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particulars together, and not perceive the hand of God, in the whole affair, from beginning to end?”
Isaac, i. e. Laughter.-Gen. xvii. 15-22.
We have here Abraham's obedience to the law of circumcision. God's will was not only a law to him, but a reason ; he did it because God bade him. It was a speedy obedience; in the self-same day, while the command is still sounding in our ears, and the sense of duty is fresh, it is good to apply ourselves to it immediately, lest we deceive ourselves by putting it off to a more convenient season.—Gen. xvii. 23-27
WASHING the feet is customary and necessary in those hot climates, where only sandals are worn.-Gen. xviii. 1-8.
THE two, who are supposed to have been created angels, went towards Sodom, which they entered in the evening. The one, who is called Jehovah throughout the chapter, still con. tiuued with Abraham, who stood yet before the Lord, the same person with whom he had been communing.–Gen. xviii. 16-22.
The word rendered pillar is used to signify an erect attitude.-Gen. xix. 26.
THE destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is expressly related by several ancient Greek and Latin writers of eminence, whose accounts in all the main circumstances agree with the narrative in the Scriptures, and with the appearance of the Dead Sea as described by modern travellers. Its length at the present day is about seventy-two miles, and its greatest breadth about eighteen. The water looks clear and pure, but is extremely salt, nauseous, and bitter, much more so than the ocean. The land which surrounds the Dead Sea is equally affected with this saltness, and plants will not grow there. Its shores are seldom visited. This sea has never been navigated since the cities were destroyed. It presents a gloomy fearful spectacle, on account of the hollow in which it lies; the height of the surrounding mountains generally preventing the winds from agitating its surface. The waters of the river Jordan flow into this sea, and are gradually lost therein. A careful examination of the water of the Dead Sea fully confirms the account of its origin given in Scripture. After the destruction of the cities, the waters of the river Jordan stagnated in the Valley of Siddim, wherein the cities were situated, and it became a lake or inland sea. It has no outlet : though the waters of Jordan are continually flowing into it, the surface is sufficient for them to escape by evaporation.
What are the best of men when God leaves them to themselves! See here the peril of security. From the silence of the Scripture concerning Lot henceforward, we may learn that drunkenness, as it makes men forgetful, so it makes them forgotten. Many a name, which otherwise might have been remembered with respect, is buried by it in contempt and oblivion. He died under a dark cloud. — Gen. xix. 30-38.
Many who have reason enough to be comforted, go mourn. ing from day to day, because they do not see the reason they have for comfort. There is a well of water near them in the covenant of grace, but they are not aware of it; they have not the benefit of it, till the same God that opened their eyes to see their wound, opens them to see their remedy ; (John xvi. 6, 7.)-Gen. xxi. 14-21.
In the original language, to tempt, and to try or to prove, are expressed by the same word. Accordingly, the old English version more properly renders this, “God did prove Abraham.”—Gen. xxii. 1, 2.
ACCORDING to Josephus, Isaac was twenty-five years old at this time.—Gen. xxii. 12.
It is worth noting, that a burying-place was the only piece of the land Abraham possessed in Canaan. “A sepulchre was like an earnest, and indicated a persuasion of future possession. It would tend also to endear the land to his posterity.”A. Fuller. It was the only piece of land he was ever possessed of, though all was his own in reversion. Those who have least of this earth, find a grave in it. Abraham provided, not cities, as Cain and Nimrod, but a sepulchre. It was a con. stant memorandum of death to himself and his posterity. This sepulchre was at the end of the field; whatever our possessions are, there is a sepulchre at the end of them. It was a token of his belief and expectation of the resurrection. Abrabam in this said plainly that he sought a better country, that is, a heavenly. Abraham is content to be still a pilgrim, while he lives, but secures a place where, when he dies, his flesh may rest in hope. “Upon the whole, it is natural to wish that our dust should mingle with those whom we love—but after all, the chief concern is, with whom shall we rise ?"-A. Fuller. -Gen. xxii. 14-20.
No concern in life is of greater importance to ourselves, to others, or to the church of God, than contracting marriage. It is an important part of a parent's duty to direct, assist, and counsel children in this matter; young persons who are wise will avail themselves of such an advantage. Where such parents
are not consulted and regarded, the blessing of God cannot be expected.—Gen. xxiv. 1.9.
It is supposed, from several passages in this chapter, that Bethuel, the father of Rebekah, was dead, and the direction of the family rested principally with her brothers, Laban and Bethuel.-Gen. xxiv. 28.
RATHER,“ the nose-ring upon her nose," an ornament still in common use by young females in many parts of the East. Sir John Chardin says he never saw a girl or young woman in Arabia, or in all Persia, who did not wear such a ring in her nostril.-Gen. xxiv. 47.
“ JEWELS or vessels,” according to the marginal reading. The original word is very extensive in its meaning, and includes a variety of articles for household use or dress. Such presents are now given by the eastern bridegrooms as a dowry to the families of their wives. The term translated “ precious things" usually means exquisite fruits or delicacies; it may be understood here in a more general sense.-Gen. xxiv. 53.
THE tents or apartments of the wives in the East are separate from those of the husband. Sarah being dead, her tent was appropriated for the use of Rebekah.—Gen. xxiv. 67.
The temporal inheritance did not descend to Jacob, therefore, probably, was not meant in this proposal. But it included the reversion of the land of Canaan, and the covenant made with Abraham with reference to Christ the promised Seed. People are ruined, not so much by doing what is amiss, as by doing it and standing to it. It is generally believed, that before the law of Moses, the first-born son had a right to the priesthood, and that it belonged solely to him to offer sacrifices. Shuckford considers that Esau sold the right of offering sacrifices to Jacob, and on this account he might justly be deemed profane.- Boothroyd. Lentiles are a sort of pulse. In some parts of the East, beans and other sorts of pulse are principal articles of food. Shaw says that the natives make from them a pottage of a chocolate or reddish colour.-Gen. XXV. 29-34.
ABIMELECH was the common name of the Philistine kings. Gen. xxvi. 6-11.
Those who avoid striving, yet cannot avoid being striven with; Ps. cxx. 7. In this sense, Jeremiah was a man of contention, Jer. xv. 10; and Christ himself, though he is the Prince of Peace.-Gen. xxvi. 18-25.
Isaac (at this time) was about 135 years of age, and his sons about 75.—Gen. xxvi. 1-5.
It was one of those crooked measures which have too often been adopted to accomplish the Divine promises ; as if the end would justify, or at least excuse the means. Thus many have acted under the idea of being useful in promoting the cause of Christ. The answer to all such things is that which God addressed to Abraham, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”—Gen. xxvii. 6-17.-A. Fuller.
We must not presume too far upon the wisdom and resolution, even of the most hopeful and promising children ; but care must be taken to keep them out of the way of evil.-Gen. xxvii. 41-46.
God's time to visit his people with his comforts, is, when they are most destitute of other comforts, and other comforters; when afflictions in the way of duty, as these were, do abound, then shall consolations so much the more abound. Jacob saw in a vision a ladder which reached from earth to heaven, the angels ascending and descending upon it, and God himself at the head of it. Now this represents the two things that are very comfortable to God's people at all times and in all conditions. 1. The providence of God, by which there is a constant correspondence kept up between heaven and earth. 2. The mediation of Christ. He is this ladder ; the foot on earth in his human nature, the top in heaven in his Divine nature ; or, the former in his humiliation, the latter in his exaltation. All the intercourse between heaven and earth since the fall of man is by this ladder. Christ is the way; all God's favours come to us, and all our services go to him by Christ. Christ is the great blessing of the world. All that are blessed, whatever family they are of, are blessed in him, and none of any family are excluded from blessedness in him, but those that exclude themselves. Whom God loves, he never leaves.-Gen. xxviii. 10-15.
WHEREVER we are, in the city or in the field, in the shop or in the street, we may keep up our intercourse with Heaven, if it be not our own fault. Jacob was afraid ; so far was he from being puffed up and exalted above measure with the abundance of the revelations. The more we see of God, the more cause we see for holy trembling and blushing before him. Those to whom God is pleased to manifest himself are thereby laid, and kept, very low in their own eyes, and have cause to fear, even the Lord and his goodness (Hosea iii. 5.)Gen. xxviii. 16-22.
SEPARATE interests should not take us from joint and mu. tual help.-Gen. xxix. 1-8.
This was a long journey, about 400 miles.--Gen. xxix. 1.
Jacob calls God the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac; for Abrabam was dead, and gone to that world where perfect love casts out fear; but Isaac was yet alive, sanctifying the Lord in his heart, as bis fear and his dread.—Henry and Scott. “ The revered one of Isaac."-Boothroyd.—Gen. xxxi. 36-42.
Our peace with God is that which puts true comfort into our peace with our friends. If parties contend, the reconciliation of both to Him, will facilitate their reconciliation one to another. They did eat bread together, jointly partaking of the feast upon the sacrifice. This was in token of a hearty reconciliation. Covenants of friendship were anciently ratified by the parties eating and drinking together. It was in the nature of a love-feast.-Gen. xxxi. 43-55.
In Eastern countries, an inferior never applies for a favour or for protection without offering a present. Many proofs of this are mentioned by travellers, and numerous instances are recorded in the Bible. The superior generally makes some difficulty at receiving what is offered, but to refuse or to return it would be considered an insult, and is generally fol. lowed by violence. If the present be received, it is an assurance of friendship.—Gen. xxxiii. 11.
WHERE We have a tent, God must have an altar; where we have a house, He must have a church in it.—Gen. xxxiii. 17-20.
JACOB and his retinue being come safe to Bethel, be built an altar, and called the place, that is, the altar, El-bethel, the God of Bethel. The comfort which the saints have in holy ordinances, is not so much from Betbel, the house of God, as from El-betbel, the God of the house. The ordinances are but empty things, if we do not meet with God in them.Gen. xxxii. 6-15.
WHEN shall we learn that it is God alone who really knows what is best for his people, and that in all temporal affairs the safest path for the Christian is to put a blank into the hands of his beavenly Father, that he may write in it what he will, while we are content to say from the heart, “It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.” Here alone is our safety and our comfort, to know no will but his.-Gen. xxxv. 16-20.
The age and death of Isaac are here recorded, though it appears that he died not till many years after Joseph was sold