Genesis 22:9
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.
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(9) Abraham . . . bound Isaac.—Jewish commentators agree that this was done with Isaac’s consent, nor could it well have been otherwise. Thus his youthful faith was tried equally with that of his father, his future life sanctified, and himself ennobled by being made a type of Christ (1Peter 2:23).

Genesis 22:9. After many a weary step, and with a heavy heart, he arrives at length at the fatal place; builds the altar, an altar of earth, we may suppose, the saddest that ever he built; lays the wood in order for Isaac’s funeral pile; and now tells him the amazing news. Isaac, for aught that appears, is as willing as Abraham; we do not find that he made any objection against it. God commands it to be done, and Isaac has learned to submit. Yet it was necessary that a sacrifice should be bound; the great Sacrifice, which, in the fulness of time, was to be offered up, must be bound, and therefore so must Isaac. Having bound him, he lays him upon the altar, and his hand upon the head of the sacrifice. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and wonder, O earth! here is an act of faith and obedience which deserves to be a spectacle to God, angels, and men; Abraham’s darling, the church’s hope, the heir of promise, lies ready to bleed and die by his own father’s hands! Now this obedience of Abraham in offering up Isaac is a lively representation, 1st, Of the love of God to us, in delivering up his only begotten Son to suffer and die for us, as a sacrifice. Abraham was obliged, both in duty and gratitude, to part with Isaac, and parted with him to a friend, but God was under no obligations to us, for we were enemies. 2d, Of our duty to God in return for that love; we must tread in the steps of this faith of Abraham. God, by his word, calls us to part with all for Christ, all our sins, though they have been as a right hand, or a right eye, or an Isaac; all those things that are rivals with Christ for the sovereignty of our hearts; and we must cheerfully let them all go. God, by his providence, which is truly the voice of God, calls us to part with an Isaac sometimes, and we must do it by a cheerful resignation and submission to his holy will.

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.9. Abraham built an altar, &c.—Had not the patriarch been sustained by the full consciousness of acting in obedience to God's will, the effort would have been too great for human endurance; and had not Isaac, then upwards of twenty years of age displayed equal faith in submitting, this great trial could not have gone through. Abraham built an altar, made of earth slightly put together, as God afterwards prescribed, Exodus 20:24;

and bound Isaac his son, partly, because burnt-offerings were to be bound to the altar; of which see Poole on "Psalm 118:27"; partly, to represent Christ, who was bound to the cross. And that Isaac might be the more exact type of Christ, he was bound by his own consent, otherwise his age and strength seem sufficient to have made an effectual resistance. It is therefore highly reasonable to think that Abraham, having in the whole journey prepared Isaac for such a work by general but pertinent discourses, did upon the mount particularly instruct him concerning the plain and peremptory command of God, the absolute necessity of complying with it, the glorious reward of his obedience, and the dismal consequences of his disobedience; the power and faithfulness of God either to prevent the fatal blow, or to restore his life lost with infinite advantage. Upon these, and such-like reasons, doubtless he readily laid himself down at his father’s feet, and yielded up himself to the Divine will.

And they came to the place which God had told him of,.... Mount Moriah. Maimonides (f) says,"it is a tradition in or by the hands of all, that this is the place where David and Solomon built an altar in the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite, and where Abraham built an altar, and bound Isaac on it; and where Noah built one when he came out of the ark, and is the altar on which Cain and Abel offered; and where the first man offered when he was created, and from whence he was created.''And so the Targum of Jonathan, and other Jewish writers (g). The Mahometans say (h), that Meena or Muna, a place about two or three miles from Mecca, is the place where Abraham went to offer up his son Isaac, and therefore in this place they sacrifice their sheep.

And Abraham built an altar there; of the earth, and turf upon it he found on the mount, erected an altar for sacrifice, even for the sacrifice of his own son: he had built many before, but none for such a purpose as this, and yet went about it readily, and finished it. But if there was one before, Abraham could not with any propriety be said to build it, at most only to repair it; but there is no doubt to be made of it that he built it anew, and perhaps there never was an altar here before:

and laid on the wood in order: for the sacrifice to be put upon it:

and bound Isaac his son: with his hands and feet behind him, as Jarchi says; not lest he should flee from him, and make his escape, as Aben Ezra suggests, but as it was the usual manner to bind sacrifices when offered; and especially this was so ordered, that Isaac might be a type of the Messiah, who was bound by the Jews, John 18:12; as well as he was bound and fastened to the cross:

and laid him on the altar upon the wood; it is highly probable with his own consent; for if he was twenty five, and as some say thirty seven years of age, he was able to have resisted his father, and had he been reluctant could have cleared himself from the hands of his aged parent: but it is very likely, that previous to this Abraham opened the whole affair to him, urged the divine command, persuaded him to submit to it; and perhaps might suggest to him what he himself had faith in, that God would either revoke the precept, or prevent by some providence or another the fatal blow, or raise him again from the dead; however, that obedience to the will of God should be yielded, since disobedience might be attended with sad consequences to them both; and with such like things the mind of Isaac might be reconciled to this affair, and he willingly submitted to it; in which he also was a type of Christ, who acquiesced in the will of his Father, freely surrendered himself into the hands of justice, and meekly and willingly gave himself an offering for his people.

(f) Hilchot Beth Habechirah, c. 2. sect. 1. 2. (g) In Pirke, ut supra. (c. 31.) (h) See Pitts's Account of the Mahometans, c. 7. p. 97.

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 {e} bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

(e) For it is likely that his father had told him God's commandment, to which he showed himself obedient.

9. which God had told him of] See Genesis 22:1-2.

built the altar there] Possibly referring to the altar of some well-known spot. Cf. note on the word “place,” Genesis 22:3, Genesis 12:6. For the definite article, see Genesis 8:7. The altar needed rebuilding.

laid the wood in order] The technical phrase for arranging the wood on an altar of sacrifice. See Numbers 23:4; 1 Kings 18:33.

bound] LXX συμποδίσας. Another technical word, for binding the limbs of the sacrificial animal, only found here in O.T. Amongst the Jews the sacrifice of Isaac was known as “the binding (‘akêdah) of Isaac.” See Special Note at Genesis 1:19. The submission of Isaac is not expressed, but implied. Isaac’s age, according to the narrative of E in this chapter, appears to be that of a mere lad. Without the necessary recognition of the different sources from which the patriarchal narrative is derived, it has been supposed, on the strength of Genesis 21:34 and Genesis 22:1, that Isaac was now a young man. The note of Calvin, to whom the analysis of Genesis was unknown, is therefore justified: “atqui scimus tunc fuisse mediae aetatis, ut vel patre esset robustior, vel saltem par ad resistendum si viribus certandum esset.… Mira quidem est Mosis in narrando simplicitas, sed quae plus vehementiae continet quam si tragice omnia exaggeret.”

Verse 9. - And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, - i.e. upon the mountain summit or slope (Ver. 2) - and laid the wood in order (it is scarcely likely that Isaac was permitted to assist in these affecting preparations), and bound Isaac his son, who must have acquiesced in his father's purpose, and thereby evinced his faith in the Divine commandment. The term "bound," though seeming to convey the idea of violence, derives its significance from the binding of the sacrificial victim - and laid him on the altar on the wood. The feelings of the patriarch throughout this transaction are simply inconceivable. Genesis 22:9Having arrived at the appointed place, Abraham built an altar, arranged the wood upon it, bound his son and laid him upon the wood of the altar, and then stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
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