most precious, when God demands it, and commits to God even that future which he himself has promised.”[20]

Verses 13-14

God provides a ram (a male sheep) which Abraham sacrifices in place of his son. Abraham isn’t told to do so, but he reasons that this animal is God’s provision. Like Noah who offered a sacrifice upon exiting the ark, so, too, Abraham exits from the horror of human sacrifice and offers an animal sacrifice out of gratitude and devotion.[21]

He then names that place Yahweh yireh (or Jehovah jireh as we sometimes hear it in English), meaning “Yahweh sees to it, or provides.” Note that he doesn’t call it “Abraham obeys.” We are to be more impressed by God’s faithfulness than Abraham’s.[22] Yahweh provides.

Verses 15-18

In these verses, we are reassured that Abraham’s ordeal wasn’t all for nothing. As a result of Abraham’s faithfulness and God’s gracious provision, God’s promises are repeated to Abraham in full and in their most emphatic form yet: “I will bless you richly and I will give you countless descendants.”

Unbinding Aqedah

This tenth trial in the life of Abraham is as disturbing as it is perplexing. How can the author of Hebrews hold up such a gruesome tale as the ultimate faith experience of Christianity and Judaism’s most celebrated patriarch? How can Abraham serve as a model of faith if what he did once should never be repeated?[23] As Jewish commentator Nahum Sarna remarks,

“[There is] an undeniable atmosphere of the singular and the unique [that] pervades this episode. God’s request is treated as something utterly extraordinary, something that a person would never think of doing on [their] own initiative… God’s request is so clearly shocking and unrepeatable that the reader is informed in advance that God is only testing Abraham and does not want the sacrifice for His own needs.”[24]

The Impossibles: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration

When we consider the central beliefs of our Christian confession, we find it organized around one-time events that are not to be or cannot be reproduced, events that are in fact impossible. In the Christian storyline of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration, we find in each something of the impossible.

Creation

First, at creation, we confess that something was created from nothing. We would do well to confess that in the beginning there wasn’t nothing; there was God. He always has been and always will be. Hebrews 11 opens with this thought, taking us back to the beginning of all things in order to prepare us for the impossible: “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible” (Heb 11:3 CSB). In the beginning was God. his word brings forth the impossible.

Fall

Secondly, at the fall, the seemingly illogical—the impossible—would take place. How is it that God would prepare a luscious garden for his people, provide them with all that they need, and walk with them in the intimacy of perfect communion, yet they would rebel and do the one thing that he asked them not to do? Sin truly is temporary insanity! Nakedness with no worries thrown to the wind only to scratch a moment’s itch. But before we cast the first stone, we ought to withdraw our hand upon realizing that this is what we do, too, when we fail to obey God’s word. Has he not given us everything we need for life and godliness just by knowing him (2 Pet 1:3)?

I encourage my children in their schoolwork by telling them that “knowledge is the prize.” If knowledge is the prize, then knowing the supreme God is the supreme prize. But we like Adam and Eve reach out and take from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil rather than from the tree of life. Impossibly possible!

Redemption

Thirdly, at redemption, once again the impossible takes place. God becomes man so that we can become like him. As I preached in December on the Incarnation, God the Son put on flesh so that you could put on faith. Not only that, but God became man to accomplish only what God as man could accomplish, namely the forgiveness of sins; not his own sins, but as John the Baptist proclaims, “the sin of the world” (John 1:29). One man dying for his friend is a noble feat and full of virtue, but one man dying for the sin of the world is an abstract absurdity! One man charged with the crimes of a multitude? O “with God, you see, nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37 BFE)! “What’s impossible for humans … is possible for God” (Luke 18:27 BFE). This has for effect that if anyone is in Christ, “there is a new creation. Old things have gone, and look—everything has become new” (2 Cor 5:17 BFE). “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed. But it is the power of God for those of us who are being saved” (1 Cor 1:18 CEB).

Restoration

Fourth and finally, restoration. How is it that God has already started putting the worlds to rights when creation is still groaning? As quickly as the author of Hebrews announces that God has placed everything under Jesus’ feet, he hurries to add that, “As things are at present, we don’t see everything subjected to him” (Heb 2:8 BFE). The already and the not yet. The impossible becoming possible; the creation distorted at the fall taking a new breath with the resurrected lungs of the Son, plotting a trajectory towards restoration (Acts 3:21). How can this be? How will this happen if not by the one through whom the lasting effects of temporary insanity are not simply reversed but translated into the makings of a new creation? As if something from nothing were too small a task, he is now making something greater from something lesser. Who will accomplish all this and more? Thanks be to God.

You see, the Christian faith does not shy away from the impossible. Abraham trusted God for the impossible. When stuck between a command and a promise, he was not immobilized seeking to resolve an ethical dilemma, a logical tension, but faithfully obeyed the word of God. He trusted God for the impossible. “Being fully convinced that God had the power to accomplish what he had promised,” “Abraham reckoned that God was capable of raising [his son Isaac] even from the dead” (Rom 4:21; Heb 11:19 BFE). Abraham trusted God for resurrection. “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your human bodies also, through his Spirit that lives in you” (Rom 8:11 CEB).

I don’t know if we fully appreciate how radical that is. In Abraham’s day, no one had been resurrected. It’s difficult to imagine Abraham even having that category in his mind. When you die, you stay dead. And that’s what we know from our experience as well. That is, that is what normally happens according to our ordinary human experience. But God’s direct intervention has a habit of disrupting the normal flow of history. The extraordinary displaces the ordinary. Creation, fall, redemption, restoration.

Closing Clarifications

What can we conclude about the binding of Isaac?

First, if we are unbearably troubled by God’s request, we have every reason to be and that’s perhaps even an indication that the story is having its desired effect on us, binding up our emotions. If that’s the case, then let us remind ourselves of what we know about God from a wide reading of Scripture. He is good. He reveals himself in specific ways at specific times. He issues at times extraordinary commands at unique times in unique contexts. God has sufficient reason to do what he does. He does not erratically wield his power over his human creation for the thrill of watching us reel.[25]

Secondly, the binding of Isaac invites us to be honest with ourselves (and others) about the uncomfortable. Certain aspects of the Christian faith are not—cannot—be explained away. The power of the binding of Isaac is that it binds up the thought-life of its attentive listeners. I still remember the first time I heard it at youth camp. I can still picture the youth leader holding out of a fake knife over a bound camper. So, too, Jewish Nobel Peace Prize-winning author and holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel candidly says of the binding of Isaac:

“[This] is a tale of anguish and faith that has never left us. Actually, it never let us go. The event that happened on Mount Moriah 4,000 years ago continues to haunt our memory and our lives like a stinging wound. It’s impossible to detach ourselves from it. It is with fear and trembling that Soren Kierkegaard approached the subject and it is the same for us. The more I explore it (and I do so often), the less I come closer to a resolution. The more I dive into it, the more I find myself lost as if in a thick, black forest for which no way out leads to a single and maybe reassuring truth. All the questions I’ve asked myself more than 30-odd years ago here remain open and burning. What history of the Jewish people is going to begin in a way that violates what is most frail, most human in the human being, with an attempted murder? I still do not understand why Abraham needed a tenth test to prove the strength and solidity of his faith in one God, nor do I understand why God needed this test.”[26]

Secondly, we can confidently establish that God does not desire human sacrifice as was practiced by the pagan nations surrounding the Israelites.[27] God made this request of Abraham to test him, not because he somehow wanted, or required, Isaac to die. As the prophet Hosea confirms, God desires “faithful love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hos 6:6 CSB). Or as an eloquent scribe replied to Jesus in Mark’s Gospel:

“[T]o love [God] with all your heart, with all your understanding, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is far more important than all … burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33 CSB).

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is different in that he offered himself up willingly to do God’s will. Furthermore, Jesus is the greater Abraham. His mental anguish extreme in the garden of Gethsemane, wrestling with God’s will. God the Father would himself experience in full measure what he asked of Abraham in giving up his one and only beloved Son to be bound on a cross. Jesus was bound to the cross to unbind us, dying to redeem us. He, too, was brought to the place of sacrifice by his father. He, too, bore the wood of his altar, his cross. Jesus is the ultimate sacrificial ram crowned with thorns offered in our place.[28]

Imitating Abraham’s Faith

What then of Abraham’s faith should we imitate if we are to heed Hebrews’ exhortation to not be lazy but imitators of those “who are inheriting the promises [of God] through faith and patience” (Heb 6:12 BFE)?

First, we are to live lives marked by obedience to God’s word. We are to trust him, even when we don’t understand. We are to trust him for the impossible. We are to entrust ourselves to him for redemption and restoration. The sacrifice of Isaac underscores the extent of Abraham’s faithfulness.[29] “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac” (Heb 11:17 CSB). Abraham’s faith was revealed in a complete dependence upon God.

Secondly, we are to walk humbly with our God—and others—on this journey of faith, not relying on our own reason. In the information age of “do your own research” and distrust of authority, this is a challenge to submit to the wisdom of others, to remain teachable and open to new avenues of thought.

Thirdly, our own reasoning can only take us so far. That is why some have talked about taking “a leap of faith.” We can never know the specifics of life’s most significant occasions, but we can confidently cling to what God has revealed to us in his word. As Moses said towards the end of his life:

“The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law” (Deut 29:29 CSB).

In closing, the author of Hebrews would have us look to the life of Abraham and the binding of Isaac as sources of courage and perseverance in the face of adversity. Jewish martyrs found renewed purpose in Isaac’s compliance when being offered up to God. Sarah’s silence invites reflection on the role of motherhood and female voices, even if the author of Genesis limits his narrative to Abraham. How will we live by faith in the God of the impossible, God the provider? How can the unrepeatable become a model for our lives? For it is these incomparably heavy unrepeatables that exert unequal force on our daily lives.

God will see to it.

Rembrandt’s “Sacrifice of Isaac”

Rembrandt’s “Sacrifice of Isaac”

Works Cited

Antoine, Gérald, François Bovon, Grégoire Rouiller, and Donald G. Miller, eds. Exegesis: Problems of Method and Exercises in Reading (Genesis 22 and Luke 15). Pittsburgh Theological Monograph Series 21. Pittsburgh: Pickwick Press, 1978.

Boehm, Omri. The Binding of Isaac: A Religious Model of Disobedience. New York: T&T Clark, 2007.

Copan, Paul. Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011.

Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18–50. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995.

Kessler, Edward. Bound by the Bible: Jews, Christians, and the Sacrifice of Isaac. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Long, Siobhán Dowling. Sacrifice of Isaac: The Reception of a Biblical Story in Music. The Bible in the Modern World 54. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013.

Martin-Achard, Robert. “Isaac (Person).” The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary. Edited by David Noel Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Rembrandt. The Sacrifice of Isaac. Canvas, 1635. https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/digital-collection/01.+Paintings/43367/.

Sarna, Nahum M. Genesis. The JPS Torah Commentary. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 16–50. Vol. 2 of Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Inc, 1994.

“Elie Wiesel on the Akedah.” MP3. Boston University World of Ideas. WBUR, 21 October 2007. https://www.wbur.org/worldofideas/2007/10/21/elie-wiesel-on-the-akedah.

Footnotes

  1. Rembrandt, The Sacrifice of Isaac, canvas, 1635, https://www.hermitagemuseum.org/wps/portal/hermitage/digital-collection/01.+Paintings/43367/.
  2. Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 16–50, vol. 2 of Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Inc, 1994), 103.
  3. Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis, The JPS Torah Commentary (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989), 151.
  4. Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18–50, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1995), 102.
  5. Gérald Antoine et al., eds., Exegesis: Problems of Method and Exercises in Reading (Genesis 22 and Luke 15), Pittsburgh Theological Monograph Series 21 (Pittsburgh: Pickwick Press, 1978), 18.
  6. Omri Boehm, The Binding of Isaac: A Religious Model of Disobedience (New York: T&T Clark, 2007), 14.
  7. Hamilton, NICOT, 104.
  8. Hamilton, NICOT, 106.
  9. Wenham, Genesis 16–50, 106–7.
  10. Wenham, Genesis 16–50, 107–8.
  11. So Sarna, Genesis, 152.
  12. Hamilton, NICOT, 108 (emphasis added).
  13. Sarna, Genesis, 152.
  14. Wenham, Genesis 16–50, 109; Hamilton, NICOT, 109–10.
  15. Wenham, Genesis 16–50, 109.
  16. Hamilton, NICOT, 110.
  17. Wenham, Genesis 16–50, 110.
  18. Kant, quoted in Boehm, The Binding of Isaac, 119.
  19. Antoine et al., Exegesis, 23.
  20. Hamilton, NICOT, 112.
  21. Wenham, Genesis 16–50, 110.
  22. Hamilton, NICOT, 113–14.
  23. Siobhán Dowling Long, Sacrifice of Isaac: The Reception of a Biblical Story in Music, The Bible in the Modern World 54 (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2013), 24.
  24. Sarna, Genesis, 393.
  25. Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2011), 50.
  26. “Elie Wiesel on the Akedah,” MP3, Boston University World of Ideas (WBUR, 21 October 2007), https://www.wbur.org/worldofideas/2007/10/21/elie-wiesel-on-the-akedah.
  27. So Josephus, quoted in Edward Kessler, Bound by the Bible: Jews, Christians, and the Sacrifice of Isaac (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 37–38.
  28. Robert Martin-Achard, “Isaac (Person),” in The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 470.
  29. So Philo, quoted in Kessler, Bound by the Bible, 38.

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