Chapter VII

 

 

As regards this Moriah,which is pronounced by the ’Arabs as ‘al-Marwah’, it is the only one genuine ‘Moriah’ (Gen. 22:2); that is the actual place where Abraham was asked to offer his ‘only son’ for sacrifice. The fact is that the site of Abraham’s offering his ‘only son’ for sacrifice is unknown to the scholars of the Bible.An objective and analytic study has been undertaken in the following lines to thrash out the real position of the theme.

 

 

 

The Actual Site of Moriah

Is Unknown

to the Scholars of the Bible.

 

Some of the quotations from the authorities on Biblical literature are being afforded hereunder, which show that the scholars of the Bible are at a loss to locate the actual place where Abraham had offered his only son for sacrifice:

(i) W.Gunther Plaut, observes in ‘The Torah, A Modern Commentary’:

The original name is obscure and the actual location unknown.[1]

(ii) L. Reed and A. H. McNeile in their article on ‘Moriah’ in Hastings’ Revised Dic. of Bible assert that ‘evidence is not available for locating Moriah of Abraham’s time’:

Because the place of origin of the journey is not stated in Genesis, it is best to conclude that evidence is not available for locating Moriah of Abraham’s time.[2]

(iii) New Jerusalem Bible states that the site of ‘Moriah’ is unknown:

But the text speaks of a ‘land of Moriah’, of which the name is otherwise unattested: the site of the sacrifice is unknown.[3]

(iv) A New Commentary on Holy Scripture explains:

The land of Moriah is an unknown locality.[4]

(v) The 7th Day Adventist Bible Com. observes:

The name seems to have been rather uncommon.[5]

(vi) The New Oxford Annotated Bible asserts that the place is unknown:

The mountain in the land of Moriah is unknown.[6]

(vii) Dummelow’s Com. on the Holy Bible indicates the uncertainty regarding the identification of both the places:

The land of Moriah] only mentioned again 2 Ch 3:1, ‘Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in Mount Moriah.’ It is uncertain whether the two places are to be identified.[7]

(viii) The New Bible Com. states that there is no ground reality to certify the exact location of this place:

The land of Moriah (2). There is nothing in ancient topography to certify the exact location of this place, nor yet the mountain itself,[8]

(ix) The Wycliffe Bible Com.’sremarks are:

The place of the sacrifice cannot be positively identified.[9]

(x) The Interpreter’s Dic. of Bibleasserts:

The location is otherwise unspecified.[10]

(xi) The ‘Harper’s Bible Dic.has recorded the similar views about it:

An unidentified site in rugged terrain three day’s travel from Beersheba where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac.[11]

(xii) T. K. Cheyne observes in the Enc. Biblica:

Great obscurity hangs about this name,[12]

(xiii) Rev, B. Vawter, Professor of Sacred Scripture, De Paul University, Chicago, has asserted in A New Catholic Commentary:

‘The land of Moriah’ has never been identified.[13]

(xiv) Michael Avi-Yonah has also recorded the same viewpoint in the Encyclopedia Judaica:

MORIAH (Heb. מוריה), an unidentified locality mentioned in the Bible.[14]

(xv) The Encyclopedia of Judaism has also made the similar observation:

Moriah; a place, originally unidentified, to which God sent Abraham:[15]

(xvi)  The Jerome Bible Com. has observed:

The ‘district of Moriah’ is unknown.[16]

(xvii)  Peter R. Ackroyd, Samuel Davidson Professor of OT Studies, University of London, King’s College, in his article ‘The OT in the Making’ has entered a footnote on his sentence ‘So we have sanctuary legends (…) and a high place at Jebus (Jerusalem, 2 Sam. 24) subsequently rightly or wrongly identified with the site of the Jerusalem temple (I Chrn. 21-22:1)’:

  The identification must remain uncertain, and indeed suspect, since the Chronicler also identifies the same site with Moriah (2 Chron. 3:1, cf. Gen. 22).[17]

(xviii)  The same writer further asserts:

What is clear, however, is that the Chronicler sees this narrative in I Chron. 21 as providing an appropriate introduction to his account of how David prepared for the building of the Temple by Solomon (I Chron. 22:2-19; 28-29:9. The intervening section, chs. 23-7, may well be a later insertion, but it too illuminates the ideas concerning David’s organising of the worship of the Temple). Whereas the 2 Sam. narrative makes no link with the building of the Solomonic Temple–and this strongly suggests that the narrative originally had to do with another sacred place–the Chronicler identifies the site precisely (22:1), explains why David could not go to Gibeon[18] where the Tabernacle was (21:29-30), and subsequently also identifies this site explicitly with the Mount Moriah of Gen. 22 (2 Chron. 3:1), an even more improbable identification.[19]

(xix) International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has also dilated upon the theme. It explains the site as follows:

This land is mentioned only here Gen 22:2, and there is little to guide us in trying to identify it. A late writer (2 Chronicles 3:1) applies the name of Moriah to the mount on which Solomon’s Temple was built, possibly associating it with the sacrifice of Isaac. A similar association with this mountain may have been in the mind of the writer of Genesis 22 (see 22:14), who, of course, wrote long after the events described (Driver). (…). The description could hardly apply to Jerusalem in any case, as it could not be seen “afar off” by  one approaching either from the South or the West. (…). With our  present knowledge we must be content to leave the question open. W. Ewing[20]

No doubt it is an uninteresting practice to quote so many authorities on a theme; but it was essential to show that it is not a rare or minority opinion. That’s why ample evidence has been afforded from almost every school of thought. It may also be noted that those who do not acknowledge the unidentified nature of the location of Moriah, locate it at various places and are dubiously confused. It would thus be appreciated that the objective study of most of the scholars of the Bible reveals that, according to the Bible, the location of Abraham’s offering his ‘only son’ for sacrifice cannot be identified with exactness and certainty.

Having failed to locate the place in the written annals of history pertaining to the Bible, one should try to trace it through some ground realities or some perpetual traditions, commemorations, celebrations, rituals, sites, buildings, etc. of the relevant nations on the theme.

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