Friday, May 16, 2014

12. Genesis 25-26 (Birth of Jacob and Esau)

For today, Genesis 25-26:
  • Abraham's Death: Abraham dies at 175. After Sarah died, he took a second wife, Keturah, and had more children. Isaac inherits everything, although he gives gifts to his other sons and sends them east. He is buried in the same cave with Sarah and Elohim blesses Isaac.
  • Ishmael's Death: Ishmael has twelve sons and also dies at 137.
  • Jacob and Esau: Isaac prays to Yahweh, and Rebekah has twins: Esau and Jacob. It is prophesied that the older will serve the younger. Jacob comes out holding Esau's heal, and Esau is full of red hair. You wonder if one tradition of why Esau was also called Edom was because of his red hair.
  • Fate: Romans 9 uses this verse as an example of God's sovereign will deciding the fate of nations before either Jacob or Esau had done anything at all. Paul's point is that God can save the Gentiles through faith apart from keeping the Jewish Law if he wants to, because he's God. Differing Christian traditions explain this "predestination" differently.
  • The Birthright: Jacob reveals in this story for the first time that he is a trickster. When Esau is famished from hunting without result, Jacob is ready with stew. Esau is so hungry he exchanges his right as the firstborn for some red stew (and thus one tradition for why he is also called Edom). My guess is, that if God were mentioned in 25:27-34, he would be called Elohim. 
  • Faithless Esau: Hebrews 12 makes a parable out of Esau's willingness to sell his birthright for food, perhaps relating to some temptation for the audience of Hebrews in their local synagogue that was thought to relate in some way to the atonement brought by sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple.
  • Promise to Isaac: The first few verses of Genesis 26 give us the same instructions and promises to Isaac that God had made earlier to Abraham, namely, Isaac is to be a stranger in the land, he will make his descendants as numerous as the stars, and the nations will be blessed through him.
  • Abimelech Again: This is now the third story where Abraham or Isaac tries to pass off his wife as a sister to keep out of trouble. The first was Abram, Sarai, Pharaoh, and Yahweh. The second was Abraham, Sarah, Abimelech, and Elohim. Now in this third one, it is Isaac, Rebekah, and Abimelech.
  • Beersheba again: Interestingly, we have the same players at the end of Genesis 26 that we had in Genesis 21. We have Philistines. We have Abimelech. We have Phicol the commander. We have wells in dispute in Gerar. We have a covenant of peace. We have an explanation for the naming of Beersheba. But in Genesis 26 it is Yahweh, while in Genesis 21 it is Elohim.
Previous notes:
1. Genesis 1:1-2:3 (Creation)
2. Genesis 2:4-3:24 (The Fall)
3. Genesis 4-5 (Cain and Abel)
4. Genesis 6-9 (The Flood)
5. Genesis 10-11 (The Tower of Babel)
6. Genesis 12 (The Call of Abram)
7. Genesis 13-14 (Melchizedek)
8. Genesis 15-17 (Hagar and Ishmael)
9. Genesis 18-19 (Sodom and Gomorrah)
10. Genesis 20-22 (Abraham and Isaac)
11. Genesis 23-24 (Isaac and Rebekah)

Next post Tuesday on Genesis 27-30.

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