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Jewish History

Biblical History

Age of Isaac and Rebecca

Question: How old were Isaac and Rebekah when Jacob and Esau were born – 63 and 23 years?

Answer: The verse (Gen. 25:26) explicitly records Isaac’s age at the birth of his two sons to be 60 years old. In Gen.25:20 we learn that he married Rebecca at age 40. Therefore, if, as much of the rabbinic chronology indicates, she was 3 at the time of marriage she would have given birth, as you suggested, at age 23. However, there are opinions that she was older (for example Ibn Ezra) at the time of her marriage to Isaac.

All the best,
R’ Daniel Fleksher

1 Follow-up »

  1. I find it hard to understand she “was 3 at the time of her marriage” because in Genesis 24-18 she gave drinks to
    Abraham’s servant and his camels. I’d like to know Ibn Ezra’s opinion.

    I understand your consternation. The Ibn Ezra (Gen. 24:59) explains that when Rebecca is sent out with her “nurse”, this is referring to the woman who used to be her nurse long before, implying that she has grown significantly since then. On the other hand, I have a three year old son who is of average size and, at least physically, would be capable of carrying significant amounts of water (approx. 3 liters at a time) until the job was done. Whether he would think to do that on his own is a different story.

    Comment by ATR — December 21, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

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