According to the biblical
Book of Genesis
Book of Genesis , ISAAC (/ˈaɪzək/ ;
Hebrew : יִצְחָק, Modern Yiṣḥāq, Tiberian Jisˤħɔ̆q;
"he will laugh"; Arabic : إسحٰق/إسحاق, Isḥāq) was
the son of
Sarah and father of
Jacob ; his name means "he
laughs", reflecting Sarah's response when told that she would have a
child. He was one of the three patriarchs of the
Israelites , the
only one whose name was not changed, and the only one who did not move
Canaan . He died when he was 180 years old, the longest-lived
of the three.
The biblical narrative of
Isaac has influenced various religious
traditions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Modern
scholarship doubts the existence of figures from Genesis, including
* 1 Etymology
* 2 Genesis narrative
* 2.1 Birth
* 2.2 Binding
* 2.3 Family life
* 2.4 Migration
* 2.5 Birthright
* 2.6 Family tree
* 3 Burial site
* 4 Jewish views
* 5 Christian views
* 6 Islamic views
* 7 Academic
* 8 In art
* 9 See also
* 10 Notes
* 11 Citations
* 12 References
* 13 External links
The anglicized name
Isaac is a transliteration of the Hebrew term
Yiṣḥāq which literally means "He laughs/will laugh." Ugaritic
texts dating from the 13th century BCE refer to the benevolent smile
of the Canaanite deity El . Genesis, however, ascribes the laughter
to Isaac's parents,
Abraham and Sarah, rather than El. According to
the biblical narrative,
Abraham fell on his face and laughed when God
Elohim ) imparted the news of their son's eventual birth. He
Sarah was past the age of childbearing; both she and
Abraham were advanced in age. Later, when
Sarah overheard three
messengers of the Lord renew the promise, she laughed inwardly for the
Sarah denied laughing when
It was prophesied to the patriarch
Abraham that he would have a son
and that his name should be Isaac. When
Abraham became one hundred
years old, this son was born to him by his first wife Sarah. Though
this was Abraham's second son it was Sarah's first and only child.
On the eighth day from his birth,
Isaac was circumcised , as was
necessary for all males of Abraham's household, in order to be in
Yahweh 's covenant.
Isaac had been weaned,
Ishmael mocking, and urged her
husband to cast out
Hagar the bondservant and her son, so that Isaac
would be Abraham's sole heir.
Abraham was hesitant, but at God's order
he listened to his wife's request.
The Akedah, mosaic on the floor of
Beit Alfa Synagogue Main
Binding of Isaac
Binding of Isaac See also:
At some point in Isaac's youth, his father
Abraham brought him to
Moriah . At God's command,
Abraham was to build a sacrificial
altar and sacrifice his son
Isaac upon it. After he had bound his son
to the altar and drawn his knife to kill him, at the very last moment
an angel of
Abraham from proceeding. Rather, he was
directed to sacrifice instead a nearby ram that was stuck in thickets.
This event served as a test of Abraham's faith in God, not as an
actual human sacrifice. The birth of
Esau and Jacob, as painted
Isaac was 40,
Eliezer , his steward, into
Mesopotamia to find a wife for Isaac, from his nephew
Eliezer chose the
Aramean Rebekah for Isaac. After many years
of marriage to Isaac, Rebekah had still not given birth to a child and
was believed to be barren.
Isaac prayed for her and she conceived.
Rebekah gave birth to twin boys,
Isaac was 60 years
old when his two sons were born.
Isaac favored Esau, and Rebekah
Isaac is unique among the patriarchs for remaining faithful to his
wife, and for not having concubines.
At the age of 75,
Isaac moved to Beer-lahai-roi after his father
died. When the land experienced famine, he removed to the Philistine
Gerar where his father once lived. This land was still under
the control of King
Abimelech as it was in the days of Abraham. Like
Isaac also deceived
Abimelech about his wife and also got
into the well business. He had gone back to all of the wells that his
father dug and saw that they were all stopped up with earth. The
Philistines did this after
Abraham died. So,
Isaac unearthed them and
began to dig for more wells all the way to
Beersheba , where he made a
pact with Abimelech, just like in the day of his father. Isaac
blessing his son, as painted by
Giotto di Bondone
Giotto di Bondone
Isaac grew old and became blind. He called his son
Esau and directed
him to procure some venison for him, in order to receive Isaac's
Esau was hunting, Jacob, after listening to his
mother's advice, deceived his blind father by misrepresenting himself
Esau and thereby obtained his father's blessing, such that Jacob
became Isaac's primary heir and
Esau was left in an inferior position.
According to Genesis 25:29–34,
Esau had previously sold his
Jacob for "bread and stew of lentils". Thereafter, Isaac
Mesopotamia to take a wife of his mother's brother's
house. After 20 years working for his uncle Laban ,
home. He reconciled with his twin brother Esau, then he and Esau
buried their father, Isaac, in
Hebron after he died at the age of 180.
According to local tradition, the graves of
Isaac and Rebekah , along
with the graves of
Leah , are in the
Cave of the Patriarchs .
In rabbinical tradition , the age of
Isaac at the time of binding is
taken to be 37, which contrasts with common portrayals of
Isaac as a
child. The rabbis also thought that the reason for the death of Sarah
was the news of the intended sacrifice of Isaac. The sacrifice of
Isaac is cited in appeals for the mercy of
God in later Jewish
traditions. The post-biblical Jewish interpretations often elaborate
the role of
Isaac beyond the biblical description and primarily focus
on Abraham's intended sacrifice of Isaac, called the aqedah
("binding"). According to a version of these interpretations, Isaac
died in the sacrifice and was revived. According to many accounts of
Aggadah , unlike the Bible, it is
Satan who is testing
Isaac as an
God . Isaac's willingness to follow God's command at the
cost of his death has been a model for many Jews who preferred
martyrdom to violation of the Jewish law .
According to the Jewish tradition,
Isaac instituted the afternoon
prayer. This tradition is based on Genesis chapter 24, verse 63
Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide").
Isaac was the only patriarch who stayed in
Canaan during his whole
life and though once he tried to leave,
God told him not to do so.
Rabbinic tradition gave the explanation that
Isaac was almost
sacrificed and anything dedicated as a sacrifice may not leave the
Land of Israel .
Isaac was the oldest of the biblical patriarchs at
the time of his death, and the only patriarch whose name was not
Rabbinic literature also linked Isaac's blindness in old age, as
stated in the Bible, to the sacrificial binding: Isaac's eyes went
blind because the tears of angels present at the time of his sacrifice
fell on Isaac's eyes.
Isaac embraces his father
Abraham after the
Binding of Isaac
Binding of Isaac ,
The early Christian church continued and developed the New Testament
Isaac as a type of Christ and the Church being both "the son
of the promise" and the "father of the faithful".
Tertullian draws a
parallel between Isaac's bearing the wood for the sacrificial fire
with Christ's carrying his cross. and there was a general agreement
that, while all the sacrifices of the Old Law were anticipations of
that on Calvary, the sacrifice of
Isaac was so "in a pre-eminent way".
Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church consider
Isaac as a Saint along with other biblical patriarchs . Along with
those of other patriarchs and the
Old Testament Righteous, his feast
day is celebrated in the
Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church and the Byzantine
rite of the Catholic Church on the Second Sunday before Christmas
(December 11–17), under the title the Sunday of the Forefathers.
New Testament states
Isaac was "offered up" by
father, and that
Isaac blessed his sons. Paul contrasted Isaac,
symbolizing Christian liberty , with the rejected older son Ishmael,
Hagar is associated with the Sinai covenant,
Sarah is associated with the covenant of grace, into which her
Isaac enters. The
Epistle of James chapter 2, verses 21–24,
states that the sacrifice of
Isaac shows that justification (in the
Johannine sense) requires both faith and works.
Epistle to the Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews , Abraham's willingness to follow God's
command to sacrifice
Isaac is used as an example of faith as is
Isaac's action in blessing
Esau with reference to the future
Abraham In verse 19, the author views the release
Isaac from sacrifice as analogous to the resurrection of
the idea of the sacrifice of
Isaac being a prefigure of the sacrifice
Jesus on the cross .
Isaac in Islam
Isaac in Islam
Cave of the Patriarchs ,
Isaac (Arabic : إسحاق ʾIsḥāq) is revered by
Muslims to be a prophet of
Isaac as a prophet
Islam , and describes him as the father of the
Israelites and a
righteous servant of
Isaac, along with
Ishmael , is highly important for Muslims for
continuing to preach the message of monotheism after his father
Abraham . Among Isaac's children was the follow-up
Jacob , who too is venerated an Islamic prophet.
Isaac is mentioned fifteen times by name in the Qur\'an , often with
his father and his son,
Jacob . The Qur\'an states that Abraham
received "good tidings of Isaac, a prophet, of the righteous", and
God blessed them both (37: 12). In a fuller description, when
angels came to
Abraham to tell him of the future punishment to be
Sodom and Gomorrah
Sodom and Gomorrah , his wife,
Sarah , "laughed, and We
gave her good tidings of Isaac, and after
Isaac of (a grandson) Jacob"
(11: 71–74); and it is further explained that this event will take
Abraham and Sarah's old age. Several verses speak of
Isaac as a "gift" to
Abraham (6: 84; 14: 49–50), and 24: 26–27
God made "prophethood and the Book to be among his
offspring", which has been interpreted to refer to Abraham's two
prophetic sons, his prophetic grandson
Jacob , and his prophetic
great-grandson Joseph . In the Qur\'an , it later narrates that
Abraham also praised
God for giving him
Isaac in his old
age (14: 39–41).
Elsewhere in the Qur\'an ,
Isaac is mentioned in lists: Joseph
follows the religion of his forefathers Abraham,
38) and speaks of
God 's favor to them (12: 6);
Jacob 's sons all
testify their faith and promise to worship the
God that their
Ishmael and Isaac", worshiped (2: 127); and the
Qur'an commands Muslims to believe in the revelations that were given
to "Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac,
Jacob and the Patriarchs" (2: 136; 3:
84). In the Qur\'an 's narrative of Abraham's near-sacrifice of his
son (37: 102), the name of the son is not mentioned and debate has
continued over the son's identity, though many feel that the identity
is the least important element in a story which is given to show the
courage that one develops through faith.
Isaac as a prophet and a righteous man of
Jacob are mentioned as being bestowed upon
Abraham as gifts
of God, who then worshipped
God only and were righteous leaders in the
way of God:
And We bestowed on him
Isaac and, as an additional gift, (a
grandson), Jacob, and We made righteous men of every one (of them).
And We made them leaders, guiding (men) by Our Command, and We sent
them inspiration to do good deeds, to establish regular prayers, and
to practise regular charity; and they constantly served Us (and Us
only). — Quran, sura 21 (
Al-Anbiya ), ayah 72–73
And WE gave him the glad tidings of Isaac, a Prophet, and one of the
righteous. — Quran, sura 37 (
As-Saaffat ), ayah 112
Some scholars have described
Isaac as "a legendary figure" or "as a
figure representing tribal history, or "as a seminomadic leader." The
stories of Isaac, like other patriarchal stories of Genesis, are
generally believed to have "their origin in folk memories and oral
traditions of the early Hebrew pastoralist experience." The Cambridge
Companion to the
Bible makes the following comment on the biblical
stories of the patriarchs:
Yet for all that these stories maintain a distance between their
world and that of their time of literary growth and composition, they
reflect the political realities of the later periods. Many of the
narratives deal with the relationship between the ancestors and
peoples who were part of Israel's political world at the time the
stories began to be written down (eighth century B.C.E.). Lot is the
ancestor of the Transjordanian peoples of
Ammon and Moab, and Ishmael
personifies the nomadic peoples known to have inhabited north Arabia ,
although located in the
Old Testament in the
Edom (36:1), and Laban represents the
Aramean states to Israel's
north. A persistent theme is that of difference between the ancestors
and the indigenous Canaanites… In fact, the theme of the differences
between Judah and Israel , as personified by the ancestors, and the
neighboring peoples of the time of the monarchy is pressed effectively
into theological service to articulate the choosing by
God of Judah
and Israel to bring blessing to all peoples."
Martin Noth , a scholar of the Hebrew Bible, the
Isaac date back to an older cultural stage than that of
the West-Jordanian Jacob. At that era, the
Israelite tribes were not
yet sedentary. In the course of looking for grazing areas, they had
come in contact in southern
Philistia with the inhabitants of the
settled countryside. The biblical historian, A. Jopsen, believes in
the connection between the
Isaac traditions and the north, and in
support of this theory adduces Amos 7:9 ("the high places of Isaac").
Albrecht Alt and
Martin Noth hold that, "The figure of
enhanced when the theme of promise, previously bound to the cults of
God the Fathers' was incorporated into the
Israelite creed during
the southern-Palestinian stage of the growth of the Pentateuch
tradition." According to Martin Noth, at the Southern Palestinian
stage of the growth of the Pentateuch tradition,
established as one of the biblical patriarchs, but his traditions were
receded in the favor of Abraham.
Form critics variously assign passages like Genesis chapter 26,
verses 6–11, to the
Jahwist source, and Genesis chapter 20 verses
1–7, chapter 21, verse 1 to chapter 22, verse 14 and chapter 22,
verse 19 to the
Elohist . According to the compilation hypothesis, the
formulaic use of the word toledoth (generations) indicates that
Genesis chapter 11, verse 27 to chapter 25, verse 19 is Isaac's record
through Abraham's death (with Ishmael's record appended), and Genesis
chapter 25, verse 19 to chapter 37, verse 2 is Jacob's record through
Isaac's death (with Esau's records appended).
The earliest Christian portrayal of
Isaac is found in the Roman
catacomb frescoes . Excluding the fragments, Alison Moore Smith
classifies these artistic works in three categories:
Isaac towards the altar; or
Isaac approaches with the
bundle of sticks,
Abraham having preceded him to the place of offering
Abraham is upon a pedestal and
Isaac stands near at hand, both
figures in orant attitude ....
Abraham is shown about to sacrifice
Isaac while the latter stands or kneels on the ground beside the
Isaac by the hair. Occasionally the
ram is added to the scene and in the later paintings the Hand of God
emerges from above."
* Christianity portal
* Biblical narratives and the Qur\'an
Testament of Isaac
* Wife–sister narratives in the
Book of Genesis
Book of Genesis – three such
Abraham (two) and
* ^ A B C deClaise-Walford 2000 , p. 647.
* ^ Craig A. Evans; Joel N. Lohr;
David L. Petersen (20 March
2012). The Book of Genesis: Composition, Reception, and
Interpretation. BRILL. p. 64. ISBN 90-04-22653-2 .
* ^ Strong\'s Concordance , Strong, James, ed., Isaac, Isaac's,
3327 יִצְחָק 3446, 2464.
* ^ A B C D E Encyclopedia of Religion, Isaac.
* ^ Genesis 17:15–19 18:10–15
* ^ Singer, Isidore ; Broydé,
Isaac (1901–1906). "Isaac". In
Singer, Isidore ; Adler, Cyrus ; et al.
Jewish Encyclopedia . New
York: Funk & Wagnalls.
* ^ Hirsch, Emil G. ; Bacher, Wilhelm ; Lauterbach,
Jacob Zallel ;
Jacobs, Joseph ; Montgomery, Mary W. (1901–1906). "
In Singer, Isidore ; Adler, Cyrus ; et al.
Jewish Encyclopedia . New
York: Funk & Wagnalls.
* ^ Genesis 18:10–12
* ^ Genesis 16:15
* ^ Genesis 21:1–5
* ^ Genesis 21:8–12
* ^ Hebrews 11:17
* ^ Genesis 22
* ^ Genesis 25:26
* ^ Genesis 25:20–28
* ^ Title= Encyclopaedia Judaica Volume 10 pg=34
* ^ Genesis 35:22
* ^ Genesis 25:11
* ^ Genesis 26
Jewish Encyclopedia , Isaac.
* ^ Genesis 35:28–29
* ^ Genesis 20:12:
Sarah was the half–sister of Abraham.
* ^ Genesis 22:21-22: Uz, Buz, Kemuel, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, and
* ^ A B C D E The New Encyclopedia of Judaism, Isaac.
Encyclopædia Britannica , Isaac.
* ^ A B Brock, Sebastian P., Brill's New Pauly, Isaac.
* ^ Genesis 24:63
* ^ Genesis 26:2
* ^ A B Easton, M. G., Illustrated
Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed.,
* ^ Cross and Livingstone, Oxford Dictionary of the Christian
Church, 1974, art ISAAC
* ^ Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Doctrines, A & C Black, 1965. p.
* ^ The patriarchs, prophets and certain other Old Testament
figures have been and always will be honored as saints in all the
Church's liturgical traditions. – Catechism of the Catholic Church
* ^ http://orthodoxwiki.org/Sunday_of_the_Forefathers
* ^ Liturgy > Liturgical year >The Christmas Fast – Byzantine
Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh
* ^ Galatians 4:21–31
* ^ James 2:21–24
* ^ Encyclopedia of Christianity, Bowden, John, ed., Isaac.
* ^ Hebrews 11:17–20
* ^ see F.F. Bruce, The
Epistle to the Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews Marshall. Morgan and
Scott, 1964 pp. 308–13 for all this paragraph.
* ^ Encyclopedia of Islam, W. Montgomery Watt, Isaac
* ^ Concise Encyclopedia of Islam, C. Glasse, Isaac
* ^ A B C D E F Eerdmans Encyclopedia of Christianity, Isaac, p.
Columbia Encyclopedia , Isaac.
* ^ The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, p. 59.
* ^ Morris, Henry M. (1976). The Genesis Record: A Scientific and
Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings. Grand Rapids,
Baker Book House . pp. 26–30. ISBN 0-8010-6004-4 .
* ^ A B Smith, Alison Moore (1922). "The Iconography of the
Isaac in Early Christian Art". American Journal of
Archaeology. 26 (2): 159–73.
JSTOR 497708 . doi :10.2307/497708 .
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University Press. ISBN 0-19-211691-6 .
* Paul Lagasse; Lora Goldman; Archie Hobson; Susan R. Norton, eds.
Columbia Encyclopedia (6th ed.). Gale Group. ISBN
* P.J. Bearman; Th. Bianquis; C.E. Bosworth; E. van Donzel; W.P.
Heinrichs (eds.). Encyclopaedia of
Islam Online. Brill Academic
Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912 .
* Erwin Fahlbusch; William Geoffrey Bromiley, eds. (2001).
Encyclopedia of Christianity (1st ed.). Eerdmans Publishing Company,
and Brill. ISBN 0-8028-2414-5 .
* John Bowden, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Christianity (1st ed.).
Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-522393-4 .
* The New Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica,
Incorporated; Rev Ed edition. 2005. ISBN 978-1-59339-236-9 .
* Jane Dammen McAuliffe, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of the Qur\'an .
Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 978-90-04-12356-4 .
* Geoffrey Wigoder, ed. (2002). The New Encyclopedia of
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* Lindsay Jones, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Religion (2nd ed.).
MacMillan Reference Books. ISBN 978-0-02-865733-2 .
* deClaise-Walford, Nancy (2000). "Isaac". In
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