Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Ch. 22. (E, J.)
1–19. The Sacrifice of Isaac. (E.)
20–24. The Genealogy of Nahor. (J.)
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.1. after these things] An indefinite note of time referring to Isaac’s birth and the expulsion of Ishmael: cf. Genesis 22:20. See note on Genesis 15:1.
God did prove Abraham] “Prove” in the sense of “make trial of,” cf. Exodus 15:25; Exodus 16:4; Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:16; Psalm 66:10. The A.V. had “tempt,” in the old English sense of “put to the test” = Lat. tentare. On the test of faith and obedience, to which human nature is continually subjected, see the N.T. passages: 1 Corinthians 10:13; Hebrews 11:17; James 1:12-13; 1 Peter 1:6-7. “Deus tentat, ut doceat: diabolus tentat, ut decipiat” (Augustine in Joan. Tract. 30, Serm. 2). It is instructive to compare the “proving” of Abraham, which is here referred directly to God Himself, with the “proving” of Job, which, in chaps. 1 2, is brought about by “the Satan.”
and said unto him] Presumably in a dream during the night; cf. Genesis 22:3, “Abraham rose early”; compare Genesis 19:27, Genesis 20:8, Genesis 21:14.
Here am I] The first instance of this response. Cf. 11, Genesis 27:1.
1–19. From E; but Genesis 22:15-18 are, probably, from another source, possibly R. As a piece of simple and vivid narrative, this passage from E’s narrative is unsurpassed.
SPECIAL NOTE ON THE SACRIFICE OF ISAAC
This episode occupies an important place in the religious teaching of Genesis. It is (1) the crowning test applied to the faith of the patriarch Abraham, and (2) the supreme example of the difference between the God who revealed Himself to the patriarchs, and the gods of the nature-religions of the Semitic peoples.
It has, however, raised difficulties in the minds of many readers, who have been unable to reconcile the command to offer Isaac for a burnt-offering with their conception of a good God. The following points deserve, in this connexion, a careful consideration.
1. Human Sacrifice. This was a religious custom widely prevalent among the ancient Semites.
(a) The Israelites. Besides the present passage, there are to be found in the Pentateuch several passages strongly condemnatory of the usage (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2; Leviticus 20:5; Deuteronomy 12:31; Deuteronomy 18:10). But it is evident from the instances of Jephthah’s daughter (Jdg 11:29 ff.), and of Hiel’s sons (1 Kings 16:34) that the practice was not easily eradicated. The prophets denounced it: “Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:7). In the dark days of the later kings, and subsequently, we gather that the people shewed an evil tendency to revert to this barbarity (see 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Kings 23:10; Isaiah 57:5; Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:5; Ezekiel 16:20-21; Ezekiel 20:26; Ezekiel 23:37 : cf. Psalm 106:37-38).
It hardly admits of doubt that the ancient laws of Israel, by which the firstborn were dedicated to God (Exodus 22:29), and by which an animal was to be sacrificed in order to redeem the firstborn son (Exodus 34:20), point back to the custom of an earlier age, in which the primitive Hebrews had practised the sacrifice of the firstborn. The redemption of the firstborn with a lamb at the Feast of the Passover (Exodus 13:12-15) has been considered by some to be traceable to a similar origin.
(b) Other Nations. Instances of the practice in connexion with Moloch worship are mentioned in passages quoted above from the O.T. Mesha, the king of Moab, in order to propitiate his god, Chemosh, and obtain the defeat of the Israelite invaders, sacrificed his eldest son (2 Kings 3:27). In 2 Kings 17:31 “the Sepharvites” are said to “have burnt their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.”
The excavations, carried out in recent years at Gezer, Megiddo, and Taanach, have shewn that the practice was followed by “the primitive Semitic inhabitants of Palestine, and even, at least at Megiddo, in the Israelite period” (Driver’s Schweich Lectures, pp. 68, 69).
There is evidence to shew that human sacrifice prevailed from the earliest times in Egypt, though the victims may generally have been taken from the ranks of the enemy (cf. Handcock, p. 75, quoting Budge’s Osiris, pp. 197 ff.).
2. The Command to sacrifice Isaac. We may assume, then, that in Abraham’s time the religious custom of human sacrifice prevailed among the peoples of the land. We have to think of the patriarch as he was, as a man of his own time and race. God spoke to him in language that he could understand. God proved his faith by a test, which, horrible as it sounds to our ears, was consonant with the feelings and traditions he had inherited from his forefathers. The command to sacrifice Isaac, in the year 2100 b.c., would not have suggested anything outrageous or abominable, as it does to our minds. We must remember that, startling as it may appear, it would have seemed to the ancient inhabitants of Palestine far more wonderful that Abraham’s God should have interposed to prevent the sacrifice, than that He should have given the order for its being offered. The command to sacrifice his son corresponded to the true religious instinct to offer up his best and highest.
3. The Triumph of Abraham’s Faith. We are told that “God did prove Abraham.” In the presence of the people of the land who practised this custom, would not conscience, the voice of God, again and again have whispered: “thou art not equal to the supremest surrender; thou art not prepared to give up ‘thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac’ ”? The command, then, to offer up Isaac came as a threefold test of faith: (i) did Abraham love and obey his God as sincerely as the heathen around him loved and obeyed their gods? (ii) did he, in the conflict of emotions, put his affection for his son before his love for his God? (iii) could he himself undertake to obey a command of his God, which was in direct conflict with that same God’s repeated promises that in Isaac should his name be called1? It was this last which constituted the most acute trial of Abraham’s faith. But he stood the test; and in the surrender of everything, will, affections, hope, and reason, he simply obeyed, trusting, that, as a son had been granted to him in his old age, when he was as good as one dead, so, in God’s good providence, His promises would yet somehow be fulfilled, and Isaac would live.
 Cf. “Nam quasi Deus secum ipse pugnet, puerum ad mortem postulat, in quo spem aeternae salutis proposuit. Itaque hoc posterius mandatum quidam erat fidei interitus” (Calvin).
The completeness of this faith was tested up to the moment when his hand was outstretched to commit the fatal act.
4. The Nature of God. The prohibition of the sacrifice of Isaac proclaimed a fundamental contrast between the God of Abraham and the gods of the nations round about. The knowledge of the God of Abraham was progressive: there was continually more to be learned of His Will and Nature. It was now shewn that human sacrifice could not any longer be thought to be acceptable to Him.
There was a true element in sacrifice which in Abraham’s case had been tested to the uttermost. This was the surrender of the will and of the heart to God. The spirit of the offerer, not the material of the offering is the essence of sacrifice. This is the anticipation of Israelite prophecy (1 Samuel 15:22; Isaiah 1:11 ff.; Jeremiah 6:20; Amos 5:21).
There was a false element in the current conceptions of sacrifice, which tended to make its efficacy depend upon material quantity and cost. In the case of a human offering, the suffering, bereavement, and agony, mental and physical, seemed only to augment its value. The Deity that required to be propitiated with human life, was capricious, insatiable and savage. This hideous delusion about God’s Nature was finally to be dissipated. God had no pleasure in suffering or in death, in themselves. God was a God of love. Life should be dedicated unto Him, not in cruelty, but in service.
Sacrifice in the Chosen Family was to be free from the taint of this practice. The substitution of an animal for a human victim was to be the reminder of a transition to a higher phase of morality. The Revelation of the Law of Love was to be traced back by the devout Israelite to the Patriarchal Era, and to the religious experience of Abraham, the founder of the race. The Episode is a spiritual Parable.
5. The Rights of the Individual. Among ancient Semitic peoples the rights of the individual were merged in those of the family or the tribe. Life and death were in the hands of the father. Isaac possessed no rights of his own. The same Revelation, that prohibited his sacrifice, proclaimed that every one born in the image of God had individual and inalienable rights and duties. Human personality had a sanctity and a freedom of its own. True sacrifice implied the surrender of self, not of another. The substitution of the ram was the memorial of the abrogation of an inhuman system, which disregarded mercy and outraged humanity.
6. References in O.T., Apocrypha, and N.T. There appears to be no other mention in the O.T. of the sacrifice of Isaac. Some have needlessly supposed it is alluded to in Isaiah 41:8, “Abraham my friend”; cf. 2 Chronicles 20:7. There is probably a reference to it in Sir 44:20, “And when he was proved he was found faithful.” Cf. Wis 10:5, “Wisdom knew the righteous man … and kept him strong when his heart yearned toward his child.” 1Ma 2:52, “Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation?” 4Ma 16:18-20, “Remember that for the sake of God ye have come into the world …; for whom also our father Abraham made haste to sacrifice his son Isaac, the ancestor of our nation; and Isaac, seeing his father’s hand lifting the knife against him, did not shrink.” In the N.T. it is twice mentioned: Hebrews 11:17 ff., “By faith Abraham, being tried, offered up Isaac: yea, he that had gladly received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; even he to whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God is able to raise up even from the dead; from whence he did also in a parable receive him back.” James 2:21, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar?”
7. Jewish Tradition found a fertile subject in the ‘aḳêdah, or binding, of Isaac. The following passage from the Targum of Palestine is a good example of Haggadah (i.e. legend, or explanatory tradition): “And they came to the place of which the Lord had told him. And Abraham builded there the altar which Adam had built, which had been destroyed by the waters of the deluge, which Noah had again builded, and which had been destroyed in the age of divisions [i.e. the dispersion of the peoples]. And he set the wood in order upon it, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And Isaac answered and said to his father, Bind me properly, lest I tremble from the affliction of my soul, and be cast into the pit of destruction, and there be found profaneness in thy offering. Now the eyes of Abraham looked on the eyes of Isaac; but the eyes of Isaac looked towards the angels on high, and Isaac beheld them, but Abraham saw them not. And the angels answered on high, Come, behold how these solitary ones who are in the world kill the one the other; he who slays delays not; he who is to be slain reacheth forth his neck. And the Angel of the Lord called to him, &c.”
“According to Jose ben Zimra, the idea of tempting Abraham was suggested by Satan who said, ‘Lord of the Universe! Here is a man whom thou hast blessed with a son at the age of one hundred years, and yet, amidst all his feasts, he did not offer thee a single dove or young pigeon for a sacrifice’ (Sanh. 87b; Gen. R. lv.). In Jose ben Zimra’s opinion, the ‘aḳedah took place immediately after Isaac’s weaning. This however is not the general opinion. According to the Rabbis, the ‘aḳedah not only coincided with, but was the cause of the death of Sarah, who was informed of Abraham’s intention while he and Isaac were on the way to Mount Moriah. Therefore Isaac must then have been thirty-seven years old (Seder ‘Olam Rabbah, ed. Ratner, p. 6; Pirke R. El. xxxi.; Tanna debe Eliyahu R. xxvii.).” Jewish Encycl. s.v. Isaac.
“The Jews implore the mercy of God by the sacrifice of Isaac, as Christians by the sacrifice of Christ” (Mayor, Ep. James, p. 97). The merits of Isaac’s submission were regarded as abounding to the credit of the whole race; e.g. “For the merit of Isaac who offered himself upon the altar, the Holy One, blessed be He, will hereafter raise the dead” (Pesikta Rab. Kahana, p. 200, ed. Buber).
8. Patristic References. In the Fathers, the story was seized upon for purposes of Christian allegory. Isaac is the type of Christ who offers Himself a willing sacrifice. The ram caught in the thicket is the type of Christ fastened to the wood of the cross. Thus according to Procopius of Gaza, the words of the Angel, “seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son,” imply, “neither will I spare my beloved Son for thy sake. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son … (John 3:16). Wherefore also Paul did greatly marvel at His goodness, saying, ‘Who spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for us all’ ” (Romans 8:32). His note on “the ram” is: “Aries mactatus ab interitu redemit Isaacum; sic Dominus occisus salvavit nos ab impendente aeterna morte” (ed. Migne, P. G. 87, Pars i. p. 391).
Primasius: “Occisus est Isaac quantum ad voluntatem patris pertinet. Deinde redonavit illum Deus patriarchae in parabola, id est, in figura et similitudine passionis Christi … Aries significabat carnem Christi. Isaac oblatus est et non est interfectus sed aries tantum; quia Christus in passione oblatus est, sed divinitas illius impassibilis mansit” (quoted by Westcott, Ep. Hebrews 11:19).
The earliest reference occurs in the Epistle of Barnabas: “Seeing that there is a commandment in scripture, Whosoever shall not observe the fast shall surely die, the Lord commanded, because He was in His own person about to offer the vessel of His Spirit a sacrifice for our sins, that the type also which was given in Isaac who was offered upon the altar should be fulfilled” (chap. 7). Lightfoot’s Apostolic Fathers. p. 251.
Irenaeus speaks of Abraham as “having with a willing mind yielded up his own only-begotten and beloved son as a sacrifice to God, in order that God also might be well pleased, on behalf of his seed, to grant His own only-begotten and beloved Son as a sacrifice with a view to our redemption” (ed. Stieren, i. p. 572).
St Augustine compares Isaac bearing the wood for the sacrifice with Christ bearing His cross; while the ram, caught in the thicket, typifies Jesus crowned with thorns: “Propterea et Isaac, sicut Dominus crucem suam, ita sibi ligna ad victimae locum quibus fuerat imponendus ipse portavit … Postremo quia Isaac occidi non oportebat, posteaquam est pater ferire prohibitus, quis erat ille aries, quo immolato impletum est significativo sanguine sacrificium? Nempe quando eum vidit Abraham, cornibus in frutice tenebatur. Quis ergo illo figurabatur, nisi Jesus, antequam immolaretur, spinis Judaicis coronatus?” (Aug. De Civ. Dei, xvi. c. 32).
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.2. thy son] Observe the cumulative force of the successive words, “thy son,” “only son,” “whom thou lovest,” “Isaac,” indicating the severity of the test about to be applied to Abraham’s faith.
only son] Ishmael is here disregarded, as in Genesis 22:12; Genesis 22:16. He is no longer considered one of the true family. The LXX τὸν ἀγαπητόν (Lat. unigenitum) is, however, perhaps due to the thought of Ishmael.
into the land of Moriah] Moriah is here the name of a country, containing mountains on one of which Abraham is to offer Isaac. The proper name “Moriah” is found elsewhere only in 2 Chronicles 3:1, “in Mount Moriah,” i.e. the hill in Jerusalem, on which was the threshing-floor of Ornan, the Jebusite, where the Angel appeared to David. This was the site of the Temple of Solomon. Obviously the expression, “the land of Moriah,” and the reference to the mountains in it, cannot here denote Jerusalem. Jerusalem was a town in the days of the patriarchs (see Genesis 14:18). More probably the Chronicler, in 2 Chronicles 3:1, has recorded the popular tradition of his own time, according to which the scene of the appearance to David and the site of the temple at Jerusalem were identified with the place of Isaac’s sacrifice; and the name “Moriah,” occurring in this passage of Genesis was therefore popularly, although inaccurately, assigned to the Temple hill.
What “the land of Moriah” was, we can no longer determine. Possibly the word “Moriah” is the Heb. adaptation of some earlier name, which was lost in the transmission of the story. The name Moriah probably contains a play upon the words meaning “to see” and “Jehovah,” cf. Genesis 22:14. It provided a puzzle to the versions. Lat. terra visionis, Sym. γῆ ὀπτασίας, Aq. τὴν γῆν τὴν καταφανῆ, LXX τὴν γῆν τὴν ὑψηλήν.
The Syriac Peshitto renders, “the land of the Amorites,” with which agrees the conjecture of Dillmann and Ball. Tuch and Bleek conjectured “the land of Moreh,” cf. Genesis 12:6; but the Hebron district of “the land of Moreh” would be much too close to Beer-sheba to suit the description in Genesis 22:4. Hence Wellhausen’s conjecture “the land of the Hamorites” (i.e. Shechem: cf. Genesis 34 and Jdg 9:28). Probably the name is irrecoverable by conjecture. Rabbinic interpretations called it “the place of fear,” or “of worship.” Joseph. Ant. i. § 13, τὸ Μόριον ὅρος.
for a burnt offering] A whole burnt-offering, viz. an offering of complete dedication to God. It was wholly consumed in the fire, as distinct from an offering in which the offerers themselves participated: see note on Genesis 8:20. It was a propitiatory offering: cf. Leviticus 1:4.
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.3. And Abraham rose early, &c.] Abraham’s prompt unquestioning obedience is here depicted in the description of his successive acts. The mental struggle is passed over in silence. Calvin notes: “quasi oculis clausis pergit quo jubetur.” Cf. Wis 10:5, “wisdom knew the righteous man and preserved him blameless unto God, and kept him strong when his heart yearned towards his child.”
the wood] Implying that the place of the sacrifice would be treeless.
the place] See note on Genesis 12:6. Was it a local sanctuary?
of which God had told him) Cf. Genesis 22:2, the narrative is condensed. The names of the “place” and the mountain spoken of by God are not recorded.
Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.4. On the third day … afar off] The “place” was on a lofty eminence visible at a distance. Presumably “the third day” indicates a journey of 30 or 40 miles. The journey from Beer-sheba to Jerusalem is computed to take less than 24 hours.
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.5. I and the lad] Abraham’s words are either intended to conceal his intention; or they imply hope, against all hope. “Come again,” i.e. come back to the young men. He will not let the servants know the nature of the expedition.
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.6. laid it upon Isaac] Isaac carries the heavy weight of the wood; Abraham, the more dangerous burden of the fire (i.e. a brazier) and the knife.
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?7. And Isaac spake] The pathos of the narrative reaches its climax in the simple expression of boyish curiosity, indicating a knowledge of his father’s regular usages of sacrifice.
“Here am I, my son?” is a little formal as a rendering. It is equivalent to a father’s reply: “Well, boy, what is it?”
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.8. provide himself] Heb. see for himself, cf. Genesis 41:33. Abraham’s words express his self-control and his faith, and have a reference to Genesis 22:14. The provision by God of a lamb for a burnt-offering lies at the root of the interpretation of the present passage in its typical application to the Sacrifice of Christ. Cf. the mention of the Lamb in John 1:29; John 1:36; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:12. The present passage is the first Lesson for the morning of Good Friday.
so they went … together] In the brief words of this simple and moving description is compressed a world of intense feeling. Cf. a similar phrase in 2 Kings 2:6; 2 Kings 2:8.
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.9. which God had told him of] See Genesis 22:1-2.
built the altar there] Possibly referring to the altar of some well-known spot. Cf. note on the word “place,” Genesis 22:3, Genesis 12:6. For the definite article, see Genesis 8:7. The altar needed rebuilding.
laid the wood in order] The technical phrase for arranging the wood on an altar of sacrifice. See Numbers 23:4; 1 Kings 18:33.
bound] LXX συμποδίσας. Another technical word, for binding the limbs of the sacrificial animal, only found here in O.T. Amongst the Jews the sacrifice of Isaac was known as “the binding (‘akêdah) of Isaac.” See Special Note at Genesis 1:19. The submission of Isaac is not expressed, but implied. Isaac’s age, according to the narrative of E in this chapter, appears to be that of a mere lad. Without the necessary recognition of the different sources from which the patriarchal narrative is derived, it has been supposed, on the strength of Genesis 21:34 and Genesis 22:1, that Isaac was now a young man. The note of Calvin, to whom the analysis of Genesis was unknown, is therefore justified: “atqui scimus tunc fuisse mediae aetatis, ut vel patre esset robustior, vel saltem par ad resistendum si viribus certandum esset.… Mira quidem est Mosis in narrando simplicitas, sed quae plus vehementiae continet quam si tragice omnia exaggeret.”
And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.10. slay] The technical sacrificial word for killing the victim by cutting its throat.
And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.11. the angel of the Lord] See note on Genesis 16:11.
Abraham, Abraham] For the reiteration of the name, denoting special earnestness, compare Genesis 46:2; Exodus 3:4; 1 Samuel 3:10; Acts 9:4. Abraham’s act is arrested at the last possible moment. The sacrifice of Isaac was practically completed, when the hand of Abraham raised the knife over his son. The moral surrender had been complete.
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.12. for now I know] Abraham has stood the test. Actual experience has justified Divine foreknowledge. The Angel of the Lord is here identified with the Almighty. By the words “lay not thine hand, &c.,” Jehovah proclaims to Abraham and to his descendants His abhorrence of the cruelty of child sacrifice.
hast not withheld] The recollection of these words possibly underlies the phrase of St Paul in Romans 8:32, “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.”
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.13. and behold, behind him] The R.V. marginal note refers to a difference of reading, arising from the similarity of the two Heb. letters for r (ר) and (ד) d. The word, rendered “behind,” would, by the alteration of r into d, appear with the same consonants as the word meaning “one”: and this reading is found in the LXX, Sam., Peshitto, Targums, and many Heb. MSS. But the text, “behind him,” is to be preferred.
For the sudden appearance of a ram, cf. the similar suddenness of appearance in Genesis 18:2, Genesis 21:19. God’s gifts may be near at hand, and not yet discerned; the recognition of God’s voice brings a sudden realization of His gifts.
a ram] The conjecture that the word rendered “ram” (ayil) should, with different vowel points, be rendered a “hart” (ayyâl) is not to be approved. For (1) wild animals were not usually sacrificed by Hebrews; (2) Genesis 22:7-8, by the mention of “lamb,” prepare us for “a ram”; (3) the word “thicket” seems to imply the twisted horns of a ram being entangled in brushwood.
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.14. Jehovah-jireh] i.e. the Lord will see, or, provide. The name which Abraham here gives to the place combines the thought of Jehovah’s continual and constant watchfulness with that of His special response to Abraham’s utterance of faith, Genesis 22:8, “God will provide himself the lamb,” in answer to Isaac’s question, “where is the lamb?”
as it is said to this day] That is, it became a proverbial expression, cf. Genesis 10:9. What is meant by “to this day,” is uncertain: but very possibly it refers to a proverb current among the Israelites, in connexion with the hill on which the Temple stood.
In the mount of the Lord] This phrase is used of the Temple hill in Psalm 24:3; Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 30:29.
it shall be provided] R.V. marg. he shall be seen. Presumably the proverb here mentioned combined two ideas: (1) that Jehovah was seen, or revealed Himself, in the mount; (2) that the lesson of Jehovah’s provision for those that love and trust Him was taught to Abraham, the father of the faithful, in this mount.
The text is not free from doubt. According to other punctuations, we have two possible alternative renderings: (1) “in the mountain Jehovah is seen, or is revealed,” so LXX (ἐν τῷ ὄρει Κύριος ὤφθη); (2) “in the mountain Jehovah seeth, or provideth.” With a slight alteration of text, Gunkel renders: “for he said, To-day, in this mountain, God provideth.” According to the same scholar the name of the mountain was Jeruel, or Jeriel (2 Chronicles 20:16). This he compares with Ariel, an old name of Jerusalem mentioned in Isaiah 29:1; Isaiah 29:7.
And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,15. Genesis 22:15-18 are probably taken from another version of the same story. They are inferior in literary excellence, and probably represent a later amplification.
a second time] The renewal and ratification of the blessing to Abraham expresses the Divine recognition of the patriarch’s faith. The blessing, previously granted, is here renewed as a reward for obedience (Genesis 22:18).
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:16. By myself have I sworn] Cf. Exodus 32:13; Isaiah 45:23; Hebrews 6:13-17.
The remembrance of this oath is frequently invoked, cf. Genesis 24:7, Genesis 26:3, Genesis 50:24; Psalm 105:9, “the covenant which he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac”; Luke 1:73, “the oath which he sware unto Abraham our father.”
saith the Lord] Lit. “the Oracle” or “revelation of Jehovah”; a rare expression in narrative, cf. Numbers 14:28, 1 Samuel 2:30; but common in the Prophets, e.g. Jeremiah 18:5. The Angel, speaking in the first person, identifies Himself with Jehovah (cf. Genesis 16:10, Genesis 21:18, Genesis 31:13). The introduction of the prophetic formula, “Oracle of Jehovah,” into the words spoken by the Angel impersonating Jehovah, is peculiar.
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;17. that in blessing, &c.] The language of this benediction combines the substance of previous blessings pronounced upon the patriarch, under three heads: (1) multiplication of seed; (2) victory over enemies; (3) universal happiness.
bless] Cf. Genesis 12:2.
as the stars of the heaven] Cf. Genesis 15:5.
as the sand] Cf. Genesis 13:16.
the gate of his enemies] See note on Genesis 24:60. The phrase denotes conquest. LXX reads πόλεις, both here and in Genesis 24:60.
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.18. in thy seed] See note on Genesis 12:3. The words might be also rendered “by thy seed.”
be blessed] Better, as R.V. marg., bless themselves. See notes on Genesis 12:3, Genesis 18:18, Genesis 26:4.
because thou hast obeyed] Lit. “because thou hast heard,” or “listened to.” God’s word may be a sound which is not heard; or it may be a sound which is heard, but not listened to; or it may be a sound which is heard, listened to, and obeyed.
So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.19. returned unto his young men] See Genesis 22:5. It is characteristic of the reserve of the writer, that no mention is made of joy or congratulation or relief.
Beer-sheba] See Genesis 21:31. Abraham was dwelling at Beer-sheba at the time when these things happened.
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;20. after these things] Cf. Genesis 22:1.
Milcah] See Genesis 11:27; Genesis 11:29. Nahor’s marriage with his niece probably represents the fusion of two tribes.
20–24. The Genealogy of Nahor (J)
In this genealogy it is to be noted, (1) that the home of Nahor and his sons is not Ur, but Aram Naharaim, as in Genesis 24:10; (2) that the sons of Nahor, like those of Ishmael (Genesis 25:13-16), Esau (Genesis 36:15-19), and Jacob, are twelve in number, of whom eight are born to his legitimate wife Milcah, and four to his concubine Reumah; (3) that the names of the sons represent tribes, or tribal dwelling-places, in the Aramaean, or Syrian, region on the N.E. of Palestine. The genealogy seems to represent a recollection of the traditional names of the prehistoric ancestors of the Hebrew immigrants. Probably the introduction of the genealogy at this point is due to the mention of Rebekah in Genesis 22:23, which prepares the way for the story in 24 (J).
Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,21. Uz his firstborn] In Genesis 10:23 (P) Uz is the firstborn of Aram. Uz, as a locality in the Syrian region, is mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions. It may denote a branch of an Aramaean tribe, the Uṣṣâ of Shalmaneser II. It appears as the birthplace of Job (Genesis 1:1). Whether it is the same Uz as is mentioned in Jeremiah 25:20, Lamentations 4:21, is doubtful. Another, Edomite, Uz is mentioned in Genesis 36:28.
Buz] See Jeremiah 25:23, where the mention of Buz with Dedan and Tema seems to point to the borders of the Arabian desert. Elihu, the friend of Job, is a native of Buz (Job 32:2).
Aram] Here the son of Kemuel and nephew of Uz: in Genesis 10:23 (P), Aram, the son of Shem, is the father of Uz. Evidently the traditions embodying the relationship of the tribes of the desert were current in very various forms.
And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.22. Chesed] Presumably, not to be confounded with the ancestor of the S. Babylonian people, the Chasdim, or “Chaldees,” mentioned in Genesis 11:31 (P). More probably, the Bedouin tribe, mentioned in 2 Kings 24:2, Job 1:17, as “the Chaldeans,” quite distinct from the Chesed of Arpachshad (Genesis 10:22).
And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.23. Bethuel] See Genesis 24:15.
Rebekah] See chap. 24. No place, or clan, of this name is mentioned in the O.T.
And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.24. Reumah] The children of the concubine denote a less intimate tribal relationship than the children of the legal wife.
Maacah] See 2 Samuel 10:6. A region to the north of Mount Hermon; cf. the mention of the Maacathites in Joshua 13:11; Joshua 13:13.