The Sacrifice of Isaac

The Sacrifice of Isaac, detail, 6th century C.E., mosaic by Marianos and Hanina.  Pavement of the  Synagogue, Beth Alpha, Israel.

The binding of Isaac as described in Gen 22:1-19. On the right is an altar with flames rising from it. Abraham stands next to it, one hand holding his son Isaac and the other a long knife. The names of Abraham and Isaac are inscribed above the figures. A hand emerges from a cloud above Abraham and Isaac, symbolizing the angel of God. Nearby are the Hebrew words meaning "lay not your hand [upon the lad]". The ram and the two servants with the donkey are depicted behind Abraham. 

The ancient synagogue of Beit Alpha is located in the Beit She'an Valley, north-east Israel. The mosaic floor of the synagogue was discovered in 1929, when members of Kibbutz Beit Alpha dug irrigation channels for their fields. Excavations were carried out the same year, exposing mosaics preserved intact for almost 1,500 years. Later excavations, in the early 1960s, exposed remains of some houses, indicating that the synagogue had stood in a Jewish village of the Byzantine period (5th-6th centuries).

Two dedicatory inscriptions, one in Aramaic and one in Greek, are situated just inside the main entrance to the prayer hall, flanked by a lion and a bull facing each other. The Aramaic inscription states that the mosaic floor was laid during the reign of Emperor Justin (probably Justin I, beginning of the 6th century) and that the cost was covered by donations from members of the community. The Greek inscription reads: May the craftsmen who carried out this work, Marianos and his son Hanina, be held in remembrance.

Mosaic representing the Akedah (Binding of Isaac) from the ancient synagogue in Beit Alpha (Israel).

Relating to the Byzantine empire, which ruled the Eastern Mediterranean from the fifth century CE to 1453; its capital was Byzantium (modern Istanbul).

A West Semitic language, in which most of the Hebrew Bible is written except for parts of Daniel and Ezra. Hebrew is regarded as the spoken language of ancient Israel but is largely replaced by Aramaic in the Persian period.

Short written texts, generally inscribed on stone or clay and frequently recording an event or dedicating an object.

Short written texts, generally inscribed on stone or clay and frequently recording an event or dedicating an object.

Artwork composed of small pieces of material—glass, stone, pottery—arranged in patterns or depicting persons and scenes.

Gen 22:1-19

The Command to Sacrifice Isaac
1After these things God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”2He said, “Take your son, your only s ... View more

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