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Genesis Twenty Five

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Genesis 25:1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.

Keturah. The home and background of Keturah are unknown. Like Hagar, she is called a concubine (Genesis 25:6; 1 Chronicles 1:32) to emphasize that her sons were not to inherit the promises centered in Isaac. However, God had also promised (Genesis 17:4) that Abraham would be a father of many nations. When his body was miraculously rejuvenated at age one hundred to father Isaac, he remained “young” for many more years, eventually begetting six more sons of the younger Keturah.

Genesis 25:2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.

Midian. Of Keturah's six sons (all probably born early in Abraham's thirty-five year period with her), Midian is the only one whose descendants, the Midianites, are adequately identified. The others probably mixed with the various descendants of Ishmael, Lot and Esau to become the modern Arabic peoples. Abraham sent them “eastward” (Genesis 25:6) with adequate gifts to begin their own tribes, and this would correspond to Arabia.

Genesis 25:3 And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.

Sheba, and Dedan. These two grandsons of Abraham by Keturah, seem to have been named after two grandsons of Cush (Genesis 10:7), although Shem also had a great grandson named Sheba (Genesis 10:22, 24, 25, 28). One of these, probably the Cushite, evidently became the ancestor of the Sabaeans, and the Queen of Sheba (Job 1:15; 1 Kings 10:1). The Sabaeans have been well identified on the monuments as a kingdom in southwest Arabia, near modern Yemen.

Genesis 25:4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.

Genesis 25:5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.

Genesis 25:6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

Genesis 25:7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.

Genesis 25:8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.

good old age. Abraham died at 175 years of age (Genesis 25:7), which, by this time, was considered a very great age, even though his father Terah had lived to 205. Human longevity had greatly declined since the Flood but was still significantly greater than in the modern world.

to his people. Since none of his people had been buried in this location, this phrase clearly indicates the belief that “his people” were still alive somewhere. This place of departed spirits was later, in fact, called “Abraham's bosom” (Luke 16:22).

Genesis 25:9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;

Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac and Ishmael were thus reconciled by this time. Perhaps it was their father's death which reunited them.

Genesis 25:10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

Genesis 25:11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahairoi.

Genesis 25:12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham:

generations of Ishmael. Genesis 25:12-16 seem to represent the toledoth of Ishmael, quite possibly a record kept by Ishmael which he gave to Isaac at the time of their reunion at Abraham's funeral. At this time, Ishmael would have been ninety years old, with his twelve sons each now established in small “nations” of their own, as “princes” of those tribes. After Ishmael's death, Isaac then added his own comments concerning them (Genesis 25:17-18), before terminating his own toledoth with his signature at Genesis 25:19. Ishmael died fifty-eight years before Isaac died; and, like Abraham, was “gathered into his people” (Genesis 25:17), indicating that he died in faith. Ishmael's “nations,” though not all clearly identified historically, undoubtedly dwelt mainly in northern Arabia.

Genesis 25:13 And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,

Genesis 25:14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,

Genesis 25:15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:

Genesis 25:16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.

Genesis 25:17 And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.

Genesis 25:18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.

Genesis 25:19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:

generations of Isaac. Genesis 25:19a terminates the long record kept by Isaac, which apparently began at Genesis 11:27 where Terah's record left off. Much of the narrative of Genesis 12-22, of course, would have been told Isaac by his father Abraham. At this point (Genesis 25:19b), it seems that Jacob took over the task, finally terminating his toledoth at Genesis 37:2.

Genesis 25:20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.

Syrian. In Hebrew, “Syria” is Aram, from which came the Aramaic language. Aram was a son of Shem, thus related to Isaac.

Genesis 25:21 And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Genesis 25:22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD.

struggled together within her. Babies have real feelings, thoughts and personalities even before birth. This is clear Biblically (Psalm 139:14-16; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Luke 1:44; etc.), and is being increasingly confirmed by modern scientific monitoring of embryonic children growing in the womb.

Genesis 25:23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.

serve the younger. This pre-natal revelation to Rebekah clearly instructed her that, contrary to custom, the youngest of her twin sons was to be spiritual leader of the family. His task was to transmit the divine promises to future generations. This information surely was shared with Isaac and, later, with Esau and Jacob. Yet both Isaac and Esau seem to have rejected this revelation and determined to convey these privileges to Esau.

Genesis 25:24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.

Genesis 25:25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.

Esau. The newborn infants were given names corresponding to their remarkable appearance at birth, Esau meaning “hairy” and Jacob “heel-catcher” (perhaps, by extension—“supplanter”).

Genesis 25:26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

Esau's heel. The prophet Hosea interprets Jacob's odd name as an evidence of his strength and power with God (Hosea 12:3), overtaking his older and more outwardly impressive brother because of his strength before God.

Genesis 25:27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.

cunning hunter. The only hunters mentioned in the Bible are Nimrod (Genesis 10:9) and Esau, and both were rebels against the will and revelation of God. Although God permits the eating of meat, the hunting of animals for sport is questionable at best. God cares even when a sparrow dies (Matthew 10:29). The family did not need game for meat, since Isaac had great flocks and herds; neither did they need protection from wild animals, as Esau had to be a “cunning” hunter to find any to slay. He was simply a carnal, profane, licentious playboy (Hebrews 12:16).

plain man. The word, “plain” (Hebrew tam) actually means “perfect” (as used in Job 1:1, 8; 2:3) or mature. Jacob worked at home, while Esau played in the fields. Jacob took God's promises reverently and seriously; Esau “despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34).

Genesis 25:28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Isaac loved Esau. In spite of God's commandment (Genesis 25:23) and Jacob's merits (Genesis 25:27), Isaac showed strong partiality to Esau, and for the most carnal of reasons. He loved the venison Esau would bring home from his hunt. But God said: “Jacob have I loved” (Malachi 1:1-3; Romans 9:10-13).

Genesis 25:29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:

sod pottage. That is, “boiled stew” or “soup.”

Genesis 25:30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.

Genesis 25:31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.

birthright. The birthright customarily involved a double portion of the inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17), but this privilege also involved the spiritual leadership of the family. Esau desired the first but not the second. In any case, the father was responsible to transfer the birthright to a more deserving son if necessary (1 Chronicles 5:1, 2), and Isaac should have long since made it clear that it was to go to Jacob. The latter, appalled at the thought of a carnal profligate like Esau having the spiritual responsibilities of the birthright, offered to purchase it from him, perhaps initially in jest. However, Esau agreed to the absurd bargain, thus making it still clearer that he was unqualified.

Genesis 25:32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

at the point to die. It would have taken Esau only a few minutes to fix himself something to eat. He probably meant, however, that he would die some day, and the birthright would be worthless to him then. He knew that Isaac might well (indeed should) decide eventually to give it to Jacob. This way, he would at least get a good meal out of it! Esau, literally, “despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:34). The amazing thing is that most modern Christians, like Isaac, tend to “love Esau,” and regard Jacob as the culprit in this transaction. Jacob, of course, should have simply trusted God to work things out according to His will and promise, rather than trying to devise his own means for getting this accomplished. Jacob's sin, however, was simply that of insufficient faith and patience and, since he meant it for good, could more easily be forgiven.

Genesis 25:33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

sold his birthright. Legal tablets found at Nuzi in Syria stipulate that an heir could sell any or all of his inheritance to a brother.

Genesis 25:34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.