Home page The Occident and American Jewish Advocate Jews in the Civil War Jews in the Wild West History of Palestine The Occident Virtual Library


The Sacrifice of Isaac.

Genesis 22.

What pilgrims these, that slowly wend their way,
In moody silence, ere the break of day?
Nor ribald jest, nor coarse exulting song,
Awakes an echo as they go along.
'Tis Pious Abraham, who, by God's command,
With Isaac journeyeth to Moriah's land,
A ready sacrifice his son to make,
Although his aged heart with sorrow break,
To yield to God the treasure that He gave,
His stay and hope whilst tottering to the grave.

* * * * *

Still on—till Isaac thus addressed his sire:
“Father, behold the wood, the knife, the fire,
But where the lamb which must yield its life
As an offering to the sacrificing knife?”
At this the patriarch, with hands upraised,
In silence on the expanded firmament gazed;
His lips convulsive moved as if in prayer,
And from his eye unbidden fell a tear;
But the faith he had in Him who reigned above,
Triumphed over his paternal love;—
“My son, my son!” in anguish thus, he cried,
“The Lord will Himself a lamb provide,
But howe’er painful his command may be,
We must bow submissive to the stern decree,”

The cloven wood Abraham has array’d,—
Isaac is bound and on the altar laid,—
He grasps the knife,—the will of God be done,—
The blade's upraised to slay his only son.
But hold! a heavenly angel arrests his arm,
And cries—“Abraham! do the lad no harm!
For now I know thou fearest God above,
By not withholding the son whom thou dost love.
Thy son is saved,—Abraham, turn thy head,—
Behold yon lamb, and offer it instead.”
The load's removed from off the father’s breast,
He hastens to perform the Lord's behest;
Next clasps his child unto his aged heart,
And with thankful feelings hurries to depart.
But yet again he hears an angel’s voice,
In accents too which makes his heart rejoice:
“By Himself the Lord hath sworn”—the angel said,
“(Because thou hast done this thing) that on thy head,
Every blessing abundant will He shower,
And raise thee high in rank, in wealth, and power,
Like the stars of heaven so thy seed shall be,
And countless as the sand around the sea,
The gates of their enemies shall they all possess,
And in thy seed all nations will I bless.
Because my will thou hast quickly done,
By not withholding this thy only son.”


March 19, 5604.