Last night, it occurred to me that the child Isaac’s story could also be interpreted as an initiation ritual. Initiation rituals among tribal societies often include a passage where initiates go through a death simulation in order to be reborn into their new adult status. This marks the end of childhood and, in the case of boys, often the end of their time of living with their mother. She has taught her boy child how to be “of the people” by understanding the basic mores, beliefs and taboos of the tribe. It is now the turn of a father or uncle to guide the boy and teach him what manhood entails. In such societies, men and women often have their own secret ceremonies of initiation for bringing children into adulthood. The timing is also a secret, ensuring the child will be caught unawares by his/her rite of passage. The surprise adds the altered state of consciousness necessary for the success of the ritual. These practices are dangerous and sometimes result in the real death of a child.
Such rites seem to be inherent in human culture.
Groups within our own society practice initiation rites.
Social organizations, such as fraternities, sororities and clubs of various ilks; street gangs; churches and religious societies are some examples.