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Program Descriptions The Test

Sunday, November 24, 1996 at 6 p.m. (E.T.)
(Check local listings.)

God commands Abraham to bring his beloved son, Isaac, to the top of Mount Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice. Bill Moyers says: "No story in Genesis asks harder questions. Would God make an unethical demand? Should we consider pious or crazy or both the father who puts a knife to the throat of his son because he's heard the voice of God telling him to do so? And why would the mother who waited so long and fought so fiercely for this child now fall silent as his life is threatened? Jews, Christians and Muslims wrestle with these questions, because each of the great religions finds revelation for itself in the story of Abraham and the sacrifice."

Featuring Dianne Bergant, Norman Cohen, Francisco Garcia-Treto, P.K. McCary, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Phyllis Trible, Burton Visotzky. See Biographies for more information about the participants.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Audio Tales:

©Duane Michals
Mandy Patinkin
Play: RealAudio

See more information on audio downloads or on obtaining a RealAudio player. For RealAudio, we recommend 2.0 or later.

Singer, performer and actor Mandy Patinkin has lent his voice to the GENESIS television series as a storyteller. You may listen to the actual sound recording of this story either as RealAudio or as a download.
Narrative written by Elizabeth Swados.

After many years without a child, Abraham and Sarah had their promised son Isaac. Now after everything else God put Abraham to the test. The Lord said, "Abraham, take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice."

So Abraham rose up early in the morning and he gathered the wood for a burnt offering. They went towards the mountain which God had chosen. Abraham left his servants at the bottom of the mountain and said, "My son and I will climb this mountain and worship. Stay here until we return." Then Abraham placed the wood for the offering on Isaac's shoulders and the two of them walked on together.

"My father," Isaac said.

"Here I am, " said Abraham. And Isaac asked, "Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"

"God will provide the lamb, my son."

And Abraham and Isaac came to the place chosen by God. Abraham built an altar, laid out the wood for the fire, and bound Isaac to the altar for sacrifice.

Now Abraham lifted the knife in his hand to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called out from heaven, "Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay your hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God. You wouldn't withhold even your son, your only son, from me."

Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. He took the ram and sacrificed it instead of his son. Then Abraham called the place Adonai-yireh, which is to say, "God will see to your needs - God will provide." And the angel called out, "The Lord says I swear on myself that because you did not withhold your only son I will bless you. You will have more children than the sky has stars and the seashore sands and all the nations of the world are blessed because you obeyed my voice."

And Abraham came down the mountain to his servants and together they walked to Beersheba.

Now Sarah lived 127 years, and she was buried in the town of Hebron, in the land of Canaan.
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