This passage marks the end of the account of Abraham and it demonstrates how much deeper the relationship between Abraham and God has grown since he was called out by God to leave his homeland. Before his death in chapter 25, Abraham shows that he trusts God completely in the face of his great test (not even withholding his promised son from God), that he has a mighty reputation among the other people living in the land, that he intends to stay in his new land where he buries his wife, and sought God’ s will concerning a wife for Isaac (quite the contrast to Hagar and Ishmael). When Abraham passes away in peace, he does so after living a long life—just as God had promised him earlier.
God has also once again shown His great love and faithfulness. God brought Abraham to a foreign land and promised him the land, that he would have many descendants and that the world would be blessed through him. Abraham was able to see the beginning of the fulfillment of all of these. When Abraham was old and preparing for his coming death he must have looked back and marveled at how God had provided for him. God has given him a home in a new land, built up his reputation among the other peoples and nations of the area, provided Isaac and a number of other children, and had blessed the people he came into contact with—Hagar and Ishmael just for starters. Not only did Abraham love God and trust Him completely, he also knew that he could ask God what was in his heart and God would respond—whether about a future heir, justice during judgment, or finding a wife for his son.
In the passages ahead we’ll see a number of interesting things as we follow God’s relationships with Abraham’s descendants. We’ll see how Abraham’s faith was passed on to future generations, as well as seeing his descendants making mistakes despite this faith. It serves to reinforce what God has already shown—God is always faithful and although His standards are perfect, He knows and loves those who trust Him in spite of their failure to come anywhere near that standard.
God – God
Abram/Abraham - son of Terah, descendant of Shem
Sarai/Sarah - Abraham’s wife
Isaac - son promised to Abraham and Sarah
Hittites – people group who also lived in the area
Angel of the Lord – stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac
Ephron (son of Zohar) - sold Abraham the land of Sarah’s burial plot
Abraham’s servant (Eliezer) – followed Abraham’s instructions for finding a wife for Isaac
Rebekah – very beautiful daughter of Abraham’s nephew (Bethuel). married Isaac
Labon – Rebekah’s brother
region of Moriah - where Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac (specifically (“the Lord will provide”)
Kiriath-arba/Hebron - where Sarah died
Cave of Machpelah – where Abraham and Sarah are buried
Beersheba - “well of oath” or “well of seven”
Aram Naharaim – Northwest Mesopotamia – region where Rebekah is from
Nahar – city in Aram Naharaim where Abraham’s servant came across Rebekah
Offspring of Nahor – click here
Descendants of Ishmael (son of Abraham and Hagar) – click here
(both courtesy of Logos Bible Software)
Beer-Lahai-Roi – where Isaac was living (also where the angel of the Lord heard Hagar)
Negev -dry desert area where Isaac was living when he met Rebekah
Why did God tell Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? And what if Abraham had failed the test?
The answer to the second question is easy—it didn’t happen that way so there really is no use in trying to simply speculate, especially when there is a lot more to say about what DID happen. But we can also see that God never intended for Abraham to kill Isaac as God restrained Abraham and also provided a ram to offer as a sacrifice. This reveals part of the nature of the test –it was simply to demonstrate Abraham’s faith. This is also shown through the choice of the specific Hebrew word for “test” used in this passage. Anytime this word was used in connection with God doing the testing there is no connotation of God doubting or a desire to trick someone. When this word is used the purpose of the test isn’t to cause someone to sin or do something evil, but rather to prove obedience of character and strengthen Abraham’s faith and build him up.
Also, the demand for human sacrifice would not have been unheard of at that time. In fact, the surrounding nations practiced human sacrifice to their gods quite often. Abraham didn’t have the Bible that we now have in front of us, so while God’s instructions would have caused Abraham to wonder what God was doing (especially since it was through Isaac that all the promises were supposed to be fulfilled), Abraham still did what the Lord asked. The whole story is a testament not only to Abraham’s faith in God (and God’s subsequent provision), but also Isaac’s faith through out the situation.
Purpose behind the genealogies:
Genesis 22:20-24 (Milcah)– This genealogy marks the beginning of a shift in the narrative to focusing on the next generation. This genealogy (along with the next section on Sarah’s death and burial) shows that Abraham has a new land by not burying his wife where his other ancestors and relatives are. It also introduces Isaac’s future wife and shows that she was born to her father and mother, not her father and his concubine.
Genesis 25:1-11 (Abraham) – This genealogy shows that God provided many sons for Abraham and also introduces the Midianites who will play a more prominent role later in Genesis.
Genesis 25:12-18 (Ishmael) – This genealogy shows that God is faithful to His promise to bless Ishmael as a son of Abraham (and he had 12 sons, just like God said). When God says He will bless someone, He is faithful to that promise.