Isaac is the only son of Abraham and Sarah, and the father of Jacob and Esau. When God gave the news of the birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah. Sarah was beyond the age of having children and privately laughed at the prediction. When the child was born, she said "God had made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me". Isaac was the only child that Abraham and Sarah had together. Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac and urged her husband to banish Hagar and her child so that Isaac would be the only heir of Abraham. Abraham was hesitant but at God's order he listened to his wife's request. Several years later, God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son. Abraham obeyed and took Isaac to the mount Moriah. Without murmuring, Isaac let Abraham bind him and lay him upon the altar as a sacrifice. Abraham took the knife and raised his hand to kill his son. At the last minute, an angel of the Lord prevented him from doing so. Instead of Isaac, Abraham sacrificed a ram that was trapped in a thicket nearby.
Isaac had caught the vision from the Lord of the importance of living by His promises for the future as opposed to current, more instant, gratification. Through Isaac's current life trials, like a famine in Canaan, he listened and obeyed when the Lord spoke to him. "I will be with you," the Lord promised. Isaac and his family were still living among the Philistines near the coast of the Mediterranean a little south of Gaza. The Philistines had a sense of right and wrong that included guilt for sleeping with another man's wife, but perhaps not for killing the husband of a beautiful woman. As Isaac's wealth increased through crops, flocks, herds, and servants, the Philistines started filling up wells Abraham's servants had dug years before. Controversy followed, and Philistine king Abimelech told Isaac to put more space between them. As Isaac and his people moved their tents further inland, they opened and dug more wells until finally, no Philistines contested them over a new well at Rehoboth. From here, Isaac moved on to Beersheba, and that night the Lord appeared to him, confirming the promises again..
One of the great patterns we see with Isaac is a re-run of a situation that Abraham also confronted. The Book of Genesis (chapters 20 and 21) relates that Abraham went to the land of the Philistines and he lived among them for a while. But he had some problems -- for example, they tried to take his wife, Sarah. A few years later, (Genesis, chapter 26) Isaac faces the same situation. He's living amongst the Philistines somewhere on the coastal area of Israel, they try to take his wife, Rebecca.
The Philistines become jealous of Isaac's success and throw him out, even though he's done nothing to deserve it as far as the Bible tells us. In addition, they plug up all the wells that Isaac has dug -- an illogical act given the value of water in the arid climate of the Middle East and the difficulty of digging wells. Abimelech comes after Isaac and he says, "I see that we prospered because of you." Because once Isaac leaves, things go downhill for the Philistines. Their economy declines. Nothing's going well, and the Philistines come to realize it's because of the Jews. So the king offers a treaty and asks Isaac to return.
Isaac is married to Rebecca. Rebecca is pregnant with twins, and the twins are fighting in the womb already -- it's a difficult pregnancy for Rebecca. When they're born there is a rivalry between them. Although they are twins, Jacob and Esau have totally different personalities and they are also physicallyvery different. The Bible describes Esau as hairy and Jacob as smooth-skinned. Esau is a hunter, a man of action. Jacob is more a man of thought than of action.
It's also clear from the narrative that Isaac is favoring Esau who is the first-born of the twins. He's a couple of minutes older but that's significant when it comes to who will be the one to inherit the family birthright.... When Isaac is old and blind, he decides to give each of his sons a blessing, and, of course, he wants to give an extra-special blessing to the first-born, Esau. ... When a great spiritually connected person like an Isaac gives someone a blessing, that blessing has tremendous power of potentiality that can have a huge impact not only on the recipient of the blessing but also on history itself.
But Rebecca realizes that the blessing has to go to Jacob as he is the one who is willing and able to change the world in the manner of Abraham. So while Esau is off hunting to catch something for his father's dinner so he'll bless him, she covers Jacob's arms with a goat skin so they will feel hairy like Esau's. And Isaac, who is blind, is fooled.
When Isaac encounters Jacob pretending to be Esau, he remarks: "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." (Genesis 27:22)... . Later in our story, Jacob will have his name changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29) and his children will create the Jewish nation.
Esau, who embodies the power of might and sword, will, through his descendants, give rise to the Roman Empire or "Edom" as the Bible calls it. King Herod was an Edomite or a descendant of Esau. The power or Rome clearly lays in its ability to conquer, dominate and build an Empire. Even after the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the spirit and power of Rome perpetuates itself through the rise of the Revived Roman Empires or European Union. Esau, like Ishmael, does not carry on the mission, yet becomes a great power, both physically and spiritually. As intense as the rivalry is between Isaac and Ishmael (the Jews and the Arabs) they are only half brothers. Jacob and Esau are twins with the same genetic material. This rivalry is possibly the ultimate rivalry in history. that is : the Roman Empire and the Jews.So we have a confrontation between Esau and Jacob. Jacob steals the blessing and then Esau shows up and finds out what happened. And patriarch Isaac realizes that he's been tricked. He's not angry, however, because he sees now that Jacob is capable of action and can carry on the mission. Rebecca, overhearing that Esau's plans to kill his brother, sends Jacob away. She tells him to quickly go to her brother, who lives in Haran. (today located in Turkey)
The first member of his family that Jacob encounters is his cousin and from his firs encounter with her he realizes that she is his soul mate. Next He wants to marry Rachel but he has arrived penniless on his uncle's doorstep. Jacob offers to work seven years for her hand. At the end of the seven years, Laban substitutes Rachel's older sister Leah and demands Jacob work another seven years to get Rachel. In the end, Jacob winds up with four wives -- Leah, Rachel, and their handmaidens Zilpah and Bilhah. From these women will come 13 children, 12 sons and 1 daughter.
Unlike other generations where a child went off in a different direction and did not follow in the foot steps of Abraham, all of Jacob's sons are going to be totally dedicated to the mission. They are the core group -- an extended family that is going to make the nation that is going to change the world.
Next God tells Jacob that he must return to the Land of Israel because he has a mission. Just as Abraham knew that Israel was the only place where Jewish potential could be actualized, so too Jacob realizes that this is the only place to be. Despite his lingering fear of Esau's revenge (even though 20 years has passed) he gathers up all his family and his belongings and heads home.THE REUNION
As he makes his way home, Jacob hears that Esau is coming out to meet him with an army of 400 men.In response, always using his brains, he pursues a multi-pronged strategy to protect himself against any eventuality: First, he prepares for war by dividing his family into two parts in case one is attacked the other half will survive. Next he pursues the diplomatic track by sending elaborate gifts to Esau. Finally, he prays realizing that ultimately the outcome of the coming encounter is in God's hands.
They meet. Esau doesn't try and kill Jacob although it's very clear that he still hates him. Esau invites Jacob to travel together with him.. Jacob is not interested in the offer, no doubt aware that Esau still harbors deep enmity toward him. He tells Esau, "You go ahead of me. I'll catch up later." Now we know from the narrative Jacob never goes to Har Sa'ir to live with Esau. The ultimate struggle in history will be between Jewish ideas and the ideas of Esau and the Roman culture that Esau is going to create. Jewish sources depict this as a major theme in Jewish history.
Some use the analogy of Caesarea (Roman administrative
capital of Israel - shown above) built on the coast of Israel over
2,000 years ago by Herod the Great. (a descendant of Esau)
Who is the ultimate enemy of the Jewish people in history? The nation of Amalek. This is the people that epitomize evil and rebellion against God. There is a commandment in the Bible to wipe them off the face of the earth. With Amalek there is no compromise. It's a fight to the finish. This is a nation whose pathological hatred for Jews was so great that they will show no mercy. Given a chance they would wipe the Jews off the face of the earth.The nation of Amalek is no longer identifiable, but it's spirit lives on.
Amalek was the grandson of Esau, the patriarch Jacob's twin
brother. He was the son of Eliphaz and his concubine, Timna
(Gen.36:12). The Amalekites were distinguished in the holy Scripture by
two villainous characteristics: cruelty and cowardice. What makes the
Amalekites particularly interesting is that these two characteristics
are always glaringly present when an Amalekite is involved in any
Biblical story. In every story in which an Amalekite is privileged to
participate, the reader witnesses this extraordinarily evil people not
only committing cruel acts, but at the same time committing those acts
in an unashamedly cowardly manner. They were warriors, yes, but they
were not noble warriors. They never fought a fair fight.
In Exodus 17:8-16, we are told that the Amalekites "came and fought with Israel", and that the Lord was so furious with the Amalekites that He swore to "have war with Amalek from generation to generation." In the dim light of the few facts presented in these nine verses from Exodus, God's particularly intense indignation against the Amalekites for their assault on Israel seems puzzling in its severity, especially when we consider His merciful nature. However, we are made privy to the real crime which provoked God's fierce wrath when Moses, in his last sermon to Israel 40 years later, enjoined Israel to carry out God's wrath against Amalek and reminded them of the cause for it. In Deuteronomy 25:17-19, Moses illuminates Exodus' simple report that the Amalekites attacked Israel with the additional fact that they did not attack the army of Israel. Rather, said the man of God, Amalek "smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God." So, the whole truth is that while the account in Exodus is accurate in saying that the Amalekites attacked Israel, the Exodus information is incomplete. For, exhibiting their two constant and outstanding characteristics, the Amalekites actually attacked only those who were too weak to keep pace in the desert with their stronger brothers. They attacked the stragglers, those in Israel who were too ill, too weak, or too young to protect themselves, perhaps even women and children. Until Joshua led the counter-attack, there must have been a terrible slaughter of innocent, feeble souls (Ex.17). This was the famous battle which Israel won because Aaron and Hur helped Moses hold up his rod when his arms grew tired.
As an indication of God's great care and concern for the weak ones
among His people, He organized Israel's future travels in the desert so
that they marched by tribes. This insured that the weaker ones would
always be in the main body, moving along with their tribe, instead of
trudging along in the rear, unprotected by the stronger Israelites
After Joshua conquered Canaan and divided it among the tribes, Israel's King Saul was sent by God on a mission to annihilate an Amalekite city in that promised land (1Sam.15). God would tolerate not one of this wretched race on His chosen soil. However, the timid King Saul bowed to the wishes of those in his army who wanted the Amalekite spoil for themselves, and, contrary to God's clear command, he allowed the best of the sheep and cattle to be spared. God was so angered by this act of rebellion that He rejected Saul as king in Israel. There were other errors as well as this one which led to Saul's rejection, but this singular failure to execute God's great wrath on this people whom God despised was a terrible transgression, worthy of the severest punishment. As a trophy of war, Saul had also taken captive Agag, the king of the Amalekites, but the Almighty was not after trophies; He wanted peace for His people. And He knew that so long as there remained one Amalekite alive, no humble and righteous person in Israel would be safe. Samuel the prophet arrived at Saul's camp and obediently hacked "Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal", but immediately before doing so, Samuel reminded Agag that he had been (true to the cruel and cowardly nature of his breed) a murderer of innocent children. An "Agagite", by the way, became a synonym for an Amalekite, the title being derived from the name of this and possibly other Amalekite kings.
Other encounters with Amalekites include the story of the very sick Egyptian servant of an Amalekite who was dumped in the desert and left to die because his Amalekite master didn't want to be bothered with him (2Sam.30:11-13). Then, there is the Amalekite who confidently strode into David's camp with the dead King Saul's crown and arm bracelet, claiming to have been the one who put the bleeding and helpless King out of his misery. He thought David would reward him greatly for ending Saul's miserable life, but that was a fatal assumption (2Sam.1:1-16). There is also the story of an Amalekite raid on Ziklag, the city given to David and his band of renegades by Achish, King of Philistia (2 Sam.30:1-3). Naturally, the Amalekites had spied out the city before their attack, and they had learned that David and his men were far away, marching north to help the Philistine king Achish in his war with Israel. No one remained in Ziklag except women and children, a perfect target for Amalekites. Remarkably, none of these women and children were killed, and with God's help David recovered every one of them in a surprise attack of his own. It is ironic that the sick servant whom the Amalekites had thrown away (and David had found and rescued) was the informer who led David to the secret Amalekites' camp. The servant agreed to help David, it should be noted, on the conditions that David would neither kill him, nor - worse yet - return him to his Amalekite master (1Sam.30:15).
Another element which colors every story in which Amalekites are involved is that by the end of the account, the Amalekites involved are either dead or in a ruinous condition. The faithfulness of God to His promise in Exodus to fight against Amalek throughout all generations is witnessed by every generation of Israelites, even to the latest book, Esther.
The secret of understanding a primary message of the book of Esther is to know that an "Agagite" is an Amalekite. When this is understood, Mordecai's refusal to bow the knee to Haman the Agagite appears in a brighter light. His unwillingness to bow does not indicate in Mordecai a stubborn, proud spirit; rather, it is an indication of Mordecai's faithfulness to God's attitude toward Amalekites. Mordecai would not bow to an Amalekite because of his faith in God. And it is possible as well that, Haman being an Amalekite, Mordecai might even have feared God's wrath upon himself if he had bowed to him. It is evidence of Mordecai's great faith in God's word that he would risk his life by refusing to bow before an Amalekite, even if the Amalekite had become a man of great political power. Mordecai trusted the power of God's curse to be of greater effect than Haman's favor in the eyes of the Persian king.
The Amalekites were never friends of Israel. In Numbers, they violently opposed Israel's entrance into Canaan. In Judges, they are mentioned several times as Israel's tormentors. If there was a positive quality to their lives, it was consistency. They were never anything but cruel and cowardly people, were always at odds with Israel, and were never shown mercy from God. If in your reading of the Bible the Amalekites show up, you now may already know that they will abuse some innocent, helpless victim and that, in the end, God will destroy them.