Did God really tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?
Jan 17, 2023
Gen 22:1, And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham. And he said, here am I. ASV
Gen 22:2, And he said, take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. ASV
Many people, by reading an English Bible translation, believe that it was ‘God’ who told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar at a location that was to be revealed. Yes that is what it says, but is that true? Well the answer is not that clear . . . . so is it true? No! It is true that in many English translations it does read that ‘God’ told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. However, it is not true that the Almighty Sovereign Creator of all that exists; the one who was revealed by name to Moses in Exodus 3:14-15, told Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. According to most English translations of Gen 22:2, ASV, we do not even know for whom the offering was intended.
Some necessary Basic Definitions are now needed:
The word ‘God’ is incorrectly used in many English Bible translations. In many passages like Gen. 22:1, we see that the word ‘God’ is used there to translate the Hebrew word ‘alueim’ (ALH-YM). However, the Hebrew word ‘alueim’ has the English meaning of Power(s) or Mighty-one(s), and, it is a generic plural word. Therefore the proper English definition for the Hebrew word is: ‘powers or mighty-ones’ and it refers to those who rule or teach (i.e. one who yokes with another) which can mean many various Biblical individuals. Since alueim is a plural word, in the Hebrew Bible it is often applied to rulers, kings, or anyone with power or authority, and it can even refer to a-god, or gods such as an Idol. At times it can be used with the definite article ‘the’ in the singular or with a ‘singular verb’ or a singular pronoun such as “he” and may then refer to ‘YHWH as The One Almighty-one’. Context in the use of the Hebrew word alueim is very very important to determine the correct Hebrew meaning of the word ‘alueim’. Some Hebrew-English dictionaries transliterate the word Alueim as Elohim.
Side Note: The word ‘God’ as used in many English translations, does NOT always mean the ‘Almighty Sovereign Creator in every case it is found. This is especially important when using the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Greek NT, the word God translates the Greek word ‘theos’, which has the meaning of deity, but the deity is not defined, it is presumed. The English word ‘God’ is an Old Saxon replacement word that meant ‘good’ but in time it has unfortunately become associated as a generic term referring to the Almighty Sovereign Creator who was revealed in the Hebrew Bible. It can also refer to any unrelated god of various religious beliefs. In ancient times and among many primitive people ‘god’ was often a man-made object of wood or stone, somthing we would call an idol. Even animals were sometimes called gods.
The word YHWH (transliterated to English as Yahweh) is the proper name of the Almighty-one, the Creator, the Life Force essence revealed to Moses in Gen. 12:1 of the Hebrew Bible. The name Yahweh has the Hebrew meaning of ‘He-Is, He-exists, or Ever-living’. Yahweh has existed from all eternity past, as has all that He has created. His existence had no beginning and has no ending. He has no equal either in the Heavens, or in the endless Universe, Isaiah 42:5. He does not share His Creation with any other neither does He inform any other of His purpose or intent, Isaiah 42:8. He alone possesses omnipotence. Yahweh is the One and only eternal Mighty-one, Deut. 6:4. There is no other Power but He alone, Isaiah 44:6. Yahweh The Almighty Sovereign Creator Life-force Essence exists eternally throughout all that is. It is He who possesses all wisdom. It is to Him only we must worship, and to Him only who deserves our praise.
Some may say that there are Bible passages where Yahweh appears to come before men in a human-like form, and that he appears to speak directly to men like Abraham and Moses - even face to face. That concept however, has lost what the entire Hebrew Bible has taught us about our Almighty Sovereign Creator. Forgotten is the Fact, that Yahweh is the Almighty Sovereign of HOSTS. Yahweh is eternal, incorporeal, incomprehensible, invisible, immutable, infinite, perfectly wise, perfectly just, and is a non-physical Life-Force essence that fills His entire ever-existing and endless created Universe, sustaining and directing all. He uses His created Alueim, the celestial/terrestrial beings (aka angels, messengers) to maintaining everything according to His eternal plan. . . . . Some Alueim are used for good will, and some are directed to destroy, but they will always perform according to the exact expressed will of the Almighty. Occasionally one of Yahweh’s Celestial messengers may be addressed using the name Yahweh by mortal men; this is simply because the messenger comes with Yahweh’s authority and given power by Him. Where homage by man, is at times given to Yahweh’s appointed celestial/terrestrial messenger, it will ultimately be directed to Yahweh, the Almighty Sovereign Himself. No human could ever comprehend or view the One who is ‘Eternal’ and incorporeal. End of Side Note
Correctly translated, Genesis 22:1-2 should read similar to this:
Gen 22:1, ‘and it came to pass after these words, and the Mighty-Ones greatly tested Abraham and he said to him, Abraham, and he said here I am’, AOYV
Gen 22:2, ‘and he said, please take your son, your only one that you love, Isaac and you will walk to the land of Moriyah and make him ‘go up’ there for a rising, upon one of the hills that I will direct you,
The offering of humans or of animals or some other prized physical item such as food-grains by way of fire ‘as a whole burnt offering’ (a rising, or a thing going up) using fire on an altar (a pile of rocks) was a common practice by pagans in Abraham’s ancient culture. The ‘offering’ (a thing ‘going up) was often done to please or develop favor from an unknown power in the heavens (someone’s ‘god’). Although Human sacrifice was practiced by some pagan cultures, it was a practice that was forbidden by the Almighty Yahweh (Israel’s Almighty Sovereign). In fact, Yahweh calls Human sacrifice something that He hates. It was a pagan practice that was an abomination to Him.
Read how Yahweh warns Israel NOT to follow nations that practiced these abominable sacrifices:
Deut. 12:31, . . . .’for every abomination to Yahweh, which he hates have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt (sacrificed) in the fire to their gods.’
Yahweh tells us in no uncertain terms that Human sacrifice is such a horrible concept to Him, that it did not even come into ‘His mind’ and He never demanded it from His creation, or from Ancient Israel. Yahweh condemns Israel when they practiced this vile act against His will –
Jer. 19:5, ‘and have built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons in the fire for burnt-offerings unto Baal; which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind.’
Now read in the next verse, what Yahweh’s penalty was for doing such wicked acts against His commandments?
Jer. 19: 7, ‘I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of them that seek their life: and their dead body’s will I give to be food for the birds of the heavens, and for the beasts of the earth.’
The Almighty Sovereign Yahweh never changes, and what was not authorized by Him in one age and labeled as an abomination by Him, would not have been approved by Him in any previous age.
Abraham attempted to offer Isaac to Yahweh as a burnt offering, at a time in his life when he was still influenced by his ancient ‘pagan/heathen’ culture and by neighbors. He was prompted to do this thing by an undefined power, mighty-ones who by an unknown authority attempted to challenge or prove him. In his devout and faithful mind still influenced by his pagan culture, Abraham thought that the offering, of the ‘thing going up into the sky by way of fire and smoke’ from such a great gift as one’s only son would surely ultimately result in even greater blessings. This entire idea is of course is a horrible thought to us today, but was not unknown to Abraham at his time.
Gen 22:9, ‘and they came to the place which the Mighty-ones said to him and Abraham built there the altar and arranged the wood and he bound Isaac his son and he set him in place upon the altar, upon the wood, AOYV
Gen 22:10, ‘and Abraham sent his hand and he took the knife to slay his son, AOYV
Gen 22:11, ‘and the messenger of Yahweh called out to him from the sky and he said, Abraham, and he said, here I am, AOYV 
Gen 22:12, ‘and he said, you will not send your hand to the young man and you will not do to him anything given that now I know that you are fearful of Mighty-ones and you did not keep back your only son from me, AOYV
According to Gen. 22:11, the messenger of Yahweh - Note: The name Yahweh here uses the second person pronoun ‘He-exists’ (Yahweh) when the messenger is calling to Abraham from the sky, and prevented him from killing his son. It was the same Messenger that also said to Abraham, ‘now I know that you are one fearer of Mighty-one(s), and you have not withheld your son, your only one, from me.’
The test was a confirmation to the messenger that Abraham was willing to go all the way in offering up his son. The test was not intended to make a point to The Almighty Sovereign Creator named Yahweh, who would already know the heart of Abraham, since he had much earlier instructed Abraham through ‘his messenger’ to leave the city of Ur, Gen. 12:1. Note: Yahweh (he-Exists) would never be using the ‘second person pronoun ‘He’ when referring to himself. We see in Exodus 3:14. Yahweh’s name in the first person is Ahweh meaning I-am, or I exist when He provided His name to Moses. When we address the Almighty we use the second person pronoun for the name Yahweh, ‘He-Exists’ but Yahweh referring to Himself would use the first person pronoun Ahweh ‘I-Exist, or I-am.’ Furthermore, The Almighty Sovereign Creator knows all things, declaring the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46:10; Prov. 19:21.
The Almighty Sovereign Creator Yahweh prevented Abraham from slaying his son by having His messenger (one with His authority) to call out to Abraham from the sky, preventing him from offering his son Isaac as a ‘burnt offering.’ In Isaac’s place a ram was provided as a substitute offering.
Gen 22:15, and the messenger of Yahweh called out to Abraham a second time from the sky,
Gen 22:16, and he said, in me I was sworn an utterance of Yahweh, seeing that you did this thing and you did not keep back your only son,
Gen 22:17, given that, I will greatly respect, and I will greatly make an increase of your seed like the stars of the sky and like the sand which is upon the edge of the sea and your seed will inherit the gate of his hostile ones,
Gen 22:18, and all nations of the land will respect themselves with your seed because you heard in my voice, AOYV
In Gen. 22:15, we have the account of the messenger of Yahweh calling Abraham from the skies a second time. The messenger is presenting his statement to Abraham by using The Almighty Sovereign’s name Yahweh, as is evident by the statement, ‘in me I was sworn an utterance of Yahweh (He-is or He-Exists).’
Although it is clear that The Almighty Sovereign Yahweh blessed Abraham for his attempt to offer Isaac to Him by way of a burnt offering (a thing going up), it is also clear that the original request was NOT The Almighty Sovereign Yahweh’s doing; what The Almighty Sovereign Yahweh did do, was to instruct His Messenger to prevent the offering by Abraham. It is also clear, that The Almighty Sovereign Yahweh Himself never spoke directly to Abraham in this entire passage, but the message of communication came to Abraham as it does to all other terrestrial (flesh and blood humans) through Yahweh’s appointed messengers who have been given the authority to speak for Him
To the question, did Yahweh tell Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac? The answer is absolutely not! In this entire passage Yahweh, the Almighty Sovereign Creator, never spoke to Abraham directly, but only through His appointed messenger to prevent Abraham from sacrificing his son Isaac, and this was only through his appointed messenger.
The contrast found in the Greek NT book of James (actually ‘James’ is the book of Ya’acob), is a lesson in faithfulness, it was not about faith at all. Abraham was willing to ‘gift’ his son Isaac, as was a pagan/heathen custom in his day. Yet the Messenger of Yahweh was instructed to prevent him from doing so. Abraham never completed his willingness to do the act. It was however, still accounted to him as honorable due to his primitive culture, since he did have the ‘willingness’ to gift back to Yahweh the most loved and precious possession he had been given, his only son Isaac.
Gen. 22, becomes clear when read in Hebrew, and critically studied to understand truth it presents.
1. Is Yahweh not all knowing? In other words, would Yahweh not know Abraham's willingness to ‘gift’ Isaac as a sacrifice? Answer – of course, because Yahweh knows all.
2. Who really asked Abraham to offer Isaac? Was it Yahweh (who knows all), or was it the ‘alueim ‘ mighty ones, powers’?
3. Who was this ‘ alueim’ that tested Abraham to see if he would offer Isaac?
4. Who was it that prevented Abraham from ‘gifting’ Isaac by way of a burnt offering?
5. Was this messenger (angel) the same ‘ alueim ‘ that enticed Abraham, or was it some other?
6. If another, then who enticed Abraham in the first place to offer up Isaac?
7. According to vs 12, who is really talking to Abraham?
8. Who did Abraham ‘fear’ by intending to ‘gift’ Isaac? Was it Yahweh, or was it really a messenger?
8. Who was it that now knows that Abraham was willing to ‘gift’ Isaac, Yahweh or the messenger?
9. Who is the ‘me’ in vs 12; is it the messenger, or was it Yahweh?
Yahweh does not entice, test, or require any ‘gifting’ to Him by way of ‘burnt offerings’ animal, human, or any food offered on an altar; He never has, and does not need it, He condemns such evil actions.
Gen 22:1, is an example where an honorable man still under his pagan/heathen culture, by custom and local influence was willing to do an act, which in his mind was a show and display of thankfulness to the Almighty Sovereign for his blessings. Although his understanding was miss-placed; in this instance, it was his willingness to do such act that became a blessing to him. It is unfortunate, that this truth is hidden in most English Bible translations by using the pagan derived words like ‘God’ as a substitute for its true Hebrew meaning here of ‘power(s), mighty-one(s).’ Furthermore, the Almighty Sovereign Creator has given to us His proper name of Yahweh, to be spoken as a ‘memorial for all generations.’ (Exodus. 3:15). When we fail this simple request we disgrace our Almighty Sovereign Creator and violate His Commandment to us found in Deut 5:2-22.
When the proper names are used in translation, and the proper meanings of the Hebrew words are translated into English, many of the Bible passages that first appear to be confusing become clear and errors will be displaced by the truth. Yahweh is NOT the one that tested or proved Abraham.
Assembly of Yahweh, Cascade
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 American Standard Version of the Bible
 God - a name derived from Anglo-Saxon origin which has the meaning of ‘good’, now commonly adopted to denote the Supreme Being or an undefined entity or object for worship. The word ‘God’ is not found in the entire Bible using the Hebrew or Greek language.
 Ela (AL-H) aloah or eloah – power, or might, (singular): The power or might of one who rules or teaches. One who yokes with another. Often applied to rulers or ‘a god’. (Ancient Hebrew Lexicon, Benner). With the ים YM ending the word is יםEla (AL-H-YM) alueim or elohim, (plural): With the meaning powers, or mighty-ones.
 Essence - the quality or nature of something that identifies it or makes it what it is.
 AOYV - Assembly of Yahweh Version.