Ancient Myths and Honest Translations 3 – Isaac

The Two Conflicting Myths Of Isaac

There are two versions of the myth of Isaac in the Torah. In the ancient Israeli version, Abraham slaughters his young son upon an altar to show loyalty to his god, and Isaac’s name is not spoken of ever again. In the ancient Judean version of this myth, there is no sacrifice story at all, and Isaac is very much spoken of again much later in his life. In order to combine both stories about Isaac into one continuous story narrative, the scribes that redacted the Judean and Israeli literature together (in approximately 500 BCE) had to add a passage to the Israeli story about the sacrifice of Isaac in youth – that of the stopping of the sacrificial act before it actually happens by a sudden appearance of an angel. So, which was it? Was Isaac slaughtered on the altar, or not? Certain CE (A.D.) rabbinic midrashic sources contend that Isaac was indeed actually slaughtered on the altar by Abraham, as the Israeli story suggests. But, the more recent written priest version of the myth of Isaac that is found in Torah (aka, the Bible) carries on the Judean tradition of an Isaac that lived a long life – having never faced becoming a sacrifice on an altar by his father, as a test of loyalty to the god. Check the Israeli and Judean versions out below, and ask yourself: Which myth of Isaac do you favor more?


Isaac Who Was Sacrificed On An Altar – the Israeli myth

Sarah said, “Elohim has made me laugh. Everyone who hears will laugh with me.” The child grew and was weaned. Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned.

… (now, while Isaac was still a child) …

After these things, Elohim tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” Abraham said, “Here I am.” Elohim said, “Now take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go into the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I will tell you of.”

Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his donkey; and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went to the place of which Elohim had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place far off.

Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there. We will bow in reverence, and come back to you.” Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. He took in his hand the fire and the knife. They both went together.

Isaac spoke to Abraham his father, and said, “My father?” Abraham said, “Here I am, my son.” Isaac said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “Elohim will himself provide the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

So they both went together. They came to the place which Elohim had told him of. Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, on the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand, and took the knife to kill his son.

And Elohim said, “I have sworn by myself, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, that I will bless you greatly, and I will multiply your offspring greatly like the stars of the heavens, and like the sand which is on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gate of his enemies. All the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, because you have obeyed my voice.”

So Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba. Abraham lived at Beersheba.

Breishit/Genesis 21.6,8 … 22.1-10,16-19

Note – Isaac is never mentioned again in the Israeli version of the Jewish myths.


Isaac Who Never Faced Being Sacrified – the Judean myth

Yahweh visited Sarah as he had said, and Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. She said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? For I have borne him a son in his old age.”

… (and, then, Isaac grew up) …

Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi, for he lived in the land of the South. Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the evening. He lifted up his eyes and looked. Behold, there were camels coming.

Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she got off the camel. She said to the servant, “Who is the man who is walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.”

She took her veil, and covered herself. The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife.

He loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. Isaac lived by Beer Lahai Roi.

Isaac pleaded to Yahweh for his wife, because she was barren. Yahweh was pleaded upon by him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. The children struggled together within her. She said, “If it is like this, why do I live?”

She went to inquire of Yahweh. Yahweh said to her, “Two nations are in your womb. Two peoples will be separated from your body. The one people will be stronger than the other people. The elder will serve the younger.”

When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.

Breishit/Genesis 21.1,2,7 … 24.62-67,25.11,21-24

Note – There is no human sacrifice story in the Judean version of the Jewish myths, and Isaac lives and fathers children.


The Scribal Edit Added To The Israeli Sacrifice Myth

Yahweh’s angel called to him out of the sky, and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” He said, “Here I am.” He said, “Don’t lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear Elohim, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and saw that behind him was a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering instead of his son.

Abraham called the name of that place “Yahweh Will Provide”. As it is said to this day, “On Yahweh’s mountain, it will be provided.” Yahweh’s angel called to Abraham a second time out of the sky.

Breishit/Genesis 21.11-15

Note – In the Israeli myth of Isaac’s sacrifice upon the altar, it is Elohim doing the direct talking with Abraham. But, here, with this later scribe added text, it is Yahweh’s angel doing the talking with Abraham.


Judaism as an ethno-religion was not always monotheistic, and to say such is to be willfully ahistorical. Judaism slowly evolved from its original polytheistic form to a henotheistic form and, ultimately, into a modern monotheistic form over a period of 1,500 years (1200 BCE to 300 CE). It began with pre-monarchical/monarchical polytheistic Judaism (1200 BCE to 600 BCE) – which reverenced the gods Yahweh, El, Baal, and the goddess Asherah, and brought us the myths of the Garden of Eden, Noah and the flood, Avraham and his family gods, the escape from Egyptian slavery, and wandering in the desert. Then arose the temple theocracy henotheistic form (700 BCE to 70 CE) – which reverenced Yahweh as a formless Elohim that is superior to all the gods and goddesses of the local pantheons (the highest “creator” god), and introduced us to the myths of the Six Days of Creation, the lineage of the ancient patriarchs between Adam and Avraham, and the priestly seven day calendar and religious laws. From this evolving Jewish heritage we now have the rise of the present rabbinical monotheistic form of Judaism (300 BCE to present) – which reverences Yahweh Elohim as the only existing one true “creator” god and all other names for “God” are referencing this not directly knowable and utterly formless Yahweh Elohim, and has brought us the first complete Hebrew “Bible” redaction, the written Talmud and the Mishnah, and all the present religio-cultural observances/laws and theology that we are so familiar with today.


#Jewish #Torah #Genesis #Isaac #Abraham #Akedah #Sacrifice #Altar #inhisimage #inhislikeness

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