"Abraham" as written by and Sufjan Stevens....
Abraham, worth a righteous one.
Take up on the wood,
Put it on your son.
Lake or lamb.
There is none to harm.
When the angel came,
You had raised your arm.

Abraham, put off on your son.
Take instead the ram
Until Jesus comes.


Lyrics submitted by EvilPopkin

"Abraham" as written by Sufjan Stevens

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Abraham song meanings
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  • +3
    General CommentThe Parable of the Old Man and the Young

    So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
    And took the fire with him, and a knife.
    And as they sojourned both of them together,
    Issac, the first-born spake and said, My Father,
    Behold the preparations, the fire and iron,
    But where the lamb for this burnt offering?
    Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
    And builded parapets and trenches there.
    And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
    When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
    Saying, Lay not a hand upon the lad,
    Neither do anything to him. Behold,
    A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
    Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
    But the old man would not do so, but slew his son,
    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

    -- Wilfred Owen
    _ellieon January 03, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThe Abraham and Isaac story is from Genesis 22

    2[God] said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."

    8Abraham said, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together.

    9When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 12He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 13And 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. 14So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided."


    Abraham believed and said that God would provide the lamb. The ram is a picture (called a "type", a forshadowing "until Jesus comes"), of Jesus and what he would do. It was God's way of saying, "Yes, sin needs to be atoned for, but you won't atone for it. Abraham, you won't have to sacrifice your only son. I will have to sacrifice mine."

    John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
    (At the crucifixion:)Matthew 27:54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
    John 3:14-16 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness [another type from Numbers 21:4-9], so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

    Here's Tim Keller, talking about types: "Jesus is the true and better Isaac, who was not just offered up by his father on the mount, but was truly sacrificed for us all. While God said to Abraham, 'Now I know you love me, because you did not withold your son, your only son, whom you love, from me,' now we, at the foot of the cross, can say to God, 'Now we know you that you love me because you did not withold your son, your only son, whom you love, from me.'"

    Hebrews 10:1-4 & 11-14 "For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."...."And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."
    emaildumpon October 07, 2010   Link
  • +2
    My Opinionone great thing about sufjan stevens and these songs that are religious references- and therefore somewhat controversial- are that it shows the beauty and diversity in things that one would normally just associate with "the bible". he also adds his own questions about god and about his own religion in his songs, and glorifies things that are not conventionally glorified (for example, the BQE and casimir pulaski). i remember reading the abraham passage and hearing stories about it, and not really thinking it was such a big deal. listening to this song now it seems more important, and shows the beauty of life and dedication. i am so obsessed with sufjan its not even funny.
    exponentialon April 03, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentRegarding "efurste"s belief that this song means more than the words imply, on this album, and in many of Sufjan Steven's songs, the lyrics are meant to be taken at face value. I think it's just a simple rendering of the story, like "Transfiguration". For a more weighted version of the story, try Leonard Cohen's "Abraham and Isaac." However, I like this one better. It's simple and sweet.

    Regarding "anxiouschristian"s assertion that Mt. Moriah (where this story took place) was where Jesus was crucified, that is not correct. According to tradition (no one really knows where Mt. Moriah is) the Jewish Temple (now the Muslim Dome of the Rock) was built on Mt. Moriah right where Isaac was almost sacrificed.

    However, there is an equally cool tradition regarding the location of the Crucifixion. The mountain was called "Golgotha", the "Hill of the Skull," which (again, according to tradition) was the burial place of Adam. In many ancient paintings and icons of the crucifixion you will find a small skull under the cross. That is Adam.

    Further, the wood used to make the cross (yet again, according to tradition) came from the Tree of Life. Adam sent Seth, his third son, to Eden to get some fruit from the Tree of Life so he wouldn't die. But, when Seth returned, the Adam was already dead. He planted the fruit in Adam's mouth and from it grew a new tree which would eventually be used for Jesus' Cross. Thus, the instrument of death was literally and figuratively the Tree of Life.

    Are you bored yet? :-)
    criostoiron July 27, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentPaul sheds some additional light on this story in Hebrews 17-19.

    17By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 19Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
    CreonBileon September 28, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm curious as what he means by "worth a righteous one." It could be saying that Abraham was worth Jesus (the only righteous one) giving His life to save him. But that doesn't seem to go with how the Bible describes all men as unworthy of the sacrifice.

    I think it's interesting that so many can't see this story for what it is. It's about how we deserve to be burnt up, but God provided the ultimate sacrifice in our place, Jesus.
    TwiceBornon January 19, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe story of Abraham and Isaac is summarized fairly bluntly here without so much as a stanza of reflection. Judging by the wildly varying opinions on Abraham's character on this site, I'd say this particular narrative of father and son and obligation hits us humans in the guts for some reason. I wouldn't be surprised if Sufjan kept it straightforward simply because the bare essence of the story is one hell of a thing to wrestle with.

    The spare accompaniment, the simple plain-song like melody, and the erie female-voiced chorus all speak to me. It sounds like a priest singing "the mystery of faith" or an imam's throaty chants. It's just like "hey before you react let these words sink in a second."

    I would also add, it can't be an accident that Mr Stevens is singing TO Abraham...

    I would share my own opinion on the story of Abraham, myself, but I cannot put it any better than Soren Kierkegaard did back when he wrote Fear and Trembling. Read it if that brilliant asshole Abraham really haunts you like he does me.
    bguileson November 17, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat a wonderful song about Abraham. Nothing much here to discuss.
    Waltyon March 14, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBeautiful song. I bet if somebody walked in on me listening to this song i would have a peaceful smile on my face :) Sufjan's music is just amazing...
    beulahon May 31, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is beauitfully done
    Almost brings me to tears when I hear it
    TonyRo2on July 30, 2005   Link

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