“Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham.13 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17 Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. 18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go towards Ashur. And they lived in hostility towards all the tribes related to them.”NIV

‘’Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people’’ (17).

When Ishmael was my age he still had more than half his life ahead of him. Nevertheless, he died. Even when life is long it is short. After writing yesterday’s thought, I laughed out loud when I read a letter from a Cheltenham vicar in ‘the Spectator’. He wrote: ‘’As a vicar, I’ve been the recipient of many a missive signed off with…flair. My collection moves from the solid ‘In Him’, through the invigorating ‘In His Grip’ to the faintly troubling ‘Under Aslan’s Paw’, and many besides. I’ve always enjoyed working with one particular funeral director, who ends his emails ‘Yours eventually’.’’

Many a true word…!

By the time we reach verse 18 of this chapter two major figures, Abraham and Ishmael are both dead. I am reminded that, as someone observed, ‘Death is the ultimate statistic. One out of one dies.’

Mention of the ‘’hostility’’ of the Ishmaelites ‘’towards all their brothers’’ (18) makes (9) seem all the more poignant and touching: ‘’His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him…’’ As has been observed, death is a human experience which binds all people together in spite of natural differences.

(P.S. You may have noticed that already I am lingering longer in chapter 25 than I originally intended. But I am noticing features in the Biblical landscape I feel I need to point out. So I will apply the break a little).