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her into his mother Sarah's tent ; and was then, and not till then, coa forted for the loss of her. Dutiful sops promise fair to be affectionate husbands : be that fills up the first station in life with honour, is thereby prepared for those that follow. God in mercy sets a day of prosperity over against a day of adversity. Now he woundeth our spirits by dissolving one tender union, and now bindeth up our wounds by cementing another.
ABRAHAM'S MARRIAGE WITH KETURAH, AND DEATH.—ISHMAEL'S
PROSPERITY AND DEATH.-THE BIRTH AND CHARACTERS OF ESAU
This chapter gives an account of several changes in the families of Abraham, Ishmael, and Isaac. In each the sacred writer keeps his eye on the fulfilment of the great promise to the father of the faithful.
Ver. 1—6. The marriage of Abraham to Keturah is an event which we should not have expected. From the last account we had of him, charging his servant respecting the marriage of his son Isaac, we were prepared to look for his being buried, rather than married. I do not know that it was a sin ; but it is easy to see in it more of man than of God. No reason is given for it ; no marks of divine approbation attend it; five-and-thirty years pass over with little more than recording the names of his children, and that, not from any respect to the connexion, but to show the fulfilment of the divine promise of multiplying his seed. During this last period of his life, we see nothing of that extraordinary strength of faith by which he was formerly distinguished ; but, like Samson when he had lost his hair, he is become weak like another man. While the promise of Isaac was pending, and while Abraham was employed in promoting the great object, the cloud of glory accompanies all his movements : but this being accomplished, and his mind diverted to something else, the cloud now rests upon Isaac; and he must walk the remainder of his journey in a manner without it.
Who Keturah was we are not told: probably she was one of his family. She and Hagar are called concubines. This does not mean, however, that they were not his lawful wives, but that they occupied a less honourable station than Sarah, who was a fellowheir with him in promise. Keturah bare Abraham six sons, among whose descendants were preserved in some measure the knowledge and fear of the true God. From one of them, namely, Midian, descended Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses; and it is not improbable that Job and his friends had the same general origin.
We have seen how the last thirty-five years of Abraham's life fall short of wbat it was in former periods : it is pleasant, however, to observe that bis sun does not set in a cloud. There are several circumstances which shed a lustre upon his last end. Among others, bis regard for Isaac, constituting bim his heir, and settling his other sons at a sufficient distance from him, shows that his heart was still with God's heart, or that he whom the Lord had chosen was the object to whom his thoughts were chiefly directed. He was not wanting in paternal goodness to any of his children. Though Ishmael was sent away, and as it should seem by the other parts of the history with nothing: yet it is here plainly intimated that his father gave gifts to him, as well as to the sons of Keturah. Probably he visited and provided for him in the wilderness of Paran, and gave him a portion when he married. But God's corenant being established with Isaac, his settlement in Canaan is that to which all the others are rendered subservient. All this shows that his faith did not fail ; that he never lost sight of the promise
; in which he had believed for justification ; but that as he had lived, so he died.
Ver. 7-10. Let us notice the death and burial of this great and good man. His death is expressed by a common but impressive scriptural phrase ; he gave up the ghost : and his burial by another; he was gathered to his people. The one is the parting of body and soul : the other the mingling of our dust with that of our kindred who have gone before us. Even in the grave, it is natural to wish to associate with those whom we have known and loved on earth : and still more in the world to come. When all the sons of Adam shall be assigned their portion, each in a sense
will be gathered to his people! The inscription on his tomb, if I may so call it, was, He died in a good old age. On this I have two remarks to offer. (1.) It was according to promise. Upwards of fourscore years before this, the Lord told Abraham in vision, saying, Thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace : thou shalt be buried in a good old age. In every thing, even in death, the promises are fulfilled to Abraham.--(2.) Il is language that is never used of wicked
men, and not very commonly of good men. It is used of Gideon and of David ;* and I know not whether of
other. The idea answers to what is spoken by the Psalmist, They shall bring forth fruit in old age: or that in Job, Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in, in his season. Isaac and Ishmael are both present at his funeral. We have no account of their having ever seen each other before, from the day that Ishmael was cast out as a mocker ; but whether they had or not, they met at their father's interment. Death brings those together who know not how to associate on any other occasion, and will bring us all together, sooner or later. Finally, the place where they buried him, was the same as that in which he had buried his beloved Sarah.
Ver. 11. The death and burial of so great and good a man as Abraham must have made an impression upon survivers : howbeit, the cause of God died not. It came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac. Isaac was heir to the promise ; and though all flesh withereth and fadeth like the grass, yet the word of the Lord shall stand for ever. We shall hear more of Isaac soon : at present we are only told, in general, that he dwelt by the well Lahai-roi. It was necessary in those countries to fix their residence by a well ; and it is no less necessary, if we wish to live, that we fix ours near to the ordinances of God. The well where Isaac pitched his tent was distinguished by two interesting events : (1.) The merciful appearance of God to Hagar, from whence it received its name ; The well of him that liveth and seeth me. Hagar or Ishmael, methinks, should have pitched a tent there, that it might have been to them a memorial of past
Judges viii. 32. 1 Chron. xxix. 28.
mercies; but if they neglect it, Isaac will occupy it. The gracious appearance of God in a place, endears it to him, let it have been to whom it may. (2.) It was the place from the way of which he first met bis beloved Rebekah: there therefore they continue to dwell together.
Ver. 12–18. A short account is here given of Ishmael's posterity, and of his death. His sons were numerous and great ; they had their torons and their castles ; nay more, they are denominated
; twelve princes, according to their nations. Thus amply was fulfilled the promise of God concerning bim : Behold I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly : twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But this is all. When a man leaves God and his people, the sacred historian leaves him. After living in prosperity a hundred and thirty-seven years, he gave up the ghost; and died; and was gathered unto his people. As this language is applicable to men, whether good or bad, no conclusion can be drawn from it, in favour of his having feared God. It is added, that he died in the
presence of all his brethren ; that is, in peace, or with his friends about him ; which, considering how his hand had been against every man, and of course every man's hand against him, was rather surprising : but so it had been promised of the Lord to his mother, at the well Lahai-roi : He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. So he lived, and so he died, an object of providential care for his father's sake ; but as to any thing more, the oracles of God are silent.
Ver. 19—23. The history now returns to the son of promise. Forty years old was he when he took Rebekah to wife ; and for twenty years afterwards he had no issue. We should have supposed, that as the promise partly consisted in a multiplication of his seed, the great number of his children would have made a prominent part of his history. When Bethuel and Milcah and Laban took leave of Rebekah, saying, Be thou the mother of thousands of millions, they doubtless expected to hear of a very numerous family. And she herself, and her husband would, as believing the divine promise, expect the same. But God's thoughts are not as