Monday, November 7, 2016

Genesis 25:1-10 comments: Abraham dies

1 ¶  Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2  And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. 3  And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. 4  And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. 5  And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. 6  But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and 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, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. 8  Then 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. 9  And his sons Isaac and Ishmael 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 sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

Abraham’s second wife, or third, if you count Hagar, (concubines are a type of lesser wife, a cultural phenomenon not ordered by God) is named Keturah and she gives him Midian, the father of a tribe who will later be a problem for the Israelites trying to get into Canaan and once they are in the Promised Land. But, a priest of this tribe will provide a wife for Moses and be his sanctuary in the wilderness after he flees from Egypt.

But, keep in mind that, like we do, people give names to their children that are often known and already existing, in use by others. For instance, Cush had grandsons named Sheba and Dedan in Genesis 10:7. There is a man named Sheba who rebelled against King David in 2Samuel 20. In modern times we have examples where a former Rock and Roll performer and wannabe politician named himself Jello Biafra after a secessionist Nigerian state, Biafra. On a soberer note there are many children named after famous places like London, Brooklyn, Paris, and even India. So, while naming customs were more based on religious reasons in the ancient world and for reasons of already having an ancestor with that name we must be careful about making genealogical links as a matter of fact between two people or a person and a tribe bearing the same name in the Bible.

Still, Keturah most likely was a Canaanite who had Sheba and Dedan as part of her own heritage and passed these respected names down through her son, with Abraham’s supposed blessing and involvement, of course.

It must be remembered, as stated in verse 5, that all of Abraham’s inheritance goes to Isaac so that it is the Jews, not the Arabs, who were given the land of Canaan. As stated before all of these promises are in Christ so that the fulfillment of that promise of land will not be complete until Christ physically returns. The political Israel of today is a puny representative of this enormous grant of land from the Nile to the Euphrates. See previous comments on this subject.

Abraham’s wives other than Sarah are called concubines. Abraham lived 175 years and gave up the ghost which is his spirit (see Luke 23:46) and was gathered to his people. Gave up the ghost is a reference to dying that is used later for Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Jesus, Ananias, and Herod.  Gathered to his people is referenced again for Ishmael and Jacob at their deaths.

Abraham is said to be eminent in Paradise, the garden of God, when it was in the heart of the earth, separated from Hell, and called Abraham’s bosom (see Luke 16.) Paradise comes from a Persian word meaning a walled garden or a hunting preserve. The garden of God, called Eden, was once on the earth but, after Adam’s fall, was hidden by cherubim (see Genesis chapters 2&3, Exodus 28:13; 31:8,9). Jesus went to the heart of the earth, to Paradise, Abraham’s bosom, the garden of God, to preach after the Cross. (see Luke 23:43; Matthew 12:40; 1Peter 3:19; 4:6). Paradise was separated from Hell and is now taken up into Heaven because of Christ (Revelation 2:7) which we can see because Paul went “up” there as stated in 2Corinthians 12:4.

Why is Paradise called Abraham’s bosom? Because Abraham represents all of those who believe God. Salvation is predicated upon believing what God said. It is as clear as a bell.

The Greeks, flowering as an intellectual culture much later around the 5th century BC, had great contact with the Ancient Near East as mercenaries, traders, and settlers before that and derived their concept of Hades from the Hebrews. Greek philosophers stated that they did not know the origin of their mythology but the first mention of Hades is in Homer, writing perhaps in the 9th century BC, nearly a thousand years after Abraham’s life and three hundred to four hundred after Moses’ put the account in writing. The 9th century BC is also the time when most scholars believe that the Greeks derived their alphabet from the Phoenicians who we will see derived it from the Hebrews who got it from God at Mount Sinai. Before then, picture writing was used by the cultures of the world, from the Sumerians on the plain of Shinar, called Cuneiform, to the Egyptians, called Hieroglyphics, to China, and even down to the civilizations of South and Central America over two thousand years later.

As an example of Greek involvement in the Near East, when Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh Necho’s armies fought at Carchemish (Jeremiah 46) both sides used Greek mercenaries extensively.  In addition, a prophet lamented how Hebrew children had been taken as slaves to Greece. (Joel 3:6). There were Greek cultural influences in the Near East and Greek language influences as well. However, the Greeks who wrote about Hades wrote after this period of time and were influenced by what they learned from the Hebrews as they were by what they learned about other cultures’ practices and beliefs. The Greeks themselves even admitted they learned a great deal in Egypt and the Near East. In the later Greek myth, Hades was a place for not only the wicked but the good person’s souls to abide after death while Tartarus was where their supreme god, Zeus, cast the Titans, giants, and there were different places for enjoyment and punishment based on a person’s behavior in life as well as their relationship to the gods. In the Ancient world, then, it was understood that the abode of the dead was in one location.

Isaac and Ishmael bury Abraham with Sarah. It is probably the last time the Jew and the Arab will cooperate in much of anything.

God’s ministry of reconciliation, of reconciling mankind to Himself, was carried on in a dramatic way through Abraham. Abraham remains an important figure in human history. Abraham believed what God said. Do we?

James 2:23  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.