Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Genesis
Book: Genesis
Chapter: 22

God commands Abraham to offer up Isaac. (1,2) Abraham's Faith
and obedience to the Divine command. (3-10) Another Sacrifice is
provided instead of Isaac. (11-14) The Covenant with Abraham
renewed. (15-19) The family of Nahor. (20-24)

1,2 We never are secure from trials. In Hebrew, to tempt, and to
try, or to prove, are expressed By the same Word. Every trial is
indeed a Temptation, and tends to show the dispositions of the
Heart, whether holy or unholy. But God proved Abraham, not to
draw him to Sin, as Satan tempts. Strong Faith is often
exercised with strong trials, and Put upon hard services. The
command to offer up his son, is given in such language as makes
the trial more grievous; every Word here is a Sword. Observe, 1.
The person to be offered: Take thy son; not thy bullocks and thy
lambs. How willingly would Abraham have parted with them all to
redeem Isaac! Thy son; not thy servant. Thine only son; thine
only son By Sarah. Take Isaac, that son whom thou lovest. 2. The
place: three days' Journey off; So that Abraham might have time
to consider, and might deliberately obey. 3. The manner: Offer
him for a burnt-Offering; not only kill his son, his Isaac, but
kill him as a Sacrifice; kill him with all that solemn pomp and
ceremony, with which he used to offer his burnt-offerings.

3-10 Never was any Gold tried in So hot a Fire. Who but Abraham
would not have argued with God? Such would have been the thought
of a weak Heart; but Abraham knew that he had to do with a God,
even Jehovah. Faith had taught him not to argue, but to obey. He
is sure that what God commands is good; that what he promises
cannot be broken. In matters of God, whoever consults with Flesh
and Blood, will never offer up his Isaac to God. The good
Patriarch rises early, and begins his sad Journey. And now he
travels three days, and Isaac still is in his sight! Misery is
made worse when long continued. The expression, We will come
again to you, shows that Abraham expected that Isaac, being
raised from the dead, would return with him. It was a very
affecting question that Isaac asked him, as they were going
together: "My Father," said Isaac; it was a melting Word, which,
one would think, should strike deeper in the Heart of Abraham,
than his Knife could in the Heart of Isaac. Yet he waits for his
son's question. Then Abraham, where he meant not, prophesies:
"My son, God will provide a Lamb for a burnt-Offering." The Holy
Spirit, By his mouth, seems to predict the Lamb of God, which he
has provided, and which taketh away the Sin of the world.
Abraham lays the Wood in order for his Isaac's Funeral pile, and
now tells him the amazing news: Isaac, thou art the Lamb which
God has provided! Abraham, No doubt, comforting him with the
same hopes with which he himself By Faith was comforted. Yet it
is necessary that the Sacrifice be bound. The great Sacrifice,
which, in the Fulness of time, was to be offered up, must be
bound, and So must Isaac. This being done, Abraham takes the
Knife, and stretches out his Hand to give the fatal blow. Here
is an act of Faith and obedience, which deserves to be a
spectacle to God, angels, and men. God, By his Providence, calls
us to part with an Isaac sometimes, and we must do it with
cheerful submission to his holy will, 1Sa 3:18.

11-14 It was not God's intention that Isaac should actually be
sacrificed, yet nobler Blood than that of animals, in due time,
was to be shed for Sin, even the Blood of the only begotten Son
of God. But in the mean while God would not in any case have
human sacrifices used. Another Sacrifice is provided. Reference
must be had to the promised Messiah, the blessed Seed. Christ
was sacrificed in our stead, as this Ram instead of Isaac, and
his Death was our discharge. And observe, that the Temple, the
place of Sacrifice, was afterwards built upon this same Mount
Moriah; and Calvary, where Christ was crucified, was near. A new
name was given to that place, for the encouragement of all
believers, to the End of the world, cheerfully to trust in God,
and obey him. Jehovah-jireh, the Lord will provide; probably
alluding to what Abraham had said, God will provide himself a
Lamb. The Lord will always have his Eye upon his people, in
their straits and distresses, that he may give them seasonable

15-19 There are high declarations of God's favour to Abraham in
this confirmation of the Covenant with him, exceeding any he had
yet been blessed with. Those that are willing to part with any
thing for God, shall have it made up to them with unspeakable
advantage. The promise, ver. 18, doubtless points at the
Messiah, and the Grace of the Gospel. Hereby we know the
loving-kindness of God our Saviour towards sinful Man, in that
he hath not withheld his Son, his only Son, from us. Hereby we
perceive the Love of Christ, in that he gave himself a Sacrifice
for our sins. Yet he lives, and calls to sinners to come to him,
and partake of his Blood-bought Salvation. He calls to his
redeemed people to rejoice in him, and to Glorify him. What then
shall we render for all his benefits? Let his Love constrain us
to live not to ourselves, but to Him who died for us, and Rose
again. Admiring and adoring His Grace, let us devote our all to
his service, who laid down his Life for our Salvation. Whatever
is dearest to us upon Earth is our Isaac. And the only way for
us to find comfort in an earthly thing, is to give it By Faith
into the hands of God. Yet remember that Abraham was not
justified By his readiness to obey, but By the infinitely more
noble obedience of Jesus Christ; his Faith receiving this,
relying On this, rejoicing in this, disposed and made him able
for such wonderful self-denial and duty.

20-24 This Chapter ends with some account of Nahor's family,
who had settled at Haran. This seems to be given for the
connection which it had with the Church of God. From thence Isaac
and Jacob took wives; and before the account of those events
this list is recorded. It shows that though Abraham saw his own
family highly honoured with privileges, admitted into Covenant,
and blessed with the Assurance of the promise, yet he did not
look with disdain upon his relations, but was glad to hear of
the increase and welfare of their families.