Genesis 25:21
And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Genesis 25:21. And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife — Though God had promised to multiply his family, he prayed for it; for God’s promises must not supersede, but encourage our prayers, and be improved as the ground of our faith. Though he had prayed for this mercy many years, and it was not granted, yet he did not leave off praying for it.

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? - LIII. Birth of Esau and Jacob

20. פדן padān, Paddan, "plowed field;" related: "cut, plow."

25. עשׂי ‛êśâv, 'Esaw, "hairy, or made."

26. יעקב ya‛ăqôb, Ja'aqob, "he shall take the heel."

27. תם tām, "perfect, peaceful, plain." The epithet refers to disposition, and contrasts the comparatively civilized character of Jacob with the rude temper of Esau.

30. אדים 'ědôm, Edom, "red."

The ninth document here begins with the usual phrase, and continues to the end of the thirty-fifth chapter. It contains the history of the second of the three patriarchs, or rather, indeed, as the opening phrase intimates, of the generations of Isaac; that is, of his son Jacob. Isaac himself makes little figure in the sacred history. Born when his mother was ninety, and his father a hundred years of age, he is of a sedate, contemplative, and yielding disposition. Consenting to be laid on the altar as a sacrifice to God, he had the stamp of submission early and deeply impressed on his soul. His life corresponds with these antecedents. Hence, in the spiritual aspect of his character he was the man of patience, of acquiescence, of susceptibility, of obedience. His qualities were those of the son, as Abraham's were those of the father. He carried out, but did not initiate; he followed, but did not lead; he continued, but did not commence. Accordingly, the docile and patient side of the saintly character is now to be presented to our view.

Genesis 25:19-26

The birth of Esau and Jacob. "The son of forty years." Hence, we learn that Isaac was married the third year after his mother's death, when Abraham was in his hundred and fortieth year. "Bethuel the Aramaean." As Bethuel was a descendant of Arpakshad, not of Aram, he is here designated, not by his descent, but by his adopted country Aram. By descent he was a Kasdi or Kaldee. Sarah was barren for at least thirty years; Rebekah for nineteen years. This drew forth the prayer of Isaac in regard to his wife. The heir of promise was to be a child of prayer, and accordingly when the prayer ascended the fruit of the womb was given. Rebekah had unwonted sensations connected with her pregnancy. She said to herself, "If it be so," if I have conceived seed, "why am I thus," why this strange struggle within me? In the artlessness of her faith she goes to the Lord for an explanation. We are not informed in what way she consulted God, or how he replied. The expression, "she went to inquire of the Lord," implies that there was some place of worship and communion with God by prayer. We are not to suppose that she went to Abraham, or any other prophet, if such were then at hand, when we have no intimation of this in the text. Her communication with the Lord seems to have been direct. This passage conveys to us the intimation that there was now a fixed mode and perhaps place of inquiring at the Lord. The Lord answers the mother of the promised seed. Two children are in her womb, the parents of two nations, differing in their dispositions and destinies. The one is to be stronger than the other. The order of nature is to be reversed in them; for the older will serve the younger. Their struggles in the womb are a prelude to their future history.

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). 1838

He prayed, as the Hebrew word signifies, instantly or fervently, frequently and continually, for near twenty years together; for so long, it was between their marriage and the first child. He was so much concerned, because not only his comfort, but the truth of God’s promise, depended upon this mercy; and he knew very well that God’s purpose and promise did not exclude, but require the use of all convenient means for their accomplishment.

For his wife; or, in the presence of his wife; signifying that, besides their more secret devotions, they did oftentimes in a more solemn manner, and with united force, pray for this mercy wherein they were both equally concerned. Or, over against his wife, noting that each of them did severally and apart entreat God for this mercy, so that there was a concurrence, if not in place, yet in design and action.

She was barren, as divers of those holy women that were progenitors of Christ have long been, that it might appear that that sacred stock was propagated more by the virtue of God’s grace and promise than by the power of nature.

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.

And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. barren] As in the case of Sarah (Genesis 11:30) and of Rachel (Genesis 29:31). Rebekah has at first no children. The Chosen People are the children of God’s gift. In each generation patience is made the test of faith. Cf. the birth of Samson (Jdg 13:2) and Samuel (1 Samuel 1).

was intreated] Allowed Himself to be interceded with, i.e. listened to the prayer, as in 2 Samuel 21:14; 2 Samuel 24:25.

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). Genesis 25:21Isaac's marriage, like Abraham's, was for a long time unfruitful; not to extreme old age, however, but only for 20 years. The seed of the promise was to be prayed for from the Lord, that it might not be regarded merely as a fruit of nature, but be received and recognised as a gift of grace. At the same time Isaac was to be exercised in the patience of faith in the promise of God. After this lengthened test, Jehovah heard his prayer in relation to his wife. לנוכח, Genesis 25:21 and Genesis 30:38, lit., opposite to, so that the object is before the eyes, has been well explained by Luther thus: quod toto pectore et intentus in calamitatem uxoris oraverit. Sicut quando oro pro aliquo, propono illum mihi in conspectum cordis mei, et nihil aliud video aut cogito; in eum solum animo intueor.
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