Genesis 25


‘Abraham had taken 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 Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah. 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.’ Genesis 25:1-6

To ensure that God’s promise to Abraham, that he would be the father of many nations, he marries a woman named, Keturah. It was through her that he had six sons, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

It’s clear that God was blessing him as he was well over one hundred years of age at this time, he still managed to have six children even when his body was physically old. Having children was a sign of a blessing.

It’s important to note that all these children, went on to produce nations which would eventually fill the Promised Land after they are delivered from Egypt around 400 years from now. Notice also that the land promise is now given to Isaac.

‘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.’ Genesis 25:7-11

Abraham lived to a hundred and seventy-five years old before he died. Seventy times Abraham is mentioned in the New Testament, eighty times Moses is mentioned in the New Testament, this tells us that Abraham was a great man of God.

The phrase, ‘gathered to his people’, is very common in Scripture, especially in reference to the death of the patriarchs, Genesis 25:17 / Genesis 35:29 / Genesis 49:29 / Numbers 20:24 / Numbers 27:13 and seems to indicate that they have joined those who have already died, Genesis 15:15 / Matthew 22:31-33 / Hebrews 11:13-16.

Please also note that both Isaac and Ishmael joined in with their father’s funeral, he was buried in the same cave as their mother, Sarah, the cave of Machpelah, Genesis 23:17-20.


Abraham is the great patriarch of Israel, and to Christians, ‘He is the father of us all.’ Romans 4:16. The faith of Abraham pleased God. God visited Abraham on several unique occasions. The Lord spoke to him numerous times, once in a vision and once in the form of three visitors. He carried out a brave rescue of Lot when his nephew was taken captive after the Battle of the Valley of Siddim.

God tested Abraham severely in more than one instance, and Abraham demonstrated great faith, trust, and obedience to the will of God. He was well respected and successful in his occupation. He also had the courage to face a powerful enemy coalition.

1. His faith pleased God.

2. Became the father of the Jewish nation.

3. Was respected by others and was courageous in defending his family at any cost.

4. Was not only a caring father to his own family, but practised hospitality to others.

5. Was a successful and wealthy landowner.

6. Usually avoided conflicts, but when they were unavoidable, he allowed his opponent to set the rules for settling the dispute.

Sadly, like most of us, Abraham made some mistakes, especially when he was under pressure. When it came to telling the truth about his wife Sarah, he lied twice.

‘This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham. These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Ashur. And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.’ Genesis 25:12-18

Ishmael’s sons

Why do we have the genealogy of Ishmael recorded here? There seem to be two reasons.

1. God wanted the Israelites to know that He had fulfilled His promise to Hagar, that through Ishmael many nations would come, Genesis 16:12 / Genesis 21:18.

2. God wanted a written record available to Israel in order to remind her that the nations that came from Ishmael were the descendants of Isaac’s half-brother.

When you read through the Scriptures, you will soon discover, because of joyously, that there was going to be and continues to be serious tension between Israel and the surrounding seed of Abraham through Hagar and Keturah.

‘This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ So, she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.’ When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so, they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so, he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.’ Genesis 25:19-26

The birth of Esau and Jacob

Paddan Aram is Rebekah’s homeland and notice that she was childless for around twenty years, Genesis 25:20 /Genesis 25:26. However Isaac prayed, and the Lord answered his prayer and she became pregnant. Isaac and Rebekah only had two sons. Rebekah asked God what was wrong, and God tells her she is having twins.

Even before the children were born there was tension, this was because they were both different characters from which would come two nations which would struggle with each other for generations to come. The name Esau means ‘hairy’, he had red hair, and the name Jacob means, ‘heel catcher’ which refers to the way he was holding on to his brother’s heel when he was born.

Remember it was Old Testament practice that the firstborn inherited the legal rights of the family. Here, Esau was the firstborn son, and so, he had the legal rights to the heritage of Isaac.

This is an illustration of God’s choosing, Romans 9:10-13, the older one would serve the younger one. God chose between the two before they were even born, Malachi 1:2-3.

Is it fair for God to love one and hate the other?

It has to be done with a purpose. The question should be, how did God love Jacob? It should be noted that Jacob did nothing better than Esau, it was nothing to do with their performance.

‘The boys grew up, and Esau became a skilful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. He said to Jacob, ‘Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!’ (That is why he was also called Edom.) Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright.’‘Look, I am about to die,’ Esau said. ‘What good is the birthright to me?’ But Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So, he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left. So, Esau despised his birthright.’ Genesis 25:27-34

Esau and Jacob’s personalities and tastes were very different. Esau was a manly man, he was the hunter, whilst Jacob seems to be more of a mummy’s boy, whose focus was on God, Genesis 6:9 / Job 1:8.

Each parent had an individual favourite, Isaac loved his son, Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Because we know how this story ends, it’s clear that love one the day, Romans 9:10-13.

What was the birthright?

The birthright was all about possessions, Deuteronomy 21:17, a double portion was given to the firstborn. There were rights for the older son, he became the head and spiritual leader of the family, seed and land promise, 1 Chronicles 5:1-2.

There’s no doubt that Jacob was being worldly-minded, he wanted to gain something that God had already given him. Esau was trying to sell something that wasn’t his.


Possibly because the dream was better than the reality. Even today people are still selling their birthright because of some stew. People spend so much time on other things rather than spending time with God. In the New Testament, we read about the Christian’s birthright, adoption, expectancy, redemption, Ephesians 1:3-14.

God’s grace is used all the time, but not because of our performance. Esau sold his rights, Hebrews 12:16 and his character showed God’s wisdom in the choice that He made. The fact that Esau despised his birthright tells us that he gladly traded his birthright for a bowl of stew.

Notice that Esau is also called Edom, this is an indication of the tensions which would grow for generations to come between both nations which would come from Jacob and Esau.

The hatred between Esau and Jacob

In the book of Obadiah, we see God is now pronouncing His judgment upon the Edomites and so Obadiah’s message begins with the condemnation of Edom, which was the nation that descended from Esau. Like I mentioned earlier, Esau being the manly man, the hunter, the great outdoor person, came in from hunting one day and was hungry. Jacob told him that he would give him a big bowl of stew that he had prepared in exchange for his birthright. And without any hesitation, Esau gave up his entire inheritance right there and then.

Now even though Esau was wrong in doing what he did, Jacob should never have taken advantage of the situation.

Now, remember what the Bible says when Jacob was being born, seconds later, Genesis 25:26. That phrase, ‘grasping Esau’s heel’ is a Hebrew expression which means, he deceives, that’s why Jacob’s name means ‘deceitful’. And make no mistake about it, Jacob knew exactly what he was doing when he stole his brother’s birthright.

In fact, later on, he and his mum, Rebekah were going to plot together to steal Esau’s blessing as well. And so, because of all this plotting and deception, Esau ended up hating his brother and planned to kill him after their father died.

Now Jacob was more of a mummy’s boy, he loved to stay at home with his mum but when he found out what Esau was planning to do to him, he basically ran away for his life. Yes, Jacob was deceitful, but deep inside he had a heart that wanted to know God and follow Him.

Esau was the opposite, in fact, in the Bible Esau is shown as the prime example of someone who lusts after the flesh, 1 John 2:15-16. Esau is the prime example of people who are chasing after their fleshly desires, Hebrews 12:15-17.

When Esau finally realised how stupid he had been, he cried his heart out and begged Isaac to restore his birthright. But, despite all of his crying, Esau wasn’t sorry for his worldly, selfish attitude, he was only sorry that he lost his inheritance, 2 Corinthians 7:10. Esau was only sorry because he got caught in his lust and that he lost his inheritance, but he never had the desire to change.

Later after Isaac died, the fulfilment of Esau’s loss came to pass because Jacob had moved back home, and he and Esau had apparently reconciled. But notice what happened after they met, Genesis 36:6, Esau moved to another land some distance away from his brother.

Why did he move so far away?

Well, it certainly wasn’t because he wanted to know he moved because the country that he had lived in all of his life now belonged to Jacob, and there wasn’t enough room for both of them. And so, as you can imagine Esau is fuming, he’s raging with anger, but he realises there’s nothing he could do about it. Esau, the first-born son, who lost his birthright through foolishness, was forced to move from his homeland and die in a foreign land.

The Edomites

The Edomites were descendants of Esau and the Bible tells us that this hatred never stopped, even when both of them died. Ezekiel is writing whilst he’s in exile, and he says that Edom’s hatred for Israel is ‘ancient’, in other words, it’s been there for years and years. Ezekiel 35:5.

All the way through Old Testament history, we read about how the Edomites mistreated and murdered God’s people. The first incident occurred soon after Israel became a nation. You remember what happened when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, don’t you? They came to Edom and asked if they could pass through their land and promised that they wouldn’t touch any of the vineyards, or crops, or even take any water from their wells.

Moses speaks to them as brothers, but the king of Edom says no to his brothers and gives them a warning, Numbers 20:18. And if you read on, you’ll see that they brought out their army to show Israel that they meant business.

Now think about this for a moment, this whole event took place over 400 years after Esau and Jacob parted ways. Now that was just the start of Edom’s sin against God’s people. Obadiah tells Edom that God is going to judge them for their violence toward Jacob, Obadiah 10-11.

As I said, the Edomites had a long history of showing violence toward Israel and one of those times was when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem. When Jerusalem was being destroyed, the Edomites were rejoicing, Psalm 137:7.

So that hatred went on for years and years, but it didn’t stop there. Even when we come to the New Testament, we’re introduced to a man named Herod the Great. He was the one who tried to kill the newly born Jesus by slaughtering all the baby boys under two years old. His son, Herod Antipas was the one who murdered John the Baptist. His grandson, Herod Agrippa was the one who killed James the brother of Jesus and tried to kill Simon Peter.

All these men were Edomites, and they constantly persecuted God’s people who were descendants of Jacob. The Jewish historian, Josephus says that when the Romans stormed Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and ravaged the city, the Edomites joined in and helped massacre thousands of Jews whilst torturing others.

All this happened over 1800 years after Jacob and Esau had parted company. Esau’s descendants still hadn’t learned to forgive Jacob and as a result, that hatred grew and all they wanted vengeance, Hebrews 12:14-15.

What was God’s judgment against Edom?

God says that Edom was filled with pride, Obadiah 3. There was a part of Edom that was practically impossible for any enemy to penetrate and that was the capital city of Petra. The word Petra means ‘rock’ and it’s easy to see how it got its name. Petra was an isolated fortress only accessible through a deep canyon, with high mountain walls all around.

In fact, history tells us that Petra was so treacherous to approach that it could defend itself against an army using only twelve men. We can imagine how proud they were of their fortress, they are so proud of it that Obadiah mentions the ‘mountains of Esau’ four times in the text.

The Edomites thought there were so great, so powerful, so mighty that nobody could bring them down. But oh, how wrong they were, they were going to be brought down to planet Earth with a thud by God Himself. In Proverbs 6 we find Solomon writing about the six things which the Lord hates and notice what’s first on His hate list, Proverbs 6:17.

The first sin on God’s hate list is ‘haughty eyes’, in other words, people who are full of themselves. This is why God hates pride so much because pride takes all the credit for what God has done.

It was pride that caused Satan to be kicked out of Heaven. It was pride that caused Eve to eat the forbidden fruit because she wanted to be like God. It was pride that caused the nations to be scattered to the ends of the earth at the tower of Babel. It was pride that caused Nebuchadnezzar to eat grass like the ox and caused his hair to grow like eagles’ feathers and his nails to grow like birds’ claws.

It was pride that caused the rich fool to think he had plenty to keep him going, I’m just going to chill out, eat drink and be merry, he thought to himself. It was pride that caused the disciples to argue over which one of them was the greatest. It was pride that caused Herod to accept the praises of men as if he were God and to be struck dead and be eaten by worms. And it will be pride that will cause the man of sin to sit in the temple and demand to be worshipped as God.

The Edomites were so proud of their invincibility against any attackers. They were convinced that there wasn’t a nation in the world that could take them down, but oh, how they forgot about God. God told Edom that one day they would be slaughtered, which basically means they would cease to exist as a nation, Obadiah 8-9.

And this process began around 300 A.D. when a group of Arabs conquered their holy capital city of Petra. Over the year other nations came along and attacked them until finally they were completely destroyed by the Romans around A.D. 70. And so, the Edomites who were a people full of hatred and full of pride were finally judged by God and they ceased to be a nation.

Years and years of hostility, all because of a bowl of stew.

Go To Genesis 26



"Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'"