The Testing of Abraham.#The divine demand that Abraham sacrifice to God the son of promise is the greatest of his trials; after the successful completion of the test, he has only to buy a burial site for Sarah and find a wife for Isaac. The story is widely recognized as a literary masterpiece, depicting in a few lines God as the absolute Lord, inscrutable yet ultimately gracious, and Abraham, acting in moral grandeur as the great ancestor of Israel. Abraham speaks simply, with none of the wordy evasions of chaps. 13 and 21. The style is laconic; motivations and thoughts are not explained, and the reader cannot but wonder at the scene. In vv. 15–18, the angel repeats the seventh and climactic promise. Moriah: the mountain is not given a precise geographical location here, though 2 Chr 3:1 identifies Moriah as the mountain of Jerusalem where Solomon built the Temple; Abraham is thus the first to worship there. The word “Moriah” is a play on the verb “to see” (Heb. ra’ah); the wordplay is continued in v. 8, “God will provide (lit., “see”)” and in v. 14, Yahweh-yireh, meaning “the Lord will see/provide.” 1Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test and said to him: Abraham! “Here I am!” he replied.#Sir 44:20. 2Then God said: Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you.#2 Chr 3:1; 1 Mc 2:52; Heb 11:17. 3Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac, and after cutting the wood for the burnt offering, set out for the place of which God had told him.
4On the third day Abraham caught sight of the place from a distance. 5Abraham said to his servants: “Stay here with the donkey, while the boy and I go on over there. We will worship and then come back to you.” 6So Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two walked on together, 7Isaac spoke to his father Abraham. “Father!” he said. “Here I am,” he replied. Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” 8“My son,” Abraham answered, “God will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.” Then the two walked on together.
9When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he bound#Bound: the Hebrew verb is ‘aqad, from which is derived the noun Akedah, “the binding (of Isaac),” the traditional Jewish name for this incident. his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the altar.#Jas 2:21. 10Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.#Wis 10:5. 11But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. 12“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the angel. “Do not do the least thing to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you did not withhold from me your son, your only one.”#Rom 8:32; 1 Jn 4:9. 13Abraham looked up and saw a single ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.#While the Bible recognizes that firstborn males belong to God (Ex 13:11–16; 34:19–20), and provides an alternate sacrifice to redeem firstborn sons, the focus here is on Abraham’s being tested by God (v. 1). But the widely attested practice of child sacrifice underscores, for all its horror today, the realism of the test. 14Abraham named that place Yahweh-yireh;#Yahweh-yireh: a Hebrew expression meaning “the Lord will see/provide.” See note on vv. 1–19. hence people today say, “On the mountain the Lord will provide.”
15#The seventh and climactic statement of the blessings to Abraham. Unlike the other statements, which were purely promissory, this one is presented as a reward for Abraham’s extraordinary trust. A second time the angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven 16#Gn 15:5; Ex 32:13; Lk 1:73; Rom 4:13; Heb 6:13–14; 11:12. and said: “I swear by my very self—oracle of the Lord—that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your son, your only one, 17I will bless you and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants will take possession of the gates of their enemies,#Gn 24:60. 18and in your descendants all the nations of the earth will find blessing, because you obeyed my command.”#Gn 12:3; 18:18; 26:4; Sir 44:21; Acts 3:25; Gal 3:16.
19Abraham then returned to his servants, and they set out together for Beer-sheba, where Abraham lived.
Nahor’s Descendants.#The descendants to the second generation of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, who married Milcah. Of Terah’s three sons (11:27), the oldest, Abraham, fathered Isaac (21:1–7), and the youngest, Haran (who died in Ur), fathered Lot. Abraham is now told that Nahor had eight children by Milcah and four by his concubine Reumah. Apart from the notice about the children born to Abraham by his second wife, Keturah (25:1–6), all the information about Terah’s family to the second generation is now complete. It is noteworthy that Jacob will, like Nahor, have eight children by his wives and four by his concubines. 20Some time afterward, the news came to Abraham: “Milcah too has borne sons to your brother Nahor: 21Uz, his firstborn, his brother Buz, Kemuel the father of Aram, 22Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 23Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore children: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
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1(vii) After these things, God tested Avraham. He said to him, “Avraham!” and he answered, “Here I am.” 2He said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Yitz’chak; and go to the land of Moriyah. There you are to offer him as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will point out to you.”
3Avraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, together with Yitz’chak his son. He cut the wood for the burnt offering, departed and went toward the place God had told him about. 4On the third day, Avraham raised his eyes and saw the place in the distance. 5Avraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. I and the boy will go there, worship and return to you.” 6Avraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Yitz’chak his son. Then he took in his hand the fire and the knife, and they both went on together.
7Yitz’chak spoke to Avraham his father: “My father?” He answered, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8Avraham replied, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son”; and they both went on together.
9They came to the place God had told him about; and Avraham built the altar there, set the wood in order, bound Yitz’chak his son and laid him on the altar, on the wood. 10Then Avraham put out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.
11But the angel of Adonai called to him out of heaven: “Avraham? Avraham!” He answered, “Here I am.” 12He said, “Don’t lay your hand on the boy! Don’t do anything to him! For now I know that you are a man who fears God, because you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13Avraham raised his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in the bushes by its horns. Avraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14Avraham called the place Adonai Yir’eh [Adonai will see (to it), Adonai provides] — as it is said to this day, “On the mountain Adonai is seen.”
15The angel of Adonai called to Avraham a second time out of heaven. 16He said, “I have sworn by myself — says Adonai — that because you have done this, because you haven’t withheld your son, your only son, 17I will most certainly bless you; and I will most certainly increase your descendants to as many as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will possess the cities of their enemies, 18and by your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed — because you obeyed my order.”
19So Avraham returned to his young men. They got up and went together to Be’er-Sheva, and Avraham settled in Be’er-Sheva.
(Maftir) 20Afterwards, Avraham was told, “Milkah too has borne children, to your brother Nachor — 21‘Utz his firstborn, Buz his brother, K’mu’el the father of Aram, 22Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Yidlaf and B’tu’el. 23B’tu’el fathered Rivkah. These eight Milkah bore to Nachor Avraham’s brother. 24His concubine, whose name was Re’umah, bore children also: Tevach, Gacham, Tachash and Ma‘akhah.
Haftarah Vayera: M’lakhim Bet (2 Kings) 4:1–37 (A); 4:1–23 (S)
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Vayera: Luke 17:26 –37; Romans 9:6 – 9; Galatians 4:21–31; Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 6:13–20; 11:13–19; Ya‘akov (James) 2:14–24; 2 Kefa (2 Peter) 2:4–10
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