Old Testament Lesson 10: Birthright Blessings; Marriage in the Covenant

1. Abraham emphasizes the importance of marriage in the covenant (eternal marriage).

Genesis 24:4 Go unto my country

‘He did not want his son to marry out of the godly family: for the problems that come from marrying the ungodly are set forth in various places throughout the scriptures.’ (Geneva Study Bible)

Genesis 24:10-27 Eliezer and Rebekah

‘The procedure of the servant of Abraham in humbly addressing the Lord as ‘Lord God of my master Abraham’ and asking for help in fulfilling the charge of his master is noteworthy. Eliezer, Abraham’s servant shows himself to be a man of great faith. Like the brother of Jared, Eliezer turned to the Lord. But instead of asking God to solve his problem he presented a plan for God to confirm (Ether 2:23, 3:1-4; D&C 9:8-9).

In answer to the servant’s request for a very practical and helpful sign from the Lord to help him identify the right woman for his master’s son, the proper one indeed appeared. The word picture of her shows that she was industrious, charitable, virtuous, courteous, very fair to look upon, and – most important – she was a virgin (v 16). She seemed to be the ideal wife. Rebekah’s name (Hebrew, Rivkah) derives from the root meaning ‘to trap, noose, or entrap’. Perhaps she was thought to be an entrapment because of her beauty. We wonder about the conversations at the well and in her home. Did Rebekah know more than the Bible tells us? She is clearly a spiritually minded woman because she later received personal revelation concerning her sons.’ (D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C Skinner,  Verse by Verse, The Old Testament)

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2. Esau sells his birthright to Jacob.

Genesis 25:22-23 The children struggled together within her

‘There is a choice example of personal revelation in the twenty-fifth chapter of Genesis. When Rebekah was carrying the twins Jacob and Esau, “the children struggled together within her.” The scripture says she was troubled at this and so “she went to enquire of the Lord.” (Gen. 25:22.) Here we see a major principle of revelation. It usually comes in response to earnest prayer. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt. 7:7.)

In this instance the Lord spoke to Rebekah, saying: “Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” (Gen. 25:23.) Though she was the wife of a prophet and patriarch, Rebekah inquired of the Lord and the Lord instructed her directly on a matter of great personal concern to her, to the children she would bear, and to generations unborn. After recounting this incident, Elder Bruce R. McConkie concluded: “The Lord gives revelation to women who pray to him in faith.”’ (New Era, May 1978, p. 36.) (Dallin H Oaks, “Spiritual Gifts,” Ensign, Sept. 1986, 70)

Genesis 25:29-34 A mess of pottage

‘I fear, brethren, that some among us may one day wake up and realize what power in the priesthood really is and face the deep regret that they spent far more time seeking power over others or power at work than learning to exercise fully the power of God. [See  Doctrine and Covenants 121:36] President George Albert Smith taught that “we are not here to while away the hours of this life and then pass to a sphere of exaltation; but we are here to qualify ourselves day by day for the positions that our Father expects us to fill hereafter.” [George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1905, 62; see also The Teachings of George Albert Smith, ed. Robert and Susan McIntosh (1996), 17.]

Why would any man waste his days and settle for Esau’s mess of pottage [See  Genesis 25:29–34] when he has been entrusted with the possibility of receiving all of the blessings of Abraham? [See  Genesis 12:3  17:2–8  Galatians 3:29  1 Nephi 15:14–18  Abraham 2:9–11]

I urgently plead with each one of us to live up to our privileges as bearers of the priesthood. In a coming day, only those men who have taken their priesthood seriously, by diligently seeking to be taught by the Lord Himself, will be able to bless, guide, protect, strengthen, and heal others. Only a man who has paid the price for priesthood power will be able to bring miracles to those he loves and keep his marriage and family safe, now and throughout eternity. (Russell M Nelson, General Conference, April 2016)

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3. Jacob marries Leah and Rachel in the covenant, and through him the Abrahamic covenant continues.

Genesis 26:34-35 Judith and Bashemath

‘If the pious feelings of Abraham recoiled from the idea of Isaac forming a matrimonial connection with a Canaanitish woman, that devout patriarch himself would be equally opposed to such a union on the part of his children; and we may easily imagine how much his pious heart was wounded, and the family peace destroyed, when his favorite but wayward son brought no less than two idolatrous wives among them–an additional proof that Esau neither desired the blessing nor dreaded the curse of God. ‘ (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory of the Whole Bible)

Genesis 28:1-5 Isaac forbids Jacob to marry a Canaanite

‘Before Jacob went away, Isaac called him in and officially confirmed what he had formerly unwittingly done, blessing Jacob with the blessings of Abraham. The instructions for selecting a wife were like those Abraham gave to his steward for selecting a wife for Isaac.’ (Kelly Ogden, Andrew C Skinner, Verse by Verse,  The Old Testament)

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