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

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University