|Topical Bible Study||April 1955|
The People of the Bible
Article IV—Genesis 25:11 through Chapter 35
Isaac, Esau, and Jacob
GENESIS 25:11 reads, “It came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.” Abraham had other children, but in the New Testament Isaac is referred to as “his only begotten son, of whom it was said, that in Isaac shall thy seed by called.” (Heb. 11:17,18) Isaac was born in fulfillment of God’s promise concerning a “seed” that would bless all nations. In Isaac shall thy seed be called,” God said to Abraham, when he grieved over the demand of Sarah that Ishmael, his son by the bondwoman, be cast out.—Gen. 21:12; Rom. 9:7; Heb. 11:18
It is therefore with Isaac and his descendants that the plan of God for the blessing of all nations is associated. Nevertheless, God promised Abraham that he would make a great nation of his son Ishmael, and the genealogy constituting the beginning of that nation is given in Genesis 25:13-18. It is of special interest today, in view of world developments, to know that the descendants of Ishmael form one of the chief elements of the Arab nations, including the wandering Bedouin tribes.
In getting acquainted with the people of the Bible, our principal interest centers in Isaac rather that in Ishmael, for it is in God’s dealing with him and his descendants that we can trace the golden threads of divine promise concerning the ultimate deliverance of mankind from sin and death. In our discussion of God’s dealings with Abraham we found Isaac being offered for sacrifice, thus picturing Christ, whom his Heavenly Father actually gave for the life of the world. The Apostle Paul indicates also that during this age the true followers of Christ (who, together with their Head, Christ Jesus, are the real seed of promise) are pictured in Isaac—“Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.”—Gal. 4:28; 3:27-29
By an arrangement of his father, Abraham, Rebekah (the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham’s brother) became Isaac’s bride. Rebekah, like her mother-in-law, Sarah, was childless for many years after her marriage, and “Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren.” As in Sarah’s case, a miracle was wrought, and Rebekah bore twin boys to Isaac. They were named Jacob and Esau. Before their birth the Lord informed Rebekah what to expect, explaining that “two manner of people” would develop from her twin sons; the one, God said, “shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.”—Gen. 25:23
The firstborn was “red all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.” The second one born was called Jacob, “And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.” (vss. 25-27) Their father, Isaac, who was now well along in years, had a preference for Esau because, as the account indicates, this “cunning hunter” brought him venison steak; “but Rebekah loved Jacob.” Thus was created a situation leading to one of the greatest human interest stories of all time.
Esau, returning from one of his hunting expeditions ravenously hungry, said to Jacob, who had prepared himself a meal of red pottage, “Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage, for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom,” meaning “red.” Jacob, seeing the situation, was quick to grasp an opportunity, and offered to feed his brother in exchange for the birthright, which belonged to Esau, as the firstborn.
Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” (vs. 32) So he sold his birthright for a meal of red pottage—thought to be a sort of lentil soup. The advantage accruing from a birthright was not, in patriarchal days, definitely fixed. Seemingly, great respect was paid to the firstborn in the household. As the family widened into a tribe, this respect grew into a sustained authority, but undefined, save by custom.
Esau evidently did not specially value this, as he considered it an indefinite benefit and was quite willing to give up his birthright for temporary tangible advantage. The record states that he “despised his birthright.” (vs. 34) The Hebrew word here translated “despised” literally means “disesteemed”; that is, he did not esteem it as having worthwhile value comparable to a bowl of lentil soup.
But Jacob thought differently. He was his mother’s favorite son. She was conscious of the fact that God had performed a miracle in enabling her to give birth to these twins, and she would be keenly aware of what the Lord told her before they were born, that the elder (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob). It is reasonable to conclude that she had told Jacob about this message she had received from the Lord, and he, being a man of faith, would be deeply impressed.
Indeed, Abraham, having lived some years after Rebekah married Isaac, probably gave her a firsthand account of God’s wonderful oathbound promise concerning the blessing of all the families of the earth through his “seed.” This information also she no doubt related to Jacob. It is reasonable to suppose, therefore, that both Rebekah and Jacob saw in the family birthright the assurance of being heir to the wonderful promises God had made to Abraham. To them, therefore, and especially to Jacob, who purchased it, the family birthright was not something to esteem lightly, but to value very highly. And, since God had indicated before he was born that he was to be the favored son, why not cooperate and secure the birthright by legitimate purchase?
According to the custom of the times, the parental blessing belonged to the firstborn son. To obtain this special blessing before the father died was a confirmation of the birthright. So, when “Isaac was old and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see,” he asked Esau to take his weapons, his quiver and his bow, and “go out to the field, and take me some venison; and make me savory meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.”—ch. 27:1-4
While the record does not so state, it seems reasonable to conclude that Isaac had not been informed concerning the sale of the birthright to Jacob, else perhaps he would not have arranged to pronounce this special blessing upon Esau. But Esau knew it, and the honorable thing for him to have done would have been to tell his father of the changed circumstances, and thus at least it would have given Isaac the opportunity to decide upon which of the twins to pronounce his special blessing.
But even though Esau did not do this, the mother, Rebekah, was watching over the interests of Jacob, whom she knew the Lord favored and had chosen. She overheard Isaac’s instructions to Esau to bring him venison and receive his blessing; so she instructed Jacob to get “two good kids of the goats; and,” she said, “I will make them savory meat for thy father, such as he loveth.”—ch. 27:1-9
Although Isaac in his old age had lost his eyesight, Jacob explained to his mother that the father would easily detect the deceit when he felt his smooth skin and would know that he was not Esau, who was covered with hair. The mother suggested that he “put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck.” (vs. 16) When Jacob brought the savory meat of the goats to his father, there was some doubt on the old man’s part as to the identity of the one before him, but Jacob insisted that he was Esau, and after some hesitation received his father’s blessing, which in part was, “Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother’s sons bow down to thee: cursed by everyone that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.”—ch. 27:29
Whatever other writers may have said in condemnation of Jacob and his mother in this matter, the inspired writers say nothing. Even before the twins were born God had indicated his selection of Jacob to be the inheritor of the promise made to his grandfather, Abraham. Paul emphasizes this in Romans 9:9-12. There is a definite program of election or selection in the outworking of God’s plan to bless all mankind through the seed of Abraham.
God’s program of election is not one in which he elects certain ones to be saved, and foreordains that all others must suffer an eternity of torture. However, just as in a democracy a few are elected to serve the rest, so in God’s plan he has been electing the future servants of mankind and preparing them to be the channels of his promised blessings to the remainder of the world of mankind.
The Apostle Paul, quoting from Malachi’s prophecy (1:2,3), writes, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” (Rom. 9:13) Prof. Strong suggests that, the Greek word here translated “hated” could, by extension, be construed to mean “loved less.” He gives “detested” as a stronger definition. Esau’s disposition, which the Lord had the ability to know even before he was born, would cause him to be “loved less” by God. The fact that Esau disesteemed his birthright involving God’s promises to Abraham would be sufficient reason for the Lord to be greatly displeased with him.
In Hebrews 12:16,17 the Apostle Paul speaks of Esau as a “profane person, … who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” Paul continues to say that Esau “found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” The marginal translation indicates that here the thought of repentance is the changing of one’s mind. A careful comparison of this text with the account in Genesis 27:33-38 indicates that Esau’s tears were associated with his plea for Isaac to change his mind and give him a blessing even though he had already blessed Jacob. It was Isaac, as the account shows, who could not be persuaded to change his mind.
Because of Esau’s attitude toward the birthright, he has become a symbol of those who esteem earthly advantage above spiritual blessings and are willing to forego their share in the exceeding great and precious promises of the Lord in order to satisfy temporarily their longings for the good things of this earth.
Esau was given the name Edom. His descendants were the Edomites, who are referred to a number of times in the Old Testament Scriptures, both historically and symbolically, in the prophecies pertaining to the end of the present age and the downfall of nominal Christianity.
Jacob’s Enforced Flight
Esau was very wroth with his brother Jacob and was determined that when a suitable opportunity offered he would slay him. Rebekah learned of this and instructed Jacob to leave Canaan and go to her brother’s home in Padan-aram. But she had a deeper purpose in this also, as her later efforts reveal. She complained to Isaac concerning Esau’s wives, who were the daughters of the Canaanite, Heth. She explained that if Jacob should also marry one of his daughters, her life would no longer be worth living.
Then Isaac, exercising the prerogative of a father in that ancient time, instructed Jacob to take one of the daughters of Rebekah’s brother Laban for his wife, adding, “God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people.” (ch. 28:3) With these instructions, and with his blessing, Isaac sent Jacob away to Padan-aram.
At the close of his first day’s journey, Jacob took stones and arranged a bed for himself. He was doubtless somewhat downhearted and discouraged. Falling asleep, he dreamed of seeing a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with “the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” (ch. 28:12) In his dream he saw the Lord standing “above” the ladder, saying to him, “I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”—ch. 28:13,14
After assuring Jacob concerning his inheritance in the land promised to Abraham, and that through his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed, the Lord gave him assurances of personal care and protection, and that he would return to the land from which he was then fleeing. The Lord said, “Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”—vs. 15
“Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! [or how awe-inspiring!] this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (vss. 16,17) Jacob then erected a “pillar,” or an altar, to mark the site, and called the place Bethel, meaning the house of God. Then he promised the Lord that in return for his care and bringing him back to his father’s house he would give him a tenth of all that he gained.
The Ladder Dream
It seems reasonable to conclude that the dream in which Jacob saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, and angels ascending and descending upon it, represented the fulfillment of God’s promise to his grandfather, Abraham, which the next morning was confirmed to him; namely, that through the promised “seed” all the families of the earth would be blessed. One of the fundamental needs, in order that these promised blessings might flow out to the people, is the re-establishment of peace and fellowship between heaven and earth.
In the New Testament Jesus explains how this will be brought about. In an evident reference to the significance of Jacob’s dream he said to Nathanael, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” (John 1:51) Jesus is here saying that he would, in fact, be the “ladder” upon which, or by means of which, communication between heaven and earth would be established.
We are not to think of heaven being literally opened, as Jesus’ statement to Nathanael might imply. Through the Prophet Malachi, God spoke of opening the “windows of heaven” and pouring out a blessing upon the Israelites such as they would not be able to contain. (Mal. 3:10) So the opening of heaven suggests the pouring out of God’s blessings; and in fulfillment of Jacob’s dream the blessings to be poured out upon all the families of the earth are those contained in God’s oathbound covenant with Abraham.
In Galatians 3:16 Paul explains that Christ is the real Seed of Abraham, the means by which his blessings will reach the people when the due time comes for heaven to be opened up for this purpose. So it is in keeping with this that Jesus spoke of himself as being the “ladder” upon which the “angels,” or messengers, of God will convey the promised blessings of heaven to earth.
The true followers of Christ of this age, as we have seen, are also spoken of in the New Testament as being the promised seed of Abraham. They will be the chief messengers, or channels of blessing, as a part of The Christ, which is made up of Jesus, the Head, and the church, his body, or fellow members. It is fitting that Jesus should speak of himself as the ladder in this picture, for it is only because of his redemptive work—giving himself a ransom for all—that the world can be reconciled to God and have the promised blessings communicated to them.
His Journey Continued
After erecting an altar and calling the place Bethel, Jacob “went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of the east.” (Gen. 29:1) The marginal translation says that he “lift up his feet.” This seems significant. Jacob, although he had purchased the birthright from Esau and had obtained the parental blessing which went with the birthright, had not been too happy. The strained relationship between him and Esau had reached crisis proportions, making it necessary for him to flee from the country.
Under these circumstances we can well imagine how Jacob felt that first night away from home. There is no indication in the record that he had received any communication from the Lord since his father had given him his blessing. But what a change was brought about by his dream! Now the Lord had spoken to him, relating to him the promise made to Abraham and to his father, Isaac. If he had had any doubts about the course he had taken, they were gone, and now he knew that the Lord was with him. So, starting on his journey the next morning, it was with lightness of heart and a bouyant step—lifting up his feet, no longer dragging them, as it were, in despondency and fear.
In due course he reached his destination. There were no special landmarks or road signs to guide him, but Jacob assumed that he was near Haran, where his Uncle Laban lived. He saw shepherds watching their sheep near a covered well. He spoke to the shepherds and learned that they were from Haran, the place he was seeking. He found that they knew his uncle, and even while they were talking, Rachel, one of his uncle’s daughters, came to the well with another flock of sheep to be watered.
Jacob’s mother had no doubt told him the circumstances under which Eliezer met her at a well, and now that he had met his possible future wife, the niece of his mother, also at a well, he was probably quite impressed. But the account indicates that he was equally impressed with Rachel herself.
Laban welcomed his nephew into his home, where he remained as a guest for a month, evidently doing what he could meanwhile to serve his uncle. No doubt he had made known his reason for leaving Canaan, and that his desire was to remain with his uncle, at least for a while. Then Laban suggested some “wages” that Jacob should receive for his work.
He agreed at once to serve Laban seven years in return for Rachel, that he might have her for his wife. Laban agreed, but at the end of the seven years, because Leah, an older daughter, was not yet married, Laban found himself in a difficult position. According to the custom of the time and of the land, it was not proper to give a younger daughter in marriage while an older one remained unwed. So the only solution Laban could think of was to give Leah, the older daughter, to Jacob, instead of Rachel, which he did.
But Jacob was not satisfied and agreed to work another seven years for the girl he really loved. Then he had both of them, which according to the custom of that time was not improper. Besides, each one of the daughters was given a handmaid, and, as in the case of Abraham and Hagar, circumstances arose which led Jacob’s wives to give their handmaids to their husband to bear children for them. The four mothers bore Jacob thirteen children—twelve sons and one daughter, the daughter’s name being Dinah. We will later get acquainted with the sons.
After eleven of his sons had been born, Jacob felt that he had remained in Padan-aram long enough, so he asked his uncle and father-in-law, Laban, to let him return to his people in Canaan. He said, “Send me away, that I may go unto my own place, and to my country. Give me my wives and my children, for whom I have served thee, and let me go: for thou knowest my service which I have done thee.”—ch. 30:25,26
Actually, Jacob had served much longer than the fourteen years, but he was evidently an efficient servant, and Laban preferred that he remain, and offered to enter into a new contract with him. This was done, and Jacob prospered under the arrangement so that he became wealthy in flocks and herds. Laban did not fare so well, and his sons complained. Jacob overheard them saying, “Jacob hath taken away all that was our father’s.”—ch. 31:1
Jacob also noticed that Laban was not as pleasant to him as he had been. About then the Lord spoke to Jacob again, saying, “Return unto the land of thy fathers, and to thy kindred; and I will be with thee.” (ch. 31:3) Jacob then consulted with Rachel and Leah, and although it meant the breaking of home ties for them, they indicated their willingness to go with Jacob back to Canaan, and that he should do just as God had directed.
While Jacob was prospering in Padan-aram, he considered the promises of God of greater value than earthly riches, so when God directed that he return to Canaan he did not hesitate to obey. Previously, when he decided, apart from God’s direction, that it was time to leave Padan-aram he informed Laban of his decision, but Laban influenced him to remain for another six years. But now that God had directed him to return to his people in Canaan there must be no holding back, no postponement, so he purposely did not tell his father-in-law that he was leaving.
Three days after Jacob had left, taking his wives, children, and all his earthly possessions with him, Laban heard about it. Then Laban “took his brethren with him, and pursued after him seven days’ journey; and they overtook him in the mount Gilead.” It was a critical time for Jacob. Not only was Laban angry because his son-in-law had fled, but Laban had discovered that someone in the company had stolen his idols.
It was Rachel who took her father’s idols. The fact that this family worshiped idols indicates that Abraham must have been almost the only one among them who worshiped and served the true God. Apparently during the years Jacob had been in close contact with the family they had not been influenced by him to give up their idols.
A heated controversy took place in mount Gilead between Jacob and Laban. Jacob finally said, “Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty.” (ch. 31:42) Laban then proposed that they enter into a covenant of peace, which they did, and they erected a heap of stones to be a witness between them. Then Laban said, “This heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Therefore was the name of it called Galeed; and Mizpah, for he said, The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another.”—ch. 31:48,49
The next morning Laban, bidding farewell to his daughters and their families, returned to Padan-aram, and Jacob “went on his way, and the angels of God met him,” we are told. “And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim.”—ch. 32:1,2
Jacob had fled from Canaan because of the anger of Esau, whose birthright he had purchased and whose special blessing he had obtained from their father through deceit. Now that he was returning he realized that he would have Esau to deal with, or as Jacob stated it, to “appease.” (ch. 32:20) Perhaps Jacob was overly concerned; for actually, entering Canaan at mount Gilead, Esau, who lived at mount Seir, would be about one hundred miles to the south.
However, Jacob probably reasoned that Esau would eventually learn that he had returned to Canaan and he decided that he would seek a reconciliation at once. So he sent messengers to his brother, instructing them to say to him, “I have sojourned with Laban, and stayed there until now: and I have oxen and asses, flocks, and menservants, and women servants: and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find grace in thy sight.”—vss. 4,5
The messengers returned to Jacob after delivering his message and reported that Esau was coming to meet him, accompanied by four hundred men. In the New Testament we are told that “fear hath torment,” and Jacob, being fearful of Esau, imagined the worst; that is, he supposed that his brother was bringing the four hundred men as an army to attack and destroy him.
Thereupon he divided his little company of people into two groups, hoping thus that while one group was being attacked the other could escape. Then Jacob prayed earnestly to the Lord for help and protection. In his prayer he addressed the Lord as the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, “which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee.” Jacob added in his prayer that he was not worthy of all the blessings the Lord had bestowed upon him, but since the Lord had said, “I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude,” he was now pleading for divine protection in this crisis.
Jacob made elaborate preparations to appease Esau. He arranged with his servants to take Esau presents—“two hundred she goats, and twenty he goats, two hundred ewes, and twenty rams, thirty milch camels with their colts, forty kine, and ten bulls, twenty she asses, and ten foals.” This number of domestic animals to be sent as presents to Esau gives an indication of what Jacob’s total possessions must have been.
Jacob sent his wives and family “over the brook” ahead of him, while he remained alone the night before he was to meet his brother, “and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.” Apparently this “man” was a materialized angel, a representative of the Lord. The generally accepted thought is that Jacob wrestled with the angel in prayer, although there was apparently also a physical struggle.
With the coming of morning the angel said to Jacob, “Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” The angel then told Jacob that his name would be changed to Israel, which means “a prince of God,” the angel’s explanation being, “as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”—ch. 32:24-29
The angel, while wrestling with Jacob, touched his thigh “and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.” Jacob was greatly impressed, and he called the name of the place “Peniel,” meaning “the face of God,” for, he said, “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” (ch. 32:30) The Scriptures state that “there shall no man see me [God], and live.” (Exod. 33:20) Jacob saw the angel of the Lord, and it was a marvelous experience. He can be excused for saying, in his enthusiasm, that he had seen God himself.
The next morning the much feared meeting with Esau took place, and Jacob was greatly relieved. He was very happy to learn that his brother had no evil intentions toward him. In fact, it was only after much persuasion by Jacob that Esau accepted the presents the servants had brought ahead with which to appease him. Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.”—ch. 33:1-11
Esau had left Canaan and was living beyond the southern border of the Promised Land. He realized that his father Isaac’s blessing upon Jacob had not enriched him in earthly goods—that whatever he had gained of wealth had come to him outside of the land which God had promised to their grandfather Abraham and their father Isaac. Having little or no faith in the future aspects of the birthright, Esau probably now reasoned that he had lost nothing, hence there was no good reason to hold enmity against Jacob.
After the meeting, Esau invited Jacob to accompany him back to mount Seir. But this was not what the Lord had commanded, so Jacob made the excuse that with all the cattle, and the women and children, they could not travel as fast as Esau with his four hundred men, so he suggested that his brother journey on ahead and he would follow the best he could.
Actually, however, after Esau started on his return journey south, Jacob traveled west, stopping temporarily at “Succoth,” and then on to Shechem, a place about thirty-five miles north of Jerusalem. Here he bought a plot of land and erected an altar and called it El-elohe-lsrael, meaning “God, the God of Israel,” or, “the mighty God of Israel.”—Dr. Strong
Circumstances developed in Shechem which made it necessary to move on, and “God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.” (ch. 35:1) Jacob then instructed his household to dispose of the idols which were brought from Padan-aram, and they moved on to Bethel.
Arriving in Bethel, Jacob built the altar which the Lord had commanded. It was at Bethel, it will be recalled, that Abraham built an altar soon after he entered Canaan. It was here also that Jacob more than twenty years previously had in a dream seen a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, with angels ascending and descending upon it. Now, by the keeping power of God, and in harmony with his gracious providences, Jacob was back at Bethel.
Here at Bethel the Lord renewed his promise concerning the land, adding that “a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.” (vs. 11) Here also God confirmed the word of the angel that Jacob’s name was to be changed to Israel.
In Genesis 17:5 God promised Abraham that he would be a father of many nations. The promise to Jacob implies the same thing. In the expression “company of nations” the Hebrew word translated “company” means an assemblage, or multitude. In God’s original promise to Abraham he said that in him “all families of the earth” would be blessed. The Apostle Paul quotes this and translates it “all nations.”—Gal. 3:8
Paul indicates the marvelous manner in which this promise to Abraham and Isaac will be fulfilled in so far as the “many nations” are concerned. He says, “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.” “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the Law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.”—Rom. 4:13,16,17
The faith seed of Abraham, called out from Jews and Gentiles during the Gospel Age, will constitute a spiritual, “holy nation”—under Christ, the ruling nation of earth for a thousand years. (I Pet. 2:9,10) The human representatives of this spiritual ruling nation will be the resurrected Ancient Worthies, who will establish the earthly phase of the kingdom in Jerusalem.
There the natural descendants of Abraham, having been regathered miraculously from among all nations, will be given the first opportunity to receive the blessings of the new kingdom and to cooperate therewith. As the news of the kingdom spreads, the peoples of other nations will fall in line until all the families, or nations, of the earth shall recognize the authority of the new kingdom and receive the blessings of life promised through the spiritual seed of Abraham. He will then be “father Abraham” to all nations.
After the confirmation of the covenant, Jacob journeyed to Ephrath. His wife Rachel died on this journey—died giving birth to his youngest son, Benjamin. Finally he moved on to Mamre, “unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.”—ch. 35:16,17
Many years had passed since Jacob had left home to escape the wrath of Esau. Even at that time Isaac, his father, was an old man, and blind, but he was still living when Jacob returned. Nothing is said of their meeting, however. The last word we have concerning Isaac is that he died at the age of 180, that he “gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people.” Esau and Jacob buried him.
The biblical expression, “gave up the ghost,” simply means that he ceased breathing, the word ghost being a translation of a Hebrew word meaning breath, or wind. As we have noted, Isaac’s people to whom he was gathered were for the most part idol worshipers. We would not expect them to be in heaven, nor could we suppose that Isaac joined them in a place of torment. The expression simply denotes that they were all together in death. Job gives us the proper thought, saying, “There the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest.”—Job 3:11-21