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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Behind.—By a slight change in the shape of a consonant, many ancient authorities read one ram instead of a ram behind (“him” is not in the Hebrew). This correction is almost certain, as nowhere else is the word translated behind used as an adverb of place. The ram was probably that with four horns, still common in the East.
A burnt offering in the stead of his son.—We have here the fact of substitution, and the doctrine of a vicarious sacrifice. The ram took Isaac’s place, and by its actual death completed the typical representation of the Saviour’s death on Calvary. In The Speaker’s Commentary it has been well shown, that there is no difficulty in this representation being composed of two parts, so that what was wanting in Isaac should be supplied by the ram. And while it would have been most painful for Isaac to have actually died by his father’s hand, the doctrine of the possibility of a vicarious sacrifice would have been even less clearly taught thereby. He therefore rises again to life from the altar, and the ram dies in his stead, and by the two combined the whole mystery is set forth of God giving His Son to die for mankind, and of life springing from His death. Compare the mystery of the two birds, Leviticus 14:4; and the two goats, Leviticus 16:8.Genesis 22:13. Behold a ram — Though that blessed Seed was now typified by Isaac, yet the offering of him up was suspended till the latter end of the world, and in the mean time the sacrifice of beasts was accepted, as a pledge of that expiation which should be made by that great Sacrifice. And it is observable, that the temple, the place of sacrifice, was afterward built upon this mount Moriah, 2 Chronicles 3:1; and mount Calvary, where Christ was crucified, was not far off.Behind him; which way he looked, either because the voice came that way, or because he heard the noise made by the motion of the ram in the thicket, which had gone astray from the rest of the flock, and whose errors were directed hither by God’s wise and powerful providence; and being young, though horned, it might be called either lamb, as Genesis 22:7, or
ram, as it is here. There needs no curious inquiry how he could offer up that to God which was not his own, both because it was found in a public place, and in all probability utterly lost to its owner, and because he had no doubt a warrant and inspiration for it from the great Lord and supreme Owner of all things.
and looked, and, behold, behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; the ram making a noise and rustling among the bushes behind the place where Abraham was, he turned himself, and looked and saw it: the Targum of Onkelos introduces the clause thus, "after these things"; and so the Arabic version: after Abraham had heard the voice of the angel, and had lift up his eyes to heaven, he was directed to look behind him; and both that and the Targum of Jonathan paraphrase it,"and he saw and beheld one ram;''and so the Septuagint, Syriac and Samaritan versions, reading instead of This ram was caught and held by his horns in a thicket of briers, brambles, and thorns, or in the thick branches of the shrubs or bushes which grew upon the mount; and the horns of a ram being crooked, are easily implicated in such thickets, but not easily loosed. From whence this ram came is not known; it can hardly be thought to come from Abraham's fold, or to be his property, since he was three days' journey distant from home; very likely it had strayed from neighbouring flocks, and was by the providence of God directed hither at a seasonable time. The Jewish writers (k) say, it was from the creation of the world; and there is no absurdity or improbability to suppose it was immediately created by the power of God, and in an extraordinary manner provided; and was a type of our Lord Jesus, who was foreordained of God before the foundation of the world, and came into the world in an uncommon way, being born of a virgin, and that in the fulness of time, and seasonably, and in due time died for the sins of men. The ram has its name from "strength", in the Hebrew language, and was an emblem of a great personage, Daniel 8:3; and may denote the strength and dignity of Christ as a divine Person; being caught in a thicket, may be an emblem of the decrees of God, in which he was appointed to be the Saviour; or the covenant agreement and transactions with his Father, in which he voluntarily involved himself, and by which he was held; or the sins of his people, which were laid upon him by imputation, were wreathed about him, and justice finding him implicated with them, required satisfaction, and had it; or the hands of wicked men, sons of Belial, comparable to thorns, by whom he was taken; or the sorrows of death and hell that encompassed him, and the curses of a righteous law which lay upon him; and perhaps he never more resembled this ram caught in a thicket, than when a platted crown of thorns was put upon his head, and he wore it:
and Abraham went and took the ram; without regarding whose property it was, since God, the owner and proprietor of all, had provided it for him, and brought it to him at a very seasonable time, and directed him to take it:
and offered him for a burnt offering in the stead of his son; in which also was a type of Christ, who was made an offering for sin, and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savour; and its being a burnt offering denotes the sufferings of Christ, and the severity of them; and which were in the room and stead of his people, of God's Isaac, of spiritual seed of Abraham, of the children of God of the promise, of all his beloved ones; who therefore are let go, justice being satisfied with what Christ has done and suffered, it being all one as if they had suffered themselves; as here in the type, the ram having, its throat cut, its blood shed, its skin flayed, and the whole burnt to ashes, were as if Isaac himself had been thus dealt with, as Jarchi observes. Alexander Polyhistor (l), an Heathen writer, has, in agreement with the sacred history, given a narrative of this affair in a few words,"God (he says) commanded Abraham to offer up his son Isaac to him for a burnt offering, and taking the lad with him to a mountain, laid and kindled an heap of wood, and put Isaac upon it; and when he was about to slay him, was forbidden by an angel, who presented a ram to him for sacrifice, and then Abraham removed his son from the pile, and offered up the ram.''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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. and behold, behind him] The R.V. marginal note refers to a difference of reading, arising from the similarity of the two Heb. letters for r (ר) and (ד) d. The word, rendered “behind,” would, by the alteration of r into d, appear with the same consonants as the word meaning “one”: and this reading is found in the LXX, Sam., Peshitto, Targums, and many Heb. MSS. But the text, “behind him,” is to be preferred.
For the sudden appearance of a ram, cf. the similar suddenness of appearance in Genesis 18:2, Genesis 21:19. God’s gifts may be near at hand, and not yet discerned; the recognition of God’s voice brings a sudden realization of His gifts.
a ram] The conjecture that the word rendered “ram” (ayil) should, with different vowel points, be rendered a “hart” (ayyâl) is not to be approved. For (1) wild animals were not usually sacrificed by Hebrews; (2) Genesis 22:7-8, by the mention of “lamb,” prepare us for “a ram”; (3) the word “thicket” seems to imply the twisted horns of a ram being entangled in brushwood.Verse 13. - And Abraham lifted up his eyes (in the direction of the voice), and looked, and behold behind him - either at his back (Furst, Keil, Lange, Murphy), or in the background of the altar, i.e. in front of him (Gesenius, Kalisch). The LXX., Samaritan, Syriac, mistaking אַחַר for אֶחַר, read "one," which adds nothing to the sense or picturesqueness of the composition - a ram - אַיִל; in the component letters of which cabalistic writers find the initial letters of ךאלהִים יִרְאֶהאּלּו, God will provide for himself (Ver. 8; vide Glass, 'Philippians Tract.,' p. 196). In the animal itself the Fathers (Augustine, Tertullian, Origen, Chrysostom, Theodoret, Ambrose) rightly discerned a type of Christ, though it is fanciful to detect a shadow of the Crown of thorns in the words that follow - caught in a thicket by his horns (the sebach being the intertwined branches of trees or brushwood): and Abraham went and took the ram, and (though not directed what to do, yet with a fine spiritual instinct discerning the Divine purpose) offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son - whom be thus received from the dead as in a figure (Hebrews 11:19). Genesis 22:6-8, to show how strong a conflict every step produced in the paternal heart of the patriarch. They go both together, he with the fire and the knife in his hand, and his son with the wood for the sacrifice upon his shoulder. Isaac asks his father, where is the lamb for the burnt-offering; and the father replies, not "Thou wilt be it, my son," but "God (Elohim without the article - God as the all-pervading supreme power) will provide it;" for he will not and cannot yet communicate the divine command to his son. Non vult filium macerare longa cruce et tentatione (Luther).
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