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.

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