Collection S. Zaccaria, Venice, Italy / Cameraphoto / Art Resource, NY

“Abraham, Abraham!” the angel yells as he stays Abraham’s hand from slaying his son. In this painting by Antonio Vassilacchi (1556–1629; also known as Aliense), the ram that will be sacrificed in Isaac’s place lies at Abraham’s foot.

In Exodus 13, God commands Israel: “Consecrate to me all firstborn males. The first offspring of every womb—whether human or animal—belongs to me.” Moses later explains that the firstborn sons may be redeemed by sacrificing an animal in their place.

Thus, Abraham’s experience in Genesis 22, when he is commanded to sacrifice his son and then granted a reprieve, replicates Israel’s own.