The Binding

Here’s a retelling of the scariest story in the Bible…


What I am saying now is a lie.

“The Lord will provide,” I tell him, looking into my only ‘s son’s face. I scan his eyes, his mouth, his nose for any telltale sign of disbelief, but his moon shaped face remains calm without even a quiver of fear.

I repeat the lie, “The Lord will provide.” And all that he says is, “Yes, Father.”

It is a lonely walk up the mountain. The wind blows against us like waves of water as we follow a maze of cairns upwards along the trail. My son Isaac trudges a few steps behind me. Strapped to my back I carry a woven basket where my men have packed the wood. The logs were chopped this morning and resin from the fresh cuts drip down and stain my overcoat.

In my right hand I hold a staff as the steep ascent up Mount Moriah taxes my arthritic knee. I turn around to look at Isaac, his skin flushed and shiny with sweat. scrambling over a rock on the trail.

He clambers over to my side and gingerly touches the fire pot dangling from my leather belt. Smoke curls from its opening where the live embers burn inside.

“Father,” he asks, and then hesitates.

I say, “Go ahead, son.”

He speaks slowly, as if he is repeating something he has been rehearsing silently in his head. “Father I see the fire and the wood.” He looks from side to side, then at me. “But where is the burnt offering?”

“The Lord will provide,” I lie again, failing to say out loud what we both understand, that it is he himself who is the offering.

Atop the mountain the air is thinner and the sun, now at its apex, beats down upon us without mercy.

I pick up Isaac and lay him upon the pile of wood that I have prepared on a stone slab jutting from the ground. He doesn’t cry out. He doesn’t tremble. He is silent as I remove my belt and bind him to the bed of wood; then I take both hands and gently close his eyelids.

I pick up the knife. It gleams as the sun strikes its metal blade and the smoke from the fire pot rises in a strange mist that almost blinds me. A blast of deafening wind crashes against the hillside, roaring in my ears like a thousand lions.

I hold the knife aloft. My fingers tremble. I take a deep breath, and then Isaac wildly opens his eyes at the sudden sound of an animal screaming. He struggles against the straps and jerks his head around, looking over his shoulder.

It is a ram, helplessly trapped in a thicket.

What I am saying now is the truth. I would never have had the heart to do it.

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