The Age Of Isaac -- By: Harold M. Wiener

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 068:272 (Oct 1911)
Article: The Age Of Isaac
Author: Harold M. Wiener


The Age Of Isaac

Harold M. Wiener

London, England.

In a frequently quoted passage Dr. Driver states one of the most effective of the higher critical objections to the chronology of Genesis :—

“We all remember the scene (Gen. 27) in which Isaac in extreme old age blesses his sons; we picture him as lying on his death-bed. Do we, however, all realize that, according to the chronology of the Book of Genesis, he must have been thus lying on his death-bed for eighty years (cp. the ages of Isaac and his sons, 25:26; 26:34; 35:28)? Yet we can only diminish this period by extending proportionately the interval between Beau’s marrying his Hittite wives (Gen. 26:34), and Rebekah’s suggestion to Isaac to send Jacob away, lest he should follow his brother’s example (27:46), which from the nature of the case will not admit of any but a slight extension. Keil, however, does so extend it, reducing the period of Isaac’s final illness to forty-three years, and is conscious of no incongruity in supposing that Rebekah, thirty-seven years after Esau had taken his Hittite wives, should express her fear that Jacob, then aged seventy-seven, will do the same!”1

It has been shown in former articles that the Septuagintal materials often suggest that chronological difficulties have arisen from erroneous notes being incorporated in the biblical text. We are too familiar with marginal notes containing well-meant but erroneous chronological data in modern editions of the Bible for such phenomena to create any surprise. In an age before printing, the contents of such notes could find their way into the text only too easily. Hence, when we are confronted with a difficulty such as this, our first task must be to inquire whether any important variants

have been preserved. It happens that this is indeed the case. There is a suggestive textual variant in 35:28, and there is a no less suggestive difference of translation (involving no alteration of the Hebrew text) in 27:41. First, as to the variant reading. According to the Massoretic text of 35:28, Isaac was 180 years old when he died. According to Septuagintal MSS. d p, the number should be 150:It is remarkable that these are the very MSS. which pre...

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