Clearly linked in terms of size and subject the present work can be seen as forming a pair with Rembrandt's etching entitled Abraham and Isaac (B. 34). The parable concerns the test of faith set by God for Abraham in which he was commanded to make a burnt offering of his son, Isaac. At the point where Abraham drew his knife an angel appeared saying 'Now I know you are a God-fearing man. You have not withheld me from your son.' A ram, which had got caught in a thicket nearby, was sacrificed in Isaac's place.
Rembrandt has followed the written source very closely. According to Genesis 'Abraham said unto his young men: abide ye here with the ass and I and the lad will go yonder and worship.' The two young men, and the ass upon which Abraham made the journey, can be seen at the right waiting a little below the hill where the action takes place. The ram can just be made out at the left.