Are there any Midrashim where Yitzchak was actually sacrificed by Avraham?


"a later midrashic tradition developed this notion, that Isaac actually had been sacrificed. This tradition is discussed in S. Spiegel’s The Last Trial (New York: Schocken, 1969; Hebrew edition 1950).” ― Richard Elliott Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible?"

And Friedman makes this claim in his book "bible with sources revealed", (of course, the contents of the book don't come close to satisfying the title), he makes the even bigger claim, and with no references, that it's not just a later midrashic tradition, but a "group of midrashic sources". He writes "There is a group of midrashic sources that say that Isaac was in fact sacrificed".

  • 5
    The Akedah is barely the start of the story with Yitzchak. How does one explain the rest of the Torah that has Yitzchak if he was sacrificed at the altar? Apr 5, 2020 at 5:47
  • 1
    @Salmononius2 see the link in the answer I posted, says he was restored to life
    – barlop
    Apr 5, 2020 at 6:06

2 Answers 2


A collection of four medrashim can be seen here along with their translations and an explanation.

Pirkay DeRabbi Eliezer, ch. 31.

ר' יהודה אמר: כיון שהגיע החרב על צוארו, פרחה ויצאה נשמתו של יצחק. כיון שהשמיע קולו מבין שני הכרובים ואמר, "אל תשלח ידך אל הנער," חזרה הנפש לגופו. והתירו ועמד על רגליו. וידע יצחק תחיית המתים מן התורה, שכל המתים עתידין להחיות. באותו שעה פתח ואמר, "ברוך אתה ה' מחיה המתים."

Rabbi Yehudah said: Once the knife reached Yitzchak's throat, his soul fled. When God spoke from between the two Keruvim and said, "Do not raise your hand to the boy!" the soul returned to his body. He untied him and he stood on his feet, [then] Yitzchak knew that the resurrection of the dead was insured by the Torah, that in the future all the dead will be resurrected. Then he opened up and said, “Blessed are You, God, Who resurrects the dead.”

Midrash HaGadol, Berayshit, Mossad HaRav Kook: Jerusalem, vol. I, p. 355

ר' אליעזר אומר: כיון שהגיע החרב על צוארו של יצחק, פרחה ויצאה נשמתו. וכהשמיע הקדוש ברוך הוא קולו מבין שני הכרובים ואמר, "אל תשלח ידך אל הנער ואל תעש לו מאומה," חזרה נפשו לגופו. והתירו ועמד על רגליו. וידע שכך המתים עתידין להחיות. ופתח ואמר, "ברוך מחיה המתים ".

Rabbi Eliezer said: Once the knife reached Yitzchak’s throat, his soul fled. When God spoke from between the Kruvim saying, “Do not raise your hand to the boy!” the soul returned to his body. He untied him and he stood on his feet, and Yitzchak knew that in the future all the dead would be resurrected. Then he said, “Blessed [are You, God,] Who resurrects the dead.”

Midrash VaYosha appears in Adolph Jellinek, Bayt HaMidrash, reprinted by Wahrmann: Jerusalem, 1967, vol. I, pp. 35-57. The quotation is from p. 38.

באותו שעה בכו מלאכי השרת במר נפש... ונפלו דמעותיהם על הסכין עד שעמד ולא שלט בצוארו של יצחק. מיד פרחה נשמתו. אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למיכאל, "מפני מה אתה עומד? אל תניחנו לשוחטו!" מיד קרא מיכאל לאברהם ואמר, "אברהם! אברהם!"... "ויירש זרעך את שער אויביו." מיד הניחו וחזרה נשמתו בוועמד על רגליו וברך, "ברוך אתה מחיה מתים."

At that time the heavenly angels cried very bitterly... and their tears fell on the knife so it would not affect Yitzchak's neck. Immediately his soul fled. Then God said to [the angel] Michael, “What are you standing for? Don’t let him slaughter him!” So Michael immediately called out to Avraham and said, “Avraham! Avraham!... And your descendants will possess the gates of their foes.” Immediately, he let go of him and his soul returned to him. Then he stood up and said, “Blessed [are You, God,] Who resurrects the dead.”

Rabbi Tzedki'yah HaRofay, Shibbolay HaLeket, Laws of the Shemonah Esray, ch. 18.

ותניא: שמעון הפקולי הסדיר שמונה עשרה ברכות לפני רבן גמליאל על הסדר ביבנה. מצאתי אגדה: מאי על הסדר? זה סדר עולם. שכך מצינו י"ח ברכות של תפילה מעולם היו מתוקנות זו אחר זו. כיון שבאו אנשי כנסת הגדולה כללום ותקנום כסדרן. כשניצול אברהם מאור כשדים, פתחו מלאכי השרת ואמרו, "ברוך אתה ה' מגן אברהם." כשנעקד יצחק על גבי המזבח ונעשה דשן, והיה אפרו מושלך על הר המוריה, מיד הביא עליו הקדוש ברוך הוא טל החיה אותו. לפיכך אמר דוד, כטל שהחיה בו יצחק אבינו. מיד פתחו מלאכי" כטל חרמון שיורד על הררי ציון." השרת ואמרו, "ברוך אתה ה' מחיה מתים."

A Baraitah: Shimon HaFakuli arranged the Shemonah Esray, the "Eighteen Blessings," in order for Rabban Gamliel in Yavneh. I found an Aggadah: What is “in order?” This means the order of the world. For we find that the "Eighteen Blessings" were always in existence. Then the Men of the Great Assembly gathered them and set them in order. When Avraham was saved form the furnace of Kasdim, the angels said, “Blessed are You, God, the shield of Avraham.” When Yitzchak was bound to the altar and became ash, and his ashes were scattered over Mount Moriah, God immediately brought dew down on him and resurrected him. Therefore David said, “Like the dew of Hermon which falls on the hills of Zion.” Like the dew with which He resurrected our father Yitzchak. Then the angels of heaven said, “Blessed are You, God, who resurrects the dead.”

Also worth mentioning is the opinion of the Megaleh Amukos (17th century) which can be seen here stating Yitzchok was no longer among the living but was in Gan Eden for a couple of years after the Akeida.

I thought there was Zohar discussing this as well. I'll see if I can find that.

  • Regarding megaleh amukos, the yalkut Shimoni at the end of Chayei Sarah brings a Midrash that he was in gan Eden until Eliezer brought Rivka to him
    – robev
    Apr 5, 2020 at 17:13
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    The first three sources seem to say that he wasn't sacrificed, rather he died from something else (the angel's tears? shock?) Apr 5, 2020 at 19:30
  • @Reinstate While you are well within your rights to argue that, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if any commentators actually say something along those lines, in Talmudic talk it is not so clear. For instance the language used for committing suicide is עלה לגג ונפל. It doesn't say והיפיל את עצמו/עצמה.
    – user6591
    Apr 5, 2020 at 20:28
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    The third source says explicitly "אל תניחהו לשוחטו" following the פרחה נשמתו, which means that his death took place before any slaughter. The terminology of the first two sources (כיון שהגיע) strongly implies that he died before any actual slaughter. [admittedly, this seems to me a fatal problem with any פשט that actual sacrifice took place - how do you explain אל תשלח ידך? Resurrection won't help for that]. Apr 5, 2020 at 20:35
  • 1
    @Reinstate I have no intention of reconciling with the pesukim. Remember the drasha about Yaakov Avinu not dying? The fact that pesukim say he was embalmed didn't bother the one making the drasha. Also even if these medrashim do in fact mean that Avraham didn't actually kill Yitzchok, but rather Yitzchok died from something else, I think they still satisfy the questioner looking for medrashic sources addressing this general idea.
    – user6591
    Apr 5, 2020 at 20:47

This doesn't fully answer it, as it only mentions two sources rather than a group, and I haven't dug to find exact quotes..

I don't have an exact reference here but some further info,


" Probably mentioned in the above book, but that's also the subject of a particularly famous Midrashic text in Genesis Rabbah and Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer - that Abraham kills Isaac who is then restored to life by God. His death is then retained in his blindness.

In fact, some aspects of Rabbinic tradition maintain that Isaac was not only slaughtered, but complete burt and his ashes scattered before being resurrected. Here's an blog post http://curiousjew.blogspot.com/2007/01/isaac-died-alternative-version-of.html that goes into this, mostly following ideas in The Last Trial: On the Legends and Lore of the Command to Abraham to Offer Isaac as a Sacrifice. (There's also a version where Isaac simply dies from being touched with the knife, but less relevant.) "

If we look at the sources provided by user6591, it looks like Yitzchak did die up there but that Avraham did stop short of sacrificing him, so according to those quoted by him, Avraham didn't sacrifice him.

To quote from that blog post though

"And now, thanks to a Cambridge University Library manuscript (Or. 1080, Box I: 48), we learn that the Shibbole ha-Leket reading is indeed abridged. Perhaps either R. Zedekiah bar Abraham delli Mansi or some pious soul of an earlier generation was exercising restraint- for reasons similar to those which prompted R. Isaac Aboab to omit that haggadah entirely from beginning to end. For this MS reads: "When Abraham bound his son Isaac on the altar, and slew him and burned him, (the lad) was reduced to ashes, and his ashes were scattered on Mount Moriah; then the Holy One, blessed be He, brought down life-giving dew and revived him [...] See S. Spiegel in the Abraham Weiss Jubilee Volume (New York, 1964), pp. 553-566.]

In this case, Isaac was slaughtered, and Avraham slew him."


" in Abraham ibn Ezra's language, in his commentary (Gen 22:19) : The father acted "contrary to Scripture," "for he slaughtered and abandoned" Isaac on the altar. (47)"

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