226 Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he took the fire and the knife in his hand. The two of them walked on together. 7 Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father?”
Abraham said, “Here I am, my son.”
Isaac said, “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
8 Abraham said, “God will see to the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” The two of them walked on together.
9 They arrived at the place God had described to him, and Abraham built an altar there. He arranged the wood, tied up his son Isaac, and laid him atop the wood at the slaughter-site. 10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.
As with all abused, weak, and dispossessed persons—they are loaded down with the very substance of their destruction. Isaac carries the wood (a not unsubstantial amount). He is not “loved son,” but slave.
Abraham carries fire to light the wood and a cleaver to do the butchering. Not mentioned, as it can be less conspicuously carried, is a cord to truss an animal’s legs.
Isaac’s call of “My father,” is an earlier version of a later word “abba” used by Jesus to intimately refer to G*D. This story is part of a stream that can lead to a later theory of blood atonement. In my view, such a theory is ultimately heretical because it doesn’t follow the story long enough.
In this episode, Isaac is never directly addressed by G*D. It is as though “He Laughs” means “He is not taken seriously.” As close as a connection between Isaac and G*D gets is Abraham’s response, “Here I am,” which will come to be G*D public name in the sequel of Exodus.
Loaded with wood and seeing fire and knife, Isaac raises a pertinent question about the whereabouts of an animal to be sacrificed. Undoubtedly Isaac has heard of child sacrifices that happen in adjacent cultures. While child sacrifice will later be spelled out as something not to be done by Israel, for now, it may be entirely too close to be avoided.
Here in the land of Moriah (Seeing) we hear Abraham respond to Isaac’s question with “seeing” what G*D will provide. This jumps us back to Hagar seeing a well when Ishmael is close to death. Sarah was not told of this journey. Echoes of Hagar arise. This is a tangled tale.
Abraham and Isaac continue to the place G*D identifies only to Abraham. In rapid-fire slow-motion, the story comes to a critical point. Arrive….build an altar or slaughter-site….lay out the wood….bind Isaac….place Isaac on the wood….reach out….take the cleaver….raise a butcher’s hand to strike. Without a pious cover for the Bible, consider what this does to Isaac. Is he still laughing?