Abraham and Isaac

The first and last thing required of a genius is the love of truth

Abraham's dutiful willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac, secured his reputation as the first of the Jewish patriarchs. He was just about to put the knife to his son when an angel of the lord stopped him.

Christian apologists paint this as an act of God's benevolence. That whitewash completely reverses the definition of benevolence. What kind of a benevolent God would tell a father to kill his son? How benevolent could God be, if Abraham was too terrorized to complain? Even if Abraham felt no fear or guilt for what he was to do, this was a cruel test to see how far he would go.

God told Abraham to take his son Isaac to the land of Moriah and offer him as a burnt offering.

1After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I."
2He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." (Gen. 22:1-2)

So Abraham cut the wood for the offering and took two men to accompany him and Isaac close to the place of sacrifice.

3So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
4On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. (Gen. 22:3-4)

He and Isaac went the rest of the way alone.

5Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." (Gen. 22:5)

He gave the wood to Isaac to carry and readied himself with fire and a knife.

6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. (Gen. 22:6)

When Isaac cried out to his father, where is the lamb for the burnt offering? Abraham replied God will provide the lamb.

7And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father!" And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"
8Abraham said, "God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together. (Gen. 22:7-8)

Then he built an altar, bound Isaac, laid him on the altar, and covered him with wood. He was ready to slay his son with the knife.

9When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.
10Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. (Gen. 22:9-10)

But an angel told him to stop. God was satisfied that his fear was strong enough to sacrifice his only son.

11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I."
12He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." (Gen. 22:11-12)

Newer revisions give God a softer tone by exchanging 'fear' for something like 'trust.' For example:

12The angel said, "Don't kill your son or hurt him in any way. Now I can see that you trust God and that you have not kept your son, your only son, from me." (Gen. 22:12, New Century Version)

Strong's dictionary confirms that the original Hebrew word is yare, meaning fear or afraid.

So Abraham sacrificed a ram instead.

13And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14So Abraham called the name of that place The LORD will provide; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." (Gen. 22:13-14)

The significance of the ram sacrifice has to do with the Zodiac age of the Ram, from about 2339 BCE to 179 BCE. Abraham's original name was Abram. This looks suspiciously fictional.

1Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. (Gen. 12:1)

As a reward for his obedience, God blessed him and his descendants.

15And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven,
16and said, "By myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son,
17I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies,
18and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice." (Gen. 22:15-18)


1. The land of Moriah, where Jacob built his altar, turns out to be where Jerusalem would eventually be. This was the Bible's perverted way of hallowing the city of Jerusalem.

2. Apologists will argue that this story shows that God would not sanction human sacrifice; he was only testing Abraham's faith. But according to the angel, God was testing his fear. Abraham did not act out of benign faith; he acted in self defense out of perceived terror. He didn't even protest. The ethics of sacrifice had nothing to do with this story. It was about the relationship between fear and obedience.

3. A man who truly has the fear of God in him will not be constrained from committing violent acts against others as long as he believes he is acting in accordance with God's will. The idea of revelation frees believers from conscientiously holding themselves accountable for crimes they would not otherwise commit.

4. Abraham would not have attempted to kill his son without protest if he had any moral convictions to violate. This is the example set by the first Jewish Patriarch and those to follow.

5. To the degree one conforms to Church morals, such a person at times has to sacrifice his own self interests to the Church's as if they are superior. On the contrary, because the Church is the agent insisting on these sacrifices, the Church is the beneficial selfish party. It's like someone calling you selfish if you don't give him money.