and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; consummated the marriage, first contracted by his servant, then confirmed by himself, and now finished:
and he loved her; as a man ought to love his wife, even as his own body, Ephesians 5:28; and she was a person to be beloved, being very fair, and of a goodly countenance, Genesis 24:16. The Jews say (z) she was but fourteen years of age at this time:
and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death; which was three years ago; see Gill on Genesis 25:20; and had made such impressions upon his spirit, that at times he was very sorrowful, and much distressed on that account; but now being blessed with so agreeable a yokefellow, his sorrow for his mother subsided, and he became cheerful and comfortable.
(z) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 1. p. 3.
INTRODUCTION TO Genesis 25
This chapter contains an account of Abraham's marriage with another woman, and of the children he had by her and of their posterity Genesis 25:1; of Abraham's disposal of his substance; and his sons, Genesis 25:5; of the years of his life, his death and burial, Genesis 25:7; of the children of Ishmael, and of the years of his life, and of his death, Genesis 25:12; and of the sons of Isaac the fruit of prayer, and of the oracle concerning them before they were born, and of their temper and disposition, conduct and behaviour, Genesis 25:19.
and her name was Keturah; who she was, or of what family, is not said. An Arabic writer (z) says she was a daughter of the king of the Turks; another (a) of them calls her the daughter of King Rama; and another (b) the daughter of Pactor, king of Rabbah; but there were then no such people in being. Very probably she was one of Abraham's handmaids born in his house, or bought with his money, perhaps the chief and principal of them. The Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem say she is the same with Hagar, and so, Jarchi; but this is rejected by Aben Ezra, since mention is made of Abraham's concubines, Genesis 25:6; whereas it does not appear he ever had any other than Hagar and Keturah, and therefore could not be the same; and besides, the children of Hagar and Keturah are in this chapter reckoned as distinct. Cleodemus (c), a Heathen writer, makes mention of Keturah as a wife of Abraham's, by whom he had many children, and names three of them. Sir Walter Raleigh (d) thinks, that the Kenites, of whom Jethro, the father- in-law of Moses, was, had their name from Keturah, being a nation of the Midianites that descended from her.
(z) Abul. Pharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 14. (a) Elmacinus, p. 34. apud Hottinger. Smegma, p. 309. (b) Patricides, p. 19. in ib. (c) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 20. p. 422. (d) History of the World, l. 2. c. 4. sect. 2. p. 157.
and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah: some think that the first of these is the same with Cahtan, whom the Arabs call the father of their nation; but that Cahtan rather seems to be Joktan the son of Eber, see Genesis 10:25. Philostorgius (i) speaks of a nation in his time, called Homerites, who were a people that sprung from Keturah, and inhabited Arabia Felix, and who used circumcision on the eighth day: and Bishop Patrick observes from Theophanes, a chronologer of the ninth century, that the Homerites, who lived in the interior parts of Arabia, descended from Jectan, which he conjectures should be read Jocshan, though perhaps he is no other than the Joktan before mentioned. From Medan and Midian sprung the Midianites, so often mentioned in Scripture; their posterity seem to be confounded together, for the same people are called Medanites and Midianites, Genesis 37:28; from these men the towns in Arabia might have their names, as the Modiana and Madiana of Ptolemy (k): as for Ishbak, there is no tracing of his name anywhere, unless, as Bishop Patrick observes, some footsteps of it are to be found in Bacascami, a town of the Zamareni, who descended from his brother Zimran, and in the people Backliltae, both mentioned by Pliny (l); though Junius think that Scabiosa Laodicea, in Laodicene of Syria, has its name from him; which seems not likely. The name of Shuah or Shuach may be traced in Socacia, Soaca, and Socheher, cities placed by Ptolemy (m) in Arabia Felix: though some think the posterity of this man are those whom the geographers call Sauchites, Sauchaeans, and Saccaeans, who settled in Arabia Deserta, and from whom Bildad the Shuhite, Job 2:11, descended; which is not improbable. But others have been of opinion, that the town of Suez, which Pliny calls Suaza, had its name from this Shuah, situate at the extremity of the Red sea (n).
(e) Dr. Clayton's Chronology of the Hebrew Bible, p. 83, &c. (f) Observations on the Book of Genesis in his Works, vol. 1. p. 695. (g) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28. (h) Geograph. l. 6. c. 7. (i) Eccl. Hist. l. 3. sect. 4. p. 477. (k) Ut supra. (h)) (l) Ut supra. (g)) (m) Ut supra. (h)) (n) See Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. 2. p. 184.
and the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim; these names being plural are thought not to be proper names of men, but appellatives, descriptive of their places of abode, or of their business: hence the Targum of Onkelos represents them as such that dwelt in camps, in tents, and in islands; and the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem call them merchants, artificers and heads of the people: however, Cleodemus (s) the Heathen historian is wrong in deriving Assyria from Asshurim, whom he calls Ashur; since Assyria and Assyrians are so called from Ashur, the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22.
(o) Phaleg. l. 2. c. 9. col. 227. (p) Geograph. l. 16. p. 536. (q) Phaleg. l. 4. c. 6. col. 219. (r) Ut supra. (Geograph. l. 6. c. 7.) (s) Apud Euseb. ut supra. (Praepar. Evangel. 9. c. 20. p. 432.)
Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abidah, and Eldaah: the two first of these, whom Cleodemus (t) calls Aphra and Apher, and makes them to be sons of Abraham by Keturah, when they were his grandsons, he says, from them the city Aphra, and all Africa, had their names, and that these accompanied Hercules into Lybia, he having married a daughter of Aphra. Ephah is mentioned along with Midian in Isaiah 60:6; but of the rest no notice is taken in Scripture. Ptolemy (u) makes mention both of a mountain, and of a village, near Madiana in Arabia Felix, called Hippos, which perhaps had their name from this man. Some trace of Epher is thought to be in Taphuron which Philostorgius says (w) was the metropolis of the Homerites, before mentioned; and Arrianus, as Bishop Patrick observes, expressly says, the metropolis of the Homerites, is called Aphar: to which may be added, that Ptolemy (x) speaks of a people called Tappharites, near the Homerites. Hanoch, the next son, is thought to have some footsteps of his name in Cane, a mart, which Ptolemy (y) places in the country of the Adramites in Arabia Felix, and also in the country of Canauna in Arabia, mentioned by, Pliny (z): near Cananua is placed, by the same writer, the island Devadae, called by Philostorgius (a) "Divus", in which it is supposed there is some trace of the name of Abidah, by an inversion of the two last syllables; and perhaps also in Abissa, which Ptolemy (b) places in the country of the Sachalites in Arabia Felix. As for Eldaah, Bishop Patrick thinks there are no remains of this name, unless in the city of Elana, from whence there was a gulf called Elanites, and a people that lived there Elanitae; but one would think there are some traces of it in the cities Alata, Lattha, and Leaththa, all, according to Ptolemy (c), in Arabia Felix:
all these were the children of Keturah; her children and grandchildren.
(t) Apud Euseb. ut supra. (Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 20. p. 432.) (u) Ut supra. (Geograph. l. 6. c. 7.) (w) Eccl. Hist. l. 3. sect. 4. 478. (x) Ut supra. (u)) (y) lb. (z) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28. (a) Ut supra, (w)) sect. 3.((b) Ut supra. (u)) (c) lb.
(d) "dederat", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
Abraham gave gifts; money, gold and silver, of which he had plenty: the Targum of Jonathan calls them substance and movable goods; by this it appears, that though he had sent Ishmael away without anything, yet he afterwards remembered him, and gave him a portion with the rest of the children of his, concubines:
and sent them away from Isaac his son; that they might not be troublesome to him and his family; and that there, might be no contention among them about inheriting the land of Canaan given to him and his seed: and this Abraham did
while he yet lived; or otherwise after his death a separation would not have been easily made; but his authority had weight with them: and they were sent by him
eastward, into the east country; into Arabia, and the parts thereabout, which lay east from the place where Abraham was; these are the children of the east, mentioned along with the Midianites, who sprung from Keturah, Judges 6:3.
(e) "concubinarum uxorum", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.
an hundred threescore and fifteen years; one hundred and seventy years; so that Isaac was now seventy five years of age, for he was born when Abraham was an hundred years old, and Jacob and Esau must how be fifteen years of age at this time, since they were born when Isaac was sixty years of age, Genesis 25:26; and Ishmael must be eighty nine years old; it may be observed, that as Abraham was seventy five years old when he went from Haran into the land of Canaan, Genesis 12:4; he had been just an hundred years a sojourner in this country.
and died in a good old age, an old man; for quantity, in those times few arriving to a greater; for quality, not attended with those inconveniences and disadvantages with which old age generally is, and therefore called evil:
and full of years; in the original it is only, "and full"; the Targum of Jonathan adds, "of all good"; temporal and spiritual, with which he was filled and satisfied; or he had had enough of life, and was willing to depart, and was full of desires after another and better world:
and was gathered to his people; which is to be understood not of his interment, there being only the body of Sarah in the sepulchre in which he was laid; but of the admission of his soul into the heavenly state upon its separation from the body, when it was at once associated with the spirits of just men made perfect. The Arabic writers (f) say that he died in the month of Nisan, others say Adar, in the year of the world 3563; but, according to Bishop Usher, he died A. M. 2183, and before Christ 1821.
(f) Elmacinus, p. 34. Patricides, p. 21. Apud Hottinger. Smegma Oriental. p. 315.
in the field of Ephron, the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre; see Genesis 23:8; wherefore very false is the tradition of the Mahometans (g), that Abraham's sepulchre is at Mecca, which they, now show, and stands about twelve paces from the temple there, enclosed with iron rails.
(g) Pitt's Account of the Religion of the Mahometans, c. 7. p. 93.
there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife; Sarah had been buried there thirty eight years before, which was the reason why his sons buried, him there; if he died in Beersheba, as seems probable, see Genesis 24:62; from thence to Hebron were sixteen miles (h); so far was he carried to be interred.
(h) Bunting's Travels, p. 57.
and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahairoi; which was near the wilderness of Beersheba and Paran, where Ishmael dwelt; so that they were not far from one another, see Genesis 16:14.
whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham; see Genesis 16:1.
the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth: mentioned in Isaiah 60:7; and from whence a people of the Arabs are called Nabathaeans, and their country Nabathaea. Josephus (i) says, that all the country from Euphrates to the Red sea is called the Nabatene country. The posterity of this man inhabited part of Arabia Deserta and of Arabia Petraea, even to the entrance of Arabia Felix. Strabo (k) reckons the Nabataeans among the Arabians, and calls Petra the metropolis of Arabia Petraea, Petra Nabataea, and Petra of the Arabian Nabataeans, who he says dwelt about Syria, and often made excursions into it; and observes, that their country is populous and abounds with pastures; hence the rams of Nebaioth, mentioned in Isaiah 60:7; Pliny also (l) places them in Arabia, and says they inhabit the town called Petra, and that they border upon Syria.
And Kedar is the second son of Ishmael; and the posterity of this man and their country are reckoned in Arabia by Isaiah, Isaiah 21:13; and they are so well known to be Arabians, that the Arabic language is most frequently, in Jewish writings, called the language of Kedar. These are the people whom Pliny (m) names Cedrei, and mentions them along with the Nabathaeans, as near unto them, and indeed they dwelt in the same country, Arabia Petraea, and in tents, living by pasturage, hence they are sometimes called Scenites; and mention is made of the tents of Kedar in Sol 1:5; these are the Scenite Arabs, called Saracens by Ammianus Marcellinus (n). Two other sons of Ishmael follow:
and Adbeel and Mibsam; of whom no mention is made elsewhere, nor are there any traces of their names, unless the Agubeni, placed by Ptolemy (o) near Arabia Felix.
(i) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 12. sect. 4. (k) Geograph. l. 16. p. 528, 534, 536. (l) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 11. & l. 6. c. 28. & l. 12. c. 17. (m) lbid. l. 5. c. 11. (n) L. 22. p. 228. l. 23. p. 250. Ed. Vales. (o) Geograph. l. 5. c. 19.
(p) Georaph. l. 16. p. 528. 534. 536. (q) lbid.
Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah; the two first of these are reckoned among the Hagarites, as the Ishmaelites were sometimes called, 1 Chronicles 5:19; from Jetur came the Itureans, whom Pliny (u) places in Coelesyria; and their country Iturea is reckoned by Strabo (w) along with Arabia; and the Ithyreans with Virgil (x) are famous for their bows, as Ishmael and his posterity were for archery in all ages, and still are; see Gill on Genesis 21:20. As for the posterity of Naphish and Kedomah, we have no account elsewhere, nor any traces of their names, unless those of the latter should be meant by the men of the east, or the men of Kedem, Jeremiah 49:28, which is not improbable, since they are mentioned with the posterity of Kedar the second son of Ishmael; and the Nubaeans by Lebanon may be from Naphish.
(r) Geograph. l. 5. c. 17, 19. (s) Ibid. l. 6. c. 7. (t) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28. (u) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 23. (w) Geograph. l. 16. p. 520. (x) Georgic. l. 2. ver. 448.
these are their names, by their towns and by their castles; their towns and their castles being called after their names, some of which we are able to trace at this distance, as the above notes show:
twelve princes according to their nations; these were princes, or heads of tribes, and there were twelve of them, and continued so, see Genesis 17:20; where is the prophecy, and here an accomplishment of it.
and he gave up the ghost and died, and was gathered unto his people; some of the same expressions being used of him as of his father, Genesis 25:8, have led some to conclude that he was a penitent and died a good man, and was gathered to the same people; but these phrases are used both of good and bad men.
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 fell (y) 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.
(y) "cecidit habitatio ipsi", Schmidt; "cecidit sors ejus", Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Ben Gersom, and Ben Melech.
Abraham begat Isaac; for the further confirmation of his being his proper legitimate son this clause is added.
the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian, of Padanaram; so called to distinguish it from other Arams, as Aram of Damascus, &c. this seems to be the same with Aram Naharaim, or Mesopotamia, which lay between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris; for Padan, as Jarchi observes from the Targum, signifies two; but rather, as he, and Aben Ezra, and others say, Padan in the Arabic language signifies a field; it here intends the field or country of Syria, as in Hosea 12:12. Haran, in Syria or Mesopotamia, was the place where Bethuel and Laban lived, see Genesis 28:5. Some traces of Padan in Mesopotamia are thought to be in the cities of Aphphadana and Aphadana, which are placed by Ptolemy (z) in that country. Moreover, Rebekah is also said to be
the sister to Laban the Syrian, the son of Bethuel, who are both called Syrians, because they now lived in Syria: otherwise they were originally Chaldees, being descended from Nahor the brother of Abraham, who both were of Ur of the Chaldees; so Jacob is called a Syrian, because he lived long in the same place, Deuteronomy 26:5.
(z) Geograph. l. 5. c. 18.
because she was barren; which appeared by the length of time they had been married, which was near twenty years, see Genesis 25:26. The Jewish writers (b) say, that, after twenty years, Isaac took her and went with her to Mount Moriah, to the place where he was bound, and prayed that she might conceive; putting the Lord in mind of the promise he there made of the multiplication of Abraham's seed, Genesis 22:17,
and the Lord was entreated of him; he granted him his request; for, though God has purposed and promised to do many things for his people, yet he will be sought unto by them to do them for them:
and Rebekah his wife conceived; two sons at once, as it follows.
(a) "praesente uxore sua", Munster, Fagins. (b) Pirke Eliezer, c. 32. Targum. Jon. in loc. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 3. 1.
and she said, if it be so, why am I thus? that is, either if it be so with me as is not with others in the like condition; for, as Aben Ezra suggests, she had inquired of other women, whether it had ever been so with them, and they replied, no: then, says she, how comes it to pass that it should be different with me from others? or, if those children by struggling should kill one another, or be abortive and kill me, why should I have been so desirous of conception? or prayed for it, as Jarchi observes? or, if so it is, and this will be the case, "why am I thus" (c)? this unhappy woman, to be in such circumstances, to endure so much pain, and to no purpose? why have I conceived and carried my burden so long, and at last cannot be delivered, or bring forth a live child? all my prayers and pains have been in vain:
and she went to inquire of the Lord; to the school of Shem the great, say the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, and so Jarchi: the Arabic writers say (d), she inquired of Melchizedek; and, according to Aben Ezra, of some prophet, or of Abraham, who lived fifteen years after this event: and indeed, if she inquired of any particular person of note for religion, and as a prophet, there is none so likely as he, who was the friend of God, and had great intimacy with him, and to whom he revealed his secrets. But perhaps no more is meant by it, than that she went either to some proper and private place, and prayed unto the Lord that he would show her the reason of what had happened unto her; or to some public place of worship, and where prayer was wont to be made, and where she inquired by means of such as were engaged therein concerning this matter; see Psalm 73:17.
(c) "eur ego hoc?" Tigurine version, Montanus, Fagius. (d) Patricides, apud Hottinger, Smegma Oriental. p. 335. Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 15.
two nations are in thy womb; or two persons, from whom two nations will spring, the Edomites and Israelites, the one from Esau, the other from Jacob:
and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; different in their bodies, complexions, manner of life, religion, as well as place of abode:
and the one people shall be stronger than the other people: the Edomites, the posterity of Esau, were a very potent people, and had a succession of dukes and kings, before the Israelites, the posterity of Jacob, made any figure in the world, and while they were slaves in Egypt, see Genesis 36:1; though in later times the Israelites became the stronger:
and the elder, or "greater":
shall serve the younger, or "lesser": the offspring of Esau, the eldest, should become tributary to the posterity of Jacob, the younger; which was verified in the times of David, when the Edomites were subdued by him, 2 Samuel 8:14; and still more in the times of Hyrcanus, when the Edomites or Idumeans became one people with the Jews, and embraced their religion (e), rather than to be dispossessed of their country; and will have a further accomplishment in the latter day, when the prophecies in Obadiah 1:18 shall be fulfilled. Of the use which the Apostle Paul makes of this passage; see Gill on Romans 9:11, Romans 9:12.
(e) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 13. c. 9. sect. 1.
behold, there were twins in her womb; as was perceived by the midwife; a double mercy was granted, more given than asked for; probably only one child was asked for, but two given.
all over like an hairy garment; his body was all over full of hair, which stood as thick as a garment made of hair, and was a sign of the roughness of his disposition, as well as of the strength of his body:
and they called his name Esau; his parents, and those present at his birth, all that saw him thus covered with hair; for he had his name not from the colour of his body or hair; for the word does not signify "red", but comes from a word which signifies "to make", he being a "maker": that made his way out before his brother, or an active man as afterwards, or because of his hair was "made" or born more like a man than a child; and so the Targum adds,"because he was wholly perfect, with the hair of his head and beard, and with his teeth and grinders:''but chiefly because of his hairiness, for Esau in the Arabic language signifies "covered" (f), as he was with hair: some say, a word in that language signifies a hairy garment made of camel's hair (g).
(f) "texit", "operuit", Castel. col. 2930. (g) Vid. Stockium. p. 923.
and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; to pluck him back and get out first; and this was not casual, but was so ordered in Providence, and had a meaning and mystery in it:
and his name was called Jacob; by his parents and others, and that for the above reason, because he took his brother by the heel, which his name has the signification of, and Esau has respect to in Genesis 27:36,
and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them; and so it was twenty years after he had been married to her; so long was his faith tried and exercised about the promised seed that was to spring from him.
and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field: whose business lay in tilling and sowing it, which his father Isaac followed sometimes; or rather he chose to range about the field and hunt after beasts and birds, in which he was very expert, and contrived traps and snares to catch them in; and this course of life was most agreeable to his temper and disposition, being active, fierce, and cruel; according to the Targum of Jonathan, he was also a hunter and slayer of men, Nimrod and Henoch his son:
and Jacob was a plain man; an honest plain hearted man, whose heart and tongue went together; a quiet man, that gave no disturbance to others; a godly man, sincere, upright, and perfect, that had the truth of grace and holiness in him, as well as the perfect righteousness of his Redeemer on him:
dwelling in tents; keeping at home and attending the business of the family, as we afterwards find him boiling pottage, Genesis 25:29; or rather this denotes his pastoral life, being a shepherd, he dwelt in tents, which could be removed from place to place for the convenience of pasturage: Jarchi's note is,"in the tent of Shem and in the tent of Eber;''agreeably to the Targum of Jonathan,"a minister in the school of Shem, seeking doctrine from the Lord;''a student there, where he resided awhile, in order to be instructed in the doctrines of truth and righteousness.
but Rebekah loved Jacob; more than Esau, being more at home with her, and of a milder disposition; and more especially being a good man, a partaker of the grace of God, and to whom she knew by the oracle the blessing and promise belonged.
(h) "quia venatio in ore ejus", Pagninus, Montanus.
and Esau came from the field, and be was faint: for want of food, and weary with hunting, and perhaps more so, having toiled and got nothing.
(i) Pirke Eliezer, c. 35. (k) Seder Olam Rabba, p. 3. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 5. 1.
for I am faint; so faint that he could not feed himself, or however wanted immediate sustenance, and could not wait till other food he had used to live upon was dressed:
therefore was his name called Edom; not from his red hair, but from this red pottage; for Edom signifies "red", and is the same with the names Pyrrhus and Rufus.
(l) "de rufo, rufo isto", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; so Piscator, Schmidt. (m) Comment. in Psal. xlvi. tom. 8. p. 174. (n) Virgil. Georgic. l. 1. ver. 228. (o) Martial. l. 13. epigr. 9. (p) In Virgil. ut supra. (Georgic. l. 1. ver. 228) (q) Misn. Celim. c. 17. sect. 8. (r) Nat. Hist. l. 18. c. 12. (s) lbid. c. 17. (t) Travels, p. 140. Ed. 2.((u) Physica Sacra, vol. 1. p. 78. (w) Deipno Sophist. l. 4. c. 14, 15.
(x) "juxta hunc diem", Fagius, Drusius.
and what profit shall this birthright do to me? a dying man, or when dead? In such a case, all the privileges of it in course would devolve on Jacob; and as for the promises of the Messiah, and of the land of Canaan, made to Abraham and his seed, these seemed to be at a great distance, and if he lived ever so long might never enjoy them; and therefore judged it most advisable to consult his present interest, and have something in hand, than to trust to futurity; and, by thus saying, he signified an entire willingness to part with his birthright on the terms proposed.
(y) "vadens ad moriendum", Montanus. (z) Works, vol. 1. p. 15, 696.
and he sware unto him; that he would abide by the bargain, and never give him any trouble on that account; and hereby he made it over to Jacob as firm as it could be; God himself being appealed to as a witness of it, whose will it was that Jacob should have the birthright, the blessing, and the promises:
and he sold his birthright unto Jacob; with all the privileges and appurtenances of it, and that for one morsel of meat, as in Hebrews 12:16.