A Wedding, a Funeral, and Bowl of Stew [Genesis 24-26]

Hello, Scroll Eaters! The problem with a daily response to a read-through-in-a-year plan is that there’s just too much to cover! In these three chapters, we get Isaac and Rebekah’s marriage, Abraham’s death, a listing of the twelve tribes of Ishmael, the birth of Esau and Jacob, Esau selling his birthright, Isaac doing the “She’s my sister” routine with Abimelech, God enriching Isaac, Abimelech banishing Isaac, a conflict over water rights, and a treaty between Isaac and Abimelech. That is ten distinct topics! What to cover?

God arranges for Isaac to marry a woman from his own people, and this is something we see throughout Scripture – we are to marry our own people. Now, we have to be careful here; some might take this as a “race” requirement, that to marry outside one’s ethnic group is a sin. This is not the case. In fact, the Bible defines “our people” as believers! Anyone who believes in the true God has met the main requirement for spouse material. The other requirements are entirely cultural. Race is never a requirement. All throughout Scripture we see people married to those of different tribes and ethnicities. It’s only considered a problem by the authors of Scripture (and thereby the Holy Spirit) when the spouse has a different god. Abraham doesn’t want Isaac marrying one of these pagan Canaanites, so he sends for a wife from his people.

We see another familiar pattern in Scripture – God “closes the womb” of an important lineage until he sees fit to open it, usually as a faith-growing event. Isaac must pray for the child before Rebekah gets pregnant, and she is then pregnant with twins!

Now we see, again, the younger son becoming the son of promise over the older son. Esau sells his birthright to the crafty, shrewd, beguiling Jacob for a bowl of stew. Not quite as intense an act as Cain murdering Abel, becoming cursed, and the “Remnant lineage” becoming Seth, but it’s just as permanent.

The structure of Genesis is 1-11:26 and 11:27-50:26. The first section deals with Creation to the Flood to Babel. The second section is about God’s covenant with Abraham. It breaks into three sections, called “cycles” in scholarly study. They are the Abraham cycle, the Jacob cycle, and the Joseph cycle. The small bit about Isaac is usually placed with the Abraham cycle. Abraham dies in chapter 25, and Jacob is born in chapter 25. From a literary perspective, Isaac is really just a bridge between Abraham and Jacob. It’s Jacob who wrestles with God and becomes Israel, and has twelve sons who become the twelve tribes. We are now done with the Abraham cycle. We’ll pick up with the Jacob cycle tomorrow in chapter 27.

For tomorrow, we read Genesis 27-29.

The Lord bless you and keep you.

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