I was involved in a conversation with two people who read my book, Men Djinn & Angels, and the question arose regarding my personal belief in the Abraham child sacrifice.  In my book, I seemed to lean to the idea that Ishmael was the child of sacrifice and not Isaac.  It may be difficult for many of us in the western hemisphere to accept, but the majority of the world leans the same way.  I don’t claim to know the answers, but there seems to be more weight on the Ishmael point of view than the latter.  Here are some reasons that I shared with them.

One of the first things I consider is that the accounts described in the Biblical text are not all in chronological order.  Let’s just say for the sake of continuity, Genesis chapter 21 describes a moment when Isaac was born and later weened.  There was a big party for the successful weening and then Sarah, the mother, becomes concerned that Abraham’s first born, Ishmael, the rightful heir to Abraham’s wealth would be given what he deserved.  In fact, as it is described in the Biblical text, Sarah was so selfish that she wanted it all for her son.  She was not at all so inclined to suggest a 90% to 10% split between the two.  She wanted everything for her son, so she demanded that Abraham discard his child.  In Chapter 22, we have the sacrifice where the script claims that Abraham, through divine command, was told to offer his only son, Isaac, as a burnt offering.  The continuity is obviously flawed.  There was no point ever where Isaac was the only son.  Considering this, I become suspicious of text tampering.

 

Another suspicion I have comes from the nature and concept of sacrifice. For one to make a sacrifice in Biblical times, one had to part with the thing that he loved or needed the most.  An example is when sacrifices were made, the owner needed to sacrifice his best goat or lamb – the one with no flaws. In this sense, the eldest son, in those times, was held in very high regard and would have been a more acceptable sacrifice that kept in line with tradition.  Not to say that it would not be heart wrenching for a parent to sacrifice any of his children, but in the character of sacrifice, it would have been more of a show of faith for Abraham to sacrifice his first born before a second was born. If we assumed the order of events as listed in Geneses is correct, I believe that Abraham would have seen the sacrifice of Isaac a punishment rather than a service – a punishment for sending his young son and the mother into the wild with little food and water.   Especially for the selfishness and inhumane reasons for the dismissal.  It does not seem divine that a person, Sarah in this case, would be rewarded with a son who deserved the blessings of Abraham’s faith and wealth when she exemplified the vices that the religion should discourage.  When I think about it, I ask myself, what virtues are we to learn from Sarah’s actions?  Additionally, when it comes to virtue, the Biblical account paints a picture of Abraham in a less than virtuous light when he is not honest with his son.  When “Isaac” ask his father regarding the lamb for the sacrifice, Abraham did not say that the sacrifice is you, my son.  Instead, he says that the lamb would be provided.  Some would say that he spoke out of faith and thus deserved the title Father of faith, whereas others may see this as a second character flaw, the first being to leave his firstborn child, fatherless.

 

When it comes to research, we are taught to question the authority of the sources that we use to make our conclusions.  In this, it is difficult to say that there is a credible source of Abraham’s existence, or his other sons.  That being said, when I look at the sources, I know that the sources claiming Isaac was the sacrificial son comes from the Jewish ideology.  It was allegedly written by Moses at a time when he needed to unify the different sects of Israeli faithful.  Keep in mind that Jacob (Israel) had over 70 children, only 12 of those and their families left the desert life to live in Egypt where they were subsequently taken into bondage.  The other 50 plus families remained outside of Egypt making two separate groups with various ideologies and cultures.  Being that Moses is the one credited with writing the Book of Genesis, he had only one commonality between the free Israelis and those who came from Egypt.  That was the common belief in Abraham.  It is likely, that Moses or whoever wrote the Book of Genesis altered some details to create unity between the two sections. Again, being that our most common source of information comes from just one of the lines from those many families, it seems opportune to have Isaac, not Ishmael be the sacrificial son.  For me, the source of information lacks credibility.  Whereas in the Arab world, even before Islam, the influence of Ishmael and Abraham’s relationship is paramount.

In the Arab world, there is the Kaaba, a cube like structure that was and is believed to have been originally structured by Abraham and Ishmael.  It has always played a vital roll in Arab tradition.  Before Islam, it was a place believed to hold such spiritual importance that the Arab tribes felt it important to have their idols housed there. It was believed by them that if they left their idols in the Kaaba, their gods would send blessings on them.  As a result, the Quraysh tribe who maintained the Kaaba charged the other tribes rent fees.  After Muslims were victorious over the polytheist tribes, the Kaaba was cleansed and placed as a cornerstone in the religious practices.  In this, I see that while the Arabs had veered away from Abraham’s theology, they retained the value of his relationship with Ishmael, even until this day where Abraham’s sacrifice is commemorated with a holiday celebration where the first-born sons are celebrated.  Additionally, as Abraham is depicted in the Islamic traditions, the sacrifice has more purity than the Biblical depiction.  In the Islamic tradition, Abraham is depicted as an honest man who is open and transparent with his son who is trusting and equally faithful.  The reward of a lamb in his place seems more inline with the values the lesson should teach.  In this, Ishmael and Abraham are rewarded for their good and faithful deeds, not for the selfishness, and hidden agendas depicted in the Biblical tradition.

As a student going through the typical American elementary and secondary education, I learned mythology; only Greek in junior high. In high school, I learned that the Greeks were not the only people who had myths. I learned that the Romans and Native Americans had myths as well. During my freshman English class – A Survey of Literature – I read a Native American myth called The World on A Turtle’s Back and a Roman myth that had something to do with Minerva.  I learned then that  Minerva was the Roman equivalent to Venus and then my teacher assigned the class to read The Odyssey – not excerpts from the story, but the entire story. During my Sophomore year, I remember reading a one-page story about Native American Myths in my American Literature class. Junior year, I was given a world literature class and we read the Iliad. I never understood why the high school curriculum gave us these stories out of sequence, being that The Iliad comes before The Odyssey. I suppose that it had to do with reading The Aeneid which came afterwards. My teacher stretched out those two stories to cover more than a quarter of the school year. In other words, Roman and Greek mythology covered over 25% of my World Literature class, Hamlet covered another 25%. I did not read an Egyptian myth until I was two years into college.

Years afterwards, when I began to work in the school system, I questioned the curriculum. By then I understood many things about the way school curriculums are set and surprisingly enough, I learned that they are made with a ton more flexibility than people would imagine. I also learned that curriculum is set like a dictatorship in some parts of our country, and in other places it’s a type of cultural caste. I saw how schools in the poor neighborhoods gave reading material far below the reading levels – sometimes for good reason (What’s the point of giving a 10th grade level book to a 7th grade level reader who just happens to be in the 10th grade?). Sense I worked in a selective enrolment school – an insult to the idea of public school system, but I admit a necessary evil – I was able to have the flexibility needed to teach toward state goals that demanded developed critical thinking skills over the need for basic education. As a unit of mythology was part of the curriculum, I took the chance to have students comparison and contrast different myths. This was not my invention, it had been done before, but I chose to them compare and contrast creation stories from Egyptian, Greek, and Native American mythology to the Biblical Christian account. What I discovered in the preparations of these lessons, influenced me, I’m sure, more than the students.

I later developed a theory that is the underlining message to my Men, Djinn and Angels series. In Men, Djinn and Angels – Awakening, it is not fully developed, but by the time, the third book is published, the theory will dominate the story line. It goes like this: First of all, most of the myths Roman, Egyptian, Greek, Sumerian all tell a story about the same people. These people were real and existed during ancient times, perhaps before written records were made. These people were admired, and that admiration became legend and that legend became myth. As the stories were retold multiple times by people who added and changed various details, different characters emerged and various traits from the original person were split and shared among new characters. Creativity was involved in the retelling and in some cases, the original characters were turned into symbols. As we tell the stories and read the stories, we pass down a variety of codes that have some important significances although we may not consciously know what they are.

azazel demon of doom

Let’s take for example the story of the Watchers from The Book of Enoch and compare it to the Titans in Greek mythology. How similar are they? The Watchers were taken by the angels and placed in a prison where they are to remain – some of them for 70 generations – whereas the Titans were placed in Tartarus after their war with the gods. Then we get to compare Nimrod who is mentioned in the Bible and according to historical sources, was captured in a war against a Semitic King, cut into multiple pieces and buried in multiple places so that his followers would not have a burial-place to enshrine. He is called the mighty hunter in the Bible – the same title bestowed on Orion. His death was the same as Osiris and Uranus – both cut into pieces and the pieces scattered. The Babylonians’ Gilgamesh includes The Great Flood, the same as Irish mythology and multiple Native Americans. The Egyptians tell a story of Sekhmet, the lioness goddess who punished all mankind when they turned against Ra. This story does not involve a flood, but it has the same concept – purification of the human race through death and destruction. There are other stories that draw comparisons to the immaculate conception and the birth and resurrection of Jesus that could call into question the authenticity of the Christian belief.

The question that continues to come to my mind deals with the possible meaning to them all. If we could somehow combine history and myth to get a single story, what would we find? Why do we cling to these myths if not for some higher purpose than entertainment? Is it possible that there is some connection between the myths, the multiple religions, quantum physics, occult science, alchemy and the Hermetic principles? I can’t prove it, which is why all of this is just my theory, but I believe that somewhere in the fragments of truth is a deep knowledge that humanity has lost and as a result, we are unable to tap into our dormant abilities. It is written that each generation grows weaker and wiser. This is a very interesting statement as there are multiple ways to show weakness and few to show wisdom.