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(i' zac) Personal name meaning “laughter.” Only son of Abraham by Sarah and a patriarch of the nation of Israel.

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.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Isaac'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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