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wilderness of Beer-sheba. 15. And when the water was spent in the bottle, she placed the young man under one of the shrubs. 16. And she went, and sat down opposite him, at a distance like a bowshot: for she said, I will not see the death of the child. And she sat opposite him, and lifted up her voice, and wept. 17. And God heard the voice of the youth; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, What aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the youth where he is. 18. Arise, take the youth, and hold him by thy hand; for I shall make him to a great nation. 19. And God opened her
eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she
oxen, or sheep were generally, and those ed; if happiness and wretchedness are at all of asses and camels frequently employed. under the control of Providence, this enorThe vessels were carried on the back or mous calamity of the mother and the son shoulder, as may still be seen in many cannot have been accidental or unmeaning. parts of Asia.
However, their guilt is obvious; it was But Hagar lost her way in the track- similar, like their suffering;- both had inless desert; and her provisions were ex- sulted those who ought to have been to hausted before she had reached her de. them objects of respect and veneration; stination, or had arrived at an inhabited Hagar despised Sarah, Ishmael sneered at place. And now her trials, severer even Isaac; the former boasted of her concepthan those encountered at her first flight tion, the latter of his primogeniture; the from Abraham's house, began anew; on one forgot the dignity of a prophet's wife, the former occasion she does not seem to the other the higher promises vouchsafed have suffered any physical want; she was to her son. Yet pozority of birth establishsitting at a well of water, when the angel es no truly higher claim; thus Cain, the of God appeared to her, and ordered her first-born son of Adam, was less acceptto return to her mistress (xvi. 7); the rea- able to God than Abel; and Esau was son of this command was, that Ishmael subordinate to Jacob. Not physical, but should be born under the sacred roof of spiritual birthright constitutes the greater the pious patriarch, that he might parti- blessing; primogeniture may secure greater cipate in the covenant of circumcision worldly possession, but it does not com(xvii. 25), and thus be included in the bless- mand that true felicity which is accessible ings of the race from which he was de
to every man according to his virtue. This scended. But this time she was tormented important truth, which a nation with an by thirst, the most fearful of all privations agrarian constitution, like that of Mosaism, in the desert; a horrible death stared in easily forgets, is with great power embo. her face; her pangs were a thousandfold died in Ishmael's history, every part of multiplied by the distressing sufferings of which is truth, and life, and instruction. her son, whose vital powers began to fail; “ Touch not my anointed, nor harm my and lest her heart should break at the sight prophets” (Ps. cv. 15); this warning, reof his death, she put him under a shrub, ceived and heeded by Pharaoh and Abiand sat down at some distance, whence melech, was neglected by Hagar and her she mingled her accents of despair with his son; and they endured the consequences cries of agony. That this awful visitation of their stubborn pride. But Ishmael was was iutended as a punishment, is undoubt- yet Abraham's son: when, therefore, an
went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the youth to drink. 20. And God was with the youth; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became a great archer. 21. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took for him a wife from the land of Egypt.
22. And it was at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his army spoke to Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: 23. And now swear to me here by God, that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my offspring, nor with my progeny: according to the kindness that I have done to thee, thou shalt do to me, and to the land wherein thou sojournest. 24. And Abraham said, I will swear. 25. And Abraham reproved Abimelech on account of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. 26. And Abimelech said, I do not know who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, nor did I hear of it, but to-day. 27. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them to Abimelech; and they made both a covenant. 28. And Abraham placed seven lambs of the flock by themselves. 29. And Abimelech said to Abraham, What do these seven lambs mean which thou hast placed by themselves? 30. And he said, Surely, these seven lambs thou shalt
guish of death seemed nearly to overwhelm him, God sent His angel to rescue him; He had waited till all natural hope was passed, in order to show more clearly His immediate regard, and His miraculous aid. He opened Hagar's eyes, and she saw a fountain, which had before escaped her searching looks. As the wild desert wa3 destined for Ishmael's unbounded home, he was not led back to Abraham's house, from which he was henceforward separated; but he took up his abode in the wilderness of Paran, became skilled in the art of the bow, in which many Bedouin tribes greatly excelled; and, in order to com. plete the estrangement from Isaac and his progeny, he took a wife chosen for him by his mother from Egypt, the land of her birth and the land of superstition.
23–34. Nobody had learnt more strikingly the preternatural care with which Abraham was guarded by God, than Abimelech, the king of Gerar (xx.). Expediency, therefore, not less than piety, urged him to seek a closer alliance with the patriarch; he was, no doubt, supposed to have hcard and believed the promises received by Abraham regarding the possession of Canaan; and he was, therefore, anxious to secure the integrity of his own territory; he had a right to appeal to Abraham's sense of justice, and even to his gratitude (xx. 14–16); and he requested him to swcar by that God, who was his hope and his protection. Abraham readily complied,
and offered a solemn assurance. We may hence infer the historical fact, that, for some time at least, the southern part of Philistia was not attacked by the Hebrews. But, though the Philistines were never subjugated by them, it is certain that almost incessant hostilities were carried on between both nations. Thus, immediately after the conclusion of the alliance, a contention arose, which threatened to result in bitter enmity. Abimelech's servants had violently seized a well dug by Abraham. A more serious injury can scarcely be inflicted on a nomad chief rich in flocks and herds. The possession of a well in arid regions not unfrequently causes strife and warfare between whole tribes; and the protection of his wells is a prominent object of solicitude to an Arab sheikh. Abimelech, therefore, perceived fully the force of Abraham's complaint; he was indignant at the injustice of his slaves, of which he had never before been informed. But the patriarch, desirous of obtaining a guarantee which might, in future, shield his property against Abimelech's subjects also, conducted him to the well; and here concluded with him a treaty, by dividing animals, and passing between the dissected parts; but, in order to impart still greater solemnity to the ceremony, he gave besides seven lambs to Abimelech, to serve as a proof and a witness that the well belonged to himself.
Both when Abraham promised to Abimelech the safe possession of his land, and
when Abimelech swore to Abraham un- of public jurisdiction (1 Sam. viii. 2). But disturbed occupation of the well, the Phi- Beer-sheba acquired later another less delistine king was accompanied by the chief sirable celebrity; it was, in the time of the commander of his troops. This circum- prophet Amos, one of the chief seats of stance gives to the transactions a political Hebrew idolatry; it is, in this respect, character, and a more extensive scope. mentioned together with Samaria, Gilgal, The alliance was not to be personal, nor and Bethel (Am. v.5; viii. 13, 14); and should it depend on the individual virtues we have here, therefore, the same admoand inclinations of the two contracting nitory anticipations, which have been noparties, but was to be inherited to their ticed in almost all places connected with descendants as a part of their political and the patriarch's history. And lest there social obligations. The locality of Beer- be any doubt, the text adds, that Abraeheba is evidently treated with peculiar ham planted in Beer-sheba a tamarisk, interest, not in this passage only, but in
and here “invoked the name of the several other parts of the Pentateuch. Lord, the everlasting God.” Nor is this Ilere God appeared to Isaac, who built an notice without dogmatical importance; for altar to commemorate the vision (xxvi. 24, the patriarch's example shows, that wor. 25); the name is again explained by an ship under “a green tree” is not under all occurrence similar to that related in our circumstances criminal and objectionable, chapter (xxvi. 26–33); and here God as might later have been wrongly deduced gave encouraging promises to Jacob when from the exhortations of the prophets; he was on the point of leaving the terri- but only if it is addressed to idols, and tory of Canaan (xlvi. 1-4). From the not to God: we have here a practical inlatter passage, the significance of Beer- stance of the doctrine: “In all places sheba is especially evident; it was the where I shall let my name be mentioned, boundary-town of Canaan in the south; I will come to thee, and I will bless thee" the point which separated the Holy Land (Exod. xx. 21). — The town Beer-sheba from profane ground, not standing under cxisted not only after the exile, but in the same immediate protection of God. the time of Jerome and Eusebius; and It was, therefore, important, that the pa- eren at present, about thirty Roman miles triarch should in this place own property south of Hebron, ruins of houses are found guaranteed to him by the heathen king; at a place called Bir-es-Seba, with two from this southern part, his descendants deep wells of clear and abundant water. should spread northward till they reached The tamarisk especially was, besides the Dan, at the foot of the Lebanon; and oak and the terebinth, employed to comhence it was, in the time of Samuel, a place memorate historical events; and on the
take of my hand, that it may be a witness to me, that I have dug this well. 31. Therefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they swore both of them.
. 32. Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba. Then Abimelech rose, and Phichol the chief captain of his army, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. 33. And Abraham planted a tamarisk in Beer-sheba, and there invoked the name of the Lord, the everlasting God. 34. And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines many days.
ruins of the Kasr at Babylon stands a perties. It attains the size of the olive-tree, celebrated tamarisk, noticed and de- and often of the oak; the wood is of great scribed by many modern explorers, and hardness; it is, therefore, used both for still venerated by the Moslems in its fuel and for vessels; and it is cultivated hollow and shattered trunk, because they by the Arabians both for these purposes, believe, that it gave shade and shelter and for the charcoal it yields, and the nutto the calif Ali after the battle of Hillah. gall it bears. Tamarisks have been found The tamarisk occurs in numerous varieties in the very locality of the ancient Beerin Egypt and western Asia; Syria and sheba. It seems, in some regions, to have Palestine offer many specimens; in Arabia been a sacred tree; for the Lesbian Apollo and the Peninsula of Mount Sinai grows carried a branch of it in his hand; and the species of Tarafa which yields the the same custom was followed by his manna; and other kinds of the same tree priests and votaries, when pronouncing are highly valued for their medicinal pro- prophecies.
CHAPTER XXII. SUMMARY.- In order to prove the strength of Abraham's faith, God commanded him
to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. He obeyed unmurmuringly: but when he was about to perform the fatal act, God ordered him to desist from it, and repeated emphatically all the promises before made to him. The patriarch returned to Beer-sheba, and here learnt, not long afterwards, the increase of his brother Nahor's family; one of his sons was Bethuel, whose daughter was Rebekah.
1. And it was after these things that God tried Abraham, and said to him, Abraham: and he said, Behold,
1-10. The life of Abraham presents a gradation of difficulties, powerfully typifying the multifarious struggles of the human mind for piety and happiness. He severed the ties which bound him to the land of his birth and childhood, to begin a new life in an unknown land.
This was the first triumph of the spirit and of faith. He had scarcely arrived in the distant country, destined as his inheritance, when a famine compelled him to seek refuge
in another happier land; but he murmured not, and he returned to Canaan with joyful hopes. This was his second triumph. He saw, without jealousy, the wealth of his kinsman Lot increase; and he permitted him to choose for himself the most desirable districts of the land. He rescued the property of the cities of the Salt Sea from the hands of mighty conquerors by a perilous expedition, and prayed for their preservation with an al
here I am.
2. And He said, Take now thy son, thy only one, whom thou lovest, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I shall tell thee. 3. And Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clove the wood for the burnt-offering, and rose, and went to the place which God had told him. 4. On the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place from afar. 5. And Abraham said to his young men, Remain here with the ass; and I and the youth will go thither, and we most vehement fervour. He believed in of election among the nations, and the the promise of a son to be born to his old later Jews their hopes of atonement; it age; and by faith silenced the doubts served the Christians as a type of reraised by nature and experience. And demption and salvation through faith; when Sarah, at last, gave birth to a son, and it is in the religion of Mohammed he considered himself as the progenitor of glorified as the highest example and a great and happy nation; he looked model of piety. It has, indeed, exercised through the wide vistas of time into the a powerful and ennobling influence upon sunny future, when the whole earth almost all nations and all times. would be blessed with truth through his God tried Abraham. He proved him secd; and a sublime joy uplifted his soul. whether he was worthy of being the While he was absorbed in these glorious hope of mankind. Man learns the dispothoughts, and saw that son, by whom sition of his heart best by its manifestathey should be realised, growing up tions; for though the will may be virand blooming in youth, God command- tuous, it often lacks the energy to mature ed him to offer up that child of his love into deed. This effort is the merit of and his hope, that sun of his existence, as man, and constitutes a chief part of his a burnt sacrifice on a mountain which carthly task. God, therefore, sends trials He would show him. Who can describe to those He loves: He tried the Israelites the unspeakable pangs of the father? The immediately after they left Egypt at the whole history of Abraham had tended to waters of Marah, that they might convince this event, as the culminating point of themselves whether they were worthy of the his faith. God had shown preternatural miraculous redemption (Exod.xv.25); He love towards the patriarch; and the patri- tried them by the edict concerning the arch was required to make a superhuman daily gathering of the manna (Exod. xvi. effort to deserve it. He had more than 4); by the proclamation of the Decalogue once proved that his spirit was stronger (Exod. xx, 17), and by not extirpating than his human affections; it remained all the heathens in Canaan, that they now to show that he avowed himself to might show the strength of their belief by be an instrument in the hand of a higher keeping aloof from contamination (Judg. power, whose glory alone hc desired. ii. 22; ii, 1, 4, etc.); He sent even someThe adiness of Abraham to sacrifice his times false prophets, performing miracles son has always been considered as the but preaching false gods and idolatrous greatest deed of faith on record, and as doctrines, to try their fortitude in adheran act of self-control at which the mind ing to the Law (Deut. xiii. 4). But all stands amazed. It became the basis on such trials are sent only when wenkness which the Israelites founded their claims and sin preceded; althongh they may