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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Genesis 25:18

They settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria; he settled in defiance of all his relatives.
New American Standard Version
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  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Bridgeway Bible Commentary
  3. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
  4. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  5. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  6. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
  7. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  8. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
  9. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  10. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  11. Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
  12. F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary
  13. Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
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  15. John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
  16. Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
  17. Geneva Study Bible
  18. George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
  19. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
  20. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
  21. The People's Bible by Joseph Parker
  22. Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
  23. John Trapp Complete Commentary
  24. Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary
  25. Kingcomments on the Whole Bible
  26. The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
  27. Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical
  28. L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
  29. Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
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  32. C. H. Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch
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  36. Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
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  38. The Biblical Illustrator
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  40. Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
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Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Assyria;   Havilah;   Ishmael;   Ishmaelites;   Shur;   Thompson Chain Reference - Assyria;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Ishmaelites, the;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Abraham;   Esau;   Midianites;   Shur;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Ishmael;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - All-Sufficiency of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Nebaioth;   Shur;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Assur;   Havilah;   Ishmael;   Nebaioth;   Shur;   Syria;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Genesis;   Havilah;   Kedar;   Mizraim;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Abraham;   Genesis;   Greek Versions of Ot;   Hagar;   Havilah;   Machpelah;   Shur;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Havilah ;   Shur;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Abram;   Havilah;   Ishmael;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Assyr'ia, as'shur,;   Ish'mael;   How the Prophetic Gift Was Received;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Ishmaelites;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Last Days of Abraham;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Die;   Genealogy;   Genesis;   Hagrites;   Havilah;   Shur;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Havilah;   Ishmael;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

They dwelt from Havilah unto Shur - The descendants of Ishmael possessed all that country which extends from east to west, from Havilah on the Euphrates, near its junction with the Tigris, to the desert of Shur eastward of Egypt; and which extends along the isthmus of Suez, which separates the Red Sea from the Mediterranean.

As thou goest toward Assyria - "These words," says Calmet, "may refer either to Egypt, to Shur, or to Havilah. The desert of Shur is on the road from Egypt to Assyria in traversing Arabia Petraea, and in passing by the country of Havilah. I know not," adds he, "whether Ashshurah in the text may not mark out rather the Asshurim descended from Keturah, than the Assyrians, who were the descendants of Asshur the son of Shem."

He died in the presence of all his brethren - The original will not well bear this translation. In Genesis 25:17; it is said, He gave up the ghost and died, and was gathered to his people. Then follows the account of the district occupied by the Ishmaelites, at the conclusion of which it is added נפל אחיו כל פני על al peney col echaiv naphal, "It (the lot or district) Fell (or was divided to him) in the presence of all his brethren:" and this was exactly agreeable to the promise of God, Genesis 16:12, He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren; and to show that this promise had been strictly fulfilled, it is here remarked that his lot or inheritance was assigned him by Divine Providence, contiguous to that of the other branches of the family. The same word, נפל naphal, is used Joshua 23:4, for to divide by lot.

On the subject of writing the same proper name variously in our common Bibles, the following observations and tables will not be unacceptable to the reader. "Men who have read their Bible with care," says Dr. Kennicott, "must have remarked that the name of the same person is often expressed differently in different places. Indeed the variation is sometimes so great that we can scarcely persuade ourselves that one and the same person is really meant. A uniform expression of proper names is diligently attended to in other books: perhaps in every other book, except the Old Testament. But here we find strange variety in the expression, and consequently great confusion: and indeed there is scarcely any one general source of error which calls for more careful correction than the same proper names now wrongly expressed. I shall add here, from the Pentateuch, some proper names which are strangely varied: first, twenty-three names expressed differently in the Hebrew text itself, and seventeen of them in our English translation; and then thirty-one names expressed uniformly in the Hebrew yet differently in the English.

"Nothing can be more clear than that these fifty-four proper names (at least the far greater part of them) should be expressed with the very same letters, in the places where they are now different. In the second list, instances 6, 10, and 13, have been corrected and expressed uniformly in the English Bible printed at Oxford in 1769. And surely the same justice in the translation should be done to the rest of these proper names, and to all others through the Bible; at least, where the original words are now properly the same. Who would not wonder at seeing the same persons named both Simon and Shimon, Richard and Ricard? And can we then admit here both Seth and Sheth, Rachel and Rahel? Again: whoever could admit (as above) both Gaza and Azzak, with Rameses and Raamses, should not object to London and Ondon, with Amsterdam and Amstradam. In short, in a history far more interesting than any other, the names of persons and places should be distinguished accurately, and defined with exact uniformity. And no true critic will think lightly of this advice of Origen, Contemnenda non est accurata circa Nomina diligentia ei, qui volurit probe intelligere sanctas literas? No person who desires thoroughly to understand the sacred writings, should undervalue a scrupulous attention to the proper names." - Kennicott's Remarks.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/genesis-25.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Abraham's other descendants (25:1-18)

Before continuing the story of Isaac, the writer concludes the story of Abraham with a summary of his other descendants. Besides having a relationship with Hagar, Abraham had taken a minor wife, Keturah (1 Chronicles 1:28; 1 Chronicles 1:32). But since Isaac was the promised heir, only he could remain in Canaan and receive Abraham's inheritance. Abraham therefore gave gifts to his minor wives and their children and sent them off to establish independent lives elsewhere. They became ancestors of various Arab tribes (25:1-6).

There was a brief reunion between Ishmael and Isaac at the burial of Abraham (7-11), but Ishmael and his family remained largely outside Canaan. The promises given earlier to Ishmael were fulfilled in the many Arab tribes descended from him (12-18).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/genesis-25.html. 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

THE TOLEDOTH OF ISHMAEL

"Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's maid, bare unto Abraham: and these are the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth; and Kedar and Adbeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, Hadad, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: these are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names by their villages, and by their encampments; twelve princes according to their nations. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, a 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: he abode over against all his brethren."

These seven verses are all that are devoted to Ishmael's posterity, the chief focus of the sacred narrator's concern being, not the posterity of Ishmael, but that of Isaac, to which he turned at once. The information here was given to show how God fulfilled His promise to Abraham that Ishmael would be blessed, and even that he would dwell "over against," that is, adjacent to the Israelites, a phenomenon that has continued to the present day.

It is hardly profitable to follow each of these names into the racial history that followed. As a matter of fact, Morris correctly discerned that:

Through millennia of migrations and intermarriages, it seems likely that all of these peoples, the descendants of Keturah, together with the descendants of Ishmael, Lot, and Esau, along with earlier descendants of Shem, and, in some cases, Ham, have gradually merged and become the modern day Arabic peoples.[13]

At the time Abraham was buried, Ishmael was nearly ninety years old; and by that time his sons were all grown into strong and powerful leaders with strongholds and villages of their own, so they were called, "Twelve princes according to their nations."

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/genesis-25.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

- Section XI. - Isaac

- LII. History of Ishmael

13. נבית nebāyot Nebajoth, “heights.” קדר qēdār Qedar, “black.” אדבאל 'adbe'ēl Adbeel, “miracle of God?” מבשׂם mı̂bśām Mibsam, “sweet odor.”

14. משׁמע mı̂shma‛ Mishma‹, “hearing.” דוּמה dûmâh Dumah, “silence.” משׂא maśā' Massa, “burden.”

15. חדר chădar Chadar, “chamber;” or חדד chădad Chadad, “sharpness;” תימא tēymā' Tema. יטוּר yeṭûr Jetur, “enclosure,” akin to טוּר ṭûr “a wall,” and טירה ṭı̂yrâh “a wall.” נפישׁ nāpı̂ysh Naphish, “breathing.” קדמה qēdemâh Qedemah, “before, eastward.”

16. חצר chātsēr “court, village, town.”

According to custom, before the history of the principal line is taken up, that of the collateral branch is briefly given. Thus, Cain‘s history is closed before Sheth‘s is commenced; Japheth and Ham are before Shem; Haran and Nahor before Abram. And so the sons of Keturah are first dismissed from the pages of history, and then Ishmael.

Genesis 25:12

The present passage begins with the formula, “and these are the generations,” and forms the eighth document so commencing. The appearance of a document consisting of seven verses is clearly against the supposition that each of these documents is due to a different author. The phrase points to a change of subject, not of author.

Genesis 25:13-16

Nebaioth - Isaiah 60:7 is preserved in the Nabataei inhabiting Arabia Petraea, and extending far toward the East. “Kedar” Isaiah 21:17 appears in the Cedrei of Pliny (H. N. 5,12) who dwell east of Petraea. “Adbeel Mibsam,” and “Mishma are otherwise unknown. The last is connected with the Μαισαιμενεῖς Maisaimeneis of Ptol. (v. 7,21). “Dumah” Isaiah 21:11 is probably Δούμεθα Doumetha (Ptol. vi. 19,7) and Domata (Plin. H. N. 6,32) and Dumat el-Jendel in Nejd and the Syrian desert. “Massa” may be preserved in the Μασανοὶ Masanoi of Ptolemy (v. 19,2), northeast of Duma. “Hadar” is Hadad in 1 Chronicles 1:30, the Samaritan Pentateuch, Onkelos, perhaps the Septuagint, and many codices. It is supposed to be Χαττηνία Chatteenia (Polyb.), Attene, and to lie between Oman and Bahrein. “Tema” Job 6:19; Isaiah 21:14; Jeremiah 25:23 lay on the borders of Nejd and the Syrian desert. “Jetur” remains in Ituraea, Jedur, northeast of the sea of Galilee. Some suppose the Druses descended from him. “Naphish” 1 Chronicles 6:19, 1 Chronicles 6:22 lay in the same quarter. “Kedemah” is otherwise unknown. “In their towns and in their castles.” The former are unwalled collections of houses or perhaps tents; the latter, fortified keeps or encampments. “Twelve princes,” one for each tribe, descended from his twelve sons.

Genesis 25:17-18

Ishmael dies at the age of a hundred and thirty-seven. “From Havilah,” on the borders of Arabia Petraea and Felix. “Unto Shur,” on the borders of Arabia and Egypt. This was the original seat of the Ishmaelites, from which they wandered far into Arabia. “In the presence of all his brethren” - the descendants of Abraham by Sarah and Keturah, those of Lot, and the Egyptians who were his brethren or near kindred by his mother and wife. “He had fallen” into the lot of his inheritance. Thus was fulfilled the prediction uttered before his birth Genesis 16:12.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/genesis-25.html. 1870.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

died = had inheritance. Heb, naphal, to fall, esp. as a lot, giving inheritance (Judges 18:1. 1 Chronicles 1:20; 1 Chronicles 26:14. 2 Chronicles 15:9. Psalms 16:6 (compare Joshua 23:4. Hebrew caused the lot to fall). Hence, to dwell with, as in Proverbs 1:14. Compare Judges 7:12, to encamp, lying along the ground. Ishmael was to dwell in the presence (Hebrew "on the face") of his brethren, i.e. mixed up with them (Genesis 16:12). See Genesis 37:25, Genesis 37:28, Genesis 37:36; Genesis 39:1, and compare Judges 8:24. Midian, being his half-brother (Genesis 15:11, Genesis 15:12). Naphal never rendered "die" elsewhere.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/genesis-25.html. 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

18.He died in the presence of all his brethren (25) The major part of commentators understand this of his death; as if Moses had said that the life of Ishmael was shorter than that of his brethren, who long survived him: but because the word נפל (naphal) is applied to a violent death, and Moses testifies that Ishmael died a natural death, this exposition cannot be approved. The Chaldean Paraphrast supposes the word “lot ” to be understood, and elicits this sense, that the lot fell to him, so as to assign him a habitation not far from his brethren. Although I do not greatly differ in this matter, I yet think that the words are not to be thus distorted. (26) The word נפל (naphal) sometimes signifies to lie down, or to rest, and also to dwell. The simple assertion therefore of Moses is, that a habitation was given to Ishmael opposite his brethren, so that he should indeed be a neighbor to them, and yet should have his distinct boundaries: (27) for I do not doubt that he referred to the oracle contained in the sixteenth chapter (Genesis 16:1) where, among other things, the angel said to his mother Hagar, He shall remain, or pitch his tents in the presence of his brethren. Why does he rather speak thus of Ishmael than of the others, except for this reason, that whereas they migrated towards the eastern region, Ishmael, although the head of a nation, separated from the sons of Abraham, yet retained his dwelling in their neighborhood? Meanwhile the intention of God is also to be observed, namely, that Ishmael, though living near his brethren, was yet placed apart in an abode of his own, that he might not become mingled with them, but might dwell in their presence, or opposite to them. Moreover, it is sufficiently obvious that the prediction is not to be restricted personally to Ishmael.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/genesis-25.html. 1840-57.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

CHAPTER25

Then in chapter twenty-five we find that

Abraham [after Sarah"s death] took another wife, her name was Keturah. [The name means, "mother of us all".] And she bare him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, 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 ( Genesis 25:1-4 ),

And so forth, and the names mean nothing to us and probably never will. As I told you so often, it"ll follow a line just for a generation or two and drop them; that"s the end of it "cause this line has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. It"ll follow it for a generation or so, and pop, that"s it. Whatever happened to them, where they went, who they became, nobody knows. That"s just they"re not significant to the story. The story"s about Jesus Christ.

Back here in Genesis, this story is about Jesus Christ. And we"re gonna come on down the line that"s gonna lead us to Jesus Christ. We"re gonna let the others go. We might follow them for a generation or two, but we"re gonna let them go, they"re not important. It"s whole story centers around the person of Jesus Christ. We say His-story. What is history? It is His story. The story of Jesus; that"s what history is all about. And so that"s what this record is all about. It"s all about Jesus. And it"s only gonna center in the one person, Jesus. It"ll let the others go; go quickly. We"ll have a name or two thrown in and then that"s the end of it. We"re gonna let them go because we want to center in-we want to concentrate on the central person of history. So follow out the rest of Abraham"s children for just a ways.

And Abraham [and this is the important one, verse five] gave all that he had unto Isaac ( Genesis 25:5 ).

Isaac"s the son of promise. All that he had went to Isaac.

But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts ( Genesis 25:6 ),

Gave gifts to them, but everything that he had went to Isaac.

And he sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, to the east country ( Genesis 25:6 ).

So he gave gifts to them, sent them away. Isaac is the one in whom the story is going to center because Isaac comes in the line that"s gonna bring us to Jesus Christ.

Now these are the days of the years of Abraham"s life which he lived, a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham gave up the ghost [or his spirit, literally] and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years, and he was gathered to his people ( Genesis 25:7-8 ).

A hundred and seventy-five years old and Abraham died; that is, he gave up his spirit. In reality what happened is that his spirit moved out of this old tent, because this old tent just couldn"t manage it anymore. It was worn out. Once a tent is worn out and has no more value, doesn"t keep out the rain or wind, rips and it just constantly needs patching and repairing, it"s time to move out of the tent. And so Abraham moved out of his tent.

So now this was before Jesus Christ made access into heaven. So Abraham did not go into heaven, but he went into the grave, into Hades where he became the master comforter of all of those who went into Hades, waiting for the promise of God. So in the sixteenth chapter of Luke we find Abraham in Hades comforting Lazarus. And we find the rich man talking to Abraham and Abraham responding with him.

Now when Jesus died, before he ascended into heaven, he first of all descended into the lower parts of the earth. And he preached to those souls that were imprisoned, the spirits, Abraham"s spirit, down there in prison. Jesus preached to him and to all of those who with Abraham were waiting for the promise of God, the Messiah to come. And so the prophecy of Isaiah, concerning Jesus Christ is that he would open the prison doors to those who were bound. That"s the prison door of death, where these people were bound and he opened the doors so that when he ascended he led the captives from their captivity.

So that now as a child of God, when my spirit leaves this tent, because of the way that Jesus Christ has made for me, when my spirit leaves this tent, it"s going into a new house that is not made with hands, a building of God, eternal in the heavens. I"m moving out of this old tent into a new house that the Lord said he had gone to prepare for me. For he said, "In my Father"s house there are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you"( John 14:2 ). He"s preparing me a new body. It is a building of God. It"s not made with hands. It"s eternal. This one is temporary. It"ll never see the number of years that Abraham"s body saw. That would be to me the worse thing that could ever happen to me, would be to live to be a hundred and seventy-five.

In fact, I don"t even want to see the seventy-five! If God so wills it, fine, but I don"t think I"ll ever see it, because as this tent wears out, the Lord"s already prepared a new building for my spirit, a new house, not a tent anymore. I"m getting sort of tired of the tent. The tent"s getting sort of tired, too. The tent"s good for awhile, but after awhile you begin to realize that there"s not just the conveniences in a tent that you"d like to have. You get longing to move into a house. And one of these days I"m gonna move into a brand new house, a building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

That"s why Paul said, "we who are in this body, do often groan, earnestly desiring to move out. It"s not that we would be unembodied spirits but that we might clothed upon with the body which is from heaven" ( 2 Corinthians 5:2 ). For we know that as long as we are in this body, in this tent, that we are absent from the Lord, but we would choose rather to be absent from this body and to be present with the Lord.

Abraham gave up the ghost. Or his spirit left his body after dwelling in it for a hundred and seventy-five years. Good old age. An old man. Full, and he was gathered to his people.

And his sons Isaac and Ishmael ( Genesis 25:9 )

Notice they are joined together now. You know, there was that animosity that existed between them, but it seems that at least at their father"s death they were brought together. And at their father"s death they joined together. Ishmael is still there, and they

buried Abraham in that cave at Machpelah, the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is there before Mamre; And that field which Abraham purchased [in that, you know, cultural thing we got into last Sunday night]. Now these are the generations of Ishmael ( Genesis 25:9-10, Genesis 25:12 ),

And so we"ll follow Ishmael for just, you know, a little ways, and then we"re gonna drop him because Ishmael isn"t important to the story. And so he gives us the name of Ishmael"s descendants and they are no more important to you as are the descendants of Abraham"s concubines, and so I"m not gonna wrestle with those names. You can wrestle with them if you want.

Verse sixteen, it says,

And these are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, he lived to be a hundred and thirty-seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. And they dwelt from Havilah to Shur, that is before Egypt, as you go to Assyria: and he died in the presence of all of his brothers. And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham"s son ( Genesis 25:16-19 ):

Now we come to the one that"s important, the one we will follow.

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 entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren ( Genesis 25:19-21 ):

Now he married her, but yet she was unable to bear children. And so Isaac prayed for her, that God would heal and allow her to bear children. It is interesting how many children we have running around Calvary Chapel that are answers to prayer. Couples that could not have children, who came to the elders and were prayed for and God blessed them and now we have so many little children who are running around here that are just true answers to prayer. They"re little miracle babies that God has given. And it is scriptural that Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife.

And the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, Why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD ( Genesis 25:21-22 ).

My, there was just all kinds of-she was pregnant, and man, there was more than just a baby kicking or moving. This was a real fight going on in there.

And this fight was continued after they were born. How much consciousness does a child have in the womb? We really don"t know because we can"t remember. How much consciousness did you have during the first year out of the womb? You really don"t know. You can"t remember. Now that a child is conscious out of the womb, I have no doubt. For out of the womb during the first year a child is capable of expressing feelings of contentment, happiness, anger, being upset. And yet none of you can remember that first year of your life outside of the womb. The fact that you can"t remember it doesn"t mean that you didn"t have feelings.

So we have no proof at all that a child doesn"t have emotions and feelings within the womb. Maybe some of those movements you"re feeling are feelings of anger. The kid gets mad at the position and kicks you, you know, tired of this position. We don"t know what feeling they may have preternaturally.

Now it is quite possible that these two little guys in the womb were angry with each other and were going at it. They were struggling in her womb. And when they were born, as soon as they were born, the one little guy reached out and grabbed the other guy"s heels, still struggling with him. Fight"s still going on and it really never did stop. So, she was concerned with all of this movement and so she prayed about it. "Lord, what"s going on?"

And the LORD said to her, Two nations are in your womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from [their birth, or from] your bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger ( Genesis 25:23 ).

Now this is before they were ever born. Before they ever did, ever did anything. How is it that God could already make this prediction? Is their fairness with God? Is it fair for God to say, "Well, the elder"s going to serve the younger?" before they were ever born?

Paul takes this up in Romans; the sovereignty of God in election. But we must always remember that God"s election is always premised upon His foreknowledge. "Whom He did foreknow, those He did also predestinate that they should be conformed to the image of His Son" ( Romans 8:29 ).

So God chose while the children were still fighting it in the womb, two nations are fighting. Nations that are gonna be different from each other. One is stronger. And so the two nations, Israel and the Edomites, who never did really get along. Now the Edomite nation has come to the end. The last known Edomite was the family of Herod, who was the king at the time of Jesus and still then he destroyed all the Jewish boys trying to get rid of the Messiah. The Edomites remained antagonistic toward the purposes of God.

When the children of Israel were coming out of the land of Egypt and wanted to pass through their land in order that they might come to the land that God had promised them, the Edomites came out to meet them; to fight them to keep them from coming through. Again seeking, or showing themselves antagonistic to the purposes of God. This is the characteristic of the Edomites from the beginning.

Esau was that way. He really didn"t care about God or the things of God. He was a very natural man. He was the typical natural man, interested in manly kind of things to be sure, but not interested in godly things. And God, knowing in advance his disposition and his despising of spiritual things in advance, chose the younger one to be the heir and the one through whom the Messiah would eventually come. So the younger one is chosen by God over the elder while still in the womb.

And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first one came out red, all over like a hairy garment ( Genesis 25:24-25 );

So it"s just a little kid covered with hair, and so appropriately, they called his name Hairy. That"s what Esau means. And that was very common in those days. You would name your child after a circumstance of his birth.

After that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau"s heel ( Genesis 25:26 );

And that was probably exciting. Oh look, he grabbed his brother"s heel. And then someone said, "well then, call him heel-catcher". And Jacob literally means "heel-catcher". That"s the literal interpretation. It came to mean "surplanter", but the literal meaning is "heel-catcher".

And Issac was sixty years old when she bare them ( Genesis 25:26 ).

So they went twenty years without any children. Forty when he was married, sixty before the children were born. So there are twenty years and he prayed and God gave her children, gave her twins.

And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field [An outdoors man]; but Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents ( Genesis 25:27 ).

Now I"m afraid that the translators have done Jacob a bad turn in translating this "a plain man". The word that they translated was the Hebrew word "tam". They translated it "plain". The word other places in the Old Testament has been translated "perfect". You remember when God said to Satan concerning Job "Have you considered my servant Job, a perfect man?" That"s the same Hebrew word, "tam." Concerning Job, it was translated "perfect". And so the translators have done Jacob sort of a bad turn, calling him a plain man. The scripture"s actually saying he was a perfect man, or a complete man, but he dwelt in tents.

Now we have a tendency to really put Jacob down, and I have to confess that I done my share of putting this guy down because of some of the tricks that he"s pulled. But in reality, he was the man that God had chosen. And the interesting thing is that God never put him down.

And so about the last time I put him down, the Lord spoke to me and said "Hey, how come you keep putting him down?" I said, "oh man, look at those horrible things he did". He said "Hey, where did I put him down?" And I looked and I couldn"t find where God put Jacob down so I quit putting Jacob down. For Paul said, "Who are you to judge another man"s servant? Before his own master he either stands or falls and yet God is able to make him stand" ( Romans 14:4 ).

And God made Jacob to stand, so who am I to put him down? If Jacob were my servant then I would have dealt with him as I feel that maybe he should have been dealt with. But he isn"t my servant. He doesn"t have to answer to me. He is God"s servant. Now if that is true about Jacob, then it is true also about each other. Who am I to put you down when God is lifting you up? Who am I to judge you? You"re not my servant. If you were my servant then I could judge you. You"re not serving me. You"re serving God. And thus I have no right to judge you,"oh, you"re a rotten servant." I have no right to make that kind of a judgment concerning you. That"s God"s judgment. That"s for Him to judge you because you"re serving Him. And it"s for Him to judge me because I seek to serve Him.

So Jacob was not a plain man, he was a "tam" man. "Perfect", actually or complete man. And he dwelt in tents. His brother, outdoors; Jacob loved the tent life.

And Isaac loved Esau, [But for base reasons] because he ate his barbecued venison ( Genesis 25:28 ):

Now that"s no reason for loving one son above another, just "cause the guy"s a good hunter and can bring in some venison. You get hooked on venison and so he loved Esau because he ate the venison.

But Rebekah loved Jacob ( Genesis 25:28 ).

So sad, but true, that with the parents there was a displaying of favoritism among the children.

And Jacob was fixing some pottage: and Esau came in from the field, and he was faint. And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with some of that red pottage, for I am faint: and therefore his name was called [from then on "Red"] Edom [means "Red"] ( Genesis 25:29-30 ).

And his descendants were called the Edomites, because he wanted this red pottage. He was hungry and fainting.

And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Hey, I"m ready to die: what profit is a birthright to me? ( Genesis 25:31-32 )

He was very flippant about it. Hey man, what about the birthright? I"m ready to die; I want your pottage. But Jacob pressed the point.

And Jacob said, Swear to me then this day; and he sware unto him: and thus he sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau the bread and the pottage of lentils; which he did eat and drink, and they rose up, and he rose up and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright ( Genesis 25:33-34 ).

He didn"t really care about the birthright at all. He wasn"t interested in spiritual things. He could care less about birthright. He hated it; he wasn"t interested in it. And thus he despised his birthright.

CHAPTER26

Now there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. [And like father, like son,] Isaac went to Abimelech the king of the Philistines unto Gerar ( Genesis 26:1 ).

Now, it was to Abimelech that Abraham went, but certainly not the same one that Isaac went to because this is a hundred years later, more than a hundred years later. So Abimelech was sort of a title of the king of the Philistines. And so Isaac went unto the land of the Philistines

And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Don"t go down to Egypt; dwell in the land which I will tell thee of ( Genesis 26:2 ):

Now this is God"s direct command: "Don"t go down to Egypt. Dwell in the land I show you".

Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I"m gonna give these countries, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham thy father. And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and I will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed ( Genesis 26:3-4 );

And so now God visits Isaac as he is going over to the land of the Philistines. God comes to him and visits and reiterates to Isaac the promise he had made to Abraham. The land is gonna be yours. I"m gonna multiply your seed, but then the heart of the thing is "through thy seed shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed". Not plural, but singular, referring to Jesus Christ; so the promise of the Messiah to comedown through Isaac. And thus, reiterated, the promise that he had made to Abraham, now that same covenant and promise is passed on to Isaac at this particular time in his life.

Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws ( Genesis 26:5 ).

So really it is because of Abraham that the promises come and Isaac is the beneficiary even of his father"s faithfulness.

And Isaac dwelled at Gerar. Now the men of the place asked him about his wife; and he said [like I said, father like son], She"s my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, the men of the place would kill me for Rebekah; because she was still beautiful to look upon. And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech the king of the Philistines looked out at the window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife [making love]. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is your wife: how is it that you said she is your sister? And Isaac said to him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. And Abimelech said, What is this you have done to us? one of the people might lightly have lien [have laid] with your wife, and you should have brought guiltiness upon us. And Abimelech charged all of his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death. Then Isaac sowed in the land, and received in the same year a hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him ( Genesis 26:6-12 ).

So the king put out a protective custody over him, saying no one was to touch him or his wife. And Isaac went out and sowed and planted and God blessed it and he reaped a hundredfold from his planting.

And Isaac waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had a possession of flocks, and a possession of herds, and a great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all of the wells which his father"s servants had digged in the days of Abraham, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we ( Genesis 26:13-16 ).

So the same thing that happened to Abraham; they saw the blessing and the work of God upon his life and they became fearful of Abraham. And now Abimelech is doing the same thing concerning Isaac. Seeing the fact that God"s hand is so much upon him and the greatness of his wealth and all, he became fearful and they asked him to leave.

And so Isaac departed from there, and he pitched his tent in the valley of Garer, and he dwelt there. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called the names after the names which his father had called them. And Isaac"s servants digged in the valley, and they found there an artesian well. And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac"s herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well "Strife;" because they strove with him. And he digged another well, and they strove for that also: and so he called it contention; And so he removed from there, and he digged another well; and for that one they did not strive: and he called it roominess; for he said, The Lord has made room for all of us, and we will be fruitful in the land. So he went up from there to Beersheeba. And the Lord appeared unto him in the same night, and said ( Genesis 26:17-24 ),

Now again, God is appearing to him just like he appeared earlier as he returned. Now though,

I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham"s sake ( Genesis 26:24 ).

"Fear not, for I am with thee". The presence of God in our lives should be sufficient to dispel all fears. We only get frightened when we forget that God is with us. If you get all filled with fear and just all shook and upset, it means one thing: you"ve forgotten that God is with you. "Fear not", God said, "for I am with thee". How many times had God made that the basis of dispelling fear? "Fear not, for I am with thee". Be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will help thee. I will strengthen thee. Yea, I will hold thee by the right hand of my righteousness ( Isaiah 41:10 ). "The Lord is my helper" David cried "of whom shall I be afraid?" "Fear not, I am with thee", and for Abraham"s sake I"m gonna bless thee.

And so Isaac built an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and he pitched his tent there: and there Isaac"s servants digged a well. And then Abimelech came to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army [which is the title of the army general]. And Isaac said unto them, Hey why have you come to me, seeing you hate me, and you kicked me out. And they said, We have seen that the Lord is certainly with you: and we said, Let us now make a treaty between us, a covenant with you; That you will not hurt us, for we didn"t touch you, and we have done nothing to you but good, and we have sent you away in peace: and now you"re blessed of the LORD. And so he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. And they rose up in the morning, and swore one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac"s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had dug, and they said, We have found water. And so he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheeba unto this day. And Esau was forty years old when he took a wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: Which were a grief in the mind unto Isaac and Rebekah ( Genesis 26:25-35 ).

So Esau, forty years old now, and he married a couple of girls of the Canaanites from the Hittite tribe. And these girls were just a heartache to Rebekah and to Isaac. Probably were so imbued with the customs of their own culture, and all, and probably their own gods that they worshipped, that it was just a heartbreak for Rebekah and Isaac. There wasn"t really good fellowship with these daughters-in-law. There was just too much diversity for them to be close and have a close fellowship. So they became sort of a burden and a heartache to Rebekah and Isaac. And that is why, one of the reasons why, they encouraged Jacob to go back and to get his bride from the family of Abraham, back in the area of Haran again. Because Esau"s brides, they were just a mess, and brought no joy to Isaac and Rebekah. "

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Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/genesis-25.html. 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible


The Sons of Abraham by Keturah. Death and Burial of Abraham. Descendants of Ishmael. Birth and Youth of Esau and Jacob

1. It is not known at what period of his life Abraham took Keturah as his secondary wife or concubine; for it is clear from Genesis 25:6 and 1 Chronicles 1:32 that she only held that position. Some of the names of Keturah's children have been identified in Arabia as tribes.

2. Midian] The Midianites became a considerable nation, spreading over the country S. and SE. of Palestine from Moab to the Gulf of Akaba.

6. Concubines] Hagar and Keturah: see on Genesis 22:24. Sent them away.. eastward] towards Arabia, where they founded nations.

8. Gave up the ghost] an expression taken from the Genevan Bible. The Hebrew word means simply 'to die,' lit. 'come to an end.' Was gathered to his people] joined his ancestors in the unseen world. The expression cannot refer to the actual burial of Abraham with his forefathers, since they lay at Haran and Ur. We may probably see in it a vague belief in future existence. Cp. David's words on the death of his son (2 Samuel 12:23, also Genesis 35:29).

13. The descendants of Ishmael settled generally in N. Arabia, and with the Joktanites(Genesis 10:26), or 'pure Arabs,' of Arabia Felix, formed the great Arab race scattered over Syria and the shores of the Persian Gulf. Nebajoth] the Nabateans became an important people after the death of Alexander the Great. Their chief town was Petra in Idumæa. The name became synonymous with Arabians, and all the land between the Euphrates and the Gulf of Akaba was at one time called Nabatene. Kedar] a people often mentioned in OT.: they dwelt between Arabia and Babylonia.

16. Towns and castles] RV 'villages and encampments.' The Arabs may be distinguished as 'nomad' (wandering, pastoral) and 'agricultural' (with fixed habitations); the distinction is already marked in this passage.

18. Havilah] near the PersianGulf. Shur] the desert between Egypt and Palestine. The lands to S. and E. of Palestine generally are meant. Before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria] rather, 'E. of Egypt in the direction of Assyria,' i. e. in N. Arabia. He died in the presence of] see on Genesis 16:12.

19. Isaac] 'In Genesis Isaac appears throughout as the pale copy of his father. He is the son of promise and inherits his position, and the possessions and the blessings won by his father. He follows in Abraham's footsteps without his strength of character and purpose. In quietness and patience he faithfully preserves his inheritance, serves his father's God, and in turn like Abraham is guided, preserved, and blessed by him' (D.).

20. Padan-aram] 'the plains of Syria,' the same as Mesopotamia.

22. The children struggled] significant of the contests to come, between the brothers, and the nations descended from them, Israel and Edom. If it be so, why am I thus?] i.e. perhaps, If I have conceived, what is the significance of these struggles? but RV gives 'If it be so, wherefore do I live?' since I suffer such pain. Enquire of the Lord] 'Nothing is more natural than that the Hebrew author intended to intimate that Rebekah enquired of God through Abraham the prophet, her father-in-law, who still survived' (Kalisch).

23. Note the poetical form of the oracle. See RV. Shall be separated, etc.] or 'From thy womb they will separate from one another,' i. e. be at variance from their birth. The elder shall serve the younger] the descendants of the elder son (the Edomites) would be subject to those of the younger (the Israelites). See on Genesis 27:40. The knowledge of this prediction explains in some measure the later conduct of Rebecca and Jacob.

25. Esau] meaning uncertain. Some render 'hairy.'

26. Jacob] i.e. following at the heel. See Esau's allusion to the name (Genesis 27:36), giving it a sinister sense, as suited to Jacob's plotting nature. The words Jacob and Joseph, compounded with -el or-ilu (= god), have been found as names in Assyrian inscriptions earlier than this period.

27. Cunning] i.e. clever. Plain] RM 'quiet' or 'harmless.' Dwelling in tents] preferring home pursuits.

28. The evil of such marked preferences in families appears plainly in the narrative.

29. Sod] or 'seethed,' i.e. boiled.

30. Red pottage] lit. 'red stuff.' Esau in his haste did not define its nature. It was a mess of lentils (3.4). It is said that such pottage is, or was, distributed at the mosque at Hebron in memory of the event. Edom] i.e. 'red.' Probably here, as in many other instances in these ancient narratives of Genesis, we have the popular derivation of the names of well-known people and places. Edom is so called from the 'red' colour of its sandstone cliffs. Here Esau afterwards settled: see Genesis 36.

31. Sell me.. thy birthright] The birthright included the headship of the family, a double portion of the inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17), priestly rights (in these early days), and in the family of Abraham heirship to the covenant privileges. Perhaps all that was involved in the birthright here, however, was the double inheritance; as in Genesis 27:36 it is directly contrasted with the blessing which involved the primacy in the family (Genesis 27:28-29).

The character of Esau has many attractive features; but he cared only for the pleasure of the moment and was without any lofty spiritual aspirations. His generous, warm-hearted spirit attracts sympathy at first sight, when contrasted with the wiles of the cold, calculating Jacob. But judged by a higher standard Esau appears plainly as a worldly, irreligious man, indifferent to his parents' wishes, uninterested in the divine covenant, and unmindful of the privileges and responsibilities which were to distinguish his race: cp. Genesis 26:34; Genesis 27:46. His character is summed up in Hebrews 12:16-17, where he is called a 'profane,' i.e. unconsecrated or. common person.

The character of Jacob is in marked contrast to that of Esau. Craftiness and subtilty, even meanness and deceit, mark many of his actions; but, on the other hand, his patient endurance, strength of character, and warmth of affection call forth admiration. Long years of suffering and discipline were needed to purify his character from its baser elements, and make him worthier of the divine blessing. And certainly he was worthier than his brother, for he believed in and sought after his father's God, held spiritual things in reverence, and in the chief turning-points of his life, at Bethel, Haran, and Penuel, showed a conviction that God was with him to bless and guide. He stood out at last as one who has conquered himself, and proved himself to be worthy of the divine favour and patience, Israel, a prince with God. These considerations help us to understand why Jacob rather than Esau was selected as heir to the promises. See also Romans 9.

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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/genesis-25.html. 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

B. What became of Ishmael25:12-18

"The last four toledot sections of the Book of Genesis follow a definite pattern: the lines in each generation that are not chosen lines are traced before the narrative returns to the chosen line." [Note: Ross, Creation and . . ., p429.]

This section records God"s faithfulness to His promises to make Ishmael a great nation and to give him many descendants ( Genesis 16:10; Genesis 21:18). This is another of the10 family histories that Genesis records (see the outline in the introduction to these notes). There is probably an intentional parallel with the10 nations mentioned in the Table of Nations (ch10) suggesting that God would bless all the families of the earth through other special families.

These verses show that God fulfilled His promises regarding Ishmael ( Genesis 16:10-12; Genesis 17:20). Ishmael, like Nahor and Jacob, fathered12sons. Moses drew his personal history to a conclusion before he moved on to concentrate on his brother Isaac.

"The mention of "twelve tribal rulers" ... recalls the word of the Lord regarding the future of the line of Ishmael from Genesis 17:20, where it was promised that he too would be blessed and that "twelve rulers" ... would be born to him and become a great nation." [Note: Sailhamer, " Genesis," p181.]

The Ishmaelites lived in Arabia. Arabia lay to the southeast of Canaan and extended from the Euphrates River to the Red Sea. [Note: Josephus, 1:12:4.] Probably the Ishmaelites were once a confederation of tribes like the Israelites.

"The names of the twelve princes descending from Ishmael are applied not only to tribal divisions but also to geographical localities (cf. Genesis 25:16)." [Note: Davis, p231.]

Ishmael died at137 years, having lived48 years after Abraham"s death. The writer probably included the fact that Ishmael lived "in defiance of all his relations" ( Genesis 25:18) to show the fulfillment of God"s prediction to Hagar (cf. Genesis 16:12). The bedouin-like Ishmaelites later had many conflicts with their more settled Israelite relations.

God is faithful to His promises to bless whom He has promised to bless.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/genesis-25.html. 2012.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(18) Havilah was far to the south, on the Persian Gulf. (See Genesis 10:29.)

Shur.—This was their western limit towards Egypt. (See Genesis 16:7.) In 1 Samuel 15:7 this same region is assigned to the Amalekites.

As thou goest toward Assyria.—This does not mean that Shur was on the route toward Assyria, but gives the eastern limit of the country inhabited by the descendants of Ishmael.

He died.—But the Hebrew is, he fell—that is, his lot fell; he settled there.

In the presence of.—This means to the east of all his brethren. Just as Assyria was regarded as lying to the north of Palestine, because on starting the traveller journeyed in that direction, so Arabia was considered to be on the east, for a similar reason. (But see Note on Genesis 16:12.)

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/genesis-25.html. 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Genesis 25:32

Esau"s weakness and fall in the presence of his overmastering temptation.

I. Esau"s good qualities are very evident, being of the kind easily recognized and easily popular among men, the typical sportsman who is only a sportsman, bold and frank and free and generous, with no intricacies of character, impulsive and capable of magnanimity. The very opposite of the prudent, dexterous, nimble man of affairs, rather reckless indeed and hotheaded and passionate. His virtues are, we see, dangerously near to being vices. Without self-control, without spiritual insight, without capacity even to know what spiritual issues were, judging things by immediate profit and material advantage, there was not in him depth of nature out of which a really noble character could be cut. This damning lack of self-control comes out in the passage of our text, the transaction of the birthright. Coming from the hunt hungry and faint, he finds Jacob cooking porridge of lentils and asks for it. The sting of ungovernable appetite makes him feel as if he would die if he did not get it. Jacob takes advantage of his brother"s appetite and offers to barter his dish of pottage for Esau"s birthright. Esau was hungry, and before his fierce desire for food actually before him such a thing as a prospective right of birth seemed an ethereal thing of no real value. He feels he is going to die, as a man of his type is always sure he will die if he does not get what he wants when the passion is on him; and supposing he does die, it will be poor consolation that he did not barter this intangible and shadowy blessing of his birthright. "Behold I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birth right do to me?"

II. This scene where he surrendered his birthright did not settle the destiny of the two brothers—a compact like this could not stand good for ever, and in some magical way substitute Jacob for Esau in the line of God"s great religious purpose. But this scene, though it did not settle their destiny in that sense, revealed the character, the one essential thing which was necessary for the spiritual succession to Abraham; and Esau failed here in this test as he would fail anywhere. His question to reassure himself, "What profit shall this birthright do to me?" reveals the bent of his life, and explains his failure. True self-control means willingness to resign the small for the sake of the great, the present for the sake of the future, the material for the sake of the spiritual, and that is what faith makes possible. He had no patience to wait, no faith to believe in the real value of anything that was not material, no self-restraint to keep him from instant surrender to the demand for present gratification. This is the power of all appeal to passion, that it is present with us now, to be had at once. It is clamant, imperious, insistent, demanding to be satiated with what is actually present. It has no use for a far-off good. It wants immediate profit.

III. But it is not merely lack of self-control which Esau displays by the question of our text. It is also lack of appreciation of spiritual values. In a vague way he knew that the birthright meant a religious blessing, and in the grip of his temptation that looked to him as purely a sentiment not to be seriously considered as on a par with a material advantage. How easy it is for all of us to drift into the class of the profane, the secular persons as Esau; to have our spiritual sensibility blunted; to lose our appreciation of things unseen; to be so taken up with the means of living that we forget life itself and the things that alone give it security and dignity. We have our birthright as sons of God born to an inheritance as joint heirs with Christ. We belong by essential nature not to the animal kingdom, but to the Kingdom of Heaven; and when we forget it and live only with reference to the things of sense and time, we are disinheriting ourselves as Esau did.

—Hugh Black, University Sermons, p121.

Reference.—XXV:32.—J. C. M. Bellew, Sermons, vol. iii. p139.

Esau Despised His Birthright

Genesis 25:34

Dr. Marcus Dods says: "It is perhaps worth noticing that the birthright in Ishmael"s line, the guardianship of the temple at Mecca, passed from one branch of the family to another in a precisely similar way. We read that when the guardianship of the temple and the governorship of the town fell into the hands of Abu Gabshan a weak and silly Prayer of Manasseh, Cosa, one of Mohammed"s ancestors, circumvented him while in a drunken humour, and bought of him the keys of the temple, and with them the presidency of it, for a bottle of wine. But Abu Gabshan being gotten out of his drunken fit, sufficiently repented of his foolish bargain, from whence grew these proverbs among the Arabs: More vexed with late repentance than Abu Gabshan; and more silly than Abu Gabshan—which are usually said of those who part with a thing of great moment for a small matter."

References.—XXV:34.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture— Genesis, p198. J. Keble, Sermons for Lent to Passiontide, p104. C. C. Bartholomew, Sermons Chiefly Practical, p183. W. Bull, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxii. p100. Archbishop Benson, Sundays in Wellington College, p190. G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p77. J. Keble, Sermons for Lent to Passiontide, p104. XXV.—F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p71.

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Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/edt/genesis-25.html. 1910.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary

ABRAHAM’S DEATH AND BURIAL

Genesis 25:1-18

After being for sixteen years contemporary with his grandsons, Esau and Jacob, Abraham died without owning a foot of land except the cave for which he had paid, as a stranger might. But all was his. He was persuaded of God’s faithfulness, and earnestly reached out his hands toward the City with foundations. See Hebrews 11:13. He was full. Those who had known him in Ur might have looked on his life as a huge failure, and have spoken of him as a fanatic who had sacrificed all for nothing. But he was satisfied. He was gathered to his people, a phrase which does not refer to the body, for his people were far away across the desert, but to the recognition and welcome that awaited him on the other side of death. His sons, Isaac and Ishmael, differed widely. The one dwelled by the well, engaged in pastoral pursuits, while the other lived by his own strong hand, in the desert expanse. But they met in their common respect and grief. Births and deaths unite families. We all stand today in thankfulness at Lincoln’s cradle.

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Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbm/genesis-25.html. 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

VIII. THE GENERATIONS OF ISHMAEL

1. Ishmael and his sons (Genesis 25:12-16)

2. The death of Ishmael (Genesis 25:17-18)

In chapter 16:12 we find the prediction that Ishmael should dwell in the presence of his brethren. In Genesis 25:18 we find the fulfilment. The names we find here may be traced in other Scriptures. For instance in Isaiah 60, the great chapter of the millennial kingdom, we have Nebajoth and Kedar mentioned (Isaiah 60:7). The number twelve, twelve princes, links Ishmael closely with Israel. When Israel is blest in the future and receives the promised Land for his glorious possession, the posterity of Ishmael will not be forgotten.

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Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/genesis-25.html. 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

The record of the death of Abraham is full of beauty. His life had been spent in the realm of the supernatural, the region of vision, the power of the spiritual. The whole of it is summed up in the words which declared that he died, "an old man, and full." His life was satisfied and rounded out to completion. He had started out to find a land and to found a nation. He died with no possession but a grave, and no sight of his posterity other than his son Isaac and his grandsons Esau and Jacob. Yet he died "full," that is, satisfied.

In this chapter begins the section dealing more especially with the life of Isaac. Two divine appearances are recorded as having been granted to him and in each case they were for ratification. His faith was ever passive rather than active and produced rest rather than initiation.

In the account of the birth of Esau and Jacob the brothers are placed in strong contrast; the first wild and romantic; the second, as the margin reads, "harmless" or "perfect," a dweller in tents. This is an interesting statement at the beginning of a story in which so much will be seen of Jacob that is mean and contemptible. Here, however, is the truth concerning him.

Degeneration in the character of Isaac is evidently marked in the statement that his love for Esau was caused by his eating Esau's venison. Neither Esau nor Jacob is to be admired. The one, profane, allowing the lower side of his nature to master him, sold his birthright to appease physical hunger; the other took advantage of that hunger to obtain the birthright.

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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcm/genesis-25.html. 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur,.... That is, the posterity of Ishmael, whose country reached from one place to the other; not from India to Chaluza, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem; but the extent is that vast desert of Arabia, which eastward was called the wilderness of Havilah, and westward the wilderness of Shur; so that they inhabited it from east to west:

that is before Egypt, as thou goest to Assyria; which last place was over against Egypt, and bordered on that part where lies the way to the land of Assyria:

and he died in the presence of all his brethren; they being present when he died, or in peace with them, in all prosperity along with them: but since his death is spoken of before, and here the situation of his posterity, the words may be read, "it fellF25נפל "cecidit habitatio ipsi", Schmidt; "cecidit sors ejus", Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Ben Gersom, and Ben Melech. in the presence of his brethren"; his lot, or the habitation of his posterity fell by lot between his brethren the Egyptians on one side of him, and the Israelites on the other; or between the sons of Keturah on the east, and the posterity of Isaac on the west.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/genesis-25.html. 1999.

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

The Genealogy of Ishmael - gives the account of the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham's son. The book of Genesis lists the genealogies of the Abraham's two first-born sons Ishmael and Isaac, but as with Esau and Jacob, only the second-born would carry the seed of righteousness. Because God loved Abraham, and because Ishmael was his firstborn, God promised to bless him also with twelve sons to become a nation ( Genesis 17:20; Genesis 21:13). Ishmael saw his father Abraham's faith and knew about his God; yet, he chose not to serve him. There is no record of Ishmael building an altar and worshipping the God of his father Abraham. Therefore, this genealogy records no event of God giving Ishmael a divine commission, since Ishmael did not seek the Lord, and the Lord knew that his heart was not set on fulfilling it. Because of his wicked heart, Ishmael failed to receive a divine commission as a part of redemptive history. He and his offspring did not produce a righteous offspring, but rather persecuted Isaac and his offspring. Therefore, Ishmael's genealogy is only briefly listed in the book of Genesis because of its prophetic role in God's plan of redemption. The descendants of Ismael did not contribute to the propagation of God's plan of redemption for mankind, rather, they hindered it; yet, his seed contained a promise from God that would be fulfilled, as recorded in Ishmael's genealogy. The angel of the Lord promised Hagar that God would make a nation from the loins of Ishmael ( Genesis 21:9-21), and the fulfillment of this divine promise is revealed within this genealogy, just as God's promise is fulfilled within the other genealogies recorded in the book of Genesis.

Genesis 17:20, "And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation."

Genesis 21:13, "And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed."

The fact that God records the names of the twelve sons of Ishmael testifies to the honor that God has given Ishmael as the son of Abraham. Such a list of names may be compared to the acknowledgments that an author often includes in a book by listing the names of those who contributed to the work in an effort to honor them.

Genesis 25:12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham"s Song of Solomon, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah"s handmaid, bare unto Abraham:

Genesis 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,

Genesis 25:14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,

Genesis 25:15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:

Genesis 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.

Genesis 25:16 — "by their castles" - Word Study on "castles" - BDB says the Hebrew word "castles" ( טִירָה) (H 2918) means, "encampment (especially of circular encampment of nomadic tribes), battlement."

Genesis 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.

Genesis 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.

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Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/genesis-25.html. 2013.

Geneva Study Bible

And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that [is] before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: [and] he died g in the presence of all his brethren.

(g) He means that his lot fell to dwell among his brethren as the angel promised.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/genesis-25.html. 1599-1645.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

In the presence, &c. As he was the eldest, so he died first; having lived unmolested and fearless among his father's children, chap. xvi. 12. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/genesis-25.html. 1859.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

he died — rather, “it [their lot] fell” in the presence of his brethren (compare Genesis 16:12).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/genesis-25.html. 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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 (Hebrew #5307) 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.'

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/genesis-25.html. 1871-8.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

The Death of Abraham

Genesis 25:8

Now that he is gone we may be able to get a clear view of his whole character, and to see how one part looks in the light of another. It is almost impossible to be just to any living man who is doing a great work, because we see his imperfections, we are perhaps fretted by the manner in which he does it, and we are not quite sure that he may not even yet spoil it by a blunder or a crime. But when he has laid down his tools, and left his work for the last time, we may look quietly at the whole character, stretching clear through from youth to old age, and form a sound opinion of its quality and value.

Abraham is by far the greatest man we have met with in these studies, and his greatness is our difficulty, because we are apt to judge him by ourselves. That, indeed, is the difficulty of reading all the best biography; we think what we should have done, and if the hero did not act just as we should have acted, it is very seldom that we give him credit. In some respects Abraham was the first great traveller in the world; and his difficulty in travelling was the greater because he did not leave home to gratify any curiosity or whim of his own, but in obedience to a spiritual influence which bore him forward by a mighty impulse which he could hardly put into words. We should call a man who acts today as Abraham acted thousands of years ago, a fanatic; we believe in a respectable and decorous Providence; not in the God who drives us before the breath of a storm and makes us helpless under the spell of an irresistible inspiration. And we should doubt a man who acted like Abraham all the more because he did not get the very thing which he said God had promised to him before he left home. That would be fatal to any man"s claim to having been directed of God nowadays. We judge the providence by the prize. If you succeed, then you have been Divinely guided; if you fail, then you have either "not asked or else you have asked amiss." If you are invited from one church to another, as pastor, your wisdom in accepting the invitation will be judged by the congregations you gather: if you fill the pews and have to enlarge the building, people will say, "You can have no doubt now that God sent you"; but if the hearers be few and poor, the same people will tell you that you have missed "your providential way." Judged by this standard of miscalled success, Abraham"s migration is the greatest blunder in the pages of religious history. It was a failure. Canaan was promised to him, and he never got a foot of it! Surely, then, a respectable and commercial piety may fairly call him a mistaken Prayer of Manasseh, an amiable enthusiast, a clairvoyant dreamer who mistook a morning mist for a great estate. I wish, therefore, to learn from Abraham"s character the right way of judging Providence; to learn from a Jew how to be a Christian! The rough and ready way of stating this case is: Abraham went out from his kindred and his father"s house to get a land that God would show him; Abraham did not get that land, but actually "sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country," and was buried in a grave which he had to buy; it is clear, therefore, that he mistook a dream for a reality, a mirage for a landed property, and he was punished for his selfish ambition. I fear that this notion of God"s providence is not unknown amongst ourselves; that we think nothing is heavenly but success; and that it never enters our minds that God"s way may lie through the dreary region of hunger and loss, pain and sorrow, weakness and death, and that failure itself may be a sign of God"s presence and care in our life.

Abraham"s case shows that God may have fulfilled a promise when he had apparently broken it; and that God"s promises are not to be measured by the narrowness and poverty of the letter. God promised Abraham and his seed a place or land called Canaan, and yet Abraham and his seed never held the land; Abraham "sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in the tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise"; he had "none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet God promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child." Now, this brings us, so to speak, into close quarters with God"s providence, and Abraham"s character becomes a medium through which we learn Divine lessons. Abraham suffered for us. It is beautiful beyond expression to see how the true idea dawned upon the mind of the man of faith, that is to say, how he got from the letter to the spirit and saw God"s meaning at last. When he came out of the land of the Chaldeans he had a very small notion of his future, but as he went on and on, from Charran, building his altar and pitching his tent, his eyes pierced beyond the little land of Canaan, and "he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God." He could not have taken in the grandeur of that idea at first. It was too spiritual for him. He must have real land, real stones, real possessions of divers kinds, and by-and-by there would break upon his mind the higher light; these things would show their own worthless-ness as mental supports and tonics, and he would let them slip out of his hands that he might become a citizen of "a better country, that Isaiah, an heavenly," "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away," and the literal Canaan would cease to have a single charm for a man that had seen "the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." I beg you not to let this point slip, or you may "charge God foolishly": you may say, "God promises one thing and gives another, therefore he disappoints and distresses the believer of his promises,"—now, that is true as to the first part, and untrue as to the second, for it is in evidence in all the volumes of history and personal experience that God"s way of fulfilling his promises always astonished with glad surprise the very persons who at first saw nothing but the letter, and grasped nothing but the common meaning of the word. God"s promises are not broken, they are enlarged and glorified. The receivers themselves are satisfied, are overwhelmed with thankful amazement, and, instead of complaining that the letter has not been kept, they say, "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think"; and so deep is this impression that they have said, and are saying every day, the things that are seen by the natural eyes are not worthy to be compared with the glories that shine on the eyes of the heart. Now this I hold to be the explanation of the difficulty arising from the supposed discrepancy between the promise and its fulfilment. It is fulfilled beyond all expectation. The answer is as a river which overflows the channel of the promise.

Your little boy is five years old: promise him that if he will learn such and such lessons he shall have the finest rocking-horse in the world when he is fifteen: I can easily imagine him seizing his lessons with great earnestness; at five a rocking-horse seems the finest of prizes; the child works, and reads, and learns (the figure of the rocking-horse still being before his imagination), but as five becomes seven, and seven grows into nine, and nine enlarges into twelve, and the mind strengthens and brightens by the very work which was to bring the prize, the rocking-horse goes down in value, until, at fifteen, the intelligent, well-trained, glad-hearted youth declines the very Canaan which he so eagerly started to win, and is almost insulted if you name to him the promised prize. Why does he decline it? Because he has get something so much better: he has got information, culture, discipline, habits of reading and observation, and these very things which he had no idea of getting when he started have actually wrought in him a proper contempt for the very prize that was promised.

So I see Abram starting from the land of the Chaldeans with a promise of getting another land. At first he thinks much about it. He wonders how long it Isaiah, and how wide, and how rich in wells and thick pastures, and many a long dream he has about the country far away; travel tries him; little disappointments trouble his daily life; sorrow comes; death overshadows him; great judgments come down from heaven; a solemnity grows upon his heart as he sees the seasons rise, flourish, and die, and life run its little round; many a word God speaks to his heart; he learns something of the greatness of manhood; new possibilities disclose themselves; unusual aspirations give a higher dignity to his prayers, and his soul almost unconsciously enters into new alliances and companionships, until at last he declares plainly, even in Canaan itself, that he seeks a country, a better country, a richer Canaan, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. It is thus our manhood grows. "When I was a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a Prayer of Manasseh, I put away childish things." I needed a promise suitable for a child; I sigh for a fulfilment worthy of a man.

When the young man started in business he probably set before his mind the idea of twenty years" service, a modest competence, and long years of leisure, a Canaan easily gained and easily held. As he went forward the very effort he was required to make evolved new opportunities, new habits, and new ambitions, until his first notion became ridiculous even to himself. Thus we are led on. First, that which is natural; afterward, that which is spiritual. To begin with we must have something to look at and to touch; by-and-by our better nature will be awakened, and spiritual meanings will be realised. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be" in spiritual elevation and desire; in our meaner selves we think that the earthly will be enough, but in our better moments we shall earnestly desire our house from heaven. The young lad whose pocket money is fourpence per month quite longs for the time when he will be called upon to pay the income-tax. He says he will be only too glad to pay the tax when he gets the income. In due time he obtains the income, but I listen in vain for any special gratification in the matter of the tax. The veteran servant who has received a gift of honour from his admirers, tells them that much as he values the silver and the gold, he prizes the love which gave them infinitely more. This is the same principle; it is the spiritual absorbing the material. The principle may be applied to heaven itself. The young Christian thinks of heaven as a magnificent collection of all the finest things he has ever heard of—of harps and trumpets, of gardens and fountains, of processions and banners, of crowns and thrones; as he grows in holy life he sees that something better must be meant; as he gets nearer and nearer the promised land he cares less and less for the magnificence which once satisfied him; and at the last he sees all the heaven he needs in being "for ever with the Lord."

These are beautiful words as showing one side of Abraham"s character; "And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah." I am not aware that those names are thus united in any other transaction. Abraham never ceased to care for Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman, the wanderer; and Ishmael showed how he valued his father"s care by thus uniting with Isaac in the last act of filial love. How true is it that sometimes relatives only meet one another at funerals! For years they may never speak to each other, but some cold, sad day they set out on a journey to one common grave. "Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac," yet Ishmael went to the funeral! Isaac and Ishmael met over their father"s dead body, and then probably separated for ever. Ishmael might have had hard feelings as he stood so near the bones of Sarah: thought of his mother and of that day when she and he went forth into the wilderness. Some recollections cut us very keenly, and even make us furious with resentful anger. It was surely not so with Ishmael. The wilderness had told well upon him. He was not hardened by hardship. He was a giant and a true king, and his eye took in wide sweeps of things, and thus helped his soul towards large and noble judgments.

Abraham is our father, too, if we believe, for he is "the father of the faithful." If we blame him for aught of short-coming or misdeed, we blame ourselves, for we are more to be reproached than he. Abraham lived in the twilight, we live in the full noon; Abraham stood alone, we are members of the general assembly and Church of the firstborn, with throngs of friends around us, and blessed memories and inspirations. Let us cultivate the pilgrim spirit. Let us "declare plainly that we seek a country." Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. Bind the sandals, grasp the staff, tarry briefly everywhere, and though faint, be evermore pursuing, content with nothing less than heaven.

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/genesis-25.html. 1885-95.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 25:1. Keturah is here called a wife; but a learned writer in his Bibliotheca Biblia, printed at Oxford 1720, brings forward a supposition of the Jews, that Hagar returned to Abraham after the death of Sarah, and then received the name of Keturah. It was anciently a frequent custom for persons on being favoured with signal blessings to assume a new name, or to receive some addition to the old.

Genesis 25:2. She bare him Zimran, and five others, to whom Abraham gave gifts, and established them as patriarchal heads of houses. Abraham having reconquered the country from the Assyrian kings, exercised the rights of royalty, in the establishment of his sons.—Midian, from whom the Midianites descended who dwelt in Arabia the Stony.—Shuah, from whom it is probable that Bildad the Shuhite, so often mentioned in the book of Job, descended. From these six sons many of the Arabian tribes derived their origin.

Genesis 25:8. Abraham gave up the ghost. יגוע yigeva, resigned his breath; for God had breathed into man the breath of life. Genesis 2:7. Therefore resigning his breath is but the figure for calling on God, like Stephen, to receive his spirit. It is the spirit which causes the body to breathe. How happy is the life, how dignified the death, and how blessed is the memory of the just: as the sun rejoices like a giant to run his course, and on dipping behind the western hills, shines in a new hemisphere, leaving his lustre bright on high; so Abraham, after shining as the first and best of men, illustrious in every virtue, removed from earth, shines as the brightest of stars among the spirits of just men made perfect: while on the contrary, the wicked go to the congregation of the giants. Job 26:4-5. Proverbs 2:18.

Genesis 25:14. Dumah is mentioned as living in mount Seir, and menaced by the watchman with a visitation. Isaiah 21:11. Tema, Dedan, and others are menaced in the same chapter. Ishmael’s twelve sons settled themselves on the eastern shores of the Red sea; and they are often in modern history denominated Saracens, because Ishmael, till the birth of Isaac, was accounted Sarah’s son.

Genesis 25:16. Their castles; cities, habitations, tabernacles. The primitive word Ar, dar, as in Cheddar, arma, or the old French les rochars, signifies rock, munition or defence. They could not expose themselves and their riches to wild beasts and invaders, without a place of defence.

Genesis 25:17. Ishmael gave up the ghost, and died in the 137th year of his age, and in the faith of Abraham. We are struck here with the special providence of God, in gradually shortening the life of man. There was no need, as men multiplied, that he should reach the years of his fathers. The few who now surpass their hundredth year, have been exempt from intemperance, from violent passions, from severity of manual labour. They have been regular in the hours of sleep, and happy in the married state. With them, the flame of animal life, like a candle in a calm place, has burned its full time.

Genesis 25:21. Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife. The three patriarchs were greatly honoured with posterity, but first they were greatly tried. Abraham waited twenty five years, Isaac twenty, and Jacob must serve seven years for Rachel, and then be put off for a second servitude. These mysteries of providence were no doubt designed to subdue and sanctify the will.

Genesis 25:22. She went to enquire of the Lord. The oracle was at Salem with Melchizedek, but she might enquire of Abraham.

Genesis 25:23. Two nations are in thy womb—and the elder nation of Edom shall serve the younger, the Israelites; as was the case when David made them tributary. St. Paul improves this by showing that believers in Christ are now the children of the promise, the sheep of the shepherd’s fold; and the poor unbelieving Jews crouch for a pittance of bread to the christian church, who are now the chosen generation, the new or peculiar Israel of God. Reader, beware of construing this prophecy, in misguided theories of eternal reprobation.

Genesis 25:26. Jacob. עקב akob, the heel; hence Jacob, a heeler, as in Genesis 27:36. The reference is to the serpent which bites the heel of the unwary. On this account the birthright was a constant subject of dispute between these twins.

Genesis 25:27. Plain man. The Hebrew word, taim, perfect, indicates rectitude and purity.

Genesis 25:31. Sell me this day thy birthright. The birthright constituted a son heir to the house, and a double portion of goods. He had the rights of the priesthood, and without him no one could enquire of God. He had the patriarchal benediction as prince and chief. These privileges were understood to descend to his posterity: yet the sovereignty of God could at all times confer these blessings on whom it was his pleasure. While we are astonished at Esau’s profaneness, we cannot but lament to see every age so full of Esaus. One sells his birthright for wine, another for a harlot, a third for sordid gold: they toil hard and spend their money for that which is not bread.

Genesis 25:32. Esau said, Behold I am at the point to die; it being now a year of sore famine in the land. But in the time of temptation we must sacrifice life itself, rather than the covenant of our fathers’ God. Esau could not regain the birthright which he had despised, though he sought it carefully with tears.

REFLECTIONS.

The first object which strikes us in this chapter, is the happy death of the venerable patriarch Abraham. Notwithstanding the long barrenness of Sarah, and of Rebekah, he had lived to see Jacob in his fifteenth year, and to see every temporal promise fully accomplished. And having beheld the Messiah in the birth and oblation of Isaac, he could anticipate Simeon, and say, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. He could bless his children, being unspeakably blessed himself, charging them, with all the weight of consummate virtue, to follow on in the paths of faith and piety. He gave up the ghost into the hands of his Creator, and his body was gathered unto his people in the cave, in hope of a glorious resurrection with his pious Sires, and with his posterity.—Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.

The blessings of the patriarchs fall as the dew upon their children. How remarkably was Ishmael blessed in answer to Abraham’s prayer! Parents should plead for their children; for God sometimes answers their prayers while they live, and if not, after they are dead. But let us hold fast every promise which God may give us in prayer, for he will surely be faithful to his word.

Isaac and Rebekah severally prayed for their posterity, and the Lord was entreated of them. Children were expressly promised to Isaac, yet he prayed for the gift; and this likewise is our duty. When the Lord enumerated the blessings of the covenant, he said, for all these things will I be enquired of by the house of Israel. Prayer prepares us for a blessing, and God is always ready to give it, if our hearts are ready to receive it on his terms.

Before the children were born, or had done good or evil, God, by an act of his sovereignty and good pleasure, said, the elder shall serve the younger. Hence, viewing the sovereignty of God, Jacob acted a very inhospitable and unbelieving part, by tempting his brother, in a moment of hunger, to sell his birthright. Let us learn from its sanctity, and fear, for God will not be served by unrighteousness; and let us never do Satan’s work by tempting another to sin.

Jacob’s weakness did not diminish the guilt of Esau, in despising the sacred rights of his birth. He could not but know, that he was entitled to rule, and to officiate at the altar on the death of Isaac. Why then profanely sell God’s highest favours for a hunter’s meal? Let us learn in the time of straits, of poverty and hunger, never, no never to relieve ourselves by unlawful means; for those in the christian scriptures have the highest applause who stand in the evil day, and who hold fast Christ’s name in the day of tribulation. Ephesians 6:13. Revelation 2:13. But this was not the whole of Esau’s crime; (contrary to the oath exacted by Abraham of his steward) he married two wives of the Canaanites, brought them home, and imbittered the old age of his mother. Let us look diligently, as St. Paul exhorts us in Hebrews 12:15; Hebrews 12:17, lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness should spring up, and thereby many be defiled; and lest there should be any fornicator, or profane person as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

In Abimelech, who had driven Isaac away and seized his well, as one of his predecessors had done before, and who followed Isaac to be reconciled, we have an example, admonishing us to adopt all prudent means of reconciliation after a difference; and let us not be scrupulous in our demands of restitution, provided we can live in peace and quiet for the time to come.

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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/genesis-25.html. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 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.

Ver. 18. And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur.] A large tract and territory; but nothing so large as his posterity the Saracens’, called more rightly Hagarenes, [Psalms 83:6] proved to be; whose name and empire notwithstanding is now swallowed up in the greatness of the Turkish empire; which laboureth with nothing more, than with the weightiness of itself. (a)

And he died.] Or, dwelt, as some read it. Compare Genesis 16:12.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-25.html. 1865-1868.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

(Compare 1 Chronicles 1:28-31)

To show that the promises of God, which had been made to Ishmael (Genesis 16:10. and Genesis 17:20), were fulfilled, a short account is given of his descendants; and according to the settled plan of Genesis, this account precedes the history of Isaac. This is evidently the intention of the list which follows of the twelve sons of Ishmael, who are given as princes of the tribes which sprang from them. Nebajoth and Kedar are mentioned in Isaiah 60:7 as rich possessors of flocks, and, according to the current opinion which Wetzstein disputes, are the Nabataei et Cedrei of Pliny ( h. n. 5, 12). The Nabataeans held possession of Arabia Petraea, with Petra as their capital, and subsequently extended toward the south and north-east, probably as far as Babylon; so that the name was afterwards transferred to all the tribes to the east of the Jordan, and in the Nabataean writings became a common name for Chaldeans (ancient Babylonians), Syrians, Canaanites, and others. The Kedarenes are mentioned in Isaiah 21:17 as good bowmen. They dwelt in the desert between Arabia Petraea and Babylon (Isaiah 42:11; Psalms 120:5). According to Wetzstein, they are to be found in the nomad tribes of Arabia Petraea up to Harra . The name Dumah, Δούμεθα Αουμαίθα (Ptol. v. 19, 7, Steph. Byz .), Domata (Plin. 6, 32), has been retained in the modern Dumat el Jendel in Nejd, the Arabian highland, four days' journey to the north of Taima. - Tema: a trading people (Job 6:19; Isaiah 21:14; mentioned in Jeremiah 25:23, between Dedan and Bus) in the land of Taima, on the border of Nejd and the Syrian desert. According to Wetzstein, Dûma and Têma are still two important places in Eastern Hauran, three-quarters of an hour apart. Jetur and Naphish were neighbours of the tribes of Israel to the east of the Jordan (1 Chronicles 5:19), who made war upon them along with the Hagrites, the Αγραῖοι of Ptol. and Strabo. From Jetur sprang the Ituraeans, who lived, according to Strabo, near the Trachonians in an almost inaccessible, mountainous, and cavernous country; according to Wetzstein, in the mountains of the Druses in the centre of the Hauran, possibly the forefathers of the modern Druses. The other names are not yet satisfactorily determined. For Adbeel, Mibsam, and Kedma, the Arabian legends give no corresponding names. Mishma is associated by Knobel with the Μαισαιμανείς of Ptol. vi. 7, 21, to the N.E. of Medina; Massa with the Μασανοί on the N.E. of Duma; Hadad (the proper reading for Hadar, according to 1 Chronicles 1:30, the lxx, Sam., Masor., and most MSS) with the Arabian coast land, Chathth, between Oman and Bahrein, a district renowned for its lancers ( Χαττηνία, Polyb.; Attene, Plin .).

Genesis 25:16

These are the Ishmaelites “ in their villages and encampments, twelve princes according to their tribes .” חצר : premises hedged round, then a village without a wall in contrast with a walled town (Leviticus 25:31). טירה : a circular encampment of tents, the tent village of the Duâr of the Bedouins. אמּות, here and Numbers 25:15, is not used of nations, but of the tribe-divisions or single tribes of the Ishmaelites and Midianites, for which the word had apparently become a technical term among them.

Genesis 25:17-18

Ishmael died at the age of 137, and his descendants dwelt in Havilah - i.e., according to Genesis 10:29, the country of the Chaulotaeans, on the borders of Arabia Petraea and Felix - as far as Shur (the desert of Jifar, Genesis 16:7) to the east of Egypt, “in the direction of Assyria.” Havilah and Shur therefore formed the south-eastern and south-western boundaries of the territories of the Ishmaelites, from which they extended their nomadic excursions towards the N.E. as far as the districts under Assyrian rule, i.e., to the lands of the Euphrates, traversing the whole of the desert of Arabia, or (as Josephus says, Ant. i. 12, 4) dwelling from the Euphrates to the Red Sea. Thus, according to the announcement of the angel, Ishmael “encamped in the presence of all his brethren.” נפל, to throw one's self, to settle down, with the subordinate idea of keeping by force the place you have taken (Judges 7:12). Luther wavers between corruit, vel cecidit, vel fixit tabernaculum .

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Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/genesis-25.html. 1854-1889.

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

The Generations of Ishmael

Before the history of Isaac begins, the descendants of Isaac are mentioned first. The natural comes first, then the spiritual (1Cor 15:46). The flesh, nature, always seems to win first, and the Spirit seems to lose. But in the end everything God has promised will be fulfilled. That is what faith relies on.

The descendants of Ishmael live "from Havilah to Sur" which is between Egypt and Assur. These are the greatest enemies of Israel, but ultimately God also takes care of them just as He does of Israel (Isa 19:23).

For the record, at the end of this section again the types, what the different persons represent:
1. Abraham represents the principle of faith;
2. Sarah the principle of grace;
3. Hagar the principle of law;
4. Isaac is the Son, died and risen;
5. Ishmael is Israel according to the flesh;
6. Rebekah the church;
7. Ketura the nations.

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No part of the publications may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 25:18". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kng/genesis-25.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

The Generations of Ishmael

v. 12. Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar, the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham. We have here the final account of Ishmael and a short summary of his family's history.

v. 13. And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael by their names, according to their generations: the first-born of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,

v. 14. and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,

v. 15. Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah.

v. 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. As the Lord had promised Hagar, so it came to pass: twelve princes were begotten of her son Ishmael, twelve mighty sheiks of powerful tribes, the names of some of which were preserved for many centuries. Thus the descendants of Nebajoth and Kedar lived in Arabia Petraea, on the Peninsula of Sinai, and beyond, Isa_60:7, the Kadarenes afterward extending toward the east in the direction of Babylonia, Isa_42:11; Psa_120:5. The other Iahmaelitic tribes do not seem to have been so large and mighty, still there are references, also in Scripture, which place them into the great country on the east side of Jordan. Twelve princes they were in their tribes, governing and representing twelve tribes, with their permanent, walled camps, or cities, and their temporary encampments, with their fixed and movable habitations.

v. 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. Although Ishmael, the son of the slave woman, is represented in Scriptures as a type of the fleshly, the Spirit of God finally gained and kept the ascendancy in him. He also died in the faith and was added to the number of those that trusted in the Messiah and His salvation.

v. 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. That was the extent of the Ishmaelites' territory in later years, from the stream of Egypt on the southwest and Havilah in Arabia Deserta on the southeast to the Euphrates on the northeast. So Ishmael, in his descendants, fell upon, settled, took possession of, this country, in the presence of, next to his brethren, on the boundary of the Promised Land.

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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/genesis-25.html. 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

             B.

ISAAC, AND HIS FAITH-ENDURANCE. Genesis 25:12 to Genesis 28:9

FIRST SECTION

Isaac and Ishmael

  Genesis 25:11-18

11And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and [but] Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi [wells of the quickener of vision].

12Now [and] these are the generations [genealogies, Toledoth] of Ishmael, Abraham’s 13 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 first-born of Ishmael, Nebajoth [heights; Nabathei, a tribe of Northern Arabia]; and Kedar14[dark skin. An Arabian tribe], and Adbeel [miracle of God], and Mibsam [sweet odor]. And Mishma [hearing, report, what is heard], and Dumah [silence, solitude], and Massah [bearing, burden, 15 uttering what is said], Hadar [inner apartment, tent], and Tema [desert, uncultivated region], Jetur16[Seven? a nomadic village], Naphish [recreation], and Kedemah [eastward]; These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns [fixed abodes], and by their castles; 17twelve 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 18 And they dwelt from Havilah [a region of Arabia inhabited by the descendants of Joctan, upon the eastern boundary of the Ishmaelites] unto Shur [a place east of Egypt, in the borders of the desert], that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward [in the direction of] Assyria: and he died[FN6] in the presence of all his brethren [he settled eastward of all his brethren].

GENERAL REMARKS

See the remarks upon the previous section.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. Genesis 25:11. Isaac after the death of Abraham.—God blessed Isaac.—The blessing of Abraham continues in the blessing of Isaac; this is manifested in his welfare and prosperity, or rather in a grateful consciousness which refers his welfare to the kindness of God. We read: Elohim blessed Isaac; for Isaac, as future ancestor of Edom and Jacob, sustained now a universal relation. In earthly respects Edom is Isaac’s heir as well as Jacob, or even by preference.—By the well Lahai-roi.—By the well of Hagar. According to Genesis 35:27, Jacob met his aged father Isaac at Hebron. Doubtless this city bore the same relation from the time of Abraham onwards; Hebron was the principal residence, Beer-sheba the principal station for overseeing their flocks. At this station Isaac, as steward of his father, had already taken up his abode, and in consequence of his love of solitude and seclusion he became so fond of it that now he dwelt here regularly, without yielding up the principal residence at Hebron; he even moved his tent from Beer-sheba farther into the deep solitude of Hagar’s well.

2. Genesis 25:12-16. The Toledoth of Ishmael. [Upon the documentary hypothesis, each of these phrases marks the beginning of a new document. But if we are to regard each of these documents as the work of a separate author, then this author contributes only seven verses to the narrative. This is obviously running the theory into the ground, and shows how unreasonable it is to regard these phrases as indicating any change of author. They open new themes or sections of the history.—A. G.] Here also it is obvious that the Toledoth of Genesis does not begin the separate section of the history, but frequently concludes them. In Genesis 4, 5 the first human race, together with the Toledoth of Adam, is dismissed from history. So is it also in Genesis 10, in respect to the heathen nations, descendants of Japheth, Ham, and Shem. Ch 11 dismisses the more theocratic Shemites, together with their Toledoth. In Genesis 22:20, the Nahorites, the last of the Shemites and nearest to Abraham, retire from the history, just as the Haranites, or Lot and his descendants in Genesis 19:36; and as the Abrahamites descending from Keturah, in Genesis 25; and in our section the Ishmaelites. After the close of the history of Isaac the Edomites, Genesis 36:1, etc, appear. The theocracy permits no branch of the human race to vanish out of its circle of vision without fixing it in its consciousness. In Genesis 37:2 Jacob also retires into the background as compared with the history of his sons. With the Toledoth of Ishmael comp. 1 Chronicles 1:28-31.—Whom Hagar the Egyptian.—Besides the names of the twelve sons of Ishmael that here present themselves, there occurs also ( 1 Chronicles 5:10) the name of the Hagarites, Ishmaelites called after the mother, whose name is no doubt assumed in one or more of the names before us. In respect to the frequent occurrence of the name Hagar in Arabic authors, see Knobel, p211.—Nebajoth and Kedar.—Delitzsch: “The names of the twelve sons of Ishmael are in part well known. Nebajoth and Kedar are not only mentioned together in Isaiah 60:7, but also by Plin.: Hisi. Nat., 6, 7 (Nabatæi et Cedrei; Kaidhâr and Nâbat (Nabt) are also known to Arabian historians as descendants of Ishmael. In respect to the meaning of the word Nabatæans, both in a stricter and a more comprehensive sense, as also in regard to their abodes in Arabia Petrea and beyond, see Knobel, Delitzsch, Keil.—The Kadarenes, described Isaiah 21:17 as good bowmen, lived in the desert between Arabia Petrea and Babylonia ( Isaiah 42:11; Psalm 120:5). “The Rabbins use their name to denote the Arabians in general.” Knobel.—Adbeel and Mibsam.—In respect to these names, as well as to that of Kedma, we can only reach conjectures (see Knobel).—Mishma (Septuagint and Vulgate: Masma).—Connected by Knobel with Μαισαμανε͂ις of Ptol, Genesis 6:7; Genesis 6:21. In Arabic authors we have beni Mismah.—Duma.—Probably Dumath al Djendel, on the border between Syria and Babylonia.—Massa.—Apparently the same as Μασανοί, on the northeast side of Duma according to Ptol, Genesis 5:19; Genesis 5:2.—Hadar (a more correct reading, 1 Chronicles 1:30, is חֲדַד, as compared with the maritime country Chathth, famous among the ancient Arabians on account of its lances), between Omam and Bahrein. For further information see Knobel, etc.—Hadar is taken together with Thema, which Knobel connects with Θεμοί of Ptolemy, on the Persian Gulf, or with the Arabic banu Teim, a celebrated tribe in Hamasa, probably different from the Tema, Isaiah 21:14; Jeremiah 25:23; Job 6:19.—Jetur, Naphisch (see 1 Chronicles 5:18).—“Neighbors to the Israelites on the east side of Jordan. Knobel refers Jetur to the Ituræans. The present Druses are probably their descendants.” Kedma.—“As a separate Arabic tribe we can only refer it, in its narrower sense, to בְּנֵי קֶדֶם, who in Judges 6:3; Judges 6:33; Judges 7:12, are distinguished from other Arabians, and must have dwelt in the vicinity of the country east of Jordan. Perhaps they are the same with those enumerated with the Moabites and Ammonites in Isaiah 11:14 and Ezekiel 25:4; Ezekiel 25:10.” Knobel. The sons of the East in a more comprehensive sense denotes the Arabians generally, the Saracens.—By their towns, and by their castles, i.e, their movable and fixed habitations.—Twelve princes according to their nations (Lange renders “to their nations”).—The translation, according to their nations, can only mean, as moulded, determined by their nations. We hold, therefore, the expression to mean: twelve princes chosen for governing and representing their twelve tribes.

3. Genesis 25:17-18. The death of Ishmael and the expansion of the Ishmaelites.The years of the life of Ishmael.—This hale man attained only an age of a hundred and thirty-seven years, while on the contrary, the more delicate appearing Isaac reaches the age of a hundred and eighty years. Possibly the natural passions of the one consumed life sooner; no doubt also the quiet, peaceful, believing disposition of the other, exercised a life-prolonging influence. Ishmael dies, the Ishmaelites spread themselves abroad.—From Havilah unto Shur.—Havilah, see Genesis 10:29. Knobel: “From Chaulan in the south to the eastern boundary of Egypt.” Schur. From Egypt to the east in the direction of Assyria. According to Josephus: “Antiq.” i12, 4, the Ishmaelites dwelt from the Euphrates to the Red Sea.—In the presence of all his brethren, i.e, Hebrews, Edomites, and the children of Keturah. If we understand by Havilah the Chaulotæans on the boundary of Arabia Petrea (Keil), we must assign a different meaning to these words. Keil: “From southeast to southwest.” Knobel: “From southeast to northwest.” Delitzsch: “The capital of the Ishmaelitic tribes was Hezaz, situated south of Yemen. From this they spread themselves to the west side of the Siniaitic peninsula, and still further in a northerly and northeasterly direction beyond Arabia Petrea and Deserta to the countries under Assyrian sway.” [He died. He had fallen into the lot of his inheritance. The Heb. word includes the idea of a deliberate settlement, and an assertion by force of his rights and possessions. Thus the promise uttered before his birth was now fulfilled.—A. G.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. Ishmael in his development precedes Isaac, as Esau precedes Jacob, as the world gets the start of the kingdom of heaven. It looks well for the development of Ishmael that he buries his father in company with his brother Isaac, though the latter had been preferred to him.

2. The twelve princes of Ishmael are also mentioned as witnesses that God has faithfully fulfilled his promises concerning their ancestor. The Arabs, too, count twelve sons of Ishmael.

3. The Ishmaelites, the germ of the Arabic people in its historic significance. The country of Arabia. Its history. Mohammed. The mission of the Mohammedans. The mission among the Mohammedans. Since Ishmael did not subject himself to Israel, he has become subject to the Turk.

4. Ishmael’s genealogy seems to have been preserved in the house of Isaac, just as Therah’s in the house of Abraham, or as the genealogy of the nations in house of Shem. The father’s house does not lose the memory or the trace of the lost son.

5. How the blessing of Abraham descends upon Isaac. The hereditary blessing in the descendants of Abraham, an antithesis to the hereditary curse in the descendants of Adam generally. The inclination to solitude in the life of Isaac. The nature, rights, and limit of contemplation. Contemplative characters. History of a contemplative life.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

See Doctrinal and Ethical.—Isaac the blessed son of a blessed father. The great divine miracle, that the blessing of a saving faith was preserved in one line (in spite of all partial obscurations) from Adam to Christ.—Isaac’s inclination to solitary contemplation.—Perhaps he believed already that a special blessing was confined to that particular place, the well of vision.—That Isaac selected Hagar’s well as a favorite spot, testifies to the nobility of his soul (for Hagar was the rival of his mother, and Ishmael was her son).—Ishmael’s death; or the robust often die before the feeble.—From Ishmael, a child once languishing and perishing from thirst in the wilderness, God’s providence made a great (world-conquering) nation.—We may in fact best comprehend the patriarchal triad by regarding Abraham as constituting especially an example of faith, Isaac an example of love, Jacob an example of hope. We have prominently presented to us the still more predominating features: the man of the deeds of faith, the man of the sufferings of faith, the man of the struggles of faith.

Starke: The temporal blessing (of Isaac) a prelude: a. As an earnest for the whole land of Canaan; b. as a type and pledge of the eternal and spiritual blessing of salvation in Christ.—Misma, Duma, Masa. From these three names, meaning: hearing; silence, patience, the Hebrews formed the proverb: We must hear many things, keep secret many things, and suffer many things.—(The Ishmael ites called Hagarites after Hagar. In later times they preferred to be called Saracens, after Sarah, as if dwelling in the tents of Sarah.)

Ver, 17. Some cite this to prove the happy death of Ishmael, some to prove the contrary. Luther does not wish to decide, but leaves it with God

Genesis 25:18. ( Psalm 112:2.)—What God promises he will surely perform. Let us only have faith in his promises ( Genesis 17:20; Genesis 21:13).—Bibl. Wirt.: People of no note may become eminent and distinguished persons if it is God’s will ( Genesis 41:40-43).

Lisco: Ishmael becomes the ancestor of the Bedouins of Arabia; these, therefore, and the Edomites descending from Esau, are the nations nearest related to the Hebrews,—Calwer Handbuch: The father’s blessing descends upon the children.—After Abraham, that hero of faith, had gone to his rest, Isaac appears in the foreground of the history. In his character love appears predominant, the less powerful and independent love, or love itself with its weaknesses. He appears as a gentle, pliable link between Abraham and Jacob, possessing neither the manly strength of the father nor of the son. Nevertheless, he wears an amiable aspect, which, when closely viewed, immediately wins our affections. He does not make his appearance as a fictitious and an artfully embellished personage, but as a historical character; so much Song of Solomon, that his faults appear in the foreground, whilst his good qualities fall into the background and lie concealed to the superficial observer. Isaac is of a predominantly kind nature, and therefore appears reserved, outwardly, but inwardly and really, frank.—Schröder: As to the character of Abraham and Isaac, see pp442,443. With Abraham, who, as father of the faithful, was to begin the long line of believing souls, and in whose peculiar form of life their life was to have its way prepared, everything is vigorous and peculiarly independent. With Isaac, on the contrary, who only continues this line, everything appeared perfectly arranged, just as it is with Joshua in relation to Moses, etc.—(Hengstenberg: However, we must not mistake the peculiar characteristics of Isaac, Joshua, Elisha.)—It seems to me, one might know that he is the son of a dead body, but on this very account is he eminently a gift of God (Ziegler).—Could the memory of the knife drawn over him by the hand of the father ever become extinguished in the mind of the son? Perhaps this affords us a partial solution of his life and character (Krumm.).—Let us not overlook the fact that he was the only monogamist among the patriarchs, remaining satisfied with his Rebekah. Abraham’s piety descends as an heritage to Isaac, therefore the grace of God also descends upon Isaac (Val. Herberger)—The dwelling of Isaac at a place so important in the life of Ishmael (Hagar’s well), attests his friendly relation to his step-brother.—Gathered unto his people. A beautiful and charming description of immortality. We are now living among the gross people of this world, who seek but little after God, yea, in the very kingdom of the devil. But when we depart from this wretched life, we shall die peacefully, and be gathered unto our people, and there will be no distress, no misery, no tribulation, but peace and rest. (Luther).


Footnotes:

FN#6 - Genesis 25:18.—Lit, he fell down, or it fell to him.—A. G.]

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/genesis-25.html. 1857-84.

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible

OTHER GENERATIONS OF ABRAHAM

We are not told what time Abraham took Keturah as a wife. Of course, God could enable him to be a father of children even after Sarah had died, but in this case he would be over 137 years, and nothing is given to enlighten us in this matter. However, verses 1-4 tell us that Keturah bore Abraham six sons, and that some of these also had sons afterward. whenever they were born, they were not considered by God as having any place compared to Isaac. Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac (v.5). Yet in fact we are also told that he had sons by concubines. All of this reminds us that, though God's prime interests are centered in His Son and the bride His Son receives, yet He does not forget His kindness toward Gentile nations. To these sons Abraham gave gifts, but sent them away from any close proximity to Isaac, to the land of the east (v.6). The names, Midian, Ephah and Sheba are mentioned in Isaiah 60:6 when the prophet speaks of Gentile nations converted in the coming millennial age.

ABRAHAM'S DEATH AND BURIAL

Abraham's age is now recorded -- 175 years -- at the time of his death (vs.7-8). Isaac and Ishmael were brought together again at this time, both having part in their father's burial. Abraham was buried with Sarah in the cave he had bought from Ephron (ch.23:19-20). Just as the circumstances at that time pointed to the promise of Sarah's future resurrection, so it was with Abraham, who fully believed that God was able to raise the death (Romans 4:17-21).

After this Isaac takes the place of Abraham as a vessel of God's testimony, and is blessed by God (v.11), living by Beer Lahai Roi, "the well of Him who sees me." There is true spiritual refreshment (the well) in the consciousness of living under the eye of God.

THE FAMILIES OF ISHMAEL

Ishmael's genealogy is given in verses 12-16. As we have seen in verses 1-4, God does not forget the Gentile nations because of His interest in the church (Rebekah); now Ishmael's genealogy tells us God does not forget Israel either, for Ishmael typifies Israel under law (Galatians 4:22-25). That nation is yet to receive blessing from God in His own time. Verse 16 mentions 12 princes, a reminder of Israel's 12 tribes. Ishmael then died at the age of 137 years (v.17). His brother Isaac outlived him by 33 years (Genesis 35:28). Ishmael both lived and died in the presence of his brethren (v.18). Such is the legal principle. Legality lives as before the eyes of others: faith lives as in the presence of God.

ISAAC'S SONS

Verse 19 draws our attention now to Isaac, whom we have seen takes Abraham's place as the vessel of God's direct testimony in the world (v.11). He was forty years of age when married to Rebekah. The same problem that Abraham had with Sarah now surfaces again with Rebekah. She had been unable to bear children. However, in this case the prayers of Isaac were answered and she became pregnant (v.21). She did not understand why she had such turmoil in her womb until she went to enquire of the Lord. It is good to see both Isaac's entreating the Lord and Rebekah's inquiring of the Lord when problems arose.

She receives the answer that she has twins: in fact God calls them two nations, telling her that the twins were two totally different characters, one stronger than the other, but that the elder should serve the younger. This is a lesson that God often impresses on us in His word, to the effect that the last shall be first and the first last. Ishmael was born before Isaac, but he had to give place to Isaac. Now the same lesson is emphasized even when the same mother gives birth to twin sons. This totally casts us upon the sovereign wisdom of God. It is He who orders such matters, far above any question of people's character or actions. He is sovereign and we must simply bow to Him.

Verses 24-26 record the birth of the two sons. Esau, the first, was strikingly red in his appearance, hairy, and his hair red. This reminds us of Adam, which means "red earth," for Esau's history was to emphasize what man is in the flesh, just as "the first man is from the earth, earthy" (1 Corinthians 15:47). The second son, Jacob, followed closely, his hand holding the heel of Esau. This is told us in order to illustrate what was to be true of Jacob in his life. His name means "he will take by the heel." Esau referred to this later when Jacob had deceived his father in taking Esau's place. Esau's words then were "Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times?" (ch.22:36). His hand grasped for the blessing that was going to be given to Esau. This tells us what Jacob was in the flesh, but later his name was changed to Israel, "a prince with God," for God's counsels would stand, and He did a work in Jacob's soul that made a glorious change in the man.

When grown Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the outdoors, while Jacob was of a more reserved nature, conforming to the general trends of society, and dwelling in tents. We are told here too that Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed the taste of wild game, while Rebekah loved Jacob, perhaps because the Lord had told her that he would be given preference over his brother. But it is not good that parents should ever have a preference for one of their children over another.

Jacob's character comes out strikingly in the incident of verses 29-34. When he has stew already prepared and Esau comes in faint from hunger, asking for some stew, Jacob, instead of kindly giving him some, takes advantage of the occasion to bargain with his brother. He would sell him the stew for his birthright. Esau reasons that the birthright would be of no use to him if he died from hunger, and the compact is made by an oath that Jacob required from Esau. Jacob's character as a bargainer is established from the beginning. He is a fitting father for the nation Israel, choosing the principle of law-keeping as a rule of life. He had to learn by later experience that this principle failed him, and that he must eventually depend only on the grace of God.

But another matter here is most important. Esau despised his birthright (v.34), that which God had given him: it became of no more value to him than a mouthful of stew! How many are like him, who consider satisfying their present natural appetite as being more important than God's long range blessing! On the other hand, though Jacob used wrong methods of getting the birthright, yet the fact is clear that Jacob valued what God had to give.

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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/genesis-25.html. 1897-1910.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Genealogy of Ishmael. B. C. 1822.

11And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi. 12Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham: 13And 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, 14And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, 15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: 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. 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. 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.

Immediately after the account of Abraham's death, Moses begins the story of Isaac (Genesis 25:11), and tells us where he dwelt and how remarkably God blessed him. Note, The blessing of Abraham did not die with him, but survived to all the children of the promise. But he presently digresses from the story of Isaac, to give a short account of Ishmael, forasmuch 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. Observe here what is said, 1. Concerning his children. He had twelve sons, twelve princes they are called (Genesis 25:16), heads of families, which in process of time became nations, distinct tribes, 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 often read of in scripture. And some very good expositors have taken notice of the signification of those three names which are put together (Genesis 25:14), as containing good advice to us all, Mishma, Dumah, and Massa, that is, hear, keep silence, and bear we have them together in the same order, James 1:19, Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. The posterity of Ishmael had not only tents in the fields, wherein they grew rich in times of peace but they had towns and castles (Genesis 25:16), wherein they fortified themselves in time of war. Now the number and strength of this family were the fruit of the promise made to Hagar concerning Ishmael (Genesis 16:10), and to Abraham, Genesis 17:20,21:13. Note, Many that are strangers to the covenants of promise are yet blessed with outward prosperity for the sake of their godly ancestors. Wealth and riches shall be in their house. 2. Concerning himself. Here is an account of his age: He lived 137 years (Genesis 25:17) which is recorded to show the efficacy of Abraham's prayer for him (Genesis 17:18), O that Ishmael might live before thee! Here is also an account of his death he too was gathered to his people but it is not said that he was full of days, though he lived to so great an age: he was not so weary of the world, nor so willing to leave it, as his good father was. Those words, he fell in the presence of all his brethren, whether they mean, as we take them, he died, or, as others, his lot fell, are designed to show the fulfilling of that word to Hagar (Genesis 16:12), He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren, that is, he shall flourish and be eminent among them, and shall hold his own to the last. Or he died with his friends about him, which is comfortable.

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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/genesis-25.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Ishmael had twelve sons, whose families became distinct tribes. They peopled a very large country that lay between Egypt and Assyria, called Arabia. The number and strength of this family were the fruit of the promise, made to Hagar and to Abraham, concerning Ishmael.

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Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/genesis-25.html. 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria, i.e. on that part or side of Egypt which leads to Assyria.

He died in the presence of all his brethren; his brethren surviving him, and being his neighbours, and therefore as they had conversation with him in the time of his life, so now they did him honour at his death. But this translation and interpretation may seem improbable,

1. Because his death was related, Genesis 25:17, and would not be so presently repeated.

2. Because the foregoing words in this verse speak not of his death, but of his dwelling, to which these words do very well agree. For what we translated

and he died, is commonly rendered and he fell, or it fell, and is most commonly used concerning a lot whereby men’s portions are designed and divided, as Leviticus 16:9,10 Num 33:54 Joshua 16:1; and so the sense may be, it fell, i.e. that country fell to him or his; or he lay, or was stretched out, or posted himself, as the Hebrew word is used, Jude 7:12, i.e. he dwelt

in the presence of all his brethren; and so indeed his country lay between the children of Keturah on the east, and the children of Isaac and Israel on the west.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/genesis-25.html. 1685.

C. H. Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch

In the opening of this chapter, Abraham's second marriage is set before us, an event not without its interest to the spiritual mind, when viewed in connection with what we have been considering in the preceding chapter. With the light furnished by the prophetic scriptures of the New testament, we understand that after the completion and taking up of the elect bride of Christ, the seed of Abraham will again come into notice. Thus, after the marriage of Isaac, the Holy Ghost takes up the history of Abraham's seed by a new marriage, together with other points in his history, and that of his seed, according to the flesh. I do not press any special interpretation of all this; I merely say that it is not without its interest.

We have already referred to the remark of some one on the book of Genesis, namely, that it is "full of the seeds of things;" and as we pass along its comprehensive pages, we shall find them teaming with all the fundamental principles of truth, which are more elaborately brought out in the New Testament. True, in Genesis these principles are set forth illustratively, and in the New Testament didactically; still, the illustration is deeply interesting, and eminently calculated to bring home the truth with power to the soul.

At the close of this chapter we are presented with some principles of a very solemn and practical nature. Jacob's character and actings which" hereafter, if the Lord will, come more fully before us; but I would just notice, ere passing on, the conduct of Esau, in reference to the birthright, and all which it involved. The natural heart places no value on the things of God. To it God's promise is a vague, valueless, powerless thing, simply because God is not known. Hence it is that present things carry such weight and influence in man's estimation. Anything that man can see he values, because he is governed by sight, and not by faith. To him the present is everything; the future is a mere uninfluential thing — a matter of the merest uncertainty. Thus if was with Esau. Here his fallacious reasoning, "Behold, I am at the point to die; and what profit shall this birthright do to me? What strange reasoning? The present is slipping from beneath my-feet, I will therefore despise and entirely let go the future? Time is fading from my view, I will therefore abandon all interest in eternity! "Thus Esau despised his birthright." Thus Israel despised the pleasant land; (Psalms 106:24) thus they despised Christ. (Zechariah 11:13) Thus those who were bidden to the marriage despised the invitation. (Matthew 22:5) Man has no heart for the things of God. The present is everything to him. a mess of pottage is better than a title to Canaan. Hence, the very reason why Esau made light of the birthright was the reason why he ought to have grasped it with the greater intensity. The more clearly I see the vanity of man's present, the more I shall cleave to God's future. Thus it is in the judgement of faith. "Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought we to be, in all holy conversation and godliness; looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." (2 Peter 3:11-13) These are the thoughts of God, and, therefore, the thoughts of faith. The things that are seen shall be dissolved. What, then, are we to despise the unseen? By no means. The present is rapidly passing away. What is our resource? "Looking for, and hasting unto, the coming of the day of God." This is the judgement of the renewed mind; and any other judgement is only that of "a profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright." (Hebrews 12:16) The Lord keep us judging of things as He judges. This can only be done by faith.

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Mackintosh, Charles Henry. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". C. H. Mackintosh's Notes on the Pentateuch. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/nfp/genesis-25.html.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

The Death of Ishmael (Genesis 25:13-19.a).

This section ends with ‘this is the family history of Isaac’ (Genesis 25:19), and its purpose is to record the death of Ishmael and outline his connections and the twelve sub-tribes that came from him. It is only the second record (the first was Genesis 11:10-27 a) not to be connected to a covenant and like that passage demonstrates descent, which would be seen as sufficient reason for its preservation.

Genesis 25:13 a

‘And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their family histories.’

The purpose of the narrative is to record Ishmael’s descendants and their tribal connections.

Genesis 25:13 b

‘The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth, and Kedar, and Abdeel, and Mibsam, and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa. Hadad and Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names by their villages and by their encampments, twelve princes according to their nations.’

It is immediately clear that the twelve tribe grouping here is much more closely connected than that of the sons of Keturah and appears to be on a similar basis to the twelve tribes of Israel. Each son is ‘prince’ of his sub-tribe. This title ‘prince’ (nasi’ (plural nesi’im) is that used also of the tribal leaders of Israel (Exodus 22:27; Numbers 1:16; Numbers 1:44; Numbers 7:2-84; Numbers 34:18-28; compare 10:14-26; 13:4-15), each the head of his tribe on the amphictyonic council.

An amphictyony is an inter-tribal grouping of associated tribes for common welfare, often united around a central sanctuary. This would appear to be the pattern of the Ishmaelite tribes, although whether they had a central sanctuary we do not know.

Esau married the sister of Nebaioth (Genesis 28:9). The rams of Nebaioth are mentioned in Isaiah 60:7 along with the flocks of Kedar, and both tribes are named together in Assyrian inscriptions. Kedar are also seen as the guardians of the land route from Palestine to Egypt by the Persians.

Kedar and Tema are connected in Arabia in Isaiah 21:13-17, where Tema brought food and water to travelling Dedanites. Tema and Dedan are mentioned together in Jeremiah 25:23, and the caravans of Tema are mentioned along with Sheba in Job 6:19. Massa may be mentioned with Tema (as Mas’a) as paying tribute to Tiglath Pileser III.

Thus we have confirmation of long term interrelationship between Ishmaelites and the sons of Keturah, and of their close connection with Arabia and the desert.

Genesis 25:17

‘And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty seven year. And he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people. And they dwelt from Havilah to Shur, which is before Egypt as you go towards Assyria. And he fell in the presence of (or in front of ) all his brothers.’

Like Sarah, a woman, and Jacob who died outside the land of promise, Ishmael’s age ends in seven. He too died outside the land of promise. The significance of this numbering now escapes us, but he was clearly of good age.

Like Abraham he ‘breathed his last’ and was ‘gathered to his people’. He died and was buried and went into the grave where his ancestors were.

“They dwelt from Havilah (probably in North West Arabia) to Shur.” Desert tribes, ever on the move, they inhabited the very extensive desert land south of Canaan and in North West Arabia, possibly with connections with Southern Arabia. Havilah is connected with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15:7) and is elsewhere connected with Northern and Southern Arabia (see Genesis 10:7; Genesis 10:29) but it simply mean ‘district’ and may therefore refer to a number of places. This would confirm Ishmael’s close connections with the sons of Keturah. Shur is on the direct road to Egypt from Southern Palestine (1 Samuel 15:7; 1 Samuel 27:8 compare Genesis 16:7).

“And he fell in the presence of all his brothers.” This possibly refers to his death in warfare, or while engaging in some other activity with his brothers, but certainly indicates further his close association with his brothers. If Isaac was now also on good terms with his brother we can see why he moved his own family tribe to an area where he had contact with him and did not fear the bedouin tribes in the desert.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/genesis-25.html. 2013.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 12:1 to Genesis 25:18. The Story of Abraham.—In this section the three main sources, J. E, P are present. Gunkel has given strong reasons for holding that J is here made up of two main sources, one connecting Abraham with Hebron, the other with Beersheba and the Negeb. The former associates Abraham with Lot. (For details, see ICC.) On the interpretation to be placed on the figures of Abraham and the patriarchs, see the Introduction. The interest, which has hitherto been diffused over the fortunes of mankind in general, is now concentrated on Abraham and his posterity, the principle of election narrowing it down to Isaac, Ishmael being left aside, and then to Jacob, Esau being excluded.

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/genesis-25.html. 1919.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

. Ishmael's Posterity and Death.

is from P Genesis 25:18 is a fragment of J, but its original context is uncertain. Twelve tribes are said to be descended from Ishmael. The identification of Nebaioth (Genesis 28:9, Genesis 36:3, Isaiah 60:7) with the Nabatans, famous in the period after the Exile, is now generally given up. It and Kedar (Isaiah 21:16 f. *, Isaiah 42:11; Isaiah 60:7, Jeremiah 2:10; Jeremiah 49:28, Psalms 12:05*) lay probably to the E. of Edom. The other tribes are of less importance. Tema was a N. Arabian tribe about 250 miles to SE. of Edom, coupled with Dedan in Isaiah 21:13 f., Jeremiah 25:23, and with Sheba in Job 6:19. The problems raised by Genesis 25:18 are too complicated to be discussed here.

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Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/genesis-25.html. 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

CRITICAL NOTES.—

Gen . These are the generations.] Forms the eighth document so commencing.—

Gen . By their towns, and by their castles.] "The former are unwalled collections of houses or perhaps tents; the latter fortified keeps or encampments." (Murphy.) Kalish renders the clause, "By their villages and by their tents." The Arabs are divided into two classes, the wandering Bedouins, living in tents; and those who dwell in towns and villages.—

Gen . 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.] Ishmael's death is here recorded by anticipation. It happened forty-eight years after Abraham's death, and when Isaac was one hundred and twenty-three years old.—

Gen . He died in the presence of all his brethren.] Heb. He fell, or, it fell to him. The meaning seems to be, he had settled down, or, fallen into the lot of his inheritance, according to the prediction. (Gen 16:12.) He was unsubjugated by his brethren though dwelling beside them.—

MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Gen

THE GENERATIONS OF ISHMAEL

This history illustrates the following truths:—

I. That those who are not appointed to the most honourable place are yet cared for by Providence. Ishmael was rejected as heir to the birthright, yet God was providing great things for him in the future. A mighty nation ruled by princes was to spring from him. Their roving and military character, their persistence, in spite of enemies and perpetual wars, is an evidence of their wonderful vitality. The control and the favours of Providence were not confined to the chosen people. God's dealings with the human race reveal the benevolent equity of Providence.

II. That Providence affords encouragements for the support of faith and virtue. The full accomplishment of the prophecies regarding Ishmael was not yet, for they stretched over long periods of time. But they were in course of being fulfilled. Events were opening up and pointing to the end indicated by prophecy. Already twelve princes, with their sovereignties, had sprung from Ishmael (Gen ). According to the promise made to Hagar, Ishmael died in the presence of all his brethren (Ch. Gen 16:12). Thus the first steps were taken towards the fulfilment of those promises made to his mother to sustain her drooping spirits, and to his father to reconcile him to the casting out of his first-born son (Gen 16:10-12; Gen 21:18; Gen 17:20; Gen 21:13). God fulfils so much of His word as is necessary for the encouragement of his people. They have an earnest of their inheritance, and find that in keeping, as well as after keeping His commandments there is great reward.

III. That the faithfulness of Providence may be proved on different lines. We point to the past and present condition of the Jews as proofs of the truth of the Bible. We have a proof equally strong in the past and present condition of the descendants of Ishmael. The inextinguishable life of this people is a perpetual witness to the faithful word of God. These are converging lines, all pointing to the truth of Revelation.

SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON THE VERSES

Gen . The historian, having adverted to the blessing of God upon Isaac, here pauses before proceeding with the sequel of his history to show how exactly the promises made to Ishmael (Ch. Gen 17:20) were also fulfilled. His descendants, like those of Isaac, branched out into twelve tribes, and constituted the bulk of the population which spread over the Arabian peninsula.—(Bush.)

Gen . Twelve princes, princes of their tribes, as was promised (Gen 17:20). See here what God can do for a poor boy sent out with a bottle of water on his back. God "setteth the solitary in families" (Psa 68:6). "He raiseth the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set him among princes" (1Sa 2:8).—(Trapp.)

Gen . Ishmael lived an hundred and thirty-seven years. His death is here recorded by anticipation. It took place forty-eight years after Abraham's death, and when Isaac was one hundred and twenty-three years old. We may suppose that Ishmael died in the faith of his father Abraham, according to the patriarch's prayer for him.—(Jacobus.)

Gen . He had his dwelling and the territory of his descendants alongside of his brethren, and unsubjugated by them.—(Jacobus.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/genesis-25.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

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.

That is the south of Moab. From the river Euphrates on the east, to Egypt on the west.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/genesis-25.html. 1828.

The Biblical Illustrator

ESAU AND JACOB

Genesis 25:1-34

"He goeth as an ox goeth to the slaughter, till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life."- Proverbs 7:22-23

THE character and career of Isaac would seem to tell us that it is possible to have too great a father. Isaac was dwarfed and weakened by growing up under the shadow of Abraham. Of his life there was little to record, and what was recorded was very much a reproduction of some of the least glorious passages of his father’s career. The digging of wells for his flocks was among the most notable events in his commonplace life, and even in this he only re-opened the wells his father had dug.

In him we see the result of growing up under too strong and dominant an external influence. The free and healthy play of his own capacities and will was curbed. The sons of outstanding fathers are much tempted to follow in the wake of their success, and be too much controlled and limited by the example therein set to them. There is a great deal to induce a son to do so; this calling has been successful in his father’s case, what better can he do than follow? Also he may get the use of his wells- those sources his father has opened for the easier or more abundant maintenance of those dependent on him, the business he has established, the practice he has made, the connections he has formed-these are useful if he follows in his father’s line of life. But all this tends, as in Isaac’s case, to the stunting of the man himself. Life is made too easy for him.

Isaac has been called "the Wordsworth of the Old Testament," but his meditative disposition seems to have degenerated into mere dreamy apathy, which, at last, made him the tool of the more active-minded members of his family, and was also attended by its common accompaniment of sensuality. It seems also to have brought him to a condition of almost entire bodily prostration, for a comparison of dates shows that he must have spent forty or fifty years in blindness and incapacity for all active duty. Neither can this greatly surprise us, for it is abundantly open to our own observation that men of the finest spiritual discernment, and of whose godliness in the main one cannot doubt, are also frequently the prey of the most childish tastes, and most useless even to the extent of doing harm in practical matters.

They do not see the evil that is growing in their own family; or, if they see it, they cannot rouse themselves to check it.

Isaac’s marriage, though so promising in the outset, brought new trial into his life. Rebekah had to repeat the experience of Sarah. The intended mother of the promised seed was left for twenty years childless-to contend with the doubts, surmises, evil proposals, proud challengings of God, and murmurings, which must undoubtedly have arisen even in so bright and spirited a heart as Rebekah’s. It was thus she was taught the seriousness of the position she had chosen for herself, and gradually led to the implicit faith requisite for the discharge of its responsibilities. Many young persons have a similar experience. They seem to themselves to have chosen a wrong position, to have made a thorough mistake in life, and to have brought themselves into circumstances in which they only retard, or quite prevent, the prosperity of those with whom they are connected. In proportion as Rebekah loved Isaac, and entered into his prospects, must she have been tempted to think she had far better have remained in Padanaram. It is a humbling thing to stand in some other person’s way; but if it is by no fault of ours, but in obedience to affection or conscience we are in this position, we must, in humility and patience, wait upon Providence as Rebekah did, and resist all morbid despondency.

This second barrenness in the prospective mother of the promised seed was as needful to all concerned as the first was; for the people of God, no more than any others, can learn in one lesson. They must again be brought to a real dependence on God as the Giver of the heir. The prayer with which Isaac "entreated" the Lord for his wife "because she was barren" was a prayer of deeper intensity than he could have uttered had he merely remembered the story that had been told him of his own birth. God must be recognised again and again, and throughout, as the Giver of life to the promised line. We are all apt to suppose that when once we have got a thing in train and working we can get on without God. How often do we pray for the bestowal of a blessing, and forget to pray for its continuance? How often do we count it enough that God has conferred some gift, and, not inviting Him to continue His agency, but trusting to ourselves, we mar His gift in the use? Learn, therefore, that although God has given you means of working out His salvation, your Rebekah will be barren without His continued activity. On His own means you must re-invite His blessing, for without the continuance of His aid you will make nothing of the most beautiful and appropriate helps He has given you.

It was by pain, anxiety, and almost dismay, that Rebekah received intimation that her prayer was answered. In this she is the type of many whom God hears. Inward strife, miserable forebodings, deep dejection, are often the first intimations that God is listening to our prayer and is beginning to work within us. You have prayed that God would make you more a blessing to those about you, more useful in your place, more answerable to His ends: and when your prayer has risen to its highest point of confidence and expectation, you are thrown into what seems a worse state than ever, your heart is broken within you, you say, Is this the answer to my prayer, is this God’s blessing; if it be so, why am I thus? For things that make a man serious happen when God takes him in hand, and they that yield themselves to His service will not find that that service is all honour and enjoyment. Its first steps will often land us in a position we can make nothing of, and our attempts to aid others will get us into difficulties with them; and especially will our desire that Christ be formed in us bring into such lively action the evil nature that is in us that we are torn by the conflict, and our heart lies like the ground of a fierce struggle, seamed and furrowed, tossed and confused: As soon as there is a movement within us in one direction, immediately there is an opposing movement: as soon as one of the natures says, Do this; the other says, Do it not. The better nature is gaining slightly the upper hand, and by a long, steady strain, seems to be wearying out the other, when suddenly there is one quick stroke and the evil nature conquers. And every movement of the parties is with pain to ourselves; either conscience is wronged, and gives out its cry of shame, or our natural desires are trodden down, and that also is pain. And so disconnected and connected are we, so entirely one with both parties, and yet so able to contemplate both, that Rebekah’s distress seems aptly enough to symbolise our own. And whether the symbol be apt or no, there can be no question that he who enquires of the Lord as she did, will receive a similar assurance that there are two natures within him, and that "the elder shall serve the younger"; the nature last formed, and that seems to give least promise of life, shall master the original, eldest born child of the flesh.

The children whose birth and destinies were thus predicted, at once gave evidence of a difference even greater than that which will often strike one as existing between two brothers, though rarely between twins. The first was born, all over like a hairy garment, presenting the appearance of being rolled up in a fur cloak or the skin of an animal-an appearance which did not pass away in childhood, but so obstinately adhered to him through life that an imitation of his hands could be produced with the hairy skin of a kid. This was by his parents considered ominous. The want of the hairy covering which the lower animals have, is one of the signs marking out man as destined for a higher and more refined life than they; and when their son appeared in this guise, they could not but fear it prognosticated his sensual, animal career. So they called him Esau. And so did the younger son from the first show his nature, catching the heel of his brother, as if he were striving to be firstborn; and so they called him Jacob, the heel-catcher or supplanter-as Esau afterwards bitterly observed, a name which precisely suited his crafty, plotting nature, shown in his twice over tripping up and overthrowing his elder brother. The name which Esau handed down to his people was, however, not his original name, but one derived from the colour of that for which he sold his birthright. It was in that exclamation of his, "Feed me with that same red," that he disclosed his character.

So different in appearance at birth, they grew up of very different character, and as was natural, he who had the quiet nature of his father was beloved by the mother, and he who had the bold, practical skill of the mother was clung to by the father. It seems unlikely that Rebekah was influenced in her affection by anything but natural motives, though the fact that Jacob was to be the heir must have been much on her mind, and may have produced the partiality which maternal pride sometimes begets. But before we condemn Isaac, or think the historian has not given a full account of his love for Esau, let us ask what we have noticed about the growth and decay of our own affections. We are ashamed of Isaac; but have we not also been sometimes ashamed of ourselves on seeing that our affections are powerfully influenced by the gratification of tastes almost or quite as low as this of Isaac’s? He who cunningly panders to our taste for applause, he who purveys for us some sweet morsel of scandal, he who flatters or amuses us, straightway takes a place in our affections which we do not accord to men of much finer parts, but who do not so minister to our sordid appetites.

The character of Jacob is easily understood. It has frequently been remarked of him that he is thoroughly a Jew, that in him you find the good and bad features of the Jewish character very prominent and conspicuous. He has that mingling of craft and endurance which has enabled his descendants to use for their own ends those who have wronged and persecuted them. The Jew has, with some justice and some injustice, been credited with an obstinate and unscrupulous resolution to forward his own interests, and there can be no question that in this respect Jacob is the typical Jew-ruthlessly taking advantage of his brother, watching and waiting till he was sure of his victim; deceiving his blind father, and robbing him of what he had intended for his favourite son; outwitting the grasping Laban, and making at least his own out of all attempts to rob him; unable to meet his brother without stratagem; not forgetting prudence even when the honour of his family is stained; and not thrown off his guard even by his true and deep affection for Joseph. Yet, while one recoils from this craftiness and management, one cannot but admire the quiet force of character, the indomitable tenacity, and, above all, the capacity for warm affection and lasting attachments, that he showed throughout.

But the quality which chiefly distinguished Jacob from his hunting and marauding brother was his desire for the friendship of God and sensibility to spiritual influences. It may have been Jacob’s consciousness of his own meanness that led him to crave connection with some Being or with some prospect that might ennoble his nature and lift him above his innate disposition. It is an old, old truth that not many noble are called; and, seeing quite as plainly as others see their feebleness and meanness, the ignoble conceive a self-loathing which is sometimes the beginning of an unquenchable thirst for the high and holy God. The consciousness of your bad, poor nature may revive within you day by day, as the remembrance of physical weakness returns to the invalid with every morning’s light; but to what else can God so effectively appeal when he offers you present fellowship with Himself and eventual conformity to His own nature?

It has been pointed out that the weakness in Esau’s character which makes him so striking a contrast to his brother is his inconstancy.

"That one error Fills him with faults; makes him run through all the sins."

Constancy, persistence, dogged tenacity is certainly the striking feature of Jacob’s character. He could wait and bide his time; he could retain one purpose year after year till it was accomplished. The very motto of his life was, "I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me." He watched for Esau’s weak moment, and took advantage of it. He served fourteen years for the woman he loved, and no hardship quenched his love. Nay, when a whole lifetime intervened, and he lay dying in Egypt, his constant heart still turned to Rachel, as if he had parted with her but yesterday. In contrast with this tenacious, constant character stands Esau, led by impulse, betrayed by appetite, everything by turns and nothing long. To-day despising his birthright, to-morrow breaking his heart for its loss; to-day vowing he will murder his brother, tomorrow falling on his neck and kissing him; a man you cannot reckon upon, and of too shallow a nature for anything to root itself deeply in.

The event in which the contrasted characters of the twin brothers were most decisively shown, so decisively shown that their destinies were fixed by it, was an incident which, in its external circumstances, was of the most ordinary and trivial kind. Esau came in hungry from hunting: from dawn to dusk he had been taxing his strength to the utmost, too eagerly absorbed to notice either his distance from home or his hunger; it is only when he begins to return depressed by the ill-luck of the day, and with nothing now to stimulate him, that he feels faint; and when at last he reaches his father’s tents, and the savoury smell of Jacob’s lentiles greets him, his ravenous appetite becomes an intolerable craving, and he begs Jacob to give him some of his food. Had Jacob done so with brotherly feeling there would have been nothing to record. But Jacob had long been watching for an opportunity to win his brother’s birthright, and though no one could have supposed that an heir to even a little property would sell it in order to get a meal five minutes sooner than he could otherwise get it, Jacob had taken his brother’s measure to a nicety, and was confident that present appetite would in Esau completely extinguish every other thought.

It is perhaps worth noticing that the birthright in Ishmael’s line, the guardianship of the temple at Mecca, passed from one branch of the family to another in a precisely similar way. We read that when the guardianship of the temple and the governorship of the town "fell into the hands of Abu Gabshan, a weak and silly man, Cosa, one of Mohammed’s ancestors, circumvented him while in a drunken humour, and bought of him the keys of the temple, and with them the presidency of it, . for a bottle of wine. But Abu Gabshan being gotten out of his drunken fit, sufficiently repented of his foolish bargain; from whence grew these proverbs among the Arabs: More vexed with late repentance than Abu Gabshan; and, More silly than Abu Gabshan-which are usually said of those who part with a thing of great moment for a small matter."

Which brother presents the more repulsive spectacle of the two in this selling of the birthright it is hard to say. Who does not feel contempt for the great, strong man, declaring he will die if he is required to wait five minutes till his own supper is prepared; forgetting, in the craving of his appetite, every consideration of a worthy kind; oblivious of everything but his hunger and his food; crying, like a great baby, Feed me with that red!

So it is always with the man who has fallen under the power of sensual appetite. He is always going to die if it is not immediately gratified. He must have his appetite satisfied. No consideration of consequences can be listened to or thought of; the man is helpless in the hands of his appetite-it rules and drives him on, and he is utterly without self-control; nothing but physical compulsion can restrain him.

But the treacherous and self-seeking craft of the other brother is as repulsive; the coldblooded, calculating spirit that can hold every appetite in check, that can cleave to one purpose for a life-time, and, without scruple, take advantage of a twin-brother’s weakness. Jacob knows his brother thoroughly, and all his knowledge he uses to betray him. He knows he will speedily repent of his bargain, so he makes him swear he will abide by it. It is a relentless purpose he carries out-he deliberately and unhesitatingly sacrifices his brother to himself.

Still, in two respects, Jacob is the superior man. He can appreciate the birthright in his father’s family, and he has constancy. Esau might be a pleasant companion, far brighter and more vivacious than Jacob on a day’s hunting; free and open-handed, and not implacable; and yet such people are not satisfactory friends. Often the most attractive people have similar inconstancy; they have a superficial vivacity, and brilliance, and charm, and good-nature, which invite a friendship they do not deserve.

Parents frequently make the mistake of Isaac, and think more highly of the gay, sparkling, but shallow child, than of the child who cannot be always smiling, but broods over what he conceives to be his wrongs. Sulkiness is itself not a pleasing feature in a child’s character, but it may only be the childish expression of constancy, and of a depth of character which is slow to let go any impression made upon it. On the other hand, frankness and a quick throwing aside of passion and resentment are pleasing features in a child, but often these are only the expressions of a fickle character, rapidly changing from sun to shower like an April day, and not to be trusted for retaining affection or good impressions any longer than it retains resentment.

But Esau’s despising of his birthright is that which stamps the man and makes him interesting to each generation. No one can read the simple account of his reckless act without feeling how justly we are called upon to "look diligently lest there be among us any profane person as Esau, who, for one morsel of meat, sold his birthright." Had the birthright been something to eat, Esau would not have sold it. What an exhibition of human nature! What an exposure of our childish folly and the infatuation of appetite! For Esau has company in his fall. We are all stricken by his shame. We are conscious that if God had made provision for the flesh we should have listened to Him more readily. "But what will this birthright profit us?" We do not see the good it does: were it something to keep us from disease, to give us long unsated days of pleasure, to bring us the fruits of labour without the weariness of it, to make money for us, where is the man who would not value it-where is the man who would lightly give it up? But because it is only the favour of God that is offered, His endless love, His holiness made ours, this we will imperil or resign for every idle desire, for every lust that bids us serve it a little longer. Born the sons of God, made in His image, introduced to a birthright angels might covet, we yet prefer to rank with the beasts of the field, and let our souls starve if only our bodies be well tended and cared for.

There is in Esau’s conduct and after-experience so much to stir serious thought, that one always feels reluctant to pass from it, and as if much more ought to be made of it. It reflects so many features of our own conduct, and so clearly shows us what we are from day to day liable to, that we would wish to take it with us through life as a perpetual admonition. Who does not know of those moments of weakness, when we are fagged with work, and with our physical energy our moral tone has become relaxed? Who does not know how, in hours of reaction from keen and exciting engagements, sensual appetite asserts itself, and with what petulance we inwardly cry, We shall die if we do not get this or that paltry gratification? We are, for the most part, inconstant as Esau, full of good resolves to-day, and to-morrow throwing them to the winds-to-day proud of the arduousness of our calling, and girding ourselves to self-control and self-denial, tomorrow sinking back to softness and self-indulgence. Not once as Esau, but again and again we barter peace of conscience and fellowship with God and the hope of holiness, for what is, in simple fact, no more than a bowl of pottage. Even after recognising our weakness and the lowness of our. tastes, and after repenting with self-loathing and misery, some slight pleasure is enough to upset our steadfast mind. and make us as plastic as clay in the hand of circumstances. It is with positive dismay one considers the weakness and blindness of our hours of appetite and passion: how one goes then like an ox to the slaughter, all unconscious of the pitfalls that betray and destroy men, and how at any moment we ourselves may truly sell our birthright.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 25:18". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/genesis-25.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Genesis 25:12-18

These are the generations of Ishmael

I.
The generations of Ishmael

I. THAT THOSE WHO ARE NOT APPOINTED TO THE MOST HONOURABLE PLACE ARE YET CARED FOR BY PROVIDENCE.

II. THAT PROVIDENCE AFFORDS ENCOURAGEMENTS FOR THE SUPPORT OF FAITH AND VIRTUE.

III. THAT THE FAITHFULNESS OF PROVIDENCE MAY BE PROVED ON DIFFERENT LINES. Past and present condition of

The genealogies of the wicked

1. The genealogies of the wicked, God sometimes recorded for His own glory and the sake of the Church (Genesis 25:12).

2. God doth by name punctually perform His promise unto His servants, though it be concerning the wicked.

3. God doth vouchsafe a more abundant seed sometimes to the children of the flesh than to the children of the promise. Ishmael hath many sons, it is long till Isaac hath any.

4. Great dignities, commands, and powers below God doth cast upon bondmen in the Church (Genesis 25:16). One drachm of grace is above monarchies.

5. A long age may betide an Ishmael, but not a good one.

6. A like death may seem to be both to the righteous and the wicked, but it is not so in truth.

7. The wicked in death are gathered to their people as well as the righteous unto theirs (Genesis 25:17).

8. God giveth the lot of habitation, motion and cessation unto the worst of men on earth (Genesis 25:18). (G. Hughes, B. D.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 25:18". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/genesis-25.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Genesis 25:18. He died in the presence In the Hebrew it is, he, or it fell: some therefore think, that it refers to the lot or inheritance of Ishmael: and his lot fell, or lay in the presence or midst of all his brethren. The LXX and Onkelos render it, he dwelt, agreeably to what is foretold, ch. Genesis 16:12. to which we refer. I humbly believe the translation last mentioned is the best. Houbigant very judiciously observes, that the plural word rendered they dwelt, at the beginning of the verse, should be read in the singular, he dwelt, as the discourse is only concerning Ishmael: the Seventy have it in the singular. Thus the whole is clear, and the prophecies exactly fulfilled: Genesis 25:17. Ishmael died; and when living, he dwelt from Havilah, &c. In the last clause the "and" is redundant, and is not in the Hebrew, he dwelt in the presence of all his brethren.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/genesis-25.html. 1801-1803.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

ESAU AND JACOB

Genesis 25:1-34

"He goeth as an ox goeth to the slaughter, till a dart strike through his liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life."- Proverbs 7:22-23

THE character and career of Isaac would seem to tell us that it is possible to have too great a father. Isaac was dwarfed and weakened by growing up under the shadow of Abraham. Of his life there was little to record, and what was recorded was very much a reproduction of some of the least glorious passages of his father’s career. The digging of wells for his flocks was among the most notable events in his commonplace life, and even in this he only re-opened the wells his father had dug.

In him we see the result of growing up under too strong and dominant an external influence. The free and healthy play of his own capacities and will was curbed. The sons of outstanding fathers are much tempted to follow in the wake of their success, and be too much controlled and limited by the example therein set to them. There is a great deal to induce a son to do so; this calling has been successful in his father’s case, what better can he do than follow? Also he may get the use of his wells- those sources his father has opened for the easier or more abundant maintenance of those dependent on him, the business he has established, the practice he has made, the connections he has formed-these are useful if he follows in his father’s line of life. But all this tends, as in Isaac’s case, to the stunting of the man himself. Life is made too easy for him.

Isaac has been called "the Wordsworth of the Old Testament," but his meditative disposition seems to have degenerated into mere dreamy apathy, which, at last, made him the tool of the more active-minded members of his family, and was also attended by its common accompaniment of sensuality. It seems also to have brought him to a condition of almost entire bodily prostration, for a comparison of dates shows that he must have spent forty or fifty years in blindness and incapacity for all active duty. Neither can this greatly surprise us, for it is abundantly open to our own observation that men of the finest spiritual discernment, and of whose godliness in the main one cannot doubt, are also frequently the prey of the most childish tastes, and most useless even to the extent of doing harm in practical matters.

They do not see the evil that is growing in their own family; or, if they see it, they cannot rouse themselves to check it.

Isaac’s marriage, though so promising in the outset, brought new trial into his life. Rebekah had to repeat the experience of Sarah. The intended mother of the promised seed was left for twenty years childless-to contend with the doubts, surmises, evil proposals, proud challengings of God, and murmurings, which must undoubtedly have arisen even in so bright and spirited a heart as Rebekah’s. It was thus she was taught the seriousness of the position she had chosen for herself, and gradually led to the implicit faith requisite for the discharge of its responsibilities. Many young persons have a similar experience. They seem to themselves to have chosen a wrong position, to have made a thorough mistake in life, and to have brought themselves into circumstances in which they only retard, or quite prevent, the prosperity of those with whom they are connected. In proportion as Rebekah loved Isaac, and entered into his prospects, must she have been tempted to think she had far better have remained in Padanaram. It is a humbling thing to stand in some other person’s way; but if it is by no fault of ours, but in obedience to affection or conscience we are in this position, we must, in humility and patience, wait upon Providence as Rebekah did, and resist all morbid despondency.

This second barrenness in the prospective mother of the promised seed was as needful to all concerned as the first was; for the people of God, no more than any others, can learn in one lesson. They must again be brought to a real dependence on God as the Giver of the heir. The prayer with which Isaac "entreated" the Lord for his wife "because she was barren" was a prayer of deeper intensity than he could have uttered had he merely remembered the story that had been told him of his own birth. God must be recognised again and again, and throughout, as the Giver of life to the promised line. We are all apt to suppose that when once we have got a thing in train and working we can get on without God. How often do we pray for the bestowal of a blessing, and forget to pray for its continuance? How often do we count it enough that God has conferred some gift, and, not inviting Him to continue His agency, but trusting to ourselves, we mar His gift in the use? Learn, therefore, that although God has given you means of working out His salvation, your Rebekah will be barren without His continued activity. On His own means you must re-invite His blessing, for without the continuance of His aid you will make nothing of the most beautiful and appropriate helps He has given you.

It was by pain, anxiety, and almost dismay, that Rebekah received intimation that her prayer was answered. In this she is the type of many whom God hears. Inward strife, miserable forebodings, deep dejection, are often the first intimations that God is listening to our prayer and is beginning to work within us. You have prayed that God would make you more a blessing to those about you, more useful in your place, more answerable to His ends: and when your prayer has risen to its highest point of confidence and expectation, you are thrown into what seems a worse state than ever, your heart is broken within you, you say, Is this the answer to my prayer, is this God’s blessing; if it be so, why am I thus? For things that make a man serious happen when God takes him in hand, and they that yield themselves to His service will not find that that service is all honour and enjoyment. Its first steps will often land us in a position we can make nothing of, and our attempts to aid others will get us into difficulties with them; and especially will our desire that Christ be formed in us bring into such lively action the evil nature that is in us that we are torn by the conflict, and our heart lies like the ground of a fierce struggle, seamed and furrowed, tossed and confused: As soon as there is a movement within us in one direction, immediately there is an opposing movement: as soon as one of the natures says, Do this; the other says, Do it not. The better nature is gaining slightly the upper hand, and by a long, steady strain, seems to be wearying out the other, when suddenly there is one quick stroke and the evil nature conquers. And every movement of the parties is with pain to ourselves; either conscience is wronged, and gives out its cry of shame, or our natural desires are trodden down, and that also is pain. And so disconnected and connected are we, so entirely one with both parties, and yet so able to contemplate both, that Rebekah’s distress seems aptly enough to symbolise our own. And whether the symbol be apt or no, there can be no question that he who enquires of the Lord as she did, will receive a similar assurance that there are two natures within him, and that "the elder shall serve the younger"; the nature last formed, and that seems to give least promise of life, shall master the original, eldest born child of the flesh.

The children whose birth and destinies were thus predicted, at once gave evidence of a difference even greater than that which will often strike one as existing between two brothers, though rarely between twins. The first was born, all over like a hairy garment, presenting the appearance of being rolled up in a fur cloak or the skin of an animal-an appearance which did not pass away in childhood, but so obstinately adhered to him through life that an imitation of his hands could be produced with the hairy skin of a kid. This was by his parents considered ominous. The want of the hairy covering which the lower animals have, is one of the signs marking out man as destined for a higher and more refined life than they; and when their son appeared in this guise, they could not but fear it prognosticated his sensual, animal career. So they called him Esau. And so did the younger son from the first show his nature, catching the heel of his brother, as if he were striving to be firstborn; and so they called him Jacob, the heel-catcher or supplanter-as Esau afterwards bitterly observed, a name which precisely suited his crafty, plotting nature, shown in his twice over tripping up and overthrowing his elder brother. The name which Esau handed down to his people was, however, not his original name, but one derived from the colour of that for which he sold his birthright. It was in that exclamation of his, "Feed me with that same red," that he disclosed his character.

So different in appearance at birth, they grew up of very different character, and as was natural, he who had the quiet nature of his father was beloved by the mother, and he who had the bold, practical skill of the mother was clung to by the father. It seems unlikely that Rebekah was influenced in her affection by anything but natural motives, though the fact that Jacob was to be the heir must have been much on her mind, and may have produced the partiality which maternal pride sometimes begets. But before we condemn Isaac, or think the historian has not given a full account of his love for Esau, let us ask what we have noticed about the growth and decay of our own affections. We are ashamed of Isaac; but have we not also been sometimes ashamed of ourselves on seeing that our affections are powerfully influenced by the gratification of tastes almost or quite as low as this of Isaac’s? He who cunningly panders to our taste for applause, he who purveys for us some sweet morsel of scandal, he who flatters or amuses us, straightway takes a place in our affections which we do not accord to men of much finer parts, but who do not so minister to our sordid appetites.

The character of Jacob is easily understood. It has frequently been remarked of him that he is thoroughly a Jew, that in him you find the good and bad features of the Jewish character very prominent and conspicuous. He has that mingling of craft and endurance which has enabled his descendants to use for their own ends those who have wronged and persecuted them. The Jew has, with some justice and some injustice, been credited with an obstinate and unscrupulous resolution to forward his own interests, and there can be no question that in this respect Jacob is the typical Jew-ruthlessly taking advantage of his brother, watching and waiting till he was sure of his victim; deceiving his blind father, and robbing him of what he had intended for his favourite son; outwitting the grasping Laban, and making at least his own out of all attempts to rob him; unable to meet his brother without stratagem; not forgetting prudence even when the honour of his family is stained; and not thrown off his guard even by his true and deep affection for Joseph. Yet, while one recoils from this craftiness and management, one cannot but admire the quiet force of character, the indomitable tenacity, and, above all, the capacity for warm affection and lasting attachments, that he showed throughout.

But the quality which chiefly distinguished Jacob from his hunting and marauding brother was his desire for the friendship of God and sensibility to spiritual influences. It may have been Jacob’s consciousness of his own meanness that led him to crave connection with some Being or with some prospect that might ennoble his nature and lift him above his innate disposition. It is an old, old truth that not many noble are called; and, seeing quite as plainly as others see their feebleness and meanness, the ignoble conceive a self-loathing which is sometimes the beginning of an unquenchable thirst for the high and holy God. The consciousness of your bad, poor nature may revive within you day by day, as the remembrance of physical weakness returns to the invalid with every morning’s light; but to what else can God so effectively appeal when he offers you present fellowship with Himself and eventual conformity to His own nature?

It has been pointed out that the weakness in Esau’s character which makes him so striking a contrast to his brother is his inconstancy.

"That one error Fills him with faults; makes him run through all the sins."

Constancy, persistence, dogged tenacity is certainly the striking feature of Jacob’s character. He could wait and bide his time; he could retain one purpose year after year till it was accomplished. The very motto of his life was, "I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me." He watched for Esau’s weak moment, and took advantage of it. He served fourteen years for the woman he loved, and no hardship quenched his love. Nay, when a whole lifetime intervened, and he lay dying in Egypt, his constant heart still turned to Rachel, as if he had parted with her but yesterday. In contrast with this tenacious, constant character stands Esau, led by impulse, betrayed by appetite, everything by turns and nothing long. To-day despising his birthright, to-morrow breaking his heart for its loss; to-day vowing he will murder his brother, tomorrow falling on his neck and kissing him; a man you cannot reckon upon, and of too shallow a nature for anything to root itself deeply in.

The event in which the contrasted characters of the twin brothers were most decisively shown, so decisively shown that their destinies were fixed by it, was an incident which, in its external circumstances, was of the most ordinary and trivial kind. Esau came in hungry from hunting: from dawn to dusk he had been taxing his strength to the utmost, too eagerly absorbed to notice either his distance from home or his hunger; it is only when he begins to return depressed by the ill-luck of the day, and with nothing now to stimulate him, that he feels faint; and when at last he reaches his father’s tents, and the savoury smell of Jacob’s lentiles greets him, his ravenous appetite becomes an intolerable craving, and he begs Jacob to give him some of his food. Had Jacob done so with brotherly feeling there would have been nothing to record. But Jacob had long been watching for an opportunity to win his brother’s birthright, and though no one could have supposed that an heir to even a little property would sell it in order to get a meal five minutes sooner than he could otherwise get it, Jacob had taken his brother’s measure to a nicety, and was confident that present appetite would in Esau completely extinguish every other thought.

It is perhaps worth noticing that the birthright in Ishmael’s line, the guardianship of the temple at Mecca, passed from one branch of the family to another in a precisely similar way. We read that when the guardianship of the temple and the governorship of the town "fell into the hands of Abu Gabshan, a weak and silly man, Cosa, one of Mohammed’s ancestors, circumvented him while in a drunken humour, and bought of him the keys of the temple, and with them the presidency of it, . for a bottle of wine. But Abu Gabshan being gotten out of his drunken fit, sufficiently repented of his foolish bargain; from whence grew these proverbs among the Arabs: More vexed with late repentance than Abu Gabshan; and, More silly than Abu Gabshan-which are usually said of those who part with a thing of great moment for a small matter."

Which brother presents the more repulsive spectacle of the two in this selling of the birthright it is hard to say. Who does not feel contempt for the great, strong man, declaring he will die if he is required to wait five minutes till his own supper is prepared; forgetting, in the craving of his appetite, every consideration of a worthy kind; oblivious of everything but his hunger and his food; crying, like a great baby, Feed me with that red!

So it is always with the man who has fallen under the power of sensual appetite. He is always going to die if it is not immediately gratified. He must have his appetite satisfied. No consideration of consequences can be listened to or thought of; the man is helpless in the hands of his appetite-it rules and drives him on, and he is utterly without self-control; nothing but physical compulsion can restrain him.

But the treacherous and self-seeking craft of the other brother is as repulsive; the coldblooded, calculating spirit that can hold every appetite in check, that can cleave to one purpose for a life-time, and, without scruple, take advantage of a twin-brother’s weakness. Jacob knows his brother thoroughly, and all his knowledge he uses to betray him. He knows he will speedily repent of his bargain, so he makes him swear he will abide by it. It is a relentless purpose he carries out-he deliberately and unhesitatingly sacrifices his brother to himself.

Still, in two respects, Jacob is the superior man. He can appreciate the birthright in his father’s family, and he has constancy. Esau might be a pleasant companion, far brighter and more vivacious than Jacob on a day’s hunting; free and open-handed, and not implacable; and yet such people are not satisfactory friends. Often the most attractive people have similar inconstancy; they have a superficial vivacity, and brilliance, and charm, and good-nature, which invite a friendship they do not deserve.

Parents frequently make the mistake of Isaac, and think more highly of the gay, sparkling, but shallow child, than of the child who cannot be always smiling, but broods over what he conceives to be his wrongs. Sulkiness is itself not a pleasing feature in a child’s character, but it may only be the childish expression of constancy, and of a depth of character which is slow to let go any impression made upon it. On the other hand, frankness and a quick throwing aside of passion and resentment are pleasing features in a child, but often these are only the expressions of a fickle character, rapidly changing from sun to shower like an April day, and not to be trusted for retaining affection or good impressions any longer than it retains resentment.

But Esau’s despising of his birthright is that which stamps the man and makes him interesting to each generation. No one can read the simple account of his reckless act without feeling how justly we are called upon to "look diligently lest there be among us any profane person as Esau, who, for one morsel of meat, sold his birthright." Had the birthright been something to eat, Esau would not have sold it. What an exhibition of human nature! What an exposure of our childish folly and the infatuation of appetite! For Esau has company in his fall. We are all stricken by his shame. We are conscious that if God had made provision for the flesh we should have listened to Him more readily. "But what will this birthright profit us?" We do not see the good it does: were it something to keep us from disease, to give us long unsated days of pleasure, to bring us the fruits of labour without the weariness of it, to make money for us, where is the man who would not value it-where is the man who would lightly give it up? But because it is only the favour of God that is offered, His endless love, His holiness made ours, this we will imperil or resign for every idle desire, for every lust that bids us serve it a little longer. Born the sons of God, made in His image, introduced to a birthright angels might covet, we yet prefer to rank with the beasts of the field, and let our souls starve if only our bodies be well tended and cared for.

There is in Esau’s conduct and after-experience so much to stir serious thought, that one always feels reluctant to pass from it, and as if much more ought to be made of it. It reflects so many features of our own conduct, and so clearly shows us what we are from day to day liable to, that we would wish to take it with us through life as a perpetual admonition. Who does not know of those moments of weakness, when we are fagged with work, and with our physical energy our moral tone has become relaxed? Who does not know how, in hours of reaction from keen and exciting engagements, sensual appetite asserts itself, and with what petulance we inwardly cry, We shall die if we do not get this or that paltry gratification? We are, for the most part, inconstant as Esau, full of good resolves to-day, and to-morrow throwing them to the winds-to-day proud of the arduousness of our calling, and girding ourselves to self-control and self-denial, tomorrow sinking back to softness and self-indulgence. Not once as Esau, but again and again we barter peace of conscience and fellowship with God and the hope of holiness, for what is, in simple fact, no more than a bowl of pottage. Even after recognising our weakness and the lowness of our. tastes, and after repenting with self-loathing and misery, some slight pleasure is enough to upset our steadfast mind. and make us as plastic as clay in the hand of circumstances. It is with positive dismay one considers the weakness and blindness of our hours of appetite and passion: how one goes then like an ox to the slaughter, all unconscious of the pitfalls that betray and destroy men, and how at any moment we ourselves may truly sell our birthright.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/genesis-25.html.

The Pulpit Commentaries

§ 8. THE GENERATIONS OF ISHMAEL (Genesis 25:12-18).

EXPOSITION

Genesis 25:12

Now these are the generations of Ishmael,—the opening of a new section (cf. Genesis 2:4), in which the fortunes of Abraham's eldest son are briefly traced before proceeding with the main current of the history in the line of Isaac (cf. 1 Chronicles 1:29-31)—Abraham's son,—because of his relation to Abraham it was that Ishmael attained subsequent historical development and importance (vide Genesis 21:13)—whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham (vide Genesis 16:1, Genesis 16:15).

Genesis 25:13

And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth;—"Heights;" the Nabathaeans, a people of Northern Arabia, possessed of abundant flocks (Isaiah 9:7), and, according to Diodorus, living by merchandise and rapine (Gesenius). From Petraea they subsequently extended as far as Babylon (Keil)—and Kedar,—"Black Skin;" the Cedrei of Pliny (Gesenius, Keil, Rosen-mailer); characterized as good bowmen (Isaiah 21:17), and dwelling between Arabia Petraea and Babylon—and Adbeel,—"Miracle of God" (Gesenius); of whom nothing is known—and Mibsam,—"Sweet Odor" (Gesenius); equally uncertain.

Genesis 25:14

And Mishma,—"Hearing" (Gesenius); Masma (LXX; Vulgate); connected with the Maisaimeneis, north-east of Medina (Knobel)—and Dumah,—"Silence;" same as Stony Dumah, or Syrian Dumah, in Arabia, on the edge of the Syrian desert (Gesenius); mentioned in Isaiah 21:11and Massa,"Burden;" north-east of Dumah are the Massanoi.

Genesis 25:15

Hadar,—"Chamber" (Gesenius); Ha'dad (1 Chronicles 1:30, LXX; Samaritan, and most MSS.); though Gesenius regards Hadar as probably the true reading in both places; identified with a tribe in Yemen (Gesenius); between Oman and Bahrein, a district renowned for its lancers (Keil)—and Tema,—"Desert" (Gesenius); Θαιμὰν (LXX.); the Θεμοί, on the Persian Gulf, or the tribe Bann Teim, in Hamasa (Knobel); a trading people (Job 6:19; Isaiah 21:14; Jeremiah 25:23)—Jetur,—"Enclosure" (Gesenius); the Itureans (Gesenius, Kalisch, Keil )—Naphish, "Breathing" (Murphy); "Refreshment" (Gesenius); not yet identified—and Kedemah—"Eastward" (Gesenius); unknown.

Genesis 25:16

These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns,—unwalled encampments, from hatzar, to surround; used of the movable villages of nomadic tribes (cf. Isaiah 42:11)—and by their castles;—fortified keeps (Murphy); tent villages (Keil); nomadic camps (Kalisch). Cf. Numbers 31:10; 1 Chronicles 6:39; Psalms 69:26; Ezekiel 25:4)—twelve princes—this does not imply that Ishmael had only twelve sons, like Israel—a very suspicious circumstance (De Wette); but only that these twelve became phylarchs (Havernick). The Egyptian dedecarchy rested on a like earlier division of names. Homer mentions a similar case among the Phoenicians; Thucydides another in ancient Attica (2. 15); vide Havernick's 'Introch,' § 18—according to their nations (or tribe divisions).

Genesis 25:17, Genesis 25:18

And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years:—a life shorter by nearly half a century than that of Isaac (Genesis 35:21); does this prove the life-prolonging influence of piety?—and he gave up the ghost and died; and wee gathered unto his people (vide on Genesis 25:8). And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward; Assyria (vide Genesis 10:29; Genesis 16:7): and He died—literally, fell down; not expired (Vulgate, A Lapide, Aben Ezra, et alii), but settled down, had his lot cast (Calvin, Keil, Kalisch); κατῴκησε (LXX.) in the presence of all his brethren (a fulfillment of Genesis 16:12).

HOMILETICS

Genesis 25:12-18

The generations of Ishmael, or the biography of a prince.

I. THE PRINCE'S NAME. Ishmael.

1. The significance of his name. "God hears.' It was thus a perpetual reminder to its bearer of a grand religious truth, that God is essentially a hearer of prayer, and that he is never far from any of his intelligent and needy creatures.

2. The occasion of his getting it.

3. The verification of his name. When he lay beneath the shrub God heard the voice of his distressful cry (Genesis 21:17).

II. THE PRINCE'S LINEAGE. Abraham's son. That—

III. THE PRINCE'S FAMILY.

1. Princely in rank. This quality they received by birth, being Ishmael's sons.

2. Many in number. They were twelve princes, and as such they developed into large and flourishing tribes and nations. This characteristic was due to grace, God having promised that kings and nations should spring from Hagar's son.

3. Influential in power. The twelve princes mentioned were powerful chieftains of as many clans.

IV. THE PRINCE'S DEATH.

1. The time. At 137 years. The days of all, even of princes, in this life are numbered.

2. The manner. "He expired." "There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit" in the day of his death.

3. The result. "He was gathered unto his people," passing to the company of those who were like-minded with himself in the unseen world, as Abraham went to enjoy the society of those who were of kindred spirit with him.

V. THE PRINCE'S DOMINIONS. "His lot was cast in the presence of all his brethren," i.e. his empire was—

1. Outside of Canaan. He had no part or lot in the inheritance of Isaac. Neither have the world's princes as such any share in the heritage of heaven's peers.

2. Among the tribes of earth. And so the worldly man's portion is of the earth, earthy.

See—

1. How comparatively unimportant the world's biographies are in the judgment of the Spirit.

2. How the children of the wicked often outnumber the offspring of the pious.

3. How it is appointed unto all men once to die, though not to all to die alike.

4. How certain it is that the wicked and the good shall be separated after death, since at death both are gathered unto their respective peoples. 5. How clearly and minutely God fulfils the promises he makes to wicked men no less than to good.

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/genesis-25.html. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
Havilah
2:11; 10:7,29; 20:1; 21:14,21
as thou
13:10
toward
2 Kings 23:29; Isaiah 19:23,24
died
Heb. fell.
14:10; Psalms 78:64
in the
16:12
Reciprocal: Genesis 2:14 - toward the east of;  Genesis 16:7 - the fountain;  Exodus 15:22 - wilderness of Shur;  1 Samuel 15:7 - Havilah;  1 Samuel 27:9 - left neither;  1 Chronicles 1:23 - Havilah;  Ezekiel 23:23 - the Assyrians

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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/genesis-25.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

18.From Havilah unto Shur — Or, as we might say, from the Arabian Gulf and the Euphrates to the border of Egypt and the Red Sea. On Havilah see Genesis 10:7; Genesis 10:29; and on Shur see on Genesis 16:7; Genesis 20:1, and Exodus 15:22.

As thou goest toward Assyria — One journeying most directly from Egypt to Assyria would pass through this broad Ishmaelite territory.

Died — Rather, he fell, or threw himself, נפל. This word is here used somewhat in the sense of the American word squat; he threw himself down upon, or settled in this region, between Havilah and Shur. The word is rendered lay along in Judges 7:12, where it is said the Midianites and Amalekites and Bene-Kedem fell with their tents and cattle in the valley. That is, they dropped down, flung themselves down, intending to stay. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy of Genesis 16:12.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 25:18". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/genesis-25.html. 1874-1909.