The world is new to us every morning – this is God’s gift; and every man should believe he is reborn each day.

–Baal Shem Tov

Genesis, Chapter 17

Abram’s Sacrifice

When Ishmael was born, Abram saw the Egyptian features and disgust and anger tortured his heart, thinking of the Pharaoh and their strange ways. This could not be the son he prayed for. He wailed and tore his clothing. Sarai took the child away, and returned him to Keturah to nurse and keep him save while Abram raged.

Abram went into the wilderness and cried: “I bow before you, Most High God! You have blessed me with lands, riches, a beautiful wife, many strong slaves and animals. What must I do to have an heir? I will do anything you ask of me!”

Abram chanted and prayed for days. He drank no water. He ate no food. After seven days, visions came to him, visions of blood and sacrifice.

The sky was black and stars were weeping. Plumes of red smoke crawled across the land, turning water into oil, making men and women strangle their own children, as they turned to worship Abram. Large phalluses of blood marched over the land, spewing ichor, waging wars until the sky was choked. Abram could no longer see the stars. He was no longer human, but his own penis, engorged, heading the armies, with a serpent coiling around sensually and whispering songs of beauty found in destruction and hate.

Abram awoke in a sweat. He wept in relief that it was only a vision. But what did it mean? He felt his penis, still engorged and noticed how the foreskin pulled back. Images from the vision haunted him, and he didn’t like how he felt. Delirious, he tried to make sense of it all.

He cried to the heavens: “I will give You a sacrifice worthy of You, My Lord! Let this be our covenant! I will be bonded to you by love and loyalty, with blood as proof. I will cut the skin off my penis so that you may bless me with fertility! I will cut my foreskin off, and that of every male in my household so that we may prospers, including the slave’s child, Ishmael, so that he can be worthy of You!”

There was no answer except a laugh, deep from Abram’s belly as he cut off his foreskin. He cried in pain into the night, he cried with tortured relief as the physical pain drown the emotional torment. Abram returned home the next morning, limping with blood dried all over his tunic and legs. He summoned all the men, and took Ishmael from his mother’s arms.

Abraham’s Covenant

Abram took the suckling Ishmael from his mother when he was only eight days old. Father and son joined the rest of the men out in the fields. None of the men knew what ritual was to be performed, and none were comforted by the wild look in Abram’s eyes.

He performed the same ritual on all the men of his household. Sons-in-law, grandchildren, masters, and slaves, all who were old enough to walk, and the baby Ishmael who was only eight days old, all had their foreskins cut off by Abram’s ritual knife. Few fled, choosing the wilderness over mutilation, most swallowed their fears, trusting Abram until it was too late to run.

Abram cried to the heavens: “The men of my tribe have all sacrificed for You! I know I am not worthy of Your sight, but gift me with an heir who is, so that my descendants may bask in your glory! Please, Lord of Heavens, Lord of Gods, Lord of Children, Creator of the Stars as well as the Earth, God Most High, Elyon, chief of Elohim, bless the fruit of my sacrifice so that I may have an heir worthy of you!”

Abram gave his house a new name. It was now the house of Abraham. His wife was now called Sarah. He marked their new identity and new covenant, born again into a new life.

Sarah was stunned with fear and blame, for she told herself that her lie about the vision sent her husband into a madness.

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