After the wedding of Isaac and Rebekah scripture tells us that Abraham took another wife (Keturah) by whom he had six more children. It is doubtful that she really was his wife, and was probably a concubine (a secondary wife whose children would have no legal rights of inheritance). This from Gen 25:5
“Abraham gave all he had to Isaac. But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country.”
Shortly after this Abraham passes and we enter into some very interesting passages. I will discuss, briefly, his burial, then go into the current situation regarding his tomb, and the sad status today of his children.
Scripture says that Abraham died at the age of 175. We are told that Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the tomb at Mach-pelah, in a cave he purchased to bury Sarah. This is the same cave where Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Leah are also buried. This is one of the points I would like to comment on, and this is pure conjecture, with no proof other than Gen 25:9
“Isaac and Ishmael, his sons, buried him“
For Ishmael to have been there for the burial Isaac would have had to send word that their father had passed. That means that, despite their mothers, Isaac and Ishmael were probably on good terms. Speaking as someone estranged from his brother, communications can be strained, and both good and bad news can be kept from brothers not in contact, even with the easy communications we have these days. As I presented earlier in this exegesis, I feel the issues between these two brothers were centered about the animosity between Sarah and Hagar, and not between the boys themselves. I think that when Abraham pass Isaac did the natural thing and sent word to Ishmael so that both could, together, bury their father. I further believe that the feeling was mutual with Ishmael, that despite the distance between them he answered Isaac’s call and wanted to be with him and to help bury their father. If there was any feelings of hatred between them it would have been easy for Isaac not to inform Ishmael, and just as easy for Ishmael not to respond, both loved their father, and I believe that both loved their brother.
The second item here that I would like to speak about is over the burial site itself. The site is located in Hebron, in the West Bank, under Palestinian control. The burial site has changed hands many times over the centuries, having fallen out of the hands of the Jewish people after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D, then back into their control in the 1960’s. It has changed hands between Christians, Muslims and Jews for the last 2,000 years, and is currently in a tenuous state, controlled by the Palestinian Authority, who have restricted access for Muslims and Jews, but seem to give a wider berth to others. The last time it was freely available for all to visit was during the reign of Saladin in the 12th Century. The PA is doing their best to keep access open, and you have to give credit to the government for trying to keep the peace over this sacred site. At the time of this writing Jews and Muslims are restricted to separate areas, others have a free choice over where they can go, but all must adhere to strict dress and security policies. Let’s pray that one day this sacred site will be freely open to all of the children of Abraham equally, and that the love of Isaac and Ishmael will be restored one day.
Peace, Salam, Shalom.