Ideas about God

There are some odd ideas floating around about the Binding of Isaac or the “Akedah” in Genesis.

The most interesting proposal is that Abraham actually goes through with the sacrifice of his son, Isaac and the current Biblical text has done its level-best to hide this fact. The evidence is presented by a man called Dr Tzemah Yoreh, who is also interested in innovative prayer and liturgy, who notes two important details in the Biblical narrative.

The first is that, on the way up Mount Moriah, Abraham and his son are accompanied by two servants who are left at a half-way point. Here is the relevant text: “He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

This is the Ehohist source and in Gen. 22:22, after the event on the mountain-top, records, “After this, Abraham returned to his servants and they set out together for Beer-sheba, where Abraham settled.” Not a mention of Isaac at all.

Yoreh is not alone in identifying that this stray-verse suggests that Abraham was indeed alone. He cites Rashi who certainly considers the possibility that Isaac is dead- saying that the ashes of the dead Isaac would be like the ashes of an animal sacrifice. He follows this up with a reference to verse 12, “…Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 

Of course, the reality is that Abraham did actually withhold his son Isaac from God. He sacrificed a ram instead. the text, says Yoreh, however, does not say “you were quite prepared not to withhold your son,” but actually says “you did not withhold your son.” This is not about theory but instead is about practice. It actually happened.

the second detail in the narrative is that, at the point when Isaac is saved from death, the narrative style changes abruptly, and the source switches from the E to the Y-source. It is Elohim who condemns the boy and YHWH who offers salvation. Moreover, Isaac’s later life, says Yoreh, is one long yawn of imitation: he passes his wife off as his sister, exactly as Abraham had done, and he makes a treaty with Abimelek, exactly as his father had done. In other words, the further details of the adult Isaac’s life are simply a midrash on the story of his father. Why? Because, says Yoreh, Isaac never got to be an adult at all. He was murdered on mount Moriah!

I rather like Dr Yoreh who sacrifices the documentary patchwork theories of Biblical exegesis which have dominated scholarship since the 19th century and instead suggests that just one single source alone exists (the E-source) and everything else supplements it, embellishing, correcting and otherwise commenting on what the Elohist started.

Yoreh by Tim.jpg