We begin this group of chapters with Abraham remarrying another former concubine and fathering several more children with her. These too get sent away like Ishmael was, and it reconfirms that the blessings and promises stay with Isaac and his line of descendants. When Abraham dies Isaac and Ishmael come together and burry him in the cave with his wife Sarah.
After going over the descendants of Ishmael and the writer showing us the fulfillment of the promise to him that he’d be a great nation as well, we move into the narrative of Jacob and Esau.
Isaac’s wife was barren, and they were married 20 years and Isaac was 60 when they finally had children. Jacob and Esau were twins and the only children that Isaac and Rebekah had, but considering how much headaches and strife these two caused I’m not surprised if they didn’t even have time to have more children.
It all started before they were even born. Rebekah could feel the boys wrestling inside of her and God told her that these two children inside of here were going to be divided and separated peoples, and that one would dominate the other. The final thing she was told was that the younger son would supplant the older, and he would dominate over him. I’ve often wondered if she shared this with her husband, and if this caused her to favor the younger son over his older brother. It’s possible, but it’s also just as possible that she would favor Jacob over Esau anyway and God, being outside of time and knowing all things, just informed her of this reality.
At the end of this chapter we read the first part of this overtaking by Jacob when he is cooking some porridge and Esau comes in from the fields and was being a little over dramatic when he said he was about to die of hunger. Jacob, being the beguiling guy that he was, takes full advantage of the situation and offers a bowl in exchange for Esau’s birthright. And Esau is either the world’s worst negotiator or he just doesn’t care much for his birthright because he says deal almost right away. This scene reminds me of the trial scene from the movie A Man For All Seasons, when Saint Thomas More looks at the medallion of office hanging from Richard Rich’s neck after he falsely testified against More and he says “what would it profit a man to gain the whole world and give up his soul? But for Wales, Richard?” Esau must’ve really liked his porridge.
The next chapter sees Isaac having a very similar run in with Abimelech as his father did. Considering the length of time between the two (at least 60 years) it’s probably not the same person, but could either be a successor or a throne name that all kings of that land would take on. But when this Abimelech looks to the window and sees Jacob and the person he claimed to be his sister having a romantic moment he knew he’d been lied to. He called Jacob in and just like his father before him, he confesses to lying about his wife thinking that he’d be killed and she’d be stolen from him. But unlike Abraham and Sarah, this isn’t a partial truth, it’s an outright lie and shows that even Isaac, who besides this one incident has no negative connotations in his story, has moral failings and is not a perfect person.
In chapter 27 we see Rebekah and Jacob go completely over the top with their scheme when she overhears Isaac telling Esau that he wants a home cooked meal and then he’d give him his blessing. Jacob puts on firs to trick the old and blind Isaac into thinking he was his hairier brother, he also donned Esau’s robes so his scent would be on him, and his mother cooked a meal that was similar to one her eldest son would cook. Putting this whole ruse together they trick Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing over Esau.
During the preparations for this charade, Jacob laments that if they are caught he’ll receive a curse rather than a blessing, but Rebekah says she accepts the responsibility and let the curse fall upon her. Little did she know that when Esau was threatening to kill Jacob and she talks Isaac into sending him to Padan-Aram, where she was from, she would never see him again. Her brother that we met yesterday will play his own tricks and in the time that Jacob is gone his mother will die.
In the next chapter Jacob is on his way from Beer-Sheba in what is now the southern region of Israel to Haran which is on the modern Turkish/Syrian border, a journey of considerable distance, and he stops for the night in what would in later times be called Samaria. Here he has a dream in which he sees a staircase leading to heaven and angels going up and down on it. At the top he sees God and the Lord confirms that Jacob will carry the blessings and promises made to his father Isaac, and his grandfather. You would imagine seeing this scene unfold in front of you would permanently cement your faith, but it seems like Jacob has some doubts. He responds with a vow of his own, but he conditions the vow with “if” God… and that seems to indicate he has some reservations still.
For more on Jacob https://nowthatimcatholic.com/2016/08/02/the-story-of-salvation-jacob/