Click here to read Genesis 25:19-26:35

In today’s passage we begin to see how the promises of Abraham will be carried out through his descendants.  Specifically we see that God reveals His intention to carry out His promise through Isaac (God tells him this directly) and Jacob (God says that Esau will serve Jacob before they are born).  While it might be tempting to say that God chose Jacob because He knew that Esau would sell his birthright and make poor decisions concerning marriage, it’s important to remember that God chose Jacob for the same reason He chose Abraham (instead of his brother) and Issac (instead of Lot or Ishmael)—simply on account of grace because that was His will.  Esau’s actions in this passage only show us how God’s decision played out in their lives.

God’s relationship with Isaac is an important part of this passage.  We see here that Isaac (and Rebekah) relied heavily on God, trusted Him, and were obedient.  As if that wasn’t enough, they also feel free to approach God when concerned about children or Rebekah’s difficult pregnancy. Isaac also gives God credit for everything in his life, whether it’s finding water or the harvest. And God is faithful to the promises that He gave to Isaac as well—giving directions on where to live, providing food in spite of the famine, and providing wells with water. God did all of this not because Isaac had earned it (he told the same lies when traveling that his father had!), but because God is faithful.

Today’s passage also sets the stage for the next major section in the accounts of the patriarchs. God foretold that there would be a struggle between the twins Esau and Jacob while they were still in the womb and it proved to be true while they were being born and when Esau sold Jacob his birthright—giving Jacob all the blessings and heirship that comes along with being the firstborn. In the passages ahead we’ll see how that theme continues and the consequences of Esau’s rash decision.

Names Places

God – God

Abram/Abraham – son of Terah, descendant of Shem

Sarai/Sarah – Abraham’s wife

Isaac – son promised to Abraham and Sarah

Rebekah – very beautiful daughter of Abraham’s nephew (Bethuel). married Isaac

Esau – firstborn of Isaac and Rebekah

Jacob – second son of Isaac and Rebekah

Abimelech – King of the Philstines in Gerar


Beersheba – “well of oath” or “well of seven”
where Abimelech and Abraham made a treaty
and Abraham lived and where Isaac and Abimelech made a treaty

Valley of Gerar – where Isaac clashed with the
herdsmen of Gerar

Shibah – means “oath.” well that Isaac’s
servants dug at Beersheba after he made
an oath with Abimelech


Ahuzzath – Abimelech’s personal adviser

Philcol – commander of Abimelech’s forces

herdsmen of Gerar – gave Isaac a hard time in the alley

Bethuel – Rebekah’s father (Aramean from Paddan Aram)

Laban – Rebekah’s brother

Judith – wife of Esau (a Hittite and daughter of Beeri)

Basemath – wife of Esau (a Hittite and daughter of Elon)


Paddam-Aram – Northwest Mesopotamia and where Rebekah’s father is from

Egypt – Where Isaac intended to go to survive the famine

Esek – means “dispute.” a well where Isaac clashed with herdsmen

Sitnah – means “opposition.” a well where Isaac clashed with herdsmen

Rehoboth – means “room.” a well where the herdsmen finally left Isaac alone

Interesting facts:

1) Though it may appear that details of Esau’s two wives are simply tacked onto the end of this passage, there really are a few reasons why it is here.  Dr. Thomas Constable lists three reasons:

1. to show Esau’s character – he was not so much interested in finding God-fearing women as he was in trying to make a name for himself.  The women were the daughters of Canaanite lords.

2. to identify the ancestors of the Edomites (they will play a big role later)

3. to explain why Jacob will travel to Padda-Aram in the future

2) Remember the chiastic structure that we talked about with the tower of Babel? There are some more great examples of that literary device in this passage. These are from Dr. Thomas Constable’s notes available in the link to the right. He credits Allen Ross’s book “Creation & Blessing.”

a) the birth of the twins (Genesis 25:20-26).  The focus (center) is Rebekah asking for an oracle and God providing it.

Chiastic Structure of the Oracle

b) the birthright fiasco (Genesis 25:29-34). The focus (center) is Esau’s contempt for his birthright.

Birthright Chiasm

c) surrounding Isaac’s blessing in Genesis 27:1-28:5.  The focus (center) is Isaac giving his blessing

Issac's blessing chiasm