Abraham Dies & Rebekah Bears Twins
"Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah" (Gen. 25:1). Keturah bore him six children. Although a natural reading of the text suggests that Abraham married Keturah after Sarah died, some are reluctant to believe that the old man could have fathered six children after the age of 137. Of course, he lived to 175, so such is possible (and we know he had enough vitality to do so at 99). It has been noted that it is possible that Abraham may have married Keturah prior to Sarah's death. Such seems unlikely to me, but I cannot discount the possibility logically.

"And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east" (25:5,6). The reference to concubines (plural) is probably a reference to Hagar and Keturah. Abraham likely gave significant gifts to each of his children and then everything else would go to Isaac upon Abraham's death. Abraham wants Isaac to stay in the land his family was to inherit; he wanted all the other sons far away so as not to interfere in any way.

"This is the sum of the years of Abraham's life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite" (25:7-9). Isaac and Ishmael work together to bury their father. Although the Old Testament doesn't convey a great deal about the afterlife, there are little pieces here and there on the subject. Moses affirmed that Abraham "was gathered to his people." Skeptics are quick to state that such simply means he was buried like the former patriarchs were and is thus going to them. However, it seems more likely that this is telling us that Abraham's spirit would go to his ancestors and gather with them (in Sheol or Hades, as we call it today). There is more evidence along this line in 25:17, where Ishmael "breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people." Dear friends, the human spirit is immortal! Our flesh decays and decomposes, but our spirits do not! At death, we are gathered to our people (cf. Luke 16:19ff).

Ishmael had twelve sons and was also blessed with long life. Information is shared about him here because God had promised Abraham that he would bless Ishmael (cf. Gen. 17:20), and He most certainly did!

Attention is then turned to Isaac. Although he married at 40 years of age, Rebekah did not have any children until 20 years had passed. During those two decades, their lack of children was certainly on their minds. Isaac knew full well that in order for God to fulfill his promise, he had to have children. So "Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea; and Rebekah his wife conceived" (25:21). Even when God makes a promise, such does not preclude the need for us to pray passionately for its fulfillment and work toward that end.

"But the children struggled together within her; and she said, 'If all is well, why am I like this?' so she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her: 'Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger'" (25:22,23). Although she had not borne any children before, she knew something was unusual with her pregnancy--and she was right! The fact that the older would serve the younger would be just the opposite of what one might expect.

"So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob" (25:24-28).

Although they were twins, Jacob and Esau were far from identical! Esau was an outdoorsman and Jacob was a homebody. Jacob's grabbing of Esau's heel as he left the birth canal is an intriguing foreshadowing. Jacob wanted to be the firstborn; he would deceive and manipulate to get the blessings thereof (and his name rightly means "supplanter"). Both Isaac and Rebekah were wrong to play favorites with their sons. Such always causes problems (as we will soon see)!