Genesis 25

 

וַיֹּסֶף אַבְרָהָם וַיִּקַּח אִשָּׁה וּשְׁמָהּ קְטוּרָה  25:1

Gene. 25:1  And Abraham went on, and he took a woman whose name was Keturah.

The Torah commentators of whom I am aware call Keturah Abraham’s wife.  But in v. 25:5 below we are told that Abraham had concubines.  So I’m not convinced that she was more than one of them.  No where are we informed that Abraham remarried, except perhaps in this verse, as the word for woman can also be translated as wife.

וַתֵּלֶד לוֹ אֶת זִמְרָן וְאֶת יָקְשָׁן וְאֶת מְדָן וְאֶת מִדְיָן וְאֶת יִשְׁבָּק וְאֶת שׁוּחַ  25:2

Gene. 25:2  And she bore for him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.                                                                                                             [Return to Gene. 37:28]

וְיָקְשָׁן יָלַד אֶת שְׁבָא וְאֶת דְּדָן וּבְנֵי דְדָן הָיוּ אַשּׁוּרִם וּלְטוּשִׁם וּלְאֻמִּים  25:3

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

וּבְנֵי מִדְיָן עֵיפָה וָעֵפֶר וַחֲנֹךְ וַאֲבִידָע וְאֶלְדָּעָה כָּל אֵלֶּה בְּנֵי קְטוּרָה  25:4

Gene. 25:4  And the sons of Midian:  Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah.  All these were the sons of Keturah.

וַיִּתֵּן אַבְרָהָם אֶת כָּל אֲשֶׁר לוֹ לְיִצְחָק  25:5

Gene. 25:5  Now Abraham had given all that was his to Isaac.

וְלִבְנֵי הַפִּילַגְשִׁים אֲשֶׁר לְאַבְרָהָם נָתַן אַבְרָהָם מַתָּנֹת וַיְשַׁלְּחֵם מֵעַל יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ בְּעוֹדֶנּוּ חַי  25:6

קֵדְמָה אֶל אֶרֶץ קֶדֶם

Gene. 25:6  So to the sons of the concubines that were Abraham's, Abraham, while he yet lived, gave gifts and sent them away from Isaac, his son, eastward to the country of the east.

                                                                                                        [Return to Gene. 4:16]

Why did Abraham send his latter sons away from Isaac, although Abraham lived some distance from him?  Was he afraid they might steal his birthright (although Isaac was not Abraham’s first born and was not legitimately entitled to the firstborn’s legacy)?  Is it possible that the reason for this is the same reason that I supposed for the servant to remain unnamed?  See Gene. 24:67.

Notice further that in support of my belief expressed in relation to v. 25:1, the sons of Abraham’s concubines are mentioned here but no sons of “his wife” as recorded in v. 25:2.

וְאֵלֶּה יְמֵי שְׁנֵי חַיֵּי אַבְרָהָם אֲשֶׁר חָי מְאַת שָׁנָה וְשִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה וְחָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים  25:7

Gene. 25:7  Now these are the days of the years of the life of Abraham that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years.

Abraham lived for more than forty years after Sarah died, and he proved to be quite prolific in his old age.  Apparently from the time he was about a hundred and fifteen (plus about twenty or some odd years – see Gene. 22:9), he had lived away from Sarah and Isaac.                                      [Return to Gene. 26:1]

וַיִּגְוַע וַיָּמָת אַבְרָהָם בְּשֵׂיבָה טוֹבָה זָקֵן וְשָׂבֵעַ וַיֵּאָסֶף אֶל עַמָּיו  25:8

Gene. 25:8  And Abraham expired, and he died in good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.

The expression ~h'r'b.a; tm'Y"w: [w:g>YIw:, “And Abraham expired, and he died .,” being somewhat redundant, is used for the first time here.  Always before this everyone just died.  Lest one think that this casts Abraham’s death in a special light, the same expression is found in v. 25:17 below in regard to Ishmael.

וַיִּקְבְּרוּ אֹתוֹ יִצְחָק וְיִשְׁמָעֵאל בָּנָיו אֶל מְעָרַת הַמַּכְפֵּלָה אֶל שְׂדֵה עֶפְרֹן בֶּן צֹחַר הַחִתִּי אֲשֶׁר  25:9

עַל פְּנֵי מַמְרֵא

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

So Isaac and Ishmael came together (in grief?) to bury their father.  And his other sons were apparently not present. They had been sent away by Abraham.  Notice that it doesn’t say anywhere that Abraham blessed any of his sons.  Later we will learn that both Isaac and Jacob bless their offspring before they die.

                                                                                                                              [Return to Gene. 27:34]

הַשָּׂדֶה אֲשֶׁר קָנָה אַבְרָהָם מֵאֵת בְּנֵי חֵת שָׁמָּה קֻבַּר אַבְרָהָם וְשָׂרָה אִשְׁתּוֹ  25:10

Gene. 25:10   the field that Abraham had purchased from the children of Heth; Abraham is buried there, and Sarah, his wife.

וַיְהִי אַחֲרֵי מוֹת אַבְרָהָם וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ וַיֵּשֶׁב יִצְחָק עִם בְּאֵר לַחַי רֹאִי  25:11

Gene. 25:11   And it was after the death of Abraham that God blessed Isaac, his son; and Isaac dwelled by Beer-lahai-roi.

Does this mean that Isaac was not blessed before the death of Abraham?  Certainly a possibility!  To start with, he was not the first born of Abraham.  Next, and most critical, he had to experience the wrenching shock and fear of the Akedah (Gene. 22) and its destructive aftermath.  Then he apparently went to live alone with his mother, who left Abraham, most likely in fear, disgust and anger, some time after the Akedah.  Next, someone had to go and fetch a wife for him, most likely right after his mother died.  After this, Rebekah, his wife, was barren for twenty years.  Might all this trial and tribulation remind some of you of the lonely and terror-punctuated existence of the Jews from the destruction of the Temple until the reemergence of the state of Israel?  Along this line, we will also learn later in Genesis 31 that Jacob called God the Dread of Isaac, another parallel with the Jews of the diaspora throughout much of the last 2,500 years.  Of course you might have to ignore some of the detailed differences between Isaac and his Jewish descendants, as we are speaking in symbolic terms.

וְאֵלֶּה תֹּלְדֹת יִשְׁמָעֵאל בֶּן אַבְרָהָם אֲשֶׁר יָלְדָה הָגָר הַמִּצְרִית שִׁפְחַת שָׂרָה לְאַבְרָהָם  25:12

Gene. 25:12  Now these are the generations of Ishmael, the son of Abraham, whom Hagar, the Egyptian, maidservant of Sarah, bore for Abraham.

The abrupt change here almost makes it seem as if this should be the start of the next chapter.  However, this kind of tangential detour from an ongoing stream of events appears in a number of places in the bible, and is not viewed as extraordinary (see, for example, Gene. 11:10). However, in this particular case, it reinforces the idea that little attention is directed to the life of Isaac, as if his time on earth was uneventful and ineffectual.

וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׁמָעֵאל בִּשְׁמֹתָם לְתוֹלְדֹתָם בְּכֹר יִשְׁמָעֵאל נְבָיֹת וְקֵדָר וְאַדְבְּאֵל וּמִבְשָׂם  25:13

Gene. 25:13   And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael by their names, according to their generations: Nebaioth, the first born of Ishmael; and Kedar and Adbeel and Mibsam

                                                                                                                               [Return to Psal. 120:5]

וּמִשְׁמָע וְדוּמָה וּמַשָּׂא  25:14

Gene. 25:14   and Mishma and Dumah and Massa,

חֲדַד וְתֵימָא יְטוּר נָפִישׁ וָקֵדְמָה  25:15

Gene. 25:15   Hadad and Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedem.                [Return to 1Chr. 5:19]

אֵלֶּה הֵם בְּנֵי יִשְׁמָעֵאל וְאֵלֶּה שְׁמֹתָם בְּחַצְרֵיהֶם וּבְטִירֹתָם שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר נְשִׂיאִם לְאֻמֹּתָם  25:16

Gene. 25:16   These are they, the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their villages, and their encampments; twelve princes for their nations.

Ishmael had twelve sons.  They are referred to as princes for their nations.  Twelve different nations!  Contrast this with Isaac’s offspring.  He had only two sons.  Another allusion to the introverted years of the early Christian era and the middle ages that I believe Isaac represents?  It was left for Jacob to sire twelve sons in the next generation, who were the progenitors, not of twelve nations, but twelve tribes of one nation. 

וְאֵלֶּה שְׁנֵי חַיֵּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל מְאַת שָׁנָה וּשְׁלֹשִׁים שָׁנָה וְשֶׁבַע שָׁנִים וַיִּגְוַע וַיָּמָת וַיֵּאָסֶף אֶל עַמָּיו  25:17

Gene. 25:17   And these were the years of the life of Ishmael, one hundred and thirty-seven years; then he expired, and he died and was gathered to his people.

The expression “then he expired, and he died ,,, and was gathered to his people” was encountered in v. 25:8 in regard to Abraham for the first time in the bible.  Does this new expression found twice in this chapter suggest a different author or scribe for this chapter?                                            [Return to Gene. 36:3]

וַיִּשְׁכְּנוּ מֵחֲוִילָה עַדשׁוּר אֲשֶׁר עַלפְּנֵי מִצְרַיִם בֹּאֲכָה אַשּׁוּרָה עַל פְּנֵי כָל אֶחָיו נָפָל  25:18

Gene. 25: 18  And they dwelled from Havilah to Shur, which is before Egypt, as you approach Asshur; he had settled against the face of all his brethren.

The reason for the change from the plural third-person pronoun subject they at the beginning of the verse to the singular he in the second part is not entirely clear.  Some bibles translate the last part as “he died in the presence of his brethren,” apparently referring back to Ishmael.  I don’t accept this translation.  I believe this latter part of the verse does indeed refer to Ishmael, but is meant to be a confirmation of the prophecy contained in Gene. 16:12.

וְאֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת יִצְחָק בֶּן אַבְרָהָם אַבְרָהָם הוֹלִיד אֶת יִצְחָק  25:19

Gene. 25:19   And these are the generations of Isaac, son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac.

וַיְהִי יִצְחָק בֶּן אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה בְּקַחְתּוֹ אֶת רִבְקָה בַּת בְּתוּאֵל הָאֲרַמִּי מִפַּדַּן אֲרָם אֲחוֹת לָבָן  25:20

הָאֲרַמִּי לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה

Gene. 25:20   And Isaac was forty years old on his he taking Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, the Aramean, from Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban, the Aramean, to himself for a wife.

וַיֶּעְתַּר יִצְחָק לַיהוָה לְנֹכַח אִשְׁתּוֹ כִּי עֲקָרָה הִוא וַיֵּעָתֶר לוֹ יְהוָה וַתַּהַר רִבְקָה אִשְׁתּוֹ  25:21

Gene. 25:21   And Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was barren, and the Lord answered the prayer to Him, and Rebekah, his wife, conceived.

וַיִּתְרֹצְצוּ הַבָּנִים בְּקִרְבָּהּ וַתֹּאמֶר אִם כֵּן לָמָּה זֶּה אָנֹכִי וַתֵּלֶךְ לִדְרֹשׁ אֶת יְהוָה  25:22

Gene. 25:22   And the children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is so, why am I this way?” And she proceeded to ask the Lord.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה לָהּ שְׁנֵי גֹיִים בְּבִטְנֵךְ וּשְׁנֵי לְאֻמִּים מִמֵּעַיִךְ יִפָּרֵדוּ וּלְאֹם מִלְאֹם יֶאֱמָץ וְרַב יַעֲבֹד  25:23

צָעִיר

Gene. 25:23   And the Lord said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from your bowels shall be separated, and one people shall be stronger than the other people and the older shall serve the younger.”

Consider the wording of this prophecy.  God makes it clear to Rebekah as to which people will serve the other, but He doesn’t specify which is the stronger.  It would have been clearer to write “… one people shall be stronger than the other and the former (latter) shall serve the latter (former).  Or, since we know that the older will be Esau and the younger, Jacob, the prophecy could have been written as “the younger (older) people shall be stronger than the other and the older shall serve the younger.”  To make it even more confusing, there is another possible translation for the last three Hebrew words.  They can be translated as “… and the greater shall serve the smaller.”  Moreover, the word “and” appearing before “the older” can be translated as “but,” making the prophecy “… one people shall be stronger than the other but the older shall serve the younger.”  God leaves the prophecy unclear.  Even in our time, the outcome of the prophecy is unclear.  Esau, the father of the Edomites, was the older, and it appears that in one sense, they were the stronger, at least in numbers.  But Israel demonstrated that they were really the stronger because they conquered Edom.  It is also unclear as to who served, is, or will be serving, whom.  In early times, when the bible was written, it might have been observed that the Edomites served the Israelites, and that the Israelites were stronger than the Edomites, but we can’t be sure of when the Torah was written or for which time in history the prophecy is targeted.

וַיִּמְלְאוּ יָמֶיהָ לָלֶדֶת וְהִנֵּה תוֹמִם בְּבִטְנָהּ  25:24

Gene. 25:24   And her days were fulfilled to deliver, and behold, twins had been in her womb.

Of course, the scribe had already alluded to this fact in vss. 25:22 and 25:23.

וַיֵּצֵא הָרִאשׁוֹן אַדְמוֹנִי כֻּלּוֹ כְּאַדֶּרֶת שֵׂעָר וַיִּקְרְאוּ שְׁמוֹ עֵשָׂו  25:25

Gene. 25:25   And came forth the first, ruddy, all of him with a covering of hair, and they called his name Esau.                                         [Return to Levi. 19:27]

וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן יָצָא אָחִיו וְיָדוֹ אֹחֶזֶת בַּעֲקֵב עֵשָׂו וַיִּקְרָא שְׁמוֹ יַעֲקֹב וְיִצְחָק בֶּן שִׁשִּׁים שָׁנָה בְּלֶדֶת  25:26

אֹתָם

Gene. 25:26   And after that came forth his brother, and his hand was holding onto the heel of Esau, so his name was called Jacob. And Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

The name Jacob means “he shall grasp the heel.”  His name might also be a prophecy as well as a description of how the twins were born, as was “the older shall serve the younger.”  Besides this, we know that Isaac was forty years of age (for example, v. 25:20) when he and Rebekah married.  So Rebekah had not conceived for twenty years.  That’s probably why Isaac was praying to the Lord (v. 25:21).

                              [Return to Gene. 26:35]              [Return to Gene. 28:5]              [Return to Gene. 36:3]

וַיִּגְדְּלוּ הַנְּעָרִים וַיְהִי עֵשָׂו אִישׁ יֹדֵעַ צַיִד אִישׁ שָׂדֶה וְיַעֲקֹב אִישׁ תָּם יֹשֵׁב אֹהָלִים  25:27

Gene. 25:27   And the boys grew, and Esau was an expert man of the hunt, a man of the forest, and Jacob was a man of piety, a tent dweller.

The wording of this contrast is interesting.  Dwelling in tents seems to mean that Jacob was not an outdoorsman, that he spent his time indoors studying, contemplating, or possibly even scheming.  Esau, on the other hand, was out in the forest, always hunting; he didn’t dwell in tents.

וַיֶּאֱהַב יִצְחָק אֶת עֵשָׂו כִּיצַיִד בְּפִיו וְרִבְקָה אֹהֶבֶת אֶת יַעֲקֹב  25:28

Gene. 25:28   Now Isaac loved Esau because of the game in his mouth; and Rebekah loved Jacob.

So Isaac was partial to the meat that Esau brought home, but not to the studies or contemplation of Jacob.  In fact, it seems as if there was little interaction between Isaac and Jacob.  Does that imply that Jacob was jealous of Esau, instigating him to scheme against his brother?

וַיָּזֶד יַעֲקֹב נָזִיד וַיָּבֹא עֵשָׂו מִן הַשָּׂדֶה וְהוּא עָיֵף  25:29

Gene. 25:29   And Jacob cooked soup when Esau came in from the forest and he was faint.

וַיֹּאמֶר עֵשָׂו אֶל יַעֲקֹב הַלְעִיטֵנִי נָא מִן הָאָדֹם הָאָדֹם הַזֶּה כִּי עָיֵף אָנֹכִי עַל כֵּן קָרָא שְׁמוֹ אֱדוֹם  25:30

Gene. 25:30   And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me swallow, please, some of this ruddy, red soup, for I am faint.”  Therefore his name was called Edom.

Edom means red or ruddy.  As I mentioned above, Esau was the father of the Edomites.

וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב מִכְרָה כַיּוֹם אֶת בְּכֹרָתְךָ לִי  25:31

Gene. 25:31   And Jacob said, “First sell your birthright to me.”

Was Jacob the jealous manipulative schemer, or what!

וַיֹּאמֶר עֵשָׂו הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי הוֹלֵךְ לָמוּת וְלָמָּה זֶּה לִי בְּכֹרָה  25:32

Gene. 25:32   And Esau said, “Behold, I am at the point of death; so what is a birthright to me?”

וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב הִשָּׁבְעָה לִּי כַּיּוֹם וַיִּשָּׁבַע לוֹ וַיִּמְכֹּר אֶת בְּכֹרָתוֹ לְיַעֲקֹב  25:33

Gene. 25:33   And Jacob said, “Swear to me first!”  And he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.

וְיַעֲקֹב נָתַן לְעֵשָׂו לֶחֶם וּנְזִיד עֲדָשִׁים וַיֹּאכַל וַיֵּשְׁתְּ וַיָּקָם וַיֵּלַךְ וַיִּבֶז עֵשָׂו אֶת הַבְּכֹרָה  25:34

Gene. 25:34   And Jacob gave bread and lentil soup to Esau and he ate and drank, and he rose and went away.  So Esau disdained the birthright.

 

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