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Subject: How old was Isaac when Abraham was told to sacrifice him?"


q.gif (1639 bytes)   How old was Isaac when God instructed Abraham to offer him as a sacrifice?


a.gif (1659 bytes)   The Bible does not say how old Isaac was at that time, but it does refer to him as a “lad.”   Genesis 22:1-3 says, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.    And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.   And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”  Genesis 22:5-6 says, ‘'And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.   And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.”

     Ishmael was called a “lad” at 15-16 years old.  Genesis 21:17-20 says, “And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.   Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.   And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.   And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.”

     Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born.  Genesis 16:16 says, “And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram.”  Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born.  Genesis 21:5 says, “And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.”  So that makes Ishmael 14 years old when Isaac was born.  Then, Ishmael is sent away for mocking Isaac when he was weaned.  Genesis 21:8-10 now refers to Isaac as a “child,”  “And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.   And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.   Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.”

     We do not know exactly how old Isaac was when he was weaned.  Was he 1 year old?  If so, then Ishmael would have been 15 years old.  If Isaac was 2 years old when he was weaned, then Ishmael would have been 16 years old.  So Ishmael was at least 15-16 years od when he was called a “lad.”

     This is about the same age as when Joseph was called a “lad,” at 17 years old.  Genesis 37:2 says, “These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.”

     1 Samuel 20:35-40 says, “And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him.   And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him.    And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee?   And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan's lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master.   But the lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.   And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city.”  This lad is specifically called “little.”  You would not give a bow and sharp arrows to toddler.  It would have to be a boy old enough to be trusted that he would not get hurt with the equipment.  But this young man is obviously on the “younger” side of those called “lads.”

     2 Kings 4:17-20 says, “And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life.   And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers.   And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother.   And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.”  The lad was big enough to “carry” the child all the way back to his mother.

     John 6:5-9 says, “When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?   And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.   Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.   One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him,   There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?”  There is no mention of parents being there with the lad.  One would think that he was not a small boy, if he was there alone, and with that amount of food, and up in the mountain.  John 6:3 says, “And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.”

     Isaac would have had to be big and strong enough to carry all of the wood for the sacrifice.  Genesis 22:6 says, “And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together,” so Isaac could not have been a little boy.

     We know that Joseph was called a “lad” at 17 years old, and that Ishmael was called a “lad” around the age of 15-16 years old, or so.  So when Abraham called Isaac a “lad” (and did not add a descriptive term like “little” to it), then from the information that we have, we would guess Isaac to have been a teenager when this incident took place.  But once again, the Bible does not give his exact age to us.


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