The story of Abraham sacrificing his beloved son is a parable rather than the narrative of an historic event. It was on the third day that Abraham and Jacob caught sight of the place for the sacrifice. For the Bible the number three alerts us to the mysterious nature of what it is telling us. The place, Moriah, was Zion’s twin hill that was leveled for the building of the temple. This sacrifice of a son that was canceled there was a dress rehearsal for one that would no be canceled. Here too the son carries the wood for the sacrifice.
The scene in Genesis is a haunting one: the God fearing Abraham, a torch in one hand, an axe in the other, leading the only son who meant more to him than life itself.
For all that dreadful reality, we see the tale as a parable. When the boy asks, “Where is the sheep for the sacrifice?” and when Abraham answers, “God himself will provide the sheep” we see this as the Bible’s foreshadowing the fearful events of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.