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with which his father had blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, Days of grief are at hand for my father; for I will slay my brother Jacob.-42. And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah : and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said to him, Behold, thy brother Esau will take revenge upon thee by killing thee. 43. Now, therefore, my son, listen to my voice; and rise, flee to Laban my brother, to Haran; 44. And remain with him some time, until thy brother's
influence of a father's voice, every re
and there to await the time when he straint was loosened, and he gave vent to
would be able to return with safety; the passion of his heart. He burnt with she herself would watch that he should hatred towards his treacherous brother; not longer be absent from the land and believing that he was ableto annihilate promised to him and his seed than prethe effect of the blessing, he was eager to caution demanded. But she seems to quench his anger in the blood of the de- have supposed that the consideration of ceiver. But while he was wishing to per- his own safety would alone have been petrate the sanguinary deed, the revered insufficient to move Jacob to flee; for she form of his aged father rose before his deemed it necessary to add, as another mind; it seemed for a moment to appease
stimulus, “why should I be bereaved of his ire: yet his hatred was too turbulent, you both in one day"? She evidently too intense; he deplored the wretchedness alluded to the custom of the avenging into which he knew that his father would of blood, which would have forced the be plunged; yet he was unable to pre. nearest relative of Jacob to expiate his vent it; instinct and passion struggled blood by killing Esau. Jacob's journey against each other; but his passion was to Mesopotamia is thus freed from the stronger than his reason, though it did not low motives of selfishness and cowardice, extinguish his love, though it did not cor- and assumes the character of filial affecrupt his heart. What an excellent picture tion. of the true man of nature!
To the remarks on the avenging of 41–45. Rebekah knew well the gene- blood, offered on another occasion(Comm. rous, though vehement disposition of her on Exodus xxi, 12-14), we add a few eldest son.
When, therefore, she was notices concerning its observance in informed of his criminal intentions, which the present time. Though the law of he was too artless sufficiently to conceal, Mohammed teaches, that fathers are not she, with her usual calmness and pru- to be punished for the crimes of their dence, devised a plan which prevented children, nor children for those of their the impending bloodshed and misery. parents, either in this world or in futurity; Acknowledging that Esau had, indeed, this doctrine is far from being generally from an ordinary point of view, been seri- acted upon: on the contrary, the thar, or ously wronged (ver. 45); but convinced duty of blood-revenge devolves upon that his anger would soon cool down, if every one within the fifth generation (or its object were removed; that rankling Khomse), and may be exercised against animosity could not linger in his breast; any one within the same degree of conand that, thoughtless and forgiving, he sanguinity; it is even sometimes asserted was swayed by the impulse of the moment: that the right to the blood-revenge is Rebekah advised Jacob to escape to never lost; that it descends on both Mesopotamia, to her brother Laban, sides to the latest generation. Hence an
anger turneth away; 45. Until thy brother's anger turneth away from thee, and he forgetteth what thou hast done to him: then I shall send, and fetch thee from there: why should I be bereaved of both of you in one day ?46. And Rebekah said to Isaac, I loathe my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters of Heth, such as these, of the daughters of the land, of what avail is life to me? Arab hesitates to tell his name to a usages of the Arabs. The homicide genestranger, or to mention that of his father rally offers to the avenger of blood or of his tribe, for a blood-feud might money as a compromise; but even if this exist between them; children even are is not accepted, he, according to immeinstructed to observe this caution; and morial custom, obtains a truce of “three strangers are, in the open country, re- days and four hours," during which time garded with extreme suspicion; but as he may remove to another tribe, to imguests are inviolable, a homicide is per- plore its protection, which it is considered fectly safe in the tent of a third person, a duty to grant. His relatives generally or even in that of his own persecutor. flee with him; sometimes more than a The price of blood was legally one hun- hundred tents are removed in consequence dred camels (thirty of four years old, of one murder; in almost all encampthirty of five years old, and forty with ments such fugitives from other tribes are young); but to accept less was considered found; fear generally prevents them from virtuous; and the compensation is differ- returning to the nation from which they ent in different tribes; in some of them a sprang; and they gradually amalgamate mare, a black slave, and a gun are indis. with their protectors. But a friendly pensable, besides a certain number of tribe may not be near; the persecutor camels, or their value in other cattle or may be stronger than the new friends of money. It is regarded as an act of great the homicide; and no religious law forbids charity to contribute towards the blood. the former to abstain from insidious money, if the murderer is a poor man, attacks; whereas the arrangements prowho in order to collect the imposed sum, vided by the Mosaic Law, afforded him a frequently, with a chain round his neck, secure and powerful refuge. wanders from te tent thro the 46. Rebekah, concealing from Isaac, desert and all the towns and villages for the sake of his tranquillity, the danger within his reach. To forgive a wound is which menaced Jacob's life from the vedeemed a highly meritorious act of mode- hemence of Esau's passion, yet wishing to ration; but if, after having promised par- accelerate Jacob's departure, considerately don, the wounded yet exacts retaliation, said to her husband, with a certain affectahe is threatened with the everlasting fire. tion of vehemence, that she would regard To pardon murder, as the avenger of her life as a burden and a plague, if Jacob blood has the power to do in Persia, was were, like Esau, to marry a daughter of illegal both in the Mosaic and the Mo- the hateful Hittites: and Isaac readily hammedan law.-A kind of precedent for understood the meaning and scope of her the cities of refuge, appointed by Moses, remark (comp. xxvi. 35; xxiv. 3, 4). existed in the ancient and still prevailing
CHAPTER XXVIII. SUMMARY.—Isaac dismissed Jacob, on his departure to Mesopotamia, with a spon
taneous blessing, and the repeated injunction not to take a wife from the daughters of the Canaanites. The latter circumstance induced Esau to add Mahalath, the daughter of Ishmael, to the two Hittite wives previously married. Jacob, on his way to Haran, stayed one night near Bethel, where God appeared to him in a wonderful dream, and encouraged him by most comprehensive promises. When he awoke, and felt the sacredness of the place, he sanctified the stone on which he had rested as a holy monument, and made a vow, that if he safely returned to his home, he would convert that monument into a sanctuary, and offer to God the tenth part of whatever property he should acquire.
1. And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and commanded him, and said to him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. 2. Rise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel, thy mother's father; and take for thee a wife from there of the daughters of Laban, thy mother's brother. 3. And may God, the Almighty, bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest become a multitude of people; 4. And may He give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee, that thou mayest inherit the land of thy sojourn, which God gave to Abraham. 7. And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padan-aram, to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramæan, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.-6. And when Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent himn away to Padan-aram, to take for himself a wife from there, when he blessed him —and that he had commanded him, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; 7. And that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone
1--5. Stimulated by Rebekah, Isaac him and his seed “the blessing of Abraurged Jacob to journey without delay to ham.” As this journey forms a most dethe plains of Mesopotamia, to repair to cided epoch in Jacob's life, the text relates the house of Bethuel, and there to choose it in the most accurate terms; and as if a wife from the daughters of Laban. But briefly summing up the past events, it adds he was not perfectly satisfied with the un- a minute genealogy: “And Isaac sent expected result of a transaction in which he away Jacob: and he went to the low-land had merely been a passive instrument, but of Aram, to Laban, the son of Bethuel, the in which he yet recognised and revered Aramæan, the brother of Rebekah, the the hand of a higher power. When, there- mother of Jacob and Esau” (ver.5); now, fore, he dismissed Jacob, he gave him perhaps, intentionally placing Jacob behis free and spontaneous blessing. As it fore his elder brother. was occasioned by the contemplated mar- -9. Esau, true to himself, soon forriage of Jacob, he naturally wished him, got his animosity against Jacob. Not only above all, a numerous and powerful pro- did he hear with almost perfect calmness geny; and comprising in a single expres- of the new blessing which his brother had sion the whole aggregate of the highest received; but as, by the solemn injunction boons, he added, that God would give of Isaac, he was reminded that the matri.
to Padan-aram; 8. And when Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan displeased Isaac his father: 9. Esau went to Ishmael, and took, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.
monial alliances concluded by him with the Hittite women were regarded with displeasure by his parents, and wishing to please and satisfy them — like a true rustic in intellect, unable to rise above the
sphere of the natural, he took a third wife, a daughter of Ishmael, without dismissing his two former wives, who had blessed him with children.
III.- THE HISTORY OF JACOB AND ESAU
CHAPTERS XXVIII. 10 TO XXXVI. 43.
10. And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went towards Haran. 11. And he arrived at a certain place, and stayed there over night; for the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. 12. And he dreamt, and, behold, a ladder was placed on the earth, and its top reached to heaven: and, behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee shall I give it, and to thy seed;
10–15. On his way from the south of Palestine to the regions of the Euphrates, Jacob was surprised by the night in an open field near the town of Bethel. Why did he not enter the town, where he might have found a resting-place both more safe and more convenient? As this question is too clear to have been overlooked by the Biblical writer, he must have had an intention and reason in not obviating it. Nobody can deny that the scene here described has a symbolical meaning, and that it typifies some of the chief features of Israel's later history. The true sense of this portion can, therefore, be ascertained only by viewing it in the light of anticipative history. Now, both Abraham
and Jacob are, in many respects, embodiments of the destinies of the Hebrews. But while Abraham represents chiefly their internal or religious history, Jacob foreshadows their external life, political and social. Abraham is calm and dignified; his greatness, obedience and faith; his career, devotion and submission: Ja. cob is active and scheming; his life, combat with adversity and hardship; while his character required a long training by struggles and tribulations. Who does not recognise in the latter patriarch the image of Israel's political history ? Compelled to conquer a populous and fortified land with their swords and their bows, and constantly to fight against more warlike enemies;
14. And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15. And, behold, I am with thee, and I shall guard thee wherever thou goest, and shall bring thee back into this land; for I shall not leave thee, until I have done that of which I have spoken to thee.-16. And Jacob awoke from his sleep,
open to the perpetual invasions and devastations of perfidious tribes; isolated, unaided, thrown upon their own strength and their own feeble resources: could they expect to triumph without the will and manifest support of Providence? Jacob sleeps in the open field, exposed to the attacks of wild beasts and wayfaring marauders, protected only by the “Guardian of Israel, who never sleeps nor slumbers.” The anxious and paternal care bestowed by God upon His people was to be forcibly portrayed at the outset of the independent history of their immediate ancestor, when he left his father's house to seek refuge and to acquire wealth in a distant land, with nothing but his staff to accompany him on his long and uncertain journey (xxxii. 11). Every part and trait of this portion has, therefore, solely the end of expressing God's watchful providence for Israel; and we shall thus not be at a loss to comprehend why Jacob is represented staying over night, not in a well-protected town, but under the canopy of heaven, in the chaste brilliancy of the eternal stars; we shall understand, that the ladder resting on earth and reaching into heaven, is the invisible bridge which connects men with God, the human deeds with the human destinies, the manifest effects with the great but hidden Cause; that the angels ascending and descending the ladder show that the connection is truly spiritual and permanent, through the heart and mind, through everything that is Divine in man; we shall be convinced that God, standing at the top of this ladder, is conceived as the source from which all human blessing proceeds, and as the aim to
which all human aspirations tend; that He guides and dispenses, teaches and consoles, according to His infinite wisdom; that “ as the heaven is above the earth, so are His thoughts above the thoughts of man” (Isai. lv. 9). And if Jacob here represents the people of Israel, both the ladder and the angels express deeply and beautifully the constant and uninterrupted solicitude of God towards Israel, and the internal, warm, and holy yearning which Israel should entertain towards God and His truth. Since, then, the idea of Providence is chiefly embodied in this vision, the assurances given by God to Jacob do not merely repeat the former promises regarding the possession of the land, the numerous descendants, and the mighty extension of their dominion; they do not merely rise to the prophetic promise concerning the blessings which would be spread, through Israel, over all the nations of the earth: but they add an explicit and binding guarantee, that God would guard Jacob in all his paths; that He would lead him back safely to the land of his birth, and that He would not forsake him till all His promises were accomplished (ver. 16; comp. xii. 2, 3; xiii. 14-16; xxvi. 3, 4).
16–22. When Jacob awoke, he felt the powerful reality of the dream; the words of the God of “his father Abraham and of Isaac" vibrated within his mind; and he at once gave a striking proof of the effect which both the vision and the promise had produced upon him. As God had descended to him, so he attempted to ascend to God; a religious awe came over him; his mind was agitated by a higher