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  #1  
Old Nov 29, '10, 9:03 am
TimothyH TimothyH is offline
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Default Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Probably been asked before so accept my apologies for not being able to find it via search.

Abram had Ishmael by his wife Sarai's maidservant Hagar. This happened, I presume, before God changed thier names and prior to the birth of Isaac by his wife.

Why then does the author of Genesis 22:2 call Isaac Abraham's "Only" son?

This came up in the context of Romans 4. My position is that Abraham's faith was that God could raise the dead, as Paul seems to state in Romans 4. This makes sense only if God promised to make Abraham's descendants as numerous as the sands in the sea and then commanded Abraham to kill his "Only" son.This does not make sense if Abraham had another son such as Ismael.

So what gives on the "Only son" thing? How can Isaac be Abraham's "Only" son?

Thanks!


-Tim-
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  #2  
Old Nov 29, '10, 9:55 am
Apollos Apollos is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
So what gives on the "Only son" thing? How can Isaac be Abraham's "Only" son?
God says, Take your son.
Abraham says, Which son? I have two.
God says, I'm saying take your son, your only son.
Abraham says, They're both only-sons.
God says, I'm saying take your son, your only son, whom you love.
Abraham says, I love them both.
God says, I'm saying take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac.
Abraham says, Nu, why didn't you say that?
God says, Because I wanted you to really understand just what it is that I'm about to ask you.
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  #3  
Old Nov 29, '10, 11:31 am
SonCatcher SonCatcher is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Isaac was the son of promise. All of God's promises to Abraham were understood to be fulfilled through him and his descendants.
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  #4  
Old Nov 29, '10, 2:43 pm
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NotWorthy NotWorthy is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Abraham was supposed to trust God's promise that he will have a son. Instead of trusting God, Abraham tried to make up his own rules (well, actually Sarah's rules) and have a son through her concubine. Now, since man believes that this is a legitimate son doesn't mean that God does. God said that marriage is between a man and a woman - not a man and a woman and her concubine(s).

Hence, God didn't recognize Ishmael as Abraham's son.

Only Isaac was recognized as the true son of Abraham.
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  #5  
Old Nov 29, '10, 5:35 pm
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Miriam1947 Miriam1947 is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Apollos View Post
God says, Take your son.
Abraham says, Which son? I have two.
God says, I'm saying take your son, your only son.
Abraham says, They're both only-sons.
God says, I'm saying take your son, your only son, whom you love.
Abraham says, I love them both.
God says, I'm saying take your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac.
Abraham says, Nu, why didn't you say that?
God says, Because I wanted you to really understand just what it is that I'm about to ask you.
I love this. Very funny.
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  #6  
Old Nov 30, '10, 9:47 am
DaveBj DaveBj is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Probably been asked before so accept my apologies for not being able to find it via search.

Abram had Ishmael by his wife Sarai's maidservant Hagar. This happened, I presume, before God changed thier names and prior to the birth of Isaac by his wife.

Why then does the author of Genesis 22:2 call Isaac Abraham's "Only" son?

This came up in the context of Romans 4. My position is that Abraham's faith was that God could raise the dead, as Paul seems to state in Romans 4. This makes sense only if God promised to make Abraham's descendants as numerous as the sands in the sea and then commanded Abraham to kill his "Only" son.This does not make sense if Abraham had another son such as Ismael.

So what gives on the "Only son" thing? How can Isaac be Abraham's "Only" son?

Thanks!


-Tim-
Because in the narrative of the previous chapter, which had taken place probably several years earlier, Hagar and Ishmael had been turned out of the family and had moved away. Abraham had only one son living with him; he wouldn't have even known where Ishmael was.

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  #7  
Old Nov 30, '10, 1:47 pm
slave of god slave of god is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NotWorthy View Post
Abraham was supposed to trust God's promise that he will have a son. Instead of trusting God, Abraham tried to make up his own rules (well, actually Sarah's rules) and have a son through her concubine. Now, since man believes that this is a legitimate son doesn't mean that God does. God said that marriage is between a man and a woman - not a man and a woman and her concubine(s).

Hence, God didn't recognize Ishmael as Abraham's son.

Only Isaac was recognized as the true son of Abraham.
But both are still true sons
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  #8  
Old Nov 30, '10, 2:26 pm
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NotWorthy NotWorthy is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Quote:
Originally Posted by slave of god View Post
But both are still true sons
Yes, but only one is the son of the Promise.
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  #9  
Old Nov 30, '10, 8:45 pm
TimothyH TimothyH is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveBj View Post
Because in the narrative of the previous chapter, which had taken place probably several years earlier, Hagar and Ishmael had been turned out of the family and had moved away. Abraham had only one son living with him; he wouldn't have even known where Ishmael was.

DaveBj
so she demanded of Abraham: "Drive out that slave and her son! No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!" (Genesis 21:10)
OK. Thanks for all the replies. I got it... sort of.


-Tim-
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  #10  
Old Dec 1, '10, 10:40 pm
Mintaka Mintaka is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Look at it this way.

The Hebrew word isn't exactly "only". It's yachiyd, which literally means "one, united" and means "sole, only", "solitary, lonely", " or "beloved" by implication.

After Ishmael is driven away, Isaac is the lone son left. By putting it that way, God is poking at Abraham. Sort of like His conversation with Cain, in fact.

"Sooooo, Abraham, father of nations, dude with descendants that I promised would be as numerous as the stars -- Abraham, who went ahead and disobeyed me to get a son and then drove him away... I'd like to talk to you about your lone son that's left to you. The one you love, as opposed to poor Ishmael whom you claimed to have loved best.Who for all you know might have his bones bleaching in the sun."

The reason that the translation "only son" takes precedence in modern Bible translations is that there are some important parallels to be drawn with "only son" from other uses in the Bible. But all the meanings are still present, at least latently.

Last edited by Mintaka; Dec 1, '10 at 10:51 pm.
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  #11  
Old Dec 2, '10, 12:40 pm
Big Dummy Big Dummy is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

Isaac was his only son directly through Sarah. Ismal was the offspring via adoption through the Slave women laying between Sarah's legs.

Isaac was the child that God promissed Abraham.

Ismal was the child Abraham made through worldly means.
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  #12  
Old Dec 5, '10, 8:35 pm
CeelosDeznos CeelosDeznos is offline
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Default Re: Why is Isaac Called Abraham's "Only" Son?

The term actually means “unique.” It has no reference to number in this instance.

In Semitic language there is a complexity to words that does not occur in American English. Words in Hebrew, for example, are “terse.” This means that they can say complex things with layers of meanings in far less words than what is possible in English.
Because of the “terseness” of words in their language, the Hebrews began to develop a further level of complexities on top of these which were so loaded with meaning. This complexity was a series of plays on words. The most famous of these is the word “son,” which in Semitic conversation can mean more than one’s male child. It can often mean the embodiment of something else, its very essence, to be of “the same cloth.” In fact the expression “spitting image” comes from the Semitic use of “son,” especially in reference to how it used for and by Jesus Christ in reference to both God and Adam (as in “Son of God” and “Son of Man”).

“Only” is another one of these words. It doesn’t just refer to quantity. It also refers to quality. In this instance with Isaac it refers to how Abraham viewed him, how much he loved him, and how important he was in reference to God’s promise.

This is also the same meaning for the term about Jesus Christ when he is referred to as the “Only Son of God.” There are many “sons” of God. The angels are called “sons” of God. Human beings are referred to as “sons of God.” Adam is called “son of God.” But Jesus is the “Only Son of God” in that he is unique among “sons.” Only Jesus is God’ Son according to the terminology discussed above, i.e., the embodiment of God, God’s very essence, of the “same cloth” of God, God’s “spitting image.” Jesus isn’t the Son in the sense as being someone who is created by God and has a male gender, but is Son by essence of being the Second Person in the Godhead. This type of Son makes him unique, the “Only” Son of God.

It is this same sense for Isaac in that, though a literal son of Abraham, he is the most unique and important. Salvation history is tied up with this son, but not with any other of Abraham’s.
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