Isaac (Âizak). [Heb. Yischaq, â€œhe laughsâ€; Gr. Isaak.] The son of Abraham, according to the promise (Gen 21:1-3; Gal 4:28). The name Isaac, â€œhe laughs,â€ reflects his parents' joy at the time of his birth (Gen 21:6, 7). Both Abraham and Sarah had laughed questioningly and somewhat incredulously at the promise that Sarah should have a son (chs 17:17-19; 18:9-15), but with joy when the promise was fulfilled (ch 21:3, 6). From Abraham's entrance into Palestine 25 years prior to Isaac's birth, God had repeatedly promised him a son and heir (chs 12:2, 4; 13:15, 16; 15:4, 5, 13, 18; 17:2-7; 18:10), finally even specifying his name and the time when he would be born (ch 17:16-21). Remaining childless at an advanced age, and not fully understanding the divine purpose, Abraham had at one time proposed adopting Eliezer, his servant, as son and heir, but God told him that the heir was to be his own son (ch 15:1-6). Soon thereafter Abraham married Hagar, Sarah's maid, who bore him Ishmael when he had been in Canaan 11 years (ch 16:1-5, 15, 16). When, 13 years later, God announced the imminent birth of Isaac (ch 17:1-8, 15-17), Abraham interceded on behalf of Ishmael, whom he dearly loved and to whom he had looked as his son and heir (vs 18, 19). A year later Isaac was born, Abraham being 100 and Sarah 90 years of age (ch 17:17; cf. v 1; ch 21:5). Isaac was circumcised on the 8th day (ch 21:4), in recognition of the covenant promise (ch 17:2-17). Because of jealousies and frictions Hagar and Ishmael were expelled from the household when Isaac was weaned (ch 21:9-14). When Isaac was a young man God put Abraham to the supreme test of faith with the command to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering (ch 22:1-14). Abraham obeyed in faith that God would raise Isaac from the dead (Heb 11:17-19), but at the last moment his hand was stayed by a voice from heaven. This test demonstrated his complete submission to God and reliance upon Him. Three years after Sarah's death (Gen 23:1; cf. ch 17:17), when Isaac became 40 years of age (chs 24:1-20; 25:20), Abraham arranged for a wife for himâ€”Rebekahâ€”from among relatives in the vicinity of Haran. The old patriarch feared that intermarriage with the idolatrous Canaanites would pervert Isaac's faith and defeat the divine purpose (ch 24). Isaac, who continued to dwell in the southland where he had been born (ch 24:62; cf. ch 20:1), appears to have been of a retiring and contemplative disposition, affectionate and indulgent (chs 24:63, 67; 25:28; 27:1-5, 30-40). With the coming of drought and famine, Isaac moved his encampment some 50 mi. (c. 80 km.) north to Gerar in the fertile plain south of Gaza (ch 26:1, 6). There God appeared to him and renewed the covenant formerly made with Abraham (vs 2-5). While sojourning at Gerar Isaac incurred the displeasure of Abimelech, a Philistine chieftain, through claiming that Rebekah was his sister, not his wife (vs 6-16). Prosperous, and the head of a large household, Isaac kept extensive flocks and herds (ch 26:13-16; cf. ch 23:6). As a result of competition for the limited water supply of the region, Isaac dug 2 wells only to surrender them without an argument when his right to them was challenged (ch 26:17-23). He later found an adequate water supply at Beer-sheba, â€œthe well of the oath.â€ Here he and the Philistine Abimelech entered into a peace pact (ch 26:23, 26-33; cf. ch 28:10), and here God again renewed the covenant promise (ch 26:24, 25).
Twenty years after their marriage, Rebekah gave birth to twins, whom they named Esau and Jacob (Gen 25:25, 26; cf. v 20). God revealed that the preeminence should go to Jacob (v 23), but Isaac favored Esau (v 28) and, in his old age, prepared to confer the birthright on him (ch 27:1-5). Taking advantage of Isaac's advanced age and dull senses, Rebekah contrived with Jacob to trick her husband into awarding the birthright to Jacob instead (vs 6-29). The plot was successful, but Jacob, to avoid Esau's revenge, was forced to flee to Haran, where he sojourned for about 20 years (chs 27:46 to 28:5). Isaac died at the great age of 180 years and his sons, Jacob and Esau, buried him at Mamre, near Hebron, in the family burial place (Gen 35:27-29; 49:30, 31).
Horn, Siegfried H., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1979.