Isaac
Isaac digging for the wells, imagined in a Bible illustration (c. 1900)
Personal
Born Canaan
Died Canaan
Spouse Rebecca
Children Esau
Jacob
Parents

According to the biblical Book of Genesis, Isaac (/ˈzək/; Hebrew: יִצְחָק, Standard Yiṣḥáq Tiberian Yiṣḥāq; Arabic: إسحٰق/إسحاق, Isḥāq) was the son of Abraham and Sarah and father of Jacob; his name means "heel", reflecting when Sarah laughed in disbelief when told that she would have a child. In the Bible, he is one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites, the only one whose name was not changed, and the only one who did not move out of Canaan. According to the narrative, 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. The consensus of modern scholarship doubts the existence of figures from Genesis, including Isaac.

Etymology

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 (Hebrew, Elohim) imparted the news of their son's eventual birth. He laughed because 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 same reason. Sarah denied laughing when God questioned Abraham about it.

At some point in Isaac's youth, his father Abraham brought him to Mount 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 God prevented Abraham from proceeding. Rather, he was directed to sacrifice instead a nearby ram that was stuck in thickets.

Burial site

According to local tradition, the graves of Isaac and Rebekah, along with the graves of Abraham and Sarah and Jacob and Leah, are in the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Images


Isaac Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.