Old Testament

The Pentateuch

Why did God command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

Why did God do it? Scholars continue to debate this. Abraham was quick to obey God. God said, “Go,” and Abraham said, “OK.” This suggests that Abraham was a man of amazingly strong faith. Though the account does not say so, Abraham might have been thinking of God’s promise to him that it would be through Isaac that offspring would be named for him. Another indication of Abraham’s strong faith is that when he and Isaac left their traveling companions to go up on the mountain, Abraham said, “Stay here with the donkey; the boy and I will go over there; we will worship, and then we will come back to you.” (NRSV, Genesis 22:5) “We” is the operative word here. Abraham’s use of this word (instead of “I”) suggests that he anticipated that God would provide an alternate sacrifice, which is exactly what God did. The Bible does not say what Isaac and Sarah thought about all of this.


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