This blog post will cover the devotionals #118-121 for Genesis Chapter 25.
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 Genesis 25:1-6
Sarah was dead, Hagar had been sent away, and Abraham was at least 140 years old when he married his third ‘wife’, Keturah. She gave him six children: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. His sons, Jokshan and Midian gave him seven grandchildren: Sheba, Dedan, Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. And his grandchild, Dedan, had three sons: Asshurium, Letushim, and Leummim. Keturah bore Abraham more sons than Hagar and Sarah put together, and Ishmael had twelve of his own sons (which we’ll discuss in devotional #119). Genesis 25:6 mentions Abraham’s concubines (and their sons), but not by name. However, 1 Chronicles 1:32, 33 states that Keturah was Abraham’s concubine (which means that Hagar would’ve also been considered a concubine). He gave those sons gifts and sent them away. He wanted Isaac to have his own space. He gave all he possessed to him—the son promised by God. Concubines were given protection and certain rights, but they ranked lower in status than a wife (they were sometimes called ‘lesser’ wives). I'd imagine that this may be why all his ‘wives’ outside of Sarah were probably considered concubines, and why their sons didn’t inherit Abraham’s wealth. Generally, the purpose of a concubine was to provide a male offspring when the man’s wife was barren (which was quite literally the only motive in ‘marrying’ Hagar), or to provide more children to broaden the family’s manpower and wealth. He had a huge estate in terms of hands, and he may have wanted other children, but he would’ve known that God was going to increase his line through Isaac, so that was also likely not his purpose in marrying Keturah. It appears that, like Hagar and her son, he sent her offspring away from his one true wife’s son, Isaac, which further confirms to me that he likely didn’t marry her to increase his family’s workforce. Some men had concubines purely for the satisfaction of their sexual needs / wishes. That leads us to Abraham’s likely purpose. He was probably lonely in his later years, and who knows if he still had drive, but it was probably nice to have a companion until he died at 175 years of age. The fact that the Bible refers to Keturah (and thus, Hagar) as concubines, even though he’d ‘married’ them, gives us a good idea about how God views polygamy, and the sacredness of a man having one spouse (and vice versa). In fact, 1 Chronicles 1:29-34 shows all the sons and grandsons of Abraham (including the sons of Hagar and Keturah), but it states in a unique manner (as compared to the rest of his sons) that “Abraham begat Isaac.” Isaac was the only offspring born of a true, God-approved marriage, and thus, Abraham’s only true heir.
 Genesis 25:7-18
Abraham lived 175 years and was buried in the same cave he’d bought for Sarah. Interestingly, the ones that buried him weren’t just Isaac and his immediate family, but also Ishmael, who’d been sent away when Isaac was just five. Isaac was now seventy-five years of age (since Abraham was one hundred when he was born), and Ishmael was eighty-nine (Abraham was eighty-six when Ishmael was born), and there’s a chance that they hadn’t seen each other in seventy years. However, Abraham somehow stayed in relation / contact with Ishmael because he’d tried to overcome the terrible heathen influences of Hagar’s kindred and Ishmael’s wives, who gave him twelve sons: Nebajoth, Kedar, Abdeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. They were considered princes according to their nations and castles. As children, they weren’t taught the knowledge of God and thus, their home was miserable. They were undisciplined, uncourteous, and disrespectful. This was the result of his unhappy marriage to heathen, Egyptian women. Hagar’s influence over Ishmael (along with that of his wives) overruled Abraham’s influence, but in his later years, Ishmael returned to what Abraham had taught him in his youth. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Ishmael was aware of his father’s death and was there to help his brother bury him. Ishmael loved his father and was greatly affected by his separation (both emotionally and influentially) from him when he was sent away as a young man. I can just imagine how hard it was for him to lay him to rest now that he was an old man himself. Forty-eight years later, he also passed away. Ishmael lived to be 137 years old.
 Genesis 25:19-26
Isaac married Rebekah (the Syrian) at forty years old, and just like Sarah, Rebekah was barren. Isaac prayed to God for her to be able to conceive, and He finally made it possible, twenty years later. Isaac’s children were born when he was sixty years old. As the children inside her grew, they fought. She was troubled with what was happening inside her, and asked God why. He told her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two types of people will be separated from your bowels; one people will be stronger than the other people; and the older will serve the younger.” Rebekah had twins in her womb, and the physical struggle that they had while in there even as unborn babies would represent the larger struggle they’d have as adults, and eventually, as nations. God also revealed that they’d have two vastly different characters. Jeremiah 1:5 says, “Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb, I sanctified you…” God knows who we’ll become before we’ve even finished growing in the womb—and thus, He was able to tell Rebekah about them. The first to come out was red and his whole body was covered in hair. Thus, they called him Esau. Now, many people believe that his skin was red, and he was also hairy, but there’s actually a theory that what was red was the hair that covered his body—not the skin itself. As Esau came out, his heel was held by his twin, Jacob, and he too came out. Jacob is defined by Strong’s Concordance as ‘heel catcher’, but the main meaning attributed to him is ‘supplanter’ (meaning ‘someone or something that takes the place of the other—through force, scheming, strategy, etc.’). We’ll see, in devotional #121, that this also happened as a type of prophecy of what was to come between Jacob and Esau.
 Genesis 25:27-34
Jacob was a simple home-body—he spent his time in the tents. Esau became a great hunter—a man who thrived working in the fields. Jacob’s demeanor, Rebekah's prayer, and God's prophecy were probably the bases for why Rebekah favored Jacob over Esau. Despite that, Isaac still preferred Esau because he enjoyed the meat of his labors. One day, Jacob boiled some soup, and Esau returned faint from the field. He begged Jacob to feed him his red soup. That's where Esau’s nickname, Edom, came from. Jacob said he wouldn’t feed him unless he sold him his birthright (which was a set of unique advantages and privileges that were meant only for the first-born. Nobody else in the family had access to those benefits). Since Esau was born first (even though they were twins born mere seconds apart), he was referred to as the eldest—making him the firstborn with birthrights. Jacob knew what he was missing out on—and he took advantage of Esau’s current state of weakness to try to seize it. He felt justified in doing so, because his adoring mother had recounted God’s prophecy that the younger would be served by the older. He reasoned that if Esau received their father’s blessing, then the prophecy couldn’t be fulfilled. Just like his grandfather, Abraham—he doubted that God would bring to pass that which He said would occur, and he set out to make it come to pass himself. It wasn’t hard to accomplish because Esau was the type of man that lived in the moment, without thought of the future. Instant gratification was more important to him than what he’d gain when it finally came time for his inheritance. He also exaggerated his condition, saying that he was about to die of hunger, so his birthright wouldn’t profit him anyway. Jacob made Esau swear, and he did—thus selling his birthright to Jacob. Esau ate bread and lentil soup and continued with his day without another thought. Esau didn’t perceive his birthright worthy of consideration—and thus, brushed away an incredible gift. He didn’t have to do anything to earn that birthright, it was a gift. Him selling it was symbolic of the unrighteous who don’t value the redemption bought for them by Christ and who give up their heavenly inheritance for temporary treasures. Like Esau’s appetite controlled him, many will submit to theirs at the cost of priceless rewards. Self-denial will often be yielded to self-gratification—thus rejecting God—believing that it’s too hard to deny self in order to obtain Heaven.