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The Offering of Isaac on Mount Moriah
In this narrative we have the crowning proof that Abraham was willing to resign all that was dearest to him at the bidding of God, even that son on whose life depended the fulfilment of the divine promises. But his trial must be also regarded as the occasion of bringing about an advance in the moral standard of the men of his time, which was gradually to become universal. In Abraham’s day the sacrifice of the firstborn was a common practice among the Semitic races, and was regarded as the most pleasing service which men could offer to their deities. It was the ’giving of their firstborn for their transgression, the fruit of their body for the sin of their soul’ (Micah 6:7). The horrible custom was even practised by the Jews in the dark days of Ahaz and Manasseh: cp. 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 33:6, ana the cases of Jephthah (Jdg ll) and Mesha, king of Moab (2 Kings 3:27). The custom probably prevailed among the tribes in whose midst Abraham dwelt, and it was borne in upon him that he should show his devotion to God in this way also. Regarding the suggestion, however it was made, as coming from God, he did not hesitate or delay, though his heart must have been wrung by the very thought. He had covenanted to give up his own Will to the will of God, and in fulfilment of his obedience he was willing to sacrifice his own son. Selfsacrifice is the supreme test of faith, and Abraham was not found wanting: cp. Hebrews 11:17-19. The will, however, was taken for the deed, and regarded as sufficient proof of his loyalty and obedience. And Abraham, and through him the world, learnt that, far from desiring human sacrifice, Jehovah abhors it: that His worship is to be attended by mercy and justice and humanity in His followers, and that the most acceptable offering is a life of obedience and faith and love.
1. Tempt] RV ’prove,’ i.e. put his faith and obedience to the proof.
2. The land of Moriah] only mentioned again 2 Chronicles 3:1, ’Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in Mount Moriah.’ Beneath the dome of the Mosque of Omar, which now stands on the site of the Jewish Temple, is the rock which is traditionally supposed to have been the scene of the sacrifice. It is uncertain whether the two places are to be identified, but we may gather from Genesis 22:14 that the writer wished Jerusalem to be understood here. The Samaritans assert that Mt. Gerizim was the scene of the event, regarding Moriah as Moreh in Sichern.
5. Abraham’s assurance that he would return with Isaac indicates his hope that God would in some way preserve his son to him. ’He accounted that God was able to raise him up even from the dead: from whence also he received him in a figure’ (Hebrews 11:19). He could not believe that the solemn promises respecting his son would fail of fulfilment.
6. Fire] embers from the hearth carried in a vessel.
10. By this action Abraham in spirit and intention completed the sacrifice and showed his faith and obedience.
13. The substitution of the ram involves a recognition of God’s right to demand sacrifice for His sake, and preserves the spirit which prompted Abraham’s act, while at the same time it indicates the objectionableness of human sacrifice.
14. Jehovah-jireh] ’The Lord will see.’
In the mount.. seen] Render, ’In Jehovah’s mount (the Temple hill) He is seen,’ i.e. ’He sees’ the needs of His worshippers and ’is seen’ by revealing Himself to them and ’providing’ (as RV renders) for their wants. The words received their highest fulfilment when God withheld not His only Son, but freely gave Him up for men in this very place.
15-18. Abraham’s victory of faith is rewarded by a confirmation of the promises already made to him: cp. Hebrews 6:13.
20-24. The family of Nahor. The names are to be identified with tribes on the eastern borders of Canaan.
21. Huz] RV ’Uz.’ Cp. Genesis 10:23, where Uz is given as the name of a son of Aram. Job is described as of the land of Uz, and his friend Elihu is called a Buzite. Aram] probably the Syrians.
24. Concubine] a secondary but lawful wife. By such alliances the influence and importance of the family in early times were increased. Regarding these names as those of tribes, what is suggested here is that the last four were related to the main group somewhat distantly.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 22". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany