Ishmael fathered twelve sons who became the princes of twelve nations. He died at the age of one hundred thirty-seven years in the area east of Egypt toward Assyria.
Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah. After Rebekah had been barren with no children for nearly twenty years, God heard Isaac’s prayers and granted his plea. Rebekah conceived. As she felt a strong struggling within her womb, she inquired of the Lord as to why she was like that. God replied to her, “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.”
Esau being the firstborn son was an automatic heir of his father’s estate. Years later, the prophecy of God began to take shape as Esau came in from the field in a great state of hunger. In a time of weakness, he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentils (pea soup). This led to continued animosity between the two brothers. This animosity between their descendants continues even today.
The partiality of Isaac toward Esau and Rebekah’s toward Jacob only added fuel to the flame of contention between the brothers.
Due to a famine in Canaan, Isaac and Rebekah went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar. God instructed Isaac to stay in the land of the Philistines instead of going farther into Egypt.
At that time, God made the same promise to Isaac that He had made to Abraham. He promised blessings and lands to him and to his descendants. His descendants would, “Multiply as the stars of heaven…and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
God blessed Isaac with bountiful crops, flocks and servants. This produced envy among the Philistines—to the point that they filled the wells of Abraham with earth. Abimelech then said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”
After a series of moves, Isaac settled in Beersheba. Abimelech realized that God was with Isaac and came to him to make a treaty. They did swear an oath with one another and separated in peace.
As sometimes happens today, Esau’s marriage was not pleasing to his parents. He married two daughters of the Hittites, “And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.”
It was customary for a father approaching death to make a legal transfer of his birthright/property to the eldest son. Isaac called Esau and asked that he hunt wild game and prepare for him a special meal. Rebekah overheard the conversation and instructed Jacob to kill two kids and she would prepare the special meal for his father.
The blatant lies and deception that followed were successful and Jacob received the blessing that rightfully belonged to the firstborn son. When the truth was discovered, it was too late to retract the blessing. Esau hated his brother and determined that, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” Rebekah warned Jacob of the impending danger and sent him away to her brother, Laban at Haran.
God did not condone the actions of Rebekah and Jacob, but with His foreknowledge, He used this to carry out His plan of eventually sending Jesus to save His people.