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Abraham Entertaining the Angels by Rembrandt van Rijn Abraham Entertaining the Angels by Rembrandt van Rijn  

Abraham's Sacrifice by Rembrandt van Rijn
Rembrandt van Rijn, Abraham's Sacrifice, 1655, etching and drypoint, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Rosenwald Collection 1943.3.7161



Here Rembrandt portrays the moment in the story when Abraham has raised the knife to sacrifice Isaac. An angel suddenly appears, calling, "Abraham! Abraham! Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God."

In Rembrandt's work, the angel does not call to Abraham but swoops down in a stream of light and embraces him, seizing his arms to prevent him from killing his son. Many interpretations emphasize Isaac's terror. But Rembrandt focuses on Abraham, whose hand covers Isaac's eyes protectively, a tender gesture toward the son he has prepared to sacrifice. Abraham's eyes, pools of black, suggest blindness—his unwavering, blind faith in God.

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