Page images

case; and when the water was almost spent, she pleasing to God before the preservation of his own laid the young child, who was ready to expire, son. under a fir-tree, and went on farther, so that he Now Abraham thought that it was not right to might die while she was absent; but a divine disobey God in any thing, but that he was obliged angel came to her, and told her of a fountain hard to serve him in every circumstance of life, since by, and bid her take care, and bring up the child, all creatures that live enjoy their life by his because she should be very happy by the preser- providence, and the kindness he bestows on them; vation of Ismael. She then took courage upon accordingly he concealed this command of God, the prospect of what was promised her, and meet- and his own intentions about the slaughter of his ing with some shepherds, by their care she got son, from his wife, as also from every one of his serclear of the distresses she had been in.

vants, otherwise he would have been hindered from When the lad was grown up, he married a wife, his obedience to God; and he took Isaac together by birth an Egyptian; from whence the mother with two of his servants, and laying what things was herself derived originally. Of this wife were were necessary for a sacrifice, upon an ass, he went born to Ismael twelve sons; Nabioth, Kedar, Ab- away to the mountain. Now the two servants deel, Mabsam, Idumas, Masmaos, Massaos, Cho- went along with him two days, but on the third dad, Theman, Jetur, Naphesus, and Kadmas. day, as soon as he saw the mountain, he left those These inhabited all the country from Euphrates to servants that were with him till then in the plain; the Red Sea, and called it Nabatene. They are and having his son alone with him, he caine to the an Arabian nation, and name their tribes from mountain. It was that mountain upon which king these, both because of their own virtue, and be- David afterwards builtf the temple. Now they cause of the dignity of Abraham their father. had brought with them every thing necessary for

a sacrifice, excepting the animal that was to be CHAP. XIII.

offered. Now Isaac was twenty-five years old, and as he was building the altar, he asked his

father what he was about to offer, since there was Now Abraham greatly loved Isaac, as being no animal there for an oblation; to which it was his only begotten,* and given to him at the bor- answered, that God would provide himself an obders of old age, by the favour of God. The child lation, he being able to make a plentiful provision also endeared himself to his parents still more, by for men out of what they have not, and to deprive the exercise of every virtue, and adhering to his others of what they already have, when they put duty to his parents, and being zealous in the wor- too much trust therein; that, therefore, if God ship of God. Abraham placed also his own hap- pleased to be present and propitious at this sacripiness wholly in this prospect, that when he should fice, he would provide himself with an oblation. die he should leave his son in a safe and secure As soon as the altar was prepared, and Abrą. condition, which accordingly he obtained by the ham had laid on the wood, and all things were will of God; who, being desirous to make an ex- entirely ready, he said to his son, “O son! I pourperiment of Abraham's religious disposition to ed out a vast number of prayers that I might have wards himself, appeared to him, and enumerated thee for my son ; when thou wast come into the all the blessings he had bestowed on him ; how he world, there was nothing that could contribute to made him superior to his enemies; and that his thy support for which I was not greatly solicison Isaac, who was the principal part of his pres- tous: nor any thing wherein I thought myself hapent happiness, was derived from him, and he said pier than to see thee grown up to man's estate ; that he required this son of his as a sacrifice, and and that I might leave thee, at my death, the suca holy oblation. Accordingly he commanded him cessor to my dominion; but since it was by God's to carry him to the mountain Moriah,t and to build will that I became thy father, and is now his will an altar, and offer him for a burnt-offering upon that I relinquish thee, bear this consecration to

for that this would best manifest his religious God with a generous mind; for I resign thee up disposition towards him, if he preferred what was to God, who hath thought fit now to require this



* Note that both here and Heb. xi. 17, Isaac is called Abra. it was certainly no other than king Solomon, who built that ham's Movoyevñ, only begotten son, though he at the same time temple, as indeed Procopius cites it from Josephus ; only if we had another son, Israel. The Septuagint express the true mean change ispov into Bwuov, temple into altar, we need not correct ing by rendering the text by Syarnòv, the beloved son. the name, for it was David and not Solomon, wlio built the fist | Gen. xxii. 2.

altar there, as we learn, 2 Sam. xxiv. 18, &c. 1 Chron. xxi. 22, # Here is a plain error in the copies, which say that king &c. David afterwards built the temple on this mount Moriah, while s An. 1922.

testimony of honour to himself on account of the of the land of Canaan, and be envied by all men. favours he hath conferred on me, in being to me When God had said this, he produced to them a a supporter and defender. 'Accordingly thou, my ram, which did not appear before, for the sacrifice; son, wilt now die, not in any common way of so Abraham and Isaac receiving each other unexgoing out of the world, but sent to God, the father pectedly, and having obtained the promises of such of all men, beforehand, by thy own father, in the great blessings, embraced one another; and when nature of a sacrifice. I suppose he thinks thee they had sacrificed, they returned to Sarah, and worthy to leave this world, neither by disease, by lived happily together, God affording them his assistwar, nor any other severe way by which death ance in all things they desired. usually comes upon men, but so that he will receive thy soul with prayers and holy offices of re

CHAP. XIV. ligion, and will place thee near to himself, and thou wilt there be to me a succourer and sup

OF THE DEATH AND BURIAL OF SARAH, ABRAHAM'S WIFE. porter in my old age, on which account I princi Now Saraht died a little while afterward, having pally brought thee up; and thou wilt thereby pro- lived one hundred and twenty-seven years. They cure me God for my comforter instead of thyself.” buried her in Hebron, the Canaanites publicly

Now Isaac was of such a generous disposition allowing them a burying-place, which piece of ground as became the son of such a father, and was pleased Abraham bought, for four hundred shekels, of with this discourse, and said that he was not worthy Ephron, an inhabitant of Hebron: and both Abrato be born at first, if he should reject the determina- ham and his descendants built themselves sepulchres tion of God and of his father, and should not resign in that place. himself up readily to both their pleasures ; since it would have been unjust if he had not obeyed, even

CHAP. XV if his father alone had so resolved : so he went im OF THE NATION OF THE TROGLODYTES, WHO WERE DERIVED mediately to the altar to be sacrificed; and the deed had been done if God had not opposed it, for he ABRAHAM after this married Keturah, by whom called loudly to Abraham by his name, and forbade six sons were born to him, men of courage, and of him to slay his son, and said it was not out of a sagacious minds. Zambran, and Jazar, and Madan, desire of human blood that he was commanded to and Madian, and Josabak and Sous. Now the sons slay his son, nor was he willing that he should be of Sous were Sabathan and Dadan. The sons of taken away from him whom he had made his father, Dadan were Latusim, Assur, and Luom. The sons but to try the temper of his mind, whether he would of Madian were Ephas, Ophren, Anoch, Ebidas, be obedient to such a command: since, therefore, he and Eldas. Now Abraham contrived to settle all now was satisfied as to the surprising readiness he these sons and grandsons in colonies, and they took showed in his piety, he was delighted in having be- possession of Troglodytis, and the country of Arabia stowed such blessings upon him, and that he would the Happy, as far as it reaches to the Red Sea. It not be wanting in all sort of concern about him; is related of Ophren, that he made war against and that his son should live to a very great age, Libya, and took it; and that his grandchildren, that he should live a happy life, and bequeath a when they inhabited it, called it from his name large principality to his children, who should be Africa : and indeed Alexander Polyhistor gives his good and legitimate. He foretold also that his attestation to what I here say when he speaks thus: family should

increase into many nations,* and that “Cleodemus, the prophet, who was also called Malthose patriarchs should leave behind them an ever- chus, who wrote a history of the Jews in agreement lasting name; that they should obtain the possession with the history of Moses, their legislator, relates


* It seems, both here and in God's parallel blessing to Jacob, who should die for them in visible and invisible wars, and should c. 19, that Josephus had yet no notion of the hidden meaning | be among them an eternal king.” Nor is that observation of a of that most important and most eminent promise, In thy seed learned foreigner of my acquaintance to be despised, who takes shall all the families of the earth be blessed; he saith not of notice, that as seeds in the plural must signify posterity, so seed seeds, as of many, but as of one; and to thy seed, which is in the singular may signify either posterity or a single person ; Christ, Gal. iii. 16. Nor is it any wonder, he being, I think, and that in this promise of all nations being happy in the seed as yet not a Christian: and had he been a Christian, yet since of Abraham, or Isaac, or Jacob, &c. it is always used in the he was till the latter part of his life no more than an Ebonite singular; to which I shall add, that it is sometimes, as it were, Christian, who above all the apostles rejected and despised St. paraphrazed by the son of Abraham, the son of David, &c. Paul, it would be no great wonder if he did not now follow his which is capable of no such ambiguity. See Boyle's Lectures. interpretation. In the mean time we have in effect St. Paul's page 247—272. exposition in the testament of Reuben in Authent. Rec. part I. + Gen. xxii. 13. page 302, who charges his sons “ to worship the seed of Judah, İ Gen. xxiii. 1. 2. An. 1900.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]
[ocr errors]


that there were many sons born to Abraham by to God that Rebeka might be found among them, Keturah. He even names three of them. Apher, or her whom Abraham sent him as his servant to and Surim, and Japhran: that from Surim was the espouse to his son, in case his will were that this land of Assyria denominated; and that from the marriage should be consummated ; and that she other two, Apher and Japhran, the country of Africa might be made known to him by this sign, that took its name; because these men were auxiliaries while others denied him water to drink, she might to Hercules, when he fought against Libya and An- give it him. tæus; and that Hercules married Aphra's daughter, With this intention he went to the well, and and of her begat a son Diodorus; and that Sophon desired the maidens to give him some water to was his son, from whom the barbarous people called drink: but while the others refused, on pretence Sophacians were denominated.”

that they wanted it all at home, and could spare

none for him, one only of the company rebuked CHAP. XVI.

them for their peevish behaviour towards the stranger, and said, “What is there that you will

ever communicate to any body, who have not so Now when Abraham, the father of Isaac, had much as given the man some water ?” She then resolved to take Rebeka, who was granddaughter offered him water in an obliging manner, and he to his brother Nahor, for a wife to his son Isaac, began to hope that this grand affair would sucwho was then about forty* years old, he sent the ceed; but desiring still to know the truth, he comeldest of his servants to betroth her; after he had mended her for her generosity and good-nature, obliged him to give him the strongest assurances of that she did not scruple to afford a sufficiency of his fidelity, after the following manner. They put water to those who wanted it, though it cost her each other's hands under each other's thighs, and some pains to draw it. He then asked her who called

upon God as the witness of what was to be were her parents, and wished them joy of such a done. He also sent such presents to those that daughter; " and mayest thou be espoused,” said were there as were in esteem, on account that they he, to their satisfaction, into the family of an either rarely or never were seen in that country. agreeable husband, and bring him legitimate chilThis servant got thither not under a considerable dren.” Nor did she disdain to satisfy his inquitime; for it requires much time to pass through ries, but told him her family. “They call me ReMesopotamia, in which it is tedious travelling both beka,” said she: “ my father was Bethuel

, but he in winter, for the depth of the clay, and in summer, is dead; and Laban is my brother, and, together for want of water; and besides this, for the robber- with my mother, takes care of all our family ies there committed, which are not to be avoided by affairs, and is my guardian.” When the servant travellers, but by the utmost caution. However, heard this, he was very glad at what had hapthe servant came to Haran; and when he was in pened, and at what was told him, as perceiving the suburbs, he met a considerable number of that God had thus plainly directed his journey; maidens going to the water if he therefore prayed and producing his bracelets, and some other or

* An. 1897.

or goat-skin, and tying their sucking children behind them, † The present mode of swearing among the Mohammedan trudge it in this manner two or three miles to fetch water." Arabs, that live in tents as the patriarchs did, according to de Travels, p. 421. la Roque, (Voy. dans la Pal. p. 152.) is by laying their hands

The same custom prevailed in ancient Greece. Homer repreon the Koran. They cause those who swear to wash their hands

sents Minerva meeting Ulysses as the sun was going down, before they give them the book ; they put their left hand under- under the form of a Phæcian virgin carrying a pitcher of water, neath, and the right over it. Whether, among the patriarchs that being the time when the maidens went out to draw water. one hand was under, and the other upon the thigh, is not certain;

When near the fam'd Phæcian wall he drew, possibly Abraham's servant might swear with one hand under

The beauteous city op'ning to his view, his master's thigh, and the other stretched out to Heaven. As

His step a virgin met, and stood before ;

A polish'd urn the seeming virgin bore. the posterity of the patriarchs are described as coming out of

Odyss. b. ya. 23. POPE. the thigh, it has been supposed, this ceremony had some rela See also Odyss. lib. x. 105. tion to their believing the promise of God, to bless all the A similar custom prevailed also in Armenia, as may be seen nations of the earth, by means of one that was to descend from | in Xenophon's Anabasis, b. iv. B. Abraham. B. HARMER, vol. iv. p. 477.

s The weight of the ornaments put upon


appears Homer mentions the same custom of women's being em- extraordinary. But Chardin assures us, that even heavier were ployed in drawing water among the Phæcians and Læstrygonians. worn by the women of the East when he was there. He says (Od. vii. 20. et x. 105.) Dr. Shaw, speaking of the occupations that the women wear rings and bracelets of as great weight as of the Moorish women in Barbary, says, “ to finish the day, at this, and even heavier, through all Asia. They are rather manthe time of the evening, even at the time that the women go acles than bracelets. There are some as large as the finger. out to draw water, they are still to fit themselves with a pitcher The women wear several of them, one above the other, in such

« PreviousContinue »