This portion begins with describing the family of Abraham’s son Isaac. Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah (25:20), and his wife had an issue conceiving children, implying that she too was perhaps of a similar age or had possibly already experienced menopause. The amount of time that passed between Isaac’s realization of the problem, his prayer to Yehovah, and God’s answering his prayer, is unclear. It is not known if God answered his prayer immediately, or if there was a delay in God’s answering of the prayer as was the case with his father Abraham. But as his father Abraham maintained his faith, so Isaac did.
Rebekah gave birth to twins. The first was named Esau, who was covered in red hair. The second was named Jacob (Hebrew יַעֲקֹב), pronounced Yacov, which means heal-catcher, because he came out pulling on his brother’s heel. Esau became a hunter, while Jacob became a shepherd. The Hebrew idiom of dwelling in tents (25:27) most likely means being a shepherd (Genesis 4:20). Being famished one day (25:29) and possibly reeling with envy due to Rebekah’s favoritism of Jacob (27:28), Esau asked Jacob for a bowl of soup, which he purchased from Jacob using his birthright, that is, the 2/3 of his father Issac’s inheritance (25:31-32). In so doing, Esau showed his contempt for his birthright (25:34), and perhaps his family also.
The implications of Esau rejecting his birthright were far-reaching. Not only did Esau refuse to take ownership of his family’s posterity, but he also rejected the covenant that Yehovah made with Abraham. While it is true that all who come to faith in Yehovah can be part of His covenant and His people (Isaiah 56:6-8; Galatians 3:6-8), God had made a special covenant with Abraham and his lineage specifically (17:1-14) to give them the land of Canaan, which is modern-day Israel. Esau gave that up with his birthright, as Yehovah had vaguely revealed to Rebekah beforehand (25:23).
The play on words during this incident is obvious. Esau, was covered in red (Hebrew אַדְמוֹנִי), pronounced admoni (25:25). He sold his birthright for red (Hebrew אָדֹם, adom) lintel (Hebrew אָדֹם, adom) soup, so he became known as Edom, the father of the Edomites. The nation of Edom would become servants of Israel. Yehovah had directly revealed to Rebekah (25:23) that Esau would serve Jacob, which was fulfilled a few generations later in approximately 1000 BCE, when David, King of Israel, ruled over the Edomites (2 Samuel 8:14).
Just as Yehovah made His covenant with Abraham regarding giving his family the land of Canaan, God also made the same covenant with Abraham’s son Isaac (26:1-5) while Isaac was residing in the land of the Philistines, which is in southern Israel, near the Gaza Strip in modern-day Palestine.
In Isaac’s old age, he became poor of sight. While wearing animal hair, Jacob brought Isaac a dinner, deceiving Isaac into thinking that he was Esau. Isaac gave Jacob the blessing that he was to give Esau. The blessing included receiving rich land (27:27-28), being master over the household (27:29), and protection from enemies (27:29). More importantly, the blessing included being a blessing to all of the people that bless him. A direct connection from this blessing can be drawn to the nation of Israel. Israel became a rich nation under Solomon (1 Kings 4) and will one day control all of the promised land (Genesis 13:17; 15:8). Jacob became the head of the family, giving rise to the 12 tribes of Israel that ruled over his brother Esau’s descendants the Edomites. During the righteous rule of King David and the other righteous kings, Yehovah fought for Israel to protect them and will do so again on the last day, the Day of Yehovah (Zechariah 14:3).
Finally, perhaps the most important parallel between Isaac’s blessing of Jacob and to the nation of Israel is that of Jacob’s descendants blessing the other nations, a repetition of God’s promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:3). This blessing occurred during the reign of Solomon (1 Kings 8:41-43), in the work of Yeshua (Acts 3:25-26), and will occur in the Kingdom of God (Micah 4:1-2).
The Torah portion ends with Esau marrying his cousin, the niece of Isaac’s older brother Ishmael. This was done to avoid intermarriage with the Canaanites located in the region where they stayed (28:8), and it relieved Isaac that Esau did so. Perhaps Esau did this as a last act to please his father, or to keep the family in God’s promise of prosperity to Ishmael (21:18), and near God’s covenant to Abraham.