take the knife to kill

The Hebrew that is translated as “took the knife to kill” in English is translated in Chol with a technical term for slaughtering (slitting the throat) an animal in sacrifice.


The name that is transliterated as “Abraham” in English is translated in Spanish Sign Language, French Sign Language, British Sign Language, and in American Sign Language with the sign signifying “hold back arm” (referring to Genesis 22:12). (Source: John Elwode in The Bible Translator 2008, p. 78ff., Lexique Explications en langue des signes, Christian BSL, and Yates 2011, p. 1)

“Abraham” in American Sign Language (source )

Click or tap here to see two short video clips about Abraham (source: Bible Lands 2012)

See also our ancestor Abraham and Abram.

complete verse (Genesis 22:10)

Following are a number of back-translations as well as a sample translation for translators of Genesis 22:10:

  • Kankanaey: “After that he raised his bolo so that he would kill (unfulfilled expectation) his child.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Newari: “He took out his knife to slaughter his son.” (Source: Newari Back Translation)
  • Hiligaynon: “Afterwards he got the long-knife. And when he would-have killed Isaac,” (Source: Hiligaynon Back Translation)
  • English: “Then Abraham took the knife and reached out to kill his son.” (Source: Translation for Translators)

Translation commentary on Genesis 22:10

Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife is a way of saying “Then Abraham reached out and took the knife” or “… picked up the knife.” The fact that Abraham is on the point of acting is brought out by some translations that say “Abraham took hold of the knife” or “Abraham held up the knife.” The verb that is used may sometimes have to be related to the way a knife is normally carried; in one language this is “Abraham pulled out his knife.”

To slay his son: the word translated slay is the term used for killing in a general sense. When used in the context of sacrifice, the word used in translation should be appropriate for killing an animal to sacrifice it. In some languages this will be rendered by an expression meaning “to cut the throat.” The fact that Abraham is on the point of acting is also brought out in some languages by the way this verb is translated; for example, “Abraham took the knife and was about to kill his son.”

Some translations make verse 10 the dependent clause and verse 11 the main clause. For example, Biblia Dios Habla Hoy says “but in the moment he took the knife … the angel of the Lord called out….”

Quoted with permission from Reyburn, William D. and Fry, Euan McG. A Handbook on Genesis. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 1997. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .