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Re: Abraham and Isaac

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  • Re: Abraham and Isaac

    Where I work, we're undergoing a reorganization after the president discovered gross misdirection and mismanagement deep within the company. A consultant was brought in who's meeting with teams and individual employees to investigate how it happened. Many of us were surprised and glad that this consultant immediately identified a lack of professional courage as being the main culprit that facilitated the failure. Simply put, quasi-nepotism led to many team leads and managers being appointed who were horrible managers--the peter principle in action, essentially. As a result, those unqualified middle managers would never "push back" on upper management when given idiotic orders. A cascade of failure resulted.

    During this investigation, a few individuals have been identified who demonstrated professional courage by pushing back on middle management, risking firing in the process. Of course, this obviously made me ponder the book of Genesis. Okay, I'm weird like that.

    Couldn't the story of Abraham and Isaac be interpreted a different way? If Abraham had pushed back on God, couldn't that also have been interpreted as courage because of the possible enormity of consequences? Is it possible that God would have honored that reaction, or was faith more important to God than a push back that indicated strong courage? This sounds like something that rabbis might midrash about.

  • #2
    I think it was part of "forming" Abraham.... proving his faith strengthened him. But that's just a first thought... I'll give this a mull.
    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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    • #3
      Speaking of midrash, one can read this as the beginning of the differentiation between God (Elohim) and YHWH. Effectively, the narrator is introducing the successive revelation of YHWH. While Elohim required the sacrifice of Isaac, it is YHWH who sends his angel to prevent the sacrifice of Isaac. Note also that it is the angel of YHWH who also twice saves Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham's other son. We do not hear again from 'the angel of YHWH' until the fuller revelation of YHWH and the etymological meaning of his 'name' to Moses, also at instigation of the angel of YHWH (Ex 3,2).
      βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
      ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

      אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

      Comment


      • #4
        Interesting!
        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by robrecht View Post
          Speaking of midrash, one can read this as the beginning of the differentiation between God (Elohim) and YHWH. Effectively, the narrator is introducing the successive revelation of YHWH. While Elohim required the sacrifice of Isaac, it is YHWH who sends his angel to prevent the sacrifice of Isaac. Note also that it is the angel of YHWH who also twice saves Hagar and Ishmael, Abraham's other son. We do not hear again from 'the angel of YHWH' until the fuller revelation of YHWH and the etymological meaning of his 'name' to Moses, also at instigation of the angel of YHWH (Ex 3,2).
          But the name YHVH is used in Genesis 16 well before the "Binding of Isaac", and by Sarai herself. So, this Midrash is terribly inaccurate.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by whag View Post
            Where I work, we're undergoing a reorganization after the president discovered gross misdirection and mismanagement deep within the company. A consultant was brought in who's meeting with teams and individual employees to investigate how it happened. Many of us were surprised and glad that this consultant immediately identified a lack of professional courage as being the main culprit that facilitated the failure. Simply put, quasi-nepotism led to many team leads and managers being appointed who were horrible managers--the peter principle in action, essentially. As a result, those unqualified middle managers would never "push back" on upper management when given idiotic orders. A cascade of failure resulted.

            During this investigation, a few individuals have been identified who demonstrated professional courage by pushing back on middle management, risking firing in the process. Of course, this obviously made me ponder the book of Genesis. Okay, I'm weird like that.

            Couldn't the story of Abraham and Isaac be interpreted a different way? If Abraham had pushed back on God, couldn't that also have been interpreted as courage because of the possible enormity of consequences? Is it possible that God would have honored that reaction, or was faith more important to God than a push back that indicated strong courage? This sounds like something that rabbis might midrash about.
            I forget who it was (Kierkegaard maybe) who said that it wasn't so much God testing Abraham as it was Abraham testing God, as a God who would actually make him go through with it would not be worthy of worship.

            Note that Abraham tells his servants that both he and the boy will be back. Abraham knew that God would not take the child of promise that He had just given them. When Isaac asks him where the ram for the sacrifice is, his response is that, "God Himself will provide a ram."

            Another possibility is the interpretation by the author of Hebrews- Abraham knew that God could raise Isaac from the dead again anyway.
            Last edited by Kelp(p); 11-22-2014, 07:07 PM.
            O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

            A neat video of dead languages!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
              But the name YHVH is used in Genesis 16 well before the "Binding of Isaac", and by Sarai herself. So, this Midrash is terribly inaccurate.
              YHWH is used lots of times before this, many, many times. That is not the point of the midrash in Genesis 22. The midrash in Genesis 22 is merely to try and make sense of the difficulties of this particular text. Don't confuse midrash with biblical theology.
              βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
              ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

              אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by whag View Post
                Couldn't the story of Abraham and Isaac be interpreted a different way? If Abraham had pushed back on God, couldn't that also have been interpreted as courage because of the possible enormity of consequences? Is it possible that God would have honored that reaction, or was faith more important to God than a push back that indicated strong courage? This sounds like something that rabbis might midrash about.
                Those Jews who believe this story is literally true (mostly Orthodox) do, indeed, argue that point about Abraham possibly pushing back and standing up to G-d, as Moses had done.

                But, largely, this story is understood as a primer against human sacrifice. It was written at the time when human sacrifice was practiced by all of the surrounding tribes and people groups. The story was meant to suggest that G-d does not demand human sacrifice.

                This is one reason the notion of Jesus as propitiation for sins via death on a cross is anathema to most Jews.

                NORM
                When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land. - Bishop Desmond Tutu

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                • #9
                  Here's a nice vid on this topic.

                  -The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.
                  Sir James Jeans

                  -This most beautiful system (The Universe) could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.All variety of created objects which represent order and Life in the Universe could happen only by the willful reasoning of its original Creator, whom I call the Lord God.
                  Sir Isaac Newton

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Quantum Weirdness View Post
                    Here's a nice vid on this topic.

                    Does Holding draw with his foot?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                      YHWH is used lots of times before this, many, many times. That is not the point of the midrash in Genesis 22. The midrash in Genesis 22 is merely to try and make sense of the difficulties of this particular text. Don't confuse midrash with biblical theology.
                      Isn't midrash an attempt at a Hebrew Biblical theology(it is a form of exegesis after all)? Either way, it's still wildly inaccurate, and doesn't "solve" any of the "difficulties". In fact, this particular one makes about as much sense as some forms of numerology.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
                        Isn't midrash an attempt at a Hebrew Biblical theology(it is a form of exegesis after all)? Either way, it's still wildly inaccurate, and doesn't "solve" any of the "difficulties". In fact, this particular one makes about as much sense as some forms of numerology.
                        First, not all exegesis is biblical theology. In fact, most is not. Second, midrash, in my opinion, is sometimes designed to be subversive of the idea of biblical theology or even consistent exegesis of a single passage. Why do you say this midrash is inaccurate? It does not imply that YHWH is not used previously in the bible, it only says that this passage is an early step in the beginning of the differentiation between God (Elohim) and YHWH. Where previously do you see the beginnings of a differentiation between Elohim and YHWH?
                        βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                        ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                        אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                          First, not all exegesis is biblical theology. In fact, most is not. Second, midrash, in my opinion, is sometimes designed to be subversive of the idea of biblical theology or even consistent exegesis of a single passage.
                          So, it's the Jewish equivalent of Gnostic junk is what you're saying?

                          Why do you say this midrash is inaccurate? It does not imply that YHWH is not used previously in the bible, it only says that this passage is an early step in the beginning of the differentiation between God (Elohim) and YHWH. Where previously do you see the beginnings of a differentiation between Elohim and YHWH?
                          Well, because as early as Genesis 2 we see that YHVH Elohim is the only true God, and that Elohim and YHVH are indeed the same. So, there is no "differentiation" between the "two".

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
                            So, it's the Jewish equivalent of Gnostic junk is what you're saying?
                            No, I never said any such thing. You are attempting to put words in my mouth, false and uncharitable ones at that, and it is not appreciated. Seems like this conversation with you will go down a familiar road if you cannot refrain from such 'tactics'.

                            Originally posted by Cerebrum123 View Post
                            Well, because as early as Genesis 2 we see that YHVH Elohim is the only true God, and that Elohim and YHVH are indeed the same. So, there is no "differentiation" between the "two".
                            What do you see as the purpose of the revelation of YHWH in Exodus 3?
                            βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
                            ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                            אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by robrecht View Post
                              No, I never said any such thing. You are attempting to put words in my mouth, false and uncharitable ones at that, and it is not appreciated. Seems like this conversation with you will go down a familiar road if you cannot refrain from such 'tactics'.
                              First, it was a question. So what do you mean when you say "Second, midrash, in my opinion, is sometimes designed to be subversive of the idea of biblical theology or even consistent exegesis of a single passage".

                              Second, do you always have a problem when someone asks for clarification, and just happens to tell you what they currently perceive you as saying?

                              What do you see as the purpose of the revelation of YHWH in Exodus 3?
                              Well, I'm not 100% sure. The use of YHWH in Exodus 3 is because Moses is asking who he's being sent by. Seems like a way to get both Moses and the rest of the Israelites, who have not had any direct dealings with God(in the text anyway), to realize who they are dealing with. They are dealing with the One True God, the Creator of heaven and earth, and the God their ancestors knew.
                              It also seems to be that YHWH is primarily used when there is interaction between God and man, so this would seem to have some significance as far as covenants.

                              Why do you think it's so extraordinarily significant considering God had been called by this name long before Moses?

                              Genesis 4:26 Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.

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