Genesis (Part 104)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

Genesis: 25:7-11

7These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, 175 years. 8Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. 9Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, 10the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with Sarah his wife. 11After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi.

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After all this time… we finally reach the death of Abraham.

He left Haran at the age of 75. He waited a quarter century for the birth of Isaac. Then he lived another 75 years after his promised son was born.

From Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:

(7) An hundred threescore and fifteen years.—As Abraham was seventy-five years of age when he left Haran (Genesis 12:4), his sojourn in Canaan lasted just a century, one quarter of which was spent in the long trial of his faith before Isaac was granted to him. As, however, Esau and Jacob were born when Isaac was sixty years of age (Genesis 25:26), they would be fifteen at Abraham’s death, and probably had often seen their grandfather, and received his blessing.

Abraham . . . was gathered to his people.—Upon the belief in a future life implied in these words, see Note on Genesis 15:15, and comp. Hebrews 11:16.

From The Pulpit Commentary:

Verse 7. – And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, – an impressive and appropriate expression for the computation of life (cf. Genesis 47:9) – an hundred and threescore and fifteen years – i.e. 175 years; so that he must have lived seventy-five years after Isaac’s birth and thirty-eight years after Sarah’s death. “His grandfather lived 148 years, his father 205, his son 180, and his grandson 147; so that his years were the full average of that period (Murphy).

It’s not an exact average. (To save you the trouble.)

148 + 205 + 180 + 147 = 680

680 / 4 = 170;

It is interesting that by the reckoning of age from within the text, 75 was old. So was 100. In reality though, whatever the state of his body and appearance, we meet Abraham just before he is middle aged.

“breathed out his last” = גָּוַע gâvaʻ, gaw-vah’; a primitive root; to breathe out, i.e. (by implication) expire:—die, be dead, give up the ghost, perish.

“good” = טוֹב ṭôwb, tobe; from H2895; good (as an adjective) in the widest sense; used likewise as a noun, both in the masculine and the feminine, the singular and the plural (good, a good or good thing, a good man or woman; the good, goods or good things, good men or women), also as an adverb (well):—beautiful, best, better, bountiful, cheerful, at ease, × fair (word), (be in) favour, fine, glad, good (deed, -lier, -liest, -ly, -ness, -s), graciously, joyful, kindly, kindness, liketh (best), loving, merry, × most, pleasant, pleaseth, pleasure, precious, prosperity, ready, sweet, wealth, welfare, (be) well(-favoured).

“old age” = שֵׂיבָה sêybâh, say-baw’; feminine of H7869; old age:—(be) gray (grey hoar,-y) hairs (head,-ed), old age.

From The Pulpit Commentary:

Verses 8-10. – Then Abraham gave up the ghost (literally, breathed outa the breath of life), and died in a good old age, – literally, in a flood hoary agei.e. “with a crown of righteousness upon his hoary head” (Hughes) – an old man, and full of years. Literally, and satiatedi.e. satisfied not merely with life and all its blessings, but with living. The three clauses give an elevated conception of the patriarch s life as that of one who had tasted all the sweets and realized all the ends of a mundane existence, and who accordingly was ripe and ready for transition to a higher sphere. And was gathered to his people. An expression similar to “going to his fathers” (Genesis 15:15, q.v.), and to “being gathered to one’s fathers” (Judges 2:10). “The phrase is constantly distinguished from departing this life and being buried, denotes the reunion in Sheol with friends who have gone before, and therefore presupposes faith in the personal continuance of a man after death” (Keil). Abraham died in the hope of a better country, even an heavenly (Hebrews 11:13-16). And his sons Isaac and Ishmael – Isaac as the heir takes precedence; but Ishmael, rather than the sons of Keturah, is associated with him at his father’s funeral; probably because he was not so distant as they from Hebron (Lunge), or because he was the subject of a special blessing, which they were not (Keil, Murphy); or perhaps simply Ishmael and Isaac united as the eldest sons to perform the last rites to a parent they revered (Kalisch). “Funerals of parents are reconciliations of children (Genesis 35:29), and differences of contending religionists are often softened at the side of a grave” (Wordsworth) – buried him (vide on Genesis 23:19) in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre (vide on Genesis 23:3-20); the field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth (a repetition which augments the importance of the statement that Abraham did not sleep in a borrowed tomb): there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

The funeral occurs within the text before the births of Jacob and Esau. HOWEVER… if you do some math in the chapters to come, you’re going to run into some questions. From TheTorah.com:

Was Abraham the sandek at the bris of his grandchildren Esau and Jacob? Did Abraham teach his grandchildren about God? What advice did he give his son during the 20 years Isaac and Rebecca remained without children?

We will never know. The Torah never tells us anything about Abraham’s relationship with Isaac (after his marriage to Rebecca) or with his grandsons.

But isn’t that because Abraham died before Isaac had children? Abraham’s death is recorded in Genesis 25:8 and the birth of Jacob and Esau is recorded only later on in the same chapter. However, matters are more complicated than that.

According to Genesis 25:7, Abraham lived to the age of 175 and according to Genesis 21:5 Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born, which means that Isaac was 75 years old when his father died. Since Isaac was forty years old when he got married and sixty when his twin sons were born, Abraham had 35 years to spend with his married son and daughter-in-law, and fifteen years to spend with his grandsons. Considering this, it seems more than a little odd that Abraham’s death notice should appear before the account of the birth of his grandsons, as if once Isaac got married Abraham and his 35 more years of life made no difference at all.

Perhaps not surprisingly, other sources try to explain this and provide some additional history. Continuing with the article:

Despite the lack of any explicit connection between Abraham and his grandsons in the Torah, the midrash tries to fill this out. Specifically, the Rabbis focus on the day of Abraham’s death, which they identify as the day Jacob forced Esau to sell him the birthright. Jacob was cooking lentils—a traditional meal for Jewish mourners—to feed to his father (Isaac) who was beginning the mourning period for his own father (Abraham).

The Rabbis go even further in connecting the narratives and suggest that the blessing Abraham received in his old age (Gen. 24:1) was that Esau did not rebel in his lifetime (t. Kiddusun 5:18; b. Baba Batra 16b). What do the Rabbis mean by this? One interpretation suggests that Abraham’s love of his grandsons was the reason for his “early” death. Glossing the verse that describes Jacob cooking lentils, Rashi writes:

And on that day, Abraham died, lest he see Esau, his grandson, falling into bad ways, for that would not be the “good old age” that the Holy One, blessed be He, had promised him. Therefore, the Holy One, blessed be He, shortened his life by five years, for Isaac lived one hundred and eighty years, and this one (Abraham) [lived] to one hundred seventy five.

The article continues with other fill-in-the-gap stories from Rabbis and a scholarly explanation for the issue (mainly that the issue arises due to the competing underlying source materials.)

Returning to Ellicott we finish this section:

(11) God blessed his son Isaac.—With this general summary the Tôldôth Terah concludes, and no portion of Holy Scripture is more interesting or valuable; for in it the broad foundation is laid for the fulfilment of the protevangelium contained in Genesis 3:15, the progenitor of the chosen race is selected and proved on trial. and the preparation made for the giving of the Law, and for the growing light of prophecy, by the nearness wherewith Abraham walked with God.

And now we move toward the next generation of Abraham’s line of descent – the twin sons of Isaac – Esau and Jacob.

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