How old was Issac when
he was to be sacrificed?
Q. How old was Issac when God told Abraham to offer him as a SACRIFICE?
(Submitted by: Dawn)
A. The Bible verses concerning God's command to Abraham to sacrifice his son are found in the book of Genesis, chapter 22:
"Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."
"Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."
"So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him . . .
"Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
"But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" So he said, "Here I am." And He said, 'Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.'
"Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son." (Genesis 22:1-3, 9-13, NKJV)
The Bible stories in children's books must terrify little boys and girls as they generally depict Isaac as a small boy when he was about to be sacrificed.
The Jewish historian Josephus also wrote about the sacrifice of Issac is his epic work. His age at the time of the sacrifice is different than what most people think:
"Now Abraham greatly loved Isaac, as being his only begotten and given to him at the borders of old age, by the favor of God. The child also endeared himself to his parents still more, by the exercise of every virtue, and adhering to his duty to his parents, and being zealous in the worship of God . . .
"Accordingly he commanded him to carry him to the mountain Moriah, and to build an altar, and offer him for a burnt-offering upon it for that this would best manifest his religious disposition towards him, if he preferred what was pleasing to God, before the preservation of his own son . . .
" . . . . and he took Isaac, together with two of his servants, and laying what things were necessary for a sacrifice upon an ass, he went away to the mountain. Now the two servants went along with him two days; but on the third day, as soon as he saw the mountain, he left those servants that were with him till then in the plain, and, having his son alone with him, he came to the mountain.
"NOW ISAAC WAS TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OLD. And as he was building the altar, he asked his father what he was about to offer, since there was no animal there for an oblation : - to which it was answered, That God would provide himself an oblation . . . " (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 13)
Little is told of Isaac's youth, but we know he grew and was weaned (Genesis 21:8), but at what age this occurred is uncertain. The Jewish writers Jarchi and Ben Melech say Isaac was weaned at two years old; Gedaliah says three; Jerome says some Hebrews believe he was five; Philo makes him seven; and Bishop Usher places the weaning of Issac at ten or twelve years of age. If we take the average of all opinions we can assume Isaac would have been about six years old.
The Sacrifice of Isaac
Oil on Canvas by Caravaggio (1601-02 A.D.)
Abram (Abraham's original name) lived in the land of Palestine (the promised land) "many days" (verse 34). In Biblical terms a day often refers to a year, so how many years Abram lived there is anyone's guess, but "many" days (years) would likely indicate at least ten. However, we do know it was "after these things" that God told him to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1), which would mean Isaac was at least sixteen years old when they left for Mount Moriah.
Certainly Issac had to be older than ten or eleven as Abraham not only placed on his back the wood to be used for the sacrifice but also had Issac carry it TO and UP a mountain (Genesis 22:2, 6)!
Written by: Les Turvey