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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 25

Introduction

A.M. 2151. B.C. 1853.

The sacred historian in this chapter,

( 1,) Takes his leave of Abraham with an account, 1, Of his children by another wife, Genesis 25:1-4 , Genesis 25:2 , Of his last will and testament, Genesis 25:5-6 . Genesis 25:3 , Of his age, death, and burial, Genesis 25:7-10 .

(2,) He takes his leave of Ishmael, with a short account, 1, Of his children, Genesis 25:12-16 . Genesis 25:2 , Of his age and death, Genesis 25:17-18 .

(3,) He enters upon the history of Isaac; 1, His posterity, Genesis 25:11 . Genesis 25:2 , The conception and birth of his two sons, with the oracle of God concerning them, Genesis 25:19-26 . Genesis 25:3 , Their different characters, Genesis 25:27-28 . Genesis 25:4 , Esau’s selling his birthright to Jacob, Genesis 25:29-34 .

Verse 1

Genesis 25:1. 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; some slide on silently; such were these last days of Abraham. We have here an account of his children by Keturah, another wife, whom he 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 be thus alone; he therefore marries again. By Keturah 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 show how much the virtue of the promise exceeds the power of nature.

Verse 5

Genesis 25:5. And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac As he was bound to do, not only in justice to Sarah his first wife, but also to Rebekah, who married Isaac upon the assurance of it.

Verse 6

Genesis 25:6. Abraham gave gifts Or portions. Abraham may be an example to us in almost every circumstance of life: we find him, with great prudence: making, in his lifetime, proper provision for his sons by his secondary wives, Hagar and Keturah, and sending them away from Isaac; whereby, in all probability, he prevented great animosities and dissensions.

How happy would it be if all parents, in the time of health, would take care to settle, by will, the division of their goods among their children! What confusion! what quarrels! what discord! what never to be reconciled animosity among brethren, might this prevent! These sons of the concubines, as they are here called, were sent into the country that lay east of Canaan, and their posterity were termed the children of the east, famous for their number. Their great increase was the fruit of the promise made to Abraham, that God would multiply his seed.

Verse 7

Genesis 25:7. These are the days of Abraham He lived just a hundred years after he came to Canaan; so long he was a sojourner in a strange land.

Verse 8

Genesis 25:8. He died in a good old age As God had promised him; good, through grace, his hoary head being found in the way of righteousness; and naturally good, he being free, it seems, from many of the infirmities and calamities of old age. Full of years Of years, is not in the Hebrew, it is only, an old man, and full, or satisfied. He had fulfilled the divine will, and served his generation, and was fully satisfied with life. A good man, though he should not die old, dies full of days; satisfied with living here, and longing to live in a better world. 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, to those that are our people while we live, whether the people of God, or the children of this world. Reader, to whom, at death shalt thou be gathered?

Verses 11-12

Genesis 25:11-12 . God blessed Isaac For the blessing of Abraham did not die with him, but was perpetuated to his posterity, and especially to the children of the promise. The generations of Ishmael God had made some promises concerning him, and this account of his posterity is given that we may know the accomplishment of them. He had twelve sons, the names of whom are here recorded; two of them, Midian and Kedan, we often read of in Scripture. They are termed twelve princes, Genesis 25:16, or heads of families, which, in process of time, became nations, numerous, and very considerable. And his posterity had not only tents in fields, wherein they grew rich in time of peace, but they had towns and castles, wherein they fortified themselves in times of war. Their number and strength were the fruit of the promise made to Hagar, concerning Ishmael, Genesis 16:10; and to Abraham, Genesis 17:20; Genesis 21:13.

Verse 17

Genesis 25:17. He lived a hundred and thirty-seven years Which is recorded to show the efficacy of Abraham’s prayer for him, Genesis 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 die?

Verse 20

Genesis 25:20. 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 to have been much tried, but to have spent his days in quietness and silence.

Verse 21

Genesis 25:21. And Isaac entreated 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.

Verse 22

Genesis 25:22. The children struggled within her In an unusual and painful manner; a presage of the enmity of these two sons and their posterities. If it be so, or since it is so, why am I thus? That is, as some interpret it, “If I am with child, what is the reason of this unusual commotion I feel?” Or, as others explain her exclamation, “If I must suffer such uncommon pangs, why did I conceive?” Before, the want of children was her trouble; now, the struggle of her children is no less so. She went to inquire of the Lord Probably she consulted Melchizedek, or some other holy person, who was favoured with divine revelations: or perhaps the expression only means that she addressed herself to God in prayer. The Word of God and prayer, by which we now inquire of him, 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 counsel at his mouth. Reader, let this be thy practice in all thy difficulties and perplexities.

Verse 23

Genesis 25:23. Two nations are in thy womb The fathers of two nations, namely, of the Edomites and Israelites; two manner of people, which should not only greatly differ from each other in religion, laws, manners, but should 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.

Verse 25

Genesis 25:25. Red, like a hairy garment With red hair all over his body, 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.

Verse 26

Genesis 25:26. His hand took hold on Esau’s heel This signified, 1st, Jacob’s pursuit of the birthright and blessing; from the first he reached forth to have caught hold of it, and if possible to have prevented his brother. 2d, His prevailing for it at last: that, in process of time, he should gain his point. This passage is referred to, Hosea 12:3, and from hence he had his name, Jacob, which means, He took him by the heel, or he supplanted.

Verse 27

Genesis 25:27. Jacob was a plain man This probably means, that he was of a mild and gentle nature, of a contemplative turn of mind, and delighting in a pastoral life.

Verse 28

Genesis 25:28. Isaac loved Esau The conduct of both these parents was blameable: they had but these two children, and the father was peculiarly attached to the one, and the mother to the other. And this improper partiality gave occasion to that strife which once threatened their being deprived of them both. Such partiality should be carefully guarded against in parents, as being both sinful in itself, and of dangerous tendency. It is true some children may be of a much more amiable spirit and conduct than others of the same family; yet all ought to have a due share of parental regard, and none be in any manner slighted or neglected.

Verses 29-32

Genesis 25:29-32 . Sod That is, boiled. Edom, or red. Sell me this day thy birthright He cannot be excused in taking advantage of Esau’s necessity; yet neither can Esau be excused, who was profane, Hebrews 12:16, because for one morsel of meat he sold his birthright. Various have been the opinions what this birthright was which Esau sold, but the most probable is, that, together with the right of sacrificing, and being the priest of the family, it included the peculiar blessing promised to the seed of Abraham, that of being the progenitor of the Messiah, and the heir of the special promises of God, respecting Christ’s kingdom. It was at least typical of spiritual privileges, those of the firstborn that are written in heaven. Esau was now tried how he would value those, and he shows himself sensible only of present grievances; may he but get relief against them, he cares not for his birthright. If we look on Esau’s birthright as only a temporal advantage, what he said had something of truth in it; 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 of it. 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.

Verse 34

Genesis 25:34. He did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way Without any serious reflections upon the ill bargain he had made, or any show of regret. Thus Esau despised his birthright 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 matter past recall.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 25". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/genesis-25.html. 1857.