Sep 21, 2012

Two Go Up and One Comes Down: Genesis 22:1-19

I was recently teaching Genesis 22:1–19, the so-called Akedah passage. Verse 19 has often interested me in that it records that only Abraham returns from Mount Moriah to his servants. This stands in contrast to Abraham’s statement in verse 5 to his servants that, “We [Abraham and Isaac] will worship and then we will come back to you.” Yet verse 19 does not mention that Isaac returns with his father. Now, I think that we can assume that Isaac did indeed return with Abraham. Then what is the point of omission? I would suggest that it is possible that Isaac’s absence from the narrative is not a oversight but is rather intentional. The omission serves to highlight Abraham’s obedience. That is, from a narratival standpoint, it is as if Isaac was truly offered as a burnt offering to God even though the reader knows that a ram had taken his place. Abraham coming down alone symbolically leaves Isaac on Moriah as a picture of the Patriarch’s absolute faithfulness.

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