SECTION FOUR - ISAAC
SARAH DIES AT 127 YEARS OLD Genesis 23:1-3
By the time of Sarah’s death, the family had apparently moved from Beersheba back to Hebron, which was also known as Kirjath-Arba (the "city of Arba," the father of the Anakims), where they had lived many years earlier. Literally this city was called ‘the city of four’ In Judges 1:10 the new name is Hebron.
23:1 A HUNDRED AND SEVEN AND TWENTY YEARS
Literally, ‘a hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years’; and since the word ‘year’ is inserted after every figure, the Rabbis comment: ‘She was as handsome at one hundred as at the age of twenty; and as sinless at twenty as at seven’.
Sarah died in Hebron, still in Canaan, the land to which they had migrated, and she died without seeing the fulfillment of the promises (Hebrews 11:13), although she had seen the fulfillment of God’s promise that she would have a son. Sarah died at the age of 127, there in Hebron and it is significant that she is the only woman in all Scripture whose age at the time of death is given. By any reckoning, she is one of the outstanding women in the Bible. Peter’s reference to her (I Peter 3:5,6) indicates that, as Abraham was considered father of those who believe, so Sarah was considered mother of all believing women. "For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands: Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are [or better, ‘have become’], as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement [or, ‘with hysterical fears’]."
23:2 ABRAHAM CAME TO MOURN FOR SARAH
Evidently Abraham was not present at the time of her decease, because it says that he "came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her." Possibly this suggests that her death was mercifully quick and easy; if she had been suffering a terminal illness, it is almost certain Abraham would have been at home. He loved Sarah dearly, and it must have grieved him greatly that he was not with her when she died.
23:3-20 ABRAHAM BUYS A BURIAL CAVE
It is touching to note that, at least so far as the record goes, Abraham did not yet own any of the land himself, and so had to purchase hurriedly a plot of ground for a burying place. The only purchase of property he ever made in the land of Canaan was for a grave. Though he had many possessions, he himself had no certain dwelling place. " By faith, he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles" (Hebrews 11:9). He lived in different places, presumably paying some form of rental for the land and pastures used.
But he would not have a rented grave! Although the Hittites offered to let him use one of their sepulchers, he must have one of his own. No doubt, he knew that it would also be used by subsequent generations of his family, because he truly believed this would be their land forever, as God had said. Although all the land was his, by divine promise, yet he graciously offered to purchase the plot he needed for Sarah’s grave.
23:7 PEOPLE OF THE LAND
The Hebrew word here is AM HA-ARETZ, which in other places means ‘the people of the land’, and in later Hebrew meaning, ‘an ignorant person,’ here it means the Council of the Hittites in session. Abraham desired to secure a burial place that should for ever remain a possession of his family. Such ‘freehold’ purchase was impossible without the assent of the local Hittite national Council.
Abraham knew the plot he wanted-a field containing a suitable cave, with trees around it, and within sight of their home in Mamre (verse 17). It belonged to a prominent Hittite named Ephron.
23:9 THE CAVE OF MACHPELAH
It was a common practice to bury in caves. The word which is the name of the cave and of the locality denotes ‘double’; possibly because it consisted of two stories.
In accordance with the exaggerated formalities of purchasing and selling that have long been practiced in the East, Abraham first asked for someone to mediate between him and Ephron, to transmit his request to be allowed to purchase the land. Although it is difficult to distinguish how much of the Hittite response was sincere and how much mere custom, it does seem significant that they called Abraham "a mighty prince [literally ‘prince of God’] among us" (verse 6).
23:9 FULL PRICE
Literally, ‘full silver’; Abraham wished to establish an unassailable right to the land by the payment of its value.
23:15 WHAT IS THAT BETWIXT ME AND THEE?
He did not haggle, as they perhaps expected him to. What can such a sum as that just mentioned matter to persons such as we? In this apparently unconcerned tone, the seller indicates the price he wants. The sum demanded, four hundred shekels of silver, is a very substantial sum. In the contemporary Code of Khammurabi the wages of a working-man for a year are fixed at six or eight shekels.
23:16 ABRAHAM WEIGHED THE SILVER
Abraham weighed out the silver (evidently he had brought it with him to the city), full measure. In those days, before the regular use of coins, prices were quoted and paid in terms of weights, in this case four hundred shekels of silver. The transaction was duly noted and recorded, the purchased land carefully identified and measured, and the silver acknowledged as fully negotiable with the merchants of the area.
A WIFE FOR ISAAC Genesis 24:1-67
Genesis 24 is the longest chapter in the Book of Genesis, and it tells a story that has charmed and enthralled readers for generation after generation.
Not only is it a heart-warming love story, but it chronicles a very important episode in the history of man’s redemption. Since Isaac is a type of Christ, according to the New Testament, it is not surprising that there are many fascinating parallels between the story of Isaac’s search for a bride, through the ministry of his father’s trusted servant, and the sending forth of the Holy Spirit to take out of the Gentiles a people for His name (Acts 15:14), a bride for Christ (II Corinthians 11:2).
Of greater importance than the symbolism is:
24:2 PUT THY HAND UNDER MY THIGH
According to the Biblical idiom, children are said to issue from the ‘thigh’ or ‘loins’ of their father. Therefore the formality of placing the hand upon the thigh was taken to signify that if the oath were violated, the children who have issued, or might issue, from the ‘thigh’ would avenge the act of disloyalty.
At this point, Sarah had died and Abraham was very old. Isaac himself was forty years old by this time (Genesis 25:20), which means Abraham was 140. It was certainly time for him to get married and to begin his own family. God "had blessed Abraham in all things," both material and spiritual, and he felt his responsibility in this matter most keenly. It is significant, also, that even though Isaac was forty years old, he firmly trusted his father’s judgment in such an important decision as that of his wife-to-be.
Isaac realized, as did his father that:
24:6 BRING NOT MY SON THITHER AGAIN
He was adamant in insisting that Isaac not go (verses 6,8), probably because he had learned by then that the heir of God’s promises should stay in the promised land. As a matter of fact, during all his life, Isaac never left Canaan at all (Genesis 26:2,3).
It might be too traumatic for Isaac or his father to visit the scene of the awful sacrifice again (from the Hebron-Beersheba region, one would have to cross the land of Moriah). "So Christ was once offered to bear [literally, ‘offer up’] the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:28)
24:9 THE SERVANT
The reason the servant’s name is not mentioned is probably that he was going in the name of Isaac, not his own name. When the Father sent the Holy Spirit to obtain a bride for his Son, Jesus said: "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you……for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you" (John 14:26; 16:13,14).
24:14 CAMELS DRINK ALSO
The servant would only ask a drink of water for himself. The maiden on her own initiative was to suggest water for the camels. Her doing so would be evidence of a tender heart. Kindness to animals is a virtue upon which Judaism lays stress. The Talmud declares that a man must not sit down to his meal before giving food to his animals. It is noteworthy that the servant decided to make beauty of character of criterion in his selection of a wife for Isaac. He anticipated the writer of Proverbs 31:30, who declared, ‘Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain; but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised’.
This is a marvelous example of specific, believing prayer, an example that we can profitably follow today. Today, if we similarly meet the conditions, we can similarly expect specific answers to definite prayer.
24:19 I WILL DRAW WATER FOR THY CAMELS ALSO
One can imagine the thrilling shiver that ran up the servant’s spine! God not only had immediately (Isaiah 65:24) sent a girl who made the generous offer he had prayed for, but she was a beautiful girl, obviously kind, energetic, strong, and hospitable. God was doing "exceedingly abundantly above all" he had asked or thought (Ephesians 3:20).
24:23 WHOSE DAUGHTER ART THOU?
Now he was ready to ask the all-important question. "Whose daughter art thou?" When he learned that this lovely and gracious young woman was none other than Rebekah herself, about whom they had learned back in Hebron, Isaac’s second cousin, he was almost overcome with emotion. He had to stop immediately, bow down and worships the Lord, in audible thanksgiving to the God who had so richly answered his prayer and the prayer of his master Abraham. See Psalms 37:23; Proverbs 3:6.
24:28 HER MOTHER’S HOUSE
Rebekah went first to her mother, to whom she perhaps felt closer than to her father. This was no doubt partially because her father had a concubine, as well as his wife; and in a polygamous marriage there is naturally a closer tie between a girl and her own mother than between her and her father, other things being equal. More likely, however, Bethuel may have been an invalid at this time, so that her mother and her brother Laban had to handle many of the responsibilities and decisions of the household.
Though it was customary to leave business until after the meal, Rebekah and her family were equally anxious to know what he had come for, and were glad to postpone dinner for this purpose.
24:34 I AM ABRAHAM’S SERVANT
The Arab host does not ask his guest’s name, at any rate till the latter has eaten of his food, lest there should prove to be a blood-feud between them or their tribes. After the guest has eaten with his host, he is safe.
24:49 I MAY TURN TO THE RIGHT HAND, OR TO THE LEFT
The topological teaching here seems so clear that it should not be passed over. The servant is like the Holy Spirit, who is in the world seeking a Bride for Christ. The Bride is to be made up of individuals who receive Him as Lord and Savior, and who therefore will be brought unto Him in regeneration by the Spirit. As the Holy Spirit (through human witnesses, through Scripture, through circumstances) witnesses to the hearts of individuals concerning the glories of Christ, their need of Him, and the joys to be found in His presence, they are confronted with the greatest decision of their lives. They cannot ignore Him; they must say either yes or no. If they are united to Him, they must leave the things of the world behind them and submit full to Him. Many reject the invitation and are separated forever from Him. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name" (John 1:12).
24:53 THE SERVANT BROUGHT FORTH JEWELS…..AND RAIMENT
Immediately the servant went to his store of valuables. The bride of a prince must be provided with new clothing and adornments furnished by the father of the prince. Similarly, the one who is to be the Bride of Christ can no longer be dressed in the "filthy rags" of his own "righteousness" (Isaiah 64:6), but must be "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white" (Revelation 19:8).
24:55 A FEW DAYS, AT THE LEAST TEN
Or, ‘a full year or ten months.’ This is the rendering of Onkelos (Targum of Onkelos) and other ancient Jewish versions and is quite justified by Hebrew idiom. Rebekah’s mother and relatives were not ready to suddenly part from her, as they might never see her again.
24:58 I WILL GO
Her decision was right. One should not go ahead of the Lord’s will, but neither should he lag behind, once that will is known. This rule is most important in connection with the greatest decision of all- whether to accept Christ or not. Once the Holy Spirit has taught a person about Christ, and he understands the implications of the gospel, he should accept Him and follow Him immediately. Delay can only be dangerous. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (II Corinthians 6:2).
24:62 FOR HE DWELT IN THE SOUTH COUNTRY
Isaac is, as we have seen, a type of Christ, awaiting union with His bride when she comes to Him, and in the meantime preparing a place for her (John 14:3) as she approaches. Rebekah represents the Church, the chaste Bride (II Corinthians 11:2), who is preparing to meet her heavenly Bridegroom (John 3:29; Romans 7:4). Notice the following:
Now note, Isaac, like Christ:
24:67 HE TOOK REBEKAH
The order of the words, He took Rebekah, She became his wife, and he loved her, It is important that love should continue after marriage.
ABRAHAM MARRIES KETURAH Genesis 25:1-4
25:1 ABRAHAM TOOK A WIFE.
"Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah." Some commentators argue that Keturah was a concubine (as she is called in I Chronicles 1:32) . There is no indication as to Keturah’s home or background. Her name has been interpreted to mean "covered with incense," but this seems to offer no clue. She did surely understand when Abraham married her, that although she and any children of the marriage would be adequately provided for, only Isaac would have the inheritance.
25:2 SIX SONS
Remarkably enough, Abraham and Keturah did have six sons. Abraham lived for thirty-five years after Isaac’s marriage, but it is probable Keturah’s sons were born within the first ten years or so of the marriage. It is certainly possible that one of the reasons Abraham married Keturah was the prophecy (Genesis 17:4) that he would be a father of many nations. Undoubtedly he sought and followed God’s will in connection with this late marriage.
Of Keturah’s six sons, the descendants of Zimran, Ishbak, Shuah, and Medan have not been satisfactorily identified. Jokshan is identified primarily by his two sons, Sheba and Dedan, who are mentioned on a number of occasions later in the Bible. On the other hand, two other men named Sheba and Dedan are listed in Genesis 10:7 as grandsons of Cush. Another Sheba was a grandson of Eber (Genesis 10:28). It is difficult to distinguish one from the other in the later references.
The other son of Keturah was Midian, and his descendants are mentioned frequently in the Old Testament. The Midianites, on various occasions, seem to have been allied with the Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:25,27,28,36), the Moabites (Numbers 25:1,6-15), and the Amalekites (Judges 6:3).
25:5,6 ISAAC INHERITS ALL AND SONS OF CONCUBINES RECEIVE GIFTS
Before he died, Abraham endowed all the sons of Keturah, as well as Ishmael, the son of Hagar (Keturah and Hagar are both called "concubines" at this time, to distinguish them from his primary wife, Sarah), with "gifts," no doubt a reference to an adequate provision for each to have a reasonable start on his won flocks and herds. The bulk of his inheritance, however, he gave to Isaac. (They became the Arabic nations)
ABRAHAM DIES Genesis 25:7-11
In these verses is recorded the end of the remarkable life of Abraham. He died at what even then was the advanced age of 175. He was "gathered to his people,"
The location of such departed spirits was, nineteen hundred years later, actually called "Abraham’s bosom" (Luke 16:22).
25:10 ABRAHAM WAS BURIED NEXT TO SARAH HIS WIFE
He was buried, where Sarah was also buried, in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre, with Isaac and Ishmael both officiating. Their earlier estrangement had evidently been healed, possible because of their father’s death.
25:12-18 THE GENERATIONS
The most plausible explanation is that Isaac acquired Ishmael’s record at the time they were together for their father’s funeral. Ishmael at that time was ninety years old. His own twelve sons were grown, and they had become prolific and powerful enough to have settled towns and stronghold of their own, and to be called princes, as God had promised (genesis 17:20).
As in the case of Keturah’s sons, the specific sons of Ishmael have been hard to identify archaeologically, although there is little doubt that most or all of them settled in the general regions of central and north central Arabia. His eldest son, Nebaioth, has been suggested by some authorities as the ancestor of the Nabateans, a prominent tribe who later lived in the same region as the Edomites. Kedar (who is associated with Nebaioth in Isaiah 60:7) evidently had many descendants, and his name is often used in Scripture as essentially synonymous with all the Arabs (Isaiah 21:17; Jeremiah 49:28; Ezekiel 27:21, etc.).Jetur seems to have given his name to Ituraea, mentioned in Luke 3:1. Certain Assyrian inscriptions have tentatively been tied in with the names of Adbeel, Massa, Nebaioth, and Kedar. Dumah is named in Isaiah 21:11 as "calling out of Seir," which was the home of the Edomites. There is a town in northern Arabia named Dumath al-Jandel, which may have some ancestral connection with Dumah. Similarly, Temamay be identified with the town of Teyma, in Arabia. Apparently nothing is known about Mibsam, Mishma, Hadar, Naphish, and Kedemah..
Isaac, after inserting Ishmael’s "generations" in his own record, then also later recorded Ishmael’s death. He did at the age of 137, fifty-eight years before Isaac died. Ishmael was a believer in the God of Abraham.