Only Son

Continuing in a series entitled, Where Are You?, another poem from Genesis 22 has come together. Genesis 22:2 reads, “He said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”

If we are familiar with this event and know the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, we interject what we know into the narrative without thinking about it. However, this interaction may be more dramatic and may read more ambiguously if we were reading it for the first time.

In this sonnet I try and capture the sense of a dialogue between the Lord and Abraham and also to flesh out the ambiguity about whom the Lord is speaking. [I believe it was from Dr. Timothy Keller that I first heard this; which is to say, he should get credit for the idea but not the blame of what I’ve made of it]. As the ambiguity unwinds the dramatic tension increases until the name of the son of whom the Lord is speaking is spoken.

If helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

The Lord spoke and said to me, “Take your son.”
And not knowing which I said, “I have two.”

And the Lord replied, “Take your only son.”
Slowly, I considered, “El Shaddai, you
Know of all that there are two that are….
I have two sons who, the same as the other,
Are each the first of numberless of stars.
Both are my sons; each, the only son of their mother.”

Pressing, the Lord said, “The son whom you love.”
And with the press I started, protested,
“Two, my Lord; both, only sons whom I love;
Neither denied, nor your sign neglected.”

“Take your only son, whom you love as life,
Your laughter, Isaac, and him sacrifice.”

© Randall Edwards 2017
Artwork: By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

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