Art, Books, Philosophy, Stuart France

A Grand Old Age: Moriah…

Hebrew Letter – Samekh

*

“Abraham?” said God.

“Here I am,” said Abraham.

“Take now, your only son, Isaac, whom you love,

and go into the land of Moriah.

Once there, I will show you one of the mountains,

where you must offer your son, Isaac, as a burnt offering.

*

Abraham rose early the next morning, cut some wood, and saddled his donkey.

With two of his man-servants, and Isaac, his son, he set off for Moriah.

After three days travel Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the mountain which God had showed him.

“You, must stay here with the donkey,” said Abraham to his servants, “the lad and I will climb the

mountain, offer our worship, and return to you.”

*

Then Abraham loaded up the fire wood on Isaac’s back,

took his knife, and a fire-stone, and together the two of them set off up the mountain.

“Father?” said Isaac.

“Here I am,” said Abraham.

“I see the fire-stone and the wood, but where is the lamb for our offering?”

“God will provide the offering,” said Abraham.

*

When they came to the place which had been showed to him,

Abraham built an altar, laid the fire wood upon it, bound Isaac, his son,

and took out his knife in order to slay him.

*

“Abraham, Abraham?” said God.

“Here I am,” said Abraham.

“Lay not your hand upon the lad,

for I know now that you have not witheld him from me.”

*

Then Abraham looked behind him,

and saw a ram caught in a thicket by its horns.

So Abraham took the ram, and slew it,

and burnt it as an offering instead of Isaac, his son.

*

Abraham named the site, Adonai-yireh, ‘the Lord will see’,

hence the saying, ‘the Lord’s mountain grants vision’, ‘Behar Adonai yera’eh’.

 

17 thoughts on “A Grand Old Age: Moriah…”

  1. This is a deeply troubling story but cannot be taken at face or literal value without understanding the culture of the time. At the time, many people believed that god and gods (lower case intentional) demanded sacrifice to be pleased. These gods wreaked vengeance on the people when they werenโ€™t happy with them and so human sacrifice, the most extreme and devoted of offerings was a common ritual throughout much of the world.

    If you read the other stories about Abraham, you remember that he constantly confronted God. He faced ten tests of faith and at all, Abraham asked questions of God and stood up for those with no voice. At Sodom and Gomorrah, he pleaded for a reprieve for the towns.
    At the mountain, Abraham responds to God more than once, Hinneni, I am here, as if he was willing to be the sacrifice. But God demands his son, the ultimate pledge of faith.

    It was the test Abraham failed and the proof is that Sarah never again spoke a word to Abraham. She spurned him the rest of her days.

    Even with God, we are not supposed to act blindly, without thought. This story reminds us that we humans are tested every day to do the right thing, that we err and fail all the time, and that we may not use our โ€œfaithโ€ in God to do evil. Itโ€™s also the ultimate condemnation of human sacrifice. God wants our hearts and hands to be devoted to doing good, not sacrificing children or anyone to avoid Godโ€™s wrath. Faith cannot be contained in a Tweet nor should any story in Torah be read without further study.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t think that’s the real message. The story is about ultimate faith and obedience. If it was about the evils of blind faith, Abraham would have said no, and God would have rewarded him for that. Let’s not sugarcoat an ancient and fierce tribal text.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this post. It is so interesting at the variety of in-depth responses – more than I am used to seeing, so glad to see this. I am glad I read this one; it gave me a new outlook on the situation with all the different interpretations. I think this fits nicely with Steve Tanham’s eight series posts about the human thought process. Thank you kindly.

    Liked by 1 person

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