Trekking Genesis

Odë:hgöd

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

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 Abraham quite often and was always aware of his 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) and Isaac would've been 75
since he was born when Abraham was 100 (cf. Gen 21:5 & Gen 25:7) making the
boys 14 years difference in age.

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.


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 25:11a . . 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 . .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.
_
 

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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 attractive 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.


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.
_
 

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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 . . 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
Gentiles. Those words apply to all manner of people masses; both Jews and non
Jews. 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 down to business multiplying the seed promised in Gen 13:16.
_
 

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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 Moses' 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), Mannasah and Ephraim
(Gen 48:13-19), and David and Jesus (Ps 101:1 cf. Matt 22:42-45)


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 Hebrew 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; e.g. Ray Kroc
and the McDonalds® fast food chain.

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 Ricky 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 . . 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
exhibit 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 Greek word translated "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 Christ 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.

That's all saying 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 a narcissistic show-off; 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 . . 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 . . 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 what die
hard football fan hasn't heard of 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 25:32-33 . . 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 politely waived the birthright, that probably would've been okay with God,
and no hard feelings about it: after all; not everyone is cut out to be a spiritual
guru. But to merchandise something sacred to God was an insult that must have
cut Him 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.

"A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are
foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually
appraised." (1 Cor 2:14)
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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, 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 . . 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 Moses' people agreed upon with God as per Exodus, Leviticus,
Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But the 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 Ex
34:6-7, Lev 26:3-38, Deut 27:15-26, and/or 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 . . 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 alluring 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 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.
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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 . . 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 and/or surpass 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 fault; vz: he 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.
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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.


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.
_
 

Odë:hgöd

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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 former US President Donald Trump,
I would address him as Sir or Mr. President. It would be very presumptuous and
disrespectful of me to address him by his name Donald because we have never
associated on that level; nor do I expect to.
_
 
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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.
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Odë:hgöd

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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 fragile 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)


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.)
_
 
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