Genesis 25:12–26

25 12 These are the begettings of Ishmael, son of Abraham, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s slavegirl, bore to Abraham. 13 These are the names of Ishmael’s sons, by their names and according to their birth order: Nebaioth, Ishmael’s firstborn, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedmah16 These are Ishmael’s sons. These are their names by their villages and their circled encampments, twelve leaders according to their tribes. 17 These are the years of Ishmael’s life: one hundred years and thirty years and seven years. He breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his ancestors. 18 They ranged from Havilah to Shur, which faces Egypt, back to the road to Assyria. In defiance of his kin, he fell.
     19 These are the begettings of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham begot Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he took as wife Rebekah the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean and the sister of Laban the Aramean from Paddan-Aram. 21 Isaac pleaded with YHWH for his wife since she was barren. YHWH granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife became pregnant. 22 The children almost crushed each other inside of her, and she said, “Why me?” and she went to ask YHWH.
     23 And the Lord said to her,
          “Two nations are in your womb;
               two peoples will issue from your loins.
          People shall prevail over people,
               the older, the youngest’s slave.”
     24 When her time came to give birth, then, she discovered there were twins in her body.25 The first came out ruddy, like a hairy mantle all over, and they named him Esau. 26 Then his brother came out grasping Esau’s heel, and they named him Jacob/Heel Holder. Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.

After Ishmael and Isaac join to bury Abraham, we hear a second genealogy of Ishmael and a birth scene that will lead to a genealogy through Isaac.

With the Burial of Abraham, we are at the final scene with Ishmael present. In the fashion of Genesis, such genealogies mark a time of transition. We hear the details of Ishmael’s twelve tribes. These twelve will have overlapping territory with the sons of Keturah and, eventually, with the twelve tribes of Israel.

Readers have been spared a third telling of Rebekah’s entry into the line of Abraham’s fruitful seed. The condensed report is sufficient to bring it all back to mind.

Previously, Readers knew Rebekah’s presence consoled Isaac and Abraham took a wife or concubine. Though Sarah is no longer present, Keturah will not reach her status as mother of Isaac. As a result, Keturah will forever be caught between being a wife and a concubine.

An indeterminate amount of time has been condensed as we pass by Rebecah’s barrenness and arrive at conception and pregnancy. Without the aid of a sonogram, Rebekah has divined twins. This experience is a bit at odds with such information not being confirmed until the birth.

With a tradition begun with Isaac, a younger son claims the birthright of the eldest. It should be noted that the Hebrew is ambivalent enough that a Reader can’t be sure if the oldest will serve the youngest or, regarding the oldest, the youngest will serve them. The reading can only be determined later. Translators have great power in setting expectations of what seems to be on the horizon. We then see what is expected.

Hairy, ruddy Esau is born first, with Jacob holding on as Esau opens a way for him. Such trickery will continue. For now, though, thanks go to Esau, the Impetuous.

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