In rescinding his command requiring Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, God passes Abraham’s test.
“The gods of this land demand flesh, demand fire, demand blood.”
[youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kR8S2HirAGE”] Joseph Zitt performs “Abraham” at the Coventry Village Library, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, on 27 January 2011.

The story of the sacrifice of Isaac (known in Hebrew as the Akedah) is often presented as the story of how God came to choose Abraham. But I saw another question as more interesting: How did Abraham come to choose God?

I’d been wanting to write this one for a long time. In fact, one of the triggers for beginning the Book of Voices project was running across an old interview with me in a book about artists and their day jobs. (The book is Night and Day by Gloria Klaiman. If you’re itching to read the interview, you can find it by using the “Search Inside!” feature on the Amazon site to find my name.)

I was originally going to do a large theater piece about Sarah that never happened. But the core event in it was the intended sacrifice of Isaac, with Abraham’s epiphany about the nature of God.

In this book’s telling, Abraham had encountered human sacrifice, in the death of his friend Farah in the story of Terah, though he may have been too young to know exactly what had happened. That event triggered his first doubt of his father’s gods, and may have led indirectly to his connection with God here.

The ram that is sacrificed here appears elsewhere in the book. Its death here is the first thing that happens to it in our stream of time. But like other beings in the book, the ram is, as Kurt Vonnegut put it, “unstuck in time,” and it is involved in several later events before its life ends here.

I perform the story of Abraham in this ten minute video.


Have any events in your life led you to believe in God? to believe that there is no God? to believe that we do not or cannot know if there is a God? to believe that whether God may exist is irrelevant? to believe something else entirely, or none of these options?

Have you come to believe one of these at first and then different ones later? What connected or distinguished how you came to believe these different ways? Or have you always believed what you now believe, with no memory of having come to believe it?

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