With chapter 25 we reach the halfway mark for the book of Genesis. However, this does not mean that the incest and genocide are anywhere near an end as there are many more examples of God’s special types of love to come.
In this post: Abraham gets remarried then dies; Brotherly love Bible style; Isaac tries his hand at the family con; Rebekah teaches Jacob how to lie and swindle his father; More incest;
This chapter starts by telling us that Abraham remarried after Sarah’s death and had several children with his second wife (no blood relation this time) and that he also had some children with mistresses. Though none of these children were allowed to stay around, and everything Abraham had went to Isaac. (25:1-6)
Then in 1863 BC at the age of 175 Abraham dies and is buried next to Sarah. (25:7-10)
After Abraham dies God gives his blessing to Isaac who is still living in Lahairoi. (25:11)
We then learn that Ishmael had several children and died in 1815 BC at the age of 137. He wasn’t buried in the family plot. (25:12-18)
We then backtrack a little and learn that Isaac eventually made an honest woman of Rebekah after their first-date night of sex. They were married in 1898 BC when Isaac was 40, and they soon discovered that Rebekah is barren (possibly a result of inbreeding), but God takes care of it and she gets pregnant. (25:19-21)
Rebekah has a hard time with the pregnancy and talks to God about it. God tells her that there are two different people in her, one stronger than the other and that the older and stronger of the two will serve the younger. And, sure enough, in 1878 when she gives birth, it is twins: the first out is a hairy red-head they named Esau, and the other comes out holding his brother’s foot; they name him Jacob. (25:22-26)
Esau, we learn, becomes a great hunter and “man of the field” who feeds his family and is the favorite of Isaac, while Jacob becomes a momma’s boy who hangs out at home all the time. (25:27-28)
To end the chapter we are told a little story of brotherly love Bible style. It seems that one day when Esau returned home famished from actually working to feed the family, he found that Jacob had made some bean soup, with what was apparently the last of the food Esau had worked so hard for. Esau asked Jacob for some soup since he was so hungry he felt faint. Jacob says that Esau can have some soup if he gives up his birthright as firstborn. Esau, who is half-starved, agrees. It seems that Jacob had been well-trained in the art of extortion by his grandfather/great-uncle/great-great-uncle. (25:29-34)
This chapter starts with a famine similar to that which Abraham had experienced. Isaac, unlike his father, does as God tells him and goes to Gerar (the same Gerar where Abe and Sarah last pulled their sister/wife scam) and not Egypt. In return, God makes all the same promises to Isaac that he had made to Abraham who had done everything that God told him to do. (26:1-6)
Isaac tries to pull his father/uncle’s old routine of “she’s not my wife she’s my sister,” but the king had already fallen for this trick before with Abraham and Sarah, and calls Isaac out on it, and puts out a decree saying that anyone who touches Isaac or Rebekah would be put to death. (26:7-11)
So, Isaac and Rebekah stick around in Gerar growing wealthy, making deals with the king’s men when he isn’t around, and digging wells. Isaac even renames Beersheba: he calls it Shebah, so everyone calls it Beersheba. I know, it’s confusing, but that’s what it says. (26:12-33)
Then we’re told that Esau gets a couple of wives (not blood relatives) that Isaac and Rebekah don’t like. (26:34-35)
Fade in on an old blind Isaac who believes that he’s going to die soon.
Isaac calls in Esau and says that if he will bring him some savory venison that he will grant him his blessing before he dies. (27:1-4)
Rebekah overhears the conversation and when Esau heads out, she tells Jacob to get some goats and they will use them to think Isaac into blessing Jacob instead. (27:5-10) Gotta love this family.
Jacob points out to Rebekah that Esau is hairy and if Isaac touches him he will know that he isn’t Esau. But, Rebekah has that covered and tells Jacob to do as he’s told. So they get the goat meat, Rebekah makes it so it will taste like Isaac’s favorite venison, and she has Jacob wear Esau’s clothes and she wraps goatskin around his hands and neck. (27:11-16)
So Jacob takes the meat to Isaac, who falls for the stunt like a moron, even though he notices that the voice is wrong, and gives Jacob the blessing meant for Esau. (27:17-29)
No sooner than Jacob leaves with his stolen blessing, in walks Esau. They quickly figure out what has happened and Isaac says that because of the blessing, Esau must serve his brother, but that in time he will be free from that service. Esau leaves swearing that when his father dies he will kill Jacob. (27:30-41)
Rebekah finds out about Esau said and has Jacob run and hide at her brother’s house in Haran, until Esau calms down. (27:42-45) Then she goes to Isaac and says she’s worried that Isaac might marry some local girl, and she doesn’t want that to happen. (27:46) She doesn’t mention her role in swindling him earlier.
Isaac then calls Jacob in, blesses him and tells him to go look for a wife at his uncle’s place. (28:1-5)
Esau overhears Isaac talking to Jacob, and decides to beat him to marrying a cousin by marrying one of Ishmael’s daughters, so he now not only beat Jacob to the incest punch, but has three wives. (28:6-9)
While Jacob is on his way to get a wife from his uncle, he spends the night in Luz. While asleep he has a dream that the place he’s in is the stairway to heaven (Jacob’s Ladder) and that God blesses him as he had blessed Abraham and Isaac. When he wakes up, Jacob renames the place Bethel, and vows that if God will give him everything he wants then he will give ten percent back. (28:10-22) Quite a deal.
Since Esau dragged poor Ishmael into the Abrahamic tradition of incest I have included an updated family tree at right.
- Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, is Esau’s wife/cousin, Isaac’s niece/daughter-in-law, Rebekah’s cousin/daughter-in-law, and Jacob’s cousin/sister-in-law
- Jacob is Esau’s cousin by marriage/brother
- Ishmael is Esau’s uncle/father-in-law
Fortunately, Ishmael didn’t live to see his child dragged into the family tradition of incest.
Next time: Jacob has sex with a lot of sisters and maids, and rips off his uncle then runs away; some rape and war; brothers make up; and Isaac dies.