When Avraham was going with Yitzchok to the Akaida.

As far as Avraham knew at the moment, there was no lamb. So the answer to Yitzchok's question should have been that there will be no lamb for the sacrifice. Why wasn't Avraham lying when he said "Eloh-im yireh lo haseh li-ola, bni", "God will find him a lamb for an offering, my son"?

  • 1
    Maybe he was lying?
    – Alex
    Mar 30, 2020 at 22:37
  • 1
    This question would be improved with some more context. What event are you asking about? Is this quote from a verse? A Midrash? Something else? The more details you provide the easier it will be for others to answer (and probably more motivated as well). Remember, even if something is obvious to you, it might not be obvious to readers.
    – Alex
    Mar 30, 2020 at 22:40
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    According to the Chomat Anach, this was a prayer THAT Hashem would provide a lamb to replace his son. The Radak presents 2 possibilities -- one, that "b'ni" was just an address, as in, "My son, God will show..." and the other, as Rashi says, that "if there is no lamb, then, my son"
    – rosends
    Mar 31, 2020 at 0:32

2 Answers 2


Read it "Elokim yireh lo haseh l'olah = bni". He was hinting that the lamb was his son. And according to Rashi, Yitzchak got the hint, "vayelchu shneihem yachdav" - he accepted it willingly.

I quote Rashi 22:8:

יראה לו השה: כלומר יראה ויבחר לו השה, ואם אין שה, לעולה בני. ואף על פי שהבין יצחק שהוא הולך לישחט, וילכו שניהם יחדו בלב שוה:

"will provide for Himself the lamb": i.e., He will see and choose for Himself the lamb (Targum Jonathan), and if there will be no lamb, my son will be for a burnt offering. And although Isaac understood that he was going to be slaughtered,“ they both went together,” with one accord (lit. with the same heart). - [from Gen. Rabbah 56:4]


Let's first look at the context of this statement.

Avraham takes fire, wood and a knife and then proceeds with Yitzhok to the place where the sacrifice is set to take place. What is conspicuously absent is an animal to sacrifice.

Yitzhok, it seems, picks up on this and seeks to ask his father about this. But it also seems (from a careful reading of the pesukim) that Yitzhok is hesitant to bring up the issue (as he senses what the answer might be).

He starts, but doesn't say anything: וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יִצְחָ֜ק אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֤ם אָבִיו֙

He then tries again:

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אָבִ֔י

At this point he at least actually says something, but there is no question yet - just addressing his father. Avraham reply is inviting -- in essence letting his son that his free to ask:

וַיֹּ֖אמֶר הִנֶּ֣נִּֽי בְנִ֑י

It is at this point that Yitzhok gets the courage to ask the question: we have the fire and the wood, but where is the offering?

וַיֹּ֗אמֶר הִנֵּ֤ה הָאֵשׁ֙ וְהָ֣עֵצִ֔ים וְאַיֵּ֥ה הַשֶּׂ֖ה לְעֹלָֽה

And yet, he does not ask the question directly -- he is either leaving the question open-ended or he is asking it in an indirect manner. Either he thinks that appearance may be deceiving and perhaps he is not to be the sacrifice after-all or he thinks it inappropriate to ask such a question directly of his father.

My personal sense is that is both. Perhaps there is an explanation -- and if not, how can I directly ask my father if he is planning to sacrifice me.

So too, Avraham's answer -- is both open-ended and indirect. G-d will chose for himself the sacrifice (the word יראה is sometimes used in the Chumash in the sense of to choose). That sacrifice may be you, may not. And just like Yitzhok did not directly ask his father whether he planned to sacrifice him, Avaraham also did not directly tell Yitzhok that he may be commanded to sacrifice him.

In other words, Avraham's answer was a) relating to the substance and style of Yitzhok's question as well as b) relating to the fact that he did not know what was the Divine plan.

  • You missed the key word here: "haseh". Avraham didn't say "Eloh-im yireh lo li-olah, bni."
    – larry909
    Apr 1, 2020 at 18:12
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    As the Radak notes on this verse, Avraham's response can be understood in one of two ways. 1) G-d will find a way to provide a 'seh'. 2) Yitzhok will be the 'seh'. That is in line with what I wrote. I just phrased my answer in light of the question being asked; namely, whether or not Avraham was lying. My point is that Avraham's was truthful and phrased his answer in a manner directly related to a) how Yitzhak phrased his question and b) the inherent ambiguity of the situation. Note, you can find the Radak's commentary here: sefaria.org.il/Radak_on_Genesis.22.8?lang=he. Apr 12, 2020 at 23:28

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