1-6 Descendants of Abraham and Ketura 7-11 Death and Burial of Abraham 12-18 The Generations of Ishmael 19-26 Birth of Esau and Jacob 27-28 Isaac Chooses Esau; Rebekah Chooses Jacob 29-34 Esau Despises the Birthright
Descendants of Abraham and Ketura

1Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2She bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah. 3Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim and Letushim and Leummim. 4The sons of Midian [were] Ephah and Epher and Hanoch and Abida and Eldaah. All these [were] the sons of Keturah. 5Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; 6but to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the east.

Abraham has taken a second extra wife next to Hagar. Scripture is silent about it when that has happened. However, the Holy Spirit does not mention this connection and who came forth from it until now, after the connection between Isaac and Rebekah. In Abraham all the nations of the earth will be blessed (Gen 12:2-32And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
3And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
). It has been said several times that his descendants will be like the sand which is on the seashore and like the stars of the heavens, which speaks of an earthly people (sand) and a heavenly people (stars).

Besides Isaac and Ishmael, we now find more sons. They represent the nations of the earth, all of which will also be blessed by what the LORD promised Abraham. The blessing for the whole earth will be enjoyed in the millennial kingdom of peace. That blessing will come through the son of the promise.

Abraham gives everything he has to Isaac, while there are gifts for the others. Thus God has given the Lord Jesus, as Heir of all things, all things into His hands. And He distributes it to others.

The others are sent away “eastward”, which in Genesis indicates being put aside. They are sent away from Isaac here, just like Ishmael before, but with gifts, just like Ishmael also got promises. There is also blessing for them. People who are bound to Israel by carnal bonds will be blessed in the kingdom of peace through Israel.

Death and Burial of Abraham

7These are all the years of Abraham’s life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years. 8Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied [with life]; and he was gathered to his people. 9Then his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre, 10the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth; there Abraham was buried with Sarah his wife. 11It came about after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac lived by Beer-lahai-roi.

When Abraham dies, he is buried by his two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, next to Sarah. They both, still, wait in the land of promise in the grave for the fulfilment of the promise.

God’s blessing is for Isaac, who dwells at the well Lahai-Roi, the well that speaks of God’s Word and His revelation therein.

The Generations of Ishmael

12Now these are [the records of] the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maid, bore to Abraham; 13and these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the firstborn of Ishmael, and Kedar and Adbeel and Mibsam 14and Mishma and Dumah and Massa, 15Hadad and Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages, and by their camps; twelve princes according to their tribes. 17These are the years of the life of Ishmael, one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. 18They settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria; he settled in defiance of all his relatives.

Before the history of Isaac begins, the descendants of Isaac are mentioned first. The natural comes first, then the spiritual (1Cor 15:4646However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.). 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 19:2323In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.).

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.

Birth of Esau and Jacob

19Now these are [the records of] the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Isaac; 20and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I [this way]?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23The LORD said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb;
And two peoples will be separated from your body;
And one people shall be stronger than the other;
And the older shall serve the younger.”
24When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. 26Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them.

When the birth of a son lacks with Abraham, he tries to conceive it in the power of the flesh. What is begotten, Ishmael, is not the son of promise. When the birth of a son lacks with Isaac, it leads him to prayer, despite the fact that he knows the promise of God. Infertility must bring the faith into action. The answer to his prayer was still twenty years away. But God is to be entreated. We find that God lets Himself to be entreated several times in the Old Testament (Gen 25:2121Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.; 2Sam 24:2525David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.; 1Chr 5:2020They were helped against them, and the Hagrites and all who [were] with them were given into their hand; for they cried out to God in the battle, and He answered their prayers because they trusted in Him.; 2Chr 33:13,1913When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD [was] God.19His prayer also and [how God] was entreated by him, and all his sin, his unfaithfulness, and the sites on which he built high places and erected the Asherim and the carved images, before he humbled himself, behold, they are written in the records of the Hozai.; Ezra 8:22-2322For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him.”23So we fasted and sought our God concerning this [matter], and He listened to our entreaty.; Isa 19:2222The LORD will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to the LORD, and He will respond to them and will heal them.).

Isaac hath prayed the LORD for his wife. Although God has promised to multiply his descendants, He prays for it. This is an important indication that God’s promises encourage us to pray. God’s promises form the basis of our prayer (Dan 9:2-32in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was [revealed as] the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, [namely], seventy years.3So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek [Him by] prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.). Although Isaac prayed for this blessing for many years and the answer did not come, he did not stop praying. The Lord Jesus exhorts us to pray always and not to become discouraged (Lk 18:11Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart,). If we do, we will experience that we are not seeking God’s face in vain (Isa 45:1919“I have not spoken in secret,
In some dark land;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in a waste place’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
Declaring things that are upright.

Rebekah has her own dealings with the LORD and asks Him why she is expecting twins. She receives an answer from the LORD. The two boys are two peoples, each with their own place on earth, determined by Him.

It is not written here that God hated Esau. That is written in Malachi 1, that is to say, only fourteen hundred years later, after Esau in his descendants has shown his true nature of godlessness and revolt (Mal 1:2-32“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have You loved us?” “[Was] not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob;3but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation and [appointed] his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness.”). If Esau had suited himself in the place God gives him here, even before his birth, he would have received the full blessing of it.

Jacob reveals already at his birth that he wants to master Esau in his own way, that he wants to receive the blessing of God in his own power (Hos 12:4a4Yes, he wrestled with the angel and prevailed;
He wept and sought His favor.
He found Him at Bethel
And there He spoke with us,
). Esau, the stronger one, comes out first, but Jacob’s hand holds the heel of Esau. He wants to be as it were ahead of Esau. By doing so, he indicates that he wants to seize the birthright and the related blessing.

The name he gets alludes to this. “Jacob” means “heels holder”, with the thought of holding the heel to bring someone down (cf. Gen 27:3636Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”). This name he would live up to many times in his life through his actions. Jacob is interested in the blessing of God, unlike Esau, but he wants to secure it by tricks.

Isaac Chooses Esau; Rebekah Chooses Jacob

27When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents. 28Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Isaac and Rebekah, as parents, do not set a good example. Everyone has their own sweetheart. He is chosen on the basis of their own taste. That is wrong. Children are not there for parents to satisfy their tastes, but parents are there for children to raise them up for the Lord.

We can have more respect for Rebekah than for Isaac. Isaac lets itself be guided by his lusts. Rebekah chooses Jacob and loves him, who indeed is chosen by God in the line of His promises. Esau is a hunter, a killer like Nimrod; Jacob is someone who lives in tents, a pilgrim, a shepherd.

Esau Despises the Birthright

29When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; 30and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.” Therefore his name was called Edom. 31But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” 32Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what [use] then is the birthright to me?” 33And Jacob said, “First swear to me”; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

The first proof that Esau is an ungodly man and that Jacob himself wants to secure the blessing, is provided in this history with the lentil stew. The difference in character that appears here, will be expressed again and again in their future lives. Esau is only interested in here-and-now. He cares nothing about what God has promised him. He wants an immediate satisfaction of his needs. For later he does not care.

Esau is like all those people who serve their belly and not God. His eyes follow his heart. He wants to eat and when he sees “that red stuff there”, he wants it immediately. The lentil stew is like the wine that “is red when it sparkles in the cup” and glides smoothly down, but “at last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper” (Pro 23:31-3231Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it goes down smoothly;
32At the last it bites like a serpent
And stings like a viper.

In order not to become prey to the lusts of the flesh, it is necessary that we learn to live in self-judgement. This is only possible by looking at Christ and His work for us on the cross. Only then can we keep ourselves dead for sin (Rom 6:10-1210For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,).

For Esau life is short, he doesn’t care what his children will have. He thinks only of himself. The blessings are of no value to him, nor are his parents. He squanders his birthright for immediate pleasure, why he is also called an “ungodly” (Heb 12:1616that [there be] no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a [single] meal.).

Esau never repented this ungodly denial of the birthright. There is no place for this with him (Heb 12:1717For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.). Nor did he seek repentance, but blessing. Anyone who repents his sins and goes to God will receive forgiveness. However, Esau did not cry later on because he repented that he sold his birthright, but because he lost the blessings belonging to it. He cried, not because he is a sinner, but because he is a loser. Such tears will be in hell.

In short traits his attitude is described in verse 3434Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.: “He ate and drank, and rose and went on his way.” That is his life, like that of more and more people today (1Cor 15:3232If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.). There is no room for God. His life is closed for looking upward and focused on what is down on earth. That is the tragedy of many people, especially those who grew up in a family where they heard about God and the Lord Jesus, but consciously rejected it. They have chosen the world and that is their life (Psa 17:14a14From men with Your hand, O LORD,
From men of the world, whose portion is in [this] life,
And whose belly You fill with Your treasure;
They are satisfied with children,
And leave their abundance to their babes.

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