Gen 22:1-18 KJV
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.

4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.

7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

15 And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

The common thought regarding the account of Abraham at ready to sacrifice Isaac, is one of temptation and murder. When we read Genesis 22, it is easy to see how this misunderstanding came to be. On the surface it appears to say that God tempted Abraham to murder Isaac in order to test Abraham’s faith and prove his trust in Him (God). This misunderstanding has been kindling the fires of doubt in the integrity of scripture for a very long time. Therefore, I will present what I believe is a reasonable solution to the apparent contradictions often levied against God and His word regarding this incident.

The simple point here is that Abraham obeyed God, and God then blessed him for putting his trust in Him. But, for a little better understanding of what happened, here are some details to consider.

First of all, we must consider what was actually said. Then, we must consider how the hearer perceived what was said. We also need to understand that the ways in which people of ancient biblical times said and understood things were different than they are now. And, one more thing to consider; figures of speech. Recognizing figures of speech in this section of scripture will help to disabuse our misunderstanding of this account.

Here then is what was said in Genesis 22.
1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of .

On the surface the King James Version says that God tempted Abraham to kill Isaac. But this simply cannot be the meaning of what happened in the 18 verses of Genesis 22, without contradicting other things that the Bible reveals to us. One such contradiction is found in Exodus 20:13 where God states “Thou shalt not kill ”. Kill, of course here, means murder, for it is impossible to not kill. Murder is the taking of a human life without just cause. Isaac posed no threat to any other individual, nor had he done any act worthy of death. For Abraham to have taken Isaac’s life it would have been murder.

I believe God’s word is true, therefore this contradiction had to be due to a misunderstanding on Abraham’s part. God told Abraham to take Isaac up to where He would show him to go. There is no sin in that.

When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, God establish the shedding of blood as a temporary means to cover sin. They had covered themselves with plant leaves, but then God made clothing for them from animal skins, which would have required the shedding of animal blood. The beginning of the understanding of this can be seen in the account of Cain and Abel. Cain brought sacrificial offering of plants, which God rejected because there is no shedding of blood with plants. Abel’s offering was accepted, because it was animal sacrifice. By the time of Abraham it was well established that blood needed to be shed to atone for sin.

God had also established that He would provide a redeemer for mankind, therefore Abraham would have anticipated God to do this at some point.

Gen 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed;

it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel”.

Both uses of the word seed, as well as the words head and heel here are the singular, meaning that individuals are being refered to. The Serpent is also called the Devil and Satan elsewhere

(Rev. 12:9; 20:2).
The heel belongs to the seed of the woman, which seed is Christ.
Gal 3:16 “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ”. Abraham would have known of this promise, because each generation conveyed the message verbally to the next.

Abraham may also have anticipated the Redeemer by seeing that God had written His word in the stars.
(See Dr. E. W. Bullinger’s “The Witness Of The Stars”, and

Heb 11:17-19
17 “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [son]”,

18 “Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:”

19 “Accounting that God [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure”.

If the angel of God had not intervened, Abraham would indeed have ended Isaac’s life, for he expected God to raise him from the dead. This is why, figuratively speaking, Abraham received Isaac from the dead. Allegorically, Abraham represents God the Father and Isaac represents Jesus His son.

We are taught, therefore, that this was only a trial, a test by God of Abraham’s loyalty and obedience, and that God stepping in and preventing Abraham from actually doing the deed was justification for the temptation. This presents another contradiction as revealed in the epistle of James.

James 1:13 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man”.
For God to have tempted Abraham to commit sin would be contrary to His ways. How then can we come to an understanding of this account without contradictions?

First, we must take a closer look at what God actually said. Next we must consider how Abraham interpreted what God said. Finally, we need to ask how this all would have turned out if there had been no misunderstanding.

What God said…

1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

In the Young’s Literal Translation is, I believe, the best portrayal of God’s intent that various versions offer.

YLT “And He saith, ‘Take, I pray thee, thy son, thine only one, whom thou hast loved, even Isaac, and go for thyself unto the land of Moriah, and cause him to ascend there for a burnt-offering on one of the mountains of which I speak unto thee.”

In other words, “Go up for a burnt offering and take Isaac with you. Just go, I’ll show you where”.
This is a stark contrast to the New Living Translation, which says…”
“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

And also to the New International Version… “Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

In comparing these versions we can see that the NLT and the NIV both explicitly state that God told Abraham to murder Isaac, whereas the KJV merely suggests this in the word “offer”. The YLT merely states that God wanted Abraham to go up and make an offering to Him, and that he was to take Isaac with him. Abraham was to take Isaac up for an offering, not to be an offering.

How is it possible for Abraham to have misunderstood what God wanted him to do? Impatience! That’s right, Abraham was human as we are, and as such, he was not perfect. Although I cannot prove it scripturally, I believe that from the outset he expected God to provide the animal to be sacrificed. When Isaac asked him where the animal was, I believe Abraham answered him honestly, insomuch as he actually did expect God to provide an animal to sacrifice. If he had expected at that time to kill Isaac, he would have been lying to his son to deceive him. If that had been the case, I believe the angel would at that time, of necessity, have stepped in to correct the error.

Abraham himself had said that God would provide the animal to sacrifice. God did not say specifically where to go from the beginning, only that they were to start on their way and then He would show them where to go. If God was supplying the location later, was it such a stretch for Him to supply the animal later as well? But as time went on and no animal had appeared, I believe Abraham’s mind began to play Metonymy on him. Just as translator’s minds have played Metonymy on them by translating “for an offering” into “to be an offering”, so too did Abraham make that jump in equating Isaac as the one to be sacrificed.

What I’m saying here is way beyond what you have read, heard, or been taught before. But if you test what I’ve said here by skipping over the actual naughty act by Abraham, what do you have left? Well, God told him to go and he went. God told him He would show him where to go and He did. God told him to take Isaac and he did. Abraham’s obedience to this point alone qualifies him as having passed the test for being assayed.

When Isaac asked about the sacrificial animal his father said that God would provide. Ultimately, did He? Yes! So skip the part where Abraham blunders and what do we have? God says go, Abraham goes. God says take Isaac, he takes Isaac. Isaac asks where’s the animal to sacrifice, Abraham says God will provide. (wait for it) The animal appears tangled up in the brush, Abraham and Isaac grab it, and waah laah, they all live happily ever after (except the ram, of course).

So why then did God allow Abraham to go as far as he did? Here’s a clue; at what point did Isaac protest? That’s right, this wasn’t only about Abraham, it was also about Isaac. Isaac obeyed his father even as Jesus later obeyed his Father. If God had intervened any sooner the Allegory would not have been there to teach Jesus about his act of obedience to the Father in heaven. Jesus laid down his life as the sacrificial lamb of God so as to take away the sins of the world. Even as father Abraham trusted God to raise again his son Isaac from the dead, so too Jesus trusted his Father to raise him from among the dead. In Jesus alone God has indeed provided a lamb.

Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for nacah (Strong’s 5254)”.
Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2019. 23 May 2019. 
< http://
amp;t=KJV&page=1 >

Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for peirazō (Strong’s 3985)”.
Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2019. 18 May 2019. 
< http://
amp;t=KJV&page=2 >

Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for prospherō (Strong’s 4374)”.
Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2019. 18 May 2019. 
< http://
amp;t=KJV&page=2 >

Written by Ken Rossoll, May 2019



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