- Locate the passage
In this passage, Abraham gets married again. He will have more children with Keturah and those will be blessed by him, but only Isaac is the child of promise. This passage contains the 7th and 8th toledoths in Genesis. More is said of Ishmael than the sons of Keturah and his is blessed as a child of Abraham, but not the child of promise.
The passage is narrative. There is no dialogue in this pericope.
- Determine the structure of the passage
25:1-6 – Abraham remarries and has children through Keturah
25:7-11 – Abraham dies and is buried in the burial site he purchased.
25:12-18 – The remainder of Ishmael’s life is summarized
- Exegete the passage
Very little is known about the last 75 years of Abraham’s life. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100. Abraham secured a wife for Isaac when he was 140 (Gen. 24:1; 25:21). In his remaining years, the text records that Abraham remarried and had more children, but little more is said of those years. The silence doesn’t mean that Abraham did not pass down his faith to his additional children, but the narrator found nothing more of significance to describe. Thus, most of what we know about Abraham took place in a 25 year period between his 75th and 100th birthdays. This doesn’t diminish the other 150 years of his life. However, one might wish there was more noteworthy demonstrations of his faith.
The lack of dialogue in this passage is significant. The narrator mentions Keturah and the children of Abraham with her without comment. Keturah bore Abraham six children. Their genealogy is briefly traced, but serve no further function in the narrative.
25:1 – Little is known about Keturah in the story. Two indicators in the text suggest her significance in the story. First, the text says that Abraham took “another” wife. This suggests a wife in addition to Sarah. Second, she is described as a “concubine” (25:6).
25:5-6 – Abraham gave “gifts” to his children through his “concubines,” but all his possessions and wealth belonged to Isaac. The fact that “concubine” is plural suggests that Hagar is included in this list and Ishmael is included among those who received gifts from Abraham.
25:8 – Abraham died at an old age. Both his death and old age are twice recorded in vs. 8. He, then, is described as “sabeah.” The word can mean, “full,” or “satisfied.”
- The word seems to suggest that Abraham died satisfied with life.
25:9-10 – Abraham was the second person to be buried in the cave of Machpelah that Abraham purchased to bury Sarah.
25:9 – Abraham was buried by Isaac and Ishmael. There is no indication in the text that the children of Keturah participated.
25:12-18 – The significance of this passage is the God did for Ishmael what He promised Abraham He would do. Ishmael is blessed with long life and many offspring.
25:18 – Ishmael is described as settling “in the presence of” (Hb. “al pene”) his brothers. The NASB translates this phrase, “in defiance of.” The Hb. “al” can mean, “on; upon, above,” or “against.” This is the same phrase that is said of Ishmael in Gen. 16:12. In 16:12, Ishmael was described as a wild man and “against” every man. However, that passage does not necessitate that “al pene” be translated “against.” In this pericope, the fact that Ishmael’s genealogy is listed in this passage and not that of Isaac, the aspect of “defiance” seems unnatural in the text. The rendering of this phrase as stipulating that Ishmael was “among” his brothers seems to better fit both contexts. Thus, the descendants of Ishmael was living in the same region as the descendants of Isaac. This explains the ongoing tensions between the two sets of offspring; they are from the same father and living in the same region. Even to today, both of these criteria are significant in that land.
- Let the structure of the text drive the sermon
Exp. At times, it seems, Abe was blessed in spite of himself. One wishes there were more acts of faith that demanded attention from the narrator in the balance of Abraham’s life. The New Testament documents the impact of Abraham’s faith (Romans 4; James 2; Galatians 3; Hebrews 11). His belief in God’s promise, claiming of the land, and offering of his son proclaim his faith. But, his failures, lies, and the silence of the text in the remaining years of his life depict more opportunities to demonstrate his faith were missed. In the end, taking nothing away from these acts of Abraham’s faith, these passages suggest more about God’s faithfulness to His Covenant than Abraham’s faithfulness to the Lord.
- The impact of one man’s life of faith
- Ishmael and the children of Keturah were blessed through Abraham.
- The importance of being satisfied with our lives
- What more could be said about our lives of faith?
- The need to finish well
- God is more committed to His promise to us that we are.