Genesis Chapter Twenty-Five
Read Genesis 25:1-4 – Abraham Marries Keturah
v. 1-2 “Then again Abraham
took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2And she bare him
Zimran, and Jokshan, and
At age 137 or so Abraham remarries and sires six more sons of which we are given a record. This scripture calls Keturah his wife, I Chronicles calls Keturah his concubine.
Of these sons we know nothing about
v. 3 “And Jokshan begat
is the father of a number of Arabic peoples, the most notable of whom is probably
v.4 “And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.”
We find Midian
and the Midianite people in several places in the Old Testament. They were a nomadic people of northwestern
Judges 6:1-2 “1And the children of
Joseph was sold into slavery to Midianite merchants by his brothers and in this reference they are also called Ishmeelites or people of Ishmael:
Genesis 37:28 “Then there passed
by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit,
and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into
We find them also in the Sinai wilderness and it is in that place that a Midianite priest becomes the father-in-law of Moses:
Exodus 3:1 “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father
in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the
desert, and came to the
Read Genesis 25:5-11 – Abraham’s Death
v. 5-6 “And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. 6But 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.”
As the son of promise, Isaac has a special place in the heart of Abraham. Consequently when the time comes for Isaac to take his place as the patriarch of his family Abraham divides his goods and sends all of his other offspring away, just as he did Ishmael and Hagar earlier.
Genesis “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a
bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she
departed, and wandered in the wilderness of
His other sons moved to the east, or into the east country, back toward the original homeland of Abram, or perhaps even further. God just does not tell us how far or where and neither does the history of man that has been recorded.
v.7-8 “And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. 8Then 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.”
Abraham lived to be 175 years old, 38 years beyond the death of Sarah; fulfilling the promise that God had made:
Genesis “And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.”
v.9-10 “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; 10The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.”
As this verse indicates there was communication between Ishmael and Isaac even though Ishmael and Hagar had been sent away. Consequently when Abraham dies Ishmael participates in his burial. As we studied in Genesis chapter 23, Abraham was buried in the cave, in the field at Mamre that he purchased from Ephron the Hittite for that purpose and where Sarah was buried.
v.11 “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahairoi.”
Time marches relentlessly
onward. God blessed Isaac, the son of
Abraham just as he did Abraham himself.
Isaac chose to dwell by a well called Lahairoi. As we noted in an earlier study; this well is
the same well named in Genesis by Hagar and the well where she was found
when she ran away from Sarah before Ishmael was born. It is located in the northern portion of the
Read Genesis 25:12-18 – The Generations of Ishmael
v.12 “Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham:”
Even though he is not the son of promise Ishmael and his generations are not neglected by God’s Holy Record. We mentioned them in our study of Genesis chapter 17 but did not review them in any detail. We will do that here to the extent that information will allow.
v.13-15 “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, 14And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, 15Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:”
Ishmael himself lived in the
wilderness of Paran, a region between Sinai and
Ne-ba-joth, the eldest was the father of an Arabian tribe that was noted for the sheep that they developed and raised. The rams of Nebajoth are referenced in Isaiah 60:7 as those that would be used to consecrate the altar of God. We find in Genesis 28:9 that Esau married Mahalath, a daughter of Ishmael and a sister of these 12 princes.
the second son and we find the Arabian tribe of Kedar
Virtually nothing was found or is apparently known about Adbeel, the third son of Ishmael beyond what is found in Genesis and I Chronicles.
The tribes of Mibsam and Mishma just disappear from the scene of world history and some think were absorbed by marrying into the Israelite tribe of Simeon.
son of Ishmael, is mentioned in the Jewish Encyclopedia as “Suk
Dumah” or Dumah Market
found in Dumat-al-Jandal in
Hadar is not found in the scripture beyond the listing of the sons of Ishmael but another Hadar of a later generation is found as a descendant of Esau and perhaps indicates another tie between the children of Ishmael and those of Esau.
The troops of Tema
are mentioned Job , in Isaiah
along with Dedan
and Buz, and Tema is named
in Jeremiah 25:23 as one of the
mentioned again in I Chronicles along with a group of people called the Hagarites. These
were peoples whom the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh made
war against when they took the land for
Secular history places the
descendants of Naphish in northern Trans-Jordan, the
current country of
The only other time we find the name of Kedemah in scripture is the listing of the sons of Ishmael in I Chronicles 1:31
v.16 “6These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.”
Frequently, when we study our Bible translations we need to remember the time and situation in which these translations were made. During the time of the King James translation I suppose that princes all lived in castles, not what we would think of when we consider the abode of Arabic nomad princes. In the other translations reviewed the word translated castles in the King James Version is rendered villages, encampments or settlements.
v.17-18 “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. 18And they dwelt from
Havilah unto Shur, that is before
Ishmael lived to be 137 years of
age. This scripture tells us that his
descendants were scattered from Havilah, the region
Read Genesis 25:19-23 – The Generations of Isaac
v.19-20 “And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac: 20And 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.”
These two verses tell us a number of
things about Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac
was 40 years of age when he got married.
Rebekah was the daughter of Bethuel of Haran or as it is called here
Padanaram. The name means literally the
plain of Aram, the general location of the city of
v.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.”
For the second time in the linage of Jesus his physical ancestors are brought into this world by a miracle performed by God. Sarah was barren so God intervened and Isaac was born to her at the age of 90. Rebekah is also now found to be barren so Isaac entreats God for her. What does this word entreat mean? The simplest explanation would be to pray, the Merriam-Webster definition is “to plead with, especially in order to persuade”, so Isaac pleaded with God in order to persuade him to provide Rebekah the ability to bear children.
v.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.”
This verse gives us a picture of the faith of Rebekah. Rebekah not only has conceived a child but twins. They are not behaving as normal pre-born children should behave and she is concerned about it. So in a display of her faith she inquires of God concerning these children.
v.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.”
God gives Rebekah an explanation for
this unusual situation. Her twins
represent two nations, two different peoples, who will not get along well together. One of them will be stronger than the other,
the elder, the first one of the two born will serve the younger or second
born. We find this prophecy fulfilled in
the writing of Samuel.
“And he put
Read Genesis 25:24-28 – The Birth of Jacob and Esau
v.24-25 “And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.”
God had told Rebekah that there were two nations in her womb and now she delivers her twins. The firstborn, or oldest, was covered with red hair, “ALL OVER LIKE AN HAIRY GARMENT”. He was named Esau and became the father of the Edomite people.
v.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.”
We’re told that Jacob was born hanging on to Esau’s heel. This occurrence is mentioned by one of the prophets as an indication of the strength, strength of character found in Jacob.
Hosea 12:3 “He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:”
Isaac is 60 years old and he and Rebekah had been married for 20 years when these boys are born.
v.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.”
The personalities of Jacob and Esau are as different as two brothers could be. Esau is described as a cunning hunter, a man of the field, a man apparently given to the passions of living. Jacob, otherwise, is described in the KJV as a plain man. We might ask what that means but need only to go to other translations to see the words mild and quiet used in this verse instead of plain. He would be a man slow to wrath, slow to speak, a man of peace as described by the Psalmist:
“MARK THE PERFECT man, AND BEHOLD THE UPRIGHT: FOR THE END OF that MAN is PEACE.” Psalms 37:37
v.28 “And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.”
As is not uncommon among parents; one loves one son more than the other and vice versa. We’re told that Isaac loved Esau because of his ability to provide him with his favorite dish; venison fixed a special way while Rebekah loved Jacob. Perhaps it is because Rebekah who recognizes the quiet strength in Jacob that does not exist in Esau, we’re not told.
Read Genesis 25:29-34 – Esau Sells His Birthright
v. 29 “And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:”
Pottage is a 13th century English word used to describe a “thick soup of vegetables and often meat”. It is quite probably like some of those heavy souls and gumbos some of us love. Jacob has probably fixed it for his dinner. Esau has come in and he’s hungry, hungry to the point of being faint.
v.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.”
Esau not only wanted Jacob to give
him the food that he had prepared, he wanted Jacob to feed him as a servant
might. This verse would also indicate
that the pottage had an even stronger appeal to Esau because it was red. Thus as a result from that time forward he and
his descendants are called
v.31 “And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.”
Jacob’s brother is famished, starving to the point of feeling faint so when he asks Jacob to provide his pottage for him to eat Jacob, says “SELL ME THIS DAY THY BIRTHRIGHT.” Matthew Henry in his commentary on Genesis thinks that this is not the first time this subject has arisen between the two men. He surmises that Jacob has heard Esau speak about his birthright as something that was of no value to him.
Why was the birthright important? It was important because it established special rights of inheritance, usually to the firstborn son. The father’s rank, position in the tribe, or family and a double share of his estate passed to the son that held the birthright.
v.32 “And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?”
Esau is focused on what he perceives as his immediate problem without any thought or concern for the consequences of his action.
v.33 “And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.”
Conversely Jacob knows exactly what he is doing. He not only wants Esau to sell him the birthright as Isaac’s eldest son but he wants an oath that will guarantee that Esau will not renege on the covenant. God took a very jaundiced view of Esau’s attitude and uses him as an example of one who was defiled himself:
Hebrews “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”
v.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.”
So Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil soup, the same kind of lentils that we can find available today. He ate and drank and then went on his way without a thought or concern that he had permanently altered his entire life and his future. He had the attitude of those described by Isaiah:
Isaiah “And behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink; for to morrow we shall die.”
Isaiah describes an attitude and life style that man’s history would have us believe originated with the Greeks. But scripture tells us that these sins and attitudes were common to man, that they were in the world long before being recorded in the secular history of man. It also plainly states that Esau despised his birthright; he looked down upon the privilege of being the eldest son of Isaac, the Patriarch, the man of God, with contempt, he regarded it as being of negligible value, worthless even; as it meant nothing to him.