Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Binding of Isaac

Here's a little of the conversation of Abraham and his son, Isaac. Note how it is surrounded by the story - and they walked, the two of them, together. This lesson is yet another alternative lesson for today in the Revised Common Lectionary.  When there are three alternatives, there is not so much common anymore. You will note that I only translated a bit of this. Just the conversation that surrounds the traditional - God himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering. You will note that I did not translate it quite so. The word for provide is actually see.  You might read it as God will see to the sacrifice for himself. But that would impose an English idiom onto the Hebrew - and who knows if that was how an ancient Hebrew might have thought?

God will see. That is interesting, isn't it. Who's looking? What are we to make of Isaac - and what are we to make of Job - the innocent suffering for the sin of the world - whether it be child sacrifice or random violence?  Do we take Abraham's obedience as a model or do we take the meaning behind the story as a model? Must we stop short of explanation? [The pdf, xml, and score are in the usual place - maybe someone else would like to complete the translation.]

We might notice also that this is a male thing. The woman is never heard from again. Sarah never speaks again in the story. The next thing we hear of her is that she has died and Abraham buys her grave for 400 shekels of silver - a 'little thing', i.e. a hard bargain with the Hittites.