Was Isaac A Type of Christ?
2 And he (red radius) said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac (Auriga), whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a (black lunar) burnt offering upon one of the (red radius) mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the (red radius horizon sunrise) morning, and (solar) saddled his (Aries) ass, and took two of his young men with him (Gemini), and Isaac his son (Auriga), and clave the wood (Perseus or Orion cut the wood) for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day (36°) Abraham (Orion) (red radius) lifted up his eyes, and (red radius) saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham (Orion) said unto his young (Perseus and Auriga) men, Abide ye here with the (Aries) ass; and I (Orion) and the lad (Auriga) will (red radius) go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
6 And Abraham (Orion) took the (lunar) wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the (solar) fire in his hand, and a (lunar crescent) knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac (Auriga) spake unto Abraham (Orion) his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the (solar) fire and the (lunar) wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8 And Abraham (Orion) said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb (Aries) for a (lunar black) burnt offering: so they (red radius) went both of them together.
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of (Jerusalem area); and Abraham built an altar (black moon) there, and laid the (lunar) wood in order, and (red radius) bound Isaac (Auriga) his son, and laid him on the (black moon) altar upon the (lunar) wood.
10 And Abraham (Orion) stretched forth his hand, and took the (lunar crescent) knife to slay his son (Auriga).
11 And the angel of the Lord (Auriga) (red radius) called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12 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.
13 And Abraham (Orion) lifted up his eyes, and (red radius) looked, and behold behind him a ram (Taurus) caught in a (lunar) thicket by his (red radius) horns: and Abraham (Orion) went and took the (Aries) ram, and offered him up for a (solar and lunar) burnt offering in the stead of his (Auriga) son.
14 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.
(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 called? 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.
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 ‘a?êdah, 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 ‘a?edah took place immediately after Isaac’s weaning. This however is not the general opinion. According to the Rabbis, the ‘a?edah 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).
15 And the angel of the Lord (Auriga) called unto Abraham (Orion) out of heaven the second time,
16 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:
17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the (Zodiac) stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18 And in thy seed (Anglo-Saxondom) shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
19 So Abraham returned unto his young (Gemini) men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.
20 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;
21 Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,
22 And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.
23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.
24 And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.