The epic story of Abraham being told by God to kill and sacrifice his son Isaac seems to be figuring prominently in my book project on Temma and I. Being taught that the story is about God testing Abraham’s faith, the story from the margins is of God ordained sacrifice of a child; presenting my all on the altar of sacrifice; God demanding submission.
“Where is the lamb to be sacrificed, father?” Isaac asks as they travel up the mountain with all of the makings for a ritual act of worship minus something living and breathing besides the two of them.
“God will provide, son” Abraham replies to his son.
When my own baby crashed on the altar that seemed to be of God’s making I believed it was a test of my faith.
“Look up Abraham. What do you see?” This as Abraham is poised with a knife over Isaac’s body.
“I see a ram caught in the thicket.”
There is the real sacrifice. I got it all messed up. I am the ram, caught by its horns, bleating, crying, ready to sacrifice my own life to make up for Temma’s.
But there is another story from the margins. There is Hagar, mother of Abraham’s other son, Ishmael. Hagar is also sent out to make a sacrifice of her son; banished to the desert after Sarah becomes jealous after God provides her own son. It’s a test of Hagar’s faith. Dehydration for her and her son is the biggest threat. As the story goes, Hagar frantically searches for water, running from the foothill where her son lay to the next foothill. Again God intercedes, this time with ministering angels come to Hagar and Ishmael with water and food.
No need of a sacrifice.