Genesis 25:1-26:35 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Lord Blessed Isaac's Family
Comments for Study 18

Genesis 25:1-26:35
Memory Verse 26:24


I. The Death of Abraham (25:1-18)

>1. What did Abraham do after Sarah died? Why did he show special treatment toward Isaac? Who buried Abraham when he died? Where did Isaac live after that? (11)

Genesis 25:1-4 "Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah."

* 1 Chronicles 1:32-33 "The sons born to Keturah, Abraham's concubine: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. The sons of Jokshan: Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Midian: Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah."

* The Bible says little on Abraham having another wife, after Sarah died. When he married her is not clear except that it is listed after Isaac married Rebekah.

Genesis 25:5-6 "Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east."

* "gave gifts" -he did not treat them poorly.

* "sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east" -Abraham made sure that they would not bother the son of promise. Later some of their descendants were problems to the Israelites.

* Many people living in the Middle East are descendants of Abraham. Most have not gotten along with each other throughout history. Such is the history of fallen man.

Genesis 25:7-11 "Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. After Abraham's death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi."

* "he was gathered to his people" -a phrase referring to the "heaven" side of Shoel, the grave. Before Jesus rose from the dead all those who died when one of two places in Shoel; the righteous to the "heaven" side, and the unrighteous to the "hell" side. Both await judgement. When Jesus died, just before he rose, he ascended to the "heaven" side and took out all those there and lead them to heaven where they await Jesus second coming. Those who die now in Christ join them.

* "Isaac and Ishmael" -This implies that Keturah's children were not there.

Genesis 25:12 "This is the account of Abraham's son Ishmael, whom Sarah's maidservant, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham."

* "This is the account" -the phrase used in the Book of Genesis that marks a new account, a new beginning, a new section, and a new time in the work of the LORD. See comments in study 2.

* "maidservant" -In those days men of wealth often had wives of "second rank; so that their condition remained servile, although they were admitted to the conjugal bed." (John Calvin) This is true of men of God even though it was not in God's original plan. Adam had only one wife.

>2. Who were Ishmael's sons? What kind of people were they? (18) What word did this fulfill? (18:11-12) Why do you think they were this way?

Genesis 25:13-18 "These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go toward Asshur. And they lived in hostility toward all their brothers."

* "names" -many are Arab names giving credence to the Arab tradition that Ishmael is their ancestor.

* "they lived in hostility toward all their brothers" -Isaac and Ketruah's sons. This is true to this very day.

II. Jacob and Esau (25:19-34)

>3. What were the problems Isaac and Rebekah, respectively prayed for? How did God answer their prayers? What does this teach us about their family? About God? About prayer?

Genesis 25:19 "This is the account of Abraham's son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac,"

* "This is the account" -see note above. The new section often has a brief statement linking it to the new.

Genesis 25:20 "and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean."

* "forty years old" -this if Abraham did marry Ketruah after Isaac married, then he was very old. This leds some Bible scholars to speculate that Abraham married her before Sarah died and could explain why she lived near, but not with Abraham when she died as might be indicated in chapter 23.

* "sister of Laban the Aramean" -Laban will play a big role in the of of Rebekah's son, Jacob.

Genesis 25:21 "Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant."

* "Issac prayed to the LORD" -For 20 years (20, 26). Isaac might have wondered if he was to wait as long as his father did. At the same time he might have wondered if his wife and his mother had the same problem.

* A wife was expected to bear children for her husband in those days. If they did not it was shameful and linked to not being blessed by God.

* "on behalf of his wife" -Isaac loved her and so he prayed for her.

* "because she was barren" -God have the same test of faith to Isaac's family as he had to Abraham's. In this both families grew.

* Psalm 113:9

Genesis 25:22-23 "The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.""

* "So she went to inquire of the LORD" -Isaac's family was a praying family. The phrase indicates that perhaps there was a place of worship to the LORD that Melchizedek set up, Abraham set up, Sarah set up, or even Isaac set up.

* Whether good times or troubled times we should always bring it to the LORD in prayer. Prayer is the communication of heavenly minded souls. Paul encourages us to pray continually. (1 Thes. 5:17)

* "of the LORD" -When Sarah began to call on the LORD is not stated. It could have been before she left her father's house. As pointed out in chapter twelve study (Study 8) Terah, Abraham's father might have been a late follower of the LORD so that Abraham's brother, Rebekah's grandfather, might have known of the LORD. So it is possible that Sarah began to believe and worship him there and that would have been the reason she was chosen to be Isaac's wife. However, all this is guess since the Bible does not say when she began to call on the LORD.

* "will be separated" -reflection back to the Lord's words to the serpent that Eve's seed (Jesus) and his will have enmity. Thus, from this the following verses comes.

* God chose the younger even before they were born which was against custom of the time. Malachi 1:2-3 says, "I have loved you," says the LORD. "But you ask, 'How have you loved us?' "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals." And Paul wrote in Romans 9:10-16, "Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls--she was told, "The older will serve the younger." Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated." What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy."

* Joshua 24:4 says, "and to Isaac I gave Jacob and Esau. I assigned the hill country of Seir to Esau, but Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt."

* "the older will serve the young" -a reversal of human order thus showing the LORD's election, his will above and even opposite of man's will.

* The mother must have told this to Jacob as he grew up. If she did this seems to not have effected him unless she used it to convince him to seek the blessings and inheritance.

>4. Who did Rebekah give birth to? What was remarkable about their births? What did each do when they grew up? (27-28) How did it come about that Esau gave his birthright to Isaac? Why was this an important event? What does it show about each of them? As children of God what birthrights to we have?

Genesis 25:24-26 "When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them."

* "red" -a pun of Edom, one of Esau's other names.

* Jacob (Israel) and Esau (Edom) would be constantly against each other. (Num. 20:14-21, Ob. 9-10)

Genesis 25:27-28 "The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob."

* "a skillful hunter, a man of the open country" -then as today such rugged and robust men are considered "real men" who can take care of themselves in any and every situation, self made and self sustaining.

* "loved Esau" -Isaac was not aware of the future of the boys until later in life as Abraham had not been about his first two sons. Often it appears that even men of God look at the outside to judge rather than what God looks at.

* "a quiet man" -a man of peace and at rest.

* The two were different in many ways, looks, demeanor, and spiritual desires.

* "tents" -Isaac and Rebekah could have built permanent settlements as Rebekah's father had, but they lived as Abraham and Sarah did. Thus they remained aliens and strangers in the land.

* "Isaac... loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob" -this seems to indicate a problem between husband and wife. Isaac's favor of Esau and apparent rejection of Jacob seems similar to everyone's opinion of the young David as compared to the yet to be King Saul. Saul looked like a king to everyone and David did not. However, David showed to be the best king because he had faith and love for the LORD.

* The two's youth shows them at opposites in all except one. Both seem at this stage of life to have much interest in the faith and therefore the spiritual blessing their grandfather Abraham had.

* The authenticity of the Bible is upheld by the fact that Isaac's folly and rejection of the oracles of God concerning Jacob is a great embarrassment to Israel and those who hold onto the faith of Abraham found in Jesus, the Messiah. Human history seldom keeps the shameful acts in history books.

Genesis 25:29-30 "Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, "Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I'm famished!" (That is why he was also called Edom.)"

* "open country" -meaning with few people living there

* "red stew" -again the play on the word Edom. Siblings often give each other nicknames as taunts. Isaac was perhaps the giver of this name.

* "Jacob was cooking" -a home dwelling occupation.

Genesis 25:31-34 "Jacob replied, "First sell me your birthright." "Look, I am about to die," Esau said. "What good is the birthright to me?" But Jacob said, "Swear to me first." So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So Esau despised his birthright."

* "First sell me your birthright" -Jacob as not at all charitable and human towards his brother. God had said that he was the favored one. Yet, he did not act with true kindness to his twin brother. And yet some say that Jacob was determined to get the birthright out of ambition and perhaps even to be in God's history and receive all of God's blessings.

* "What good is the birthright to me?" -Esau did not realize the importance of the birthright. He lived for the here and now.

* Again the two's youth have little spiritual bragging rights.

* "despised" -Moses made it clear that of the two Esau was living up to the oracle of the LORD.

III. Isaac and the Philistines (26:1-35)

>5. How did Isaac deal with the problem of the famine in the land? What did God promise him and what was the basis of that promise? How did Isaac show his faith in God's promise?

Genesis 26:1-6 "Now there was a famine in the land--besides the earlier famine of Abraham's time--and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar. The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws." So Isaac stayed in Gerar."

* "Now there was a famine in the land" -Even God's people live in times of famine with the rest of the world's population.

* "and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar" -not the same Abimelech of Abraham's lifetime, but one of his descendants.

* "The LORD appeared to Isaac and said" -This is the first time that the LORD appears to Isaac.

* "Do not go down to Egypt, live in the land where I tell you to live" -The reason for the intervention is to stop Isaac from doing the wrong thing. Once Jacob was to go to Egypt he would not return. So Jacob could not go down at this time.

* God promised Isaac the following:
    1) That he would be with him
    2) he would bless him
    3) give him and his descendants all the lands he was in
    4) confirm the oath he swore to his father

* "I swore to your father...because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees and my laws." -God's promise to Abraham and Abraham's life of faith was the basis for God's promises to Isaac.

* "So Isaac stayed in Gerar." -This shows Isaac's maturing faith in God, which was obedience to him.

>6. What problem arose because Isaac followed the foolish actions of his father? How was the problem resolved? (7-11) What does this show about Isaac?

Genesis 26:7 "When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," because he was afraid to say, "She is my wife." He thought, "The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful."

* Isaac repeated his fathers error. Our children and younger in the church learn our mistakes, weakness as well as our good points. So we must be holy in all that we do.

Genesis 26:8-9 "When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, "She is really your wife! Why did you say, 'She is my sister'?" Isaac answered him, "Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her."

* Abimelech rebuked Isaac, as Pharoah had rebuked Abraham.

* Isaac was a man of fear at this time. He had good points and bad points.

Genesis 26:10-11 "Then Abimelech said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us." So Abimelech gave orders to all the people: "Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."

* Abimelech wasn't as bad as Isaac had thought for Abimelech knew what was right and wrong and how to live and act before God.

>7. How did God keep his specific promise in verse 3? Why did the Philistines become envious of Isaac? How did they vent their envy? Why did Isaac finally move out of the city of Gerar to the Valley of Gerar? (12-17)

Genesis 26:12-15 "Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. So all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth."

* God kept his promise to Isaac that was made in verse 3, even though Isaac did not act and live in the land as a man of God should and even though his faith was weak.

Genesis 26:16-18 "Then Abimelech said to Isaac, "Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us." So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them."

* "wells"-wells were very important in the area. This is still true.

>8. How did the herdsman of Gerar harass Isaac and what did he do? (17-22) What does this show about his faith?

Genesis 26:19-20 "Isaac's servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen and said, "The water is ours!" So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him."

* It is common for unbelievers to act unjustly against us. What should be common for us is our faith in such circumstances. Isaac believed God would bless him as the promise of verse 3.

>9. How can we know that Isaac had fear in his heart? Why do you think be became fearful? How did God strengthen him and what was his response? (23-25)

Genesis 26:21-22 "Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, "Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land."

* Isaac's words shows that he had fear in him. His moving also showed his fear.

Genesis 26:23-25 "From there he went up to Beersheba. That night the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham." Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well."

* The LORD chose him at birth and worked with him to help him grow in faith. The Lord Jesus did the same with his apostles. As he was then, so he is now in my life.

>10. Why did Abimelech come with his personal adviser and the commander of his forces to visit Isaac? How had God demonstrated that he was with Isaac to bless him? What can we learn here about God?

Genesis 26:26-29 "Meanwhile, Abimelech had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. Isaac asked them, "Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?" They answered, "We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, 'There ought to be a sworn agreement between us'--between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you that you will do us no harm, just as we did not molest you but always treated you well and sent you away in peace. And now you are blessed by the LORD."

* People sometimes will only give us a hard time for awhile then they will give up if God is with us.

* God blesses his people. He is faithful. He is kind and loves us. He protects us.

* Isaac showed God's kindness and love. He did not fight, but avoided an argument. He didn't completely separate himself from the world, but lived amongst them. He was a witness to God and his life bore fruit.

>11. How had Isaac peacefully overcome his powerful and godless enemies, and planted faith in God in their hearts? What can we learn here from Isaac's faith and life?

Genesis 26:30-33 "Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they left him in peace. That day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, "We've found water!" He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba."

* "made a feast for them" -he took the action

Genesis 26:34-35 "When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah."

* Isaac by now had learned that he was wrong about Esau.