Genesis 22:3
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 split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which God had told him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) And Abraham . . . —Every preparation for the sacrifice is minutely detailed, as if to show the calmness with which Abraham girded up himself for obedience. He even took the wood ready cleft, not because there was no wood there (Genesis 22:13), but in order that on arriving at the destined place there might be nothing to distract their thoughts, and that so they might proceed at once to the sacrifice.

Genesis 22:3. The several steps of this obedience all help to magnify it, and to show that he was guided by prudence, and governed by faith, in the whole transaction. 1st, He rises early — Probably the command was given in the visions of the night, and early the next morning he sets himself about it, did not delay, did not demur. Those that do the will of God heartily, will do it speedily. 2d, He gets things ready for a sacrifice, and, it should seem, with his own hands “cleaves the wood for the burnt-offering.” 3d, He left his servants at some distance, lest they should have created him some disturbance in his strange oblation. Thus, when Christ was entering upon his agony in the garden, he took only three of his disciples with him.22:3-10 Never was any gold tried in so hot a fire. Who but Abraham would not have argued with God? Such would have been the thought of a weak heart; but Abraham knew that he had to do with a God, even Jehovah. Faith had taught him not to argue, but to obey. He is sure that what God commands is good; that what he promises cannot be broken. In matters of God, whoever consults with flesh and blood, will never offer up his Isaac to God. The good patriarch rises early, and begins his sad journey. And now he travels three days, and Isaac still is in his sight! Misery is made worse when long continued. The expression, We will come again to you, shows that Abraham expected that Isaac, being raised from the dead, would return with him. It was a very affecting question that Isaac asked him, as they were going together: My father, said Isaac; it was a melting word, which, one would think, should strike deeper in the heart of Abraham, than his knife could in the heart of Isaac. Yet he waits for his son's question. Then Abraham, where he meant not, prophesies: My son, God will provide a lamb for a burnt-offering. The Holy Spirit, by his mouth, seems to predict the Lamb of God, which he has provided, and which taketh away the sin of the world. Abraham lays the wood in order for his Isaac's funeral pile, and now tells him the amazing news: Isaac, thou art the lamb which God has provided! Abraham, no doubt, comforting him with the same hopes with which he himself by faith was comforted. Yet it is necessary that the sacrifice be bound. The great Sacrifice, which, in the fulness of time, was to be offered up, must be bound, and so must Isaac. This being done, Abraham takes the knife, and stretches out his hand to give the fatal blow. Here is an act of faith and obedience, which deserves to be a spectacle to God, angels, and men. God, by his providence, calls us to part with an Isaac sometimes, and we must do it with cheerful submission to his holy will, 1Sa 3:18.Returned unto the land of the Philistines. - Beer-sheba was on the borders of the land of the Philistines. Going therefore to Gerar, they returned into that land. In the transactions with Hagar and with Abimelek, the name God is employed, because the relation of the Supreme Being with these parties is more general or less intimate than with the heir of promise. The same name, however, is used in reference to Abraham and Sarah, who stand in a twofold relation to him as the Eternal Potentate, and the Author of being and blessing. Hence, the chapter begins and ends with Yahweh, the proper name of God in communion with man. "Eshel is a field under tillage" in the Septuagint, and a tree in Onkelos. It is therefore well translated a grove in the King James Version, though it is rendered "the tamarisk" by many. The planting of a grove implies that Abraham now felt he had a resting-place in the land, in consequence of his treaty with Abimelek. He calls upon the name of the Lord with the significant surname of the God of perpetuity, the eternal, unchangeable God. This marks him as the "sure and able" performer of his promise, as the everlasting vindicator of the faith of treaties, and as the infallible source of the believer's rest and peace. Accordingly, Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many days.

- Abraham Was Tested

2. מריה morı̂yâh, "Moriah"; Samaritan: מוראה môr'âh; "Septuagint," ὑψηλή hupsēlē, Onkelos, "worship." Some take the word to be a simple derivative, as the Septuagint and Onkelos, meaning "vision, high, worship." It might mean "rebellious." Others regard it as a compound of יה yâh, "Jah, a name of God," and מראה mı̂r'eh, "shown," מורה môreh, "teacher," or מורא môrā', "fear."

14. יראה yı̂r'ēh, "Jireh, will provide."

16, נאם ne'um, ῥῆμα rēma, "dictum, oracle; related: speak low."

21. בוּז bûz, "Buz, scoffing." קמוּאל qemû'ēl, "Qemuel, gathered of God."

22. חזו chăzô, "Chazo, vision." פלדשׁ pı̂ldâsh, "Pildash, steelman? wanderer?" ידלף yı̂dlâp, "Jidlaph; related: trickle, weep." בתוּאל betû'ēl, "Bethuel, dwelling of God."

23. רבקה rı̂bqâh, "Ribqah, noose."

24. ראוּמה re'ûmâh, "Reumah, exalted." טבה ṭebach, "Tebach, slaughter." גחם gacham, "Gacham, brand." תחשׁ tachash, "Tachash, badger or seal." <מעכה ma‛ăkâh, "Ma'akah; related: press, crush."

The grand crisis, the crowning event in the history of Abraham, now takes place. Every needful preparation has been made for it. He has been called to a high and singular destiny. With expectant acquiescence he has obeyed the call. By the delay in the fulfillment of the promise, he has been taught to believe in the Lord on his simple word. Hence, as one born again, he has been taken into covenant with God. He has been commanded to walk in holiness, and circumcised in token of his possessing the faith which purifieth the heart. He has become the intercessor and the prophet. And he has at length become the parent of the child of promise. He has now something of unspeakable worth, by which his spiritual character may be thoroughly tested. Since the hour in which he believed in the Lord, the features of his resemblance to God have been shining more and more through the darkness of his fallen nature - freedom of resolve, holiness of walk, interposing benevolence, and paternal affection. The last prepares the way for the highest point of moral likeness.

Verse 1-19

God tests Abraham's unreserved obedience to his will. "The God." The true, eternal, and only God, not any tempter to evil, such as the serpent or his own thoughts. "Tempted Abraham." To tempt is originally to try, prove, put to the test. It belongs to the dignity of a moral being to be put to a moral probation. Such assaying of the will and conscience is worthy both of God the assayer, and of man the assayed. "Thine only one." The only one born of Sarah, and heir of the promise. "Whom thou lovest." An only child gathers round it all the affections of the parent's heart. "The land of Moriah." This term, though applied in 2 Chronicles 3:1 to the mount on which the temple of Solomon was built, is here the name of a country, containing, it may be, a range of mountains or other notable place to which it was especially appropriated. Its formation and meaning are very doubtful, and there is nothing in the context to lend us any aid in its explanation. It was evidently known to Abraham before he set out on his present journey. It is not to be identified with Moreh in Genesis 12:6, as the two names occur in the same document, and, being different in form, they naturally denote different things. Moreh is probably the name of a man. Moriah probably refers to some event that had occurred in the land, or some characteristic of its inhabitants. If a derivative, like בריה porı̂yâh, "fruitful," it may mean the land of the rebellious, a name not inapposite to any district inhabited by the Kenaanites, who were disposed to rebellion themselves Genesis 14:4, or met with rebellion from the previous inhabitants. If a compound of the divine name, Jah, whatever be the other element, it affords an interesting trace of the manifestation and worship of the true God under the name of Jab at some antecedent period. The land of Moriah comprehended within its range the population to which Melkizedec ministered as priest.

And offer him for a burnt-offering. - Abraham must have felt the outward inconsistency between the sacrifice of his son, and the promise that in him should his seed be called. But in the triumph of faith he accounted that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead. On no other principle can the prompt, mute, unquestioning obedience of Abraham be explained. Human sacrifice may have been not unknown; but this in no way met the special difficulty of the promise. The existence of such a custom might seem to have smoothed away the difficulty of a parent offering the sacrifice of a son. But the moral difficulty of human sacrifice is not so removed. The only solution of this, is what the ease itself actually presents; namely, the divine command. It is evident that the absolute Creator has by right entire control over his creatures. He is no doubt bound by his eternal rectitude to do no wrong to his moral creatures. But the creature in the present case has forfeited the life that was given, by sin. And, moreover, we cannot deny that the Almighty may, for a fit moral purpose, direct the sacrifice of a holy being, who should eventually receive a due recompense for such a degree of voluntary obedience. This takes away the moral difficulty, either as to God who commands, or Abraham who obeys. Without the divine command, it is needless to say that it was not lawful for Abraham to slay his son.

Upon one of the hills of which I will tell thee. - This form of expression dearly shows that Moriah was not at that time the name of the particular hill on which the sacrifice was to be offered. It was the general designation of the country in which was the range of hills on one of which the solemn transaction was to take place. "And Abraham rose up early in the morning." There is no hesitation or lingering in the patriarch. If this has to be done, let it be done at once.

3. Abraham rose … early, &c.—That there might be no appearance of delay or reluctance on his part, he made every preparation for the sacrifice before setting out—the materials, the knife, and the servants to convey them. From Beer-sheba to Moriah, a journey of two days, he had the painful secret pent up in his bosom. So distant a place must have been chosen for some important reason. It is generally thought that this was one the hills of Jerusalem, on which the Great Sacrifice was afterwards offered. Abraham rose up early in the morning, that he might execute God’s command without doubt or delay;

and saddled his ass, for greater expedition, not waiting for his servant to do it. And Abraham rose up early in the morning,.... For it seems it was in a dream or vision of the night that the above orders were given; and as soon as it was morning he rose and prepared to execute them with all readiness, and without any hesitation and delay:

and saddled his ass; for his journey, not to carry the wood and provision on, which probably were carried by his servants, but to ride on; and this Jarchi thinks he did himself, and the words in their precise sense suggest this; but it does no, necessarily follow, because he may be said to do what he ordered his servant to do; of the Jews' fabulous account of this ass, see Zechariah 9:9,

and took two of his young men with him; the Targum of Jonathan says, these were Ishmael his son, and Eliezer his servant; and so other Jewish writers (r), who tell us, that just at this time Ishmael came out of the wilderness to visit his father, and he took him with him; but for this there is no foundation: they were two of his servants, of whom he had many:

and Isaac his son: who was the principal person to be taken, since he was to be the sacrifice: whether Abraham acquainted Sarah with the affairs and she consented to it, cannot be said with certainty; it is plain Isaac knew not what his father's design was; and though Sarah and the whole family might know, by the preparation made, he was going to offer a sacrifice, yet they knew not where, nor what it was to be:

and clave the wood for the burnt offering; not knowing whether he should find wood sufficient on the mountain, where he was to go; and that he might not be unprovided when he came there, takes this method, which shows his full intention to obey the divine command:

and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him; that is, he mounted his ass, and rode towards the place God had spoken of to him, and who had directed him which way to steer his course.

(r) Pirke Eliezer, c. 31. Jarchi in loc.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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.Verse 3. - And Abraham rose up early in the morning, - a habit of the patriarch's after receiving a Divine communication (cf. Genesis 19:27; Genesis 20:8; Genesis 21:14) - and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him (the ass for the wood, and the young men for the ass), and Isaac his son (explaining to him as yet only his intention to offer sacrifice upon a distant mountain), and clave the wood for the burnt offering (obviously with his own bands), and rose up (expressive of resolute determination), and went unto (or towards) the place of which God had told him - literally, the Elohim had spoken to him. The accumulation of brief, sententious clauses in this verse admirably represents the calm deliberation and unflinching heroism with which the patriarch proceeded to execute the Divine command. From this circumstance, the place where it occurred received the name שׁבע בּאר, i.e., seven-well, "because there they sware both of them." It does not follow from this note, that the writer interpreted the name "oath-well," and took שׁבע in the sense of שׁבעה. The idea is rather the following: the place received its name from the seven lambs, by which Abraham secured to himself possession of the well, because the treaty was sworn to on the basis of the agreement confirmed by the seven lambs. There is no mention of sacrifice, however, in connection with the treaty (see Genesis 26:33). נשׁבּע to swear, lit., to seven one's self, not because in the oath the divine number 3 is combined with the world-number 4, but because, from the sacredness of the number 7, the real origin and ground of which are to be sought in the number 7 of the work of creation, seven things were generally chosen to give validity to an oath, as was the case, according to Herodotus (3, 8), with the Arabians among others. Beersheba was in the Wady es-Seba, the broad channel of a winter-torrent, 12 hours' journey to the south of Hebron on the road to Egypt and the Dead Sea, where there are still stones to be found, the relics of an ancient town, and two deep wells with excellent water, called Bir es Seba, i.e., seven-well (not lion-well, as the Bedouins erroneously interpret it): cf. Robinson's Pal. i. pp. 300ff.
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