(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 7:16).
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;
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.