October 23, 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.9: The Generations of Ishmael. (Gen. 25:12-18)

 

 

Gen. 25:12-18 (KJV)

 

12 Here is the story of Abraham's son Ishmael. Hagar had Ishmael by Abraham. She was Sarah's servant from Egypt.

13 Here are the names of the sons of Ishmael. They are listed in the order they were born. Nebaioth was Ishmael's oldest son. Then came Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam,

14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa,

15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah.

16 All of them were Ishmael's sons. They were rulers of 12 tribes. They all lived in their own settlements and camps.

17 Ishmael lived a total of 137 years. Then he took his last breath and died. He joined the members of his family who had already died.

18 His children settled in the area between Havilah and Shur. It was near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. Ishmael's children weren't friendly toward any of the tribes that were related to them.

 

 

Introduction

 

In verses 12-18 we are given the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid. I call to your attention again the fact that the Holy Spirit, in the book of Genesis, gives the rejected line first and then He sets it aside and does not mentioned it anymore. Then the line that is leading to Christ is given and followed. So it is after the line of Ishmael is given in this chapter that we will read about the line of Isaac.

 

 

Commentary

 

12 Here is the story of Abraham's son Ishmael. Hagar had Ishmael by Abraham. She was Sarah's servant from Egypt.

13 Here are the names of the sons of Ishmael. They are listed in the order they were born. Nebaioth was Ishmael's oldest son. Then came Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam,

14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa,

15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah.

16 All of them were Ishmael's sons. They were rulers of 12 tribes. They all lived in their own settlements and camps.

17 Ishmael lived a total of 137 years. Then he took his last breath and died. He joined the members of his family who had already died.

18 His children settled in the area between Havilah and Shur. It was near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. Ishmael's children weren't friendly toward any of the tribes that were related to them.

 

Abraham’s first born son Ishmael (chapter 16) was not chosen to be the child of promise and heir of the covenant blessings, though this went against the traditions of the day. God promised Abraham that He would make Ishmael a great nation, and He kept His promise [“As for Ishmael, I have heard you. You can be sure that I will bless him. I will give him children. I will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of 12 rulers. And I will make him into a great nation. "But I will establish my covenant with Isaac. By this time next year, Sarah will have a son by you." (Genesis 17:20-21)]. Ishmael was on hand for his father’s funeral, but he was not included in the reading of his father’s will.

 

Ishmael represents the “natural” or unsaved person [“Some people don't have the Holy Spirit. They don't accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. Things like that are foolish to them. They can't understand them. In fact, such things can't be understood without the Spirit's help.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)], who is outside the faith and hostile to the things of God. But Isaac represents those who have trusted Jesus Christ and experienced the miraculous new birth by the power of God [“You have made yourselves pure by obeying the truth. So you have an honest and true love for your brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply, from the heart. You have been born again by means of the living word of God. His word lasts forever. You were not born again from a seed that will die. You were born from a seed that can't die.” (1 Peter 1:22, 23]. Paul said to the Galatians, “Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise” (Galatians 4:28).Every believer in Jesus Christ shares all the blessings of the Spirit in Christ [“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)] and is part of Christ’s glorious inheritance (vs. 11, 18).

 

The most important part of Isaac’s legacy wasn’t the great material wealth his father had left him. Isaac’s most important legacy was the spiritual wealth from his father and mother: knowing and trusting the true and living God and being a part of the covenant blessings that God had graciously bestowed upon Abraham and Sarah and their descendants. How tragic it is when the children of devout Christian believers turn their backs on their priceless spiritual heritage and, like Ishmael and Esau live for the world and the flesh instead of for the Lord?

 

Arab tradition has it that Ishmael’s children, listed in verses 13-16, are their earliest ancestors. In addition to serving as a testimony to God’s promises, [“And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.” (Genesis 17:20)] Information such as this genealogy helped Israel to understand the origins of their neighbors in central and northern Arabia. Ishmael had twelve sons, as God had predicted (Genesis 17:20) and died at the age of 137. His sons, called princes or rulers in the scriptures, were heads of families, which in the process of time became nations, distinct tribes, numerous and considerable. They lived in the Arabian peninsula from Havilah (in north-central Arabia) to Shur (between Beersheba and Egypt). The numerous and powerful Ishmaelites lived in hostility toward all their brothers; a fulfillment of God’s words to Hagar. They may have been a tribe of the desert in the centuries just before the first narratives now woven into Genesis were written; therefore, it is surprising that the Ishmaelites have left practically no mark in history. From the fact that they are not mentioned in either the Assyrian or Egyptian records we may infer that they flourished from the twelfth to ninth centuries b.c. After that, “Ishmaelite” may have become more or less synonymous with “Bedouin” [“And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)”] (Judges 8:24).

 

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