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Islam / Muslim : Who Was Abraham Told to Sacrifice, Isaac or Ishmael?
"A miniature from Zubdat al-Tawarikh by Luqman-i-Ashuri, Turkey, c. 1583. The lower register shows Abraham about to sacrifice Ishmael, and underneath is a genealogy of the children of Ishmael… Dublin, Chester Beatty Library, ms. 414, fol. 68v." -Encyclopedia Judaica
In Islam's Qur'an at Surah 37:100-107 it is arguably stated that Abraham was told by Allah to sacrifice Ishmael. This is in contradiction to the earlier Judeo-Christian Bible at Genesis 22:2, which tells that Abraham was told to sacrifice Isaac. The issue as to which of his son's Abraham was told to sacrifice is answered conclusively not merely by two religions claiming infallible divine inspiration, but according to historical evidence.
Genesis 22:2, "Then He said, 'Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
Surah 37:100-103; Abraham said, "'O my Lord! grant me a righteous (son)!' So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: 'O my son! I see in vision that I offer you in sacrifice: now see what is your view!' (The son) said: 'O my father! Do as you are commanded: you will find me, if Allah so wills, one practicing patience and constancy!'"
In this essay we present forty three ancient texts that clearly indicating that Isaac was chosen. We have focused only on texts that predate Islam. This means that Islam cannot claim that either Jews or Christians purposely corrupted their own texts in order to contend with the Qur'an since these texts were written before this was an issue of contention.
On the side of Judeo-Christianity we have Jewish religious writings, Christian religious writings and the works of historians. On the other hand, Islam has no proof of the authenticity of their point of view; no manuscript that are older than the Jewish or the Christian that shows that they were later corrupted, or anything of the sort. All they have is a claim to a more exalted revelation. But lack of proof is not proof and the evidence is clear.
We suppose that there are two basic assumptions as to why Muslims claim that Muhammad said that it was Ishmael instead of Isaac. It may be that, as is obvious from the Qur'an, Muhammad simply did not know what the Old Testament said as he often betrays in his incorrect retelling of chronology, genealogy and doctrine of both the Old and New Testaments. Both Isaac and Ishmael were Abraham's sons, Isaac through his wife Sarah and Ishmael through their maidservant Hagar. After the episode when Abraham is told to offer up Isaac we learn that Ishmael will be blessed and become a nation. It is through Isaac that God would make a covenant and raise another nation; God's chosen people, the Jews. Muhammad may have been attempting to switch the two in order that, by logical conclusion, it would appear as if Ishmael and therefore the Arabs were God's chosen. This may be one of the starting points of the legend of the Arab's descent from Ishmael, which is unknown in pre-Islamic history.
Following I will present forty-three ancient documents that predate Islam and show that Isaac was chosen. Please note that I am merely counting the works themselves and not the number of manuscripts behind them. Counting the manuscript for each work would far exceed the count of forty-three:
The Septuagint or LXX, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament translated the first half of the third century BC renders Genesis 22:2 as:
The Dead Sea Scrolls from the Jewish Essene community which thrived from the late second century BC until 68 AD include a scroll that contains Genesis 22:2, known as 4Q225, it reads:
"And [G]od said [to Abra]ham, 'Take your son, Isaac, [your] only one […] [whom] you [love] and offer him up to [Me] as a burnt offering upon one of the [high] mountains [which I will point out] to you.'"1
The New Testament composed before 70 AD with the possible exception of "Revelation" which may date to 90 AD:
"Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?" (James 2:21). "By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called'" (Hebrews 11:17-18).
Talmud-Sanhedrin 89b composed circa 500 AD:
"'and the boy grew up and was weaned, and Abraham made a great banquet on the day that Isaac was weaned' (Gen. 21:8). At that time Satan said to God: 'Master of the Universe! You have blessed this old man at the age of one hundred years with offspring. Yet amidst all [the bounty of] this banquet that he prepared, was there not one pigeon or fowl for him to sacrifice before You?' He replied: 'All that he did he did only for the sake of his son. Still, were I to say to him, 'Sacrifice your son before Me,' he would sacrifice him at once.' Hence it says thereafter, 'And [after these words] God tested Abraham.'"
Targums/Targumim, Aramaic translations/paraphrases of the Hebrew Old Testament written between about 200 BC-200 AD but were transmitted orally from about 200 BC to the time of Jesus.
Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, "the Word of the Lord at once tried Abraham, and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Behold me. [JERUSALEM. And it was after these things that the Lord tried Abraham with the tenth trial, and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Behold me.] And He said, Take now thy son, thy only one whom thou lovest, Izhak, and go into the land of worship, and offer him there, a whole burnt offering, upon one of the mountains that I will tell thee."2
Targum Onkelos, "And it was after these things that the Lord tempted Abraham; and He said to him, Abraham! And he said, Behold, I am. And He said, Take now thy son, thy only, whom thou lovest, Izhak, and go into the land of worship, and offer him before Me there, a burnt offering, upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee."3
Flavius Josephus a historian active circa 93 AD wrote in Antiquities of the Jews 1.13.1:
"Now Abraham greatly loved Isaac…Abraham…obtained by the will of God: who being desirous to make an experiment of Abraham's religious disposition towards himself, appeared to him, and enumerated all the blessings he had bestowed on him; how he had made him superior to his enemies; and that his son Isaac, who was the principal part of his present happiness, was derived from him; and he said that he required this son of his as a sacrifice and holy oblation. Accordingly he commanded him to carry him to the mountain Moriah, and to build an altar, and offer him for a burnt-offering upon it for that this would best manifest his religious disposition towards him, if he preferred what was pleasing to God, before the preservation of his own son."
Midrash Rabbah is a Rabbinic collection of biblical exegesis and homilies. Genesis Rabbah, which we quote here, dates from 425 AD:
Midrash Rabbah-Genesis XXXIX:9, "Take now thy son (ib. XXII, 2)-'which one?' 'Thine only son.' 'Each is the only one of his mother?' 'Whom thou lovest.' 'I love them both: are there limits to one's emotions?' Said He to him: 'Even Isaac.'"
Midrash Rabbah-Genesis LVI:10, "R. Bibi Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: He said to Him: 'Sovereign of the Universe! When Thou didst order me, 'Take now thy son, thine only son' (ib. 2), I could have answered, 'Yesterday Thou didst promise me, For in Isaac shall seed be called to thee (ib. XXI, 12), and now Thou sayest, 'Take now thy son,' etc.' Yet Heaven forfend! I did not do this, but suppressed my feelings of compassion in order to do Thy will.'"
Book of Judith 8:25-26 (2nd century BC):
"In spite of everything let us give thanks to the Lord our God, who is putting us to the test as he did our ancestors. Remember what he did with Abraham, and how he tested Isaac."4
4th Book of Maccabees 7:12-14, 13:12, 16:19-20 (circa 63 BC-70 AD):
"Eleazar, though being consumed by fire, remained unmoved in his reason…and by reason like that of Isaac, he rendered the many- headed rack ineffective….the father by whose hand Isaac would have submitted to being slain for the sake of religion….you ought to endure any suffering for the sake of God. For his sake also our father Abraham was zealous to sacrifice his son Isaac, the ancestor of our nation; and when Isaac saw his father's hand wielding a knife and descending upon him, he did not cower."
Book of Jubilees 17:16 (circa 135-105 BC):
"Then the [Satan-like] angel Mastema came and said before God, 'Behold, Abraham loves Isaac his son, and he delights in him above all else. Tell him to offer him as a sacrifice on the altar. Then You will see if he will carry out this command, and You will know if he is faithful in everything through which You test him.'"
Epistle of Barnabas 7:2-3 (circa 80-120 AD):
"Moreover, when [Jesus was] fixed to the cross, He had given Him to drink vinegar and gall. Hearken how the priests of the people gave previous indications of this. His commandment having been written, the Lord enjoined, that whosoever did not keep the fast should be put to death, because He also Himself was to offer in sacrifice for our sins the vessel of the Spirit, in order that the type established in Isaac when he was offered upon the altar might be fully accomplished."
1st Clement 31:2-3 (circa 90-100 AD):
"On what account was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not that he wrought righteousness and truth through faith? Isaac, with confidence, knowing the future, willingly became a sacrifice."
Quadratus, Bishop of Athens, Remains of the Second and Third Centuries, V. From the Catena on Genesis:
"In place of Isaac the just, a ram appeared for slaughter, in order that Isaac might be liberated from his bonds. The slaughter of this animal redeemed Isaac from death. In like manner, the Lord, being slain, saved us; being bound, He loosed us; being sacrificed, He redeemed us. For the Lord was a lamb, like the ram which Abraham saw caught in the bush…was led up to the hill to be slain, as was Isaac by his father."
Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus (130-202 AD), LIII-LIV:
"With regard to Christ, the law and the prophets and the evangelists have proclaimed that [it was] He…who guided Abraham; who was bound along with Isaac …He guided Abraham; was bound along with Isaac."
Melito of Sardis (written between 165-175 AD), From the Catena on Genesis Ch. V. :
"In place of Isaac the just, a ram appeared for slaughter, in order that Isaac might be liberated from his bonds. The slaughter of this animal redeemed Isaac from death…[Jesus] carried the cross on His shoulders when He was led up to the hill to be slain, as was Isaac by his father…Accordingly there lies Isaac before us, with his feet bound like a ram, his father standing by, with the knife all bare in his hand, not shrinking from shedding the blood of his son."
Clement of Alexandria (wrote between 192-202 AD), The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book II, Ch. V.:
"Isaac, God in a figure selected for Himself as a consecrated sacrifice, to be a type to us of the economy of salvation."
Irenaeus of Lyons (wrote between 175-185 AD), Against Heresies / Adversus Haereses, Book IV, Ch. V:4:
"Righteously also do we, possessing the same faith as Abraham, and taking up the cross as Isaac did the wood follow Him…For Abraham, according to his faith, followed the command of the Word of God, and with a ready mind delivered up, as a sacrifice to God."
Tertullian (150-220 AD):
Against Marcion, Book III, Ch. 18: "Isaac, when he was given up by his father as an offering, himself carried the wood for his own death. By this act he even then was setting forth the death of Christ, who was destined by His Father as a sacrifice, and carried the cross whereon He suffered." An Answer to the Jews, Ch. 1: "before this temporal sabbath, there was withal an eternal sabbath foreshown and foretold…Abraham, in observance of the sabbath, offered Isaac his son…. Isaac, when led by his father as a victim, and himself bearing his own 'wood,' was even at that early period pointing to Christ's death; conceded, as He was, as a victim by the Father; carrying, as He did, the 'wood' of His own passion….This 'wood,' again, Isaac the son of Abraham personally carried for his own sacrifice, when God had enjoined that he should be made a victim to Himself."
Philo of AlexandriaOn Abraham 32-36 (§§167-207) (20 BC-50 AD):
"So Isaac was saved, since God returned the gift of him and used the offering which piety rendered to Him to repay the offerer, while for Abraham the action, though not followed by the intended ending, was complete and perfect, and the record of it as such stands graven not only in the sacred books but in the minds of the readers."
Augustine (354-430 AD):
City of God 16:32: "Abraham was tested through [the incident of] the offering up of his beloved son Isaac to prove his pious obedience and so make it known to the world, not to God... It says 'Now I know' for 'Now I have made known'-for certainly God was not ignorant [of this] previously." On the Trinity, Book III, 25: "What of the fact, that even in respect to Abraham an angel is not left unmentioned? For when his son was ordered to be offered up as a sacrifice, we read thus: '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. 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 that I will tell thee of.'"
Ambrose Bishop of Milan (340-397 AD):
On the Duties of the Clergy: Book I. Chapter I. 66, "Isaac feared the Lord, as was indeed but natural in the son of Abraham; being subject also to his father to such an extent that he would not avoid death in opposition to his father's will." Book III. Chapter I. 79, "In the case of Isaac we have an example, for the Lord appointed a ram to be offered up instead of him." Concerning Virgins, to Marcellina, His Sister Book I. Chapter I, "Isaac went to the altar of God as a victim of his father's piety."
"Abraham built the altar, when he bound upon it Isaac his son."
Athanasius (296-373 AD): Four Discourses Against the Arians-Discourse I, 443:
"the Word, with a view of conveying to Abraham the idea of 'Only-begotten,' says, 'Offer thy son thy well-beloved;' but it is plain to any one that Isaac was the only son from Sara." The Festal Letters, and Their Index-Chronicon Athanasianum, I. Festal Letters, Letter I., 522, 8-9:
"For thus the patriarch Abraham rejoiced not to see his own day, but that of the Lord ; and thus looking forward 'he saw it, and was glad.' And when he was tried, by faith he offered up Isaac, and sacrificed his only-be-gotten son…The patriarch was tried, through Isaac, not however that he was sacrificed, but He who was pointed out in Isaiah; 'He shall be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers he shall be speechless'…For the sacrifice was not properly the setting to rights of Isaac, but of Abraham who also offered, and by that was tried."
Basil the Great (329-379 AD), De Spiritu Sancto, Chapter I:
32. "Abraham did not spare his own son; then even the passion of the Lord would not be glorious, because a sheep typified the offering instead of Isaac."
Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), The Paedagogus-The Instructor, Book I., Chapter I:
"The King, then, who is Christ…is Isaac (for the narrative may be interpreted otherwise), who is a type of the Lord, a child as a son; for he was the son of Abraham, as Christ the Son of God, and a sacrifice as the Lord, but he was not immolated as the Lord. Isaac only bore the wood of the sacrifice, as the Lord the wood of the cross."
Clement of Rome (circa 30-100 AD), Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 31:
"For what reason was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because he wrought righteousness and truth through faith? Isaac, with perfect confidence, as if knowing what was to happen, cheerfully yielded himself as a sacrifice."
Cyprian of Carthage (200-258 AD):
The Treatises of Cyprian, Treatise I, 10 & 15: "Abraham, believing God, and first of all instituting the root and foundation of faith, when tried in respect of his son, does not hesitate nor delay, but obeys the commands of God with all the patience of devotion. And Isaac, prefigured as the likeness of the Lord's victim, when he is presented by his father for immolation, is found patient….That men are tried by God for this purpose, that they may be proved. In Genesis: 'And God, tempted Abraham, and said to him, Take thy only son whom thou lovest, Isaac, and go into the high land, and offer him there as a burnt-offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell thee.'" Treatises Attributed to Cyprian on Questionable Authority-On the Public Shows, 29: "If thou art righteous, and believest in God, why fearest thou to shed thy blood for Him whom thou knowest to have so often suffered for thee? In Isaiah He was sawn asunder, in Abel He was slain, in Isaac He was offered up, in Joseph He was sold into slavery, in man He was crucified."
Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 AD), Catechetical Lectures, Lecture V., Of Faith, 5 (commenting on Hebrews 11:1-2):
"At present let us be content with Abraham only, as one of the examples from the Old Testament, seeing that we have been made his sons through faith. He was justified not only by works, but also by faith…after he had gained his son, he was commanded to offer him up, although he had heard the word, In Isaac shall thy seed be called, he proceeded to offer up his son, his only son, to God, believing that God is able to raise up even from the dead."
Ephraim the Syrian (306-373 AD):
Hymns on the Nativity: "Sarah had lulled Isaac, who as a slave bare the Image of the King his Master on his shoulders, even the sign of His Cross; yea, on his hands were bandages and sufferings, a type of the nails." Hymns on the Nativity XIII, 29 and Hymns for the Feast of Epiphany II, 29: "In the twenty-fifth year, let Isaac praise the Son, for by His goodness he was rescued upon the Mount from the knife, and in his stead there was the victim, the type of the Lamb for the slaughter. The mortal escaped, and He that quickens all died. Blessed be His offering!"
Theodoret (393-458 AD), "Eranistes" or "Polymorphus," Dialogue III, The Impossible, Orthodoxus and Eranistes:
"When then you hear God saying to Abraham 'Because thou hast not withheld thy son thy only son,' do you allege that Isaac was slain?"
Gregory Nazianzen (329-374 AD), Oration 45, The Second Oration of Easter, XXII:
"Who would not receive even Isaac, when he was being offered by his Father, but changed the sacrifice, putting a ram in the place of the human victim?"
John Chrysostom (347-407 AD):
Homily 25 on Hebrews xi. 17-19: "By faith [Abraham], when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only-begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." Homily on "Father, if it be possible...": "For the sacrifice of Isaac also signified the cross to us: wherefore also Christ said 'Abraham your father rejoiced to see my glory and he saw it and was glad.'"
Sulpitius Severus (363-420 AD):
Dubious Letters, Letter I: "faithful Abraham will say in opposition to them, 'I, Lord, about the mid-time of the age of the world, laid the foundation of the faith by which the human race should believe in thee; I was chosen as the father of the nations, that they might follow my example; I did not hesitate, Lord, to offer Isaac, while yet a youth, as a sacrifice to thee, that they might understand that there is nothing which ought not to be presented to the Lord, when they perceived that I did not spare even my only son.'" Sacred History (Book I), Ch. I: "God tried the faith of Abraham, and required that his son Isaac should be sacrificed to him by his father."
Thus, it is alleged that Ishmael is said to be the one offered by Abraham according to the Qur'an, which dates from the 7th century. Note carefully that as Muslim Qur'an translator Abdullah Yusuf Ali states, "The boy thus born was, according to Muslim tradition, (which however is not unanimous on this point), the first-born of Abraham, viz. Ismail."5 Thus, we learn that "there was a debate between Muslim scholars whether the sacrificed was Isaac(P) or Ishmael(P)"6 Also, The Concise Encyclopaedia of Islam states, "in Islam, Ishmael is considered to be the son Abraham was about to sacrifice although great commentators who hold the opinion that it was Isaac can also be found."7
The other place where it is said that it was Ishmael instead of Isaac is the apocryphal Gospel of Barnabas not to be confused with another apocryphal work the Epistle of Barnabas (circa 70-90 AD) nor with the Apocryphal Acts of Barnabas (circa 478 AD). The Gospel of Barnabas is not cited by any church father or teacher of the church, nor for that matter by any Muslim writer, before the 15th or 16th century AD which is, for many reasons, when it is dated.
The Baha'i Faith (who trace their spiritual lineage to Islam8) has a simple way to deal with this issue; they simply make a dogmatic proclamation. Their fonder, Baha'u'llah, and the Qur'an contradict the Bible but without regard to hermeneutics, manuscript reliability, history or archeology. Instead, the Baha'i utilize their concept of progressive revelation. This is done because they believe that the Bible is to submit to the Qur'an and the Qur'an is to submit to Baha'u'llah since one revelation is said to be subordinate to the next.
The Baha'i teach:
"in connection with Baha'u'llah's statement in the Gleanings concerning the sacrifice of Ishmael; although His statement does not agree with that made in the Bible, Genesis 12:9, the friends should unhesitatingly, and for reasons that are only too obvious, give precedence to the sayings of Baha'u'llah which, it would be pointed out, is fully corroborated by the Qur'an, which book is more authentic than the Bible, including both the New and Old Testaments. The Bible is not wholly authentic, and in this respect not to be compared with the Qur'an, and should be wholly subordinated to the authentic Sayings of Baha'u'llah"9 [Bold mine]
This all comes down to the fact that on one side of the argument we have historic documentation and on the other we have religious dogmatism.
Some Polemics: Genesis 22:2 states, "…Take now your son, your only son…" Islam claims that since Ishmael was born before Isaac, Ishmael was at one time the only son but since Isaac was second born he could never have been rightfully referred to as only son.
The Jewish and Christian understanding of the term only son in this case is that God had promised that Abraham and Sarah would have a son but after some time Abraham took it upon himself to have a son with Hagar. Therefore, the only son that God recognizes is the one He promised, namely Isaac.
Furthermore, Christianity sees in the reference to Isaac as only son symbolism of the future coming of Jesus Christ God's only son. However, we also know that at the time of this event Ishmael and his mother Hagar had been sent away, due to the conflict between Hagar and Sarah. Thus Abraham was left with Isaac as his only son and this also is what was meant by the Biblical passage.
Moreover, through whom God would apply His covenant is made exceedingly clear. Abraham had concern for Ishmael and prayed for his provision:
"And Abraham said to God, Oh that Ishmael might live before You! And God said, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son indeed. And you shall call his name Isaac. And I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall father twelve chiefs, and I will make him a great nation. But I will establish My covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time in the next year" (Genesis 17:18-22).
Ishmael would indeed be blessed but the covenant would be established with Isaac.
Abraham loved Isaac and gave him as a sacrifice. They travel for three days to the mountain where the sacrifice was to take place. For three days in Abraham's mind his son was dead (yet, he trusted in God's promise of making him the father of great nations). Isaac caries the wood on which he is to die on his back. When Isaac asks where the sacrifice is, Abraham answers that God will provide Himself a sacrifice. Abraham is stopped from sacrificing Isaac yet, a sacrifice is made. They find a ram caught by his horns in the thicket. Abraham calls the place Adonai Yir'eh, Adonai will see to it or Adonai provides. On the mountain of the LORD it shall be provided or it shall be seen (Genesis 22:14).
God loves His son. Jesus was dead for three days. He carried the instrument of his death, the wooden cross, on his back. God provided the sacrifice, in the case of Abraham and Isaac God did not call off the idea of sacrifice at all, instead He required that there be a substitute provided by God Himself, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…" (John 3:16) Jesus was crowned with thorns (thicket). The crucifixion took place on the very same mountain, in the land of Moriah, where centuries earlier Abraham said that God provided, and would provide, the sacrifice.
Both were loved by their father, both offered themselves willingly, both carried wood up the hill for their sacrifice, both events took place on the same hill, both were delivered from death on the third day. Jesus referred to this incident as prophetic when he said, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56).
As Henry H. Halley put it:
"A Father Offering His Son: the Son, for Three Days, in the Father's Mind, as good as Dead (22:4): a Substituary Sacrifice (22:13): and it was on Mount Moriah (22:2), same mount on which Jesus was Crucified, same place where Abraham had paid tithes to Melchizedek (14:18), Salem being on Mount Moriah. As Melchizedek seems to have been a primeval Shadow, in Abraham's Life, of the PERSON Abraham's Nation would bring into the world, so here seems to be a Shadow of the EVENT in the Coming Person's Life by which He would do His work. What an apt Picture of the Death and Resurrection."10
This event involving Abraham and Isaac is called the aqedah. Jewish author Philip Sigal writes:
"Two concepts of Judaic theology emerge from the story of the aqedah: vicarious atonement and the suffering of the righteous. Both are impenetrable mysteries, and both are illustrated by the prophetic portion of the Bible that speaks of a suffering servant of Yhwh (Isa. 53)."11
Note that he ties the aqedah with the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.
Some Jewish Comments and Symbolism:
Midrash Rabbah Genesis LVI:3 commenting of Genesis 22:6, "AND ABRAHAM TOOK THE WOOD OF THE BURNT-OFFERING (XXII, 6)-like one who carries his stake on his shoulder." Footnote: "The stake on which he is to be executed."
Pesikta Rabbati 40:6, "What is meant by Moriah? R. Simeon ben Yohai said: It is the Land which, if it were an arrow, would shoot up through the heavens directly to the heavenly altar. Here the world is derived from the stem shot through (yrh) (Exod. 19:13).
Midrash Rabbah-Genesis LVI: 3 commenting of Genesis 22:6, "AND ABRAHAM TOOK THE WOOD OF THE BURNT-OFFERING (XXII, 6)-like one who carries his stake on his shoulder." Footnote: "The stake on which he is to be executed."
Concerning the suffering servant of Isaiah 42, 49, 50, 52, 53, Raphael Patai; Noted anthropologist and Biblical scholar who taught Hebrew at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem writes: "The Aggada, the Talmudic legend, unhesitatingly identifies him with the Messiah, and understands especially the descriptions of his sufferings as referring to Messiah ben Joseph."12 The Torah: A Modern Commentary, "There was…a remarkable tradition that insisted that Abraham completed the sacrifice and that afterward Isaac was miraculously revived…According to this haggadah, Abraham slew his son, burnt his victim, and the ashes remain as a stored-up merit and atonement for Israel in all generations."13
Encyclopedia Judaica 2:482, "Ibn Ezra (commentary on Gen. 22:19) also quotes an opinion that Abraham actually did kill Isaac…and he was later resurrected from the dead. Ibn Ezra rejects this as completely contrary to the biblical text. Shalom Spiegel has demonstrated, however, that such views enjoyed a wide circulation and occasionally found expression in medieval writings."
Ultimately, we find that the historical evidence is that at least forty-three documents that predate Islam make reference to Isaac rather than Ishmael. We find that the reference to Isaac as the only son of Abraham is reasonable. Lastly, we find that there are strong symbolic ties between the event in question and the crucifixion of the Messiah Jesus.
1. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls, A New Translation (New York: Harper Collins-Harper San Francisco, 1996), pp. 262-263
2. J. W. Etheridge, M.A. , The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee (First Published 1862)
3. J. W. Etheridge, M.A. , The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee (First Published 1862)
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