Verses 11–18

Immediately after the account of Abraham’s death, Moses begins the story of Isaac (Gen. 25:11), and tells us where he dwelt and how remarkably God blessed him. Note, The blessing of Abraham did not die with him, but survived to all the children of the promise. But he presently digresses from the story of Isaac, to give a short account of Ishmael, forasmuch as he also was a son of Abraham, and God had made some promises concerning him, which it was requisite we should know the accomplishment of. Observe here what is said, 1. Concerning his children. He had twelve sons, twelve princes they are called (Gen. 25:16), heads of families, which in process of time became nations, distinct tribes, numerous and very considerable. They peopled a very large continent, that lay between Egypt and Assyria, called Arabia. The names of his twelve sons are recorded. Midian and Kedar we often read of in scripture. And some very good expositors have taken notice of the signification of those three names which are put together (Gen. 25:14), as containing good advice to us all, Mishma, Dumah, and Massa, that is, hear, keep silence, and bear; we have them together in the same order, Jas. 1:19; Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. The posterity of Ishmael had not only tents in the fields, wherein they grew rich in times of peace; but they had towns and castles (Gen. 25:16), wherein they fortified themselves in time of war. Now the number and strength of this family were the fruit of the promise made to Hagar concerning Ishmael (Gen. 16:10), and to Abraham, Gen. 17:20; 21:13. Note, Many that are strangers to the covenants of promise are yet blessed with outward prosperity for the sake of their godly ancestors. Wealth and riches shall be in their house. 2. Concerning himself. Here is an account of his age: He lived 137 years (Gen. 25:17) which is recorded to show the efficacy of Abraham’s prayer for him (Gen. 17:18), O that Ishmael might live before thee! Here is also an account of his death; he too was gathered to his people; but it is not said that he was full of days, though he lived to so great an age: he was not so weary of the world, nor so willing to leave it, as his good father was. Those words, he fell in the presence of all his brethren, whether they mean, as we take them, he died, or, as others, his lot fell, are designed to show the fulfilling of that word to Hagar (Gen. 16:12), He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren, that is, he shall flourish and be eminent among them, and shall hold his own to the last. Or he died with his friends about him, which is comfortable.