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The Sacrifice of Isaac

22 Some time after these things God tested[a] Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am!” Abraham[b] replied. God[c] said, “Take your son—your only son, whom you love, Isaac[d]—and go to the land of Moriah![e] Offer him up there as a burnt offering[f] on one of the mountains which I will indicate to[g] you.”

Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey.[h] He took two of his young servants with him, along with his son Isaac. When he had cut the wood for the burnt offering, he started out[i] for the place God had spoken to him about.

On the third day Abraham caught sight of[j] the place in the distance. So he[k] said to his servants, “You two stay[l] here with the donkey while[m] the boy and I go up there. We will worship[n] and then return to you.”[o]

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on his son Isaac. Then he took the fire and the knife in his hand,[p] and the two of them walked on together. Isaac said to his father Abraham,[q] “My father?” “What is it,[r] my son?” he replied. “Here is the fire and the wood,” Isaac said,[s] “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” “God will provide[t] for himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham replied. The two of them continued on together.

When they came to the place God had told him about, Abraham built the altar there[u] and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up[v] his son Isaac and placed him on the altar on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand, took the knife, and prepared to slaughter[w] his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord[x] called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered. 12 “Do not harm the boy!”[y] the angel said.[z] “Do not do anything to him, for now I know[aa] that you fear[ab] God because you did not withhold your son, your only son, from me.”

13 Abraham looked up[ac] and saw[ad] behind him[ae] a ram caught in the bushes by its horns. So he[af] went over and got the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place “The Lord provides.”[ag] It is said to this day,[ah] “In the mountain of the Lord provision will be made.”[ai]

15 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “I solemnly swear by my own name,[aj] decrees the Lord,[ak] that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will indeed bless you,[al] and I will greatly multiply[am] your descendants[an] so that they will be as countless as the stars in the sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of[ao] the strongholds[ap] of their enemies. 18 Because you have obeyed me,[aq] all the nations of the earth will pronounce blessings on one another[ar] using the name of your descendants.”

19 Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set out together[as] for Beer Sheba where Abraham stayed.[at]

20 After these things Abraham was told, “Milcah[au] also has borne children to your brother Nahor— 21 Uz the firstborn, his brother Buz, Kemuel (the father of Aram),[av] 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 23 (Now[aw] Bethuel became the father of Rebekah.) These were the eight sons Milcah bore to Abraham’s brother Nahor. 24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore him children—Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.


  1. Genesis 22:1 sn The Hebrew verb used here means “to test; to try; to prove.” In this passage God tests Abraham to see if he would be obedient. See T. W. Mann, The Book of the Torah, 44-48. See also J. L. Crenshaw, A Whirlpool of Torment (OBT), 9-30; and J. I. Lawlor, “The Test of Abraham,” GTJ 1 (1980): 19-35.
  2. Genesis 22:1 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  3. Genesis 22:2 tn Heb “he”; the referent (God) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  4. Genesis 22:2 sn Take your son…Isaac. The instructions are very clear, but the details are deliberate. With every additional description the commandment becomes more challenging.
  5. Genesis 22:2 sn There has been much debate over the location of Moriah; 2 Chr 3:1 suggests it may be the site where the temple was later built in Jerusalem.
  6. Genesis 22:2 sn A whole burnt offering signified the complete surrender of the worshiper and complete acceptance by God. The demand for a human sacrifice was certainly radical and may have seemed to Abraham out of character for God. Abraham would have to obey without fully understanding what God was about.
  7. Genesis 22:2 tn Heb “which I will say to.”
  8. Genesis 22:3 tn Heb “Abraham rose up early in the morning and saddled his donkey.”
  9. Genesis 22:3 tn Heb “he arose and he went.”
  10. Genesis 22:4 tn Heb “lifted up his eyes and saw.”
  11. Genesis 22:5 tn Heb “And Abraham.” The proper name has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun (“he”) for stylistic reasons.
  12. Genesis 22:5 tn The Hebrew verb is masculine plural, referring to the two young servants who accompanied Abraham and Isaac on the journey.
  13. Genesis 22:5 tn The disjunctive clause (with the compound subject preceding the verb) may be circumstantial and temporal.
  14. Genesis 22:5 tn This Hebrew word literally means “to bow oneself close to the ground.” It often means “to worship.”
  15. Genesis 22:5 sn It is impossible to know what Abraham was thinking when he said, “we will…return to you.” When he went he knew (1) that he was to sacrifice Isaac, and (2) that God intended to fulfill his earlier promises through Isaac. How he reconciled those facts is not clear in the text. Heb 11:17-19 suggests that Abraham believed God could restore Isaac to him through resurrection.
  16. Genesis 22:6 sn He took the fire and the knife in his hand. These details anticipate the sacrifice that lies ahead.
  17. Genesis 22:7 tn The Hebrew text adds “and said.” This is redundant and has not been translated for stylistic reasons.
  18. Genesis 22:7 tn Heb “Here I am” (cf. Gen 22:1).
  19. Genesis 22:7 tn Heb “and he said, ‘Here is the fire and the wood.’” The referent (Isaac) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Here and in the following verse the order of the introductory clauses and the direct discourse has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  20. Genesis 22:8 tn Heb “will see for himself.” The construction means “to look out for; to see to it; to provide.”sn God will provide is the central theme of the passage and the turning point in the story. Note Paul’s allusion to the story in Rom 8:32 (“how shall he not freely give us all things?”) as well as H. J. Schoeps, “The Sacrifice of Isaac in Paul’s Theology,” JBL 65 (1946): 385-92.
  21. Genesis 22:9 sn Abraham built an altar there. The theme of Abraham’s altar building culminates here. He has been a faithful worshiper. Will he continue to worship when called upon to make such a radical sacrifice?
  22. Genesis 22:9 sn Then he tied up. This text has given rise to an important theme in Judaism known as the Aqedah, from the Hebrew word for “binding.” When sacrifices were made in the sanctuary, God remembered the binding of Isaac, for which a substitute was offered. See D. Polish, “The Binding of Isaac,” Jud 6 (1957): 17-21.
  23. Genesis 22:10 tn Heb “in order to slaughter.”
  24. Genesis 22:11 sn Heb “the messenger of the Lord” (also in v. 15). Some identify the angel of the Lord as the preincarnate Christ because in some texts the angel is identified with the Lord himself. However, see the note on the phrase “the angel of the Lord” in Gen 16:7.
  25. Genesis 22:12 tn Heb “Do not extend your hand toward the boy.”
  26. Genesis 22:12 tn Heb “and he said, ‘Do not extend…’”; the referent (the angel) has been specified in the context for clarity. The order of the introductory clause and the direct discourse has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  27. Genesis 22:12 sn For now I know. The test was designed to see if Abraham would be obedient (see v. 1).
  28. Genesis 22:12 sn In this context fear refers by metonymy to obedience that grows from faith.
  29. Genesis 22:13 tn Heb “lifted his eyes.”
  30. Genesis 22:13 tn Heb “and saw, and look.” The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) draws attention to what Abraham saw and invites the audience to view the scene through his eyes.
  31. Genesis 22:13 tc The translation follows the reading of the MT; a number of Hebrew mss, the LXX, Syriac, and Smr read “one” (אֶחָד, ʾekhad) instead of “behind him” (אַחַר, ʾakhar).
  32. Genesis 22:13 tn Heb “Abraham”; the proper name has been replaced by the pronoun (“he”) in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  33. Genesis 22:14 tn Heb “the Lord sees” (יְהוָה יִרְאֶה, yehvah yirʾeh, traditionally transliterated “Jehovah Jireh”; see the note on the word “provide” in v. 8). By so naming the place Abraham preserved in the memory of God’s people the amazing event that took place there.
  34. Genesis 22:14 sn On the expression to this day see B. Childs, “A Study of the Formula ‘Until this Day’,” JBL 82 (1963): 279-92.
  35. Genesis 22:14 sn The saying connected with these events has some ambiguity, which was probably intended. The Niphal verb could be translated (1) “in the mountain of the Lord it will be seen/provided” or (2) “in the mountain the Lord will appear.” If the temple later stood here (see the note on “Moriah” in Gen 22:2), the latter interpretation might find support, for the people went to the temple to appear before the Lord, who “appeared” to them by providing for them his power and blessings. See S. R. Driver, Genesis, 219.
  36. Genesis 22:16 tn Heb “By myself I swear.”
  37. Genesis 22:16 tn Heb “the oracle of the Lord.” The phrase refers to a formal oracle or decree from the Lord.
  38. Genesis 22:17 tn The use of the infinitive absolute before the finite verbal form (either an imperfect or cohortative) emphasizes the certainty of the blessing.
  39. Genesis 22:17 tn Here too the infinitive absolute is used for emphasis before the following finite verb (either an imperfect or cohortative).sn I will greatly multiply. The Lord here ratifies his earlier promise to give Abram a multitude of descendants. For further discussion see R. B. Chisholm, “Evidence from Genesis,” A Case for Premillennialism, 35-54.
  40. Genesis 22:17 tn The Hebrew term זֶרַע (zeraʿ) occurring here and in v. 18 may mean “seed” (for planting), “offspring” (occasionally of animals, but usually of people), or “descendants” depending on the context.
  41. Genesis 22:17 tn Or “inherit.”
  42. Genesis 22:17 tn Heb “gate,” which here stands for a walled city. To break through the gate complex would be to conquer the city, for the gate complex was the main area of defense (hence the translation “stronghold”).
  43. Genesis 22:18 tn In the Hebrew text this causal clause comes at the end of the sentence. The translation alters the word order for stylistic Because you have obeyed me. Abraham’s obedience brought God’s ratification of the earlier conditional promise (see Gen 12:2).
  44. Genesis 22:18 tn The denominative verb בָּרַךְ (barakh) is active in the Piel and passive in the Pual. Here it is in the Hitpael which is typically middle or reflexive. Traditionally it is rendered as passive (“will be blessed”) here. Some reference grammars consider the Hitpael to be passive on rare occasions but their examples can be disputed. The LXX translates with a passive spelling, but this does not mean the Hebrew is passive. For example, the LXX uses a passive spelling for the Hitpael in Gen 3:8 where the Hebrew says “they hid themselves from the Lord.” The English understanding of the Greek’s passive spelling does not mean that the Hebrew is passive, i.e., “they were hidden;” it merely reflects translation issues going from Hebrew to Greek (or from Semitic to Indo-European) and may reveal the broader range of meanings that the Greek spelling can convey. The Hitpael is better understood here as middle or reflexive/reciprocal, as in its other instances (Gen 26:4; Deut 29:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 65:16; Jer 4:2). One option would be to treat it like the middle voice Niphal cases in Gen 12:3; 18:18 and 28:14, “they may find blessing through your descendants.” This extends to the nation the Lord’s promise to Abraham to bless those who bless him. But one may expect the continued use of the Niphal for that and a distinct middle voice meaning of the Hitpael here. The Hitpael can mean to pronounce blessings on each other, as in Isa 65:16 where the expression of blessing each other through (or in the name of) the true God is parallel to taking oaths in the Lord’s name (as opposed to holding oneself accountable to other gods). For other examples of blessing formulae using an individual as an example of blessing, see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11. To pronounce blessings referring to the divinely blessed Israel who possesses its enemies’ gates (v. 17) also acknowledges Israel’s God. So the surface statement “they will bless themselves” (an option acknowledged in the note in the NASB) in the name of, or in light of, Abraham’s blessed descendants implies more than the speech act itself. It implies at least acknowledgment of Israel’s God and allows room for being allegiant to or joining with Israel’s God. This thought is consistent with being made great and successful internationally in v. 17 and is not opposed to the iterations with the Niphal of being able to receive blessing by blessing Israel.
  45. Genesis 22:19 tn Heb “and they arose and went together.”
  46. Genesis 22:19 tn Heb “and Abraham stayed in Beer Sheba.” This has been translated as a relative clause for stylistic reasons.
  47. Genesis 22:20 tn In the Hebrew text the sentence begins with הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) which draws attention to the statement.
  48. Genesis 22:21 sn This parenthetical note about Kemuel’s descendant is probably a later insertion by the author/compiler of Genesis and not part of the original announcement.
  49. Genesis 22:23 tn The disjunctive clause gives information that is important but parenthetical to the narrative. Rebekah would become the wife of Isaac (Gen 24:15).