G‑d’s strange Command
Peace and harmony had returned to Abraham’s house, after Ishmael and his
mother had left. But Abraham was not to find complete peace. Once more his faith
was to be tested severely.
Under stress of tribulation Abraham had proved unshaken in his faith in G‑d.
Would his faith be just as strong in the midst of blissfulness? G‑d now put
Abraham’s sincerity and obedience to the greatest possible test. Appearing to
Abraham suddenly, G‑d said to him, “Please take your son, your only one, whom
you love, yea, Isaac, and go away to the land of Moriah and bring him up there
for a burnt offering on one of the mountains, of which I will tell you.”
Abraham did not plead with G‑d for his son. He did not ask how this command
could be reconciled with the promise that Isaac was to become the father of a
large nation that was to bear G‑d’s name. G‑d commanded, and Abraham hastened to
Father and Son Together
Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass with his own hands and
prepared wood for the fire; then he took two servants and his son Isaac and
started on the trip to Moriah. Isaac, then already a fully grown man of
thirty-seven, soon realized for what purpose he was being taken on this trip.
Thus father and son were firm in their decision to fulfill G‑d’s command.
Many an obstacle was put in their way to make it difficult for them to go
through with the test. However, with firm hearts and solemn determination,
Abraham and Isaac continued on their way until they reached Mount Moriah on the
third day. Here G‑d showed Abraham the place where he was to build the altar and
bind Isaac on it. Abraham and Isaac ascended to the place G‑d had designated.
The Akedah Altar
Having prepared the altar, upon which he bound his beloved son, Abraham
lifted the knife to sacrifice Isaac. At that moment an angel called unto him to
halt and do no harm to his son, for this was only a test and Abraham had proved
his loyalty to G‑d. Full of gratitude and holy inspiration, Abraham looked
around and saw a ram that had been caught in a thicket by his horns. Abraham
took the ram and offered it, instead of Isaac, to G‑d.
And the angel of G‑d called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven and
said, “And he said, "By Myself have I sworn, says the L-rd, that because you
have done this thing and you did not withhold your son, your only one, that I
will surely bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the
heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore, and your descendants will
inherit the cities of their enemies.“
Abraham and Isaac Return
Full of happiness and solemn joy at the miraculous ending of their trip,
Abraham and Isaac descended from the mountain and returned to the place where
they had left their servants. As fast as they could, they returned home to
Sarah. Abraham feared that somehow Sarah might have guessed the real purpose of
the journey, and he was therefore anxious to return home with his beloved son
Isaac safe and sound.
News of Isaac’s safe return reached Sarah before his arrival, and her
troubled heart could not stand the shock. Sarah died from the shock of happiness
that overwhelmed her. She was one hundred and twenty-seven years old.
Abraham mourned deeply over the loss of his wife, and with him mourned the
entire country. He bought the Cave of Machpelah, near Hebron, where Adam and Eve
had been buried, and there he laid his wife Sarah to rest.