Genesis 22:2 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 22:2, NIV: "Then God said, 'Take your son, your only son, whom you love--Isaac--and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.'"

Genesis 22:2, ESV: "He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”"

Genesis 22:2, KJV: "And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, 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."

Genesis 22:2, NASB: "Then He said, 'Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.'"

Genesis 22:2, NLT: "'Take your son, your only son--yes, Isaac, whom you love so much--and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.'"

Genesis 22:2, CSB: ""Take your son," he said, "your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.""

What does Genesis 22:2 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Even to those who are familiar with this verse, the words of God to Abraham here land like a blow. Our first instinct is that this can't be right. Having followed the story of God in Genesis, through His relationship with Abraham and then, finally, the joyful birth of Isaac, the long-awaited son of God's promise, these words of God just don't fit.

That, of course, is exactly the point of God's test. Would Abraham trust God even when God's command did not seem to make any sense? That is the key element many people miss when interpreting this story. This is not the first time Abraham has heard from God. Nor is it the first time God has acted in ways Abraham did not—at first—fully understand. And yet, in all of those past encounters, Abraham found that God's unseen plans led to a righteous outcome. Abraham's response, shown in the next verse, is not an act of blind faith. It is an act of faithful trust.

Our second human reaction to God's command is that it feels cruel. Even knowing the end of the story, it challenges us to wonder about God's character. Earlier in Genesis, Abraham and then Ambimelech had both asked the Lord directly, "Will you kill the innocent?" The answer is both cases was "no." God's character was vindicated, as it will be here. In the meantime, the command God has given seems impossibly harsh.

God's specific command to Abraham is to take the son he loves, the only son he has left (Genesis 21:9–14), to a mountainous area called Moriah, which would have been about 50 miles away. Once there, Abraham is to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. God will show him on which mountain to make the sacrifice.

A burnt offering involved slaughtering an animal and then burning it on an altar until it was completely consumed. Such offerings were practiced by many religions. Abraham had offered animal sacrifices to the Lord. Human sacrifices of children to various false gods may well have been practiced in the land of Canaan at the time. Later, God would forbid Israel from participating in child sacrifice.