Genesis 25: What is the Value of the Covenant?

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 29–30


Genesis 25 tells us that after Sarah died, Abraham took another wife and had more children. This chapter also tells about his death and burial. A brief list of Ishmael’s descendants is given, and then the chapter focuses on the story of the birth of Esau and Jacob, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. The story of Esau and Jacob raises important questions that each of us should ask ourselves: How do I feel about being born with the Abrahamic covenant as my inheritance? How much do I value that covenant?

Understanding the Scriptures

Genesis 25:19–34

Intreated (v. 21)Prayed to 
Barren (v. 21)Could not have children 
Why am I thus (v. 22)Why is this happening 
Separated from thy bowels (v. 23)Born 
Garment (v. 25)Clothing 
Cunning (v. 27)Skillful 
Venison (v. 28)Meat from animals hunted by Esau 
Sod (v. 29)Cooked by boiling 
Pottage (vv. 29–30, 34)Stew 
Faint (vv. 29–30)Tired and hungry 

Genesis 25:30–34—Esau Sold His Birthright

In the culture of this time period, the firstborn son received a “birthright,” which included the right to preside in the family and a double portion of his father’s goods and land when his father died. The birthright son then could take care of the rest of the family, including his father’s widow. The revelation Rebekah received concerning her two sons probably prepared her to understand that this tradition would not necessarily apply in their family. Receiving the birthright of the covenant did not come because of birth order but because of righteousness. The story in Genesis 25:29–34 can help us see why Rebekah was told to expect the younger to receive the birthright. Some people criticize Jacob for “taking advantage” of his brother; however, we do not know the whole story. The story does show what little value Esau placed on the birthright and the blessings of being the firstborn son in the covenant line of Abraham and shows that Jacob desired those blessings.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you study Genesis 25.

Activity A iconHow Does It Happen Today?

Esau traded away something that would be of great value to him in the future (his birthright) for something of little value that could be obtained right away and satisfied an immediate appetite (hunger). Write about ways you see people today trading eternal opportunities and blessings for something worldly or something that satisfies an appetite.