Matthew Mason offers some further thoughts in response to my post on the genealogy that ends Genesis 22. The remainder of this post if from Matthew:
The genealogy of Nahor’s sons in ch. 22 also links with the genealogy of Jacob’s sons in ch. 35. The one in ch.22, it is preceded by Isaac’s “death” and resurrection; the one in ch.35 it is followed by Isaac’s death. The one in ch. 22 is followed by the death of Sarah; the one in ch. 35 is preceded by the death of Rachel; the birth of Rebekah (22:23) also links with the death of Rachel. Both genealogies list twelve sons in an 8+4 pattern. Nahor has eight sons by a wife and four by a concubine. Jacob’s sons fall into two related 8+4 patterns: eight by his wives, four by their maidservants; the genealogy also pairs wives and maidservants to give eight by Leah and four by Rachel.
These connections point us to the pattern Jim Jordan has often noted in history and Scripture (and we see this in Genesis in particular, from Gen 4 onwards), that the unrighteous often prosper, and “get there first.”
They build the first city, cultivate livestock first, develop musical instruments and bronzework first. The righteous lag far behind. Here, Abraham, Father-of-a-Multitude, still has only Isaac, but hears that his unrighteous cousin has enough sons to father twelve tribes, a complete nation. His line must wait two more generations before producing twelve brothers.
But although the wicked prosper, God stores up their wealth as an inheritance for the righteous (Prov 13:22), in this case, Rebekah, the righteous mother and protector of Jacob.
This fits with Abraham’s whole life, a life lived by faith not sight, a life of patiently waiting for his promised inheritance. He’s promised a land, he buys a field; he’s promised a nation, he gets one son. Here in Gen 22, as he hears of his cousin’s fruitfulness, he must continue live by patient faith that his one son, his resurrected seed, will, in time, produce much fruit.