Like the Qur’an, the Bible tells us that God tested Abraham (peace be upon him) with the sacrifice of his son. Unlike the Qur’an, the Bible makes the claim that it was Isaac (peace be upon him) to be sacrificed and not Ishmael (peace be upon him):

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” [Genesis 22:2]
Not only does the Bible contradict the Qur’an, but it also contradicts itself which is the case for almost every fundamental belief in Christianity as I have shown in my other posts. Let's see how Bible contradicts itself in this particular case.

Notice the words “your only son”.
Why does Genesis specifically refer to Ishmael as Abraham’s progeny in one place and then refer to Isaac as his “only son” in another place?
The sacrificial son cannot have been Isaac, for the simple fact that Isaac was Ishmael’s younger brother and was therefore never Abraham’s only son.
Such a description can only apply to Ishmael who was around 13 years older than Isaac.
The claim that it must have originally referred to Ishmael is reinforced when we examine the Hebrew of the text. The Hebrew word ‘yachid’, translated as “only son” in the verse above, actually means “only begotten”, according to the Gesenius Hebrew lexicon.
Clearly, Isaac was at no point Abraham’s “only begotten” son; Ishmael is the only one who fits such a description. This understanding of the text is supported by the New Testament, where Paul quotes the verse from Genesis:
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son. [Hebrews 11:17]
The Greek word that Paul uses, ‘monogenes’, carries the meaning of “only begotten”, according to Strong’s dictionary.

As discussed above that is not possible because Isaac was never the only begotten son of Abraham (peace be upon him).

How Christians Defend this?
1. There are some who make the claim that Ishmael was not a legitimate son of Abraham, an accusation that is demonstrably false from a number of different angles:
The Bible itself bears witness to the fact that Ishmael was Abraham’s son:
On that very day Abraham took his son Ishmael and all those born in his household or bought with his money, every male in his household, and circumcised them, as God told him. [Genesis 17:23]
2. Some claim that Ishmael is a “lesser” son than Isaac because his mother, Hagar, was a slave woman. This is not the case according to the Bible:

So after Abram [Abraham] had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. [Genesis 16:3]
So, the Bible confirms that Hagar was Abraham’s legitimate wife. Were Ishmael an illegitimate child, as some Christians and Jews allege, then that would imply that Abraham had an illegitimate relationship with Hagar, a serious accusation indeed!

From all the evidence, we can see that Abraham (peace be upon him) undoubtedly had a legitimate relationship with Hagar, and so Ishmael (peace be upon him) was a legitimate son. Moreover, the Bible tells us that Ishmael remained the legitimate son of Abraham until even after Abraham’s death:
Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite. [Genesis 25:8-9]
Clearly, Ishmael (peace be upon him) is every bit the legitimate son of Abraham (peace be upon him), just as Isaac (peace be upon him) is.

Now, there is a variant in the manuscript tradition of the Old Testament that makes it even more explicit that Ishmael (peace be upon him) was to be sacrificed, not Isaac (peace be upon him).

One of the great Muslim exegetes of the Qur’an, Ibn Kathir (born c. 1300 CE), argued that the Old Testament was corrupted by changing the sacrificial son from Ishmael to Isaac. In his book Tafsir Ibn Kathir, he states the following when explaining the meaning of chapter 37 of the Qur’an:
"My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous.” So We gave him good tidings of a forbearing boy. [Quran 37:100-101]
(So We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing boy.) This child was Ishmael, peace be upon him, for he was the first child of whom glad tidings were given to Ibrahim [Abraham], peace be upon him, and he was older than Ishaq [Isaac]. The Muslims and the People of the Book agree, and indeed it is stated in their Book, that Ishmael, peace be upon him, was born when Ibrahim, peace be upon him, was eighty-six years old, and Isaac was born when Ibrahim was ninety-nine years old. According to their Book, Allah commanded Ibrahim to sacrifice his only son, and in another text it says his firstborn son. But here they falsely inserted the name of Isaac. This is not right because it goes against what their own Scripture says. They inserted the name of Isaac because he is their ancestor, while Ishmael is the ancestor of the Arabs. They were jealous of them, so they added this idea and changed the meaning of the phrase “only son” to mean `the only son who is with you,’ because Ishmael had been taken with his mother to Mecca. But this is a case of falsifica-tion and distortion, because the words “only son” cannot be said except in the case of one who has no other son. Furthermore, the firstborn son has a special status that is not shared by subsequent children, so the command to sacrifice him is a more exquisite test.)
This suggests that perhaps Ibn Kathir was aware of a variant “firstborn son” in the Old Testament tradition that was possibly in circulation during his time in the fourteenth century. Such a reading makes it even more explicit that it was Ishmael that was to be sacrificed, as he was 13 years older than Isaac and thus Abraham’s firstborn.

The Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of texts discovered between 1946 and 1956 inside caves near the Dead Sea, support Ibn Kathir’s claims about the Old Testament. These texts are of great religious significance because they include the earliest known surviving manuscripts of the Old Testament. The scrolls date from approximately 150 BCE – 70 CE. One of the books found in the Dead Sea Scrolls was the Book of Jubilees which is another version of Genesis. This book mentions the words “firstborn son” in relation to the one to be sacrificed by Abraham (peace be upon him).
And I said unto him: ‘Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything to him; for now I have shown that thou fearest the Lord, and hast not withheld thy son, thy first-born son, from me.’ [18:11]
Therefore, the claim by Ibn Kathir is remarkable, when we consider that he was writing in the fourteenth century, nearly 7 centuries before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. For him to be aware of such a variant must mean that the Book of Jubilees was being widely circulated and considered a valid book of the Old Testament. In fact, even today there are Christians who consider the Book of Jubilees to be canonical; the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, for example, includes it in their Bible, as do Ethiopian Jews who refer to the book as “The Book of Division”.

In summary, evidence suggests that the Old Testament scribes altered the story in Genesis by swapping the name “Ishmael” for “Isaac” in order to make Isaac the son of sacrifice.

Why would they do such a thing?
We find an answer in the recorded sayings of the Prophet Muhammad's PBUH companions. In the following narration, we are given an answer to this question by a Jewish scholar who converted to Islam and was alive at the time of the Prophet Muhammad:
Then he [Umar, the commander of the Muslims] sent for a man who was with him in Syria, a Jew who had become a Muslim and was committed to Islam, and he thought that he had been one of their scholars.
Umar said to him, “Which of the two sons of Abraham was he commanded to sacrifice?”
He [the convert Jewish scholar] said, “Ishmael. By God, O Commander of the faithful, the Jews know this, but they were jealous of you Arabs because it was your father about whom God issued this command and the virtue that God mentioned was because of his patience in obeying the command. So they denied that and claimed that it was Isaac, because he is their father.” [Tafsir Ibn Al Kathir, verse 37:105]
The coming of final prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been prophesized in Bible and it is also prophesized that he (peace be upon him) will be descendant of Ishmael (peace be upon him). Even when Bible is corrupted, there are still signs in Bible which points to the coming of prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I will discuss these signs and prophecies in my next few posts, Insha'Allah.

Ma'a Salama