The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Genesis 22

Gen 22:1

Themes: Seed of promise, miraculous birth, scorned by "Ishmael", a burnt offering: complete dedication and service. Here are found the first refs to love, obedience, and worship.

Sacrifice by a father of an only son, who was himself willing to be offered, at locality of Jerusalem. Received from dead in a figure (Heb 11:19) -- forgiveness to all nations; death of "mother" (Gen 23); marriage to a bride out of the Land of the Gentiles (Gen 24). See Lesson, Abraham offers Isaac.

Abraham believed Isaac was to be raised, because he was designated to fulfill all God's promises to Abraham: "Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death" (Heb 11:19). Cp Gen 21:12; 18:17; 13:15,16.

TESTED: "Tempted" in AV. "Try" in RV and Heb 11:8,17. See Jam 1:12,13; 1Pe 1:6,7. God must have considered Abraham very righteous to put such a severe test on him.

"When a man contemplates buying a car he takes it out on the road to see how it behaves under normal conditions. He does not try driving it across a rough mountain side, nor does he deliberately crash it into a stone wall. By contrast, when an engineer wishes to know the quality of some metal, he subjects samples of it to various extreme tests, twisting or loading them to the point of destruction. It was the first kind of 'temptation' ['testing': NIV] which God now brought to bear on Abraham. But 'Lead us not into temptation' [Mat 6:13] means the second kind of experience: 'Lord, do not bring us into such temptations as may prove too much for us.' And James' emphatic 'neither tempteth he any man' [Jam 1:13] clearly means: 'God never tempts any man with the intention of working his downfall.' 'He will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape (as for Israel at the Red Sea), that ye may be able to bear it' [1Co 10:13]" (WAbr 95).

Gen 22:2

ONLY: Heb "yachiyd": cp Psa 22:20: "Deliver my life from the sword, my PRECIOUS life from the power of the dogs." God did not consider Ishmael and Keturah's sons to be true sons of Abr. Keturah's sons were sent away from Abraham (Gen 25:6). Typ Christ, the "only begotten son", the beloved son, or the "precious" son: sw Gen 22:12,16; Jdg 11:34; Psa 25:16; 35:17; Pro 4:3; Jer 6:26; Amo 8:10; Zec 12:10.

MORIAH: Near Jerusalem, at Temple site. From rt "ra'ah" = to see, and "Yah". Same rt as "jireh" (v 14). Melchizedek's altar at Salem: site of future temple of Solomon, near Zion: 2Sa 24:18-25; 1Ch 21:18; 2Ch 3:1. "Moriah" = "vision of Yahweh", or "Yahweh will see" (ie seek or provide): WAbr 99.

Gen 22:3

EARLY THE NEXT MORNING: "I did not consult any man... but I went immediately" (Gal 1:16,17).

TWO OF HIS SERVANTS: Cp 2 thieves, crucified with Christ (Luk 23:32).

Gen 22:4

ON THE THIRD DAY: "In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day -- for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!" (Luk 13:33).

AND SAW THE PLACE IN THE DISTANCE: Typ Christ: "Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame" (Isa 50:7). Cp Luk 9:51; Mar 10:32.

Gen 22:5

BOY (LAD): Sw for Joseph at 30 years old (Gen 41:12; cp Gen 44:20 with Gen 46:21), the young men (Gen 22:3), and warriors (Gen 14:24; 1Sa 14:1; 2Sa 2:14). Like Christ, Isaac was prob 30 or 33.

WILL COME BACK TO YOU: Impl resur (v 1n).

Gen 22:6

Cp Joh 19:17: Typ Christ, who bore his own cross.

THE TWO OF THEM WENT ON TOGETHER: Bracketing (see v 8) vv 7,8a. A singleness of purpose between father and son (2Co 5:19-21). Cp with temptation of Christ: Mat 3:17: Christ (like Abraham and Isaac) had "right" to claim his inheritance immediately, but resisted.

Gen 22:8

Or even, "God will provide my son, a burnt offering" (WAbr 97).

THE TWO OF THEM WENT ON TOGETHER: "And a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Luk 2:35). The prospective sufferings were experienced by both parent and son!

Gen 22:9

ARRANGED THE WOOD ON IT: "Laid the wood in order" (AV). Setting "in order" is a significant thing in the service of God: Gen 22:9; Exo 26:17; 39:37; 40:4,23; Lev 1:7,8,12; 6:12; 24:8; 1Ki 18:33; 2Ki 20:1; 2Ch 13:11; 29:35; Eze 41:6; Acts 18:23; 1Co 11:34; 14:40; Tit 1:5.

HE BOUND HIS SON ISAAC AND LAID HIM ON THE ALTAR: Isaac was a young man, who could have resisted his father. (Also, Abraham could have brought the young men to assist him, but he knew he would not need to have them!)

Gen 22:12

"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all -- how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" (Rom 8:32). We see here that Abraham, by his willingness to devote his well-beloved son in a supreme act of love, actually typified God Himself!

NOW I KNOW THAT YOU FEAR GOD: The doubt expressed here may be in remembrance of the incident in Gen 20 where Abraham for the second time said that Sarah was his sister, because he was afraid of what would happen to him. Or the angel might have meant simply, 'You (Abraham) passed the test! I wasn't sure whether or not you would, but you did!' A number of verses indicate that even the angels had incomplete knowledge of future events (eg Mar 13:32; 1Pe 1:12; etc).

FROM ME: "Me" = God, although it is an angel who is speaking (vv 11,15). Cp Gen 32:24-30.

Gen 22:13

The ram entangled (Aram "sabachtani") in the thicket (Heb "sebach") may be the basis for the words of Jesus when citing Psa 22:1: "My God... why have You forsaken (azavtani) -- or entangled (sabachtani) me?" See Lesson, Forsaken?

In quoting Psa 22, Jesus switched from the Heb azavtani (which means "forsaken me") to the Aramaic sabachtani (which may mean "entangled me": the same word occurs in Gen 22:13 for the "thicket" in which the sacrificial ram was found). So perhaps this should be read: 'My God, my God, thou hast [an assertion, not a question!] ensnared and provided ME as the sacrificial victim!'

Gen 22:14

THE LORD WILL PROVIDE: In AV, "Jehovah-jireh". That is, "God will provide a sacrifice -- ie Jesus". Or, "in the mountain Yahweh will be seen", as a Redeemer, in Christ, the perfect sacrifice -- God manifest in the flesh (2Co 5:19-21; Joh 1:14; Heb 8:3; Gal 4:4) for the redemption of mankind.

"Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of SEEING my day; he saw it and was glad" (Joh 8:56). Cp also Jam 2:22: "You SEE that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did."

Gen 22:16

Promise and oath. Cp Heb 6:13,17,18: "to the heirs" -- plural -- ie, Abraham and Isaac. Also, Abraham and us.

Gen 22:17

DESCENDANTS: "Seed" in AV. (See Lesson, "Seed" in RSV.) Can be singular or plural, but cp Gal 3:16: "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ."

STARS IN THE SKY (OF THE HEAVEN): A singular seed (Isaac, or Christ) can be multiplied into a multitudinous seed (Gen 15:5; Phi 2:15).

SAND ON THE SEASHORE: "Sand" may simply sig a great number (Jos 11:4; Jdg 7:12). But "sand" = natural Israel: "Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: 'Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved' " (Rom 9:27). The "sand" rules over the "seashore": Jer 5:22; Isa 57:20; Rev 17:1,15.

"According to recent findings, the number of stars in the universe totals approximately 10 to the 23rd power (a number that also approximates the sum of the grains of sand on the seashores)" (Hugh Ross, "The Finger of God" 153).

YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL TAKE POSSESSION OF THE CITIES OF THEIR ENEMIES: Better, "your seed -- singular! -- will take possession of the gates of his -- singular -- enemies." In AV: "thy seed [or offspring: v 18; cp AV] shall possess the gate of HIS enemies." In the East, even great cities had only one large gate; to possess this gate was to possess full power over the city. Christ was dead, now lives, and has power -- the "keys" -- of hell (the grave) and death (Rev 1:18; cp Rev 20:6; 1Co 15:26,55,56).

In Bible times cities were surrounded by walls with, of course, a gate to enter. Whoever conquered a city would have control over the gate and would therefore have the authority to let in or keep out whomever he wanted. Jesus, the seed of Abraham (Gal 3:16), through his death and resurrection gained the authority to possess the gate of his enemies -- hell (the grave) and death (Rev 1:18). Therefore he alone can say who will stay in the grave for eternity or who will come forth to eternal life (Joh 5:22, 28,29; Act 17:31). Also, in the process of establishing the kingdom, Jesus will rule in the midst of his enemies (Psa 110:2). The seat of judgment also was in the city gate (Gen 19:1,9; Rth 4:1; etc).

Gen 22:18

"And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways" (Act 3:25,26).

"Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: 'We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles' " (Act 13:46). "The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: 'All nations will be blessed thru you' " (Gal 3:8).

Gen 22:20

Vv 20-24: Abraham, after 50 years, learns of his family. What does this mean? A wife for Isaac (Gen 24). Isaac is "raised from the dead"; now preparations are made for him to obtain a bride out of Land of the Gentiles.

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