Home > Bible Journal > January 22nd, Genesis 25-26: Abraham dies, Jacob and Esau are born

January 22nd, Genesis 25-26: Abraham dies, Jacob and Esau are born

February 10, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

There’s a classic song by Harry Chapin called “Cat’s in the Cradle”. The song is told from a viewpoint of a father looking back on his relationship between him and his son. Throughout the song, the son tells the father that he’s going to grow up just like him, yeah, he’s gonna be like him. Then as he grew older, it occurred to the father that his son had grown up just like him—polite but not quite enough time for those who love him.

Isaac grew up to be rather like Abraham.

Genesis 25 tells us that Abraham took another wife Keturah, who bore him many children. Abraham left his inheritance to Isaac, but he sent the sons of his concubines with gifts and sent them away to the east.

The Chronological Bible Study inserts Isaac’s lineage from 1st Chronicles here as a preview of Jacob, i.e. Israel.

We learn that Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramean and sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife Rebekah, who like Sarah was also barren. The LORD answered his prayer when Isaac was sixty years old, and soon the babies were jostling within her.

Rebekah wondered what was happening within her. The LORD answered that there were two nations in her womb, one stronger than the other, and that the older would serve the younger.

It turns out Rebekah had twin boys. The first to come out was the red-haired Esau, which means “hairy”, and he was also called Edom which means “red”. The younger was named Jacob, which means “he grasps the heel” because his hand was literally grasping Esau’s heel when exiting his mother’s womb.

Abraham saw his grandchildren born, but died when they were around fifteen years old. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the same cave where Sarah was buried. After his death, God blessed Isaac who was living at Beer Lahai Roi at the time.

The boys grew up. Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country. Jacob, on the other hand, was a quiet man who stayed among the tents. Isaac, who loved wild game, loved Esau but Rebekah loved Jacob. [Ed note: In common parlance, we would say that Jacob was a momma’s boy.]

One day, when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country famished. He asked Jacob to give him some of the red stew. But Jacob insisted that Esau sell him the birthright, which Esau saw as useless to him at the time. And so Esau swore on oath to Jacob, selling his birthright to his younger brother. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew, and the elder brother ate and drank before leaving.

So Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 26 tells us that there was another famine in the land, and so Isaac went to Abimelech the king of the Philistines in Gerar. The LORD appeared to Isaac and told him not to go down to Egypt, but to stay in Gerar, reminding Isaac of the covenant that the LORD had made with his father.

When the men of that place asked him about his wife, Isaac replied that Rebekah was his sister. [Ed note: He grew up just like dear old dad.]

Genesis 26:7 says:
7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”

But after Isaac had been there for a long time, Abimelech looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife. So he summoned Isaac and asked him why he claimed Rebekah to be his sister. Isaac answered that he thought he might lose his life on account of her. So Abimelech decreed that anyone who molests Isaac or Rebekah would be put to death.

Isaac planted crops that year, and the Lord blessed him a hundredfold. So he became very wealthy, with so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines became envious of him. So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of Abraham, the Philistines stopped them up, filling them with earth.

Abilmelech commanded Isaac to move away from Gerar, for he had become too powerful.

Isaac moved away and reopened the wells that been dug during his father’s time. His servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, so he named the well Esek, which means “dispute”. They dug another well, but again another quarrel led Isaac to name that well Sitnah, which means “opposition”. He moved on from there and dug another well which no one quarreled with him over, so he named in Rehoboth, which means “room”, because the LORD had given him room to flourish.

From there he went to Beersheba, where the LORD again reminded him of the covenant between God and his father Abraham. Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. His servants dug a well and there he pitched his tent.

At this time, Abimelech came to Jacob from Gerar with Ahussath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. Isaac asked why he came to him now after driving him away.

They answered that they clearly saw the LORD was with him, so they wanted to make a treaty ensuring that neither side would do harm to the other. Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. Early the next morning, they swore an oath to each other, after which Isaac sent them on their way.

That day Isaac’s servants came to tell him about another well they had dug. He called in Shibah, which can mean “oath” or “seven”. To this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.

Genesis 26 concludes with Esau marrying Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite at forty years old. The Bible tells us they were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.

Questions: Did you grow up to be like one of your parents? Have you ever used something out of the stories of your parents in your own life?

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