From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

(See Abraham ; ISHMAEL.) "laughter," because Abraham laughed in joy at the promise of his birth, type of the annunciation of Messiah's birth ( Genesis 17:17); and Sarah too, with some degree of incredulity because of the improbability at her age ( Genesis 18:12), but at his birth with thankful joy toward God, saying "God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me" ( Genesis 21:6-7; compare  Isaiah 54:1). His miraculous conception and naming before birth typify Messiah (Luke 1; Matthew 1). Born at Gerar when Abraham was 100 years old. "Mocked" by Ishmael (who was "born after the flesh") at the weaning feast; the mocking, as Paul implies, containing the germ and spirit of persecution, profanely sneering at the object of the promise. The child of the bond-woman must therefore give place to the child of the freewoman born "by promise."

While the believing parents "laughed," Ishmael "mocked." With the laugh of derision and spite. Isaac is type of the believing "children of the promise," "born after the Spirit," therefore, "children of the free" church, "heirs according to the promise," persecuted by the children of legal and carnal bondage, but ultimately about to "inherit all things" to the exclusion of the carnal ( Galatians 4:22-31;  Galatians 5:1;  Galatians 3:29;  Revelation 21:7-8). Isaac's submission (at 25 years of age: Josephus, Ant. 1:13, section 2) to his father's will when binding him, and his bearing the wood for his own intended sacrifice, make him a lively type of Him who bore His own cross to Calvary ( John 19:17), and whose language was, "Lo I come to do Thy will O God" ( Psalms 40:7-8;  Hebrews 10:7). His living still after the three days ( Genesis 22:4) in which he was dead in Abraham's purpose prefigures the Messiah's resurrection on the third day.

The scene of the sacrifice, Mount Moriah, was probably that of Christ's suffering. What Isaac's sacrifice wanted to perfect the type was actual death and vicarious substitution; the offering of the ram's life instead of the human life, hereby saved, supplied the defect; the ram and Isaac jointly complete the type. Isaac typifies Christ's Godhead, the ram typifies His manhood (Theodoret) "caught in a thicket by his horns" as Jesus was crowned with thorns. Isaac was of too excellent a nature to be slain, for God's law gives no sanction to human sacrifices. The Father, in love to us, prepared a human body ( Hebrews 10:5) for His Son, which can suffer death, the penalty which divine righteousness required for our sin; Christ's Godhead could not suffer. The manhood and Godhead formed one Christ, at once the Son of man and the Son of God, as Isaac and the ram formed one joint type.

Thus Abraham had the wonderful honour of representing the Father, and Isaac, the only son of the promise, was the most remarkable of all the types of the Son Messiah. Abraham herein had the glimpse which he had desired of Messiah's day "and was glad" (Isaac meaning "laughter flowing from gladness") ( John 8:56); not that he fully comprehended the anti-typical meaning. So  Hebrews 11:19, "from whence (from the jaws of death, compare  2 Corinthians 1:9-10) he received him back in a parable," i.e. in the way of a typical representation of Christ's death and resurrection. So the slain goat and the scape-goat jointly on the day of atonement represented Christ's death and. resurrection.

By this work "Abraham's faith was made perfect" ( James 2:21-23), not was vivified, but attained its crowning development. His "faith" alone was "counted for righteousness" long before, and he was justified before God ( Genesis 15:6). By this work he was also "justified" evidentially before men. Philo Byblius preserves from Sanchouiatho the Phoenician tradition, "Cronus, whom the Phoenicians call Israel, being king, having an only son by a nymph, Anobret, called Jahoud (Hebrew: Yahid), even now the Phoenician name for only begotten, when perils from wars were impending, having clothed his son in royal apparel, offered him upon an altar which he built" (Eusebius, Praep. Evang., 1:10). This corruption of the Scripture history of Isaac's sacrifice was based on the pagan idea of the most precious human sacrifice being needed to appease the gods in times of calamity.

So the king of Moab sacrificed his son to Chemosh when sore pressed by Israel, Judah, and Edom ( 2 Kings 3:27). The idea though wrong in its application, rested on a primeval tradition of God's justice having appointed the sacrifice of precious life as the atonement for sin. Abraham's trustful loving obedience to the true God, at the cost of the greatest self-sacrifice, was by the test shown to be at least equal to that of idolaters to their false gods. The angel's intervention, the ram's substitution, and the prohibition of the human sacrifice prevent the possibility of supposing God sanctions any human sacrifice save that of the Antitype. Not in blind credulity, for Abraham had now long experience that God can order nothing wrong or harsh to His people, but in faith "accounting that God was able to raise His son even from the dead," he obeyed. At 40 Isaac married his cousin, Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, by whom at 60 he had twin sons, Esau and Jacob.

His contemplative character appears in his "going out to meditate" or pray "in the field at the eventide." The death of his mother Sarah just before (Genesis 23) naturally pressed upon his spirit, and his resource in affliction was prayerful meditation, a type of Him who "went out into a mountain apart to pray" ( Matthew 14:23), his calm and submissive temper also prefiguring the meek and lowly Lamb of God  Isaiah 53:7). Solitude and prayer suit best the wounded spirit. That Sarah's death was uppermost in his meditation is implied most artlessly in what follows: Isaac "brought Rebekah into his mother Sarah's tent, and he loved her, and was comforted after his mother's death." Rebekah supplied the void in his heart and home. Weakness and partiality for Esau, probably owing to the contrast which Esau's bold spirit presented to his own gentle unadventurous character, were his failings; his partaking of his favorite dish, venison, the produce of his son's hunting, confirmed his selfish partiality. The mother loved the steady, quiet Jacob.

The gift from God of the twin sons was the answer to Isaac's prayer, after 20 years of childless marriage; for God in giving the greatest blessings delays fulfilling His promise in order to call forth His people's persevering, waiting, prayerful faith ( Genesis 25:21). When Isaac was 137, the age at which Ishmael died 14 years before, the thought of his brother's death at that age suggested thoughts of his own, and the desire to bless his favorite before dying. As he lived 43 years afterward, to see Jacob return from Mesopotamia, he probably was now dangerously sick; hence, loathing ordinary food, he longed to have "savoury meat such as he loved." Esau invited him to: "arise and sit" to eat of his venison; implying that he was laid in his bed. Moreover "he trembled exceedingly" when Esau came in. Esau's words imply his thinking Isaac near death, "the days of mourning for my father are at hand." Isaac's unexpected prolongation of life probably deterred Esau from his murderous purpose against Jacob for having stolen his blessing.

He reverenced his father amidst all his wildness, and finally joined with Jacob in paying the last mark of respect at his father's grave, even as Isaac and Ishmael had met at Abraham's Burial. Isaac's carnal partiality and Rebekah's tortuous policy eventuated in their being left in their old age by both children, Esau disappointed and disinherited, Jacob banished to a long and distant servitude; the idols of God's children becoming their scourges, in order to bring them back to Himself ( 1 Corinthians 11:32;  Jeremiah 2:19). His equivocation as to his wife, as if she were his sister, through fear of Abimelech's people at Gerar, was another blemish in Isaac (Genesis 26) So Abram had erred in Egypt and in this same Philistine kingdom (Genesis 20) under a king also bearing the common title (See Abimelech , i.e. my father a king. Isaac had obeyed God's vision in not going down to Egypt, a place of spiritual danger though abundant in food, but sojourning in Gerar during the famine. Lack of godly and manly firmness betrayed him into the untruth.

His wife was not taken into Abimelech's house, as Sarah had been. Abimelech discovering the real state of the case reproved him, and warned his people not to touch him or Rebekah. His meek, peaceable, and non-self-assertive character appears in his successively yielding to the grasping herdsmen of Gerar the wells Esek ("strife") and Sitnah ("hatred".) So, the Lord who had given him a hundredfold increase in his harvests made room for him at last; and he retained the well Rehoboth ("room") without further contention, and made a covenant with Abimelech; compare  Romans 12:18-21;  Matthew 5:5;  Matthew 5:25;  Proverbs 16:7. Isaac lived to see Jacob whom he had sent with his blessing (for faith at last prevailed over his partiality, and he gave Jacob the blessing of Abraham,  Genesis 28:1;  Genesis 28:4) to seek a wife in Padan-aram return with a large family to him at Hebron ( Genesis 35:27),

Before he died at 180; the longest lived of the three patriarchs, the least migratory, the least prolific, and the least favored with revelations. He was buried in the cave of Machpelah. His blessing Jacob and Esau "even (Greek) concerning things to come," as if they were actually present, and not merely concerning things present, is quoted ( Hebrews 11:20) as evidencing his faith; as similar dying charges evidenced Jacob's and Joseph's faith. A faithful husband of one wife (compare  Ephesians 5:23, etc.), unlike Abraham and Jacob, of tender affections, he was a man of suffering rather than action; having the divine favor so markedly that Abimelech and his officers said, "we saw certainly that the Lord was with thee" ( Genesis 26:28).

As Abraham foreshadows the unsettled early history of the nation, and Jacob their commercial unwarlike later course, so Isaac their intermediate days of peace and separation from the nations in their fertile land of promise. As Abraham is associated with morning prayer, and Jacob associated with night prayer, so Isaac with evening prayer ( Genesis 19:27;  Genesis 28:11;  Genesis 28:32;  Genesis 24:63). God is still "the God of Isaac," who is one of the triad with whom the children of the kingdom shall sit down at the resurrection of the just ( Luke 20:37-38, etc.;  Matthew 8:11, etc.).

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

Isaac . Son of Abraham and Sarah. The meaning of the name is ‘he laugheth,’ and several reasons for bestowing it are suggested (  Genesis 17:17;   Genesis 18:12;   Genesis 21:6 ). The narrative as it occurs in Scripture was derived from three principal sources. J [Note: Jahwist.] supplied   Genesis 18:9-15;   Genesis 21:1-7;   Genesis 21:24;   Genesis 25:5;   Genesis 25:11;   Genesis 25:26 and the bulk of   Genesis 25:27; to E [Note: Elohist.] may be attributed   Genesis 22:1-14 with   Genesis 27:11 f.,   Genesis 27:17 f.,   Genesis 27:20-22; while P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] was responsible for   Genesis 25:19 f.,   Genesis 25:26 ,   Genesis 27:46 to   Genesis 28:9 ,   Genesis 35:27-29 . Apparent discrepancies in the story, such as that Isaac, on his deathbed (  Genesis 27:1;   Genesis 27:41 ), blessed Jacob, and yet did not die until many years afterwards (  Genesis 35:27 ), are evidently due to original differences of tradition, which later editors were not careful to remove. Viewed as coming from independent witnesses, they present no serious difficulty, and do not destroy the verisimilitude of the story. In outline the narrative describes Isaac as circumcised when eight days old (  Genesis 21:4 ), and as spending his early youth with his father at Beersheba. Thence he was taken to ‘the land of Moriah,’ to be offered up as a burnt-offering at the bidding of God; and if Abraham’s unquestioning faith is the primary lesson taught (  Genesis 22:12 ,   Genesis 26:5 ,   Hebrews 11:17 ff.), Isaac’s child-like confidence in his father is yet conspicuous, with the associated sense of security. His mother died when he was thirty-six years of age; and Abraham sent a servant to fetch a wife for Isaac from amongst his kindred in Mesopotamia, according to   Genesis 24:1-67 , where the religious spirit is as noticeable as the idyllic tone. For many years the couple were childless; but at length Isaac’s prayers were heard, and Rebekah gave birth to the twins, Esau and Jacob. Famine and drought made it necessary for Isaac to shift his encampment to Gerar (  Genesis 26:1 ), where a story similar to that of Abraham’s repudiation of Sarah is told of him (ch. 20; cf.   Genesis 12:10-20 ). The tradition was evidently a popular one, and may have found currency in several versions, though there is no actual impossibility in the imitation by the son of the father’s device. Isaac’s prosperity aroused the envy of the Philistine herdsmen (  Genesis 26:20 f.) amongst whom he dwelt, and eventually he withdrew again to Beersheba (  Genesis 26:23 ). He appears next as a decrepit and dying man (  Genesis 27:1;   Genesis 27:41 ), whose blessing, intended for Esau (  Genesis 25:28 ,   Genesis 27:4 ), was diverted by Rebekah upon Jacob. When the old man discovered the mistake, he was agitated at the deception practised upon him, but was unable to do more than predict for Esau a wild and independent career. To protect Jacob from his brother’s resentment Isaac sent him away to obtain a wife from his mother’s kindred in Paddan-aram (  Genesis 28:2 ), and repeated the benediction. The next record belongs to a period twenty-one years later, unless the paragraph (  Genesis 35:27-29 ) relates to a visit Jacob made to his home in the interval. It states that Isaac died at Hebron at the age of 180. He was buried by his sons in the cave of Machpelah (  Genesis 49:31 ).

Isaac is a less striking personality than his father. Deficient in the heroic qualities, he suffered in disposition from an excess of mildness and the love of quiet. His passion for ‘savoury meat’ ( Genesis 25:28 ,   Genesis 27:4 ) was probably a tribal failing. He was rather shifty and timid in his relations with Abimelech (  Genesis 26:1-22 ), too easily imposed upon, and not a good ruler of his household, a gracious and kindly but not a strong man. In   Genesis 26:5 he is subordinated to Abraham, and blessed for his sake; but the two are more frequently classed together (  Exodus 2:24;   Exodus 3:6 ,   Matthew 8:11;   Matthew 22:32 ,   Acts 3:13 el al .), and in   Amos 7:9;   Amos 7:16 ‘Isaac’ is used as a synonym for Israel. If therefore the glory of Isaac was partly derived from the memory of his greater father, the impression made upon posterity by his almost Instinctive trust in God (  Genesis 22:7-8 ) and by the prevailing strength of his devotion (  Genesis 25:21 ) was deep and abiding. Jacob considered piety and reverent awe as specially characteristic of his father (  Genesis 31:42;   Genesis 31:53 , where ‘the Fear of Isaac’ means the God tremblingly adored by him). The submission of Isaac plays a part, although a less important one than the faith of Abraham, in the NT references (  Hebrews 11:17 f.,   James 2:21 ).

R. W. Moss.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [3]

the son of Abraham and Sarah, was born in the year of the world 2108. His name which signifies laughter, was given him by his mother, because when it was told her by an angel that she should have a son, and that at a time of life when, according to the course of nature, she was past child-bearing, she privately laughed,   Genesis 18:10-12 . And when the child was born she said, "God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me,"  Genesis 21:6 . The life of Isaac, for the first seventy-five years of it, is so blended with that of his illustrious father, that the principal incidents of it have been already noticed under the article Abraham. His birth was attended with some extraordinary circumstances:

it was the subject of various promises and prophecies; an event most ardently desired by his parents, and yet purposely delayed by Divine Providence till they were both advanced in years, no doubt for the trial of their faith, and that Isaac might more evidently appear to be the gift of God, and "the child of promise." At an early period of life he was the object of the profane contempt of Ishmael, the son of the bond woman, by whom he was persecuted; and as in the circumstances attending his birth there was something typical of the birth of Abraham's greater Son, the Messiah, the promised Seed; so, in the latter instance, we contemplate in him a resemblance of real Christians, who, as Isaac was, are "the children of promise," invested in all the immunities and blessings of the new covenant; but, as then, "he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now,"  Galatians 4:29 .

When Isaac had arrived at a state of manhood, he was required to give a signal proof of his entire devotedness to God. Abraham was commanded to offer up his beloved son in sacrifice,  Genesis 22:1 . This remarkable transaction, so far as Abraham was concerned in it, has already been considered under the article Abraham. But, if from this trial of the faith of the parent we turn our attention to the conduct of Isaac, the victim destined for the slaughter, we behold an example of faith and of dutiful obedience equally conspicuous with that of his honoured parent. Isaac submitted, as it should seem, without resistance, to be bound and laid on the altar, exposing his body to the knife that was lifted up to destroy him. How strikingly calculated is this remarkable history to direct our thoughts to a more exalted personage, whom Isaac prefigured; and to a more astonishing transaction represented by that on Mount Moriah! Behold Jesus Christ, that Seed of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed, voluntarily going forth, in obedience to the command of his heavenly Father, and laying down his life, as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

In the progress of Isaac's history, we find him, in the time of his greatest activity and vigour, a man of retired habits and of remarkable calmness of mind. He appears to have been affectionately attached to his mother Sarah, and, even at the age of forty, was not insusceptible of great sorrow on occasion of her death. But he allows his father to choose for him a suitable partner in life; and Rebekah was selected from among his own kindred, in preference to the daughters of Canaan, in the midst of whom he dwelt. In a few years afterward, he who had mourned for his mother, was called to weep over his father's grave; and in that last act of filial duty, it is pleasing to find the two rival brothers, Isaac and Ishmael, meeting together for the interment of Abraham. The occasion, indeed, was well calculated to allay all existing jealousies and contentions, and cause every family broil to cease,  Genesis 25:9 . After the death of Abraham, "God blessed his son Isaac;" but, though the latter had now been married twenty years, Rebekah was childless. "Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived,"  Genesis 25:21 . God also promised to multiply Isaac's seed, and his promise was fulfilled. Two children were born to him at one time, concerning whom the divine purpose was declared to the mother, and no doubt to the father also, that "the elder should serve the younger." A

famine which came upon the country in the days of Isaac, obliged him to remove his family and flocks and retire to Gerar, in the country of the Philistines, of which Abimelech was at that time king. The possessions of Isaac multiplied so prodigiously, that the inhabitants of the country became envious of him, and even Abimelech, to preserve peace among them, was under the necessity of requesting him to retire, because he was become too powerful. He accordingly withdrew, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, where he digged new wells, and, after a time, returned to Beersheba, where he fixed his habitation,  Genesis 26:1-23 . Here the Lord appeared to him, and renewed to him the covenant which he had made with Abraham, promising to be his God, and to make him a blessing to others. Abimelech now sought his friendship, and, to form an alliance with him, paid him a visit; on which occasion Isaac displayed his magnificence by a sumptuous entertainment, A.M. 2240.

When he was a hundred and thirty-seven years of age, and his sight had so failed him that he could not distinguish one of his sons from the other, Jacob craftily obtained from him the blessing of primogeniture. Yet Isaac survived many years after this, to him, distressing occurrence. He sent Jacob into Mesopotamia, there to take a wife of his own family,  Genesis 28:1-2 , and to prevent his marrying among the Canaanites as his brother Esau had done. And when Jacob returned, after a lapse of twenty years, Isaac was still living, and continued to live twenty-three years longer. He then died at the age of a hundred and eighty years, and was buried with Abraham by his sons Esau and Jacob, Genesis 35. See Esau and See Jacob .

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [4]

God promised Abraham and Sarah that, in spite of their old age, they would produce a child through whom God would carry on the process of fulfilling his covenant promises. That child was Isaac ( Genesis 17:19;  Genesis 17:21). The promises were that God would make Isaac’s descendants into a people for himself, that he would give them Canaan as their homeland, and that through them he would bring blessing to the whole world ( Genesis 22:15-18).

Isaac and his father

It was entirely contrary to nature that a couple as old as Abraham and Sarah should produce a child, but this proved that it was the work of God ( Genesis 18:10-14;  Genesis 21:5). God had made a promise, and Abraham and Sarah had acted on it in faith. Isaac was therefore a ‘child of promise’. He was a living illustration that faith is the way to acceptance with God and enjoyment of his promises ( Romans 4:17-22;  Romans 9:7-9;  Galatians 4:21-31). (For the contrast to the ‘child of promise’ see Ishmael .)

Abraham’s faith was further tested when God told him to sacrifice Isaac (by that time a youth;  Genesis 22:6), the only person through whom God’s promises to him could be fulfilled. Abraham obeyed, believing that God was able to bring Isaac back from death. In a sense Abraham did receive Isaac back from death, when God provided a lamb as a sacrificial substitute for him ( Genesis 22:1-2;  Genesis 22:12-13;  Hebrews 11:17-19;  James 2:21-23).

In seeking a wife for Isaac, Abraham insisted that she come not from the Canaanites (who were under God’s judgment) but from his relatives in Paddan-aram. Since Isaac himself was not to leave the land promised to him (Canaan), Abraham sent his most senior servant to find the wife for him ( Genesis 24:2-6). The woman the servant found was Rebekah. Isaac was forty years old when he married her ( Genesis 24:58-67;  Genesis 25:20).

Isaac and his sons

Isaac and Rebekah’s faith in the promises of God was tested when they remained childless for twenty years. In answer to their prayers, God gave them twin sons, Esau and Jacob. God declared that his covenant people would come through Jacob, though Esau also would father a nation ( Genesis 25:21-26).

When a famine hit Canaan, Isaac proved his faith and his obedience by refusing to flee to Egypt ( Genesis 26:1-5). God rewarded him with increasing prosperity ( Genesis 26:12-14). Though on one occasion he lied to protect himself ( Genesis 26:7), he showed much self-control and tolerance when rival herdsmen were hostile to him ( Genesis 26:14-22).

Esau, the more outgoing of the two sons, was Isaac’s favourite. Isaac determined to pass on the divine blessing to Esau, even though God had said it was to go to Jacob ( Genesis 27:4). But Rebekah and Jacob tricked Isaac into giving the blessing to Jacob ( Genesis 27:28-29). Later Isaac passed on the blessing of the Abrahamic covenant to Jacob knowingly and willingly ( Genesis 28:3-4).

Because of the deceit over Isaac’s blessing, Esau tried to kill Jacob. Jacob escaped to Paddan-aram ( Genesis 27:41;  Genesis 28:1-2;  Genesis 28:5). When Jacob returned more than twenty years later, there was a reunion between the two brothers ( Genesis 31:38;  Genesis 33:4-5). Some time later Isaac died, and his two sons buried him in the family burial ground at Machpelah ( Genesis 35:27-29;  Genesis 49:30-31).

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

As Isaac was the patriarch that stood between Abraham and Jacob, it may seem remarkable that so little is recorded of him, especially as the promise given to Abraham, of all nations being blessed through his seed, was confirmed to Isaac. He was 'the son of promise,' born when Abraham was a hundred years old, and 'the son of the freewoman,' in contrast to 'the son of the bondwoman.' He became the heir, the son of the bondwoman being cast out.  Galatians 4:22-30 . Abraham's faith was tried when told to offer up this son of promise, called his 'only son,' as being a type of Christ. Abraham obeyed, and Isaac heard that beautiful utterance of faith, "My son, God will provide himself a lamb." He was raised as from the dead and restored to his father, and the covenant was confirmed as to the seed.

As Isaac thus became in principle a risen or heavenly man, he must not return for a wife to the country from whence he had been separated by death and resurrection, as also by the call of Abraham; a bride must be fetched for him from thence, and she must be one of the same 'kindred:' a remarkable type of the heavenly Christ, and of those given to Him of the Father: they are heavenly as He is heavenly. God in a remarkable way blessed the mission of the servant (type of the Holy Spirit gathering a bride for Christ), and Rebekah, Isaac's cousin, became his wife. He loved her and was comforted after his mother's death. Abraham had several sons; but he gave all that he had to Isaac, in which Isaac is again a type of Christ, who will possess all things.

Rebekah was barren, but on Isaac beseeching the Lord, she conceived, and was told that she should be the mother of two nations, and the twinbrothers Esau and Jacob were born, Esau being the firstborn. A famine being in the land, Isaac removed to Gerar, and there faithlessly said that Rebekah was his sister, and was rebuked by the king of the Philistines. God confirmed the blessing promised to Abraham, both as to Isaac's seed possessing all those countries, and also as to all the nations of the earth being blessed in his seed.

After the Philistines had had much contention with Isaac respecting some wells of water which they claimed, they bade him depart from them, for he had become too great to dwell so near. He submitted and removed to Beer-sheba. He was thus again in the truth of his calling within the limits of the land of promise: there the Lord again appeared to him, and told him not to fear, He would bless him for his father Abraham's sake. Now the Philistines come to him, admitting that they saw that Jehovah was blessing him, and they desired a covenant with him that he would do them no hurt. Thus was he now in the true place of moral superiority, in the place of his calling, and as such having no disputes with the nations, but acknowledged as the blessed of the Lord — a word surely for world-borderers of to-day.

God does not hide the failings and weaknesses of His people, hence it is related how that Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his venison; and that when he was old he directed him to make savoury meat such as he loved, that he might eat and bless him, his eldest son, before he died. God had said that the elder should serve the younger, but Rebekah, instead of leaving the matter in God's hands, contrived by a deceitful stratagem to get the blessing for Jacob instead of Esau the firstborn. The deception was soon found out; but how was it that Isaac intended to bless the elder, thus disregarding the word of the Lord? It is to be feared that his love of the venison and savoury meat led him astray. Notwithstanding this failure we read in  Hebrews 11:20 , "By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come." This doubtless refers to Isaac's words when the deception was discovered. He said of Jacob "Yea, and he shall be blessed."  Genesis 27:33 .

The days of Isaac were 180 years: when he died his sons Esau and Jacob buried him. God is constantly referred to as the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob: it was through them the blessings to Israel flowed, and through them came the Seed — Christ — in whom all nations of the earth are being blessed.  Genesis 21 —   Genesis 35 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

  • The only son of Abraham by Sarah. He was the longest lived of the three patriarchs ( Genesis 21:1-3 ). He was circumcised when eight days old (4-7); and when he was probably two years old a great feast was held in connection with his being weaned.

    The next memorable event in his life is that connected with the command of God given to Abraham to offer him up as a sacrifice on a mountain in the land of Moriah ( Genesis 22 ). (See Abraham .) When he was forty years of age Rebekah was chosen for his wife (  Genesis 24 ). After the death and burial of his father he took up his residence at Beer-lahai-roi (25:7-11), where his two sons, Esau and Jacob, were born (21-26), the former of whom seems to have been his favourite son (27,28).

    In consequence of a famine ( Genesis 26:1 ) Isaac went to Gerar, where he practised deception as to his relation to Rebekah, imitating the conduct of his father in Egypt (12:12-20) and in Gerar (20:2). The Philistine king rebuked him for his prevarication.

    After sojourning for some time in the land of the Philistines, he returned to Beersheba, where God gave him fresh assurance of covenant blessing, and where Abimelech entered into a covenant of peace with him.

    The next chief event in his life was the blessing of his sons ( Genesis 27:1 ). He died at Mamre, "being old and full of days" (35:27-29), one hundred and eighty years old, and was buried in the cave of Machpelah.

    In the New Testament reference is made to his having been "offered up" by his father ( Hebrews 11:17;  James 2:21 ), and to his blessing his sons ( Hebrews 11:20 ). As the child of promise, he is contrasted with Ishmael ( Romans 9:7,10;  Galatians 4:28;  Hebrews 11:18 ).

    Isaac is "at once a counterpart of his father in simple devoutness and purity of life, and a contrast in his passive weakness of character, which in part, at least, may have sprung from his relations to his mother and wife. After the expulsion of Ishmael and Hagar, Isaac had no competitor, and grew up in the shade of Sarah's tent, moulded into feminine softness by habitual submission to her strong, loving will." His life was so quiet and uneventful that it was spent "within the circle of a few miles; so guileless that he let Jacob overreach him rather than disbelieve his assurance; so tender that his mother's death was the poignant sorrow of years; so patient and gentle that peace with his neighbours was dearer than even such a coveted possession as a well of living water dug by his own men; so grandly obedient that he put his life at his father's disposal; so firm in his reliance on God that his greatest concern through life was to honour the divine promise given to his race.", Geikie's Hours, etc.

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Isaac'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

    Old Testament Isaac was the child of a promise from God, born when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 ( Genesis 17:17;  Genesis 21:5 ). Isaac means “he laughs” and reflects his parents' unbelieving laughter regarding the promise ( Genesis 17:17-19;  Genesis 18:11-15 ) as well as their joy in its fulfillment ( Genesis 21:1-7 ). Sarah wanted Hagar and Ishmael banished. God directed Abraham to comply, saying that it would be through Isaac that his descendants would be reckoned ( Genesis 21:8-13; compare  Romans 9:7 ). Abraham's test of faith was God's command to sacrifice Isaac ( Genesis 22:1-19 ).

    Isaac married Rebekah ( Genesis 24:1 ), who bore him twin sons, Esau and Jacob ( Genesis 25:21-28 ). Isaac passed her off as a sister at Gerar (as Abraham had done). He became quite prosperous, later moving to Beersheba ( Genesis 26:1 ). Isaac was deceived into giving Jacob his blessing and priority over Esau ( Genesis 27:1 ). Isaac died at Mamre near Hebron at the age of 180 and was buried by his sons ( Genesis 35:27-29 ).

    Though less significant than Abraham and Jacob, Isaac was revered as one of the Israelite patriarchs ( Exodus 3:6;  1 Kings 18:36;  Jeremiah 33:26 ). Amos used the name Isaac as a poetic expression for the nation of Israel ( Amos 7:9 ,Amos 7:9, 7:16 ).

    New Testament In the New Testament Isaac appears in the genealogies of Jesus ( Matthew 1:2;  Luke 3:34 ), as one of the three great patriarchs ( Matthew 8:11;  Luke 13:28;  Acts 3:13 ), and an example of faith ( Hebrews 11:20 ). Isaac's sacrifice by Abraham ( Hebrews 11:17-18;  James 2:21 ), in which he was obedient to the point of death, serves as a type looking forward to Christ and as an example for Christians. Paul reminded believers that “we, brethren, as Isaac, are the children of promise” ( Galatians 4:28 ).

    Daniel C. Browning, Jr.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary [8]

    I'saac. (Laughter). The son whom Sara bore to Abraham, in the hundredth year of his age, at Gerar. (B.C. 1897). In his infancy, he became the object of Ishmael's jealousy; and in his youth, the victim, in intention, of Abraham's great sacrificial act of faith. When forty years old, he married Rebekah, his cousin, by whom, when he was sixty, he had two sons, Esau and Jacob.

    Driven by famine to Gerar, he acquired great wealth by his flocks, but was repeatedly dispossessed by the Philistines of the wells which he sunk at convenient stations. After the deceit by which Jacob acquired his father's blessing, Isaac sent his son to seek a wife in Padan-aram; and all that we know of him during the last forty-three years of his life is that he saw that God , with a large and prosperous family, returned to him at Hebron,  Genesis 36:27, before he died there, at the age of 180 years. He was buried by his two sons in the cave of Machpelah.

    In the New Testament, reference is made to the offering of Isaac,  Hebrews 11:17;  James 2:21, and to his blessing his sons.  Hebrews 11:20. In  Galatians 4:28-31, he is contrasted with Ishmael. In reference to the offering up of Isaac by Abraham, the primary doctrine taught are those of sacrifice and substitution, as the means appointed by God for taking away sin; and, as co-ordinate with these, the need of the obedience of faith, on the part of man, to receive the benefit.  Hebrews 11:17. The animal which God provided and Abraham offered was, in the whole history of sacrifice, the recognized type of "the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world." Isaac is the type of humanity itself, devoted to death for sin.

    American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [9]

    Laughter,  Genesis 17:17   18:12   21:6 , one of the patriarchal ancestors of the Hebrew nation and of Christ, son of Abraham and Sarah, B. C. 1896-1705. His history is related in  Genesis 21:1-34   24:1-28:22   35:27-29 . He is memorable for the circumstances attending his birth, as a child of prophecy and promise, in the old age of his parents. Even in childhood he was the object of dislike to his brother Ishmael, son of the bondwoman; and in this, a type of all children of the promise,  Galatians 4:29 . Trained in the fear of God to early manhood, he showed a noble trust and obedience in his conduct during that remarkable trail of faith which established Abraham as the "father of the faithful;" and in his meek submission to all the will of God, prefigured the only-begotten Son of the Father. At the age of forty, he married the pious and lovely Rebekah of Mesopotamia. Most of his life was spent in the southern part of Canaan and its vicinity. At the burial of his father, he as joined by his outcast brother Ishmael. Two sons of Isaac are named in Scripture. The partiality of the mother for Jacob, and of the father for Esau, led to unhappy jealousies, discord, sin, and long separations between the brothers, though all were overruled to accomplish the purposed of God. At the age of one hundred and thirty-seven, Isaac blessed Jacob and sent him away into Mesopotamia. At the age of one hundred and eighty, he died, and was buried in the tomb of Abraham by his two sons. In his natural character, Isaac was humble, tranquil, and meditative; in his piety, devout, full of faith, and eminently submissive to the will of God.

    People's Dictionary of the Bible [10]

    Isaac ( Î'Zak ), Laughter, Sporting. The heir of promise, son of Abraham by his wife Sarah, born when his father was 100 years old. His name, given before his birth.  Genesis 17:19, was significant. Abraham had smiled incredulously when the promise was renewed to him and Sarah designated as the mother of the promised seed, and Sarah laughed derisively afterwards when she heard the reiterated word.  Genesis 17:17 to  Genesis 18:12. The son by his name, therefore, was to warn the parents against unbelief, and expressed the joy with which they received at last the fulfilment of the promise.  Genesis 21:6. Isaac's life was far less stirring than that of his father Abraham, or that of his son Jacob. He was a man of mild contemplative character, suffering more than acting, easily persuaded, yet upon occasion firm. Isaac stands forth the model of that loving submission which those who become sons and heirs of God ought to pay to their heavenly parent, as inheritors of his father Abraham's faith. We best love to contemplate Isaac as bearing the wood with his father up the slopes of Moriah. Gentle, pious, conciliating as he was through the rest of his days, he never rose higher in after life; he hardly fulfilled this promise of his youth. Yet Isaac was a man of faith and prayer; and God was not ashamed to be called his God.  Hebrews 11:16. His history conveys many instructive lessons.

    Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [11]

    ISAAC. —Named (1) in our Lord’s genealogy,  Matthew 1:2,  Luke 3:34; (2) in such collocations as ‘sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob’ ( Matthew 8:11), ‘see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob’ ( Luke 13:28), ‘the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob’ ( Matthew 22:32,  Mark 12:26,  Luke 20:37). See Abraham, and Fathers. The sacrifice of Isaac came at an early date to be used by Christian writers as a type of the sacrifice on the cross (cf. e.g. Ep. of Barn. ch. 7). It is just possible that some such thought underlies  Romans 8:32 ‘He that spared not his own Son.’

    Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [12]

     Genesis 22:9 (c) He is a type of the Lord Jesus being offered up by His own Father for the sins of man. He is also a type of the sinner who should be punished for his sins but who finds a substitute in the Lord JESUS, represented by the ram caught in the thicket.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [13]

    Abraham's son, the child of promise.

    See Hagar

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

    (Heb. Yitschak', יַצְחָק , Laughter, in the poet. books sometimes יַשְׂחָק , Yischak',  Psalms 105:9;  Jeremiah 33:26;  Amos 7:9;  Amos 7:16, in the last two passages spoken of the Israelitish nation; Sept. and N.T. Ι᾿Σαάκ , Joseph. Ι᾿Σακος , Ant. 1, 10, 5), the only son of Abraham by Sarah, and the middle one of the three patriarchs who are so often named together as the progenitors of the Jewish race.

    I. Personal History. The following are the facts which the Bible supplies of the longest-lived of the three patriarchs, the least migratory, the least prolific, and the least favored with extraordinary divine revelations. A few events in this quiet life have occasioned discussion.

    1. The promise of a son had been made to his parents when Abraham was visited by the Lord in the plains of Mamre, and appeared so unlikely to be fulfilled, seeing that both Abraham and Sarah were "well stricken in years," that its utterance caused the latter to laugh incredulously ( Genesis 18:1 sq.). B.C. 2064. Being reproved for her unbelief, she denied that she had laughed. The reason assigned for the special visitation thus promised was, in effect, that Abraham was pious, and would train his offspring in piety, so that he would become the founder of a great nation, and all the nations of the earth should be blessed in him. (See Abraham).

    In due time Sarah gave birth to a son, who received the name of Isaac ( Genesis 21:1-3). B.C. 2063. This event occurred at Gerar. Isaac was thus emphatically the child of promise. Born, as he was, out of due time, when his father was a hundred years old and his mother ninety, the parents themselves laughed with a kind of incredulous joy at the thought of such a prodigy ( Genesis 17:17;  Genesis 18:12), and-referring to the marvelousness of the event when it had actually taken place, Sarah said that not only she, but all who heard of it, would be disposed to laugh ( Genesis 21:6). The name Isaac, therefore, was fitly chosen by God for the child, in commemoration of the extraordinary, supernatural nature of the birth, and of the laughing joy which it occasioned to those more immediately interested in it. This signification of Isaac's name is thrice alluded to ( Genesis 17:17;  Genesis 18:12;  Genesis 21:6). Josephus (Ant. 1, 12, 2) refers to the second of those passages for the origin of the name; Jerome (Quaest. Hebr. in Genesis) vehemently confines it to the first; Ewald (Gesch. 1, 425), without assigning reasons, gives it as his opinion that all three passages have been added by different writers to the original record. There need be no dispute as to which of these passages the import of the name refers; it includes a reference to them all, besides according with and expressing the happy, cheerful disposition of the bearer, and suggesting the relation in which he stood, as the seed of Abraham, the channel of the promised blessing, and the type of him who is pre-eminently the Seed, whose birth has put laughter into the hearts of myriads of our race. The preternatural birth of Isaac was a sign from heaven at the outset, indicating what kind of seed God expected as the fruit of the covenant, and what powers would be required for its production-that it should be a seed at once coming in the course of nature, and yet in some sense above nature-the special gift and offspring of God. When Isaac was eight days old he received circumcision, and was thus received into the covenant made with his father; while his mother's skeptical laughter was turned into triumphant exultation and joy in God ( Genesis 21:4-7). (See De Wette., Krit. p. 133 sq.; Ewald, Gesch. 1, 388; Hartmann, Ueber d. Pentat. p. 269; Lengerke, Ken. p. 290; Niemeyer, Charact. 2, 160.) (See Name).

    2. The first noticeable circumstance in the life of Isaac took place in connection with his weaning. This precise age at the time is not given, but we may suppose him to have been (according to Eastern custom) fully two years old. In honor of the occasion Abraham made a great feast, as an expression, no doubt, of his joy that the child had reached this fresh stage in his career-was no longer a suckling, but capable of self-sustenance, and a certain measure of independent action. For the parents, and those who sympathized with them, it would naturally be a feast of laughter-the laughter of mirth and joy; but there was one in the family - Ishmael-to whom it was no occasion of gladness, who saw himself supplanted in the more peculiar honors of the house by this younger brother, and who mocked while others laughed-himself, indeed, laughed (for it is the same word still, מְצִֵחק ,  Genesis 21:9), but with the envious and scornful air which betrayed the alien and hostile spirit that lurked in his bosom. He must have been a well-grown boy at the time; and Sarah, descrying in the manifestations then given the sure presage of future rivalry and strife, urged Abraham to cast forth the bondmaid and her son, since the one could not be a co-heir with the other. Abraham, it would seem, hesitated for a time about the matter, feeling pained at the thought of having Ishmael separated from the household, and only complied when he received an explicit warrant and direction from above.

    At the same time, he got the promise, as the ground of the divine procedure, "For in Isaac shall thy seed be called," that is, in Isaac (as contradistinguished from Ishmael. or any other son) shall the seed of blessing that is to hold of thee as a father have its commencement. It is probable that Abraham needed to have this truth brought sharply out to him, for correction on the one side, as well as for consolation and hope on the other, as his paternal feelings may have kept him from apprehending the full scope of former revelations concerning the son of Hagar. The high purposes of God were involved in the matter, and the yearnings of natural affection must give way, that these might be established. In the transactions themselves the apostle Paul perceived a revelation of the truth for all times-especially in regard to the natural enmity of the heart to the things of God, and the certainty with which, even when wearing the badge of a religious profession, it may be expected to vent its malice and opposition towards the true children of God ( Romans 9:7;  Romans 9:10;  Galatians 4:28;  Hebrews 11:18). The seed of blessing, those who are supernaturally born of God, like Isaac, and have a special interest in the riches of his goodness, are sure to be eyed with jealousy, and, in one form or another, persecuted by those who, with a name to live, still walk after the flesh ( Galatians 4:21-31). (See Ishmael).

    It has been asked, what were the persecutions sustained by Isaac from Ishmael to which Paul refers ( Galatians 4:29)? If, as is generally supposed, he refers to  Genesis 21:9, then the word מְצִהֵק , Παίζοντα , may be translated Mocking, as in the A.V., or Insulting, as in 39:14, and in that case the trial of Isaac was by means of "Cruel mockings" ( Ἐμπαιγυῶν ), in the language of the Epistle to the  Hebrews 11:36. Or the word may include the signification Paying Idolatrous Worship, as in  Exodus 32:6; or Fighting, as in  2 Samuel 2:14. These three significations are given by Jarchi, who relates a Jewish tradition (quoted more briefly by Wetstein on  Galatians 4:29) of Isaac suffering personal violence from Ishmael, a tradition which, as Mr. Ellicott thinks, was adopted by Paul. The English reader who is content with our own version, or the scholar who may prefer either of the other renderings of Jarchi, will be at no loss to connect Galatians 9:29 with  Genesis 21:9. But Origen (In Genesis Hon. 7, § 3), and Augustine (Sereno 3), and apparently Prof. Jowett (on  Galatians 4:29), not observing that the gloss of the Sept. and the Latin versions "playing With Her Son Isaac" forms no part of the simple statement in Genesis, and that the words מְצִחֵק , Παίζοντα , are not to be confined to the meaning "playing," seem to doubt (as Mr. Ellicott does on other grounds) whether the passage in Genesis bears the construction apparently put upon it by St. Paul. On the other hand, Rosenm Ü ller (Schol. in  Genesis 21:9) even goes so far as to characterize Ἐδίωκε - "persecuted"-as a very excellent interpretation of מְצִחֵק (See Drusius on  Genesis 21:9, in Crit. Sacr., and Estius on  Galatians 4:29.)

    What effect the companionship of the wild and wayward Ishmael might have had on Isaac it is not easy to say; but his expulsion was, no doubt, ordered by God for the good of the child of promise, and most probably saved him from many an annoyance and sorrow. Freed from such evil influence, the child grew up under the nurturing care of his fond parents, mild and gentle, loving and beloved.

    3. The next recorded event in the life of Isaac is the memorable one connected with the command of God to offer him up as a sacrifice on a mountain in the land of Moriah (Genesis 22). B.C. cir. 2047. Nothing is said of his age at the time except that he is called "a lad" ( נִצִד ), perhaps sixteen years of age. According to Josephus (Ant. 1, 13, 2), he was twenty- five years old. That Isaac knew nothing of the relation in which he personally stood to the divine command, came affectingly out in the question he put to his father while they journeyed together, "Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt-offering?" Even then the secret was not disclosed to him; and only, it would appear, when the act itself was in process of being consummated, did the fearful truth burst upon his soul that he was himself to be the victim on the altar. Yet the sacred narrative tells of no remonstrant struggle on the part of this child of promise, no strivings for escape, no cries of agony or pleadings for deliverance: he seems to have surrendered himself as a willing sacrifice to the call of Heaven and to have therein showed how thoroughly in him, as in his believing parent, the mind of the flesh had become subordinate to the mind of the spirit. To act thus was to prove himself the fitting type of him who had the law of God in his heart, and came to do, not his own will, but the will of him that sent him. But the death itself, which was to prove the life of the world, it belonged to the antitype, not to the type, to accomplish. The ram provided by God in the thicket must meanwhile take the place of the seed of blessing. In the surrender by the father of his "only son," the concurrence of the son's will with the father's, the sacrificial death which virtually took place, and the resurrection from the dead, whence Abraham received his son "in figure" ( Hebrews 11:19), are all points of analogy which cannot be overlooked.

    The offering up of Isaac by Abraham has been viewed in various lights. It is the subject of five dissertations by Frischmuth in the Thes. Theol. Philol. p. 197 (attached to Crit. Sacri; originally Jena, 1662-5, 4to). By bishop Warburton (Div. Leg. b. 6: § 5) the whole transaction was regarded as "merely an information by action (comp.  Jeremiah 27:2;  Ezekiel 12:3;  Hosea 1:2), instead of words, of the great sacrifice of Christ for the redemption of mankind, given at the earnest request of Abraham, who longed impatiently to see Christ's day." This view is adopted by dean Graves (On The Pentateuch, pt. 3: § 4), and has become popular. But it is pronounced to be unsatisfactory by Davidson (Primitive Sacrifice, pt. 4: § 2), who, pleading for the progressive communication of the knowledge of the Christian atonement, protests against the assumption of a contemporary disclosure of the import of the sacrifice to Abraham, and points out that no expiation or atonement was joined with this emblematic oblation, which consequently symbolized only the act, not the power or virtue of the Christian sacrifice.

    Mr. Maurice (Patriarchs and Lawgivers, 4) draws attention to the offering of Isaac as the last and culminating point (compare' Eald, Geschichte, 1, 430-4) in the divine education of Abraham, that which taught him the meaning and ground of self-sacrifice. The same line of thought is followed up in a very instructive and striking sermon on the sacrifice of Abraham in Doctrine of Sacrifice, 3, 33-48. Some German writers have spoken of the whole transaction as a dream (Eichhorn, Biblioth. f. bibl. Liter. 1, 45 sq.), or a myth (De Wette), or as the explanation of a hieroglyph (Otman, in Henke's Magazine, 2, 517), and treat other events in Isaac's life as slips of the pen of a Jewish transcriber. Even the merit of novelty cannot be claimed for such views, which appear to have been in some measure forestalled in the time of Augustine (Sermo 2, De tentatione Abrahae). They are, of course, irreconcilable with the declaration of St. James, that it was a work by which Abraham was justified. Eusebius (Praep. Evang. 4:16, and 1, 10) has preserved a singular and inaccurate version of the offering of Isaac in an extract from the ancient Phoenician historian Sanchoniathon; but it is absurd to suppose that the widely-spread (see Ewald, Alterth Ü mer, p. 79, and Thomson's Bampton Lectures, 1853, p. 38) heathen practice of sacrificing human beings (so Bruns, in Paulus's Memorab. 6:1 sq.) received any encouragement from a sacrifice which Abraham was forbidden to accomplish (see Waterland, Works, 4:203). Some writers have found for this transaction a kind of parallel-it amounts to no more-in the classical legends of Iphigenia and Phrixus (so Rosenm Ü ller, Morgenl. 1, 95), etc. (see J. G. Michaelis, De Abr. et Is. a Graecis in Hyrilum et Orionem conversis, Freft. a. O. 1721; Zeibich, Isaaci ortus in fubula Orionis vestigia. Ger. 1776). The story of Iphigenia, which inspired the devout Athenian dramatist with sublime notions of the import of sacrifice and suffering (AEsch. Again. 147, et seq.), supplied the Roman infidel only with a keen taunt against religion (Lucret. 1, 102), just as the great trial which perfected the faith of Abraham and molded the character of Isaac draws from the Romanized Jew of the first century a rhetorical exhibition of his own acquaintance with the meaning of sacrifice (see Joseph. Ant. 1, 13, 3). The general aim of certain writers has been, as they consider it, to relieve the Bible from the odium which the narrated circumstances are in their opinion fitted to occasion.

    That the passage is free from every possible objection it may be too much to assert: it is, however, equally clear that many of the objections taken to it arise from viewing the facts from a wrong position, or under the discoloring medium of a foregone and adverse conclusion. The only proper way is to consider it as it is represented in the sacred page. The command, then, was expressly designated to try Abraham's faith. Destined as the patriarch was to be the father of the faithful, was he worthy of his high and dignified position? If his own obedience was weak, he could not train others in faith, trust, and love: hence a trial was necessary. That he was not without holy dispositions was already known, and indeed recognized in the divine favors of which he had been the object; but was he prepared to do and to suffer all God's will? Religious perfection and his position alike demanded a perfect heart: hence the kind of trial. If he were willing to surrender even his only child, and act himself both as offerer and priest in the sacrifice of the required victim, if he could so far conquer his natural affections, so subdue the father in his heart, then there could be no doubt that his will was wholly reconciled to God's, and that he was worthy of every trust, confidence, and honor (comp.  James 2:21). The trial was made, the fact was ascertained, but the victim was not slain. What is there in this to which either religion or morality can take exception?

    This view is both confirmed and justified by the words of God ( Genesis 22:16 sq.), "Because thou hast not withheld thy only son, in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." We remark, also, that not a part, out the whole of the transaction must be taken under consideration, and especially the final result. If we dwell exclusively on the commencement of it, there appears to be some sanction given to human sacrifices; but the end, and the concluding and ever-enduring fact, has the directly opposite bearing. Viewed as a whole, the transaction is, in truth, an express prohibition of human sacrifices. Nothing but a clear command from God could have suggested such a service. "A craving to please, or propitiate, or communicate with the powers above" by surrendering "an object near and dear" to one, which canon Stanley erroneously says is the "source of all sacrifice," and to which he attributes Abraham's conduct in the present case (History of the Jewish Church, 1, 47), could never have led to such an act. The idea is wholly improbable and irrational. Kurtz maintains that the basis for this trial of Abraham was laid in the state of mind produced in him by beholding the Canaanitish human sacrifices around him. His words are: "These Canaanitish sacrifices of children, and the readiness with which the heathen around him offered them, must have excited in Abraham a contest of thoughts.... and induced him to examine himself whether he also were capable of sufficient renunciation and self- denial to do, if his God demanded it, what the heathen around him were doing. Butt if this question was raised in the heart of Abraham, it must also have been brought to a definite settlement through some outward fact. Such was the basis for the demand of God so far as Abraham was concerned, and such the educational motive for his trial. The obedience of Abraham's faith must, in energy and entireness, not lag behind that which the religion of nature demanded and obtained from its professors. Abraham must be ready to do for his God what the nations around him were capable of doing for their false gods. In every respect Abraham, as the hero of faith, is to out-distance all others in self-denial" (Hist. of the 0. Coven. 1, 269). Objectively, the transaction was intended to recognize the element of truth in human sacrifices, while condemning the sacrifices themselves (p. 269,270). (See Sacrifice).

    4. Isaac passed his early days under the eye of his father, engaged in the care of flocks and herds up and down the plains of Canaan. At length his father wished to see him married. Abraham therefore gave a commission to his oldest and most trustworthy servant to the effect that, in order to prevent Isaac from taking a wife from among the daughters of the Canaanites, he should proceed into Mesopotamia, and, under the divine direction, choose a partner among his own relatives for his beloved son. Rebekah, in consequence, becomes Isaac's wife, when he was forty years of age (Genesis 24). B.C. 2023. In connection with this marriage an event is recorded which displays the peculiar character of Isaac, while it is in keeping with the general tenor of the sacred record regarding him. Probably in expectation of the early return of his father's messenger, and somewhat solicitous as to the result of the embassy, he went out to meditate in the field at the eventide. While there engaged in tranquil thought, he chanced to raise his eyes, when lo! he beheld the retinue near at hand, and soon conducted his bride into his mother's tent. In unison with all this is the simple declaration of the history, that Isaac "loved her." Isaac was evidently a man of kind and gentle disposition, of a calm and reflective turn of mind, simple in his habits, having few wants, good rather than great, fitted to receive impressions and follow a guide, not to originate important influences, or perform deeds of renown. If his character did not take a bent from the events connected with his father's readiness to offer him on Mount Moriah, certainly its passiveness is in entire agreement with the whole tenor of his conduct, as set forth in that narrative. (See Kitto's Daily Bible Illust. ad loc.)

    Isaac having, in conjunction with his half-brother Ishmael, buried Abraham his father, "in a good old age, in the cave of Machpelah," took up a somewhat permanent residence "by the well Lahai-roi," where, being blessed of God, he lived in prosperity and at ease' ( Genesis 25:7-11). B.C. 1988. One source of regret, however, he deeply felt. Rebekah was barren. In time, however, two sons, Jacob and Esau, were granted to his prayers ( Genesis 25:21-26). B.C. 2003. As the boys grew, Isaac gave a preference to Esau, who seems to have possessed those robust qualities of character in which his father was defective, and therefore gratified him by such dainties as the pursuits of the chase enabled the youth to offer; while Jacob, "a plain man, dwelling in tents," was an object of special regard to Rebekah a division of feeling and a kind of partiality which became the source of much domestic unhappiness, as well as of jealousy and hatred between the two sons ( Genesis 25:27-28). (See Esau).

    5. The life of Isaac, moreover, was not passed wholly without trials coming in from without., A famine compels him to seek food in some foreign land ( Genesis 26:1 sq.). B.C. cir.: 1985. At the occurrence of this famine Isaac was expressly admonished by God not to go down into Egypt, but to abide within the boundaries of the Promised Land; and occasion was taken to renew the promise to him and his seed, and to confirm in his behalf the oath which had been made to his father. The Lord pledged his word to be with him and to bless him in the land-which he certainly did, though Isaac did not feel so secure of the promised guardianship and support as to be able to avoid falling into the snare which had also caught his father Abraham. When sojourning in the neighborhood of Gerar, during the prevalence of the famine, and no doubt observing the wickedness of the place, he had the weakness to call Rebekah his sister, in fear that the people might kill him on her account, if they knew her to be his wife. It does not appear that any violence was offered to Rebekah; and the Philistine king, on discovering, as he did, from the familiar bearing of Isaac towards Rebekah, that she must be his wife, simply rebuked him for having, by his prevarication, given occasion to a misapprehension which might have led to serious consequences ( Genesis 26:10).

    No passage of his life has produced more reproach to Isaac's character than this. Abraham's conduct while in Egypt (ch. 12) and in Gerar (ch. 20), where he concealed the closer connection between himself and his wife, was imitated by Isaac in Gerar. On the one hand, this has been regarded by avowed adversaries of Christianity as involving the guilt of "lying and endeavoring to betray the wife's chastity," and even by Christians, undoubtedly zealous for truth and right, as the conduct of "a very poor, paltry earthworm, displaying cowardice, selfishness, readiness to put his wife in a terrible hazard for his own sake." But, on the other hand, with more reverence, more kindness, and quite as much probability, Waterland, who is no indiscriminate apologist for the errors of good men, after a minute examination of the circumstances, concludes that the patriarch did "right to evade the difficulty so long as it could lawfully be evaded, and to await and see whether divine Providence might not, some way or other, interpose before the last extremity. The event answered. God did interpose" (Scripture Vindicated, in Works, 4:188, 190).

    There is no improbability, as has been asserted, that the same sort of event should happen in rude times at different intervals, and, therefore, no reason for maintaining that these events have the same historical basis, and are, in fact, the same event differently represented. Neither is it an unfair assumption that Abimelech was the common title of the kings of Gerar, as Pharaoh was of the kings of Egypt, or that it may have been the proper name of several kings in succession, as George has been of several English kings. In all respects except this incident, Isaac's connection with the Philistine territory was every way creditable to himself, and marked with tokens of the divine favor. He cultivated a portion of ground, and in the same year reaped a hundred fold-a remarkable increase, to encourage him to abide under God's protection in Canaan. His flocks and herds multiplied exceedingly, so that he rose to the possession of very great wealth; he even became, on account of it, an object of envy to the Philistines, who could not rest till they drove him from their territory. He reopened the wells which his father had digged, and which the Philistines had meanwhile filled up, and himself dug several new ones, but they disputed with him the right of possession, and obliged him to withdraw from them one after another. Finally, at a greater distance, he dug a well, which he was allowed to keep unmolested; and in token of his satisfaction at the peace he enjoyed, he called it Rehoboth (room) ( Genesis 25:22). Thence he returned to Beersheba, where the Lord again appeared to him, and gave him a fresh assurance of the covenant-blessing; and Abimelech, partly ashamed of the unkind treatment Isaac had received, and partly desirous of standing well with one who was so evidently prospering in his course, sent some of his leading men to enter formally into a covenant of peace with him. Isaac showed his meek and kindly disposition in giving courteous entertainment to the messengers, and cordially agreed to their proposal

    It was probably a period considerably later still than even the latest of these transactions to which the next notice in the life of Isaac must be referred. This is the marriage of Esau to two of the daughters of Canaam (Judith and Bashemath), which is assigned to the fortieth year of Esau's life, coeval with Isaac's hundredth. These alliances were far from giving satisfaction to the aged patriarch; on the contrary, they were a grief of mind to him and his wife Rebekah ( Genesis 26:35).

    6. The last prominent event in the life of Isaac is the blessing of his sons ( Genesis 27:1 sq.). B.C. 1927. It has been plausibly suggested (Browne, Ordo Saeclorum, p. 310) that the forebodings of a speedy demise ( Genesis 27:2) on the part of Isaac, whose health always appears to have been delicate (Kitto's Daily Bible Illust. ad loc.), may have arisen from the fact that his brother Ishmael died at the age he had just now reached ( Genesis 25:17), although he himself survived this point for many years ( Genesis 35:28). When old and dim of sight (which fails much sooner in Eastern countries than with us), supposing that the time of his departure was at hand, he called for his beloved son Esau, and sent him to "take some venison" for him, and to make his favorite "savory meat," that he might eat and "bless" him before his death. Esau prepared to obey his father's will, and set forth to the field; but through the deceptions stratagem of Rebekah the savory meat" was provided before Esau's return; and Jacob, disguised so as to resemble his hairy brother, imposed on his father, and obtained the blessing. Yet, on the discovery of the cheat, when Esau brought in to his father the dish he had prepared, Isaac, remembering no doubt the prediction that "the elder should: serve the younger," and convinced that God intended the blessing for Jacob, would not, perhaps rather could not, reverse the solemn words he had uttered, but bestowed an inferior blessing on Esau (comp.  Hebrews 12:17). (See Edom). This paternal blessing, if full, conveyed, as was usual, the right of headship in the family, together with the chief possessions. In the blessing which the aged patriarch pronounced on Jacob, it deserves notice how entirely the wished-for good is of an earthly and temporal nature, while the imagery which is employed serves to show the extent to which the poetical element prevailed as a constituent part of the Hebrew character ( Genesis 27:27 sq.). Most natural, too, is the extreme agitation of the poor blind old man on discovering the cheat which had been put upon him. All the parties to this nefarious transaction were signally punished by divine Providence (comp. Jarvis, Church Of The Redeemed, p. 47). The entire passage is of itself enough to vindicate the historical character and entire credibility of those sketches of the lives of the patriarchs, which Genesis presents.

    Yet Isaac's tacit acquiescence in the conduct of his sons has been brought into discussion. Fairbairn (Typology, 1, 334) seems scarcely justified by facts in his conclusion that the later days of Isaac did not fulfill the promise of his earlier; that, instead of reaching to high attainments in faith, he fell into general feebleness and decay moral and bodily, and made account only of the natural element in judging of his sons. The inexact translation (to modern ears) of צִיַד , prey taken in hunting, by "venison" ( Genesis 25:28), may have contributed to form, in the minds of English readers, a low opinion of Isaac. Nor can that opinion be supported by a reference to  Genesis 27:4; for Isaac's desire at such a time for savory meat may have sprung either from a dangerous sickness under which he was laboring (Blunt, Undesigned Coincidences, pt. 1, ch. 6), or from the same kind of impulse preceding inspiration as prompted Elisha ( 2 Kings 3:15) to demand the soothing influence of music before he spoke the word of the Lord. For sadness and grief are enumerated in the Gemara among the impediments to the exercise of the gift of prophecy (Smith's Select Discourses, 6:245). The reader who bears in mind the peculiarities of Isaac's character will scarcely infer from those passages any fresh accession of mental or moral feebleness. Such a longing in an old man was innocent enough, and indicated nothing of a spirit of self-indulgence. It was an extraordinary case, too, and Kalisch sets it in its true light: "The venison is evidently like a sacrifice offered by the recipient of the blessing, and ratifying the proceedings; and hence Jacob killed and prepared two kids of the goats ( 2 Kings 3:9), whereas, for an ordinary meal, one would have been more than sufficient; it imparted to the ceremony, in certain respects, the character of a covenant (comp. Genesis 21:27-30;  Genesis 26:30;  Exodus 12:2;  Exodus 24:5-11, etc.); the one party showed ready obedience and sincere affection, while the other accepted the gift, and granted in return the whole store of happiness he was able to bequeath. Thus the meal which Isaac required has a double meaning, both connected with the internal organism of the book" (Comms. on  Genesis 27:1-4).

    7. The stealing, on the part of Jacob, of his father's blessing having angered Esau, who seems to have looked forward to Isaac's death as affording an opportunity for taking vengeance on his unjust brother, the aged patriarch is induced, at his wife's entreaty, to send Jacob into Mesopotamia, that, after his own example, his son might take a wife from among his kindred and people, "of the daughters of Laban, thy mother's brother" ( Genesis 27:41-46). B.C. 1927. (See Jacob).

    This is the last important act recorded of Isaac. Jacob having, agreeably to his father's command, married into Laban's family, returned after some time, and found the old man at Mamre, in the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned ( Genesis 35:27). B.C. cir. 1898. Here, "being old and full of days" (180), Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him" ( Genesis 35:28). B.C. 1883.

    In the N.T. reference is made to the offering of Isaac ( Hebrews 11:17, and James 2, 21) and to his blessing his sons ( Hebrews 11:20). As the child of the promise, and as the progenitor of the children of the promise, he is contrasted with Ishmael ( Romans 9:7;  Romans 9:10;  Galatians 4:28;  Hebrews 11:18). In our Lord's remarkable argument with the Sadducees, his history is carried beyond the point at which it is left in- the O.T., into and beyond the grave. Isaac, of whom it was said ( Genesis 35:29) that he was gathered to his people, is represented as still living to God ( Luke 20:38, etc.); and by the same divine authority he is proclaimed as an acknowledged heir of future glory ( Matthew 8:11, etc.).

    II. His Character. Isaac , the gentle and dutiful son, the faithful and constant husband (see Becker, De Isaaco, etc., Greifsw. 1750), became the father of a house in which order did not reign. If there were any very prominent points in his character, they were not brought out by the circumstances in which he was placed. He appears less as a man of action than as a man of suffering, from which he is generally delivered without any direct effort of his own. Thus he suffers as the object of Ishmael's mocking, of the intended sacrifice on Moriah, of the rapacity of the Philistines, and of Jacob's stratagem. But the thought of his sufferings is effaced by the ever-present tokens of God's favor; and he suffers with the calmness and dignity of a conscious heir of heavenly promises, without uttering any complaint, and generally without committing any action by which he would forfeit respect. Free from violent passions, he was a man of constant, deep, and tender affections. Thus he mourned for his mother till her place was filled by his wife. His sons were nurtured at home till a late period of their lives; and neither his grief for Esau's marriage, nor the anxiety in which he was involved in consequence of Jacob's deceit, estranged either of them from his affectionate care. His life of solitary blamelessness must have been sustained by strong habitual piety, such as showed itself at the time of Rebekah's barrenness ( Genesis 25:21), in his special intercourse: with God at Gerar and Beersheba ( Genesis 26:2;  Genesis 26:23), in the solemnity with which he bestows his blessing and refuses to change it. His life, judged by a worldly standard, might seem inactive, ignoble, and unfruitful; but the "guileless years, prayers, gracious acts, and daily thank-offerings of pastoral life" are not to be so esteemed, although they make no show in history. Isaac's character may not have exercised any commanding influence upon either his own or succeeding generations, but it was sufficiently marked and consistent to win respect and envy from his contemporaries. By his posterity his name is always joined in equal honor with those of Abraham and Jacob, and so it was even used as part of the formula which Egyptian magicians in the time of Origen (Contra Celsun, 1, 22) employed as efficacious to bind the daemons whom they adjured (comp.  Genesis 31:42;  Genesis 31:53).

    If Abraham's enterprising, unsettled life foreshadowed the early history of his descendants; if Jacob was a type of the careful, commercial, unwarlike character of their later days, Isaac may represent the middle period, in which they lived apart from nations, and enjoyed possession of the fertile land of promise. (See Kalisch, Genesis ad loc.)

    III. The Typical View of Isaac is barely referred to in. the N.T., but it is drawn out with minute particularity by Philo and those interpreters of Scripture who were influenced by Alexandrian philosophy. Thus in Philo, Isaac (laughter the most exquisite enjoyment - the soother and cheerer of peace-loving souls) is foreshadowed in the facts that his father had attained 100 years (the perfect number) when he was born, and that he is specially designated as given to his parents by God. His birth from the mistress of Abraham's household symbolizes happiness proceeding from predominant wisdom. His attachment to one wife (Rebekah =perseverance) is contrasted with Abraham's multiplied connections, and with Jacob's toil- won wives, as showing the superiority of Isaac's heaven-born, self- sufficing wisdom to the accumulated, knowledge of Abraham and the painful experience of Jacob. In the intended sacrifice. of Isaac, Philo sees only a sign (laughter =rejoicing is, the prerogative of God, and is a fit offering to him) that God gives back to obedient man as much happiness as is good for him. Clement of Rome (ch. 31), with characteristic soberness, merely refers to Isaac as an example of faith in God.

    In Tertullian he is a pattern of monogamy, and a type of Christ bearing the cross. But Clement of Alexandria finds an allegorical meaning in the incidents which connect Abimelech with Isaac and Rebekah ( Genesis 26:8), as well as in the offering of Isaac. In this latter view he is followed by Origen, and by Augustine, and by Christian expositors generally. The most minute particulars of that transaction are invested with a spiritual meaning by such writers as Rabanus Maurus, In Genesis § 3. Abraham is made a type of the first person in the blessed Trinity, Isaac of the second; the two servants dismissed are the Jewish sects who did not attain to a perception of Christ in his humiliation; the ass bearing the wood is the Jewish nation, to whom were committed the oracles of God which they failed to understand; the three days are the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations; the ram is Christ on the cross; the thicket they who placed him there. Modern English writers hold firmly the typical significance of the transaction, without extending it into such detail (see Pearson, On The Creed, 1, 243, 251, edit. 1843; Fairbairn's Typology, 1, 332). A recent writer (A. Jukes, Types of Genesis), who has shown much ingenuity in attaching a spiritual meaning to the characters and incidents in the book of Genesis, regards Isaac as representing the spirit of sonship, in a series in which Adam represents human nature, Cain the carnal mind, Abel the spiritual, Noah regeneration, Abraham the spirit of faith, Jacob the spirit of service, Joseph suffering or glory. With this series may be compared the View of Ewald (Gesch. 1, 387-400), in which the whole patriarchal family is a prefigurative group, comprising twelve members with seven distinct modes of relation:

    1. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are three fathers, respectively personifying active power, quiet enjoyment, success after struggles, distinguished from the rest as Agamemnon, Achilles, and Ulysses among the heroes of the Iliad, or as the Trojan Anchises, AEneas, and Ascanius, and mutually related as Romulus, Remus, and Numa;

    2. Sarah, with Hagar, as mother and mistress of the household,

    3. Isaac as child;

    4. Isaac with Rebekah as the type of wedlock (comp. his Alterth Ü Mer. p. 233);

    5. Leah and Rachel the plurality of coequal wives;

    6. Deborah as nurse (compare Anna and Caieta, E12. 4:654, and 7:1)

    7. Eliezer as steward, whose office is compared to that of the messenger of the Olympic deities.

    IV. Traditions. Jewish legends represent Isaac as an angel made before the world, and descending to earth in human form (Origen, in Johann. 2, § 25); as one of the three men in whom human sinfulness has no place, as one of the six over whom the angel of death has no power (Eisenmenger, Entd. Jud. 1, 343, 864). He is said to have been instructed in divine knowledge by Shem (Jarchi, on Genesis 25). The ordinance of evening prayer is ascribed to him ( Genesis 24:63), as that of morning prayer to Abraham ( Genesis 19:27), and night prayer to Jacob ( Genesis 28:11) (Eisenmenger, Ent. Jsd. 1, 483).

    The Arabian traditions included in the Koran represent Isaac as a model of religion, a righteous person inspired with grace to do good works, observe prayer, and give alms (ch. 21), endowed with the divine gifts of prophecy, children, and- wealth (ch. 19). The promise of Isaac and the offering of Isaac are also mentioned ( Hebrews 11:38). Faith in a future resurrection is ascribed to Abraham: but it is connected, not, as in  Hebrews 11:19, with the offering of Isaac, but with a fictitious miracle (chap. 2). Stanley mentions a curious tradition of the reputed jealousy of Isaac's character that prevails among the inhabitants of Hebron respecting the grave of Rebekah (Jewish Church, 1, 496 sq.). (On the notices of Isaac in the Talmud, see Otho's Lex. Talm. p. 133; Hamburger, Real-Encyklop. Bible U. Talmud, p. 612 sq.; for the notices in the Koran, see Hottinger's Hist. Orient. p. 25, 52). See Boucher, History Of Isaac (Lond. 1864). For older treatises, see Darling, Cyclop. Bibliograph. col. 190.

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [15]

    ı̄´zak  :

    I. Name

    1. Root, Forms, Analogues

    2. Implication

    II. Family and Kindred

    1. Birth and Place in the Family

    2. Relation to the Religious Birthright

    3. Significance of Marriage

    III. Story of Life

    1. Previous to Marriage

    2. Subsequent to Marriage

    IV. Biblical References

    1. In the Old Testament

    2. In the New Testament

    V. Views Other Than the Historical

    I. Name

    1. Root, Forms and Analogues

    This name has the double spelling, יצחק , yicḥāḳ , and ישׂחק , yisḥāḳ ( Ἰσαάκ , Isaák ), corresponding to the two forms in which appears the root meaning "to laugh" - a root that runs through nearly all the Semitic languages. In Hebrew both cāḥaḳ and sāḥaḳ have their cognate nouns, and signify, in the simple stem, "to laugh," in the intensive stem, "to jest, play, dance, fondle," and the like. The noun yicḥār , meaning "fresh oil," from a root cāhar ("to be bright, conspicuous"), proves that nouns can be built on precisely the model of yicḥāḳ , which would in that case signify "the laughing one," or something similar. Yet Barth (Die Nominalbildung in den semitischen Sprachen, 154, b and c) maintains that all proper names beginning with yōdh prefixed to the root are really pure imperfects, i.e. verbal forms with some subject to be understood if not actually present. Hence, Isaac would mean "laughs": either indefinite, "one laughs," or "he laughs," namely, the one understood as the subject. There are some 50 Hebrew names that have a similar form with no accompanying subject. Of these sometimes the meaning of the root is quite obscure, sometimes it is appropriate to any supposable subject. Each is a problem by itself; for the interpretation of any one of them there is little help to be gained from a comparison with the others.

    2. Implication

    What subject, then, is to be understood with this imperfect verb yicḥāḳ  ? Or is no definite subject to be supplied? (1) 'Ēl , God, may be supplied: "God laughs." Such an expression might be understood of the Divine benevolence, or of the fearful laughter of scorn for His enemies (  Psalm 2:4 ), or, euphemistically, of the Divine wrath, the "terrible glance," as of Moloch, etc. (so Meyer, Israeliten und ihre Nachbarst ä mme, 255). (2) Some human person: "he laughs." So, for example, he himself, namely, the child who receives the name; or, the father; or, the brother (not the mother, which would require ticḥāḳ ). In the light now of these possibilities we turn to the narratives of Isaac´s birth and career and find the following subjects suggested: (a) father,  Genesis 17:17; (b) indefinite, "one laughs" (not "she laughs," see above),  Genesis 18:12-15;  Genesis 21:6; (c) brother,  Genesis 21:9; (d) himself,  Genesis 26:8 . Of these passages the last two show the verb in the intensive stem in the signification of (c) "mock" (?), and (d) "dally." We find this same verb in these senses in  Genesis 19:14 and   Genesis 39:14 ,  Genesis 39:17 , in the stories of Lot and of Joseph, and it is possible that here also in the story of Isaac it has no more connection with the name Isaac than it has there with the names Lot and Joseph. However, this may be, there is obviously one interpretation of the name Isaac, which, required in two of the passages, is equally appropriate in them all, namely, that with the indefinite subect, "one laughs." Consideration of the sources to which these passages are respectively assigned by the documentary hypothesis tends only to confirm this result.

    II. Family and Kindred

    The two things in Isaac´s life that are deemed worthy of extensive treatment in the sacred narrative are his birth and his marriage. His significance, in fact, centers in his transmission of what went before him to what came after him. Hence, his position in his father´s family, his relation to its greatest treasure, the religious birthright, and his marriage with Rebekah are the subjects that require special notice in this connection.

    1. Birth and Place in the Family

    The birth of Isaac is represented as peculiar in these respects: the age of his parents, the purity of his lineage, the special Divine promises accompanying. What in Abraham's life is signalized by the Divine "call" in the from his father's house, and what in Jacob's life is brought about by a series of providential interpositions, seems in Isaac's case to become his by his birth. His mother, who is not merely of the same stock as Abraham but actually his half-sister, is the legal wife. As her issue Isaac is qualified by the laws of inheritance recognized in their native land to become his father's heir. But Ishmael, according to those laws, has a similarly valid claim (see Abraham , IV, 2), and it is only by express command that Abraham is led to abandon what was apparently both custom and personal preference, to "cast out the bondwoman and her son," and to acquiesce in the arrangement that "in Isaac shall thy seed be called."

    2. Relation to the Religious Birthright

    But the birthright of Isaac was of infinitely more importance than the birthright in the family of any other wealthy man of that day. All that limitless blessing with which Abraham set forth under God's leadership was promised not only to him but to his "seed"; it was limitless in time as well as in scope. To inherit it was of more consequence to Isaac than to inherit any number of servants, flocks or wells of his father's acquisition. A sense of these relative values seems to have been a part of Isaac's spiritual endowment, and this, more than anything else related of him, makes him an attractive figure on the pages of Gen.

    3. Significance of Marriage

    The raising up of a "seed" to be the bearers of these promises was the prime concern of Isaac's life. Not by intermarriage with the Canaanites among whom he lived, but by marriage with one of his own people, in whom as much as in himself should be visibly embodied the separateness of the chosen family of God - thus primarily was Isaac to pass on to a generation as pure as his own the heritage of the Divine blessing. Rebekah enters the tent of Isaac as truly the chosen of God as was Abraham himself.

    III. Story of Life

    Previous to his marriage Isaac's life is a part of the story of Abraham; after his marriage it merges into that of his children. It is convenient, therefore, to make his marriage the dividing-line in the narrative of his career.

    1. Previous to Marriage

    A child whose coming was heralded by such signal marks of Divine favor as was Isaac's would be, even apart from other special considerations, a welcome and honored member of the patriarchal household. The covenant-sign of circumcision (which Isaac was the first to receive at the prescribed age of 8 days), the great feast at his weaning, and the disinheritance of Ishmael in his favor, are all of them indications of the unique position that this child held, and prepare the reader to appreciate the depth of feeling involved in the sacrifice of Isaac, the story of which follows thereupon. The age of Isaac at the time of this event is not stated, but the fact that he is able to carry the wood of the offering shows that he had probably attained his full growth. The single question he asks his father and his otherwise unbroken silence combine to exhibit him in a favorable light, as thoughtful, docile and trustful. The Divine interposition to save the lad thus devoted to God constitutes him afresh the bearer of the covenant-promise and justifies its explicit renewal on this occasion. From this point onward the biographer of Isaac evidently has his marriage in view, for the two items that preceded the long 24th chaper, in which Rebekah's choice and coming are rehearsed, are, first, the brief genealogical paragraph that informs the reader of the development of Nahor's family just as far as to Rebekah, and second, the chapter that tells of Sarah's death and burial - an event clearly associated in the minds of all with the marriage of Isaac (see  Genesis 24:3 ,  Genesis 24:16 ,  Genesis 24:67 ). Divine interest in the choice of her who should be the mother of the promised seed is evident in every line of the chapter that dramatizes the betrothal of Isaac and Rebekah. Their first meeting is described at its close with the tender interest in such a scene natural to every descendant of the pair, and Issac is sketched as a man of a meditative turn ( Genesis 24:63 ) and an affectionate heart ( Genesis 24:67 ).

    2. Subsequent to Marriage

    The dismissal of the sons of Abraham's concubines to the "East-country" is associated with the statement that Isaac inherited all that Abraham had; yet it has been remarked that, besides supplying them with gifts, Abraham was doing them a further kindness in thus emancipating them from continued subjection to Isaac, the future head of the clan. After Abraham's death we are expressly informed that God "blessed Isaac his son" in fulfillment of previous promise. The section entitled "the tōledhōth (generations) of Isaac" extends from   Genesis 25:19 to   Genesis 35:29 . At the opening of it Isaac is dwelling at Beer-lahai-roi ( Genesis 25:11 ), then at Gerar ( Genesis 26:1 ,  Genesis 26:6 ) and "the valley of Gerar" ( Genesis 26:17 ), then at Beer-sheba ( Genesis 26:23;  Genesis 28:10 ), all localities in the Negeb or "South-country." But after the long narrative of the fortunes of Jacob and his family, occupying many years, we find Isaac at its close living where his father Abraham had lived, at Hebron.

    For 20 years Isaac and Rebekah remained childless; it was only upon the entreaty of Isaac that God granted them their twin sons. A famine was the usual signal for emigration to Egypt (compare  Genesis 12:10;  Genesis 42:2 ); and Isaac also appears to have been on his way thither for the same cause, when, at Gerar, he is forbidden by God to proceed, and occasion is found therein to renew to him the covenant-promise of his inheritance: land, posterity, honor and the Divine presence ( Genesis 26:1-4 ).

    But Isaac had also received from his father traditions of another sort; he too did not hesitate to say to the men of Gerar that his wife was his sister, with the same intent to save his own life, but without the same justification in fact, as in the case of Abraham's earlier stratagem. Yet even the discovery by the king of Gerar of this duplicity, and repeated quarrels about water in that dry country, did not suffice to endanger Isaac's status with the settled inhabitants, for his large household and great resources made him a valuable friend and a dangerous enemy.

    The favoritism which Isaac showed for one son and Rebekah for the other culminated in the painful scene when the paternal blessing was by guile obtained for Jacob, and in the subsequent enforced absence of Jacob from his parental home. Esau, too, afforded no comfort to his father and mother, and ere long he also withdrew from his father's clan. The subsequent reconciliation of the brothers permitted them to unite at length in paying the last honors to Isaac on his decease. Isaac was buried at Hebron where his parents had been buried ( Genesis 49:31 ), and where his place of sepulture is still honored.

    IV. Biblical References

    There is a great contrast between Abraham and Jacob on the one hand, and Isaac on the other, with respect to their prominence in the literature of the nation that traced to them its descent. To be sure, when the patriarchs as a group are to be named, Isaac takes his place in the stereotyped formula of "Abraham, Isaac and Jacob," or "Israel" (so 23 times in the Old Testament, 7 times in the New Testament).

    1. In the Old Testament

    But apart from this formula Isaac is referred to in the Old Testament only as follows. During the lifetime of Jacob the names of Abraham and Isaac are repeatedly linked in the same way as are all three subsequently: they form for that age the dynasty of the covenant. But several times Jacob calls Yahweh the God (or, the Fear; see infra) of Isaac, because Isaac is his own immediate predecessor in this chain of the faithful. Isaac is called the "gift" of God to Abraham, in the farewell address of Joshua, just as Jacob and Esau are called God's "gifts" to Isaac ( Joshua 24:3 f; compare Koran, Sura 6 84). The "house of Isaac" is used by Amos as a parallel expression for "Israel," and "the high places of Isaac" for "the sanctuaries of Israel" ( Amos 7:16 ,  Amos 7:9 ), in the same way as "Jacob" is often used elsewhere Septuagint in  Amos 7:16 reads "Jacob"). Other references to Isaac are simply as to his father's son or his children's father.

    2. In the New Testament

    He fares better in the New Testament. For, besides the genealogical references, Isaac's significance as the first to receive circumcision on the 8th day is remembered ( Acts 7:8 ); his position as first of the elect seed is set forth ( Romans 9:7 ); his begetting of two sons so unlike in their relation to the promise as were Esau and Jacob is remarked ( Romans 9:10 ); the facts of his being heir to the promise, a child of old age, and, though but one, the father of an innumerable progeny, are emphasized in Heb ( Hebrews 11:9-12 ), which also discovers the deeper significance of his sacrifice and restoration to his father  Hebrews 11:17-19; compare  James 2:21 ); and in the same context is noticed the faith in God implied in Isaac's blessing of his sons. But Isaac receives more attention than anywhere else in that famous passage in Gal ( Galatians 4:21-31 ), in which Paul uses Isaac and his mother as allegorical representations of Christians who are justified by faith in the promise of God, and are the free-born heirs of all the spiritual inheritance implied in that promise. Even Isaac's persecution by Ishmael has its counterpart in the attitude of the enemies of Paul's gospel toward him and his doctrines and converts.

    V. Views Other than the Historical

    Philo, the chief allegorizer of Scriptural narratives, has little to say of Isaac, whom he calls "the self-instructed nature." But modern critics have dissolved his personality by representing him as the personification of an ethnic group. "All Israel," writes Wellhausen (Prol., 6th edition, 316), "is grouped with the people of Edom under the old name Isaac ( Amos 7:9 ,  Amos 7:16 ) ... the material here is not mythical (as in Gen 1 through 11) but national." And just as Israel plus Edom had little or no significance in national customs or political events, when compared on the one hand with Israel alone (= Jacob), and with Israel plus Edom plus Moab and Ammon (= Abraham) on the other hand; so likewise the figure of Isaac is colorless and his story brief, as compared with the striking figures of Jacob on the one hand and of Abraham on the other hand, and the circumstantial stories of their lives.

    Other scholars will have none of this national view, because they believe Isaac to be the name of an ancient deity, the local numen of Beersheba. Stärk, whom others have followed, proposes to interpret the phrase translated "the Fear of Isaac" in   Genesis 31:42 ,  Genesis 31:53 as the name of this god used by his worshippers, the Terror Isaac, Isaac the terrible god. For the sense of Isaac in that case see above under I, 2, (1). Meyer (loc. cit.) defends the transfer of the name from a god to the hero of a myth, by comparing the sacrifice of Isaac ("the only story in which Isaac plays an independent role"!) with the Greek myth of Iphigenia's sacrifice (Hesiod, Euripides, etc.), in which the by-name of a goddess (Iphigenia) identified with Artemis has passed to the intended victim rescued by Artemis from death.

    The most recent critical utterances reject both the foregoing views of Isaac as in conflict with the data of Gen. Thus Gunkel (Schriften des Altes Testament, 5te Lieferung, 1910,41) writes: "Quite clearly the names of Abraham, Isaac, and all the patriarchal women are not tribal names.... The interpretation of the figures of Gen as nations furnishes by no means a general key." And again: "Against the entire assumption that the principal patriarchal figures are originally gods, is above all to be noted that the names Jacob and Abraham are proved by the Babylonian to be personal names in current use, and at the same time that the sagas about them can in no wise be understood as echoes of original myths. Even Winckler's more than bold attempt to explain these sagas as original calendar-myths must be pronounced a complete failure." Yet Gunkel and those who share his position are careful to distinguish their own view from that of the "apologetes," and to concede no more than the bare fact that there doubtless were once upon a time persons named Abraham Isaac, etc. For these critics Isaac is simply a name about which have crystallized cycles of folk-stories, that have their parallels in other lands and languages, but have received with a Hebrew name also a local coloring and significance on the lips of successive Hebrew story-tellers, saga-builders and finally collectors and editors; "Everyone who knows the history of sagas is sure that the saga is not able to preserve through the course of so many centuries, a true picture" of the patriarchs. See also Abraham , end.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

    I´saac, son of Abraham and Sarah, born in his parents' old age. The promise of a son had been made to them when Abraham was visited by the Lord in the plains of Mamre, and appeared so unlikely to be fulfilled, seeing that both Abraham and Sarah were 'well-stricken in years,' that its utterance caused the latter to laugh incredulously. Being reproved for her unbelief, she denied that she had laughed. The reason assigned for the special visitation thus promised was, in effect, that Abraham was pious, and would train his offspring in piety, so that he would become the founder of a great nation, and all the nations of the earth should be blessed in him.

    In due time Sarah gave birth to a son, who received the name of Isaac, in reference to the laughter occasioned by the announcement of the Divine intention (comp.;; ).

    The first fact that we read of in the history of Isaac, is the command given to his father to offer the youth—'thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest'—for a burnt-offering on a mountain in the land of Moriah. Abraham proceeded to obey the Divine direction, and was on the point of slaying Isaac, when his hand was withheld by the interposition of God, a ram for sacrifice being provided instead.

    This event has found no few detractors, and various attempts have been made to explain it away. But the only proper way is to consider it as it is represented in the sacred page. The command, then, was expressly designed to try Abraham's faith. Destined as the patriarch was to be the father of the faithful, was he worthy of his high and dignified position? If his own obedience was weak, he could not train others in faith, trust, and love: hence a trial was necessary. That he was not without holy dispositions was already known, and indeed recognized in the Divine favors of which he had been the object; but was he prepared to do and to suffer all God's will? Religious perfection and his position alike demanded a perfect heart: hence the kind of trial. If he were willing to surrender even his only child, and act himself both as offerer and priest in the sacrifice of the required victim, if he could so far conquer his natural affections, so subdue the father in his heart, then there could be no doubt that his will was wholly reconciled to God's, and that he was worthy of every trust, confidence, and honor. The trial was made, the fact was ascertained, the victim was not slain. What is there in this to which either religion or morality can take exception? This view is both confirmed and justified by the words of God (, sq.), 'because thou hast not withheld thy only son, in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.'

    Isaac passed his youthful days under the eye of his father, engaged in the care of flocks and herds up and down the plains of Canaan. At length his father wished to see him married. Abraham therefore gave a commission to his oldest and most trustworthy servant to the effect that, in order to prevent Isaac from taking a wife from among the daughters of the Canaanites, he should proceed into Mesopotamia, and, under the divine direction, choose a partner among his own relatives for his beloved son. Rebekah, in consequence, becomes Isaac's wife, when he was now forty years of age.

    Isaac having, in conjunction with his half-brother Ishmael, buried Abraham his father, 'in a good old age, in the cave of Machpelah,' took up a somewhat permanent residence 'by the well Lahai-roi,' where, being blessed of God, he lived in prosperity and at ease. One source of regret, however, he deeply felt. Rebekah was barren. In time, two sons, Jacob and Esau, are granted to his prayers. As the boys grow, Isaac gave a preference to Esau, who seems to have possessed those robuster qualities of character in which his father was defective, and therefore gratified him by such dainties as the pursuits of the chase enabled the youth to offer; while Jacob, 'a plain man dwelling in tents,' was an object of special regard to Rebekah—a division of feeling and a kind of partiality which became the source of much domestic unhappiness, as well as of jealousy and hatred between the two sons.

    A famine compels Isaac to seek food in some foreign land. Divinely warned not to go down to Egypt, the patriarch applies to a petty prince of Philistia, by name Abimelech, who permits him to dwell at Gerar. Here an event took place which has a parallel in the life of his father Abraham. Rebekah was his cousin: afraid lest she should be violently taken from him, and his own life sacrificed to the lust of Abimelech, he represented her as his sister, employing a latitude of meaning which the word 'sister' admits in Oriental usage. The subterfuge was discovered, and is justified by Isaac on the grounds which prompted him to resort to it.

    Another parallel event in the lives of Abraham and Isaac may be found by comparing together , sq., and 21:22, sq. If these parallels should excite a doubt in the mind of any one as to the credibility of the narratives, let him carefully peruse them, and we think that the simplicity and naturalness which pervade and characterize them will effectually substantiate the reality of the recorded events, and explode the notion that fiction has had anything to do in bringing the narrative into its present shape.

    Isaac, in his old age, was, by the practices of Rebekah and the art of Jacob, so imposed upon as to give his blessing to the younger son Jacob, instead of to the first-born Esau, and with that blessing to convey, as was usual, the right of headship in the family, together with his chief possessions. In the blessing which the aged patriarch pronounced on Jacob, it deserves notice how entirely the wished-for good is of an earthly and temporal nature, while the imagery which is employed serves to show the extent to which the poetical element prevailed as a constituent part of the Hebrew character (, sq.). Most natural, too, is the extreme agitation of the poor blind old man, on discovering the cheat which had been put upon him:—'And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said (to Esau), Who? where is he that hath taken venison and brought it me, and I have eaten, and have blessed him? Yea, and he shall be blessed.' Equally natural is the reply of Esau. The entire passage is of itself enough to vindicate the historical character and entire credibility of those sketches of the lives of the patriarchs which Genesis presents.

    The stealing, on the part of Jacob, of his father's blessing having angered Esau, who seems to have looked forward to Isaac's death as affording an opportunity for taking vengeance on his unjust brother, the aged patriarch is induced, at his wife's entreaty, to send Jacob into Mesopotamia, that, after his own example, his son might take a wife from among his kindred and people, 'of the daughters of Laban, thy mother's brother.'

    This is the last important act recorded of Isaac. Jacob having, agreeably to his father's command, married into Laban's family, returned, after some time, and found the old man at Mamre, in the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned. Here, 'being old and full of days' (180), Isaac 'gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him' (, sq.).

    Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia [17]

    After Abram's entrance into Canaan the Lord promised him an heir by Sarai his wife ( Genesis 17:15-17 ). Isaac was pre-eminently the child of promise ( Genesis 17:19;  Genesis 18:9-15;  Genesis 21:1-5 ). He was married to Rebekah, his cousin ( Genesis 24:1-67 ). He was Abraham's heir ( Genesis 25:5; God renewed the two great promises ( Genesis 12:1-3;  Genesis 26:1-5 ). Isaac was a farmer and herdsman ( Genesis 26:12-25 ).

    The Nuttall Encyclopedia [18]

    A Hebrew patriarch, son of Abraham, born to him when he was old; a mild man with no great force of character, and a contrast to Ishmael, his half-brother; lived to a great age.