|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
25:19-26 Isaac seems not to have been much tried, but to have spent his days in quietness. Jacob and Esau were prayed for; their parents, after being long childless, obtained them by prayer. The fulfilment of God's promise is always sure, yet it is often slow. The faith of believers is tried, their patience exercised, and mercies long waited for are more welcome when they come. Isaac and Rebekah kept in view the promise of all nations being blessed in their posterity, therefore were not only desirous of children, but anxious concerning every thing which seemed to mark their future character. In all our doubts we should inquire of the Lord by prayer. In many of our conflicts with sin and temptation, we may adopt Rebekah's words, If it be so, why am I thus? If a child of God, why so careless or carnal? If not a child of God, why so afraid of, or so burdened with sin?
Verse 21. - And Isaac entreated - from a root signifying to burn incense, hence to pray, implying, as some think (Wordsworth, 'Speaker s Commentary'), the use of incense in patriarchal worship; but perhaps only pointing to the fact that the prayers of the godly ascend like incense (Gesenius): cf. Tobit 12:12; Acts 10:4. The word is commonly regarded as noting precum multiplicationem, et vehementiam et perseverantiam (Poole): cf. Ezekiel 35:13 - the Lord - Jehovah; not because vers. 21-23 are the composition of the Jehovist (Tuch, Bleek, Davidson, et alii), but because the desired son was to be the heir of promise (Hengstenberg). The less frequent occurrence of the Divine name in the Thol-doth of Isaac than in those of Terah has been explained by the fact that the historical matter of the later portion furnishes less occasion for its introduction than that of the earlier; and the predominance of the name Elohim over that of Jehovah in the second stage of the patriarchal history has been partly ascribed to the employment after Abraham's time of such like equivalent expressions as "God of Abraham" and "God of my father" (Keil) - for his wife, - literally, opposite to his wife, i.e. beside his wife, placing himself opposite her, and conjoining his supplications with hers (Ainsworth, Bush); or, better, in behalf of his wife (LXX., Vulgate, Calvin, Keil, Kalisch), i.e. setting her over against him as the sole object to which he had regard in his intercessions (Luther) - because she was barren: - as Sarah had been before her (vide Genesis 11:80); the long-continued sterility of both having been designed to show partly that "children are the heritage of the Lord" (Psalm 127:3), but chiefly that the children of the promise were to be not simply the fruit of nature, but the gift of grace and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived (cf. Romans 9:10).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife,.... Was very earnest and constant in his supplications for her, as the word signifies, as is observed by Jarchi; or, "before his wife" (a), she being present, and joining with him in his prayers: the reason was:
because she was barren; which appeared by the length of time they had been married, which was near twenty years, see Genesis 25:26. The Jewish writers (b) say, that, after twenty years, Isaac took her and went with her to Mount Moriah, to the place where he was bound, and prayed that she might conceive; putting the Lord in mind of the promise he there made of the multiplication of Abraham's seed, Genesis 22:17,
and the Lord was entreated of him; he granted him his request; for, though God has purposed and promised to do many things for his people, yet he will be sought unto by them to do them for them:
and Rebekah his wife conceived; two sons at once, as it follows.
(a) "praesente uxore sua", Munster, Fagins. (b) Pirke Eliezer, c. 32. Targum. Jon. in loc. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 3. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife—Though tried in a similar way to his father, he did not follow the same crooked policy. Twenty years he continued unblessed with offspring, whose seed was to be "as the stars" [Ge 26:4]. But in answer to their mutual prayers (1Pe 3:7), Rebekah was divinely informed that she was to be the mother of twins, who should be the progenitors of two independent nations; that the descendants of the younger should be the more powerful and subdue those of the other (Ro 9:12; 2Ch 21:8).
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