Today’s reading begins with the death of Abraham and concludes with the death of Isaac.
Abraham lived quite a few years beyond the death of Sarah and after her death he took another wife, Keturah. Keturah bore him six children and though they shared in his wealth during the remainder of his life, the entire inheritance of Abraham went to Isaac.
Similar to his father and mother, Isaac and Rebekah struggled to have children of their own and had been married for twenty years before Rebekah had the twins Esau and Jacob. Jacob who was born second was holding Esau’s heel as he was birthed and that contentious relationship continued throughout his life.
At one time in their lives, Esau was hungry and Jacob had cooked some bread and lentil stew. Esau chose to sell his birthright to Jacob for a serving of bread and stew. Later in their lives as Isaac was old and nearing his death, Jacob in concert with his mother Rebekah fooled Isaac into giving his blessing to Jacob instead of Esau. Esau was upset by this and because of fear that he would kill Jacob, Rebekah sought to send him away.
One of the most significant passages of Genesis is located in today’s reading. It’s the blessing the Isaac gave to Jacob:
“May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
Esau’s is deprived of a blessing from Isaac and instead of the blessing, Isaac proclaims to Esau:
“Behold away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
A tragic turn of events for Esau who as the firstborn was the rightful heir to the best that Isaac had to give to his children, but through his own ignorance and through Jacob’s deception, he lost the very best.