Some reflections on Abraham – the father of faith:
It was early morning. Abraham rose in good time, had the asses saddled and left his tent, taking Isaac with him, but Sarah watched them from the window as they went down the valley until she could see them no more. They rode in silence for three days; on the morning of the fourth Abraham still said not a word, but raised his eyes and saw afar the mountain in Moriah. He left the lads behind and went on alone up the mountain with Isaac beside him. But Abraham said to himself: ‘I won’t conceal from Isaac where this way is leading him.’ He stood still, laid his hand on Isaac’s head to give him his blessing, and Isaac bent down to receive it. And Abraham’s expression was fatherly, his gaze gentle, his speech encouraging. But Isaac could not understand him, his soul could not be uplifted; he clung to Abraham’s knees, pleaded at his feet, begged for his young life, for his fair promise; he called to mind the joy in Abraham’s house, reminded him of the sorrow and loneliness. Then Abraham lifted the boy up and walked with him, taking him by the hand, and his words were full of comfort and exhortation. But Isaac could not understand him. Abraham climbed the mountain in Moriah, but Isaac did not understand him. Then he turned away from Isaac for a moment, but when Isaac saw his face a second time it was changed, his gaze was wild, his mien one of horror. He caught Isaac by the chest, threw him to the ground and said: ‘Foolish boy, do you believe I am your father? I am an idolater. Do you believe this is God’s command? No, it is my own desire.’ Then Isaac trembled and in his anguish cried: ‘God in heaven have mercy on me, God of Abraham have mercy on me; if I have no father on earth, then be Thou my father!’ But below his breath Abraham said to himself: ‘Lord in heaven I thank Thee; it is after all better that he believe I am a monster than that he lose faith in Thee.’
It was early morning, Abraham rose in good time, embraced Sarah, the bride of his old age, and Sarah kissed Isaac, who had taken her disgrace from her, was her pride and hope for all generations. So they rode on in silence and Abraham’s eyes were fixed on the ground, until the fourth day when he looked up and saw afar the mountain in Moriah, but he turned his gaze once again to the ground. Silently he arranged the firewood, bound Isaac; silently he drew the knife. Then he saw the ram that God had appointed. He sacrificed that and returned home... From that day on, Abraham became old, he could not forget that God had demanded this of him, Isaac throve as before; but Abraham’s eye was darkened, he saw joy no more.
It was early morning. Abraham rose in good time, kissed Sarah the young mother, and Sarah kissed Isaac, her delight, her joy for ever. And Abraham rode thoughtfully on. He thought of Hagar and of the son whom he had driven out into the desert. He climbed the mountain in Moriah, he drew the knife.
It was a tranquil evening when Abraham rode out alone, and alone he rode to the mountain in Moriah: he threw himself on his face, he begged God to forgive his sin at having been willing to sacrifice Isaac, at the father’s having forgotten his duty to his son. He rode more frequently on his lonely way, but found no peace. He could not comprehend that it was a sin to have been willing to sacrifice to God the best he owned: that for which he would many a time have gladly laid down his own life; and if it was a sin, if he had not so loved Isaac, then he could not understand that it could be forgiven; for what sin was more terrible?