Waiting for a leader like Abraham

Abraham tried to raise up spiritually and make righteous the whole world.

Professor Gerald Aranoff,

Judaism Prof. G. Aranoff
Prof. G. Aranoff

So early next morning, Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He split the wood for the burnt offering, and he set out for the place of which God had told him.

Abraham took Ishmael and Eliezer with him

“The Torah here teaches you a good rule of conduct, to wit, that a man should not set out on a journey accompanied by less than two persons, for if he does he will eventually become a servant to his servant. For R. Aibu said: There were two people who followed the correct procedure, viz. Abraham and Saul. What does it say of Abraham? (Gen. 23:3). Who were they? Ishmael and Eliezer.” (Leviticus Rabbah 26:7)

"A son was born to him [Abraham] when he was a hundred years old, and in the end the Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: And He said, “Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you.” (Genesis 22:2). Abraham went a distance of three days journey. After three days he perceived a cloud resting on the top of a mountain. Said he to Isaac: My son, do you see what I see? Yes, he answered him. What do you see, he inquired. He told him: I see a cloud resting on the top of the mountain. He said to Ishmael and Eliezer: Do you see anything? No, they answered him.”(Leviticus Rabbah 20:2)

The Malbim’s Amazing Explanation

The Malbim says  on Then Abraham said to his servants, “You stay here with the ass. The boy and I will go up there; we will worship and we will return to you” (Genesis 22:5):

You stay here with the ass." With this we’re told that this test is different from all that Abraham did until now.  For all that he did until now were not commands against rational thinking.  He was following God’s ways and keeping His commandments and Mitsvot: For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right, in order that the Lord may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him (Genesis 18:19).

"All commands he did publically, with people seeing, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is just and right.  Not so this command which is against rational thinking. 

"Until now, he preached and exhorted against idol worshipping and human sacrifices.  He exhorted them that God does not want such abominations.  For there is no abomination in God’s eyes greater than spilling blood [murder], as it says You shall not act thus toward the Lord your God, for they perform for their gods every abhorrent act that the Lord detests; they even offer up their sons and daughters in fire to their gods (Deuteronomy 12:31). 

"Now doing this command which is against rational thinking and against God’s good ways, he did not want to do before the eyes of the two young men, which according to Chazal were Eliezer and Ishmael.  He was embarrassed before them to do an act that until now was an abomination in his eyes. He did not want them to learn to do like that. For this reason he kept the matter secret we will worship and we will return to you.   This was the major root of this test that he does God’s commands, even when against his rational thinking, righteousness, and the justice of God’s good ways. Verily, he  never doubted after God.”

Abraham tried to keep secret, from Eliezer and Ishmael, what he intended to do at the place God told him.  According to the Malbim, Abraham knew that killing Isaac would be an abomination, against everything Abraham was teaching his whole life. The Malbim is similar to Kiekegaard’s famous Fear and Trembling (1843). 

The Ministering Angel Michael came to save Isaac

God sends His angels to speak and act, so that His word is fulfilled.  Abraham was teaching Ishmael and Eliezer and many others the ways of God.  God sent the Ministering Angel Michael, at a critical moment to get Ishmael and Eliezer to say prophecy to Abraham Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him.

Then an angel of the Lord called to him from heaven: “Abraham! Abraham!” And he answered, “Here I am.” And he said, “Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your favored one, from Me” (Genesis 22:11-12).

The Baal Haturim says that the angel was the Ministering Angel Michael. My theory is that Michael came to Ishmael and Eliezer to save Isaac. Michael gave Ishmael and Eliezer prophecy to hurry them after Abraham to say: Do not raise your hand against the boy, or do anything to him. Ishmael may have said Genesis 22:11 [an angel of the Lord called to him] and Eliezer said Genesis 22:12 [And he said].  Ishmael called to and Eliezer said to Abraham.

Didn’t angels of God speak prophecy to Hagar An angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur (Genesis 16:7)?

Didn’t three angels visit Abraham?

In the midrash, the Ministering Angel Michael brought the news to Sarah she’ll have a baby and later Michael saved Lot.

In Tractate Baba Metzia 86b, we find the following:

“Who were the three men? Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Michael came to bring the tidings to Sarah [of Isaac's birth]; Raphael, to heal Abraham; and Gabriel, to overturn Sodom. But is it not written, The two angels arrived in Sodom in the evening, as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to greet them and, bowing low with his face to the ground (Genesis 19:1) Michael accompanied him [Gabriel] to rescue Lot. [The Writ] supports this too, for it is written, He annihilated those cities and the entire Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation of the ground (Ibid. 25) not, and they annihilated: this proves it.”

The Ministering Angel Michael in Daniel saves people, those worthy: At that time, the great prince, Michael, who stands beside the sons of your people, will appear. It will be a time of trouble, the like of which has never been since the nation came into being. At that time, your people will be rescued, all who are found inscribed in the book (Daniel 12:1).

Abraham was the father of a multitude of nations

God blessed Abraham And you shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I make you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fertile, and make nations of you; and kings shall come forth from you (Genesis 17:5-6). 

God blessed Ishmael: As for Ishmael, I have heeded you. I hereby bless him. I will make him fertile and exceedingly numerous. He shall be the father of twelve chieftains, and I will make of him a great nation (Genesis 17:20).

Abraham tried to raise up spiritually and make righteous the whole world. Surely, the descendants of Ishmael (and of Eliezer and others), today, are waiting for prophecy to direct them.  They wait for a person such as Abraham.

May it be speedy in our lifetime, that the descendants of Ishmael and the whole world accept God’s rule And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord with one name (Obadiah 1:21).