Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2014 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming


  • Lynn SomersteinEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6086-2_17

The Bible story called the “Akedah,” in Hebrew, tells of the ending of ritual child sacrifice. It is frequently translated as the “Sacrifice of Isaac,” but the correct translation is the “Binding of Isaac.” Although the word “Akedah,” in Hebrew, denotes the bound limbs of an animal prepared for ritual sacrifice, Isaac is not sacrificed.

The events of the Akedah are well known. God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Isaac and Abraham climbed Mount Moriah together and approached the killing place. Abraham carried the knife, really a cleaver used for butchering animals, and the sacrificial fire. Isaac carried the wood to be used later to burn his body in an offering to God. Although Isaac asked Abraham where the sacrificial animal was, he knew that he was doomed; he did not resist when his father bound his hands with ropes, placed him on the funeral pyre, and reached out to slit his throat. Isaac’s feet were not bound – he could have run away.

Isaac submitted to his father’s...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Arieti, S. (1981). Abraham and the contemporary mind. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  2. Benjamin, J. (2002). Terror and guilt. Psychoanalytic dialogues, 12(3), 473–484.Google Scholar
  3. Bergman, M. S. (1992). In the shadow of Moloch: The sacrifice of children and its impact on Western religions. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Freud, S. (1919). A child is being beaten. In J. Strachey (Ed. and Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (24 Vols., pp. 1953–1974). London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
  5. Klein, M., & Riviere, J. (1964). Love, hate and reparation. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
  6. Miller, A. (1981). Prisoners of childhood. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  7. Rashi. (1970). Commentaries on the Pentateuch: The B’nai B’rith Commission on Jewish Education. Tr. Chaim Pearl., 39–52.Google Scholar
  8. Shengold, L. (1989). Soul murder. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Wiesel, E. (1976). Messengers of God: Biblical portraits and legends. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  10. Winnicott, W. D. (1965). Maturational processes and the facilitating environment. New York: IUP.Google Scholar
  11. Winnicott, W. D. (1989). Playing and reality. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Expressive AnalysisNew YorkUSA