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ch. 25:1-11  ch. 25:12-18   ch. 25:19-34

The Death Of Abraham (ch. 25:1 - 11)

 

In verse 1 we see that Abraham actually got married again to another woman named Keturah.  She bore six sons to Abraham.  She could have easily bore him daughters as well, but women are never mentioned in genealogies.     

 

It's interesting to me that Abraham got married in his old age after Sarah died.   The result of this marriage was more sons born to him.  Still, Isaac was the important son, the son of promise.  

 

I won't comment on verses 2 through 4.  They state the names of the sons and a bit of genealogy.

 

In verse 5 we note that Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. This was also noted in the last chapter.  Isaac was the true heir to Abraham's fortunes.

 

Now verse 6 suggests that Abraham had sons born to concubines.  We know that years earlier, Hagar was a concubine.  I don't think this is in reference to her, besides the word in this verse is plural "concubines".  Abraham clearly had sexual relations with concubines and had children by them.  How many children he had by these women we don't know.  The verse said that "he sent them away" to a land to the east.  So we do note here that Abraham continued to be vigorous sexually after Isaac was born.  It might make one wonder if the miracle that took place within Sarah was a one time miracle, or did she continue to have children after Isaac.  I always thought that Isaac was their only child, especially since that is what it says in Genesis 22, when Isaac went to sacrifice his only son.  Yet, could Sarah have had children beyond that point? 

 

Sending children away from your family when they were born from concubines was a practiced tradition in those days.  Children born from concubines, who were normally servants, were not seen in the same light as children born to a wife.

 

This always raises the question about men, and even righteous men like Abraham, having sexual relations with more women than just their wives.  The New Testament clearly says this is wrong.  Why then did these men practice this?  Why did not God tell them that this practice was wrong?  I'm not sure any of us have the answer to this. 

 

We do know that from Matthew 19 that Jesus said that Moses, that is, the Law of Moses permitted men to divorce their wives, and we do know that God doesn't like divorce as seen in the prophet Malachi.  Jesus said that the reason why God permitted a man to divorce his wife, and actually made place for divorce in the Law of Moses, was because of man's hardness of heart. It was a consolation on the part of God.  You might say that God knew that man was evil, that he didn't want one wife for a life-time, so He gave in so to speak and allowed divorce.  With this in mind, I wonder that multiple sex partners in the Old Testament days might not have been a consolation on God's part as well . Clearly, if Jesus said it was wrong, then God the Father would say it was wrong, and that He would have always thought it was wrong.  It is also noted as being wrong in the Ten Commandments.  So the best answer that I can come up with at the present time is that God didn't make a big deal out of this, at least in those days.  

 

Acts 17:30 "may" shed a little light on this subject.  Paul says in that verse that in times past "God overlooked such ignorance".  Granted, the context of Paul's words is in connection with making idols to worship, instead of worshipping God.  Paul said that God overlooked such ignorance, but now He demands repentance.  This suggests that God ignored some sin on some occasions in the Old Testament, but now since the  coming of Jesus, things have changed.  He commands us to repent of these sins He once ignored.  Maybe the multiple sex partners was one of these sins God winked at.  I only say this as a suggestion, not a Biblical truth.

 

Verse 7 says that Abraham lived 175 years.  That was quite old for that time period.   His wife Sarah lived 127 years, and that was consider old.  It seems like that after Abraham had Isaac, he became somewhat invigorated in the baby making process.

 

Verse 8 says that Abraham died at a good old age and was gathered with his people.  Most all cultures back then did not view death as the end of things.  They viewed death as being a transformation from one existence to another.  For this reason many scholars suggest that when the text says that Abraham was gathered with his people, this means that he was gathered with his people beyond death.  Others simply think being gathered with his people means being buried with his people.

 

Verse 9 tells  us that Abraham was indeed buried in the cave that he had purchased from Ephron when Sarah died.  The text says that both Ishmael and Isaac buried their father.  Ishmael is now back in the picture.  Were Ishmael and Isaac friendly towards each other?  We don't know.  We only know that there was a measure of peace at this moment in time.

 

In verse 11 we see that God blessed Isaac.  The verse states where Isaac lived and it was far south of present day Jerusalem.  

 

Ishmael's Sons (ch. 25:12 - 18)

 

I will not comment on these names and the lineage of Ishmael that these names represent. I will leave that to others who have a better understanding of world history than I have.

 

Verse 17 tells us that Ishmael died at the age of 137.

 

Verse 18 seemingly has some translation problems.  The NIV reads, "his descendents settled in the area of   and they lived in hostility towards all their brothers."   There appears to be a problem with the pronoun "they" and the word "lived".   The KJV and some other translations use the word "died" instead of the word "lived".  Obviously there is a major difference between living and dying.  Did these descendents die, or did they live?

 

Some translations don't use the pronoun "they" but the pronoun "he".  This would mean that the verse isn't talking about Ishmael's descendents, but Ishmael himself.  This would mean that either Ishmael lived or died in the area spoken of in verse 18.

 

As yet, I have not found the root of this problem.  I know a few things.  Verse 17 states that Ishmael died.  Why would his death be restated in verse 18?  For this reason some translators say "he" is really the  descendents, not Ishmael.

 

For the most part the Hebrew word translated as either lived or died, can also be translated as "fall", and from this, the NIV gets "lived in hostility". 

 

Beyond these points I don't know what to say about this discrepancy, that is, until I can find out more information.  The translation process is not always an easy process.         

 

Jacob and Esau (ch. 25: 19 - 34)

 

We were first introduced to Abraham way back in Genesis 11. He dies here in chapter 25. Much is said of the life of Abraham, but not a lot is said of the life of Isaac, as important as he was.  The rest of this chapter tells the story of his two most important children.

 

The fact we learn in verse 19 is that Isaac was forty years old when he got married to Rebekah.

 

Verse 21 tells us that Rebekah, just like Sarah was barren, and could not have children.  Isaac prayed to the Lord on her behalf.  Isaac truly was a follower of the God of Abraham.  The word "Lord" here is "Yahweh", that God of the covenant.  Isaac, like his father would have known the promises God made to Abraham, and if these promises were to be fulfilled, that would mean that Rebekah could not stay in this state of bareness.  She would have to have a baby boy.  Isaac prays to that end, and maybe even reminded God of His promises.

 

You might wonder why both Sarah and Rebekah had a hard time having children.  My guess is that it was God's will.  Isaac was the promised miracle child, and it appears that the two sons born to Rebekah were miracle children as well.  God wanted everyone to know that like Isaac, these sons may have been born from Rebekah, but they were part of His specific will.  He did not want any man to mess things up when it came to Rebekah having these two boys.  Too often God promises us something and we can't wait for his timing and we try to bring God's will about.  This was true with Abraham, and you'll see later, it was true with Isaac as well.

 

Verse 22 tells us that Rebekah had twins "jostling themselves inside of Rebekah.  Did she know that she had twins.  This might be speculative, but I suggest she didn't know, and many Bible teachers suggest the same.  They certainly did not have modern  medical equipment like we do today to find out such information.  On the other hand, some people might argue that a woman's intuition might tell Rebekah that she had twins.                          

 

 One reason to think that she did not know that she had twins is found in this verse.  She couldn't understand why she was feeling the way she was feeling.  She was feeling something inside of her that she had never felt before.  This was her first pregnancy and to feel the twins jostling inside of her could have been a fearful thing for her.  So in verse 22 she goes to the Lord and prays to Him about this.

 

In verse 23 God answers Rebekah.  He told her that "two nations" were inside of her.  This is an interesting way to put it.  You or I might have said that two babies were inside of Rebekah.   God didn't say it that way.  He saw these two babies as nations, something that they would become, and once again, this had a lot to do with the Abrahamic Covenant.  God promised Abraham that he, that is through his descendents, would become a great nation.  One of the babies inside of Rebekah would be the pathway to this great nation.  The other baby himself would become a great nation, but not as great as the other nation.

 

We see God thinking and speaking in terms of nations more in the Old Testament than in the New Testament, other than in the book of Revelation.  That is why we often view Revelation as looking more like an Old Testament prophetic book than a New Testament book.  It's not that God has changed his thinking.  He still deals, and will finally deal with nations.  Yet the New Testament is more about God coming to individual people during what we have termed "the age of grace".  Yet when this age of grace is over, the book of Revelation clearly shows that He will deal with the nations.  And even in the thousand years of peace, and even on the new earth, you will see the mentioning of nations.  God's concern is both for the nations and the individual.

 

It is my thinking, as well as the thinking of many others that God still deals with nations today and throughout this age of grace.  The rise and fall of nations and empires are all about God's blessings and judgments on nations.  This isn't something that has been talked a lot about in Evangelical circles, but I believe  it to be true. 

 

The Lord goes on to tell Rebekah that the two nations inside of her will become two separate people.  They won't be part of the same family. There will be a major divide, and that certainly came true.

 

The Lord also said that one will be stronger, which turned out to be Israel , who in the end will be the strongest nation on earth.  Also the Lord said that the oldest will serve the youngest, which was just the opposite to what was normal practice.  God doesn't always do things in a way that seems logical to us, but it is to Him. 

 

It is my thinking from my study of Scripture, and I won't back it up here, that at the end of this age, the Lord will raise Israel up to be the leading nation on earth, and this will continue on throughout eternity on the new earth.

 

In verse 24 and 25 we note that the first baby to be born came out very hairy and very red.   He was thus named Esau, because Esau means hairy.  Esau became to be known as Edom, which means red.

 

In verse 26 we see that the second baby was born immediately after Esau.  He was actually grabbing onto Esau's heal as he was coming out, and that is why he was named Jacob.  The jostling that Rebekah noticed before and the grabbing of the heal here suggests the rivalry between these two boys that continued on between the two nations they evolved into.

 

Verse 26 also tells us that Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born.  Rebekah and him had thus been married for twenty years before God finally performed this miracle of birth. 

 

Verse 27 shows us the two different personalities of these boys.  Esau was outgoing, was a skilful hunter, and a man of the open country-side.  Jacob was just the opposite.  He was a home-body. He was his mother's boy, and that is what verse 28 says.   Rebekah's favourite son was Jacob while Isaac loved Esau better.  Isaac loved eating meat, and Esau would bring him home lots of meat to eat.  Isaac might well have been a bit of an outdoors man himself.  Yet Isaac had his quiet sensitive side as well, which was seen when his mother died.  It took him a very long time to get over his mother's death.

 

In verses 29 and 30 we see Jacob home cooking stew.  This was probably typical Jacob.  Then, typical Esau, rough and tough as he was, came in famished.  I see Jacob as a tough, manly, maybe not so sensitive type of a guy.  He just comes rushing in, maybe not even saying hi, and just says, "give me some stew". 

 

The stew was red, and it appears that Esau liked this red stew and that is why he also became known as "Edom".   "Edom" means red. 

 

In verse 31 Jacob is seen as a quick thinker.  He would not give any stew to Esau unless Esau gave him his birthright.  This simply means that the oldest son, which was Esau, would have become the head of the family once Isaac died.  If Jacob could make a deal with Esau, stew for the birthright, then he would become head of the family when Isaac died, even though he was the younger of the two.

 

Esau, as the impetuous man that he might have been, was thinking of his stomach, the momentary thing, not the long lasting thing.  He agreed.  Esau basically said, "what good is a birthright if I'm dead due to starvation".  Maybe he was close to starvation.  My guess is that this was just an exaggeration.  He was just very hungry, and being the type of person he was, the important thing was that which was the present situation, and in this case, that was his stomach.  Sometimes we get our priorities missed up.  Our present situations that may weigh us down aren't necessarily the important priorities in life, but we treat them as if they were.

 

Just a side note hear about Esau.  Hebrews 12:16 calls Esau "a godless" man for what he did here.  This event clearly shows the frailty of humanity.  We major on what is not important and neglect the important.  We major on the present less significant need, and don't weigh the consequences. 

 

In verse 33 Jacob made Esau swear to him that he would indeed give Jacob his birthright.  Just saying he would wasn't good enough for Jacob.  To Esau made an oath.  He agreed that the inheritance would go to Jacob and not to him.  As stated before, oaths in these days were a serious matter.  Men kept their promises.

 

This chapter ends in verse 34.  It tells us that Esau ate and drank and despised his birthright.  His actions showed that he could care less about being the head of the family once Isaac died.  He would probably not rather be tied down.  He was a wanderer.  He loved the open air.  Being the head of a family wasn't a big deal for him, although he did change his mind on that later.

 

I think the vast majority of people feel that Jacob used trickery here to get his way.  They feel that what he did was not right.  Yet there are some who don't feel that way.  They feel that Jacob knew that Esau would not make a good head of the family once Isaac had died.  Esau was too much of a rambler and impetuous type of a guy.  The family needed a leader that was more stable and reliable.  For this reason, out of pure motives, Jacob simply took this opportunity to take the lead, because that was in his heart, and that he believed was God's will.  Whether this is so, can't be proved.  It is speculative.   

 

The last phrase in this chapter supports the writer of Hebrew's claim that Esau was a godless man. (Hebrews 12:16)  The text states that Esau despised his birthright.  He just didn't care about  He was more interested in temporal things.   Clearly, he was not the man for the job anyway  

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