Saturday, September 15, 2018

Genesis Post 43 - Tales of Jacob and Esau (Chapter 25)

My last post covered the first eighteen verses of chapter 25.  The rest of the chapter gets crazy with the antics of the covenant family.

We just saw the progeny that stemmed from Ishmael's and Keturah's boys.  The story now narrows to the family of the covenant child, Isaac.

We saw back in chapter 24 that his father acquired a bride for him, from his own people.  And we learned that it was a prophetic picture of the Messiah and His bride, brought together with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Isaac is 40 when he marries Rivkah.  We don't know how old she is, but between verse 20 and 21, twenty years go by!  Rivkah is barren, just like her great-aunt Sarah had been.

But then God's hand moves, and in just one verse, she is finally expecting.  And God doesn't just give her one child, He gives her two.  And they are wrestling and fighting, even before they are born.  This causes Rivkah to be greatly perplexed, so she inquires of the LORD.  He immediately gives her a prophecy for her boys:

And the LORD said to her:
“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”

Nations.  What does that mean?  A nation in the Bible is different than the geo-political borders of today.  The word is goyim, and simply means an ethnic people group.  The Greek equivalent is ethnos.

Rivkah knew from the get-go that God had His hand on the younger child.  She knew he would be the promised covenant-bearer.  She knew because the LORD had spoken it to her, and not to Isaac.  Hopefully this helps make sense of what she later does.

Anyway, we are given very specific details about the birth of these boys, and their names are highly significant.

The first baby came out red and covered with hair, so they named him Esau.  Esau means hairy.  The significance of this hairiness will show up in a couple chapters.

Baby number two showed up next, and he took hold of Esau's heel.   His parents therefore named him Yakov (Jacob), which means heel-grabber, or supplanter.

Lego my heel.

Wait!  Where have we heard that heel word before?

It first shows up in Genesis 3:15 - the very first messianic promise in scripture.  This is extremely significant:

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”

The LORD is addressing the adversary here.  He is promising that someday, a seed of the woman will crush him.  But in the meantime, before that happens, the enemy will constantly be nipping at the heels of that seed.

We now can understand why the Jews have been a target of the devil ever since they became a nation.  Jacob's name was later changed to Israel.  And Israel remains the greatest target of the adversary.  He has tried (since the days of pharaoh in Egypt) to wipe them out.

Someday soon, the Messiah, seed of the woman, will crush that adversary, and that punk of a devil knows it, too.  His time is short -  see Revelation 12:12.

So the boys grow up.  Esau becomes a hunter (which has never been a good thing in Genesis), and Jacob becomes a mama's boy, dwelling in tents.

Verse 28 is a little bothersome to me... Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob.  Ugh.  Talk about mom always loved you best.  Does this mean that Isaac did not love Jacob, and that Rivkah did not love Esau?  No.  It simply means that each parent had a favorite.

What happens next is mind-boggling.

Jacob is in the kitchen, cooking up some yummy red stew.  Esau comes in from the field, tired and hungry.

Gimme your red stew, says Esau.

Gimme your birthright, says Jacob.

In the spirit of gross exaggeration, Esau says he is starving to death.  (How many of us have said that or have heard our kids say that?)

The chapter ends like this:
And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Really, dude?

What is a birthright, anyway?  In the ancient world, it was the custom that the oldest son was given the right to be the leader of the family clan.  Even though Isaac had been the second-born son to his father, he had  inherited the Abrahamic covenant through God's providence.  What Esau is really doing here is despising God's covenant.  That word translated despised means to regard with contempt, to be vile, worthless.  He was essentially spitting in God's eye.  

It is interesting that this is where Esau picks up his prophetic nickname - Edom. Verse 30 says this:
And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.

The word means red, but the word for blood - dam - is the root word.  And the people descended from Edom become people of great bloodshed, and an enemy to the people of Israel.

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