Did Abraham Believe He Was to Sacrifice Isaac?

Moshe Ben-Chaim


Reader: In my opinion, G-d never asked Abraham to kill Isaac. Since He promised Abraham that his seed will continue with Isaac, and later, didn’t tell him to kill Isaac but to bring him as sacrifice. So the test was this: if Abraham has bitachon, (trust in G-d) he will know what ever he does, nothing will happen to Isaac, because G-d keeps his promises. Therefore, he should know that even if he strikes Isaac with his knife, he cannot kill him - a miracle must happen.
Mesora: According to you, Abraham’s perfection in following God’s word is a game. He never really thought that he was sacrificing Isaac. But the Rabbis teach otherwise: Abraham was convinced that he was to kill his son. This is fact. See the Ramban and Maimonides on this point for verification.


Reader: Am I to follow majority opinions in this area, or can’t I follow what my mind tells me?
Mesora: In philosophy - which this is - there is no Rabbinical or Torah “ruling.” So you are correct to follow your mind as best as possible. But I wish to clarify for you these points which I see clear: Reason dictates that, the inclusion of this story in the Torah as a lesson in devotion; the storyline itself; and the response of the angel (Gen,. 22:12) “...don’t send your hand out to the lad, and do nothing to him, for now I know you fear God, as you have not held back your only son from me” teach clearly that Abraham had full intent to slaughter Isaac.