Monthly Archives: April 2013

Genesis 26:26-33 Isaac’s covenant with Abimelech. . .

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26 Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army.   27 And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?   28 And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;   29 That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD.   30 And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink.   31 And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.   32 And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water.   33 And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day.

We have here the contests that had been between Isaac and the Philistines issuing in a happy peace and reconciliation.

I. Abimelech pays a friendly visit to Isaac, in token of the respect he had for him, Genesis 26:26. Note, When a man’s ways please the Lord he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him, Proverbs 16:7. Kings’ hearts are in his hands, and when he pleases he can turn them to favour his people.

II. Isaac prudently and cautiously questions his sincerity in this visit, Genesis 26:27. Note, In settling friendships and correspondences, there is need of the wisdom of the serpent, as well as the innocence of the dove; nor is it any transgression of the law of meekness and love plainly to signify our strong perception of injuries received, and to stand upon our guard in dealing with those that have acted unfairly.

III. Abimelech professes his sincerity, in this address to Isaac, and earnestly courts his friendship, Genesis 26:28,29. Some suggest that Abimelech pressed for this league with him because he feared lest Isaac, growing rich, should, some time or other, avenge himself upon them for the injuries he had received. However, he professes to do it rather from a principle of love. 1. He makes the best of their behaviour towards him. Isaac complained they had hated him, and sent him away. No, said Abimelech, we sent thee away in peace. They turned him off from the land he held of them; but they suffered him to take away his stock, and all his effects, with him. Note, The lessening of injuries is necessary to the preserving of friendship; for the aggravating of them exasperates and widens breaches. The unkindness done to us might have been worse. 2. He acknowledges the token of God’s favour to him, and makes this the ground of their desire to be in league with him: The Lord is with thee, and thou art the blessed of the Lord. As if he had said, “Be persuaded to overlook and pass by the injuries offered thee; for God had abundantly made up to thee the damage thou receivedst.” Note, Those whom God blesses and favours have reason enough to forgive those who hate them, since the worst enemy they have cannot do them any real hurt. Or, “For this reason we desire thy friendship, because God is with thee.” Note, It is good to be in covenant and communion with those who are in covenant and communion with God, 1 John 1:3; present address to him was the result of mature deliberation: We said, Let there be an oath between us.Whatever some of his peevish envious subjects might mean otherwise, he and his prime-ministers of state, whom he had now brought with him, designed no other than a cordial friendship. Perhaps Abimelech had received, by tradition, the warning God gave to his predecessor not to hurt Abraham (Genesis 20:7), and this made him stand in such awe of Isaac, who appeared to be as much the favourite of Heaven as Abraham was.

IV. Isaac entertains him and his company, and enters into a league of friendship with him, Genesis 26:30,31. Here see how generous the good man was, 1. In giving: He made them a feast, and bade them welcome. (2.) In forgiving. He did not insist upon the unkindnesses they had done him, but freely entered into a covenant of friendship with them, and bound himself never to do them any injury. Note, Religion teaches us to be neighbourly, and, as much as in us lies, to live peaceably with all men.

V. Providence smiled upon what Isaac did; for the same day that he made this covenant with Abimelech his servants brought him the tidings of a well of water they had found, Genesis 26:32,33. He did not insist upon the restitution of the wells which the Philistines had unjustly taken from him, lest this should break off the treaty, but sat down silent under the injury; and, to recompense him for this, immediately he is enriched with a new well, which, because it suited so well to the occurrence of the day, he called by an old name, Beer-sheba, The well of the oath.

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Genesis 26:12-25 on to Beersheba. . .

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12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him:   13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great:   14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.   15 For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.   16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.   17 And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.   18 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them.   19 And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.   20 And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him.   21 And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.   22 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.   23 And he went up from thence to Beer-sheba.   24 And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake.   25 And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well.

      Here we have,

      I. The tokens of God’s good-will to Isaac. He blessed him, and prospered him, and made all that he had to thrive under his hands. 1. His corn multiplied strangely, Genesis 26:12. He had no land of his own, but took land of the Philistines, and sowed it; and (be it observed for the encouragement of poor tenants, that occupy other people’s lands, and are honest and industrious) God blessed him with a great increase. He reaped a hundred fold; and there seems to be an emphasis laid upon the time: it was that same year when there was a famine in the land; while others scarcely reaped at all, he reaped thus plentifully. See Isaiah 65:13My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry, Psalms 37:19,In the days of famine they shall be satisfied. 2. His cattle also increased, Genesis 26:14. And then, 3. He had great store of servants, whom he employed and maintained. Note, As goods are increased those are increased that eat them,Ecclesiastes 5:11.

      II. The tokens of the Philistines’ ill-will to him. They envied him, Genesis 26:14. It is an instance, 1. Of the vanity of the world that the more men have of it the more they are envied, and exposed to censure and injury. Who can stand before envy? Proverbs 27:4. See Ecclesiastes 4:4. 2. Of the corruption of nature; for that is a bad principle indeed which makes men grieve at the good of others,as if it must needs be ill with me because it is well with my neighbor. (1.) They had already shown their ill-will to his family, by stopping up the wells which his father had digged, Genesis 26:15. This was spitefully done. Because they had not flocks of their own to water at these wells, they would not leave them for the use of others; so absurd a thing is malice. And it was perfidiously done, contrary to the covenant of friendship they had made with Abraham, Genesis 21:31,32. No bonds will hold ill-nature. (2.) They expelled him out of their country, Genesis 26:16,17. The king of Gerar began to look upon him with a jealous eye. Isaac’s house was like a court, and his riches and retinue eclipsed Abimelech’s; and therefore he must go further off. They were weary of his neighbourhood, because they saw that the Lord blessed him; whereas, for that reason, they should the rather have courted his stay, that they also might be blessed for his sake. Isaac does not insist upon the bargain he had made with them for the lands he held, nor upon his occupying and improving them, nor does he offer to contest with them by force, though he had become very great, but very peaceably departs thence further from the royal city, and perhaps to a part of the country less fruitful. Note, We should deny ourselves both in our rights and in our conveniences, rather than quarrel: a wise and a good man will rather retire into obscurity, like Isaac here into a valley, than sit high to be the butt of envy and ill-will.

      III. His constancy and continuance in his business still.

      1. He kept up his husbandry, and continued industrious to find wells of water, and to fit them for his use, Genesis 26:18, &c. Though he had grown very rich, yet he was as solicitous as ever about the state of his flocks, and still looked well to his herds; when men grow great, they must take heed of thinking themselves too big and too high for their business. Though he was driven from the conveniences he had had, and could not follow his husbandry with the same ease and advantage as before, yet he set himself to make the best of the country he had come into, which it is every man’s prudence to do. Observe,

      (1.) He opened the wells that his father had digged (Genesis 26:18), and out of respect to his father called them by the same names that he had given them. Note, In our searches after truth, that fountain of living water, it is good to make use of the discoveries of former ages, which have been clouded by the corruptions of later times. Enquire for the old way, the wells which our fathers digged, which the adversaries of truth have stopped up: Ask thy elders, and they shall teach thee.

      (2.) His servants dug new wells, Genesis 26:19. Note, Though we must use the light of former ages, it does not therefore follow that we must rest in it, and make no advances. We must still be building upon their foundation, running to and fro, that knowledge may be increased, Daniel 12:4.

      (3.) In digging his wells he met with much opposition, Genesis 26:20,21. Those that open the fountains of truth must expect contradiction. The first two wells which they dug were called Esek and Sitnah, contention and hatred. See here, [1.] What is the nature of worldly things; they are make-bates and occasions of strife. [2.] What is often the lot even of the most quiet and peaceable men in this world; those that avoid striving yet cannot avoid being striven with, Psalms 120:7. In this sense, Jeremiah was a man of contention(Jeremiah 15:10), and Christ himself, though he is the prince of peace. [3.] What a mercy it is to have plenty of water, to have it without striving for it. The more common this mercy is the more reason we have to be thankful for it.

      (4.) At length he removed to a quiet settlement, cleaving to his peaceable principle, rather to fly than fight, and unwilling to dwell with those that hated peace, Psalms 120:6. He preferred quietness to victory. He dug a well, and for this they strove not, Genesis 26:22. Note, Those that follow peace, sooner or later, shall find peace; those that study to be quiet seldom fail of being so. How unlike was Isaac to his brother Ishmael, who, right or wrong, would hold what he had, against all the world! Genesis 16:12. And which of these would we be found the followers of? This well they called Rehoboth, enlargements, room enough: in the two former wells we may see what the earth is, straitness and strife; men cannot thrive, for the throng of their neighbours. This well shows us what heaven is; it is enlargement and peace, room enough there, for there are many mansions.

      2. He continued firm to his religion, and kept up his communion with God. (1.) God graciously appeared to him, Genesis 26:24. When the Philistines expelled him, forced him to remove from place to place, and gave him continual molestation, then God visited him, and gave him fresh assurances of his favour. Note, When men are found false and unkind, we may comfort ourselves that God is faithful and gracious; and his time to show himself so is when we are most disappointed in our expectations from men. When Isaac had come to Beer-sheba (Genesis 26:23) it is probable that it troubled him to think of his unsettled condition, and that he could not be suffered to stay long in a place; and, in the multitude of these thoughts within him, that same night that he came weary and uneasy to Beer-sheba God brought him his comforts to delight his soul. Probably he was apprehensive that the Philistines would not let him rest there: Fear not,says God to him, I am with thee, and will bless thee. Those may remove with comfort that are sure of God’s presence with them wherever they go. (2.) He was not wanting in his returns of duty to God; for there he built an altar, and called upon the name of the Lord, Genesis 26:25. Note, [1.] Wherever we go, we must take our religion along with us. Probably Isaac’s altars and his religious worship gave offence to the Philistines, and provoked them to be the more troublesome to him; yet he kept up his duty, whatever ill-will he might be exposed to by it. [2.] The comforts and encouragements God gives us by his word should excite and quicken us to every exercise of devotion by which God may be honoured and our intercourse with heaven maintained.

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Genesis 26:6-11 Isaac ask wife to play sister. . .

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6 And Isaac dwelt in Gerar:   7 And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest,said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.   8 And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife.   9 And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her.   10 And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us.   11 And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.

Isaac had now laid aside all thoughts of going to Egypt, and, in obedience to the heavenly vision, sets up his staff in Gerar, the country in which he was born (Genesis 26:6), yet there he enters into temptation, the same temptation that his good father had been once and again surprised and overcome by, namely, to deny his wife, and to give out that she was his sister. Observe,

I. How he sinned, Genesis 26:7. Because his wife was handsome, he fancied the Philistines would find some way or other to take him off, that some of them might marry her; and therefore she must pass for his sister. It is an unaccountable thing that both these great and good men should be guilty of so strange a piece of dissimulation, by which they so much exposed both their own and their wives’ reputation. But we see, 1. That very good men have sometimes been guilty of very great faults and follies. Let those therefore that stand take heed lest they fall, and those that have fallen not despair of being helped up again. 2. That there is an aptness in us to imitate even the weaknesses and infirmities of those we have a value for. We have need therefore to keep our foot, lest, while we aim to tread in the steps of good men, we sometimes tread in their by-steps.

II. How he was detected, and the cheat discovered, by the king himself. Abimelech (not the same that was in Abraham’s days, Genesis 20:1-18, for this was nearly 100 years after that, but this was the common name of the Philistine kings, as Cæsar of the Roman emperors) saw Isaac more familiar and pleasant with Rebekah than he knew he would be with his sister (Genesis 26:8): he saw him sporting with her, or laughing; it is the same word with that from which Isaac had his name. He was rejoicing with the wife of his youth, Proverbs 5:18. It becomes those in that relation to be pleasant with one another, as those that are pleased with one another. Nowhere may a man more allow himself to be innocently merry than with his own wife and children. Abimelech charged him with the fraud (Genesis 26:9), showed him how frivolous his excuse was and what might have been the bad consequences of it (Genesis 26:10), and then, to convince him how groundless and unjust his jealousy of them was, took him and his family under his particular protection, forbidding any injury to be done to him or his wife upon pain of death, Genesis 26:11. Note, 1. A lying tongue is but for a moment. Truth is the daughter of time; and, in time, it will out. 2. One sin is often the inlet to many, and therefore the beginnings of sin ought to be avoided. 3. The sins of professors shame them before those that are without. 4. God can make those that are incensed against his people, though there may be some colour of cause for it, to know that it is at their peril if they do them any hurt. See Psalms 105:14,15.

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Genesis 26:1-5 Famine. . .

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1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.   2 And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:   3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;   4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;   5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

Here, I. God tried Isaac by his providence. Isaac had been trained up in a believing dependence upon the divine grant of the land of Canaan to him and his heirs; yet now there is a famine in the land, Genesis 26:1. What shall he think of the promise when the promised land will not find him bread? Is such a grant worth accepting, upon such terms, and after so long a time? Yes, Isaac will still cleave to the covenant; and the less valuable Canaan in itself seems to be the better he is taught to value it, 1. As a token of God’s everlasting kindness to him; and, 2. As a type of heaven’s everlasting blessedness. Note, The intrinsic worth of God’s promises cannot be lessened in a believer’s eye by any cross providences.

II. He directed him under this trial by his word. Isaac finds himself straitened by the scarcity of provisions. Somewhere he must go for supply; it should seem, he set out for Egypt, whither his father went in the like strait, but he takes Gerar in his way, full of thoughts, no doubt, which way he had best steer his course, till God graciously appeared to him, and determined him, abundantly to his satisfaction. 1. God bade him stay where he was, and not go down into Egypt: Sojourn in this land, Genesis 26:2,3. There was a famine in Jacob’s days, and God bade him go down into Egypt (Genesis 46:3,4), a famine in Isaac’s days, and God bade him not to go down, a famine in Abraham’s days, and God left him to his liberty, directing him neither way. This variety in the divine procedure (considering that Egypt was always a place of trial and exercise to God’s people) some ground upon the different characters of these three patriarchs. Abraham was a man of very high attainments, and intimate communion with God; and to him all places and conditions were alike. Isaac was a very good man, but not cut out for hardship; therefore he is forbidden to go to Egypt. Jacob was inured to difficulties, strong and patient; and therefore he must go down into Egypt, thatthe trial of his faith might be to praise, and honour, and glory. Thus God proportions his people’s trials to their strength. 2. He promised to be with him, and bless him, Genesis 26:3. As we may go any where with comfort when God’s blessing goes with us, so we may stay any where contentedly if that blessing rest upon us. 3. He renewed the covenant with him, which had so often been made with Abraham, repeating and ratifying the promises of the land of Canaan, a numerous issue, and the Messiah, Genesis 26:3,4. Note, Those that must live by faith have need often to review, and repeat to themselves, the promises they are to live upon, especially when they are called to any instance of suffering or self-denial. 4. He recommended to him the good example of his father’s obedience, as that which had preserved the entail of the covenant in his family (Genesis 26:5): “Abraham obeyed my voice; do thou do so too, and the promise shall be sure to thee.” Abraham’s obedience is here celebrated, to his honour; for by it he obtained a good report both with God and men. A great variety of words is here used to express the divine will, to which Abraham was obedient (my voice, my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws), which may intimate that Abraham’s obedience was universal; he obeyed the original laws of nature, the revealed laws of divine worship, particularly that of circumcision, and all the extraordinary precepts God gave him, as that of quitting his country, and that (which some think is more especially referred to) of the offering up of his son, which Isaac himself had reason enough to remember. Note, Those only shall have the benefit and comfort of God’s covenant with their godly parents that tread in the steps of their obedience.

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Genesis 25:19-28 Birth of Jacob & Esau. . .

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19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham begat Isaac:   20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister to Laban the Syrian.   21 And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.   22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.   23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; andthe one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.   24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.   25 And the first came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau.   26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.   27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents.   28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.

We have here an account of the birth of Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah: their entrance into the world was (which is not usual) one of the most considerable parts of their story; nor is much related concerning Isaac but what had reference to his father while he lived and to his sons afterwards. For Isaac seems not to have been a man of action, nor much tried, but to have spent his days in quietness and silence. Now concerning Jacob and Esau we are here told,

I. That they were prayed for. Their parents, after they had been long childless, obtained them by prayer, Genesis 25:20,21Isaac was forty years old when he was married; though he was an only son, and the person from whom the promised seed was to come, yet he made no haste to marry. He was sixty years old when his sons were born (Genesis 25:26), so that, after he was married, he had no child for twenty years. Note, Though the accomplishment of God’s promise is always sure, yet it is often slow, and seems to be crossed and contradicted by Providence, that the faith of believers may be tried, their patience exercised, and mercies long waited for may be the more welcome when they come. While this mercy was delayed, Isaac did not approach to a handmaid’s bed, as Abraham had done, and Jacob afterwards; for he loved Rebekah, Genesis 24:67. But, 1. He prayed: he entreated the Lord for his wife. Though God had promised to multiply his family, he prayed for its increase; for God’s promises must not supersede, but encourage, our prayers, and be improved as the ground of our faith. Though he had prayed for this mercy very often, and had continued his supplication many years, and it was not granted, yet he did not leave off praying for it; for men ought always to pray, and not to faint (Luke 18:1), to pray without ceasing, and knock till the door be opened, He prayed for his wife; some read it with his wife. Note, Husbands and wives should pray together, which is intimated in the apostle’s caution, that their prayers be not hindered, 1 Peter 3:7. The Jews have a tradition that Isaac, at length, took his wife with him to mount Moriah, where God had promised that he would multiply Abraham’s seed (Genesis 22:17), and there, in his prayer with her and for her, pleaded the promise made in that very place. 2. God heard his prayer, and was entreated of him. Note, Children are the gift of God. Those that continue instant in prayer, as Isaac did, shall find, at last, that they did not seek in vain, Isaiah 45:19.

II. That they were prophesied of before they were born, and great mysteries were wrapped up in the prophecies which went before of them, Genesis 25:22,23. Long had Isaac prayed for a son; and now his wife is with child of two, to recompense him for his long waiting. Thus God often outdoes our prayers, and gives more than we are able to ask or think. Now Rebekah being with child of these two sons, observe here,

1. How she was perplexed in her mind concerning her present case: The children struggled together within her. The commotion she felt was altogether extraordinary and made her very uneasy. Whether she was apprehensive that the birth would be her death, or whether she was weary of the intestine tumult, or whether she suspected it to be an ill omen, it seems she was ready to wish that either she had not been with child or that she might die immediately, and not bring forth such a struggling brood: If it be so, or, since it is so, Why am I thus?Before, the want of children was her trouble, now, the struggle of the children is no less so. Note, (1.) The comforts we are most desirous of are sometimes found to bring along with them more occasion of trouble and uneasiness that we thought of; vanity being written upon all things under the sun, God thus teaches us to read it. (2.) We are too apt to be discontented with our comforts, because of the uneasiness that attends them. We know not when we are pleased; we know neither how to want nor how to abound. This struggle between Jacob and Esau in the womb represents the struggle that is maintained between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, [1.] In the world. The seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent have been contending ever since the enmity was put between them (Genesis 3:15), and this has occasioned a constant uneasiness among men. Christ himself came to send fire on earth, and this division, Luke 12:49,51. But let not this be offence to us. A holy war is better than the peace of the devil’s palace. [2.] In the hearts of believers. No sooner is Christ formed in the soul than immediately there begins a conflict between the flesh and spirit, Galatians 5:17. The stream is not turned without a mighty struggle, which yet ought not to discourage us. It is better to have a conflict with sin than tamely to submit to it.

2. What course she took for her relief: She went to enquire of the Lord.Some think Melchizedek was now consulted as an oracle, or perhaps some Urimor Teraphim were now used to enquire of God by, as afterwards in the breast-plate of judgment. Note, The word and prayer, by both which we now enquire of the Lord, give great relief to those that are upon any account perplexed. It is a great relief to the mind to spread our case before the Lord, and ask counsel at his mouth. Go into the sanctuary, Psalms 73:17.

3. The information given her, upon her enquiry, which expounded the mystery: Two nations are in thy womb, Genesis 25:23. She was now pregnant, not only with two children, but two nations, which should not only in their manners and dispositions greatly differ from each other, but in their interests clash and contend with each other; and the issue of the contest should be that the elder should serve the younger, which was fulfilled in the subjection of the Edomites, for many ages, to the house of David, till they revolted, 2 Chronicles 21:8. Observe here, (1.) God is a free agent in dispensing his grace; it is his prerogative to make a difference between those who have not as yet themselves done either good or evil. This the apostle infers hence, Romans 9:12. (2.) In the struggle between grace and corruption in the soul, grace, the younger, shall certainly get the upper hand at last.

III. That when they were born there was a great difference between them, which served to confirm what had been foretold (Genesis 25:23), was presage of the accomplishment of it, and served greatly to illustrate the type.

1. There was a great difference in their bodies, Genesis 25:25. Esau, when he was born, was rough and hairy, as if he had been already a grown man, whence he had his name Esau, made, reared already. This was an indication of a very strong constitution, and gave cause to expect that he would be a very robust, daring, active man. But Jacob was smooth and tender as other children. Note, (1.) The difference of men’s capacities, and consequently of their condition in the world, arises very much from the difference of their natural constitution; some are plainly designed by nature for activity and honour, others as manifestly marked for obscurity. This instance of the divine sovereignty in the kingdom of providence may perhaps help to reconcile us to the doctrine of the divine sovereignty in the kingdom of grace. (2.) It is God’s usual way to choose the weak things of the world, and to pass by the mighty, 1 Corinthians 1:26,27.

2. There was a manifest contest in their births. Esau, the stronger, came forth first; but Jacob’s hand took hold of his heel, Genesis 25:26. This signified, (1.) Jacob’s pursuit of the birthright and blessing; from the first, he reached forth to catch hold of it, and, if possible, to prevent his brother. (2.) His prevailing for it at last, that, in process of time, he should undermine his brother, and gain his point. This passage is referred to (Hosea 12:8), and hence he had his name,Jacob, a supplanter.

3. They were very unlike in the temper of their minds, and the way of living they chose, Genesis 25:27. They soon appeared to be of very different dispositions. (1.) Esau was a man for this world. He was a man addicted to his sports, for he was a hunter; and a man who knew how to live by his wits, for he was a cunning hunter. Recreation was his business; he studied the art of it, and spent all his time in it. He never loved a book, nor cared for being within doors; but he was a man of the field, like Nimrod and Ishmael, all for the game, and never well but when he was upon the stretch in pursuit of it: in short, he set up for a gentleman and a soldier. (2.) Jacob was a man for the other world. He was not cut out for a statesman, nor did he affect to look great, but he was a plain man, dwelling in tents, an honest man that always meant well, and dealt fairly, that preferred the true delights of solitude and retirement to all the pretended pleasure of busy noisy sports: he dwelt in tents, [1.] As a shepherd. He was attached to that safe and silent employment of keeping sheep, to which also he bred up his children, Genesis 46:34. Or, [2.] As a student. He frequented the tents of Melchizedek, or Heber, as some understand it, to be taught by them divine things. And this was that son of Isaac on whom the covenant was entailed.

4. Their interest in the affections of their parents was likewise different. They had but these two children, and, it seems, one was the father’s darling and the other the mother’s, Genesis 25:28. (1.) Isaac, though he was not a stirring man himself (for when he went into the fields he went to meditate and pray, not to hunt), yet loved to have his son active. Esau knew how to please him, and showed a great respect for him, by treating him often with venison, which gained him the affections of the good old man, and won upon him more than one would have thought. (2.) Rebekah was mindful of the oracle of God, which had given the preference to Jacob, and therefore she preferred him in her love. And, if it be lawful for parents to make a difference between their children upon any account, doubtless Rebekah was in the right, that loved him whom God loved.

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Genesis 25:11-18 Ishmael Descendants. . .

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11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.   12 Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham:   13 And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,   14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,   15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah:   16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.   17 And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.   18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.

Immediately after the account of Abraham’s death, Moses begins the story of Isaac (Genesis 25:11), and tells us where he dwelt and how remarkably God blessed him. Note, The blessing of Abraham did not die with him, but survived to all the children of the promise. But he presently digresses from the story of Isaac, to give a short account of Ishmael, forasmuch as he also was a son of Abraham, and God had made some promises concerning him, which it was requisite we should know the accomplishment of. Observe here what is said, 1. Concerning his children. He had twelve sons, twelve princes they are called (Genesis 25:16), heads of families, which in process of time became nations, distinct tribes, numerous and very considerable. They peopled a very large continent, that lay between Egypt and Assyria, called Arabia. The names of his twelve sons are recorded. Midian and Kedar we often read of in scripture. And some very good expositors have taken notice of the signification of those three names which are put together (Genesis 25:14), as containing good advice to us all, Mishma, Dumah, and Massa, that is, hear, keep silence, and bear; we have them together in the same order, James 1:19Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. The posterity of Ishmael had not only tents in the fields, wherein they grew rich in times of peace; but they had towns and castles (Genesis 25:16), wherein they fortified themselves in time of war. Now the number and strength of this family were the fruit of the promise made to Hagar concerning Ishmael (Genesis 16:10), and to Abraham, Genesis 17:20,21:13. Note, Many that are strangers to the covenants of promise are yet blessed with outward prosperity for the sake of their godly ancestors. Wealth and riches shall be in their house. 2. Concerning himself. Here is an account of his age: He lived 137years (Genesis 25:17) which is recorded to show the efficacy of Abraham’s prayer for him (Genesis 17:18), O that Ishmael might live before thee! Here is also an account of his death; he too was gathered to his people; but it is not said that he was full of days, though he lived to so great an age: he was not so weary of the world, nor so willing to leave it, as his good father was. Those words, he fell in the presence of all his brethren, whether they mean, as we take them, he died, or, as others, his lot fell, are designed to show the fulfilling of that word to Hagar (Genesis 16:12), He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren, that is, he shall flourish and be eminent among them, and shall hold his own to the last. Or he died with his friends about him, which is comfortable.

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Genesis 25:1-10 Death of Abraham . . .

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1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her namewas Keturah.   2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.   3 And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.   4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All thesewere the children of Keturah.   5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.   6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.   7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.   8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people.   9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;   10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

Abraham lived, after the marriage of Isaac, thirty-five years, and all that is recorded concerning him during the time lies here in a very few verses. We hear no more of God’s extraordinary appearances to him or trials of him; for all the days, even of the best and greatest saints, are not eminent days, some slide on silently, and neither come nor go with observation; such were these last days of Abraham. We have here,

I. An account of his children by Keturah, another wife whom he married after the death of Sarah. He had buried Sarah and married Isaac, the two dear companions of his life, and was now solitary. He wanted a nurse, his family wanted a governess, and it was not good for him to be thus alone. He therefore marries Keturah, probably the chief of his maid-servants, born in his house or bought with money. Marriage is not forbidden to old age. By her he had six sons, in whom the promise made to Abraham concerning the great increase of his posterity was in part fulfilled, which, it is likely, he had an eye to this marriage. The strength he received by the promise still remained in him, to show how much the virtue of the promise exceeds the power of nature.

II. The disposition which Abraham made of his estate, Genesis 25:5,6. After the birth of these sons, he set his house in order, with prudence and justice. 1. He made Isaac his heir, as he was bound to do, in justice to Sarah his first and principal wife, and to Rebekah who married Isaac upon the assurance of it,Genesis 24:36. In this all, which he settled upon Isaac, are perhaps included the promise of the land of Canaan, and the entail of the covenant. Or, God having already made him the heir of the promise, Abraham therefore made him heir of his estate. Our affection and gifts should attend God’s. 2. He gave portions to the rest of his children, both to Ishmael, though at first he was sent empty away, and to his sons by Keturah. It was justice to provide for them; parents that do not imitate him in this are worse than infidels. It was prudence to settle them in places distant from Isaac, that they might not pretend to divide the inheritance with him, nor be in any way a care or expense to him. Observe, He did this while he yet lived, lest it should not be done, or not so well done, afterwards. Note, In many cases it is wisdom for men to make their own hands their executors, and what they find to do to do it while they live, as far as they can. These sons of the concubines were sent into the country that lay east from Canaan, and their posterity were called the children of the east, famous for their numbers, Judges 6:5,33. Their great increase was the fruit of the promise made to Abraham, that God would multiply his seed. God, in dispensing his blessings, does as Abraham did; common blessings he gives to the children of this world, as to the sons of the bond-woman, but covenant-blessings he reserves for the heirs of promise. All that he has is theirs, for they are his Isaacs, from whom the rest shall be for ever separated.

III. The age and death of Abraham, Genesis 25:7,8. He lived 175 years, just 100 years after he came to Canaan; so long he was a sojourner in a strange country. Though he lived long and lived well, though he did good and could ill be spared, yet he died at last. Observe how his death is here described. 1. He gave up the ghost. His life was not extorted from him, but he cheerfully resigned it; into the hands of the Father of spirits he committed his spirit. 2. He died in a good old age, an old man; so God had promised him. His death was his discharge from the burdens of his age: an old man would not so live always. It was also the crown of the glory of his old age. 3. He was full of years, or full of life (as it might be supplied), including all the conveniences and comforts of life. He did not live till the world was weary of him, but till he was weary of the world; he had had enough of it, and desired no more. Vixi quantum satis est–I have lived long enough. A good man, though he should not die old, dies full of days, satisfied with living here, and longing to live in a better place. 4. He was gathered to his people. His body was gathered to the congregation of the dead, and his soul to the congregation of the blessed. Note, Death gathers us to our people. Those that are our people while we live, whether the people of God or the children of this world, are the people to whom death will gather us.

IV. His burial, Genesis 25:9,10. Here is nothing recorded of the pomp or ceremony of his funeral; only we are told, 1. Who buried him: His sons Isaac and Ishmael. It was the last office of respect they had to pay to their good father. Some distance there had formerly been between Isaac and Ishmael; but it seems either that Abraham had himself brought them together while he lived, or at least that his death reconciled them. 2. Where they buried him: in his own burying-place, which he had purchased, and in which he had buried Sarah. Note, Those that in life have been very dear to each other may not only innocently, but laudably, desire to be buried together, that in their deaths they may not be divided, and in token of their hopes of rising together.

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