Feb 21-27 (Genesis 24-27) Come Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
This is Book of Mormon Central’s. Come Follow Me Insights.
Today, Genesis, chapter 24-27.
So today with with these particular chapters are always a million different angles. You can take on a block of scripture and on a historical story or some teaching. What we want to show today as we go through this story is when we cover Isaac’s story is Rebecca and her faithfulness and the servant who helps facilitate this wedding, these two in particular, Rebecca and the servant of Abraham. I love these two, and I’m inspired by what they accomplish. As this story unfolds as you’re going to see what’s interesting.
If you look at Genesis 24, it’s one of the longest chapters that we actually have in Genesis. And it really spends a lot of time on this deep detail about the story of how the servant is so desirous to see the hand of God in his life, to bless and prosperous way to find a wife for Isaac. And so some interesting lessons we’ve can tease out of this. And it’s also interesting how the Bible records this. And related to this is the way the Bible actually records stories is we often think that there’s like only one family on the stage of humanity at this point. And there are literally millions of people living throughout the Middle East and Egypt. And God is just really super focused, laser focused on just a small group of people. And what we’ll see here in this episode, one of the things I take away is how God will prosper those who are in his Covenant relationship. Exactly what the servant is doing is God, show me that you will prosper my way. And lots of other cool things to talk about today.
So as you open up chapter 24, you get this scenario in verse one where it says, and Abraham was old and well stricken in age or advanced in age. So he’s getting well along in age. And the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. So now he has this concern. His son Isaac, we learn later on in the next chapter, is 40 years old. Now, again, the number 40. It could be literal, absolutely. Exactly 40 years old. Or it could mean, yeah, he’s many years old as well. He probably needs to be getting married in order to carry on this Abrahamic promise that God has given him for posterity. And so that’s where he calls his most trusted servant. So the story now continues. In verse two, Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house. Now I need to just pause here and point out we don’t even know this guy’s name. He is one of the most important characters in this entire story. And quite frankly, for anyone who is a Jew today or anyone who is adopted into one of the tribes of Israel through baptism in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints today, we all collectively owe a huge debt of gratitude to this guy.
And we don’t even know his name because the scriptures only tell us he is the eldest servant of Abraham’s house that ruled over all that he had. So Abraham has his servant make a binding oath with him. The way it describes it in the King James Version here is put I pray thy hand under my thigh. Joseph Smith changes the word thigh to hand in their context, in their culture, in their setting. It is a powerful binding oath. That’s how important it is to Abraham that we get this decision right for my son.
It’s interesting he uses this word. Verse three. Swear. Now, in our language today, we think about swearing or bad words you never want to say. And anciently, the word swear is more about you declaring truth and a commitment to live up to Truthful statements. And this word swear, we actually find it in other words in our language. Have you ever answered somebody? So it turns out the word answer literally means to swear in response or swear back to somebody. Not that you’re mad or saying bad things, but if Tyler says something to me, I want to respond truthfully and committed to what I’m saying. So I Anne swear and then he might and swear back. So anciently a conversation was full of committed truth speaking. And the underlying word for all that is to swear, meaning you swear that something is true and accurate and faithful, and you will live up to what you’re talking about. Beautiful.
So the wording there, verse three, and I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of the Earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell. So it’s that important to Abraham. Now, did you notice God has made all of these promises to Abraham in the past, especially regarding posterity? And yet Abraham isn’t sitting back as a victim, as an object waiting to be acted upon. He’s using his agency. He’s doing the best he can to make sure that God’s prophecies and promises get fulfilled. He’s not watching waiting for God to do all of the fulfilling of those promises. That’s a powerful concept for us, especially those of you who have particular blessings in your patriarchal blessing, where you’ve been promised things in other blessings, or in other settings where you know you’ve received things from the Lord instead of sitting back and waiting. Now I have to say there are times when that’s exactly what you have to do is be still and see the Salvation of God or see him do his work. So that does happen many times.
But in this case, as in many other cases, we need to be a little more Proactive and seek the Lord early and often to fulfill those promises and those blessings that have been granted to us.
Perhaps Nephai’s phrase, it is by Grace that we are saved. After all we can do is God put us on this Earth to use our time and talents in our agency to bring about good. And I think this is what Abraham is doing is like, I’m going to use my agency to try to bring about good in the world.
That’s right. So in verse ten, this unnamed servant, he leaves with ten camels. That’s a big caravan group for this mission.
Could I use an example? Today you imagine you went on a family trip and brought, like, ten support vehicles and you owned them all. I don’t know a lot of people who own ten vehicles. So Abraham is a man of substance at this point.
Absolutely. So the servant makes this journey with some of the helpers. And by the way, we don’t even hardly mention those additional helpers. And each one of them has a story that someday will probably get to learn, and those stories will be beautiful as well. So we get up to Mesopotamia, to the city of Nahor. And I want you to notice something in a pattern here with this particular servant. Look at verse twelve. And he said, O Lord, God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day and show kindness unto my master Abraham. There’s a lot in those three lines, right? There are four lines right there. The meekness, the humility, the worshipfulness of the servant, the genuine pleading in his words that you can just feel. And it’s not for himself. He’s pleading to God on behalf of his master, Abraham, which, by the way, tells you something about Abraham, to have a servant be that devoted tells you about the way that Abraham has probably been treating the servant for not just a few days or weeks, but probably for years. This is his eldest servant. And that relationship of trust has been built to the point where this servant, he’s going to do anything he can’t to help Abraham.
I like that there’s covenantal language here. The phrase kindness is actually a technical Covenant, a term that the servant is invoking to the Lord. Lord has made these covenants to Abraham. And fulfilling the Covenant is an act of kindness. The word kindness literally means to fulfill the Covenant. So the servant who’s part of Abraham’s household knows that God has made these commitments to Abraham and has committed to do certain things for Abraham. And so the servant very humbly is calling upon the Lord to remember his covenants, that God is obligated to do things for Abraham. Therefore, it’s a kindness meaning the kindness is the symbol that the Covenant is being fulfilled.
Wonderful. So after a journey of probably hundreds of miles, we arrived here at Nahor. And those camels, and those servants who have made that journey, they’re weary, they’re tired. Verse 14, the servant says, Let it come to pass. The damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy picture. I pray thee that I may drink, and she shall say, drink, and I will give thy camels. Drink also. Let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac. And thereby shall I know that thou hast showed kindness unto my master. It’s fascinating because this is one of the few places in scripture there aren’t very many of these where somebody can set the terms of an agreement and actually have it work out perfectly. Usually it’s God who writes the terms of the agreement and gives them to us as human beings. I don’t know all the reasons, but to me, that Covenant is so important and this servant is so faithful and so selfless, he’s not asking this for himself. It’s for Abraham and Isaac. And by default, for that Covenant that God has made to Abraham and will eventually make here with Isaac, reestablish with Isaac, that God actually fulfills this agreement exactly the way the servant has laid out.
In fact, the irony is verse 15, and it came to pass before he had done speaking. Behold, Rebecca came out. He’s not even finished with his prayer. And here comes Rebecca. And she was born to Bethewel, son of Milka, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her picture upon her shoulder. Now, are any of you confused about the family genealogy pedigree chart yet? Let’s diagram this for a minute, because for some of you, I imagine you, like me, are visual learners. And it’s easier when you can see it than just reading all these names on a page. It kind of gets lost in the shuffle. So let’s just show you the family tree of Terra. So Terra has three sons, you have Abraham, then we have Haron. Haran seems to be the older of the brothers and Nahor. Now, remember, Haron has two children. It’s he had the son named Lot. And we remember Lott’s wife and his two daughters. That story. So you can see the relationship here. And Milka, so Nahor marries Milka, his niece. And we find out in that previous lesson that Sarah is also Tara’s daughter, but from a different mother than Abraham.
And these two are going to get married. Now watch as this unfolds. So Milk and Nahor have a son by the name of Bethule. So Bethewel is the father of two children that are significant in this story. One of them is Rebecca and the other is Laban. Are you confused yet? Stick with us. We’ll see if we can make it even more confusing. So remember, Sarah and Abraham have now had this son named Isaac. Who is Isaac going to Mary. He’s going to marry his cousin in this family. Rebecca, you can see this relationship, how it comes through both Abraham and Sarah over to Rebecca, the daughter of Bethewel, who is the son of Milk and Nahor. Now, these two are going to have two sons named Esaw and Jacob, whose name is going to be changed to Israel. Who does Jacob marry? He’s going to marry Laban’s two daughters, Leah and Rachel. And then from there we get the twelve tribes of Israel that we’ll talk about next time. This is a lot of ink on the board to set the stage so you can kind of make better sense of where these connections are coming from.
So Rebecca tells him in verse 15 who she is, at which point the servant is thinking, perfect, she is exactly who I came to find. And he gives her this ring, this golden ear ring, the Hebrew word there is ring. And notice what happens after that. Initial interchange, verse 26. And the man bowed his head and worshipped the Lord, and he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his Mary and his truth. I being in the way. The Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.
Or I being on the Lord’s path or on his.
Errand, Covenant, errand here. I wanted to point this out because sometimes you and I, as human beings, as mortals, we have this tendency of, oh, no, I have this problem to solve or this issue to resolve. And we turn to the Lord pleading for help. And then often, not all the time, but often when that help comes or when the solution starts to unfold, we’re like, oh, good, I can rest now. And often our tendency is mortals as humans, is to not turn back to God and acknowledge his goodness. I love this servant because he’s just gotten underway with a potential solution. And what is his first reaction? He turns to God in verse 26, and he worshiped the Lord. I like that. And by the way, that’s not going to go away. You saw him turn to God at the beginning of this interchange. You see him now turn to the Lord and worship him. And at every phase, you’re going to see this servant deferring back to God and giving glory and credit and petitions to God at every phase. I like that. I want to be more like this. It’s a Christlike attribute to take time for the Lord.
President Nelson has asked us, he pled with us to make time for the Lord. Every day, brothers and sisters, you generally walk the direction you’re facing. You generally move wherever you’re looking. And what an amazing thing to carve out a little more time each day to look heavenward, to then acknowledge and worship God. A little more this week than maybe we did last week.
I’m also impressed with Rebecca here. Oh, yeah, it’s ten camels. They can drink up to ten gallons each. It’s possibly 100 gallons running back and forth. So she doesn’t even know the stranger, and yet she takes the time to serve somebody in need. Just a great example.
It’s beautiful in fact, if you look back in verse 18 through 20, the words that we get here in the King James Version. And she said, So he asked, Will you give me a drink? Because that was the condition that he had laid out. Right verse 18. And she said, Drink, my Lord. And she Hasted and let down her picture upon her hand and gave him drink. She Hasted, she hurried, she didn’t delay. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for the camels also until they have done drinking. And she Hasted and emptied her pitcher into the trough and ran again under the well to draw water and drew for all his camels. And as Taylor pointed out, there were ten of them.
It would be 100 trips back and forth.
And she Hasted, she’s running to meet that need. I love that. I love that principle. So now we go into the house of her father Bethewell, and her brother Laban is there, and he’s excited to see this servant from his cousin and his relative. And they retell the entire story here of what’s happened. The servant does catches everybody up to speed and notice, as you skip over to verse 56, he said unto them, Hinder me not seeing the Lord hath prospered my way, send me away that I may go to my master if they want to keep them there for days on end.
Let’s have this long, multi week party to celebrate.
And he’s like, I’m on an errand of the Lord and on the errand of Abraham. And what is Abraham doing back in Canaan right now? He’s concerned for his son. And the servant is saying, it would be way more pleasurable, way more enjoyable for me to not turn right around and leave again on a multi day journey with these camels. It would be way better for me to stay here. I love the servants perspective of I’m not doing what’s best for me. I’m not in this for me. I’m in it for the Lord, and I’m in it for my master, Abraham and his son Isaac. So please let us go. And they say, well, we’re not going to force Rebecca to leave. We’ll ask her, what do you want to do? And by the way, if you’re Rebecca, it would be significantly easier to give it some time. Let me get stuff ready. Let me say goodbye to all of my friends and other acquaintances. I love what she says in verse 58, they called Rebecca and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And she said, I will go. Those are three words that are so significant in a gospel context.
That phrase that Jehovah used in the Premortal Council, that idea of there’s a difficult errand to be run, a mission to be fulfilled that only I can fulfill. Here am I, send me. It’s another way of saying what she said, here I will go or like Nephi in the Book of Mormon, I will go and do the things which the Lord has commanded. I love that and I love her faithfulness and her willingness to set aside her own pleasures or comforts or ease of life to get on that camel and go hundreds of miles away from her nuclear family, trusting in the Lord 100%, putting all of her faith and trust that he’s going to guide her in the right direction.
The blessing that they give her upon leaving. Just so beautiful.
Yeah. This blessing, verse 60. And by the way, you who might be watching this or studying this particular chapter this week, you are part of the fulfillment of this particular blessing given to Rebecca by Bethewell and Laban. Verse 60 says, and they blessed Rebecca and said unto her, Thou art our sister. Be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gait of those which hate them. That’s profound. You’re going to be the mother of thousands of millions. That’s a lot of people.
And that is literally fulfilled in our day.
So they rose and her damsels and they rode upon the camels and they followed the man and the servant took Rebecca and went his way. So we come on this journey. They come down, Isaac sees her and marries her. And we find out in the next chapter in chapter 25, verse 20, that Isaac was 40 years old when he took Rebecca to wife. So thus begins this new marriage. And the rest of our story today is what’s happening with this particular nuclear family. At the beginning of this chapter 25, Abraham marries Katura and has these additional children, Zimran, Jokshan, Midan, Midian, Ishbach, and Shua.
And just as a reminder that the Bible was written partly as a family history. And so there’s this deep focus on this family, and they care a lot about genealogy. So there are portions of the Bible that to us read like, well, they are genealogical lists. And we should remember that it was important for these people to preserve the memory and the names of those who are within their family.
Okay, so now you have Abraham with one son through Hagar Ishmael, another son through his first wife, Sarah. That’s Isaac. And then six sons from Katura. So a son’s total notice, verse five. And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. And then we get the death of Abraham. He’s 175 years old when he dies. And the end of verse eight says that he was gathered to his people and buried in the cave of Marpella in the field of Efron, where his wife Sarah had been buried. Now you get the genealogy of Ishmael, the twelve tribes of Ishmael, starting in verse 13 through 17. And that’s a significant group that is going to have impact on the world down to the very end, just like the twelve tribes of Israel. Through Isaac’s line is going to have major impact. Now we pick up the story specifically with Isaac and Rebecca, starting in verse 20. Look at verse 21. Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife because she was barren and the Lord was entreated of him and Rebecca, his wife conceived. Now let me just pause here for a moment. You’ll notice verse 21 tells you she’s barren.
And so we have a problem. That’s the problem. And Isaac turns to God for the solution, and it tells us God did entreat him and his wife conceived. And we think, great, that’s wonderful problem was solved. Isn’t that easy? Just turn to the Lord, he’ll fix all your problems. And it feels very quick. Look down at verse 26. After that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s Hill, and his name was called Jacob. And Isaac was three score years old when she bear him. Now we pause and do a little bit of math here and say, three score. One score is 20 years. So three score is 60 years. We know that Isaac was 40 years old when he and Rebecca got married and want to have seed, want to have posterity to fulfill all of these promises. And when he’s 60, then the two twins are finally born, brothers and sisters. The barrenness lasted for 20 years, and yet we covered it in one sentence. What we don’t get is the story of 20 very long years that are inserted in there. So the part of the story the Bible doesn’t tell us, a year is a long time, multiple days, weeks, months of pleading with God for this blessing, and it’s not given going to bed at night, watering their pillow with their tears, saying, what’s wrong?
Is it our faithfulness? Is it something I’m not doing that I should be? Am I doing something wrong? It’s this probably self doubt. And yet they stay focused on the Lord, and his answer is given in his timing. I love the idea of the concept that Elder Neil A. Maxwell taught when he said, Isn’t it ironic that you and I, who wear wristwatches and we would have calendars on our walls, that we try to counsel he who governs cosmic clocks on matters of timing? And he goes on to say, in another setting, it’s often easier to say, Lord, thy will be done than it is to say, Lord, thy timing be done. So if there’s a blessing you’ve sought, if there’s a struggle you’ve faced a wrestle you’re engaged with, that just doesn’t seem to go away. I think if Isaac and Rebecca, especially Rebecca, were here today, I think she might just give us some counsel. That’s really simple. I think her counsel might be, you have to trust God. You have to trust that he knows what he’s doing when it comes to timing. He knows how to give the gifts that he has promised to you and more importantly, when and how to give those gifts.
So now look at verse 22. The children struggled together within her, and she said, if it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the Lord. She’s feeling an unusual amount of struggle in her womb, and she doesn’t understand it. She’s trying to figure out what’s going on. So what does she do? She goes to the Lord. I like that pattern. Verse 23 Notice what Rebecca is going to know before these two boys are even born. The Lord said unto her, Two Nations are in thy womb, and two manner people shall be separated from thy bowels, and the one people shall be stronger than the other people, and the elder shall serve the younger. Rebecca knew that before they were even born because the Lord told her that that’s how it was going to be. That will come into play in the rest of this story today as the conflict between Esaw and Jacob plays out what Rebecca, their mother, knew long before they were even born. Verse 24 and when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. So verse 25 and the first came out red all over, like in Harry garment.
And they called his name ESA.
And later he becomes the father of the Edomites. And the word Edom means red. And it’s really to the Hebrew word for blood, which is bomb. So there’s this word play going on. And again, we’ve talked about how the names of the lesson and this also shows up in the name of Jacob.
Yes. So these boys grow up and they’re very different from each other. Verse 27 the boys grew and he saw was a cunning Hunter, a man of the field, and Jacob was a plain man dwelling in tents. So you’ll notice in verse 28 that it tells us that Isaac loved Esau because he did eat of his venison, but Rebecca loved Jacob. Now, I don’t think that what this is intending to say is that Rebecca doesn’t love ESA and Isaac doesn’t love Jacob. I think the intent here is to show that there’s just a natural propensity to appreciate the things that Esau does if you’re Isaac, and vice versa for Rebecca. And so Jacob in verse 29 saw a Pottage and he came from the field and he was faint. He’s been out, it’s been a long Hunt and he’s struggling. And he tells him, I’ve got to have some of that food feed me. I notice. Verse 30 tells you exactly what Taylor had said. His name was called Edom. So he’s the progenitor of all the Edomites later on.
Now, there are some traditions, and we don’t know if these are correct, that actually Esau had been running from people who were trying to kill him and that Esau actually was trying to protect the birthright and therefore sold it to Jacob to keep the family because he thought he was going to be a dead man because there was a whole group of people trying to find him and kill him. And whether or not that’s true, it’s just interesting because sometimes we look at Esau like this guy gave away his birthright for some red Pottage, and we don’t have all the details. Like maybe he just really didn’t care, or maybe there was something going on that he was trying to protect the birthright in the family. And we’ll get into this a bit more. But I love ESA because some things happen in the story that don’t work out in his favor. And yet we see that he ends up forgiving his mother, his brother, even though he lost access to some things that he thought should be his.
Yeah. So he tells Jacob in verse 32, Behold, I am at the point to die. And what Prophet shall this birthright do to me? So Jacob asked him to swear that he would sell the birthright, and he swore and he gave him the Pottage of Lentils in verse 34.
I’m not really into Lentils.
If you’re dying, you’re probably going to be into Lentil.
Maybe some steak and potatoes.
Yeah. So now you get to chapter 26, where there’s once again a famine in the land. So Isaac and Rebecca leave and go down to where the Philistines live, and here we meet Abimleck. Do you remember that guy? Now, before we get into that story, we can’t skip over verse three and four, because this is where God reestablishes the Covenant made with Abraham. Now it’s made fresh and new with Isaac in verse three and four. Sojourn in this land and I will be with thee and will bless thee. For unto thee and unto thy seed I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swear unto Abraham thy father. And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven and will give unto thy seed all these countries, and in thy seed shall all the nations of the Earth be blessed. You’re going to bless everybody. You’re going to be the source of spreading this Covenant through you and your seed. It’s beautiful. Look at verse five, because that Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my Commandments, my statutes, and my laws. It’s the idea of taking wherever you are and adding upon it and getting closer and closer and closer to becoming more like God.
And we’ve got all these patterns in scripture of people who have walked this path and kept those covenants. And quite frankly, this is great for Isaac. But what’s even better is when we own these verses and say, Wait a minute, how can I more fully create this connection, this faithful Covenant, loyalty to God in my own life? Because his promises are sure they haven’t changed. It’s us who changes. But how can we deepen and strengthen that connection with God. That’s to me, that’s the essence of what we should be taking away from verse three, four and five. So now we come in and you get that story of Isaac and Rebecca, and he tells the bin Laden, she’s my sister.
Why these stories are told, one of the reasons seems to be it’s a signal to the reader of how and why God found a way to get material blessings into the hands of his chosen servants. And you get the reinitiation of the Covenant. God makes all these promises. And then in this chapter, you have a series of explanations of the way that God prospered Isaac. He planted seed and got 100 fold. He digs all these Wells and they get water. So it’s trying to set up that there’s this cause and effect that God is the cause of bringing good things about. And the effect is through these stories that deliver on these promises that God will fulfill his promises to his faithful servants. So we have to get caught up in the detail of the fact that there’s three stories repeated here in Genesis about the wife’s sister motif that is actually used in the story of the biblical narrative to help us understand how God blesses his people. Beautiful.
So, like you said, planting the seeds and multiplying the digging of the Wells. By the way, if somebody asks you what is the summation of chapter 26, you can say, well, well, I will tell you, because here you get three Wells Isek Sitna and Rijo both. And it gives you the idiomatic expression translation in the footnote of all of those strife, opposition, broad, open places where it’s the bread and the water that are necessary to sustain life. And God is multiplying these things for Isaac, even though it’s in the face of great opposition and in confrontation even this is important because I did say that God is trying to bless Isaac and show that he will fulfill his covenantal promises.
And yet it’s not without conflict and strife. If we went and talked to Isaac like, hey, how was it having to go dig those well through the limestone and then have people stop them up or fight you over them? He’s like, Actually, it was really terrible. There were times I wondered if God was really in charge and was really going to follow through, but I decided because I learned from my father that you can always trust God, you can trust the God of Abraham. So I trusted God, and I decided I was going to treat people properly and things worked out. But the Bible, the way it reads here, sometimes we kind of pass over a lot of the details of the personal challenges and suffering and out sweating in the hot sun and going to bed a little stressed out, like, Is this going to work? And we get these stories like, oh, Isaac, Abraham, Jacob, they all easy lives. And I don’t think they did anything.
But look at verse 24 and 25 to tag onto what Taylor is saying here. The Lord appeared unto him that same night and said, I am the God of Abraham, thy father. Fear not, for I am with thee and will bless thee and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. And he built at an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord and pitched his tent. And their Isaac’s servants digged a well. They keep digging Wells wherever they are. Look at verse 28. They said, we saw certainly that the Lord was with thee. And we said, Let there now be an oath betwixt us. So these Philistines, the people he’s living among, they recognize this guy. He’s different. He’s got divine aid helping him. So let’s stop the striving and the warring, and let’s make an oath between us, a peace treaty. And so that’s what happens here. Have a feast and make a peace treaty here.
Yeah, it’s interesting. The word bearsheva literally means the well of the oath or the well of seven. Seven can also be oath. So that is still the name today. There’s a Beresheva in Israel, and it’s named after it’s, this location, and it’s named for the Covenant that these people created to live in peace with one another.
So in contrast to Isaac’s story and getting that birthright, all those promises of Abraham given to him, look at verse 34, and he saw was 40 years old when he took to wife Judith, the daughter of Beri the Hittite, and Bashemoth, the daughter of Elon the Hittite. So Esau has now married two Canaanite women, these two Hittites, which were of a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebecca. So, Esaw, keep in mind this is coming to us from the Hebrew Scriptures, the Hebrew Bible. They’re telling the story of their ancestors. And Esau, being the first born, has promised, he sworn that he would sell his birthright to Jacob. Now he breaks his parents heart by marrying outside of the family, outside of the Covenant. And so they’re setting the stage here for what’s going to happen. In chapter 27, we begin verse one with Isaac being old, his eyes were dim, so he could not see, so he’s gone blind. And so he calls his oldest son ESA. And he says, My son. He responds, Behold, here am I. And he said, Behold, now I am old, and I know not the day of my death.
So he tells him, Go get me some meat. You know, I love your food and your hunting. So prepare me some yummy venison. Come in and I will give you your blessing. Now, what we don’t know here from the scriptural account is, has there been a conversation between Rebecca and Isaac about what Rebecca had already been told by God? If there was a conversation, we don’t have it in the Bible. Rebecca knows some things.
So she basically gives Jacob instructions about how he can get the blessing. Now, on the face of it, if you read the story, it sounds like there’s a lot of deception going on, and we have to step back for a minute and say there’s a couple of things going on. First of all, Jacob’s name in Hebrew means the supplanter. So there’s something about his original name that actually plays into how the story is remembered in subsequent generations and then put into the Bible later, you’ll find that his name is changed to Israel because he wrestles with God, which is significant. I think there’s a change of heart for Jacob that I think he realizes that maybe the approach for getting the blessing may have been problematic and that he turns himself over to God and wrestles with them. But there’s also something else going on. There seems to be a sense in ancient Israelite society that the Israelites culturally felt that when there’s an uneven playing filled between two contestants, it’s okay for one to level the playing field through what we might call trickery or changing the rules or expectations of the game. Quick example, the David and Goliath story.
It’s a very uneven playing field. You have an underdog. Does the underdog play by the rules? Showing up with a sword to fight hand to hand? No, he changes the rules. And it’s not like David tricked anybody, but he did something unexpected to level the playing field and to best the giant Goliath. We have a number of stories like this.
And so Jacob goes into his father, and he says in verse 18, My father. And he says, Here am I, who art thou, my son? And he says, I am Isa, thy first born. I’ve done according as thou hast badest me. Arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me. And so Isaac blessed him. So now Esau comes back, and Esau is so confused because he went hunting and got some meat and prepared it, and he’s so excited to get this birthright blessing, he comes in, and when Isaac says to him, no, I’ve already given the blessing at that point. He could have rescinded the blessing and ended up actually cursing Jacob. But he didn’t. He could have taken it away from Jacob and given it to Esau at that point, but he didn’t. It’s almost as if the Lord, through this means he had taught Rebecca many years before what would happen, and it’s now happened. It’s almost like Isaac says, oh, I can see more clearly than you think. I’m not as blind as you think I am. Now, having given the blessing, he realizes that it’s the Lord’s will.
And so he turns to Esan, says instead, I have a different blessing for you. So now, if you contrast the blessing given to Esign verse 39 and 40 with the birthright blessing given to Isaac back in 2008 and 29. You can see that even though Esau doesn’t get the birthright blessing, it’s still a pretty profound blessing. He gets some big promises from the Lord, but the outcome verse 41. Esa hated Jacob because of the blessing where with his father blessed him.
He’S a little bit like Lehman and Lemuel. He’s waiting for the dad to die and then to kill the brother. The younger brother who has taken the blessings seems to be the leader of the family. Again, this is repeating the Book of Mormon, where the younger Nephi becomes the next leader, and the older brothers are very upset about it.
Which is a repeat pattern in this Old Testament story. So look at the actual wording there. In the second half of verse 41, Esau said in his heart, the days of mourning for my father are at hand. Then will I slay my brother Jacob? Look at verse 42. These words of Esaw, her elder son, were told to Rebecca, So what does she do? What she’s always done. She’s looking out for Jacob in this context, and she calls him and she prepares him and she says, Therefore my son, obey my voice and arise, flee thou to Laban, my brother, to Haran. So go on that hundreds of mile journey back to my homeland. My brother Laban lives there, and you’ve got to go and stay with him, because if you stay here, Esau is going to kill you, and then maybe your brother’s anger will be turned away from you. So verse 46. Rebecca said to Isaac, I am Mary of my life because of the daughters of heaven. If Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heath such as these, which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my life be? To me?
It’s a repeat pattern. Now, this next generation, she’s saying more reasons than one. I need you to go up to my brother’s household, Laban, not just to save your life for Mesa, but what good is it to me, having gone through all of these struggles and trials, if you marry outside of that Covenant? So as we come to a close today of Isaac and Rebecca’s story and their struggles and their wrestles, let’s return back to where we began, these unsung heroes and heroines and these stories, not just in the Bible but in our own life. Let us pause a little bit more and look around at the people who make life rich and full and through whom Mary of Heaven’s blessings come into our own life through these different people, whether it be people at the grocery store who help you check out or your doctors and dentists and health care providers and law enforcement and people who serve in the military and in political positions to pass good laws and uphold them, and relatives and people in your Ward, your branch, or your stake who quietly go about doing good things and being a source for heaven’s blessings to flow into the world God bless each of us to be more like that with more people around us is our prayer as we strive to receive and fulfill the same promises and same covenants that were given to these great people thousands of years ago.
Thousands of miles away. That’s our prayer and we leave it in the name of Jesus Christ Amen know that you’re not you.
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Book and Chapter Resources
Come Follow Me Insights
In this week’s episode of Come, Follow Me Insights, Taylor and Tyler teach how God will prosper those who covenant with Him. They also give lessons from the stories of Abraham’s servant, Rebekah, Isaac, Jacob, and Esau.
Daily Come Follow Me Videos
Marianna Richardson shares insights about Abraham’s servant and how he showed great faith in the Lord as he searched for Isaac’s wife.
Casey Paul Griffiths explains how Rebekah’s example of Christ-like service is a model to follow in seeking or maintaining marriage today.
John Hilton III considers Esau’s decision to sell his birthright to Jacob and how it teaches us to choose the things that matter most.
Taylor Halverson compares Isaac’s interactions with Abimelech to the sacrament and covenants we have with God today.
Taylor Halverson explains how looking at the scriptures like a foreign country can help us better understand incidents like Jacob stealing Esau’s blessing.
Jasmin Gimenez Rappleye illustrates how, with the help of the Lord, Jacob shifted from deceiving his brother to repenting and reconciling with Esau.
Study Deeper with Books on Bible Central
Book of Mormon Central and the ScripturePlus app have teamed up with Bible Central to produce a multi-author, biblical commentary for Latter-day Saints. Each volume provides historical, cultural, and doctrinal insights into the beloved stories of the bible, one passage at a time.
An important lens through which to understand the Bible is through its cultural context. The world of Ancient Israel and its neighbors is a rich tapestry of cultural and historical customs, traditions, and conceptions about the world around them. Brigham Young University professor Avram Shannon walks readers through pieces of the bible that make more sense when looking at the larger picture of Israel’s culture.
The objective of this present volume is to demonstrate the numerous and meaningful ways the Old Testament prevails as the First Testament of Jesus Christ. In point of fact, the Old Testament is a quintessential witness of Jesus Christ! It presents numerous prophecies of Jesus Christ’s first and second comings, scores of names and titles of the Lord, and several straightforward statements that the Lord is our Savior, Redeemer, and Atoner.