New English Translation
The Death of Abraham
25 Abraham had taken[a] another[b] wife, named Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan.[c] The descendants of Dedan were the Asshurites, Letushites, and Leummites. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were descendants[d] of Keturah.
7 Abraham lived a total of[g] 175 years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man who had lived a full life.[h] He joined his ancestors.[i] 9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah[j] near Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar, the Hittite.[k] 10 This was the field Abraham had purchased from the sons of Heth.[l] There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed[m] his son Isaac. Isaac lived near Beer Lahai Roi.[n]
The Sons of Ishmael
12 This is the account of Abraham’s son Ishmael,[o] whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s servant, bore to Abraham.
13 These are the names of Ishmael’s sons, by their names according to their records:[p] Nebaioth (Ishmael’s firstborn), Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. 16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names by their settlements and their camps—twelve princes[q] according to their clans.
17 Ishmael lived a total of[r] 137 years. He breathed his last and died; then he joined his ancestors.[s] 18 His descendants[t] settled from Havilah to Shur, which runs next to[u] Egypt all the way[v] to Asshur.[w] They settled[x] away from all their relatives.[y]
Jacob and Esau
19 This is the account of Isaac,[z] the son of Abraham.
21 Isaac prayed[ac] to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 But the children struggled[ad] inside her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?”[ae] So she asked the Lord,[af] 23 and the Lord said to her,
“Two nations[ag] are in your womb,
and two peoples will be separated from within you.
One people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
24 When the time came for Rebekah to give birth,[ah] there were[ai] twins in her womb. 25 The first came out reddish[aj] all over,[ak] like a hairy[al] garment, so they named him Esau.[am] 26 When his brother came out with[an] his hand clutching Esau’s heel, they named him Jacob.[ao] Isaac was sixty years old[ap] when they were born.
27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skilled[aq] hunter, a man of the open fields, but Jacob was an even-tempered man, living in tents.[ar] 28 Isaac loved Esau because he had a taste for fresh game,[as] but Rebekah loved[at] Jacob.
29 Now Jacob cooked some stew,[au] and when Esau came in from the open fields, he was famished. 30 So Esau said to Jacob, “Feed[av] me some of the red stuff—yes, this red stuff—because I’m starving!” (That is why he was also called[aw] Edom.)[ax]
31 But Jacob replied, “First[ay] sell me your birthright.” 32 “Look,” said Esau, “I’m about to die! What use is the birthright to me?”[az] 33 But Jacob said, “Swear an oath to me now.”[ba] So Esau[bb] swore an oath to him and sold his birthright[bc] to Jacob.
- Genesis 25:1 tn Or “took.”sn Abraham had taken another wife. These events are not necessarily in chronological order following the events of the preceding chapter. They are listed here to summarize Abraham’s other descendants before the narrative of his death.
- Genesis 25:1 tn Heb “And Abraham added and took.”
- Genesis 25:3 sn The names Sheba and Dedan appear in Gen 10:7 as descendants of Ham through Cush and Raamah. Since these two names are usually interpreted to be place names, one plausible suggestion is that some of Abraham’s descendants lived in those regions and took names linked with it.
- Genesis 25:4 tn Or “sons.”
- Genesis 25:6 tn Heb “the sons of the concubines who [belonged] to Abraham.”
- Genesis 25:6 tn Heb “And he sent them away from upon Isaac his son, while he was still living, eastward to the land of the east.”
- Genesis 25:7 tn Heb “and these are the days of the years of the lifetime of Abraham that he lived.” The normal genealogical formula is expanded here due to the importance of the life of Abraham.
- Genesis 25:8 tn Heb “old and full.”
- Genesis 25:8 tn Heb “And he was gathered to his people.” In the ancient Israelite view he joined his deceased ancestors in Sheol, the land of the dead.
- Genesis 25:9 sn The cave of Machpelah was the place Abraham had purchased as a burial place for his wife Sarah (Gen 23:17-18).
- Genesis 25:9 tn The Hebrew term “Hittite” derives from the name Heth; see the note at Gen 23:3.
- Genesis 25:10 tn See the note on the phrase “sons of Heth” in Gen 23:3.
- Genesis 25:11 sn God blessed Isaac. The Hebrew verb “bless” in this passage must include all the gifts that God granted to Isaac. But fertility was not one of them, at least not for 20 years, because Rebekah was barren as well (see v. 21).
- Genesis 25:11 sn Beer Lahai Roi. See the note on this place name in Gen 24:62.
- Genesis 25:12 sn This is the account of Ishmael. The Book of Genesis tends to tidy up the family records at every turning point. Here, before proceeding with the story of Isaac’s family, the narrative traces Ishmael’s family line. Later, before discussing Jacob’s family, the narrative traces Esau’s family line (see Gen 36).
- Genesis 25:13 tn The meaning of this line is not easily understood. The sons of Ishmael are listed here “by their names” and “according to their descendants.”
- Genesis 25:16 tn Or “tribal chieftains.”
- Genesis 25:17 tn Heb “And these are the days of the years of Ishmael.”
- Genesis 25:17 tn Heb “And he was gathered to his people.” In the ancient Israelite view he joined his deceased ancestors in Sheol, the land of the dead.
- Genesis 25:18 tn Heb “they”; the referent (Ishmael’s descendants) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 25:18 tn Heb “which is by the face of,” or near the border. The territory ran along the border of Egypt.
- Genesis 25:18 tn Heb “as you go.”
- Genesis 25:18 sn The name Asshur refers here to a tribal area in the Sinai.
- Genesis 25:18 tn Heb “he fell.”
- Genesis 25:18 tn Heb “upon the face of all his brothers.” This last expression, obviously alluding to the earlier oracle about Ishmael (Gen 16:12), could mean that the descendants of Ishmael lived in hostility to others or that they lived in a territory that was opposite the lands of their relatives. While there is some ambiguity about the meaning, the line probably does give a hint of the Ishmaelite-Israelite conflicts to come.
- Genesis 25:19 sn This is the account of Isaac. What follows for several chapters is not the account of Isaac, except briefly, but the account of Jacob and Esau. The next chapters tell what became of Isaac and his family.
- Genesis 25:20 tn Heb “And Isaac was the son of forty years when he took Rebekah.”
- Genesis 25:20 sn Some valuable information is provided here. We learn here that Isaac married thirty-five years before Abraham died, that Rebekah was barren for 20 years, and that Abraham would have lived to see Jacob and Esau begin to grow up. The death of Abraham was recorded in the first part of the chapter as a “tidying up” of one generation before beginning the account of the next.
- Genesis 25:21 tn The Hebrew verb עָתַר (ʿatar), translated “prayed” here, appears in the story of God’s judgment on Egypt in which Moses asked the Lord to remove the plagues. The cognate word in Arabic means “to slaughter for sacrifice,” and the word is used in Zeph 3:10 to describe worshipers who bring offerings. Perhaps some ritual accompanied Isaac’s prayer here.
- Genesis 25:22 tn The Hebrew word used here suggests a violent struggle that was out of the ordinary.
- Genesis 25:22 tn Heb “If [it is] so, why [am] I this [way]?” Rebekah wanted to know what was happening to her, but the question itself reflects a growing despair over the struggle of the unborn children.
- Genesis 25:22 sn Asked the Lord. In other passages (e.g., 1 Sam 9:9) this expression refers to inquiring of a prophet, but no details are provided here.
- Genesis 25:23 sn By metonymy the two children in her womb are described as two nations of which the two children, Jacob and Esau, would become the fathers. The language suggests there would be a struggle between these nations, with one being stronger than the other. The oracle reveals that all of Jacob’s scheming was unnecessary in the final analysis. He would have become the dominant nation without using deception to steal his brother’s blessing.
- Genesis 25:24 tn Heb “And her days were filled to give birth.”
- Genesis 25:24 tn Heb “look!” By the use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”), the narrator invites the audience to view the scene as if they were actually present at the birth.
- Genesis 25:25 sn Reddish. The Hebrew word translated “reddish” is אַדְמוֹנִי (ʾadmoni), which forms a wordplay on the Edomites, Esau’s descendants. The writer sees in Esau’s appearance at birth a sign of what was to come. After all, the reader has already been made aware of the “nations” that were being born.
- Genesis 25:25 tn Heb “all of him.”
- Genesis 25:25 sn Hairy. Here is another wordplay involving the descendants of Esau. The Hebrew word translated “hairy” is שֵׂעָר (seʿar); the Edomites will later live in Mount Seir, perhaps named for its wooded nature.
- Genesis 25:25 tn Heb “And they called his name Esau.” The name “Esau” (עֵשָׂו, ʿesav) is not etymologically related to שֵׂעָר (seʿar), but it draws on some of the sounds.
- Genesis 25:26 tn The disjunctive clause describes an important circumstance accompanying the birth. Whereas Esau was passive at birth, Jacob was active.
- Genesis 25:26 tn Heb “And he called his name Jacob.” Some ancient witnesses read “they called his name Jacob” (see v. 25). In either case the subject is indefinite.sn The name Jacob is a play on the Hebrew word for “heel” (עָקֵב, ʿaqev). The name (since it is a verb) probably means something like “may he protect,” that is, as a rearguard, dogging the heels. It did not have a negative connotation until Esau redefined it. This name was probably chosen because of the immediate association with the incident of grabbing the heel. After receiving such an oracle, the parents would have preserved in memory almost every detail of the unusual births.
- Genesis 25:26 tn Heb “the son of sixty years.”
- Genesis 25:27 tn Heb “knowing.”
- Genesis 25:27 tn The disjunctive clause juxtaposes Jacob with Esau and draws attention to the striking contrasts. In contrast to Esau, a man of the field, Jacob was civilized, as the phrase “living in tents” signifies. Whereas Esau was a skillful hunter, Jacob was calm and even-tempered (תָּם, tam), which normally has the idea of “blameless.”
- Genesis 25:28 tn Heb “the taste of game was in his mouth.” The word for “game,” “venison” is here the same Hebrew word as “hunter” in the last verse. Here it is a metonymy, referring to that which the hunter kills.
- Genesis 25:28 tn The disjunctive clause juxtaposes Rebekah with Jacob and draws attention to the contrast. The verb here is a participle, drawing attention to Rebekah’s continuing, enduring love for her son.
- Genesis 25:29 sn Jacob cooked some stew. There are some significant words and wordplays in this story that help clarify the points of the story. The verb “cook” is זִיד (zid), which sounds like the word for “hunter” (צַיִד, tsayid). This is deliberate, for the hunter becomes the hunted in this story. The word זִיד means “to cook, to boil,” but by the sound play with צַיִד it comes to mean “set a trap by cooking.” The usage of the word shows that it can also have the connotation of acting presumptuously (as in boiling over). This too may be a comment on the scene. For further discussion of the rhetorical devices in the Jacob narratives, see J. P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art in Genesis (SSN).
- Genesis 25:30 tn The rare term לָעַט (laʿat), translated “feed,” is used in later Hebrew for feeding animals (see Jastrow, 714). If this nuance was attached to the word in the biblical period, then it may depict Esau in a negative light, comparing him to a hungry animal. Famished Esau comes in from the hunt, only to enter the trap. He can only point at the red stew and ask Jacob to feed him.
- Genesis 25:30 tn The verb has no expressed subject and so is given a passive translation.
- Genesis 25:30 sn Esau’s descendants would eventually be called Edom. Edom was the place where they lived, so-named probably because of the reddish nature of the hills. The writer can use the word “red” to describe the stew that Esau gasped for to convey the nature of Esau and his descendants. They were a lusty, passionate, and profane people who lived for the moment. Again, the wordplay is meant to capture the “omen in the nomen.”
- Genesis 25:31 tn Heb “today.”
- Genesis 25:32 tn Heb “And what is this to me, a birthright?”
- Genesis 25:33 tn Heb “Swear to me today.”
- Genesis 25:33 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Esau) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
- Genesis 25:33 sn And sold his birthright. There is evidence from Hurrian culture that rights of inheritance were occasionally sold or transferred. Here Esau is portrayed as a profane person who would at the moment rather have a meal than the right to inherit. He will soon forget this trade and seek his father’s blessing in spite of it.
- Genesis 25:34 sn The style here is typical of Hebrew narrative; after the tension is resolved with the dialogue, the working out of it is recorded in a rapid sequence of verbs (“gave”; “ate”; “drank”; “got up”; “went out”). See also Gen 3:1-7 for another example.
- Genesis 25:34 sn So Esau despised his birthright. This clause, which concludes the episode, is a summary statement which reveals the underlying significance of Esau’s actions. “To despise” means to treat something as worthless or with contempt. Esau’s willingness to sell his birthright was evidence that he considered it to be unimportant.