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American Standard Version with Notes

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Genesis Chapter Twenty-five


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50



1. And Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah.


From Strong's 6989, Qeturah, from 7008, qitor, thick smoke. (incense)

The second wife of Abraham, taken after the Isaac's marriage. 1 Chronicles 1:32 demonstrates that Keturah, though the mother of sons as was Hagar (a son) was not the mother of promise as Sarah was, and therefore, their sons are separated from Isaac. She was the mother of 6 sons representing Arab tribes South and East of Palestine.


As we have elsewhere previously shown, Abraham took another wife, after the death of Sarah—Keturah. By her he had many sons and daughters. Thus the New Covenant is typed and its grand work of bringing many to life—to "the liberty of the sons of God."—Rom. 8:19,21. Q196:5 

A CORRESPONDENT objects to our suggestion that Keturah, Abraham's third wife, represented the New Covenant, as his secondary wife, Hagar, represented the Law Covenant, and his primary wife, Sarah, represented the Covenant of Grace, "the New Jerusalem, the mother of us all," the mother of the promised seed, Isaac, typical of Christ Jesus the Head and the Church his Body, as the Apostle declares in Galatians 3:294:28.

The objection is that Keturah was not a wife, but a concubine or secondary wife, and that Abraham had several of these, according to Genesis 25:5,6, where we read, "Abraham gave gifts to the sons of his concubines." The claim further is that Abraham was already old at the time of Isaac's birth and that the probabilities are that he had several concubines while Sarah was still living.

We reply that there is always room to speculate in contradiction to the plain statements of Scripture; so that the worldly-wise and all who lack faith in the Divine record will have abundant opportunity to stumble themselves. The Scripture record is clear to the effect that Abraham's companion, fully recognized as his wife and joint-heir, was Sarah, and that her son was specially recognized as Abraham's heir.  As for Hagar and Keturah, the record is similarly explicit—that they bore children to Abraham—the former with Sarah's consent and as her special representative, the latter after Sarah's death. Whether these two women be termed secondary wives or concubines matters nothing and we need not quibble over a point of no consequence. Evidently concubine is the name which preferably describes the relationship of these two women to Abraham. And this was eminently proper, since it was [R4440 : page 222] evidently the Divine intention, as declared by the Apostle, that Abraham himself should be a type of the Almighty, Sarah a type of the Abrahamic Covenant, and her son Isaac a type of The Christ, the Messiah, the Prophet, Priest, Mediator, King, Judge, through whom the blessing of the Almighty should ultimately proceed to all the families of the earth. The Apostle carries out this figure by showing that Hagar, the bondwoman or concubine, represented the Law Covenant, and that her child Ishmael represented the Jewish people, born under that Law Covenant. The Apostle shows that they could not be both children of the bondwoman and children of the free woman. He shows that the Jews, in order to become united to Christ and members of the spiritual Isaac, the heir of all, must become dead to the Law Covenant and be married to Christ, begotten of the holy Spirit; otherwise they could have neither part nor lot in the spiritual Seed of Abraham. The Apostle does not carry the figure on and declare that Keturah typified the New (Law) Covenant. We believe that this omission was of Divine intention, because the time for this particular feature of the Divine program to be clearly understood was not yet due.

One thing, however, can be clearly seen by all who have the eyes of their understanding open and their spiritual senses exercised, and that is that Isaac did not have two mothers. It was the same Sarah who from the first was recognized by Abraham as his mate and only full and proper wife, who for so long was barren, but who finally bore Isaac, the seed of promise. Similarly the Sarah Covenant, which was barren for centuries, at our Lord's First Advent bore him as the Antitypical Seed of Abraham. Then also the Hagar or Law Covenant and her child, the Jewish nation, were "cast out." In the Apostle's figure of Galatians 4:28 he represents the spirit-begotten, faithful overcomers of the Church, as members of the Antitypical Isaac, the Spiritual Seed of the Sarah Covenant. "We, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise." In the picture he gives us in Galatians 3:29 the Apostle presents the Church as the Bride of Isaac and his joint-heir—now betrothed and in the end of the age to be married to him, and to enter into his mother's tent—to enter into all the blessings and privileges that belong specially to this great Covenant which God made with Abraham and which he confirmed with an oath.

The record in Genesis 24:67 and 25:1 shows that after Sarah's death Abraham took Keturah as his wife—not, however, as taking the full place of Sarah as his joint-heir, as the word wife in olden times evidently signified. She was accepted as his companion in a secondary sense without [R4440 : page 223] disparagement to the first wife Sarah and her son Isaac, to whom Abraham "gave all that he had." We submit that Keturah is a very proper figure of the New (Law) Covenant, as Hagar was of the old Law Covenant. It is not the Oath-bound Covenant, which relates to the Spiritual Seed, which becomes heir of all. As the Law Covenant was no part of the original one, but merely an addition to it—so likewise the New Covenant is an addition to the Oath-bound Sarah Covenant. As the children of Hagar and the children of Keturah did not inherit the original promise, so neither will those who inherit the New Covenant befellow-heirs with those who inherit as members of Isaac or as his bride and joint-heir.

We therefore deny that it is possible for anybody to be logically, truthfully or Scripturally a child of two Covenants or two mothers at the same time. And on the other hand we urge the reasonableness of the proposition that if the Law Covenant was represented as a mother and a concubine wife the New (Law) Covenant, to take its place, should also logically appear as a concubine wife. We also urge upon the attention of all that the word "New" implies, as the Apostle suggests, that another had become old and ready to vanish away. It was not the original Oath-bound Covenant which vanished away, but the Law Covenant. Hence the New Covenant did not take the place of the original or Sarah Covenant, but is to take the place of the old Law Covenant as a New (Law) Covenant under a new Mediator, superior to Moses.—Acts 3:22,23. R4440:2

Abraham's wife, Sarah, was a type of the covenant made with Abraham, referring to "The Seed." As years rolled by, and no child came, they began to look for a fulfilment in some other way, and Hagar takes the place of a wife and bears a son, who apparently is to be the heir. So the original promise of God meant Christ, but He was not born until "due time," and in the meantime "The Law" was given from Sinai, apparently taking the place of the covenant, and under the law covenant a fleshly seed was developed—fleshly Israel. But the Abrahamic covenant had not failed, and after the Hagar covenant had borne fleshly Israel (typified by Ishmael), the true seed of Abraham and heir is born, under the first (or Sarah) covenant; i.e., Christ Jesus and the members of His body—spiritual Israel.

Each of the first two covenants, bore but one offspring: The first, the "heir of all things" (Isaac—the spiritual Israel), and the second, fleshly Israel, beloved for the Father's sake. But the New Covenant (Keturah) bears six sons, which, taken with the one of Hagar would be seven—a complete number—representing that all the fleshly children would be developed under the Hagar and Keturah or "Law" and "New" Covenants. The name Sarah means Princess, Hagar means flight or cast out, Keturah means incense or sweet; all of which are significant.

Oh, how our covenant—the Royal—looms up above all the others! Let us not forget that we must die with Jesus, if we would LIVE and share in the glorious work of sprinkling and cleansing the world in the next age. "That by means of death...they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."—Heb. 9:15. R4371:6


Keep the matter clear before your mind and note that thus far there have been only two Covenants, the old, or original one, and the Law Covenant, which was added four hundred and thirty years afterward.—Gal. 3:17.

There have been just two classes developed under these, natural Israel and spiritual Israel. But the allegory continues: "For Sarah died" and Abraham took another wife, Keturah, which represented another Covenant, called in the [R4309 : page 12] Scriptures the New Covenant. Abraham had many children by Keturah, typifying the many children of God by the New Covenant during the Millennium, but none of them as an heir. As it is written, "All that he hath, he hath given unto Isaac." The children of Keturah, therefore, received their blessing through Isaac, and represent the restitution class of the Millennium, who will be blest by the antitypical Isaac, namely, The Christ. Two matters should be borne in mind here: First, Keturah did not become a wife, or Covenant, until after Isaac's marriage, which typified the marriage or union between Christ and the Church in the end of this age. Second, Abraham did not marry Keturah until Sarah was dead. In other words, this New Covenant typified by Keturah does not become a wife or Covenant, until after the original Covenant, represented by Sarah, shall have brought forth the Seed, the Messiah, through which the children of Keturah, the subjects of the New Covenant, are to receive their blessing. It should be evident, then, to all that the Messiah, the Christ, Head and Body, is not the offspring of the New Covenant, Keturah, but the offspring of the old, the original Covenant—Sarah.

The first mention of the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31) was prophetic—a declaration to the Jews that God intended to give them a better Covenant than the Law Covenant, which they had found a bondage and unto death. That the New Covenant promises did not refer to the original one represented by Sarah is evident, not only by the fact that it is called a new one, but also by the fact that it was to bring them earthly riches, blessings, Restitution, etc., whereas the original Covenant was to bring forth a Spiritual Seed.

The promise of the New Covenant is, "I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and will give you a heart of flesh, and your sins and iniquities will I remember no more." This will be grand for Israel and subsequently for the world of mankind. It will mean for them Restitution and will operate throughout the Millennial Age, by the close of which stony hearts will be no more; but mankind will have been uplifted out of sin and death conditions back to the full perfection of manhood, the image of God in the flesh, with a heart of sympathy and love and kindness, a heart of flesh.

Another distinction between our Covenant, the original one, and the other two, is that both the Law Covenant and the New Covenant have Mediators, while our Covenant, the original one, had no Mediator—needed none.

St. Paul points out that Moses was the Mediator of the Law Covenant and that there was no Mediator necessary in the original, or Sarah Covenant. (Gal. 3:19,20.) The New Covenant, however, is to have a Mediator; as the Scriptures distinctly declare, "Christ is the Mediator of the New Covenant." (Heb. 9:1512:24.) This New Covenant is contrasted with the Law Covenant, and Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant, is contrasted with Moses, the Mediator of the Law Covenant, showing that the New Covenant is better than the Law Covenant, because it has the better Mediator (Heb. 8:6), and that it supplants the Law Covenant; but is not better than the original or Sarah Covenant.

Before we discerned the Scriptural teaching of the "Plan of the Ages," showing the Law Age, the Gospel Age and the [R4310 : page 12] Millennial Age, and their several works, we knew no future place to apply the promises respecting the New Covenant, and hence, in common with others, we applied them to ourselves and this Gospel Age, entirely overlooking the various Scriptures to the contrary. It was very inconsistent for us to quote in one breath the Apostle's statement that we are members of the Isaac Seed, the children of the old, original Covenant, and then in the next breath to class ourselves as beneficiaries of the New Covenant. The difficulty all along was our failure to clearly discern the "mystery hidden from past ages and dispensations, but now revealed unto the saints."—Col. 1:26.

Had we studied the Lord's Word in a more saintly fashion, we might the sooner have gotten rid of the errors of the Dark Ages and have apprehended afresh the Apostolic teaching, namely, that the "Mystery" is that the Church, selected from both Jews and Gentiles to be the Body of Christ, are joint-heirs with him in the Abrahamic Covenant and in his entire inheritance. Only those who discern the truth of this, which is still a "Mystery" with the world and the nominal Church, are prepared to understand the "Divine Plan of the Ages" as a whole. R4309:5

The Three Great Covenants


2. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.


2175, zimram, unknown; Abraim Publications, from the verb זמר (zamar), to prune or praise.

Son of Abraham and Keturah, the descendents are not known; however, congesture connects them with Zabram of West of Mecca, or the Zamareni of Pliny in Arabia or the "Zimri" of Jeremiah 25:25.



From Strong's 4080, midyan, from 4066, madon, strife, contention.


From Strong's 3370, yoqshan, from 3369, yaqosh, to lay a bait or lure.

The second son of Abraham and Keturah, ancestor of the Sabeans and Dedanites of Southern Arabia.



4091, medan, from 1777, din, to judge.

Third son of Abraham and Ketyurah, descendants unknown.



Fourth son of Abraham and Keturah, ancestor of the Midianites, living in the desert north of the of Arabia. To the South their boundaries extended along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Eyleh To the north they lived along the eastern boundary of Israel. This is the place to which Moses fled after having killing the Egyptian, (Exodus 2:15,21). It was Midianite traders who bought Joseph from his brothers. (Genesis 37:28) Mose's father-in-law was called a priest of Midian. (Exodus 3:1) Midian was one of those who led Israel into the sin in their wanderings. (Numbers 22:7; Numbers 25:6) During the times of the Judges, Midian oppressed Israel, (Judges 6:6) oppressing them for seven years, but was defeated by Gideon. (Judges 8:28) The Midianites are described as being wealthy, engaged in pastoral pursuits, merchants, and as opportunists. Gideon's victory is mentioned as an example in prophecy. ((Psalm 83:9 Isaiah 9:4Isaiah 10:26 Habakkuk 3:7)

Midian Map; Midian



From Strong's 3435, yishbaq, from 7733, shobeq, unknown; Abraim Publications, from the verb שבק (shabaq), to leave or forsake.

Fifth son of Abraham and Keturah, ancestor of a tribe of northern Arabia.



4 names in the Bible

From Strong's 7744, shuah, from 7743, shuach, to sink down.

Sixth Son of Abraham and Keturah.

2. The Canaanite father-in-law of Judah, (Genesis 38:2, 12 1 Chronicles 2:3).

3. Daughter of Heber, of the tribe of Asher (1 Chronicles 7:32).

4. A brother of Caleb (1 Chronicles 4:11).


3. And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.



From Strong's 805, ashuwrity, unknown; Abraim Publications, from the verb אשר ('ashar), to go (straight) on, or ישר (yashar), to be level, straight up, just.

Descendants of Asshur.



From Strong's 3912, letushim, hammered ones, from 3913, latash, to hammer, sharpen, whet.

Second son of Dedan and his descendants.



From Strong's 3817, leummim, from 3816, leom, people.

Third son of Dedan and his descendants.

4. And the sons of Midian: Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.


5 names in the Bible

From Strong's 5891, ephah, from 5574b, uph, uph, another reading for 8591b, teuphah, gloom. Abriam Publications, from the noun עיפה ('epa), gloom, from the verb עוף ('up), to use wings or cover.

Oldest son of Midian, grandson of Abraham.

2. A city named after the oldest son of Midian. The city and territory was part of Midian. It lay on the Eastern shore of the Dead Sea. It abounded in dromedaries and camels (Isaiah 60:6; Judges 6:5).

3. One of Caleb's concubines, the mother  of Haran,  Moza,  and Gazez. (1 Chronicles 2:46)

4. Son of Jahdai, a descendant of Judah, through Caleb. (1 Chronicles 2:47)

5. "A dry measure of about one bushel capacity. It corresponds to the bath in liquid measure and was the standard for measuring grain and similar articles since it is classed with balances and weights (Leviticus 19:36 Amos 8:5) in the injunctions regarding just dealing in trade. In Zechariah 5:6-10 it is used for the utensil itself." International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

"Ephah, a word of Egyptian origin, meaning measure; a grain measure containing "three seahs or ten omers," and equivalent to the bath for liquids (Exodus 16:361 Samuel 17:17Zechariah 5:6). The double ephah in Proverbs 20:10 (marg., "an ephah and an ephah"), Deuteronomy 25:14, means two ephahs, the one false and the other just." Easton's Bible Dictionary




3 names in the Bible

From Strong's 6081, epher, from 6082, opher, a young stag or hart.

Second son of Midian.

2. A descendant of Judah, son of Ezra (1 Chronicles 4:17)

3. One of the heads of their fathers' house of inthe half-tribe of Manasseh, who dwelt between Bashan and Mt. Hermon. They are described as mighty men of valor. (1 Chronicles 5:23, 14). They were taken captive by Tiglath-pileser. (1 Chronicles 5:24)



2 names in the Bible

From Strong's 2585, chanok, from chek, palate, roof of mouth, gums.

3rd son of Midian and his descendants.

2. Eldest son of Reuben, his descendants are the Hanochites (Numbers 26:5).



From Strong's 28, abida, my father took knowledge, from 1, ab, father and 3045, yada, to know.

Fourth son of Midian and ancestor of an Arab tribe.



From Strong's 440, eldaah, God has called, from 410, El, god, gods and 3045, yada, to know.

The fifth and youngest son of Midian.

5. And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.

THE Scriptures mention three great Covenants, typified by the three wives of Abraham. These Covenants are represented in the order of those wives. Sarah was the first wife of Abraham—the only acknowledged wife. Then came Hagar, Sarah's maid-servant; and later Keturah.  Sarah and Hagar each had one son, but Keturah had six. The Scriptures show that Abraham made Isaac his heir (Gen. 25:5), and that through Isaac both Ishmael and the sons of Keturah received their portion. The fact that Ishmael was born before Isaac did not alter the fact that Isaac was the heir. R5300:1

In the type Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac, through him making provision for Ishmael and for his other children by his third wife, Keturah. In the antitype God bestows all His fulness upon Christ, The Messiah, and through Him makes provision for the Natural Israelites and for all the families of the earth—all who are to be blessed through the antitypical Isaac—The Christ. R5178:3



6. But unto the sons of the concubines, that Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts. And he sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.



7. And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, a hundred threescore and fifteen years.



8. And Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full [of years], and was gathered to his people.


Throughout the Old Testament we read that different ones were gathered to their fathers or that they slept with their fathers. Did the body sleep? No, it was absolutely dead—returned to the dust from which it was created. What was it, then, that slept? That which slept was that which God recognized as the personality—the soul. The souls of both good and bad slept; for it is written that "there shall be a resurrection of the just and of the unjust."

Abraham's fathers were not saintly men, but heathen. He was called out from amongst his kindred to be a servant of God.  When Abraham was gathered to his fathers in death he went to the same place where they were—Sheol in the Old Testament, Hades in the New—the tomb, the death state. Of all the kings of Israel, good and bad, and of the Prophets, we read that they were gathered to their fathers. They are asleep in death. R5611:5 

9. And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre.

10. The field which Abraham purchased of the children of Heth. There was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.



11. And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac dwelt by Beer-lahai-roi.



12. Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham.

13. And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the first-born of Ishmael, Nebaioth, and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam,

14. and Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa,


15. Hadad, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah.



16. These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their villages, and by their encampments. Twelve princes according to their nations.



17. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, a hundred and thirty and seven years. And he gave up the ghost and died, and was gathered unto his people.





18. And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria. He abode over against all his brethren.

19. And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son. Abraham begat Isaac.  
20. And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian, to be his wife.


From Strong's 761, Arammi, from 758, Aram, unknown;


The Hebrew word is Aram. It is a a district of Asia, lying between the Mediterranean, Mount Taurus, and the Tigris, including Mesopotamia. Excepting the Lebanon range, it is for the most part a level country. the name Syria included the northern part of Israel.  Syria was subject to the king of Babylon, afterwards, Persia. In the hands of the Romans, Syria was made the province of a proconsul. Judea, although governed by its own procurators, made appeals to the proconsul of Syria. Syria is now in the possession of the Turks.  

21. And Isaac entreated Jehovah for his wife, because she was barren. And Jehovah was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.



22. And the children struggled together within her. And she said, If it be so, wherefore do I live? And she went to inquire of Jehovah.  
23. And Jehovah said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, And two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels. And the one people shall be stronger than the other people. And the elder shall serve the younger.

Now for the integrity of Jacob's course. Observe (1) that Esau manifested but very little appreciation of his birthright, in that he was willing to sell it for the small price of a mess of pottage; (2) that he only regarded so much of it as pertained to the present life, and that its chief feature, the Abrahamic covenant, was quite overlooked, showing that he had little or no faith in it and no appreciation of it. (See verse 32.) (3) We remember the line of descent of the covenant favor was hinted to Rebekah in the promise that the elder should serve the younger (Gen. 25:23), which promise was treasured up by Rebekah, and doubtless communicated to Jacob, who was inspired by it to look for some honorable way to acquire it from his brother to whom it pertained by natural descent, he being the first-born. The occasion above referred to was such an opening; and Jacob, who had faith in the promise of God to Abraham and its future fulfilment and also in the Word of the Lord to his mother, seeing his brother's lack of faith and appreciation, embraced the opportunity to lawfully purchase the birthright at the price freely agreed upon by Esau. Thus lawfully he came into the inheritance to which God had called him. Z9402 

The birthright, the chief inheritance in estate and authority, in patriarchal times belonged naturally to the eldest son of a family. And in the case of Isaac, the father of Jacob and Esau, it included not only personal possessions, but also the covenant blessing of God specially promised to Abraham and inherited by Isaac; and, as Isaac had reached advanced age, he began to realize that the covenant blessing was not to be realized in himself personally, but was to be transmitted to his posterity. This was also indicated to Rebekah, Isaac's wife, when she was told that "the elder should serve the younger." Thus Jacob was shown to be the divinely chosen line through whom the covenant blessings should be realized. The words of Isaac in blessing Jacob (chapter 27:28,29) indicate the transmitting of the Abrahamic covenant blessing to him—that in him and in his seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed;—and the blessing was further emphasized when Jacob was about to depart to seek a wife in Padan-aram, when he said, "God Almighty bless thee and make thee fruitful and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee, that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham." (Chapter 28:3,4Heb. 11:20.) And this covenant was confirmed to Jacob by [R1624 : page 63] a special message from God, as our next lesson indicates. R1624:3


The account shows that Jacob's interest in the birthright blessing was not in the temporal or earthly inheritance, but in the spiritual Promise with which he was connected. He left his home and all the property to which he was heir, and went penniless to work for his uncle. Esau might have all the earthly possessions. Jacob carried with him, wherever he went, the birthright privilege of the Promise made to Abraham. This could not be alienated from him. With this he was rich.

St. Paul calls our attention to the fact that all these results were foreknown to God; and that at the birth of these two men it had been specifically declared that the elder should serve the younger. (Romans 9:10-13.) No doubt this Divine prophecy guided Rebecca in opposing and thwarting Isaac's love for Esau, which impelled him to give the blessing to the elder son, notwithstanding the Divine prophecy to the contrary.—Genesis 25:23.


It is not for us to defend Jacob and his mother in their misrepresentation of the facts—in the deception of Isaac. It is not for us to recommend any others to follow his course. Nevertheless, it is proper that we should notice that the Bible distinctly tells us that God's loving favor was with Jacob. "Jacob have I loved." He was loved because of his reverential love for God and the great Oath-bound Promise.

Not a word of condemnation is given to Jacob anywhere in respect to this matter.  No teacher in the name of the Lord, therefore, has the right to be wiser than what is written in God's Word. On the contrary, Esau is roundly denounced, and is called profane and wicked, because he would sell his birthright for a mess of pottage, or any other consideration. The love of Jacob for the birthright is held up for our emulation. Esau's carelessness is held up as a warning that if any of us are careless of our birthright, we shall not only lose it, but lose the favor of God.—Hebrews 12:15-17.


The Apostle calls our attention to the fact that the experiences of these two men in the long ago were designed of the Lord to be typical. Abraham's natural seed is indeed to have a blessing, represented by Esau's blessing; but Abraham's Spiritual Seed is to have the greater blessing, typified by Jacob's inheritance. The earthly seed inherit the earthly blessings. The Spiritual Seed give up all their earthly rights, that they may be possessors of the spiritual promises, which the natural man cares not for.

The Apostle points out that this does not apply merely to the Natural Israelite, but to all who, after having had the privileges and opportunities of becoming joint-heirs with Christ in His Messianic Kingdom, love the pleasures of this world. These are represented as selling their birthright on the spirit plane for a mess of pottage—earthly advantage.

The Abrahamic Promise is still the one, and the only one, held out by the Almighty. Messiah is the Seed of Abraham, through whom all of God's blessings must come. Jesus is the Head and the Church are the members of the Body, as St. Paul points out: "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's Seed, and heirs according to the [Abrahamic] Promise."—Gal. 3:29.

To the Jew first, came the opportunity for constituting this Spiritual Seed; but the vast majority loved and trusted more the things of the present life. The few loved and trusted Jesus and became His followers. Since the door to this "high calling" has been thrown open to the Gentiles, the results have been the same; the majority have loved the present life; the few have appreciated the things unseen as yet.

To the saintly few represented by Jacob, the obtaining of this life-right means self-sacrifice, the loss of earthly favors—the surrender of these to others who love the present world. To others it means the getting of a mess of pottage—earthly advantages of the present time—and the losing of a great prize, which Jesus likened to a "pearl of great price," to obtain which we should be willing to sell all we possess—to obtain a share in Messiah's Kingdom, which shortly is to bless Israel and all the world.

No one can sell his birthright until he has a birthright. Hence the application of this in antitype is merely to the consecrated people of God. Only those who have been begotten of the Holy Spirit have a birthright in the highest sense. And only these could sell it for the mess of pottage. The world may strive for its various prizes and pearls, and is measurably justified in so doing, because it has nothing else.

But the spirit-begotten heirs of the Divine Promise became such by promising absolute loyalty to the Lord and [R5199 : page 77] to the principles of Justice and Mercy. These must self-sacrificingly continue to walk in the Master's footsteps; else they cannot share with Him the glorious outcome. Only those who attain a share in the Kingdom will have a share in its wonderful work of blessing and uplifting humanity. Let us, then, as the Apostle exhorts, lay aside every weight and every besetting sin, and run with patience the race set before us in the Gospel, looking unto Jesus, the Author of our faith, until He shall become the Finisher of it.—Hebrews 12:1-3. R5198

The natural and the spiritual, both, are elements of God's plan. Some make too much of the one and some too much of the other. If we would keep balanced we should carefully avoid extremes. First the natural and afterward the spiritual, is God's law of development, both of dispensations and persons; and the natural is first also in the sense that the spiritual grows out of it—not developed by the power of the natural itself, but by the power of the spiritual, with which the natural is impregnated. In God's order there can be no spiritual without first the natural, hence the spiritual is in one sense dependent on the natural. This gives us a clear application of the principles: "The elder shall serve the younger," spoken concerning Esau (the elder) and Jacob (the younger). Gen. 25:23. They were twins; and thus intimately related, clearly represent the relation between the natural and the spiritual, Esau, as the natural, first, and afterward Jacob. R66

24. And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.  
25. And the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment. And they called his name Esau.


From Strong's 6215, esav, from 6213b asah, to press, to squeeze. Abraim Publications, from the verb עשה ('asa), to do or make. Some translate Esau as Hairy.

Son of Isaac, twin brother of Jacob.
The young Esau was a skillful hunter, "a man of the field" ('ish sadheh). He was his father's favorite because of his hunting abilities. (Genesis 25:28). Returning hungry from a hunt Esau traded his birthright for Jacob's stew. (Genesis 25:30-34). For sensual gratification he gave up his place as first born and the promise God made to Abraham. When it came time for his father to bless him, Jacob and his mother deceived Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing instead.(Genesis 27:34, 36). Esau decides to kill Jacob. Rebekah sends Jacob away to her relatives.(Genesis 27:41; Genesis 27:42-45).

Esau, at the age of forty, takes two Hittite wives, displeasing his parents. Esau, seeing this, marries a kinswoman, a daughter of Ishmael (Genesis 28:6, 9). Esau was dwelling in Seir when Jacob returned from Mesopotamia. Esau, cordially received Jacob and returns to Seir (Genesis 33:12-17). The last time we see Esau is at his father's death, twenty years later (Genesis 35:29).

"Esau was also called Edom ("red"), because he said to Jacob: "Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage" (Genesis 25:30). The land in which he established himself was "the land of Seir," so called from Seir, ancestor of the Horites whom Esau found there; and called also Edom from Esau's surname, and, it may be, too, from the red sandstone of the country (Sayce).
"Esau" is sometimes found in the sense of the descendants of Esau, and of the land in which they dwelt (Deuteronomy 2:5 Obadiah 1:6, 8, 18, 19)." International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


26. And after that came forth his brother, and his hand had hold on Esau's heel. And his name was called Jacob. And Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.


2 names in the Bible

From Strong's 3290, yaaqob, 6119, aqeb, heel, footprint, hind part.

"One who follows on another's heels; supplanter, (Genesis 25:2627:36Hosea 12:2-4), the second born of the twin sons of Isaac by Rebekah. He was born probably at Lahai-roi, when his father was fifty-nine and Abraham one hundred and fifty-nine years old. Like his father, he was of a quiet and gentle disposition, and when he grew up followed the life of a shepherd, while his brother Esau became an enterprising hunter. His dealing with Esau, however, showed much mean selfishness and cunning (Genesis 25:29-34).

When Isaac was about 160 years of age, Jacob and his mother conspired to deceive the aged patriarch (Genesis 27), with the view of procuring the transfer of the birthright to himself. The birthright secured to him who possessed it (1) superior rank in his family (Genesis 49:3); (2) a double portion of the paternal inheritance (Deuteronomy 21:17); (3) the priestly office in the family (Numbers 8:17-19); and (4) the promise of the Seed in which all nations of the earth were to be blessed (Genesis 22:18).

Soon after his acquisition of his father's blessing (Genesis 27), Jacob became conscious of his guilt; and afraid of the anger of Esau, at the suggestion of Rebekah Isaac sent him away to Haran, 400 miles or more, to find a wife among his cousins, the family of Laban, the Syrian (28). There he met with Rachel (29). Laban would not consent to give him his daughter in marriage till he had served seven years; but to Jacob these years "seemed but a few days, for the love he had to her." But when the seven years were expired, Laban craftily deceived Jacob, and gave him his daughter Leah. Other seven years of service had to be completed probably before he obtained the beloved Rachel. But "life-long sorrow, disgrace, and trials, in the retributive providence of God, followed as a consequence of this double union."

At the close of the fourteen years of service, Jacob desired to return to his parents, but at the entreaty of Laban he tarried yet six years with him, tending his flocks (31:41). He then set out with his family and property "to go to Isaac his father in the land of Canaan" (Genesis 31). Laban was angry when he heard that Jacob had set out on his journey, and pursued after him, overtaking him in seven days. The meeting was of a painful kind. After much recrimination and reproach directed against Jacob, Laban is at length pacified, and taking an affectionate farewell of his daughters, returns to his home in Padanaram. And now all connection of the Israelites with Mesopotamia is at an end.

Soon after parting with Laban he is met by a company of angels, as if to greet him on his return and welcome him back to the Land of Promise (32:1, 2). He called the name of the place Mahanaim, i.e., "the double camp," probably his own camp and that of the angels. The vision of angels was the counterpart of that he had formerly seen at Bethel, when, twenty years before, the weary, solitary traveller, on his way to Padan-aram, saw the angels of God ascending and descending on the ladder whose top reached to heaven (28:12).

He now hears with dismay of the approach of his brother Esau with a band of 400 men to meet him. In great agony of mind he prepares for the worst. He feels that he must now depend only on God, and he betakes himself to him in earnest prayer, and sends on before him a munificent present to Esau, "a present to my lord Esau from thy servant Jacob." Jacob's family were then transported across the Jabbok; but he himself remained behind, spending the night in communion with God. While thus engaged, there appeared one in the form of a man who wrestled with him. In this mysterious contest Jacob prevailed, and as a memorial of it his name was changed to Israel (wrestler with God); and the place where this occured he called Peniel, "for", said he, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved" (32:25-31).

After this anxious night, Jacob went on his way, halting, mysteriously weakened by the conflict, but strong in the assurance of the divine favour. Esau came forth and met him; but his spirit of revenge was appeased, and the brothers met as friends, and during the remainder of their lives they maintained friendly relations. After a brief sojourn at Succoth, Jacob moved forward and pitched his tent near Shechem (q.v.), 33:18; but at length, under divine directions, he moved to Bethel, where he made an altar unto God (35:6, 7), and where God appeared to him and renewed the Abrahamic covenant. While journeying from Bethel to Ephrath (the Canaanitish name of Bethlehem), Rachel died in giving birth to her second son Benjamin (35:16-20), fifteen or sixteen years after the birth of Joseph. He then reached the old family residence at Mamre, to wait on the dying bed of his father Isaac. The complete reconciliation between Esau and Jacob was shown by their uniting in the burial of the patriarch (35:27-29).

Jacob was soon after this deeply grieved by the loss of his beloved son Joseph through the jealousy of his brothers (37:33). Then follows the story of the famine, and the successive goings down into Egypt to buy corn (42), which led to the discovery of the long-lost Joseph, and the patriarch's going down with all his household, numbering about seventy souls (Exodus 1:5Deuteronomy 10:22Acts 7:14), to sojourn in the land of Goshen. Here Jacob, "after being strangely tossed about on a very rough ocean, found at last a tranquil harbour, where all the best affections of his nature were gently exercised and largely unfolded" (Genesis 48). At length the end of his checkered course draws nigh, and he summons his sons to his bedside that he may bless them. Among his last words he repeats the story of Rachel's death, although forty years had passed away since that event took place, as tenderly as if it had happened only yesterday; and when "he had made an end of charging his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost" (49:33). His body was embalmed and carried with great pomp into the land of Canaan, and buried beside his wife Leah in the cave of Machpelah, according to his dying charge. There, probably, his embalmed body remains to this day (50:1-13). (see HEBRON.)

The history of Jacob is referred to by the prophets Hosea (12:3, 4, 12) and Malachi (1:2). In Micah 1:5 the name is a poetic synonym for Israel, the kingdom of the ten tribes. There are, besides the mention of his name along with those of the other patriarchs, distinct references to events of his life in Paul's epistles (Romans 9:11-13; Hebrews 12:1611:21). See references to his vision at Bethel and his possession of land at Shechem in John 1:51; 4:5, 12; also to the famine which was the occasion of his going down into Egypt in Acts 7:12 (see LUZ; BETHEL.)" Easton's Bible Dictionary

2. The father of Joseph, Mary's husband. (Matthew 1:15, 16)

27. And the boys grew. And Esau was a skilful hunter, a man of the field. And Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents.

Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob—twins, Esau being the elder by a few moments only. But these twins, contrary to what is usual, were very dissimilar. Esau was hairy and ruddy, full of vigor, athletic, a hunter. Jacob was the reverse of this—smooth-skinned, dark-complexioned, a tent-man, or home-keeper, as in contrast with a hunter.  Jacob seems to have inherited the qualities of his father, Esau more the vivacity of his mother. As temperamental opposites agree best, Isaac loved Esau most; while Rebecca, the mother, loved Jacob best.

The quiet, studious Jacob thought frequently of the great blessing God had promised to his grandfather Abraham, a share in which he apparently had missed by an accident of birth—by a few minutes only. The more he studied, the more he realized the value of that great Promise. Esau, on the contrary, full of animal spirit, thought more of the pleasures of the present life, and considered the Divine Promise as quite secondary and rather visionary.

28. Now Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison. And Rebekah loved Jacob.  
29. nd Jacob boiled pottage. And Esau came in from the field, and he was faint.  
30. And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red [pottage]. For I am faint. Therefore was his name called Edom.


From Strong's 123, edom, from 119, adom, to be red.

"(1.) The name of Esau (q.v.), Genesis 25:30, "Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage [Hebrews haadom, haadom, i.e., `the red pottage, the red pottage'] ...Therefore was his name called Edom", i.e., Red.

(2.) Idumea (Isaiah 34:5, 6; Ezek. 35:15). "The field of Edom" (Genesis 32:3), "the land of Edom" (Genesis 36:16), was mountainous (Obadiah 1:8, 9, 19, 21). It was called the land, or "the mountain of Seir," the rough hills on the east side of the Arabah. It extended from the head of the Gulf of Akabah, the Elanitic gulf, to the foot of the Dead Sea (1 Kings 9:26), and contained, among other cities, the rock-hewn Sela (q.v.), generally known by the Greek name Petra (2 Kings 14:7). It is a wild and rugged region, traversed by fruitful valleys. Its old capital was Bozrah (Isaiah 63:1). The early inhabitants of the land were Horites. They were destroyed by the Edomites (Deuteronomy 2:12), between whom and the kings of Israel and Judah there was frequent war (2 Kings 8:202 Chronicles 28:17).

At the time of the Exodus they churlishly refused permission to the Israelites to pass through their land (Numbers 20:14-21), and ever afterwards maintained an attitude of hostility toward them. They were conquered by David (2 Samuel 8:14; Comp. 1 Kings 9:26), and afterwards by Amaziah (2 Chronicles 25:11, 12). But they regained again their independence, and in later years, during the decline of the Jewish kingdom (2 Kings 16:6; R.V. marg., "Edomites"), made war against Israel. They took part with the Chaldeans when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, and afterwards they invaded and held possession of the south of Palestine as far as Hebron. At length, however, Edom fell under the growing Chaldean power (Jeremiah 27:3, 6).

There are many prophecies concerning Edom (Isaiah 34:5, 6; Jeremiah 49:7-18; Ezek. 25:1335:1-15; Joel 3:19Amos 1:11; Obadiah; Malachi 1:3, 4) which have been remarkably fulfilled. The present desolate condition of that land is a standing testimony to the inspiration of these prophecies. After an existence as a people for above seventeen hundred years, they have utterly disappeared, and their language even is forgotten for ever. In Petra, "where kings kept their court, and where nobles assembled, there no man dwells; it is given by lot to birds, and beasts, and reptiles."

The Edomites were Semites, closely related in blood and in language to the Israelites. They dispossessed the Horites of Mount Seir; though it is clear, from Genesis 36, that they afterwards intermarried with the conquered population. Edomite tribes settled also in the south of Judah, like the Kenizzites (Genesis 36:11), to whom Caleb and Othniel belonged (Joshua 15:17). The southern part of Edom was known as Teman." Easton's Bible Dictionary


A TRAVELER and lecturer acquainted with the habits and customs of the Arabs throws a fresh light upon the transaction between Jacob and Esau respecting the birthday and the deception practised upon Isaac.  It is claimed, and apparently on good grounds, that the customs of the Arab in Mesopotamia to-day are in all respects what they were thirty-five hundred years ago, when Abraham dwelt there, and was a great sheik, with flocks and herds and servants. Hence the ideals and customs prevailing amongst them furnish a good criterion as respects those in vogue in the days of Isaac, Jacob and Esau.

It is declared that to this day the first-born son of the family is the heir of the estate, with full authority next to his father. It is the custom amongst the Arabs that the elder son shall recognize by fast the birth date of a celebrated ancestor, from whom he has received patrimony. On the other hand, other members of the family celebrate such a day as a festival. For the elder son to partake of the feast on such an occasion would mean the renouncement of his birthright to the next one in succession.

Applying this to Esau and Jacob: Presumably the occasion was a celebration of the birthday of their grandfather Abraham, from whom proceeded the great blessing of God, which, as the elder son of the family, Esau had inherited. It was a day, therefore, in which it was incumbent to fast, but a holiday and special lentil festival to Jacob. As the elder son it would not have been necessary for Esau to purchase victuals from his brother, for, as the head of the home next to his father, he could have commanded whatever he desired. But on this occasion, when he asked Jacob for the savoury food, the latter was astonished and practically said: "Do you mean it, or are you joking? Do you really mean that you wish to abdicate your rights as the first-born by partaking of the stew? If you do mean it, I shall very gladly assume responsibility and I will do the fasting as the first-born." Esau replied, "Yes, I mean it. Why should I fast? I have no confidence in the old Scripture promises anyway, and have serious doubts if God had any more communication with father Abraham than with others." Still doubting his sincerity, Jacob, after the manner of the people of the East to this day, said, "Swear it and I will believe it." So Esau swore that he voluntarily voided his rights to his brother Jacob, who was glad to go under the conditions because of his faith in the promises made to Abraham. R4722:1

Edom, it will be remembered, was the name given to Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, after he sold his birthright. (Gen. 25:30-34) The name was also subsequently applied both to the people descended from him and to the country in which they settled. (See Gen. 25:30; 36:1Num. 20:18,20,21Jer. 49:17.) Consequently, the name Edom is an appropriate [D15] symbol of a class who, in this age, have similarly sold their birthright; and that, too, for a consideration as trifling as the mess of pottage which influenced Esau. The name is frequently so used by the prophets in reference to that great company of professed Christians which is sometimes called "the Christian World," and "Christendom" (i.e., Christ's Kingdom), which names the thoughtful should readily recognize as misnomers, betraying a great lack of understanding of the true object and character of Christ's Kingdom, and also of the appointed time and manner of its establishment. They are simply boastful appellations which misrepresent the truth. Is the world indeed yet Christian? or is even that part of it that claims the name?—the nations of Europe and America? Hear the thunder of cannon, the tread of marshalled hosts, the scream of bursting shells, the groans of the oppressed and the mutterings of the angry nations with deafening emphasis answer, No! Do these constitute Christ's Kingdom—a true Christendom? Who indeed will take upon himself the burden of proof of such a monstrous proposition? The fallacy of the boastful claim is so palpable that any attempt at proof would so thoroughly dissolve the delusion that none who wish to perpetuate it would presume to undertake it.

The fitness of the symbolic name "Edom" in its application to Christendom is very marked. The nations of so-called Christendom have had privileges above all the other nations, in that, to them, as to the Israelites of the previous age, have been committed the oracles of God. As a result of the enlightening influences of the Word of God, both directly and indirectly, have come to these nations all the blessings of civilization; and the presence in their midst of a few saints (a "little flock"), developed under its influence, has been as "the salt of the earth," preserving it to some extent [D16] from utter moral corruption. And these, by their godly examples, and by their energy in holding forth the Word of life, have been "the light of the world," showing men the way back to God and righteousness. But only a few in all these favored nations have made proper use of their advantages, which have come to them as an inheritance by reason of their birth in the lands so blessed with the influences of the Word of God, direct and indirect.

Like Esau, the masses of Christendom have sold their birthright of special and peculiar advantage. By the masses, we mean not only the agnostic portion of it, but also the great majority of worldly professors of the religion of Christ, who are Christians only in name, but who lack the life of Christ in them. These have preferred the mean morsels of present earthly advantage to all the blessings of communion and fellowship with God and Christ, and to the glorious inheritance with Christ promised to those who faithfully follow in his footsteps of sacrifice. These, though they are nominally God's people—the nominal spiritual Israel of the Gospel age, of which "Israel after the flesh" in the Jewish age was a type—really have little or no respect for the promises of God. These, although they are indeed a mighty host, bearing the name of Christ, and posing before the world as the Church of Christ; although they have built up great organizations representing various schisms in the professed body of Christ; although they have written massive volumes of un -"systematic theology," and founded numerous colleges and seminaries for the teaching of these; and although they have done "many wonderful works" in the name of Christ, which were often, nevertheless, contrary to the teachings of his Word; these constitute the Edom class who have sold their birthright. The class includes almost all "Christendom"—all reared in the so-called [D17] Christian lands, who have not availed themselves of the privileges and blessings of the gospel of Christ and conformed their lives thereto. The remainder are the few justified, consecrated and faithful individuals who are joined to Christ by a living faith, and who, as "branches," abide in Christ, the True Vine. These constitute the true Israel of God—Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile.

The symbolic Edom of Isaiah's prophecy corresponds to the symbolic Babylon of Revelation, and of the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Thus the Lord designates and describes that great system to which men ascribe the misleading name, Christendom—Christ's Kingdom. As all of the land of Edom symbolizes all of "Christendom," so its capital city, Bozrah, represented Ecclesiasticism, the chief citadel of Christendom. The prophet represents the Lord as a victorious warrior who makes a great slaughter in Edom, and specially in Bozrah. The name Bozrah signifies "sheepfold." Bozrah is even yet noted for its goats, and the slaughter of this day of vengeance is said to be of the "lambs and goats." (Isa. 34:6) The goats would correspond to the "tares," while the lambs would represent the tribulation saints (Rev. 7:141 Cor. 3:1) who neglected to use the opportunities granted them, and did not so run as to obtain the prize of their high calling; and who therefore, although not rejected of the Lord, were not accounted worthy to escape the trouble as matured "sheep"—called, chosen and faithful.

The reply to the Prophet's inquiry—"Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah?" is, "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save." It is the same mighty one described by the Revelator (Rev. 19:11-16), the "King of kings and Lord of lords," Jehovah's Anointed, our blessed Redeemer and Lord Jesus. D14

Edom Map; Edom


Esau loved pleasure and sport. Jacob, his twin brother, born a moment later, loved the Abrahamic Promise, and counted all earthly possessions as nothing in comparison to the gaining of that prize. Both men were hungry one day; Jacob had prepared himself a feast, but instead of giving one half to his brother, he offered him the whole of it in exchange for his inheritance in the Promise made to Abraham. Esau gladly accepted, esteeming the food more precious than a promise which seemed likely never to be fulfilled.—Genesis 25:31-34. PD28 

31. And Jacob said, Sell me first thy birthright.  
32. And Esau said, Behold, I am about to die. And what profit shall the birthright do to me?  
33. And Jacob said, Swear to me first. And he sware unto him. And he sold his birthright unto Jacob.  
34. And Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentils. And he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way. So Esau despised his birthright.