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Showing posts with the label Isaac

Genesis 28: Stairway to Heaven

“Your mother’s right about those Hittites, Jacobaleh,” Isaac told his son.  “You can do better.  But none of these Canaanites, either!  I mean, you can date them, but you wouldn’t want to marry one, you know what I mean?  We have standards in this family.  Now I want you to head off to Paddan-Aram and marry one of your uncle’s girls.  Keep it in the family, right, boy?  Heh, heh.”  Jacob headed off to find the cousin of his dreams, wondering if maybe his brother Esau hadn’t gotten the better end of the deal. Esau still hoped to make a good impression on his father.  Snooping on Jacob, he learned how his parents felt about the Canaanite women, so in order to impress them, he took a third wife, only this time taking care to marry one of Ishmael’s daughters.  Ishmael was only his father’s half-brother, so it’s like they weren’t even related. Jacob walked on to the town of Haran, in Paddan-Aram, where Uncle Laban and all those single young cousins lived.  It was a long trip, l

Genesis 27: Favorite Son and Casual Racism

"Isaac Blesses Jacob" by Govert Flinck (1615-1660). Isaac was old and practically blind.   He felt the end was coming, so he called his boy Esau in and told him to go out hunting wild game for him.   “Kill me something that tastes good and I’ll do something really nice for you before I die.   Which is soon.”   So Esau took off for the countryside to go kill an animal. Rebekah heard this and approached her boy Jacob.   She told him she’d like him to bring her a couple of kids so she could make something she knows Isaac will like, rather than take their chances on whatever animal Esau happens to catch.   (Oh, and kids means baby goats, just to be clear.   Isaac hasn’t converted to Baalism or anything like that.   Kosher laws do not exist yet, but cannibalism is still frowned upon.)   Jacob wasn’t sure about this plan.   “Dad expects Esau to do this, not me,” he told his mother.   “He can barely see anymore, so we might be able to pull this over on him.   But what

Genesis 26: Foreigners, go home!

Here's a map, in case you're having as much trouble following these people around as I am. Isaac had a dream.  In it, God told him he shouldn’t go to Egypt or to anywhere else, and that he should stick around.  If he did, God would tell him where he should go, and what he should do so that he would be heaped with blessings, and that his descendents would be, as well, and any country where they would choose to live in the future would be happy to have them.  God told him to go to Gerar, where the Philistines were.  Gerar wasn’t a great option—it was no better, in fact, than where he’d been living before.  There was a drought everywhere, so moving on was tempting. The king of the Philistines at Gerar was, of course, Abimelech.  This might have been the same King Abimelech whom Abraham ran into; this might have been a different one.  Since the name Abimelech translates roughly as “my father was the king,” it’s possible that this Abimelech was just another one in a long r

Genesis 25: How to Win at Sibling Rivalry

Isaac Blessing Jacob - Govert Flinck, c. 1638 With his son Isaac married off, the old widower Abraham figured he might as well get around to getting himself married again.  This was easy to do, since Abraham had a lot of property and was very old, which is a combination that a certain kind of woman finds very appealing.  Keturah was one such woman.  She and Abraham had six kids together.  They lived to see their grandchildren and great-grandchildren be born.  Well, we know Abraham did.  After the mention of her bearing six children, Keturah disappears from the narrative, and there’s no telling what happened to her.  Abraham himself lived to be 175.  Odds are Abraham treated his second wife well, in light of the fact that he had been decent enough to set up the sons of his concubines with nice little nest eggs and sent them off to the east to get their lives going.  Anything Abraham had that didn’t go to his concubines’ sons (and, possibly, his widow,) was left to Isaac. As Ab

Genesis 24: Isaac Marries His Cousin

Genesis 24: when family meets with family to form family. Abraham was now a widower in his 120s and very much feeling his age.   He was obviously pretty thin-skinned for feeling so old, since others like Noah and Adam lived well past age 800.   Abraham was still pretty young, by Genesis standards.   Still, it was time to start planning for what came next.   What came next, of course, was his son Isaac’s future bride, whoever she might be.   Since Abraham was so concerned, he took the reasonable course of action and talked to his household’s chief servant about this. “Place your hand under my thigh,” Abraham told the servant. “Er… beg pardon, sir?” “Place your hand under my thigh.” “Sir, I don’t suppose I need to tell you that this is not an orthodox demand to make of one’s own butler.   I may be your servant, but I am still an individual with rights and dignity, and…” “Enough!” interrupted Abraham.   “This is so you can swear something to God.” “Oh,” said

Genesis 22: Abraham gets ready to kill his son Isaac

Caravaggio - The Sacrifice of Isaac (1603) A bit later on, God was chatting with Abraham again.   “Fine boy you got there,” He said.   “A wonderful addition to your family and to the whole tribe.   Which is why I need to you take young Isaac up into the mountains and make him into a burnt offering to Me.” What parent hasn’t dreamed of this moment every now and then?   Abraham gathered up some kindling, his boy, two servants and a donkey.   They headed for the land of Moriah, which apparently had pretty lax child endangerment statutes, and in three days found a mountain suitable for burnt offerings of your own child.   Abraham told the servants to stay put with the donkey while he and Isaac went off to worship in private.   He made Isaac carry the wood for the burnt offering. “Why must I carry the wood, Father?” asked Isaac. “Difficult chores build character,” explained Abraham. “Oh.   Say, what’s our burnt offering going to be, anyway?   We di