Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Genesis 25

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.

Then again Abraham took a wife - Hebrew, 'added and took.'

Keturah, [ QªTuwraah (H6989)] - incense. Hupfeld asserts that the first six verses are an interpolation by a later hand than that of Moses. But, as relating some interesting particulars respecting the Abrahamic family, they must be considered essential to the completion of the genealogical tree, and they exhibit, in the numerous progeny of the patriarch by Keturah, historical evidence of the fulfillment of the promise, that "he should be a father of many nations" (Genesis 17:6). There is reason, however, to believe that this portion, extending at least to the 10th verse, is inserted here out of its proper chronological order; because as Abraham's generative energy is described, at the birth of Isaac, as gone (Romans 4:19; Hebrews 11:12), it is improbable that he contracted a new marriage after the death of Sarah, who lived 37 years after that event; still more improbable that he became the father of six sons by one woman, and lived to see them established in independence. It has been considered by the best commentators to be clear that, in order not to break the thread of the principal narrative, this record was postponed to form part of the winding up of Abraham s biography; and this view, which is supported by the use of the word [ 'ishaah (H802)], wife, in a secondary sense (Genesis 30:4; Genesis 30:9), is still further confirmed by the fact that Keturah is expressly designated Abraham's concubine (Genesis 25:6; 1 Chronicles 1:32).

Verse 2

And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.

Zimran - [Septuagint, Zombran, has been supposed by some identical with Zambram, the metropolis of the Kinaidokolpitai whose settlement was on the borders of the Red Sea, west of Mecca; and by others to be the Zamareni, now the Shammar tribe dwelling between the Red Sea and the Euphrates.]

Jokshan. [Knobel considers that this name was transmuted into qaashan whose posterity, the Kassanitai (Ptolemy, 6:7), were located on the Red Sea, on the south of the former.]

Medan, and Midian. Foster maintains ('Historical Geography of Arabia') that these continued separate tribes; but the prevailing opinion is, they merged into one, or were at least so closely allied that their names were used interchangeably (Genesis 37:28; Genesis 37:36). The city Maadan, or Medayen-according to Burckhardt, the Modiana of the classics-was situated on the eastern shore of the Elanitic Gulf. From the southern region the Midianites extended along the eastern frontier of Palestine, some branches of them stretching into the remote pasture grounds of Sinai.

Ishbak [Septuagint, hiesbook] - traced in the Arabic Shobek (which has the same radicals), a castle twelve miles north of Petra.

Shuah - the youngest of Keturah's sons. Foster tries to identify this name with the Chaldean [ Showa` (H7771)] Shoa (Ezekiel 23:23). But the two words are totally different. It may, perhaps, be found in 'Saiace' of Pliny (chapter 6:32), near the mouth of the Euphrates. Above Babylonia, on both sides of the Euphrates are the Tsukhi, perhaps the Shuhites. The Shuhites were probably descendants of Shuah (Job 2:11).

Verse 3

And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.

Jokshan begat Sheba. This grandson of Keturah settled in the great northern desert, and was an ancestor of the Sabean tribe which plundered Job's cattle (Job 1:15). The Sabe of Ptolemy lay east of Palestine, and was the locality in which the settlements of Jokshan and his son Sheba are to be sought. Accordingly, Bochart places the Sabeans in the northern part of Arabia, east of Palestine, and toward the Euphrates.

Dedan - his brother-had his dwelling in the forest of Arabia (Isaiah 21:13; Jeremiah 25:23; Jeremiah 49:7-8; Ezekiel 25:13), which was adjoining to the territory of Sheba.

Asshurim - were located on the mountain north of Yemen, in the district El-Asir.

Letushim, and Leummim. Of these tribes nothing certain is known.

Verse 4

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

The sons of Midian. Midian was the most noted among the descendants of Keturah. His settlements are known; and to the east of these-in fact, extending across the whole country, from Anti-Lebanon to Hejjas-the names of his five sons are traceable. Many of thee identifications are, it must be admitted, conjectural. This much, however, is certain, that the Keturene-Midian was grafted into the great Midianite stock, which was of Cushite origin, and that the Sheba and Dedan of the Keturene family having migrated into southern Arabia became by matrimonial or friendly alliances, gradually meted into Cushite colonies of the same name (Genesis 10:7) settled in that quarter.

Verses 5-6

And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.

Gave unto Isaac ... unto the sons of the concubines. While the chief part of the inheritance went to Isaac, the other sons, Ishmael included, migrating to the "East country" - i:e., Arabia, at first perhaps restricted to the wilderness of Beer-sheba and Paran, but in the widest sense embracing the whole of the two portions of the Arabian peninsula, Arabia Petraea and Deserta-received each a portion of the patrimony, perhaps in cattle and other things. Whether such a distribution was customary (Luke 15:12), or merely a prudential arrangement of Abraham's, the settlement must have given satisfaction, since it is still the rule followed among the pastoral tribes. Some of these sons of Keturah became founders of semi-nomad tribes east and south of Moab; but most of them were insignificant and obscure, or were incorporated by marriage and other bonds of association with the older colonists in the north of the Arabian peninsula, particularly Ishmaelites.

Verse 7

And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.

These are the days of ... Abraham. His death is here related, though he lived until Jacob and Esau were fifteen years. Just 100 years after coming to Canaan, "the Father of the faithful," "the friend of God," died; and even in his death the promises were fulfilled (cf. Genesis 15:15). We might have wished some memorials of his deathbed experience; but the Spirit of God has withheld them. Nor was it necessary; for (see Matthew 7:16) from earth he passed into glory (Luke 16:22). Though dead, he yet liveth (Matthew 22:32).

Verse 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.

Died in a good old age - in filfillment of the prediction (Genesis 15:15).

And was gathered to his people. This phrase (cf. Genesis 15:15; Judges 2:10) cannot mean simply burial, because the corpse of Sarah was the solitary tenant of the tomb; and it is applied here and elsewhere to an event which had taken place previous to the body being deposited in the family sepulchre (Genesis 35:29; Genesis 49:29-33; Numbers 20:24-29; Deuteronomy 32:50). It must imply a reunion in the place of souls apart from the lifeless body; and the fact of such a phrase being in popular use among the Hebrews, is decisive against the theory of Warburton, showing that the patriarchs did possess the knowledge of a future state (Genesis 47:9; cf. Hebrews 11:9-10; Hebrews 11:13-16; Matthew 12:31-32).

Verse 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;

His sons ... buried him. Death often puts an end to strife; reconciles those who have been alienated; and brings rival relations, as in this instance, to mingle tears over a father's grave. It has been objected that, from the brief interval between a death and a burial in the East, the circumstance of Ishmael's presence to join in the last solemn rites is incredible, considering the remoteness of his dwelling in the wilderness of Paran, Et-Tih (Genesis 21:21). But the distance of Paran from Hebron was not so great as to render it impracticable, especially when account is taken of the migratory habits and the rapid movements of the Bedouins. Some family incidents indicate that friendly conversation was maintained between the patriarchal family and Ishmael (Genesis 28:9). Besides, as Abraham must have sunk through a gradual decay of nature, his death must have been an event long anticipated by his relatives; and what, therefore, so likely as that Ishmael had arrived at Hebron some time previous to his venerable father's decease. The funeral must have been a great solemnity. Isaac the peaceful pastoral chief, with his "trained servants," and Ishmael, "the wild donkey man," with his band of armed followers, would make a most interesting and imposing scene.

Verse 10

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

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

After the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac. This is intended as a general statement of the prosperity which attended Isaac as his father's heir; and as it relates to the patrimonial inheritance, not to the gifts of grace, it is ascribed to the blessing of Elohim (God), not of Yahweh (the Lord), the covenant guide and benefactor of the Hebrew patriarch.

Verse 12

Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham:

These are the generations of Ishmael, [ tolªdowt (H8435)] - (see the note at Genesis 2:4; Genesis 5:1). Before passing to the line of the promised seed, the historian gives a brier notice of Ishmael, to show that the promises respecting that son of Abraham were fulfilled-first, in the greatness of his posterity (cf. Genesis 17:20); and, secondly, in their independence.

Verse 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,

The first-born of Ishmael, Nebajoth. His descendants were called Nabathaeans, who rose to great eminence and wealth by their enterprising traffic between the Persian and Mediterranean seas, and of whom interesting traces are still to be found among the rocky ruins of Petra. Their settlement in that region, according to Quatremere, was not prior to the invasion of Palestine by Nebuchadnezzar. Josephus says, that the name of Nabathaeans was given to all the descendants of Ishmael who inhabited the country from the Euphrates to the Red Sea. But by far the greatest portion of this tribe preferred to lead a Bedouin life; and Diodorus, quoted by Winer ('Realworterbuch'), shows how fully the character of Ishmael's first-born, even in commercial prosperity, continued to be that of "a wild man" (Genesis 16:12). The Nabathaeans are the Beni Nabat of Mohammedan writers; and in the Arabic town of Nabt, or Nabte, on the coast, about thirty miles south of Hauran, may perhaps be found another vestige of the descendants of Nebajoth.

Kedar - dark skin (Gesenius), the second son of Ishmael, and founder of a large tribe located in the northeast of the peninsula, and near the eastern confines of Palestine. The Arabian tradition is, that the second son of Ishmael originally settled in Hejjas (Isaiah 52:11-12), but no trace of his name is to be found there now-a circumstance, however, not very wonderful, as Arab tribes, besides their proper Gentile name, often assume that of their sheikh, or are designated from some special circumstances. Foster finds Kedar in the Arabic town El Khedeyre, on the coast of Hejjas.

Adbeel - miracle of God (Gesenius) [Septuagint, Nabdeeel] - Abdilla, the name of a tribe and district in Yemen.

Mibsam - [Septuagint, .]

Verse 14

And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,

Mishma - Septuagint, Masma. Ptolemy mentions the Maisaimaneis, whose settlement was on the northeast of Medina, as probably representing the descendants of this son of Ishmael.

Hadar or 'Hadad' (1 Chronicles 1:30) - [Septuagint, Choddan].

Dumah - the district in the northwest of Arabia, inhabited by the posterity of Dumah (Foster), now called Dumath.

Verse 15

Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:

Tema, [Septuagint, Theman] - the ninth son of Ishmael, a town and district of the province of Nejd, in the northeast of Arabia, and in the great tribe of Beni Teman.

Jetur - the name of a province as well as a man. It appears (1 Chronicles 5:19) that it lay on the southeast side of Hermon, corresponding exactly to the Geshurites (Joshua 13:3; 1 Samuel 27:8), the Ituraeans, and to the modern district of Jeidur, which is southwest of the great plain of Damascus, and is for the most part table-land.

Naphish - re-created (Gesenius) [Septuagint, Nafes] - is associated (1 Chronicles 1:31; 1 Chronicles 5:18-23) with Jetur, and, of course, the settlement of this tribe along the eastern slopes of the Hermon and Bashan mountains.

Kedemah - inhabitant of East [Septuagint, Kedma]. Foster finds it in the town Kedehma, in Hijr, on the Persian Gulf. Knobel and Bunsen ('Bibelwerk') conjecture from the name, that this tribe was located between Mecca and Medina, 'where the mountain land of the Beni Sobh, a branch of the numerous tribe Beni Harb, the proper site of the fragrant balsam, lies.

Verse 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.

By their towns, [ bªchatsreeyhem (H2691); Septuagint, en tais skeenais autoon] - by their enclosures; Bedouin villages, such as are formed of tent-cloths spread over stone walls (Stanley).

And by their castles, [ uwbTiyrotaam (H2918); Septuagint, kai en tais epaulesin autoon, and in their And by their castles, [ uwbTiyrotaam (H2918); Septuagint, kai en tais epaulesin autoon, and in their nomadic strongholds] - fortified encampments usually enclosing a space within which the cattle are secured (Gesenius).

Twelve princes according to their nations, [Hebrew, lª'umotaam (H523)] - according to their peoples. There is a concurrence of Scriptural, pagan, Jewish, and Christian testimonies to the historical fact that the northern desert of Arabia, including the entire neck of the peninsula, was colonized by the twelve tribes descending from the sons of Ishmael, and called by their names. Jerome says that, in his time, those districts of Arabia were called by the names of these tribes. In course of time they have universally embraced the religion of Mahomet; but they are still, in their general character, true to the prophetic description given of them by the angel before the birth of their ancestor. Numerous travelers assert that, notwithstanding the migratory character of the Arabs, and the many centuries that have elapsed, these twelve 'nations of Ishmael exist to this day as distinct, independent tribes;' and Foster ('Historical Geography of Arabia') claims to have traced, in the northern parts of Arabia, Arab tribes bearing names corresponding to those contained in the Mosaic catalogue of the sons of Ishmael, though some of his alleged identifications are doubtful or fanciful.

Verse 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.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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.

They dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria. Havilah [Septuagint, Euilat] was a country of great extent, the exact site of which, however, it is not easy to determine; but it lay along the borders of Arabia Felix and Arabia Petraea (see the note at Genesis 10:29). "Shur" probably denotes here the last Arabian town on the northeast of the Red Sea before entering Egypt, "as thou goest toward Assyria - i:e., in the direction of Assyria-so that the region principally frequented by the Ishmaelites was the whole of northern Arabia, from the Persian to the Arabian Gulf. 'Havilah and Shur formed the southeastern and southwestern boundaries of the territories of the Ishmaelites, from which they extended their nomadic excursions toward the northeast, as far as the districts under Assyrian rule, traveling the whole of Arabia Deserta' (Keil).

And he died in the presence of all his brethren. This version makes a needless repetition of what was stated in the preceding verse respecting Ishmael's death; and so also does that of Dr. Arnold ('Ishmael; or, Natural History of Islamism'), 'he fell opposing all his brethren,' implying that he was slain in some tribal contest. It is more accordant with the tenor of the first clause in this verse to render the last, instead of "he died," 'he settled,' or 'encamped' [since the verb naapal (H5307) signifies, Judges 7:12, "in the presence of all his brethren;" and this is the view taken by the Septuagint, kai kata prosoopon pantoon toon adelfoon autoiu katookeese], 'he dwelt in the presence of all his brethren. The clause is thus the recorded filfillment of the prediction (Genesis 16:13); while, as Havernick has remarked, 'it leaves us at liberty to suppose that Ishmael may have had other sons, who did not, however, attain to the rank of phylarchs.'

Verse 19

And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:

These are the ggenerations - account of the leading events in his life. There is a brief recapitulation of Isaac's age and marriage, according to the usual method of the sacred historian when entering on the [ tolªdowt (H8435) (cf. Genesis 2:4; Genesis 5:1; Genesis 10:1)] generations of any one.

Verse 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.

Padan-aram, [from paadaan, a plain, a low region] - plain of aram (highlands), once simply Padan (H6307) (Genesis 48:7), a district, and from [ sadeh (H7704)] field, being applied to it (Hosea 12:12), a country, a cultivated fertile district of Mesopotamia, at the foot of the mountainous region in which stood Haran, the city of Nahor.

Syrian - [Hebrew, haa-'Aramiy (H761)], the Aramaean.

Verse 21

And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

Entreated the Lord for his wife. Though tried in a similar way to his father, he did not follow the same crooked policy; and if his faith in the divine promise was less strong than that of Abraham, his conduct under the protracted trial was more praiseworthy. For twenty years he continued unblessed with offspring, whose seed was to be "as the stars." But in answer to their mutual prayers (1 Peter 3:7), Rebekah was divinely informed that she was to be the mother of twins, who should be the progenitors of two independent nations; that the descendants of the younger should be the more powerful, and subdue those of the other (Romans 9:12; 2 Chronicles 21:8). The protracted sterility of the mothers of the patriarchs, and other leading men amoungst the Hebrew people, was a providential arrangement, designed to exercise faith and patience, to stimulate prayer, to inspire a conviction that the children born under extraordinary circumstances were gifts of God's grace, and specially to foreshadow the miraculous birth of the Saviour.

Verse 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.

The children struggled ... within her, [ wayitrotsªtsuw (H7533), Hithpael, dashed one another; Septuagint, eskirtoon, leaped] - used of the fetus in the womb: cf. Luke 1:41; Luke 1:44, where the same word is applied to the embryo Baptist. 'It is clear, from the expressions employed, that the movement of the children was an unusual and extraordinary one; and to the mind of antiquity nothing of that kind was without meaning' (Havernick).

If it be so, why am I thus? - i:e., as the Septuagint renders it, 'If I am to suffer such intense agony, why am I in this state?' But Keil and Delitzsch interpret it, 'since things are so, why do I live? - i:e., I am weary of life (cf. Genesis 27:46).

And she went to inquire of the Lord. The opinion of Heath ('Record of the Patriarchal Age'), that she repaired to a native Philistine shrine at Gerar, supported by the tithes of all Monotheists in that district, is inconsistent with her relation to Yahweh, the covenanted God of the Hebrews; and the hypothesis that in the family place of worship at Beer-sheba there might have been an oracle, is equally at variance with the usages of that early period.

A great many conjectures have been made as to the mode of her consultation-some, as Luther, supposing that she would apply to Shem; other, to Melchizedek or to Abraham (Genesis 20:7), who was still living. But she could not inquire either by shrine or by prophets (Exodus 18:15; 1 Samuel 9:9; 1 Samuel 28:6; 2 Kings 3:11), because both of these belong to the institutions of the theocracy. The only solution of the difficulty is, that Rebekah had prayed earnestly for light and direction, and that she had received an answer to her prayers in the way usual in the patriarchal age-in a vision or a dream.

Verse 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. And the Lord said unto her. The answer, like the speech of the angel to Hagar (Genesis 16:11-12), is obviously given in parallelisms:

Two nations are in thy womb, And two manners of people shall be separated from thy bowels; And the one people shall be stronger than the other people:

And the older shall serve the younger

[ Yipaareeduw (H6504)].-shall separate themselves; i:e., from the moment of their birth). A pre-intimation having been given to Abraham of the character and greatness of his posterity by Ishmael, the son of the bond-woman, it was a reasonable expectation that a similar prediction should be made concerning the offspring of Isaac, who was the heir of the promise. In neither case, however, did these prophecies refer to single individuals, so much as to people and nations springing from them. They were not verified in the personal experience of Isaac's two sons, but in that of their respective descendants, who rose not only into two separate nations, but "two manner of people," widely differing in character, habits, and pursuits. Although nearly equal in the natural advantages of their situations, they were destined to run very dissimilar courses of national fortune; because though the posterity of the older should delight in war and violence, they should have to bow in submission to that of the younger, who, moreover, should always enjoy the superiority in religious privileges and attainments.

Verse 24

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

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 25

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

And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment - [ 'admowniy (H132), ruddy, red-haired; Septuagint, purrakees.] New-born infants are sometimes covered with a profusion of downy hair; and in the case of Isaac's first-born, the red hair was emblematic of physical vigour and wildness of character.

And they called his name Esau, [ `Eesaaw (H6215)]. - i:e., hairy, rough.

Verse 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.

His brother ... was called Jacob - i:e., heel-catcher, supplanter, tripper-up, as a wrestler does an antagonist (Genesis 27:36; Hosea 12:3). This action of the infant was an early token of the artful, selfish, crafty character of the future man. 'Whether or no the act of Jacob was beyond the strength ordinarily given to infants in the womb, the meaning of the act was beyond man's wisdom to declare' (Pusey, 'Minor Prophets').

Verse 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.

The boys grew - from the first opposite to each other in character, manners, and habits.

A cunning hunter - i:e., skillful, well versant in all the arts and wiles by which the prey might be entangled and subdued.

A man of the field - i:e., loving to roam about; leading a roving, unsettled mode of life.

Jacob was a plain man, [Hebrew, taam (H8535)] - used hero to describe the mild, peaceful disposition of Jacob, in contrast to the wild, reckless, violent character of his brother. But the word, in a moral sense, denotes uprightness, integrity, perfection: and although Jacob was very far from being a perfect man, 'the term,' as Gerlach suggests, 'may have reference to his relation to God. In the more quiet life of a herdsman he walks before God, and lives in his service, and in faith on His promises; while Esau, in his wild hunter's life, cared only for this world.'

Dwelling in tents - i:e., leading a nomadic life as a shepherd: his pursuits were sober, his deportment grave and thoughtful, and his turn of mind domestic.

Verse 28

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

The parents were divided in their affection; and while the grounds, at least, of the father's partiality were weak, the distinction made between the children led, as such conduct always does, to unhappy consequences.

Because he did eat of his venison - literally, because venison was in his mouth; i:e., he was fond of game. [But the Septuagint has: hoti hee theera autou broosis autoo-for his (Esau's) venison was food to him.]

Verse 29

And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint:

Jacob sod pottage - a soup made of a decoction of lentiles or small beans, called 'Adas (cf. 2 Samuel 17:28), which is very common in Egypt and Syria, particularly among country people and natives when traveling (Robinson's 'Biblical Researches'). It is probable that Jacob made use of Egyptian beans, which he had procured as a dainty; because Esau was a stranger to it; and hence, he said, 'Feed me, I pray thee, with that red, red (thing).' The Hebrew, "red," includes the idea of a brown or chocolate colour. This lentile soup is very palatable, particularly when accompanied with melted butter and pepper; and to the weary hunter, faint through hunger, the odour of the smoking dish must have been irresistibly tempting.

Verse 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.

Feed me ... for I am faint. This was a request, which, addressed to a brother, one should have thought would be at once and cheerfully answered. But Jacob had a purpose to serve, and to gain it, he not only repressed all the more amiable feelings of humanity, but, taking advantage of his brother's necessities, tempted him to commit a deed which, he well knew, would subject him to the displeasure of the Almighty.

Rebekah's fond partiality for Jacob makes it extremely probable that she had imparted to him the purpose of Divine Providence to exalt him to the dignity and privileges of the first-born; and such information was not likely to be received with indifference, or easily forgotten by such a mind as Jacob's. Often musing on this prospect, he had never found a proper opportunity to seize the tempting prize until now, when, faint and exhausted, his brother presented himself at his tent-door. Jacob instantly perceived his advantage, and eagerly improved it.

Therefore was his name called Edom - i:e., Red. It quite accords with the Oriental taste to fasten upon certain incidents in the life, or upon special traits in the character, of individuals, as the foundation of a new name or soubriquet. The Arabians are particularly addicted to this habit. So are all people in an early state of society; and there is no ground to wonder, therefore, at the names of Isaac's sons being suggested by circumstances attending their birth, apparently of a trivial nature, especially as no fault can be found with them on etymological grounds.

Verse 31

And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright.

Jacob said, Sell me ... thy birth-right - i:e., the rights and privileges of the first-born, which were very important. The Chief of these were a double portion of the paternal inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17), the rule and authority over the younger members of the family (Genesis 27:9). And whether or no the first-born possessed also the sacred dignity of the family priest (Exodus 4:22), they had the promise of a permanent possession of Canaan for their future inheritance, and access to fellowship with God, through ordinances of His own appointment. These privileges being gifts of divine grace, the indifference or contempt displayed for them by Esau betrayed gross ingratitude to God.

Verse 32

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

Esau said ... I am at the point to die - i:e., I am running daily risk of my life; and of what use will the birthright be to me.

Verse 33

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

Jacob said, Swear to me this day. An oath is prostituted when it is exacted and given to confirm an improper and sinful contract; and a person is chargeable with additional guilt when, after entering into a sinful engagement, he precipitately confirms it by an oath. This is what Esau did: he despised or cared little about it in comparison of present gratification to his appetite; he threw away his religious privileges for a trifle; and hence, he is stigmatized by the apostle as a "profane person" (Hebrews 12:16; also Philippians 3:19). 'There was never any meat, except the forbidden fruit, so dearly bought as this broth of Jacob' (Dr. Hall). That Esau deserved to be superseded in his honours, in consequence of his irreligious character, cannot be denied nor doubted; because it is principally or solely on this transaction that the charge of "profanity" is founded. But what was justice on the part of God was cruelty on the part of Jacob, who had no right to make Esau the instrument of his own degradation and ruin. Besides, it was impolitic as well as wrong. For he might have concluded, that if God had not ordained him to possess the envied honours, he could never obtain them; and, on the other hand, if it was the decree of Providence, a way would be opened for his obtaining them in due time. Jacob's heart was right, but he sought to secure good ends by bad means.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 25". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/genesis-25.html. 1871-8.
Ads FreeProfile