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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Genesis

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FRAMEWORKS: Genesis 25: Esau & Jacob

PART 2B: Gen 25-28 – Isaac's Story

Ch.25: Esau & Jacob born to Isaac; Esau sells Jacob his birthright

Ch.26: Isaac in the Land

Ch.27: Isaac's blessings of his sons

[Isaac & Jacob overlap in that much of Isaac's story involves the early years of Jacob. Isaac's death is found in chapter 36]

FRAMEWORKS: Genesis 25: Esau & Jacob


v.1-6 Abraham's Wider Family

v.7-11 Abraham dies and is buried with Sarah

v.12-18 Ishmael's Twelve Sons

v.19-21 Isaac is Childless & Prays

v.22-26 The Twins Esau and Jacob

v.27,28 Family Differences

v.29-34 Esau sells Jacob his birth-right



v.1-6 Abraham's Wider Family


v.1 Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah.

v.2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.

v.3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites.

v.4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

v.5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac.

v.6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.


[Notes: From v.6 we might assume that Keturah and Hagar be alternatively considered wives and/or concubines. This is confirmed in 1 Chron 1:32. Keturah has six sons but only two of them have their sons listed. Whether the others died early or had no children, we are not told.]



v.7-11 Abraham dies and is buried with Sarah


v.7 Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years.

v.8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

v.9,10 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah.

v.11 After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.


[Notes: Abraham has lived 75 years after Isaac was born. Isaac & Ishmael come together to bury him in the same cave Sarah had been buried in.]



v.12-18 Ishmael's Twelve Sons


v.12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham's son Ishmael, whom Sarah's slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham.

v.13-15 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah.

v.16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps.

v.17 Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people.

v.18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Ashur. And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.


[Notes: The twelve princes of Ishmael seen earlier are listed. Ishmael lived to a good age.]



v.19-21 Isaac is Childless & Prays


v.19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham's son Isaac.

Abraham became the father of Isaac,

v.20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.

v.21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.


[Notes: The story reverts to Isaac who has married Rebekah but she too, like Sarai, is barren. Isaac prays for her for what would seem to be twenty years [compare v.20 & 26]. Eventually she conceives.]



v.22-26 The Twins Esau and Jacob


v.22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord .

v.23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

v.24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb.

v.25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau.

v.26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob . Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.


[Notes: The kicking of the baby in her is so intense she asks the Lord what is going on and He gives her this remarkable prophecy:

•  She is carrying what will become two nations, i.e. twins.

•  One will be stronger than the other and it will be the older [first born] who will be weaker and serve the younger [second born].

The first born is red haired and named Esau which is thought to mean ‘hairy'.

The second born came out grasping the heel of his brother and was named Jacob and a footnote declares, ‘Jacob means he grasps the heel, a Hebrew idiom for he deceives.' In observing Jacob's life as he grew he was truly a grabber (all out for himself) and a deceiver, i.e. he was aptly named.]



v.27,28 Family Differences


v.27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents.

v.28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.


[Notes: Esau was an outdoor man, and Jacob a home man. Esau loved by Isaac, Jacob loved by Rebekah. Sadly a divided family.]



v.29-34 Esau sells Jacob his birth-right


v.29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished.

v.30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)

v.31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birth-right.”

v.32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birth-right to me?”

v.33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birth-right to Jacob.

v.34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birth-right.


[Notes: This episode reveals the sort of sons these men were. Esau is only concerned with gratifying his human desires at whatever cost, and cares nothing about his birthright – about being part of the family chosen by God with special rights that go with being the first-born. Jacob, on the other hand, is an opportunist and ‘buys' the rights of the first-born with a meal he is cooking.]



Lessons or Challenges to Ponder from Genesis Chapter 25


1. When Abraham eventually dies at a good old age, he is wealthy and a formidable character in the land. He is an example of a man of faith blessed by God. And us?

2. The account of Ishmael that follows is an interesting parallel with twelve sons to Abraham's grandson, Jacob, and his twelve sons. It is as if God honours the two sides of the family tree, even if one (which grows into the Arab nations) comes from human endeavour while the other comes from the life-bringing work of God.

3. The greater part of this chapter shows us the development of Jacob the twister and Esau the indifferent. The amazing thing about all this is that God knows what each can grow into and so chooses Jacob over Esau. This the start of the awareness that God ‘chooses' those He knows will respond (eventually) to Him.



Continue to Chapter 26