Attention to the Names of God Can Explain the Binding of Isaac

Few biblical passages have provoked as much theological handwringing as the one, read in synagogues tomorrow, in which the Almighty commands Abraham to sacrifice his own son. Of particular concern to many commentators is God’s countermanding at the end of the passage the order he gave at the beginning. By noting the text’s use of both Elohim (God) and the tetragrammaton (rendered here as “Lord”), Jerome Marcus proposes a fresh approach:

The first half of the story (Genesis 22:1-10) presents God’s command that Abraham sacrifice his son. Throughout this section of the story, God is referred to as Elohim. However, in the second half (Genesis 22:11-19), where the sacrifice is ultimately averted, all references to God [save one] use the tetragrammaton; [likewise] the command to Abraham [not to go through with the sacrifice] comes from a “messenger of the Lord.” Abraham thus hears God in two different modes. [Put differently], Abraham’s understanding and experience of God . . . changes midway through the story.

The text emphasizes this shift clearly by a striking altered repetition. . . . When Isaac asks his father where the lamb is, Abraham answers “God will see to (i.e., provide) the lamb Himself.” But after the crucial shift, Abraham . . . names the place where the binding had occurred not “God will see” but instead “the Lord will see.” . . .

[The talmudic sages frequently] distinguish between these two names of God: Elohim portrays God as unyielding, expressing the characteristic of inflexible justice. The tetragrammaton is understood as representing mercy. The apparent contradiction between what God wants in the two halves of Genesis 22, then, may map onto the difference between these two understandings of God. . . .

Read more at Lehrhaus

More about: Abraham, Binding of Isaac, Genesis, Religion & Holidays, Torah

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy