October 17, 2014

Commentary on the Book of Genesis

By: Tom Lowe

 

PART II: AN ACCOUNT OF ABRAHAM. Gen. 11:10-25:18.

Topic #F:DEATH AND MARRIAGES. Gen. 23:1-25:18.                                                           

                

 

Lesson II.F.8: Second Marriage and Death of Abraham. (Gen. 25:1-11)

 

 

Gen. 25:1-11 (KJV)

 

1 Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.

2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.

3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites.

4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac.

6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

7 Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years.

8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite,

10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah.

11 After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

 

 

Commentary

 

1 Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah.

 

In addition to Sarah and Hagar, “Abraham took another wife”—rather, “had taken”; for “Keturah” is called Abraham’s concubine, or secondary wife (a wife of lower status than Sarah) in 1 Chronicles 1:32—“The sons born to Keturah, Abraham's concubine . . .” The marriage to “Keturah” may have taken place during Sarah’s lifetime; chronological sequence yielding again to topical arrangement. Since she gave birth to six of his sons, it is improbable that he married after Sarah’s death; and since he sent all his sons away to seek their own independence (except Isaac), during his lifetime, it is clear that this marriage is related here out of its chronological order, merely to provide a proper winding up of the patriarch’s history.

 

 

2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.

Abraham’s marriage to “Keturah” must have occurred many years before Sarah’s death, since several sons are listed. Abraham has quite a family, as you shall see, but he had his greatest family after the death of Sarah. Somebody will raise the question, “I thought that at the time of the birth of Isaac Abraham was dead as far as his capability of bringing a child into the world.” Well, I will concede that he was. But when God does something, He really does it. This is why I believe that anything God does bears His signature. Right here we see that this man Abraham was not only able to bring Isaac into the world, but he now brings in this great family of children.

 

The interesting thing that we have before us here is the mention of Medan and Midian. The other boys will have nations come from them also, but I can’t identify them. I’m not interested in them because they do not appear again in the Scriptures, but Midian does. We will find out later that Moses will go down into the land of Midian and take a wife from there. Remember that the Midianites are in the line of Abraham and so are the Medanites. So we find here the fact that there are other sons of Abraham, but the Lord has said it is through Isaac that Abraham’s seed is called—not through any of these other sons. It is not through Ishmael, nor through Midian, nor Medan. All these were nomads of the desert that migrated to “the East country,” i.e., Arabia.

 

 

3 Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites.

4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

5 Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac.

 

Abraham made a distinction between these six new sons and his son Isaac, for Isaac was God’s choice to carry on the covenant line. All the property and authority and spiritual possessions went to Isaac, the patriarch’s legal heir. It was from Isaac that Abraham had his most important group of descendants—the nation of Israel itself.

 

 

6 But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

 

It was Isaac that received the full blessing, but no son of Abraham went empty-handed. Ishmael’s descendants, however, chose to live apart—Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers” (Genesis 25:17, 18). This fulfilled the prophesy given in Genesis 25:11, 12—The angel of the LORD also said to her: "You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers."

 

Abraham may have “sent them away” at the same time Ishmael was expelled; or more probably, when Isaac became co-patriarch with Abraham (Genesis 24:62-67).

 

Giving gifts to these other sons and grandsons, then sending them away, and conferring the estate upon Isaac ensured that Isaac would be considered as the rightful heir without competition or threat from his half-brothers. The steward, Eliezer, had informed Rebekah’s relatives that all of Abraham’s estate was Isaac’s (Genesis 24:36).

 

 

7 Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years.

8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

 

Abraham’s death is reported here, though he lived until Jacob and Esau were fifteen years old, just one hundred years after coming to Canaan. “The father of the faithful,” “the friend of God” died; and even in his death the promises were fulfilled—You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age” (Genesis 15:15). From earth he passed into heaven—“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side . . .” (Luke 16:22).Though dead, yet he liveth—“'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living" (Matthew 22:32).

 

Abraham “died at a good old age” as the Lord had promised him—You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age” (Genesis 15:15).He had walked with the Lord for a century (Genesis 12:4) and had been the “friend of God” (James 2:23). Old age is “good” if you have the blessing of the Lord on your life (Proverbs 16:31). In spite of physical deterioration and weakness, you can enjoy His presence and do His will until the very end (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:8). Like Sarah before him, Abraham died in faith. He also died “full of years.” This suggests more than quantity of time, it suggests a quality of life. A man once claimed that he would rather be “over the hill” than under it. But death is not a threat to the person who trusts Jesus Christ, and lives by His word. God promised that Abraham would die in peace (Genesis 15:15), and he did. He had walked in the way of righteousness, so he experienced the peace of God (Isaiah 32:17). The God who had guided him for a century, would not forsake him in the very end (Genesis 46:4).

 

The phrase “Gathered to his people” is a euphemism[1] for death, but also an expression of personal continuance beyond death, which denoted a reunion with previously departed friends—“I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11).It does not mean “buried with the family,” as some believe, for Sarah’s body was the only one in the family tomb. Before Jesus rose from the dead, the expression “Gathered to his people” referred to “the place of the dead” where the spirits of all men went when they died. The spirits of saved men went to one compartment, while all other spirits went to another. Between the two there was a great gulf fixed. When Jesus returned to heaven after His resurrection He took with Him all the spirits of saved men. The spirits of the lost will stay in the punishment portion of Hades until the resurrection that precedes the judgment of the Great White Throne. It is different in our day; Paul tells us that today the spirits of saved men go immediately into the presence of the Lord, when life ends for them.

 

One day, you will be “gathered to your people.” If God’s people were your people in life, then you will be with them after death in the home that Jesus is now preparing (John 14:1-6). If the Christian family is not your “people,” then you will be with the crowd that is going to hell; and it is described in Revelation 21:8, 27. You had better mark the right choice, because eternity is forever.

 

 

9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite,

10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah.

 

Ishmael comes for the funeral because, after all, Abraham is his father. So Isaac and Ishmael together bury Abraham. Death often brings family strife to an end, reconciles those who have been alienated, and causes rival relatives, as in this instance, to mingle tears over a father’s grave.

 

 

11 After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

 

“After Abraham's death,” Isaac goes down to live at the place where he first met Rebekah.

 

All who have trusted Jesus Christ are as Isaac was, the children of promise (Galatians 4:28). This means that we have a share in Abraham’s will! What did he leave us? Well, there are several things:

  1. He left us a clear witness of salvation through faith. Abraham was saved by faith and by faith alone (See Hebrews 11 and Galatians 3).
  2. He left us the example of a faithful life. James used Abraham to illustrate the importance of proving our faith by our works (James 2:14-26). Wherever Abraham went, he pitched his tent and built his alter, and he let the people of the land know that he was a worshipper of the true and living God. From Abraham we learn how to walk by faith.
  3. He gave the world the gift of the Jewish nation; and it is through the Jews that we have the knowledge of the true God plus the Word of God and the salvation of God (John 4:22). It is beyond my understanding how anybody can be anti-Semitic when the Jews have given so much to the world and have suffered so much in this world.
  4. Because of Abraham, we have a Savior. In the first verse of the New Testament (Matthew 1:1), Abraham’s name is joined with the names of David and Jesus Christ! “A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1). God promised Abraham that through him all the world would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3), and He has kept that promise.


[1] The substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.

 “To pass away” is a euphemism for “to die.”

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