Following the temptation of Abraham, the angel of the Lord spoke to Abraham and blessed him. Of particular interest are two things that the angel said to Abraham: 1. that his seed would possess the gate of his enemies; and 2. that in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. In this lesson, we will not only study these two things, but we will also see the offspring of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, from whom Rebekah (Isaac’s wife) came. And we will briefly examine the purchase of the grave plot and the burial of Sarah.
The Blessing of Abraham
1. Abraham’s seed would possess the gate of his enemies.
This blessing shows the military conquest of the enemies of the Jews. Throughout the Bible, we find evidence of this blessing but we also find occasions where the Jew’s enemies got the upper hand. Here are some of their historical military victories:
- Joshua 12: 7-24, Joshua’s defeat of 31 kings in Canaan.
- Judges 4, Deborah and Barak’s defeat of Sisera’s army.
- Judges 7-8, Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites.
- Judges 11, Jephthah’s defeat of the Ammonites.
- Judges 16:30, Samson’s defeat of the Philistines.
- 2 Samuel 8:12-14, David’s defeat of the Philistines, Moabites, Zobah, the Syrians, Amalekites and Edomites.
- 2 Chronicles 14, Asa’s defeat of the Ethiopians.
- 2 Chronicles 20:22-24, Jehoshaphat’s defeat of the Ammonites, Moabites, and inhabitants of Mount Seir.
- 2 Kings 19:35-37, Hezekiah’s victory over the Assyrians.
While there have been numerous victories, there have also been many defeats, as a result of Israel’s disobedience. Here are some of their historical military defeats:
- 1 Samuel 5:10-11, the Philistines victory over Israel (Ark taken).
- 1 Samuel 31, the Philistines victory over Saul.
- 2 Kings 17:6, the Assyrians defeat of Israel (Israel carried away captive).
- 2 Kings 25, the Babylonian defeat and captivity of Judah.
History has not come to a close, and so we have yet to see the ultimate fulfillment of this blessing. At the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel will indeed be the ruling nation and they will subdue all of their enemies (Zephaniah 3:8, 14-20; Isaiah 62: 6-7; 66:15-20; Isaiah 60; Zechariah 8:22-23; 9:12-17; 10: 5-12; 12: 9; 14: 1-11; 14:16-19).
2. In Abraham’s seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
This is a promise to any nation that would bless the Jews. In Genesis 12: 3, God had promised to bless all the “families” of the earth that would bless the Jews. Now, he promised to bless all the “nations” that would bless the Jews. The most profound evidence of God’s fulfillment of this promise is seen in the judgment of the nations in Matthew 25: 31-40. The nations that take care of the Jews are counted as righteous nations with the Lord (Zechariah 2:11; 8:22; Malachi 3: 12). Likewise, the nations that refuse to help the Jews will be cursed. As Psalm 122:6 says, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.”
The Offspring of Nahor
Nahor was one of Abraham’s brothers. He still lived in Mesopotamia, the land from which Abraham came. When Abraham gave instructions to his servant to go seek a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24), he told him to go back to Mesopotamia to find a wife from his own people. He found Rebekah. She was a descendant of Nahor. One of Nahor’s 12 children was a man named Bethuel, who was the father of Rebekah. Nahor had 12 sons just like Ishmael (Genesis 25: 12-16) and Jacob (Genesis 35:22-26).
The Burial of Sarah
All of Genesis 23 is devoted to the purchase of the cave of Machpelah and the burial of Sarah. The exchange between Abraham and the children of Heth is very characteristic of Oriental customs. It goes something like this:
“I need a burial plot.”
“Take whatever you want. We’ll give it to you.”
“If you don’t mind, I’d like the cave of Machpelah. I’ll play whatever it’s worth”
“Never mind the price; I’ll give it to you.”
“I wouldn’t dare take it. I’ll pay for it.”
“It’s worth 400 shekels of silver, but what is that among friends?”
“OK, here’s the money.”
“Fine, thank you. Here’s the deed.”
From the start, Ephron was going to sell it and Abraham was going to buy it. They were just very polite with each other in their dealings.
In this purchase, we find two phrases that are still used today in a similar fashion. Abraham paid “current” money; we use the word “currency.” And the field and the cave were made “sure” to Abraham; we issue title insurance (notice the root word “sure” in “insurance”).