You who build these altars now- Leonard Cohen, 'The Story of Isaac
To sacrifice these children,
You must not do it anymore.
A scheme is not a vision
And you never have been tempted
By a demon or a god.
You who stand above them now,
Your hatchets blunt and bloody,
You were not there before,
When I lay upon a mountain
And my father's hand was trembling
With the beauty of the word.
It should be simple to call it barbarous, but yet, doesn't it speak to something fundamental in the psyche of 'religions of The Book' and their cultures? I could have a discussion about this story with someone educated Jewish, Muslim or Christian (I was educated Catholic), but not anyone else. I once had a discussion with a Japanese lover about it (probably because the song was playing?) but she was horrified past any rational discussion... which is probably the correct reaction, really. If nothing else the story stands as the metaphor for the Old Testament, and precursor to The Crucifixion*. It still puzzles me.
*I am an atheist, but I still capitalize.