Isaac ī´zək [key] [Heb.,=laughter], according to the patriarchal narratives of the Book of Genesis, Isaac was the only son of Abraham and Sara. He married Rebecca, and their sons were Esau and Jacob. Ishmael was his half-brother. As a supreme act of faith Abraham offered him at an early age as a sacrifice to God—a deed prevented by divine intervention. The Philistine king Abimelech gave him shelter in time of famine, and he grew rich in lands and possessions. Before his death, Rebecca, by ruse, caused him to bless Jacob in place of Esau. Isaac is also attested in the Qur'an. Scholarship generally regards the patriarchal stories of Genesis, including those concerning Isaac, as having their origin in folk memories and oral traditions of the early Hebrew pastoralist experience.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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