Genesis 22:4
Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) On the third day.—We may compare the patriarch’s feelings during these two weary days of travel with those of Hagar as she wandered in the wilderness, and each day felt the death of her child growing nearer and more certain. But hers were human sorrows only, while Abraham was giving up the son on whom his spiritual hopes depended.

Afar off.—The summit called the Mountain of the House, usually identified with Mount Moriah, cannot be seen by a traveller from Beer-sheba at a greater distance than three miles (Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 251). Hence it has been argued that some more widely conspicuous hill-top must be meant. But the phrase afar off is used very indefinitely, and three miles exactly agrees with what Abraham did. For he left the servants at the spot, and laid the wood on Isaac, and went the rest of the way on foot. It must have sorely taxed the strength of the lad to be compelled to carry the wood a distance of three miles; while to have carried it from the spot where Gerizim becomes visible would have been impossible.

In Isaac thus carrying the wood on which he was to be sacrificed, the Fathers discerned a type of Christ carrying his cross (John 19:17).

22:3-10 Never was any gold tried in so hot a fire. Who but Abraham would not have argued with God? Such would have been the thought of a weak heart; but Abraham knew that he had to do with a God, even Jehovah. Faith had taught him not to argue, but to obey. He is sure that what God commands is good; that what he promises cannot be broken. In matters of God, whoever consults with flesh and blood, will never offer up his Isaac to God. The good patriarch rises early, and begins his sad journey. And now he travels three days, and Isaac still is in his sight! Misery is made worse when long continued. The expression, We will come again to you, shows that Abraham expected that Isaac, being raised from the dead, would return with him. It was a very affecting question that Isaac asked him, as they were going together: My father, said Isaac; it was a melting word, which, one would think, should strike deeper in the heart of Abraham, than his knife could in the heart of Isaac. Yet he waits for his son's question. Then Abraham, where he meant not, prophesies: My son, God will provide a lamb for a burnt-offering. The Holy Spirit, by his mouth, seems to predict the Lamb of God, which he has provided, and which taketh away the sin of the world. Abraham lays the wood in order for his Isaac's funeral pile, and now tells him the amazing news: Isaac, thou art the lamb which God has provided! Abraham, no doubt, comforting him with the same hopes with which he himself by faith was comforted. Yet it is necessary that the sacrifice be bound. The great Sacrifice, which, in the fulness of time, was to be offered up, must be bound, and so must Isaac. This being done, Abraham takes the knife, and stretches out his hand to give the fatal blow. Here is an act of faith and obedience, which deserves to be a spectacle to God, angels, and men. God, by his providence, calls us to part with an Isaac sometimes, and we must do it with cheerful submission to his holy will, 1Sa 3:18.The story is now told with exquisite simplicity. "On the third day." From Beer-sheba to the Shalem of Melkizedec, near which this hill is supposed to have been, is about forty-five miles. If they proceeded fifteen miles on the first broken day, twenty on the second, and ten on the third, they would come within sight of the place early on the third day. "Lifted up his eyes." It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader of the Bible that this phrase does not imply that the place was above his point of view. Lot lifted up his eyes and beheld all the vale of Jordan Genesis 13:10, which was considerably below the position of the observer. "And return unto you." The intimation that he and the lad would return, may seem to have rested on a dim presentiment that God would restore Isaac to him even if sacrificed. But it is more in keeping with the earnestness of the whole transaction to regard it as a mere concealment of his purpose from his servants. "And he bound Isaac his son." There is a wonderful pathos in the words his son, his father, introduced in the sacred style in this and similar narratives. Isaac, when the trying moment came, seems to have made no resistance to his father's will. The binding was merely a sacrificial custom. He must have concluded that his father was in all this obeying the will of God, though he gave him only a distant hint that it was so. Abraham is thoroughly in earnest in the whole procedure.4. on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, &c.—Leaving the servants at the foot [Ge 22:5], the father and son ascended the hill, the one bearing the knife, and the other the wood for consuming the sacrifice [Ge 22:6]. But there was no victim; and to the question so naturally put by Isaac [Ge 22:7], Abraham contented himself by replying, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." It has been supposed that the design of this extraordinary transaction was to show him, by action instead of words, the way in which all the families of the earth should be blessed; and that in his answer to Isaac, he anticipated some substitution. It is more likely that his words were spoken evasively to his son in ignorance of the issue, yet in unbounded confidence that that son, though sacrificed, would, in some miraculous way, be restored (Heb 11:19). Probably on the beginning of the third day. It is true, Moriah was not three days’ journey from Beer-sheba. But it must be considered that the ass, upon which he rode, is a dull and slow creature, and that Abraham went no faster than the rest of his company, who, for aught appears, were on foot; and that the provisions which they carried along with them, both for their own and the ass’s subsistence, and for sacrifice, must needs retard them.

Then on the third day,.... After he had received the command from God, and from his setting out on his journey; for he had now travelled two days, Mount Moriah being forty miles from Beersheba, where Abraham dwelt (s); or, as others compute it, forty: Hebron (t) was twenty miles from Beersheba, and Jerusalem twenty two from Hebron; and to travel twenty miles a day on foot, as Isaac and the servants seem to have done, there being but one ass among them, was far enough in those hot countries. Now all this while Abraham had time to reconsider things in his mind, and deliberate thoroughly what he was going about; and by proceeding in it, after he had such leisure to revolve things in his mind, it appears that he was satisfied it was not an illusion, but an oracle of God he was going to obey; and that he did not do this rashly and hastily, and that his faith and obedience were sufficiently tried, and found genuine. The Jews (u) take great notice of this third day, and compare the passage with Hosea 6:2; and which they interpret of the third day of the resurrection; and the deliverance of Isaac on this third day was doubtless typical of Christ's resurrection from the dead on the third day; for from the time that Abraham had the command to offer up his son, he was reckoned no other by him than as one dead, from whence he received him in a figure on this third day, Hebrews 11:19,

Abraham lift up his eyes, and saw the place afar off; where he was to offer his Son. Baal Hatturim says, the word "place", by gematry, signifies Jerusalem: it seems by this, that as God had signified to Abraham that he would tell him of the place, and show it to him, where he was to sacrifice, so that he gave him a signal by which he might know it, which some of the Jewish writers (w) say was a cloud upon the mount; with which agrees the Targum of Jonathan,"and Abraham lift up his eyes and saw the cloud of glory smoking upon the mountain, and he knew it afar off.''And others say (x), he saw the glory of the divine Majesty standing upon the mount, in a pillar of fire, reaching from earth to heaven; and they further observe, that the place where he was, when he saw this, was Zophim, a place not far from Jerusalem; and from hence, when the city and temple were built, a full view might be taken of them (y), from whence it had its name.

(s) Bunting's Travels, p. 57. (t) Reland. Palestina illustrata, tom. 2. p. 620. (u) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 56. fol. 49. 3.((w) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 56. fol. 49. 3. Jarchi in loc. (x) Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c. 31.) (y) Gloss. in T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 49. 2. Schulchan Aruch, par. 1. Crach Chayim, c. 3. sect. 6.

Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. On the third day … afar off] The “place” was on a lofty eminence visible at a distance. Presumably “the third day” indicates a journey of 30 or 40 miles. The journey from Beer-sheba to Jerusalem is computed to take less than 24 hours.

Verse 4. - Then on the third day - Jerusalem, being distant from Beersheba about twenty and a half hours' journey according to Robinson, could easily; be within sight on the third day - Abraham lifted up his eyes, - not implying that the object of vision was above him (cf. Genesis 13:10) - and saw the place (which Calvin conjectures he had previously beheld in vision) afar off. Though Mount Moriah cannot be seen by the traveler from Beersheba till within a distance of three miles (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 251), the place or region where it is can be detected (Kalisch). Genesis 22:4Offering Up of Isaac. - For many years had Abraham waited to be fulfilled. At length the Lord had given him the desired heir of his body by his wife Sarah, and directed him to send away the son of the maid. And now that this son had grown into a young man, the word of God came to Abraham to offer up this very son, who had been given to him as the heir of the promise, for a burnt-offering, upon one of the mountains which should be shown him. This word did not come from his own heart, - was not a thought suggested by the sight of the human sacrifices of the Canaanites, that he would offer a similar sacrifice to his God; nor did it originate with the tempter to evil. The word came from Ha-Elohim, the personal, true God, who tried him (נסּה), i.e., demanded the sacrifice of the only, beloved son, as a proof and attestation of his faith. The issue shows, that God did not desire the sacrifice of Isaac by slaying and burning him upon the altar, but his complete surrender, and a willingness to offer him up to God even by death.

Nevertheless the divine command was given in such a form, that Abraham could not understand it in any other way than as requiring an outward burnt-offering, because there was no other way in which Abraham could accomplish the complete surrender of Isaac, than by an actual preparation for really offering the desired sacrifice. This constituted the trial, which necessarily produced a severe internal conflict in his mind. Ratio humana simpliciter concluderet aut mentiri promissionem aut mandatum non esse Dei sed Diaboli; est enim contradictio manifesta. Si enim debet occidi Isaac, irrita est promissio; sin rata est promissio, impossibile est hoc esse Dei mandatum (Luther). But Abraham brought his reason into captivity to the obedience of faith. He did not question the truth of the word of God, which had been addressed to him in a mode that was to his mind perfectly infallible (not in a vision of the night, however, of which there is not a syllable in the text), but he stood firm in his faith, "accounting that god was able to raise him up, even from the dead" Hebrews 11:19). Without taking counsel with flesh and blood, Abraham started early in the morning (Genesis 22:3, Genesis 22:4), with his son Isaac and two servants, to obey the divine command; and on the third day (for the distance from Beersheba to Jerusalem is about 20 1/2 hours; Rob. Pal. iii. App. 66, 67) he saw in the distance the place mentioned by God, the land of Moriah, i.e., the mountainous country round about Jerusalem. The name מריּה, composed of the Hophal partic. of ראה and the divine name יה, an abbreviation of יהוה (lit., "the shown of Jehovah," equivalent to the manifestation of Jehovah), is no doubt used proleptically in Genesis 22:2, and given to the mountain upon which the sacrifice was to be made, with direct reference to this event and the appearance of Jehovah to Abraham there. This is confirmed by Genesis 22:14, where the name is connected with the event, and explained in the fuller expression Jehovah-jireh. On the ground of this passage the mountain upon which Solomon built the temple is called המּריּה with reference to the appearance of the angel of the Lord to David on that mountain at the threshing-floor of Araunah (2 Samuel 24:16-17), the old name being revived by this appearance.

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