22:1 Some time after these things God tested 1 Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am!” Abraham 2 replied. 22:2 God 3 said, “Take your son – your only son, whom you love, Isaac 4 – and go to the land of Moriah! 5 Offer him up there as a burnt offering 6 on one of the mountains which I will indicate to 7 you.”
22:3 Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. 8 He took two of his young servants with him, along with his son Isaac. When he had cut the wood for the burnt offering, he started out 9 for the place God had spoken to him about.
22:4 On the third day Abraham caught sight of 10 the place in the distance. 22:5 So he 11 said to his servants, “You two stay 12 here with the donkey while 13 the boy and I go up there. We will worship 14 and then return to you.” 15
22:6 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac. Then he took the fire and the knife in his hand, 16 and the two of them walked on together. 22:7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, 17 “My father?” “What is it, 18 my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said, 19 “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” 22:8 “God will provide 20 for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham replied. The two of them continued on together.
22:9 When they came to the place God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there 21 and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up 22 his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. 22:10 Then Abraham reached out his hand, took the knife, and prepared to slaughter 23 his son.
1 sn The Hebrew verb used here means “to test; to try; to prove.” In this passage God tests Abraham to see if he would be obedient. See T. W. Mann, The Book of the Torah, 44-48. See also J. L. Crenshaw, A Whirlpool of Torment (OBT), 9-30; and J. I. Lawlor, “The Test of Abraham,” GTJ 1 (1980): 19-35.
2 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
3 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
4 sn Take your son…Isaac. The instructions are very clear, but the details are deliberate. With every additional description the commandment becomes more challenging.
6 sn A whole burnt offering signified the complete surrender of the worshiper and complete acceptance by God. The demand for a human sacrifice was certainly radical and may have seemed to Abraham out of character for God. Abraham would have to obey without fully understanding what God was about.
7 tn Heb “which I will say to.”
8 tn Heb “Abraham rose up early in the morning and saddled his donkey.”
9 tn Heb “he arose and he went.”
10 tn Heb “lifted up his eyes and saw.”
11 tn Heb “And Abraham.” The proper name has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun (“he”) for stylistic reasons.
12 tn The Hebrew verb is masculine plural, referring to the two young servants who accompanied Abraham and Isaac on the journey.
13 tn The disjunctive clause (with the compound subject preceding the verb) may be circumstantial and temporal.
14 tn This Hebrew word literally means “to bow oneself close to the ground.” It often means “to worship.”
15 sn It is impossible to know what Abraham was thinking when he said, “we will…return to you.” When he went he knew (1) that he was to sacrifice Isaac, and (2) that God intended to fulfill his earlier promises through Isaac. How he reconciled those facts is not clear in the text. Heb 11:17-19 suggests that Abraham believed God could restore Isaac to him through resurrection.
16 sn He took the fire and the knife in his hand. These details anticipate the sacrifice that lies ahead.
17 tn The Hebrew text adds “and said.” This is redundant and has not been translated for stylistic reasons.
19 tn Heb “and he said, ‘Here is the fire and the wood.’” The referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Here and in the following verse the order of the introductory clauses and the direct discourse has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.
20 tn Heb “will see for himself.” The construction means “to look out for; to see to it; to provide.”
sn God will provide is the central theme of the passage and the turning point in the story. Note Paul’s allusion to the story in Rom 8:32 (“how shall he not freely give us all things?”) as well as H. J. Schoeps, “The Sacrifice of Isaac in Paul’s Theology,” JBL 65 (1946): 385-92.
21 sn Abraham built an altar there. The theme of Abraham’s altar building culminates here. He has been a faithful worshiper. Will he continue to worship when called upon to make such a radical sacrifice?
22 sn Then he tied up. This text has given rise to an important theme in Judaism known as the Aqedah, from the Hebrew word for “binding.” When sacrifices were made in the sanctuary, God remembered the binding of Isaac, for which a substitute was offered. See D. Polish, “The Binding of Isaac,” Jud 6 (1957): 17-21.
23 tn Heb “in order to slaughter.”