Genesis 29:15–30

29 15Laban said to Jacob, “Just because you are my relative, should you serve me for nothing? Tell me what your wage should be.”
     16 Laban had two daughters: the elder was named Leah, the younger was Rachel. 17 Leah had quiet eyes, but Rachel was fair of form and lovely to look at. 18 Jacob loved Rachel and said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel, your younger daughter.”
     19 Laban said, “My giving her to you is better than to another man. Stay with me.”
     20 Jacob served seven years for Rachel, but they seemed only a few days because of his love for her. 
     21 Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife, my time is done, so I may come in to her.” 22 Laban gathered all the people of that place and prepared drinking-feast. 23 When evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and he came into her. 24 Laban also gave Zilpah his slave girl to Leah, his daughter, as her slavegirl. 25 When morning came, there she was—Leah! Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Was it not for Rachel that I served you? Why have you deceived me?”
     26 Laban said, “It is not done in our place, to give the younger before the firstborn. 27 Fill out the bridal-week with this one, and we will give you that one as well for which you will serve me seven more years.” 28 And so Jacob did. He completed the bridal-week for this one, and then Laban gave him Rachel, his daughter, as a wife. 29 Laban gave Rachel, his daughter, Bilhah, his slavegirl. 30 Jacob came into Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He worked for Laban another seven years.


After a month of working as a family member, not receiving some form of a wage, Laban inquires of Jacob about an appropriate recompense.

Jacob considers an amount of silver and number of animals that can become his herd. He also thinks of Leah and her eyes (the Hebrew can be translated as dull or weak or odd-looking as well as soft, gentle, tender—it is left to the Reader). Jacob also has lovely, beautiful Rachel in mind. Jacob finally chooses Rachel, the Beautiful, over Leah’s eyes, silver, or livestock.

Laban, in bargaining mode, grudgingly accedes, “Better you than some local yokel, I suppose.” An unrecorded agreement is reached that seven years of service is an acceptable substitute for a bride-price.

After seven years, which is still seven years, no matter how quickly they seem to pass. In reality, waiting for a much-desired end builds pressure to be finished and slows the apprehension of time. This is revealed in Jacob’s craving to bed Rachel. The explicit nature of this statement cannot be piously covered over.

In due course, Laban prepares a feast, featuring drinking. Afterward, in the dark, a bride is brought to Jacob, who, presumably, quickly beds her. In the morning, the bride is clearly, Leah! Jacob, who, with Rebekah, took advantage of Esau  and Isaac, has been taken advantage of, in turn, by Rebekah’s brother. What goes around can come around.

Jacob complains about this turn-about. After a “bridal-week” with Leah, Jacob is given Rachel as a second wife—in exchange for an additional seven years of servitude.

Both brides receive a gift from Laban of a slave girl. Leah receives Zilpah; Rachel receives Bilhah. The tension between the twins, Esau and Jacob, continues with Jacob loving Rachel more than Leah. Additionally, there is tension between Jacob and Laban that has seven years to intensify and return the trick.

Genesis 29:2–14

29 2 Jacob looked around and there saw a well in the field, and there were three flocks of sheep lying beside it. That well was used as a source to water the flocks. The stone that covered the mouth of the well was large. When all of the flocks were gathered, the shepherds would roll the stone from the mouth of the well, water the sheep, and put the stone in its place at the mouth of the well.
     Jacob said, “Brothers, where are you from?”
     They said, “We are from Haran.”
     He said, “Do you know Laban, son of Nahor?”
     They said, “We know him.”
     He said, “Is all well with him?”
     They said, “It is well; Here comes his daughter Rachel, with the flock.”
     He said, “It is only the middle of the day, not yet time to gather the herd. Water the sheep, and take them out to graze.”
     They said, “We cannot until all the herds are gathered, only then is the stone rolled away from the mouth of the well and the flock watered.”
     Jacob was still speaking to them when Rachel came with her father’s flock—she was a shepherdess. 10 It happened when Jacob saw Rachel, daughter of Laban, and the flock of his mother’s brother that Jacob stepped forward and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well. Jacob watered the sheep of his uncle Laban, his mother’s brother. 11 Jacob kissed Rachel, lifted his voice, and broke into tears. 12 Jacob told Rachel that he was her father’s kin—Rebekah’s son. Rachel ran to tell her father. 13 When Laban heard the report about Jacob, his sister’s son, he ran to meet him. Laban embraced him, kissed him, and brought him into his house. Jacob recounted to Laban all that had happened. 14 Laban said to him, “Yes, you are my bone, my flesh.”
     Jacob stayed with Laban for a renewing of the moon.


In seemingly no time, Jacob arrives in Rebekah’s ancestral land.

First, Jacob sees a well. Water has been important in Genesis from too much, needing to be constrained into seas, to a return of too much, a flood, to dry Canaan from the well-watered land of the Tigris and Euphrates flowing from Eden. Wells are signs of G*D’s presence and the development of human relationships—both commercial and personal.

Secondly, Jacob sees the sheep waiting to be watered.

Thirdly, Jacob notices the stone on top of the well. Like his earlier stone of protection, this one holds the potential to be differently configured into an altar or memorial to blessings given and received.

Approaching the well, additional information is provided about how the stone was chosen to be large enough, it could only be removed by all the shepherds together. This peacekeeping measure keeps one flock from having an advantage over the others.

As Jacob arrives, he engages the shepherd in conversation and finds he is in the place he was aiming for. To confirm this, Rachel, the Shepherdess, draws near with her flock. As Rachel nears, Jacob is suggesting an early removal of the stone. When Rachel is arrived, Jacob is energized to single-handedly move the stone—pretty good for a tent-dweller.

Jacob proceeds to water the flocks, as Rebekah had done years previously, and kisses Rachel. The Hebrew puns “watered” and “kissed.” This connection will be seen again in the erotic Song of Songs.

Rachel, like Rebekah before her, ran to tell of this encounter with a far distant relative. This excited energy of running is typically part of betrothal scenes.

Jacob meets Rachel’s father and tells enough family stories that Laban exclaims the ’adamic line, “You are bone of my bone!” As back in the Garden, innocence will include betrayal, but that is another story for another moon time.

Genesis 28:18–29:1

28 18Jacob rose early in the morning. He took the stone that he had put near his head, set it up as a stone marker, and poured oil over its top. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel/House of God, even though Luz was the city’s former name. 20 Jacob vowed a vow: “If God will be with me and guard me on the way I am going, give me bread to eat and clothes to wear, 21 and if I return in peace to my father’s house, then YHWH will be God to me. 22 Then this stone that I set as a marker will be a house of God, and of everything you give me I will give a tenth back to you.”
     29 1Jacob lifted his feet and went to the land of the Easterners.


A previously anonymous, everyday place, now revealed as a place of blessing is named. The specific blessing is only part of a larger story, and so the name is a general one of “the House of God”—Bethel. Bethel is another name for the presence of G*D, even in kitchens, as noted by Brother Lawrence.

A way-marker is set-up, using the once lowly stone of protection. That protection is left behind now that a more portable assurance is received—“You’ll be cared for, protected, and your seed will continue to bless and protect this and every place as ‘Water Protectors’ have done in every generation.”

In response to the dream-promise, Jacob, wide-eyed, makes his vow.

As suspicious of this vision-plan as he was of Rebekah’s plan, Jacob holds his cards close. With a poker-face to not give away more than necessary, Jacob turns a direction blessing into a provisional response depending on the outcome of the next river card.

If it turns out his unlikely inside-straight is filled—he will then give a tip to the deal of ten percent of his winnings. If it is a big enough pot, he’ll even build a memorial befitting the result.

Feeling elated at the way this unasked for journey/task is turning out, Jacob lifts his fee and clicks his heels—dancing on. He continues on to the proverbial East of Eden, back to his mother’s and grandfather’s ancestral home. Jacob comes as one person before returning as a multitude to claim a new Bethel and the surrounding land, starting with Luz to the ends of Canaan.

Genesis 28:10–17

28 10Jacob went out from Beer-Sheba and set out for Haran. 11 He came to a certain place and spent the night there for the sun had come in. He took one of the stones of the place, set it near his head, and lay down in that place. 
     12 He dreamed: Here he saw a ramp, its foundation on earth and its top reaching the heavens. God’s messengers were going up and coming down it. 13 And, here,YHWH was standing over against him saying, “I am YHWH, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land upon which you lie, I give to you and your seed. 14 Your seed will be like the dust of the earth; you will burst forth to the west, the east, the north, and the south. All the clans of the earth will find blessing through you and your seed. 15 Look, I am with you; I will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done everything that I have spoken to you.”
     16 When Jacob woke from his sleep, he said, “YHWH is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 He was awestruck and said, “How fearsome is this place. This is none other than a house of God and this a gate of heaven.”


Jacob, on a mission, is between his beginning and end: Beer-Sheba and Haran. He is in an anonymous place, an everyday place, a place he just happens to be at. Jacob settles in for a night—Night brings us back to the beginning Story of Creation.

Placing a protective stone near his head, Jacob proceeds to dream. This stone will mark a turning point for Jacob, and we can anticipate additional points that Jacob will also mark with stones.

The Hebrew often translated as “ladder” is a one-of-a-kind word. This uniqueness makes it ambiguous. Looking at other nearby phrases indicating its top in “heaven” and this place as “a gate of heaven,” we are returned to the imagery of Babel and might better see this as a ramp, as in a ziggurat. This image keeps us from imagining clown-like messengers scrambling over one another and using both sides of a ladder. It does lose, however, the joy of key changes in the song about Jacob’s Ladder.

The loose boundaries of dreams is present with language that can locate YHWH as either standing over Jacob or on the ramp.

This unknown, specific place is revealed to be for Jacob and his seed. Jacob is also directly linked to Abraham through a blessing similar to his—a blessing to all peoples. A side-note here: This blessing is an even closer relationship with Abraham than the blood relationship Esau sought by taking to wife Abraham’s granddaughter through Ishmael.

Remembering the trick Jacob played on Esau and Isaac, Readers might wonder about the effect on Jacob’s decisions of assurance of protection and right to this land. Will they strengthen or weaken his trickster skills? Will it make him more independent or tie him into responsibilities regarding the development of a nation? To what combination of Abraham and Isaac will he add his opportunities and choices.

This anonymous place, as is every place, is “a gate of heaven.” It may be easier to recognize a gate-of-heaven in the wilderness than at Beer-Sheba or Haran.

Genesis 28:1–9

28 1So Isaac summoned Jacob, blessed him, and commanded him: “You shall not take a wife from Canaanite woman. Rise, go to Paddan-Aram, to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and take a wife from the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Shaddai bless you, make you fruitful, and multiply you that you become a host of peoples. May God give the blessing of Abraham to you and your seed so that you will inherit the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.” So Isaac sent Jacob off, and he went to Paddan-Aram, to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, brother of Rebekah, mother of Jacob and Esau.
     And Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan-Aram to take a wife from there, and that, when Isaac blessed Jacob, he commanded him, “Don’t take to wife a Canaanite woman.” Jacob listened to his father and mother and went to Paddan-Aram. Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan were bad in the eyes of Isaac, his father. So Esau went to Ishmael and took to wife Mahalath, daughter of Ishmael, son of Abraham, sister of Nebaioth, and added to his wives.


Blessing leads to blessing. Jacob has received the blessing of a firstborn by tricking Isaac, his father. Readers will decide how Isaac is now able to double down on that stolen blessing by adding to it another blessing that will extend the first into anticipated future generations.

The blessing of the firstborn was one of mastery. This second blessing adds Jacob into the blessing of Abraham to be fruitful and multiply that his seed becomes as numerous as stars and grains of sand.

Jacob is blessed and sent off. Abraham had two children, the second having preference over the first. Likewise, Isaac had two children, the second taking precedence. Essentially, we are only in replacement mode. not multiplication. Isaac replaces Abraham; Jacob replaces Isaac. Is the pattern set? At what point will multiplication take place and how will that sit with the players when some are privileged over others, either as an individual or a tribe?

All other descendants of Noah are divided out as those in Abram’s line—fore and aft—and those not in Abram’s line—local Canaanites or foreign Egyptians. Jacob returns to the land of the Tigris and Euphrates (rivers emanating from Eden) to take a wife.

Meanwhile, Esau, learning that Canaanites are unacceptable for Abrahamic breeding stock, and recognizing he has two Canaanite wives, sets out to do Jacob one better. He will take as a third wife a granddaughter of Ishmael—Abram’s first son. Why go away to the Laban/Bethuel/Nahor connection when a direct tie can be made to Abraham through Ishmael via Mahalath?

The tension born of Rebekah’s and Jacob’s plot to garner the blessing of the firstborn continues to echo through the proxy of the wives of Esau and Jacob.

Genesis 27:41–46

27 41 Esau seethed with resentment against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him. Esau said in his heart, “May the days of mourning for my father be few and then I will kill Jacob, my brother.
     42 Rebekah was told the words of Esau, her older son. So she sent and called for Jacob, her younger son, and said to him, “Esau, your brother, is planning revenge. He plans to kill you. 43 So now, my son, listen to my voice and arise, flee to Laban, my brother, in Haran. 44 Live with him some days until your brother’s wrath subsides, 45 until your brother’s anger turns away from you and he forgets what you did to him. Then I will send for you and take you from there. Why should I be bereaved of both of you in one day?”
     46 Rebekah then said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from the Hittite women, from the women of this land, what good is life to me?”


There is no exaggerating Esau’s anger at formally losing his birthright blessing. He can treat it cavalierly, but he was still expecting his father would set right the earlier dismissal of his right and privilege. For whatever reason, Esau doesn’t follow Cain’s impetuous fratricide even though he fantasizes it.

Esau is a hunter and knows how to lie in wait for his prey. Thus he sets the time of Isaac’s death to be the time to kill his brother Jacob. In this way, all that was rightfully his will actually be his. His enmity runs deep.

Rebekah, again, has a finger in every aspect of family life. As a result, Esau’s plan is easy to find out.

There is no reason to think that Esau is any less Isaac’s favorite. Rebekah’s options regarding her favorite, Jacob, need to include space between brothers lest they kill one another and her travail have been in vain.

Practicality may have been Rebekah’s middle name. Her solution is two-fold: to protect Jacob and to ensure the seed of Abraham and Isaac (and hers) will continue unto a multitude and a nation.

Jacob is to go to her brother, Laban. At first, this is simply for space, but also to take a wife who will bear his seed.

With Jacob apprised of the plan, Rebekah turns to Isaac to get his buy-in.

Using the same language as when Esau and Jacob wrestled inside her womb, Rebekah feels—“Life is not worth the living.” Beginning with the local Hittite women, of which Esau has married two (26:34–35), Rebekah is upset enough for both herself and Isaac. These wives are not acceptable. With a not-subtle reminder of the value Rebekah has been to Isaac, an appeal is made for Jacob to return to her household for a “good” wife. This plan protects Jacob and casts a shadow on Esau for his choice in wives (he is assimilating, not establishing a new nation).

And so we go around again.

Genesis 27:30–40

27 30 It happened when Isaac had finished blessing Jacob and just as Jacob left his father Isaac, Esau, his brother, came back from his hunt. 31 He, too, made a delicious dish, brought it to his father, and said, “Rise father, sit up and eat from the game of his son, and give your blessing.”
     32 Isaac his father said to him, “Who are you?”
     And he said, “I am your son, Esau, your firstborn son.”
     33 Isaac trembled, trembled violently. He said, “Who hunted the game they brought? I ate all of it before you came, and I gave him my blessing. The blessing remains with him.”
     34 When Esau heard what his father said, he trembled violently and cried a bitter cry. He said to his father, “Bless me, also, Father!”
     35 Isaac said, “Your brother has come in deceit and taken your blessing.”
     36 Esau said, “Is this why he was called Jacob/Heel Thief? He has tricked me[a] twice now: My birthright he took and now he has taken my blessing.” He continued, “Haven’t you reserved a blessing for me?”
     37 Isaac responded to Esau, “I have already made him master for you and all his brothers as slaves. I sustained him with the strength of grain and wine. What is left for me to do for you, my son?”
     38 Esau said to his father, “Have you only a single blessing, father? Bless me too, Father!” And Esau raised his voice in weeping.
     39 Isaac, his father, responded and said to him,
     “Now, from the fat of the earth, make your dwelling,
           and from the dew of the heavens above.
     40 You will live by your sword;
           you will serve your brother.
     But when you use it,
          you will break his yoke from off your neck.”


Jacob has prevailed. What about Esau?

As Jacob sneaks away under the edge of the tent with his booty of a purloined blessing, Esau enters through the tent’s door bringing a bowl of fresh game.

Repeating the introduction of Jacob, Esau bids his father rise, eat, and bless him. The repeated question put to Jacob, “Who are you?” is now addressed the Esau, who, rightly, says he is Esau.

Finally, fully awake to the situation and not caught in his obsession about death, Isaac fears the G*D he has never been close to. Not really knowing his sons, the question is who beat Esau to the blessing that cannot be taken back or repeated. Once a blessing is applied, it is gone.

Esau cries out for a blessing even though he had previously given away access to it for a bowl of lentil stew. After shouting for his right, Esau begs, “Bless me, too, Father.” This appeal in vs. 34 will be made twice more, in vss. 36 and 38.

After affirming that the blessing has gone, Isaac accedes to the plea of Esau, his favorite, and offers a blessing close to the one Rebekah and Jacob tricked from him.

According to the blessings, both are to live within the abundance of a good creation. Hierarchy cannot remove the right of either for access to earth’s abundance. After this basic holder for both brothers, there is space for both—so fratricide is avoided. Jacob will have the power of people, and Esau will have the power of his own hand. The power of the hand counteracts Jacob’s rule over his brother as Esau and his Edomite descendants will be separated, not ruled over by Jacob’s seed, and engaged as a separate people.

The import of their birth is now confirmed and begun to be lived out. Readers might also reflect on the line of the younger Nahor (Rebekah) tricking the line of the elder Abram (Isaac). Who has the last laugh?

Genesis 27:18–29

27 18Jacob came to his father and said, “Father!”
     And he said, “Here I am. Which one are you, my son?”
     19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau, your firstborn. I have done as you asked me. Rise, sit, and eat of my game so you may give me your blessing.”
     20 Isaac said to his son, “How did you find it so soon, my son?”
     He said, “Because YHWH, your God, made it happen.”[a]
     21 Isaac said to Jacob, “Here, come close, so I may feel you, my son, whether you are Esau my son or not?” 22 So Jacob came close to Isaac his father, and Isaac felt him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, and the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 Isaac did not recognize him because his hands were like the hands of Esau, hairy, and he blessed him.
     24 Isaac said, “Are you my son Esau?”
     And he said, “I am.”
     25 Isaac said, “Bring the dish here that I may eat some of the game of my son in order that I may give you my own blessing.” Jacob served him, and he ate and brought him wine, and he drank. 26 And Isaac his father said to him, “Come close and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came close and kissed him, and he smelled his garments, and he blessed him, and he said, “See, the scent of my son is like the scent of the field that YHWH has blessed.
          28 May God grant you
                  from the dew of the heavens and the fat of the earth,
                  with abundant grain and new wine.
          29 May peoples serve you;
                  may tribes bow down to you.
          Be the master of your brothers;
                  may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
          Those who curse you, cursed,
                  those who bless you, blessed.”


The plot is laid. Action is begun. With the first word, danger increases. Jacob’s tent-voice is likely different than Esau’s voice-of-the-wild. Voice changing technologies are still a myriad of generations away. Blind Isaac is particularly attuned to sound.

The only way through is boldness. Jacob claims to be Esau. For whatever reason, Isaac appears to accept this. However, a niggling question remains. If the voice is different, but the hands convince differently, how did Esau return so quickly? Sight and its absence does affect the sense of passing time. Jacob quickly substitutes the luck of Isaac’s G*D for the practical planning of Rebekah.

A third, fifth, and sixth test rise with the senses of touch and smell. Between them, another test of truth—“Are you truly Esau?” Along with a kid’s skin, the taste of the stew, and Esau’s odor deep within his clothes (Febreze is also a long way off)—the lie holds.

Finally, Isaac offers his blessing. The one blessed, Jacob, is formally invested with power over his brother. The heel-grabber has stomped on the one who had opened his way.

The text does not explain who might be Isaac’s other sons as it only records his relationship with Rebekah and Esau.

G*D blessed Abraham to be a blessing, and G*D would curse those who troubled Abraham (12:1-3). The G*D of Abraham blessed Isaac for Abraham’s sake (26:24). Now Isaac passes on more than he had received and Jacob receives the gift of having those who bless him be blessed and those who curse him be cursed. This is a precursor to his encounter with a ladder and a wrestling opponent and the blessings attendant in the dark of night.

Mission Accomplished! Attentive Readers remain suspicious of “Happily Ever After!”

Genesis 27:1–17

27 1 When Isaac was old and his eyes grew too dim to see, he called in Esau, his elder son, and said to him, “My son!”
     And Esau said, “Here I am.”
     Isaac said, “Look, I have grown old and do not know the day of my death. So now, take up your weapons, your quiver and bow, go out to the field, and hunt me down some game.Make me a dish that I love. Bring it to me, and I will eat so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”
     Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to Esau, his son. When Esau went out to the field to hunt game to bring back, Rebekah said to Jacob, her son, “I was listening as Isaac spoke to Esau your brother, ‘Bring me some game and make me a delicacy so that I can eat and bless you before YHWH before I die.’ Now, my son, listen to my voice, to what I command you. Go to the flock and take me two choice goat kids so I can prepare them as the delicious dish your father loves. 10 You shall bring it to your father, and he will eat so that he may bless you before he dies.”
     11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “In truth, Esau, my brother, is a hairy man, and I am smooth-skinned. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I will be like a trickster in his eyes. Will I not bring a curse on me instead of a blessing?”
     13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be upon me, my son. Just listen to my voice; go and bring them for me.” 14 And he went and brought them to his mother, and his mother made the delicious dish such as his father loved. 15 Rebekah took the garments of Esau, her elder son, that were in her house, and she put them on Jacob, her younger son. 16 She put the skins of the kids on his hands and the smooth part of his neck. 17 Then she placed the dish and the bread she had made in the hand of Jacob, her son.


After an interlude of an earlier time in Isaac’s life, we return to the heart of the story and an elderly, blind Isaac aware of an impending death that turns out to be some way off.

With Isaac needing care, Rebekah is nearby as Isaac calls for Esau. When Esau comes, Isaac asks for one thing in anticipation of passing his patriarchal blessing on to Esau. What is asked is a tasty stew of fresh game. Isaac’s sense of taste is the stronger for his lack of sight. Esau will provide Isaac strength to bless.

Readers have been primed for this moment by the revelation at his birth that Jacob would eventually take precedence and by Esau’s prior rejection of his birthright blessing. To base a blessing on what the blesser will first receive adds a lack of integrity to the scene.

Having developed a different sense of how the family can best be sustained, Rebekah begins a parallel line of action while Esau is on his hunt.

Explaining the situation to Jacob, Rebekah offers a command contrary to Isaac’s. [Note: no “biblically submissive” wife here.] Jacob is to bring two goat kids. Rebekah seasons a stew as she may have ordinarily done with the animals Esau brings back from the hunt. How Isaac does not hear the slaughter of goats or the smell of a fresh stew being brewed is not revealed.

Esau’s unwashed clothes are put on Jacob and cover his scent. Skins from the kids are put upon Jacob’s exposed skin.

Claiming she will bear any curse that might come should this plan go astray, Rebekah commands Jacob to take the new stew off to Isaac and pretend to be Esau. Having received Esau’s birthright from him, the goal is to get the second part—Isaac’s direct blessing.

This Mission Impossible is set in motion. Readers can but wait to see if Jacob can pull off Rebekah’s plan.

Genesis 26:34–35

26 34When Esau was forty years old, he took to wife Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a bitter provocation to Isaac and Rebekah.


Isaac was also forty when he took Rebekah as wife. Esau the Hunter took an initiative that Isaac did not or could not. He did not wait for his father to arrange matters for him.

Chapter 26 has been a flashback to an earlier time in the life of Isaac and Rebekah. In its last two verses, we are returned to the story of Esau and Jacob, with a reminder of where the story was left hanging—Esau spurning his birthright. At the same time, these verses anticipate a later rift between Esau and his parents.

As with where the narrative left off, Esau’s marriages with the indigenous Hittites is evidence of his nonchalance regarding his Abrahamic heritage. Esau now has a leg up on a division between nations told at the birth of the twins.

Isaac and Abimelech have their continued differences in the context of a pact of no harm to the other. We will find their provocations and resolution paralleled with Esau and Jacob.

As an aside, we are always in medias res, in the middle of a story. What currently holds as irreconcilable differences may yet find a time of reconciliation or accommodation. Likewise, what currently appears to be resolved can be undone in a next moment or later change in context.

Readers are not being asked to judge which character is right or wrong. The task at hand is to periodically return from suspended disbelief and take another look at the Reader’s currently perceived reality and better engage it.

Without Esau, there is no story of Jacob. Without the unknowns of motionless, timeless dark, there is no creation story beginning with a breach of Light.