Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Genesis
Book: Genesis
Chapter: 25

Abraham's family By Keturah, His Death and Burial. (1-10) God
blesses Isaac The descendants of Ishmael. (11-18) The Birth of
Esau and Jacob. (19-26) The different characters of Esau and
Jacob. (27,28) Esau despises and sells his Birth-right. (29-34)

1-10 All the days, even of the best and greatest saints, are
not remarkable days; some slide On silently; such were these
last days of Abraham. Here is an account of Abraham's children
By Keturah, and the disposition which he made of his estate.
After the Birth of these sons, he set his House in order, with
prudence and Justice. He did this while he yet lived. It is
Wisdom for men to do what they find to do while they live, as
far as they can. Abraham lived 175 years; just one hundred years
after he came to Canaan; So long he was a sojourner in a strange
country. Whether our stay in this Life be long or short, it
matters but little, provided we leave behind us a Testimony to
the faithfulness and Goodness of the Lord, and a good Example to
our families. We are told that his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried
him. It seems that Abraham had himself brought them together
while he lived. Let us not close the history of the Life of
Abraham without blessing God for such a Testimony of the triumph
of Faith.

11-18 Ishmael had twelve sons, whose families became distinct
tribes. They peopled a very large country that lay between Egypt
and Assyria, called Arabia. The number and strength of this
family were the Fruit of the promise, made to Hagar and to
Abraham, concerning Ishmael.

19-26 Isaac seems not to have been much tried, but to have
spent his days in quietness. Jacob and Esau were prayed for;
their parents, after being long childless, obtained them By
Prayer. The fulfilment of God's promise is always sure, yet it
is often slow. The Faith of believers is tried, their patience
exercised, and mercies long waited for are more welcome when
they come. Isaac and Rebekah kept in view the promise of all
nations being blessed in their posterity, therefore were not
only desirous of children, but anxious concerning every thing
which seemed to Mark their future character. In all our doubts
we should inquire of the Lord By Prayer. In many of our
conflicts with Sin and Temptation, we may adopt Rebekah's words,
"If it be So, why am I thus?" If a Child of God, why So careless
or Carnal? If not a Child of God, why So afraid of, or So
burdened with Sin?

27,28 Esau hunted the beasts of the Field with dexterity and
success, till he became a conqueror, ruling over his neighbours.
Jacob was a Plain Man, one that liked the true delights of
retirement, better than all pretended pleasures. He was a
Stranger and a pilgrim in his Spirit, and a Shepherd all his
days. Isaac and Rebekah had but these two children, one was the
Father's Darling, and the other the mother's. And though godly
parents must feel their affections most drawn over towards a
godly Child, yet they will not show partiality. Let their
affections lead them to do what is just and equal to every
Child, or evils will arise.

29-34 We have here the bargain made between Jacob and Esau
about the right, which was Esau's By Birth, but Jacob's By
promise. It was for a spiritual privilege; and we see Jacob's
desire of the Birth-right, but he sought to obtain it By crooked
Courses, not like his character as a Plain Man. He was right,
that he coveted earnestly the best Gifts; he was wrong, that he
took advantage of his Brother's need. The inheritance of their
Father's worldly goods did not descend to Jacob, and was not
meant in this proposal. But it includes the future possession
of the land of Canaan By his children's children, and the
Covenant made with Abraham as to Christ the promised Seed.
Believing Jacob valued these above all things; unbelieving Esau
despised them. Yet although we must be of Jacob's Judgment in
seeking the Birth-right, we ought carefully to avoid all guile,
in seeking to obtain even the greatest advantages. Jacob's
Pottage pleased Esau's Eye. "Give me some of that red;" for this
he was called Edom, or Red. Gratifying the sensual appetite
ruins Thousands of precious souls. When men's hearts walk after
their own eyes, Job 31:7, and when they serve their own
bellies, they are sure to be punished. If we use ourselves to
deny ourselves, we break the force of most temptations. It
cannot be supposed that Esau was dying of hunger in Isaac's
House. The words signify, I am going towards Death; he seems to
mean, I shall never live to inherit Canaan, or any of those
future supposed blessings; and what signifies it who has them
when I am dead and gone. This would be the language of
profaneness, with which the Apostle brands him, Heb 12:16; and
this contempt of the Birth-right is blamed, ver. 34. It is the
greatest folly to part with our interest in God, and Christ, and
Heaven, for the riches, honours, and pleasures of this world; it
is as bad a bargain as his who sold a Birth-right for a Dish of
Pottage. Esau ate and drank, pleased his palate, satisfied his
appetite, and then carelessly Rose up and went his way, without
any serious thought, or any regret, about the bad bargain he had
made. Thus Esau despised his Birth-right. By his neglect and
contempt afterwards, and By justifying himself in what he had
done, he Put the bargain past recall. People are ruined, not So
much By doing what is amiss, as By doing it and not repenting of