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GENESIS

SECTION  FIVE  - JACOB

THE  BIRTHRIGHT
Genesis 25:19 - 26:6

THE BIRTHRIGHT    Genesis 25:19-25

The next major section of Genesis actually begins in the middle of chapter 25 , and in the middle of verse 19. It is probable that the statement "And these are the generations of Isaac" is actually the signature terminating the records beginning in Genesis 11:27, dealing with the life of Abraham and the early portion of the life of Isaac. This record was kept and transmitted by Isaac. The next section, beginning in Genesis 25:19b and continuing through Genesis 37:2a, was probably recorded by Jacob. It begins with a general statement of Isaac’s background, continues through his life following marriage, and then narrates the experiences of Jacob until the time when Joseph was sold into Egypt.

    25:19-23     THE  SEED

Isaac well knew God’s promises concerning the seed that would come through him, but perhaps he took them too much for granted. Twenty years of barrenness, however, finally drove him to prayer that he and Rebekah might have a child. It does seem that God desires us to pray for the supply of our needs and His blessings, even though He has already promised to send them (Matthew 6:11; 7:11; Philippians 4:19; II Peter 1:4).

    25:21     SHE  WAS  BARREN

Like Sarah before her (Gen. 16:1) and Rachel after her (Gen. 30:31). This sterility may have been intended to emphasize that the children who were eventually born were a gift of grace from God for the fulfillment of His purpose.

    25:22     STRUGGLED  TOGETHER

A premonition of the rivalry which we see existed between the brothers and their descendants. The twins in her womb were of two utterly different and antagonistic temperaments. The nations which they would establish would inherit these tendencies. The struggle which had begun in her womb would continue throughout their lives and thoughout the histories of their respective nations.

    25:23     THE  ELDER  SHALL  SERVE  THE  YOUNGER  (GOD SAID)

Which, then, would prevail? The Lord was most specific in His reply: "The elder shall serve the younger." The younger son would become stronger than the older, and would finally prevail. Since one of the two must carry on the Messianic line and must inherit the promises of the Abrahamic covenant, it is crystal clear that God here told Rebekah that His covenant would be with the younger son, not the older. The younger must therefore receive the father’s inheritance and blessing, as Isaac had from Abraham (In Isaac’s case, also, this had been true, as Ishmael, the elder son, did not share in either the covenant or the inheritance).

There was surely no reason why God could not select the younger if He so willed. God is sovereign, and we do well not to question His choice. "And not only this, but when Rebekah also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved [Malachi 1:1-3], but Esau have I hated" (Romans 9:10-13). Prophecy fulfilled in 2 Sam. 8:14 David defeated Edom.

It is very probable that Rebekah went to ‘inquire of the Lord’ through Abraham, who was still alive at this time. Abraham was 160 at the birth of Esau and Jacob (He lived to be a hundred and seventy five years old, so He would be 160 at the birth of Esau and Jacob).

ESAU AND JACOB    Genesis 25:25,26 

When the twins were born, the first one to emerge from the womb was red and hairy, the second evidently light and smooth. Apparently they were still struggling even as they were born, because the second was hanging on with his hand to the heel of the first, as though trying to pull him back. (Hosea 12:3).

The strikingly unusual appearance of the two boys is reflected in the names given them. The first was named Esau (Hebrew Aimoni. The Midrash explains the ruddiness as a premonition of his love for hunting and the shedding of blood). Which means "hairy." He was obviously a rugged, strong child. The second was named Jacob which means "heel-catcher" (perhaps also, by extension, "supplanter"). With respect to Jacob’s odd name, the prophet Hosea seems to interpret it as an evidence of strength and power with God. "He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God" (Hosea 12:3).

BIRTHRIGHT FOR SALE    25:27-34 

    25:27     A  CUNNING  HUNTER

The only other hunter mentioned in the Bible is "Nimrod the mighty hunter before [literally ‘against’] the Lord" (Genesis 10:9). One Biblical hunter was a rebel against God, the other was a sportsman unconcerned with God. Esau preferred playing out in the field, even long after he was a grown man, to working for his family and serving the Lord. He also was a "fornicator" (Hebrews 12:16) and profane person. Such a man as this was in no way qualified to inherit God’s covenant promises, with all the spiritual responsibilities attached to them.

    A  PLAIN  MAN

Jacob, on the other hand, was a "plain man, dwelling in tents." Just like Abraham and Isaac, he "sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles" (Hebrews 11:9). He did this because he was a man of faith, to whom God’s plans and promises meant far more than physical pleasure.

The translators have done Jacob a disservice by calling him a "plain" man, or a "quiet" man. The Hebrew word is tam, which means "perfect" or "complete" or possible "mature." It is exactly the same word God used to describe Job when He called him "a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil" (Job 1:8).

    25:28     AND  REBEKAH  LOVED  JACOB

Each parent had a favorite child, which was to lead to the break-up of the household. ‘Love thy children with an impartial love,’ is the wise admonition of a medieval Jewish teacher.

    25:31     ESAU  SELLS  HIS  BIRTHRIGHT

The eldest son customarily received a double portion in the division of the inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17) and the right to lead the household (Genesis 27:29). The eldest son, of course, also had sober responsibilities. If he was to rule over the household, then he had to provide for the household, both materially and spiritually. If fact, in this particular family, the spiritual responsibilities were paramount (Genesis 18:19). In particular, there was the responsibility of building and officiating at the altar (Genesis 22:9; 26:25; 35:1). As well as the transmission of God’s word and His promises.

    25:31     SELL  ME  FIRST  THY  BIRTHRIGHT

As far as Esau was concerned, the only aspect of the birthright which appealed to him was the double inheritance. He cared nothing for the spiritual aspects-he was a profane person! Then, one day, Esau suddenly appeared from one of his excursions in the field, making a great to-do about being faint from hunger and begging Jacob for some food. Jacob at the time was boiling a pot of red lentils, and the aroma was overpowering tempting to Esau.

Well, perhaps if his father insisted on giving the birthright to Esau, then Esau himself might be willing to sell it to Jacob. Would Esau sell his birthright in return for a good meal of red lentils?  Probably to his amazement, Jacob heard him agree to the absurd transaction!

    25:32     WHAT  PROFIT  SHALL  THIS  BIRTHRIGHT  DO  TO  ME?

Esau lamented that he would one day die anyway, and the birthright would not profit him then. Furthermore, it would be a long time before Isaac died, and maybe he would decide eventually to give it to Jacob anyway (The right of primogeniture may have been a custom but not law at this time I Chron. 5:1,2). A good hunter knows that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. This way he would at least get a good meal out of it. "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we shall die" (Isaiah 22:13).

    25:33     SWEAR  TO  ME  THIS  DAY

Jacob asked Esau to bind his agreement with a formal oath, which he readily agreed to do. Even if Isaac now gave the birthright to Esau, he would never interfere with a contract between the two bothers sealed in this way. The birthright now would go to Jacob, as God had instructed his parents in the first place.

Why do people so often consider Jacob the culprit in this transaction? Scripture does not offer one word of condemnation or criticism of Jacob. Instead, it condemns Esau unequivocally. "Thus Esau despised his birthright" (Genesis 25:34). "Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected" (Hebrews 12:16,17).

This experience with the red lentils, in fact, was closely associated with his very name after that. People from then on often called him Edom (meaning "red"), so that, whenever he heard his name, he was forced to remember that he had sold his birthright for a mess of red pottage!

ISAAC  AND  REBEKAH  IN  GERAR,  THE  LAND  OF  ABIMELECH    Genesis 26:1-16 

    26:2     THE  LORD  APPEARED  UNTO  HIM

First, conditions of famine developed in the land where Isaac was living, presumably still near the well Lahai-roi. Apparently it was not so bad over near the seacoast, in the Philistines’ land, so he decided to move to Gerar. He was evidently even considering going further, all the way into Egypt, when the Lord stopped him. So far as the record goes, this is the first time God had appeared to Isaac since he was on Mount Moriah with his father Abraham, probably fifty or more years earlier. The Lord had spoken to Rebekah just before her twins were born, but this is the first time He had spoken to Isaac.

GO NOT DOWN TO EGYPT

The Lord had not forgotten His covenant concerning Isaac, however; and so He at this time repeated it to Isaac, in much the same words Isaac had heard Him speak to Abraham so long ago. "Do not leave this land to go to Egypt," God said, in effect, "but live where I lead you in this land, and I will bless you with all the blessings I promised your father."

    26:3     I  WILL  BE  WITH  THEE,  AND  WILL  BLESS  THEE

He again told Isaac He would give his descendants all the countries of the promised land, would give him an innumerable progeny, and bless all nations through him. However, God pointed out that He would do these things because of Abraham’s faithfulness and obedience, with no mention of Isaac’s. One senses in this a backhanded rebuke to Isaac, along with a plea for him to manifest the same characteristics as his father.

    26:5     KEPT  MY  CHARGE,  MY  COMMANDMENTS,  MY  STATUTES,  AND  MY  LAWS

COMMANDMENTS: Laws dictated by the moral sense, against the crimes of robbery,bloodshed.
STATUTES: Laws ordained by God which we are to observe although reason cannot assign an explanation, like the prohibition of swine’s flesh.
LAWS: Customs and traditional ordinances orally transmitted from generation to generation. These definitions are given in the Midrash.*
*Midrash = The ancient homiletical expositions of the Torah, the Five Scrolls ( Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastics, and Ester), and other portions of Scripture.

Also I would like to add some further information about ancient versions.

Targum Ancient translations or paraphrases of the Bible into the Aramaic vernacular then spoken by the Jews. The most important of these is the translation of the Pentateuch that is ascribed to Onkelos, the Proselyte, a Misnah teacher of the first century. 
The Jonathan Targum
is a freer paraphrase of the Bible, ascribed to Jonathan ben Uzziel, a pupil of Hillel.
Septuagint The Greek translation of the Bible (LXX) made by the Jews in Egypt in the third century.
This is the Bible Jesus quoted during his 3 1/2 year ministry on earth.

God said that Abraham "kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." Presumably these were not at the time codified in written form as they were later through Moses. Nevertheless, God’s "word is settled forever in heaven" (Psalm 119:89), and even the Gentiles "show

 

Back to "The Wives"          Forward to "Jacob's Ladder"

 


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