…And the two of them walked on together. Then Isaac said to Abraham his father, ‘Father!’ and he answered, ‘Yes, my son.’ And he said, ‘Here are the fire and the wood; but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering, my son.’ And the two of them walked on together. (Genesis 22-7-8)

This etching captures one scene of the story of the Binding of Isaac. God has commanded Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son on a far off mountain. Taking Isaac with him, Abraham sets off on the awful journey that will lead to the ruin of all his hopes and dreams. Rembrandt has chosen to emphasize Abraham’s assurance to his young son that ‘God will see to the sheep for His burnt offering’. Abraham’s finger points heavenward to direct Isaac to the ultimate answer to his query, ‘But where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ The stern expression on the face of Abraham indicates the gravity of the situation. Isaac, holding the bundle of wood for the sacrifice, listens intently. His facial expression reflects consternation, leaving the viewer wondering whether he has become aware that he is to be the sacrificial offering.

Dr. Bryna Jocheved Levy

Photo courtesy of Private Collection.