Isaac doesn’t marry Rebecca until he is forty.
For nineteen years she doesn’t have any children, so Isaac begs God for offspring, and sure enough, Rebecca becomes pregnant with twins.
And what twins they are! They fight together in the womb so badly that Rebecca asks God what the heck is happening. God says “There are two nations in your body and the older will serve the younger!”
When the time comes for the twins to be born, Esau comes out first, all hairy and red. That’s why they call him Esau, or “Rough One.” Jacob comes out next, grabbing Esau’s heel. So they name Jacob “Heel-Holder.”
The two boys grow up. Esau becomes a hunter, while Jacob is a plain man who stays among the tents.
Esau is Isaac’s favorite, while Rebecca loves Jacob more.
One day, Jacob is making a stew – which used to be called a “mess of pottage.” Along comes Esau and says “Give me some of that stuff. I’m so tired!”
Jacob says “Sell me your right as the first born, here and now.”
Esau says “Who cares about my birthright? I’m dying of hunger.” Jacob, who’s pretty clever, makes Esau swear to give up his birthright before he gives Esau some bread and beans.
There’s a famine in the land, like the one in Abraham’s time. God tells Isaac to stay in the land, rather than going to Egypt. “I will make your seed many, like the stars of the heavens, and to your seed I will give all these lands.
So Isaac stays in Gerar. The men of Gerar ask about his wife. “She is my sister,” Isaac says. He’s afraid the men will kill him to get at Rebecca because she is beautiful.
But King Avimelekh, king of the Philistines, sees Isaac fooling around with Rebecca. “She must be your wife!” he says. “If one of our men messed around with her you could have brought guilt on us!” So Avimelekh tells everybody to stay away from Rebecca.
Isaac stays in the area and has a huge harvest and lots of sheep. The Philistines grow resentful of Isaac and fill in all the wells he and Abraham had dug. So Isaac digs two other wells. One he calls Esek, which means Bickering, and one he calls Sitna, which means bad blood. Over both of these he fights with the Philistines. Finally, he digs another well that they don’t quarrel over, and calls it Rehovot, or Space.
Food for Thought
How hungry do you think Esau was that he was willing to trade away his birthright?