Genesis 25


Abraham marries Keturah, 1.

Their issue, 2-4.

Makes Isaac his heir, 5;

but gives portions to the sons of his concubines, and sends

them eastward from Isaac, to find settlements, 6.

Abraham's age, 7,

and death, 8.

Is buried by his sons Isaac and Ishmael in the cave of Machpelah,

9, 10.

God's blessing upon Isaac, 11.

The generations of Ishmael, 12-16.

His age, 17,

and death, 18.

Of the generations of Isaac, 19,

who was married in his fortieth year, 20.

Rebekah his wife being barren, on his prayer to God she conceives, 21.

She inquires of the Lord concerning her state, 22.

The Lord's answer, 23.

She is delivered of twins, 24.

Peculiarities in the birth of her sons Esau and Jacob, from which

they had their names, 25, 26.

Their different manner of life, 27, 28.

Esau, returning from the field faint, begs pottage from his

brother, 29, 30.

Jacob refuses to grant him any but on condition of his selling him

his birthright, 31.

Esau, ready to die, parts with his birthright to save his life, 32.

Jacob causes him to confirm the sale with an oath, 33.

He receives bread and pottage of lentiles, and departs, 34.


Verse 1. Then again Abraham took a wife] When Abraham took

Keturah we are not informed; it might have been in the lifetime of

Sarah; and the original vaiyoseph, and he added, &c., seems

to give some countenance to this opinion. Indeed it is not very

likely that he had the children mentioned here after the death of

Sarah; and from the circumstances of his age, feebleness, &c., at

the birth of Isaac, it is still more improbable. Even at that

age, forty years before the marriage of Isaac, the birth of his

son is considered as not less miraculous on his part than on the

part of Sarah; for the apostle expressly says, Ro 4:19, that

Abraham considered not his own body NOW DEAD, when he was about a

hundred years old, nor the DEADNESS of Sarah's womb; hence we

learn that they were both past the procreation of children,

insomuch that the birth of Isaac is ever represented as

supernatural. It is therefore very improbable that he had any

child after the birth of Isaac; and therefore we may well suppose

that Moses had related this transaction out of its chronological

order, which is not unfrequent in the sacred writings, when a

variety of important facts relative to the accomplishment of some

grand design are thought necessary to be produced in a connected

series. On this account intervening matters of a different

complexion are referred to a future time. Perhaps we may be

justified in reading the verse: "And Abraham had added, and had

taken a wife (besides Hagar) whose name was Keturah," &c. The

chronology in the margin dates this marriage with Keturah A. M.

2154, nine years after the death of Sarah, A. M. 2145. Jonathan

ben Uzziel and the Jerusalem Targum both assert that Keturah was

the same as Hagar. Some rabbins, and with them Dr. Hammond, are

of the same opinion; but both Hagar and Keturah are so

distinguished in the Scriptures, that the opinion seems destitute

of probability.

Verse 2. Zimran] Stephanus Byzantinus mentions a city in Arabia

Felix called Zadram, which some suppose to have been named from

this son of Keturah; but it is more likely, as Calmet observes,

that all these sons of Abraham resided in Arabia Deserta; and

Pliny, Hist. Nat., lib. vi., c. 28, mentions a people in that

country called Zamarenians, who were probably the descendants of

this person.

Jokshan] Several learned men have been of opinion that this

Jokshan was the same as Kachtan, the father of the Arabs. The

testimonies in favour of this opinion see in Dr. Hunt's Oration,

De Antiquitate, &c., Linguae Arabicae, p. 4. Calmet supposes

that the Cataneans, who inhabited a part of Arabia Deserta, sprang

from this Jokshan.

Medan, and Midian] Probably those who peopled that part of

Arabia Petraea contiguous to the land of Moab eastward of the Dead

Sea. St. Jerome terms the people of this country Madinaeans; and

Ptolemy mentions a people called Madianites, who dwelt in the same


Ishbak] From this person Calmet supposes the brook Jabbok,

which has its source in the mountains of Gilead, and falls into

the sea of Tiberias, took its name.

Shuah.] Or Shuach. From this man the Sacceans, near to

Batanla, at the extremity of Arabia Deserta, towards Syria, are

supposed to have sprung. Bildad the Shuhite, one of Job's

friends, is supposed to have descended from this son of Abraham.

Verse 3. Sheba] From whom sprang the Sabeans, who robbed Job of

his cattle. See Bochart and Calmet.

Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.] We know not who these

were, but as each name is plural they must have been tribes or

families, and not individuals. Onkelos interprets these words

of persons dwelling in camps, tents, and islands; and Jonathan ben

Uzziel calls them merchants, artificers, and heads or chiefs of


Verse 4. Ephah, and Epher, &c.] Of these we know no more than

of the preceding; an abundance of conjectures is already furnished

by the commentators.

Verse 5. Gave all that he had unto Isaac.] His principal flocks,

and especially his right to the land of Canaan, including a

confirmation to him and his posterity of whatever was contained in

the promises of God.

Verse 6. Unto the sons of the concubines] Viz., Hagar and

Keturah, Abraham gave gifts. Cattle for breed, seed to sow the

land, and implements for husbandry, may be what is here intended.

And sent them away-while he yet lived] Lest after his death

they should dispute a settlement in the Land of Promise with

Isaac; therefore he very prudently sent them to procure

settlements during his lifetime, that they might be under no

temptation to dispute the settlement with Isaac in Canaan. From

this circumstance arose that law which has prevailed in almost all

countries, of giving the estates to the eldest son by a lawful

wife; for though concubines, or wives of the second rank, were

perfectly legitimate in those ancient times, yet their children

did not inherit, except in case of the failure of legal issue, and

with the consent of the lawful wife; and it is very properly

observed by Calmet, that it was in consequence of the consent of

Leah and Rachel that the children of their slaves by Jacob had a

common and equal lot with the rest. By a law of Solon all natural

children were excluded from the paternal inheritance, but their

fathers were permitted to give them any sum not beyond a thousand

drachma by way of present.

Eastward, unto the east country.] Arabia Deserta, which was

eastward of Beer-sheba, where Abraham lived.

Verse 7. The days of the years, &c.] There is a beauty in this

expression which is not sufficiently regarded. Good men do not

live by centuries, though many such have lived several hundred

years, nor do they count their lives even by years, but by days,

living as if they were the creatures only of A DAY; having no more

time than they can with any propriety call their own, and living

that day in reference to eternity.

Verse 8. Then Abraham gave up the ghost] Highly as I value our

translation for general accuracy, fidelity, and elegance, I must

beg leave to dissent from this version. The original word

yigva, from the root gava, signifies to pant for breath,

to expire, to cease from breathing, or to breathe one's last; and

here, and wherever the original word is used, the simple term

expired would be the proper expression. In our translation this

expression occurs Ge 25:8,17; 35:29; 44:33;

Job 3:11; 10:18; 11:20; 13:19; 14:10; La 1:19; in all of which

places the original is gava. It occurs also in our

translation, Jer 15:9, but there the original is

naphecah naphshah, she breathed out her soul; the verb gava

not being used. Now as our English word ghost, from the

Anglo-Saxon [A.S.] gast, an inmate, inhabitant, guest, (a casual

visitant,) also a spirit, is now restricted among us to the latter

meaning, always signifying the immortal spirit or soul of man, the

guest of the body; and as giving up the spirit, ghost, or soul,

is an act not proper to man, though commending it to God, in our

last moments, is both an act of faith and piety; and as giving up

the ghost, i.e., dismissing his spirit from his body, is

attributed to Jesus Christ, to whom alone it is proper, I

therefore object against its use in every other case.

Every man since the fall has not only been liable to death, but

has deserved it, as all have forfeited their lives because of sin.

Jesus Christ, as born immaculate, and having never sinned, had not

forfeited his life, and therefore may be considered as naturally

and properly immortal. No man, says he, taketh it-my life, from

me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and

I have power to take it again: therefore doth the Father love me,

because I lay down my life that I might take it again,

Joh 10:17,18. Hence we rightly translate Mt 27:50, αφηκετο

πνευμα, he gave up the ghost; i.e., he dismissed his spirit that

he might die for the sin of the world. The Evangelist St.

Joh 19:30, makes use of an expression to the same import, which

we translate in the same way, παρεδωκετοπνευμα, he delivered up

his spirit. We translate Mr 15:37, and Lu 23:46,

he gave up the ghost, but not correctly, because the word in

both these places is very different, εξεπνευσε, he breathed his

last, or expired, though in the latter place (Lu 23:46) there is

an equivalent expression, O Father, into thy hands παρατιθεμαιτο

πνευμαμου, I commit my spirit, i.e., I place my soul in thy

hand; proving that the act was his own, that no man could take his

life away from him, that he did not die by the perfidy of his

disciple, or the malice of the Jews, but by his own free act. Thus

HE LAID DOWN his life for the sheep. Of Ananias and Sapphira,

Ac 5:5,10, and of Herod, Ac 12:23, our translation says they

gave up the ghost; but the word in both places is εξεψυξε, which

simply means to breathe out, to expire, or die; but in no case,

either by the Septuagint in the Old or any of the sacred writers

in the New Testament, is αφηκετομνευμα or παρεδωκετοπνευμα,

he dismissed his spirit or delivered up his spirit, spoken of

any person but Christ. Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, &c.,

breathed their last; Ananias, Sapphira, and Herod expired; but

none, Jesus Christ excepted, gave up the ghost, dismissed, or

delivered up his own spirit, and was consequently free among the

dead. Of the patriarchs, &c., the Septuagint uses the word

εκλειπων, failing, or κατεπαυσε, he ceased or rested.

An old man] Viz., one hundred and seventy-five, the youngest

of all the patriarchs; and full of years. The word years is not

in the text; but as our translators saw that some word was

necessary to fill up the text, they added this in italics. It is

probable that the true word is yamim, days, as in Ge 35:29;

and this reading is found in several of Kennicott's and De Rossi's

MSS., in the Samaritan text, Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic,

Persic, and Chaldee. On these authorities it might be safely

admitted into the text.

Being full of days, or full of years.-To be satiated with

days or life, has been in use among different nations to express

the termination of life, and especially life ended without

reluctance. It seems to be a metaphor taken from a guest

regaled by a plentiful banquet, and is thus used by the Roman


Lucretius, lib. iii., ver. 947, ridiculing those who were

unreasonably attached to life, and grievously afflicted at the

prospect of death, addresses them in the following manner:-

�������������Quid mortem congemis, ac fies?

Nam si grata fuit tibi vita anteacta, priorque,

Et non omnia pertusum congesta quasi in vas

Commoda perfluxere, atque ingrata interiere:


Fond mortal, what's the matter, thou dost sigh?

Why all these fears because thou once must die?

For if the race thou hast already run

Was pleasant, if with joy thou saw'st the sun,

If all thy pleasures did not pass thy mind

As through a sieve, but left some sweets behind,

Why dost thou not then, like a THANKFUL GUEST,

Rise cheerfully from life's ABUNDANT FEAST?


Et nec opinanti mors ad caput astitit ante,

Quam SATUR, ac PLENUS possis discedere rerum.

Ib. ver. 972.

And unexpected hasty death destroys,

Before thy greedy mind is FULL of JOYS. Idem.

Horace makes use of the same figure:-

Inde fit, ut raro, qui se vixisse beatum

Dicat, et exacto CONTENTUS tempore vitae

Cedat, ut CONVIVA SATUR, reperire queamus.

Sat. l. i. Sat. i. ver. 117.

From hence how few, like SATED GUESTS, depart

From life's FULL BANQUET with a cheerful heart?


The same image is expressed with strong ridicule in his last


Lusisti satis, edisti satis, atque bibisti;

Tempus ABIRE tibi est. Epist. l. ii., ver. 216.

Thou hast eaten, drunk, and play'd ENOUGH;

then why

So stark reluctant to leave off, and DIE?

The poet Statius uses abire paratum PLENUM vita, "prepared to

depart, being FULL of LIFE," in exactly the same sense:-

�������Dubio quem non in turbine rerum

Deprendet suprema dies; sed abire paratum,


Sylv. l. ii., Villa Surrentina, ver. 128.

The man whose mighty soul is not immersed

in dubious whirl of secular concerns,

His final hour ne'er takes him by surprise,

But, FULL of LIFE, he stands PREPARED to DIE.

It was the opinion of Aristotle that a man should depart from

life as he should rise from a banquet. Thus Abraham died FULL of

days, and SATISFIED with life, but in a widely different spirit

from that recommended by the above writers-HE left life with a

hope full of immortality, which they could never boast; for HE saw

the day of Christ, and was glad; and his hope was crowned, for

here it is expressly said, He was gathered to his fathers; surely

not to the bodies of his sleeping ancestors, who were buried in

Chaldea and not in Canaan, nor with his fathers in any sense, for

he was deposited in the cave where his WIFE alone slept; but he

was gathered to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to the

Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven;

Heb 12:23.

Verse 9. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him] Though Ishmael

and his mother had been expelled from Abraham's family on the

account of Isaac, yet, as he was under the same obligation to a

most loving affectionate father as his brother Isaac, if any

personal feuds remained, they agreed to bury them on this

occasion, that both might dutifully join in doing the last offices

to a parent who was an honour to them and to human nature: and,

considering the rejection of Ishmael from the inheritance, this

transaction shows his character in an amiable point of view; for

though he was a wild man, (see Ge 16:12,) yet this appellation

appears to be more characteristic of his habits of life than of

his disposition.

For the character of Abraham see the conclusion of this

chapter. See Clarke on Ge 25:34.

Verse 11. God blessed his son Isaac] The peculiar blessings and

influences by which Abraham had been distinguished now rested upon

Isaac; but how little do we hear in him of the work of faith, the

patience of hope, and the labour of love! Only one Abraham and

one Christ ever appeared among men; there have been some

successful imitators, there should have been many.

Verse 12. These are the generations of Ishmael] The object of

the inspired writer seems to be to show how the promises of God

were fulfilled to both the branches of Abraham's family. Isaac has

been already referred to; God blessed him according to the

promise. He had also promised to multiply Ishmael, and an account

of his generation is introduced to show how exactly the promise

had also been fulfilled to him.

Verse 13. Nebajoth] From whom came the Nabatheans, whose

capital was Petra, or, according to Strabo, Nabathea. They dwelt

in Arabia Petraea, and extended themselves on the east towards

Arabia Deserta.

Kedar] The founder of the Cedreans, who dwelt near to the

Nabatheans. The descendants of Kedar form a part of the


Adbeel, and Mibsam] Where these were situated is not known.

Verse 14. Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa] Where the first and last

of these settled is not known; but it is probable that Dumah gave

his name to a place called Dumah in Arabia. See a prophecy

concerning this place, Isa 21:11, from which we find that it was

in the vicinity of Mount Seir.

These three names have passed into a proverb among the Hebrews,

because of their signification. mishma signifies HEARING;

dumah, SILENCE; and massa, PATIENCE. Hence, "Hear

much, say little, and bear much," tantamount to the famous maxim

of the Stoics, ανεχουκαιαπεχου, "Sustain and abstain," is

supposed to be the spirit of the original words.

Verse 15. Hadar] This name should be read Hadad as in

1Ch 1:30. This reading is supported by more than three

hundred MSS., versions, and printed editions.

See Clarke on Ge 25:18.

Tema] Supposed to be a place in Arabia Deserta, the same of

which Job speaks, Job 6:19.

Jetur] From whom came the Itureans, who occupied a small tract

of country beyond Jordan, which was afterwards possessed by the

half-tribe of Manasseh.

Naphish] These are evidently the same people mentioned

1Ch 5:19, who, with the Itureans and the people of Nadab,

assisted the Hagarenes against the Israelites, but were overcome

by the two tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half-tribe of


Kedemah] Probably the descendants of this person dwelt at

Kedemoth, a place mentioned De 2:26. I wish the reader to

observe, that concerning those ancient tribes mentioned here or

elsewhere in the Pentateuch little is known; nor of their places

of settlement have we more certain information. On this subject

many learned men have toiled hard with but little fruit of their

labour. Those who wish to enter into discussions of this nature

must consult Bochart's Geographia Sacra, Calmet, &c.

Verse 16. These are their names] By which their descendants

were called. Their towns-places of encampment in the wilderness,

such as have been used by the Arabs from the remotest times. Their

castles, tirotham, their towers, probably mountain tops,

fortified rocks, and fastnesses of various kinds in woods and

hilly countries.

Verse 18. They dwelt from Havilah unto Shur] The descendants of

Ishmael possessed all that country which extends from east to

west, from Havilah on the Euphrates, near its junction with the

Tigris, to the desert of Shur eastward of Egypt; and which extends

along the isthmus of Suez, which separates the Red Sea from the


As thou goest toward Assyria] "These words," says Calmet, "may

refer either to Egypt, to Shur, or to Havilah. The desert of Shur

is on the road from Egypt to Assyria in traversing Arabia Petraea,

and in passing by the country of Havilah. I know not," adds he,

"whether Ashshurah in the text may not mark out rather the

Asshurim descended from Keturah, than the Assyrians, who were

the descendants of Asshur the son of Shem."

He died in the presence of all his brethren] The original will

not well bear this translation. In Ge 25:17 it is said,

He gave up the ghost and died, and was gathered to his people.

Then follows the account of the district occupied by the

Ishmaelites, at the conclusion of which it is added

al peney col echaiv naphal, "IT (the lot or district) FELL

(or was divided to him) in the presence of all his brethren:" and

this was exactly agreeable to the promise of God, Ge 16:12,

He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren; and to show

that this promise had been strictly fulfilled, it is here remarked

that his lot or inheritance was assigned him by Divine Providence,

contiguous to that of the other branches of the family. The same

word, naphal, is used Jos 23:4, for

to divide by lot.

On the subject of writing the same proper name variously in our

common Bibles, the following observations and tables will not be

unacceptable to the reader.

"Men who have read their Bible with care," says Dr. Kennicott,

"must have remarked that the name of the same person is often

expressed differently in different places. Indeed the variation

is sometimes so great that we can scarcely persuade ourselves that

one and the same person is really meant. A uniform expression of

proper names is diligently attended to in other books: perhaps in

every other book, except the Old Testament. But here we find

strange variety in the expression, and consequently great

confusion: and indeed there is scarcely any one general source of

error which calls for more careful correction than the same proper

names now wrongly expressed. I shall add here, from the

Pentateuch, some proper names which are strangely varied: first,

twenty-three names expressed differently in the Hebrew text

itself, and seventeen of them in our English translation; and then

thirty-one names expressed uniformly in the Hebrew yet differently

in the English.




�1 � Gen. iv. 18. � Mehujael � Mehijael � in the same verse. �

�2 � ���� x. 3. � Riphath � Diphath � 1 Chron. i. 6. �

�3 � ���� x. 4. � Tarshish � Tarshishah � ������ i. 7. �

�4 � ���� x. 4. � Dodanim � Rodanim � ������ i. 7. �

�5 � ���� x. 23. � Mash � Meshech � ������ i. 17. �

�6 � ���� x. 28. � Obal � Ebal � ������ i. 22. �

�7 � ���� xxxii. 30, 31. � Peniel � Penuel � in the next verse. �

�8 � ���� xxxvi. 11. � Zepho � Zephi � 1 Chron. i. 36. �

�9 � ���� xxxvi. 23. � Shepho � Shephi � ������ i. 40. �

�10� ���� xxxvi. 39. � Pau � Pai � ������ i. 50. �

�11� ���� xxxvi. 40. � Alvah � Aliah � ������ i. 51. �

�12� ���� xlvi. 10. � Jemuel � Nemuel � Num. xxvi. 12. �

�13� ���� xlvi. 10. � Jachin � Jarib � 1 Chron. iv. 24. �

�14� ���� xlvi. 10. � Zohar � Zerah � Nun. xxvi. 13, and�

� � � � � 1 Chron. iv. 24. �

�15� ���� xlvi. 11. � Gershon � Gershom � 1 Chron. vi. 1, 16. �

�16� ���� xlvi. 13. � Job � Jashub � Num. xxvi. 24. �

�17� ���� xlvi. 16. � Ezbon � Ozni � ������ xxvi. 16. �

�18� ���� xlvi. 21. � Huppim � Huram � 1 Chron. viii. 5. �

�19� ���� xlvi. 21. � Ard � Addar � ������ viii. 3. �

�20� ���� xlvi. 23. � Hushim � Shuham � Num. xxvi. 42. �

�21� Exod. iv. 18. � Jether � Jethro � in the same verse. �

�22� Num. i. 14. � Deuel � Reuel � Num. ii. 14. �

�23� Deut. xxxii. 44. � Hoshea � Joshua � Deut. xxxiv. 9. �





�1 �Gen. v. 3. �Seth �Sheth �1 Chron. i. 1.�

�2 ����� v. 6. �Enos �Enosh � ������ i. 1.�

�3 ����� v. 9. �Cainan �Renan � ������ i. 2.�

�4 ����� v. 15. �Jared �Jered � ������ i. 2.�

�5 ����� v. 18. �Enoch �Henoch � ������ i. 3.�

�6 ����� v. 21. �Methuselah �Mathushelah � ������ i. 3.�

�7 ����� x. 6. �Phut �Put � ������ i. 8.�

�8 ����� x. 14. �Philistim �The Philistines� ������ i. 12.�

�9 ����� x. 14. �Caphtorim �Caphthorim � ������ i. 12.�

�10����� x. 16. �Emorite �Amorites �Gen. xv.16, 21.�

�11����� x. 16. �Girgasite �Girgashites � ������ xv. 21.�

�12����� x. 19, and �Gaza �Azzah �Deut.ii. 23, and�

� �Jer. xlvii. 5. � � �Jer. xxv. 20.�

�13�Gen. x. 22. �Ashur �Asshur �1 Chron. i. 17.�

�14����� x. 24. �Salah �Shelah � ������ i. 18.�

�15����� xiv. 2, 8. �Zeboiim �Zeboim �Deut. xxix. 23.�

�16����� xiv. 5; xv. 20.�Rephairns �Giants �-ii. 20;iii. 11,�

�17����� xxv. 15. �Naphish �Nephish �1 Chron. v. 19.�

�18����� xxix. 6. �Rachel �Rahel �Jer. xxxi. 15.�

�19����� xxxvi. 34. �Temani �The Temanites �1 Chron. i. 45.�

�20����� xxxvi. 37. �Saul �Shaul � ������ i. 48.�

�21����� xxxvii. 25, 28.�Ishmeelites �Ishmaelites �Judg. viii. 24.�

�22�Exod. i. 11. �Raamses �Rameses �Exod. xii. 37.�

�23����� vi. 18. �Izhar �Izehar �Num. iii. 19.�

�24����� vi. 19. �Mahali �Mahli �1 Chron. vi. 19.�

�25�Lev. xviii. 21. �Molech �Molech �Amos v. 26.�

�26�Num. xiii. 8,16. �Oshea �Hoshea �Deut. xxxii. 44.�

�27����� xiii. 16. �Jehoshua �Joshua �Num. xiv. 6.�

�28����� xxi. 12. �Zared �Zered �Deut. ii. 13.�

�29����� xxxii. 3. �Jazer �Jaazar �Num. xxxii. 13.�

�30����� xxxiii. 31. �Bene-Jaakan �Children of �Deut. x. 6.�

� � � � Jaakan � �

�31�Deut. iii. 17. �Ashdoth- �Springs of � ������ iv. 49.�

� � � pisgah � Pisgah � �


"Nothing can be more clear than that these fifty-four proper

names (at least the far greater part of them) should be expressed

with the very same letters, in the places where they are now

different. In the second list, instances 6, 10, and 13, have been

corrected and expressed uniformly in the English Bible printed at

Oxford in 1769. And surely the same justice in the translation

should be done to the rest of these proper names, and to all

others through the Bible; at least, where the original words are

now properly the same. Who would not wonder at seeing the same

persons named both Simon and Shimon, Richard and Ricard? And

can we then admit here both Seth and Sheth, Rachel and Rahel?

Again: whoever could admit (as above) both Gaza and Azzak, with

Rameses and Raamses, should not object to London and Ondon,

with Amsterdam and Amstradam. In short, in a history far more

interesting than any other, the names of persons and places should

be distinguished accurately, and defined with exact uniformity.

And no true critic will think lightly of this advice of Origen,

Contemnenda non est accurata circa NOMINA diligentia ei, qui

volurit probe intelligere sanctas literas? No person who desires

thoroughly to understand the sacred writings, should undervalue a

scrupulous attention to the proper names."-Kennicott's Remarks.

Verse 19. These are the generations of Isaac] This is the

history of Isaac and his family. Here the sixth section of the law

begins, called toledoth yitschak; as the fifth,

called chaiye Sarah, which begins with Ge 23:1, ends

at the preceding verse.

Verse 21. Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife] Isaac and

Rebekah had now lived nineteen years together without having a

child; for he was forty years old when he married Rebekah,

Ge 25:20, and he was

threescore years of age when Jacob and Esau were born,

Ge 25:26. Hence it is evident they had lived

nineteen years together without having a child.

The form of the original in this place is worthy of notice:

Isaac entreated Jehovah, lenochach ishto, directly,

purposely, especially, for his wife. Ainsworth thinks the words

imply their praying together for this thing; and the rabbins say

that "Isaac and Rebekah went on purpose to Mount Moriah, where he

had been bound, and prayed together there that they might have a

son." God was pleased to exercise the faith of Isaac previous to

the birth of Jacob, as he had exercised that of Abraham previous

to his own birth.

Verse 22. The children struggled together] yithrotsatsu,

they dashed against or bruised each other, there was a violent

agitation, so that the mother was apprehensive both of her own and

her children's safety; and, supposing this was an uncommon case,

she went to inquire of the Lord, as the good women in the present

day would go to consult a surgeon or physician; for intercourse

with God is not so common now, as it was in those times of great

primitive simplicity. There are different opinions concerning the

manner in which Rebekah inquired of the Lord. Some think it was

by faith and prayer simply; others, that she went to Shem or

Melchizedek; but Shem is supposed to have been dead ten years

before this time; but as Abraham was yet alive, she might have

gone to him, and consulted the Lord through his means. It is most

likely that a prophet or priest was applied to on this occasion.

It appears she was in considerable perplexity, hence that

imperfect speech, If so, why am I thus? the simple meaning of

which is probably this; if I must suffer such things, why did I

ever wish to have a child? A speech not uncommon to mothers in

their first pregnancy.

Verse 23. Two nations are in thy womb] "We have," says Bishop

Newton, "in the prophecies delivered respecting the sons of Isaac,

ample proof that these prophecies were not meant so much of single

persons as of whole nations descended from them; for what was

predicted concerning Esau and Jacob was not verified in

themselves, but in their posterity. The Edomites were the

offspring of Esau, the Israelites were of Jacob; and who but the

Author and Giver of life could foresee that two children in the

womb would multiply into two nations? Jacob had twelve sons, and

their descendants were all united and incorporated into one

nation; and what an overruling providence was it that two nations

should arise from the two sons only of Isaac! and that they should

be two such different nations! The Edomites and Israelites have

been from the beginning two such different people in their

manners, customs, and religion, as to be at perpetual variance

among themselves. The children struggled together in the womb,

which was an omen of their future disagreement; and when they grew

up to manhood, they manifested very different inclinations. Esau

was a cunning hunter, and delighted in the sports of the field;

Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents-minding his sheep and his

cattle. The religion of the Jews is well known; but whatever the

Edomites were at first, in process of time they became idolaters.

When Amaziah king of Judah overthrew them, he brought their gods,

and set them up to be his gods. The king of Edom having refused a

passage to the Israelites through his territories on their return

from Egypt, the history of the Edomites afterwards is little more

than the history of their wars with the Jews."

The one people shall be stronger than the other people] The

same author continues to observe, that "for some time the family

of Esau was the more powerful of the two, there having been dukes

and kings in Edom before there was any king in Israel; but David

and his captains made an entire conquest of the Edomites, slew

several thousands of them, and compelled the rest to become

tributaries, and planted garrisons among them to secure their

obedience. In this state of servitude they continued about one

hundred and fifty years, without a king of their own, being

governed by deputies or viceroys appointed by the kings of Judah;

but in the days of Jehoram they revolted, recovered their

liberties, and set up a king of their own. Afterwards Amaziah,

king of Judah, gave them a total overthrow in the valley of Salt;

and Azariah took Elath, a commodious harbour on the Red Sea, from

them. Judas Maccabeus also attacked and defeated them with a loss

of more than twenty thousand at two different times, and took

their chief city Hebron. At last Hyrcanus his nephew took other

cities from them, and reduced them to the necessity of leaving

their country or embracing the Jewish religion; on which they

submitted to be circumcised, and become proselytes to the Jewish

religion, and were ever afterwards incorporated into the Jewish

Church and nation."

The elder shall serve the younger.] "This passage," says Dr.

Dodd, "serves for a key to explain the ninth chapter of the

Epistle to the Romans, where the words are quoted; for it proves

to a demonstration that this cannot be meant of God's arbitrary

predestination of particular persons to eternal happiness or

misery, without any regard to their merit or demerit- a doctrine

which some have most impiously fathered on God, who is the best of

beings, and who cannot possibly hate, far less absolutely doom to

misery, any creature that he has made: but that it means only his

bestowing greater external favours, or, if you please, higher

opportunities for knowing and doing their duty, upon some men,

than he does upon others; and that merely according to his own

wise purpose, without any regard to their merits or demerits, as

having a right to confer greater or smaller degrees or perfection

on whom he pleases."

The doctrine of unconditional predestination to eternal life

and eternal death cannot be supported by the example of God's

dealings with Esau and Jacob, or with the Edomites and

Israelites. After long reprobation the Edomites were

incorporated among the Jews, and have ever since been

undistinguishable members in the Jewish Church. The Jews, on the

contrary, the elect of God, have been cut off and reprobated, and

continue so to this day. If a time should ever come when the Jews

shall all believe in Christ Jesus, which is a general opinion,

then the Edomites, which are now absorbed among them, shall also

become the elect. And even now Isaac finds both his children

within the pale of the Jewish Church, equally entitled to the

promises of salvation by Christ Jesus, of whom he was the most

expressive and the most illustrious type. See the account of

Abraham's offering, Ge 22:2-14.

Verse 24. There were twins] thomim, from which comes

Thomas, properly interpreted by the word διδυμος, Didymus, which

signifies a twin; so the first person who was called Thomas or

Didymus, we may take for granted, had this name from the

circumstance of his being a twin.

Verse 25. Red, all over like a hairy garment] This simply means

that he was covered all over with red hair or down; and that this

must be intended here is sufficiently evident from another part of

his history, where Rebekah, in order to make her favourite son

Jacob pass for his brother Esau, was obliged to take the skins of

kids, and put them upon his hands and on the smooth part of his


They called his name Esau.] It is difficult to assign the

proper meaning of the original esau or esav; if we derive it

from asah it must signify made, performed, and, according to

some, perfected; [Arabic] esa in Arabic signifies to make firm

or hard, and also to come to man's estate, to grow old. Probably

he had this name from his appearing to be more perfect, robust,

&c., than his brother.

Verse 26. His name was called Jacob] Yaccob, from

akab, to defraud, deceive, to supplant, i.e., to overthrow a

person by tripping up his heels. Hence this name was given to

Jacob, because it was found he had laid hold on his brother's

heel, which was emblematical of his supplanting Esau, and

defrauding him of his birthright.

Verse 27. A man of the field] ish sadeh, one who

supported himself and family by hunting and by agriculture.

Jacob was a plain man] ish tam, a perfect or

upright man; dwelling in tents- subsisting by breeding and tending

cattle, which was considered in those early times the most perfect

employment; and in this sense the word tam, should be here

understood, as in its moral meaning it certainly could not be

applied to Jacob till after his name was changed, after which time

only his character stands fair and unblemished. See Ge 32:26-30.

Verse 28. Isaac loved Esau-but Rebekah loved Jacob.] This is

an early proof of unwarrantable parental attachment to one child

in preference to another. Isaac loved Esau, and Rebekah loved

Jacob; and in consequence of this the interests of the family were

divided, and the house set in opposition to itself. The fruits of

this unreasonable and foolish attachment were afterwards seen in a

long catalogue of both natural and moral evils among the

descendants of both families.

Verse 29. Sod pottage] yazed nazid, he boiled a

boiling; and this we are informed, Ge 25:34, was of

adashim, what the Septuagint render φακον, and we, following

them and the Vulgate lens, translate lentiles, a sort of pulse.

Dr. Shaw casts some light on this passage, speaking of the

inhabitants of Barbary. "Beans, lentiles, kidney beans, and

garvancos," says he, "are the chiefest of their pulse kind;

beans, when boiled and stewed with oil and garlic, are the

principal food of persons of all distinctions; lentiles are

dressed in the same manner with beans, dissolving easily into a

mass, and making a pottage of a chocolate colour. This we find

was the red pottage which Esau, from thence called Edom, exchanged

for his birthright." Shaw's Travels, p. 140, 4to. edit.

Verse 30. I am faint] It appears from the whole of this

transaction, that Esau was so completely exhausted by fatigue that

he must have perished had he not obtained some immediate

refreshment. He had been either hunting or labouring in the

field, and was now returning for the purpose of getting some food,

but had been so exhausted that his strength utterly failed before

he had time to make the necessary preparations.

Verse 31. Sell me this day thy birthright.] What the

bechorah or birthright was, has greatly divided both ancient and

modern commentators. It is generally supposed that the following

rights were attached to the primogeniture:

1. Authority and superiority over the rest of the family.

2. A double portion of the paternal inheritance.

3. The peculiar benediction of the father.

4. The priesthood, previous to its establishment in the

family of Aaron.

Calmet controverts most of these rights, and with apparent

reason, and seems to think that the double portion of the paternal

inheritance was the only incontestable right which the first-born

possessed; the others were such as were rather conceded to the

first-born, than fixed by any law in the family. However this may

be, it appears,

1. That the first-born were peculiarly consecrated to God,

Ex 22:29.

2. Were next in honour to their parents, Ge 49:3.

3. Had a double portion of their father's goods, De 21:17.

4. Succeeded him in the government of the family or kingdom,

2Ch 21:3.

5. Had the sole right of conducting the service of God, both at

the tabernacle and temple; and hence the tribe of Levi, which

was taken in lieu of the first-born, had the sole right of

administration in the service of God, Nu 8:14-18; and

hence we may presume, had originally a right to the priesthood

previous to the giving of the law; but however this might have

been, afterwards the priesthood is never reckoned among the

privileges of the first-born.

That the birthright was a matter of very great importance, there

can be no room to doubt; and that it was a transferable property,

the transaction here sufficiently proves.

Verse 34. Pottage of lentiles] See Clarke on Ge 25:29.

Thus Esau despised his birthright.] On this account the

apostle, Heb 12:16, calls Esau a

profane person, because he had, by this act, alienated from

himself and family those spiritual offices connected with the

rights of primogeniture. While we condemn Esau for this bad

action, (for he should rather have perished than have alienated

this right,) and while we consider it as a proof that his mind was

little affected with Divine or spiritual things, what shall we say

of his most unnatural brother Jacob, who refused to let him have a

morsel of food to preserve him from death, unless he gave him up

his birthright? Surely he who bought it, in such circumstances,

was as bad as he who sold it. Thus Jacob verified his right to

the name of supplanter, a name which in its first imposition

appears to have had no other object in view than the circumstance

of his catching his brother by the heel; but all his subsequent

conduct proved that it was truly descriptive of the qualities of

his mind, as his whole life, till the time his name was changed,

(and then he had a change of nature,) was a tissue of cunning and

deception, the principles of which had been very early instilled

into him by a mother whose regard for truth and righteousness

appears to have been very superficial. See on Ge 27:6-27

THE death of Abraham, recorded in this chapter, naturally calls

to mind the virtues and excellences of this extraordinary man. His

obedience to the call of God, and faith in his promises, stand

supereminent. No wonders, signs, or miraculous displays of the

great and terrible God, as Israel required in Egypt, were used or

were necessary to cause Abraham to believe and obey. He left his

own land, not knowing where he was going, or for what purpose God

had called him to remove. Exposed to various hardships, in danger

of losing his life, and of witnessing the violation of his wife,

he still obeyed and went on; courageous, humane, and

disinterested, he cheerfully risked his life for the welfare of

others; and, contented with having rescued the captives and

avenged the oppressed, he refused to accept even the spoils he had

taken from the enemy whom his skill and valour had vanquished. At

the same time he considers the excellency of the power to be of

God, and acknowledges this by giving to him the tenth of those

spoils of which he would reserve nothing for his private use. His

obedience to God, in offering up his son Isaac, we have already

seen and admired; together with the generosity of his temper, and

that respectful decency of conduct towards superiors and inferiors

for which he was so peculiarly remarkable; see on Ge 23:3-7,

See Clarke on Ge 23:17.

Without disputing with his Maker, or doubting in his heart, he

credited every thing that God had spoken; hence he always walked

in a plain way. The authority of God was always sufficient for

Abraham; he did not weary himself to find reasons for any line of

conduct which he knew God had prescribed; it was his duty to obey;

the success and the event he left with God. His obedience was as

prompt as it was complete. As soon as he hears the voice of

God, he girds himself to his work! Not a moment is lost! How

rare is such conduct! But should not we do likewise? The present

moment and its duties are ours; every past moment was once

present; every future will be present; and, while we are thinking

on the subject, the present is past, for life is made up of the

past and the present. Are our past moments the cause of deep

regret and humiliation? Then let us use the present so as not to

increase this lamentable cause of our distresses. In other words,

let us now believe-love-obey. Regardless of all consequences, let

us, like Abraham, follow the directions of God's word, and the

openings of his providence, and leave all events to Him who doth

all things well.

See to what a state of moral excellence the grace of God can

exalt a character, when there is simple, implicit faith, and

prompt obedience! Abraham walked before God, and Abraham was

perfect. Perhaps no human being ever exhibited a fairer, fuller

portrait of the perfect man than Abraham. The more I consider the

character of this most amiable patriarch, the more I think the

saying of Calmet justifiable: "In the life of Abraham," says he,

"we find an epitome of the whole law of nature, of the written

law, and of the Gospel of Christ. He has manifested in his own

person those virtues, for which reason and philosophy could

scarcely find out names, when striving to sketch the character of

their sophist-wise or perfect man. St. Ambrose very properly

observes that 'philosophy itself could not equal, in its

descriptions and wishes, what was exemplified by this great man in

the whole of his conduct.' Magnus plane vir, quem votis suis

philosophia non potuit aequare; denique minus est quod illa

finxit quam quod ille gessit. The LAW which God gave to Moses,

and in which he has proposed the great duties of the law of

nature, seems to be a copy of the life of Abraham. This

patriarch, without being under the law, has performed the most

essential duties it requires; and as to the GOSPEL, its grand

object was that on which he had fixed his eye-that JESUS whose

day he rejoiced to see; and as to its spirit and design, they were

wondrously exemplified in that faith which was imputed to him for

righteousness, receiving that grace which conformed his whole

heart and life to the will of his Maker, and enabled him to

persevere unto death. 'Abraham,' says the writer of

Ecclesiasticus, 44:20, &c., 'was a great father of many people: in

glory was there none like unto him, who kept the law of the Most

high, and was in covenant with him. He established the covenant

in his flesh, and when he was tried he was found faithful.'" See


As a son, as a husband, as a father, as a neighbour, as a

sovereign, and above all as a man of God, he stands unrivalled; so

that under the most exalted and perfect of all dispensations, the

Gospel of Jesus Christ, he is proposed and recommended as the

model and pattern according to which the faith, obedience, and

perseverance of the followers of the Messiah are to be formed.

Reader, while you admire the man, do not forget the God that made

him so great, so good, and so useful. Even Abraham had nothing

but what he had received; from the free unmerited mercy of God

proceeded all his excellences; but he was a worker together with

God, and therefore did not receive the grace of God in vain. Go

thou, believe, love, obey, and persevere in like manner.

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