“Take Now Your Son”

How to understand the Binding of Isaac.

From Sacrifice of Isaac, 1603, by Caravaggio. Wikimedia.

From Sacrifice of Isaac, 1603, by Caravaggio. Wikimedia.

Observation
Nov. 6 2014
About the author

Jonathan Neumann, a 2011-2012 Tikvah Fellow, lives in London and writes on politics and religion.

The Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22), known in Hebrew as the akeidah and a centerpiece of this week’s reading in the Torah, is one of the Bible’s most challenging stories. It plays a prominent role in Jewish liturgy and thought; Christian and Islamic thinkers, as well as more recent moral philosophers, have famously grappled with it. But much of what has been written about this episode misses its essential message.

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More about: Abraham, Binding of Isaac, Isaac, Torah