He takes his leave of Ishmael, with a short account,
Of his children, ver. 12 - 16.
Of his age and death, ver. 17, 18.
He enters upon the history of Isaac;
His posterity, ver. 11.
The conception and birth of his two sons, with the oracle
of God concerning them, ver. 19 - 26.
Their different characters, ver. 27, 28.
Esau's selling his birth - right to Jacob, ver. 29 - 34.
1: Five and thirty years Abraham lived after the marriage of
Isaac, and all that is recorded concerning him during that time lies
here in a very few verses: we hear no more of God's extraordinary
appearances to him, or trials of him; for all the days even of the
greatest saints are not eminent days, some slide on silently, and neither
come nor go with observation: such were these last days of Abraham. We
have here an account of his children by Keturah, another wife, which be
married after the death of Sarah. He had buried Sarah, and married
Isaac, the two dear companions of his life, and was now solitary;
his family wanted a governess and it was not good for him to he thus alone;
he therefore marries Keturah, probably the chief of his maid servants,
born in his house, or bought with money. By her he had six sons, in
whom the promise made to Abraham concerning the great increase of his
posterity was in part fulfilled. The strength he received by the promise
still remained in him, to shew how much the virtue of the promise
exceeds the power of nature.
5: And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac - As he was bound to do
in justice to Sarah his first wife, and to Rebekah who married
Isaac upon the assurance of it.
6: He gave gifts - Or portions to the rest of his children, both to
Ishmael, though at first he was sent empty away, and to his sons by
Keturah. It was justice to provide for them; parents that do not
that, are worse than infidels. It was prudence to settle them in places
distant from Isaac, that they might not pretend to divide the
inheritance with him. He did this while he yet lived, lest it should
not have been done, or not so well done afterwards. In many cases it is
wisdom for men to make their own hands their executors, and what they
find to do, to do it while they live. These sons of the
concubines were sent into the country that lay east from Canaan,
and their posterity were called the children of the east, famous for
their numbers. Their great increase was the fruit of the promise made to
Abraham, that God would multiply his seed.
7: And these are the days of Abraham - He lived one hundred and
seventy - five years; just a hundred years after he came to Canaan; so
long he was a sojourner in a strange country.
8: He died in a good old age, an old man - So God had promised him.
His death was his discharge from the burdens of his age: it was also the
crown of the glory of his old age. He was full of years - A good man,
though he should not die old, dies full of days, satisfied with living
here, and longing to live in a better place. And was gathered to his
people - His body was gathered to the congregation of the dead, and
his soul to the congregation of the blessed. Death gathers us to
our people. Those that are our people while we live, whether the
people of God, or the children of this world, to them death will gather us.
9: Here is nothing recorded of the pomp or ceremony of his funeral;
only we are told, his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him - It was the last
office of respect they had to pay to their good father. Some distance there
had formerly been between Isaac and Ishmael, but it seems either
Abraham had himself brought them together while he lived, or at least
his death reconciled them. They buried him, in his own burying - place
which he had purchased and in which he had buried Sarah. Those that in
life have been very dear to each other, may not only innocently, but
laudably, desire to be buried together, that, in their deaths, they may not
be divided, and in token of their hopes of rising together.
11: And God blessed Isaac - The blessing of Abraham did not die
with him, but survived to all the children of the promise. But Moses
presently digresseth from the story of Isaac, to give a short account of
Ishmael, for as much as he also was a son of Abraham; and God had
made some promises concerning him, which it was requisite we should know the
accomplishment of. He had twelve sons, twelve princes they are called,(Ge 25:16), heads of families, which, in process of time, became
nations, numerous and very considerable. They peopled a very large
continent that lay between Egypt and Assyria, called Arabia.
The names of his twelve sons are recorded: Midian and Kedar we oft
read of in scripture. And his posterity had not only tents in the
fields wherein they grew rich in times of peace, but they had towns and
castles, (Ge 25:16), where in they fortified themselves in time of
war. Their number and strength was the fruit of the promise made to
Hagar concerning Ishmael, (Ge 16:10).
and to Abraham, (Ge 17:20,21:13).
17: He lived an hundred and thirty and seven years - Which is
recorded to shew the efficacy of Abraham's prayer for him,(Ge 17:18).
O that Ishmael might live before thee! Then he also was gathered to
his people. And he died in the presence of all his brethren - With
his friends about him. Who would not wish so to do?
20: And Isaac was forty years old - Not much is related concerning
Isaac, but what had reference to his father, while he lived, and to his
sons afterward; for Isaac seems not to have been a man of action, nor
much tried, but to have spent his day, in quietness and silence.
21: And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife - Though God had
promised to multiply his family, he prayed for it; for God's promises must
not supersede but encourage our prayers, and be improved as the
ground of our faith. Though he had prayed for this mercy many years, and
it was not granted, yet he did not leave off praying for it.
22: The children struggled within her - The commotion was altogether
extra - ordinary, and made her very uneasy: If it be so, or, since it is
so, why am I thus? - Before the want of children was her trouble, now the
struggle of the children is no less so. And she went to enquire of the
Lord - Some think Melchizedek was now consulted as an oracle, or
perhaps some Urim or Teraphim were now used to enquire of God by, as
afterwards in the breast - plate of judgment. The word and prayer, by
which we now enquire of the Lord, give great relief to those that are
upon any account perplexed: it is a mighty ease to spread our case
before the Lord, and ask council at his mouth.
23: Two nations are in thy womb - She was now big not only with two
children, but two nations, which should not only in their manners greatly
differ from each other, but in their interest contend with each other, and
the issue of the contest should be that the elder should serve the
younger, which was fulfilled in the subjection of the Edomites for
many ages to the house of David.
25: Esau when he was born was red and hairy, as if he had been
already a grown man, whence he had his name Esau, made, reared already.
This was an indication of a very strong constitution, and gave cause to
expect that he would be a very robust, daring, active man. But Jacob
was smooth and tender as other children.
26: His hand took hold on Esau's heel - This signified,
Jacob's pursuit of the birth - right and blessing; from the first he
reached forth to have catched hold of it, and if possible to have prevented
His prevailing for it at last: that in process of time he should gain
his point. This passage is referred to (Ho 12:3), and from hence he
had his name Jacob, a supplanter.
27: Esau was an hunter - And a man that knew how to live by his wits,
for he was a cunning hunter. A man of the field - All for the game,
and never so well but as when he was in pursuit of it. And Jacob was a
plain man - An honest man, that dealt fairly. And dwelt in tents
As a shepherd, loving that safe and silent employment of keeping
sheep, to which also he bred up his children, (Ge 46:34). Or,
As a student, he frequented the tents of Melchizedek or Heber, as
some understand it, to be taught by them divine things.
28: And Isaac loved Esau - Isaac though he was not a stirring man
himself, yet he loved to have his son active. Esau knew how to please
him, and shewed a great respect for him, by treating him often with venison,
which won upon him more than one would have thought. But Rebekah loved
him whom God loved.
31: Sell me this day thy birth - right - He cannot be excused in taking
advantage of Esau's necessity, yet neither can Esau be excused who
is profane, (Heb 12:16), because
for one morsel of meat he sold his birth - right. The birth - right was
typical of spiritual privileges, those of the church of the first - born:
Esau was now tried how he would value those, and he shews himself
sensible only of present grievances: may he but get relief against them, he
cares not for his birth - right. If we look on Esau's birth - right as only
a temporal advantage, what he said had something of truth in it, that our
worldly enjoyments, even those we are most fond of, will stand us in no
stead in a dying hour. They will not put by the stroke of death, nor ease
the pangs, nor remove the sting. But being of a spiritual nature, his
undervaluing it, was the greatest profaneness imaginable. It is egregious
folly to part with our interest in God, and Christ, and heaven, for the
riches, honours, and pleasures of this world.
34: He did eat and drink, and rise up and went his way - Without any
serious reflections upon the ill bargain he had made, or any shew of regret.
Thus Esau despised his birth - right - He used no means to get the bargain
revoked, made no appeal to his father about it but the bargain which his
necessity had made, (supposing it were so) his profaneness confirmed, and by
his subsequent neglect and contempt, he put the bargain past recall.