>< v.19-23 Answered prayers and a covenant
After 20 years of marriage, Yitz’chak prayed to God for his wife Rivkah, who was barren like Sarah before her. God heeded his prayer and Rivkah became pregnant. The twins fought inside her body and she would rather die than live with that sort of conflict.
In verse 23 God made a covenant with Rivkah:: “the older will serve the younger”
>< v.24-28 Twins born together ‘Esav came from the womb first, and grabbing his heel, Ya’akov came second. ‘Esav, the hunter, (tsayid) was Yitz’chak’s favourite and Ya’akov, the domesticated, peaceful (tam) one, was Rivkah’s favourite.
The physical firstborn of Yitz’chak, ‘Esav, is parallel to Yishma’el, the physical firstborn of Avraham. The spiritual firstborn of Yitz’chak, Ya’akov, is parallel to Yitz’chak, the spiritual firstborn of Avraham and the future carrier of the covenant promises.
>< v.29-34 A birthright sold for red lentil stew Ya’akov takes the opportunity to make a deal to get the birthright of the firstborn. This birthright refers to the eldest son’s role as chief inheritor of his father’s estate, as well as the head of the family and clan when the father died. ‘Esav totally despised his inheritance and his future role in his family, which included the covenant given to Avraham and Yitz’chak.
>< v.1-5 YHWH va-yerah’ The LORD appeared [Heb. Va-yomer refers to divine speech, audible word, divine intervention] and confirms the Abrahamic Covenant with Yitz’chak, stressing the same 3 elements: land, seed, and blessing. He makes honourable mention of Avraham’s obedient response to all of God’s words. Although Avraham was commended for his deeds, the Abrahamic Covenant was an unconditional covenant grounded in God’s sovereign will.
>< v.6-11 Like father, like son Yitz’chak settles in G’rar and tells Avimelekh that Rivkah is his sister, for fear that the P’lishtim might kill him and take her, because she was so beautiful. God didn’t reveal the relationship of the husband and wife this time, the king just happened to look out his window to find them caressing, indicative of
marriage and intimacy. Avimelekh, a pagan king, imposing death on anyone troubling Yitz’chak or Rivkah suggests God was at work to preserve His chosen seed.
>< v.12-22 Well matters Yitz’chak farmed some land in G’rar. He grew richer and more prosperous, becoming a very wealthy man. His efforts were blessed by God, but envied by the P’lishtim. The jealous men stopped up the wells dug up by Avraham’s servants, by plugging them with dirt. Plugging someone’s wells was ruinous to them and was seen as serious aggression, often leading to war. Yitz’chak could’ve retaliated, but instead he dug up new wells.
Yitz’chak’s servants even dug in the vadi (dried up riverbed) and uncovered a spring of water…which is not what one would expect to find in the vadi.
**Notice the significance of the wells being named for what transpired there: ‘Esek (quarrel); Sitnah (enmity); Rechovot (wide open spaces; room enough).
>< v.23-33 Blessing and truce God offers some comfort and encouragement with this abbreviated reaffirmation of the Abrahamic Covenant as Yitz’chak faced envy, quarrel and hostility.
Avimelekh and Pikhol come to Yitz’chak acknowledging the favour of ADONAI over him. So the king, his friend as a witness, and the commander of the army seek out a treaty with Yitz’chak. They believed Yitz’chak to be superior and stronger than themselves and a possible threat. Yitz’chak, on the other hand, perceived them as hostile. The outcome was most desirable for both—peace between them.
They ratify the covenant with a banquet, as they sit at a table and share a prepared feast, breaking bread together, signifying that they agree to live in peace with one another. The next morning, Yitz’chak’s servants dug up a well and found water. He called the well Shiv’ah (oath; seven) and there the city was named Be’er-Sheva (well of seven; well of an oath). This is significant as this is the very same place where his father Avraham had made an oath with another Avimelekh and Pikhol 90 years earlier when Avraham had named Be’er-Sheva.
>< v.34-35 ‘Esav takes two wives ‘Esav’s choice of wives from among the neighbouring Hittite women saddened his parents. His action had deliberately ignored the standard set by Avraham for Yitz’chak.