Abraham And Isaac

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Abraham And Isaac

The plot of the story revolves around three main characters. These are Abraham, Isaac and God. According to the play, God summoned an angel and told him of his intention of testing Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his only son Isaac. The Angel announced God’s wish to Abraham. Abraham was ordered to sacrifice his only son and this caused him intense inward conflict. Actually, Abraham loved his son and would rather sacrifice something else including his life and spare that of Abraham. At the same time, he was aware that faith and obedience to God was paramount no matter how painful God’s order was. While in the process of sacrificing his son, an Angel intervened and offered a lamb which was sacrificed instead of Isaac. Basing on Aristotle philosophy, the play raises a number of ethical issues (Boehm, 2007).

According to Aristotle, ethics, based on man’s nature, has the purpose of instituting what man must attain as the end to bring about happiness. Man is a rational animal and thus his end will be his attainment of wisdom. Virtue should be fulfilled with reason (Broadie &Rowe, 2002).

Abraham is obedient and acts quickly when asked to sacrifice his son. He obeys his God so much that he is ready to forego happiness for the sake of showing loyalty to God. Isaac, as his only son is the source of Happiness and when he is asked to sacrifice him, he exhibits inward conflict which clearly shows that he was not happy with the order but for the sake of faith, he conformed to the order. Basing on Aristotle’s philosophy of Ethics, Abraham’s conduct was immoral and unethical. The act of sacrificing his son to prove that he was obedient was not a mean of attaining happiness and would have resulted in sorrow. Actually Abraham is not happy with sacrificing his son but he wanted to prove his obedience. By contemplating to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham was not rational. If Abraham had followed Aristotle’s principle on ethics, he would have declined the order as sacrificing Isaac would not assist him in achieving happiness (Broadie &Rowe, 2002).

According to the play, God as a character shows a sense of rationality and thus follows the principle of ethics. God’s happiness is to see that Abraham is faithful and obedient to him. To achieve this means, he ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son. By Abraham accepting to sacrifice his son, God achieved his happiness. Although God is not human, he showed rationality by providing a lamb as an alternative to Isaac .God showed reason by substituting Isaac with a lamb as he did not want to see Abraham undergoing  suffering  from death if his son. God had already achieved his sense of happiness derived from Abraham being faithful to him and since he wanted to see Abraham, his servant lead a happy life, he spared Isaac in a clear indication that he was rational in his actions. God’s action conformed to Aristotle’s philosophy of ethics (Boehm, 2007).

Isaac was to be offered as a sacrifice and from the play, it is evident that he was frightened. He asks his father to spare his life and wished his mother was around to intervene for him. Isaac asked what he had wronged but Abraham stated that God’s will must be obeyed even when there was no concrete reason for performing the sacrifice. It is evident that Isaac did not support the sacrifice but had no choice of evading it. Isaac is rational because he does not see the sense in the sacrifice especially on the fact that he had not done any mistake and that the sacrifice would not derive any happiness to him. If given a chance, Isaac would have opposed the God’s order of sacrificing him .Isaac opposing thought and protest against the sacrifice conformed to Aristotle’s philosophy where he did not see any reason for being sacrificed and that sacrifice would not bring him any happiness(Broadie &Rowe,2002)   .


Broadie, S.& Rowe, C. (2002). Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics: Translation, Introduction, and

            Commentary. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Boehm, O. (2007).The Binding of Isaac: A Religious Model of Disobedience, New York: T&T

Clark, 2007.


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