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Abraham shows the calm contentment of faith as he buries Sarah
Genesis Chapter 23, verses 1 and 2
Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.
The preceding chapter demonstrated how Abraham expressed his faith under the most unusual and difficult circumstances. But faith can be expressed in the ordinary and routine events of life, as well as in the extraordinary. In this chapter we see how Abraham gave evidence of his faith under circumstances that presented no extraordinary crisis.
Sarah is the only woman whose age at her death is recorded on the pages of the Scripture. If Abraham is called the father of believers, then she is the mother of believers. At God’s call she too left a comfortable life in Ur of the Chaldeans to spend the last half of her life as a nomad, living in a tent in Canaan’s inhospitable southland. Her marriage, which may have lasted a century, was marked by the special blessing of God. She stood by her husband faithfully as God led him from one step in the divine training program to another.
Sarah, the free woman, is a picture of the church of the New Testament, whose children are children of the promise, reborn by the power of the Spirit (Galatians Chapter 4, verses 24 through 31). After Sarah lived to see her son grow to be a man of 37, God called her to himself. Abraham not only wept tears of sadness at the death of his beloved; he also gave audible
expression to his grief, in the custom of that day.
Genesis Chapter 23, verses 3 and 4
Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, “I am an alien and a stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”
Now Abraham faced a problem. For reasons that will become clear, he wanted Sarah to be buried in the land of Canaan. But he was an alien, a stranger in the land. He therefore went to the city gate in Hebron, where he had moved after leaving Beersheba, and appealed to the city fathers. We’re surprised to learn these were Hittites, members of a Canaanite people who had originally
come from what is today Turkey and had migrated south. Abraham’s request shows he realized he was asking for a favor, the right to own land in a country where he was a stranger.
Genesis Chapter 23, verses 5 through 9
The Hittites replied to Abraham, “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”
Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you.”
The officials of Hebron answered Abraham’s request more favorably than he may have anticipated. They acknowledged him to be a man of high position, a man
who enjoyed the special blessing of God. He shouldn’t have to buy a burial plot; he could choose whichever tomb he wanted, and the owner would not refuse him.
Abraham, however, was not only interested in finding a place for his beloved dead. Abraham was the father of God’s ancient covenant people, who would one day own and occupy this land. Canaan was the land that his children’s
children would one day possess. He therefore wanted Sarah’s remains, as well as his own, to rest in the Promised Land as a silent testimony to their faith in God’s promise: “To your offspring I will give this land” (Chapter 12, verse 7). Even before his descendants entered Canaan, during the four centuries when they would be living as strangers in Egypt, their ancestor’s calm insistence on being buried in the land of promise would reassure them that Canaan would be their future home.
Abraham humbly acknowledged the Hittites’ gracious compliment and their generous offer and pressed his appeal. “If, as you have indicated, you will permit me to bury my dead here, then please speak to Ephron for me. I wish to purchase a cave at one end of his property, and I will pay him the full price in silver.” To ensure that his request would be granted, he asked the city officials to act for him, instead of dealing with the owner personally. The parcel of land he chose was a cave, unusable for farming or grazing. And he made it clear that he was not asking for a gift.
Genesis Chapter 23, verses 10 through 15
Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. “No, my lord,” he said. “Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.”
Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.”
Ephron answered Abraham, “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between me and you? Bury your dead.”
Ephron, the landowner, was present in the assembly and answered Abraham. His words give the clear impression that he was not particularly interested in giving away his property without compensation. Although he repeated the
offer to allow Abraham simply to bury Sarah on his property, he had just learned that this was not what Abraham wanted. His offer appears to have been only a polite formality, perhaps indicating no more than that he was ready to
begin negotiating the sale with Abraham.
Something else catches our eye in Ephron’s answer. Abraham had asked for permission to buy the cave at the edge of his property. Ephron countered by offering him the entire field along with the cave—something Abraham hadn’t asked for. From what we know of Hittite law, ownership of an entire field may well have brought with it certain obligations—perhaps some service to the king. It has been suggested that Ephron may have wanted to unload these responsibilities on somebody else and saw in Abraham’s request an opportunity to do just that.
As a starting point for the negotiations, Ephron suggested that the land was worth 400 shekels of silver. Compared with land values discovered in ancient Babylonian records, this suggested price seems exorbitant. We’re led to
think that Ephron expected a counteroffer from Abraham, after which serious bargaining could begin.
Genesis Chapter 23, verses 16 through 20
Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants.
So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of
Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.
Ephron must have been surprised when Abraham, an experienced businessman, accepted his initial offer. With the city officials as witnesses, Abraham paid Ephron the full price he had suggested. Since minting coins did not
become common for another 10 or 12 centuries, Abraham weighed out the purchase price, perhaps in silver bars. The transaction was duly recorded, and the field at Machpelah, including all the trees on it and the cave, was
deeded to Abraham.
Abraham buried Sarah in the cave of Machpelah, and 38 years later his sons laid him to rest with Sarah. Subsequent chapters of Genesis will record that the cave was also the last earthly resting place of Isaac and Rebekah and of Jacob and Leah. One writer has remarked, “No other spot in the Holy Land has as much precious dust as this.”
Abraham, the father of believers, was a man who lived by faith in God’s promises. He never lived to see the fulfillment of most of them. He never saw his descendants grow into a mighty nation or take possession of the Promised
Land. And of course he never lived to see his greatest descendant, through whose perfect life and innocent death all families of the earth would be blessed. But this chapter emphasizes that Abraham believed God’s promises, even though he didn’t witness their fulfillment. And although Abraham could have returned to his relatives in Haran and found a family burial site for Sarah there, Abraham’s actions declared: “Haran is not my home anymore. The
future of my family lies in Canaan, because God has said so. Here is where God’s great plan will reach fulfillment, and here is where I am determined to remain.”
In the same way, our trust in the promises God has given us in Jesus Christ will transform ordinary and routine details of everyday life into opportunities for bearing witness to the faith that is in us.
Abraham shows the calm contentment of faith as he provides a wife for Isaac
Genesis Chapter 24, verses 1 through 9
Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to
swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my
The servant asked him, “What if the woman is unwilling to come back with me to this land? Shall I then take your son back to the country you came from?”
“Make sure that you do not take my son back there,” Abraham said. “The LORD, the God of heaven, who brought me out of my father’s household and my native land and who spoke to me and promised me on oath, saying, ‘To your offspring
I will give this land’—he will send his angel before you so that you can get a wife for my son from there. If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from this oath of mine. Only do not take my son back there.” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore an oath to him concerning this matter.
Three years had elapsed since Sarah’s death. Abraham was now 140 years old, and he realized there was an important matter for him to attend to before his time ran out. Isaac needed to have a wife who would share his faith in God’s promise. The account we have in chapter 24 is long and detailed, without parallel in the Scripture.
Abraham called in his chief servant and entrusted to him the responsibility of finding a suitable wife for Isaac. He instructed him to travel 500 miles north to Mesopotamia, to the city of Haran, Abraham’s former home. Abraham couldn’t attend to this personally, because God had directed him to leave Haran. And although Isaac, at 40, was old enough to have picked out his own wife, Abraham didn’t want him to leave the land of Canaan either. We take for granted that in this matter Abraham acted with the full knowledge and consent
Abraham placed his servant under oath to follow his instructions to the letter. To seal the oath, the servant placed his hand under Abraham’s thigh, the seat of procreative power. The oath was apparently related to the
powers of reproduction and would involve Abraham’s descendants in the messianic line.
The very heart of Abraham’s concern is summarized in this solemn command: “I want you to swear . . . that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites.” Abraham had good reason to be concerned.
Canaanite religion was a filthy combination of idolatry and adultery, and a Canaanite wife would not share a common faith with believing Isaac. She could not nourish and transmit that faith in the coming Savior to future generations. And, furthermore, God had promised that the Canaanites would fall under his condemnation because of their shameful idolatry.
The servant showed that he shared his master’s deep reverence for the Lord by clarifying his assignment: “What if the woman I find for Isaac is unwilling to marry a man she’s never seen? May I then take Isaac there for a visit?” In faith Abraham anticipated no difficulty, and he emphatically refused to act contrary to God’s will. He knew that the mission on which he was sending his servant was God’s will. He was simply applying what God had told him to this present situation. In the same way, you and I know that God is committed to making it possible for us to do what God has called us to do.
Genesis Chapter 24, verses 10 through 14
Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to the town of Nahor. He had the camels kneel down near the well outside the town; it was toward evening, the time the women go out to draw water.
Then he prayed, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
Abraham was a wealthy man, so he sent along with his servant gifts for the prospective bride and her family, gifts that would reflect favorably on the social standing of the prospective bridegroom.
The Bible narrative says little about the long journey to Mesopotamia, a trip that may have taken a month. Instead the sacred writer focuses our attention on the servant as he stood at the town well and thought about his assignment.
Before him he could see the women of the city coming to draw water for family and flocks. How was he to know which one the Lord had picked for Isaac?
The servant had learned a lot from his master. He talked to God, whose work he was doing. “Give me success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham.” God’s great plan for saving sinners was involved in finding the right wife for Isaac. The servant was very conscious of that and asked for God’s help.
Next, the servant sketched a scenario that would help him identify the woman of the Lord’s choice. Does that sound like dictating to the Lord? The servant knew that God’s children surely need not assume God will leave them without guidance. He therefore suggested, “If I ask a girl for a drink and she not only gives me a drink but offers to draw water also for my ten camels, let this be the sign that she is the one you have chosen for Isaac.”
What would this sign say about the young lady? It would certainly show friendliness, hospitality, and kindness. It would also indicate a willingness to serve. And to make repeated trips down to a well to draw enough water to satisfy ten thirsty camels would require physical stamina.
Genesis Chapter 24, verses 15 through 21
Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. The girl was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever lain with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.
The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”
“Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.
After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the LORD had made his journey successful.
Before the servant had even finished his prayer, his eyes fell on Rebekah. The servant didn’t know it, but the reader is informed that she was the granddaughter of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. She gave the servant the drink of water he had requested and then volunteered to draw water for his camels as well. If one camel can drink 20 gallons, her offer may have cost her an extra hour of work at the well. The servant watched wordlessly. Could it be that the Lord had answered his prayer so promptly?
Genesis Chapter 24, verses 22 through 27
When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels. Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milcah bore to Nahor.” And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.”
Then the man bowed down and worshiped the LORD, saying, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”
To express his appreciation for the kindness Rebekah had just shown him, the servant took out a gold nose ring and gold bracelets that Abraham had sent along and offered them to her as gifts. The bracelets alone weighed 4 ounces;
these were gifts worthy of a rich man.
The servant couldn’t wait to ask her the important question. At the well she had met his requirements, but did she meet Abraham’s? “Whose daughter are you?” She gave him the reply he was hoping for and, in answer to his second question, assured him there would be lodging at her father’s house.
Now there could be no doubt that the Lord had led him to the young woman of his choice, and the servant fell to his knees in humble gratitude. He praised the Lord for as marvelous a display of divine providence as any human being has ever witnessed.
Genesis Chapter 24, verses 28 through 33
The girl ran and told her mother’s household about these things. Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban, and he hurried out to the man at the spring. As soon as he had seen the nose ring, and the bracelets on his sister’s arms, and had heard Rebekah tell what the man said to her, he went out to the man and found him standing by the camels near the spring. “Come, you who are blessed by the LORD,” he said. “Why are you standing out here? I have prepared the house and a place for the camels.”
So the man went to the house, and the camels were unloaded. Straw and fodder were brought for the camels, and water for him and his men to wash their feet. Then food was set before him, but he said, “I will not eat until I have told you what I have to say.”
“Then tell us,” Laban said.
Rebekah must have been surprised too, if not bewildered, at the unusual things that had happened to her at the well. She ran home to tell her family. When her brother Laban saw the jewelry his sister was wearing, he ran out to
the well to find the man and invite him to the house. Later chapters of Genesis will reveal some character traits of Laban that are less than noble, but we have no reason to suspect his motives here. The gifts his sister had received from a total stranger were enough to impress anybody, and the brother was understandably interested. He saw to it that the camels were unsaddled and provided with food and shelter. He offered the strangers warm hospitality and invited them to eat with the family.
The pious servant politely declined to eat, however, until he had explained the purpose of his special mission.
Genesis Chapter 24, verses 34 through 49
So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. The LORD has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, menservants and maidservants, and camels and donkeys. My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’
“Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’
40“He replied, ‘The LORD, before whom I have walked, will
send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that
you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my
father’s family. 41Then, when you go to my clan, you will be
released from my oath even if they refuse to give her to you—
you will be released from my oath.’
“When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘O LORD, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. See, I am standing beside this spring; if a maiden comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the LORD has chosen for my master’s son.’
“Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’
“She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.
“I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’
“She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milcah bore to him.’
“Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, and I bowed down and worshiped the LORD. I praised the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”
The servant recounted the important assignment his master had given him and repeated the details of what had happened at the well. These are details that the reader knows but that Rebekah and her family needed to know if they were to reach a God-pleasing decision in the important matter that lay before them.
Several matters received special emphasis in the servant’s presentation. He introduced the matter of Abraham’s wealth and emphasized that at Abraham’s death his estate would pass to Isaac. He explained that Isaac was born when Abraham was an old man. (Rebekah’s father, Bethuel, might otherwise have wondered about a possible generation gap between his cousin Isaac and his
daughter Rebekah). Most striking in the servant’s speech to Rebekah’s family is his use of God’s Old Testament covenant name. Father Abraham’s interest was not just in getting his son married but in finding a proper wife for the heir of God’s covenant promises.
It’s interesting to note that the servant did not come right out and ask for Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife. He simply restated the facts and let them speak for themselves. The Savior’s guiding hand had to be as obvious to Rebekah’s family as it was to him.
Genesis Chapter 24, verses 50 though 58
Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the LORD; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the LORD has directed.”
When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the LORD. Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. Then he and the men who were with him ate and
drank and spent the night there.
When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”
But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the girl remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”
But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the LORD has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”
Then they said, “Let’s call the girl and ask her about it.” So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”
“I will go,” she said. Commentary
The servant’s recital of the astounding chain of events convinced Rebekah’s family. It was obvious to them that this was the Lord’s will, which they did not dare to oppose. “This is clearly from the LORD. There’s nothing more to be said. Here is Rebekah; take her and go.” Their use of God’s covenant name shows that they were believing children of God and that they were happy Rebekah would be in the family of the promised Savior. Their words make it all the more clear why Abraham wanted his son’s wife to come from this background.
The family’s response once again brought the servant to his knees in worship. He then distributed the gifts he had brought. Some were gifts for Rebekah, and some were for her parents and her brother. The social custom of the day
required a prospective bridegroom to give his future in-laws a special gift known as the bride-price. This gift served a number of purposes. It provided evidence that the marital agreement was made in good faith and sealed the covenant between the two families. It established the social standing of the groom. Since the bride would be leaving the father’s household, the bride-price reimbursed him for the loss of a worker. And it served as a sort of prepaid alimony in case the husband later deserted or divorced his wife.
Now that all the preliminaries had been attended to, Abraham’s servant was ready to enjoy a meal and a bed. The following morning, however, he asked the family’s permission to return to his master. The old servant might have been
excused if he had stayed in Haran a few days to rest himself and the animals after a 500-mile journey. The family members encouraged him to do this, and it’s easy to understand why. Up to the previous day, they hadn’t ever seen this man, and once Rebekah left, it was unlikely they would ever see her
again. The servant knew, however, that delay would only make the eventual parting harder.
They called Rebekah and let her decide. Her answer, “I will go,” is not to be understood as her consent to be Isaac’s wife. Her parents’ consent had already been expressed in verse 51, and her acceptance of the bridal gifts indicated that she had concurred in that. Her answer, “I will go,” announced that she was ready to leave immediately with Abraham’s servant.
Genesis Chapter 24, verses 59 through 61
So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,
“Our sister, may you increase
to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
the gates of their enemies.”
Then Rebekah and her maids got ready and mounted their camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.
Rebekah’s resolute answer decided that the return trip to Canaan would begin at once. Her nurse Deborah (Chapter 35, verse 8), who had cared for her since infancy, went with her, as did several maids. The parting blessing spoken by the family members is remarkable. These were descendants of Noah who were aware of the blessings God had promised to Shem (Chapter 9, verse 26) and to Abraham (Chapter 12, verses 1 through 3 and Chapter 22, verse 17). God saw to it that their prayer was granted. Rebekah did become the ancestress of numerous descendants, who later conquered and occupied the cities of Canaan.
Genesis Chapter 24, verses 62 through 67
Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from
her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”
“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her
veil and covered herself.
Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
As was the case with the long trip north, virtually nothing is said about the month long return trip. Genesis Chapter 25, verse 11 tells us Isaac had set up his own camp at the well where God had once appeared to Hagar (Chapter 16, verses 13 and 14). He saw the camel caravan approaching and learned the details of the long distance courtship from the faithful servant, who once again recited “all he had done.” It was as clear to Isaac as it had been to Rebekah’s family that God had marvelously directed events to this happy conclusion. Abraham and Isaac had acted responsibly, in the interests of God’s covenant. Those who do that will receive God’s guidance and will enjoy
No mention is made here of Abraham. Perhaps this
is the writer’s way of indicating that Isaac is to become the
new patriarch of the clan, as Rebekah is its new matriarch.
Abraham shows the calm contentment of faith as he dismisses his other sons before his death
Genesis Chapter 25, verses 1 through 4
Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. 4The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.
With this section the account of Terah comes to a close, as well as the scriptural record of the life of Abraham. Moses records a second marriage of Abraham, who lived another 38 years after Sarah died. Luther felt that
Abraham (“father of many nations”) recognized that his two sons Ishmael and Isaac hardly furnished the background for “many nations.” According to Luther, “Abraham saw that he was to beget more children in order to fulfill the promise of Genesis 17:4, and so in faith he proceeded to enter upon another marriage.” Despite the fact that Abraham’s relation to Keturah is described in Chapter 25, verse 1 as a marriage, she is called a “concubine” in Chapter 25, verse 6, perhaps because the sacred writer hesitated to give Keturah equal rank with Sarah, the mother of the promised seed.
Although the table of Abraham’s descendants through Keturah is brief, it does document the fact that a number of nations did descend from Abraham. The descendants listed here are the fathers of Arab tribes who left southern Palestine and migrated east and southeast. Of Keturah’s six sons, only Midian is subsequently mentioned on the pages of Old Testament history and always in the context of hostility to the covenant people of Israel.
Unfortunately, the mere fact that these nations descended from Abraham did not automatically guarantee that they shared the faith of Abraham. John the Baptist told the religious leaders of his day, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves: ‘We have Abraham as our father’” (Luke Chapter 3, verse 8). Each succeeding generation of God’s people needs to make God’s Word and his promise its own through faith, or
those blessings will be lost through unbelief.
Genesis Chapter 25, verses 5 through 11
Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.
Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.
Earlier in his life, Abraham had learned through bitter experience that his son Ishmael despised Isaac’s favored position in the family. To make sure that there would be no misunderstanding after his death, Abraham gave gifts
to each of the concubines’ sons and sent them away. With this action he made two things clear. First, he was giving them their freedom and enough money for a good start in life. According to several ancient Mesopotamian law codes
that have come down to us, sons of concubines were ordinarily considered slaves and received no inheritance. Second, and more important, Abraham was making it clear that Isaac, and only Isaac, was the bearer of the covenant,
the future head of the clan, the link between Abraham and the Savior.
The account of Terah comes to a close with an elaborate obituary of Abraham. His life span was 30 years shorter than his father Terah’s, but it’s described as “a good old age.” According to Genesis Chapter 25, verse 26, Abraham lived to see his twin grandsons Esau and Jacob grow up to be young men. He lived to see his wants and expectations satisfied.
It’s also noteworthy that although Abraham had dismissed the sons of the concubines from his household with gifts, Ishmael took part with Isaac in burying Abraham. Since God had named Ishmael to a special honor (Chapter 17, verse 20), he was elevated above Keturah’s sons. We are also glad to note that although there had been a separation between Isaac and Ishmael, there was no alienation.
In accordance with Abraham’s wishes and as a final affirmation of his faith that God would keep his promise to make Canaan his people’s homeland, Abraham was buried in the cave of Machpelah.