In time, Abraham married another woman named Keturah. Keturah gave birth to additional children: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Jokshan fathered Sheba and Dedan. Dedan’s sons were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. Midian’s sons were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All of these were Keturah’s children and grandchildren. In the end, though, Abraham gave everything he owned to Isaac. To the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still alive. But then he sent them away to the east, far away from what would now be his son Isaac’s household.
Abraham lived a total of 175 years. By the time Abraham took his last breath and joined his ancestors in death, he had reached a ripe old age and had lived a full life. His sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him in the cave of Machpelah in the field of Ephron (the son of Zohar the Hittite) to the east of Mamre. This was the field Abraham had purchased from the Hittites. Here he was buried with his wife Sarah by his side. After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac settled into his home at Beer-lahai-roi.
This is how the lineage of the two brothers progressed. Ishmael, Abraham’s son born to Hagar the Egyptian (Sarah’s slave girl), fathered sons in this order: Nebaioth (his firstborn), Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These are the names of Ishmael’s 12 sons; they became the princes of 12 villages and camps named after them. Ishmael lived to the age of 137. When he breathed his last and died, he joined his ancestors in death. His descendants settled into the regions from Havilah to Shur, opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria. They lived on the fringes of civilization, at odds with all his relatives.
This is the lineage of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham was of course his father, and Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah (the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, sister of Laban the Aramean). Isaac prayed to the Eternal One on behalf of his wife because she wasn’t becoming pregnant. The Eternal granted his prayer, and Rebekah conceived after 20 years. But the children she carried struggled and fought with each other until, in great pain, she exclaimed, “What is going on? Why is this happening to me?” In frustration she inquired of the Eternal One why this civil war was occurring inside of her.
Eternal One (to Rebekah): Two nations are growing inside of your womb,
and the two peoples will be divided in the future.
One will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.
When it was time for Rebekah to give birth, she saw that she was carrying twins. The first came out red—his entire body like a hairy blanket—so they named him Esau. His brother followed with his hand clutching Esau’s heel, so they named him Jacob. Isaac was 60 years old when Rebekah gave birth to the twins.
When the boys grew up, they could not have been more different. Esau became a skillful hunter and preferred to be outdoors. Jacob, on the other hand, grew up to be a contemplative man, content to stay at home. Esau was Isaac’s favorite because he was fond of good meat, but Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite.
One day, while Jacob was cooking a stew for dinner, Esau came in from the field. He was tired and hungry.
Esau (to Jacob): Please let me have some of that red stew you have there. I’m famished!
(That’s why he was nicknamed Edom, which means “red.”)
Jacob sees Esau’s weakness and decides to take advantage of the situation.
Jacob: First, you have to sell me your birthright.
Esau: Look! I am about to die of starvation! What good is my birthright to me if I am dead?
Jacob: Swear to me first!
And so Esau swore to Jacob and handed over his rights as the firstborn son. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate and drank. When he was satisfied, Esau went his way as if nothing had happened. Esau treated his valuable birthright contemptuously.