Advent 2010


Although Isaac was the son of Abraham and the father of Jacob/Israel, he appears in the Genesis narrative more or less as background. He lived 180 years and was the chief of his tribe for 105 of those years.

Age Event
36 Sarah, his mother dies
40 Marries his cousin Rebekah
60 Rebekah gives birth to twins
75 Abraham, his father dies
100 Esau marries Beeri the Hittite
124 His half-brother Ishmael dies
125(?) Jacob returns
180 Dies and is buried

We know next to nothing about most of Isaac’s life. For most of his life, the Genesis narrative is focused on his son Jacob/Israel. While Isaac’s life could not have been uneventful or unremarkable, it is unrecorded.

It is clear from the text that some kind of famine drove Isaac’s household south into the region of the Negev and then north again, eventually settling in the region of Beersheba.

During this period in the south, Isaac interacts with the ruler of a people called Philistines (although they are clearly distinct from the later Philistines in the book of Judges and onward). The entire narrative (in Genesis 26) is an echo of Abraham’s own dealings with these people (in Genesis 20).

He lived to see heartbreak. His sons were constantly in competition. His oldest son married Canaanites and rejected the culture and the God of his forefathers. His youngest son tricked him, then spent most of his life building up a competing tribe in Aram before returning to Canaan.

At his death, he had lived to see his grandsons perpetrate heinous acts – the mutilation of a city (Genesis 34), sexual sin (Gen 35:22), and possibly even the worst of all, selling one of their own into slavery (Genesis 37).


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