Abraham on Trial for Child Abuse

Abraham, Isaac and the Angel

Well it is finally happening.

The biblical patriarch Abraham is being put on trial for child abuse and endangerment. OK, it is only a mock trial but the participants are as important as the story and alleged abuse by Abraham of his son. We all know the basic story.

Abraham is ordered by God to take his son Isaac to the top of Mount Moriah to be sacrificed. Isaac is led to believe that the sacrifice will be a sheep. Once at the top of the mountain, Abraham binds his son and sets him upon an altar to sacrifice.

Just before Abraham murder’s his son, God sends an angel to tell Abraham to stop. The boy is freed and Abraham returns to his lands as if nothing had happened.

The mock trial will be held on Sunday, November 16 at Temple Emanu-El in New York. The Defense will be led by author and attorney Alan Dershowitz. The prosecution will be headed by former New York governor Eliot Spitzer.

The trial will go by New York state statute which requires the child to be 17-years old or younger. But it was unknown how old Isaac was at the time of the alleged incident. U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, the presiding judge in this “case” said that the circumstances of the evidence is so ambiguous that Abraham may get off on a technicality.

Regardless of the outcome of this case, being tried by Jewish participants in a Jewish temple, the story alone shows how much violence and horror there is in the Old Testament. It seems that child abuse is condoned by the God of Abraham. The idea of human sacrifice is appalling by today’s standards.

Spitzer is quoted saying about the trail, “This is a fascinating challenge because it represents the interface between standard criminal law and religious doctrine and psychology, and those are never easy interfaces.”

But this is not about religious doctrine but about the law of man. It is stories like this that caused me to leave the Temple and seek understanding through logic, science and humanist morality. This “trial” is being conducted in New York based on New York law. If today a man brings his son to an altar with the threat of sacrificing him to his god, there would create uproar in the community.

Today the law is clear that the practice would constitute child endangerment and child abuse. The trauma the child would suffer would be immense. In a court of law today, a modern Abraham would be found guilty by a jury of his peers.

However, in this certainly bias court, I wonder if the law of man will hold reign over the book of myths.

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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