Genesis 22

The Sacrifice of Isaac


After these things, God tested Abraham (Genesis 22:1).

The verb “to test” (Heb. nasah) indicates that God put Abraham to the test in order to ascertain something about him. It is an endeavor to discover the nature or character of something (cf. Exod 16:4; Deut 8:2). The result of the test is given in Genesis 22:12, where God declares, “now I know.” The idea of testing is illustrated here by a relief from the palace of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh. It depicts two men checking arrows for straightness and inspecting bows that have been strung.


Go to the land of Moriah (Genesis 22:2).

Solomon built the temple “on the mountain of Moriah,” which is also identified as the same location as the threshing floor of Araunah on the north side of the City of David. The best available evidence places this in approximately the same place as the present-day Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock is visible in the center of this aerial photo. This American Colony photograph was taken in November 1933.

Child Sacrifice

And offer him as a burnt offering (Genesis 22:2).

There are two clear instances of non-Molech related child sacrifices in the biblical text: Abraham and Isaac (Gen 22:1-14) and Jephthah and his daughter (Judg 11:34-40). In the case of Abraham and Isaac, the sacrifice was not actually carried out but was explicitly designed as a test of Abraham’s faith. This photo from the Karnak Temple in Luxor shows the city of Ashkelon (in relief) and a possible Canaanite child sacrifice. According to 2 Kings 3:27, the Moabite king Mesha “took his oldest son, who was to rule in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering on the wall.”

Ram in the Thicket

Abraham . . . looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in the thicket by his horns (Genesis 22:13).

This small model from ancient Ur depicts a male goat with his forelimbs in a golden tree. It seems to be a very early version of the goat/sheep/ibex and tree motif that became so common in the following centuries. The excavator of Ur, Sir Leonard Woolley, dubbed this figurine “a ram caught in a thicket” to connect it to the biblical story of Abraham (Gen 22:13). Although this ram is not depicted as caught at all, the moniker stuck. If the Sumerian Ur was the hometown of Abraham, this would be a curious connection to have such a piece of art even older than Abraham from his hometown. This figurine was photographed at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.


Abraham returned to his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba (Genesis 22:19).

The tell shown here was the location of Beersheba during the Iron Age. No remains have been discovered here that date to the time of Abraham, and it is uncertain what the nature of the site would have been at that that time. In any case, it seems likely that the town was located not far from here.

Purchase the Collection:

Genesis (Photo Companion to the Bible)

FREE SHIPPING plus Immediate Download