Why does the Torah seem to imply that Avraham named his son before the bris? First:

וַיִּקְרָא אַבְרָהָם אֶת שֶׁם בְּנוֹ הַנּוֹלַד לוֹ אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה לּוֹ שָׂרָה יִצְחָק

And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.

(Gen. 21:3)

So he called his name Yitzchak, and then the next verse says:

וַיָּמָל אַבְרָהָם אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ בֶּן שְׁמֹנַת יָמִים כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה אֹתוֹ אֱ־לֹהִים

And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.


and then they did the Bris (circumcision).

Isn't our Minhag to do the Bris and then name the child undermined by this case?

  • 2
    In addition, God Himself dictates a name for Yitzchak way ahead of time and refers to him by that name in Gen. 17:19-21
    – Isaac Moses
    Oct 14, 2012 at 15:46
  • 3
    Did Avraham wear a Streimel?
    – Double AA
    Oct 14, 2012 at 15:48
  • 2
    @DoubleAA of course he did. The pasuk says (15:5) that God brought him outside, and would Avraham have gone outside without a streimel (chalilah)?! Jan 7, 2015 at 3:15
  • R' Joseph Breuer זצ"ל was known to congratulate the parents of newborn sons "masol tauv, what is his name ?" Aug 13, 2023 at 2:41

4 Answers 4


I couldn't find the source of our Minhag to give the name only after the Bris and when it started, but I have an idea of why it is like this: In the case of Yitzchak the name was already known. Hashem gave it to the newborn even before there was a newborn, so there is no need to postpone it as we do today.


The reaoson we do not name children until the Bris is based on the fact that Hashem changed Avraham's name in conjunction with his Bris at age 99. In addition, a boy receives the total Neshama at the Bris, and a person cannot be name until attaining that completion. (See Zohar - Lech Lecha 93a, Ta'amei Minhagim 929)

Perhaps, Avraham knew that Yitzchok received his total Neshama at birth and therefore named him immediately.


According to Mordechai Halperin, in "הקדמת קריאת שם היילוד אשר מילתו מתעכבת עקב מחלה", our Minhag of naming the child right after the Berit Milah is mentioned neither in the Talmud( Shabbat 137b) nor in the Mishneh Torah( in the beginning of Hilkhot Milah Ch. 3).

Moreover, both Ba'al ha-Itur( mentioned by the Tur Yoreh De'ah 265), and the Abudraham( in Seder Berakhot, Ch. 9), in their versions of the Tefilah mentioning the son's name, use "שנקרא שמו פלוני"( "that his name has been called so-and-so"), denoting that the name has already been given beforehand, as opposed to "ויקרא שמו בישראל"( "and his name will be called in Israel"), denoting that the name is yet to be given, that we use today( our's being based on the versions in Machzor Vitri, Sefer ha-Roqach, etc.). Also, neither mention postponing the naming of the child till the Berit.

On a side note, the article mentions the Pasuq being asked about, and cites as reason to differentiate between the naming of Yitzchaq before his Berit and what we do today, that Avraham was commanded as to the naming of his son already before his birth( as rony mentioned in his answer).


(Although this answer contains some of what has been said already, since it comes from the pen of the Netziv, and since he grounds his explanation in the language of the posukim, it is very worthwhile to add it here.)

The Netziv here writes:

Since logic mandates that a boy be given a name only after he has entered the covenant of the bris of Avraham Avinu, why did Avraham name him before?

The answer lies in Bereishis (17,19) "And G-d said: Indeed, your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you shall name him Yitzchok". From here we see that Avraham was commanded by G-d to name his son Yitzchok as soon as he was born, and therefore he was not able to wait until after he had circumcised him.

This is what the posukim quoted in the question are saying:

"And Avraham named his son who had been born to him, whom Sarah had borne to him, Yitzchok. And Avraham circumcised his son Yitzchok when he was eight days old, as G-d had commanded him". These last words refer to both his naming of his son immediately after he was born, and his circumcising him on the eighth day, because both things were commanded by G-d.

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