Genesis Chapters 23, 24, & 25

Chapter 23

Sarah’s death and burial could have been summed up in a few sentences and maybe a eulogy for her, but it’s all about Abraham trying to buy a field from the Hittites, where he lived as an alien. They offer him any land that he wants, so he asks for Ephron son of Zohar so he could get the sweet spot with a cave. Ephron gives it to him, but it sounds like an argument because Abraham insists on paying for it. They strike a deal and Abraham has himself a cave.

Judging by the translation, this story was a poem or a song in the original Hebrew. That explains the peculiar structure and the refrain of many of the lines. I still stand by my assertion that something should have been said about Sarah.

Chapter 24

Abraham is old. He makes his servant swear an oath that he will find Isaac a wife, but he can’t find the bride-to-be in the land of Canaan. Instead, he must venture back to Abraham’s homeland. The servant traveled there, came up with the contrived criteria that would determine the correct woman, Rebekah fit said criteria, he put a (nose) ring on it, paid off her family and she went with him. She met Isaac for the first time, they went into his mother’s tent, yada yada yada, they’re married.

I glossed over the story because it’s a lot of filler and repetition. The servant states his plan, then the plan work out perfectly, and then he recounts the plan and the outcome to her family. This is either bad writing or another poem/song.

The details leading up to this include the servant swearing an oath to Abraham which ends with the servant putting his hand “under Abraham’s thigh” which means “touched his junk” which is the way oaths were sworn. According to the Oxford Bible Commentary, this would be the equivalent of swearing one’s life. I just hope that biblical literalists don’t want to bring this tradition back.

This is the longest chapter in Genesis and is also the influence for the start of a new series of Saturday Sermons about “biblical marriage”. I won’t talk much about it here except to comment that the Bible will never be accused of being a romance novel.

Chapter 25

Abraham marries [takes] another wife and has six more boys and probably an untold number of girls which, naturally, is not talked about. He gave everything he had to Isaac and gave the other kids gifts and sent them to the east away from Isaac.

Abraham dies at the age of one hundred seventy-five and Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave that he bought at the beginning of this post. God blessed Isaac and then we get a genealogy of Ishmael, because those are thrilling to read.

Apparently, God can’t point in the general direction of a woman who isn’t barren and requires divine intervention. Anyway, Rebekah gets pregnant with twins and is told that she has two nations in her womb (that can’t be pleasant) and that the older one will serve the younger. Esau was born first and came out all hairy while Jacob followed on his heel (he was gripping Esau’s heel when he was born). Esau, who Isaac loved, was a hunter while Jacob, who Rebekah loved, was the quiet type. I really hope that the parents loved the other boy as well, because that would be poor parenting.

So one day, Esau was out hunting and came home to find Jacob cooking and sold his birthright for a bowl of stew in one of the most anticlimactic scenes so far:

Esau: I’m hungry, give me some stew.

Jacob: Sell me your birthright.

Esau: I’m really hungry…okay.

…and scene. We are now halfway through the book of Genesis.