- the ram, for the story of Isaac and Abraham (blue pipe cleaner horns and head, and a real wool body)
- the ladder, for the story of Jacob (abstracted from a children’s game)
- the coat of many colours, for the story of Joseph and his brothers (sewn doll-sized, with brightly coloured frogs all over it)
- the sheaf of wheat, for the story of Joseph and the famine (from our garden – self-sown on a patch of ground cleared by chickens).
Thursday and Friday, I had a couple of unexpected work issues land on my desk, and Saturday evening was our parish Christmas Festival (picture me up at 5am starting a bake-a-thon of Christmas mince pies, shortbread, and mini-Christmas cakes).
But I’m pleased to see that you’ve carried on the Isaac/human sacrifice/is God evil discussion without me. I’m with Chris on this one; if God tells us to do something evil, then we’re wrong about one of two things: either it isn’t God, or we’ve misunderstood the message.
Some writers suggest that Abraham got the message wrong. God told him to take Isaac up a mountain and offer (dedicate) Isaac to God. Abraham, child of his culture, gathered up wood and an knife and set off. But the wood and knife were Abraham’s idea, not God’s. (The English ‘burnt offering’ comes from the Latin ‘holocaustum’; but the original Hebrew translates as ‘ascending offering’ – and is more about the intent of the offerer than the means of offering. The term is used elsewhere for an offering given wholly over to God, rather than one where the priests and possibly others get a share after the sacrifice.
So did God ask for Isaac to be dedicated to him as the father of nations, and did Abraham misunderstand? Or is that just my 21st century sensibilities shrinking from the idea of a God who doesn’t shrink from deceiving His people? (I can, of course, acquit God of the charge of expecting a human sacrifice, because I know the angel will appear before the end of the story.)