All Work and No Play Make Abraham a Dull Boy

I’ve been waiting for this chapter for a while. I knew it was coming, and all my secondary sources were teeing off on it, so I’ve been eager to address it. This is the chapter where God tells Abraham to stab and burn his son to death! Not the son that he just told him to send into the desert to die, this is the other son. The one they waited a long time for, begged God for, and that God bragged about providing for them. That one.

It starts off fucked up, right from the get-go:

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.’

He reminds Abraham that the other son is gone and this is all he has left, then he tells him to kill him. He also tells him to go somewhere distant, so he has to think about killing his son for more than three days. It doesn’t look like there’s any reason for God to make the place so remote, except to twist the knife and make Abraham suffer more. Even though the Bible doesn’t say anything about Abraham having second thoughts about this murder he was about to commit, he must have been torn up about it on the inside (after all, although he acquiesced to God’s command to send Ishmael to his certain-death, the Bible did point out that he felt bad about that, and this is his last remaining son).

The tension builds as Isaac asks “where is the lamb for the burnt-offering, ” and Abraham has to lie to him and say that God would provide it. Then he builds the altar as Isaac looks on, arranges the wood, and then, somehow, seizes his son and ties him up and places him on the altar, then

10 Abraham putteth forth his hand, and taketh the knife — to slaughter his son.

Let me stop here for a second and make an important point. Why. The Fuck. Is this necessary?! God is supposed to be omniscient, to be able to see people’s hearts and minds, and to know everything that has happened or ever will happen. Why would he have to test humanity? Shouldn’t he know, automatically, exactly whether someone is faithful and obedient? Couldn’t he have spared Abraham the suffering and misery of thinking he has to kill his only son? It doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, he had already told Abraham to send one of his sons into the desert, where his death was all but certain, and Abraham immediately complied. Does God need to re-run the test?

Well, eventually God has a messenger “call from the heavens” and stop Abraham from killing Isaac. Who is this messenger (the concept of angels has still not been introduced) and where are the heavens (no mention of that in the creation story), and why didn’t God deliver the message himself? No answer for any of those questions.

We get some more info about why God tested Abraham, in the message he conveys to Abraham:

12 Put not forth thine hand unto the youth, nor do anything to him, for now I have known that thou art fearing God, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only one, from Me.’

In other words, he ran this test to figure out whether or not Abraham “fears” God. Aside from the obvious problem: that nobody wants a God that randomly tells you to kill people you love to make you afraid of him, it’s also problematic that God admits that he needed to run this test to get information about Abraham. He is NOT omniscient. He does NOT know what is in your heart. He has to tell you to kill things and watch to see what happens.

Then *poof* God magically conjures a ram for Abraham to kill instead of his son, and then Abraham names the place “Jehovah-Jireh.” I assumed “Jireh” meant “is a fucking asshole” but the Bible says it means “doth provide.”

Then God makes yet another covenant with Abraham to make a lot of offspring. I guess when you are constantly commanding your creation to kill their families, you have to keep making new covenants about how many kids they’ll have. I’d make him put it in writing this time. So far, God has promised him three times that he is going to have countless offspring, and he has commanded him to send one son into desert exile, where God barely saved his life, and then commanded him to stab and burn his one remaining son.

Ironically, the chapter ends by talking about how many sons Abraham’s brother’s sex-slaves have popped out. There’s no covenant between God and Nahor but he has TWELVE sons. Abraham, with his super-awesome covenant, has one (since God told him to get rid of the other one) and he very nearly had zero.

jack-nicholson-the-shining

“Has anyone seen Isaac around?”

CHAPTER 22

1 And it cometh to pass after these things that God hath tried Abraham, and saith unto him, `Abraham;’ and he saith, `Here [am] I.’

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.’

And Abraham riseth early in the morning, and saddleth his ass, and taketh two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and he cleaveth the wood of the burnt-offering, and riseth and goeth unto the place of which God hath spoken to him.

On the third day — Abraham lifteth up his eyes, and seeth the place from afar;

and Abraham saith unto his young men, `Remain by yourselves here with the ass, and I and the youth go yonder and worship, and turn back unto you.’

And Abraham taketh the wood of the burnt-offering, and placeth on Isaac his son, and he taketh in his hand the fire, and the knife; and they go on both of them together.

And Isaac speaketh unto Abraham his father, and saith, `My father,’ and he saith, `Here [am] I, my son.’ And he saith, `Lo, the fire and the wood, and where the lamb for a burnt-offering?’

and Abraham saith, `God doth provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt-offering, my son;’ and they go on both of them together.

And they come in unto the place of which God hath spoken to him, and there Abraham buildeth the altar, and arrangeth the wood, and bindeth Isaac his son, and placeth him upon the altar above the wood;

10 and Abraham putteth forth his hand, and taketh the knife — to slaughter his son.

11 And the messenger of Jehovah calleth unto him from the heavens, and saith, `Abraham, Abraham;’ and he saith, `Here [am] I;’

12 and He saith, `Put not forth thine hand unto the youth, nor do anything to him, for now I have known that thou art fearing God, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only one, from Me.’

13 And Abraham lifteth up his eyes, and looketh, and lo, a ram behind, seized in a thicket by its horns; and Abraham goeth, and taketh the ram, and causeth it to ascend for a burnt-offering instead of his son;

14 and Abraham calleth the name of that place `Jehovah-Jireh,’ because it is said this day in the mount, `Jehovah doth provide.’

15 And the messenger of Jehovah calleth unto Abraham a second time from the heavens,

16 and saith, `By Myself I have sworn — the affirmation of Jehovah — that because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only one —

17 that blessing I bless thee, and multiplying I multiply thy seed as stars of the heavens, and as sand which [is] on the sea-shore; and thy seed doth possess the gate of his enemies;

18 and blessed themselves in thy seed have all nations of the earth, because that thou hast hearkened to My voice.’

19 And Abraham turneth back unto his young men, and they rise and go together unto Beer-Sheba; and Abraham dwelleth in Beer-Sheba.

20 And it cometh to pass after these things that it is declared to Abraham, saying, `Lo, Milcah hath borne, even she, sons to Nahor thy brother:

21 Huz his first-born, and Buz his brother; and Kemuel father of Aram,

22 and Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel;

23 and Bethuel hath begotten Rebekah;’ these eight hath Milcah borne to Nahor, Abraham’s brother;

24 and his concubine, whose name [is] Reumah, she also hath borne Tebah, and Gaham, and Tahash, and Maachah.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s