"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? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together."-Genesis 22:7,8
I am going to use The Jewish Publication Society (JPS) Commentary on their English translation of the Tanakh to use as a launching pad for our discussion here. The JPS is not at all a Christian group but rather a Jewish group. Now I understand you can be a Christian Jew so to make this more clear this is a non-Christian group. They do not ascribe to the idea that the Tanakh is the Old Testament for they do not ascribe to the New Testament nor believe Christ mediated a New Covenant as Christian Jews believe. So the Old Testament is not Old to them. So they call what we Christians would call the Old Testament simply the Tanakh. So just a heads up if I accidently use that term again you will know I am referring to the Old Testament and for those non-Christian Jews if I use the term Old Testament you will also know what I am referring to.
Now the above translation that I quoted of Genesis 22:7,8 is the KJV version and just for fairness sake I will place the JPS translation of those same verse here:
"Then Isaac said to his father Abraham, "Father!" And he answered, "Yes, my son." And he said, "Here are the firestone and the wood; but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?" And Abraham said, "God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering, my son." And the two of them walked on together."-Genesis 22:7,8
There are very little differences. JPS translates "the lamb" as "the sheep" which I looked up the Hebrew and it can be either a "lamb" or a "sheep". A lamb is a sheep and vice a versa so it doesn't matter that much. Also, the JPS translates "provide" as "see" both conveying that God will see to the sheep or provide the lamb. More literally though it is "see". Also, the JPS includes a definite article before "the sheep" where the KJV doesn't in vs 8 and in the Hebrew the definite article is indeed there. Now with that all said lets jump start with the JPS commentary on these two verses from pg 152 of "The JPS Torah Commentary" on Genesis in 1989 or as they put it also in 5749 as they do not ascribe to Christ as the mediator of the New Covenant which the 1989 calendar is based upon:
"The poignant tension inherent in the situation is heightened by the repetition of the words "father" and "son." The bond between the two remains unbroken. The brief dialogue over-the only such recorded between Isaac and his father-they continue their fateful trek in perfect harmony."
Now I would just like to add a bit to the commentary. As JPS notes this is the only dialogue in the Scripture recorded between Abraham and Isaac which hightens the significance of what is being said and what is being said it self is quite significant in itself. So let us pay attention. Remember Abraham at this point and as far as Abraham knows Isaac is the burnt offering. He says God will see to the lamb or sheep so at this point Isaac is the lamb or sheep which later Isaac finds out.
Now as a Christian it is interesting to note that Christ said that Abraham "rejoiced to see my day"-John 8:58. Now what is this all about? I believe at least in a significant part right here in what Jews whether Christian or not call The Akedah of Isaac is a prophetic picture that Abraham foresaw that one day would be fulfilled that has something to do with what I as a Christian gentile as far as I know will call The Akedah of the Son of God. Akedah is Hebrew for bind as Isaac was bound to the wood. So we are talking about the binding of Isaac picturing the binding of the Son of God. Now for Christians both Jewish and Gentile Isaac (the promised seed/son) pictures Jesus (the ultimate promised seed/son) as we read in Galatians 3:16 and here in The Akedah of Isaac (an Akedah that is so obvious of a picture for Christians that even though there is no specific mention of it in the New Testament it is clearly a picture of The Akedah of the Son of God/The Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16)). And then when you compare Hebrews 11:17-19 it gets all the more interesting but leaving that alone for now you can always remember this reference in Galatians 3:16 if you have John 3:16 down as both passages speak about Jesus in John 3:16 as God's son and in Galatians 3:16 as the seed of Abraham. But for now I speak of this only to make that connection that Isaac pictures Christ for the Christian. But here the picture is of Isaac being bound to wood as a burnt offering probably by some rope so the Son of God was bound by nails to wood as a burnt offering outside the gates. You say burnt offering? How so? Well, we will get to that but before we do we have to start somewhere.
First, let me establish as evidence that Abraham and his descendents themselves saw something prophetic about this event called The Akedah of Isaac in Genesis 22. The evidence is in Genesis 22:14 where we read that 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."
Notice that a saying went out amongst the descendants of Abraham after this event that speaks of a future fulfillment in connection with this event that includes a Father sacrificing His Son who at this moment is the Lamb that will be provided or seen. So Abraham is not lying he knows full well who the sacrifice is and Isaac is it, he is the lamb. But he was not sacrificed that day or night as we all know. Nor was the lamb provided that night but rather a ram and the Hebrew word for lamb/sheep is a different word than the Hebrew word for ram. But let us put the JPS translation of Genesis 22:14 side by side with the above KJV to notice an important difference but then we will reconcile the difference via JPS's own commentary on the Hebrew behind the translations:
“On the mount of the Lord there is vision”-JPS
“In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen”-KJV
Now there is a settle and important difference between the two translations. One implies a future aspect in that “it shall be seen” while the other is harder to see this implication and may not even imply it though one could. But what settles this settle yet meaningful difference is the JPS themselves. I am going to quote from the same JPS commentary as noted above but on pg 154 of these three words “there is vision”:
“Hebrew yera'eh, literally “He/it shall be seen.””
Well that settles it. Clearly there is a prophetic implication. The Hebrew even according to the JPS commentary reads how the KJV version translates it except that it could also be “He shall be seen”. Now let me read the rest of the JPS commentary on this “He/it” portion as they further comment on the Hebrew:
“The subject of the verb is unclear, although the apparent reference to verse 8 would favor the impersonal rendering, referring to the sheep. A different exegetical tradition is represented by the Septuagint, which renders, “On the mount the Lord appears”.
Now verse 8 is "the sheep" or as the KJV translates it as the "lamb" that Abraham said God would see to or provide as a burnt offering. But it is possible that it could be rendered "He". So now we have four translations of this phrase and so let us put them next to each other.
“In the mount of the Lord He/it shall be seen”-The literal Hebrew according to JPS commentary
“On the mount the Lord appears”-Septuagint
“On the mount of the Lord there is vision”-JPS
“In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen”-KJV
But let me add a 5th and 6th translation combining all of the above along with the JPS commentary that the “it” refers back to “the sheep” and the other possible rendering would be for “He” referring to the Lord and the literal Hebrew:
“In the mount of the Lord He (the Lord) shall be seen”
“In the mount of the Lord it (the sheep) shall be seen”
And now let me add a final 7th translation to rest in for now combining the last two translations including both possibilities of the literal translation:
“In the mount of the Lord He (the Lord)/it (the sheep) shall be seen.”
Update: Upon further thought on this translation I got to thinking that the "He" could be referring back to Isaac as the "it" refers to "the sheep". So it would be possible for yet a third rendering which would combine the "He" and "it" in Isaac as "He" was "the sheep" that Abraham was about to sacrifice. So instead of revising all of the above I will rest upon second thought now in the below translation:
"In the mount of the Lord He (Isaac/the Lord)/it (the sheep) shall be seen."
Now let us consider the phrase before this phrase which reads:
“...as it is said to this day..”-(KJV) or “...whence the present saying...”-(JPS)
I think both translations are saying the same thing and the same implication is clear from both. Both agree in that this event lead to a “saying” well after the event that was even being said to the day of the writer of Genesis. In fact I like the JPS commentary on this phrase which reads:
“A popular saying arose based on this episode. This is not part of the narrative but an editorial note”-pg 154.
So in the day of whoever penned this phrase this “saying” was still being said well after the event itself which implies a future occurrence that this event for them pictured. Now some may say it was Moses that wrote this and others say not and for now I am not going to get into that debate but rather just to take note that all should agree that this saying arose after this event and the saying implies that this historical event is also a figure picturing for them something that was to come.
Now what I found interesting is that the first century Jewish believers in Christ saw what they called figures, types and shadows in the Tanakh/Old Testament much like these Hebrews in the days after this event saw in this historical event in Genesis 22. Some examples include:
1) Peter in 1 Peter 3:21 saw Noah's flood water as a figure picturing an aspect of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
2) Paul in Romans 5:14 saw Adam as “the figure of him that was to come.
3) And the author of Hebrews who is disputable but clearly Hebrew or thought like a Hebrew in Hebrews 9:9 saw the structure of the tabernacle itself as “..a figure for the time then present...”
4) But then you also have what is called a “shadow” which is “of things to come” as in Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8:5 and 10:1.
5) And you also have “an allegory” of historical events in the Old Testament that apply to the future as in Galatians 4:24
6) And then you have similar thinking in the New Testament that imply such understanding of the Old Testament like in 2 Corinthians 3:14 and Galatians 3:16 and so forth.
7) But to really pin this down Christ Himself in the book of John all over the place talks with this type of talk. The bread from heaven under Moses pictured Jesus himself as the bread of life. Jacob's well pictured the well of living water that would spring up into eternal life having to do with the Holy Spirit. You also have the serpent lifted up in the wilderness so must He be lifted up and on and on. The historical miracles he performed were also figures picturing something more significant than just the miraculous happening itself. Just read the whole gospel of John or check out John 16:25: “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father.” or better yet check out John 6:53-63 where Christ says this “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life.” Clearly this is proverbially and figurative but here we have the picture going in a different direction. Christ is picturing for us that faith in Him is figuratively like feeding much like in the law of Moses where it reads something like “man can not live on bread alone”!!!
8) Look at the prophetic books in Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea and Ezekiel. God had these prophets at times do weird things but all pictured something that God was going to do in the future. Hosea's wife was a picture of something more than just a historical marriage. Isaiah's children were signs or pictures of something more significant than just his children in his historical setting. I can't remember the pictures and/or signs that are in Jeremiah and Ezekiel but I remember especially Ezekiel having to do odd things as a sign and picture painting and pointing to something that was to occur in the future.
9) Even the non-historical but rather visions and dreams that some of the prophets had like in Daniel and quite consistently in Revelation. You have beastly figures which picture future kings and kingdoms and even kingdoms that existed in the time of the writing.
10) And so are we to believe that something so picturesque as “the seed” figure that runs from the historical Eve, barren matriarchs and their patriarchs, to Judah, David with Levi (Jeremiah 33:22, Psalm 110:1,4), and probably many that I have missed and all the way thru to Christ or rather The Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16) that this “seed” figure pictured for us in the very Son of God.
11) And second to lastly we have already seen here in this event in Genesis 22 an understanding of a historical event that pictured for them something that will be seen in the future.
12) And then lastly You even have numbers that are significant “...as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” which itself was a sign Jesus called “the sign of the prophet Jonas”. As I myself have 12 points of a figure picturing and consummating my point in a Hebraic way!!!! As I also did in the 7 translations of Genesis 22:14 above.
So both Hebrew writers in the Tanakh and the New Testament both included and understood figures which pictured something more significant than the historical event itself and so now in this same spirit let us get into The Figure of The Akeda in Genesis 22.
Now as a Jew or Gentile for that matter who believes in Christ you can really see this picturing the event of The Akedah of the Son of God.
First, John the baptist who is claiming to be the prophetic figure in Isaiah 40:3-5 (Compare with John 1:23) proclaimed that Jesus is "the Son of God" and "the Lamb of God" in John 1:34-36. Also, Jesus says in a conversation with some Jews concerning His Akedah that "...When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him." And he similarly says in John 16:32 to his disciples: "Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me."
Now notice here you have the picture of The Akedah of Isaac fulfilled in The Akedah of the Son of God. You have The Father going with His Son who is the Lamb that now has been seen in a provisional sense in the mount of the Lord. Let us mark in bold what has been fulfilled so far in this only conversation between Abraham and his Son:
"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? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together."
What about this "fire" as Isaac was a "burnt offering"? How does this fit in with Christ and how does The Akedah of the Son of God fulfill this? Let us head over to Hebrews 13:10-14:
"We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come."
As Jesus predicted the city of Jerusalem was going to be judged within His generation and not only that but Christ predicted that the temple that took some 46 years to build according to John 2:20 was also going to be left without one stone upon another (see Matthew 23:36-24:2). This should make some further sense of the significance of Christ fulfilling the "burnt offering" aspect. He is calling Jews and for that matter Gentiles also out of the Old Covenant altar and sanctuary and into The Akedah of the Son of God (which The Akedah of Isaac pictured) whose blood was spilt to establish the New Covenant that was prophesied of in Jeremiah 31:31-34. But not so much on that for now. Just to mention that in passing and for further study on that if it has peaked your interest read Hebrews chapter 8 and 9 or better yet read Hebrews all the way through. Oh and Galatians 3:17-18 will be quite applicable and actually all of Galatians should be read.
So now we can say that Christ has indeed fulfilled the prophetic picture of the only conversation between Abraham and Isaac in Holy Writ but let us continue with the whole picture of the Akedah of Isaac picturing Christ that will further evidence forth and bind it all up with as there are loose ends.
You have Isaac described in Genesis 22:2 as Abraham's "only son" "whom thou lovest". It is interesting to note that this is the very first time this Hebrew word for love is used in the Scriptures. The JPS commentary on pg 151 makes note of this: “This is the first use of the key biblical stem '-h-v, significantly in the parent-child relationship. Its next usage (24:67) is in the husband-wife relationship.”. I would just like to add that both instances are with Isaac in relationship to his father and Isaac in relationship to his wife. Notice that the two major themes of love for the Isaac of the New Testament are between His Father and His Bride. Interestingly enough we do not hear about Isaac after this Akedah again until he meets up with his wife Rebekah. Also, you have once again John the baptist making these comments in John 3:29: "He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled." But let us stay here in The Akedah of Isaac for now.
Christ is described by John the baptist as God's "only...son" in John 1:18 and then as a son whom "the Father loveth" says John the baptist in John 3:35.
Now you have yet another interesting commentary by the JPS on pg 150 concerning The Akedah of Isaac: "The Hebrew phrase lekh lekha, "go forth," does not occur again in the Bible, a fact that underscores the deliberate and meaningful nature of its use in these two passages." Now the "go forth" translation is from the JPS english translation and in the KJV it is translated "get thee". The first time God tells Abraham to "get thee" or "go forth" is when God called Abraham to the promised land and the second time is here when God calls Abraham to ".. 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.." (Genesis 22:2). So the first "get thee" is for Abraham to leave his family and country to go to the promised land and the second "get thee" is to take Isaac the promised son to offer as a "burnt offering". So one could say as the promised land pictured the "better country, that is, an heavenly" (see Hebrews 11:8-9,16) and The Akedah of the promised child here in Genesis 22 pictured The Akeda of the Son of God who was the "better sacrifice" (Hebrews 9:23) and "mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises" (Hebrews 8:6). So both picture the "better covenant, which was established upon better promises" which promises were of a "better country, that is, an heavenly" with a "better sacrifice.." that being that which The Akedah of Isaac foretold that being The Akedah of God's only son whom He lovedst. Again, check out Galatians 3:17,18 or better yet all of Galatians for more on that. But let us stay here in the picture of the better sacrifice.
Now God tells Abraham to "get thee into the land of Moriah". The JPS commentary on pg 391 notes that: "..."the land of Moriah" is never mentioned again in the Bible...". Not only that but they note that there is "the presence of the definite article in the Hebrew (lit. "the Moriah")...". Now they offer many different possible translations of this word for "Moriah" but I am just going to stick with the below comments. The land of Moriah is never mentioned again in the scriptures however "Moriah" is mention: here in Genesis 22:2 and interestingly enough in 2 Chronicles 3:1 where we read: "Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.". The Hebrew word is the exact same word and also includes the definite article and yet is described as a place. "Moriah" in the Hebrew means "seen of Yah (the Lord)" but with the definite article you have "the seen of Yah (the Lord)". Now when we consider what Abraham later called this place this would make sense. It is interesting to note that on "Mount Moriah" was where Solomon's temple was built. Now whether or not "the land of Moriah" and "Mount Moriah" may or may not be the exact same place and one place could have been named after the other but I wish not to get into that debate for our discussion here. But all should agree that these are the only two instances where the Hebrew word of Moriah is mentioned in the Bible and that alone is significant enough for our discussion.
It appears there is to much to say here that will distract us from the Akedah of Isaac but to only say that it appears that this event itself is quite picturesque and connects to "Moriah" via "the burnt offering" which connects to "the burnt offering" of Moses' tabernacle which connects then to the building of the temple and so connects to Christ as the "burnt offering" "without the gate" and yet the context of this event is yet another peculiar and momentuous event in Israel's history. We also have a King (King David) acting in the position of a priest and the very place of this priestly act becomes the very place of the altar of the burnt offering where David chooses to build the temple of God which David's son then completes which is at "Moriah" which is at Jerusalem where Christ himself was sacrificed whose sacrifice being outside the gates and so on and so forth. There is so much to be said here but it would require another post in the future as this one is getting long enough. However, for now I will suggest a read of 1 Chronicles 21 into 22 along with the above 2 Chronicles 3:1 but read in context of 2 Samuel 24:1. Then see 2 Samuel 7 and then Hebrews 9:10-14 and then Hebrews 10:1-10 and Hebrews 13:10-14 and then compare Genesis 14:18 with Hebrews 7 and 5 and then compare with Psalm 110 and Jeremiah 33:17-26 and Hebrews 7:12 and so forth and so on. We probably will review this event more closely in another post.
Now let us review in bold what we have discussed so far that the figure of the Akedah of Isaac pictured and was fulfilled in the Akedah of the Messiah/Seed of Abraham/Son of God.
"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 which I will tell thee of. 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. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 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. 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. 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? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. 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. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: 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. 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. 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. And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 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." (Genesis 22:1-19)
We will leave this post as part 1 for now and end this post with a to be continued....
Found pictures at wikipedia.
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