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Author Topic: Genesis; The Road To The Top
Sa:ji:sdo:de
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Gen 24:1-3b


†. Gen 24:1a . . Abraham was now old, advanced in years,

Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born (Gen 21:25). The lad was 40 when he married Rebecca (Gen 25:20). So that makes Abraham 140 at this point in the record. But although Abraham was worn; he wasn't worn out. Abraham still had plenty of vigor left in him and would go on to live another 35 years and even father more children. As far as the Scriptural record goes, Abraham enjoyed excellent health at this point in his life and still had his wits about him too.

†. Gen 24:1b . . and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.

The "all things" at this point in the narrative would pertain to Abraham's economic prosperity because that's how his steward will represent him at verse 35.

†. Gen 24:2a . . And Abraham said to the steward of his household, who had charge of all that he owned,

It is impossible to identify the steward because his name isn't disclosed anywhere throughout chapter 24. It could be the Eliezer of Gen 15; however, many years have gone by since then. Abraham was eighty-six when Ishmael was born in chapter 16, and he is 140 in this chapter; so it has been more than 54 years since the last mention of Eliezer. The steward at this point in Abraham's home may even be Eliezer's son by now, but nobody really knows for sure.

Abraham's steward is going to act as an ambassador-- not for Abraham, but for Isaac. Abraham, for reasons undisclosed, can't leave Canaan to do this himself. So the steward is dispatched as a proxy for Abraham to act in his son Isaac's best interests.

†. Gen 24:2b-3a . . Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear

Some Bible students construe Jesus' words at Matt 5:33-37 to mean that taking an oath is intrinsically a sin. But that's not the tenor of his words at all. What he really said in that passage is that taking an oath sets you up for a fall because for one thing; people are too quick to swear, and for another human beings cannot guarantee that unforeseen circumstances won't prevent them from making good on their oath. In other words: the nature of promises is that they are immune to changing circumstances. So unless you can see the future, then if at all possible, make your promises without sealing them with an oath because if you drag God into your promise; He's going to expect you to make good on it come hell or high water or risk getting called on the carpet to explain why you think so little of His name.

"If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth." (Num 30:2)

Anyway: if taking an oath were intrinsically a sin, then God himself would be a sinner (e.g. Gen 22:15-18, Ps 89:3-4, Ps 89:35-37, Ps 110:4, Isa 14:24, Isa 45:23, Isa 54:9, Heb 4:3, et al). Jesus too would be in contradiction of his own teachings because he testified under oath that he was the Messiah; God's son. (Matt 23:63-65)

†. Gen 24:3b . . by Yhvh, the God of heaven and the God of the earth

Exodus 6:3 makes it appear that Abraham wasn't supposed to be aware of the name Yhvh. But here in Gen 24, Abraham made his steward swear by that very appellation; so there can be no doubt he was fully aware of it.

The word for "thigh" is from yarek (yaw-rake') and has a couple of meanings. It can be the actual thigh (e.g. Gen 32:26, Song 7:1) and it can mean a man's privates. (e.g. Gen 46:26, Num 5:21)

In those days, men didn't always raise their right hands to take an oath with each other-- sometimes they held sacred objects in their hand like we do today when a swearer puts their hand upon a Bible or a Torah Scroll. In this particular case in Genesis, the object held in the hand was a holy patriarch. Only twice in the entire Old Testament is an oath recorded taken in this manner. The first is here, and the other is Gen 47:29.

The similarities between the procurement of Isaac's bride, and that of the bride of Christ are remarkable. Neither of the fathers of the grooms go themselves to woo the brides; but rely upon a nameless servant who can be trusted to faithfully look out for the grooms' best interests. Guided by providence, the servants locate candidates, give them some gifts, explain their missions, tell of the wealth of the fathers, tell of the inheritances of the grooms, tell the candidates something of the grooms' genealogies; and are especially careful to explain the circumstances of the grooms' miraculous births.

The candidates never see any photos or pictures of their potential husbands, are given no information disclosing the grooms' personalities, and are permitted to know only certain general details about the grooms and nothing more-- at first. At this point, the servants then press for a response, and proceed no further until the candidates make their decision. However, no one can force the bridal candidates to accept the grooms. The candidates must consent to join him of their own volition.

After the candidates consent to go and be with the grooms, the servants then cull the candidates from their native people, and from their native lands, and safely escort them to the lands and peoples of the grooms. The grooms, upon receipt of the candidates, accept them just as they are, give them a nice home, and love and care for them right to the end.

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Gen 24:3c-10


†. Gen 24:3c-4 . . that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I dwell, but will go to the land of my birth and get a wife for my son Isaac.

The words "land of my birth" can also mean "to my country and to my relatives." That is exactly how the steward understood them because that is how he will narrate Abraham's instructions in Gen 24:38.

I just bet Abraham was fully aware of the fate of the men of God who married the daughters of men back in the early parts of Genesis. Those men of God all died in the Flood right along with their impious wives.

The influence of a non God-fearing spouse could prove fatal to Isaac's future. If he's going to serve and worship his dad's god, then he is going to have to marry a girl who fully appreciates and supports the prophecies regarding Abraham's progeny.

Spouse hunting demands a level head and cold steel discernment or there is real risk in ending up like Solomon, one of the greatest of God's men, who was ruined by his marriages to women who didn't share his religious beliefs. (1Kgs 11:1-10)

†. Gen 24:5-6 . . And the servant said to him: What if the woman does not consent to follow me to this land, shall I then take your son back to the land from which you came? Abraham answered him: You must not, for any reason, take my son back there!

I think Abraham knew only too well just how much like sheep men are. When they fall in love, they'll literally sacrifice their lives to keep a woman; which is exactly what Jacob did. Rachel was a good girl; but she cost Jacob fourteen years of his life away from home in a foreign land with a bad influence: uncle Laban.

Suppose Isaac went up north and feasted his glims on Rebecca? Well, up ahead we're going to find out that she was young, cute, and filled out in all the right places. I've seen what that does to men. I worked with a married man once who kept a young love on the side. He often used his wages to buy that girl jewelry while his wife and two little kids were housed in a ramshackle rental unit.

It was too risky to let Isaac go up there. He might be tempted to remain with Rebecca if she refused to live so far off from her family. Isaac's future was in the land deeded to Abraham on oath; not up there in Mesopotamia; and his bride's place was with him and Yhvh; not with her family and Laban's idols.

†. Gen 24:7 . .The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father's house and from my native land, who promised me on oath, saying "I will assign this land to your offspring" He will send His angel before you, and you will get a wife for my son from there.

The identity of the angel to be sent is a complete mystery. Some feel it's a personification of God's providence. Others feel it might be Metatron; the angel in sacred Jewish literature whose name is his Master's. But it's far more likely to be God's spirit-- the eye of Ps 32:8-10 --secretly manipulating circumstances to serve God's best interests. There is not one single square inch of the cosmos of which God's eye is unaware (Ps 139:7-12).

†. Gen 24:8-10a . . And if the woman does not consent to follow you, you shall then be clear of this oath to me; but do not take my son back there. So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore to him as bidden. Then the servant took ten of his master's camels

Nobody is quite sure exactly when camels were domesticated. The earliest depiction of them in relief and cuneiform text as beasts of burden and transportation is sometime around 1100 BC.

†. Gen 24:10b . . and set out, taking with him all the bounty of his master;

The servant will need to demonstrate to the bride, and to the bride's family, that she'll be well taken care of. The servant of course didn't take along everything Abraham owned in total, but merely an adequate representation of his abundant wealth; which by inheritance, would all be Isaac's some day; and, by association, his future wife's too.

Additional men accompanied the servant (Gen 24:32) who were very likely all armed (Gen 14:14); not only for the caravan's protection, but for the bride's as well. No doubt included among the camel's burdens were tents, victuals, provender, water, and appropriate accommodations for the bride's comfort on the journey back to Canaan. It was at least five hundred miles from Hebron up to Abraham's people in Mesopotamia, so the return trip couldn't possibly be made in a single day on camels and would necessitate overnight bivouacs in rugged country.

†. Gen 24:10c . . and he made his way to Aram-naharaim, to the city of Nahor.

The Greek translation renders naharaim in dual form meaning, "two rivers", and from that arose the name Mesopotamia-- the land between the two rivers. Some feel that the name naharaim really means "the land along the river" or "the land within the river".

It's a territory bounded approximately on the east by an imaginary north/south line drawn from Ar Raqqah Syria to Urfa Turkey. The southern and western borders are delineated by the Euphrates as it runs from Ar Raqqah Syria towards Gaziantep Turkey: an area within which at one time lay the kingdom of Mitanni. This is called Naharain in the Egyptian texts, and Naharima in the El-Armana letters.

The details of the journey are passed over. It would have been fun to hear about the caravan's adventures. How they had to dodge a flock of ostriches that ran out in the road, and maybe how a lion came around at night and spooked everybody, or how one of the men fell asleep at the wheel and his camel ran off the road and hit a tree; stuff like that. But Genesis has priorities; and the journey's details were not one of them. In a blink, the caravan arrives; a trip that took maybe two weeks or so; and Rebecca rapidly becomes the prime focus. This chapter, after all, about the bride; rather than the groom.

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Gen 24:11-16c


†. Gen 24:11 . . He made the camels kneel down by the well outside the city, at evening time, the time when women come out to draw water.

"evening time" is from an ambiguous word that indicates any time between high noon and sunset as opposed to morning which can indicate any time between sunrise and high noon.

†. Gen 24:12 . . And he said: O Lord, God of my master Abraham, grant me good fortune this day, and deal graciously with my master Abraham:

This steward was truly a God-fearing man, and truly faithful to the one who sent him on this errand. His prayer is not self centered, but centered upon the best interests of his master's son. Incidentally, this is the very first prayer recorded in the Bible of any individual clearly requesting Divine providence.

†. Gen 24:13-14 . . Here I stand by the spring as the daughters of the townsmen come out to draw water; let the maiden to whom I say "Please, lower your jar that I may drink" and who replies "Drink, and I will also water your camels"-- let her be the one whom You have decreed for Your servant Isaac. Thereby shall I know that You have dealt graciously with my master.

This man didn't beat around the bush, nor begin reading from a siddur, nor a missal, nor did he chant by rote, nor blather in tongues. He gets right down to business and spells out his concerns in plain language. Let me say something very clearly: If you are the kind of person who has to pray in tongues because you don't have enough command of your own native language to express yourself in any other way, then maybe you should go back to school for a while.

Of great interest is the steward's apparent lack of concern regarding the prospective bride's looks. Only God truly knew who would be right for Isaac, and Abraham's steward is not going to select a bride for his master's son like as if she's flesh on the line the way the sons of God did back in Gen 6:2. No; she must be hand-picked by God alone because He alone knows what's in a heart. If the girl that God chooses for Isaac is attractive; well that will be a bonus, but absolutely not the deciding factor.

†. Gen 24:15 . . He had scarcely finished speaking, when Rebecca-- born to Bethuel, the son of Milcah the wife of Abraham's brother Nahor --came out with her jar on her shoulder.

As fortune would have it, the very first girl to arrive is Becky. Although she's related to Abraham, at this point Abraham's steward doesn't know who she is yet. In fact he's probably expecting to conduct many tiresome interviews; testing one girl after another until the right one shows up.

†. Gen 24:16a . .The maiden was very beautiful,

Some chafe at that passage and refuse to believe Genesis is talking about Becky's physical assets. However, later on, in Gen 26:6-7, Isaac will attempt his dad's old trick and say Becky is his sister; in order to save his skin. The reason Isaac gives for the lie is he believed the men of Gerar would be tempted to kill him because Becky was attractive. It is highly unlikely pagan men would take Becky away from Isaac just because she had a beautiful personality. Ancient men didn't kill to obtain the nice girls; they killed for the alluring ones.

When men talk about a woman's beauty, I guarantee they are not talking about her character; no, they are talking about her looks. Even bad girls can be beautiful.

"Like a gold ring in the snout of a pig is a beautiful woman bereft of sense." (Prv 11:22)

With women like that, beauty is wasted. They look great on the outside, but on the inside they're swine. However, our girl Becky is no pig I guarantee you. There is not one snobby, stuck up, ill tempered, over-sensitive, thin skinned, defensive, contentious, lazy, self absorbed, conceited, vain, self-centered, hissy-fitting, hysterical, complaining, man-hating, carping, door-slamming, militant, masculine, fault-finding, confrontational bone in her body.

Becky is not only a looker; she's industrious, energetic, personable, courteous; and very intelligent to boot-- the veritable Barbie of the Bible. Unfortunately, in spite of her great looks, fashion tastes, and her many talents, Mattel's Barbie is over fifty years old now and has yet to find a husband and have a family of her own. But that is not going to happen to Ms. Becky.

†. Gen 24:16b . . a virgin

Becky is three girls in one: a maiden, a virgin, and a virgin. What the heck you say? How is she two virgins?

The word for "virgin" in 24:16 is bethuwlah (beth-oo-law') which can indicate a virgin, a bride; and also a city or state. Technically, bethuwlaw doesn't necessarily indicate a girl who's never slept with a man. The primary denotation is chronological, and the word simply indicates a mature young woman of marriageable age whether she is married or not; e.g. Joel 1:8, where a bethuwlah laments the husband of her youth.

†. Gen 24:16c . . whom no man had known.

That kind of wording says that Becky is not only all grown up, but she's a bethuwlah who still has her virginity. We have before us a gorgeous peach, not living with a man, neither has ever slept with a man. In other words, Rebecca was a square and wouldn't fit very well into a typical vulgar television sit-com like Seinfeld, Friends, or Sex In The City; nor would she be a likely candidate for a cover picture on Playboy, Maxim, or Cosmo. Becky is easily among the finest of young female role models in the entire Bible.

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Gen 24:16d-22


†. Gen 24:16d . . She went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up.

The "spring" in this case was a small pool of water fed by an aquifer, which is different than an artesian well. Artesians gush, while aquifers seep.

Some of the shafts of ancient man-made wells in that part of the world resemble mini open-pit mines; with steps hewn into the sides to facilitate access to the water for dipping jars and buckets. Becky's spring was likely constructed like that.

†. Gen 24:17a . .The servant ran toward her

The Hebrew word for "ran" is the same word used in Gen 18:2 and 18:7 to describe Abraham's movement when the three men appeared in his camp. Abraham was about 99 years old at the time and it's very doubtful he was able to move his legs all that fast. It's far more likely he just hastened.

In any case, it was nevertheless essential that Abraham's steward not waste any time because Becky had strong legs and would surely be gone away home in a blink.

†. Gen 24:17b . . and said: Please, let me sip a little water from your jar.

It's amazing that a gorgeous young girl like Becky would allow a total stranger to approach her without protest or without screaming for help. Was she naïve? Was she foolish?

Well . . maybe in that day, and around her town, you could trust people. But it would not be wise to do that in some parts of New York or Los Angeles. A seemingly honest appeal for assistance could very well be a distraction while an accomplice sneaks up behind you.

Although Becky arrived first, ahead of the other girls, by now there may have been several others milling around the spring because that was the time of day for them to be there. In groups, they could all watch out for each other. Genesis doesn't tell about any of the others though because the spotlight is totally on Isaac's future bride.

†. Gen 24:18a . . Drink, my lord: she said,

The Hebrew word for "lord" is 'adown (aw-done') and is suitable for courteously addressing a male superior; wither actual or assumed; viz: fathers, seniors, kings, husbands, and/or God.

†. Gen 24:18b . . and she quickly lowered her jar upon her hand and let him drink.

The word for "quickly" is from mahar (maw-har') which means: to be liquid or flow easily; viz: nimble (the opposite of that would be the sluggishness of molasses in January) and implies to act promptly. I really like the way Becky responded. When people do things grudgingly, they often stonewall, perform slowly, and drag their feet just to show you they're annoyed. But Becky didn't hesitate. She gave water to the man whole-heartedly, sharply, and immediately.

Whether she actually let him drink out of her hand is doubtful. Lowering the jar upon her hand merely indicates it was previously up on her shoulder or maybe on top of her head. Becky probably just supported it from underneath with one hand while tilting the top with the other so the contents would pour out and Abraham's steward could slack his thirst.

†. Gen 24:19-20 . .When she had let him drink his fill, she said: I will also draw for your camels, until they finish drinking. Quickly emptying her jar into the trough, she ran back to the well to draw, and she drew for all his camels.

Flo-Jo Becky-- flying all over the place like a US Navy SEAL trainee in hell week. No time to waste if she was going to water all those camels before dark.

The Arabian camel can drink more than twenty gallons of water in one sitting when it's very thirsty. I hope that man gave them some water earlier because he had ten camels and Becky could be hauling as much as 200 gallons. If her pitcher held five gallons, the weight would be about 41 pounds of water for each one of the forty trips she would have to make down and back up out of that spring. Wow that girl was fit! Well, she did it-- and all without any grousing about it.

†. Gen 24:21 . .The man, meanwhile, stood gazing at her, silently wondering whether The Lord had made his errand successful or not.

That man must have been totally blown away. The very thing about which he prayed barely five minutes ago was occurring right before his eyes and all so brisk and sudden too. This was just too easy and just too unbelievable. Could this really be of The Lord? He dared not let himself enjoy any success yet until he knew for sure.

†. Gen 24:22 . .When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half-shekel, and two gold bands for her arms, ten shekels in weight.

The word for "nose-ring" is nexem (neh'-zem) which just means ring, or jewel. Without a modifier, there is no way of knowing for sure if the ring is for the nose or the ear. However, in verse 47 up ahead, Abraham's steward will say he installed the ring in Becky's nose.

The half shekel was a unit of weight and a media of exchange in those days. It weighed about 6.019 grams which is equal to about 92.87 grains. Typical .22 caliber lead bullets weigh approximately 40 grains apiece, so it would take at least two and a third of them to equal the weight of the ring. That's really not much, but if it's stuck in your nose or hanging on your ear I guess it would become noticeable after a while.

The combined weight of the two bands was ten shekels, which is twenty times the weight of the ring; or about 1,857 grains; which is equivalent to forty-six .22 cal lead bullets.

1,857 grains + 93grains = 1,950 grains; which is equivalent to 4.06 troy ounces of gold. ( a troy ounce is equal to 480 grains) As of Aug 14, 2017 the commodity value of gold was roughly 1,280 US dollars per troy ounce. So to date, Becky's gold, in commodity value, was worth roughly 5,197 US dollars. (4,404 Euro)

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Gen 24:23-31


†. Gen 24:23-25 . . Pray tell me; he said: whose daughter are you? Is there room in your father's house for us to spend the night? She replied: I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor. And she went on: There is plenty of straw and feed at home, and also room to spend the night.

That did it. The identity of Becky's family was the final chop that felled the tree. Abraham's steward had no more doubts about the Lord's providence. At this point, he put the ring in Becky's nose and the bands on her arms.

†. Gen 24:26-27 . .The man bowed low in homage to The Lord and said: Blessed be The Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His steadfast faithfulness from my master. For I have been guided on my errand by The Lord, to the house of my master's kinsmen.

How utterly astounded Becky must have been that this stranger would give her all that gold for doing nothing more than watering him and his camels; and then his prayer to boot.

I'm guessing that at this point, Becky began to suspect that something was up. There were men with Abraham's steward who were no doubt all intently observing this scene and gauging Becky's reactions throughout the whole incident. Looking at them, looking at the man, looking at his camels loaded down with all manner of stuff, and that there were more saddled camels than men to ride them; I think Becky began to get nervous because right then she took off out of there for home like a United passenger with scarcely seconds to spare to catch their connection from Chicago to Seattle.

†. Gen 24:28 . .The maiden ran and told all this to her mother's household.

Becky told the story to her mom's side of the family, which suggests that her dad Bethuel may have kept a concubine as well as a wife.

Here's a possible scenario of what happened next.

Becky's mom (whose name isn't given) has become anxious-- it's getting late, and her baby hasn't returned yet with the evening water supply.

Then, WHAM! as sudden and unexpected as a California earthquake: an excited, out of breath Becky-girl comes crashing through the door with a shriek and a squeal; dropping her jug on the floor with a thud, sloshing water over the floor, accompanied by the incomprehensible jabbering of a flock of magpies-- gasping for air, lungs burning; she spits her tale as arms flash with gold, and the ring in her nose sparkles like a glimmering salmon lure every time she turns her head; which is quite often.

At first, in dazed silence, everyone is paralyzed and nobody moves.

Then, BOOM! the whole place erupts and people start scrambling. Chairs get knocked over, tables bumped out of their places, lamps teeter, and doors slam with the whump and concussion of incoming mortar rounds. People out in the courtyard are barking orders to the servants at the tops of their voices; as everyone bolts off from ground-zero in ten different directions like panicked North Koreans making emergency preparations to put Kim Jong-Un up for the night.

Meanwhile, Becky's brother Laban (who just happens to be infected with a severe case of unbridled avarice) ignites the afterburners and sails out the door at Mach 2 on his way to fetch Abraham's steward.

†. Gen 24:29-30a . . Now Rebecca had a brother whose name was Laban. He ran out to the man at the spring when he saw the nose-ring and the bands on his sister's arms, and when he heard his sister Rebecca say: Thus the man spoke to me.

There's no record that Laban ever actually met Abraham in person, but Bethuel surely must have talked about him around the dinner table-- how the god of Noah had called uncle Abram to leave Mesopotamia and head south to the frontier. And caravans arriving from Egypt surely passed through Abraham's region, picking up news and information about the great sheik's exploits and the fact that Abraham's camp was very large; a community of at least a thousand people.

Then; Shazaam! Abraham's steward seemingly materializes out of nowhere-- totally unexpected like Forrest Gump's friend Jenny after a long absence --with samples of Abraham's prosperity. That must have been really exciting: akin to news from early-day Texas oilfields.

†. Gen 24:30b-31a . . He went up to the man, who was still standing beside the camels at the spring. He said: Come in, O blessed of The Lord;

The word for "Lord" is actually Yhvh and is the very name of deity the steward used in his prayer.

Laban didn't actually worship Yhvh nor serve Him either. The steward's god was Yhvh; so for now, Yhvh would be Laban's god too. Becky's brother was a flexible, clever manipulator. By feigning respect for the steward's god; Laban no doubt hoped it would work to advantage. Later we're going to discover that Laban's own personal religion was actually idolatry. He kept a supply of divine figurines in his home-- little statuettes called teraphim.

†. Gen 24:31b . . why do you remain outside, when I have made ready the house and a place for the camels?

Unlike Abraham's home, where Abraham ruled supreme, the daddy in Becky's home doesn't seem to have much voice or power in it. Bethuel's son, is the principle spokesman. He and his mom together seemed to run the place. Some husbands are happy with that kind of an arrangement so what the hey, if it works for them? It could be too that the daddy's health was not all that good and so he preferred letting his family manage the home.

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Gen 24:32-35


†. Gen 24:32 . . So the man entered the house, and the camels were unloaded. The camels were given straw and feed, and water was brought to bathe his feet and the feet of the men with him.

In those days, when somebody "entered the house" they actually entered a gateway into a courtyard bordered by living quarters and stables.

Who took care of the animals? Probably servants. Which would indicate that Bethuel had done pretty well for himself in life. His home was spacious enough to shelter the servant and his detachment; plus he had enough provender and bedding for at least ten camels. Hmmmm. Makes you wonder why Becky was out there fetching water. Why did she have to do it if they had servants? Well, I don't think she really had to; but Isaac's future bride was no narcissistic prima donna: she was one of those people who don't mind pitching in and getting their hands dirty. Privileged or no privileged; that girl was something.

†. Gen 24:33a . . But when food was set before him, he said: I will not eat until I have told my tale.

Always one for business, the man got straight to the point.

†. Gen 24:33b . . He said: Speak, then.

Who was it said: speak? Well, the nearest antecedent is Laban. You know, that boy reminds me of Sonny Corleone; the eldest brother in Mario Puzo's book "The Godfather". Sonny was headstrong, outspoken, and a slave to his passions; just like ol' Laban.

†. Gen 24:34 . . I am Abraham's servant: he began.

I think it's commendable that this man, so far from home, didn't introduce himself by his own name but rather by the name of the one whom he represented.

†. Gen 24:35 . .The Lord has greatly blessed my master, and he has become rich: He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and burros.

I love the way this man gives credit to Yhvh for Abraham's good fortune rather than to idols, heathen deities, dumb luck, brute force, fortuitous circumstance, and/or Abraham's business skills.

It was important that the man tell Becky's family about Abraham's religion, and about his wealth, because in a moment he's going to drop a 2,000 lb bunker buster that will change their lives forever.

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Gen 24:36-53


†. Gen 24:36a . . And Sarah, my master's wife, bore my master a son in her old age

Curiously, he doesn't mention Sarah's passing. But then, the Scriptures don't record every word that people ever spoke-- just excerpts really. Back in verse 30, Becky's entire experience at the spring is recounted in a very simple phrase: "Thus the man spoke to me."

If Becky wasn't listening before, you can just bet your equity line that her little ears perked up like a NORAD radar station at the mention of Abraham's son. And not just a son, but a son born in Sarah's old age; which would mean that Abraham's boy was relatively young, or at least age-appropriate for her liking-- and maybe available too.

Americans don't take marriage serious enough. It was life or death in those days. Ancient women didn't have the advantages of modern careers, open promiscuity, and independence like the women in twenty-first century America. Family life was all that really mattered to the women of old. It was their career goal and it was their old age security. Single women were failures and most likely headed for poverty. And some even felt it was an evidence of Divine disfavor to become an old maid-- which only served to aggravate their despair even more. So when those women got married and/or had a baby; it was a very big cause for celebration.

†. Gen 24:36b . . and he has assigned to him everything he owns.

It's no doubt obvious by now to everyone in the house where the servant is going with his narrative. Why else would he tell of the son's inheritance if not to impress Becky's family in order to secure her for the son's bride?

†. Gen 24:37-41 . . Now my master made me swear, saying: You shall not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I dwell; but you shall go to my father's house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son. And I said to my master: What if the woman does not follow me?

. . . He replied to me: The Lord, whose ways I have followed, will send His angel with you and make your errand successful; and you will get a wife for my son from my kindred, from my father's house. Thus only shall you be freed from my adjuration: if, when you come to my kindred, they refuse you--only then shall you be freed from my adjuration.


The "kindred" who might refuse the servant, includes the potential bride herself because Abraham said so at Gen 24:8.

In the ancient East, daughters were often given in arranged marriages without their consent. And normally, if Becky's kin were to say she was going to marry Isaac, well then she was going to marry Isaac and that was the end of discussion. Up ahead, we'll see that very fate befall Becky's nieces: Rachel and Leah.

But Abraham didn't want Isaac's bride to be purchased. No. In this case, Abraham broke with tradition and mandated the prospective bride herself cast the deciding vote. So if Becky refuses, the servant can't be blamed for dereliction of duty; and nobody is going to handcuff Becky and ship her off to Palestine via UPS ground. Abraham wants her to come down there of her own volition; and if not, then he'll look elsewhere . . . and no hard feelings about it.

†. Gen 24:42-48 . . This portion is pretty much what went on before except that in this version, the family is told how Becky came to have the nose ring and the arm bands.

Becky hadn't known till just now that the servant prayed for special providence prior to her arrival at the spring-- the part concerning drinking the maiden's water, and her serving the camels. Becky must have been totally astonished to think that the actual True God led that man, not just to her doorstep, but right smack dab to her footsteps. Wow!

But she had no say in the negotiations at this point. Proposals were made to the senior members of the family in those days, not to the girl.

†. Gen 24:49-51 . . And now, if you mean to treat my master with true kindness, tell me; and if not, tell me also, that I may turn right or left. Then Laban and Bethuel answered: The matter was decreed by Yhvh; we cannot speak to you bad or good. Here is Rebecca before you; take her and go, and let her be a wife to your master's son, as the Lord has spoken.

Actually Bethuel himself didn't say anything. Laban spoke in proxy for him in the same way that the steward was now speaking as Abraham in Isaac's best interests. Bethuel and Laban may have had a quiet pow-wow off to the side and then Laban came forward and announced their decision.

At this point, Becky would have normally become legally engaged to marry Isaac. But Abraham would not permit the marriage to be set in stone until the girl actually consented for herself. So it's not over yet.

†. Gen 24:52 . .When Abraham's servant heard their words, he bowed low to the ground before the Lord.

Abraham's steward is one of the most pious men in the Bible, and people like him can be very influential for God. If you've ever been in the presence of someone like him you know what I'm saying. All the prayers I learned as a child were rote; just a memorized litany of chant-like mantras. The first time I overheard someone pray candidly, from the heart, it was very moving.

†. Gen 24:53 . .The servant brought out items of silver and gold, and garments, and gave them to Rebecca; and he gave presents to her brother and her mother.

The gifts were a good-faith token that the servant meant what he said; and I've no doubt that had Becky ultimately refused, he would not have demanded them back.

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Gen 24:54-61a


†. Gen 24:54-55 . .Then he and the men with him ate and drank, and they spent the night. When they arose next morning, he said: Give me leave to go to my master. But her brother and her mother said: Let the maiden remain with us some ten days; then you may go.

Their request was reasonable. After all, this was all so sudden. They didn't even have a chance to announce the engagement nor organize a bridal shower. Becky's friends would all want to come over to the house and ooo and ahhh the jewelry and go nuts over the exotic fashions from Canaan. And they would all want to give her one last hug and wish blessings on her new life. What's so wrong with that? There's nothing wrong with that; but Abraham's wishes have to take priority in this matter. (cf. Luke 9:61-62)

†. Gen 24:56-57a . . He said to them: Do not delay me, now that The Lord has made my errand successful. Give me leave that I may go to my master.

Abraham probably had a pretty good idea how long his servant should be gone; and if the return was delayed, Abraham might begin to become anxious and wonder what was going on up there in Haran what with no internet email, telephones, HAM radio, telegraph, nor even any way to send a post card back home.

Becky has now agreed to be Isaac's bride. She made that decision the moment she accepted clothing and jewelry that were offered to her in Isaac's name. The big question now is: how much longer does she wish to remain a maiden before becoming a married woman with a home of her own?

†. Gen 24:57b-58 . . And they said: Let us call the girl and ask for her reply. They called Rebecca and said to her: Will you go with this man? And she said: I will.

Exactly what so strongly motivated Becky to agree to leave home on such short notice is open to speculation. Some feel it was because, unknown to the writer of Genesis, she had been praying for The Lord's providence in this very matter of finding the right man. The events of the previous evening were enough to convince Becky that this was truly divine providence; and she wasn't about to procrastinate now and louse up her chances for God-given happiness and security. That man was leaving, and the soon-to-be Mrs. Isaac ben Abraham was not going to miss her ride; uh-uh, no way!

†. Gen 24:59a . . So they sent off their sister Rebecca

The word for "sister" is from 'achowth (aw-khoth') and isn't limited to siblings. It applies to all manner of female kin-- sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces; even to a lover, as in Song 4:9-12.

You can imagine the flurry that went on in that house getting Becky's bags packed on such short notice. You can bet there was no joy around there that morning. An air of sadness marked her departure. Everyone was no doubt well aware they would likely never see Becky ever again. In those days, when somebody moved 500 miles away, they might just as well have gone to Pluto.

†. Gen 24:59b . . and her nurse along with Abraham's servant and his men.

The word for "nurse" is from yanaq (yaw-nak') and implies wet nursing. This may be an indication that, for reasons unspecified, Rebecca's mom was unable to breast feed her children. In Mesopotamia, wet nurses frequently had the additional duties of bringing up the child and acting as their guardian; viz: a nanny. The nurse (whose name is Deborah; Gen 35:8) was probably either Becky's first choice as personal assistant, or Deborah herself just couldn't part with her little Becky and volunteered to go along as a chaperon. It's not unusual for mentors, like Helen Keller's tutor Anne Sullivan, to become permanently bonded and dedicated to their charges.

†. Gen 24:60 . . And they blessed Rebecca and said to her: O sister! May you grow into thousands of myriads; may your offspring seize the gates of their foes.

That prophetic bon voyage was undoubtedly an acknowledgement of the promises God made to Abraham following the Akedah (Gen 22:15-18). Abraham's steward spent the night in Becky's home; and while eating dinner and chatting, no doubt shared many wonderful events from Abraham's and Isaac's lives to which Becky's family must have listened just as spellbound as all of us who study Genesis in our own day and age.

The Akedah surely must have been to them almost beyond belief that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice the very son in whom all the promises would be fulfilled. No wonder Becky was so ready to go. She just had to get on down there and see this man in whom God had taken such a particular interest.

†. Gen 24:61a . .Then Rebecca and her maids arose, mounted the camels, and followed the man.

The word for "maids" is from na'arah (nah-ar-aw') and means a young, underage girl. A Bible maid is just a lass, not really a grown up adult woman. She could be a pre teen or a late teen and any age in between. It wasn't unusual for a woman from a family of means to have a retinue of young girls in attendance. Becky's maids possibly were the children of her home's adult servants.

Then too, young girls were often indentured into maid service. Sometimes it was because of parental greed, but often it was because the family was in poverty and desperate. In the last decade alone, many families in Afghanistan were forced to sell their children just to survive the Taliban ruin of their country. Sometimes young girls were fortunes of war in Becky's day and could be bought and sold at market; for example the Jewish damsel in 2Kgs 5:1-3 who helped Naaman get his leprosy cured.

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Gen 24:61b-64


†. Gen 24:61b . . So the servant took Rebecca and went his way.

The 500 mile trip to Isaac's camp, which must have taken at least two weeks, was a great opportunity for Rebecca to become familiar with the manager of her spouse's goods. People bond well under hardship and under close knit circumstances. In the years to come, the friendship and trust that developed en route with Rebecca and the man, would really come in handy after she took over Isaac's home. We can easily guess what the primary topic of conversation was on the way back-- Mr. Isaac.

"Oh, do tell me more about him. What's his favorite food? His favorite color? When's his birthday? Has he been a playboy, dating lots of girls? Is he mellow or is he thin-skinned and easily angered? What does he do in his spare time? How tall is he? Does he have many pet peeves? What color is his hair and eyes? How old is he? Does he have a sense of humor? Would he get upset if I burned the toast? Is he affable and approachable? Is he reasonable? Is he despotic? Is he generous with his money, or a miserly tight wad? Do you really think he will like me?"

All those things, and lots, lots more, are very important to most brides and I have no doubt that Rebecca pried a great many things out of Abraham's steward concerning her Isaac. By the time they arrived, all of Becky's anxieties and fears about her future husband were resolved, and she was in love with that man before even meeting him for the very first time.

You know, Becky only had the steward's word that there really was an Isaac. She herself had never seen him, her family had never seen him, in fact no one in her whole town had ever seen him. What if the entire story were a big hoax and the man was not telling the truth. Perhaps he was a smooth con man who actually had in mind to sell Becky into slavery down in Egypt.

The farther and farther she got from home, the more danger Becky was in. The land was strange and hostile, Becky had no friends and no one to turn to if she might try an escape. She was in fact trusting her very life to an almost complete stranger. (cf. Php 1:6)

But that man's speech and his bearing were powerfully persuasive. He was able to convince Becky that he was genuinely Abraham's steward and that there really was an Isaac waiting for her at trail's end. Becky left home with one stranger to marry yet another stranger. But by the time they arrived, Abraham's trusty steward had proved himself to Becky that her escorts were all trustworthy men and only meant good by her.

†. Gen 24:62 . . Isaac had just come back from the vicinity of Beer-lahai-roi, for he was settled in the region of the Negeb.

Beer-lahai-roi was the source of water where Hagar met God for the very first time; and her experience caused the well to be named the way it was in Gen 16:13-14.

Hagar's water source became not only somewhat of a holy monument, but also an important watering hole for people with flocks and herds down there in the Negev; thanks to a runaway slave girl.

†. Gen 24:63a . . And Isaac went out walking in the field toward evening

The precise location of this field is uncertain. Since Isaac's ranch was in the Negev, near Hagar's well, that might be where this next scene occurred.

There lacks a consensus opinion among Jewish scholars as to the precise meaning of the Hebrew word laasuwach, which is translated "walking" in some Bibles; and "meditate" in others. The JPS rendering, "walking" is based upon the Arabic saha. Tradition has it that Isaac was out in the field for reflection and prayer. What might he be praying about?

Well, most likely about his impending marriage to a mail-order bride. If Rebecca was at all nervous, you can bet Isaac was just as nervous himself. These two were going to be joined at the hip for the rest of their lives and they had yet to even meet.

†. Gen 24:63b-64a . . and, looking up, he saw camels approaching. Raising her eyes, Rebecca saw Isaac.

I've heard the wording suggests a simultaneous meeting of the eyes. Isaac saw Rebecca just when she saw him. Rebecca couldn't be positive at that moment the man she saw was her future husband; but one thing Isaac knew: his dad's servant didn't leave home with female passengers. One of those women out there on the camels had to be meant for him.

†. Gen 24:64b . . She alighted from the camel

Suspecting that the man up ahead just might be her future husband, Rebecca took no chances of getting off on the wrong foot with impropriety. She could always get back up on the camel if it turned out the man wasn't her Isaac; but just in case . . .

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Gen 24:65-67


†. Gen 24:65a . . and said to the servant: Who is that man walking in the field toward us? And the servant said: That is my master.

Well; the man approaching was much too young to be Abraham, and there was only one other person on the whole planet that Abraham's servant would ever call his master-- the heir apparent.

†. Gen 24:65b . . So she took her veil and covered herself.

Becky's veil was a full body wrap, similar to a burqa; not just a stylish hijab or a cute little semi-transparent scarf in front of her face. In Akkadian, the bride on her wedding day was called kallatu kutumtu, (the veiled bride).

Also, in Akkadian; she was called pussumtu, (the veiled one), which means the same as kallatu, (bride). In that day, Rebecca's veil had both symbolic and socio-legal significance.

It was an unmistakable signal to Isaac that among all those ladies riding along with his dad's servant that day; the burqa-ette was to be his wife.

This meeting is interesting. We spent quite a bit of time viewing the character, the background, and the beauty of a really outstanding young woman in the beginning of this chapter. But it's all under wraps now in the presence of the groom. Becky is doing absolutely nothing to attract Isaac at this point. In fact, Isaac can't even see past the veil to what a gorgeous package of womanhood that Becky really is.

The anonymous steward who went north to speak with Becky on Isaac's behalf, will now speak with Isaac on Becky's behalf. Thus, Abraham's steward will be an ambassador for both Isaac and Rebecca; and when he's done, Becky will know all she needs to know at this point about Isaac, and Isaac will know all he needs to know at this point about Rebecca; even before they meet each other for the very first time.

†. Gen 24:66 . .The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done.

The steward's responsibility was to canvas Abraham's kin for a bridal candidate, engage the girl to marry Isaac, gain her consent to leave home, and then transport her safely back to Palestine. Next hurdle: Isaac's acceptance of the candidate. The marriage still isn't set in concrete yet until Isaac meets Becky and voluntarily accepts her to be his wife.

But this phase of the romance is out of the steward's jurisdiction. It's not his responsibility to make the couple like each other. He only had to bring them together. (cf. John 6:44)

†. Gen 24:67a . . Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah,

That tent was once Abraham's home. His choice to donate it for Becky's temporary quarters was very thoughtful, and must have meant a lot to her; since at this point, Becky was far from home, family, and friends; and her future was in doubt. Meeting one's future in-laws can prove a bit scary for some. To be given Sarah's tent was a very good indication that Isaac's dad was pleased, and that the girl was okay by him.

She, and her nurse, and her maidens would live in the donated domicile until such a time as the marriage was performed, or (if Isaac didn't like her) until she was sent back home. There's more to marriage than just business; after all, marriage is a union of two people-- and people have feelings. It's one thing to do your duty, but it's quite another to feel loved-- and marriage really ought to have some love in it after all.

†. Gen 24:67b . . and he took Rebecca as his wife.

The literal of that verse is: he took Rebecca and she became his wife. The meaning of "he took" Rebecca, is that Isaac accepted her. The meaning of "she became his wife" is that Rebecca accepted Isaac. So that the marriage was between two people who truly accepted each other; not between two people who were stuck with each other. It turned out that those two went together like a pair of old shoes: quite literally a match made in heaven.

†. Gen 24:67c . . Isaac loved her,

The word for "love" is from 'ahab (aw-hab') and means: to have affection for. This instance is only the second time in the first twenty-four chapters of Genesis where that word appears. The other was in chapter 22, just prior to the Akedah, when God asked Abraham to "Take your son, your favored one, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you."

So Isaac genuinely loved Rebecca as a person just as much as Abraham had loved Isaac as a son. Their union wasn't just another arranged marriage like so many of the others in that day; but was truly a romance.

†. Gen 24:67d . . and thus found comfort after his mother's death.

All too often, men experience very little happiness with their mothers during boyhood. A callous mom can easily become a boy's worst influence, and permanently warp his attitude towards women for the remainder of his life; even leading to male frigidity.

But Isaac's mom wasn't like that at all. Sarah was not only a good mother to Isaac, but she was also a really good buddy too. In spite of her domineering personality, Sarah and Isaac had somehow managed to become good friends; and her loss left a big hole in his heart. It would take a very special girl to repair that hole. Well, Rebecca was just the one to do it. She not only replaced Sarah in the matriarchy, but she also replaced Sarah as the female buddy in Isaac's life.


NOTE: Wasn't that a good story? Joseph's story is pretty good too. You know: Genesis is no country for a drudge. Only people with a heart can truly appreciate this book. For anybody else; it's just academic.

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Gen 25:1-6


†. Gen 25:1 . . Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.

According to 1Chrn 1:32, Ms. Keturah wasn't really a full-fledged wife as Sarah had been, but was a wife of a different color altogether. She was a piylegesh (pee-leh'-ghesh) which means: a mistress or a paramour; viz: a concubine. So that Gen 25:1 really should be translated: "Abraham took another woman"

It was considered okay in those days for men to sire children by concubines and nobody seemed to think much of it. But at Abraham's age!? Wow! Earlier, at Gen 17:17, Abraham considered himself much to old to father a child; and in truth, he was.

"By faith Abraham, even though he was past age-- and Sarah herself was barren --was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore." (Heb 11:11-12)

Not only was Sarah miraculously made fertile in her old age, but so was her husband Abraham. In fact his libido, and his fertility, were so well repaired that the old boy couldn't leave the ladies alone even after he was more than 140 years old! So the comment at Gen 24:1 wasn't meant to convey the idea that Abraham lacked vigor.

†. Gen 25:2-4 . . She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. The descendants of Dedan were the Asshurim, the Letushim, and the Leummim. The descendants of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Enoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

According to a web site called Mr. Showbiz, Tony Randall, the Odd Couple sitcom star, became a first-time father at age seventy-seven in May of 1997 when his wife, then twenty-seven-year-old Heather Harlan, gave birth to their daughter Julia. A second baby came in June 98. Mr. Randall would have been ninety-eight when the first one graduated from college in 2019 had he lived.

Others have brought children into the world during their later years too-- e.g. Clint Eastwood, Charlie Chaplin, and Cary Grant. Anthony Quinn had his thirteenth child at the age of eighty-one. Some men can father children late in life; although it's very risky. The chances for schizophrenia and other birth defects increase as men get older.

Keturah's age is uncertain. But she was obviously young enough to have children; and in that day, women retained their strength pretty far up into life. However, by the time Sarah was ninety, she was past menopause.

Where did Abraham find Keturah? Was she an Egyptian like Hagar? Was she maybe a local Canaanite; possibly from Ephron's clan, the guy who sold Abraham a plot for Sarah's cemetery? No. If Abraham wouldn't let Isaac marry a women of Canaan, then he sure wasn't going to sleep with one himself. Was she from Haran; Rebecca's home town? Nobody really knows and it doesn't even matter anyway. None of Keturah's children would share in the ownership of Eretz Israel-- only Isaac's progeny. It all went to him by Divine fiat.

†. Gen 25:5 . . Abraham willed all that he owned to Isaac;

Abraham had already willed all that he owned to Isaac even before any of Keturah's boys were born. The servant told Becky's family so back in chapter 24. This verse is just to make sure nobody forgets that Isaac is the only son that really matters.

†. Gen 25:6a . . but to Abraham's sons by concubines Abraham gave gifts while he was still living,

When Ishmael was cut loose back in chapter 21, there was no mention of gifts. In fact, they left home with hardly anything at all. Apparently, later on, Ishmael returned to visit his dad on occasion and Abraham eventually compensated him for the loss of his firstborn rights. Abraham's generosity towards his sons was a right thing to do.

"If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel." (1Tim 5:8)

Rather than stipulate his sons' inheritances in a written will, Abraham took care of them all while he was still alive; probably to make sure there was no squabbling over his estate in probate after he was dead and thereby possibly jeopardizing Isaac's future.

†. Gen 25:6b . . and he sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the East.

The "land of the East" is a general name for Arabia, which stretched away to the southeast and east of the point where Abraham resided in the south of Palestine. The northern part of Arabia, which lay due east of Palestine, was formerly more fertile and populous than now.

Sending someone away is not really the same as driving them off; but more like a send-off; viz: a bon voyage (e.g. Gen 24:59). It's far more likely Abraham helped them all get settled outside of Canaan rather than leave them to the whims of fate. Once settled into their own territories, the other boys would be less inclined to muscle in on Isaac's turf or freeload off him in the event they fell onto hard times.

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Gen 25:7-8b


†. Gen 25:7 . .This was the total span of Abraham's life: one hundred and seventy-five years.

Abraham resided in Canaan for 100 years; and outlived Sarah by 48. That's not the way it usually happens here in modern America. Wives typically outlive their husbands; and if you don't think that's true, just visit any one of a number of retirement communities. Men over 80 who can still walk on their own, and drive a car, are like the proverbial fox in a henhouse. As of 2009, the male/female ratio for people aged 85 and older was twice as many women as men.

†. Gen 25:8a . . And Abraham breathed his last,

Abraham lived to see Jacob's and Esau's fifteenth birthday. The twins were born when Isaac was sixty. And Abraham died when Isaac was seventy-five. So the boys got to know their grandpa pretty good before the old master passed on.

Abraham lived a very brief life in comparison to his forebears. From Noah's point of view, who lived to 950, Abraham practically died as a child. Out ahead in the new world, a man of a hundred years old will be considered just a kid. (Isa 65;19-20)

The human life span has steadily declined since Noah's day, and now the average American, even with all the food, and the most advanced medical care in the world, only lives on average about 77 years or so.

†. Gen 25:8b . . dying at a good age, old and contented;

Too many people die at a bad age; viz: too soon-- for example all the teen aged boys who died in the Viet Nam war and the ones currently being killed in Afghanistan.

The word for "contented" is from sabea' saw-bay'-ah) which means: satiated. In other words: Abraham didn't die unfulfilled; he lived a very satisfying life: he touched all the bases.

Thoreau once said that the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. Well; that doesn't fit Abraham. He never wished his life had turned out differently.

"Piety with contentment is great gain." (1Tim 6:9)

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Gen 25:8c-10


†. Gen 25:8c . . and he was gathered to his kin.

According to Luke 16:19-31, there were but two places prior to Christ's resurrection where people gathered with their kin in the afterlife.

Burials always follow the phrase "gathered to his kin". So the gathering happens as soon as the person dies; and prior to their funeral. The difference between gathering and burial is quite distinct in Jacob's case; who was interred no less than forty days after his passing, yet was gathered to his kin immediately upon expiring. (Gen 49:33-50:3)

It would seem, therefore, that the employment of this idiom-- like the corresponding figure of speech: to lie down with one's fathers --refers to an ancient belief that despite Man's mortality, he possesses a rather durable component that survives beyond the death of his body. In other words: assassins may terminate the life of a human body; but they cannot terminate the life of a human soul. Not that it's impossible; it's just that only man's maker has the power to pull that off.

"Don't be afraid of them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather be afraid of Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matt 10:28)

†. Gen 25:9a . . His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him

Isaac and Ishmael were by far the oldest of all the boys. At the time, they lived reasonably close to each other and I would not be surprised if Ishmael came up to visit his dad quite often and was fully aware of the old boy's health. Abraham was 86 years old when his first son was born; so Ishmael would be going on 90 when his dad died. (cf. Gen 16:16, Gen 25:7)

Like Isaac, Ishmael was an only child; that is until Isaac came along. But at first, he had his dad all to himself for at least fifteen years.

Both of these guys were older and wiser men by this time. I'm sure Ishmael understood that the loss of his birthright due to his mother's emancipation wasn't Isaac's fault. And Isaac harbors no ill will towards his half-brother for anything he may have done as a kid. After all, grown-ups are no longer the kids they grew from. The kids they were are long gone. It's not a good thing to hold grudges against people for the things they did when they were underage and didn't know any better.

†. Gen 25:9b-10 . . in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre, the field that Abraham had bought from the Hittites; there Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife.

No doubt when Abraham negotiated for this property, he anticipated his own eventual interment. Well, this cave is big enough to become a family crypt. Later, more of his progeny would follow him there.

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Gen 25:11-18


†. Gen 25:11a . . After the death of Abraham, God blessed his son Isaac.

With the death of Abraham, the covenant torch is passed on to the next patriarch. The promises now shift into Isaac's possession and it becomes his responsibility to take over as the family priest too.

†. Gen 25:11b . . And Isaac settled near Beer-lahai-roi.

Everyone else from Abraham's camp settled there too now that Isaac is the new godfather. All of Abraham's servants, all his livestock, all the camels, all everything; the whole shebang is Isaac's and follows Isaac wherever Isaac tells them to go. You know, it's very difficult to forget Hagar while the Bible continues to mention a very sacred spot dear to her own heart. But this is the very last mention of Beer-lahai-roi. It's as if Abraham's era is closing and now we move forward into Isaac's.

†. Gen 25:12 . .This is the line of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's slave, bore to Abraham.

Never once is Hagar listed as one of Abraham's wives. She was Sarah's slave; and nothing more. Genesis gives Ishmael's line only passing mention because the real focus lies along the covenant line. So we won't follow Ishmael's exploits after listing his progeny.

†. Gen 25:13-16 . .These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the first-born of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedmah. These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names by their villages and by their encampments: twelve chieftains of as many tribes.

Twelve tribes; just as God had foretold in Gen 17:20. These twelve "encampments" were little more than nomadic tent communities as compared to the more permanent fortified towns and hamlets that were common in the Canaan of Isaac's day.

†. Gen 25:17 . .These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years; then he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his kin.

When Ishmael was "gathered to his kin" it wasn't to Abraham's clan but to his own: the Ishmael line. However, Abraham remained Ishmael's biological father whether Ishmael was legally his son or not. You can never change who sired you. Your genetic origin is impossible to reverse or alter; though it can be legally dissolved.

†. Gen 25:18 . .They dwelt from Havilah, by Shur, which is close to Egypt, all the way to Asshur; they camped alongside all their kinsmen.

The "they" in this verse are the kin of verse 17 unto whom Ishmael was gathered.

Even though Ishmael's line isn't actually legal kin to Abraham's progeny, the line is still related to the other boys by blood and therefore genetic kinsman.

The expression "all the way to Asshur" is probably better rendered "as you go to Asshur" or "on the way to Asshur"-- ancient Assyria, now modern day Iraq. The Ishmaelites lived along the main caravan route leading from Egypt to Assyria; which would be very advantageous if you were into international trading, which they were (cf. Gen 37:25-28).

The precise locations of the Havilah and Shur of verse 18 are unknown; although it's fairly safe to assume that Havilah (sandy), and Shur delineated a region stretching from portions of modern day Jordan and Saudi Arabia, past Elat, across the northern Sinai Peninsula, and on over to Suez. In the time of Saul, Ishmael's territory was controlled by a people called Amalekites (1Sam 15:7).

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Gen 25:19-21a


†. Gen 25:19 . .This is the story of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac.

The word for "son" is ben (bane) and is used like American's use a middle name. Isaac's whole name is: Isaac ben Abraham. It's a common idiom in the Old Testament, and found in the New Testament too.

"They said: Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say? "I came down from heaven" (John 6:42)

The Lord's Greek name is lesous (ee-ay-souce') which is equivalent to the Hebrew name Yehowshuwa' (yeh-ho-shoo'-ah) which means: Joshua.

His dad's name in Greek is loseph (ee-o-safe') which is equivalent to the Hebrew name Yowceph (yo-safe') which means Joseph. So "Jesus, the son of Joseph" in hybridized English and Hebrew: is Joshua ben Joseph.


NOTE: The English spelling of Hebrew words often disagree with the spellings used by Orthodox Jews because there is no set standard for rendering Hebrew words in English form as yet so it's not uncommon for discrepancies to occur.

†. Gen 25:20a . . Isaac was forty years old when he took to wife Rebecca,

Forty years-old might seem a bit late in life to get married for the first time, but in those days, a forty year-old man was still quite young.

The life expectancy of the average US male born in 2007 is 75.4 years. Isaac lived to 180; so at his marriage to Rebecca, he was about the equivalent of a modern 17 year-old. Jacob himself didn't marry Leah and Rachel and until he was over 80-- attesting to the robust health and longevity that men enjoyed in those days.

†. Gen 25:20b . . daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean.

The identity of Rebecca's mom remains a total mystery. By the time of Moses, uncle Laban was a large figure in Jewish history and you can safely bet the people of Israel were very familiar with that old rascal's ways. He mistreated not only Jacob, but also Leah and Rachel too, so he's not too popular with the people of Israel even today; seeing as how he was unkind and dishonest with their sacred ancestors and all.

The holiday of Purim commemorates an Agagite named Haman, who tried to exterminate the Jews in Esther's day. Maybe there should be a memorial for Laban too. Although he wasn't a villain on the scale of Haman, he nevertheless made ol' Jacob's life pretty miserable there for a while.

†. Gen 25:21a . . Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren;

Oh no. Not again! It seems like all the really good-looking girls among Terah's female grandchildren had some sort of infertility condition.

Supposing Isaac never prayed for Rebecca. Would she have children? Absolutely! God gave his word to Abraham in Gen 17:19 that Isaac would become a very numerous people. So Rebecca, Isaac's divinely selected wife, was going to be a mommy; it was only a matter of time. But about one thing I think we can be sure of: Isaac didn't want to wait until Rebecca was ninety years old like his mom before having their first baby.

This is now the second time that the people of Israel were perpetuated by a miracle-- proving they are no ordinary people, but a people who wouldn't exist at all if God hadn't willed them into existence and into perpetuity.

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Gen 25:21b-22


†. Gen 25:21b . . and the Lord responded to his plea, and his wife Rebecca conceived.

The twins Jacob and Esau were born when Isaac was 60 years old. So Isaac and Rebecca had been trying to have children for about 19 years. There is no record that Abraham ever prayed concerning Sarah's infertility. He dealt with the problem in another way.

Isaac, rather than follow the example of papa Abraham and sleep with one of the maids; did the wise thing by electing to petition God to cure his wife so they could have their own baby. There is of course no guarantee prayer will work for everyone, but it was just the ticket for them.

Youngsters can learn from their parents mistakes. If there was one thing you can bet Isaac did not want in his family, it was another Ishmael. Not that Ishmael was a bad seed, but his place in Abraham's home was a catalyst in generating much friction and rivalry, and also caused an inheritance problem for Isaac; not to mention Abraham's eventual heartbreak of finally emancipating Hagar and thus sending her and Ishmael off to fend for themselves.

†. Gen 25:22a . . But the children struggled in her womb,

The word for "struggled" is from ratsats (raw-tsats') which means: to crack in pieces, literally or figuratively

Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw. Those little tiny babies were trying to bust each other's skulls in there! The word ratsats is used just like that in a couple of places. (e.g. Jgs 9:53, Ps 74:12-13)

But I think it is more likely that each wanted to dominate the other. A common use of the word ratsats is oppression. (e.g. Deut 28:33-34, Jgs 10:6-8)

†. Gen 25:22b . . and she said: If so, why do I exist?

That rendering is a bit murky. I think it would be better to paraphrase it: "If this is the case; then what am I doing here?"

Although Genesis revealed in verse 22a that Rebecca was carrying more than one child, and that the children were struggling for domination in the womb, the author wrote from inspiration and hind sight while Rebecca herself had no way of knowing what was going on at the time. It must have appeared to her that she was having a difficult pregnancy and in grave danger of dying in child birth.

That of course would make no sense at all to Rebecca because she was chosen for Isaac's wife by Divine providence; and her pregnancy was the result of Isaac's intercession. What was the point of going to all that trouble if she was only going to die right along with their first baby? In her mind, she certainly would have been much better off to have remained up north with her family than leave home with the servant to marry Isaac and lose her life bearing his child.

†. Gen 25:22c . . She went to inquire of the Lord,

Went where? Well . . Isaac had settled near Beer-lahai-roi, the very water source where Hagar met with God for her very first time. This record is the very first time Rebecca met with God too, and she very likely met with God right at the same place Hagar did.

Hagar gave that spring of water its name Beer-lahai-roi in honor of her new best friend-- 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy --the god who was aware of her problems, and who was also interested in helping her deal with them.

In the movie "Titanic" after looking at drawings a passenger made of some unusual women in Paris, and listening to him relate intimate details about them, the heroine turned and said: "You have a gift Jack. You see people."

Well, God sees people too. Beer-lahai-roi was Hagar's secret garden, and I sometimes wonder if Isaac didn't settle there because of that. I believe that is where Rebecca went to talk with God about her boys. And why not? That spring had good karma. And if God was sympathetic with Hagar there, then why wouldn't He be sympathetic with Rebecca there too? 'Ataah 'Eel R'iy is the very best kind of god to have-- one who sees people.

But suppose Rebecca had instead opted to pray from inside her tent? Would God have heard her from there? Yes, He would have heard (cf. Ps 139:7-12, Matt 6:6). It isn't necessary to resort to a special sanctuary, or a shrine, or take your case to a professional priesthood for mediation. People often pray from very unusual places; and get good results. (e.g. Jonah 2:1-3)

If Jonah could pray and be heard from inside a smelly ol' fish's tummy, and if God can be worshipped elsewhere than a church (John 4:21-24) then I guess it should be okay if Rebecca prayed from inside her tent-- and it should be okay if somebody prayed from their car, or bedroom, or in the mountains on a hike, or even in the restroom at work.

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Gen 25:23a


†. Gen 25:23a . . and the Lord answered her: Two nations are in your womb, two separate peoples shall issue from your body;

The Hebrew word for "nations" is from gowy (go'-ee); or the short version goy (go'-ee) which means: (in the sense of massing) a foreign nation; hence, Gentiles; also (figuratively) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts.

The words gowy and goy, are commonly used by modern Jews in referring to people who aren't Jewish. But the words goyim and goy do not especially mean non-Jews. Those words apply to all manner of people masses; both Jew and Gentile. There are other Bible examples where those words unmistakably apply to not only non Jews, but Jews too. For example:

"I will make of you a great nation" (Gen 12:2).

That promise was made to Abraham regarding his progeny. The word for "nation" in that verse (which in this case clearly refers to the people of Israel) is gowy, the same word describing both Jacob and Esau.

Another example is Gen 18:17-18 where both Hebrews and Gentiles are referred to as goyyim:

"Now the Lord had said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him?"

In another instance; God gave His word that, while the universe exists, the people of Israel would never cease to be goy.

"Thus said the Lord, Who established the sun for light by day, the laws of moon and stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea into roaring waves, Whose name is Lord of Hosts: If these laws should ever be annulled by Me-- declares the Lord-- only then would the offspring of Israel cease to be a nation before Me for all time." (Jer 31:35-36)

So the people of Israel are still goy even to this very day.

Gen 25:23a is an interesting development. God chose Sarah to be the one through whom Abraham's covenant would perpetuate-- likewise He chose Rebecca for the same purpose. It was through her that the covenant would perpetuate too. But Rebecca is somehow different. For reasons of His own, God waited for her to come along before getting serious about multiplying Yhvh's people.

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Gen 25:23b-26b


†. Gen 25:23b . . One people shall be mightier than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.

Esau will come out first; therefore, chronologically, he's the eldest son. However, the right of primogeniture was taken from him and given to Jacob. That was God's sovereign prerogative as the paterfamilias of Yhvh's people.

Biblically, the firstborn son's birthright isn't inalienable; rather quite transferable to a younger sibling e.g. Rueben and Joseph (1Chrn 5:1) and Mannasah and Ephraim. (Gen 48:13-19)

"Rebecca's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad-- in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls --she was told: "The older will serve the younger." (Rom 9:7-12)

There was certainly nothing in Jacob's infant character that earned him the firstborn position, and it was just as assuredly not his eventual craftiness that got it for him either. It was simply Divine prerogative. In some things, God is sovereign and there is not one single thing h.sapiens can do about it.

†. Gen 25:24 . .When her time to give birth was at hand, there were twins in her womb.

Multiple births in human beings arise either from the simultaneous impregnation of more than one ovum or from the impregnation of a single ovum that divides into two or more parts, each of which develops into a distinct embryo. Plural offspring developing from a single egg are known as "identical"-- they are always of the same gender, resemble one another very closely, and have similar fingerprints and blood types.

Offspring produced from separate ova are "fraternal"-- not necessarily of the same gender; they have the usual family resemblance of brothers and sisters.

Precisely of which type Jacob and Esau were, is difficult to tell. However, they are definitely not identical; either in physical appearance nor in personality, nor in speech.

†. Gen 25:25a . .The first one emerged red, like a hairy mantle all over;

The word for "red" is 'admoniy (ad-mo-nee') which can refer to either red hair or to a reddish, rosy complexion. In Esau's case, it's difficult to know for certain which applied. That he was a hairy kid right from birth is uncontested. However, to avoid the association with red hair; some feel that the conjunction "and" should be inserted just after the comma, so that the verse would read: The first one emerged red, and hairy all over like a mantle.

Jacob looked like most babies do at birth: a little cherub; bald and smooth skinned.

Esau, in contrast, was not only hairy, but because of his fur, he was rough to the touch; sort of like a woolen G.I. blanket. Esau wasn't your typical cuddly little tykester. When Rebecca held him, it wasn't like holding a little boy, it was more like holding a grizzly bear cub, so to speak. Maybe that was a contributing factor in Rebecca's favoritism of Jacob? How many mothers can really warm up to a baby who looks like he'll morph into a werewolf any second?

†. Gen 25:25b . . they named him Esau.

The Hebrew word for Esau is from 'Esav (ay-sawv'); the meaning of which isn't known for certain. Some say it means rough-- like rough to the touch. Others think it might mean to cover, or envelop like a blanket --a distinct possibility given Esau's appearance as one covered with hair all over his body. (maybe even on his little tush too.)

†. Gen 25:26a . .Then his brother emerged, holding on to the heel of Esau;

Sibling rivalry between the two baby brothers was very intense. Jacob undoubtedly held on to Esau's heel to slow him down so he wouldn't get too far ahead-- and also an aggressive attempt to stop him from going first even though Esau was legitimately first in line to be born.

†. Gen 25:26b . . so they named him Jacob.

The Hebrew word for Jacob is from Ya' aqob (yah-ak-obe') which means: heel-catcher.

Esau defined a heel-catcher like this:

"Esau said: Was he, then, named Jacob that he might supplant me these two times? First he took away my birthright and now he has taken away my blessing!" (Gen 27:36)

Supplanters take things by coup, usurping, artifice and/or treachery. Right from the womb, Jacob desired supremacy over his brother Esau and struggled to get out ahead of him. How male infants can be so competitive at such an early age is a total mystery; but not impossible. Boys are competitive by nature, and don't like to come in second place; especially against a brother. For some strange reason, it is much easier for a boy to suffer defeat by a non-kin male opponent than by his own sibling.

Jacob is one very tricky Dicky who knows how to trip people up, and how to keep them from getting ahead, and how to cleverly separate them from what is rightfully theirs.

That boy was born way too soon. He should have been on Wall Street; manipulating stocks, marketing derivatives, and raiding corporations. Jacob isn't usually portrayed in Scripture as a man of muscle and brute strength, but as a man of cunning and determination, a man who gets what he wants by patience, stealth, intelligence, and/or trickery rather than by brute force. Maybe he should have been a corporate lawyer?

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Gen 25:26c-27b


†. Gen 25:26c . . Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.

Isaac married Rebecca at forty (Gen 25:20). If Becky was 18 at her wedding, she would have been 38. Imagine waiting twenty years to have your first child? Quite a few modern marriages end long before then.

†. Gen 25:27a . .When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the outdoors;

Esau was the macho kind of boy dads are usually very proud of. He was a rugged, athletic man who preferred to sleep on the ground, under the stars, rather than between sheets. A real he-man; who, in our own day, would very likely own several guns; some of which would be brutal calibers like a .44 magnum revolver or a 10 ga. shotgun.

But Esau was totally physical. The poor lad had no brain at all. He was brave, adventurous, and a natural at hunting, but that is about all you could say for him-- kind of like professional sports stars who only got into college because of their athletic ability, not especially for any academic accomplishments.

Esau pegged the mark in virility; but at the same time rated a big fat zero in sense and sensibility-- a Neanderthal knuckle-dragger kind of guy. There was really no need for Esau to kill wildlife for fresh meat: as if the family were desperate for food; after all, Isaac was very wealthy in livestock.

No. Esau hunted for sport, and his goal was not to help support the family, but to show-off his prowess, and to impress himself, and those around him.

Esau excelled in outdoor survival skills: he was very definitely one-up on Jacob in that sphere; plus it gained him a level of admiration from his dad that exceeded the esteem Isaac held for Jacob.

But for all his natural athletic ability, Esau placed no importance whatsoever upon things of eternal value. He was the classic man under the sun; viz: earthly, secular to the bone, and his so-called "needs" took the highest priority over everything. (cf. 1Cor 2:14)

"See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or impious person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal." (Heb 12:15-16)

†. Gen 25:27b . . but Jacob was a mild man

What's Genesis saying? That Jacob was a wimp; some kind of a mommy's boy? No. Far from it. The word for "mild" is from tam (tawm) which means: gentle; viz: temperate.

The Bible's God holds gentleness in very high regard.

"For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Ps 37:10-11)

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." (Matt 5:5)

The koiné Greek word for "meek" in the third beatitude is praus (prah-ooce') which means essentially the very same thing as tam; viz: temperate; mild.

Moses was meek (Num 12:3) and the Lord was meek. (Matt 11:29, Matt 21:5)

Webster's defines mild as: gentle in nature or behavior; viz: temperate; in other words: agreeable, approachable, reasonable, calm, mellow, and self-controlled.

Non-temperate people could be characterized as moody, grudging, irritable, emotional, thin-skinned, unreasonable, irrational, reactive, defensive, confrontational, assertive; and around whom one has to walk on egg shells all the time.

A temperate person, though mellow in demeanor, should never be assumed lacking in strength, courage, conviction, or self confidence. Anybody who's studied the lives of Moses and Jesus can easily testify that neither of those men were either timid, wimpy, or vacillating; no, they walked softly and carried a big stick.

Jacob and his dad Isaac were temperate men; but could be assertive when the situation called for it. Temperate people like Jacob and Isaac pick their battles carefully, and avoid getting all riled up over trifles.

What that's all saying is that Jacob was mature and sensible; in contrast to his brother Esau who was carnal, immature, sensuous, and acted more like an adolescent than a grown man. Mature men take their responsibilities seriously, and their priorities are far different than a guy like Esau who just wants to have fun and adventure all the time.

So anyway, in the economy of God, a person with tam is to be admired way over and above a rugged athletic he-man. It's okay to be a rugged athletic he-man. There's nothing eo ipso wrong in that. After all, David was a rugged he-man himself. But it's not okay to be one without tam. Well, that was Esau-- the picture of health and male virility, but he lacked tam. Esau was a rude, lewd, crude bag of pre-chewed food dude.

Jacob was very different. It's true he was crafty, and maybe a bit dishonest at times; but he was no wimp I can assure you; and, on the whole, a very good man.

Jacob was mellow: he didn't need to show off and win the applause of the crowd to feel good about himself. He was the strong silent type who enjoyed home life and ranching. He was productive, and that's where he found the most contentment in life.

Jacob had the qualities that many good women look for in a husband. He was stable, enjoyed being at home with his family, worked an honest day's work, loved his mom, had no issues with women, and appreciated the value of religion.

Jacob wasn't a grand-stander; nor the kind of guy to run off on adventures all the time or constantly move to where the grass was greener. He didn't leave home till he was 75, and even then it was only because he was on the lamb. Jacob was the kind of man who buys a home and stays in the same neighborhood until his kids are out of school.

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Gen 25:27c-28


†. Gen 25:27c . . who stayed in camp.

Does that mean Jacob never ventured outdoors? No. After all, his family was pastoral; they lived in tents and spent their whole lives working outdoors. Staying in camp only means Jacob would rather come on home when the day was over, take a hot shower, eat dinner with his family, brush his teeth, and sleep between clean sheets rather than needing a bath out under the stars on the ground with creepy-crawlies.

Esau wasn't dependable; and probably off away from home on one safari after another. But Jacob was always nearby, ready to lend a hand with the chores, shear the sheep, mend the fences, and help his mom get in a load of wood and water. He was like the ranchers in the movie Shane-- hard working and dependable --very unlike his wild and wooly brother who very likely scorned animal husbandry and thought of it as a life for losers.

Jacob was a lot like his mom Rebecca. Although she too came from a family with servants, it wasn't below her to bring in the evening water when it was time. Jacob could have kicked back and lived the life of a spoiled rich kid and never lifted a finger to help out around the ranch, leaving it all up to the servants. But he didn't do that. No. Jacob was a working rancher: he pitched in wherever he could because it was his nature to make himself useful and productive.

†. Gen 25:28a . . Isaac favored Esau because he had a taste for game;

The Hebrew word for "favored" is from 'ahab (aw-hab') or possibly 'aheb (aw-habe') which mean: to have affection for.

Family counselors will tell you that favoritism is harmful: and who from a large family doesn't already know that. But nevertheless it's just about near impossible to prevent favoritism. People are only human after all.

Up to this point, Esau seems an okay kind of guy. No really serious faults are readily apparent. And he seems affable enough. On the pages of Old Testament Scripture, he isn't said to be a friendless loner, or an angry sociopath; nor into bad habits like drinking, gambling, murder, robbery, lies, laziness, fighting, disrespect for his parents, blasphemy, selfishness, foul language, or anything else like that. The only apparent difference between Esau and Jacob-- up to this point --is Esau's preference for roaming the great outdoors instead of putting in a day's work around the ranch. Jewish folklore lays some pretty heavy sins upon Esau. but none of them are listed here in chapter 25.

For now, neither Isaac nor Rebecca have voiced any gripes against either one of their boys. Isaac does favor Esau more, but only because of the venison that he prepared for his dad on occasion-- which of course would appeal to Isaac because it was wild game rather than the meat of domestic animals. Guys sometimes feel more manly when they eat meat taken in hunting rather than from a local super market. Isaac is one of those men for whom this proverb rings true: The way to a man's heart is through this stomach.

†. Gen 25:28b . . but Rebecca favored Jacob.

Well, that's understandable. Jacob was religious, temperate, conscientious, and helpful: attributes Rebecca would certainly value; whereas Esau was secular, out hunting, and saw no value in his dad's religion whatsoever (Heb 12:15-17). And Jacob was very likely home a whole lot more than Esau; and made good company too. Guys like Esau tend to be center-of-attention addicts; and eclipse everyone else in the room to the point where you get the feeling they believe themselves the only ones in the whole wide world that count and the only justification for your existence is to be their audience.

Rebecca was a no-nonsense kind of girl. I think she was very impressed by Abraham's chief steward because he was serious about his business and got right to it with no fooling around; plus he was a man of prayer too. I think all of that had a great deal of influence on Rebecca's decision to leave home with him.

I suspect Rebecca saw that very same kind of character in Jacob; and it had more appeal to her than the swash buckling, great white hunter attitude that compelled Esau to go off on safari so often. Not that an adventurer's nature is bad or anything like that. But Rebecca preferred the company of disciplined, level headed, temperate men who take care of their families and put them first. The kind who take their responsibilities seriously and don't shirk.

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Gen 25:29-31


†. Gen 25:29 . . Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the open, famished.

I guess Esau never heard of the Boy Scouts' motto: Be prepared. Well . . next time, maybe he'll be a little more careful to fill his ALICE pack with some LRRP rations before going out in the boonies.

The word for "stew" is from naziyd (naw-zeed') which means: something boiled, e.g. soup. According to Gen 25:34, one of the ingredients in Jacob's soup was lentils: a type of flat, round seed related to the pea and is eaten as a vegetable.

†. Gen 25:30a . . And Esau said to Jacob: Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, for I am famished

The word for "red" (stuff) is from 'adom (aw-dome') which means: rosy.

†. Gen 25:30b . . which is why he was named Edom.

Edom is from 'Edom (ed-ome') or possibly 'Edowm (ed-ome') which mean: red. 'Edom and 'Edowm are derived from 'adom; the word for rosy.

I actually knew a man when I was a kid whose nick-name was Rose; and who hasn't heard of the pro footballer Rosey Grier?

†. Gen 25:31 . . Jacob said: First sell me your birthright.

The birthright consists of two distinct components. One is material, and the other is spiritual. If Israel's covenanted law can be used as a guideline in this instance, then the holder of the birthright (which is transferable) is entitled to twice the amount of material inheritance given to his siblings. (Deut 21:15-17)

But Jacob isn't asking for Esau's material birthright; it's the spiritual one that he's after. Jacob wanted very much to be the family's next patriarch; and no doubt Rebecca wanted him too.

The position of patriarch carries heavy responsibilities. If Esau was to rule over the family, then he would be responsible to provide for them both materially and spiritually. Abraham was a very successful patriarch in both respects, but most especially in the spiritual.

It was the patriarch's duty to build, and officiate at, the family's altar; just as Abraham had done all those years (cf. Job 1:5). It was also the patriarch's duty to dispense the knowledge God and make sure it was carried forward in the family so as to prevent its loss to future generations (cf. Gen 18:19). I think what Jacob was really after was the inspiration that came with being the spiritual patriarch. (cf. Gen 20:7)

As far as Esau was concerned, the material aspect of his birthright was all that mattered. He was totally secular and cared nothing at all for his spiritual birthright. On the other hand, Jacob dearly longed for the spiritual aspect-- the material part being only incidental. No doubt the two brothers had discussed these very things over the years so that Jacob already knew exactly how Esau felt about it. So that, half in jest, and probably half in disgust, he proposed that Esau barter his spiritual birthright for food.

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Gen 25:32-34


†. Gen 25:32-33 . . And Esau said: I am at the point of death, so of what use is my birthright to me? But Jacob said: Swear to me first. So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.

It just amazes me how much faith the people of long ago put in oaths. Nowadays nobody trusts an oath. You've got to sign your name on the dotted line, preferably with a witness and/or a notary, because it would be totally foolish to take anybody's word on anything; even if they swore to it.

Even if Isaac now gave the birthright to Esau, which he fully intended to do, at least Jacob had the assurance that his brother wouldn't retain the spiritual aspect. Isaac would never interfere with a contract between the two brothers sealed by an oath. He would have to honor it. The spiritual birthright would now go to Jacob, which, according to Gen 25:23, is exactly what the supreme paterfamilias of Abraham's clan mandated in the first place.

†. Gen 25:34 . . Jacob then gave Esau bread and lentil stew; he ate and drank, and he rose and went away. Thus did Esau spurn the birthright.

Had Esau merely declined the birthright, that would've probably been okay with God; and no hard feelings about it. But to think no more of it than the value of a bowl of soup was an insult that must have cut God deeply.

Ironically, the birthright wasn't Esau's to sell in the first place since God pre destined it to Jacob before the boys were born (Rom 9:11-12). I can't help but wonder what happened to the information that God passed on to Rebecca back when. Did she keep it under her hat all those years? If so; why?

Jacob and Rebecca no doubt both appreciated their association with Isaac, and were grateful Yhvh was their god. But did Esau did appreciate it? No, he didn't; nor did he see any advantage to it. He was truly a secular man: an earthly dude through and through. He wasn't a heavenly man in any sense of the word; no, far from it. And he was crude and insensitive. If the man had any sensibilities at all, he would have understood just how insulting it was to mock an opportunity to honor and serve God in the office of a patriarch.

Does God have feelings? Yes, I think He does. And I believe God felt very hurt by Esau's lack of regard. I mean; who really wants to be second best to a bowl of porridge?

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Gen 26:1-4


†. Gen 26:1a . .There was a famine in the land-- aside from the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham

That previous famine occurred in chapter 12 before Isaac was born; even before Ishmael was born. So many good, prosperous years have gone by since the last famine. This may in fact have been the very first famine that Isaac ever witnessed, and probably his last too.

The Hebrew word for "famine" is from ra' ab (raw-awb') which means: hunger (more or less extensive)

People go hungry either because they can't buy the foods they need, or can't grow it for lack of soil or water. In Isaac's case it was probably a lack of water that made the difference. He had lots of money. But cattle can't live on legal tender. Down in the lowlands there would very likely be plenty of water in wells and springs that could be used for irrigation. So it's off to the lowlands they go; herds and all.

†. Gen 26:1b . . and Isaac went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar.

This was very likely another Abimelech-- not the same man in chapter 20 whom Abraham knew. That Abimelech was very likely dead by now. The name "Abimelech" is more like a title than a moniker; sort of like Czar, Pharaoh, or Caesar.

Gerar hasn't been fully identified, but the site might be in one of the branches of Wady Sheri'a, at a place called Um Jerrar, near the coast southwest of Gaza and 9 miles from it. The site answers fairly well to the statements of Eusebius and Jerome, that it was 25 (Roman) miles south of Eleutheropolis (Beit Jibrin). It's actually 30 English miles, but distances weren't very accurately determined in early times. Gerar was known in the first 5th century CE, when it was the seat of a bishopric; and its bishop, Marcian, attended the Council of Chalcedon 451 CE.

According to ERETZ Magazine, issue 64, Abimelech's land is an ample valley with fertile land and numerous springs; a perfect place for a man with cattle to weather out the drought.

Isaac's decision to investigate the possibility of living amongst Abimelech's people was quite possibly influenced by Abraham's pact with them back in chapter 20. Hopefully they would be inclined to honor his dad's relationship with the previous Abimelech and let Isaac's community live down there at least until it started raining again up in the highlands.

†. Gen 26:2a . .The Lord had appeared to him

This is the very first recorded incident where God appeared especially for Isaac. When he was offered as a burnt offering back in chapter 22, God appeared to his dad while Isaac was with him. But God was not said to appear to Isaac. This is the first time.

You know, probably nobody alive today will ever be honored by a divine close encounter of a third kind. We will live out our pathetically boring little lives always never quite sure if maybe we were hoodwinked-- hoping against hope that the Bible is true. And wouldn't the joke be on us if it isn't? What a bunch of gullible morons Christians would be if there is no Bible's God after all.

†. Gen 26:2b . . and said: Do not go down to Egypt;

Isaac may have been considering Egypt as plan B if Gerar didn't work out.

†. Gen 26:2c . . stay in the land which I point out to you.

That had to be encouraging. Even if things looked bad in Gerar when Isaac arrived, he could rest upon the fact that he was going in the right direction.

†. Gen 26:3a . . Reside in this land, and I will be with you and bless you;

Suppose it turned out Isaac didn't like the land God selected for him and moved to another one? Well he could just forget about the promise: "I will be with you and bless you" That promise was conditional. He had to live where God directed him to live.

†. Gen 26:3b-4 . . I will assign all these lands to you and to your heirs, fulfilling the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your heirs as numerous as the stars of heaven, and assign to your heirs all these lands, so that all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your heirs--

Although some translations render the word "heirs" plural, the word zera' is one of those Hebrew words that can just as accurately be translated in the singular as well the plural: like the words sheep, fish, and deer. In this case, it's probably best to understand zera' in the singular because it most certainly refers to Jacob rather than to both he and his brother Esau.

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Gen 26:5


†. Gen 26:5 . . inasmuch as Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge: My commandments, My laws, and My teachings.

Some construe God's statement to indicate that Abraham was included in the covenant that Yhvh's people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But Moses' statement below excludes him.

"The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our forefathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, we, all of whom are here alive today." (Deut 5:2-3)

Were Abraham included in the Jews' covenant; God would have placed Himself in a serious dilemma.

The problem is: Abraham was married to a half sister (Gen 20:12)

The covenant prohibits marrying, and/or sleeping with, one's half sister. (Lev 18:9, Lev 20:17)

Under the terms and conditions of the Jews' covenant; men who sleep with their sisters are cursed the moment they do so because "cursed be he" is grammatically present tense; no delay and no waiting period; viz: the curse is immediate.

"Cursed be he who lies with his sister, his father's daughter or his mother's daughter." (Deut 27:22)

Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them. (Deut 27:26)

Well; were God to slam Abraham with a curse for sleeping with his sister, then God would be obligated to slam Himself with a curse in return.

"The one who curses you I will curse" (Gen 12:3)

Abraham enjoyed quite an advantage. He had a certain kind of immunity. In other words, seeing as how Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were instituted long after Abraham passed away; then none of the curses listed at Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and Deut 28:1-69 applied to him.

Abraham complied with God's requirements; His commands, His decrees and His laws voluntarily rather than by compulsion because he wasn't in a covenant with God that demanded him to do so like his posterity would be in the days of Moses. (Deut 5:2-3)

The promises God made to Abraham as per Gen 12:2-3 and Gen 17:8 were not sustained by Abraham's piety. In other words: once God made those promises, neither Abraham nor his posterity can ever lose them because they are unconditional

"The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise." (Gal 3:17-18)

The "promise" in question reads like this:

"And I will give you and your seed after you the land of your sojournings, the entire land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and I will be to them for a god." (Gen 17:8)

That should be really good news to Abraham's posterity because although the law has a marked effect upon their occupation of the land, it has no effect upon their entitlement to it.

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Gen 26:6-14a


†. Gen 26:6 . . So Isaac stayed in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said "She is my sister" for he was afraid to say "my wife" thinking: The men of the place might kill me on account of Rebecca, for she is beautiful.


NOTE: The thing about human beauty is that it's subjective, i.e. only humans can appreciate it. A big ape like King Kong would not be attracted to a cute blonde girl because his chemistry isn't mixed right. For example; meerkat boys no doubt think that meerkat girls are sexy little hotties. But I seriously doubt that meerkat boys feel the same way about human girls.

The Hebrew word for "sister" is 'achowth (aw-khoth') and has very wide application. It can mean an actual biological sister of the same parents as the brother, or it can just mean female kin, either near or far. I'm guessing that Isaac and Rebecca were far enough apart in age that she could easily pass for his niece.

'achowth is very much like the New Testament Greek word suggenes (soong-ghen ace'). For example Luke 1:36, "Even Elizabeth your cousin is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month." The word "cousin" is an arbitrary choice of words. Suggenes could just as easily been translated "aunt", or just simply "kin" and/or "relative" and/or "sister".


NOTE: Translating suggenes as "cousin" in Mary and Elizabeth's case is appropriate seeing as how both women were biologically related to Leah via her two sons Judah and Levi.

Suggenes and 'achowth are ambiguous words, and unless there is some additional clarification in the surrounding text, it is just about impossible to know precisely in what manner the female kin is related; for example in Gen 24:59-60, Rebeca's family called her a sister.

Isaac's response was semantic double-speak. In other words: he didn't tell an outright bald face lie; what he said was true; from a certain point of view-- he and Rebecca were related. But nevertheless, his response was a half truth meant to deceive.

I just have to wonder sometimes about the IQ of some of the patriarchs. God had just reaffirmed Abraham's covenant with Isaac; guaranteeing He would bless him on account of his father Abraham's righteousness (not Isaac's righteousness). Yet now he's worried about being murdered in Gerar? I'd hate to think that Isaac didn't believe God. I'd much rather reckon he wasn't paying attention.

†. Gen 26:8 . . When some time had passed, Abimelech king of the Philistines, looking out of the window, saw Isaac sporting with his wife Rebecca.

Sporting with one's wife is far and away different than sporting with one's sister. The way those two were horsing around was unmistakably the behavior of lovers.

†. Gen 26:9-10 . . Abimelech sent for Isaac and said: So she is your wife! Why then did you say "She is my sister". Isaac said to him: Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her. Abimelech said: What have you done to us! One of the people might have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.

I'm not surprised that Abimelech was frightened. It hadn't been all that long ago when his predecessor had a run-in with Isaac's god, That incident involving Abraham undoubtedly went down in the castle records.

And to top it off, out there grazing on Gerar pastures was a special breed of sheep that bore a witness for Abraham too (Gen 21:27-32) and their story was very likely woven into Gerar folklore. Oh yes. They knew about Yhvh alright; and they all knew what could happen to them if any of the local men messed around with Rebecca, the wife of Abraham's son.

†. Gen 26:11 . . Abimelech then charged all the people, saying: Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall be put to death.

It is most encouraging to note that God is disposed to protect his own from the perils they bring upon themselves by the stupid blunders of their own self reliance. That's a tremendous advantage to have in life.

The Hebrew word for "molest" is from naga' (naw-gah') which means: to touch, i.e. lay the hand upon (for any purpose; euphemistically, to lie with a woman); by implication, to reach (figuratively, to arrive, acquire); violently, to strike (punish, defeat, destroy, etc.)


NOTE: A popular euphemism in our day relative to men and women is so and so are "sleeping together" which means of course that they do naughtier stuff than merely slumber.

So Abimelech was not just talking about sexual molesting; but mandated that his people not even so much as lay a finger upon Isaac and Rebecca in any way at all. Isaac, of course, is getting by on his dad's influence. But what the hey, it doesn't hurt to be connected.

†. Gen 26:12-14a . . Isaac sowed in that land and reaped a hundredfold the same year. The Lord blessed him, and the man grew richer and richer until he was very wealthy: he acquired flocks and herds, and a large household,

Quite a bit of the land down around Gerar was public, sort of like our own American frontier in the days of Lewis and Clark; and was up for grabs by whoever had the wherewithal and the moxie to take it. In fact, the Philistines really weren't even a country of their own at this time, but more like a colony clinging to the sea coast of Palestine, with the majority of them still living on the isle of Crete. They would migrate and settle en masse centuries later.

Farming may seem like a switch from animal husbandry, but the combination was common among pastoral peoples those days for two good reasons. For one; Isaac's herds needed pasture. And two; man can't live on meat alone; he needs fruits and vegetables too.

And Isaac needed bushels and bushels of those items to feed his immense community. He inherited at least a thousand people from his dad. By now, those have multiplied well beyond that. I think if you'd have encountered Isaac's outfit in those days it would have resembled an Iowa town rather than a simple camp of Bedouins.

Rates of increase varied from thirty to a hundred (cf. Matt 13:8, Matt 19:29). Sixtyfold is very good, and wasn't unusual in Palestine back in those days. A hundredfold was rare, and occurred only in spots of extraordinary fertility.

The region of Babylonia, however, yielded two-hundred and even three-hundredfold, according to Herodotus (I.193) and all without genetically modified seeds. Just exactly what those fold numbers indicate is uncertain. Perhaps they were similar to a modern term relative to bushels per acre.

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Gen 26:14b-20


†. Gen 26:14b . . so that the Philistines envied him.

Some feel that the Philistines' envy was rooted in anti-Semitism. Well . . . there are always those seeking to enhance their own image as a victim; and this chapter would certainly seem a good source of propaganda for that purpose.

Envy is a normal human emotion that is typically blind to racial and ethnic identities. Envy isn't restricted to anti-Semitism, nor does it serve to identify it. Envy is a powerful passion; destroying friendships, fueling fierce rivalries, generating strong desires for revenge, and fracturing solidarity.


NOTE: Madison Avenue typically combines envy with gloating; which Webster's defines as to show in an improper or selfish way that you are happy with your own success or another person's failure. Whenever someone's goods and/or services in an ad are superior to others, there's usually no sympathy shown by the one with the superior stuff; only gloating over those less fortunate with no concern at all for their feelings. Thus advertisers encourage consumer rivalry and smug satisfaction. It's very common in TV ads.

Just watch the ads on TV, and the ones in magazines and you'll see. They constantly provoke us to keep up with our peers in clothing, cars, physical appearance, business success, and popularity. Envy is a powerful, negative feeling that overwhelms us whenever others are doing better than ourselves.

†. Gen 26:15 . . And the Philistines stopped up all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham, filling them with earth.

You would think the Philistines would value those wells and put the water to use for themselves. But actually, there weren't really all that many Philistines in the Gerar area at the time. They didn't need the water; and they sure didn't want any squatters to discover the wells and thus be encouraged to settle down in their region.

Abimelech forbade his citizens to harm Isaac; but that didn't preclude harassing and annoying him. Cutting off his water supplies was very serious because Isaac needed them to irrigate crops and water the livestock. Without adequate water supplies, Isaac Enterprises was doomed. He had a right to file a complaint. But Abimelech felt it best for all concerned to run Isaac out of the country.


NOTE: I've a suspicion that the rural Philistines had become territorial; which can be roughly defined as an assumed property right due to long-time occupation; whether legal or otherwise. In other words; Isaac's rivals probably felt that although they didn't actually own the countryside, they had been there longer than Isaac so they had a preemptive right to dictate its use. It's a Neanderthal's way of thinking, but goes on all the time; commonly in work places where senior employees are inclined to dominate new hires.

†. Gen 26:16 . . And Abimelech said to Isaac: Go away from us, for you have become far too big for us.

Just exactly what Abimelech meant by "far too big for us" is hard to know for sure. But it looks suspiciously like a cowardly act of favoritism; pure and simple. Instead of being fair and equitable with Isaac, Abimelech, like a cheap politician, ignored the vandalism his citizens had done against Isaac and made it look like this whole nasty business was his own fault; vz: Isaac was just getting too greedy and beginning to crowd everybody else out.

Was this maybe the first antitrust suit in history? Antitrust laws, in reality, put a limit on prosperity. They say that the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are okay as long as you don't pursue them to an extreme. People often believe in a free enterprise system; but typically only up until somebody else's enterprise is having much better success at it than theirs.

†. Gen 26:17 . . So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the wadi of Gerar, where he settled.

A wadi named Nahal Gerar is on modern maps of the Gaza region. Whether or not that was Isaac's wadi I don't know. Wadis are basins in which brooks flow, and therefore, were the well-watered and fertile parts of the country. In times of scant rain up in the highlands, the brooks in many wadis dry up, and then it becomes necessary to dig wells down into the subterranean water table.

According to ERETZ magazine, issue 64, the Gerar river draws its waters from tributaries that run along the slopes of the rain-swept Hebron mountains. Enormous amounts of water flow through it in winter, flooding the channel an average of seven times a year.

†. Gen 26:18 . . Isaac dug anew the wells which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham's death; and he gave them the same names that his father had given them.

Those wells were dug nearly a hundred years prior to this event; and makes one wonder how Isaac knew where they were and how he knew the names his dad had named them. The Gerarians probably waited until Abraham was dead to plug them up because they feared him. He had a reputation as a military leader and he also had a pact with the king Abimelech of Abraham's period.

†. Gen 26:19-20 . . But when Isaac's servants, digging in the wadi, found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying: The water is ours. He named that well Esek, because they contended with him.

Isaac was much too affable. He didn't have to let those guys buffalo him; after all, Isaac had a pretty good sized army of his own; left to him by his dad. He could easily have posted an armed platoon by the well to keep the local cowboys away from it. But no, he chose rather to condescend and let them have their own way. Isaac was truly a "turn the other cheek" kind of guy who was willing (maybe a bit too willing) to bend over backward to accommodate people and prevent violence and ill will.

Esek was a new well; not one of Abraham's. The herdsmen were motivated by envy so they were reluctant to share the regions resources with the likes of Isaac because they hated his success. They didn't contest Isaac's access to the water in Abraham's wells. They probably felt he had a right to use those; but the men would not tolerate Isaac taking any more water than that; and most especially water of this quality. It was literally living water-- viz: artesian.

Urban dwellers really don't appreciate their water and typically haven't a clue where it comes from nor how it gets into their homes. But in Isaac's day, people couldn't live too far from a natural source of water. Many of the ancient cities and communities were located adjacent to rivers for that very reason.

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Gen 26:21-25


†. Gen 26:21 . . And when they dug another well, they disputed over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.

The Hebrew word for "Sitnah" is from sitnan (sit-naw') which is the very same as sitnah (sit-naw') which means: opposition (by letter).

Apparently the herdsmen were filing formal complaints against Isaac like the enemies of Ezra did when he was attempting to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem. (Ezr 4:6-7)

Gerar County's Water Board must have ruled in favor of the herdsmen because Isaac had to keep moving around until they finally left him alone.

†. Gen 26:22 . . He moved from there and dug yet another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he called it Rehoboth, saying: Now at last the Lord has granted us ample space to increase in the land.

Rehoboth first appeared in the Bible at Gen 10:11 as the name of an ancient city. It appears two more times in the Bible after here as the name of a city (Gen 36:37, 1Chrn 1:48) and means pretty much what Isaac said, i.e. lots of room to maneuver and/or spread out.

The herdsmen had, by this time, probably pushed Isaac way out to land that nobody wanted. But God was with Isaac. Even the deserts produce when His hands are in it. (cf. Isa 35:1-4)

With those pesky herdsmen out of the way, the road, or rather, roads ahead were wide and clear; and Isaac could put the pedal to the metal and go full speed ahead and not worry about hitting an iceberg; viz: the sky was the limit.

Isaac was a very patient man, and affable too. But push him too far, and he might show his teeth. In a bit, Abimelech is coming calling and Isaac is going to confront the obtuse monarch about the way he was treated by the County Water Board.

Yes, Isaac Enterprises was a huge, going concern that spread over many acres of land. But he didn't obtain his wealth by dishonest means. All of Isaac's business was conducted legally and above board. And he complied with all of the Gerar County rulings concerning disputes over the water rights even though their rulings were undoubtedly biased in favor of Gerar citizens. Isaac didn't deserve to be treated so unfairly.

†. Gen 26:23 . . From there he went up to Beer-sheba.

Exactly where the boys Jacob and Esau were during this era in Isaac's life isn't stated. They may have remained in the highlands to protect Isaac's interests while he was out of town, but then again, they may have been with him in Gerar: it's impossible to tell.

Genesis doesn't say exactly how long Isaac and Rebecca lived around Gaza. Isaac's usual haunts were Beer-lahai-roi, about 50 miles further south. Beer-sheba was Abraham's zone on oath between him and an earlier Abimelech. The Gerarians could be expected to leave Isaac alone there. The first night, God showed up.

†. Gen 26:24a . .That night the Lord appeared to him and said: I am the god of your father Abraham.

In what manner, or by what method, God appeared to Isaac isn't stated. It could have been in a dream, it could have been as a traveling man, or a close encounter of a third kind: nobody knows for sure.

†. Gen 26:24b . . Fear not, for I am with you,

It's reasonable to assume it was unnecessary for God to reassure Isaac, but Abimelech is on the way. He won't come alone either. He was a king; and kings travel with an armed retinue. So when news of this comes to Isaac, he would have good cause to become alarmed. I think God is just giving him a pep talk to prepare him for the meeting. Like they say: one with God is a majority; and a man who fears God, has no man to fear.

†. Gen 26:24c . . and I will bless you

Isn't that what He promised earlier, when Isaac moved down into Gerar? Yes. And just in case Isaac thought that was a one time deal, and he would never be blessed again, God reaffirms his commitment to blessing Abraham's progeny.


NOTE: The Bible's readers aren't all that privy to what went on in the minds of the patriarchs. It could be-- and this is only a guess --that Isaac was feeling a bit guilty about his attempt to deceive Abimelech regarding the nature of his relationship with Rebecca. Because of that; his humanistic sense of justice may have suggested that his mistake cost him the previous blessing: or possibly future ones.

†. Gen 26:24d . . and increase your progeny for the sake of My servant Abraham.

If I were a Hebrew man-- not a pseudo Jew like Gentiles who become Jews by conversion --but a real Hebrew man by blood, I would make a point of remembering that God will honor His commitment to Abraham. He hasn't preserved the people of Israel because they are Jews nor because they are so faithful to God. No, far from it. It's solely because of His personal commitment to Abraham-- period. (cf. Ex 32:9-14)

†. Gen 26:25 . . So he built an altar there and invoked the Lord by name. Isaac pitched his tent there and his servants started digging a well.

Speaking to God by name is different than addressing Him officially as a deity or a monarch. Not that there's anything wrong with addressing the Bible's God officially as a deity or a monarch; but speaking to Him by name implies familiarity; which is a lots cozier than official protocol.

For example: If I were to meet with America's past president Barack Hussein Obama, I would address him as Sir or Mr. President. It would be very presumptuous and disrespectful of me to address him by his name Barry because we have never associated on that level; nor do I expect to.

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Gen 26:26-30


†. Gen 26:26 . . And Abimelech came to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his councilor and Phicol chief of his troops.

Well, well, well; look what the cat dragged in. There were a whole lot more than just those three men; you can bet on that. Phicol is the Army chief of staff. There is no way he escorted the king of Gerar without bringing along a fair-sized contingent of Gerar's trained fighting men as body guards.

But who is Ahuzzath?

The Hebrew word for "councilor" is from merea' (may-ray'-ah) which, in the sense of companionship, means: a friend

An earlier Abimelech, back in Abraham's days, practically kidnapped Sarah for his harem. But this one showed no interest at all in Rebecca, who was just as much a stunning ten as Sarah. In point of fact, when Abimelech complained that one of the people might have slept with Rebecca (Gen 26:9-10) he didn't complain that he himself might have. \

Just between you and me: I suspect Mr. Ahussath was Abimelech's boy toy, if you know what I mean. It really wasn't unusual for ancient monarchs to have male lovers; and nobody thought too much of it at the time.

†. Gen 26:27 . . Isaac said to them: Why have you come to me, seeing that you have been hostile to me and have driven me away from you?

Normally, kings in that day did not call on people. If they wanted to see somebody, they sent a summons to appear and dispatched an escort to make sure you didn't refuse. Isaac knew something was up because 'ol Abimelech was treating him as an equal; if not a superior. Isaac had by this time become strong enough to crush Abimilech's community, and the old boy very well knew it too.

I can't help but like a man like Isaac. He was so direct. Not really what one might call an in-your-face kind of guy; but transparent and unequivocal.

†. Gen 26:28a . . And they said: We now see plainly that Yhvh has been with you,

As long as they thought Isaac was a nomadic farmer it was okay to dump on him? And now that they know he's connected with a supernatural being, they want to be his friend? But our man is cool. He won't let that get to him. You know what's going on here? Abimelech is holding his hat in his hand. And he is going to eat that hat too before it's over.

†. Gen 26:28b-29a . . and we thought: Let there be a sworn treaty between our two parties, between you and us. Let us make a pact with you that you will not do us harm,

You know, it is just amazing how nice people can be when they realize they've bitten off more than they can chew. The Gerarians had sorely underestimated Isaac and thought they could push him around because he was an affable immigrant. Big mistake.

As time went by, they perceived that his prosperity could only be explained in a supernatural way. If it came to a fight, Isaac was allied with a powerful spirit being whom they all knew for a certainty from past experiences could not be defeated. Yes. Isaac was well able to totally clean their clocks and nail their hides to the barn door. (Isaac was only just recently visited by that Being back in verse 24 who encouraged Isaac to be brave, and also promised Divine assistance.)

Isaac was holding all the aces and didn't have to make a pact with anybody. He could have stood right up, lectured their derrieres soundly for the way he was treated in their country, and ordered them out of the house. They really had some chutzpah coming to him with a proposition like that. But Isaac was indeed a peaceable man; well in control of his tongue, and of his passions. If those crumbs were ready now to promise to leave him alone, well, then, okay, he was for it.

†. Gen 26:29b . . just as we have not molested you but have always dealt kindly with you and sent you away in peace.

Was that true? Some of it. It's true the Federales didn't raid his camps, nor plunder his goods, nor rough anybody up. He wasn't subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures. And he wasn't forcibly deported like an undesirable, or an enemy of the state, or a criminal.

But still; they didn't deal fairly with Isaac. He never trespassed on private property, but dug his wells and settled on open range managed by the BLM; viz: public lands. Yet the county water commission always ruled against him even though his men dug those productive wells fair and square.

†. Gen 26:29c . . From now on, be you blessed of Yhvh!

Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw-Haw! I just love it when the bad guys wish me the best from my god. "God bless you" they say. Oh sure; God bless me. As if they really give a hoot how the Bible's God feels about anybody.

†. Gen 26:30 . .Then he made for them a feast, and they ate and drank.

The wicked often feel they won because their opponents are so civil and so agreeable. Isaac had plenty of good reason to be indignant. But he held his peace. That could be construed as weakness. Mistake! (on their part) You think Isaac consented to their crappy defense? No way.

Isaac was a shrewd diplomat. He picked his battles. Some things merit contention. But this incident didn't. Those guys were in his home with hat in hand and he took advantage of it to secure a non-aggression pact that benefited both communities: Isaac's and Abimelech's. If Isaac were to let his passions dictate the terms, then he might jeopardize his family and his servants. Isaac had his weak points, but political strategy wasn't one of them.

There are those in life whom we appropriately label thin skinned, reactive, and defensive. You know who they are. They sit still for nothing, take nothing lying down: they're stand up fighters; always ready to give others a piece of their mind and set them straight.

These contentious folk drain all the enjoyment out of social contact. Everybody has to walk on egg shells and be careful what's said around them so they don't explode. Too easily provoked, indignant and quarrelsome, these people will be excluded from Messiah's kingdom because his domain is characterized as a place of peace rather than strife.

"Give up anger, abandon fury, do not be vexed; it can only do harm. For evil men will be cut off, but those who look to the Lord-- they shall inherit the land. A little longer and there will be no wicked man; you will look at where he was-- he will be gone. But the lowly shall inherit the land, and delight in abundant well-being." (Ps 37:8-11)

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Gen 26:31-35


†. Gen 26:31-32 . . Early in the morning, they exchanged oaths. Isaac then bade them farewell, and they departed from him in peace. That same day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well they had dug, and said to him: We have found water!

Ah, yes. It is always so pleasant to cap a victory with a good ending. Isaac had a perfect day.

†. Gen 26:33 . . He named it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba to this day.

The word for Shibah is from Shib' ah (shib-aw') which means: seven(th)

The new well is sister to a well Abraham dug many years previously in an unspecified region of Gerar. He, and the then Abimelech, settled ownership of that one with those seven ewes in chapter 21. So this is puzzling-- shib' ah is not the same word as sheba'. Sheba' means oath. Shib' ah means seven. Seven what? I don't know; Genesis doesn't say.

But the number 7 is often used in the Bible like we use the number 10 today. If we want to say something is perfect, we give it a ten. Isaac gave it a seven; so I think it's safe to assume that the water in the new well was really exceptional. (compare Rev 13:17-18 where the number of a man is given as 666, which is imperfection three times over. In other words: man is not only imperfect; but he's really imperfect.)

†. Gen 26:34 . .When Esau was forty years old, he took to wife Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite;

There seems to be some confusion concerning the names, and the number, of Esau's wives. Here are their names according to Gen 36:2-3.

"Esau took his wives from among the Canaanite women-- Adah daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Oholibamah daughter of Anah daughter of Zibeon the Hivite --and also Basemath daughter of Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth."

There were two girls named Basemath-- Adah, the daughter of Elon the Hittite, was also known as Basemath. Adah may have been surnamed to avoid confusing her with the other Basemath: Ishmael's daughter. The Oholibamah of 36:2 is the Judith of 26:34. She was the offspring of a mixed marriage between Beeri and Anah. She too may have been surnamed to avoid confusion.

†. Gen 26:35 . .And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebecca.

In other words, those two girls made life miserable for Isaac and Rebecca and caused them a great deal of mental, and emotional anguish. Some feel that they were also a source of spiritual friction because they were infidels who worshipped the gods of the Canaanites. No doubt they did. But how would that come into play? Well; their religions permitted the practice of some vile social customs.

Canaanite religions didn't forbid such things as wife swapping, promiscuity, adultery, sex with women in their period, burning children to death in sacrificial ceremonies, sleeping with close blood relatives, gay and lesbian love, bestiality, nudity, astrology, divination, voodoo, magic, communication with the spirit world, witchcraft, drunkenness, and wild parties; including cult prostitution where women devotees sold themselves to support their "church" (cf. Gen 38:13-23)

So you can easily see just how vexing that women like that might be. How could Esau even trust them while he was away on safari? Lacking his companionship, they would either turn to each other for sensual comforts or seek out lovers among the servants. They might even hit on Rebecca and Isaac; and maybe even hit on their co-husband's third wife; Ishmael's Basemath. And the girls would have no qualms about walking around the house scantily clad or even in the nude; so you never knew what to expect when they invited you over.

Those two women were very definitely not the PowerPuff Girls-- the wholesome little kindergartners who make the world safe before bedtime. No; they were the PantyHose Girls who seanced, Tarot carded, and Ouija boarded their way to new excitements.

As bad as all that stuff was, it doesn't hold a candle to the danger of those women influencing Isaac's grandchildren. And that is a very real threat in mixed marriages. Men especially are susceptible to letting their wives guide the home's religious training. I've seen it often enough to know what I'm saying.

And with a man like Esau, a secular man who had no interest in religion to begin with, the kids had no hope at all of turning out right. They will grow up to scorn and ridicule Abraham's religion; and his god too. They will pick up the most abominable habits, and see nothing wrong in them.

There is one thing our kids can do for us that is unquestionably the most important thing they will ever do-- pass on our religious beliefs on to our progeny. No one else is going to do that for us. And we can't stay behind and make sure it happens. So if we leave our kids without a solid religious heritage; then their own kids-- our grandchildren --are doomed to return to secular concepts. And maybe worse.

Esau's side of the family went bad, that's for sure, just like Cain's did. And I believe it started on it's downhill slide right with his union to those two impious women. At Esau's age, and in that kind of home and upbringing; he should have known better. But in spite of his parents' protests; in spite of his parents' fears regarding their grandchildren; in spite of his parents' feelings about those women coming into their home; in spite of God's feelings regarding His religion; and in spite of his birthright; Esau forged ahead and married those two filthy women.

You know why? Because it was his life; and nobody was going to tell him how to live it. Some people, like the pharaoh that resisted Moses; are just defiant to the bone and they'll do things wrong just to stand up to you and assert their independence.

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Gen 27:1a-1b


†. Gen 27:1a . .When Isaac was old

Just precisely how old Isaac was at this time, is difficult to tell. But I think we can come close enough for government work.

Jacob spent 20 years with Laban. (Gen 31:41a)

Joseph was born during that time. (Gen 30:22-24)

At just about the time Joseph was born, Jacob and Laban worked out an arrangement concerning shares of the livestock to compensate Jacob's labors. (Gen 30:25-34)

That deal with the livestock went on for six of the twenty years Jacob served Laban. (Gen 31:41b)

Joseph was 30 when he became prime minister of Egypt. (Gen 41:46a)

When Joseph went to work for Pharaoh; a 14-year period began, consisting of two divisions-- seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine. After the seven years of plenty, and two of the years of famine, when he was about 39, Joseph brought his dad down into Egypt. (Gen 45:6-9)

When Jacob arrived, he stood before Pharaoh and told him he was 130 years old. (Gen 47:7-9a)

Now we can do some arithmetic.

Jacob arrived in Egypt at 130. Subtracting Joseph's age of 39, we get 91; which was Jacob's age when Joseph was born. After subtracting 14-- the years Jacob worked for Laban up to the deal they made concerning the livestock --we're left with 77; which is Jacob's approximate age when he indentured himself to Laban.

Allowing for a generous intermission of 2 years-- encompassing Rebecca's scheme, Jacob's flight to Haran, and his eventual indenture to Laban --Jacob's age in the section of Genesis we're in today, can very reasonably be put at 75.

Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born. (Gen 25:26)

So adding 75 to 60, puts Isaac somewhere in the neighborhood of 135 years old at the beginning of chapter 27.

Everyone involved in this next episode was getting up in years and thus quite mature. Jacob and Esau, though 75 years old, were, nonetheless, vigorous men and, gerontologically speaking, relatively young in terms of the aging process as it existed in those days. Even Isaac wasn't as near death as he feared since he lived another 45 years to be 180 when he died. (Gen 35:28)

†. Gen 27:1b . . and his eyes were too dim to see,

The word for "dim" is from kahah (kaw-haw') which means: to be weak; viz: to despond and/or grow dull.

So Isaac wasn't actually blind, as some have proposed. It's far more likely he was stricken with cataracts, macular degeneration and/or some other vision condition very common among people his age even today.

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Gen 27:1c-4


†. Gen 27:1c-2 . . he called his older son Esau and said to him; My son. He answered; Here I am. And he said; I am old now, and I do not know how soon I may die.

It's common for older men to feel that not only is their time running out, but also their luck. I've dodged several bullets in my 73 years; two of them literal; and can't reasonably expect to live too much longer before the law of averages catches up to me either by accident, crime, or natural causes.

†. Gen 27:3-4 . . Now then, please take your gear, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me; and prepare a savory dish for me such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, so that my soul may bless you before I die.

The part about "my soul" is a curious statement. The Hebrew word is nephesh (neh'-fesh) which is a very common word for all creatures great and small in the Old Testament beginning at Gen 1:20. Nepesh never refers to unconscious life; viz: it only refers to fauna, never to flora.

But the interesting thing is: man not only is a soul (Gen 2:7) but according to Gen 27:4, Gen 34:2, and a host of other passages, man also has a soul; so it turns out that nephesh is a bit ambiguous.

A pretty good paraphrase of that portion of the passage would be "that I may bless you from the core of my being". (viz: the bottom of his heart)

Esau was Isaac's favorite and I don't think he ever did care too much for Jacob. If he had purposed to bless Jacob, I think it would have been done with a very grudging spirit. This particular blessing regards Esau's inheritance. He already sold the patriarchy to Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup. Whether or not Isaac was aware of the deal the brothers struck, is not said.

What takes place next in chapter 27 is difficult to believe. To think that two grown-ups, one at least 75 and the other very likely 115 years old, took part in this incredibly clownish deception. I could understand young, inexperienced kids doing something so stupid. But it is difficult to understand how supposedly mature adults like Rebecca and Jacob could ever seriously ponder such a silly scheme.

It is simply moronic that Rebecca would even remotely consider that her crafty little plan had even the remotest chance of success. Conducted under false pretenses, and a fake ID; it would only be a matter of hours before the scam was uncovered, the ill gotten blessing of course annulled, and the perpetrators soundly excoriated . . unless . . unless there is more to this incident than meets the eye; and there most certainly is.

Ninety-five years prior to this point in time, God personally selected a vibrant water girl up in Haran to be Isaac's spouse. The wisdom of that selection is now going to become apparent as we begin to realize who actually wore the spiritual pants in Isaac's house. If spirituality were a martial art, Rebecca would be a black belt. Her discernment regarding matters of Heaven is just incredible. Was she really a silly female? Far from it.

In spite of God's mandate in chapter 25 concerning Jacob, and in spite of the plainly obvious superiority of Jacob's character, and his spiritual discernment, and his convictions, and in spite of Esau's blatant indifference to his birthright, and to his spiritual heritage, and to the mind of God; Isaac was nevertheless apparently determined to give both the patriarchy and the inheritance to Esau-- clearly the wrong choice; not to mention a direct affront to God. The inheritance was one thing, but the patriarchy was a whole other matter altogether.

Esau even married impious women from among the pagan Canaanites. A horrible choice considering the repercussions of such spouses upon the future of Abraham's covenant. And Esau no doubt made that choice against the counsel and consent of his parents; proving all the more just how head-strong and self-willed the man really was. Motivated by the gain of temporal advantage, and the gratification of carnal appetites; Esau had no spiritual vision at all. Well; Rebecca is fixin' to give Mr. Isaac, and his secular son Mr. Esau, the wake-up call of their lives!

Esau was a man's man. I think if any of us met him, we would be instantly drawn by his charisma and virility. And I think that Isaac saw in him the kind of man he always wished he was himself. But in the coin of heaven, Esau had no more worth than a dilapidated old shoe.

It's difficult to comprehend how favoritism, on the part of such a presumably spiritual man as Isaac, could be based upon such a carnal motive as the taste of venison. But it wasn't just the meal, but rather the way it was obtained.

We get runs of Salmon up here in Oregon's rivers at various times of the year. Last time I checked; you could buy fresh Coho Salmon in local supermarkets for about $12 a pound. But no; guys prefer instead to spend all day on a river shivering in the freezing cold just to catch one Salmon in the wild.

But the river fish means something that the supermarket fish can never mean. Yes, both are edible and both make great eating and honestly you can't tell the difference. But one is obtained with a shopping cart. The other by a man's own bare hands: with fishing tackle, by personal energy combined with risk, skill, and cunning. All those are important to a "real" man's feelings of personal worth.

It was customary in Jacob's day to mark solemn occasions with a feast; like the one Isaac prepared for Abimelech when they swore an oath together in chapter 26. And since the blessing Isaac resolved to bestow upon Esau was such an important one, it seemed appropriate that the solemnities should be marked by a feast of wild meat provided by Esau's own personal hunting skills.

However, father and son didn't reckon on the God factor, and they surely didn't reckon on black ops Rebecca. Their little party is not going to happen because this sharp gal from up north anticipated this very day and is all set to implement a little fiesta of her own.

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Gen 27:5-13


†. Gen 27:5a . . Rebecca had been listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau.

We might ask: Why was Rebecca so concerned anyway? Didn't God decree the firstborn's rights to Jacob? Then Jacob will get them anyway; won't he?

Yes. Jacob would eventually end up with the firstborn's rights anyway; but the problem was: the outgoing patriarch had to impart the blessing and obviously Mr. Isaac wasn't inclined to do so. It appears to me that Isaac was actually going to attempt to circumvent God's wishes and I honestly think it was because he was afraid of alienating his favorite son.

Rebecca wasn't stupid, nor inclined to superstition. I seriously doubt she was silly enough to believe the words of the blessing themselves held sufficient magic to confer the firstborn's rights upon Jacob just because he happened to be in the room and hear them as they were spoken in his direction. After all, it was all done under false pretenses and a fake ID. No court in the land would uphold anything obtained by a fraud like that. But her scheme was designed to do something else entirely.

I believe her intent was to wake Isaac up and make him return to his senses. The man did fear God. That much is beyond question. But he was lax in his patriarchal duties. Before this is over, he will regret his laxity very, very much.

†. Gen 27:5b-7 . .When Esau had gone out into the open to hunt game to bring home, Rebecca said to her son Jacob: I overheard your father speaking to your brother Esau, saying: Bring me some game and prepare a dish for me to eat, that I may bless you, with the Lord's approval, before I die.

That's not really what Isaac said. It appears that Rebecca embellished a little and added "with the Lord's approval." Compare Gen 3:3 where Eve embellished God's testimony in Gen 2:17 where He didn't forbid them to "touch" the fruit; no, only to eat it.

†. Gen 27:8 . . Now, my son, listen carefully as I instruct you.

Cool as a vice cop, Rebecca executes Plan A with the step by step precision of a well arranged sting. I can just visualize her grip upon Jacob's arm, gazing up into his face with a most intense look, as she gears him up to get started on his part of the scheme.

†. Gen 27:9a . . Go to the flock and fetch me two choice kids,

Why two? Well, deer produce a much larger quantity of meat than a little bitty kid. It's true Isaac couldn't possibly eat the whole thing, but she can only use parts of the kids that best resemble the venison cuts Isaac prefers. And Esau more than likely cooked up a whole lot more than just one serving. I think he typically brought his dad a heaping buffet and let him pick out what he wanted.

Rebecca is going to have to duplicate that setting as best as she can. And she will too. After all, who was it taught those two boys how to cook in the first place? None other than Becky Crocker.

†. Gen 27:9b . . and I will make of them a dish for your father, such as he likes.

This is additional evidence that it wasn't merely the flavor of Esau's cooking that made Isaac love him. Rebecca could duplicate the taste of venison with goat meat so that you couldn't tell the one from the other.

†. Gen 27:10a-11a . .Then take it to your father to eat, in order that he may bless you before he dies. Jacob answered his mother Rebecca: But . .

Jacob straight away sees where his mom is going with this and likes it. However . . there's just one problem: Rebecca can duplicate Esau's cooking; but how will Jacob duplicate Esau? They didn't have the benefit of slick Hollywood make-up artists in those days so how are they going to make Jacob look (or rather, feel) like his brother?

Well, they have Isaac's poor eyesight to their advantage; so Jacob's appearance won't have to be all that accurate. But they will need at least one prosthetic: body hair.

†. Gen 27:11b-12 . . my brother Esau is a hairy man and I am smooth-skinned. If my father touches me, I shall appear to him as a trickster and bring upon myself a curse, not a blessing.

Isaac might get the wrong idea and think that Jacob is poking fun at his bad eyesight by playing a dumb trick on him. That would hurt the old boy's feelings a great deal to think that his 75 year-old son thought so little of him as to perpetrate such a cruel prank; which of course would warrant a curse; because it is not only cruel to play tricks on the blind, but, even worse, to be cruel to one's parents.

†. Gen 27:13 . . But his mother said to him: Your curse, my son, be upon me! Just do as I say and go fetch them for me.

That's the oldest ploy in the book. It's the very same reasoning the German military guards used to justify their duties at Auschwitz and Dachau. "You can't blame us" they said; "We only did what we were told." That seems reasonable enough. After all, the ones in charge are really responsible; right?

Wrong. The midwives of Ex 1:15-17 could have used the very same excuse; but didn't. And God commended them for fearing Him. If they had obeyed Pharaoh, they would have received condemnation instead. Everyone bears their own personal responsibility and has a duty to raise conscientious objections.

In other words: it is a sin to violate your conscience. Yes, soldiers and minor children are to obey their superiors-- but to the point of sin? Never! Besides, Jacob was no minor child. He was a grown man.

But Rebecca needed some leverage to keep Jacob in the game. By playing the "filial authority" card, she persuaded Jacob to stay on track. Luckily, he wasn't too bright at the time and failed to appreciate his own personal accountability. After all, the man was at least 75 years old; not just a little kid.

But then again, I think Jacob the supplanter really wanted to pull this thing off and just needed a way to appease his own misgivings about it; so it wasn't too difficult to win him over.

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Gen 27:14-25


†. Gen 27:14-15 . . He got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared a dish such as his father liked. Rebecca then took the best clothes of her older son Esau, which were there in the house, and had her younger son Jacob put them on;

The word for "house" is from bayith (bah'-yith) which means: a dwelling (in the greatest variation of applications), including family.

Does that mean Rebecca lived in a permanent structure? I don't think so. Bayith doesn't always mean what we think. In Gen 6:14 it implicates the interior of the ark. At Gen 7:1 it implicates Noah's family, and quite possibly even all their belongings-- a regular Noah's Family Robinson. At Gen 15:2, bayith implicates Abraham's entire estate: his tents, his livestock, and his servants.

Some have proposed that Esau's best clothes were special-- for religious observances --like the garments that priests might wear. But that certainly doesn't fit Esau's character. I think it was just a nice outfit of some sort, maybe even the one he got married in. But anyway, they sure didn't get washed often because his clothes usually smelled like the outdoors-- and that could mean anything from plain old dirt to wild flowers and meadow grass.

But why were those clothes (viz: his cleanest dirty shirts) in Rebecca's home? I believe it was because Rebecca anticipated this very day and kept them right there handy so she could put them on Jacob when the time came. And that is why she never washed the smell out of them. Jacob of course was very likely a tidy sort of guy and kept his clothes clean. But Esau was a rugged outdoor type who's clothes you would expect to have an odor.

†. Gen 27:16 . . and she covered his hands and the hairless part of his neck with the skins of the kids.

Those hides would still be raw and untreated. So Rebecca had to scrub and scrape to get all the fat and blood off so they wouldn't have a visceral smell to them. Yuck! That's reminiscent of scenes from Silence Of The Lambs.

†. Gen 27:17 . .Then she put in the hands of her son Jacob the dish and the bread that she had prepared.

Yummy. From the kitchen of Becky Crocker; with biscuits and gravy too. Well, this is as far as Rebecca can go. Now it's all up to Mr. Jacob to pull this off. Good luck dude. Don't chicken out now. HWUAH! (Navy SEAL cheer)

†. Gen 27:18-19a . . He went to his father and said: Father. And he said: Yes, which of my sons are you? Jacob said to his father: I am Esau, your first-born; I have done as you told me.

That man makes me proud. No mumbling, no stuttering, no hesitation-- right to it. Yes; he is a big fat liar. But I love it. You watch. Any day now he'll get a letter in the mail from CIA recruiters praising his moral flexibility.


NOTE: When Jacob called out to his dad; he used what is known as a "vocative" which Webster's defines as: of, relating to, or being a grammatical case marking out the one addressed. In other words: a vocative is intended to get the attention of a specific person in a room rather than everybody in the room.

This may seem superfluous, and I guess it isn't germane to the study of Genesis; but the principle has an important application in Christianity. Compare Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:6 where the Aramaic vocative Abba indicates that the Father's children don't call out to Him as merely a clan's paterfamilias, but rather, like Jacob did with Isaac: as one's very own papa.

†. Gen 27:19b-20 . . Pray sit up and eat of my game, that you may give me your innermost blessing. Isaac said to his son: How did you succeed so quickly, my son? And he said: Because the Lord your God granted me good fortune.

What did he say!? My golly that man had chutzpah! He actually dragged the name of God into the lie. Now Jacob will be condemned to the lower regions for sure; or will he?

"I say unto you: that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 8:11)

†. Gen 27:21-23 . . Isaac said to Jacob: Come closer that I may feel you, my son-- whether you are really my son Esau or not. So Jacob drew close to his father Isaac, who felt him and wondered: The voice is the voice of Jacob, yet the hands are the hands of Esau. He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; and so he blessed him.

So then, in spite of their twin-ness, there was enough of a difference in the brothers' voices to be discernable. However, Rebecca somehow attached size-cut pieces of young goat skin on the backs of Jacob's hands and fingers with some sort of toupee adhesive so it would feel to Isaac as if it were a man's natural hairs. That was a pretty good trick; and would probably land her a job as a Hollywood make-up artist.

†. Gen 27:24 . . He asked: Are you truly my son Esau? And when he said: I am,

Some people are of the opinion that Jacob was a mama's boy. Well, maybe he was. But one thing he had that most mama's boys don't; and it's a level head under stress. Jacob was as calm and calculating as a test pilot all during this incident.

I tell you, that man amazes me. I bet Rebecca was just outside the door sweating bullets while all this was going on; hoping and praying that Jacob not lose his cool and bolt out of the room in a panic. This is just the kind of cool under fire that the Secret Service looks for; but then, you need a pretty high IQ to work with those guys.

†. Gen 27:25 . . he said: Serve me and let me eat of my son's game that I may give you my innermost blessing. So he served him and he ate, and he brought him wine and he drank.

The wine was probably out in the kitchen. When Jacob went back to get it, don't you think Rebecca hugged him and gave him a great big thumbs up? I do. Those two were a team! The original Mission Impossible task force.

While Isaac was eating, he and Jacob probably chatted. About what; I don't have a clue. But Jacob managed to pull it off like a pro. Isaac really thought he was talking with Esau.

/

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Gen 27:14-25


†. Gen 27:14-15 . . He got them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared a dish such as his father liked. Rebecca then took the best clothes of her older son Esau, which were there in the house, and had her younger son Jacob put them on;

The word for "house" is from bayith (bah'-yith) which means: a dwelling (in the greatest variation of applications), including family.

Does that mean Rebecca lived in a permanent structure? I don't think so. Bayith doesn't always mean what we think. In Gen 6:14 it implicates the interior of the ark. At Gen 7:1 it implicates Noah's family, and quite possibly even all their belongings-- a regular Noah's Family Robinson. At Gen 15:2, bayith implicates Abraham's entire estate: his tents, his livestock, and his servants.

Some have proposed that Esau's best clothes were special-- for religious observances --like the garments that priests might wear. But that certainly doesn't fit Esau's character. I think it was just a nice outfit of some sort, maybe even the one he got married in. But anyway, they sure didn't get washed often because his clothes usually smelled like the outdoors-- and that could mean anything from plain old dirt to wild flowers and meadow grass.

But why were those clothes (viz: his cleanest dirty shirts) in Rebecca's home? I believe it was because Rebecca anticipated this very day and kept them right there handy so she could put them on Jacob when the time came. And that is why she never washed the smell out of them. Jacob of course was very likely a tidy sort of guy and kept his clothes clean. But Esau was a rugged outdoor type who's clothes you would expect to have an odor.

†. Gen 27:16 . . and she covered his hands and the hairless part of his neck with the skins of the kids.

Those hides would still be raw and untreated. So Rebecca had to scrub and scrape to get all the fat and blood off so they wouldn't have a visceral smell to them. Yuck! That's reminiscent of scenes from Silence Of The Lambs.

†. Gen 27:17 . .Then she put in the hands of her son Jacob the dish and the bread that she had prepared.

Yummy. From the kitchen of Becky Crocker; with biscuits and gravy too. Well, this is as far as Rebecca can go. Now it's all up to Mr. Jacob to pull this off. Good luck dude. Don't chicken out now. HWUAH! (Navy SEAL cheer)

†. Gen 27:18-19a . . He went to his father and said: Father. And he said: Yes, which of my sons are you? Jacob said to his father: I am Esau, your first-born; I have done as you told me.

That man makes me proud. No mumbling, no stuttering, no hesitation-- right to it. Yes; he is a big fat liar. But I love it. You watch. Any day now he'll get a letter in the mail from CIA recruiters praising his moral flexibility.


NOTE: When Jacob called out to his dad; he used what is known as a "vocative" which Webster's defines as: of, relating to, or being a grammatical case marking out the one addressed. In other words: a vocative is intended to get the attention of a specific person in a room rather than everybody in the room.

This may seem superfluous, and I guess it isn't germane to the study of Genesis; but the principle has an important application in Christianity. Compare Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:6 where the Aramaic vocative Abba indicates that the Father's children don't call out to Him as merely a clan's paterfamilias, but rather, like Jacob did with Isaac: as one's very own papa.

†. Gen 27:19b-20 . . Pray sit up and eat of my game, that you may give me your innermost blessing. Isaac said to his son: How did you succeed so quickly, my son? And he said: Because the Lord your God granted me good fortune.

What did he say!? My golly that man had chutzpah! He actually dragged the name of God into the lie. Now Jacob will be condemned to the lower regions for sure; or will he?

"I say unto you: that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt 8:11)

†. Gen 27:21-23 . . Isaac said to Jacob: Come closer that I may feel you, my son-- whether you are really my son Esau or not. So Jacob drew close to his father Isaac, who felt him and wondered: The voice is the voice of Jacob, yet the hands are the hands of Esau. He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; and so he blessed him.

So then, in spite of their twin-ness, there was enough of a difference in the brothers' voices to be discernable. However, Rebecca somehow attached size-cut pieces of young goat skin on the backs of Jacob's hands and fingers with some sort of toupee adhesive so it would feel to Isaac as if it were a man's natural hairs. That was a pretty good trick; and would probably land her a job as a Hollywood make-up artist.

†. Gen 27:24 . . He asked: Are you truly my son Esau? And when he said: I am,

Some people are of the opinion that Jacob was a mama's boy. Well, maybe he was. But one thing he had that most mama's boys don't; and it's a level head under stress. Jacob was as calm and calculating as a test pilot all during this incident.

I tell you, that man amazes me. I bet Rebecca was just outside the door sweating bullets while all this was going on; hoping and praying that Jacob not lose his cool and bolt out of the room in a panic. This is just the kind of cool under fire that the Secret Service looks for; but then, you need a pretty high IQ to work with those guys.

†. Gen 27:25 . . he said: Serve me and let me eat of my son's game that I may give you my innermost blessing. So he served him and he ate, and he brought him wine and he drank.

The wine was probably out in the kitchen. When Jacob went back to get it, don't you think Rebecca hugged him and gave him a great big thumbs up? I do. Those two were a team! The original Mission Impossible task force.

While Isaac was eating, he and Jacob probably chatted. About what; I don't have a clue. But Jacob managed to pull it off like a pro. Isaac really thought he was talking with Esau.

/

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Gen 27:26-29b


†. Gen 27:26-27 . .Then his father Isaac said to him: Come close and kiss me, my son. And he went up and kissed him. And he smelled his clothes and he blessed him, saying, Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of the fields that the Lord has blessed.

Esau probably always smelled like that and Rebecca took full advantage of it. He should have washed his clothes once in a while. Good grief the man had two wives. What the heck did they do all day? Neglect their chores to watch Oprah, Dr. Phil, Judge Judy, and the Soaps?

I bet if you visited Esau's home the kids were running around in dirty underwear and snotty noses all the time. You probably had to kick a path to walk and wouldn't dare sit down because something might stick. Poor Rebecca. What a pair of daughters-in-law. I bet when they all got together on holidays, Judith and Basemath sat around on their tushes and gossiped while Rebecca and Jacob did all the dishes.

†. Gen 27:28 . . May God give you of the dew of heaven and the fat of the earth, abundance of new grain and wine.

The Hebrew word for the "fat" pertaining to Abel's offering is cheleb (kheh' leb); or cheleb (khay'-leb) which don't always indicate fleshly fat, but mostly mean the richest or the choicest parts.

The Hebrew word for the "fat" pertaining to Isaac's blessing is mashman (mash-mawn') which, again, doesn't always indicate fleshly fat; but also richness; e.g. a rich dish, a fertile field, and or a robust man. In other words; Isaac's blessing is agricultural.

The benediction, first of all, regards things in nature necessary for prosperity in an agrarian economy-- rain, fertile soil, and abundant yields. Rain is an especially precious resource in the country of Israel where today it's confined to just one season a year lasting only three months. In the old days, they had two rainy seasons; the early rains and the latter rains.

City slickers hate rain. It's so inconvenient. It gets their hair wet; they have to run the wipers; it floods their streets and storm drains, their gutters overflow from clogged downspouts, they can't wear flip-flops-- caring little that the foods available in the supermarkets and convenience stores are utterly dependent upon adequate rain. I think that some people actually think their foods are manufactured in sweat shops rather than grown in the dirt. They just can't make the connection.

†. Gen 27:29a . . Let peoples serve you, And nations bow to you;

Jacob's progeny has exercised dominance over many nations in the past, most especially during Solomon's period. Today they're in a slump. But that benediction isn't dead yet; no, not by a long sea mile. In the future, Israel will be the seat of world power and the center for religious studies. You'd never know it to look at Jacob's condition today; but it's going to happen.

†. Gen 27:29b . . Be master over your brothers, and let your mother's sons bow to you.

The magic words! --and the very ones I'm sure Rebecca was anxiously waiting to hear. His "mother's sons" right then only amounted to (in Isaac's mind) just one: Mr. Jacob. But Rebecca became a grandma and today her sons can't even be numbered. Every one of them are supposed to honor Jacob and bow in respect because he, along with Isaac and Abraham, is a member of the elite league of senior patriarchs.

The bestowal of the patriarchy upon Jacob was done with God as a witness, who has, so far, neither interfered nor intervened; nor has He seen fit to alert Isaac to Jacob's deception, nor said a single word about the whole fraudulent business.

In short, the Almighty God, of all people, is apparently condoning Jacob's funny business. It seems to me, that the only way to understand this situation is to conclude that, whatever may be wrong with the stratagem and deception of Jacob and Rebecca, the sin of Esau and Isaac was infinitely more grievous.

Yes, it's true that God doesn't usually condone lies; and I'm sure Jacob and his mom well knew it. They were spiritual people; both of them. But I really think that as bad as deception might be in God's sight, it had become a desperate necessity in this case to prevent a much worse sin: that of blasphemously presuming to impart the most holy of God's offices to a man who neither appreciated its depth, nor would honor it-- and to do so directly in the face of God's commandment against it.

Such an eventuality surely would have incurred God's most severe discipline upon both Isaac and Esau; and I am convinced that Rebecca felt she must prevent that occurrence at all costs, even if it meant alienating her husband and infuriating Esau to the point of seeking Jacob's death.

Isaac, because of the solemn nature of what he was doing, (conveying holy covenant promises and blessings to a son, who in turn would be responsible for their transmission and implementation in his own family) was no doubt under the influence of the power of God that day and was carried along in the scheme even though he half suspected the son in the room with him wasn't Esau. No. Jacob was getting that blessing, and there was nothing short of Heaven and Hell themselves that could prevent it.

The Almighty Himself, who had made His solemn covenant with Abraham, and renewed it with Isaac, certainly was present in that room during the whole affair. What would have happened if Esau was instead standing there that day we can only surmise.

But it seems highly probable that the consequences would have been tragic for both father and son. The Almighty God's holy promises and covenants are never to be dispensed as trifles, subject to the whim and preference of self centered mortals who are swayed to make important decisions simply upon the taste of their favorite foods.

/

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Gen 27:29c


†. Gen 27:29c . . Cursed be they who curse you, blessed they who bless you.

That the blessing upon Jacob was definitely the same as the blessing given to Abraham and Isaac is clear from the words spoken here in the final part.

First, Isaac conferred the material aspects of patriarchal life: prosperity. I am sure that Esau would have loved that part of it. However, there is nothing in the wording of the blessing to suggest that it included an actual bequeathal of Isaac's assets. Isaac's closing statement echoes God's own words to Abraham in Gen 12:3

Some have wondered why Isaac didn't include the balance of the Gen 12:2-3 blessing at this time; which goes like this:

"I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing . . and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you."

Sad to say, I think Isaac knew very well it would be like blessing a dead pig. There is no way Esau would ever become a great nation, and especially ever become a blessing to all the families of the Earth; nor that they would bless themselves by him.

Yet even knowing that, Isaac was, for all intents and purposes, still determined to confer the patriarchy upon Esau, the unholy son with no future. I hate to say it, but I strongly suspect Isaac was becoming somewhat deranged; especially because of the feelings he entertained about his supposedly imminent death.

Anyway, he did pronounce the blessing upon Jacob; and did so under the very inspiration of God, though Isaac himself was trying to thwart the will of God all the while he was speaking.

Just so, many years later, the infamous prophet for profit, Balaam, in Numbers 22, 23, and 24, was forced to bless Israel even against his own will.

And in the days of Jesus of Nazareth (John 11:49-52) the high priest spoke prophetically of the meaning of Jesus' death; though the priest himself did not understand the real import of what he was saying; nor even put any stock at all in his own words.

The blessing which, by God's edict, should have gone to Jacob in the first place, was indeed finally pronounced upon him by his father in spite of Isaac's lack of willingness to do so. He was tricked into it, yes; but by thunder that shouldn't have been necessary.

/

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