Notes for Gen 25:1LEB

Or "took."


Abraham had taken another wife. These events are not necessarily in chronological order following the events of the preceding chapter. They are listed here to summarize Abraham’s other descendants before the narrative of his death.


"And Abraham added and took."


Notes for Gen 25:3LEB

The names Sheba and Dedan appear in Gen 10:7LEB as descendants of Ham through Cush and Raamah. Since these two names are usually interpreted to be place names, one plausible suggestion is that some of Abraham’s descendants lived in those regions and took names linked with it.


Notes for Gen 25:4LEB

Or "sons."


Notes for Gen 25:6LEB

"the sons of the concubines who [belonged] to Abraham."


"And he sent them away from upon Isaac his son, while he was still living, eastward to the land of the east."


Notes for Gen 25:7LEB

"and these are the days of the years of the lifetime of Abraham that he lived." The normal genealogical formula is expanded here due to the importance of the life of Abraham.


Notes for Gen 25:8LEB

"old and full."


"And he was gathered to his people." In the ancient Israelite view he joined his deceased ancestors in Sheol, the land of the dead.



Notes for Gen 25:9LEB

The cave of Machpelah was the place Abraham had purchased as a burial place for his wife Sarah (Gen 23:17–18LEB).


Notes for Gen 25:10LEB


See the note on the phrase "sons of Heth" in Gen 23:3LEB.


Notes for Gen 25:11LEB

Yahweh blessed Isaac. The Hebrew verb "bless" in this passage must include all the gifts that Yahweh granted to Isaac. But fertility was not one of them, at least not for twenty years, because Rebekah was barren as well (see v. 21).


Beer Lahai Roi. See the note on this place name in Gen 24:62LEB.


Notes for Gen 25:12LEB

This is the account of Ishmael. The Book of Genesis tends to tidy up the family records at every turning point. Here, before proceeding with the story of Isaac’s family, the narrative traces Ishmael’s family line. Later, before discussing Jacob’s family, the narrative traces Esau’s family line (see Gen 36LEB).


Notes for Gen 25:13LEB

The meaning of this line is not easily understood. The sons of Ishmael are listed here "by their names" and "according to their descendants."


Notes for Gen 25:16LEB

Or "tribal chieftains."


Notes for Gen 25:17LEB

"And these are the days of the years of Ishmael."


"And he was gathered to his people." In the ancient Israelite view he joined his deceased ancestors in Sheol, the land of the dead.


Notes for Gen 25:18LEB

"they"; the referent (Ishmael’s descendants) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


"which is by the face of," or near the border. The territory ran along the border of Egypt.


"as you go."


The name Asshur refers here to a tribal area in the Sinai.


"he fell."


"upon the face of all his brothers." This last expression, obviously alluding to the earlier oracle about Ishmael (Gen 16:12LEB), could mean that the descendants of Ishmael lived in hostility to others or that they lived in a territory that was opposite the lands of their relatives. While there is some ambiguity about the meaning, the line probably does give a hint of the Ishmaelite-Israelite conflicts to come.


Notes for Gen 25:19LEB

This is the account of Isaac. What follows for several chapters is not the account of Isaac, except briefly, but the account of Jacob and Esau. The next chapters tell what became of Isaac and his family.


Notes for Gen 25:20LEB

"And Isaac was the son of forty years when he took Rebekah."


Some valuable information is provided here. We learn here that Isaac married thirty-five years before Abraham died, that Rebekah was barren for twenty years, and that Abraham would have lived to see Jacob and Esau begin to grow up. The death of Abraham was recorded in the first part of the chapter as a "tidying up" of one generation before beginning the account of the next.


Notes for Gen 25:21LEB

The Hebrew verb עָתַר (’atar), translated "prayed [to]" here, appears in the story of Yahweh's judgment on Egypt in which Moses asked the Yahweh to remove the plagues. The cognate word in Arabic means "to slaughter for sacrifice," and the word is used in Zeph 3:10LEB to describe worshipers who bring offerings. Perhaps some ritual accompanied Isaac’s prayer here.


Notes for Gen 25:22LEB

The Hebrew word used here suggests a violent struggle that was out of the ordinary.


"If [it is] so, why [am] I this [way]?" Rebekah wanted to know what was happening to her, but the question itself reflects a growing despair over the struggle of the unborn children.


Asked the Yahweh. In other passages (e.g., 1 Sam 9:9LEB) this expression refers to inquiring of a prophet, but no details are provided here.


Notes for Gen 25:23LEB

By metonymy the two children in her womb are described as two nations of which the two children, Jacob and Esau, would become the fathers. The language suggests there would be a struggle between these nations, with one being stronger than the other. The oracle reveals that all of Jacob’s scheming was unnecessary in the final analysis. He would have become the dominant nation without using deception to steal his brother’s blessing.


Notes for Gen 25:24LEB

"And her days were filled to give birth."


"look!" By the use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, "look"), the narrator invites the audience to view the scene as if they were actually present at the birth.


Notes for Gen 25:25LEB

Reddish. The Hebrew word translated "reddish" is אַדְמוֹנִי (’admoni), which forms a wordplay on the Edomites, Esau’s descendants. The writer sees in Esau’s appearance at birth a sign of what was to come. After all, the reader has already been made aware of the "nations" that were being born.


"all of him."


Hairy. Here is another wordplay involving the descendants of Esau. The Hebrew word translated "hairy" is שֵׂעָר (sear); the Edomites will later live in Mount Seir, perhaps named for its wooded nature.


"And they called his name Esau." The name "Esau" (עֵשָׂו, ’esav) is not etymologically related to שֵׂעָר (sear), but it draws on some of the sounds.


Notes for Gen 25:26LEB

The disjunctive clause describes an important circumstance accompanying the birth. Whereas Esau was passive at birth, Jacob was active.


"And he called his name Jacob." Some ancient witnesses read "they called his name Jacob" (see v. 25). In either case the subject is indefinite.


The name Jacob is a play on the Hebrew word for "heel" (עָקֵב, ’aqev). The name (since it is a verb) probably means something like "may he protect," that is, as a rearguard, dogging the heels. It did not have a negative connotation until Esau redefined it. This name was probably chosen because of the immediate association with the incident of grabbing the heel. After receiving such an oracle, the parents would have preserved in memory almost every detail of the unusual births.


"the son of sixty years."


Notes for Gen 25:27LEB



The disjunctive clause juxtaposes Jacob with Esau and draws attention to the striking contrasts. In contrast to Esau, a man of the field, Jacob was civilized, as the phrase "living in tents" signifies. Whereas Esau was a skillful hunter, Jacob was calm and even-tempered (תָּם, tam), which normally has the idea of "blameless."


Notes for Gen 25:28LEB

"the taste of game was in his mouth." The word for "game," "venison" is here the same Hebrew word as "hunter" in the last verse. Here it is a metonymy, referring to that which the hunter kills.


The disjunctive clause juxtaposes Rebekah with Jacob and draws attention to the contrast. The verb here is a participle, drawing attention to Rebekah’s continuing, enduring love for her son.


Notes for Gen 25:29LEB

Jacob cooked some stew. There are some significant words and wordplays in this story that help clarify the points of the story. The verb "cook" is זִיד (zid), which sounds like the word for "hunter" (צַיִד, tsayid). This is deliberate, for the hunter becomes the hunted in this story. The word זִיד means "to cook, to boil," but by the sound play with צַיִד it comes to mean "set a trap by cooking." The usage of the word shows that it can also have the connotation of acting presumptuously (as in boiling over). This too may be a comment on the scene. For further discussion of the rhetorical devices in the Jacob narratives, see J. P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art in Genesis (SSN).


Notes for Gen 25:30LEB

The rare term לָעַט (laat), translated "feed," is used in later Hebrew for feeding animals (see Jastrow, 714). If this nuance was attached to the word in the biblical period, then it may depict Esau in a negative light, comparing him to a hungry animal. Famished Esau comes in from the hunt, only to enter the trap. He can only point at the red stew and ask Jacob to feed him.


The verb has no expressed subject and so is given a passive translation.


Esau’s descendants would eventually be called Edom. Edom was the place where they lived, so-named probably because of the reddish nature of the hills. The writer can use the word "red" to describe the stew that Esau gasped for to convey the nature of Esau and his descendants. They were a lusty, passionate, and profane people who lived for the moment. Again, the wordplay is meant to capture the "omen in the nomen."


Notes for Gen 25:31LEB



Notes for Gen 25:32LEB

"And what is this to me, a birthright?"


Notes for Gen 25:33LEB

"Swear to me today."


"and he"; the referent (Esau) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


And sold his birthright. There is evidence from Hurrian culture that rights of inheritance were occasionally sold or transferred. Here Esau is portrayed as a profane person who would at the moment rather have a meal than the right to inherit. He will soon forget this trade and seek his father’s blessing in spite of it.


Notes for Gen 25:34LEB

The style here is typical of Hebrew narrative; after the tension is resolved with the dialogue, the working out of it is recorded in a rapid sequence of verbs ("gave"; "ate"; "drank"; "got up"; "went out"). See also Gen 3:1–7LEB for another example.


So Esau despised his birthright. This clause, which concludes the episode, is a summary statement which reveals the underlying significance of Esau’s actions. "To despise" means to treat something as worthless or with contempt. Esau’s willingness to sell his birthright was evidence that he considered it to be unimportant.