After Isaac had laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac on the altar upon the wood, Abraham braced his arms, rolled up his garments, and leaned his knees upon Isaac with all his strength. And God, sitting upon His throne, high and exalted, saw how the hearts of the two were the same, and tears were rolling down from the eyes of Abraham upon Isaac, and from Isaac down upon the wood, so that it was submerged in tears.

When Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his sons, God spoke to the angels: "Do you see how Abraham my friend proclaims the unity of My Name in the world? Had I hearkened unto you at the time of the creation of the world, when you spoke saying, 'What is man, that You are mindful of him? And the son of man, that You visit him?' Who would there have been to make known the unity of My Name in this world?"

The angels then broke into loud weeping, and they exclaimed: "The highways lie waste, the wayfaring man ceases, he has broken the covenant. Where is the reward of Abraham, he who took the wayfarers into his house, gave them food and drink, and went with them to bring them on his way? The covenant is broken, whereof You spoke to him, saying, 'For in Isaac shall your seed be called," and saying, 'My covenant will I establish with Isaac'; for the slaughtering knife is set upon his throat."

The tears of the angels fell upon the knife, so that it could not cut Isaac's throat, but from terror his soul escaped from him. Then God spoke to the archangel Michael, and said, "Why do you stand here? Let him not be slaughtered." Without delay, Michael, anguish in his voice, cried out: "Abraham! Abraham! Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do you anything unto him!" Abraham made answer and said, "God did command me to slaughter Isaac and you command me NOT to slaughter him. The words of the Teacher and the words of the disciple — unto whose words should one hearken?"

Then Abraham heard it said, "By myself have I sworn, said the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice."

At once Abraham left off from Isaac, who returned to life, revived by the heavenly voice admonishing Abraham not to slaughter his son....[1]

And because the angels wept, and their tears fell upon Isaac's eyes as he lay bound upon the altar, his eyes were weakened. As it says, "And it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were dim..."[2]

[1] Midrash Bereshit Rabbah 55-58 [Back]
[2] Genesis 27:1 [Back]



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