Genesis 11:31, Did God Tell Abraham To Sacrifice Isaac? Part II of III
And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.
//Yesterday I introduced the Documentary Hypothesis, and how it assumes two different Biblical authors contributed to the story of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son Isaac. This assumption stems from the use of Elohim as a name for God by one author, and by Yahweh as a name for God by the other author. But what if this different naming is intentional? What if the story means to use two different names for God?
The story of Abraham (known as Abram in this verse) begins in the land of Ur. This might be significant. Ur is modern-day Iraq, and the religion of the Chaldeans there was polytheistic. They believed in multiple gods who demanded blood sacrifice. Yahweh instructs Abraham to leave this land and its gods and travel to another.
In this new land, there eventually comes a day when Abraham is “tested” by God. But this testing is by the god of another name; not Yahweh but Elohim. The title Elohim is often read as plural, the plural of El, meaning “gods.” It is also often used to refer to Canaanite gods. It’s as if the God of Israel (Yahweh) calls Abraham out of Ur, and then the gods of Ur (Elohim) entice him to return to his old ways, even asking him to sacrifice his son Isaac. They tell him to go to the “land of Moriah,” which may mean the land of the Amorites. In other words, to leave Yahweh’s land and take his son to the land where human sacrifice was practiced.
The story continues tomorrow.