The Third Day

[As part of the Loving the Bible class at Scoala Biblica Piatra Vie, students had to rewrite Genesis 22:1-19, choosing to either write all or just a portion of the story in their own words. The following is my rewrite.]

Three days.

It had been three days of heavy and brooding silence in my spirit, each day heavier and more terrifying than the last as the mountain reared its ugly head and took form, and step by dreadful step grew larger, more defined, and more hideous for what it signified. The end of our journey.

And now, here finally, my boy in my arms at last, how heavy was his weight. Oh, how heavy and terrible the weight!

“My boy…” I mumbled, terror and sorrow mixed in my trembling voice. “My dear Isaac…”

But his eyes closed tight could not see my pain, and I doubted through the terror he could hear my voice.

He had struggled in the beginning, cried out in shock and pain and fought me hard. The look in his eyes when I forced his hands behind his back and first tied the cruel cords about his wrists, too tight… No father knows the deaths I died in one look from those eyes.

And oh, how he had struggled! And how I had fought him, too!

Why?! Why, my God?! To take my son… To take him by my very own hands… This is surely not your way!

The hoarseness in my throat and the shaking in my fingers as I held the small and thin body—so young, so full of life and promise, once so strong and now so very helpless—in these old and scarred arms, weapons of a mad man, were at least some solace to me that I was not, could never be a murderer. Surely, surely, I was no murderer.

I am no murderer!

Oh, how the tears poured in rivers and stained my cheeks! But those tears could not console my son.

My dear son—my only boy, my hope—lay still and silent in my arms as though dead already. Terror held him so, I supposed from the whiteness of his skin, though I could not read his motivation well for his eyes were shut tight, and he refused to speak a word. He had his mother’s eyes, and like his mother’s told her sorrows and her joys, I could always read him through his eyes. But now he hid them and refused to give his secrets. Unmoving in my arms, he lay still and silent.

“My boy…” I whimpered once again, choking on my tears. How I longed to say more but had not the strength!

I lifted my son to place him on the altar but stumbled and nearly dropped him from the weight.

On my knees now before the altar, all resolve left me, and the tears flowed freely. All the pent up frustration, worry, anger came spilling out in animal cries and howls, great and painful cursing.

“Why?!” I cried to the heavens and held my boy close to my chest. “Why, oh God, why?! Why do you demand such a thing?!”

I held my boy, my precious boy, close to me and buried my face in his garments as great sobs racked my body.

I cannot do it, my Lord. I cannot kill my boy… This is more than I can bear!

I don’t know how long I knelt there, weeping with my beautiful boy in my arms, but at long last, the tears stopped flowing and I had no more strength to shout and curse. Only I clutched my precious little boy tightly, close to my body, and hid my head in his chest.

“I cannot do this thing…” I cried weakly, defeated. “I cannot…”

Shame… Fear… Anger… Confusion… Hate… There could not be more wicked a man than I on that lonely mound of rock, so full of boiling, raging emotions as I clung to the one thing I could not release and yet I knew I must.

A strange sensation began to well up within my chest then, something I had not felt since the days of my youth. A thought, a whisper, a bold and haughty thought full of rage and birthed in pain: He has gone too far. I will not obey him. I will fight him this time.

Fight him? I thought. Fight him?

As if such a thing was possible. But still I knew I could not do what he commanded.

“Daddy,” the sweet familiar voice came into my ears and immediately attracted all my attention to its call, but I hesitated to respond, so shameful did I feel.

“Daddy?” Isaac whispered again.

“Yes, my son,” I said and slowly lifted my head, my eyes looking directly into his for the first time in three dreadful days.

“Daddy, it’s okay… I’m…” he said, voice quivering from emotion. “I’m ready.”

“But my boy…” I said hoarsely.

“It’s okay…” he said, the great tears in his eyes held barely in check. “It’s okay…”

“Oh, my son, my son, my son…” I cried afresh at the sight of his great courage. “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

It was only then that I found the courage to fulfill what I’d traveled these three days to do.

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