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25 And Abraham reproved neither didst thou tell me, neither Abimelech because of a well of yet heard I of it, but to-day. water, which Abimelech's ser- 27 And Abraham took sheep vants • had violently taken away. and oxen, and gave them unto
26 And Abimelech said, I wot Abimelech: and both of them not who hath done this thing: 'made a covenant.
e ch. 26. 15, 18, 20, 21, 22.
1 ch. 26. 31.
25. Abraham reproved Abimelech, come earlier to my ears justice should &c. That is, argued and expostulated have been done before. This was unwith him. As they were now formally doubtedly the drift of Abimelech’s reply, entering into closer terms of amity, it in which he fairly and fully exonerates was proper that if there were any cause himself from blame. The wrong had of complaint on either side, it should be not been done by him nor with his mentioned and adjusted, that nothing consent; it was the act of his servants, which was past, at least, might inter- that is, his officers, who perhaps had rupt their future harmony. Abraham pretended his authority for their unjust accordingly makes mention of a 'well spoliation, than which nothing is more of water which Abimelech's servants common among the minions and creahad violently taken away. In the hot tures of sovereignty. Subjects are and thirsty countries of the East, and wronged, oppressed, despoiled, and yet to a man whose substance consisted their grievances never reach the ears of much in cattle, a spring or well of wa- rulers, because the oppressors find it ter was of the utmost consequence; for their interest to bar access to all and to have it taken away by mere vio- voices but their own. Too often are lence, though it might be borne from not only the consciences, but the very an enemy, yet it was not to be over- senses of princes taken into the keeping looked, where there was professed of corrupt and unprincipled officials. friendship. Happily, however, the good Public characters cannot always be feelings and good sense of both parties accountable for the misdeeds of those prevented this offence from coming to who act under them, they had need an open rupture. The moderation of take care, however, what sort of serthe patriarch appears plainly from the vants they employ, as while matters fact, that he had hitherto borne patient- are unexplained, that which is wrong, ly with the grievance without attempt is commonly placed to their account.' ing to right himself by force, although | Fuller. it is perhaps to be inferred from the 27. Abraham took sheep and oren, emphatic term 'reproved that he sup- and gave them unto Abimelech. That posed the wrong had been at least con- these animals were intended for sacrinived at by the king. When men are fice seems probable from the last clause disposed to peare, slight grounds of of the verse, which informs us that variance are easily overlooked; but they both made, or, as the Hebrew has where there is a disposition to quarrel, it, cut a covenant, i. e. made a coveit is easy to magnify the most petty nant by cutting the victims in pieces. neglect into a gross affront, and to But why the sheep and oxen are said make even an unmeaning look the oc- first to have been presented 10 Abime. casion of a breach.
lech is not so clear, unless it were, that 26. I wot not, &c. This is the first Abraham designed to do him greater time I have heard of the affair ; had it honour hy giving him the animals to
28 And Abraham set seven / en ewe-lambs shalt thou take of ewe-lambs of the flock by them- mine hand that b they may be a selves.
witness unto me that I have dig29 And Abimelech said unto ged this well. Abraham, 8 What mean these 31 Wherefore he i called that seven ewe-lambs, which thou hast place Beer-sheba; because there set by themselves ?
they sware both of them. 30' And he said, For these sevg ch. 33. 8.
h ch. 31. 48, 52. i ch. 26. 33.
offer before the Lord. As if duly mind- are made among the Indians of our ful of his rank as a subject and desirous of continent, is a relic of this oriental cusshowing a proper respect to the king, tom. - That they may be a witness, he seems to have studied to give him the &c. That is, thine acceptance of these precedency in the whole transaction. seven lambs shall be an acknowledg
29—30. Abraham set seven ewe-lambs ment on thy part that this well, which by themselves, &c. Mr. Bruce, relating I have digged, belongs to me. the manner in which the compact be- 31. Wherefore he called that place fore mentioned (on v. 24), was made Beer-sheba. Or perhaps more correctly between his party and some shepherds to be understood impersonally, in Abyssinia says, "Medicines and ad- called,' i. e. the name of the place was vice being given on my part, faith and called, as the same phraseology eviprotection pledged on theirs, two bush- dently implies elsewhere. See Note on els of wheat and seocn sheep were car- Gen. 2. 20. Heb. yu 783 the well ried down to the boat;' on which the of the oath, or, the well of the seven ; Editor of the Pict. Bible remarks, that from the seven lambs above mentioned. Although he seems to have received The Heb. word for swearing or taking this merely as a present, yet it is not an oath (yaw shaba), comes from the unlikely that the Arabs intended it as same root with the word which signia ratification of the preceding covenant. fies seden, the reason of which some At any rate there is throughout consid- think to be that an oath was confirmed erable analogy between the covenant as by seven, that is, many, witnesses. of Abraham and Abimelech, and that the connection however between these of Bruce and the Arabs. The details two terms rests upon grounds difficult of the remarkable transactions between to be determined. As the original roút Abraham and Abimelech which this for seven has the import of fulness, chapter contains will be considered satiety, satisfaction, it may be that it with the more interest when it is recol- is applied to an oath, as the completion lected that it affords the earliest record- or perfection, the sufficient security, of a ed instance of a treaty of peace. Its covenant, that which made it binding terms and forms seem to show that and satisfactory to each of the parties. such treaties were not then newly in- For a geographical account of Beervented The inability of nations or sheba see on v. 14. There they tribes to maintain a continual hostility swear both of them. Heb. 1930) were with their neighbours must have ren- sworn. Swearing in Hebrew is always dered the necessity of such engage- expressed in a passive form of speech, ments apparent to the earliest genera- as if it were an act in which one is tions of mankınd. It has been sug- supposed not to engage voluntarily, but gested that the practice of giving and only as he is adjured, or has an oath receiving belts, pipes, &c. when treaties | imposed upon him by another,
32 Thus they made a covenant grove in Beer-sheba, and k called at Beer-sheba i then Abimelech there on the name of the LORD, rose up, and Phichol the chief the everlasting God. captain of his host, and they re- 34 And Abraham sojourned in turned into the land of the Phil- the Philistines' land many days. istines.
33 | And Abraham planted a
k ch. 4. 26. 1 Deut. 33. 27. Is. 40. 28. 16. 26. 1 Tim. 1. 17.
33. And Abraham planted a grove ted upon the correctness of our present in Beer-sheba. Gr. “Planted a field.' | translation, which makes Abraham the Jerus. Targ. 'Planted a paradise or planter of the grove. But it will be oborchard.' The Heb. term 30x eshel is served, his name being in Italics, that supposed by Rosenmuller and others the original is indefinite, and we incline to signify the tamarisk-tree and to be to the opinion that it is one of those used here in a collective sense for a impersonal expressions alluded to above grove of tamarisks. Among the an- v. 31, and which are of such frequent cient versions some render it by oak or occurrence in the Hebrew Scriptures. oak-grove, and others, like the English, The writer's design, if we mistake not, simply a grove. It was probably de- was to say that in process of time, in signed in the first instance for the sha-consequence of the transaction above ding of his tent, and implied the hope recorded between Abraham and Abim. of a peaceful, and the purpose of a pro-elech, a grove was planted on the spot tracted, residence at that place. But which became a usual resort for relifrom the ensuing clause it would seem gious worship, a place of the same kind that it was employed also for religious with the Proseuchæ, i. e. oratorics or purposes. The practice of using groves praying-places, which were afterwards and forests as places of worship seems so common among the Jews. It is to have been common among all na- perhaps some slight confirmation of tions. The deep silence and solitude this view of the passage that Abraham of forests render them peculiarly conge- is said v. 34, to have sojourned many nial to feelings connected with religious days in the Philistines' land; but Beerdevotion. As the abominations, how- sheba was not in the land of the Philever, that characterized idolatrous wor- istines, and why should his planting a ship might easily be concealed in groves, grove in Beer-sheba be connected at we find that the practice of offering all with his sojourning in another part sacrifices in such places was forbidden of Canaan ? Let the 33d verse be con. by the Mosaic law, Deut. 16. 21. AC-strued as we propose and included in cordingly during various reformations a parenthesis, and the narrative runs which occurred under the reign of pious free and unembarrassed.- -T And callkings in Israel, they signalized their zealed on the name of the Lord. Heb. by cutting down the groves where the 7777"W xp kara beshem Yehovah, people burnt incense to idols. It seems which Shuckförd maintains should be to have been an object of peculiar inter- rendered 'invoked in the name of the est in the Mosaic law, to render every Lord.' This however is not an unact of social worship a public transac- questionable construction, and it will be tion. No mysterious or secret rite, like sufficient to remark of the import of those of the Egyptians or Greeks, was the phrase here, as elsewhere, that it is allowed. Every religious act was per- equivalent to saying, that public wor formed in the open view of the world.— ship in general was performed in this The above remarks have been predica- 1 grove.