The Scriptorium

The Promised Seed and His Seed

Two genealogies take us from Abram to Jacob. Genesis 22.20-24; 25.19-28

Gleanealogy: Foundations (4)

Pray Psalm 105.42-45.
For He remembered His holy promise,
And Abraham His servant.
He brought out His people with joy,
His chosen ones with gladness.
He gave them the lands of the Gentiles,
And they inherited the labor of the nations,
That they might observe His statutes
And keep His laws.
Praise the LORD!

Sing joyfully and with thanksgiving Psalm 105.26-45.
(Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
He brought His people from Egypt alive, and made their joy and song revive.
He made the nations’ land their own, and all the wealth that they had known.

To them He granted the promised land, the portion of His gracious hand.
Though they were few, and wandered far, He kept them close within His heart.

So let us all in our Savior confide, and in His holy Law abide.
Let us observe His glorious Word, and praise our sovereign, faithful Lord!

Genesis 22.20-24 and Genesis 25.19-28.

1. What role do these two genealogies play in the unfolding story of redemption?

2. What is different about Isaac’s toledoth?

These two toledoth are excellent examples of the role genealogies play in linking and enlarging key aspects of God’s project. The first toledoth is a continuation of Abram’s in Genesis 11.10-32. There, we note that Nahor took a wife, but no children were mentioned (v. 29). Moses did not want to get ahead of himself in telling the story, so he didn’t introduce Rebekah at this point, so far away from her crucial place in God’s project (ch. 24). His first concern was to get from Abram (Abraham) to Isaac, the promised seed and prefiguration of the greater promised Seed to come, and the continuation of the line of the chosen people.

Once Isaac has been established in his role as the promised seed of the man of promise (chapters 20-22), Moses returns to prepare the stage for the next generation in the covenant line. In Genesis 22.20-24, we are introduced to Rebekah, so we’ll know who she is when we encounter her again two chapters later. We can see here how this toledoth is not only recording an important history of a real person; it’s also knitting the story line of God’s project together in an elegant and effective manner.

Isaac’s toledoth is unique in that it only contains two offspring, but includes more extensive annotation than we saw in the toledoth of the nations or of Abraham. In some ways, Isaac’s genealogy harks back to that of Adam and Seth in Genesis 5, where we were given more annotation to provide a careful setting of the stage for what was to follow. Moses is doing this again, taking the toledoth he had received – whether orally or in the form of some clay tablet – and annotating it to keep building on the foundations already laid.

We note the restatement of the people or “two nations” theme (Gen. 25.2323), which was first introduced in Genesis 2-5. Implied in that restatement is also a bit more information about the divine project: One of those peoples will be subject to the rule of (“serve”) the other. Jacob is a shepherd – one who manages property and herds, caring and conserving things for the future. While Esau is a hunter, who lives off the land, and puts nothing back into it. In the divine project, those who care for the earth and its creatures (the place) – like God does – will exercise dominion over those who merely take from it.

These toledoth also remind us that many new peoples and nations are coming into being, yet God has set His focus on one line – that descending from Abraham through Isaac to Jacob – through which He will accomplish His agenda.

1. How does including the toledoth of Rebekah and that of Jacob help to focus the story the book of Genesis is developing?

2. These and all the toledoth of Genesis may have existed in the form of clay tablets, without any annotation. Moses may have seen these tablets or known what they contained, but he rearranged and enlarged on them to suit the purposes God appointed for him as the author/compiler of Genesis. What does this suggest about how the Holy Spirit worked to bring the Scriptures into being (2 Pet. 1.19-21)?

3. What is implied by the idea that the nation of people represented by Esau (all those not Jacob) will “serve” the chosen people of God (cf. also Gen. 22.18)? Is this idea still valid in our day? Explain.

In the period from Isaac’s birth to his seventieth year, when his first children were born, there is one memorable fact: He asked God that his wife, who was barren, might bear him a child. God heard the prayer, and she conceived twins who leaped while still in her womb. She was troubled by the disturbance, and, asking the Lord, she received this answer: “Two nations are in your womb; two people shall stem from your body. One people shall be stronger than the other, and the elder shall serve the younger.”
Augustine (354-430), City of God 16.35

Great is Your faithfulness, O God! We can trust Your Word and promises, and I will do so today as I…

Pray Psalm 105.1-12.
Praise God for His covenant and faithfulness, and that He has grafted you into the line of Abraham’s offspring (Rom. 4.13-18). Commit your day to the Lord, to live as an heir of the promises which are “Yes!” and “Amen!” in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sing Psalm 105.1-11.
Psalm 105.1-12 (Warrington: Give to Our God Immortal Praise)
Give thanks unto the Lord Most High; call on His Name, before Him cry!
Make known His deeds in every land; sing praise for all the works of His hand.

Glory in God, rejoice in heart, all you who seek His holy part.
Him and His strength and presence seek; His works proclaim, His judgments speak.

You holy children of Abraham, You chosen ones of Jacob, stand!
He is our Lord, of wondrous worth; His judgments are in all the earth.

He will His covenant faithfully guard – His oath, the promise of His Word.
That which He to our fathers swore, He will perform forevermore!

T. M. Moore

The genealogies of Scripture reveal the heart of God in His covenant relationship with His people. To learn more about God’s covenant, order our book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here. You can learn to sing all the psalms to familiar hymn tunes by ordering a copy of The Ailbe Psalter (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore