3. How many sons did Abraham have?

Posted: April 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

heb 11:17, gen 22:2 ≠ gen 16:15, 21:2-3, 25:1-2, 4:22

Heb. 11:17  ¶ By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 

Gen. 22:2  ¶ Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.” 

Gen. 16:15  ¶ So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. 

Gen. 21:2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 

Gen. 25:1 ¶ Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. 

Gen. 4:22 Zillah also had a son, Tubal-cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron. Tubal-cain’s sister was Naamah. [ed. I’ve got no idea why The Reason Project cites this verse, it’s got nothing to do with Abraham.]

The author of Genesis 22:2 is well aware that Abraham has another son besides Isaac, namely Ishmael, born of Hagar. After all, he’s just written about them both in Genesis 17. So why does he call Isaac Abraham’s only son in chapter 22?

Simple. It’s because in Genesis 17:20-21 God declares that although he will bless Ishmael, he will establish his covenant to make Abraham into a great nation (Genesis 12:1-3) with Isaac alone. So as far as God’s covenant with Abraham is concerned, Isaac is his only son.

God is ramming home the implications of his command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. If Abraham obeys God and sacrifices Isaac—his only son as far as the covenant is concerned—it would seem to be the end of that covenant. In the face of such a command, will Abraham still trust God?

(By the way, if you’re wondering why God would tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in the first place, you’ll have to wait until we get to objection #206. Does God approve of human sacrifice?)

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