Friday, September 14, 2018

Genesis Post 42 - Arab Genealogy (Chapter 25)

Chapter 25 opens with a history lesson on Abraham's other descendants.

Abraham gets married again, and fathers six more boys!  Remember, Sarah died at age 127, which means that Abraham remarried after age 137.

The names of the six boys are mentioned here, and just for fun I thought I'd look at all the meanings:
  • Zimran - musician
  • Yokshan - snarer, enticer
  • Medan - contention
  • Midian - strife (nearly the same word as Medan)
  • Ishback - He releases, or leaving behind
  • Shuah - wealth
For the most part, this chapter is the last recording of the genealogies of Abraham's other sons.  Several of their descendants show up again later in scripture.  For instance, the father-in-law of Moses was a priest of Midian who later claims allegiance to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Yokshan's son Sheba eventually begot a queen who visited Solomon, and tradition says, bore him a son.  Sheba's brother Dedan shows up numerous times in biblical prophecy.

Abraham's interesting family tree

All these other descendants of Abraham, including the 12 tribes that came from Ishmael, will make up the Arab people.  The word Arab actually means mixed.  Their tribes settled all over Egypt and the Arabian peninsula.  

Abraham, knowing that Isaac was the covenant child, still provided for his progeny (before he sent them away) in verses 5-6:

And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac.  But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east.

I have written many times about the significance of eastward and westward directions. Westward prophetically indicates toward God, or blessing, and eastward indicates away from God, or cursing.

In verse 8, our beloved Father Abraham dies.  And in verse 9, his first two sons bury him at the cave he had purchased in Hebron, Machpelah, where he remains buried today.  The scripture tells us, he died at a good old age, 175 years old.  He was buried by his sons, Isaac and Ishmael.  I wonder if that was a tense time?  Remember, Ishmael and his mom had been sent away over 70 years earlier.  I am guessing that the tension of that burial was palpable, as it still is today between the descendants of these two men.

It will not always be this way
Right after the funeral narrative, we are told that God blessed Isaac.  The scriptures then record the sons of Ishmael.  According to Islamic tradition, their prophet Mohammad was descended from Adnan, a northern Arabian peninsula dude who was  himself descended from Ishmael's son Kedar, Ishmael's second-born son.  Kedar means dark, or dark-skinned.

For more fun, let's look at the meanings of Ishmael's sons' names:
  • Nebajoth - Heights (Ancestor of the Nabateans)
  • Kedar - Dark, or dark-skinned
  • Adbeel - Chastened of God
  • Mibsam - Fragrant
  • Mishma - What is heard, a hearing
  • Dumah - Silence
  • Massa - Burden
  • Hadar - Honor
  • Tema - Desert 
  • Yetur - Enclosed, encircled
  • Naphish - Refreshment
  • Kedemah - Original
Quite a mixed bag of meanings here!  Perhaps it is fitting that the word Arab means mixed.

The Ishmael account wraps up with his death at age 137, and we are told that he was surrounded by all his countrymen, and there must have been many by that point.  Thus Ishmael lived another 51 years after Abraham died.

The direction then shifts to the geneaology of Isaac. In fact, the remainder of Genesis will now be narrowed down to Isaac and his progeny.  This chapter includes many details on Isaac's family, so my next post will cover the rest of chapter 25.

Click here to read it.

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