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.
Verse 1. - And it cams to pass - the alleged mythical character of the present narrative (De Wette, Bohlen) is discredited not more by express Scripture statement (Hebrews 11:17-19) than by its own inherent difficulties - after - how long after may be conjectured from the circumstance that Isaac was now a grown lad, capable of undertaking a three days journey of upwards of sixty miles - these things (literally, words, of benediction, promise, trial that had gone before - that God - literally, the Elohim, i.e. neither Satan, as in 1 Chronicles 21:1, compared with 2 Samuel 24:1 (Schelling, Stanley), nor Abraham himself, in the sense that a subjective impulse on the part of the patriarch supplied the formal basis of the subsequent transaction (Kurtz, Oehler); but the El-Olam of Genesis 21:32, the term Elohim being employed by the historian not because Vers. 1-13 are Elohistic (Tuch, Bleek, Davidson,) - a hypothesis inconsistent with the internal unity of the chapter, "which is joined together like cast-iron" (Oehler), and in particular with the use of Moriah in Ver. 2 (Hengstenberg), - but to indicate the true origin of the after-mentioned trial, which proceeded neither from Satanic instigation nor from subjective impulse, but from God (Keil) - did tempt - not solicit to sin (James 1:13), but test or prove (Exodus 16:4; Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 13:3; 2 Chronicles 32:31; Psalm 26:2) - Abraham, and said unto him, - in a dream-vision of the night (Eichhorn, Lunge), but certainly in an audible voice which previous experience enabled him to recognize - Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. "These brief introductions of the conversation express the great tension and application of the human mind in those moments in a striking way, and serve at the same time to prepare us for the importance of the conversation" (Lange).
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.
Verse 2. - And he said, Take now - "the נַא modifies the command, and seems to express that Elohim wished to receive the sacrifice as a free-will offering" (Lange) - thy son (not a lamb, but thy child), thine only son - not ἁγαπητὸν (LXX.), but unigenitum (Vulgate), meaning the only son of Sarah, the only legitimate offspring he possessed, the only heir of the promise, the only child that remained to him after Ishmael's departure (cf. ὁ μονογενὴς, John 1:18) - Isaac, whom thou lovest, - or, whom thou lovest, Isaac; the order and accumulation of the terms being calculated to excite the parental affection of the patriarch to the highest pitch, and to render compliance with the Divine demand a trial of the utmost severity - and get thee - literally, go for thyself (cf. Genesis 12:1; Genesis 21:16) - into the land of Moriah. Moriah - vision (Vulgate, Symmachus, Samaritan), worship (Onkelos, Jonathan), high (LXX.), rebellious (Murphy); but rather a compound of יה and מֹרִי, meaning God is my instructor, alluding to the temple from which the law should afterwards proceed (Kalisch), or, better, of יה and ראה, and signifying "the shown of Jehovah," i.e. the revelation or manifestation of Jehovah (Hengstenberg, Kurtz, Keil, &e.); or "the chosen, i.e. "pointed out of God," with reference to its selection as the site of the Divine sanctuary (Gesenius), or rather because there God provided and pointed out the sacrifice which he elected to accept (Lange). And offer him there for a burnt offering - not make a spiritual surrender of him in and through a burnt offering (Hengstenberg, Lange), but actually present him as a holocaust. That Abraham did not stagger on receiving this astounding injunction may be accounted for by remembering that the practice of offering human sacrifices prevailed among the early Chaldaeans and Canaanites, and that as yet no formal prohibition, like that of the Mosaic code, had been issued against them - upon one of the mountains - not Moreh in Sicbem (Tuch, Michaelis, Stanley, Grove, et alii), which was too distant, but Moriah at Jerusalem (Hengstenberg, Kurtz, Keil, Kalisch), where subsequently God appeared to David (2 Samuel 24:16), and the temple of Solomon was built (2 Chronicles 3:1) - which I will tell thee of - i.e. point out (probably by secret inspiration) as thou proceedest.
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.
Verse 3. - And Abraham rose up early in the morning, - a habit of the patriarch's after receiving a Divine communication (cf. Genesis 19:27; Genesis 20:8; Genesis 21:14) - and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him (the ass for the wood, and the young men for the ass), and Isaac his son (explaining to him as yet only his intention to offer sacrifice upon a distant mountain), and clave the wood for the burnt offering (obviously with his own bands), and rose up (expressive of resolute determination), and went unto (or towards) the place of which God had told him - literally, the Elohim had spoken to him. The accumulation of brief, sententious clauses in this verse admirably represents the calm deliberation and unflinching heroism with which the patriarch proceeded to execute the Divine command.
Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
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).
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.
Verse 5. - And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye (for similar forms of expression cf. Genesis 12:1; Genesis 21:6; Genesis 22:2) here with the ass; - partly because the beast required watching, though chiefly because the contemplated sacrifice was too solemn for any eyes but God's to witness - and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. An act of dissimulation on the part of Abraham (Knobel, Kalisch, Murphy); an unconscious prophecy (Lyra, Junius, Rashi); the expression of a hopeful wish (Lange); a somewhat confused utterance (Calvin, Keil); the voice of his all-conquering faith (Augustine, Calvin, Wordsworth, Bush, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Inglis), which last seems the teaching of Hebrews 11:19.
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.
Verse 6. - And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; - instinctively the mind reverts to the cross-bearing of Abraham's greater Son (John 19:17) - and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife (to him terribly suggestive weapons); and they went both of them together. Doubtless in silence on Abraham's part and wonder on Isaac's, since as yet no declaration had been made of the true purpose of their journey.
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?
Verse 7. - And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, - during the progress of the journey, after leaving the young men, solitude inviting him to give expression to thoughts which had been rising in his bosom, but which the presence of companions had constrained him to suppress - and said, My father: - a term of filial reverence and endearment that must have lacerated Abraham's heart. As used by Isaac it signified a desire to interrogate his parent - and he said, Here am I, my son (literally, Behold me, my son - Well, my son, what is it? in colloquial English). And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering. Another hint that the sacrificial system did not originate with Moses.
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Verse 8. - And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: - the utterance of heroic faith rather than the language of pious dissimulation (vide on Ver. 5) - so they went both of them together. To see in this twice-repeated expression a type of the concurrence of the Father and the Son in the work of redemption (Wordsworth) is not exegesis.
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.
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.
And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
Verse 10. - And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son - who even in the last moment offers no resistance, but behaves like a type of him who was led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7).
And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
Verse 11. - And the angel of the Lord - Maleach Jehovah (vide Genesis 16:7); introduced into the narrative at this point not as a Jehovistic alteration (Bleek, Kalisch, et alii), but because the God of redemption now interposes for the deliverance of both Isaac and Abraham (Hengetenberg) - called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham (the repetition denotes urgency, as contrasted with Ver. 1): and he said, Here am I.
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.
Verse 12. - And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him. Abraham's surrender of the son of his affections having been complete, there was no need to push the trial further. The voice from heaven has been accepted as evidence of God's rejection of human sacrifices (Lange, Murphy), only that is not assigned as the reason for Isaac's deliverance. For now I knew - literally, have known; not caused thee to know (Augustine), but caused others to know (Lange); or the words are used anthropomorphically (Calvin) - that thou fearest God, - Elohim; the Divine intention being to characterize the patriarch as a God-fearing man, and not simply as a worshipper of Jehovah (cf. Quarry 'on Genesis,' p. 460) - seeing - literally, and (sc. in proof thereof) - thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. Καὶ οὐκ ἐφείσω τοῦ ὑιοῦ σοῦ ἁγαπητοῦ δε ἐμέ (LXX.). Cf. ὅς γε τοῦ ἰδιοῦ ὑιοῦ οὐκ ἐφείσατο (Romans 8:32), as applied to the sacrifice of Christ. In this verse the angel of Jehovah identifies himself with Elohim.
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.
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).
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.
Verse 14. - And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: - i.e. the Lord will provide (Jonathan, Calvin, Rosenmüller, Keil, &c.), rather than the Lord selects, or looks out, i.e.. the sacrifices to be afterwards offered in the temple worship on Morish (Kalisch); or, the Lord shall appear (Oort, Kuenen), which overlooks the manifest allusion to Ver. 8 - as it is said to this day, - or, so that it is said; cf. Genesis 13:16 (Keil) - In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen - or "it shall be provided" (Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Dathe, 'Speaker's Commentary'), though by competent authorities it has been otherwise rendered. "In the mount the Lord shall appear, or be seen" (LXX.); "in the mount the Lord will see, or provide" (Vulgate, Syriac, Samaritan); "in the mount of the Lord he will be seen" (Murphy); "in the mount of the Lord one shall be seen," or "people appear," i.e. the people of God shall gather on this mountain for worship (Kalisch); "on the mountain where Jehovah appears" (Keil). Amidst such a conflict of interpretations absolute certainty is perhaps unattainable; but the sense of the proverb will probably be expressed by understanding it to mean that on the mount of Abraham's sacrifice Jehovah would afterwards reveal himself for the salvation of his people, as he then interposed for the help of Abraham - a prophecy which was afterwards fulfilled in the manifestations of the Divine glory given in the Solomonic temple and in the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
Verses 15-18. - And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, - the object of the first call having been to arrest the consummation of the fatal deed which threatened Isaac's life, and to declare the Divine satisfaction with the patriarch's complete spiritual surrender of his son, the purpose of the second was to renew the promise in reward for his fidelity and obedience - and said, By myself have I sworn, - by my word (Onkelos); by my name (Arabic); equivalent to by himself, by his soul (Jeremiah 51:14), or by his holiness (Amos 4:2) - an anthropomorphism by which God in the most solemn manner pledges the perfection of his Divine personality for the fulfillment of his promise; an act which he never again repeats in his intercourse with the patriarchs. The oath here given to Abraham (frequently referred to in later Scripture: Genesis 24:7; Genesis 26:3; Genesis 50:24; Exodus 42:5, 11; 32:13; 33:1; Isaiah 45:23; Hebrews 6:13) is confirmed by the addition of - saith the Lord, - literally, the utterance of Jehovah; like the Latin air, inquit Dominus, the usual prophetic phrase accompanying Divine oracles (cf. Isaiah 3:15; Ezekiel 5:11; Amos 6:8), though occurring in the Pentateuch only here and in Numbers 14:28 - for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son (vide supra, Ver. 12; from which the LXX., Syriac, and Samaritan insert here the words "from me"): that in blessing I will bless thee, and, multiplying, I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; - literally, upon the lip of the sea; a repetition and accumulation of the promises previously made to the patriarch concerning his seed (cf. Genesis 12:2, 3; Genesis 13:14-16; Genesis 15:5; Genesis 17:1-8), with the special amplification following - and thy seed shall possess (i.e. occupy by force) the gate of his enemies; shall conquer their armies and capture their cities (Keil, Murphy); though that the spiritual sense of entering in through the doorway of their susceptibilities in conversion (Lange) is not to be overlooked may be inferred from the appended prediction - and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed (vide Genesis 12:3, where "families of the ground" occur as the equivalent of "nations of the earth"); because thou hast obeyed my voice. Originally unconditional in its grant, the promise is here distinctly declared to be renewed to him as one who, besides being justified and taken into covenant with Jehovah, had through trial and obedience attained to the spiritual patriarchate of a numerous posterity.
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:
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;
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
Verse 19. - So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they role up and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.
And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;
Verse 20. - And it came to pass after these things (probably not long after his return to Beersheba), that it was told (by some unknown messenger or accidental traveler from Mesopotamia) Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah (vide Genesis 11:29), she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor - as Sarah has born a son to thee. From this it would almost seem as if Milcah had not begun to have her family at the time Abram left Ur of the Chaldees; but vide Genesis 11:30. The present brief table of Nahor's descendants is introduced for the sake of showing the descent of Rebekah, who is soon to become Isaac's wife.
Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,
Verse 21. - Huz his firstborn, - (vide Genesis 10:23, where Uz appears as a son of Aram; and Genesis 36:28, where he recurs as a descendant of Esau. That he was a progenitor of Job (Jerome) has no better foundation than Job 1:1 - and Buz his brother, - mentioned along with Dedan and Tema as an Arabian tribe (Jeremiah 25:23), and may have been an ancestor of Elihu (Job 32:2) - and Kemuel the father of Aram. "Not the founder of the Arameans, but the forefather of the family of Ram, to which the Buzite Elihu belonged; Aram being written for Ram, like Arammim, in 2 Kings 8:29, for Rammim, in 2 Chronicles 22:5" (Keil).
And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.
Verse 22. - And Chesed, - according to Jerome the father of the Chasdim or Chaldees (Genesis 11:28); but more generally regarded as the head of a younger branch or offshoot of that race (Keil, Murphy, Lange; cf. Job 1:17) - and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph (concerning whom nothing is known), and Bethnel - "man of God" (Gesenius); dwelling of God (Furst); an indication probably of his piety.
And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.
Verse 23. - And Bethuel begat Rebekah - Ribkah; captivating, ensnaring (Furst); "a rope with a noose," not unfit as the name of a girl who ensnares men by her beauty (Gesenius). Rebekah was the child of Isaac's cousin, and being the daughter of Nahor's youngest son, was probably about the same age as her future husband. These eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.
And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.
Verse 24. - And his concubine (vide on Genesis 16:3), whose name was Reumah, - raised, elevated (Gesenius); pearl or coral (Furst) - she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah - whence probably the Maachathites (Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 42:5). That three of Terah's descendants (Nahor, Ishmael, and Jacob) should each have twelve sons has been pronounced" a contrived symmetry, the intentional character of which cannot be mistaken" (Bohlen); but "what intention the narrator should have connected with it remains inconceivable, unless it was to state the fact as it was, or (on the supposition that some of them had more than twelve sons) to supply a round number easily retainable by the memory" (Havernick).