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thy soul with prayers and holy offices of religion, spd will place thee near to himself, and thou wilt there be to me a succour and support to my old age, on which account I principally brought thee up, and will thereby procure me God for my comforter, instead of thyself. Isase replied that he was not worthy to be born at first, if he should oppose the will of God and his father; since it would have been wrong not to obey even his father alone, if he had so resolved. So he went immediately to the altar to be sacrificed. But God called loudly to Abraham by name, and forbade him to slay his son; saying he was satisfied by the surprising readiness he showed in this bis piety, and was now delighted that he bad bestowed so many blessings upon him. He foretold also that his family should increase into many nations; that those patriarchs should obtain possession of the land of Canaan, be enried by all men, and leave behind them an everlasting name When God had said this, he produced a ram for the scrifice, which did not appear before.**
The common idea of the sacredness of grores seems to have been inherited by Abraham; for we are told that at Beersheba he planted a grove, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God." Of the rite of circon cision no mention is made until twenty-four years after his visit to Egypt, and fourteen years after he had taken sa Egyptian concubine. Hebrew Scriptures inform us the when her child was thirteen years old, and Abraham s ninety-nine, “God made a covenant with him, saying Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and the rite was accordingly performed on Abraham and all lis household
Jewish traditions say the soul of Adam passed into Abraham; the same soul afterward inhabited the form of king David; and it will again animate the Messiah, who ther expect. Some Rabbis relate that the mere sights precious stone hung about Abraham's neck, eured ali man ner of diseases; and after his death, God hung that jewel on the sun.
ihreptian concubina foarteen yearsenty-four seas
Abraham was the first who was called a Hebrew, from Hibri, meaning beyond the Euphrates. Some derive the appellation from Heber, one of the ancestors of Abraham; but this is probably erroneous.
In the times of Isaac and Jacob, the Hebrews were merely one nomadic family of herdsmen and hunters. The oldest in every family performed their simple religious ceremonies; for as yet they had no priesthood. Isaac and Jacob both married descendants of Abraham's brother Nahor, who had remained in Mesopotamia when other members of the family departed for Canaan. The nature of their worship is indicated by the fact that when Rachel left her father's house, she stole his images of the gods. Similar ideas were doubtless mingled with the education of her children, who were men and women when Jacob removed to Bethel. Before he sacrificed to the God of Abraham on the altar he had erected there," he said to his household, and to those that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you. And he gave unto Jacob all the strange gods that were in their hands, and he hid them under the oak."
The patriarchal modes of worship resembled those of all the nations round about. That ablution was practised before they performed religious ceremonies, is shown by Jacob's injunction to his household to make themselves clean and change their garments before they sacrificed to the Lord. Wherever they had a remarkable adventure, or a prophetic dream, they set up a pillar of stone, anointed it with oil, and “poured a drink-offering thereon.” Altars were generally built on mountains or hills, where they sacrificed animals, or offered oblations of fruit and grain. Jacob vowed a place for worship called Bethel, which means God's house; and there he promised to pay tithes of all God should give him.
Angels are spoken of as appearing to the patriarchs not only in dreams, but visibly in waking moments. " Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him; and when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God's host." Josephus says: "Jacob meeting with an angel, wrestled with him; the angel beginning the struggle. But he prevailed over the angel, who used a voice and spake to him in words, exhorting him to be pleased with what had happened to him, and not to suppose the victory was a small one; for he had overcome a divine angel, and ought to esteem the victory a sign of great blessings that should come to him. He also commanded him to be called Israel, which in the Hebrew tongue signifies one that struggled with the divine angel. These promises were made at the prayer of Jacob; for when he perceived him to be the angel of God, he desired he would signify to him what should befall him hereafter. When the angel had said what is before related, he disappeared. Jacob was pleased with these things, and named the place Phanuel, which signifies the face of God. Now when he felt pain upon his broad sinew by this strug. gling, he abstained from eating that sinew afterward; and for his sake it is still not eaten by us.” Hebrew Sacred Books relate the adventure more briefly. Jacob remarks: “I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved;" which implies a belief that he had wrestled with God him. self. The ancient idea that a spirit of prophecy descends on souls about to quit this world, seems to have existed here also; for Jacob on his death-bed foretold the destiny of all his sons. Blessing his grandchildren before he died, he said: “The God of Abraham and Isaac, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads.” Some of the Jewish Rabbis, in their commentaries on this text, say their ancestor did not directly pray to angels, but invoked God through intermediate Spirits, as petitions are presented to the king through his ministers. Others say Jacob prayed to God for blessings, and to the Angel to avert evils.
God is represented as saying to Moses : "I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as Elshaddai; but by my name Jehovah was I not known unto them. Elshaddai is translated the Almighty God. From the few fragments of history which have come down to us, it is not possible to ascertain clearly what ideas of the Divine Being were entertained by these wandering patriarchs. Reverence for the supernatural, which covered ancient Hindostan with altars, filled Egypt with temples, and sent up incense from all the Grecian hills, inspired them also with faith in spiritual agencies, prompted them to offer to God the first-fruits of their fields and flocks, and mingled religious observances with all the events of life. Their moral perceptions were influenced by the rudeness of the age in which they lived; and the same remark applies to the founders of all ancient nations. Hebrew records describe them as men of God; but they also tell us that they quarrelled about their flocks and herds, and resorted to many tricks and falsehoods. Abraham, to ensure his own safety, represented his wife as his sister, and by so doing brought "great plagues on Pharaoh and his house." While Esau had gone out bunting to bring venison for his aged father, Jacob disguised himself in Esau's clothes, and made his hands hairy, in order to obtain the blessing intended for his elder brother. And when the blind old man inquired how he had obtained venison so quickly, he had the har. dihood to answer: “Because the Lord thy God brought it to me.” While he served Laban, we are told he artfully managed to have all the strong cattle of such a colour as Laban had promised to him for wages; but, in conversa. tion with his wives, he devoutly ascribed it all to God: “If your father said, The speckled shall be thy wages, then all the cattle bare speckled. If he said, The ring-straked shall be thy hire, then all the cattle bare ring-straked. Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father and given them to me.” Josephus informs us that “ Jacob was envied and admired for his virtuous sons." But we find eight of them conspiring to murder their younger brother, and dissuaded from their cruel purpose only by the suggestion of one of them to sell him into slavery. Reuben was guilty of dishonourable conduct with his father's concubine. Judah ordered his son's widow to be put to death for incontinence, and was induced to recall the sentence only because she proved to him that he was himself the
father of her child. Shechem, the son of a neighbouring chieftain, in a sudden fit of amorous passion, took Jacob's daughter to himself without asking the consent of relatives or offering the customary purchase-money. He afterward sought to atone for his too violent love, by offering mer riage, and whatever dowry her friends required. Her brothers replied that such a marriage would be impossible, unless he and all his tribe consented to be circumcised, according to the custom of the Hebrews. The ardent young chieftain agreed to these hard terms; but when they had been fully complied with, Jacob's sons slew him and all his people, seized all their possessions, and carried their wives and little ones into captivity
The sale of Joseph by his brethren was the first ciruumstance that brought the posterity of Israel into close connection with Egypt. By his skill in the interpretation of dreams, Joseph rose high in favour with one of the Pharaohs, who named him Psothom Phanec, which signifies the revealer of secrets, and subsequently invited his relstives to reside in a district of his kingdom. How far be assumed the customs of his adopted country, we are not informed. That he did so in some degree, is implied by the fact that he married an Egyptian wife of high rank, daughter of Poti-pherah, priest of On, which Greeks called Heliopo lis. That he practised the magical rites then in vogue, is shown by his describing the cup found in Benjamin's suck as “the cup whereby he divined." When he died, his body was embalmed and buried by Egyptians; but it was afterward carried to the land of Canaan, according to a promise he had required of his brethren. Josephus says the posterity of Jacob remained in Egypt four hundred years. They dwelt apart, in a district assigned to the because " shepherds were an abomination unto the Egyp tians." But though they were a separate people, with a foreign language, the opinions and customs of others grad gally mingled with their own, in the course of centuries
Hebrew Sacred Books inform us that the Egyptians in process of time, became jealous of tho rapid increase of