What does Genesis 25 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
Genesis 25 records the deaths of both Abraham and Ishmael, as well as the births of Jacob and Esau, and the purchase of the most expensive bowl of stew in history.

First, though, we learn about Abraham's "other wife" Keturah. Scholars are divided about whether Abraham married Keturah before or after Sarah's death. She is listed elsewhere in the Bible as a concubine. When Sarah died, at the age of 127 (Genesis 23:1), Abraham would have been nearly 140 (Genesis 17:17). It would seem more likely, then, that Abraham took Keturah as a wife well before Sarah's death. Still, Abraham has six sons with Keturah, including Midian, who becomes the father of the Midianites. And though Abraham gave gifts to the "sons of his concubines," Genesis is quick to tell us that he gave all he had to Isaac, his sole true heir (Genesis 25:1–6).

Abraham then dies at the age of 175, an old man and full of years. Isaac and Ishmael reunite to bury Abraham at the cave of Machpelah (Genesis 23:17–20) where Sarah had been buried nearly 40 years earlier (Genesis 25:10).

Next, the chapter lists the 12 sons of Ishmael by birth order. The names of these "princes" became the names of the villages and encampments of the tribes that were their descendants. These dozen groups settled to the east of what would become Israel. Ishmael himself lived a good long time, to the age of 137 (Genesis 25:12–18).

Finally, Genesis 25 turns its attention to Isaac, now the patriarch. As was the case with his mother Sarah, his wife Rebekah does not become pregnant. In fact, 20 or so childless years pass. At some point, Isaac prays to the Lord. The Lord hears and answers, and Rebekah becomes pregnant (Genesis 25:19–21).

Her pregnancy is so difficult that Rebekah approaches the Lord to ask Him why. She receives a prophecy about the "two nations" in her womb that will be divided. The older will serve the younger. This prophecy likely makes more sense to her when she delivers twins. The firstborn is red and hairy, and they name him Esau. The second is called "heel grabber," Jacob, because he emerges with Esau's heel in his hand (Genesis 25:22–26).

The pair grow into very different sorts of men. Esau, the outdoorsman and hunter, is loved by his father for bringing home the meat. Jacob, a quiet, stay-at-home fellow is loved by his mother (Genesis 25:27–28). This is more than simple preference. Later passages will show that each parent blatantly favors one child over the other, leading to further strife and rivalry.

The chapter ends with a scene between Jacob and Esau that flatters neither. Esau returns from the fields exhausted and asks for a bowl of Jacob's red stew. Jacob demands Esau's birthright in exchange for the stew. Esau foolishly agrees, swearing an oath to seal the deal. Jacob gladly accepts the payment and shares what turns out to be lentil soup.
Verse Context:
Genesis 25:1–18 adds details before describing the deaths of Abraham and then Ishmael. Abraham has taken another wife, other than Sarah, and has six sons with her. He gives them gifts but sends them all away to the east. Isaac will be his sole true heir. Still, when Abraham dies and is buried at the age of 175, Ishmael joins Isaac for the funeral. Ishmael's 12 sons are listed, along with a description of the region their tribes settled in. Finally, Ishmael dies, as well, at the age of 137.
Genesis 25:19–28 describes the birth of Isaac and Rebekah's twin boys. After marrying when Isaac is 40, Rebekah does not become pregnant for 20 years, and only in response to Isaac's prayer to the Lord. Her pregnancy is so difficult that she approaches the Lord to ask why. His response is a prophecy about the divided nations that will come from her. That makes more sense when two children are born, one red and hairy, the other grabbing his brother's heel. The first is named Esau, who becomes a hunter loved by his father. The second is Jacob, a quiet, stay-at-home man favored by his mother.
Genesis 25:29–34 describes a significant encounter between the twins Jacob and Esau. Esau, the hunter, returns home from the fields exhausted. He requests a bowl of Jacob's red stew. In curt language, Jacob demands Esau's birthright in exchange. Esau foolishly agrees. Jacob, cruelly it seems, requires his brother to bind himself to the ''sale'' with an oath so that it can't be reversed. Neither brother is presented in a flattering light.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 25 is packed with information. Abraham marries another wife, most likely before Sarah died, and has six sons with her. Abraham dies at the age of 175 and is buried by both Isaac and Ishmael at the family-owned cave where Sarah was buried. Ishmael's 12 sons are listed, along with the region their tribes settled in, to the east of what would later become Israel. And, finally, God grants Isaac's prayer for Rebekah to become pregnant by giving the couple twins: the feuding Jacob and Esau.
Chapter Context:
The previous chapter tells the story of how Abraham's servant found a wife for Isaac from among Abraham's people. This chapter rushes to fill in the details of the end of Abraham's life before beginning the story of Isaac's years as patriarch. Abraham marries another woman and has six sons with her, eventually sending them all away from Isaac. Abraham dies and is buried with Sarah. Ishmael's 12 sons are listed, and then his death is recorded, as well. Finally, Isaac's twin boys are born in response to his prayer to the Lord.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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