Genesis 22:2, Did God Tell Abraham To Sacrifice Isaac? Part I of III

And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

//This story disturbs an awful lot of Bible readers. God tests Abraham by telling him to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering. Abraham does what God demands, taking his son up a mountain, building an altar, and binding him on the altar. As he reaches for the knife to slay his son, God finally intervenes and tells Abraham not to kill Isaac.

Yes, God intervened. But what loving God would ask this of a person in the first place? What father would obey such a request? Which of you, today, could imagine that it is God doing the asking if such a thing were demanded of you?

It gets worse. Bible scholars recognize that there are multiple authors contributing to this story. Those familiar with the Documentary Hypothesis know the two authors as the Elohist and the Yahwist. The Elohist refers to God as Elohim; the Yahwist as Yahweh. The Elohist tells the story of Abraham’s call to slay his son, and tells also of Abraham’s descent back down the mountain after the sacrifice, apparently alone. It’s quite possible that in the Elohist version of the story, Abraham really does slay his son. The Yahwist adds the narrative of God intervening, providing a ram as a replacement for Isaac, so that Abraham doesn’t have to kill his son.

But there is another way to make sense of Elohim and Yahweh, and it doesn’t require the Documentary Hypothesis. This alternative interpretation is much more in line with a compassionate, loving God. The story continues tomorrow.

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