Sarah and the Akedah

A mother's response to the near-death of her son

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­-- Midrash Leviticus Rabba on Genesis 23:1-2. Leviticus Rabba is one of the oldest midrashic works, thought to have been composed in the land if Israel in the fifth century CE.

Satan fools Sarah

"He came to the place to which God had told him to go…and he bound Isaac, his son" (Genesis 22:9):  When Abraham came to slaughter Isaac, Isaac said to him: "Father, bind my hands and legs, for the soul is impudent, and when I see the knife I may be frightened and the sacrifice will be no good because my trembling will cause you to make a blemish." Immediately, Abraham cast forth his hand and took the knife with which he would slaughter his son. Isaac said, "Father, do not tell my mother when she is by the well, or when she is standing on the roof, lest she fall and die. Immediately, they built the altar and Abraham bound his son upon it, and he took the knife and prepared to slaughter him, drawing a cheekful of blood from Isaac. 

Satan came and pushed Abraham's hand, and Abraham dropped the knife, and when he cast his hand to pick it up, the heavenly voice came, and called out from the heavens, "Do not cast your hand upon this boy."  If it was not for this, he would have already been slaughtered.

At that very moment Satan went to Sarah and disguised himself as Isaac. When she saw him, she asked:  "My son, what has your father done to you?"  He answered, "My father took me and made me climb up mountains and go down into valleys and he made me climb up a certain mountain, and built an altar.  He set up the altar and arranged the kindling and bound me on the altar.  He then took the knife to slaughter me. If the Holy One had not called out, 'Do not cast your hand on this boy,'  I would have been slaughtered." He did not complete his sentence when Sarah's soul had already gone from her. Thus it is written, "And Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to cry for her."  Where did he come from?  From Mount Moriah  [where the binding of Isaac occurred]. 

-- Midrash Tanhuma. This midrashic collection is thought to date to the ninth century and is attributed to Rabbi Tanhuma, hence the name.

Sarah, Satan and the shofar sounds

When Abraham returned from Mount Moriah, Satan became infuriated.  He had not gotten what he desired, which was to thwart the sacrifice of Abraham.  What did he do?  He went to Sarah and asked: "Did you hear what happened in the world?"  She answered, "No."  He said, "Abraham took Isaac his son and slaughtered him, offering him up on the altar as a sacrifice."  Sarah began to cry, and moan the sound of three wails which correspond to the three blasts of the shofar, and her soul burst forth from her and she died.  Abraham came only to find that she had died.  From where had he come?  From Mount Moriah.

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