“Abraham!” shouted God.
“Here I am!” Abraham replied.
God said to Abraham, “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah.”
“I can do that” answered Abraham, excited.
“When you get there, kill him and offer him up as a burnt offering,” bellowed the Almighty.
Locusts chirped and sheep baaed as awkwardness accumulated.
“Wait. What?” answered Abraham, perplexed.
“I said, Take your son Isaac, your only one…”
“Yeah, I heard you. I just want to make sure I heard right. You want me to take Isaac and kill him. Then burn him. For no reason. That right?”
God was silent. Then He answered, with a voice like cannon fire, “Yes.” But His answer, short and semi-sweet, wasn’t good enough for Abraham. “I mean, almost,” said God. “It’s for good reason that you’re killing and burning your son.”
“Yeah. It shows that you’re obedience and faithfulness and stuff. It shall make me, the Lord, very happy.”
Abraham scratched his long, scraggly beard, looking like what that first ponderous philosopher probably looked when he (or she) had just been asked if the egg came before the chicken. Then, he said, “Well, you’re the boss,” and he turned to prepare himself for the task.
“Isaac!” yelled Abraham. “Put on your sandals. We’re going to the land of Moriah.”
Isaac ran down the stairs at his father’s call. “Why are we going there?” he asked as he reached the last step.
Poor Abraham hadn’t thought of what to tell his son. He couldn’t reveal his plan. He just didn’t have the heart. But he needed to say something. Quick.
He stared at his son Isaac, his only one, whom he loved, with dumb, blank eyes.
Then, he spoke.
“Because I said so,” said Abraham.
Isaac stared back, and after two brief seconds, he said, “Ok.” Thus the precedent was set for generations of parents to enslave their children with four, nonsensical, illegitimate words.
Abraham and Isaac made their journey into the desert. They traveled on camelback, so the going was slow, but after a long, hot day, they arrived at the land of Moriah.
“Come with me, my son,” Abraham said. “We will stop to pray.” They hopped down from their camels and walked to the foot of a mountain. Abraham constructed a small altar on top of which he placed a pile of wood.
“Come here,” beckoned Abraham, and Isaac came forward. Abraham reached into his tunic, pulled out a length of rope, and began to bind his son’s hands and feet.
“Dad,” said Isaac with a voice like wind-shaken leaves.
“Why do I need to be tied up to pray?”
Abraham looked at his son, wondering, and searched his brain for something to say.
“Because I said so.”
“Ok,” said Isaac, shrugging his shoulders.
“Dammit I’m good,” thought Abraham to himself as he tied the last knot around Isaac’s wrists. “Lay down here, son,” said Abraham, motioning to the pile of wood he’d placed on top of the altar.
Isaac laid down, and his father went back to the camels to grab a knife and some matches. He looked up at the cloudy sky with critical eyes. “You sure about this?” he asked to the heavens. But God was silent.
Abraham took a deep breath and walked back to his son.
“Hey, Dad,” Isaac said as Abraham approached the altar. “This is pretty uncomfortable. Can we leave soon?”
Abraham crept closer to his son, the knife tucked behind his back. “Soon enough, my son. Soon enough.”
As Abraham reached his son’s side, he raised the knife high above his head. “Forgive me,” he whispered. And as quickly and sharply as those words left his lips, be brought down the knife.
“Wait!” boomed a voice from above. “What in My name are you doing?”
Luckily, Abraham stopped just short, the tip of the blade about to poke through poor Isaac’s belly button.
“Yeah, Dad, what are you doing?” asked Isaac.
“I’m, well, you know. Praying. Or something. I dunno.” He moved the knife away and let it rest by the side of his leg. “I’m doing exactly what you told me to do you big dumb idiot!” he screamed at the sky.
“I didn’t think you’d actually do it,” God replied. “That’s insane. Why would you kill your only son, the one whom you love? You’re the big dumb idiot. Except your little. Much littler than I. But then again, do I really have a size? Or a shape? What do I look like? I don’t know. I’m off track. But you’re stupid!”
“Me? I’m stupid? I’m only doing this because of you. Why would you tell me to kill my son if you didn’t want me to?”
“Well I don’t know. I just wanted to see if you would listen I guess. I wanted to see how strong your faith in Me was. After this little display, I’d say it’s pretty strong. Maybe a little too strong.”
“I’ll say,” replied Abraham.
His God, the one who had never led him astray, the one who had cared for him and his family, the one who had given him life, commanded him to kill his own son, the one whom he loved. And for that, he questioned him.
“God,” asked the saddened Abraham. “After this – after this cruel, unloving request – I must ask you something.”
“Ask, my son,” God replied.
“God,” said Abraham’s trembling voice. “Why should I listen to you?”
For a moment, there was no response. God, all-knowing and wise, was at a loss for words. He didn’t know if he could answer his faithful servant’s question. He didn’t know if he could justify his request. But he needed to say something. Anything.
Just then, he found the perfect words to pass on to his loyal disciple, Abraham.
God cleared his massive throat, puffed out his chest, and in his most cavernous, far-reaching bellow, he said, “Because I said so.”