Breaking the Sound Barrier

The journey is like a silent progress through the indeterminate and the contingent, a holding of the breath, a process which has no present, which is inserted, like a blank duration, between what has passed and what lies ahead. (Erich Auerbach, 'Odysseus' Scar')

The only words uttered on the three-day journey to Mount Moriah are this dialogue between Abraham and Isaac. They contain within them the inner voices of father and son, dared to rise to frightening heights of religious commitment.

Isaac's first poignant words, 'My father' are met by Abraham's heart-felt response, 'My son'. No words could be more powerful in intimating the ultimate questions which Isaac is posing. Have you forgotten that I am your son, your only son, the one you loved? I am the child for whom you waited a lifetime! I am the key to your future. Without me all hope is lost. Abraham need only mouth the words 'my son' making it clear that he is fully cognizant that his past, present, and future will be instantaneously obliterated through one fateful action. Yet he reassures Isaac and unequivocally asserts his faith that God will provide the lamb for slaughter.

Scripture has framed the dialogue with the expression, 'And they walked together'. Whereas initially this is a description of their perambulation, after this exchange they have achieved a tacit understanding; nothing more need be said. They are now together in spirit; as one, they submit to the will of God.

Feeding the Fire >>