Friday, January 09, 2004

Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau: Genesis 26-28:1-9

Genesis 26

Isaac Deceives Abimelech

1Now a severe famine struck the land, as had happened before in Abraham's time. So Isaac moved to Gerar, where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived.
2The LORD appeared to him there and said, "Do not go to Egypt. 3Do as I say, and stay here in this land. If you do, I will be with you and bless you. I will give all this land to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. 4I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants[a] all the nations of the earth will be blessed. 5I will do this because Abraham listened to me and obeyed all my requirements, commands, regulations, and laws."

6So Isaac stayed in Gerar. 7And when the men there asked him about Rebekah, he said, "She is my sister." He was afraid to admit that she was his wife. He thought they would kill him to get her, because she was very beautiful. 8But some time later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out a window and saw Isaac fondling Rebekah.

9Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, "She is obviously your wife! Why did you say she was your sister?"

"Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me," Isaac replied.

10"How could you treat us this way!" Abimelech exclaimed. "Someone might have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin." 11Then Abimelech made a public proclamation: "Anyone who harms this man or his wife will die!"

Conflict over Water Rights

12That year Isaac's crops were tremendous! He harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the LORD blessed him. 13He became a rich man, and his wealth only continued to grow. 14He acquired large flocks of sheep and goats, great herds of cattle, and many servants. Soon the Philistines became jealous of him, 15and they filled up all of Isaac's wells with earth. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.
16And Abimelech asked Isaac to leave the country. "Go somewhere else," he said, "for you have become too rich and powerful for us."

17So Isaac moved to the Gerar Valley and lived there instead. 18He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham's death. Isaac renamed them, using the names Abraham had given them. 19His shepherds also dug in the Gerar Valley and found a gushing spring.

20But then the local shepherds came and claimed the spring. "This is our water," they said, and they argued over it with Isaac's herdsmen. So Isaac named the well "Argument,"[b] because they had argued about it with him. 21Isaac's men then dug another well, but again there was a fight over it. So Isaac named it "Opposition."[c] 22Abandoning that one, he dug another well, and the local people finally left him alone. So Isaac called it "Room Enough,"[d] for he said, "At last the LORD has made room for us, and we will be able to thrive."

23From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, 24where the LORD appeared to him on the night of his arrival. "I am the God of your father, Abraham," he said. "Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant." 25Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the LORD. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug a well.

A Treaty with Abimelech

26One day Isaac had visitors from Gerar. King Abimelech arrived with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and also Phicol, his army commander. 27"Why have you come?" Isaac asked them. "This is obviously no friendly visit, since you sent me from your land in a most unfriendly way."
28They replied, "We can plainly see that the LORD is with you. So we decided we should have a treaty, a covenant between us. 29Swear that you will not harm us, just as we did not harm you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace. And now look how the LORD has blessed you!"

30So Isaac prepared a great feast for them, and they ate and drank in preparation for the treaty ceremony. 31Early the next morning, they each took a solemn oath of nonaggression. Then Isaac sent them home again in peace. 32That very day Isaac's servants came and told him about a well they had dug. "We've found water!" they said. 33So Isaac named the well "Oath,"[e] and from that time to this, the town that grew up there has been called Beersheba--"well of the oath."

34At the age of forty, Esau married a young woman named Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite. He also married Basemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35But Esau's wives made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah.


Genesis 26:4 Hebrew seed.
Genesis 26:20 Hebrew Esek.
Genesis 26:21 Hebrew Sitnah.
Genesis 26:22 Hebrew Rehoboth.
Genesis 26:33 Hebrew Shibah, which can mean "oath" or "seven."

Genesis 27

Jacob Steals Esaus Blessing

1When Isaac was old and almost blind, he called for Esau, his older son, and said, "My son?"
"Yes, Father?" Esau replied.

2"I am an old man now," Isaac said, "and I expect every day to be my last. 3Take your bow and a quiver full of arrows out into the open country, and hunt some wild game for me. 4Prepare it just the way I like it so it's savory and good, and bring it here for me to eat. Then I will pronounce the blessing that belongs to you, my firstborn son, before I die."

5But Rebekah overheard the conversation. So when Esau left to hunt for the wild game, 6she said to her son Jacob, "I overheard your father asking Esau 7to prepare him a delicious meal of wild game. He wants to bless Esau in the LORD's presence before he dies. 8Now, my son, do exactly as I tell you. 9Go out to the flocks and bring me two fine young goats. I'll prepare your father's favorite dish from them. 10Take the food to your father; then he can eat it and bless you instead of Esau before he dies."

11"But Mother!" Jacob replied. "He won't be fooled that easily. Think how hairy Esau is and how smooth my skin is! 12What if my father touches me? He'll see that I'm trying to trick him, and then he'll curse me instead of blessing me."

13"Let the curse fall on me, dear son," said Rebekah. "Just do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats."

14So Jacob followed his mother's instructions, bringing her the two goats. She took them and cooked a delicious meat dish, just the way Isaac liked it. 15Then she took Esau's best clothes, which were there in the house, and dressed Jacob with them. 16She made him a pair of gloves from the hairy skin of the young goats, and she fastened a strip of the goat's skin around his neck. 17Then she gave him the meat dish, with its rich aroma, and some freshly baked bread. 18Jacob carried the platter of food to his father and said, "My father?"

"Yes, my son," he answered. "Who is it--Esau or Jacob?"

19Jacob replied, "It's Esau, your older son. I've done as you told me. Here is the wild game, cooked the way you like it. Sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing."

20Isaac asked, "How were you able to find it so quickly, my son?"

"Because the LORD your God put it in my path!" Jacob replied.

21Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Come over here. I want to touch you to make sure you really are Esau." 22So Jacob went over to his father, and Isaac touched him. "The voice is Jacob's, but the hands are Esau's," Isaac said to himself. 23But he did not recognize Jacob because Jacob's hands felt hairy just like Esau's. So Isaac pronounced his blessing on Jacob. 24"Are you really my son Esau?" he asked.

"Yes, of course," Jacob replied.

25Then Isaac said, "Now, my son, bring me the meat. I will eat it, and then I will give you my blessing." So Jacob took the food over to his father, and Isaac ate it. He also drank the wine that Jacob served him. Then Isaac said, 26"Come here and kiss me, my son."

27So Jacob went over and kissed him. And when Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he was finally convinced, and he blessed his son. He said, "The smell of my son is the good smell of the open fields that the LORD has blessed. 28May God always give you plenty of dew for healthy crops and good harvests of grain and wine. 29May many nations become your servants. May you be the master of your brothers. May all your mother's sons bow low before you. All who curse you are cursed, and all who bless you are blessed."

30As soon as Isaac had blessed Jacob, and almost before Jacob had left his father, Esau returned from his hunting trip. 31Esau prepared his father's favorite meat dish and brought it to him. Then he said, "I'm back, Father, and I have the wild game. Sit up and eat it so you can give me your blessing."

32But Isaac asked him, "Who are you?"

"Why, it's me, of course!" he replied. "It's Esau, your older son."

33Isaac began to tremble uncontrollably and said, "Then who was it that just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him with an irrevocable blessing before you came."

34When Esau understood, he let out a loud and bitter cry. "O my father, bless me, too!" he begged.

35But Isaac said, "Your brother was here, and he tricked me. He has carried away your blessing."

36Esau said bitterly, "No wonder his name is Jacob,[a] for he has deceived me twice, first taking my birthright and now stealing my blessing. Oh, haven't you saved even one blessing for me?"

37Isaac said to Esau, "I have made Jacob your master and have declared that all his brothers will be his servants. I have guaranteed him an abundance of grain and wine--what is there left to give?"

38Esau pleaded, "Not one blessing left for me? O my father, bless me, too!" Then Esau broke down and wept.

39His father, Isaac, said to him, "You will live off the land and what it yields, 40and you will live by your sword. You will serve your brother for a time, but then you will shake loose from him and be free."

Jacob Flees to Paddan-Aram

41Esau hated Jacob because he had stolen his blessing, and he said to himself, "My father will soon be dead and gone. Then I will kill Jacob."
42But someone got wind of what Esau was planning and reported it to Rebekah. She sent for Jacob and told him, "Esau is threatening to kill you. 43This is what you should do. Flee to your uncle Laban in Haran. 44Stay there with him until your brother's fury is spent. 45When he forgets what you have done, I will send for you. Why should I lose both of you in one day?"

46Then Rebekah said to Isaac, "I'm sick and tired of these local Hittite women. I'd rather die than see Jacob marry one of them."

Genesis 27:36 Jacob means "he grasps the heel"; this can also figuratively mean "he deceives."

Genesis 28:1-9

Genesis 28

1 So Isaac called for Jacob, blessed him, and said, "Do not marry any of these Canaanite women. 2Instead, go at once to Paddan-aram, to the house of your grandfather Bethuel, and marry one of your uncle Laban's daughters. 3May God Almighty bless you and give you many children. And may your descendants become a great assembly of nations! 4May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings he promised to Abraham. May you own this land where we now are foreigners, for God gave it to Abraham."
5So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan-aram to stay with his uncle Laban, his mother's brother, the son of Bethuel the Aramean.

6Esau heard that his father had blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan-aram to find a wife, and that he had warned Jacob not to marry a Canaanite woman. 7He also knew that Jacob had obeyed his parents and gone to Paddan-aram. 8It was now very clear to Esau that his father despised the local Canaanite women. 9So he visited his uncle Ishmael's family and married one of Ishmael's daughters, in addition to the wives he already had. His new wife's name was Mahalath. She was the sister of Nebaioth and the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son.