central focus of this window is Abraham's debate with God after the patriarch
has been informed of the impending devastation of Sodom and Gomorrah. Because
these two ancient cities are guilty of the evils of idolatry, injustice,
cruelty and sexual exploitation, they are destined for extinction. But
Abraham challenges the Lord of the Universe: "Will You indeed destroy the
righteous with the wicked?" [Genesis 18:23] The Hebrew quotation is the
essential point of Abraham's duel of logical morality with God: "Shall
not the Judge of all the earth do justly?" [Genesis 18:25]
But Abraham himself cannot escape the necessity of logic: he is challenged in turn by the demand that he prepare to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac as proof of his trust in God. [Genesis 22] Abraham holds the murderous dagger in his hand: a reminder of the age when human sacrifice was regarded as a meaningful response to the universe, and an accusation against every leader who has ever sent his people's sons off to war: these victims are the broken bodies at the base of the window. The pistol aimed at the large head is a symbol of the destructiveness of all wars, and perhaps a reminiscence of Cain's fratricidal murder of Abel.
Abraham carries his old wife Sarah on his back; her legs are seen on his right shoulder. Isaac issues out of his loins. Isaac's hand holds the Shofar, the liturgical ram's horn which signifies the advance from human to animal sacrifice (the ram which was offered up in Isaac's stead). The Shofar also typifies the progress from animal sacrifice to the ritual of the synagogue which requires no bloodshed, but derives its drama from symbols.
Abraham grows out of the tree which rises from base to apex: this is the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which is featured in the Biblical legend of the Garden of Eden. The serpent encircling the tree (from the Genesis story) is but one of the many excuses which man invents to exculpate himself, attempting to place the blame for evil outside himself. But God challenges man to control his destructiveness. God is represented by the huge pointing hand surrounded by the colors of the rainbow, commemorating the promise to Noah that the human race would never be exterminated. David (playing his harp) chants the Psalms and voices his confidence that God not only judges, but cares for man:
beneficence is like the high mountains; Your justice like the great deep
. . . How precious is Your faithful care, O God! Mankind shelters in the
shadow of Your wings." [Psalm 36:7-8]