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1After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Here I am.2He 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.3So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.4On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.5Then Abraham said to his young men, Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together.7And Isaac said to his father Abraham, My father! And he said, Here I am, my son. He said, Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?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 I am.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.15And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven16and said, By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,17I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies,18and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.19So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.20Now after these things it was told to Abraham, Behold, Milcah also has borne children to your brother Nahor:21Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram,22Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.23(Bethuel fathered Rebekah.) These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham's brother.24Moreover, his concubine, whose name was Reumah, bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
1And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.2And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.3And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.4Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.5And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.7And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.9And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.11And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.12And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.13And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.14And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.15And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,16And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:17That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.19So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.20And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;21Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,22And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.23And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother.24And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.
"The Parable of the Old Man and the Young" is a poem by Wilfred Owen that compares the ascent of Abraham to Mount Moriah and his near-sacrifice of Isaac there with the start of World War I. It had first been published by Siegfried Sassoon in 1920 with the title "The Parable of the Old Man and the Young", without the last line: "And half the seed of Europe, one by one". The poem is an allusion to a story in the Bible, Genesis 22:1-18.
In the poem, the biblical patriarch Abraham (significantly called by his former name, Abram, in the poem) takes Isaac—his only begotten son by his wife Sarah—with him to make a sacrificial offering to God. The offering, though Isaac does not know this, is to be Isaac himself. "Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps", which suggests imagery relating to a young soldier being sent, possibly against his will, in a uniform to fight. When he makes to sacrifice his son, an angel calls from heaven, and tells Abram not to harm Isaac. Instead, he must offer the "Ram of Pride". Then follow the last two lines of the poem diverges from the Biblical account, set apart for greater effect: "But the old man would not so, but slew his son, / and half the seed of Europe, one by one."
"The Parable of the Old Man and the Young" is written loosely in iambic pentameter. It does not use traditional rhyme; instead, the lines are bound together by assonance, consonance, and alliteration.
As the title mentions, the poem is a parable. It is generally accepted that the old man, Abram, represents the European nations or more probably their governments. Another less common opinion is that he represents Germany or Kaiser Wilhelm II, whom some would claim started the war. However, Owen does not blame any individual nation or person in any of his other poems, so there is no reason to believe that he does so in this one. Rather, he condemns all those in power who took their countries to war.
According to the poem, the rulers of Europe believed that sacrificing their nations' (Ram of) Pride was too high a price, yet the irony is that the real cost of this Pride was millions of dead—the seed of Europe.
The last two lines are the only ones that rhyme, and the image they paint is chilling: an old man methodically killing the seed of Europe. It is mainly the power of this image, set out in the poem and culminating in the last two lines, that makes it haunting.
The poem is among those set in the War Requiem of Benjamin Britten.