Jan. 8 Reading: Genesis 25-26 Commentary

Below is our Genesis 25-26 commentary from our Beginning to End Bible reading program. You can find an email link at the end of this page to share your thoughts or comments with us.

Key Verse(s):

“…Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23)

Genesis 25 – The Death of Abraham


Abraham’s importance to history cannot be overstated, being the father of the Jewish people. His extraordinary relationship with God was marked by faith and obedience, even when it seemed liked God’s promises would never come to pass.

After the death of Sarah, Abraham took another wife (technically a concubine – see v. 6 and I Chron. 1:32) by the name of Keturah. She bore six more sons to Abraham. Before he died, Abraham gave each son gifts and sent them away from Isaac, to whom he gave all his possessions.

Abraham died at the age of 175 (v. 7). Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the same cave that Abraham had purchased to bury Sarah. And the blessings of God that He promised would come Abraham’s way are now passed on to his son Isaac (v. 11).

An Unusual Birth

Isaac was 40 years old when Rebekah came to be his wife (Gen. 24). Her presence had been a comfort and blessing to him after the death of his mother Sarah. However, Gen. 25:21 tells us that Rebekah was barren and unable to have children. So Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife and she eventually conceived.

But this was no ordinary conception. Verse 22 tells us that she was going to have twins and that the two children “struggled together within her.” She did not understand what was happening. Thinking something might be wrong, she went to inquire from the Lord.

The Lord speaks directly to Rebekah and says:

“…Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23)

This must have been odd for Rebekah to hear. In that culture, the firstborn child would have prominence. But in His plan, God would choose to work through and bless the younger of the two children.

On birth day, Esau came out first. He is then followed by Jacob and “his hand took hold of Esau’s heel” (v. 26). So Jacob was after Esau from birth.

Giving Up a Birthright

We don’t know the exact time of the next recorded event in Esau and Jacob’s life. The Bible does not say. The Talmud (the main text of Jewish law and tradition) places their ages at 15. That would put Isaac at 75 given that he was 60 when the boys were born (Gen. 25:26).

The setup for this event begins in verse 27 where it’s said that Esau became a skilled hunter. In contrast, Jacob is described as a mild man, who stayed around the house. So both of those descriptions fit the story, as both boys would have to have been old enough to play their respective roles.

One day Esau returns from a hunting trip and is hungry. It just so happens that Jacob has finished cooking some stew for himself. Being weary from the hunt, Esau asks for some.

At this point, Jacob makes an odd request of Esau. He agrees to give him some of his stew but only if Esau sells him his birthright. In a stunning move, Esau gives away his birthright to Jacob. He doesn’t really seem to care about the long-term value associated with it, choosing rather to satisfy his in-the-moment needs.

Why is this a big deal? Because the birthright belonged to the firstborn. It meant everything in regards to inheritance rights, authority and leadership with in the family. Esau sacrificed his most prized possession for a bowl of soup.

It’s a good reminder to take your time and seek the Lord when making big life decisions. Decisions made quickly and without thinking seldom are good ones. In fact, from that moment on Esau despised his birthright and his brother for taking it from him. 

Genesis 26 – Another Sister Lie

In Genesis 26, another famine occurs in the land. It looks as though Isaac wants to go down to Egypt. But God instructs him not to go, citing parts of His covenant with Abraham,

Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” (v. 3-4)

Isaac obeys and instead dwells in the land of Gerar, ruled by Abimelech, king of the Philistines. And of course, wouldn’t you know it, the men of the land are interested in and ask about Rebekah.

How would Isaac handle this? The same way as his father had done. Instead of telling the truth and trusting in God’s protection, he lies about his relationship to Rebekah saying that she is his sister.

The truth is exposed one day when Abimelech sees Isaac and Rebekah showing affection to one another in a way a brother and sister would not. He confronts Isaac on it, who admits the truth. Then Abimelech commands that no one touches Isaac or Rebekah. He makes a treaty with Isaac, both agreeing not to harm one another and Isaac propers in this land just as God had said.

Questions and Thoughts to Consider from Genesis 25-26:

Are you more focused on the here and now or the future? What are you sacrificing in the present in hope of a future blessing?

How do you stay focused on the things that have enduring significance?

What other points would you want to know about in our Genesis 25-26 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.