The Akedah – Comparison Between NRSV and Genesis Rabbah

Here are some notes from my Old Testament Theology class last year. I found the words of the Genesis Rabbah to be very compelling and at times it allowed for some great discussion on translating text. Enjoy.

The chapter begins with ‘and it came to pass’ where the NRSV simply begins at ‘after these things’.  The JPS ads in ‘some time afterward.’  The ‘things’ are misgivings or second thoughts of Abraham (LV:IV)  It would be these thoughts that would bring Abraham to his limit.

Verse one has two key words ‘try’ and test’.  The words ‘banner’ and ‘test’ have the same consonants and ‘truth’ and ‘validate’ accompany this.  God’s test for Abraham was one of justice and was not off the cuff.  The author is going to focus on what man does as his centre point for the exegesis.

Psalm 11:5 states that God tests the righteous and in Deut. 6:16 says that no one is to test the Lord.  The conclusion made is that the testing of Abraham represents Israel and because of this places Israel in its own history as strong and holy based upon the conclusions made of Abraham.

Verse two shares a linking between the Moriah and the Temple (LV:VII:2).  ‘Moriah and ‘awe’ share the same consonants and Moriah can be explained as the place where awe enters the world (i.e. The Temple) There is also a strong linking between the binding and the consecration with the temple. The NRSV says that God will show Abraham the mountain whereas in this text Abraham will be told which mountain to go to (LV:VII:4).  The conversation between God and Abraham provides a stronger active God figure in the lives of his people.

Why does Abraham saddle his own ass in verse three when he has two servants with him?  The answer provided is that love disrupts the natural order (LV:VIII).  This idea can be connected back to verse one as it relates back to Abraham as being strong, humble and worthy of this test.

Verse four has Abraham ‘lifting his eyes up’ instead of ‘looking up’  as well as in verse 13 (NRSV).  The strong imagery found in three days deals with the fulfillment of prophecy in the scriptures and the redemption of Israel.

Gen. 22:6 “So they went both of them together,”  It sounds very much like they both knew what was to happen. They went together up the hill in knowledge and acceptance (LVI:III:3) Verse five also states that both will come back down from worshipping.

Verse 6 and 8 have ‘walked on together’ as the ending to the conversation.  Again, an illusion to the idea that both Issac and Abraham know what is to happen.

Verse 1 and 11 have Abraham answering God’s call in the same way, “Here I am”.  This is interesting because one is before the test and the other is after.  It shows that Abraham’s trust in God doesn’t falter.

Why is the name “the Lord will provide” in the future tense in verse 14?  The author places the future tense in conjunction with the future history of the Temple.

Verses 17 and 18 give a double blessing to both the father and the son.  The use of indeed bless is the Hebrew verb written twice and this is what indicates the double blessing.  There is a switch from multiply in this text and numerous in the NRSV.

Verse Genesis Rabbah NRSV/JPS
1 And it cam to pass… (add)
2  (Genesis Rabbah has this as verse three at some points?) Take I Pray you… I shall tell you Take your son …I shall show you
3 And…saddled his ass…and arose and went to… God had told him So…saddled his donkey…set out…God shown
4 Lifted his eyes Looked up
5 come again to you We will come back to you
6 So they went both of them together walked on together
8 God will provide himself the lamb God himself will provide
9 God had told him God had shown
10 slay his son kill his son
12 Seeing you have not Since you have not
13 Lifted his eyes Looked up
14 Called the name of the place called that place
16 done this thing done this
17 multiply your descendants offspring as numerous
18 earth bless themselves earth gain blessing
19 dwelt at lived at
20 And it cam to pass… (add) Behold (add) Now…
22
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