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Jewish World

Why Didn’t Abraham Negotiate for Isaac’s Life?

When God told Abraham that he would destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham immediately began to negotiate to save the life of his nephew, Lot, and any other righteous people there.


However, four chapters later, when God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar, he did not interfere. “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.’” Abraham offered no protest. He argued with God to save the lives of strangers, but did not do the same for his own son. Why? I was confronted with this question for the first time during our recent hike through the biblical desert.

But then it occurred to me that the same Hebrew term used for when Abraham (then known as Abram) was first called by God in Genesis 12:1 (lech lecha – לך לך) occurs also in God’s instruction to sacrifice Isaac. Lech lecha is usually translated simply as “go,” but has a deeper meaning. God called Abram to not only physically leave his familiar surroundings, but to also set off on a spiritual journey to discover and get to…