Ver. 1. Cetura, his third wife; the former two being perhaps both dead. This Abraham did in his 137th year, that God might have witnesses also among the Gentiles. Cetura was before one of his handmaids. M.
--- God enabled him to have children at this advanced age; or perhaps, Moses may have related his marriage in this place, though it had taken place several years before. S. Aug. c. Jul. iii. C. This learned father, de C. D. xvi. 34, supposes that the reason why Cetura is styled a concubine, though she was a lawful and only wife, is because her children prefigured heretics, who do not belong to the kingdom of Christ. W.
Ver. 6. Concubines. Agar and Cetura are here called concubines, (though they were lawful wives, and in other places are so called) because they were of an inferior degree: and such in Scripture are usually called concubines. Ch.
--- The solemnities of marriage were omitted on these occasions, and the children were not entitled to a share in the inheritance. Jacob's two wives consented that all his children, by their handmaids, should be placed on the same footing with their own. C.
--- Abraham contented himself with making suitable presents to the children, whom he had by these secondary wives, reserving the bulk of his property to Isaac. G. xxiv. 36. He also provided for their establishment himself, that there might be no contest after his departure.
Ver. 8. Good old age. Because well spent: though he lived not so long as many of the wicked; decaying not by any violent disorder, but dropping off like a ripe apple.
--- Being full. The Heb. does not express of what; but the Sam. Chal. Sept. Syr. and Arab. agree with the Vulgate. See C. xxxv. 29. H.
--- Days, not years, as Protestants wrongfully interpolate. Kennicott.
--- His people, the saints of ancient days, in limbo; while his body was placed near the remains of his wife, by the pious attention of his two chief sons, attended by their other brethren. H.
--- The life of Abraham was a pattern of all virtues, but particularly of faith; and it was an abridgment of the law. His equal was no where found. Eccli. xliv. 20. C.
Ver. 16. By their castles; or, the castles, towns, and tribes of principal note, received their names from these twelve princes, or phylarks, whose authority is still recognized among all the tribes of the Arabs. Thevenot. H.
--- The towns of these people were easily built, and more easily destroyed; for they consisted only of tents. Jer. xlix. 31. Their castles were perhaps only sheep-folds, as the original Tiroth may signify; or they were a sort of watch-towers, to prevent the sudden attack of an invading enemy, and to serve also for a retreat. C.
Ver. 18. In the presence, &c. As he was the eldest, so he died first; having lived unmolested and fearless among his father's children. G. xvi. 12. C.
Ver. 21. Barren. They had been married 20 years, (v. 26.) during which time, S. Chrysostom says, Isaac had earnestly besought the Lord, (M.) and obtained by prayer what God long before decreed. See S. Greg. Dial. i. 8. W.
Ver. 22. To be so. That is, if I must die, and my children also. She feared the worst; and immediately had recourse to the Lord, either in her oratory, or at one of his altars erected by Abraham; and received a gracious answer from him by means of an angel. H.
--- Others think she consulted Melchisedech at Mount Moria. M.
Ver. 23. The younger. The Idumeans shall be subdued by the arms of David: and the Jews themselves shall yield to the Christian Church. S. Aug. de C. D. xvi. 35.) S. Paul, Rom. ix. draws another very important truth from this history, shewing the mercy of God to be gratuitous in choosing his saints. W.
Ver. 25. Red. Hence he was called Edom, as well as from the red pottage, v. 30. H.
--- Hairy like a skin. On which account Rebecca afterwards clothed Jacob's hands and neck with the skins of kids, to make him resemble Esau. Furry robes were not unusual among the Jews. Some imagine that the name of Sehar, was given to Esau, on account of his being hairy: but Esau was the title by which he was commonly known, and it means one made perfect; because he came into the world, "covered with hair like a man."
--- Jacob: "a supplanter, or wrestler." C.
--- From the birth of these twins, S. Gregory shews the folly of astrologers, who pretend that our actions are under the influence of the planets; and that two, born at the same moment, will have the same fate. How different were the lives of Jacob and Esau! H.
Ver. 27. A husbandman: a rustic, both in profession and manners, like Cain; while Jacob was a shepherd, in imitation of Abel, plain and honest. H.
Ver. 28. Loved Esau, as his first-born, who shewed him all attention, and whom he would naturally have appointed his heir, if the will of God had not afterwards been revealed to him. Rebecca, to whom this was already known, gave the preference in her love to Jacob. H.
Ver. 29. Pottage, of Egyptian lentiles, the most excellent in the world. C.
Ver. 30. Give me, &c. Heb. "make me devour this red;" which denotes, the very red quality of the pottage, and the greediness of Esau. C.
Ver. 31. Sell me. He had been informed by his mother, that God had transferred the birth-right to him; and, therefore, he takes this opportunity to obtain the consent of Esau quietly. The latter, who knew nothing of God's decree, shewed his little regard for that privilege. H.
--- He perhaps intended to assert his claim by force, notwithstanding this agreement. M.
--- It is not probable that he could plead in earnest, that he was famishing in the midst of his father's house. D.
--- The birth-right was a temporal honour; though some assert that the office of priesthood belonged also to it. This, however, does not seem to be certain; for we find Abel, Abraham, and other younger children offering sacrifice. The first-born were entitled to a double portion, Deut. xxi. 17. 1 Par. v. 2. 5. and to their father's peculiar blessing, Eccli. iii. 12. To despise such advantages betrayed a bad disposition, for which Esau is condemned, Heb. xii. 16. Rom. ix. C.
--- Jacob's conduct was perfectly innocent, whether we consider this transaction as serious or not. Isaac never ratified the bargain; nor do we find that Jacob rested his claim on it. H.
--- But it is recorded by Moses, to shew the disposition of these two young men. C.
Ver. 33. Swore; and still we find him enraged above measure, when Isaac had, by mistake, ratified the transfer of the birth-right to Jacob; (G. xxvii. 41.) whence we may gather, that he did not intend to perform what he promised, even with the solemnity of an oath; which renders him still more deserving of the title profane, which S. Paul gives him. H.