And Abraham lifted up his eyes
They were before fixed upon his son lying upon the altar, and intent upon that part he was going to thrust his knife into; but hearing a voice from heaven above him, he lift up his eyes thitherward:
and looked, and, behold, behind [him] a ram caught in a thicket by his
the ram making a noise and rustling among the bushes behind the place where Abraham was, he turned himself, and looked and saw it: the Targum of Onkelos introduces the clause thus, "after these things"; and so the Arabic version: after Abraham had heard the voice of the angel, and had lift up his eyes to heaven, he was directed to look behind him; and both that and the Targum of Jonathan paraphrase it,
``and he saw and beheld one ram;''and so the Septuagint, Syriac and Samaritan versions, reading (dxa) instead of (rxa) . This ram was caught and held by his horns in a thicket of briers, brambles, and thorns, or in the thick branches of the shrubs or bushes which grew upon the mount; and the horns of a ram being crooked, are easily implicated in such thickets, but not easily loosed. From whence this ram came is not known; it can hardly be thought to come from Abraham's fold, or to be his property, since he was three days' journey distant from home; very likely it had strayed from neighbouring flocks, and was by the providence of God directed hither at a seasonable time. The Jewish writers F11 say, it was from the creation of the world; and there is no absurdity or improbability to suppose it was immediately created by the power of God, and in an extraordinary manner provided; and was a type of our Lord Jesus, who was foreordained of God before the foundation of the world, and came into the world in an uncommon way, being born of a virgin, and that in the fulness of time, and seasonably, and in due time died for the sins of men. The ram has its name from "strength", in the Hebrew language, and was an emblem of a great personage, ( Daniel 8:3 ) ; and may denote the strength and dignity of Christ as a divine Person; being caught in a thicket, may be an emblem of the decrees of God, in which he was appointed to be the Saviour; or the covenant agreement and transactions with his Father, in which he voluntarily involved himself, and by which he was held; or the sins of his people, which were laid upon him by imputation, were wreathed about him, and justice finding him implicated with them, required satisfaction, and had it; or the hands of wicked men, sons of Belial, comparable to thorns, by whom he was taken; or the sorrows of death and hell that encompassed him, and the curses of a righteous law which lay upon him; and perhaps he never more resembled this ram caught in a thicket, than when a platted crown of thorns was put upon his head, and he wore it;
and Abraham went and took the ram;
without regarding whose property it was, since God, the owner and proprietor of all, had provided it for him, and brought it to him at a very seasonable time, and directed him to take it:
and offered him for a burnt offering in the stead of his son;
in which also was a type of Christ, who was made an offering for sin, and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smelling savour; and its being a burnt offering denotes the sufferings of Christ, and the severity of them; and which were in the room and stead of his people, of God's Isaac, of spiritual seed of Abraham, of the children of God of the promise, of all his beloved ones; who therefore are let go, justice being satisfied with what Christ has done and suffered, it being all one as if they had suffered themselves; as here in the type, the ram having, its throat cut, its blood shed, its skin flayed, and the whole burnt to ashes, were as if Isaac himself had been thus dealt with, as Jarchi observes. Alexander Polyhistor F12, an Heathen writer, has, in agreement with the sacred history, given a narrative of this affair in a few words,
``God (he says) commanded Abraham to offer up his son Isaac to him for a burnt offering, and taking the lad with him to a mountain, laid and kindled an heap of wood, and put Isaac upon it; and when he was about to slay him, was forbidden by an angel, who presented a ram to him for sacrifice, and then Abraham removed his son from the pile, and offered up the ram.''
F11 Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c. 31.). Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc.
F12 Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 19. p. 421.