These are the generations of Esau, whose continuing mission is to make new life and new civilizations, to boldly move to the hill country of Seir. O.K., so this chapter isn’t really that interesting. The most notable thing that occurred in this chapter was that Esau (a.k.a. Edom) moved him and his family to the hill country of Seir because the land could not sustain his wealth, cattle, etc. as well as Jacob’s.
Beyond that, it was all, “This is this and that is that.” He sought to be his own master, such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world… or so i hear. So they all moved to Seir and got busy. The promise of him being the father of nations is seen fulfilled in this chapter. God gave and He gave and He just kept on giving!
This was one brute of a chapter to finish! 40+ verses of so-and-so was the father of whoever it is, whoever it was… whatchamacallit, who was the father of chief Martin Brody. I don’t know how many times i started dozing off, and i had a really hard time keeping track of where i was… thus leading to all kinds of crossing out and redoing sections… not fun. Well, that’s all i have to say about that.
P.S. There are references to at least 8 movies / TV shows /commercials in this post. Can you find them all?
Jacob is sent away to marry from Rebekah’s family. He is given a proper blessing by his father, and instructed not to marry from the Canaanites around him. I remember in Sunday School always being taught that Esau heard about this and ran off to marry a Canaanite woman to spite his father and mother. I have also brought that presupposition into my previous readings; so i didn’t pay that much attention.
However, that doesn’t really seem to be the case. The passage says, “So Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased his father Isaac; and Esau went to Ishmael and married” (NASB). So Esau did not turn away, he simply attempted to fulfill his father’s wishes the only way he reasonably knew how. He did not marry from the Canaanites, he married from his uncle Ishmael, just as Jacob was sent to marry from his uncle Laban. It’s not hugely significant, but it’s one of the things that i have never really caught in the many times that i was just reading the passage through.
This chapter contains some interesting theological situations. For instance, what is described here is a ladder or staircase from earth to heaven. It is a connection point: a point at which heaven and earth almost touch each other. It’s a point at which those in heaven have access to earth and those on earth have access to heaven. Being a dream, I don’t know the extent to which this “stairway to heaven” is literal or figurative, but it does give you reason to pause and wonder how this occurs and how many other of these “stairways” might exist throughout the world. I also don’t know how important this “stairway to heaven” is overall, but it is a unique feature of this chapter.
What IS more important though, is Jacob’s reaction to the situation. Instead of ignoring the “dream”, or running away, or trying to rationalize it away, he comes to realization. He was amazed, and he was afraid, and he was in awe of the situation and where he was; “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Beautiful isn’t it? So Jacob turns around, sets up his pillow-rock as a pillar, pours oil over it, and calls the place Bethel or House of God. Then he makes a vow to God that if He will be with him and take care of him, then Jacob will give a tithe (tenth) to God.
What is our reaction to God when He does something amazing? What do we do when He shows up? Do we run away, or try to ignore it, or rationalize it away, or try to justify ourselves; or do we fall in awe and wonder? Do we, trembling, acknowledge God and make His truth a reality in our lives? Do we pursue that God that we have had a personal experience with? Do we take God’s truth into our very being and let it change who we are as a person? Our reaction tells us who we really are.
John J. Camiolo Jr.
Sorry i missed the day yesterday, in the coming days and weeks i may miss a day or two in a row due to other things going on, but i should be back on track fully after that.
As i went into this chapter, i began to realize that Isaac’s story is much shorter. It seems like i only just started with him, and already he is an old man and Jacob’s story is beginning. Jacob’s name means “supplanter”, and here is where he, with the help and encouragement of his mother, really sees the fruition of that name. The name given to him almost seems as if it becomes his life motto / purpose. It’s funny, because a couple of days ago my friend (and teacher) Fount Shults posted a note on facebook about Death and Life in the Tongue and how what we say has power / influence.
It’s interesting to see the dynamic here between Isaac and his wife Rebekah. Isaac loved Esau and wanted him to be blessed over everyone around him. Rebekah however, favored Jacob. Isaac’s plan was for Esau to gain the honor and blessing, but God had other plans that Isaac was either not aware of, or had ignored. Either way, his plans were not God’s. Back in chapter 25, before the children were born, Rebekah inquired of the LORD about them, and God told her that the younger would be greater, and the older would serve him. Isaac’s plan was the opposite of this. You can see from the chapter that Issac had planned to bless Esau so that Esau would be master over all. He had not planned to reserve any blessing for Jacob at all. That obviously backfired so Jacob got it all.
What about us? Do we fail to check in with God about the plans and blessings we make? Are we so set in what we want that we fail to recognize that that may not be what God is planning to do? I know that i have. I also know that that can lead to some very difficult situations down the road.
One last thing that i wanted to note from going through this chapter today. It’s something that i don’t think i realized before. Rebekah said that she was sending Jacob to her brother Laban’s, and that when Esau’s anger had subsided, she would send for him to come back. We never hear of this happening. As far as we know, Rebekah never sent word to Jacob to return. When he came back he was unsure of Esau’s intent towards him.
I was tempted to title this chapter “Loose Ends” due to the beginning of the chapter being dedicated to tying up the loose ends of Abraham’s life. He got married a third time, and had six more children. He ended up sending them away to the east with gifts and giving all that he had to Isaac before dying and being buried. As i was going through though, the realization came to me that these children weren’t just loose ends. They were as much children of Abraham as Isaac and Ishmael. So while the Bible doesn’t focus on them as much, they had just as much of God’s blessing as Ishmael. They were still blessed. They would still become great nations, but their lives simply don’t continue through the story as the others do. They are not key characters, but neither are they simply loose ends. They are still the children of Abraham.
The best i could come up with is “Chosen Path”. This chapter is about multiple paths. It is about the options and opportunities taken and lost. No one in this chapter is insignificant in and of themselves. God simply chose His route. There were multiple paths and roads to choose from, but of Abraham’s eight children God chose Isaac, then Jacob of Isaac’s two. Esau squandered his opportunity, …for a bowl of stew and a slice of bread. Ultimately though, it’s about God’s choice. It’s not that the others were of less value or worth, they were just not chosen.
How about us? Do we disregard someone because they have come from a different path? Do we recognize that all people are God’s children, or do we get so caught up in the fact that they come from a different path that we automatically reject or push them away? What is more important to God, that they came from a different (wrong?) path, or that they find the Chosen One?