Since Jacob’s departure from Beersheba to Haran, Isaac’s family had moved back to Hebron. Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed (35:27). He had visited his father several times during the ten years since he returned from Haran, but now his entire household had come home with him. His children and his wives would have been very eager to see and hear the head of the family that they had heard about their entire lives.
Isaac lived to be one hundred and eighty years (35:28). He actually lived twelve more years after Jacob returned to him. He was still living when he thought Joseph had been lost to a wild animal, although in reality, he had been sold into slavery in Egypt. But Moses, under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, found it appropriate to mention Isaac’s death here.
Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. Although not much is said about it in Genesis, the patriarchs did believe in life after death. Isaac’s spirit, no doubt, was transported to Sheol, where the spirits of Shem, Noah, Abraham and others who had died in faith were resting and waiting the redemption and resurrection (Luke 16:19-31; Ephesians 4:7-10).
It is noteworthy that his sons Esau and Jacob buried him (35:29). They were still in fellowship with each other many years after their first reunion. Coming together once more, they participated in the burial ceremony of their father. Isaac was buried in the same sepulcher with Rebekah, Abraham and Sarah, in the cave in Ephron’s’ field in Machpelah that Abraham had purchased near Mamre (which is Hebron) (23:17-20).542 We do not have any record that the two brothers ever saw each other again.
Isaac’s death is only reported here in order to end this toldot. That is not what happens chronologically, but in keeping with the purpose of Genesis, one person’s story is ended so another person’s story can begin.
He died at the time that Joseph was elevated to second in command of Egypt; however, never learning that Joseph was still alive. So Isaac died about ten years before Jacob moved to Egypt. With the summary of Jacob’s family and the death of Isaac, the story of Jacob comes to an end. But before proceeding to the account of what becomes of Jacob, namely Joseph, the Bible first disposes of the non-seed line of Esau.
Jacob suffered four devastating blows in this short section. Deborah, who had cared for him from the time he was born dies, Rachel, his beloved wife dies, Reuben, his firstborn son tries to seize his father’s position and violates one of his concubines, and Isaac, his father dies. It is a great period of adversity and suffering for Jacob, and as we live our lives we will suffer similar adversity as well. Jesus said: Your Father in heaven causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). But unlike the unbeliever, no matter how severe the burden, there is one thing the believer can count on. Suffering will never destroy the child of God. It cannot and will not claim victory over the godly. As the Apostle Paul so eloquently said: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death not life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39).