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probable they, of themselves, would otherwise have done.
Upon* this separation, the race of Shem settled in Asia; those of Ham, part in Asia, and part in Africa; and the greatest part of those of Japheth in Europe. Now among those aspiring builders of Babel, was Nimrod, a bold and enterprizing man, who is by Moses called the mighty huntert before the Lord. It is certain he was a very barbarous and tyrannical man, and laid the foundation of the first great empire in the world, which was called the Babylonian, from the city Babel, or Babylon, its metropolis ; from whence, going afterwards into Assyria, he built the great city- Nineveh; and from thence this monarchy was afterwards called the Assyrian, the first of the four great em. pires of the world.
The confusion of tongues, and dispersion of the family of Noah, happened a hundred and one years after the flood; for Peleg the son of Eber, who was great grandson to Shem, is reckoned to have been born in the hundredth and first year after the flood, and had his name (Peleg) given bim from that division of the earth, which in his time was parted among Noah's posterity.
And now Almighty God having disappointed vain mankind in raising an everlasting monument of their folly,
Upon, &c. Moses, Gen. chap. x. and xii. particularly sets down the nations descended from Noah, his sons, grandsons, and great grandchildren. The names of most of those nations being changed, many of them cannot certainly be known; but there are some still remaining. The names of the sons of Shem. as Elam, Assur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram, are known in history, where we find the Elamites, the Assyrians, the Arphaxadites, the Lydians, and the Aramites, The name of Chus, the son of Ham, is given in Scripture to the Egyptians and the Arabs; the names of most of their children agreeing with those of the nations of Arabia.
+ Hunter. Not literally but figuratively. “ He began to be a mighty one in the earth ; (Gen. x. 8.)-A mighty hunter before the Lord; (ver. 9.)—and the beginning of his kingdom was Babel.” He was a mighty setter up of the Heavens for a God, a great seducer of others to worship that false Deity; and not improbably a mighty persecutor of the true worshippers. We read of hunting souls, Ezek. xü. 17, &c. Jer. v. 26.
and by so wide a separation put it out of their power to at. tempt the like again, began to lay the foundation of an holy city, that is, his Church ; and chose Abram to be head of a race, elect and faithful, which should endure for ever. And herein it is to be observed, that Moses in his relation chuses rather to write the genealogy of Thare or Terah, than of the other descendants of Shemn; because Terah was the father of Abram, afterwards named Abraham, who was called by the Lord to be the father of the Faithful, and of the worshippers of the true God; for his father Terah served other gods, as we may see in Joshua, xxiv, 2.
This Terah had three sons, Haran, Nahor, and Abram; for that is the order of their births. Haran, who was much older than his brethren, dying before his father, left one son named Lot, and two daughters, one of whom was named Milcha, and the other Iscah, both married to their uncles; Milcha to Nahor, and Iscah to Abram, as the Jews record, who will have her to be called Sarai, for her beauty and housewifry.
After the death of Haran, Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, and Sarai, and carried them from Ur, to the land of Canaan ; but in their way coming to Haran, or Charran, they took up their abode there for a while; during which time Terah died, being an hundred * and forty-five years old. After the death of Terah, God com
* Hundred, &c. St. Stephen says, that Abraham, after the death of his father, removed from Charran to the land of Canaan, Acts, vii. 4. and Gen. xii. 5. it is said, that Abraham was seventy-five years old when he departed out of Charran; and Gen. xi. 26, it is said, that Terah was seventy years old when he begat Abraham; and ver. 32. that he died, being two hundred and five years old. But at this rate Terah must have lived sixty years after Abraham's going from Charran: For seventy-five, the number of Abraham's years when he left Charran, being added to seventy, the number of Terah's years when he begat Abraham, make one hundred forty and five years only; whereas it is said, Gen. xi. 32. that he lived two hundred and five. But this must certainly proceed from a fault crept into the text of Moses; and that of the two hundred and five years, which are given to Terah, when he died at Charran, he only lived an hundred and forty-five, accor- , ding to the Samaritan version and Chronicle, which, without doubt, agree with the Hebrew copy, from whence they were translated.
manded Abram to leave this country, and to go into the land which he would shew him. He promised that a mighty people should descend from him, and engaged to bless him, and in him to bless all the nations of the earth. Abram, without hesitation, believes the word of God, including two such great advantages, as making him the head of a great people, and blessing all the world in him, who was to proceed from his loins.*
Abrain, with his whole family, and that of his nephew Lot, prepares for his journey towards the land of promise, though no particular place was yet pointed out, God intending thereby more fully to prove his faith and obedience, which was clearly evinced by his ready compliance with the Divine command. Accordingly Abram set out, and pursued his journey till he came into the land of Canaan to that place which is called the Oak † of Moreh. Having passed through some parts of the land, the Lord appeared again to him, and gave him a promise of it to his posterity, long before he had any issue, and while it was possessed by other people ; for it was then inhabited by the Canaanites. Abram, however, to shew his faith and
That this included an intimation of the Redemption of man by Jesus Christ, is evident from Gal. i. 8. “ The Scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the Gospel unto Abraham, saying, (namely, in Gen. xii. 3. xviii. 18. xxii. 18.) In thee, shall all nations be blessed, i. e. By their faith in that glorious person who is to descend from thee, all persons of every nation, who resemble thee in their ready reception of the divine message, shall be blessed.” Dr. Doddridge. in loc.
+ Oak. The Chaldee paraphrase, and most Rabbies, transform into a plain the Oak of Moreh, at which God appeared to Abraham, Gen. xii. 6, and most versions transform this Oak into a Valley; and if we were to give it another signification, we must rather make it signify a Valley than a Plain; because Sychem was situated in the valley of Aulon, so called from the word Elon, which signifies an Oak. It was under this Oak that Jacob hid the strange gods which his servants kept; and it was likewise under it that Deborah, Rebecca's nurse, was buried, Gen. xxxv. 4, 8. It was also under it that Joshua set up a great stone, Joshua, xxiv. 26. and that Abimelech was made king, Judges, ix. 6. where our translators render it Plain. But here, in Gen. xii. 6. the Septuagint render it High oak. But more of this in our note on the same word when we speak of the Oak of Mamre, a little farther.
gratitude, erected an altar in that place to the Lord, who had appeared to him, and made him so gracious a promise. Removing from thence to a mountain, which is on the east of Bethel, he pitched his tent between Bethel and Hai : and there he erected an altar to the Lord, and called upon his name.
But he had not continued long in Canaan, before he was forced to remove ; for a famine happening in that country, he was obliged to go into Egypt; which lying near that part of Canaan, and being a fruitful country, he determined to travel thither, and stay there for some time.
While they were upon the confines of Egypt, having abserved the difference in point of beauty, between his own wife and the Egyptian women; a painful apprehension arose in his mind, that her beauty might expose him to personal danger. And because the world had not then arrived to that height of dissoluteness, as lightly to invade the marriage bed, nuptial ties being held too sacred to be violated, his fear suggested, that if Sarai passed for his wife, they would murder him, in order to enjoy her without the imputation of adultery ; a crime which seems to have been held in greater detestation than murder itself. To prevent this danger, he opened his mind to Sarai; and ascribing the cause of his fears to her beauty, intreated her to say she was his sister, that she might not be taken for his wife ; by which means he hoped not only to escape the apprehended danger, but also to fare the better for her sake.
Abram's fears and apprehensions were not groundless : for no sooner was he come into Egypt, than the beauty of Sarai was much admired, and became the common theme of conversation, which at length reaching the ears of the king, excited in his mind a strong desire to behold the beautiful stranger.
In consequence of which she is im. mediately brought to court, and introduced to Pharaoh ; while Abram, who was understood to be her brother, was courteously treated for her sake, the king bestowing many presents upon him. Here the providence of God remarkably interposed in preserving the honour of the Patriarch, and the chastity of his consort. For to deter Pharaoh and his court from any dishonourable attempt, God, by inflicting some sudden sickness or bodily infirmity on them, restrained their unlawful desires, and made them sensible she was a married woman. The king took the hint, and calling for Abram, blamed him for deceiving him, which might have led him into a fatal error; for not knowing her to be a married woman, he might have taken her to his own bed. * Then, in much displeasure, he bids him take his wife and depart, commanding his servants neither to injure him in his person or his property, but permit him quietly to remove with all his substance, which was much improved during his stay in Egypt by the favour of the King, for he was very rich in cattle, in silver and in gold.
Hitherto his nephew Lot continued with him, whose stock increased proportionably with that of his uncle Abram. Leaving Egypt together they proceeded towards Canaan again, and arrived at Bethel, the place where Abram had built an altar to the Lord, before he went into Egypt, and there he worshipped God again.
And now their families growing large, and their flocks increasing, they began to labour again under a scarcity of pasture for their cattle ; which might probably proceed partly from the late famine there, and partly from the great number of Canaanites and Perizzites that possessed the most fruitful part of the country. This scarcity of provisions and pasturage occasioned some petty quarrels between the herdsmen of Abram and of Lot, which gave Abram some uneasiness; who fearing that this contention among the servants, if not timely suppressed, might rise higher, to the endangering of a breach betwixt his kinsman and himself, took an opportunity to speak to his nephew Lot about it; and in soft and gentle terms said to him, “Let there be "no dispute between us, nor our servants; for we are
* Though Sarai was, in a certain sense, the sister of Abram, (see Gen. xx. 12.) yet this was certainly a blameable equivocation, occasioned by a distrust of God's protection, and exposed her to the very danger he wished to avoid. It shows the imperfection of the best human characters, and is not recorded for our imitation.