One of the more perplexing statements in Genesis is God saying Isaac is Abraham's only son:
1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He 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.” (Genesis 22 ESV)
Even though Ishmael had been sent away, he was still alive: Abraham had two sons at that time.
In Exposition of Genesis H. C. Leupold provides what he believes to be the best translation of the Hebrew. Here is his understanding of this passage:
And it came to pass after these things that God put Abraham to the test and said unto him: Abraham! and he said: Here am I! And he said: Take now thy son, thine only one, whom thou hast grown to love, even Isaac, and go for thyself to the land of Moriah, and offer him up there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains I shall indicate to thee.
Leopold (citing Koenig) takes אהבת to mean ...grown to love... and comments:
The successive terms descriptive of the son who is to be sacrificed are employed, not to make the sacrifice harder but to recall to Abraham's mind how much he has "grown to love" him. For 'aha‘bhta the perfect, is a perfectum resultativum, describing that the father has grown to love the son and now stands deep in that love (K.S. 127). The successive terms are 1) "thy son." 2) "thine only one," 3) "whom thou hast grown to love," 4) his name "Isaac" the epitome of the great joy that came with this son.
Leupold is silent on conflict with Ishmael, but if grown to love is accurate, then what God is saying is Isaac is the only son Abraham grew to love and there are just 3 terms identifying Isaac:
(1) your son (2) the only one you grew to love (3) Isaac
Is "grown to love" a reasonable understanding of אהבת in Genesis 22:2?
1. H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, The Wartburg Press, 1972, p. 618
2. Ibid., pp. 619-620