Genesis Chapter Twenty-Five


Read Genesis 25:1-4 – Abraham Marries Keturah


v. 1-2Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.”


            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 1:32 calls Keturah his concubine.

            Of these sons we know nothing about Medan, Ishbak and Shuah; almost nothing about Zimran but that he is mentioned in contemporary Jewish writings, specifically the book of Jasper or “Seper hai ya-sar”.  This book is one that falls into the same category as the spurious books of the New Testament such as the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Judas and is not included in the canon of inspired scripture.  It is mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and I Samuel 1:18, so was known by the writers of these Old Testament books, however no copies of it exist today.


v. 3And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.”


            Jokshan is the father of a number of Arabic peoples, the most notable of whom is probably Sheba.  Though the name Sheba is also given to men who were descendants of Ham and Shem, this Sheba is thought to be origin of the person called the Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon.  His heritage is claimed by both Arabic people in present day Yemen and by the Ethiopians in a part of their country.  Dedan was the name given to people who lived in a part of modern day Syria, near Edom.  What little is known about them seems to be disputed among Jewish scholars.


v.4And 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 Arabia.  God used them to punish Israel when she was unfaithful:


Judges 6:1-21And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian seven years. 2And the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel: and because of the Midianites the children of Israel made them the dens which are in the mountains, and caves, and strong holds.”


            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 37:28Then 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 Egypt.”


            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 3:1Now 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 mountain of God, even to Horeb.”


Read Genesis 25:5-11 – Abraham’s Death


v. 5-6And 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 21:14And 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 Beersheba.


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.7-8And 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 15:15And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.”


v.9-10And 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.11And 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 16:14 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 Sinai peninsula between Kadesh and Bered.


Read Genesis 25:12-18 – The Generations of Ishmael


v.12Now 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.13-15And 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 Canaan, south of Isaac and not very far away.  His sons, however, we will find to be scattered and as they prospered, were blessed by God with material possessions even as Abraham had been, they established tribes and cities.

            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.

            Kedar was the second son and we find the Arabian tribe of Kedar trading with Israel in the time of David’s rule over Israel.  In Ezekiel 27:21 that are named by the prophet in his lamentation over the city of Tyre or Tyrus as “thy merchants” dealing in lambs, rams and goats.

            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.

            Dumah, the son of Ishmael, is mentioned in the Jewish Encyclopedia as “Suk Dumah” or Dumah Market found in Dumat-al-Jandal in Arabia and known as “Jauf” today.  It is the home of an Arabic tribe.

            Massa is known only by the references we find in Genesis and I Chronicles.

            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 6:19, in Isaiah 21:14 along with Dedan and Buz, and Tema is named in Jeremiah 25:23 as one of the kings of Arabia.

            Jetur is mentioned again in I Chronicles 5:19 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 Israel east of the Jordan.

            Secular history places the descendants of Naphish in northern Trans-Jordan, the current country of Jordan at about the time of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt.

            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.166These 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.17-18And 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 Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.”


            Ishmael lived to be 137 years of age.  This scripture tells us that his descendants were scattered from Havilah, the region west of Ur of the Chaldea that we studied in connection with the Garden of Eden west to the wilderness of Shur, currently known as Sinai and then north to the land of Assyria just south of where Nahor, the brother of Abraham lived.  This region today is still the land of the Arabic peoples.


Read Genesis 25:19-23 – The Generations of Isaac


v.19-20And 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 Haran or Harran a village in southern Turkey today.  This is also the origin of the language or Aramic, the general language of Israel during the time of Jesus.  Here we also find Laban, the brother of Rebekah and the father of Rachel and Leah, the wives of Jacob.


v.21And 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.22And 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.23And 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.  Edom, the descendants of Esau indeed serve David the king of Israel.


And he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all they of Edom became David’s servants. And the LORD preserved David whithersoever he went.” II Samuel 8:14


Read Genesis 25:24-28 – The Birth of Jacob and Esau


v.24-25And 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.26And 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 12:3He 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.27And 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:




v.28And 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. 29And 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.30And 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 Edom, which means red.


v.31And 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.32And 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.33And 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 12:16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.”


v.34Then 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 22:13And 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.