abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son isaac at the god’s request is one of the most morally controversial stories in genesis. god instructs abraham to take and sacrifice his son isaac. this was the same son upon which god had already indicated would continue abraham’s legacy. the torah section, in hebrew is referred to the akedah. genesis 22.
over the years,tations. if you attend jewish high holiday services, you have been subjected to countless interpretations of the story. the torah portion is read on the second day of rosh hashonah, the jewish new year.
rabbis and those speaking out on akedah are all over the place concerning their view of abraham. was he morally weak? morally strong? your opinion on the matter may tell you more about yourself than the act itself.
many condemn abraham for not contesting god’s request when it was made. some have offered the fact that abraham was punished by god as they never spoke after the incident. one opinion of the story is that isaac was actually sacrificed.
the 929 project had an outstanding torah scholar, richard elliot friedman provide his perspective. this is the link to his lecture. he discussed how a scholar advanced the concept that the torah has its unique literary style. he discussed how unlike other classical literature, the biblical literary style is built upon the reader’s knowledge of the past text. thus, one must start reading from the beginning of the bible, the creation of the world, to understand the current text that is being read. this task lends to a perspective which can shape opinion.
without this past knowledge, one’s opinion of abraham will be viewed negatively. with the past knowledge, one’s opinion of abraham will be viewed more positively. therefore, your opinion on the topic tells others whether you know and appreciate that prior texts. your interpretation will tell you whether you are someone who is willing to take the time and connect the dots. those whose opinions that are wild may show a more emotional or visceral approach. perhaps, they approach life with a facts don’t matter attitude.
with this in mind, i offer the following facts to be considered in the interpretation outside of the story. isaac was to be abraham’s seed per god. genesis 21:12. abraham had already shown that he would stand up to god against the destruction of humanity in the story of sodom and gemorrah. genesis 18.
thus, abraham’s agreement concerning his legacy was solidly with isaac. his faith dictated that the sacrifice would not happen. further, abraham had already shown the willingness to fight for others. his decision not to contest was out of respect for god. god had delivered isaac to abraham and sarah. god already had a special relationship with isaac.
thus, what happened at the time of the attempt to sacrifice isaac was perhaps the oldest documented game of poker. abraham was “all in” with his son on the alter and it was god who was placed in the position to “fold.” in other words, he was calling god’s bet or test.
alternatively, this was a high stakes game of “chicken” with a life in play.
this interpretation is supported by book end quotes. at the beginning of the story, it is abraham who says, “here i am” to god. in the end, it is god’s angel who replies “here i am” to abraham as he withdraws the request to sacrifice. it can be interpreted that abraham, with so much faith in god, was willing to go “all in” to call the bluff. the facts support this argument.
in sum, the story’s brilliance is the multitude of opinions that can be drawn. this takes us to our everyday opinions. one must think about how opinions are formed. do you take past history into consideration when making opinions? do you ignore the past when making opinion? or are you ignorant of the past when making opinion? taking this matter further, some opinions can be made by “thinking out of box.” in doing so, perhaps it is important to know why there is a “box” in formulating the outside view.
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