A Phenomenological Midrash of Genesis 22
Chapter IV: The Unbinding of Isaac 59
Chapter IV The Unbinding of Isaac Face as mortality, mortality of the other beyond his appearing; nakedness more naked, so to speak, than that which unveiling of truth exposes; beyond the visibil- ity of the phenomenon, a victims abandonment. But in that very precariousness, the ‘Thou shalt not kill’ that is also the meaning of the face; in that directness of exposure, the proclamation–before any verbal sign of a right that peremptorily calls upon my responsibility for the other… —Emmanuel Levinas magine a father taking his son’s life for his own ends. The blade is raised. The son silently calls for help. The mother cannot be found. There is no human witness to his misery or his life. How does one show the father how to bear witness to his son when he cannot even see or hear his son? This is the problem for God with Abraham. God is trying to teach Abraham to take responsibility for his son, Isaac. Abraham is not the only student, however. God is also teaching Isaac that he is not only responsible for Abraham but additionally for building something new out of Abraham’s traditions. This is the purpose of God’s test. “God put Abraham to the test. [God] said to him, Abraham, and he an- swered, ‘Here I am.’ [God] said, ‘Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights which...
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