Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac, in Genesis 22:1-24, is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah.

The narration is referred to as the Akedah or Akedat Yitzchak in Hebrew and as the Dhabih in Arabic. The sacrifice itself is called an Olah in Hebrew — for the significance of sacrifices, especially in Biblical times, see korban.

According to the narration, Abraham sets out to obey God's command without questioning. After Isaac is bound to an altar, the angel of God stops Abraham at the last minute, at which point Abraham discovers a ram caught in some nearby bushes. Abraham then sacrifices the ram in Isaac's stead.

While it is often imagined that Isaac was a young boy at the time of the incident, some traditional sources claim he was an adult. According to Josephus, Isaac is twenty-five years old at the time of the sacrifice; the Talmudic sages teach that Isaac is thirty-seven, likely based on the next Biblical story, which is of Sarah's death at 127 (she was ninety when Isaac was born).

Genesis 22:14 states that it occurred at "the mount of the LORD": in 2 Chronicles 3:1; Psalm 24:3; Isaiah 2:3 & 30:29; and Zechariah 8:3, the Bible seems to identify the location of this event as the hill on which Solomon later built the Temple, now known as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

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