Sixth Sunday after Pentecost (July 16th)

Pastor's Summary of Genesis 25:19-34

Abraham has taken another wife, Keturah, by whom he has had sons, they are the founders of Arabic tribes. Ishmael, his son by Hagar, is the father of tribes between Egypt and Arabia. In ancient times, children were considered to be a gift from God.

Abraham has taken another wife, Keturah, who has borne him sons; they found the Arabic tribes (vv. 2-4. He sends these sons eastward: they will not compete with Isaac (v. 6). Abraham has died (vv. 7-10). Ishmael, his son by Hagar, has twelve sons who become the fathers of tribes between Egypt and Arabia (vv. 12-18). Now vv. 19-20 recall Isaac's Aramean lineage. the story implies that Rebekah was barren for 19 years: see vv. 20 and 26. Isaac mostly shown as a bridge between Abraham and Jacob, prays fo her to conceive (v. 21), but when the pregnanacy proves difficult, it is she who visits a shrine, seeking a divine oracle ("inquire of the Lord", v. 22). Contrary to Israelite custom, "the elder shall serve the younger" (v. 23). A scholar suggests that Esau is ruddy rather than "red" (v. 25). His abundance of body hair is important later when Isaac is fooled into blessing Jacob rather than Esau. The Hebrew for "hairy" (se'ir) reminds the reader of Seir, the land where Esau later lives. "Jacob" (v. 26) probably means May God protect. Within the name is a syllable which on its own means "heel". The two boys are indeed "divided" (v. 23) as God has foretold: Esau, like Ishmael, becomes nomadic while Jacob lives a settled life ("living in tents", v. 27).

Vv. 29-34 are a second story. Jacob may well be cooking up a stew, i.e. stirring up trouble. When Esau returns from hunting "famished" and weary, he wants to gulp down whatever Jacob is cooking. ("Edom", v. 30, meaning red one, is another name for Seir). But Jacob thinks fast, to his own advantage, he demands Esau's favored status (and greater inheritance) as first-born. Esau will give anything for a meal (v. 32). So Jacob is able to extract from him a legal agreement (v. 33). And so we learn how Abraham's line, the line of God's people, continues through Jacob and not Esau, and how Israel become a greater power than Edom. God chooses: whom he chooses is his affair.