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Genesis 24-26: Isaac, the Second Patriarch

Original Publication Date
July 11, 2015
Updated
Jan 10, 2023 1:04 AM
Tags
GenesisChapter StudyIsaacRebekahJacobEdomIshmaelCovenantGenealogyPhilistine
Bible References
Genesis 24-26
Status
Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on July 11, 2015 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

Isaac is the son of Abraham and Sarah, and the heir of God's Covenant with Abraham. Genesis 24-26 talks about his time on earth. In these passages we learn a little more about God's plan for Israel and get to see more about how the nation of Israel was formed.

Abraham's Death and Legacy

Some time after Sarah dies, Abraham takes another wife named Keturah. Keturah bares him 6 more sons: Zimran, Joksan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Abraham gives his fortune (and God's covenant) to Isaac, however, we are told that he gives other gifts to his other sons as well when he dies at the age of 175 years old. Isaac and Ishmael come together to bury him in the same cave as Sarahβ€”this is possibly the first time the two brothers have seen each other since Ishmael was 13 and mocking the infant Isaac. It also informs us that communication did not cease between the family after Hagar was sent away and that Isaac and Ishmael were still able to come together to bury their father.

After Abraham’s death, Isaac goes on to live by a well named Lahairoi, which means β€œwell of the Living One who sees me.” The location of this well is estimated to be south of modern Israel.[2]

Ishmael's Descendants

As promised, Ishamel has 12 sons: Nebajoth, Kedar, Abbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish,and Kedemah. They became 12 princes dwelling from Havilah unto Shur. This reflects the fulfillment of God's promise that 12 princes would come from Ishmael.

Isaac's Descendants

Isaac's descendants are the legendary twins Jacob and Esau. It is through Esau that the Edomites are born and through Jacob the 12 tribes of Israel are born. This is fulfillment of God's covenant to Abraham to make him the father of a great nation as well as many nations.

The Life of Isaac

Marriage

Before dying, Abraham asks his servant to find a wife for Isaac from Abraham's people instead of from the Canaanites. The servant worries that he should take Isaac with him to convince the woman to return, however Abraham ensures him that God will go before him to prepare the way. Abraham states that Isaac is not to leave Canaan.[3] Following Abraham's instructions, the servant takes 10 camels and journey's to Abraham's hometown of Mesopotamia where Nahor's family still lives.

When the servant reaches the city, he prays to God that he will know the woman meant for Isaac by her behavior. He says that the woman meant for Isaac will come to the well and he will ask the woman for a drink of water. She will not only provide him with water, but will provide water for the camels as well. Almost directly after praying this, Rebekah comes to the well. Just as the servant prayed, when he asks for a drink of water, Rebekah also offers water to the camels. Rebekah is introduced as the daughter of Bethuel, son of Milcah and Nahor, and described as fair to look upon, a virgin, and kind. When she fulfills the servants prayer, he gives her a gold earring and two gold bracelets. The servant immediately praises God for answering his prayer.

Laban, Rebekah's brother, prepares the house for the servant and welcomes him when he arrives. The servant tends to the camels before getting to business. When Laban offers him food, the servant refuses citing that he has come for a reason that he must explain to them. He then relays the wealth of Abraham and repeats the conversation he and Abraham shared on finding Isaac a wife. He tells them of his doubts in finding a woman who would follow him back to Canaan, the prayer, and Rebekah's fulfillment. After hearing the message, both Laban and Bethuel agree that the situation is of God and agree that Rebekah can leave to become Isaac's wife. In return, the servant bestows jewels and wealth upon Rebekah and her family.

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Important Points to Call Out
  • Abraham’s servant gives Rebekah jewelry, and it is debated whether one piece is an earring or a nose ring. (This point is important for those who teach it is a sin or wrong to wear jewelry)
  • Laban, Rebekah’s brother, is the one who gets the house ready for their guestβ€”it’s possible the family had servants who did the bulk of the work, but it is a man who oversees and initiates this housework, not a woman
  • Although the decision is first brought to the family as a whole, with the father giving first consent, Rebekah is still given a choice. She is not forced to leave or marry Isaac.
  • Rebekah is not sent to Canaan alone

When the servant prepares to leave, the family asks to keep their daughter for 10 days before sending her off, which was customary. Rebekah was then given the choice to go or not, and she chose to leave. Upon leaving, Rebekah's family gives her the nurse who tended to her as a child; perhaps they thought it was best she had a familiar face with her in the strange land.

Rebekah and Isaac meet each other for the first time the day they are married. With Sarah deceased, Rebekah automatically becomes the new matriarch of the family. As such, Isaac gives her Sarah's tent. Isaac's declaration of love for Rebekah is possibly the first declaration given in the Old Testament. Rebekah gives Isaac peace and comfort for the first time since his mother's death.

Jacob and Esau

Like Sarah, Rebekah has difficulty conceiving. Isaac prays for his wife and upon his pleading, God blesses he with not one child but twins. God prophesies that they will be two nations, with one stronger and that the elder brother will serve the younger. Esau, the firstborn, is hairy and was red in color. He grows up to be a cunning hunter. In contrast, Jacob is described as plain and domesticated. Isaac becomes fond of Esau, but Rebekah's favorite is Jacob. Esau gains the name Edom, which means red,[1] either when he sells his birthright for red pottage (or stew) or due to his skin color.

Covenant With God

When a famine engulfs Canaan, Issac goes to Gerar to see Abimelech. God prohibits Isaac from fleeing to Egypt the way Abraham did, reaffirming the covenant that he would give the land to Abraham’s descendants through Isaac. Later, God speaks to Isaac at Beersheba, identifying Himself as the God of Abraham. During this time He reiterates the promise to bless Isaac and his descendants. Isaac builds an altar to God here.

Deception

Like his father before him, Isaac lies to Abimelech when he goes to Gerar. In the exact situation as his father, Issac tells the people of Gerar that Rebekah is his sister, not his wife. However, unlike Abraham this is not just omission of truth, this an actual lie. Abimelech, perhaps wisened by his experience with Abraham, knows immediately when he sees Isaac and Rebekah together that they are married. This may also be telling of how much Isaac loved Rebekah and the nature of their relationship. Fearing a repeat of Abraham's sins, Abimelech decrees that no one in the kingdom should touch Isaac or Rebekah.

Prosperity

In Gerar, Isaac prospers 100 fold and does much better than the Philistines who live there. This angers the Philistines and so they send him away. As he is leaving, Isaac sees the wells that Abraham dug long ago have been stopped up so he digs them out again. Seeing this, the Philistines claim the first two wells he digs, but they do not try to take the third and final well.

Covenant With Abimelech

Like Abraham, Isaac and Abimelech have to come to an arrangement concerning the wells. Seeing that God is with Isaac just as He was Abraham before, Abimelech initiates a covenant with Isaac. The two prepare a feast as a sign of acceptance and another well is dug out.

References and Footnotes

  1. Holman Bible Publishers.Β Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 52. 2014
  2. β€œStrongs H883. בְּא֡ר ΧœΦ·Χ—Φ·Χ™ רֹאִי”. Blue Letter Bible; visited August 2022
  3. Future me (in August 2022) is curious as to why Abraham didn’t want Isaac to leave Canaan. Perhaps it is because he was given instruction to leave Ur and he was afraid if Isaac left he would want to stay in Ur? It is also possible that he was over protective of Isaac, similarly to how Jacob would be to Joseph (and later Benjamin after Joseph is sold in to slavery)

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