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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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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 .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Isaac'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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