We are told that the angel of God called from heaven instructing Abraham not to kill his son Isaac

KJV Genesis 22 : 11-11

And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me.

It is said immediately after this Abraham looked behind and saw a ram caught in the thicket

KJV Genesis 22 : 13

And 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.

Did the angel instruct Abraham to look behind?

  • We are not told! We do not know because nothing is recorded!
    – Dottard
    Dec 11, 2021 at 21:15

3 Answers 3


The salutary and pivotal story of Gen 22 (much quoted and studied by all the "Abrahamic" religions) is tantalizingly short on detail. However, here are a few snippets that we can glean from this exemplified story

  • The "Angel of the LORD" is is the LORD Himself as confirmed by V12 use of "Me" and "Myself" in V16, "I" in V17 and "My" in V18. (See also the material in the appendix below).
  • It is almost certain that only the important details have been recorded for us in the story of Gen 22. For example, we are not told if the ram caught in the thicket was there all along or became caught during the the time Abraham was busy at the altar
  • We are also not told what made Abraham "look up" (V13) - was it any of:
  • (a) a direct suggestion of God/Angel of the LORD?
  • (b) an impression on Abraham's mind by God?
  • (c) a sound or movement made by the ram that attracted Abraham's attention?

We are not told, presumably because it does not matter. The most important feature of this story is the substitutionary and vicarious sacrifice and death of the ram instead of Isaac!

Thus, the ram became an anticipatory type of Christ as confirmed by John the Baptist 1500 years later:

John 1:29 - Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Benson captures this well when he says:

Genesis 22:13. Behold a ram — Though that blessed Seed was now typified by Isaac, yet the offering of him up was suspended till the latter end of the world, and in the mean time the sacrifice of beasts was accepted, as a pledge of that expiation which should be made by that great Sacrifice. And it is observable, that the temple, the place of sacrifice, was afterward built upon this mount Moriah, 2 Chronicles 3:1; and mount Calvary, where Christ was crucified, was not far off.

APPENDIX - Angel of the LORD

The following passages make it clear that the “Angel of the LORD” is quite often, the LORD (Jehovah) Himself, probably Jesus in particular. Gen 16:7-13, 22:11-17, 32:24-30, 48:16, Ex 3:2-6, 32:34, Num 22:22-35, Josh 5:13-15, Judg 2:1-4, 6:11-23, 13:3-23, Isa 63:9, Dan 3:25, 28, Hos 12:4, 5, Zech 3:1-7, Mal 3:1, Rev 8:3-5, 10:1-10, 18:1, 20:1-4.

A closely related phrase, “Angel of God” who is clearly God as in Gen 6:13, 8:15, 9:8, 17, 15:13, 17:3, 4, 21:12, 16-21, 35:1, 10, Ex 4:3-8, 6:2, 23:20, 21, Deut 1:6, 1 Kings 12:22, etc. See also Acts 10:3, 4, Gal 4:14.

In Isa 63:9, “the Angel of His [LORD’s] presence saved them”, and is almost certainly a reference to the same being. The same is true of Ex 23:20, 21, Josh 5:13-15.


According to the context it does not say whether or not the angel of the Lord told Abraham to look behind him. What we do know is that Abraham was "God-fearing" and God knew the sacrifice was already accomplished in Abraham's heart.

At vs13 I believe it's a pretty good bet that Abraham heard the sound/rustling of the Ram with his horns in the thicket that prompted him to turn around.

I have a couple of questions for you? Why did you ask the question, "Did the angel instruct Abraham to look behind?" Secondly, who do think is the angel of the Lord?


The angel did not tell (in the text) Abraham to look behind or up. However, in the chiastic structure of Genesis 22, this looking in verse 13 "And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold" mirrors Abraham's previous looking in verse 4 "On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw." Abraham tends to look around for further direction from God, instinctively.

v.4 Abraham saw "the place" (of designated sacrifice)

  1. idiom: "Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw"

  2. object: "the place"

  3. direction: "from afar."

v. 13 Abraham saw "a ram"

  1. idiom: "Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked" - "and behold!"
  2. object: "a ram"
  3. direction: "behind"

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