Dear Rabbi Geoff,
When we read the Torah today in services, I was struck by the fact that the story of Abraham & Isaac is read / told every year - and always it is the same story - the WRONG story.
Here is how I think it really was:
G'd told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. They went up the hill, and Isaac wondered where was the lamb to be sacrificed, and Abraham said G'd would provide it.
So they get up there, and Abraham sees a ram - and they bind the ram and prepare the sacrifice.
THEN the angel appears and tells Abraham to STOP - "What do you think you are doing? G'd asked you to prove your fear of G'd, and your devotion by sacrificing your son, Isaac. Why are you preparing to sacrifice this ram instead?"
Abraham replies: "I know I was told to sacrifice my son, Isaac. But although I fear G'd, and I am deeply devoted to G'd, I feel in my heart that G'd wants me to revere life - above all. The love I have for my son, Isaac, is love that G'd has put in my heart - so I know G'd really does not intend for me to sacrifice Isaac. Also, this ram just appeared, so it must be that I should sacrifice the ram instead."
And the Angel says: "You are right, Abraham. G'd wondered if you understood his message about love and life, and you have proven your devotion to G'ds Cavanah (intent). Now that you have proven your fear of G'd and your devotion, you do not have to sacrifice this ram - since he is also one of G'ds creatures, and to G'd life is sacred."
So Abraham and Isaac, having learned much from this, return from the hill, tell everyone what they learned, and all sacrifices are thendiscontinued.
Keeping in mind that these stories were told verbally for a long time before they were written in the Torah, I believe the ones who wrote the stories did so based on what the stories had by then become. But the real story, as it must have originally been told, is probably as I have written it here (except that in real life, at that time in history, the ram may have been sacrificed, and the people may not have learned enough to stop animal sacrifices until later.)
I know it is probably disrespectful for me to re-write the Torah stories, but I think G'ds intentions count.
Thanks for listening.