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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Genesis 22

 

 

Verse 1

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he 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.

God did tempt Abraham. By tempting is not meant inciting to sin (James 1:13), but trying, proving, giving occasion for the development of his faith. It was designed, not as an experiment to ascertain whether and how far Abraham trusted in God, but to bring out the faith which was so eminent a quality in his character into full display to His "praise, and honour, and glory" (1 Peter 1:7). That faith had already stood proof under a succession of nine severe trials, each more severe than the preceding (Genesis 12:1; Genesis 12:10; Genesis 12:15; Genesis 14:13-14; Genesis 16:2-3; Genesis 17:23; Genesis 20:2; Genesis 21:11; Genesis 21:14); and the new trial which is about to be described formed the climax in the course of educational discipline by which he was trained to the service of the true God. Indeed, the extent and stability of his religious devotedness were manifested in so striking a manner that he was subjected to no further trial during the remainder of his life.

And he said, Behold, here I am. This prompt answer intimated not only that he heard the divine call, but that he was ready at a moment's warning for God's service.


Verse 2

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.

Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac - [ yachiyd (Hebrew #3173), one alone, only.] It sometimes stands absolutely (Proverbs 4:3; Jeremiah 6:26; Zechariah 12:10); but here and elsewhere is accompanied by the word [ been (Hebrew #1121)] son. Isaac was not the only son. [The Septuagint translates only, ton (Greek #3588) huion (Greek #5207) sou (Greek #4675) ton (Greek #3588) agapapeeton (Greek #25), 'thy beloved son.' Paul (Hebrews 11:17), ton (Greek #3588) monogenee (Greek #3439), "thine only-begotten son" - i:e., thine only legitimate son and heir (cf. Josephus, b. 1: ch. 13:3, sec. 1; also ch. 16:, sec. 3).] The command was issued in such terms as admitted of no entreaty and no evasion. Every circumstance mentioned in it was calculated to give a deeper stab to the parental bosom of Abraham. To lose his only son, in whom all his most cherished hopes were centered-to lose him by an act of his own hand; to be required to offer him as a sacrifice, and that not by the short process of immolation only, but by slowly consuming his body as a burnt offering on an altar-what a host of conflicting emotions must the order have raised! But Abraham heard, and obeyed without a complaint.

Get thee into the land of Moriah - i:e., the land in the vicinity of that mount at Jerusalem. [The name Moriah, which stands in this passage, Moriyaah (Hebrew #4179), and in 2 Chronicles 3:1, Mowriyh (Hebrew #4179), is a compound word, consisting of the Hophal participle of raa'aah (Hebrew #7200), to see, and Yaah (Hebrew #3050), the abbreviated form of Yahweh (Hebrew #3068), Jehovah; and it signifies 'the shown of Yahweh' - i:e., the manifestation or appearance of Yahweh.] It has been objected, indeed, by Tuch and others, that the reading of this passage in the present Hebrew Bible is spurious, since the combination of the appellative Yahweh with Jewish proper names was a practice unknown until an advanced period in Jewish history; and that the original text, which is preserved in the Samaritan Pentateuch, had [ Mowreh (Hebrew #4176)], the place of Sichem, where Abraham erected his first altar in Canaan. But the objection is groundless, as there are various instances of the prevalence of that usage in the pre-Mosaic period-Jochebed (Exodus 6:20; Numbers 26:59), Abiah (1 Chronicles 7:8), and Bithiah (1 Chronicles 4:18), have Yaah (Hebrew #3050), or Yahweh, in them; and Delitzsch, Knobel, and Gesenius maintain that the name Moriah is compounded in the same manner. Besides, the reading in the text is unchallengeable, being supported by the most ancient and independent manuscript authority; whereas the testimony of the Samaritans is open to suspicion, they having been naturally desirous to cluster around their temple on mount Gerizim all the sacred associations they could. The name Moriah in this verse must of course be considered, used proleptically, with reference to the event of Yahweh's appearance to Abraham, which rendered it famous. Wilton, indeed, maintains (in his 'Negeb,' p.

147) that it was already known by that name, from the presence of the mysterious Melchizedek, who, he supposes, might be the Son of God. But that is fanciful. This is the only Scripture passage in which the land of Moriah is mentioned. The Septuagint does not regard it as a proper name, translating it: teen geen teen hupseeleen-the lofty land, and therefore 'seen afar off' (see the note at Genesis 12:6).


Verse 3

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.

Abraham rose up early ... That there might be no appearance of delay or reluctance on his part, he made every preparation for the sacrifice before setting out-the cleft wood, the knife, the donkey that was to convey the materials, and the servants that were to take charge of them on the journey to Moriah. All that time he had the dreadful secret pent up in his own bosom; and as: a place so distant, yet so distinctly specified, must have been chosen for some important reason, it is generally thought that "the place which God had told him of," was the hill at Jerusalem on which the Great Sacrifice was afterward offered.


Verse 4

Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes. Stanley, who follows the Samaritan version in reading Moreh here, and consequently considers that the place appointed for the sacrifice was mount Gerizim, describes Abraham and his escort as traveling from Beer-sheba along the Philistine plain; and then, on the morning of the third day, arriving on the plain of Sharon, 'exactly where the massive height of Gerizim is visible "afar off" whence half a day more would bring him to its summit.' But it is not said that the journey occupied three days, or that he reached the spot at the end of three days; but on the third day - i:e., after the Lord had appeared or called to him-he saw the place afar off. Since there is nothing said of a night vision, we are warranted to suppose that the command was given late on an afternoon or evening; that having risen very early on the morning of the next or second day, to make his few simple preparations, he set out on the journey, traveling the whole of that day, and that on the morning of the third he came in sight of the place of his destination.

According to the Hebrew method of reckoning time, part of a day was counted as a whole (as in the parallel case of our Lord's resurrection); and although Abraham's encampment is not mentioned, yet from his protracted residence in the land of the Philistines (Genesis 21:34), at Eltolad (see the note at Genesis 21:2), which was situated about twelve or fifteen miles southwest of Beer-sheba ('Negeb'), it is most probable that he started from that point. The journey, therefore, which is somewhat more than thirty Roman miles, might well, if he traveled the entire day at the usual slow rate in the East, be so far accomplished that on the morning of the third he would be near its end. "Afar off" does not necessarily indicate a remote distance; on the contrary, the word [ meeraachoq (Hebrew #7350)] is often used to express the idea of a comparatively small space (see the note at Genesis 21:16); and the circumstances of the case require it to bear a restricted sense here.

"The mountains" are still round about Jerusalem, even as in days of yore; and hence, there is but one point in all the surrounding country from which this begirded district can be "seen afar off." On the west, though a small portion of its loftiest elevations can be seen at Dier Mar Elias, remote about three miles, yet it is not before reaching the crest dividing the valley of Hinnom from the plain of Rephaim, two or three hundred yards off, that any considerable portion can be seen, and even then no part of mount Moriah is in sight. But from the top of a high promontory, jutting into the deep valley of the Kedron, a few miles south of the city, the hill upon which the temple was built can be plainly seen through the opening made among the mountains by the ancient brook; and so narrow is the opening, that scarcely any part of the city is visible except this ridge. I had often thought, in looking down that valley, that it was from this very point, or from the summit of a ridge still lower down, that the heart-stricken patriarch 'lifted up his eyes on the third day of his journey, and saw the place afar off' (Barclay, 'City of the Great King').


Verse 5

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.

Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass. He did not inform his servants of the object of his journey, as he had not told his wife Sarah: for he must have apprehended that opposition would be made by both. In the case of the latter, although arrived at the appointed scene of the offering, he was probably actuated by the additional motive of preventing his conduct from being appealed to as a precedent for human sacrifices, and hence, he carefully excluded the presence of his attendants, and selected a spot for his worship where, amid a shady thicket, he would be screened from the view of all observers.


Verses 6-8

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.

Abraham took the wood, ... Leaving the servants at the foot of the hill, the father and son ascended the height, the one bearing the knife and the fire-not brought, as some have conjectured, all the way from his stated place of worship, on the ground that none but sacred fire was allowable on altar, but kindled at the last stage of the journey, and, from the imperfect means of ignition, carried in a small brazier, as is commonly done in the East, sometimes for a whole day-and the other bearing the wood for consuming the sacrifice. But there was no victim; and to the question so naturally put by Isaac, Abraham contented himself with replying, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." It is likely that these words were spoken evasively-in ignorance of the issue; yet in unbounded confidence that his son, though sacrificed, would in some miraculous way be restored. The dignity of faith was never more beautifully exemplified than in the utterance of this calm and unconsciously prophetic assurance to his son.


Verse 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.

Abraham built an altar. The description is minutely given, and the preparations were made under the full impression that the oblation would be enforced. Moreover, these would require so much active exertion on the part of Abraham that there must have been little time for speaking; and, besides, the dreadful secret pent up in his bosom would strongly indispose him for being communicative. But the deep silence must at length have been broken, a conversation ensued, and the divine mandate made known. According to Josephus, Isaac was then 27 years of age. He was certainly a full-grown man, and his voluntary consent was absolutely necessary. Compulsion, in the circumstances, cannot be thought of, as it was plainly impossible that an aged father of 127 years could alone, without assistance, have compelled a young man of 27, in the full vigour of manhood, had he resisted; and, besides, the use of physical force was inconsistent with that calm, unruffled serenity of mind which is appropriate to a solemn act of religious devotion. Had not the patriarch been sustained by the full consciousness of acting in obedience to the will of God, the effort must have been too great for human endurance; and had not Isaac displayed a similar faith in submitting, this great trial could not have been gone through.


Verse 10

And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. From first to last, he betrayed no symptom of vacillation, though there must have been a fearful conflict between affection and duty. The trial was protracted almost to the last moment; and just as the life of the victim was on the wing, the trial was suddenly terminated. The surrender of Isaac was unreserved and complete; the sacrifice was virtually offered; the intention, the purpose to do it, was shown in all sincerity and fullness; and hence, it is spoken of as actually made (Hebrews 11:17; James 2:21).


Verse 11

And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

The angel of the Lord. 'From the day that man fell, Christ took upon Himself the care of the Church in the exercise of all his offices. When we read what God did from time to time toward His Church and people, and how he revealed Himself to them, we are to understand it especially, of the second person of the Trinity. When we read of God appearing after the fall in some visible or outward symbol of His presence, we are ordinarily, if not universally, to understand it of the Son' (Edwards, 'History of Redemption').


Verse 12

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.

Lay not thine hand upon the lad. It has been recently alleged ('Essays and Reviews,' Stanley's 'Jewish Church') that Abraham, from his long residence in Canaan, where the practice of immolating human victims obtained-as is related by Diodorus Siculus, and by Philo, who says that the barbarians sacrificed their children, as the most acceptable gift-had caught the fierce spirit of the Syrian ritual; and having, by the delusive influence of surrounding manners, been stimulated to imitate the devotion of his neighbours by offering his son on the altar, God mercifully interposed to arrest and correct the mistaken act of his pious servant. This is a totally erroneous view of the transaction. There is no appearance of correcting an error-not a single element of rebuke to a blinded devotee discoverable in the angel's address to Abraham; but, on the contrary, a declaration made, in the most unqualified terms of commendation, that his conduct was pleasing and acceptable to God. In fact, the conduct of Abraham on this occasion had a far different origin than the dictates of a dark and malignant superstition. It arose from a command of God, haa-'Elohiym (Hebrew #430), the personal God, who for a long course of years had communicated with him, generally in a formal, once in a familiar manner; and after such a series of manifestations, addresses, and miracles, Abraham must have been able to distinguish the voice and manner of his Divine Leader as easily and clearly as a man the accents of his earthly friend. He could not, therefore, be mistaken as to the quarter from which the command was issued.

The particular form of sacrifice which was appointed as a test of his devotedness to the true God may have arisen from the usual offering of the pagan to their false gods; but its adoption was not the dictate of his 'mistaken intuition:' it was required by a distinct order of God, who knew that the strength of Abraham's faith was equal to the greatness of the trial; and in whatever way it was made known to him, no sooner did he understand the full purport of the painful requisition, than he bowed in submissive obedience, without presuming to impugn the wisdom of the order, or to inquire how it was reconcilable with the perfections of the Divine Being. He believed that it was his duty to obey the divine command; and in the sense that God commanded Isaac to be offered, in that sense Abraham offered him, by a full and willing surrender. Had Abraham offered his son in sacrifice at the suggestion of his own spiritual sense or moral reason, the act would have been a cold-blooded, an atrocious, and inhuman murder. But the character of the deed is entirely changed when regarded as the command of God. In that case it became a duty; and having been performed in obedience to that command, it met a high reward from the hands of God.

Viewed in reference to God, the command admits of a full vindication, on the ground that He possesses a sovereign right to dispose of the lives of His creatures; and that, in regard to Isaac in particular, as He had given him to Abraham as a loan, in special circumstances, He was at liberty to recall it when He pleased. But he designed only to prove Abraham, in order that the extent of his faith, love, and devotedness might be manifested; and not that he should offer Isaac in sacrifice.

Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing, ... This is said in the anthropomorphic style. The omniscient God was well acquainted with the sincerity of Abraham's faith, as well as with the ardour and extent of his devoted love; because both of these were the fruits of divine grace imparted to the patriarch. He foresaw also the issue of the trial, and knew His own purpose respecting the life of Isaac. The meaning of this clause, therefore, is not that God had, by the events of this probation, obtained information regarding Abraham's character that He did not previously possess; but that these qualities had been made apparent, had been developed by outward acts.

It was made known to Abraham himself, for his own comfort, and to the church in all subsequent ages, for an example. What an extraordinary measure of grace dwelt in him! What a heroic faith was that which could, at God's command, unhesitatingly surrender a son who, after the removal of Ishmael, was his only son, the object of his fond parental affections, and on whose life all the promises of God, with his most cherished hopes, were centered.


Verse 13

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.

Behold behind him a ram - [Hebrew, 'ayil (Hebrew #352) 'achar (Hebrew #310)]. Gesenius says the meaning is not that Abraham saw the ram 'behind himself,' according to the usual view taken of the words, but in the distant part, the back ground, of what lay before his eyes. The correctness of the text, however, has been questioned. The received reading is supported by the Vulgate, forty MSS., as well as by Onkelos and Saadias; while the Sanskrit, Septuagint, Syriac versions, and forty-two MSS. have [ 'ayil (Hebrew #352) 'echaad (Hebrew #259)] a certain ram (the numeral one being used here indefinitely, like the Greek tis (Greek #5100), as it is also in 1 Kings 13:11; 1 Kings 19:4; 1 Kings 22:9; especially Daniel 8:3, where the identical words of this passage occur.

Caught in a thicket by his horns - [Hebrew, bac


Verse 14

And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh - i:e., the Lord sees, or the Lord provides (cf. Genesis 22:8).

As it is said , [Hebrew, '


Verse 15-16

And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,

The angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time. If there could be any doubt as to the character and rank of this "angel of the Lord," it must be removed by the solemn asseveration here used-swearing by Himself, there being none greater-and as the executor of the Covenant with the patriarch and his seed, giving full assurances of its accomplishment in the most magnificent results.

Because thou hast ... not withheld thy son, thine only son. Isaac was virtually dead from the time that Abraham commenced his journey to Moriah; and hence, the apostle speaks of his having been offered (Hebrews 11:17 : cf. James 2:21). Abraham had not actually sacrificed his son; and if he had, there would have been nothing meritorious in the act itself, but in the state of heart which disposed him to perform it, which was faith. Genesis 22:17-18 contain a renewal of the promises formerly made to the patriarch (Genesis 12:2-3; Genesis 15:5) - only the extraordinary multiplication of his posterity-which, in the latter passage, was shown by an appeal to the starry heavens, is here illustrated by a similitude borrowed from the grains of sand on the seashore.

But there are two important additions. The first is, that their greatness as a nation is spoken of, and represented metaphorically by their "possessing the gate of their enemies;" and the second is, that "in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;" literally, shall bless themselves (cf. Genesis 26:4). Instead of the Niphal form [ nibr


Verse 17

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;

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 18

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

Because thou hast obeyed my voice - i:e, executed my command. Abraham's acceptance with God is represented in the New Testament sometimes as the consequence of his faith, at other times as the reward of his obedience. There is no discrepancy in these statements. Abraham received the promises from God out of His free grace, and unconditionally. He believed them, and his faith was counted to him for righteousness, whilst he was yet an uncircumcised man. His faith was manifested and proved by his unreserved obedience (James 2:21), and received the highest tokens of divine approval. 'God first promises, and by his revelation awakens faith in the heart of Abraham; he then crowns with reward the works of this faith which is the result of His grace' (Gerlach).

This, then, is the Abrahamic covenant, which presents a two-fold aspect-the one fleshly (namely, the Hebrew nation), and the other spiritual. The grand features of this covenant are, first, its culminating point, Christ; secondly, its universality, embracing "all the nations of the earth;" and, thirdly, it's immutability, being confirmed by a peculiarly solemn oath, which was never repeated to the patriarchs, although frequent allusions were made to it (Genesis 24:7; Genesis 26:3-4; Genesis 26:24; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 13:11; Exodus 33:1; Hebrews 6:13-14). This sacrifice brought Abraham into a new relation to his posterity, because it formed the inauguration of the dispensation of grace (Galatians 3:8). The promised advent of Christ is inseparably associated by God himself with this great act of faith; and Christianity is the full development of the Abrahamic covenant, because all believers are the seed of Abraham.


Verse 19

So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verses 20-24

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; It was told Abraham ... Milcah, she hath also born children unto ... Nahor - or, more correctly, Nachor (Luke 3:34). The words "she ... also" form a connecting link between this portion of the narrative and the genealogical chain that was broken (Genesis 11:29). It is resumed here in order to introduce the account of Isaac's marriage. Nahor remained in Ur of the Chaldees, his native place, after the emigration of Terah, and other members of the family, to Haran. But he seems to have removed thither also at a later period (Genesis 27:43; Genesis 29:5).

Nahor, like Ishmael and Jacob, had twelve sons-eight by his wife, and four by a concubine. The names of Milcah's children are specially recorded; and it was only with this, the pure, legitimate, Aramaean branch of their family that the Hebrew patriarchs sanctioned intermarriages on the part of their sons.

Huz - [Hebrew, `Uwts (Hebrew #5780), Uz.] His settlement probably lay on the eastern side of the Jordan, between Palestine and Mesopotamia (Job 1:1).

Buz. Since Elihu (Job 32:2) was one of his descendants, the tribe appears to have migrated south of the Euphrates and to have settled in Arabia Petraea (Jeremiah 25:23).

Kemuel the father of Aram. The Septuagint has: [ton Kamoueel, patera Suroon], ancestor of the Syrians. That, however, is a mistake, as Aram occurs at a much earlier period (Genesis 10:22-23). Ewald, instead of Aram, substitutes Ram (Job 32:2), which is a very feasible conjecture, as Elihu, the Buzite belonged to "the kindred" of the Rammite tribe.

Chesed - probably the progenitor of the nomad Chasdim, the plunderers of Job's camels (Job 1:17).

Bethuel - known only as the father of Laban and Rebekah (see the note at Genesis 24:50). The other sons of Nahor seem to have been obscure, and with the single exception of Maachathi (Deuteronomy 3:14; Joshua 12:5 : cf. 2 Samuel 10:6; 2 Samuel 10:8; 1 Chronicles 10:1; 1 Chronicles 9:6), are not mentioned again in the sacred history.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 22:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/genesis-22.html. 1871-8.

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