At the beginning of the month, I was reminded that God wants us to have relationships via one of my close colleagues. Not only marriageable relationships but friendly relationships as well. He wants us to embrace our brothers and sisters; to forgive where necessary. I am grateful and blessed by the people in my life for they were placed in it for a reason so I thank God always for them.
When I realized that we’ll be discussing twins today, I smiled thinking ‘how perfect!’ for it ties in wonderfully for the twin theme I’m doing this month. 😃 In this chapter, we learn that Abraham had more children and why Esau was dramatic in selling his birthright.
Abraham took a wife, her name was Keturah and she bore him 6 sons and they were the fathers of various Arab countries (25:1-4) See note below in recap. Abraham gave his wealth and the Promised Land to Isaac the principal heir (25:5) but to the sons, he had by the concubines (Hagar & Keturah), he gave them gifts and send them eastward (Arabia & surroundings) away from Isaac for the flesh and the spirit cannot cohabit in peace (25:6). Abraham lived to be 175 years (Isaac would’ve been 75) and then he departs from this world in good old age (25:7-8). He is buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael where his wife Sarah was buried 38 years before (25:9-10). Isaac dwelled by Lahai-roi and God blessed him (25:11). Lahai-roi was near the wilderness of Beersheba and Paran, where Ishmael dwelt so these brothers were not far from each other.
25:12-18 deals with the life and descendants of Ishmael. He had 12 sons and they were blessed right here on earth (25:13-16). These 12 princes had Egyptian ancestry and were Arabs. The genealogy is in their names. Nebajoth (Isaiah 60:7) was an Arab people (Nabathaeans) that inhabited all the country from the Euphrates to the Red Sea. Kedar (Isaiah 21:13) meaning ‘dark’ or ‘mighty’ were Arabians; the Arabic language is most frequently, in Jewish writings, called the language of Kedar (bible-studys.org). Ishmael lived to be 137 years old (25:17). Havilah unto Shur refers to the vast desert of Arabia; eastward was called the wilderness of Havilah and westward was referred to as Shur. Simply put, these were Arabs living in all Arab countries surrounding Israel (25:18).
Isaac’s story begins at 25:19. He was 40 years old when he married Rebekah the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram (25:20). ‘Syrian’ here is translated as ‘Armenia’ and was called Mesopotamia in 24:10. It is not to be confused with the Syria of which Damascus was the capital. Isaac prayed on his wife’s behalf for children because she was barren after 20 years. God heard and answered Isaac’s prayer (25:21). There was conflict in her womb so she went to enquire before the Lord as to why (25:22). God tells Rebekah that she has twins within her, they will each father nations, and one shall be greater than the other and also, the elder shall serve the younger (25:23).
Esau was the firstborn of the twins and he was red and hairy (25:25). Esau was the father of the Edomites and his father’s favorite. It was too bad he despised his birthright for later, he is used as an example to illustrate the non-elect of God (Romans 9:13). Jacob was born clutching the heel of his twin brother (25:26). In that day, “heel-catcher” meant “con man” or “rascal” and this personality of Jacob came to pass when he conned his twin out of his birthright. Isaac was 60 years old when they were born.
Although twins, the boys were different from each other. Esau tilled and sowed the land and was an expert hunter whereas his twin was a godly and quiet man (25:27). In some cases, parents have favorites and Isaac and Rebekah were no different. Isaac loved Esau and his savory food whereas Rebekah loved Jacob (25:28). Jacob sodded pottage (cooked a stew) when Esau came from the field weary. Here we see that Esau hunts and Jacob cooks (25:29). Esau begs his brother for food saying that he was faint acting as if he was at death’s door if he didn’t get food (25:30). And this is where the play upon words forever cements Esau’s fate: he was born red (and hairy) and he sold his birthright for red stew. He was also called Edom which means ‘red’.
Ooh, that cunning Jacob deviously asking for his twin’s birthright! (25:31). Esau wasn’t even thinking logically or clearly for that matter. Perhaps he went out to hunt all day in the sweltering heat, caught nothing and was so disappointed that he let false emotions cloud his thinking. He wanted food and he wanted it now! He’s also thinking that one day he’s going to die so what does a birthright matter anyway (25:32). In his dramatic moment, he overlooked how valuable a birthright is! The son of the birthright received a double portion of the inheritance. Upon the passing of his father, he’ll have the right to be the head of the family and priest/spiritual leader (Deuteronomy 21:17; Exodus 4:22; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2).
Somebody give Esau an Oscar!
And Esau sold his birthright to Jacob (25:33). While it was unfair of Jacob to take advantage of his brother, blame can also be placed at Esau’s feet for he despised his birthright. He was so concerned with his material needs, he failed to stop and consider his actions: what God considered sacred, he made common. Isn’t it ironic that Jacob was buying something that was already his base on what God said in v.23?
So Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew for he despised his inheritance (25:34).
A famine was in the land (26:1), but God appeared unto Isaac (vision/dream) and told him not to go down to Egypt as his father Abraham had done (26:2) for He wanted Isaac to stay in Canaan and try his faith in Him (26:3). No matter what crisis may arise, God wants us to depend on Him and not do our own thing because of lack of faith. If you trust Him when things are easy, trust Him, even more, when things are hard. God reminds Isaac of the promise that He made to Abraham all over again in 26:4 and He also reminded Isaac of his father’s obedience to Him (26:5).
So Isaac stayed in Gerar (26:6).
Isaac repeats his father’s mistake when he lied about Rebekah being his sister (26:7). And he was doing so good in 26:1-5! Sin always finds a way to knock on the door for the flesh is weak. Technically speaking, Rebekah was a second cousin to Isaac. So one day, Abimelech looked out a window and was astonished to see Isaac sporting (showing endearment for Rebekah) with his wife (26:8). Abimelech summons Issac and wants to know his reason for lying about his relation to Rebekah to which Isaac replied that he was afraid to lose his life (26:9).
Just as Abraham was scolded by a pagan king, so was Isaac (26:10-11).
Isaac works hard and becomes wealthy and God has also blessed him (26:12-14). Jealousy causes people to do strange things. This was one of the factors why the Philistines had filled the well with dirt (26:15). The Philistines asked Isaac to leave and without argument, he leaves and pitches his tent in Gerar (26:16-17). In the valley of Gerar, Isaac’s servants dug the wells again finding springing water in one of them (26:18-19). Although the wells were dug by Isaac’s servants, the herdmen of Gerar laid claim to it so Isaac named the wells Esek (meaning “contention”) and Sitnah (meaning “enmity”) (26:20-21). Finally, a third well was dug without argument and Isaac named it Rehoboth (“room enough”) giving all the credit to God (26:22).
Isaac went up to Beer-sheba where the Lord appeared to him that same night (26:23-24). He then built an altar, giving thanks to God and his servants dug a well there (26:25). He is visited by Abimelech and Phichol and he enquires of their visit given that they had sent him away from dwelling among them (26:26-27). They made peace with Isaac because God was with him just as He was with Abraham (26:28-31). On that very same day, Isaac was told that the well had water (26:32) and Isaac called the well Sheba meaning “an oath” (26:33).
And Esau was 40 years old when he takes two wives (26:34) thus grieving his parents (26:35). These two women were from the Hittites and God had forbidden Hebrew men from intermarrying them. Also, Esau had broken the Hebrew custom rule: instead of his parents choosing his future bride, he went and chose for himself.
^ 25:1-2: I first understood this to be Abraham remarrying after Sarah’s death, but the Bible is not in chronological order and for this reason, scholars have been arguing over the valid date of this marriage. Examing it, it opens ‘then again Abraham took a wife’ strongly implying that he took another wife, but it does not state whether before or after Sarah’s death. Abraham would’ve been over 100 years old and marrying Keturah and having 6 sons by her would’ve contradicted his statement in 17:17 although nothing is too hard for our God. Keturah was around when Sarah was alive; she was a concubine and secondary wife. The Bible does not tell us the period in Abraham’s time when this marriage took place, but in 1 Chronicles 1:32, Keturah is referred to as a concubine which implied that the proper wife was living. With Sarah’s blessing (knowing that she was about to die perhaps?), Abraham could’ve married Keturah or after the marriage of Isaac. Either way, I love how the Word makes us think.
^ “Keturah” means incense.
^ Abraham is mentioned 70 times in the New Testament alone. Only Moses is mentioned more times in the New Testament (80 times).
^ Isaac was the second of the great Patriarchs, (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).
^ Are we selling out our birthright? Ephesians 1:3-14 shows us our birthright in Jesus.
^ Just as Pharoah was a royal title, so was the title Abimelech (26:8) which was a philistine dynastic title. The Abimelech Abraham would’ve encountered 97 years before would’ve already passed away.
* The Holy Bible
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The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
The statues of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is a great reward.
This ancient poem was written by King David, a man after God’s heart. Here, David reflects on why the law is perfect and what it does for our soul if we obediently keep the law.