A Daily Genesis


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Rabbis are quite divided as to the true meaning of Gen 22:2. Some feel Abraham was supposed to kill Isaac, and some feel he wasn't. There are some who feel that the angel stopped Abraham at this point because he was making a big mistake-- that Abraham misunderstood the instructions God gave to him back in verse 2; which were: And He said, "Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering

Targums, which were commonly taught in the synagogues prior to, during, and after Jesus' day, paraphrased that verse to mean just exactly what it implies: that Isaac was supposed to die.

[COLOR=#008000][B]T.[/B][/COLOR] And He said: Take now thy son, thy only one whom thou lovest, Izhak, and go into the land of worship, and offer him there, a whole burnt offering, upon one of the mountains that I will tell thee. (Targum Jonathan)

The verb "offer" is from [I]'alah[/I] (aw-law') which means: to ascend. Yosef Hallel, a rabbi who lived one or two generations before the Common Era, noted that 'alah is the same verb used with reference to a qorbanot offering, and does, in fact, imply "to slaughter" (e.g. Lev 17:8).

Another rabbi, Zalman Sorotzkin, who lived in pre war Poland and post war Israel, said: "Abraham's going joyfully to slay his son [pre] atoned for his descendants refusal to go to the Holy Land." There are Midrash commentaries very similar to that line of thought.

Some ancient Jewish commentators did in fact credit the father, Abraham, for slaying son and they also credited Isaac for not only willingly offering his body, which was implied turned to ashes, but also for offering ΒΌ of his blood too. (Midrash HaGadol on Gen 22:19), (Sifra, 102c; b. Ta'anit 16a) and also (Mekhilta d'Rashbi, p.4; Tanh. Vayerra, sec.23)

For what, or for whom, did Isaac willingly offer his body and blood? Was it for himself? Was it for his father Abraham? According to the Targums, it was for his future progeny, the people of Israel.

[COLOR=#008000][B]T.[/B][/COLOR] And Abraham prayed in the name of the Word of the Lord, and said: Thou art The Lord who seest, and art not seen. I pray for mercy before Thee, O Lord. It is wholly manifest and known before Thee that in my heart there was no dividing, in the time that Thou didst command me to offer Izhak my son, and to make him dust and ashes before Thee; but that forthwith I arose in the morning and performed Thy word with joy, and I have fulfilled Thy word.

[COLOR=#008000][B]. . . [/B][/COLOR]And now I pray for mercies before Thee, O Lord God, that when the children of Izhak offer in the hour of need, the binding of Izhak their father Thou mayest remember on their behalf, and remit and forgive their sins, and deliver them out of all need. That the generations who are to arise after him may say, In the mountain of the house of the sanctuary of the Lord did Abraham offer Izhak his son, and in this mountain of the house of the sanctuary was revealed unto him the glory of the Shekinah of the Lord. (Jerusalem Targum)

in another Targum:

[COLOR=#008000][B]T.[/B][/COLOR] Now I pray for mercy before You, O Lord God, that when the children of Isaac come to a time of distress You may remember on their behalf the Binding Of Isaac their father, and loose and forgive them their sins and deliver them from all distress. (Fragmentary Targum)

The same thought is also carried over in a prayer, still included in the additional service for the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, which culminates with these words: Remember today the Binding Of Isaac with mercy to his descendants.

The rabbis attested that the final resurrection of the dead would take place "through the merits of Isaac, who offered himself upon the altar." (Pesikta deRav Kahana, 32)

[B][SIZE=2]NOTE[/SIZE]:[/B] That comment asserts Isaac was consenting; which is probably very true.

Some, completely ignoring Tradition, Midrashim, and the Talmud, have really gone off the deep end by claiming Gen 22:2 should be translated like this: And He said; "Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer [with] him there a burnt offering."

Doctoring the Scripture by inserting the word "with" impugns Abraham's intellect as a man whom God testified in Gen 20:7 to be a prophet. Abraham no doubt understood his Master perfectly and knew just what he was expected to do. He had three days to pray about it and ask for confirmation. Abraham was supposed to kill Isaac, and that is exactly what he tried to do.

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