Chapters 25 & 26
Read Genesis 25:1-18
In 1 Chronicles 1:32 Keturah is called Abraham’s concubine. Verse 6 seems to confirm this. Thus she was a lesser wife, one who did not enjoy the full privileges of a wife in the home. Once again God records marital irregularities that He never approved.
Abraham breathed his last at one hundred and seventy-five years of age and became the second person to be buried in the cave at Hebron. The twelve sons of Ishmael listed in Gen. 25:12-16 fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham: “He shall beget twelve princes” (Gen. 17:20). With the death of Ishmael, Isaac moves to center stage in the narrative.
Read Genesis 25:19-34
For almost twenty years after her marriage, Rebekah was barren. Then, in answer to Isaac’s prayer, she conceived. The struggle of two sons within her perplexed her until she was told that her sons would become the heads of two rival nations (Israel and Edom). The firstborn twin was named Esau (hairy). The other was named Jacob (supplanter). Even at birth, Jacob tried to gain advantage over his brother by grabbing hold of Esau’s heel! Isaac was sixty when his twin boys were born.
As the boys grew up, Esau turned into an outdoorsman and a skillful hunter. Jacob on the other hand was a mild, indoor type, dwelling in tents. Isaac loved Esau best, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Perhaps he was a “mama’s boy.”
As the firstborn, Esau was entitled to a double portion of his father’s possessions—that is, twice as much as any other son might inherit. He also became the tribal or family head. This was known as the birthright. In Esau’s case, it would also have included being the ancestor of the Messiah. One day, as Esau was returning from a hunting trip, he saw Jacob cooking some red stew. He asked for some of the red stuff so imploringly that he got the nickname “Red” (Edom), and it stuck to him and to his posterity, the Edomites. When Jacob offered some soup in exchange for Esau’s birthright, Esau foolishly agreed. Notice that this is the second highest price ever paid for a meal. The first was when a piece of fruit cost the entire human race their immortal souls in the Garden of Eden. The prophecy of Gen. 25:23 is partially fulfilled in Gen. 25:29-34. God does not condone Jacob’s wheeling and dealing, but one thing is apparent—Jacob valued the birthright and a place in the godly line, while Esau preferred the gratification of his physical appetite to spiritual blessings.
The chapter closes by emphasizing Esau’s treatment of his birthright rather than Jacob’s treatment of his brother. Esau’s descendants were bitter foes of Israel. Their final doom is pronounced in the Book of Obadiah.
Read Genesis 26:1-25
Isaac reacted to famine as his father had done (Genesis 12 and Genesis 20). As he journeyed south, the Lord appeared to him at Gerar and warned him not to go to Egypt. Gerar was sort of a halfway point on the route to Egypt. God told Isaac to stay temporarily in Gerar but instead Isaac dwelt there. God also reconfirmed to him the unconditional covenant that He had made with Abraham.
Isaac reacted to fear as his father had done. He misrepresented his wife as his sister to the men of Gerar. It is the sad story of a father’s weakness being repeated in his son. When the deceit was exposed and rebuked, Isaac confessed. Confession leads to blessing. Isaac became wealthy in Gerar—so wealthy that the Abimelech who was then reigning asked him to leave. So Isaac moved from Gerar to the Valley of Gerar, not far away.
The Philistines had stopped up the wells which Abraham had dug—an unfriendly act signifying that the newcomers were not welcome. Isaac cleaned out the wells. Strife ensued with the Philistines at Esek (contention) and Sitnah (enmity). Finally Isaac moved away from the Philistines. This time there was no strife when he dug a well, so he called it Rehoboth (broad places or room). He went from there to Beersheba, where the Lord reassured him with the promise of blessing, and where Isaac built an altar (worship), pitched a tent (abiding), and dug a well (refreshment).
Read Genesis 26:26-35
It is when Isaac definitely separates himself from the men of Gerar that they come to him seeking blessing from God. The Christian best helps the world when living in separation from it.
Isaac’s servants found water the same day that Isaac made a nonaggression pact with Abimelech. Abraham had previously named the place Beersheba because he made a covenant there with his contemporary, Abimelech (Gen. 21:31). Now, under similar circumstances, Isaac renames it Shebah or Beersheba.
Esau’s marriage to Judith and Basemath, two pagan women, caused grief to his parents, as have many other unequal yokes since then. It also brought out further his unfitness for the birthright.