In a recent discussion with Gordon, the LW President, about how to make this JLW website more appealing to Jews and non-Jews alike, he reminded me that the Church of the Lords’ Witnesses is one of very few churches that believes in universal salvation. What does this mean? It means you do not have to be a baptised Lords’ Witness to be saved. You do not have to be a Jew or a Christian to be saved. You do not even have to believe in God to be saved!
Whilst writing this paper, in the light of the above understanding, it struck me that this work had already been done and can be found in Basic Belief 1 - Hell is a Sin Bin and Basic Belief 2 - 75% Saved Into The Kingdom. Having written much of the paper prior to this recollection, I first thought to cease work on it and move on to the next topic of interest. However, I had learnt much from my work of looking at the early patriarchs and their family issues, that I thought it would make a worthwhile alternative slant on the topic. Hence you will find the current paper reviewing Abraham’s and Isaac’s families with particular emphasis on their uncovenanted sons.
The First Jew
The LWs believe, as all Christian churches should, that true faith in Jehovah begins with the Jews. So, who is the first Jew of the bible? By Jew here I do not mean Jew in name but Jew by faith. Clearly this must be Abraham, a descendent of Noah through many generations. God’s first communication to Abram (as he was then called) tells us much before we really get started on the subject:
1 And Jehovah had said to Abram, Go out from your land and from your kindred, and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you.
2 And I will make of you a great nation. And I will bless you and make your name great; and you will be a blessing.
3 And I will bless those who bless you, and curse the one despising you. And in you all families of the earth shall be blessed. (Genesis 12 GLT)
God tells Abram to leave his home to seek a new land that God will lead him to. If that is not a marker for the first Jew, I do not know what is! The nation referred to is the nation of Israel, from his descendent Jacob:
18 In that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (Genesis 15 ASV)
28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. (Genesis 32 KJV)
17 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 11 ASV)
And then we have the first inkling of universal salvation when God tells Abram that ‘all’ the families of the earth will be blessed through him, not just those of his physical nation Israel. In Genesis 17, God makes His covenant with Abram to confirm what he already had told him about his seed:
2 and I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you very much.
3 And Abram fell on his face. And God spoke with him, saying,
4 As for Me, behold, My covenant [is] with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.
5 And your name no longer shall be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham. For I have made you a father of many nations. (Genesis 17 GLT)
Here we have the confirmation that Abraham would be the father of many nations, not just the one. The name change underwrites this; the Hebrew for ‘Abram’ means ‘high father’ whereas the Hebrew for ‘Abraham’ means ‘father of a multitude’. The multitude was further confirmed after Abraham offered up his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God:
17 that blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which [is] on the shore of the sea. And your Seed shall possess the gate of His enemies.
18 And in your Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because you have obeyed My voice. (Genesis 22 GLT)
To establish God’s covenant with Abraham, he was to get all the males in his household circumcised down through the generations that would form the future Jewish nation:
9 And God said unto Abraham, And as for thee, thou shalt keep my covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations.
10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt me and you.
12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner that is not of thy seed. (Genesis 17 ASV)
That Abraham was the father of the Jews is confirmed in the gospels. These Jews to whom Jesus spoke, being His Jewish disciples, starts to confirm that Abraham will become the father of Christians and gentiles also:
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, If you continue in My Word, you are truly My disciples.
32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
33 They answered Him, We are Abraham's seed, and we have been in slavery to no one, never! How do You say, You will become free? (John 8 GLT)
And further confirmed by Peter to the first century Jews:
25 You are sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God appointed to our fathers, saying to Abraham, "Even in your Seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed." [Gen. 22:18] (Acts 3 GLT)
And finally by Paul to the Roman congregation:
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: (Romans 2 KJV)
Paul’s epistles to the Hebrews and the congregation at Galatea tells us that the Abrahamic covenant was based on the latter’s faith in God through his heirs in looking for the home that was to be provided by God Himself, the Kingdom of God:
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he became a sojourner in the land of promise, as in a [land] not his own, dwelling in tents, with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 for he looked for the city which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11 ASV)
7 know, then, that those of faith, these are sons of Abraham.
8 And the Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the nations by faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham: "All the nations will be blessed" "in you." [Gen. 12:3]
9 So that those of faith are blessed with the faithful Abraham. (Galatians 3 GLT)
Matthew provides an initial very succinct couple of verses on Abraham’s main covenanted descendants:
1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren; (Matthew 1 KJV)
Now Abraham had another son, Ishmael, through Sarah’s maidservant, Hagar:
15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael. (Genesis 16 KJV)
So, we have:
28 The sons of Abraham; Isaac, and Ishmael. (1 Chronicles 1 KJV)
While God confirmed His covenant through Isaac, He also promised to bless Ishmael from whom he would make a great nation. This also tells us, whilst the covenanted ones will represent God’s chosen people, that Ishmael’s offspring will not be without a promise:
19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, [and] with his seed after him.
20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation.
21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year. (Genesis 17 KJV)
12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he [is] thy seed. (Genesis 21 KJV)
God confirmed His promise to Isaac, that He had made to his father Abraham, by giving his seed control over all the lands and blessing all the world’s nations through his seed:
3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; (Genesis 26 KJV)
Isaac represents the covenanted seed of Abraham. Ishmael, whilst blessed by God, does not. However the Hebrew meaning for the name of 'Ishmael' is 'God will hear', so Ishmael and his descendants are not without some importance to Jehovah. Ishmael is also described as a divisive seed against his fellow men:
11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her: 'Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son; and thou shalt call his name Ishmael, because the LORD hath heard thy affliction.
12 And he shall be a wild ass of a man: his hand shall be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the face of all his brethren.' (Genesis 16 JPS)
So how do we interpret this scripture? Well, we will need to go outside of the scriptures to determine this. Islamic texts attribute the Moslem religion to the non-covenanted son of Abraham, Ishmael: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishmael_in_Islam and https://slife.org/ishmael-in-islam/. Regardless of one’s own personal perspective, I think it is undeniable that Islam and the Judo/Christian religions have been locked in warfare and contention through the ages since Islam was established by Muhammad in the 7th century: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad. Consequently, I think it fair to say this prophetic statement in Genesis 16 has been proven correct down to the current day. Whilst not wishing to get ahead of myself, I think one point we can make, at this stage, is that all faithful Christians, Jews and Muslims will be saved into God’s Kingdom (Basic Belief 1 - Hell is a Sin Bin and Basic Belief 2 - 75% Saved Into The Kingdom).
Ishmael, and therefore I must assume Islam, was important to God since He performed a miracle to keep him alive and was clearly looking after his well-being in his formative years:
14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave [it] unto Hagar, putting [it] on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
15 And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
16 And she went, and sat her down over against [him] a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against [him], and lift up her voice, and wept.
17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he [is].
18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.
20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt. (Genesis 21 KJV)
So, if Abraham was father to the Jewish nation, then he was also father to the nations of Islam since Muslims as well as Jews have it in the Law and/or tradition to circumcise their male offspring (https://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/islamethics/malecircumcision.shtml):
23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house; and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him.
24 And Abraham [was] ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.
25 And Ishmael his son [was] thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. (Genesis 17 KJV)
Interestingly, the Old Testament presents a physical but symbolic profile of Abraham’s spiritual heirs that were yet to come. Paul compares the early Christian congregation to Isaac and explicitly not to Ishmael:
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him [that was born] after the Spirit, even so [it is] now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. (Galatians 4 KJV)
So, this raised the question in my mind ‘Is Islam’s Allah the same God as Jehovah?’. The clear answer to this is ’no’! The Quran states that Allah did not have a son whereas the bible states that Jehovah’s son was named Jesus and that all salvation is through Him. Check out: https://amazingdiscoveries.org/blog/allah-god-jehovah/. Consequently, one can only believe that Islam is a false religion but one that contains many devout Moslems that, according to LW understandings, will be saved into God’s Kingdom and will therefore be uncovenanted descendants of Abraham. This would be the ultimate blessing of Jehovah on the seed of Ishmael.
Just to complete the picture of Abraham’s seed, we also have his children by his concubine Keturah, who seems to have become his wife after Sarah died. He was keen to separate them from his covenanted son, Isaac, thereby sending them away to the East with gifts rather than a true inheritance. This would be further evidence of Abraham’s fathering many nations, although these ones were not said to have been blessed:
1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name [was] Keturah.
2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.
3 And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.
4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these [were] the children of Keturah.
5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.
6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country. (Genesis 25 KJV)
Similarly, to his father, Isaac had two sons Esau and Jacob, albeit twins of the same mother. Again, two nations would be established through their seed. As in the previous section, Isaac would continue as the covenanted seed but it would seem, from the following scripture, that the baton would be passed to Jacob as the younger twin and the father of the stronger of the two people:
23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations [are] in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and [the one] people shall be stronger than [the other] people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, [there were] twins in her womb.
25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac [was] threescore years old when she bare them. (Genesis 25 KJV)
However, as in the case of Abraham, Isaac blessed both his sons thereby suggesting that Esau’s seed would also be included in God’s salvation plan albeit without a specific covenant:
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. (Hebrews 11 KJV)
Well, despite Isaac’s blessing, God did not have such a positive view of Esau; this is pretty strong stuff. As far as I am aware, nowhere in the Bible does God say that He hates anyone else by name. God normally reserves His hatred for unrighteous behaviour or things but not individuals. Clearly Esau has a special, if unenviable, place in God’s eyes:
2 I have loved you, saith Jehovah. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother, saith Jehovah: yet I loved Jacob;
3 but Esau I hated, and made his mountains a desolation, and [gave] his heritage to the jackals of the wilderness. (Malachi 1 ASV)
Isaac clearly passed the covenant he had received from his father, Abraham, on to his younger son. Through marriage Isaac wanted to protect Jacob’s blood line from the local population, which did not recognise Jehovah as their God:
1 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
2 Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother.
3 And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people;
4 And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.
5 And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother. (Genesis 28 KJV)
And just in case of doubt, God confirmed His promises to Jacob in a dream, further confirming Jacob as the covenanted seed that would bless all the families of the world:
13 And, behold, Jehovah stood above it, and said, I am Jehovah, the 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.
14 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. (Genesis 28 ASV)
Once again, and not in a dream, God also changed Jacob’s name to be that of Israel, the covenanted nation that he would spawn:
10 And God said unto him, Thy name [is] Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.
11 And God said unto him, I [am] God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;
12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. (Genesis 35 KJV)
God confirms the nation of Israel as His own possession in His Law:
55 For unto me the children of Israel are servants; they are my servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am Jehovah your God. (Leviticus 25 ASV)
42 Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. (Leviticus 26 KJV)
And God made it clear to Moses that His people did indeed come through Jacob’s blood line:
6 Moreover he said, I [am] the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. (Exodus 3 KJV)
3 And Moses went up unto God, and Jehovah called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: (Exodus 19 ASV)
Moses confirmed God’s message to His people in terms of His covenant for the promised land and the multitude of the patriarchs’ seed:
8 Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which Jehovah sware unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
9 And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone:
10 Jehovah your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (Deuteronomy 1 ASV)
Again, reprised by the prophet Ezra and King David:
13 O ye seed of Israel his servant, Ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
14 He is Jehovah our God; His judgments are in all the earth.
15 Remember his covenant for ever, The word which he commanded to a thousand generations,
16 [The covenant] which he made with Abraham, And his oath unto Isaac,
17 And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a statute, To Israel for an everlasting covenant,
18 Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, The lot of your inheritance; (1 Chronicles 16 ASV)
6 O ye seed of Abraham his servant, Ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones.
7 He is Jehovah our God: His judgments are in all the earth.
8 He hath remembered his covenant for ever, The word which he commanded to a thousand generations,
9 [The covenant] which he made with Abraham, And his oath unto Isaac,
10 And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a statute, To Israel for an everlasting covenant,
11 Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, The lot of your inheritance; (Psalms 105 ASV)
4 For Jehovah has chosen Jacob to Himself, Israel for His special treasure. (Psalms 135 GLT)
It must be mentioned though that even the sons of Israel were punished when they did not follow God’s laws. A covenant is a contract whereby both sides must meet their obligations. Consequently, God ceased His blessing on them when they flagrantly broke their side of the bargain, as many of the house of Jacob did in the fullness of time. These ones are unlikely to be saved into the Kingdom without their showing genuine contrition for the error of their ways:
6 For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled from the east, and are spirit-knowers like the Philistines. And they clap [hands] with children of foreigners. (Isaiah 2 GLT)
8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord Jehovah are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; save that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith Jehovah.
9 For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, like as [grain] is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least kernel fall upon the earth. (Amos 9 ASV)
10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, The evil shall not overtake nor meet us. (Amos 9 ASV)
Jesus Himself commented that gentiles would be saved in preference to the Pharisees:
10 When Jesus heard [it], he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8 KJV)
Paul provides a very good explanation in that Israel represents a spiritual, not a physical nation:
4 who are Israelites, whose [are] the adoption and the glory, and the covenants, and the Lawgiving, and the service, and the promises;
5 whose [are] the fathers, and from whom [is] the Christ according to flesh, He being God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
6 Not, however, that God's Word has failed. For not all those of Israel [are] Israel,
7 nor because they are Abraham's seed [are] all children, but "In Isaac a Seed shall be called to you." [Gen. 21:12]
8 That is: Not the children of flesh [are] children of God, but the children of the promise [are] counted for a seed. (Romans 9 GLT)
Anyway, enough on Jacob who clearly carried Abraham’s covenant through his seed. But what of Esau? Well as I noted in the previous section, God had some pretty strong words for His view of Esau, despite Isaac’s own blessing, which are reprised here in Paul’s epistle for good measure. It makes it plain that all our fates are sealed even before we are born. God knows who we will be in our hearts before birth and He certainly had a dim view of Esau before his birth, placing him in subservience to his (slightly) younger twin from the get go:
11 for [the children] not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of the [One] calling,
12 it was said to her, "The greater shall serve the lesser;" [Gen. 25:23]
13 even as it has been written, "I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau." [Mal. 1:2, 3] (Romans 9 GLT)
So, let us look into Isaac’s blessing a little more carefully. Isaac was as good as his word in wanting to bless Esau as his first-born:
1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, [here am] I.
2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death:
3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me [some] venison;
4 And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring [it] to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die. (Genesis 27 KJV)
However, Rebekah had other ideas for her sons by putting Jacob up to deceive Isaac into giving the first-born rights to him rather than Esau:
19 And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy first-born; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.
20 And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because Jehovah thy God sent me good speed.
21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.
22 And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father. And he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.
23 And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau's hands. So he blessed him.
24 And he said, Art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am. (Genesis 27 ASV)
29 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 [be] every one that curseth thee, and blessed [be] he that blesseth thee.
30 And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. (Genesis 27 KJV)
Now I have always had a problem with this account in that it seems that God’s covenant is passed through a blatant lie with all manner of fabrication to fool Isaac into giving the first-born rights to his younger son. Jacob even invokes God’s name in justifying the deception. So, are we allowed to lie to our fellow men to justify our faith in God? I still have a real problem with this. Whilst the end result would have pleased God, I cannot imagine that God would have been pleased at the means taken to effect that result. Now whilst Rebekah does take on the responsibility for the lie, Jacob was still fully complicit in the deception so, to my mind, he cannot escape his responsibility in the matter; he could have refused his mother’s entreaty:
13 And his mother said unto him, Upon me [be] thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me [them]. (Genesis 27 KJV)
Let us now examine Esau’s reaction to what has just occurred. Before we do that, however, we should recall Esau’s giving away of his birth-right to Jacob. Whilst Jacob demonstrated a considerable amount of greed in the matter, Esau also demonstrated little interest in his first-born right:
30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red [pottage]; for I [am] faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
32 And Esau said, Behold, I [am] at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised [his] birthright. (Genesis 25 KJV)
It is therefore arguable that Jacob’s actions in deceiving Isaac into giving him Esau’s blessing were based on this earlier event in which Esau had sworn to give Jacob his birth-right. The point here is that neither brother had informed their father of their agreement, therefore requiring the deception to be carried out on Isaac. The following website provides a nice precis of this little piece of family history: https://harvestlife.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Lesson-3-Sunday-School-June-13-2021.pdf.
There are several points of interest in the account of Isaac informing Esau of Jacob’s deceit. Firstly, Isaac acknowledged Jacob’s action as a deceit, but did not consider that his deceit invalidated the blessing. It is as if a thief were to gain legal right over someone else’s possessions that he had stolen, although it should not be forgotten that Esau had actually ‘sold’ his birth-right previously. Esau then recalls the scriptures describing the actions of the unborn twins and, also, seems to accept that the blessing on Jacob still stands. Isaac also thereby confirms Jacob’s standing over Esau and confirms Esau as a man of the land who will eventually break free from his brother’s direct rulership. In addition, Esau’s name became Edom and he was to become the founder of the Edomite nation; more on this later:
32 And his father Isaac said to him, Who [are] you? And he said, I [am] your son, your first-born, Esau.
33 And Isaac was terrified with a very great anxiety. And he said, Who then [was] the one who hunted game and came to me; and I ate from [it] all before you came; and I blessed him? Yea, he shall be blessed.
34 When Esau heard the words of his father he cried out a great and very bitter cry. And he said to his father, Bless me, me also, my father.
35 And he said, Your brother came with deceit and took your blessing.
36 And he said, [It is] because his name [is] called Jacob, and this twice he took me by the heel; he took my birthright and, behold, now he has taken my blessing. And he said, Have you not reserved a blessing for me?
37 And Isaac answered and said to Esau, Behold, I have set him over you as a ruler, and I have given him all his brothers for servants; I have girded him with grain and wine. And what then can I do for you, my son?
38 And Esau said to his father, Is one blessing [left] to you, my father? Bless me, me also, my father. And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
39 And his father Isaac answered and said to him, Behold, your dwelling shall be from the fat of the earth and from the dew of the heavens above;
40 and you shall live by your sword, and you shall serve your brother; and when it shall be that you [are] restless, you shall break his yoke from your neck.
41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him. And Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning [for] my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob. (Genesis 27 GLT)
Esau’s words on his brother are notable. He comments on Jacob’s name which has the meaning ‘taking hold of the heel, supplanter, layer of snares’ which is not very far from my own judgement on the matter.
So, it seems that Esau gained a lesser blessing from Isaac, which is in effect, confirmed by Paul:
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. (Hebrews 11 KJV)
This likeness between Ishmael and Esau, of being the uncovenanted sibling, then takes on a more direct comparison when Esau goes deliberately against his parents’ wishes (and God’s also presumably?) and marries into the Canaanite family of Ishmael:
6 When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padanaram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan;
7 And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram;
8 And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father;
9 Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife. (Genesis 28 KJV)
Apart from Esau’s marriage, the above account also demonstrates the effective breakup of the family with Jacob also being sent away from Esau for his own safety.
Isaac’s blessing to Esau was initially maintained by God Himself. During the wanderings of the Israelites in the wilderness, Moses was warned to keep away from Esau’s seed to keep the promise of land for the Edomites:
5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau [for] a possession. (Deuteronomy 2 KJV)
However, we must recall God’s earlier hatred of Esau. Clearly God knew what enmity there would be between the Edomites and His people, Jacob’s progeny, in the generations to come as expressed in Esau’s own words upon hearing he had lost his father’s blessing. There are numerous scriptures describing this enmity. This vision of Obadiah clearly indicates God’s intended destruction of the Edomite nation:
8 Shall I not in that day, saith Jehovah, destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?
9 And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one may be cut off from the mount of Esau by slaughter.
10 For the violence done to thy brother Jacob, shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever. (Obadiah 1 ASV)
18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall burn among them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining to the house of Esau; for Jehovah hath spoken it. (Obadiah 1 ASV)
Ezekiel paints a similar picture, with Jehovah using His nation of Israel to destroy the Edomite nation. God very clearly saw Edom as an enemy of Him and His people. This is what He foresaw in Esau from his birth:
12 Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Because that Edom hath dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance, and hath greatly offended, and revenged himself upon them;
13 therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah, I will stretch out my hand upon Edom, and will cut off man and beast from it; and I will make it desolate from Teman; even unto Dedan shall they fall by the sword.
14 And I will lay my vengeance upon Edom by the hand of my people Israel; and they shall do in Edom according to mine anger and according to my wrath; and they shall know my vengeance, saith the Lord Jehovah. (Ezekiel 25 ASV)
And from Amos; it would seem that the Prophets had much to say about the enmity between Edom and Jehovah’s people:
11 Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Edom, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever: (Amos 1 ASV)
As a specific example, Esau had a grandson named Amalek:
12 And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau's son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these [were] the sons of Adah Esau's wife. (Genesis 36 KJV)
This Amalek fought against Joshua in the wilderness:
8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. (Exodus 17 KJV)
15 And Moses built an altar. And he called its name, Jehovah My Banner.
16 And he said, A hand [is] on the throne of Jehovah; war [is] to Jehovah with Amalek from generation to generation. (Exodus 17 GLT)
So let us consider the reflections, on the matter of Esau’s birth-right and Isaac’s blessing, as recorded in the New Testament scriptures. Paul makes a very condemning statement about Esau who he describes in highly unrighteous terms. Interestingly it seems as if Isaac quite deliberately did not wish to rescind Jacob’s blessing; it is as if he actually seems to have been pleased in Jacob’s deception. Despite Jacob’s deceit, he was still seen as the more righteous of the two brothers:
16 Lest there [be] any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. (Hebrews 12 KJV)
If we look at Esau’s descendants, there are a few noteworthy points to pick out of it:
1 Now these [are] the generations of Esau, who [is] Edom.
2 Esau took his wives of the daughters of Canaan; Adah the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and Aholibamah the daughter of Anah the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite; (Genesis 36 KJV)
Esau became known as Edom. Whilst this means ‘red’ it also denotes that Esau became father to the Edomites. It is believed that the Edomites worshipped a God named Koze: https://www.compellingtruth.org/Edomites.html. Clearly Esau also had family ties into the Canaanites and the Hittites who had a multitude of different gods: https://religion.wikia.org/wiki/List_of_Canaanite_deities and http://www.thewhitegoddess.co.uk/divinity_of_the_day/hittite_gods_and_goddesses.asp.
In this light we need to consider God’s words in Deuteronomy 7:
1 When Jehovah thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and shall cast out many nations before thee, the Hittite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
2 and when Jehovah thy God shall deliver them up before thee, and thou shalt smite them; then thou shalt utterly destroy them: thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them;
3 neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.
4 For he will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of Jehovah be kindled against you, and he will destroy thee quickly.
5 But thus shall ye deal with them: ye shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire.
6 For thou art a holy people unto Jehovah thy God: Jehovah thy God hath chosen thee to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 7 ASV)
Clearly God had no time for these nations and their false gods. This makes God’s hatred of Esau more understandable in that he left a covenanted family to deliberately go to, procreate within and even create a nation that preyed to false gods.
Anyway, regardless of God’s antipathy with the Edomites, it does look as if Esau and Jacob did eventually become reconciled as fleshly brothers. Whilst they clearly had differing spiritual values, they both had amassed considerable family wealth so neither were wanting of material possessions. Consequently, no material grievance was left between them:
1 And Jacob lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, Esau came, and with him four hundred men. And he divided the children unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and unto the two handmaids.
2 And he put the handmaids and their children foremost, and Leah and her children after, and Rachel and Joseph hindermost.
3 And he passed over before them, and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.
4 And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept. (Genesis 33 KJV)
Even within the families of the patriarchs all is not sweetness and light. The patriarchs had sons that were not covenanted and that caused internal family issues not dissimilar to those one might find in any of today’s ordinary households. God’s human nation was built from faithful people within normal family environments. Those faithful ones did not always give birth to faithful offspring and even the faithful ones were far from being perfect human beings. God knows mankind intimately and accepts our fallibilities. His only real point of interest in us is our heart condition from which He can judge us in spite of some of our less well-meaning actions. For more on the pressures within the family ranks of a faithful man please check out my earlier Households paper.
God knew that even His chosen people would err in serious ways and that some of the patriarchs’ offspring would go off to establish different religions and nations that would prove to be enemies of Israel and would worship foreign gods. God’s own angelic first-born son, Lucifer, would turn out to be Jehovah’s greatest antagonist, so it would be appropriate for God to be forgiving of His human progeny in that respect. The ultimate consequence is that all will eventually be saved regardless of their predilections. All will come to know the truth and embrace it; it will just take some folk somewhat longer to get there than others.
The Patriarchs' Sons
Date of Publication: 15th November 2021
Jewish Lords' Witness