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Genesis Chapter Twenty-Five


I. Content of the Chapter


From the Genealogy of Abraham to that of Isaac

A.  The final part of Abraham’s genealogy:

1. Concerning his sons of the concubines (v.1-4);

2. Concerning the distribution of all that Abraham had to Isaac and his sons of the concubines (v.5-6);

3. Concerning his death and burial (v.7-10);

B.  The final part of Ishmael’s genealogy:

1. Concerning his sons (v.12-16);

2. Concerning his death and dwelling-places of his descendants (v.17-18);

C.  The genealogy of Isaac started:

1. He was blessed (v.11);

2. The birth of Esau and Jacob (v.19-26);

3. Differences of the character between the two brothers (v.27-28);

4. Esau sold the birthright to Jacob (v.29-34);


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


Gen. 25:1Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah.

YLT: “And Abraham addeth and taketh a wife, and her name Keturah;”

Meaning of Words: Keturah”: incense, perfumed;

Literal Meaning: “took a wife”, she was also called as a “concubine” in other scriptures (1Chr. 1:32), which indicated that she could not be bracketed with Sarah in the sight of God.

Spiritual Meaning: after the marriage of Isaac in the previous chapter, here Abraham got other physical descendants. Spiritual speaking, the physical descendants of Abraham (the people of Israel) would be revived (Rom. 11:25-26) after the bride of Christ (the church) was taken to the heaven. 

  Moreover, “Keturah” also typifies the church during the time of Mid-tribulation.


Gen. 25:2And she bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.

YLT: “and she beareth to him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.”

Meaning of Words: Zimran”: musical, praise; “Jokshan”: fowler; “Medan”: contest; “Midian”: defend; “Ishbak”: quit, forsake; “Shuah”: sink, wealth;

Literal Meaning: this genealogy provides a background for the priest of Midian, Jethro, to whom Moses then turned afterwards (Ex. 2:15-22; 18:1-12). Sure enough, the knowledge of Midian’s descendants was inherited from Abraham. These sons of the concubine as well as the sons of Ishmael had later caused the literal fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham ---- make Him the father of nation.


Gen. 25:3Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim.

YLT: “And Jokshan hath begotten Sheba and Dedan; and the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim;”

Meaning of Words: Sheba”: drunken; Dedan”: low-lying land; Asshurim”: be blessed, happy; Letushim”: grind; Leummim”: nations, people, community;


Gen. 25:4And the sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.

YLT: “and the sons of Midian Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abidah, and Eldaah: all these sons of Keturah.”

Meaning of Words: Ephah”: darkness, measuring vessel; “”Epher: gazelle; “Hanoch”: dedicate, narrow; “Abidah”: father of knowledge; “Eldaah”: God of knowledge;


Gen. 25:5And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac.

YLT: “And Abraham giveth all that he hath to Isaac;”

Literal Meaning: it indicated that Isaac inherited all that his father had freely. 

  “All that he had” referred to all the property assets including most of the movable property. After Abraham had bought the field of Ephron and the cave in Machpelah (Gen. 23:17-18), he might continually purchase many properties (Gen. 24:35).

Spiritual Meaning: Isaac typifies Christ who is the heir of all that God the Father has (John 16:13-15).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) If we believers experience the God of Isaac, we are experiencing that God is everything of us, and that He is a God who gives us richly all things to enjoy (1Tim. 6:17).

  2) The whole life of Isaac was characterized by his partaking of everything. If we have not partaken of the provision of God, the purpose of God will not be fulfilled in us.

  3) God had early appointed Christ to be the heir of all (Heb. 1:3). Only He is worthy of all. And let us devote all our time and energy and all that we are and all that we have unto Christ.


Gen. 25:6But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east.

YLT: “and to the sons of the concubines whom Abraham hath, Abraham hath given gifts, and sendeth them away from Isaac his son (in his being yet alive) eastward, unto the east country.”

Literal Meaning: “gifts” refer to the moveable property, e.g. flocks, herds of cattle, etc.

  The sons of the concubines” refer to all the sons begotten by Keturah.

  “The east”: the eastern part of Palestine, namely, the Arabian peninsula;

  The proper interpretation of the distribution of the property in verse five and six should be that Abraham gave all that he had before he took the wife Keturah to Isaac, and he remained a part of his property for his daily life only. And all that he had got afterwards were given to the sons of concubine.

  Abraham sent the sons of the concubines eastward away from Isaac his son, for he knew God only promised to give the land of Canaan to Isaac and other sons had no right to cut in the counsel of God.

Enlightenment in the Word: let parents not plan for the physical needs of children only, but regard the needs of the children’s souls and lead them to know the Lord and experience and partake of the riches of the Lord.


Gen. 25:7This is the sum of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years.

YLT: “And these the days of the years of the life of Abraham, which he lived, a hundred and seventy and five years;”

Literal Meaning: here it fulfilled the promise of God to Abraham that he would be “in a good old age” (Gen. 15:15).

Spiritual Meaning: note that Abraham was seventy five years old when he arrived at the land of Canaan (Gen. 12:4-5), so he had just been in the land of Canaan for one hundred years. “One hundred” is the product of ten times ten, which is a much perfect number in the Bible.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) If we trust in the promise of God, we will have much perfect spiritual experience.

  2) Days in Christ are perfect in every way.

  3) May God teach us how to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Ps. 90:12) and that all our days will be remembered by God.


Gen. 25:8Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.

YLT: “and Abraham expireth, and dieth in a good old age, aged and satisfied, and is gathered unto his people.”

Literal Meaning: breathed his last and died”: stop breathing and die naturally;

  Was gathered to his people”, someone inferred that he was buried in the sepulcher of his ancestor, with the bodies of them together. However, Abraham and Sarah were both buried in the cave of Machpelah (see v.9). Therefore, the soul departed from a man when he died, and was gathered to the forefathers in the hell (Gen 37:35), waiting for the judgment in the end.

  According to the word of the Lord Jesus, the hell is of two parts ---- one is for rest, and the other is for pain. There is a great gulf fixed between them. Those who want to pass from one side to the other cannot, nor can those from there pass to here (Luke 16:19-30). The former part for rest is called “the Paradise” (Luke 23:43), which is also called “Hades” (Acts 2:27, 31). And the latter part for pain is to restrain the souls of men, which is also called “the Sheol” (Job 24:19) or “Hades” (Rev. 6:8).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Let believers seek the Lord in lifetime and expect to become mature in spirit (“in a good old age”).

  2) Die means “breathing the last” (Matt. 27:50). If we often “get angry”, it shows that the old man of us has not been put to death yet (Rom. 6:6).


Gen. 25:9And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite,

YLT: “And Isaac and Ishmael his sons bury him at the cave of Machpelah, at the field of Ephron, son of Zoar the Hittite, which before Mamre --”

Literal Meaning: Isaac was younger than Ishmael, but was mentioned previously, for he was the legitimate son of Abraham.


Gen. 25:10the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth. There Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife.

YLT: “the field which Abraham bought from the sons of Heth -- there hath Abraham been buried, and Sarah his wife.”

Enlightenment in the Word: only when we pay the price, can we obtain true rest.


Gen. 25:11And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac dwelt at Beer Lahai Roi.

YLT: “And it cometh to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blesseth Isaac his son; and Isaac dwelleth by the Well of the Living One, my Beholder.”

Meaning of Words: Beer Lahai Roi”: the well of the living one who sees me;

Spiritual Meaning: before Isaac met Rebekah, he came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi. Now his father died, he went to Beer Lahai Roi again. Spiritual speaking, he always led a life that was looked after by God.

Enlightenment in the Word: if we wholly look upon God’s attendance, we will be fully blessed by Him.


Gen. 25:12Now this is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maidservant, bore to Abraham.

YLT: “And these births of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, hath borne to Abraham;”


Gen. 25:13And these were the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam,

YLT: “and these the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their births: first-born of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,”

Meaning of Words: “Nebajoth”: high place, germinate, bring forth; “Kedar”: black, dusky; “Adbeel”: miracle of God; “Mibsam”: fragrant;


Gen. 25:14Mishma, Dumah, Massa,

YLT: “and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,”

Meaning of Words: Mishma”: hearing, report; “Dumah”: quiet; “Massa”: present, burden;


Gen. 25:15Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah.

YLT: “Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:”

Meaning of Words: Hadar”: brave, inclose; “Tema”: desert; “Jetur”: camp, encircled; “Naphish”: enlarge; “Kedemah”: eastward;


Gen. 25:16These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names, by their towns and their settlements, twelve princes according to their nations.

YLT: “these are sons of Ishmael, and these their names, by their villages, and by their towers; twelve princes according to their peoples.”

Literal Meaning: settlements”: strong camps;

  It is said that the descendants of Ishmael were the forefathers of the Arabians. Therefore, the Arabians also regarded Abraham as their forefather.


Gen. 25:17These were 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.

YLT: “And these the years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty and seven years; and he expireth, and dieth, and is gathered unto his people;”


Gen. 25:18(They dwelt from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt as you go toward Assyria.) He died in the presence of all his brethren.

YLT: “and they tabernacle from Havilah unto Shur, which before Egypt, in going towards Asshur; in the presence of all his brethren hath he fallen.”

Meaning of Words: Havilah”: circular; “Shur”: high, wall, foretress;

Literal Meaning: “his brethren” refer to the people of Israel;

  “East”, namely, the Arabian peninsular;

  “Havilah”: the northwestern part of the Arabian peninsular, which is different from the other “Havilah” in Gen. 2:11.

  “Shur”, it is the area of the east part of the Suez Canal now;

  Go toward Assyria”, it is very difficult to understand. Someone infers the “Assyria” here was an area of the ancient Egypt.


Gen. 25:19This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac.

YLT: “And these births of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham hath begotten Isaac;”


Gen. 25:20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian.

YLT: “and Isaac is a son of forty years in his taking Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel the Aramaean, from Padan-Aram, sister of Laban the Aramaean, to him for a wife.”

Meaning of Words: Padan Aram”: high ransom price, the plain of Aram;

Literal Meaning: Padan Aram”: Mesopotamia (Gen. 24:10);

  Things of Isaac in the past are recorded in the genealogy of his father, Abraham. The true genealogy of Isaac starts from this chapter, verse nineteen.

Spiritual Meaning: Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife”, “forty” means trial in the Bible. The marriage life is a great trial to everyone. When a man is single, he is free. Then after he has married and lives with another one, he begins to be tried.


Gen. 25:21Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

YLT: “And Isaac maketh entreaty to Jehovah before his wife, for she barren: and Jehovah is entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceiveth,”

Literal Meaning: it was twenty years between the time when Isaac married Rebekah and the birth of the two sons (see v.20, 26).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) God promised seed to Isaac (Gen. 21:12), but it was not fulfilled soon. God often tries our faith by delay of time to disclose the preciousness of faith (1Pet. 1:7).

  2) The promise of God does not replace our prayer, but turns out to be the foundation of our faith to encourage our prayer. Let us catch the promise of God and continue steadfastly in prayer.

  3) Our prayer will surely be granted by God. But the way of being answered may not be same as our expectation, for He knows what is profitable to us.

  4) If we preach the gospel fruitlessly and thus lack spiritual seed, let us learn from Isaac and pray to God earnestly. 

  5) “Conceived”, it shows that there is life entering into her ---- the most important thing for believers is to let the life of Christ increase in us ---- only the life of Christ can renew our life and works.


Gen. 25:22But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

YLT: “and the children struggle together within her, and she saith, `If right -- why I thus?' and she goeth to seek Jehovah.”

Literal Meaning: probably the fetal movement of Rebekah was fierce, which made her painful.

  “So she went to inquire of the LORD”, “inquire of” is slightly different from “pleading with…” in the previous verse. “Plead with…”, it is asking God to resolve some problems or satisfy some needs; “inquire of”, it is asking God for the answer to some questions beyond our understanding.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Sometimes, we find the blessing we have pleaded for is not blessing after we have gained it. Contrarily, it brings us difficulty, so we do not know what to do. 

  2) Once we are saved, struggles often happen in our heart (Gal. 5:17).

  3) Whatever difficult things we believers suffer, let us inquire of God like Rebekah.


Gen. 25:23 And the Lord said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.”

YLT: “And Jehovah saith to her, `Two nations in thy womb, and two peoples from thy bowels are parted; and the people than the people is stronger; and the elder doth serve the younger.'”

Literal Meaning: the struggle between the twinstypifies that between two nations (namely, Israelites and the Edomites) (1Sam. 8:12-14; 2Chr. 25:11-24).

  The Lord said to her”, that Rebekah later loved more Jacob (the younger son) was on account of the personal revelation of God to her.

  And the older shall serve the younger”, here it speaks of the will of God’s selection is before the birth of man. Therefore, it is not of works, but of Him that calls (Rom. 9:11-12). 

Spiritual Meaning: “two nations”, nation is a sphere of domination. One is dominated by Christ, and the other is dominated by darkness.

  “Two peoples”, “peoples” speak of different life. One is spiritual life, and the other is the natural life.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Isaac pleaded with God for a son, but God gave him a pair of twins. God answered our prayer far exceedingly above all which we ask or think (Eph. 3:20).

  2) Let each believer be strong in spirit and buffet my body and let it captive (1Cor. 9:27).


Gen. 25:24So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.

YLT: “And her days to bear are fulfilled, and lo, twins in her womb;”

Enlightenment in the Word: the word of God is faithful and trustworthy, and none of his words fall to the ground. 


Gen. 25:25And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.

YLT: “and the first cometh out all red as a hairy robe, and they call his name Esau;”

Meaning of Words: “red”: the pronunciation of red is the same with that of “Edom” in the original Hebrew; “hairy”: its pronunciation is similar to that of “Seir”, the name of a mountain in the land of Edom; “Esau”: hairy;

Spiritual Meaning: came out red”, it means that he is “natural”. When a man gets into a temper, he blushes up to the ears. Therefore, the flesh is characterized by the red body. And Esau typifies “the carnal believers”.

  A hairy garment all over”, the hair typifies natural power. A hairy man is not tamed and disobedient to the authority of God.


Gen. 25:26Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.[c] Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

YLT: “and afterwards hath his brother come out, and his hand is taking hold on Esau's heel, and one calleth his name Jacob; and Isaac a son of sixty years in her bearing them.”

Meaning of Words: “Jacob”: supplanter, deceit, catch the heel;

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Many people are able to seize status, wealth and reputation, but cannot seize God.

  2) If one seizes the high status by a human hand in the church, he will humiliate the name of the Lord in the end.


Gen. 25:27So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents.

YLT: “And the youths grew, and Esau is a man acquainted hunting, a man of the field; and Jacob a plain man, inhabiting tents;”

Meaning of Words: “mild”: upright, perfect, complete;

Literal Meaning: here it describes their respective characteristic of the two sons when they are grown up, which is also a picture of the different life style of the two peoples. The Edomites were nomadic people who were active and wild. And the Israelites were half-nomadic people who were thoughtful and transferred orderly.

Spiritual Meaning: “hunter” typifies the seeker of the world;

  “Field” typifies the world;

  “Mild” typifies sitting at the feet of the Lord (read the scriptures and pray);

  “Tent” typifies the church;

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The natural life likes to seek worldly things, but the spiritual life prefers to seek the Lord with the saints in the church.

  2) It is a great danger and loss if believers are only occupied with worldly things but ignore the rest in the Lord.


Gen. 25:28And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

YLT: “and Isaac loveth Esau, for hunting in his mouth; and Rebekah is loving Jacob.”

Literal Meaning: the love of Isaac was on account of carnal appetite. And the love of Rebekah was due to the revelation of God.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) If we love someone for his sound word or something he has done we desire, it is probably Isaac’s love ---- the carnal love.

  2) Let us love everyone simply for the sake of God.


Gen. 25:29Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary.

YLT: “And Jacob boileth pottage, and Esau cometh in from the field, and he weary;”

Meaning of Words: “stew”: something boiled;

Enlightenment in the Word: if we concentrate our attention on worldly things, we will “be much weary” and thus ignore spiritual needs.


Gen. 25:30And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.

YLT: “and Esau saith unto Jacob, `Let me eat, I pray thee, some of this red red thing, for I weary;' therefore hath called his name Edom ;”

Meaning of Words: red stew”: red things; “Edom”: red;

Literal Meaning: “red stew”, it was red gruel boiled with a kind of very cheap lentils and rice.  

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) If the heart of man is overwhelmed, he cannot see the preciousness of Christ and he will seek worldly pleasure.

  2) He who is often quiet and restful before the Lord will have spiritual food to those who are thirsty in soul.


Gen. 25:31But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”

YLT: “and Jacob saith, `Sell to-day thy birthright to me.'”

Literal Meaning: “birthright”: the Jewish elder son has the following rights: 1) the blessing of the father; 2) the master of the whole family (1Sam. 20:29); 3) double portions of inheritance (Deut. 21:17); 4) the honor of priesthood for the whole family;

Enlightenment in the Word: believers shall seize the opportunity to seek the heavenly spiritual blessings.


Gen. 25:32 “And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?””

YLT: “And Esau saith, `Lo, I am going to die, and what is this to me -- birthright?'”

Literal Meaning: here it indicated that Esau cherished visible things and despised the promise of God and ignored the spiritual blessings. 

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Esau regarded the red stew more important than the birthright. The natural man walks by sight, not by faith, and sees the present things, not the coming blessings.

  2) He who does not know God does not cherish things of God, for he is unable to perceive the preciousness of God’s promises and thinks that all of them are vague and impractical.


Gen. 25:33 “Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.”

YLT: “and Jacob saith, `Swear to me to-day:' and he sweareth to him, and selleth his birthright to Jacob;”


Gen. 25:34And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

YLT: “and Jacob hath given to Esau bread and pottage of lentiles, and he eateth, and drinketh, and riseth, and goeth; and Esau despiseth the birthright.”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Esau was a profane person, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright (Heb. 12:16).

  2) It is an irredeemable loss if believers sell the adoption of Christians for the sake of the temporary worldly profit.


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


Esau Typifies the Natural Life

A.  Who is born earlier ---- “the first came out” (v.25);

B.  Who walks in the flesh ---- “red” (v.25);

C.  Who is untamed and wild ---- “a hairy garment all over” (v.25);

D.  Who is jealousy and cruel ---- “a skillful hunter” (v.27);

E.  Who likes to wander in the world ---- “a man of the field” (v.27);

F.   Who is fully occupied with the pursuit of worldly things ---- “weary” (v.30);

G.  Who cherishes visible things ---- “red stew” (v.30);

H.  Who despises heavenly things ---- “despised his birthright” (v.34);


Jacob Typifies the Spiritual Life

A.  Who was born later ---- “afterward came out” (v.26);

B.  Salvation is not of man’s labor ---- “took hold of Esau’s heel” (v.26);

C.  Salvation is of God’s selection ---- “the older shall serve the younger” (v.23);

D.  Who is fond of having fellowship with the Lord ---- “mild” (v.27);

E.  Who lives in the church ---- “dwelling in tents” (v.27);

F.   Who desires heavenly blessings ---- “sell me your birthright as of this day” (v.31);

G.  Who is willing to pay the price to seek the heavenly blessings ---- “gave Esau bread and stew of lentils” (v.34);


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

Translated by Mary Zhou