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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Genesis 22

 

 

Verses 1-19

Genesis 22:1-19. Abraham Obeys the Divine Command to Sacrifice Isaac, and is Rewarded by the Sparing of his Son.—The main narrative (Genesis 22:1-13) is from E, and the story, which is a literary masterpiece, is told with a reticence more effective than any detailed exposition of the tragedy implicit in it could have been. The pathos of the son's question in Genesis 22:7, the father's answer in Genesis 22:8, is unsurpassable. And the racked feelings of the father, the unconsciousness of the son, are left to the reader's imagination. The point is that Abraham accepts, with unfaltering obedience, the demand for the costliest offering, recognising God's right to make it. The view that the writer intended to teach that human sacrifice was repugnant to God is a modern expedient for making the narrative more palatable. It is not really suggested by anything in the story. The substitution of the ram is not an indication that animal should replace human sacrifice. Isaac is spared, not because the offering of a human victim is intrinsically hateful, but because the purpose of the test had been fulfilled, and the consummation of the sacrifice was therefore unnecessary, while obedience so complete deserved such a reward. But probably behind the tale as we have it there was an earlier legend, explaining why rams were offered at the sanctuary where the tale was told. Originally men offered their children, but the god once directed that a ram should be substituted, and so ever afterwards rams, and not children, were sacrificed. The similar story of Iphigenia at Aulis will occur to many readers. (On human sacrifice see pp. 83, 99.)

Genesis 22:2. Note the description of Isaac, bringing out the greatness of the sacrifice demanded.—only son: Genesis 21:12.—the land of Moriah: Jerusalem may be intended (2 Chronicles 3:1), but it could hardly have stood in the original text. There was no "land of Moriah," and "Moriah" was not commonly used for the Temple hill. Nor would E be likely to represent Abraham as coming to the capital of the S. kingdom. Jerusalem was an inhabited city, here apparently we have to do with a lonely spot. The original text may have been "the land of the Amorites" (Syr.). Moriah would be substituted because it seemed to contain the same elements as the name "Yahweh yireh" (Genesis 22:14).

Genesis 22:6. Isaac bears the wood, as Jesus bears His Cross. "The lad bears the heavy, the father the more dangerous burden" (Gunkel).

Genesis 22:11. Read "angel of God" (Syr.).

Genesis 22:14. Very difficult. E cannot have written it in its present form, for he cannot have used Yahweh. Yet he must have recorded the giving of the name. Yahweh presumably was originally Elohim or El, and Gunkel has brilliantly suggested that the name was Yeruel (2 Chronicles 20:16). This is corroborated by the presence in the context of several similar words ('elohim yireh in Genesis 22:8, yere 'elohim in Genesis 22:12, yar 'ail in Genesis 22:13). He emends Genesis 22:14 b "for he said, To-day in this mountain God provideth."

Genesis 22:15-18. Probably an addition by a redactor (note Yahweh in Genesis 22:15 f.).

Genesis 22:19. Close of E's story.


Verses 1-24

Genesis 12:1 to Genesis 25:18. The Story of Abraham.—In this section the three main sources, J. E, P are present. Gunkel has given strong reasons for holding that J is here made up of two main sources, one connecting Abraham with Hebron, the other with Beersheba and the Negeb. The former associates Abraham with Lot. (For details, see ICC.) On the interpretation to be placed on the figures of Abraham and the patriarchs, see the Introduction. The interest, which has hitherto been diffused over the fortunes of mankind in general, is now concentrated on Abraham and his posterity, the principle of election narrowing it down to Isaac, Ishmael being left aside, and then to Jacob, Esau being excluded.


Verses 20-24

Genesis 22:20-24. The Sons of Nahor.—From J, touched by the redactor, and inserted to prepare for Genesis 22:24. The names are, partially at any rate, tribal. Discussion of them may be seen in the larger commentaries.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 22:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/genesis-22.html. 1919.

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