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Why did Abraham sacrifice a ram instead of a lamb?


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Philip Kosloski - published on 02/25/24

God said he would provide a lamb for Abraham, but he chose a ram instead. Why is that? Did Abraham get something wrong?

In one of the most famous passages of the Bible, Abraham takes his son to the top of a mountain in order to sacrifice him to God.

He’s about the stab his own son when the angel stops him, and God rewards Abraham for his faithfulness.

What happens next often puzzles readers of the Bible, as God promises to provide a “lamb.”

God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering.

Genesis 22:8

Yet, in the story God never provides a lamb for Abraham to sacrifice.

Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 

Genesis 22:13

Where is the lamb?

One of the key words that many biblical scholars point to is that “God will provide himself, the lamb.”

These scholars stress that it is God who is the lamb for sacrifice.

It shouldn’t surprise us when St. John the Baptist boldly proclaims, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)

As always, God knew what he was doing when Abraham found only a ram to sacrifice. He wanted his people to be on the lookout for a “lamb.”

That “lamb” wouldn’t come for many hundreds of years, but thankfully he has come and has been sacrificed for the salvation of the world.

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