Vayeira

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Where did Isaac go
When the Akedah ended?
To his family

The last mention of Isaac during the akedah comes as Abraham prepares his son for sacrifice:

Genesis 22:9-10
They arrived at the place of which God had told him. Abraham built an altar there; he laid out the wood; he bound his son Isaac; he laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. And Abraham picked up the knife to slay his son.

At this point an angel stops Abraham (22:11-12), he finds a ram to sacrifice (22:13) and blessings are bestowed (22:15-18).

We’re told that “Abraham then returned to his servants, and they departed together for Beer-sheba” (22:19), apparently without his son. Isaac doesn’t appear again until he meets Rebekah near the end of next week’s portion, where we find a clue to where he’s been:

Genesis 24:62
Isaac had just come back from the vicinity of Be’er-lahai-roi, for he was settled in the region of the Negev.

Be’er-lahai-roi was mentioned in last week’s portion – it’s the place where Hagar, pregnant with Ishmael, went when she fled from Sarai (16:14). She later returns to Abraham and gives birth to Ishmael. But after Isaac is born she is sent away along with her son. Perhaps they returned to Be’er-lahai-roi.

According to a midrash by Rabbi Jonathan Kligler:

When Hagar and Ishmael are ultimately banished to the wilderness … they returned to this oasis, and Hagar raised her son there. And apparently, this is where Isaac is living as well in the wake of the akedah. What are we to make of this? Isaac and Ishmael loved each other … Isaac’s heart was broken when his brother Ishmael and his brother’s mother Hagar were forced to leave their home. Ishmael was his brother, and Hagar was a second mother to him. They were his family. Isaac traveled there out of his yearning to make whole his broken family.

 

Image: The Sacrifice of Isaac (c) Adi Holzer via Wikimedia

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