Every Day Bible

How Old Was Isaac?

In Wednesday night’s class, in review, the question was asked: “How old was Isaac when Abraham nearly sacrified him?”

I don’t expect to come up with a firm answer to this question, because I didn’t see any reference points in the text that would help direct me towards an absolute answer. Here’s what I’ve found…please leave a comment on this message if you have any ideas…
The Sacrifice of Isaac: 1590 painting by Empoli.

  • Isaac had been weaned. He was old enough to take off on a journey with his father and carry enough firewood to roast himself. His reasoning had developed enough to deduce the realization that there was wood and knife, but no sacrificial lamb. In my mind, that’d rule out anything below 8-10ish?
  • One author estimates Abaham’s age at ~125 here, putting Isaac at ~25. The histories of Josephus agree with this aging in “The Antiquities of the Jews” Book 1, Chapter 13, Paragraphs 3-4 In fact, Josephus recods a traditional rendeing of what Abraham said when Isaac questioned him further:

    As soon as the altar was prepared, and Abraham had laid on the wood, and all things were entirely ready, he said to his son, “O son, I poured out a vast number of prayers that I might have thee for my son; when thou wast come into the world, there was nothing that could contribute to thy support for which I was not greatly solicitous, nor any thing wherein I thought myself happier than to see thee grown up to man’s estate, and that I might leave thee at my death the successor to my dominion; but since it was by God’s will that I became thy father, and it is now his will that I relinquish thee, bear this consecration to God with a generous mind; for I resign thee up to God who has thought fit now to require this testimony of honor to himself, on account of the favors he hath conferred on me, in being to me a supporter and defender. Accordingly thou, my son, wilt now die, not in any common way of going out of the world, but sent to God, the Father of all men, beforehand, by thy own father, in the nature of a sacrifice. I suppose he thinks thee worthy to get clear of this world neither by disease, neither by war, nor by any other severe way, by which death usually comes upon men, but so that he will receive thy soul with prayers and holy offices of religion, and will place thee near to himself, and thou wilt there be to me a succorer and supporter in my old age; on which account I principally brought thee up, and thou wilt thereby procure me God for my Comforter instead of thyself.”

    4. Now Isaac was of such a generous disposition as became the son of such a father, and was pleased with this discourse; and said, “That he was not worthy to be born at first, if he should reject the determination of God and of his father, and should not resign himself up readily to both their pleasures; since it would have been unjust if he had not obeyed, even if his father alone had so resolved.” So he went immediately to the altar to be sacrificed.

    I don’t know if this story is entirely accurate, but it sure gives pause for thought!

  • Another blogger cites Talmud writings in support of age 37.

    Though the text does not state Isaac age at the sacrifice, Jewish tradition (ie: Talmudic scholars) teach that Isaac was 37 years old.

    Wikipedia suggests this is because the next recorded story (Genesis 22-23) is the death of Sarah, at 127. She was 90 at his birth, so the oldest he could have been would be 37. The Talmud adds a bit of (likely exaggerated) detail to the story as well: dialogue between Abraham and Isaac on this journey:

    “By the life of God, my father, I know no evil, I am conscious of no regret. Blessed be the Lord who has desired me this day.”

Talk about trust! Yikes!

This is the exact opposite of the story of the young man Jesus met (Matthew 19:22). He asked what to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said he’d done well so far in his keeping of the commandments, even from his childhood, but he lacked one thing: sell all he had, and give it to the poor.

Jesus wants every bit of me. I’m truly blessed when I learn to give him what he asks. See Hebrews 11:17-19.

Every Day Bible

What’s Up with Sodom & Gomorrah?

In Genesis 18-19 is the now famous of Sodom and Gomorrah. Almost everything about this story is unique in some way.

Messengers (angels) of God come to visit Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18:2. Abraham saw them standing there (apparantly from nowhere) and rushed to meet them, going out of his way to be hospitable. Sarah’s skills as a hostess are quite impressive given Abraham’s request: quick, make bread! While Sarah’s sifting out her flour, no doubt, the angels ask where she is. (Genesis 18:9-15)

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“There, in the tent,” he said.”
Then the LORD said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Did you notice the change in number here? They ask a question. Abraham answers. GOD (He) makes a promise.

Were the messengers actually God? Did they stand there and suddenly God spoke from the clouds? Did they disappear? Who knows? Tehn Sarah laughs to herself and thinks about how old she is…then HE (singluar, the LORD) asks, “Why did you laugh?” Her response: “I didn’t.”

The real lesson here is remembering that nothing is too hard for God. Remember the kids’ song…”My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do!” I wonder if God sang it to her…

But back to brimstone. Abraham is walking with the two guests as they are leaving when GOD says “Shall I hide from Abraham what’s about to happen?” Then GOD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they ahve done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

There’s no doubt in my mind that God knew already of the situation in Sodom and Gomorrah. I’d assume that this is a literary device designed to pique Abraham’s curiosity. Abraham must have already known something of the town’s reputation: he realized that he probably needed to argue for a very low number of righteous for salvation.

The angels met Lot at the town gates. Lot seems quick to invite them in and insist that they leave early in the morning (Genesis 19:1-3). Before nightfall the men from all over the town (young and old) are crying out for the men for homosexual acts. Most people associate Sodom and Gomorrah as a story about the condemnation of homosexuality — but as of yet, the town’s sin is unnamed. Neither the angels nor God have given details as to the type of unrighteouness that brings these twin towns under condemnation.

A few things I notice in the next few verses:

  • Lot went OUTSIDE to talk with the men of the town. Was there something he didn’t want his special guests to know? I think he may have known they were divine.
  • Lot addressed the townspeople as “my friends.” (No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.) James 4:4 says that friendship with the world equates to being an enemy of God, and several other passages echo this sentiment. For all the trouble he’s going to, including nearly risking his life for these men, he still is awfully buddy-buddy with these wicked men.
  • Lot offers them his daughters.

    Lot. Are you serious? Your daughters? This is a passage that elicits the “are you on CRACK!??” response! What father would offer his two daughters — virgin, pure daughters — to the homosexual men who want to assualt GOD’S messengers? I can’t begin to list what I think is wrong with this passage. “Do with them what you want, but don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.” Aren’t your children in your protection? Seriously, Lot! What’s up with this?? (end of rant)

  • The townspeople are not satisifed. They call him a judge. Throughout the years unnumbered hypocrites have cast judgment while truly standing condemned. “Judge” is a dirty word as far back as Sodom and Gomorrah and Moses (after killing the Egyptian who harassed his Hebrew countryman). Never forget, though, that though our business is not judging, we will be judged along with all others. It’s not our place to be God’s judge, jury, and executioners, but it is always our place to be his mouthpiece and his hands.
  • Back to Lot’s daughters: they’re engaged (Genesis 19:13-14). Think the future son-in-laws would have liked his plan to give them to the townspeople? Unfortunately, these boys thought he was joking. Insert story of the boy who cried wolf here…
  • Just before dawn, the angels urged (Begged, pleaded, shouted) Lot and his girls to get out…yet Lot hesitated. The men grabbed him physically and led them (dragged?) to safety with the instructions “Flee! Don’t look back. Don’t stop!” Yet Lot didn’t think he could make it…so he ran to Zoar. After getting to Zoar safely, Lot’s wife looked back and became the famous salt shaker.

I’ve always imagined Lot’s wife glancing over her shoulder as she fled and being zapped into a rock formation. In reality – she was already in her city of shelter, the disaster has already happened, the cities are gone…but Lot’s wife did more than glance. She looked back and thought of where she was and what she missed. Maybe she looked back and longed.

Regardless, there comes a time when we must all take a stand and pick a side. It seems to me that Lot’s family had a difficult time deciding: are we friends of God, or friends of the world. Frustratingly enough, the answer is an either/or, not a both/and.

This sums it up: in the highway of life, there are millions of squashed squirrells who couldn’t decide which side of the road they wanted to be on.

Decisively, pick God’s side.