Genesis 25:29-34 The blessing of the eldest involved a number of things. First it meant receiving a double portion of the father’s estate. (Deuteronomy 21:17) “But he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn. This extra portion was given because in the event of the death of the father the first born was to assume his responsibilities. This included leading the family physically as well as spiritually.
(Genesis 18:19) “For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” This included building and officiating at the altar, as well as the responsibility of passing on the commands and Word of God. Esau was interested in the double portion aspect of the birthright, but cared nothing for the spiritual responsibilities. Jacob, on the other hand, wanted and appreciated the birthright.
As the boy’s grew, Isaac continued to favor Esau over Jacob. This may have meant that as Isaac grew older his love for the Lord grew colder. He seems to be more concerned for the worldly than the spiritual. Jacob longed for the spiritual privileges and patriarchal blessings. He knew that the birthright should have been transferred to him, but Isaac delayed in doing it. When Esau had been hunting he came upon Jacob who was preparing, red lentils for dinner. Esau was so hungry and did not want to prepare his own food, and asked that Jacob serve him some of “the red stuff” that he had prepared.
Red in Hebrew is “Edom”, and this is how Esau and his sons are referred to from here on, a continual reminder of this incident. Jacob took advantage of the timing and proposed that Esau sell his birthright to him for the food. Esau responds with conviction that he is going to die anyway, what difference will the birthright make. He would rather satisfy himself now, rather than be satisfied later. This is the probably the reason that God despised him, because of his selfish and carnal nature. He sat down and ate and gave no more thought of his birthright. The sin here is trying to manipulate gaining the birthright that was promised by God. Jacob’s sin here is not greed or blackmail, but rather a lack of faith in God. This will be later displayed in his mother Rebekah.
Genesis 26:1-5 – A famine comes to the land where Isaac was living, the famine apparently was not along the coast where the Philistines lived in the land now known as Gaza. God graciously appears to Isaac and tells him not to leave the land of promise. Note in V 5 that this blessing comes to Isaac because of Abraham’s obedience.
Genesis 26:6-11 – In the tradition of his father, when Isaac comes to the land of the Philistines he does what Abraham did and says that Rebekah is his sister. The reason is the same as Abraham, he feared that the Philistines would kill him so that the king would be able to marry Rebekah. This is as bad if not worse than Abraham’s actions since he should have learned from his father and the trouble it caused. He probably reasoned that Abraham’s actions weren’t fatal.
The plan seemed to work, until Abimelech happened to look and see the two of them embracing from his palace. When he confronted Isaac with the evidence, Isaac admitted the truth and the reason for his deception. Isaac was then rebuked by Abimelech saying that Isaac compromised his entire nation by potentially causing his people to commit a sin with Rebekah. Once again the ungodly are rebuking the Godly, because of their lack of faith. Isaac’s excuse appears rather lame. Even if the men appeared to covet his wife, a man of faith should not stoop to lies to save his own neck. The King appears far more righteous than Isaac and his actions in Genesis 26:11 demonstrate his commitment not to harm Isaac or Rebekah.
Genesis 26:12-16 – Isaac was then greatly blessed by the Lord even though he remained in the land of the Philistines. This land was part of the land promised by God to his offspring. Isaac, perhaps because of the famine, begins to not only raise cattle, but crops as well. His crops were blessed with a hundred fold increase. In Matthew 13:23, of the parable of the seed sower, the one who sowed good seed brought forth one hundredfold.
The hand of God was so strongly on Isaac that Abimelech’s servants became jealous. Water was an essential ingredient to Isaac’s crops and his water came from the many wells that Abraham had dug in the land of the Philistines. The people of the land wanted to force Isaac away and so began to plug up the wells so that Isaac would be forced to leave their land. The king responds to his people’s fear and jealousy by requesting Isaac to leave his territory, Isaac graciously leaves.