Abraham remarries, and dies
Abraham’s family tree takes root1 Abraham married another woman, Keturah. 2 They had six sons: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 Son number two, Jokshan, became the father of Sheba and Dedan. Dedan’s descendants included the Asshurites, Letushites, and Leummites. 4 Son number four, Midian, became the father of Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All of these men were descendants of Abraham through his wife Keturah 5 Regardless, Isaac inherited Abraham’s entire estate. 6 Abraham did, however, give gifts to the sons of his concubines. Then he sent the men on their way to lands east, away from Isaac.
7 Abraham lived 175 years. 8 By the time he drew his last breath, nicely aged, he had lived a full and enjoyable life. 9 His two oldest sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him east of Mamre in the cave of Machpelah. It’s in the field Abraham bought from a Hittite man named Ephron, son of Zohar. 10 This is the same field Abraham bought from the Hittites so he could bury his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham died God took good care of his son Isaac, who settled near the oasis of Beer-lahai-roi in the Negev, in south Canaan.
Ishmael’s Arab family tree12 This is the family tree of Ishmael, the son Abraham had with Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian slave. 13 These are Ishmael’s 12 sons, from oldest to youngest: Nebaioth came first. Then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah.
16 Ishmael’s 12 sons each became leader of a village and a tribe named after each one of them. 17 Ishmael lived 137 years and died. 18 Ishmael’s descendants settled east of Egypt, from Havilah to Shur, in the direction of Assyria. They weren’t on friendly terms with descendants of Ishmael’s brother, Isaac.
Isaac’s Jewish family tree19 This is the family tree of Isaac, Abraham’s son. 20 Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah. She was the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. 21 Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife because she couldn’t have children. The LORD answered his prayer. Rebekah got pregnant. 22 As the babies grew inside her, they started kicking like crazy. Rebekah said to herself, “How can I live like this?” So she asked the LORD what was going on. 23 The LORD said to her, “You have the beginning of two nations inside you. One will be stronger than the other. Your oldest child will take orders from your youngest.”
24 Rebekah gave birth to twins. 25 The first boy came out looking red, covered in hair like a tiny fur coat. They called him Esau. 26 His brother came out hanging onto his brother’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was 60 years old when Rebekah gave birth to the twins. 27 Esau grew up loving the outdoors. He became an expert hunter. Jacob was a homebody. He liked living the quiet life in the camp. 28 Isaac grew especially fond of Esau. That’s because he was especially fond of the meat Esau brought home from hunting. Rebekah grew especially fond of Jacob.
One expensive bowl of stew29 One day when Jacob was cooking stew in the camp, Esau came in from the field, hungry as all get out. 30 Esau told Jacob, “Give me some of that red stuff. I’m starving.” That’s how Esau got the nickname Edom.
31 “Sure,” Jacob said. “Let’s make a trade. Give me your legal rights as the oldest son.” 32 “I’m about to starve to death,” Esau said. “What good is the inheritance if I’m dead?” 33 “Well then,” Jacob said, “swear that the inheritance rights of the oldest son now belong to me.” Esau did just that and gave up his legal right as Isaac’s first son. 34 Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the food and went on his way. That’s how little he thought of his birthright as Isaac’s oldest son.
Also known as Hebron.
Arameans lived mainly in what is now Syria.
Northern Syria and southern Turkey.
Sounds like Hebrew word for “hair,” as in Harry.
Sounds like Hebrew word for “heel.”
Hebrew for “Red.”
The Genesis writer goes out of his way to report on more than just the Jewish family tree that grows out of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The writer also talks about Abraham’s other children: Ishmael along with his half a dozen other sons born from Abraham’s second wife, Keturah. Why bother?
People in Bible times often gave their children names that reflected something about their birth or about the parents’ hope for the child. Esau was a hairy baby so they named him Hairy (Esau in Hebrew). How about we spell it “Harry”? His twin brother came out holding onto one of Esau’s heels, so they named him Jacob, a name that sounds like the Hebrew word for heel. What statement best reflects how you would finish the following sentence? If we gave our kids names like that:
- they would all be named after their lookalike: Winston Churchill.
- their names would be more meaningful.
- little girls would no longer have to live with names like Kamarre, Cambrie, and Jazalyn.
- kids born in the back seat of a car on the way to the hospital could end up with names like Buick, Cabbie, and Clunker.
People nicknamed Esau “Red,” which is Edom in Hebrew. Some students of the Bible speculate that he got this name because he gave up his birthright as the oldest son (a double share of the family estate) in trade for one measly bowl of red soup. Other theories: he had a ruddy complexion, he had red hair, or the land in which he settled was famous for its red rocks. If you walked in his sandals, how would you feel about being called Red?
There’s a lot of infertility going on in these early stories. Sarah had to wait until she was 90 years old. Rebekah has to wait 20 years. Later, Jacob’s favorite wife Rachel will have to wait many years as well. Some newcomers to the Bible might wonder if the infertility theme got exaggerated a bit and edited into the story to add more of a sense of the miraculous—maybe to give the story a little more shock and awe. How would you respond to an observation like that?
Before Esau and Jacob were born, God told their mother Rebekah, “You have the beginning of two nations inside you….Your oldest child will take orders from your youngest” (25:23). Do you think that affected Rebekah’s relationships with her sons? How do you think you would have handled that insight from God?
After reading these early stories about Jacob, what kind of impression do you get of him? Do you think you would enjoy having him as a friend?
Based on the story so far, if you had to describe Jacob with just one word or one descriptive phrase, which of the following would work best for you?
- Mama’s boy
- Stinker of a human
- World’s Worst Brother
LIFE APPLICATION. Just as Jacob exploited the hunger of his brother Esau, greedy people exploit us from time to time. When have you seen exploitation on a level comparable to what Jacob did to Esau? And how long does the animosity last for a person who is exploited like that?