Abraham Dies in Faith
(Jacob and Esau Are Born)


VERSES 1-4  “Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.
“And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.
“And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.
“And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.”

These four verses present all that the Bible says about Abraham’s marriage to Keturah. Inasmuch as the Apostle Paul speaks of Hagar, Sarah’s bondmaid whom she gave to Abraham for a wife, as picturing the Law Covenant to which the nation of Israel was in bondage, Sarah as a symbol of the covenant under which the followers of Jesus are developed and enjoy freedom, it has been suggested that Keturah represents the New Covenant under which natural Israel and the world will be blessed during the reign of Christ.—Jer. 31:31-34; Gal. 4:21-31

In a prophecy of Isaiah concerning the glory of the Christ, the spiritual seed of Abraham, three of the offspring of Keturah are mentioned, as though to indicate the far-reaching blessings of the Lord which are yet to be available for all mankind. See Isaiah 60:1-7. Under the New Covenant arrangements, all the obedient of mankind—Jews and Gentiles—will receive blessings of life—human life—through the spiritual seed of Abraham, the Isaac class.

VERSES 5,6  “And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.
“But 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.”

In verse one, Keturah is designated a ‘wife’, so it is not clear whether or not the ‘concubines’ referred to in these verses include her, but they probably do. (I Chron. 1:32) Emphasis is given to the fact that Isaac was Abraham’s real heir, thus a type of Jesus and also those who are “heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Rom. 8:17) Jesus was made heir of all things, and the hope of the church is to share that inheritance with him.

The sons of Abraham’s concubines, however, received ‘gifts’ which suggests that in the Divine plan God has blessings also for those who are not partakers of the “High Calling” of joint-heirship with Jesus. (Phil. 3:14) Even fallen mankind throughout the ages has received many blessings from the Creator. He has caused the sun to shine and the rain to fall upon both the just and the unjust. Later, when the kingdom is established in the hands of the Divine Christ, everlasting life will be offered to all as a ‘gift’ from God through the world’s Redeemer.

VERSES 7-10  “And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.
“Then 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.
“And 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;
“The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.”

Abraham died at the age of one hundred and seventy-five—‘a good old age, an old man, and full of years’. His was a wonderful life, for the Lord had blessed him. His faith in God and in his promises continued strong to the end. While he had seen many evidences of the power of God working in connection with the fulfillment of his promises, yet so far as the blessing of all the families of the earth through his seed was concerned, he ‘died in faith, not having received [the fulfillment of] the promises’.—Heb. 11:13,39

Because it was not God’s due time to reveal the fullness of his plan, and because there was no necessity for Abraham knowing it, he did not understand that Isaac was merely a type of the faith ‘seed’ that was to be the instrument of blessing for all mankind. He was given all the truth pertaining to the Divine plan that was essential for him to know in order to cooperate with God in that which he wanted done at that time. Abraham demonstrated his faith in God’s plan by his obedience in all that the Lord required of him. This is all that any of the Lord’s people can do; and in doing it, they rejoice in the blessings which he so abundantly showers upon them.

Abraham was ‘gathered to his people’. In the Scriptures expressions similar to this are used with respect to the death of a number of God’s servants. In the case of Abraham, many of his people were heathen who did not believe in Jehovah, the true God, yet in death they were all together. This is in harmony with the general teachings of the Bible that both the wicked and the righteous are unconscious in death, and that the hope of a future life is in the promises of God to restore the dead to life. Abraham will be restored to be one of the “princes in all the earth” (Ps. 45:16), while the heathen members of his family with whom he is resting in death, will come forth “to the resurrection of judgment”—that is, to be put on trial for life.—John 5:29, RSV

Ishmael, together with his mother Hagar, was sent away from Abraham’s household at the time Isaac was weaned because he persecuted Isaac. However, when Abraham died they cooperated in the burial of Abraham. Abraham was buried in the cave of Machpelah, the site which he had previously purchased as a burial place for his wife, Sarah.

VERSES 11-18  “And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahairoi.
“Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham:
“And 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,
“And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,
“Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:
“These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.
“And 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.
“And 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.”

Verse 11 contains a simple statement of fact indicating the closing of the historical record of Abraham’s life, and notifying the reader that now Isaac and his experiences, and the manner in which God blessed him, will be the principal subject matter under consideration. Verses 12,13 present a brief record of the generations of Ishmael, but inasmuch as he was not to be dealt with particularly by the Lord, no more than this scant information is provided, and even this is relatively unimportant in connection with the outworking of the Divine plan.

VERSES 19-23  “And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac:
“And 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.
“And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
“And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord.
“And 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.”

The expression, ‘generations of Isaac’, signifies the historical record of his life, beginning with his birth, as the son of Abraham. While his life was not as long, nor as filled with important incidents relating to the plan of God as was that of his father, nevertheless he was blessed by God as the heir of the promises made to Abraham.

In some respects, Isaac’s experiences paralleled those of his father: for example, the barrenness of his wife. We have already studied the account of the wonderful manner in which a wife was secured for him, and here we learn that he was forty years old when he married Rebekah. It was not until twenty years passed that his first sons were born. (vs. 26) The reason for this long delay was that Rebekah was barren.

Isaac prayed to the Lord about the failure of his wife to have children, and the Lord answered his prayers. Probably in this case, as with Abraham and Sarah, God wanted to impress the fact of his providence in connection with the development of the promised seed, and that no matter what difficulties stood in the way, nothing could interfere with the fulfillment of his promises.

In connection with the bearing of her twin children, Rebekah sensed that something unusual was occurring and displayed a measure of anxiety over it, making it a matter of prayer. In answer to her prayer, the Lord gave a prophecy pertaining to the descendants of her sons, that both would become heads of nations, but that the one which would be born first would serve the one that was born last.

VERSES 24-34  “And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.
“And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.
“And 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.
“And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.
“And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
“And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:
“And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom.
“And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.
“And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
“And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.
“Then 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.”

In these verses we have the well-known story of the birth of Esau and Jacob, and of the different characteristics of the two boys. Esau was the firstborn, hence, in keeping with the customs of those times, to him belonged the heritage of his father.

Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac, which meant that Isaac was rich in the material things of life. But more important than this, to him belonged the promises of God pertaining to the ‘seed’. These also he inherited from his father, and later they were confirmed to him by God. All of this, including the promises, belonged to Esau by right of birth. However, Esau’s readiness to sell his birthright to Jacob for so small a consideration as a mess of pottage indicates that he did not appreciate it as he should have. The account says that he despised it.

On the other hand, Jacob, born a few moments later than Esau and thus by legal right deprived of the birthright, apparently longed to possess it, particularly as it pertained to the promises God made to his grandfather, Abraham. Because of this, when the first favorable opportunity came, he offered to purchase it from his brother. Esau seemed quite willing to accept Jacob’s offer and the transfer of the birthright was made, at least as far as Jacob and Esau were concerned. Later developments indicate that it still had to be confirmed by the parental blessing.

Click here to go to Part 14
Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |