Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Akedah on the Radio

I heard this song from Nova Scotian folk musician Ben Caplan on the radio today, which references the Akedah, or Near-Sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22: "Birds with Broken Wings."

The story of God commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham's obedience, and a last minute divine intervention to prevent Abe from following through is well-known in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions (check out Levenson's Inheriting Abraham).  It has appeared throughout western history in art and music, and over the past several years has popped up at least a few times on the radio.  In addition to the Ben Caplan song, Arcade Fire's "Abraham's Daughter" showed up in the Hunger Games soundtrack, and a bit further back we heard Sufjan Stevens' "Abraham."

Caplan and Arcade Fire both tap into the highly disturbing nature of the Akedah.  For many of us today, someone who is willing to sacrifice their son because they believe a deity told them to do it is not really a hero.

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