OT Encounters: Gen 22:1-18 – Sacrificing a Son

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament lesson for Lent I, February 18, 2018, is from the first book of the Torah, Genesis. The text is Genesis 22: 1-18 and is not only the well-known, much discussed account of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac, but it also holds a special reverence among the Jewish people who refer to it as the “Aqadah,” which in Hebrew is “The Binding.” The reason this account stands out for the Jews is the unique circumstances that surround it. The Abrahamic covenant is in great danger because the LORD has called upon Abraham to sacrifice his only son, the son in the Messianic line. In addition is the peculiar kind of sacrifice; Isaac would be the ONLY living sacrifice in the Old Testament. In Hebrew culture and according to God’s commands, sacrifices were first killed and drained of blood, then they were placed on the altar for sacrifice. Isaac was bound, living to the wood of the altar. Of course, there is ONLY one other living, bound sacrifice as recorded in the New Testament: Jesus!

The amount of Messianic/Christological connections in this account is stunning. After a three day journey the LORD brings them to Mount Moriah, which is later to be the Temple Mount called Mount Zion. While the donkey was fully capable of carrying wood up this mountain, Abraham places the wood on Isaac. Isaac carries the wood for his own sacrifice. Then there is the language of, “Take your son your only son…(3X),” when Abraham has another son named Ishmael, and the language, “On this mountain the LORD will provide…” All of this taken into consideration along with the “binding” of the sacrifice give us a strong foreshadowing and focus on Christ and His sacrifice upon the wood of the tree. An excellent Old Testament text with which to begin the season of Lent!

22:1 nisah—root: nasah—piel “to put (someone) to the test; tempt; try”

22:2 yechiydka “only; only one” Remember, Abraham has another son. The language is similar to John 3:16 “…His only begotten Son…” (also verse 12)

         wehaalehu—root: alah “to offer; offer up (as a burnt offering)”

22:3 wayashkem—root: shakam—hiphil “to rise early”

         wayachavosh—root: chabash “to saddle”

         wayevaqa—root: baqa—piel “To split; to cut up into pieces”

22:4 merachoq “from a distance”

22:5 hachamor “ass; the ass”

22:6 maakeleth “knife”

         yachdaw “together” Note that the wood was carried up the mountain by the intended sacrifice.

22:7-8 ayeh “where?”

            haseh “lamb; sheep; goat” This terms refers to a small livestock animal and could be young or older.

22:9 wayaarok—root: arak “To lay out; set out; set in order”

         wayaaqod—root: aqad “to bind; tie up; truss together” This is the root for the term “agadah” (binding).

22:10 lishchot—root: “to slaughter”

22:12 meumah “anything at all”

           yere—root: yara “to fear; honor; reverence”

           chasakta—root: chasak “to hold back; withhold; keep back (for oneself)”

22:13 neechaz—root: achaz—niphal “to be caught; held fast”

           basevak—from sevak “thicket” (in a thicket)

           beqarnayw—from qeren “horn” (by the horns)

22:16 yaan “because; on account of” Note the repetition of the verb “chasak” (to withhold; hold back)

22:17 kekokvey hashamayin wekachol “as the stars of the heavens and the sand (mud)…” Note the language of the Abrahamic covenant being used here and in verse 18.

22:18 wehithbaraku—root: barak—hithpael “to bless” “shall all…shall be blessed”

           Eqev “on account of”

The language and speech of God used in this amazing Christological account indicates, “Abraham, because you did not withhold your son, your only son, from me, I will not withhold my only Son from you and all your descendants—even all the nations.”