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Abraham And Isaac: Was God’s Command Moral?

1968 words - 8 pages

“Abraham…Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.” Genesis 22:2 Thus, Abraham, with perfect faith and trust in the Lord, sets out the next follow the commandment of God. This is the beginning of one of the most intriguing and horrific stories in the Old Testament. A man willing to kill his only son because he believes it is a Divine command from God. All well and good for Abraham; however, what if someone today came to me and said that the Lord had told them to sacrifice their child? Unlike Abraham, I do not have perfect faith and I doubt, I question, and I would probably think they were crazy. This also sets the stage for one of the nagging questions of morality that has been tackled by theologians and philosophers for ages: Was the command that God Gave Abraham to kill Isaac moral? This issue has been tackled by the likes of Soren Kierkegaard and Immanuel Kant (Collins, 2007). For myself, this is a topic I have wanted to tackle since I took an ethics class last year. In my opinion, there is indeed sufficient rationale for Abraham to act on the word of God and to take his only son to Mount Moriah to offer him up as a sacrifice. Looking at the situation from a historical context, as well as the fact that the Noahide laws in Genesis, chapter nine, state that all life belongs to God (Deffinbaugh, 2004), that God is an all knowing being, that there was no evidence of a direct threat of punishment or an offer of reward in following the instruction (Landau, 2010), that both Abraham and Isaac had perfect faith and trust in the Lord, and finally that God does not ask anything of Abraham that he did not ask of himself, makes this a moral and just demand. Logic points to this being the case. When I started to research this paper, I had the opposite theory in mind, but as I read and researched, the only conclusion that I could come to was yes, this was a moral decree and there is sufficient rational to prove it.
First, looking at this from a historical perspective, in the time of Abraham, human,
and especially child sacrifice, was a common practice amount the pagan cults. We in the “modern” world may find this disturbing, but as Karen Armstrong explains in her book, A History of God, that this practice had logic to the ancient peoples. “The first child was often believed to be the offspring of a god…. In begetting the child, the god’s energy had been depleted so to replenish this and ensure the circulation of all available mana, the first born was returned to its divine parent (Armstrong, 1993).” However, we must remember that God was not like the pagan gods and Isaac was not God’s biological son, but a gift to Abraham from God. There would have been no rational reason for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Armstrong contended that this was one way God began to separate Himself from the pagan gods, “He did not share the...

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