Genesis Chapter 25: Abraham’s Third Wife Keturah, Abraham buried in Tomb of the Patriarchs, Jacob and Esau

Feb 24th, 2010 | By | Category: Genesis, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Genesis Chapter 25: Abraham’s Third Wife Keturah, Abraham buried in Tomb of the Patriarchs, Jacob and Esau

Gen. 25:1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.

Gen. 25:2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.

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

Gen. 25:4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.

Keturah bore six sons to Abraham. Hence Abraham had a total of eight sons, including Isaac and Ishmael. Keturah’s sons prefigure the world in the Kingdom under the New Covenant. Ishmael represents natural Israel, and Hagar, his mother, represents the Law Covenant. Isaac portrays the Church, developed under Sarah, a picture of the Grace Covenant. Hence the three wives of Abraham represent three covenants.

Two of Abraham’s “wives,” Hagar and Keturah, are sometimes called concubines. A concubine is a wife with a little lower status. Sarah, however, was a wife in the highest sense.

“Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman … Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is [H]Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai … and answereth to Jerusalem….

But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all…. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise” (Gal. 4:22,24-26,28). Hagar and Sarah represent “two covenants.” Therefore, by inference, Keturah also represents a covenant: the New (Law) Covenant of the future.

In regard to the age factor, Abraham was 137 when Sarah died. Isaac was 37 at the time and was 40 when he married Rebekah. Hence Abraham was 140 when the marriage took place.

Since the twenty-fifth chapter of Genesis follows the marriage, we assume that Abraham was at least 140 years old when he married Keturah.

It was a miracle that Abraham sired Isaac in his old age. Ishmael was born when Abraham was 86, and then he became impotent, until his virility was miraculously restored and lasted well past age 140. Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born.

There are other Scriptural examples of children sired in old age. (1) After Job’s health was restored, he had a second family to replace the one that had died (Job 42:12,13). (2) Noah was over 500 when he began to have children. (3) Terah died at age 205 (Gen. 11:32). Immediately at that point, Abraham entered the Promised Land—at age 75. If we subtract (205 – 75 = 130), we see that Terah was 130 years old when Abraham was born. (4) Jacob was over 90 when Joseph was born, and Benjamin came after that. Following Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there came a marked change along these lines.

Keturah means “incense,” “praise,” that is, in regard to the New Covenant. In the Kingdom, the whole world will recognize God’s plan, and there will be much praise. Concubine Hagar was a “bondwoman”; wife Sarah was a “freewoman” (Gal. 4:22,23). The wife had a higher status, although both were married.

Jesus said at the institution of the Memorial, “This is my blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). Other Scriptures clarify the meaning of the “new covenant,” as used here. For example, the blood preceded the new covenant in the type. The blood seals the covenant for others. The blood “of bulls and of goats” was used to establish the Law Covenant, and this blood preceded, just as Jesus’ and the Church’s sacrifice precedes the New Covenant’s going into effect (Heb. 9:13). Plural “bulls” and goats” are mentioned because of the quantity of blood that was needed. Two million people were sprinkled individually. In the Tabernacle service, only limited blood was needed—to sprinkle the horns of the altar and to pour the rest on the ground. Isaiah 49:8 states that Christ will be given “for a covenant”; Christ is not under that covenant, but he will mediate it. And the Church, in a secondary sense, will be associated with Jesus in mediating the New Covenant.

The Sarah Covenant is also called the Grace Covenant. Paul said in Romans 6:14, “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” In Galatians 4:26, the same apostle said, “Jerusalem which is above … is the mother of us all.” This text is an allusion to Sarah, who had been barren a long time. We are children of the free woman, Sarah, as Isaac was. Isaac pictures a seed class.

The Sheba and Dedan of verse 3 were of Shem’s lineage, whereas the Sheba and Dedan of Genesis 10:7 were of Ham’s lineage. In regard to prophecy, particularly Ezekiel chapter 38, it is important to determine which Sheba and Dedan line is being referred to.

Gen. 25:5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.

Gen. 25:6 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.

Abraham gave “all” that he had unto Isaac, yet the account says that he gave generous gifts unto Ishmael’s and Keturah’s sons. (Here is a case in Scripture where “all” does not mean all.) Isaac got Abraham’s property rights and birthright—the more personal things—and also the burial place at Machpelah. The spiritual promise was the most important.

The children of Hagar and Keturah went eastward, across Jordan. Of course, Ishmael had left earlier.

Verses 5 and 6 took place about 500 years after the Flood. From the tenth chapter of Genesis on, the genealogy is important. Pre-Flood genealogy is more nebulous in that the ages of individuals are given but not where they lived.

There is a spiritual application for the statement “Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.” The Abrahamic promise was, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the nations of earth be blessed.”

The privilege of being the initial channel of blessing to all mankind was given to Abraham.

Therefore, Abraham and his seed will be blessers. This promise is primarily spiritual, yet as the possessor of spiritual blessings, Abraham and his spiritual seed will be able to dispense natural blessings. Just as Abraham gave all to Isaac, so in one sense, so the Father gave all to the Son.

Jesus inherits everything under Jehovah.

Gen. 25:7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.

Abraham died at age 175. Terah, his father, had died at 205. Thus ages were diminishing.

Gen. 25:8 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.

“Abraham … was gathered to his people.” God has a book of generations, a memory book, in which the names are “gathered” with a classified identity. God’s book of remembrance in death probably has various files or chapters. Since Abraham was buried in the cave of Machpelah, the expression “was gathered to his people” has to have another meaning; namely, Abraham was gathered in the Shem line or category (verse 9).

Gen. 25:9 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;

Gen. 25:10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham. It is interesting that Ishmael came for the interment. Sarah had been buried there earlier, in the cave of Machpelah in Mamre, or Hebron.

Gen. 25:11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.

Isaac dwelled by the well Lahai-roi. He was at this same well when Eliezer brought Rebekah back, and Hagar fled to this well when she was pregnant and the Lord told her to return to Sarai (Gen. 16:14). “Lahai-roi” means “[the well of] him that liveth and seeth me.” There God made a covenant, a Jewish oath, with Hagar’s progeny. Ishmael pictures Israel according to the flesh, and Isaac pictures Jesus. A Jew according to the flesh, Jesus obeyed the Law perfectly, remaining under it until the fulfillment at his death. A “Star” rose out of Jacob (Num. 24:17).

The beginnings of the Jews were at Lahai-roi. Isaac later removed to Beersheba (Gen. 26:33).

Gen. 25:12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham:

Gen. 25:13 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,

Gen. 25:14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,

Gen. 25:15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:

Gen. 25:16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.

Gen. 25:17 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.

Hagar was an Egyptian. Egypt pictures the world, so Ishmael represents a natural picture, that is, according to the flesh. The Hagar Covenant is a natural, fleshly covenant, whereas the Sarah Covenant is spiritual. Ishmael pictures natural Israel, and his 12 sons, who are called “twelve princes,” represent the 12 tribes of Israel. Abraham was promised that (12) kings would come through his seed. Of Esau would come “dukes” (Gen. 36:15). Notice that the sons of Ishmael were the names of towns as well as the names of individuals. This custom continued.

In connection with childbearing, God only has to push a lever, as it were, to arrange that a certain number of children are born. Abraham, a very virile man, was made impotent for a period of time to create a type. Just as Ishmael had to be born before Isaac, so natural Israel preceded spiritual Israel in history. And Sarah was barren for a time. God does not interfere with free moral agency, but He does guide certain things. The potter has power over the clay; that is, God does manipulate certain things, but those things have nothing to do with free  moral agency

Earth will be an example forever to all intelligent beings. Mathematically and schematically, it will be seen that nothing got out of hand. God has guided these types not just for us but for future posterity. At present, we understand only a small portion of what He has been doing. Ishmael died at age 137; Abraham died at 175. Some translations have “expired” instead of “gave up the ghost.” It is true that when one expires, there is the last breath, but there is also a record of the individual who is dying. The expression “gave up the ghost” is significant, for it means that the identity of the deceased is transferred and preserved. The record of the deceased life is given to God. Stated another way, the spirit, or transferred identity, goes back to God whence it came. The body, the breath, and the identity are all separate.

Gen. 25:18 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.

The generations of Ishmael dwelled from Havilah unto Shur. Shur, to which Hagar had tried to flee many years earlier, is in Sinai across the Gulf of Suez from Egypt. Bible maps show the Wilderness of Shur, which was a natural wall about 50 miles long. Shur means “wall.”

Ishmael died “in the presence of all his brethren”; that is, his children were all in his presence. (Similarly, Ishmael and Isaac both attended Abraham’s funeral service.) At one time, it looked as if Ishmael would die from lack of water, but now a mighty race was coming from him.

One of the rivers of Eden flowed through Havilah. Havilah, or Assyria, was far to the north. Verse 18 is saying that Ishmael’s and Keturah’s sons, progeny, and families were numerous on the east side of Jordan, and they kept spreading out north and south from Assyria (near Ararat) to Shur (near Egypt).

The Arabs of today could be descended from either Ishmael’s or Keturah’s children, but they are all Shemites, kinsmen to the Jews. In other words, if the lineages were traced back, they would all lead to Shem. “Arab” is a loose term that includes many nationalities but is not a nationality. “Arab” is a religious term like “Christian.” A Christian can be a Jew, a German, a Chinese, etc. The only restriction for the Arab is that regardless of nationality, he must be of Shem.

Gen. 25:19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac:

By comparing verses 19, 20, and 26, we see that Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah and 60 when she had Jacob and Esau. In other words, Rebekah was barren for 20 years.

Gen. 25:20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.

Twice Rebekah’s Syrian background was mentioned. Other prophecies tell that Israel’s father, Jacob, was a Syrian (Deut. 26:5). Through this Syrian strain came problems—genetic habits.

Gen. 25:21 And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Isaac entreated God for Rebekah’s barrenness. The prayers would have continued for 20 years in a constancy of importuning. Sarah had been barren, and now Rebekah was also barren. There are other similarities as well, for Rebekah pictures the Sarah Covenant.

Gen. 25:22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD.

Gen. 25:23 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.

During the quickening phase (at five months), Rebekah felt the struggle within her womb.

Also, rivalry and contention existed later, during part of the life of Jacob and Esau. The inner movement was so great that Rebekah inquired of the Lord: “Why is this happening to me?”

Rebekah “went to inquire of the LORD.” She did not just ask the Lord at night in her tent when ready to retire but “went” some place. Where? There was no official Tabernacle structure at this time. (It was 430 years from the making of the covenant with Abraham until the giving of the Law to Moses.) With Melchisedec, who was at Jerusalem, being called “the priest of the most high God,” there was some kind of arrangement, but we have no details (Gen. 14:18). In the days of Moses, before he was given the vision on Mount Sinai and the Tabernacle was built, there was a tabernacle, or tent, outside the camp where he went to inquire of the Lord. An altar was probably in front of it.

Rebekah may have gone to the well Lahai-roi, where God had spoken to Hagar in her despair. This is also where Isaac was meditating when Rebekah first arrived, and they were living near the well now (Gen. 25:11). Wherever God spoke became a holy place.

An answer came from the Lord: “There are two nations in your womb. Each of the two who come forth from your womb will be the progenitor of a seed. The contention that is beginning inside your womb will occur outside too. The older one will eventually be subservient to the younger one.” (The latter part of God’s reply was contrary to custom whereby the firstborn got the inheritance.)

In discussing election in Romans 9:12, the Apostle Paul referred to Rebekah in the Book of Genesis: “It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.” The reason for this statement was that God intended to make a picture, or type. “(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)” (Rom. 9:11). God told Rebekah that the reason for the commotion in her womb was the existence of two seeds in opposition to each other. The fact that the elder would serve the younger implied choice or favoritism, for God would honor the supplanting, which normally would be wrong. Paul continued, “As it is written, Jacob have I [God] loved, but Esau have I hated [loved less]” (Rom. 9:13).

Gen. 25:24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.

God’s statement was fulfilled. Two sons, fraternal twins, were born.

Gen. 25:25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.

The first son to come out was red (he had a ruddy complexion) and hairy. Hence he was named Esau, meaning “hairy,” and later his name was changed to Edom, which means “red.”

Adam, also meaning “red,” comes from the same word as Edom, for the Hebrew has no vowels. “Adam” means red in the sense of the color of earth. From the ground, he came forth. “They [Isaac and Rebekah] called his name Esau”; that is, they agreed Esau was quite different.

The implication is that both parents thought of that fitting name.

The significance of Esau’s being hairy suggests desires along natural lines. Esau was physically stronger than Jacob but not spiritually stronger. Jacob was not weak, however, for he wrestled with the angel all night (Gen. 32:24-30). The point is that he did not use the strength aggressively, whereas Esau did, becoming a hunter. “Hair” here represents fleshly, earthly desires, and the nation of Israel is satisfied with earthly promises. Today, for example, Jews highly value money and the education needed to get the money. Also, the hair afforded an opportunity for deception when Isaac gave his blessing regarding the birthright (Gen. 27:6-36).

Gen. 25:26 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.

Jacob was the younger of the two, the second to be born, but how startling! Esau was born first, and then a tiny hand reached out of the womb and grabbed his heel. One twin, Esau, was fully born, taken from the womb; then the other twin, Jacob, reached out and took hold. Jacob’s name, meaning “the supplanter” or “he who supplants,” became very significant.

With a newborn babe, the head flops and there is very little muscular control, but the grasping ability is disproportionately strong compared to the other movements. It is interesting how the Lord used this ability prophetically. At birth, the head usually comes out first, with the arms and hands against the side, so it would be most unusual for a hand to reach out at the moment of separation.

After waiting 20 years, Rebekah now had two little ones! Isaac was 60 years old at this time, a fact that gives a link in the chronology.

Abraham sired Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac sired Jacob and Esau. Again there was a duplication regarding the Sarah (or Rebekah) Covenant versus the Law Covenant. Some friction existed between Ishmael and Isaac in the beginning. For example, Ishmael mocked Isaac at the feast for Isaac’s weaning (Gen. 21:8,9). And Jacob and Esau had friction. In addition to the literal friction for a time between Ishmael and Isaac and between Jacob and Esau, antitypical friction occurred from several standpoints: (1) between Israel and the Arabs in the natural sense, (2) between Judaism and Christianity in the spiritual sense, and (3) between nominal and true Christians from another standpoint.

Gen. 25:27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.

Jacob is called “a quiet man” in the Revised Standard Version. He was quiet and peaceable, living a bedouin life and being content to take care of the flocks. (Later, he served Laban by tending sheep and goats.) In contrast, Esau lived an active, wilder existence.

The hunter was being compared with the shepherd, who peacefully pastured flocks and lived a bedouin type of existence. Hunters usually built cities—like Nimrod. Genesis 16:12 gives a prophecy of Ishmael: “And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.” Again there is a first- and second-generation similarity between Ishmael and Esau. Ishmael “became an archer,” and Esau “was a cunning hunter” (Gen. 21:20). Jacob was humble; Esau was more aggressive.

Gen. 25:28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Spirituality is indicated on Rebekah’s part (as was also shown earlier in her willingness to leave her people and follow Eliezer). Isaac could have been very religious too, but verse 28 shows that parents do not always make the right choice with their children; they may fail to recognize the virtue of one above another. Rebekah probably cherished in her heart the specific answer she got from the Lord: “the elder shall serve the younger.”

Gen. 25:29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:

Gen. 25:30 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.

Esau was also called Edom, meaning “red,” which showed he had a desire for earthly things. “Pottage” was stew or soup. The pottage was red, and Esau had a ruddy complexion (Gen. 25:25). Esau was given to satisfying an earthly appetite. Incidentally, lentils and bread are substantial to one who is famished.

Esau sold his birthright for a morsel of bread (Heb. 12:16). Esau pictures: (1) the Jewish nation, who were given the opportunity of the high calling but forsook it as a nation; (2) the professed people of God, who forsake the high calling; and (3) among the truly consecrated, a class who reap condemnation because they sell that which is spiritual for some earthly, fleshly desire. Those of this class could be the Great Company, who lose the high calling, or they could be the Second Death class, who lose all life. The degree or nature of the selling of the birthright determines whether one is Great Company or Second Death. Hear the context of Hebrews 12:16, which follows:

“And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of [fall from] the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

“Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” (Heb. 12:13-16)

Gen. 25:31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.

Gen. 25:32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

Gen. 25:33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob.

Gen. 25:34 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.

“Thus Esau despised [disregarded] his birthright”; that is, he did not sufficiently appreciate it. The Adversary attacks along the lines of one’s greatest weakness, which is usually the flesh. The fact that Esau had no success that day in hunting providentially brought out this facet of his character and also created a type.

(1987–1989 Study)

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