Skip to main content


See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at http : //books . google . com/| 









TStti&tntn AB A osmniAL vxtp to 



prof, of HXB. and ORIXNT. lit., STt. CITT UHITEB8ITT. 


vol.. II. 







_r,y ; M \ ■. f r 

HARYAffd COIlF?r r'r»rAi?Y 

KBteredaccoritottoactof Oon|r»W|tattie yewM^togr 
feitte Otork'i OAee of the District Oourt of tbA BoottionilNililotor M««r Tfl 


No. 13 Ohambers-itreet, Mew Toik. 

d by Google 





If those porlioiia of hifltory are most 
replete with interest and instractton 
which exhibit to ns illostrious charac* 
ters in trying situations, having their 
virtnes put to the severest test, yet hold- 
ing fast their integrity, conquering diffi- 
culties, and rising superior to temptation 
by the power of moral principle, then 
the ensuing narrative of Abraham's las^ 
and greatest trial prefers the strongest 
claims to our attention. It is an event 
preeminently memorable in the Ufe of 
the patriarch. Whatever signal instan- 
ces of faith and obedience have hither- 
to distinguished his conduct, they are 
an echpsed by that which we are now 
called to consider. At the very time 
when we are prompted to congratulate 
the happy sire, and flatter ourselves 
that his tribulations have an end; 
that the storms which ruffled the noon 
of life are blown over, and the evening 
of his age is becoming calm and serene, 
the sorest of his struggles yet awaits 
him. The loss of a beloved child would, 
mider any circumstances, have been a 
grievous affliction ; but in the present 
case he finds himself required to submit 
to a bereavement which threatened to 
extinguish the hopes of the world. Nor 
was this all. The fatal blow was td be 
struck with his own hand! And in 
this he was called to obey a mandate 
in which the divine counsel seemed so 
evidently to war with itself, that his bo- 
som could nort but be torn with a con- 
flict of emotions, such as the mere grief 
of a father conld never o^ccasion. To a 
eommand which should merdy pnt to 
the proof his paternal affection, he 
VOL. n. 1 

could, no doubt, have submitted without 
hesitation; but when, to the eye of 
reason, he saw the precept arrayed 
against the promise oS God, and an act 
enjoined directly at variance with all 
the attributes of a Being holy, just, and 
true, he could not but be conscious of 
an inward struggle, ineffably severe. 
But the faith which had triumphed be> 
fore, triumphed now ; and as he came 
forth from the terrible ordeal, like gold 
tried in the furnace, how pertinently 
may we conceive an approving God 
addressing him in the language of the 
poet: — 

" All thy vexations 
W^ere but my trials of thy love : and thou 
Hast strangely stood the test" 

The command here given to the pa- 
triarch to sacrifice his only son has ever 
been so fruitful a theme of cavil with the 
enemies of revelation, that it will be pro- 
per, in the outset, to advert with some 
particularity to the objections usually 
urged against it. The command, it is 
said, is inconsistent with the attributes 
of a Being of perfect justice and good- 
ness. But to this it may be replied, that 
the assertion rests upon no sufficient 
grounds. As God is the author and giver 
of life, he surely can, without the least 
shadow of injustice, take it away when 
and in what manner he pleases. It 
cannot be supposed that he conferred 
life either upon Abraham or Isaac, upon 
the terms of taking it away only in one 
certain manner, or in the way most 
agreeable to them. It was giv<en in 
this, as in all other cases, under the or- 
dinary reserve of his own indisputaUe 
right of resumption in any mode that 



[B. C. 1W2. 

miglit a06m to him best There is im- 
ooubtedly something shocking in the 
idea of a parentis taking away the life 
of his own child ; but when this is done 
in obedience to an express command 
ftom a competent authority, then that 
which would otherwise be a sin be- 
comes a duty, and whoever would im- 
pugn the act, must necessarily impugn 
the authority fiom which it proceeds. 
To human view it might appear a very 
barbarous deed in a father to order a 
son to be beaten to death with rods be- 
fore his eyes; yet the conduct of Junius 
Brutus, who passed this sentence upon 
his own children, is usually considered 
as having been fully justified by the 
circumstances wliich occasioned it. 
And did Abraham owe less obedience 
to God than Brutus to his country? 
Indeed, had the command been actually 
executed, we should have been bound, 
by our antecedent knowledge .of the 
perfections of the Deity, to regard it as 
wise, just, and good ; though we might 
not, from our limited powers, have been 
able to see the reason of it; for. a di- 
vine command necessarfly supposes wis- 
dom, justice, and goodness in the highest 
possible degree. But this waa not the 
case. God never intended that the 
command should be aduaUy executed. 
His purpose was to make trial of Abra- 
ham's fiiith and obedience ; to make 
him perfect by suffering; and in him 
to propose to all coming generations an 
illustrious example for their imitation 
in the various trying services and sacri- 
fices to which the voice of duty might 
call them. And will any one affirm 
that God may not, without impeaching 
his wisdom, his justice, or his mercy, 
put true religion to the test? — the test 
« of severe and repeated trials — the bet- 
ter to display, to perfect, and to crown 
it ? Great virtue has a right to be made 
conspicuous. It is sinking the merit of 
aU true moral heroism to withold from 
it4he occasions of exercising itself. 
7he justice of God, thereibre is so far 

fiom being concerned in guarding great 
minds fW>m great trials, that it is rather 
evinced in granting them. Nor are we 
to estimate such a dispensation by the 
slight and transient anxieties or pains of 
the trial itself, but by the lasting joy 
that awaits and rewards the triumph. 
Add to this the incalculable advantages 
that would redound to mankind at large 
from such an example. No one can doubt 
that every signal instance of dev«ut 
submission to the wUl of God finder te 
pressure of sharp temptations is anumg 
the stablest suf^rts and the most pew- 
evful incitements to a similar coaduct 
under similar circumstances. Every 
such example i» a new and shining h^t 
set up on high to guide, enlighteik, and 
cheer us in the path of duty . But while 
we find, in these considerations, an ample 
vindication (tf the wisdom and equity of 
this command, perhaps a still more ade- 
quate estimate will be formed of it, if we 
view it in another light. It has geae- 
mlly been held tliat the present com- 
mand was imposed merehf as a trial, of 
Abraham's Mth ; and seeing the deed 
was not executed, it has been affirmed 
that there was nothing unworthy the 
divine goodness in having instituted 
such a trial ; aU which may be readily 
admitted : but as Bp. Warburton has 
suggested, it hardly accounts for all the 
circumstances ; and it may be well to 
state, in a condensed form, the theory of 
that learned divine in regard to it. He 
supposes that Abraham was desirous of 
becoming acquainted with the manner 
in which aU the families t of the earth 
should be blessed in him ; and upon 
this he builds the conclusion that the 
command was imposed upon him chief- 
ly vrith the design of teaching him by 
action^ instead of troris, and thus enft- 
bling him to see and fed by what moans 
this great end should be accoqaplished. 
In other words, that it was a prefigura- 
tion of the sacrifice of Christ. 

This theory the author founds upon 
that passage of Ihe Gospel of John 6. 


Il» C. I6Q9.] 


AND it ttaattomn after tJMse 
tiunga, tint • God did tenqit 

Heb. 11. 17. Jam. 1 

mlCor. 10. 13. 
I Pel. 1.7. 


5^. in vrhMi the Laid snyn tothe imfi*- 
fevmg J«W8, * Your ftither Atmibmn t8- 
jineed to see my day ; tend he saw k 
•ad wa0 glad.' It ia evidettt, from tlw 
rapiy Made by the J«w» to thk aMer- 
tiotii that they undentood the exptesnon 
ioaesin ittmoBt Ulefal sense; while it 
i» equatty erident, that when they oh- 
jeoted to the possibility of a man, not 
yet fifty years old, having seem Abra- 
ham, oar Lord did not eomct them in 
the notkm which they had formed as 
to tmiig. It was not, however, lamBetf 
permnaHy, whom our Savioar asserted 
that Abraham rejeieed to see, but his 
dag; by which catmot be meant the 
period of his sojourn vpon earth, bat the 
«afcarastanee in his Mfe which was of 
th0 highest importance, and^ mainl^jr 
ohancteristic ef hia office as the Re- 
deemer. That the term will admit of 
this interpretation is indubitable, from 
the frequent use made, in a similar 
seme, of the word hour. Thus, when 
oior Lord repeatedly says, * My hour is 
not yet eome' — ^the Iwur is at hand, 
and the Son of Man is betrayed into 
the hands of sinners ;' when he prayed 
that *if it were possible the hour might 
pass from him :* where it is said, that 
*no man laid hands on him, because 
hte hoar was not yet come ;' and again, 
* that the hour was come when the Son 
of Man should be glorffied,'—- in oil these 
instances it is evident that the word 
does not signify a mere portion of time, 
from which no one can be saved by its 
passing from him; but some particnlar 
eircumsfanee or cnrcumstancea in his 
life, whicb wen peculiar to him as the 
Redeemer. The peculiar circumstance, 
however, which constitnted Jesus the 
Redeemer of the worid, was the laying 
dttWBof hisliA); aad thiiitwaswhieb 

Abraham, and saidvnto Im Ahra> 
ham: and he said, Behtild»hef« I 

Abraham must have rejoiced to see, abi 
seeing which he was gkd. But thei« 
is uDthing recorded of Abraham in the 
Old Testament, from which it could be 
inferred that he saw Christ's day in 
this sense, if he did not ««? and>el it in 
the command to sacrifice his only sett. 
In this transaction therefore, he would • 
have a lively figure of the offering up of 
the Sou of God Ibr the sins of the 
world ; and not only so, but the inter- 
mecRate system of typical sacrifices un^ 
der the Mosaic economy was repre* 
scnted by the prescribed oblation of tlM 
ram instead of Isaac. 

On the whole, we regard this as a ve* ^ 
ry rational and plausible hypothesis, and 
one that derives no little support from 
the place where the scene of the trans* 
action was laid. If the design q( the 
command had been wnplff a trial of 
Abraham's faith, it is not easy to see 
why he should have been required to ^ 
go to such a distance to perform an aet 
that might as well have been perform^ 
ed anywhere else. But when we fiad 
him directed to go to the site of JeruM> 
lem, and to rear his altar, and ofler i^ 
his sacrifice, on or near the very spot 
where the Saviour was afterwards actll» 
ally crucified, we cannot well avoid see>> 
ing in the incident a designed typicid 
and prophetical character. But a fritter 
view of the event in its various beaik> 
ings will be gained from the explana- 
tions that foHow. 

1. And Uixmieiopau after ikete ihxng9. ^' 
Heb. *• After these words.* That is, tv« 
suppose, not merdy after the things ]«» 
corded in the precedmg chapter, but 
after all the pvevions trials whioh Abiap 
ham had been cafled tepass through. 
Notwithstanding he may have hoped 
Ibr a periad of tmaquil rest i» dte di^ , 



[B. C. 1878. 

2 And he said, Take now thy 
6011,^ thine only son Isaac, whom 
thou lovest, and get thee ** into the 

• Heb. 11. 17. b 2 Cbron. 3. 1. 

cKne of life, after the various trials and 
conflicts, the dangers and deliverances 
through which he had passed ; yet he is 
once more reminded that he is still in the 
flesh, that the days of his warfare are 
not yet accomplished, and that he must 
arm himself for a far more fiery trial than 
• any he has yet endured. We cannot 
but feel for the venerable patriarch thus 
suddenly awakened from his state of 
repose, and summoned to a new and 
unparalleled conflict; but the event 
teaches us that a believer's triids are 
not confined to the commencement of 
his course ; that the longest period of 
rest and peace may be succeeded by a 
sore temptation ; and tlie severest con- 
flict be reserved for the last. V God 

did tempt Abraham, Heb. HD^ ^*f' 
. »ah, tried, proved^ Gr. eirctpaoe, id. This 
I literal rendering of the term, which is 
I actually given in the old Geneva ver- 
sion, *■ God did prove Abraham,* goes at 
; once to correct the erroneous impression 
; that might possibly be received from 
our English word ' tempt,' which usually 
has the sense of exciting to sin. But 
in this sense we are expressly assured 
by James 1. 13, that *■ God is not tempted 
of evil, neither tempteth he any man ;' 
he neither deceives any man's judgment 
dor perverts his will, nor seduces his 
affections, nor does any thing else that 
can subject him to the blame of men's 
ana. Temptation in this bad sense al- 
ways proceeds from the malice of Sa- 
' tan working on the corruptions of our 
own hearts. God may, however, con- 
sistently with all his perfections, by his 
providence, bring his creatures into cir- 
cumstances of apeddl probation, nol for 
the purpose of giving him information, 
but in order to manifest to themselves 
and to others the prevailing dispositions 

iandof Mori^; aadoiferfauntlme 

ibr a bnrnt-ofllennff upon one of the 
mountains which I wQl tell thee of. 

of their hearts. In this seDse of trying, 
pmUmg to the proof, bringingto theietti 
the original term in many other instances 
is used in reference to the Jfoat High, 
and always in such a way as to leave 
his attributes unimpeached. Thus 
Deut. 13. 3, *For the Lord your God 
(n03 nissoA) piweih you, to know 
(i. e. to make known) whether ye kyve 
the Lord your God with aU your heart 
and all your soul.* 2 Chron. 32. 31, ' In 
the business of the ambassadors God left 
him (iniO^b lenaseotko) to try him, that 
he might know all the evil that was in 
his heart.' Indeed, in some cases we 
find this kind of trial made a subject of 
petition on the part of good men, as if 
they regarded it as a special favor. Pa. 
26. 2, ' Examine me, O Lord, and ( 'yyOi 
na$tam) prove me; try my reins and my 
heart.* And so with a differem wonL, 
but to the same effect, Fb. 139, 23, 24, 
* Search me, O God, and know my 
heart : try me, and know my thoughts ; 
and see if there be any widted way in 
me, and lead me in the way everlasting.* 
And we find Paul, 2 Cor. 13 5, employ- 
ing the corresponding Gr. tenurwhea 
enjoining as a duty to be performed by 
Christians towards themselves, the very 
probation, which is indicated by the Heb. 
word; * Examine (wttfuigtr^ try) your- 
selves, whether ye be in the ftdth ; 
prove your own selves.*-^— IT Btkold, 
here I am. Heb. "^^an hinmni, be* 
hold me. Arab. 'What is thy plea- 
sure?' The patriarch's prompt oh- 
soquiousness to the alighteet call of 
God is strikingly set forth in this reply. 
It exhibits him as presenting himseff in 
the divine presence, ready at a mo- 
ment's warning to enter upon any ser- 
vice that might be enjoined upon him, 
without fim waiting to know distinctly 


i. C. 1873.] 


wiiat k wMi OT wkai wnm UMfMsom 
of it. Onr •bedfence ever deiiyes 
its princnpttl jralve in the aght of faies- 
vea fiom the ready^plictt, and unquM- 
tioning spiiit in wliieh it im rendered. 

S. Ihke now Uuf ton, thine okljfson 
Heb. "TVl*^ yiAid, mUff. Gr. myawnrw 
hdooed. As .an onfy ion is usually 
the ol]yect of a v«ry intense affec- 
tion, the epithets oiUif and hdooedcaaxM 
to be need interchangeably. Thus Prov. 
4. 3, * For 1 was my £Bither*s son, ten- 
der and <mfy (beloved) in the sight of 
my mother;* where the original Heb. 
^TP Mi%r i> eleo rendered by the Sept. 
s^«r«y»Mf hdoved. The term /lovyt- 
vnt uUjfbegelieH, applied to Christ in the 
New Testament, is of equivalent import. 
In Meoidance with the Heb. there- 
Ibie, Plaid calls him, Heb. 11. 17, 'his 
only begotten son.* Isaac was the 
01^ aon of Sarah, the free woman, and 
he only, in contradistinction from Ish- 
mael, who was now eipelled, was to be 
reckoned the seed of Abraham and the 
heir of the promises. In this sense 
Ahnbam would natorally understand 
it; and thus nnderstood, it could not but 
go to enhance beyond expression tlie 
aogmsh of a fartier*s heart in view of 
the command now given him. Indeed, 
the language in which this severe man- 
date is conveyed, appeass to be pur- 
posely ao constructed: as to aggravate 
to Ae ntmoet the wound it was calcu- 
lated to mflict. Every word seems 
choaen with a view to awaken some 
painfid feeling, and to increase the dilH- 
culty of compliance. To n person of 
humaae and benevolent dinposition, like 
Abtahaoi, the idea of a human sacrifice 
woold naturally be in the highest de- 
gree revolting, had the meftneiit slave 
of his household been demanded, and 
had tike choice of the victim boen left 
to himecilf What then most have been 
his enotaons as the true object of. the 
comsaad unfolded itseli^and he found 
his own beloved son demanded as a 
saodfiml offering! Let ua for amo- 

ment pot ear souls in his ioid*« slewit 
and realize to ourselves the spontaneous / 
train of thought and feeling whioh most 
have passed through his mind. * Take 
now thy son ;• and for what ?— To^ in- 
vest him with all the honors of the pro- 
mise, to put him in possession of the 
destined inheritance? Alas no! — ^To 
seek for him a fitting companion to share 
with him the blessings and comforts 
that might be expected to flow firora the 
covenant favor of his own and his fa- 
ther's God 7 Neither it this the end of 
the command. * Tal^e now thy son — 
thine only son — ^Isaac—whom thou lov- 
est, and — offer him up upon one of the 
mountains, which I will tell thee of!* 
Was ever message like this' addressed 
to a father ?-— each word more piercing 
to parental ears than the keenest dagger 
to the heart ! — every clause awakening 
anew and f>harper poug of anguish! 
Who but Abraham could have forborne 
remonstrance on such a heart-rending 
occunon ? Who but he could Imve re- 
frained from saying, ' Lord, shali I lote 
my child ?— lose him almost as soon as 
I have received him 7 Didst dioo give 
him only to tantalize thy servant 7 R^- 
member the long years through which 
his birth was expected, and the trans- 
ports of joy with which at length it was 
hailed, and which was'commemoraicd 
in the name of thine own appointment. 
Kemomber the promises which can hv 
fulfilled only on the condition of his life 
being prolonged. — If sin lie at the door, 
let me expiate tlie guilt. Let thousands 
of raras, let every bullock in my stalls, 
bleed at thine altar. These are nothing 
compared with my child.— -Or if nothing 
will appeohe thine indignation but hu- 
man blood, let my death be the sacrifice . 
I am old and grey-headed. The best 
of my days are past, and the best of my 
services performed. Myhfo isof Httle 
value. Let me die, but let him Hvei.'— 
Yet if the decree cannot be reversed* if 
the offering must come from my otm 
fomily, if it must he the fruit of my Qii|n 



GENESIS. [B. C. 1872. 

body, O that Ishmael— yet how shall I 
speak it ? — my heart bleeds at the 
thought ! — ^but as for Isaac, the son of 
Sarah, the son of my old age, the crown 
of an my hopes, the very solace of ray 
soul ; how shall I survive such a loss ? 
The blow that goes to his heart, must 
be fatal to us both.' Such we may 
conceive to have been the plea which 
fond nature would have prompted in 
any other father than the father of the 
faithful ; and if his prayer availed not 
to avert the doom of death, he would 
have besought that it might be mitigat- 
ed ; that he might expire by a natural 
dissolution; that some disease might 
gently loose the cords of life, and that 
his sorrowing but submissive parents 
might have the melancholy consolation 
of soothing his dying pangs, and of clos- 
ing his eyes when he had ceased to 
live. At any rate he would sue to be 
exempted from the pain of witnessing 
the sad catastrophe. If the son of his 
love must be bound hand and foot for 
the slaughter ; if he must receive the 
steel into his bosom, and welter in his 
own blood, how fervently would he ask 
to be spared the anguish of beholding 
such a scene. Such, we say, would be 
the native promptings of the paternal 
heart. Yet in the case of Abraham all 
these aggravations clustered round the 
command that was given him, and as 
no alleviation was hinted to him, so none 
does he seem to have sought. He who 
before staggered not at the promise, 
staggers not now at the precept. Deaf 
ahke to the arguings of carnal reason, and 
the yearnings of fatherly affection, he 
consults not wifli flesh and blood, but 
enters with-the utmost promptitude up- 
on the work before him^ and the setfuel 
informs us that it was carried out as it 
was commenced, in the full triumph of 

an unwavering faith. IT Tlie land of 

Moriah. Heb. n'^'l^an f^lH i» c? «-cf» 
hetmtnoriyah ; by interpretation the land 
tfvmon. Gr. €ij rriv ynv rnv vxpn^riv to 
tiU Mgh land ; i. e. the vinble, the con- 

spicuous land. Chal. * To the land of 
reverence or worship ;* the variation 
from the Hebrew being owing to the 
Targum's referring the word to the root 
^^*i yam, tofeax^ to recereme^ instead of 
deriving it from IrWd^ raah^ to see. The 
Gr. evidently refers the term to the right 
root, but interprets it solely of the high^ 
commanding^ t:on8picuon8 character of the 
locality in question. The probability is, 
that the name is here used proleptically, 
it having been given from the event, in 
reference to the remarkable vision or 
manifestation of the Most High which 
was there made, and to which allusion 
is had in the expression Jehovah-jireh, v. 
14. Indeed, this seems to be intimated 
in the very form of the word itself, 
which Fuller (Misc. Sac.) suggests is a 
contraction or compound of n*^ tVMSih 
moreh-jah, Jehovah manifested, by a pro- 
cess of formation which is fully given by 
Rosenmuller in loc. That the land of 
Moriah included the site of Jerusalem, 
where was a well-known mountain 
called by the same name, is a point 
universally admitted; but upon which 
one of the several hills included in the 
compass of the city the commanded 
sacrifice was to be offered up, it is im- 
possible to determine. From the con- 
gruities of the case, we should natural- 
ly suppose that the spot would be se- 
lected on which the antit^'^ptcal sacri- 
fice was to be made in the fulness of 
time, and this is perhaps the general 
opinion of commentators. But this is 
made less certain by the now admitted 
fact that Calvary was not property a 
mountain ; and that, although the place 
of the crucifixion is often popularly 
called 'Mount Calvary,' yet the Scrip- 
tures nowhere authorise this mode of 
expression. There was doubtless a 
gentle swell or rocky protuberance in 
the ground, resembling in form a human 
skull, from which the name was deriv- 
ed ; but as the present locality has no 
appearance of a moimtain, or even a 
hill of any size, so we have no reason 


B. C. 1872.] 


3 IT And Abraham rose up early 
in the morning, and saddled his ass, 
and took two of his young men with 
him, and Isaac his son, and clave 

to think it was ever entitled to sucli a 
designation. But we can easily con- 
ceive that it would have answered all 
the typical purposes intended in the 
transaction, to liave had the offering 
made on any of the several mountain- 
tops which distinguish the site of tliat ve- 
nerable city. We incline, on the whole, 
to tlie opinion that it was the spot up- 
on which the temple was afterwards 

erected. IT Offer him there for a 

burta-offering. Heb. nb^b ibs^u make 
him ascend for an ascensioJi, one of the 
U3ual terras in the original for offering. 
The act was performed by first cutting 
the throat of the animal, to drain off" its 
blood, and then consuming the body to 
ashes upon the altar. 

3. Abraham rose up early in the morn- 
ing, <J-c. The ready obedience eihibit- 
od by the patriarch to this call, evinces 
beyond question tliat he must have been 
perfecdy satisfied of its emanating from 
God. The law of parental duty, the in- 
stincts of parental feeling, would inevita- 
bly have prevailed over a dubious reve- 
lation ; and though we may be unable to 
determine how he coiild have been thus 
assured, yet of the fact there can be no 
doubt. His conduct was such as might 
have been expected under the un- 
wavering conviction by which it was 
prompted. The command came during 
the night, and it was obeyed ' early in 
the morning.* There was no doubtful 
question of its reality or its obligation. 
There was no culpable communing 
with flesh and blood. Even Sarah 
seems not to have been informed of it, 
lest her affections should embarrass or 
overpower his faith. *That which he 
must do, he will do : he that hath learn- 
ed not to regard the life of his son, had 
learned not to regard the sorrow of his 
wife.' Bp. Haa.~ — t Saddled his 

the wood for the bornt-ofl^ring, and 
rose up, and went unto the place of 
which God had told him. 

ass. Ordered it to be done. See Note 
on Gen. 3. 21. The saddles of that an- 
cient period were doubdess a far more 
simple contrivance than those of mo- 
dern times. Goguet remarks in his Ori- 
gm of Laws that 'no nation of antiquity 
knew the use of either saddles or stir- 
rups ;' and even in our times Hasselquist, 
when at Alexandria, says, * I procured 
an equipage which I had never used be- 
fore ; it was an ass with an Arabian sad- 
dle, which consisted only of a cushion, 
on which I could sit, and a handsome 
bridle.' But even the cushion seems on 
improvement upon the ancient eastern 
saddles, which were probably nothing 
more than a kind of rug or mat of straw 

girded to the beast. IT Two of his 

young men. That is, servants, as explain- 
ed Gen. 14, 24. T And dove the wood. 

Another instance of the usage so inces- 
santly recurring, by which a person is 
said to do that which he orders or pro- 
cures to be done. See on Gen. 27. 37- 
He carried the wood with him, because 
the mountain probably afforded nothing 
but green shrubs, which would make a 
very slow fire, ftnd thus prolong the 
consumption of the victim. To guard 
against this, Abraham took with hira a 
supply of dry materials, which could be 

speedily kindled into a lively flame. 

If Rose up. Heb. ^'p'^ ydktm. This terra 
is frequently employed to expreai the 
act of enterin/r upon the execution of any 
business, tJie addressing one's sdf to a 
work. Thus, Kzra 3. 2, •Then stood up 
(ftp*i rose up) Joshua and his brethren, 
and builded the altar;' i. e. they set 
about it. It is applied to God in the 
same sense; Ps. 3. 7, •-Arise, O Lord, 
save me ;' i. e. enter thou upon the work 

of my deliverance. IT Went unto the 

place. Went towards the place, which 
he did not reach till the third day. 


4 Then oo the third day Ahra- 
ham lifted up his eyes, and saw the 
place afar off 

5 And Abraham said unto his 

GENESIS. in. C. 187S. 

young men. Abide ye here with the 
ass, and I and the lad win go yon- 
der and worship, and come again 
to you. 

4. On the third day. It was not quite 
two dayi* journey firom Beenheba to 
Moriah, and though it is no doubt true 
that a loaded ass moves slowly, it is 
somewhat difficult to conceive why so 
kxQg a time should have been consumed 
in travelling the distance of only 42 
miles. The fact may be accounted for 
by supposing that, although he rose 
early in the morning, and went about 
the necessary preparations, yet he did 
not find himself in readiness actually to 
set forth till the middle of the day. This 
would leave but half a day*8 journey 
for the first day. The second might 
have been wholly occupied, and early 
on the third he may have reached the 
destined spot. But whatever may be 
thought of this, certain it is, that the 
trial must have been rendered more ag- 
gravating to Abraham by the delay, 
and the distance which he had to travel. 
Had the oracle demanded an instant 
sacrifice, the struggle, though severe, 
would have been short and compara- 
tively easy. But in a three days* jour- 
ney, leisure was afforded for reflection ; 
the powerful pleadings of nature would 
make themselves heard; parental af- 
fection had time to revive; and the 
sight, t)ke society, the conversation of 
Isaac, could not but combine to shake 
the steadfastness of his faith, and urge 
him to return. But whatever may be 
the promptings of native, faith such as 
Abfaham*s, knew not what it is to re- 
lent. With steady step and unwaver- 
ing purpose he advances to the fatal 

spot 1 Saw the place afar o^. It be- 

iii|^ probably pointed out by a luminous 
cloud, preintimative of the Shekinah, 
which rested upon it. Such is the 
tradition of the Jews/ When God bade 
Abraham go to the pbce he would tell 
him o^ and ofier his son, he asked how 

he should know it? And the answer 
was, * Wheresoever thou seest my Glo- 
ry, there will I stay and wait for thee. 
And accordingly now he beheld a pillar 
of fire reaching from heaven to eardi, 
and thereby knew that this was the 
place.*— PfrXre EUezer. Calvin supposes 
that he saw with his eyes the place 
which he had before seen in mental 

5. Abide ye Aere, &c. He left his ser- 
vants behind, lest their affectionate but 
ill-judged remonstrances, if not their 
forcible resistance, when they saw What 
he was about to do, might interfere with 
the execution of his purpose. It was 
not unnatural that they should diink 
him actually beside himselC when diey 
perceived him on the point of iramo* , 
latiug his son. Upon what grounds I 
Abraham felt himself warranted to say, 
* We win come again to you,* is not 
clear. Some commentators consider it 
as a kind of involuntary prophecy, and 
by some it is resolved into an allowable 
dissimulation, adopted in order to quiet 
the minds of his attendants. But a 
more probable, as well as a more cre- 
ditable solution is, to suppose that he 
truly, though vaguely, beUeved that 
God would either prevent the catastro- 
phe, or restore his slain son to life. We 
can scarcely derive any other inference 
from the words of the apostle, Heb. II. 
17—19, * By faith Abraham, when he 
was tried, offered up Isaac — accounting 
that God was able to raise him up even 
from the dead.* As his birth at the ad- 
vanced age which his parents had at- 
tained, was a miracle tittle short of fife 
from the dead, this would render bit 
restoration less difficult of belief than it 
would otherwise have been. And at: 
ho was assured, that the promise be- 
fore given, that in Isaac and in km 







/ H 

{ - 

I ^ 



A. C. 1872.] 

cnASTESi xxn. 


6 And Ahiaham took the wood 
of the burntmfferiDgi and <^laid it 
upon Isaac hie son; and he took 
the fire in his hand and a knife : 
and they went both of them to- 

* John 19. 17i 

onfyi should his seed be called and mul- 
tipbed, could oot fail, be must bave 
been, on the whole, persuaded that God 
would accomplish his word by raising 
his son from the dead. Accordingly 
the Apostle goes on to affirm that ' he re- 
ceived Isaac from the dead in a figure/ 
or parable. That is, as he is said to 
have been not actually, but intentional- 
ly and virtually offered up ; so he was 
not hteraUy, but virtually and figurative- 
ly restored to life from the dead. Oth- 
ers, however, refer this to a parabolical 
representation of the sufferings, death, 
and resurrection of Christ.— IT Go yon- 
der gtkd vjorship. Heb. mnDlS!3l lit. and 
bow down, the usual posture of worship ; 
thus confirming the conjecture above 
mentioned, that the Dioine glory appear- 
ed on the summit of the mountain. He 
had a good reason therefore for pro- 
posing to go thither and worship. 

6. Z^id it upon Isaac. As the sacri- 
fice was to be burnt to ashes, no small 
quantity of wood would be requisite ; 
and from Isaac's bearing such a burden 
up the hill, it is inferred, that although 
in T. 5 he is called in our translation 
^lad,' instead of young man^ yet he 
must now have arrived at adult age. 
Josephus makes him twenty-five; 
others thirty-three, that his age might 
correspond with that of his great anti- 
type at the time of his crucifixion. The 
point is wholly uncertain. If, however, 
as intimated above, the transaction in 
the main were de«gned to be prefigu- 
ratave of the crucifixion of the Saviour, 
we see no objection to considering this 
particular incident as typical of Christ's 
bearing Iiis cross as related by the Evan- 
gelist, John, 19. 17. Yet tli^re is not, 

7 And Isaac iiMke unto Abraham 
his father, and said, My&ther: and 
he saidt Here am t, my son. And 
he said, Behold the fire ^nd the 
wood : bnf where t> the lamb for a 

perhaps, sufficient ground for a positive 
affirmation on the subject. 

7. And Itaae spakA, Sic. At the pe-* 
riod of life to which Isaac had now af* 
rived, he must necessarily have been 
conversant with tlie rites and ceremo- 
nies which obtained in the Abrahamic 
age, and more especially with the man- 
ner in which expiation was made for 
sin, — that for this purpose it was 
necessary that the lives of animals 
should be sacrificed, and the blood of 
bulls and of goats should be shed. It was 
natural, therefore, seeing they were un- 
attended by any thing by which the re- 
quisite expiation could be made, that 
Isaac should propose the question here 
mentioned, and which was so well cal- 
culated to harrow up a fother*s heart 
For we must assuredly regard it, under 
the circumstances, as one of the most 
affiscting questions ever addressed to 
mortal ears. How keenly must it 
have put the faith of Abraham to the 
test ! Let the tender parent substitute 
himself in the place of the patriarch, 
and he cannot but understand and feel 
the ineffable pathos comprehended in 
this brief interrogation. *If,' as Bp. 
Hall remarks, * Abraham's heart could 
have known how to relent, that question 
of his dear, innocent, and pious son had 
melted it into compassion. I know not 
whether that word, *my father,' did 
not strike Abraham as deep as the 
knife of Abraham could strike his son.* 

IT Wliere is tlte lamb ? Heb. fTTD ^h 

apphed to the young either of sheep or 
goats. Ex. 12. 5. Deut. 14. 4. The 
Gr., however, has re vpo^arov ro tis o\o' 
Kapirtaviv the sheep for hulocau^. 

8, Chd vnU provide himself a ktmh/Qr 




[B. €. isn. 

8 And AbrakuD nid* My eon, 
God will provide himself a lamb for 
•i burot-ofiering : so tltey went both 
of them toget^. 

9 And they came to a place 
which God had told him of; aad 

Abumt-offering. Heb. rWH lb r»1*i J^" 
f«A to kaaseh, will see for hitMdf the Icanif. 
Chal. * My son, there will be revealed 
before God for himself a Ismb ibr a burnt 
offering.' Gr. o^f/srai eavno irf»oi9aror, 
wflf see for himsdfa sheep. ' The idiom 
is Hebraic, that language having no oth- 
er term for provide or foresee^ than to see. 
Thus 1 Sam. 16. 1, * I have provided me a 
king among his sons.' Heb. I have seen 
me a king, &c. Gen. 41. 33, * Now there- 
fore, let Pharaoh look out a man discreet 
and wise,' &c. Heb. Let Pharaoh see 
a man, &c. The answer thus returned, 
though evidently evasive, was yet so 
happily framed, ^at it could not bnt 
have been satisfactory to Isaac. Piety 
to God, and filial reverence and defer- 
ence to his fether, had no doubt been 
among the earliest lessons with which 
his mind was imbued ; and the present 
reply addressed itself to both these 
principles. It was clear that his father, 
from the fixed solemnity of his manner, 
and from the strange and inexplicable 
nature of the whole proceeding, v«ras 
engaged in some religious service of 
more than usual sacredncss ; and as he 
knew from his father's general conduct 
that he would neither do nor say any 
tbing unadvisedly, and as he was doubt- 
less aware that he had entered upon 
the business in obedience to a divine 
command, he would probably take it 
for granted that Abraham was fully au- 
ihorised to reply as he did, and that he 
did not speak at random in saying that 
God would provide himself- a Iamb for 
sacrifice. His ready acquiescence, 
therefore, in the answer made to his en- 
quiry, shews the working of a genuine 
^th in him as well as in his father. 
9. Boimd Jtaoc his «m, and had hm 

Abrahnti bait aa {dttr ttere, and 
laid the wood in order ; and boimd 
Isaac his sod, and "laid lam oo tbe 
altar iqMn the wood. 

• Heb. 11. 17. Jam. 2. 91. 

on the tdiar on the wood. Not that this 
WM neeesBory aa a measwre of precati- 
tioh to prevent baae'i escaping, but 
wmjAj to oMilbmi to the wstud rites pre- 
scribed in the offering up of aninm! sac- 
rifices. As tbe victims were botmd by 
their four legs, so Isoae was doubdms 
bound by the hands and feet— Hitheitd 
it appears that Abraham had nolmfbrm- 
ed his son of the tme import of the com- 
mand which he had received. Rm 
now the mighty secret with which his 
bosom labored must be divulged, and 
the lamb fbf the bamt-ofi^ring produced. 
The Jewish tiistorian, Josephus, presents 
UH with a dialogue which passed be> 
tween the father and the son en thii oe^ 
easion, striking sad pMheiie indeed, 
but f^ inferior lo the beautiful simpficF- 
ty of Moses. He has not, it is true, i». 
fbrmed us of the express wordft in which 
the annunciation was made to Isaac; 
but whatever they were, their purport 
was evidently this ;— * Thou thyself, my 
dear child, art the destined victim. 
That God, who graciously gave thee to 
ray longing desires, is now pHeased to 
require thee again at my hand. The 
Lord gave, the Lord taketh away; 
let us both adore the name of the Lord/ 
But the sacred historian has thrown a 
veil over this affecting scene, that the 
imagination of the reader might portray 
to him more vividly than it ie in the 
power ef language to do, the strug^^e of 
the fother and the agonies of the son. 
Had not the patriarch been sustained 
by the consciousness that he was doing 
every thing in obedience to the wiH of 
God, it is easy to perceive that the eon- 
fiict woirid have been too great fbr hii> 
man endnnwee. We eannot see how 
it would have been possiblv for bmi ■• 

d by Google 




10 ABd Aln^Hnalvelflhedlbith 
bis band, anil took the knifa to day 
his son. 

11 And the Aogel of the Loid 

oooOy and conponedly to have gone 
about the execution of the fearful order. 
And as it was, what must he have 8uf> 
foxed wh3e building the ahar laying 
on the wood — binding his beloved son 
and friacing him upon the pile so soon to 
be smeared with his blood and mingled 
with his ashes ! Every view we can 
take of the affecting procedure worke 
our sympathies to a higher pitch of in- 
tensity, and elevates the character of 
the patriarch immeasurably in our es- 
teem. But let not the almost equal me- 
rit of Isaac be forgotten. The conside- 
ration of his exemplary conduct, his 
meek and {hous resignation to the divine 
appointment, is perhaps apt to be lost in 
the vague impresnon that he was too 
young to entertain an adequate sense ci 
his danger, and too feeble to have made 
resistance, had he been so inclined. 
But allowing him to have been no more 
than twenty-five, can it be supposed 
Aat an old man an hundred and twenty- 
five years of age,could have bound, with- 
out his consent, a young man in the ve- 
ry prime and vigor of life? Unques- 
tionably Isaac now iqpproved himself 
the worthy son of such a sire ; and in 
his cheerful compliance we seem to 
hear him saying, * I should be unworthy 
of life, were I capable of shewing re- 
luctance to obey the will of my father 
and my God. It were enough for me 
that my earthly parent alone called me 
to the altar ; how much more when my 
heavenly father re- demands his own.' 
Thus it was not so much the superior 
strength, or even the parental authority, 
of the fether, as the filial affection and 
pious obedience of the son, that prevail- 
ed on this trying occasion. 

10. And Abraham streUked forih hit 
hutdi &c. We feel an involuntary 
shuddering as we draw a^ar to the fear- 

m out of hettven, and 
■aid, Ahraham, Aiminni. And l» 
said, Here am I. 

fid crifis. Nature shrinks back at tfia 
spectacle here presented of a fether 
lifting up his hand armed with a deadly 
weapon against the life of his sob ! But 
here was the completion of Abraham's 
obedience and of his feith. Any thing 
short of this, and all would have been 
unavailing. This last, this agonizing 
moment, when the knife was taken 
and- the hand outstretched to strike, 
consummated the trial of Abraham, 
and bequeathed his iaith to thMchurch 
of God as the most perfect model which 
mere mortahty has ever offered of it. 
And as he proceeded so fer in his ob^ 
dience as to afford demonstrative evi- 
dence that he tooidd have gone to the 
utmost extent of the letter of the com- 
mand, God accepted the will for the 
deed, and the apostle therefore speaks 
of it, Heb. 21. 17, as if the act were 
really performed ; ' By feith Abraham, 
when he was tried, offered up Isaac: 
and he that had received die promises, 
offered up his only begotten son ;' where 
the term is that usually employed to iog- 
nify not a purposed bat an actwd offering. 
11. The Angd of the Lord caUed wUa 
him, &c. A moment more, and the vic- 
tim would have been smitten ; but in 
that moment the awful mandate is ooon- 
termanded. A voice too familiar to 
Abraham not to be at once recognised as 
that of God himself addresses him out 
of heaven, and averts the dire catastro- 
phe. Though termed an Angel, yet it 
is evident fiom the manner in which he 
here speaks of himsel£ and from what is 
said y. 12, 16, that he was not a created 
being, but was no other than the divine 
personage so often introduced into the 
sacred narrative under the title of the 
Angel Jehovah, the Angel of the Cove- 
nant, &c. respecting whom see note on 
Gen. 16. 7. 




[B. 0.1874. 

12 And he said, ^ Lay not thine 
hand upon the lad, neither do thou 
any thing unto him: for snow I 
know that thou fearest God, seeing 
thou hast not withheld thy son, 
thine only sorif from me. 

f 1 Sam. 15. 22. Mic. 6. 7, 8. « ch. 36. 5. 
Jam. 2. 22. 

12. Lay riot thy hand upon the lad^ 
&c. The Heb. ni*^ yeled, is applied 
not only to lads or children^ but also to 
grown up young men^ as above to 
Abraham's armed or trained servants, 
ch. 14. 14 ; to the young man of She- 
chem who ravished Dinah, ch. 34. 19 ; 
to Joseph when called to interpret Pha- 
raoh's dreams, ch. 41. 12; to Joshua 
acting as a servant or minister to 
Moses, Ex. 33. 11; and to Absalom 
making war against his father, 2 Sam. 
18. 5i9. The command was intended 
merely for trial; and as it fully ap- 
peared on trial that Abraham was cor- 
dially wiUing and determined to resign 
his son in obedience to the will of God, 
the end of the command was answered ; 
consequently the counter-command to 
forego the sacrifice is not to be viewed 
as militating at all with the unchange- 
I ableness of the divine counsels. — * The 
' voice of God was never so welcome, 
never so sweet, never so seasonable as 
now. It was the trial that God intend 
ed, not the fact. Isaac is sacrificed, and 
is yet alive ; and now both of them are 
more happy in what they would have 
done, than they could have been dis- 
tressed, if they had done it. God's 
charges are oftentimes harsh in the be- 
ginnings and proceeding, but in the con- 
clusion always comfortable. True spir- 
itual comforts are commonly late and 
sudden; God defers, on purpose that 
our trials may be perfect, our deliver- 
ance welcome, our recompences glo- 
rious.' Bp, HaU. ^ JJtnofmthatlhou 

fearest Ood, &c. God previously knew 
all this, and had' in effect declared it, 
ch. 18. 19. The idea is simply that he 

13 And Abraham lifted up his 
eyes, and looked, and bdbeld behind 
him a ram caught in a thicket by 
his horns : and Abraham went and 
took the ram, and offered him up 
for a bumt-ofiering in the stead of 
his son. 

knew, by a new proof, by having actu- 
ally made trial of him. He speaks here, 
as in multitudes of other cases, in accom- 
modation to human usages of speech. 
It is common for men to say that they 
know that which they have found out by 
special trial, which they have learned 
as the result of experiment ; and the 
Most High is here pleased to adopt the 
same language. Thus Ps. 139. 23, it is 
said, * Search me, O God, and know my 
heart ;' though the psalmist had just be- 
fore said, V. 2, ' Thou understandest my 
thoughts afar ofT.' For himself he need- 
ed not the patriarch's obedience to dis- 
cover to him the state of his mind ; but 
for our sakes he made the exhibition of 
Abraham's obedience a ground for ac- 
knowledging the existence of the inwarij 
principle from which it sprang. It is by 
a holy and obedient deference to the 
divine authority that faith and fear are 
made manifest. As a sinner, Abraham 
was justified by faith only ; but as a pro- 
fessing believer, he was justified by the 
works which his faith produced. This 
view will probably reconcile the appa- 
rent discrepancy of Paul and James in 
regard to Abraham's justification. They 
both allege his case as an example of 
what they are teaching, but the one res- 
pects him as ungodly^ the other as god- 
ly. In the first instance he is justified 
by faith exclusive of works ; in the last 
by faithi as producing works, and there- 
by proving him the friend of God. 

13. Behold, behind him a ram caxtght 
in a thicJcet. This was in fact an accom- 
plishment of what Abraham himself 
had a little while before unwittingly pre- 
dicted, hi reply to Isaac's question. 


B. a 1671] 


14 And Abrafa&m ealed tbe name 
of that place Jehovafa-jireh : as it is 

• Where Is the lamb for a bTimt-ofTer- 
ing T he had said, * My son, God will 
provide himself with a b1]rn^o'ffering.' 
By this answer he merely intended to 
satisfy his son's mind for the present, 
till the ^me should come for making 
known to him the command which he 
had received from God, in which com- 
mand that provi^on was actually made. 
But now, through the miraculous inter- 
position of Heaven and the substitution 
of the ram in Isaac's place, it had been 
literally verified in a way which he him- 
self had never contemplated. * He that 
made that beast brings him thither, fast- 
ens him there. Even in small things 
there is a great providence !* Bp. HaU. 
The command to sacrifice the ram, 
though not expressly affirmed, is yet to 
be presumed from the cirsumstances ; 
and in that incident we perceive not- on- 
ly the gracious interposition of Heaven 
in behaJf of Abraham, but also a clear 
intimation of that system of animal sac- 
rifices which afterv^'ards constituted the 
grand feature of the Jewish economy, 
and which was designed typically to fore- 
shadow the future paramount sacrifice 
of the * Lamb slain from the foundation 
of the world.' In order to intimate 
this still more forcibly, it can scarcely 
admit of doubt that the very place 
where the ram, after getting entangled, 
was offered up, was the place subse 
quently chosen for the site of the Tem- 
ple, and, by consequence, of the offer- 
ing up of the stated perpetual sacrifices 
of the children of Israel. 3 Chron. 3. 1 

14. Abraham cdUed the name of that 
place Jehovah'jirih. Heb. Jifc^'T^ mn^ 
Yehowih'yirehj the Lord vntU see or provide. 
6r. Kvpioi eiisvf the Lord hath seen. 
The import of this will be considered 
in the note on the ensuing clause. The 
name was doubtless given in allusion to 
the expression mentioned above, v. 8, 
* God will provide himself a Iamb ibr 

VOL. n. 2 

•ud (o tbit dav, In tbe 
the Lord it shall be eoen. 



a bumt-ofiering.' The striking eor- 
respondence between this Dameand 
* Moriah * will be evident upon re* 
fBrring to what is said of the etymol- 
ogy of that word in v. 2. The whole 
thread of the sacred story makes it 
evident that good men of oM were per- 
ticularly solicitous to express in some 
pubUc and permanent manner their 
grateful sense of the divine merciea. 
Hence they scarcely ever received any 
remarkable deliverance from evil or 
communication of good from God, but 
they erected some memorial of it, and 
gave either to the place or to the n 
al itself, some name that should t 
to posterity a remembrance oi the b le ss 
ing vouchsafed. Such was * Beth-el,' 
where Jacob was favored with a special 
vision, Gen. 23, 19; and *Peniel,' where 
he wrestled with the angel. Gen. 32. 
30; and * Eben-ezer,' the stone erected 
by Samuel in memoiy of Israel's vie* 
tory over the Philistines, 1 Sam. 7. 12, 
Frequently the name of Jehovah him-* 
^elf was annexed to some word expres- 
sive of the event commemorated, as 
*Jchovah-nissi,' the Lord my banner^ 
Kx. 17. 15; *Jehovah-shalom,' the Lord 
sendpeace^ Jndg. 6.24; * Jehovah-sham- ^ 
raah,' the Lord is there, Ezek. 48. ^. fai , 
like manner the father of the faithful 
bestows a commemorative name iqmn 
the scene of this remarkable transaction. 

^ir As it is said to this day. In the 

mount of the Lord it shall be seen, Heb. 
r]Hr\'^ yeraeh, it shaU be seen ; the same 
letters as in the preceding clause, but 
dififerently pointed and pronounced. 
6r. ev TM opei Kv(9te$ ot^Bij in the moein- 
(ain the Lord hath been seen. The Chal. 
evidently interprets it of the future 
erection of the Temi^e as a place of wor- 
ship on the spot, * And Abraham prayed 
and served (God) there in that place, 
and said before the Lord, Here shall the 
generations (to come) serve (God),. 





16 IF And thefimgel of the Lobd 
called unto Abraham out of heaven 
the second time. 

Therefore was it said in this day, In this 
mount Abraham served before the Lord.* 
With this the Jewish critic Jarcbi agrees, 
saying, *The simple sense is that ex- 
pressed by the paraphrast, viz. that it 
should be, that God would provide or 
eiect for himself this place, in which he 
would cause the presence of Iiis majesty 
to dwell, and oblations to be oiTered to 
him.' Some commentators have sup* 
posed that this clause should be transla- 
ted more nearly in accordance with the 
Greek, * In the mount the Lord will ap- 
pear* ; or, disregarding the points, * The 
Lord will provide* ; but this is less con- 
formable to the Hebrew, and gives at 
any rate a sense differing only by a 
shade from the obvious import, viz. 
that in the crisis of need God will inter- 

' pose. The passage is undoubtedly 
meant to inform us that the incident 
here related was so remarkable, the di- 
vine intervention so illastrious, that it 
gave rise to the well-known proverbial 
saying, * In the mount of the Lord it 
shall be seen ;' an expression of which 
perhaps the nearest equivalent in En- 
glish is the familiar apothegm, *■ Man's 
extremity is God's opportunity.' The 

^. name, thus become a proverb in Israel, 
not only furnished a memorial of God's 
goodness to Abraham, but a promise al- 
f>o that when those that trusted in him 
were reduced to the most trying straits, 
and no way of extrication appeared, he 
would interpose at the critical moment, 
and pruvide for their deUverance and 
safety. The circumstance plainly 
teaches us, that whatever God has at 
at any time done for the most favored 
of his saints, may be expected by us 
now, as far as our necessities aiU for it. 
Of all the events related in the Old Tes- 
tament, scarcely any one was so pe- 
culiar and so exclusive as this. Who 
bfiodes Abraham was ever called to 

Id Andsaidi ^ By myeelf haw I 
Bworo, saith the Lobd* Ibr hecaoac 

hPs.105.9. Luke 1.73. Heb.6.13,14. 

sacrifice his own son? Who besidea 
him was ever stayed by a voice from 
heaven in the execution of such a com* 
mand? And yet, behold this very- 
event was made the foundation of the 
proverb before us ; and from this, par- 
ticular and exclusive as it was, aQ be- 
Uevers are taught to expect that God 
will interpose for them in Uke manner, 
in the hour of their extremity. PhUoso* 
phy and reason may remonstrate, and 
say that we have no grounds to look for 
miracles to be wrought in our behalf; 
but faith will assure us, that though out- 
ward miracles may be withheld, yet 
that what was formerly done by visi- 
ble exercises of miraculous power shall 
now in effect be done by the invisible 
agency of God's providential care. The 
mode of eflfecting our deliverance may 
be varied; but the deliverance itself 
shall be secured. We are indeed very 
prone to ask. In what way will he inter- 
pose? But to this our answer is. It 
must be left to him. He is not limited 
to any particular means. He can work 
by means, or voithout them, as seemeth 
to him good. The whole creation is at 
his command. But two things we cer- y 
tainly know; namely, that he will inter- \ 
pose seasonably ; and that he will inter- 
pose effectually ; for he is, and ever will 
be, ' a very present help in time of trou* ' 
ble.' Let us then confidently trust him / 
in seasons of the greatest darkness and 

15, 16. The Angd of the LORD — 
soui. By mys^ have Iswom^ &e. Chal. 
* By my Word.' Abraham now reapa 
the reward of his faith, and sees the effi- 
cacy of his persevering obedience. The 
promise of redemption is renewed, 
a clearer revelation of the divine will i« 
made, a more cheering annunciation of 
the future prosperity of his fiunily is gi- 
ven. And all this is confirmed aud rati- 


B. C. 187S.] 

thou hast done this thing, and hast 
not withheld thy son, thine only son : 
17 That in blessing I will bless 
thee, and in multiplying I will mul- 
tiply thy seed * as the stars of the 

«ch.l&5. Jer.33. 22. 



fied by the solemnity of an oath, in 
which we are told by the apostle Heb. 
6. 13, 14, God Bwenrs by himself because 
he could swear by no greater. And 
this aflR>rd8 a clear proof of the divinity 
of the speaker ; for had he been a mere 
created angel, he could, of course, have 
sworn by a greater had he sworn by 
his Maker : but as it is expressly affirm- 
ed that he could swear by no greateri 
the infbrenre is inevitable that he must 
have been God. His swearing thus on 
this occaaon was virtually pledging 
the honor of his holy name, and of all 
hia perfections, as the security for the 
fuUilment of his engagements to Abra- 
ham. This was done not only that thf" 
patriarch himself, but * that toe also might 
have strong consolation, who have fled 
for refuge to lay hold on the hope set 

before us.* IT Because thou hast done 

Ms things dee. Not that we are to sup- 
pose tiiat Abraham had properly merit' 
ed or purchased the blessings conveyed 
in the following promises, for it is clear 
that the same things for substance had 
been freely promised him long before, 
Gen, 12. 2 — 13. 16. But as he had now 
put forth a new and signal demonstra- 
tion of his ftiith, it pleased God with this 
to connect the promise of the stupen- 
dous benefaction which he designed 
for his servant. Indeed, it \it1I be 
observed, that the language is something 
more than that of mere repetition. The 
terms are stronger than had been used 
on any former occasion, and, as such, 
more expressive of divine complacency ; 
and the whole being couched in the 
form of an oath, it constituted a more 
emphatic declaration of blessing than 
Abraham had yet received. 

17. Thy 9eed shaR pouen the gate </ 

heaven, ^ and as the sand which ia 
upon the sea -shore ; and ^ thy seed 
shall possess " the gate of his ene* 

kch.13.16. ich.24.60. «Mic.l.9. 

his enemies. That is, the * gates,' coUeet 
sing, for plur. according to common vdip- 
om. Gr. «Xir^oyo/fif(ret rat woKeti rttdf 
wttvavTttav shall inherit the ciHes of ^mr 
adoersaries. Chal. * Shall inherit the er- 
ties of them that hate them.' The 
meaning plainly is, that they shouM 
subdue their enemies. As gates were 
in ancient times the principal places of 
resort, as not only their markets were 
held there, but also their courts of 
justice and their deliberative assemblies, 
hence it is common for the scrips 
tures to speak of the jKfwer of a city be^ 
ing concentrated in its gate or gates. 
The possession of the gates was therefore 
the possession of the cities to which they 
pertained; and this view of the sub- 
ject goes to explain and justify the Greek 
version. — * In this and several other pas- 
sages, the^aie is emblematic of authori- 
ty and dominion ; even as in Europe the 
delivery of the keys of a town is a for- 
mal act of submission to a conqueri1^^ 
or superior power. Sometimes the word 
* gate* denotes * power ' in a more gene- 
ral and absolute sense. A familiar in- 
stance of this is where we speak of the 
Turkish power as * the Porte,' * the Sub- 
lime Porte,* * the Ottoman Porte.' This 
denomination is derived from the prin» 
cipal gate or 'porte* of the Turkish 
Sultan*s palace at Constantinople. 
When the writer saw this gate, it did 
not seem to him very * sublime,' but the 
mention of the gate involves the idea of 
^e palace, and of the power which re- 
sides there.' PiU. Bible. We sbaH 
hereafter have frequent occasion to ad- 
vert to this usage. The words are not 
to be understood, however, as intimat- 
ing that Abraham's seed were to be uni» 
formly and perpetually victoiioua oxer 



IS " And in thy seed shall all the 
nations of the earth be blessed ; <* be- 
cause thou hast obeyed my voice. 

> ch. 13. 3. k 18. 18. Sl S6. 4. Acts. 3. 25. 
Gal. 3. a 9, 16, 18. o ver. 3, 10. ch. 96. 5. 

their enemies, that they were ttever to be 
in eubjection to a foreign foe, which we 
learn from their history was not the fact ; 
but that on the whole and in the final 
issue they should attain to a triumphant 
ascendancy over * every adversary and 
evil occurrent.' The true construction, 
however, embraces not only the tem- 
poral conquests of Israel under Joshua, 
David, Solomon, and others, but also 
the higher spiritual victories to be 
achieved by htm who was preeminently 
the seed of the woman as well as the 
seed of Abraham ; and of whom it is 
else where predicted tliat he shall reign till 
•n his enemies are put under his feet. 
CJomp. Num. 24. 17—19. Josh. 1.— 10. 
S Sam. 8. 10. Ps. 2. 8, 9 ; 72. 8, 9. Dan. 
2. 44, 45. Luke 1. 68—75. Rev. 11. 

18. In thy seed shall qU ike nations of 
ihe earth be blessed. Or, Heb. 1Dn!:nn 
kUhbareku, shaU bless themsdves, or count 
^temsehes blessed, according to the na- 
tive force of the Hithpael conjugation. 
Comp. Is. 65. 16. The Gr. however 
has cpevXoyiiBnvoprai shall be blessedy 
which our translators have seen fit to 
follow. The expression is more em- 
phatic than any which has hitherto oc- 
curred in reference to the same subject, 
and implies how highly they should 
value the promised seed, and the bless- 
ings of which he should be the procur- 
ing cause. The phrase ^ in thy seed,* 
it can scarcely be doubted, has for the 
most part a collective import, implying 
that the posterity descending from Abra- 
ham should ultimately and instrumen- 
tally become a signal blessing to the 
whole worid. But from the Apostle's 
language, Gal. 3. 16, we are plainly 
taught that the words are to be taken in 
m more rattricted applicatioB, and to be 

GENESIS. [B. C. 1872. 

19 So Abraham returned unto 
his young men, and they rose up, 
and went together to p fieer-sheba ; 
and Abraham dwelt at Beer>8hefaa. 

» chop. 31. 31. 

understood of one particular person, even 
that iQustrious and divine individwd, who 
formed the eubttance of all the exceed- 
ing great and precious promises made 
to or through the patriarchs or prophets 
of old ; — * He saith not. And to seeds, as 
of many ; but as of one, And to thy 
seed, which is Christ.' Yet it would 
perhaps be putting constraint upon the 
apostle's words to interpret them a8a6- 
sokady excluding the collective sense 
which the expression usually beata. 
His remarks seem to be grounded ra- 
ther upon 'the letter of Ihephrttse, which 
he would give us to understand natural- 
ly and prominently refers to an indioid' 
tioZ, who, of course, can be no other thsrn 
Christ ; while at the same time this in- 
terpretation does not, we apprehend, 
necessitate the inference that th»t in- 
dividual actually exhausts the foil in»- 
portof the term. Christ was, however, 
so far the leading and dominant object of 
the oracle, as to justify the apostle's 
application of it principally to him. 

19. So Abraham returned ttnto hie 
youn<r men, Ae. With what different 
feelings did Abraham now descend from 
Jehovah-jireh ! His Isaac lives, and 
yet his sacrifice is offered. He came to 
yield his dearest earthly delight at the 
call of God, and he goes away, not only 
accompanied by his son, whom he had 
virtttiilly resigned, but enriched with 
new liJessings and fresh promises ! So 
true is it that God is ever better to his 
people than their fears, yea, than their 
hopes. No sacrifice was ever yet sincere- 
ly made for him, but it finaUy redounded 
a hundred-fold to the gain and the <x>nso- 
lation of the offerer. * Isaac had never 
been so precious to bis &ther,if he had 
not been recovered from death ; if he 
had not been as miraculously restored as 


B. C. 1872.] 

20 Tj And it came to pass after 
these thiogn* that it was told Abra- 
brabanii saving, Behold *> Milcafa, 
she hath also borne children unto 
thy brother Nahor ; 

21 ' Huz his first-born, and Buz 
his brother, and Kemuel tiie father 
' of Aram, 

«cli. 11.29. 'Job. 1.1. 005.32.2. 



given. Abraham bad never been as 
blessed in his seed, if he had not neg- 
lected Isaac for God. The only way to 
find comfort in an earthly thing is, to 
flturender it in a believing carelessness 
into the hands of God.' Bp. HaU. 

20. It cams ' to pass after these things, 
Ac- The genealogy here given, and 
occwpying'^the remaining verses to the 
end of the chapter, is undoubtedly in- 
trodnced in order to make wny for the 
ftdlowing account of Isaac's mfxrri.i^e to 
Rebekah, a daughter of the family of 
Nahor. It was contrary to rhe design 
of heaven that the family of Abraham 
should intermarry with the heathen 
races among whom he now dwelt, and 
to add to the recent token." of the divine 
fevor, he is now cheered by the wel- 
come tidings of the prosperity of his 
brother's house, in which he would not 
fail to perceive how kindly God was 
preparing the way for the higher Imppi- 
ness of his eon and the further fulfilment 
of his promises. 

21. Huz his first-horn. Heb. 7^5? 
Oolz or Uz^ the letter z in scripture pro- 
per names being almost invariably the 
representative of the Heb- tz. The * land 
of Uz', the country of .Job, wnf, it may 
be supposed, so called from this indi- 
vidual. He and his brother Buz seem 
to have emigrated and Fotileil south, 
either in Edom or the northern regions 
of Arabia. Buz was probably the fa- 
ther or one of the ancestors of Elihu, 
who, in Job 32. 2, is called • Elihu the 

Bozite.* T The father of Aram. Gr. 

vartfa ^vpitov Father of the Syrians; 


22 And Cbesed, and Hazo, and 

Pildash, and Jidlaph, and BethueL 

23 And « Bcthuel begat ^ Rebe- 
kah : these eight MOcah did bear to 
Nahor, Abraham's brother. 

24 And his concubine, whose 
name • was Renmah, she bare also 
Tebab, and Gaham, and Thabash, 
and Maachah. 

1 1 cl). 21. 15. tt Called, Rom. 9. 10, Rebecca. 

probably a correct rendering, as the 
names of individuals in the scriptures, 
who were the founders of nations, usu- 
ally stand for die nations themselves. 

* Aram* throughout the Bible is render- 
ed by the Greek * Syria' and * Syrians,' 
as is * Mitzraim' by * Egypt,' and * Cush' 
by * Ethiopia.' This usage of the Sep- 
tuagint has for the most part governed 
that of all the later verHons. 

22. Chesed. Heb. ^IS^: Kesed, that 
isr, the Kasdim or Chaldeans, respecting 
whom and their origin see Note on Gen. 
11. 28. Of the other four individuals 
whope names follow, with the excep- 
tion of Bethuel, the sacred writers give 
us no information. 

24. His canctibine. Hob. t?13b*! pi?'f- 
gesh^ from whence the Gr. iraXXuKiq paK 
lakis and I. at. peile.v. Our English word 

* concubine' is derived from a Latin com- 
pound con and ruho, implying simply mn- 
inal cohabitafion without a duly polem- 
nized marriage. The Heb. term, how- 
ever, supposed to be derived from ^'^'D 
palaff^ to divide, and *:333 nagash, to ap- 
proachj did not, as the word concnhine 
does with us, imply any thing immoral 
or reproachful. Its true import is that 
of 2ihulf-wife^ divided or secondary loi/e, 
from the implied dhnsion of the hus- 

I band's affections and attentions between 
two objects. An accurate knowledge 
of oriental customs and notions is ne- 
cessary to enable one to enter fully in- 
to the force of the term as distinguished 
from our sense of the word concidtine. 
This, as it is well known, denofes a 
woman who, without being married to 




[B. C. 1872. 

a man, lives with him a< his wife. In 
fiict, in its usual acceptation it dif- 
fers not from mistress^ and of course 
conveys the idea of a connexion in the 
highest degree unlawful and abhorrent 
to the fundamental laws of Christianity. 
But with the sacred writers concubi- 
nage runs into polygamy, the word being 
used to designate a lawful wife, but one 
of secondary or subordinate rank. She 
differed from the proper wife in 
not being wedded with all the usual 
ceremonies and solemnities; in not 
bringing with her a dowry ; and in hav- 
ing no share in the government of the 
family. Wives of this description are 
at present known in the Ekist under the 
title of oddliques^ and it is generally un- 
derstood that they are subject to the 
mistress of the family, or the principal 
wife, whose nuptials have been cele- 
brated according to the usual rites. 
They are at the same time treated with 
«very respect as a secondary order of 
wives— very seldom, unless in cases of 
criminality, with the indignities inflicted 
on a slave. The children of the principal 
wife usually inherit the father's fortune 
in preference to the children of the oda- 
liques. In the harem she takes the 
upper seat on the sofa, directs the econ- 
omy of the women's apartments, and 
when her consort forgets her charms for 
thoee of another, her title to supremacy 
atill remains unaltered. She sits too on 
the same sofa with her husband, al- 
|hough at ite extreme edge ; while the 
odatiques sit, their feet folded under 
them, upon cushions spread upon the 
carpet. When she first appears among 
the latter in the morning, it is the usage 
that they should kneel down and kiss 
the hem of her garment. See Quih'f 
JAfe in the East, 

Remarks. — ^The transaction which 
we have now oonsidered, taken in all 
its bearings, is rich in practical instruc- 
tioD. We learn from it, 

(1) The nature and working of true 
fiUk, A more iUostrious display of the 

power of this principle was probably 
never put forth by a human being. In 
addition to all the aggravating circum- 
stances above detailed, it should be oon- 
sidered that Abraham's previous trials 
had been very severe. The same 
things, we well know, niay be more or 
less trying according to the situation or 
state of mind in which they find us. If 
the treatment of Job's friends had not 
been preceded by the loss of his sub- 
stance, the untimely death of his chil- 
dren, the rash counsel of his wife, and 
the heavy hand of God, it would have 
been much more tolerable. So if Abra- 
ham's faith and pntience had not been 
exercised in the manner they were an- 
terior to this temptation, he could doubt- 
less more easily have borne it. But 
it was * after these things' that" God ap- 
pointed this sore trial to his servant — 
after his being called away from his 
country and kindred — after his pilgrim- 
age to Egypt — after his domestic troubles 
and his parting with Ishmael — after five 
and twenty years' waiting for the child 
of promise — after hope had been raised 
to the highest pitch, yea, after it had 
been actually turned into enjoyment — 
and when the child had Hved long 
enough to discover an amiable and pious 
spirit— yet after all this he is called to 
pass through another ordeal still more 
trying than any preceding one ! And 
how plausible were the pleas which 
might have been urged against so fear- 
ful a command ? Murder was an ob- 
ject both of human and divine abhor- 
rence ; and what would the surrounding 
heathen say when they should hear of 
this cruel massacre ? What would they 
think of Itim and his religion when he 
could represent such a horrid deed of 
blood as an act of piety performed in 
obedience to a divine mandate ? Would 
they not universally have exclaimed 
against him as a monster of cruelty, and 
said of him at every turn, * There goes 
the man that cut the throat of his own 
son.' Again, with what fiioe could ha 


B. C. 1872.1 



look upon his wife whose son he had 
mmdered ? How couM she entertain the 
executioner of Isaac, or believe that such 
an order emanatecl from God ? In all these 
respects it is easy to see with what a 
strength of reason his faith had to wres- 
tle, to say nothing of the still sorer con- 
flict with affection. But faith had taaght 
Abraham not to argue, but to obey. 
He knew that what God commanded 
was good, and what he promised, infal- 
lible ; and therefore went forward with- 
out wavering in absolute submission to 
the will of the Most High. Such was 
the triumph of Abraham's faiths And 
now, do we desire to form an estimate 
of the reality and strength of our own 
fiiilh 1 Let as place ourselves for a mo- 
ment in a situation similar to that of the 
patriarch. Let us think of that person, 
of that object, which is the dearest to 
us of any on earth ; and let us imagine 
the breath of the destroying angel wither- 
ing it, like Jonah's gourd, at our feet, — 
its beauty fled, and the grave iabout to 
shot it for ever from our view ; and let 
us ask ourselves whether we could re- 
ceive such a visitation without a mur- 
mnr £rom the hands of our heavenly 
Father? Could we say with the Shu- 
namite, in answer to the prophet's mes- 
sage, * Is It well with the child V that 
child which had just expired in her arms 
— could we say with her, 'It is well.' 
This is the office of faith, and one of 
its most difficult works. Yet it has been 
achieved by thousands, and must be 
achieved by us ere patience shall have 
had her perfect work. The most val- 
uable of the gifts of heaven, the dearest 
of our earthly delights, must all be held 
as Isaac in his father's arms, ready at 
the slightest bidding to be laid and to be 
sacrificed on the altar of God. 

(2 ) Tfie certainty that Ood will inter- 
pose for his people in the Jiour of their 
necessity. This is the plain import of 
the proverb, * In the mount of the Lord 
it shall be seen.* We may tlierefore 
confidently trust in him in seasons of 

the greatest darkness and distress. He 
may not come to our help at the mo- 
ment that our impatient minds may de- 
sire. On the contrary, he may tarry 
long till we are ready to cry, * The Tiord 
halh forsaken us, and our (rod hath for- 
gotten us.' Bnt be has wise and gro- 
cious purposes to answer by such de- 
lays. He makes use of them to stir us up 
to more earnest importunity ; to render 
us more simple and humble in our de- 
pendence, to display more gloriously the 
riches of his power and goodness when 
he doe» appear ; and to teach both us 
and others the wisdom of waiting his 
time. Whatever, then, our unbelieving 
fears may say, let us be assured that 
God is no inattentive observer of our 
condition, and that at the critical mo- 
ment, when his succour shall be most 
welcome, it »hall come. And where is 
the christian heart that hath not had 
{engraven upon it many precious remem- 
brances of the fulfilment of this pro- 
mise ? In temporal and in spiritual dif- 
ficulties ; in the day of corrow, and on 
the bed of sickness ; in the hour of dan- 
ger to ourselves or to those we have 
loved, the Lord has most unexpectedly 
appeared in our behalf, and enabled na 
to exclaim * Jehovah-jireh' in view of 
the joyful deliverance. What then 
ought to be the effect of these lepeated 
interferences of divine mercy in onr 
behalf? Surely to teach us never Id 
doubt, never to despair, never to des- 
pond. If called to give up our dearer 
possession, the wife of our bosom, the 
cliildren of our love, let us bow even 
amidst, our keenest sufTeringa, to kiss 
the rod and him who hath appointed 
it He that hath been with us in six 
troubles will not leave us in^even ; and 
it will only be adding ingratitude to un- 
belief, to rob ourselves of the comfort 
of this delightful assurance. Nor is it 
in Ufe only that we are to sustain our- 
selves by cleaving to this confidence. 
In nature's final conflict, when our fiiith 
may be expected to meet its severeal 




[B. C. 1860. 


AND Sarah was an hundred 
and seven and twenty years 
old : these toere the years of the litie 
of Sarah. 

shock, then shall these cheering words 
stand out in letters of light, which even 
the closing eye can read and the faint- 
ing heart can dwell upon. 

1. And Sarah was an hundred and 
sewn and twenty years old. Heb. I^rt"^ 
tirw ^"T\ yihyu haye Sarah, the lives 
6/ Sarah were, Ac. according to the 
Heb. idiom which always employs the 
plur. for * life ;' a usage designed, ac- 
cording to Calvin, to intimate the va- 
rious events of life, its numerous and 
often rapid vicissitudes, which seeming- 
ly divide it into several different lives. 
Another solution, however, of a physio- 
logical character, is given Gen. 3. 7. It 
is somewhat remarkable that Sarah is 
the only female mentioned in the scrip- 
tures, whose age, death, and burial are 
distinctly noted. She was 65 at the pe- 
riod of Abraham's departure from Ha- 
ran, Hved with him in his pilgrim state 
'62 years, and died 39 years before him. 
She is always spoken of in the sacred 
writings as the pattern of conjugal fi- 
delity and love, and her example is held 
forth by the apostle, 1 Pet. 3. 6, as the 
highest model for christian women, and 
the title of her * daughters* as their most 
honorable distinction. The very foct 
that so few of the incidents of her his- 
tory are recorded speaks strongly in 
her favor ; for tlierp is little in the even 
tenor of female life, when that Ufe is 
passed in the retired and noiseless path 
of devotednessto God, and in the peace- 
Ail round of domestic duties, which can 
or ought to form the subject of the his- 
torian's pen. .The very privacy of the 
christian graces, manifested in such a 
walk and eonvereation, while it endears 

2 And Sarah died in * Kiijatb- 
arba ; the same is ^ Hebron in the 
land of Canaan: and Abraham 
came to mourn for Sarah, and to 
weep for her. 

» Josh. 14. 15. Judg. 1. 10. »»ch. 13. 18. ver. 19. 

them thb more to the select circle in 
which they move, and which alone can 
duly appreciate their unobtrusive 
amiableness and worth, is adverse to 
their gaining eclat The trails of char- 
acter which heat entitle them to celebrity, 
are the very ones which prevent their 
attaining it. 

2. Sarah died in Kirjath-arlja. The 
patriarch, after having enjoyed the ten- 
derest of ^11 relationsh-ps during a longer 
period than that of which a whole life, 
at the present day usually consists, is 
at length called to feel the pang of sepa- 
ration. Sarah pays the debt of nature, 
and is removed to that world where they 
neither * marry nor are given in mar- 
riage * Although there is always some- 
thing in the breaking of this tie more 
affecting, perhaps, than in the disruption 
of any other which unites us to our 
kind, yet the bitterness of the bereave- 
ment was enhanced to Abraham by pe- 
culiar circumstances. Sarah had been 
his * companion in tribulation.* They 
had shared together in a series of trying 
dispensations through a long course of 
years, and thoir union had at length 
been cemented by a pledge, such as 
had never before, and but in one in- 
stance since, gladdened the heart of a 
parent. The stroke therefore could 
not but be one of deep affliction to 
the survivor, and the sequel clearly 

informs us that he felt it as such.^ 

T Kifjath-aiha. Heb. ^n^iJ^ Ti'^^^p 
lit. Ute city of the four ; so called, if wo 
may believe the Jewish tradition, from 
the circumstance or the four illustrious 
men, viz. Adam, Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob, being buried there, as also the 
four distinguished women, Eve, Sarah, 
j Rebekah, and Leah. AU these persona 

Digitized by VjOOQIC* 

B. C. 1800.] 



were certainly buried ^ere, except 
Adam and Eve, whose place of inter- 
ment is nowhere mentioned. But as to 
the origin of this name, see Josh. 14. 15. 
Whoever built the city, it must have 
been one of the most ancient in the worid. 
Egypt was one of the first countries set- 
tled after the deluge, and its inhabitants 
made much boast of the antiquity of their 
cities ; yet we are informed in Num. 13. 
23, that Hebron was built seven years 
before Zoan, or Tanis, the ancient capi- 
tal of Lower Egsrpt. At the conquest 
of Palestine by the Israelites Hebron 
was possessed by the Anakims, and was 
' taken by Caleb, whose possession it be- 
came, being in the allotment of the tribe 
of Judah. It was afterwards assigned 
to the Levites, and became a city of 
reAige. David kept his court there in 
the first seven years of his reign, before 
Jerusalem was taken. Afterwards Ab- 
salom raised the standard of rebellion 
m Hebron. During the Bobylonish cap- 
tivity, the Edomites appropriated He- 
bron when they invaded the south of 
Judah, and it became the capital of a 
district which continued to be called 
Jdonuea long after the territory of the 
Edomites had been incorporated with 
Judssa. Wells think it became the 
site of a bishopric in the esuiy omes of 
Christiamty, and it was certainly made 
such when the Crusaders conquered 
Palestine. Hebron is now merely a 
village, called Habroun and El Khalyl, 
i. e. ikefricTtd, fmm its having been the 
residence of Abraham, the friend of 
Chd. It is situated about 27 miles south 
of Jerusalem, eastward of a chain of 
hills which intersects the country 
from north to south. It stands on the 
slope of an eminence, at the summit 
of which are Fome mis-shapen ruins 
of an ancient castle. It has some small 
manufiictures of cotton, soap, glass- 
lamps, and trinkets, which render it the 
most important place of the district. It 
is rather a neat town, with unusually 
high houses ; but the streets are nanow 

and winding. The adjoining district, 
which is no doubt *the valley of He- 
bron,' is an oblong hollow, or vaDey, di- 
versified with rocky hiUocks, grovea of 
fir, and some plantations of vines and 
olive trees.-^— IT Abraham came to motan 
for Sarahy and to V3eep, Heb. ntCSj 
U^othah, to wapheri i- e. to bewai or 
lament her. Mourning for the pious 
dead is but a suitable tribute to the me- 
mory of their hving worth. Abraham 
was sensible of his loss, and gave vent 
to the natural expressions of sorrow. 
His religion was not of that sort which 
values itself on dmng violence to nature. 
He knew nothing of that philosophy 
which affects to deny what it feels. 
Neither had an old age of one hundred 
and thirty years,extinguiBhed in his heart 
those tender emotions which such an 
event was calculated to awaken. He 
who does not weep on snch an occaf ion, 
is something more or less than a man. 
From the example of our Lord himself, 
who wept over the bier of Lazarus, we 
are taught that there is notlung abhor> 
rent from true wisdom or manly virtue 
in grave and temperate lamentation for 
our departed fiiends. Bm the C hristian 
is not to mourn as those that have no 
hope, nor is his mourning to be allowed 
to interfere with the grand duties of 
life. — In what sense Abraham is said to 
have * corae' to mourn for Sarah, is not 
clear. Harmer thinks that, according to 
a custom among the Syrians and Greeks, 
of mourning at the door within which a 
dead body lay, the patriarch ooaie from 
his own tent to sit mourning on the 
ground at the door of Sarah's, which 
was distinct from his own. Gen. 24. 67. 
But as it is common for those that lead 
the nomade mode of lite, for the con- 
venience of feeding their numerous 
flocks, to have several places of tem* 
porary residence, we should rather in- 
fer that he vrw absent fit>m Hebron at 
the time of her death, but hastened 
thither to perform the last duties when 
he received the intelligence. 



GENESIS. [B. C. 1860. 

3 IT And Abraham stood up 
from before his dead, and spake 
unto the sons of Heth, saying, 

4 'lam a stranger and a sojourn- 
er with you : *^ give me a possession 

• ch. 17. 8. 1 Ctiron. 29. 15. Ps. la's. 12. 
Beb. 11.9, 13. -Acts 7. 5. 

3. Abraham stood up from before h'a 
dead. Or, Heb. ftp*^ yaJtom^ rose up ; 
an expremion denoting the moderation 
of his grief, and the comparative ease 
with which, from a principle of piety, 
he was enabled to subdue his Amotions, 
and to rise up and engage in the active 
duties of hfe. As there is a time for 
weeping, so there is a time to refrain 
from weeping ; and it is well there is. 
llie necessary cares connected with our 
condition in this world are a merciful 
means of raising us from the torpor of 

melancholy. T Spake unto the sons of 

Heth. The descendants of Heth, the 
son of Canaan, and grandson of Ham, 
elsewhere called Hittites. He was now 
sojourning in their country. 

5. A stranger and a sojourner with you. 
We have now been tracing the history 
of Abraham through the space of near- 
ly one hundred years, during the great- 
er portion of which the promise of God 
was pledged to him that all the land of 
Canaan should be his ; and here we find 
him, at the close of a long and toilsome 
life, obtaining his first inheritance in it, 
and that — a sepulchre for his wife. In 
all this time he was, and he felt himself 
to be, * a stranger and a sojourner.' It is 
to the acknowledgment that he here 
makes to the sons of Heth, that Paul so 
expressly refers inHeb. 11. 13, *They 
ronfessed that they were strangers and 
pilgrims on the earth.* Abraham, how- 
ever, did not sustain this character 
alone Israel, when put in possession of 
the land, were taught to view themselves 
in the same light; Lev. 25. 23, 'The 
land shall not be sold forever ; for the 
land is mine, for ye are strangera and so- 
journers with me.' Even Diivid, when 

of a burying-place with you, that 
I may bury my dead out of my 

5 And the children of Heth an- 
swered Abraham, saying unto him, 

king of Israel, makes the same confes- 
sion, Ps. 39. II, *For I am a stranger 
with thee, and a sojourner, as all my 
fathers were.' But Abraham's confes- 
sion, though true at all times, waa pe- 
culiariy true and striking when thna ut- 
tered at the grave of Sarah. 8o we 
all feel it to have been with him, and so 
with ourselves. Never does the im- 
pression of this great troth come upon 
us with such force, never do we feel 
the ties that bind us to the earth so 
loosened, so nearly rent asunder, as 
when we stand by the grave of those 
we love. However at other and hap« 
pier times we may forget the frail te- 
nure by which we hold this earthly tab- 
ernacle, we are strongly impressed with 
the conviction then. We then, indeed, 
*know the heart of a stranger,' and 
wonder that we have ever felt domes- 
ticated here on earth, where there is ao 
much sin and suffering, so little stability 
and peace. Would that we could car- 
ry this abiding conviction along with us 
into the daily business of life. How 
little influence would its trials and dis- 
appointments possess over us. How 
much internal peace would it bestoi^, to 
feel that we were 'strangers and pil- 
grims' on earth, and that soon, amid 
the comforts of our Father's house, we 
should smile at the little disquietudes of 

the way. IT Crive me a possession of- 

a hirying'plaoey &c. That is, seO, me. 
He did not ask it as a gift, as is clear 
from V. 9. He wished to purchase a 
burying-place for the interment of hia 
dead in general, not of Sarah in par- 
ticular ; and in making this proposition, 
he exhibited a striking evidence of his 
faith in the promise of the future pos- 



B. C. 186©.] 

6 Hear us, my lord; thou art 
'a mighty prince amons us: in 
the choice of our sepulchres bu- 
ry thy dead: none of ns shall 
withhold from thee his sepulchre, 
but that thou mayest bury thy dead. 

• ch. I'X i2. & 14. 14. & 24. 35. 

session of this land by his posterity ; 
for the procuring a sepulchre of one's 
own was regarded as a sign of the con- 
firmation of a man's right and title 
to the land in which it is situated. This 
doubtless is the import of the following 
passage; Is. 22. 16, 'What hast thou 
here, and whom hast thou here, that 
thou hast hewed thee out a sepulchre 
here, as he that heweth him out a se- 
pulchre on high, and that graveth a hab- 
itation for himself in a rock ;' i. e. hast 
taken possession as though the land of 

Israel were thine own. IT Bury my 

dead out of my sight. An expression 
that forcibly remindsms of the triumphs 
of deatli. The faces which once excited 
the strongest sensations of pleasure, 
now require to be buried out of our sight. 
The beauty which conjugal affection 
doated upon, has disappeared ; and those 
who were but so recently the desire of 
our eyes, have now become a loathing 
unto aU flesh! Abraham cannot now 
endure to look upon her whom he once 
shuddered to think the eyes of another 
might regard with too much desire, and 
he is now as anxious to remove her 
from his presence as he .formerly was 
to retain the possession of her wholly 
to himself- Liet the beautiful, the gay, 
the vain, the valued, think of this and 
dismiss their self-complacency. Dust 
thou art, and unto dust shalt thou re- 

6. Thou art amighfy prince amoug «», 
Heb. rrffifc ta^^nbs* ^^©3 nesi Elohim 
altah, a prince of God art thou. Gr. 
0act\evs irapa Qeov vv et s» tiynv a king 
from God art thou among us. Chal. * A 
prince before the Lord.* The name of 

7 And Aivahara stood up and 
bowed himself to the people of the 
land, even to tlie children of Hetb. 

8 And he communed with them, 


aying, If it be your mind that I 
hould bury my dead out of my 

God is frequently affixed to words to 
give intensity of meaning, or to denote 
exceUence of the superlative degree in 
the subject spoken of. Thus, Ps. 36. 6, 
* Great mountains ;' Ileb. Mountains of 
God. Gen. 30. 8, * Great wrestlings;' 
Heb. Wrestlings of God. 1 Sam. 14. 15, 
' Very great trembling ;* Heb. Trembling 
of God. Ps. 80. 10, » Goodly cedars ;* 
Heb. Cedars of God. Acts 7. 20, (Closes) 
was exceeding fair ;' Gr. * Fair to God.* 
So in 1 Chron- 24. 5, the priests who in 
our translation are termed 'governors of 
the house of God,' are in the original 
called 'princes of God ;* i. e. eminent 
and honorable rulers. The term however 
does not imply the exercise of any autho- 
rity or dominion on the part of Abraham, 
but pimply his enjoyment of the bless- 
ings of heaven in a pre-eminent degree of 

worldly prosperity. V In the choice 

of our sepulchres. That is, in the choicest 
or best of our sepulchres, or in any 
that thou shalt choose. From the Heb. 
'-\'2'p Ae5er, sepulchre^ is derived by a com- 
mon transposition of letters, the German 
' Grab,' (Kereb, Kreb, Greb, Grab,) and 
from this comes our Eng. ' Grave.* The 
predominant import of the original is a 
subterranean vault or grotto^ generally &r- 
mvated by human art^ used as a place of 
deposit for the dead. Tombs of this des- 
scription were almost universally made 
use of as places of interment for the 
rich and noble, while the inferior classes 
were usually buried in the pubUc ceme- 
teries, which resembled the grave-yards 
of modem times. A more particular ac- 
count of the ancient mode of burial 
will be found in a note below, v. 19. 
7. Abraham, stood up and bowed him- 



[B. C. I860- 

si^t, hear me, and entreat for me 
to Ephron the son of Zohar, 

9 That he may give me the cave 
of Machpelah, which he hath, which 




9df, Heb. intlTD"' ^/ishtahu, bowed or 
did obeisance^ the 
same word as that 
often rendered * wor- 
ship,* and importing 
an act of respectful 
reverence. Gr. Trpoir- 
SKvviiae. The pos- 
l ture is no doubt 
I correctly represent- 
r ed in the cut, which 
is exactly that des- 
cribed by Herodotus 
^ as practised among 
^ ....^.^ the ancient Higypt- 
ians,attd which continues, as a devotional 
attitude, in the East to the present day. 

• The politeness of Abraham may b» 
•een exemplified among the highest and 
the lowest of the people of the East: 
in this respect nature seems to have 
done for them what art has done for 
others. With what grace do all classes 
bow on receiving a favor, or in paying 
their respects to a superior ! Sometimes 
they bow down to Ihe ground ; at other 
times they put their hands on their bo- 
80OTS, and gently incline the head ; they 
also put the right hand on the face 
in a longitudinal position; and some- 
times give a long and graceful sweep 
with the right hand, from the forehead to 
the ground.' Roberts. 

S. If it be your mind. Heb. TD*^ tDH 
D5»B3 n»w» y««^ ^^ naphshekem, if it 
le vnth your soul. Gr. «t sxere rri 4'^xri 
«^&)v if ye have it in your soul. Chal. 

• If it be the pleasure of your soul.' 

• Soul* often occurs in the sacred writings 
m the sense of will, desire, prevailing ii*- 
dination. Thus, Ps. 27. 12, ' Deliver me 
not over unto the wtU of mine enemies.' 
Heb. Unto the soul. Deut. 21. 14, * Go 
whither she wiU: Heb. Go according to 
her soul. Ps. 105. 22, *To bind his 

18 in the end of his field ; for as 
much money as it is worth he shall 
give it me, for a possession of a bu- 
rying-piace among you. 

princes at his pleasure ;' Heb. At his 

9. That he may give me the cave of 
Machpelah. Heb. nbS^^aH n"l5^ mea- 
raih hammakpdah. Gr. ro virriXatov ro 
Stir\ovif,the twofold cave. ChaL * The cave 
of doubleness.' It is a much disputed 
point among biblical critics whether the 
term is to be understood as a proper 
name or as an appeirative. The Jew- 
ish commentators maintain the latter, 
deriving n!b55?3 Macpelah, from Jm 
kaphal, to be double, as if the caVe con- 
sisted of two separate chambers, or 
were furnished with two distinct en- 
trances. Others, we think with better 
reason, upon comparing vss. 17, 19, 
make it a proper name, although there 
can be little doubt that there was 
was some peculiarity in the topography 
of the place which first gave rise to the 
appellation. This is perhaps most satis- 
factorily explained by the extracts from 

Purchas in a subsequent note. IT At 

the end of his field. That is, in one ex- 
tremity of his territory; the original 
word for 'field* denoting a far larger 
region than this term does with us. In- 
deed, it answers much more nearly to a 
modem township or county than to the 
littie tract of land which we usually de- 
miate * a field.* In Hos. 12. 13, it is taken 
in a still more extensive sense ; * Jacob 
fled into the country of Syria (D^ls^ THVH 

field of Syria.y H For as much money 

asittsworih. Heb. fc^b>a C|r3:3n 6aAAc- 
seph male, for fvU silver, i. e. full money. 
Silver is often used by the sacred writers 
for money, and fuU for fuU weight, as it 
is evident from v. 16, that money was 
formerly thus computed. A similar 
phraseology occurs 1 Chron. 21. 24, * I 
will verily buy it »b?a C)DM for the 
fuU silver ;' where the parallel passage, 
2 Sam. 24 24, relates the same feet thus ; 


B. C. 1860.1 



10 And Ef^iron dwelt among the 
children of Heth. And Ephron the 
Hittite answered Abraham in the 
audience of the children of Heth, 
eoen of all that ^ went in at the gate 
of his city, saying, 

fch. 31.30, S4. Rtttlt4.4 

I will surely buy it of thee 'n*in>al3 ^ 
a price* It is worthy of observation 
that this is the first tnoney transaction 
which we read of in the worid. TiB 
then and long after, both among the 
posterity of Abraham and other nations, 
wealth was estimated by the number 
and quality of cattle, and cattle were 
the principal instruments of commerce. 
Thus we read in many places of Homer 
of a coat of mail worth an hundred 
oxen ; a caldron worth twenty sheep; a 
cup or goblet worth twelve Iambs ; and 
the hke. The words belonging to com- 
merce or exchange of conunodities, in 
the Greek langu€^e, are mostly derived 
from the names of certain animals, by 
means of which that exchange was ori- 
ginaliy carried on. Thus the word 
which signifies to barter, traffic, or com- 
mute one kind of goods for another 
(4ipvvada() is derived from that which sig- 
nifies a lamb ; the verb translated to seU 
(ff-uXecv) comes from a noun signifying a 
ccU; the Greek word for buy {<aveiodai) 
comes from that which signifies an ass ; 
while the term denoting rent or revenue 
{irpoSaais)', and that which signifies 
sheep (xpoBarov), are of kindred origin 
and import. A criminal, according to 
the magnitude of his offence, was an- 
ciently condemned to pay a fine of four, 
twelve, or an hundred oxen. A wealthy 
person was said to be a person of many 
lambs. Two rival brothers are repre- 
sented in Hesiod as fighting with each 
other about the sJteep of their fiither 
that is, contending who should be his 
heir. But firom the present narrative 
it appears, that as eaily as the time of 
Abniiam, silver was employed as 
TOL. n. 3 

11 r Nay, my lord, hear me : the 
field give 1 thee, and the cave that 
is therein, I give it thee ; in the 
presence of the sons of my people 
give I it thee : bury thy dead. 

«8eeS Sam. 34. 21^34. 

more commodious medium of trafiSc. 
From that period to the present the 
precious metals have been mostly em- 
ployed by all civifized and commercial 
nations for the same purpose. 

10. Ephron answered Abraham in the 
audience of the children of Heth. Heb. 

'^DtB^i be4)sane, in the ears of. ^ AS 

that went, in at the gates of the city. Bar- 
gain s and covenants used anciently to 
be entered into and solemnly ratified in 
the gates of cities, from the ease of pro- 
curing witnesses among the crowds that 
resorted thither, written documents be- 
ing then but little in vogue. It was es- 
pecially of importance to Abraham that 
this purchase siiould be known and rati- 
fied. Had he accepted the sepulchre as 
a present, or bought it in a private way, 
his title to it might at some subsequent 
period have been disputed, and his de- 
scendants been deprived of that which 
he was desirous of securing to them. But 
all fears of this kind were eflfectnally 
prevented by the publicity of the trans- 
action. The chief persons of the city 
were not only witnesses of it, but agentt, 
by whose mediation Ephron was induced 
to conclude the bargain. Being wit- 
nessed, moreover, by all who went in 
or out of the gate of the city, there was 
little likelihood, after possession was 
once taken, that any doubt could erer 
arise respecting the transfer of the pio- 
perty, or the title of Abraham's posleii- 
ty to possess it. 

11. Nay,mylord, hear me. * Respecta- 
ble people are always saluted witfi the 
digi^ed title My lord;* hence Bnglisli 
gentlemen, on their anival, are apt to 
siq>poBe they are taken for those of very \ 




[B. C. 1860. 

12 And Abraham bowed down 
himself before the people of the 

13 And he spake unto Ephron in 
the audience of the people of the 

land, saying, Bnt if then ttnU give 
Uj I pray thee, hear me: I will 
give thee money for the field : take 
it of me, and I will bury my dead 

high rank. The man of whom Abra- 
ham offered to purchase Machpelah, af- 
fected to^ give the land. * Nay, my lord, 
hear me, the field I give thee.* And 
this fully agrees with the conduct of 
those who are requested to dispose of a 
thing to a person of superior rank. Let 
the latter go and ask the price, and the 
owner will say, * My lord^ it will be a 
great &vor if you will take it* * Ah, 
let me have that pleasure, my lanW 
Should the possessor believe he will one 
day need a fietvor from the great man, 
nothing will induce him to sell the arti- 
cle, and he will take good care (through 
the servants or a friend; it shall soon be 
in his house. Should he, however, have 
no expectationjof a favor in future, he 
will say as Ephron, * The thing is worth 
so much; your pleasure, my lord,* — Ro- 

herts, IT The.fidd I give thee, &c, * In 

aflter-times we find that the Hittites were 
not at all a popidar people with the Is- 
raelites. This Ephron is the first of that 
nation who comes under our notice ; 
and his tope and manner on this occa- 
sion do no great credit to his tribe. We 
are not surprised that Ephron's respect- 
ful and seemingly liberal conduct has 
been beheld favorably in Europe, for 
only one who has been in the East can 
properly appreciate the rich orientalism 
it exhibits. We will therefore state the 
transaction as illustrated by what we 
have ourselves seen in Persia. Abra- 
ham wishes to purchase of Ephron a 
certain field containing a cave : Ephron, 
feeling the value of the opportunity of 
laying, or seeming to lay, under obliga- 
tion so great a person as Abraham, 
makes a parade of his readiness to give 
i( ;— * The field give I ihee^ and the cave 
tibat is tharein, I give it thee ; in the pre- 

sence of the sons of my people give lit 
thee.* This is exquisitely oriental, as wiU 
be seen by the following extract from 
Mr. Frazer*s * Journey into Khorasan:* — 
* The least a Persian says when he re- 
ceives you is, that he is your slave ; that 
his house, and all it contains — ^nay, 
the town and country— are all yours; 
to dispose of at your pleasure. Every 
thing you accidentally notice — his caUe- 
eons (water smoking-pipesS his horse, 
equipage, clothes — are all PesJicu^'e- 
SahA — presents for your acceptance.' 
This mode of address, as Franckltn ob- 
serves, is not confined to the great ; bat 
the meanest artisan will not hesitate to 
offer the city of Shiraz, with all its ap- 
purtenances, as a present to a stranger 
on his arrival. All this is understood to 
mean no more than *your obedient, hum- 
ble servant,' at the end of our letters. 
But it often happens, that if the stranger 
be a person of wealth or influence, the 
man is really anxious to force upon his 
acceptance any article he happens 
to admire, or expresses a wish to 
purchase. But if the stranger is in- 
considerate enough to accept it, it will 
not be long before he discovers that by 
this act he is considered to have given 
the person a claim either upon his good 
ofiices and favor, or for a present of 
much more than equal value in return. 
If, like Abraham, he understands these 
matters, and is not disposed to receive 
such obligation, his best course is either 
' not to admire* at all, or to insist on at 
once paying the value of that which at- 
tracts his admiration. In the latter case, 
the man will name the price, like Ephron, 
in a sUght way, as a thing pf no conse- 
quence : * It is worth so much ; what is 
that betwixt me and thee V But when 


B. C. iSf 0.1 


14 And Ephron answered Abra^ 
ham, sayinff unto him, 

15 My lord, hearken nnto me 
the land is worth four hundred ^ she- 
kels of silver : what is that betwixt 
me and thee? bury therefore thy 

16 And Abraham hearkened un- 
to Ephron, and Abraham • weighed 
to Ephron the silver, which he had 
named in the' audience of the sons 

fc Ex»hI. 33. 15. Ezak. 45. 12. i Jer. 32, 9. 

the money is prodoced, he counts it 
carefoUyf and transfers it to the pocket 
or bosom of his vest in a bnsiness-like 
manner, without any indication that 
shekels of silver are undervalued by 
him.' Pict. Bi/)le. 

16. Four hundred ^ekt^. Hcb. bpO 
shekd, from bpS ihakdL, to voeighi 
whence we hare by transposition of 
letters the Eng. * scale,' an instrument 
of weighing. It is so called from the 
fact that the value of money was in 
those early ages reckoned by tpeight. 
For -this reason the word slukd is at 
once the name of a weight and a cmn. 
The value of the Jewish xAefteZ was not 
far from fifty cents, American money. 
The price, therefore, that Ephren setup* 
on his field, may be fixed at about two 
hundred dollars ; consequently it could 
not have been a very small tract which 
in that age could have brought so con- 
riderable a sum.— — T Wlua is that he^ 
twixt me and thee 7 * We all know what 
a proof of arrogance or ignorance it is 
considered for a person to name himself 
before another, even though that other 
should be tin inferior ; and %hat odium 
Cardinal Woleey incnrr^'d by writing 
himself before the king, — * Ego et rex 
msMy land my kin^.* Yet here Ephron 
mentions himself before Abraham, to 
whom ho neveitheless speaks with great 
respect : and David, while he continues 
to treat Saul as his rovereign, and ap- 
pears bef(Nre him in a most submissive 
atdttide, uses the same expression, * me 

of Heth, foor hniidred ah^eli of 
silver current money with the mer- 

17 IT And k the field of Ephrai 
which was in Machpelah, whichtoot 
before Mamre, the field and tiie cave 
which was therein, and all the trees 
that were in the field, that were in 
all the borders round about, were 
made sure 

35. 9 fc 49. 30. 31, 32. t, 50. iX Aets 


and thee* (1 Sam. xxv. 12). This ww 
not therefbre considered disrespectful 
even in an inferior ; nor is it now in the 
East— At least not in Persia— where the 
strict and minutely regulated etiquette 
of society does not regard this prac^ce 
as improper.' Pict. BUAe. 

17. Were made tare, Heb. tip^ yo^fomt 
9tood, or stood tip; i. e. were made 8ta> 
ble, sure, confirmed. The same term v. 
20, rendered by the Gr. eKvp<adtiyWas eon- 
firmed. Throughout the above transac- 
tion) there was much more in the mind 
of Abraham than was known to the peo- 
ple with whom he was dealing. The im- 
mediate and ostensible reason for makii^ 
the purchase was, to procure a place of 
interment for his wife. But he had others 
no less important. One of these, as we 
have already intimated, was to express his 
confidentx in the divine promise. God had 
promised to him and to his seed the land 
wherein he sojourned. But Abraham had 
continued there till this time without 
gaining in it so much as one foot of land. 
Yet it was not possible that the promise 
could fail. He was as much assured that 
it should be fulfilled, as if he had seen its 
actual accomplishment Under this con- 
viction he purchased the field as a pledge 
and earnest of his future inheritance. A 
similar compact, made with precisely 
the same view, occurs in the prophecies 
of Jeremiah, ch. 33. 6—16, 42—44. The 
prophets had foretold the speedy deso- 
lation of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, 
and the restoration of the Jews to their 




[B. C. 1660. 

18 Unto Abraham for a poeses- 
flion in the presence of the children 
of Heth, before all that went in at 
the ^ate of his city. 

10 And after this, Abraham bu<^ 
ried Sarah his wife in tlie cave of 
the field of Machpelah, before Mam- 

own land after a captivity of seventy 
years. His uncle's son, alarmedf as it 
should seem, by the approach of the 
Chaldean army, determined to sell his 
estate ; and offered it to Jeremiah first, 
because the right of redemption belong- 
ed to him. By God's command, Jere- 
miah bought the inheritance, and hav- 
ing had tiie transfer signed and sealed 
in a public manner, he buried the writ- 
ings in on earthen vessel, that, being pre- 
served to the expiration of the Babylo- 
nish captivity, they might be an ev 
dence of his title to the estate. This 
was done, not that the prophet or his 
heirs might be enriched by the purchase, 
but that his conviction of the truth of 
his own prophecies might be made man- 
ifest. But in addition to this, and close- 
ly connected with it, Abraham designed 
to perpetuate among his posterity the «a?- 
pectation of the promised land. It was 
to be four hundred years before his seed 
were to possess the land of Canaan. 
In that length of time it was probable 
that without some memento, the prom- 
ise itself would be forgotten ; and more 
especially during their Egyptian bond- 
age. Bat their having a burying-]^ce 
in Canaan, where their bones were to 
be laid with the bones of their father 
Abraham, was the most likely means of 
keeping alive in every succeeding gen- 
eration the hope of ultimately possessing 
the whole land. Accordingly we find 
it did produce this very effect { for as 
Abraham and Sarah wore buried in that 
cave, so were I^aac and Rebekah, and 
Jacob and Leah, notwithstanding Jacob 
died in B^ypt. And Joseph also, though 
buried in Egypt, gave commandment 
that when th^ Isri^eUtes shouki depart 

re; the eame is Hobroo in the 

land of Canaan. 

30 And the field, and the CA\e 
that is therein ^ were made sure 
unto Abraham for a possession of a 
burying-place, by the sons of Heth. 

» See Ruth *4. 7, 8, 9, 10. Jer. 32. 10. 11. 

out of the land of Egypt to possess the 
land of Canaan, they should carry up 
his bones with them, and bury them in 
the sepulchre of his progenitors. 

19. Buried Sarah his vn/e^ in the cane, 
&c. * This chapter affords the earliest 
notice of tlie practice, which was for- 
merly very prevalent in the East, of de- 
positing the dead in natural or artificial 
caves, great numbers of which are still 
to be found in Palestine, Syria, Egypt, 
and Persia. In the mountainous coun- 
try of southern Palestine there are 
abundance of natural caves in the rocks, 
which might easily be formed into com- 
modious sepulchral vaults; and where 
such natural caves are wanting, sepoi- 
chres were hewn in the rock for eudi 
families as were able to incur the neces- 
sary expense ; for this was the mode of 
sepulchre decidedly preferred by those 
who could obtain it. The arrangement 
and extent of these caves varied with 
circiunstances. Those in the declivity 
of a mountain were often cut in Iwrizou' 
tally ; but to others there was usually a 
descent by steps from the surface. The 
roofs of the vaults are commonly arched ; 
and sometimes, in the more epacioos 
vaults, supported by colonnades. These 
rocky chambers are generally spacsioiis, 
being obviously family vaults, intended 
to receive several dead bodies. Niches, 
about six or seven feet deep, are usually 
cut in the sides of the vault, each adapt- 
ed to receive a single corpse; but in 
some vaults small rooms are cut in the 
same manner; and in others, stone 
slabs of the same length are fixed hori- 
zontally against the walls, or cat out of 
the rock, one above another, serving a?* 
shelves on whioh the corpses weie de- 


B. C. I860.] 


posited : in othere, however, the floor it* 
self is excavated for the reception of the 
dead, in comfmrtments of varioas depths, 
and in the shape of a coffin. Pome of 
the bodies were placed in stone coffins, 
provided with sculptured lids ; but such 
sarcophagi were by no means in gene- 
ral use ; the bodies, when wound up in 
the grave-clothes, being usually deposit- 
ed without any sort of coffin or sarco- 
phagus. The vaults are always dark, the 
only opening being the narrow entrance 
which is usually closed by a large stone 
rolled to its mouth i although some of 
a superior description are shut by stone 
doors, hung in the same manner as the 
doors of houses, by pivots turning in 
holes in the architrave above and in the 
threshold below. Some of these vanlU 
consist of several chambers, one within 
another, connected by ptissages. The 
innermost chambers are usually deeper 
than the exterior, with a descent of se- 
veral steps. When there is more than 
one chamber, the outermost seems to 
have been a sort of ante-room, the 
walls being seldom occupied with se- 
pulchral niches or shelves. This cave of 
Machpelah became, after the purchase 
by Abraham, the family sepulchre of 
the Hebrew patriarchs; and it is rea- 
sonable to conclude that it was of supe- 
rior size, and contained more than one 
iqpartment. The Spanish Jew, Benja- 
min of Todela, visited the place about 
650 years ago ; and as his account U 
precise and interesting, we quote it from 
* Pnrchas his Pilgrim es,* 1625. * I came 
to Hebron, seated in a plaine; for He- 
bron, the ancient metropolitan citie, 
stood upon an hill, biit it is now det^o- 
Iflte. But in the valley there is a field, 
wherran there is a duplicitie, that is, as 
it were, two little vaUeyes, and there the 
citie is placed ; and there is an huge tem- 
ple there called Saint Abraham, and that 
pbce was the synagogue of the lewes, 
at what time the country was possessed 
by the IshmaeUtes. But the Gentiles, 
idw afterwards obiayned and held the 

same, built rixe sepolchrefl in the tern- 
|de, by the names of Abraham, Sara, 
Isaac, Rebecca, lacob, and Lia (Leah>. 
And the inhabitants now teD the fS^ 
grimes that they are the monuments of 
the patriarkes; and great sumnras of 
money are ofiered there. But surely, 
to any lew coming thither, and offering 
the porters a reward, the cave is shew- 
ed, with the iron gate opened, which 
from antiquitie remayneth yet then. 
.\nd a man goeth down with a lamp- 
light into the first cave, where nothing 
is found, nor aho in the second, unlill he 
enter the third, in which there are the 
sixe monuments, the one right over 
against the other ; and each of them are 
engraven with characters, and distin- 
guished by the names of every one of 
them after this manner, — Septdi^rum 
Ahraham patris nostril super quern pax 
sit ; and so the rest, after the same ex- 
ample. And a lampe perpetually burn- 
eth in the cave, day and ni<fht ; the offi- 
cers of the temple continually minister- 
ing oile for the maintenance thereof. 
Also, in the self-same cave, there are 
tuns full of the bones of the ancient Is- 
raelites, brought thither by the faraiKes 
of Isreal, which even untill this day re- 
mayne in the self-same place.' This 
curious account agrees pretty well the 
above general description. The word 
Machpelah means ^double,* applied rather 
the field containing the cave, than to the 
cave itself. Benjamin's mention of the 
two valleys forming, as Pure has trans- 
lates, 'the field of duplicity,' explains 
the application which has perplexed 
Oalmet and othera. Sandys, who was 
there early in the seventeenth century, 
and who describes the valley of He- 
bron as * the most pregnant and pleasant 
valley that ever eye beheld,* mentions 
the ' goodly temple' built by the em- 
press Helena, the mother of Constan- 
tino, and afterwards changed into a 
mosque, as a place of much resort ta 
Moslem pilgrims. John Sanderson was 
there in the summer of 1601, and the 



[B. C. 1660. 

«0eoitiit he giY#f aglMt, m ivM itgoaa, 
vidk that of the Spanish Jew; but »c- 
eeM to the cave wm more lestricted 
then it seems to have been in the time 
of the latter. He says, * Into this tombe 
not any are soifered to enter, bin at a 
aqnare hole thibugh a thick wall they 
may discern a little lightof a lamp. The 
lewes do their ceremonies of jmiyer 
there without. The Moores and Tmhes 
are permitted to have a little m<ire sight, 
which is at the top, where they letdown 
the oyle for the lampe ; the lampe is a 
very great one, continually burning.* 
For upwards of a century only two or 
three Europeans have been able, either 
by daring or bribery, to obtain access to 
the mosque and cave. Ali Bey, who 
passed as a MusBuIman, has given ades- 
cfiption of it ; but his account is so in- 
eompatible with all others, and with the 
reports of the Turks, that it is difficult 
to admit its accuracy. According to all 
other statements, the sepulchre is a 
deep and spacious cavern, cut out of 
the solid rock ; the opening to which is 
in the centre of the mosque, and is sel- 
dom entered even by Moslems : but Ali 
Bey seems to describe each separate 
tomb as a distinct room, on the level of 
the floor of the moeque. These rooms 
have their entrances guarded by iron 
gates, and by wooden doors plated with 
silver, with bolts and padlocks of the 
same metal. He says, * All the sepul- 
ehres of the patriarchs are covered 
with rich carpets of green silk, magnifi- 
eently embroidered with gold ; those of 
their wives are red, embroidered in like 
manner. The sultans of Constantino- 
ple lumish these carpets, which are re- 
newed firom time to time. I counted 
niiw, one over the other, npon the se- 
pnlchre of Abraham* The rooms also 
which contain the tombs are covered 
with rieh carpets.* We can only reoon- 
cilie this with otfier statements by sup- 
poang that the Turks have put these 
nonmnents upon the level of the floor, 
immediately over the aiqppoeed resting- 

riacee of the patriarehs in the cave on- 
demeath ; and that, instead of cDndQc^ 
J them into the crypt, these tombs 
above ground are shown to ordinary 
visiters.* — Pict- Bible. The accompany- 
ing cut from MaundreO will give a tole- 
rably correct idea of the ground-plan of 
the excavated sepulchres of the EasL 


As the sacred stury proceeds, we seie 
more and more of the simple nMumeis 
of those ancient times, but we see also, 
what is hr better, the deep regard which 
Abraham had to the word and promise 
of God in all his transactions. He car- 
ries the great principle of Faith into all 
his domestic arrangements, and baa a 
single eye intent upon one object, what- 
ever he does. , By the death of Sarah, 
the care and anxiety that naturally 
gathered about the dear object of their 
common affection becomes, of Qouree, 
much increased to the surviving parent. 
Isaac was now arrived at man*s estate, 
I and it was fit that the heir of the] 


B. C. 1857.] 



AND Abraham * was old ofitf well 
stricken in age : and the Lord 
^ had blessed Abr&am in all thbigs. 

• ch. 18. 11. fc 31. 5. » ell. IS. 9. v«r. 35. 


me ■hoald be Mtablished in a family of 
his own. This becomes now the 
great theme of the patriarch's solicitude, 
and the chapter before as details with 
the most simple and interesting minute- 
ness the steps taken to bring about the 
wished-ibr event. The narrative affords 
a striking instance of the nmereigrUy of 
itupiration. The Holy Spirit is not gov- 
erned by human estimates of the relative 
importance of events. The great revo- 
lutions which take place in the world, 
the rise and overthrow of secular king* 
doms, are disregarded by God as com- 
paratively unworthy of notice, while 
the most trivial things that appertain to 
his church and people are often re- 
corded with the most minute exactness. 
We have here a whole chapter, and that 
one of the longest in the Bible, taken 
up with an account of the marriage of 
Isaac, an incident which might as well, 
to an appearance, have been narrated in 
a few words. But nothing is trivial in 
God*seye8 which can serve to illustrate 
the operations of his grace or tend to 
the edification of his church; and he 
may deem it no less important for men 
to be brought to recognize and admire 
his providence in the most inconsidera- 
Ue affiiirs of life than in the most mo- 
mefttous. It is perhaps for this reason 
that we have here such a detailed ac- 
eeont of the incidents and conversation 
connected vrith Eliezer's expedition, 
while in other things involving the deep- 
eat mysteries, the greatest brevity is 

1. Abraham was oU. . As he was an 
hundred when Isaac was bom. ch. 21. 5, 
and Isaac was forty when he married, 
ch. 25. 90, it follows that he was now 
one hundred and forty. — p-IT WeU strick- fbearers 

3 And Abnluun said unto hm 
elder servant of his house, that ^ nil* 
ed over all that he had, 'Put, I 
pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 

« eb. 15. 8. « ver. 10. eir. SB. 4. 5,9. 

•ea.47.». lClimi.9».M. Lass. 5. 6. 

en ttt age, Heb. b'^Ta'O BD coning, or 
going, into dmft ; i. e.into years, as the 
word daifa often signifies. 

2u HU eldest teroant of his house 
Heb. iri'^a "^pT ITia? his servant, the H- 
der qf his hmue. So also the Gr. tm 
xatit «tiro« Tta irp€<r0VTep<^ ri|f »n(ims 
aurotf, his servant the elder of his houm, 
allusion being probably had to EUeaet, 
of whom see Gen. 15. 2. The scriptu- 
ral usage in respect to both these term*, 
seruaU and elder, ia important, as they 
are of frequent occurrence in the New 
Testament, and belong to that class of 
words whose import deserves to be fia* 
ed with the utmost precision, lliis can 
only be done by a comparison of the 
passages in which they occur, and the 
result of such a comparison will clearly 
evince tliat they are both, in many cas- 
es, tttles of office^ with which the idea of 
subordinate or ndtUsterud rvUng is cloee- 
ly connected. Thus, wherever mention 
is made of the * servants' oi a king or 
prince, the term is for the most part to 
be understood of counsellors, nonisiert, 
or other ojjicert pertaining to the court. 
The leading idea is not that of servitude, 
as understood among us at the present 
day. Thus, Gen. 40. 20, * Fharooh made 
a feast unto all his servants ; i. e. untp 
all his officers. Ex. 12. 30, * Pharaoh 
rose up in the night, he and all his ser^ 
vanis ,*' i. e. all his officers. In this sensa 
Moses is emphatically called * the sero. 
amt of the Lord,* Deut. 34. 5 ; Heb. 3.5^ 
from being intrusted with administration 
of divine things. Retaining this senaa 
of ministerud rather thanof semZeagen^ 
cy, the term is used in the New Testa- 
ment with nearly the import of stnsard^ 
and with prevailing reference to office* 
in the church, rather than ordi* 


GENESIS. [B. C. 1857. 

mry mMnben. With a view aceurd- 
ingly to this import of ttewardt or upper 
terveaUSf Fkul and the other^Apostlefi he- 
qaently denominate themselves the 
Morvantt of Jesus Christ So in hke 
manner, in the parable of the servants 
receiving the talents, Mat. 25. 14 — 30, 
reference is chiefly had to ministers of 
tike Gospet, who are stewards in the 
household of God. So too Rev. 1. 1, 
* The revelation of Jesus Christ which 
God gave unto him to show unto his 
servants the things which must shortly 
oome to pass;' i. e. to show unto his 
wuMstering servants, the pastors and 
teachers of the churches, for whom the 
prophetic mysteries of this book were 
principally designed, simply for the rea- 
son that they might naturally be ex- 
pected to possess means and advantages 
for understanding and expounding them, 
which would not ordinarily £gi11 to the 
lot of other Christians. — ^The dominant 
usage of the terioQ ' elder' is strikingly 
fmalogous to that of *■ servant.* Tho ugh 
originally and properly a designation of 
a^e,as the ofiice of ruling or administering 
the affairs of a community was generally 
intrusted to men of mature years, whose 
judgment was sound and their deportment 
grave, yet it gradually came to denote 
thfS effiee itsdf apart from the conside- 
ration of age, and therefore is repeated- 
ly used as synonymous with nder or 
govemcr. Thus, Gen. 50, 7, * And with 
him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, 
the dders of his house, and all the elders 
of the land of Egypt;* i- e. the rulers, 
the governors of his house, and of the 
provinces. Ruth, 4. 2, ' And he took 
ten men of the dders of the city ;* i. e. 
of the magistrates of the city. Thus in 
the New Testament, 1 Tim. 5. 17, * Let 
the Mers that rtde well be counted wor- 
Ay of double honor.* The kind of rul- 
ing imported by this term is not that of 
lordship, force, or despotic coercion, but 
die mild influence of moral suasion, 
founded upon the revealed troths of in-, 
■puration. The true spiritual ruting in- 

stituted in the Christian Cliurch consists 
not merely or mainly in the administra^ 
tion of discipline or the determination 
of controversies, but in the exercise of 
a salutary moral influence, especially 
by admonition and example, upon those 
who are the subjects of it. 

2. Put, I pray thee, tky hand under my 
thigh. Great obscurity rests upon the 
design of the act here prescribed by 
Abraham to his servant No allusion 
to a similar formality is found anywhere 
else in the sacred volume, except Gen. 
47. 29, where Jacob requires the aame 
ceremony from his son Joseph ; nor is 
there any evidence from history that 
this was a customary rite in taking or 
administering oaths among any known 
ancient people. How then is the action 
to be explained ? We cannot perhaps 
advance beyond a probable conjecture 
in making the attempt. The phrase 

* come out of the thigh* is equivalent to 
being horn of or descended from one. 
Gen. 46. 26 : Ex. 1. 5. Again, a name 
written on the thigh was an emblem of 
power and authority, as Rev. 16. 16, and 

* girding the sword upon the thigh,* Ps. 
45. 3, is to be considered as a symboli- 
cal action of the same import. Connect- 
ing therefore the ideas oi generation and 
dominion with the word tMgh, and bear- 
ing in mind the very peculiar and un- 
wonted tide which Abraham here gives 
to the Most High, * the Lord, the God of 
heaven and the God of the earth,* 
may we not suppose that the patri- 
arch did in foot require his servant 
to swear by Him who was to descend 
from his loins, and who was to be in- 
vested with kingly dignity and domin- 
ion ? — ^in other words, by the very Per- 
sonage who is elsewhere described as 
having * on his vesture and on his ihigh 
a name written, King of kings and Lord 
of lords.* It is not unlikely that there 
is something euphemistic in the phrase, 
and that as Abraham*s circumcision veae 
a seal of his foith in the divine promise, 
the ceremony had a special relation to 



B. C. 1857.] 

3 And I wOI make thee ' swear 
by the Lord, the God of heaven 
and the God of the earth, that 

fch. 14^22. DeuL6. 13. Joe h. 2. 12. 


that part of the person which bore the 
mark of this ordinance. This is the 
opinion of most of the Jewish commen- 
tators, which is confirmed by the Arabic 
version, — *Put thine hand upon my 
compact, or covenant ;* i. e. upon the 
token of the covenant. 

3. J wiU make thee swear. Heb. 
*^5'^2tDfi^ ashbiaka, I will swear thee ; i. e- 
I will adjure thee ; I will bind thee by 
the solemnity of an oath. * The term 
has a reference to " the act which was 
abont to be performed. The swear- 
ing on the part of the servant was not 
verbal, but consisted in performing the 
rite required by Abraham. Thus he 
was sworn as a witness is sworn before 
a magistrate, when he has the oath ad- 
mmistered to him, and lifts his band or 
applies his lips to the holy volume in 

token of his assent. ^ 'I%ou shah not 

lake a wife, &c. Upon comparing this 
injmiction writh the general conduct and 
character of Abraham, we see in it 
another striking instance of his prevail- 
ing faith. His great anxiety was that 
Isaac shofdd not connect himself with 
the people among whom he was so- 
journing ; and why ? Had he contracted 
an unreasonable prejudice against them ? 
Far from it: From what is related in the 
preceding chapter, it is evident he had 
no objection to exchange with them the 
common civilities of life. He could es- 
timate their hospitality and kindness as 
they deserved. He had no ground to 
complain of their treatment of him^ 
bat he cannot be insensible to their 
alienation from God ; and to take their 
daughters in marriage, he is convinced 
would bo a sure way to corrupt his own 
&mity. The grand design of God in 
giving the land to Abraham's posterity, 
ivat the iddmate overthrow oi idolatry, 

f thoDshalt not take a wife onto my. 
9on of the daughters of the Canaan- 
ites among whom I dwell : 

f ch. 2a 35. & 27. 46. & 28. 2. Exod. 34. 16. 
Dfirt. 7. 3. 

and the establishment of his true wor 
ship on earth. To what purpose then 
was he called from among Chaldean 
idolaters, if his son were to join affinity 
with those of Canaan ? Was there not 
every probability that Isaac might even- 
tually be led to renounce the God of his 
father, and adopt the abominations of 
his new kindred? Without any spe- 
cial distrust of the general firmness of 
Isaac's principles, he was still too well 
acquainted with the iiifirroities of our 
nature not to be aware, that there was 
more likelihood of even the son of Abra- 
ham's being perverted by an idolatrous 
wife, than of such a wife's being brought 
to the true faith by a beheving husband. 
But even should Isaac retain his integ- 
rity, there was some hazard that his pos- 
terity, partly deriving their origin from 
these heathen races, and mingled among 
them, should gradually conform to their 
idolatrous practices. He would there- 
fore erect the strongest possible safe- 
guard around the pure faith of his seed ; 
and to this he was still more strongly 
urgfed, by knowing that the inhabitants 
of Canaan were devoted to destruction. 
He saw them filling up the laeasure of 
their iniquities, and he feared lest bis be- 
loved Isaac and his descendants, becom- 
ing partakers of their evil deeds, should 
share also in their punishment. The 
measure proposed, therefore, was every 
way worthy of this great pattern of be- 
lievers. Throughout the whole, there 
appears not the least taint of worldly 
policy, or any of tliose motives which 
usually govern men in the settlement of 
their children No mention is made of. 
rirhios or honors or natural accomplish- 
ments. The patriarch, with the solici- 
tude of a good father, is desirous of 
matching his eon rather prudently and 



GENESIS. [B. C. 1657, 

4 ^ But thou shall go * nnto my 
country, and to my kindred, and 
take a wife unto my son Isaac. 

5 And the servant said unto 
him, Peradventure the woman w 11 
not be willing to follow me unto 

»ch.23.2. «ch.l2.1. 

pioufily, than -wealthily or splendidly. 
In his estimate, no conttideration could 
outweigh that of the reliffimis character 
of the person sought as a companion for 
his gon. Huw admirable a pattern is this 
for parents, in reference to the forming 
of matrimonial connections for their 
children! Tuhappily great numbers, 
even among the professors of godliness, 
bring nothing but worldly considerations 
to this all-important subject. The out- 
ward advantages of fitrtone, rank, or per- 
sonal attractions, are the only things re- 
garded. But what comparison can these 
bear to the internal qualities of sound 
principle. g<>od sense, atntable temper, 
and meek devoted piety? What per- 
manent hftppine.«8 can we promise our- 
selves in connection with one who can- 
not understand our views or enter into 
our feelings? — ^to whom we cannot 
ppeak of religion so as to be sympathiz- 
ed with, advised, or comforted ?— with 
whom we cannot take sweet counsel on 
the things of all others most interesting 
and absorbing to onr souls ? No won- 
der that in such unions* comfort and se- 
renity of spirit are banished from our 
abodes. No wonder that there arise es- 
trangement of aflfection, diversity of 
pursuits, cotitrariety of will, domestic 
jangline, mutual accusations and retorts, 
and all that embitters or poisonx the 
springs of love and peace. VVlietlicr, 
therefore, we are choosing for ourselves 
in this matter, or sanctioning the choice 
of others, let the example of this holy 
man have its due weight in governing 
our conduct. T^t us learn from him to 
subordinate ever)' thing to the one great 
concern — the interests of the sauL Let 
•very plan and purpose entertained,] 

this land : must I nends bring thy 
son again unto the land from 
whence thou camept ? 

6 Anil Abraham said unto him, 
Beware thou, that thou bring not 
my son thither again. 

7 IT The LoKD God of heaven, 

every occupation chosen, every place 
of residence selected, every connec- 
tion formed, express our firm and un- 
varying conviction of the reality, the im- 
portance, the preciousness of those in- 
terests which infinitely transcend all 

4. Thou shall go unto my country, &c. 
That is, into Mesopotamia, v. 10, where 
he had tived for some time after leaving 
Ur of the Chaldees, and where Nahor 
and bis family still remained aft-cr Abra- 
ham had departed for Canaan. It was 
not therefore the land of his nativity, 
but the land of bis former temporary 
sojourning, which he here calls hia, and 
to which the servant was commanded 
10 go. See Note on Gen. 11. 28, 31. 
From the narrative contained in ch. 31, 
respecting Laban, it appears that some 
vestiges of idolatry still lingered even 
among the kindred of Abraham, but 
doubtless it was far less prevalent than 
in Canaan. 

5, 6. Peraxiventure the. vooman will not 
be willing^ &c. As was very natural, 
the servant being about to bind himself 
by an oath, is tenderly concerned lest 
he fshould be* snared by the words of 
his mouth,* and engage in more than he 
is able to perform. His conduct in this 
matter is much to be praised. The ob« 
ligation of an oath should not be assum- 
ed without a full understanding of its 
import, and the im posers of oaths ought 
always to be ready to satisfy the rea- 
sonable scruples of those who take them. 
But the answer of Abraham is equally 
worthy of our attention. Whatever * 
were his anxiety that his son should 
take a wife from among his own kindred, 
he here evinces an equally strong re* 


AC. 1857.] 



which ^took me from my Oth- 
er's house, and irom the land of my 
kindred, and which epake unto me, 
and that sware unto me, saying, 
' Unto thy seed wiH I give this land : 
"'he shall send his angel before 

k ch. 12. 1, 7. I C. IS. 7. & 13. 15. & 15. 18. 
k 17. 8. Ex d. 32. 13. Deut. 1. 8. & 34. 4. 
Acts. 7. 5. m Exod. 33. 20, 33. «c 33. 2. Heb. 

pngnance to his returning and settling 
in the country out of which he had 
been called. He had had a promise 
^Ten him that the land into which he 
had been brought, should be his and his 
seed's; and he lived and acted upon 
that promise all his hfe long. Against 
present appearances and human proba- 
bilities, he maintained an unshaken con- 
fideoce in the fiilfilment of the promise, 
and took all his measures accordingly. 
As he had buried Sarah in it under this 
assured expectation, so he would not 
aBo^ir laaac on any account to remove 
out of it ; and thus do what tended di- 
rectly to frustrate the promise. It was 
perhapa owing in a great measure to 
his extreme solicitude on this head, that, 
instead of sending Isaac, who was now 
forty years of age, and abundantly ca- 
pable of managing the negotiation him- 
self, he despatched his aged servant to 

conduct the affair in his behalf. H 

Bring again. Isaac, it is true, had never 
been in that land in perton^ but in the 
loins of his father he had : and it is a 
common usage of the sacred writers to 
speak of a family or line of descendants 
as one continued person. Upon this 
idiom the use of the word again in this 
pbuM is no doubt founded. In Uke 
manner, it is said Gen. 15. 16, * In the 
fourth generation they shall come 
hither agaat^ although that generation 
had of course never been in that land 

7. The LORD God of heauen, &c. 
Rather according to the Heb. *The 
I^nd, the God of heaven (*^^m mn'^ 

thee, and thou shall take a wife un- 
to my son from thence. 

8 And if the woman will not be 
willing to follow thee, then " thou 
shalt be clear from this mine oath ; 
only bring not my son thither 

> Josh. 2. 17, 20. 

tS'^TaCnX^r-Kvptof o 9tot,the Lord, the 
Ood, Ac. The assurance which Abra- 
ham here gives his servant of the di- 
vine presence and guidance on his jour* 
ney appears to be the result of a strong 
convictifMTi in his mind, wrought by the 
experience of the past, rather thi^n by 
any communication to ^ that effect ex- 
pressly received from God. 'Every 
former favor is a pledge of a future. 
'Thou hast— thou Wilt' is a scripture 
demonstration. See in Ps. 86. ] — 4, six 
'thou basts,' whereupon he infers and en- 
forceth his ' Turn us, O God of our sal- 
vation.* — Tmpp. 8o the patriareh'a 
language here is the expression of a 
firm, unshaken confidence in the pros- 
perous issue of the expedition. He 
had been prompted by the most sincere 
regard to the will of God in having it 
undertaken, and he could not but infer 
from all that had been before done for 
him, and said to him, that he would pot 
the seal of his approbation upon the 
step proposed. And how pleasant is 
it to enter upon our work with such 
an inward assurance ! — to be able unhesi- 
tatingly to promise ourselves or others, 
the presence, protection and blessing of 
the God of heaven in our enterprises ! 
If governed in the main by the pious 
spirit of Abraham, this confidence may 
be freely entertained. God will regard it 
as an acceptable exercise of faith, and 
not as the promptings of an unhalfowed 

presumption T Will send kis angd 

before thee. Nothing, we think, is more 
susceptible of proof, than that the term 
' anger in scriptural usage is employed 




[a C. 1857. 

And the Borvant pnt his hand 
under the thigh of Abraham his 
master, and sware to him concern- 
ing that matter. 

10 IT And the servant took ten 

not only to denote those personal agents 
wbom the Most High may see fit to 
make the executors of his will, but also 
in an impersonal sentie, implying in ma* 
ny cases merely a dispensation of provi- 
dence, whether in a way of mercy or 
of judgment. The phraseology, indeed, 
but rarely occurs in respect to the ordi- 
nary incidents of Ufe, but extraordinary 
operations of providence, or events 
fraught with momentous consequences, 
and as such, having a pecuharly notice- 
able character, though accomplished by 
natural means, are in Scripture spoken 
•f as ' angels.' Thus the destruction of 
ihe first-bom in Egypt is attributed to 
an angel, because such an event was 
extraordinary and memorable in the 
highest degree. In like manner, the 
destruction of Sennacheirib's army 
is ascribed to angelic agency for the 
same reason. In both* cases we cannot 
doubt that the judgment was executed 
directly and immediately by the hand of 
God. Thus, too, as to the present decla- 
ration. We suppose the angel to be the 
personification of a special providence. 
Gk)d would send his angel before the 
servant in the sense of preparing his 
watf, of removing diJficuUies and objec- 
tionSy and fuUy reconciling the minds of 
his kindred to tks step. See Note on Ex. 
12. 23, for fuller confirmation of this 

9. Abraham his master. Heb. TiHi^ 
adonav, his lord. So also in the next 

yerse. IT Sware to him. Heb. y*21D*^ 

yish-sha-ba, wassvoom to him. The Heb. 
yerb for swearing, is always used in the 
passive voice, as if it were an act which 
no one was supposed to engage ui vol- 
untarily, but oi^y as he was adjured by 

camels, of the camels of his master, 
and departed ; (*> for all the goods, 
of his master tcere in his hand;) 
and he arose, and went to JMesopo- 
tamia, nnto the city of Nahor. 

• ver.2. Pch. 27. 43. 

10. Took ten camels, &c. Although 
we are not expressly told that this was 
done by Abraham's direction, yet there 
can be little doubt that the wliole busi- 
ness of the preparation and outfit was 
conducted under his eye , and ordered 
with his approbation. The brevity of 
the scripture narrative often requires m 
to supply from the character of the par- 
ties or the circumstances of the case 
many subordinate items which are omit- 
ted by the writer. Such inferential ad- 
ditions are frequently clearly confirmed 
by subsequent parts of the narrative, or 
the parallel recitals elsewhere found. 
Thus, in the present passage nothing is 
said of the servant's being accompanied 
by attendants ; yet it is evident that one 
man would be nnable to manage so ma- 
ny cnmels, nor would it be at all eon- 
sonant with Oriental customs or notions 
for such an expedition to be undertaken 
for such an object by a single individ- 
ual ; and from vss. 32, 59, it is obvions 
that it was not. Without allowing his 
faith such a paramount influence as to 
lead to the neglect of prudent means, 
he no doubt designed by fitting out such 
an imposing retinue, amounting, in fact, 
to a small caravan, fomakeanimpresmn 
upon the minds of the maiden and her 
family, whoever they might be, to wbom 
the proposals should be made. It would 
obviously tend to a favorable result 
were they to receive such an idea of 
Abraham's and Isaac's substance, as 
should preclude the apprehension of a 
female's losing or leEsening the comforts 
of her present condition by acceding to 
the proposed connection. Had the ser- 
vant gone alone, without any evidences 
of his master's wealth, it is clear that he 
could not reasonably have expected to 



11. And he nuide in cwnek to 
kne^ down witiiont the city by a 
wefi <tf water, at the tmie of the 



e^eniagv cwn the time <tfa«t w<^ 
men go oat to draw iMfer .* 

^Exod.S. le. 

obtain the same credence lor his asser- 
tioDB on the subject. The measure, 
tfaereibre^ was in every view politic and 
wise, although we cannot question that 
both Abraham and his servant, as ha- 
bitually pious men, placed more depend- 
ence on a secret divine interposition, than 
upon any devices, however well chosen, 
of their own* T For dU the goods of\ 
hit ma^er foere tnAis hand. More lite- 
rally * JLnd all the goods,* &c. The ori- 
ginal term ^yo ^ocb, here rendered goods^ 
is the proper Heb. word for goodliest or 
exceUatcy of any kind, whether moral 
or phyncal. In such connections as the 
present, it evidently has a secondary or 
accmnmodated import, being applied to 
ridiet or substance, because these are 
what men usually esteem ^ood. and in- 
doitrioasly pursue as such. The exact 
purport of this parenthetic clause is a 
matter of some doubt Calvin, and per- 
haps most commentators, understand it 
as renderii^ a reason for the servant's 
laige and sumptuous preparations for 
the journey Havoig a)l his master's 
goods at his disposai, he might exercise 
a discretionary power in umking 
provision for the expedition. But per- 
haps the rendering (if the Gr., adopt- 
ed also by Jerome in the Vulgate, is to 
be preferred. In both these versions 
the construction is, *And (he took and 
cartiad) of all bis master's goods (some- 
thing) with him.' According to this the 
idea is tb&t thB servant took with him 
*in his hand' a portion of the choicest, 
the best^ the pu>U precious of his master's 
effects, of which to make presents to 
the lady elect and her family. Thus it 
is said of the present brought by Ha- 
zael JEiom Ben-badad to Elisha, 2 Kings, 
8. 9, that he * took a present with him, 
even ot every good thing QltD Jw ^ 
toA) of Damascus -^ i. e. of the most 
VOL. II. 4 

precious things of all kinds. So the 
term is elsewhere repeatedly used in 
an emphatic sense to denote that which 
inpectdiarly choice and vaiuatie. Comp. 
Gen. 45. 18,'20, Is. 1. 19. DeuL 6. 11. 
On the whole, we cannot but deem tMs 
the most correct interpretation of the 
two,; and we suppose, moreover, that 
th^ articles mentioned vv. 23, 52, were 
a part of the ;;21t3 goods, here said to 
have been in the hand of the servant 

when he departed. Y Weni to Mesth 

potamia. Heb. Q'^lu^ &^St Aram naha^ 
rayim, that is, Syria of the ttoo rivers ,* 
denoting the region lying between the 
rivers Euphrates and Hgris. The saate 
country is elsewhere called t3^ ym 
padan Aram, or, the plain of Aram, Qt 
Syria. * Mesopotamia' is a Greek word 
signifying the coiinlry heiween the rivers. 
The * city of Nahor,' i. e. the city of 
Nahor's re«idence, was no doubt Haran 
(Charran), of which, see Note on Gen. 
11. 31. 

11. H^ide the camds to kneel down. A» 
this immediately pr'^cedes an act of 
prayer on the part of the servant, it 
might possibly be thought that he in- 
tended in some sort to make hia 
camels participators in that act But 
kneeling is not pecuUarly an attitude «f 
devoticm in the East ; and Eliezer him- 
self did not kneel ; for even in his prayer, 
he describes himself as standing by the 
well. He merely intended to give the 
wearied camels a little rest, kneeling be- 
ing the posture in which camek always 

repose. IT The time that women go out 

to draw water. Heb. nSi^ffin VWa Wi 
leaith tzeth hash-sho-aboth, at the txihe^ 
the going forth of the women-drawers {of 
water.) * Water is usually drawn in die 
evening and frequently in the cool of the 
morning also. Fetching water is one of 
the heaviest of the many heavy duties 



012NE8K [B. C 18G7. 

which devolve upon Um females in the 
East, and one which most sensibly im« 
presses us with a sense of their degraded 
condition. The usage varies in differ- 
ent countries. Among the Arabs and 
other nomades, and also in many parts 
of India, it is the exclusive employment 
of the women, without distinction of 
rank. But in Turkey and Persia, the 
poorer women only are subject to this 
servile employment, respectable fami- 
lies being supplied daily by men who 
make the supplying of water a distinct 
business. The tents of the Bedouins 
are seldom pitched quite near to the 
well from which they obtain their wa- 
ter ; and if the distance is not more than 
a mile, the men do not think it necessa- 
ry that the water should be brought up- 
on the camels ; and, unless there are 
aases to be employed on this service, 
the women must go every evening, 
■ometimes twice, and bring home at 
their backs long and heavy bags full of 
water. The wells are the property of 
tribes or individuals, who are not al- 
ways willing that caravans should take 
water ftom them ; and in that case, a 
girl is sometimes posted at the well to 
exact presents from those who wish to 
have water. It is not likely that Abra- 
ham's servant travelled without a 
leathern bucket to draw water, and itis 
therefore probable that he abstained 
tnm watering his ten camels until he 
should have obtained permission. The 
women, when they are at the weDs in 
the evening, are generally obtiging to 
tnvellers, and ready to supply ^ch wa- 
ter as they may require for themselves 
or their beasts. The women of towns 
in Turkey and Persia have seldom fiir 
to go, except under peculiar circum- 
stances in the situation or soil of the 
place, or quality of its water. Their 
water-vessel depends much upon the 
distance ; if rather far, a skin will pro- 
bably be preferred as most convenient 
for carrying a good quantity ; but if near, 
an earthen jar will often be chosen. 

The pMMDt w«li seems to havA b^en 
quite near the town, and we ocmcur in 
the translation which renders IUbekah*s 
vessel * a pitcher.' The word nS *ad is 
different from that (n72n ckemath) ren- 
dered * bottle* in the narrative of Hagar's 
expulsion ; and is the same word used 
to describe the vessels in which Grldeon*8 
soldiers concealed their torches, and 
which they broke to produce a crashing 
and alarming noise. The vromen con- 
trive to draw an enjoyment even out of 
this irksome duty, as it affords the best 
opportunity they have of meeting and 
talking together, and of displaying their 
finery to each other. They by no 
means appear to the worst advantage, 
as to dress, at the wells ; and this cir- 
cumstance shows that Abraham's sep- 
vant might there, without any incongrui- 
ty, invest Rebekah with the ornaments 
he had brought. To a traveller in the 
East, the best opportunities of making 
his observations on the females will oc- 
cur in the evening at the wells. Eliezer 
was aware of this, and regarded the op- 
portunity as favorable for his purpose. 
It appears that the unmarried females 
even of towns went unveiled, or- only 
partially veiled, on ordinary occasions hi 
these eariy times. Now all go veiled ; 
and the more extended use of the veil 
in modem times has probably, in one 
respect, operated favorably for the wo- 
men, by exonerating those in families 
decently ciroumstanced, from the very 
heavy duty of fetching water, the pro- 
per management of the vefl being 
scarcely compatible i^ith the perform- 
ance of this laborious office. Accord- - 
ingly we find that thin dacy devolves 
more exclusively on the females, with- 
out distinction of rank, in those Asiatic 
countries or tribes where the women 
are not obliged to veil their foces, as in 
India, and among the Arabian and other 
nomade tribes. We have already no- 
ticed the Arabian usage. In consequence 
of the modifications which we venture 
to think that the extended nee of the 


B. C* 1857.1 



12 And he said, ' O Lokd, God 
of my master Abraham, I pray thee^ 

t ver. 37. ch. 36. 34. A; 28. 13. & 33. 9. Exod. 
3. 6, 15. 

Teil has produced Bmong the inhabitants 
of towns west of the Indus, it is perhaps 
in India we ar^ to look for the most pre- 
cise parallels to the patriarchal customs. 
Accordingly we find, that in many pans 
of India, women of the first distinction 
draw water daily from the public wells. 
They always fetch it in earthem jars 
carried upon their heads. Sometimes 
two or three jars are thus eanied at 
once, one upon the other, fcMining a p'l- 
]arl^)on the bearer*« head. As this ne- 
cessarily requires the most perfect steadi- 
ness, th« habit gives to the females a 
remarkably erect and stately air. It 
seems that it is a distinction 4o carry the 
jar on the shoulder; and Forbes, in his 
* Oriental Memoirs,* relates an anecdote 
of an intelligent native who, when this 
higkly interesting passage was read to 
him, inferred that Rebekah was of ' high 
caste,* from her carnring the pitcher on 
faershonlder (vorse 15). The text, how- 
ever, does not necessarily imply that she 
carried the jar erect upon her shoulder, 
but qmte as probably means that it was 
carried at the back, tlie handle being 
held over the shoulder by the hand or a 
leathern strap.*— PscC. Bible. 

12. OLord Gack &c. or rather as be- 
fore, ▼. 7. * O Lwd, the God,* &c. The 
character of Eliezer, if he were indeed 
the person charged with the present 
commission, shines brighter at every 
Hbe^ He shews himself throughout, to 
have been eminently worthy of being 
entrosted with so momentous a negoti- 
ation. And not only so, but his conduct 
redeets additional credit upon Abraham, 
the infliienee of whose pious example 
is to be recognised in the humble and 
devoat deportment of his servant. A 
devoted and exemplary master will sel- 
dom tui to make religi<m respected in 
bis household, and domestics will often 

' send me ^ood speed this day, and 
shew kincuiess tmto my master 

•Neh. 1.11. P8.37. 5. 

be brought to know and tove that of 
which they would otl^^rwise have re- 
mained ignorant and negligent. This 
was doubtless the case with this head- 
servant of the patriarch, who shows his 
concern for the welfare of his master*s 
household, not by an ostentatious pa- 
rade of his services, but by praying de- 
voutly to God for sttoeess upon the Hus- 
sion confided to him. The prayer is 
remarkable ibr(l) Thejmthin which UiM 
^^fend. He speaks all along under a 
fidl persuasion that the [Npovidence of 
God extended to the minutest events, 
and that there was no presumption in 
appealing to him on the present ocea- 
siou. His words are full of confidence 
that God would direct him in a matter of 
BO much importuned to his church in all 
future ages. (2) The correct views of the 
dtantcter of Jduvah whidi he expresHt. 
He addresses him as the cownard God of 
Abraham, who had given him exceed- 
ing great and fvecious promises. In vp' 
pniaching him in ibis character, he would 
occupy the best possible vantage ground 
for urging his request, as any promise 
made to Abraham would furnish a plea 
which oould scarcely fail to be efiTectual. 
(3) The sign which he preaumed to ask 
for. A better, he could not well have 
desired ; for such an ofier freely made 
to a stranger would indicate a most 
amiable disposition. It would demon- 
strate at once the humility, the mdustry, 
the courtesy, the extreme kindness of 
the female, and would be a pledge that 
she possessed all the qualifications which 
he deemed most desirable in a compan- 
ion worthy of his master's son. She 
who could be thus complaisant and 
obliging to a stranger, would certainly 
conduct herself well in the relation of a 
wife. It is a natural inquiry, whether 
the servant did right in thus fixing in 


GfiNESia [B* C. 18$7. 

13 Behold, « I etand here by the 
wen of water ; and " the daughters 
of the men of the city come out to 
draw water : 

14 And let it come to pasF, that 
the damsel to whom I shall ^ay, 
Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, 
that I may drink ; and she shall say, 
Brink, and I will give thy camels 
drink also : let the same be she that 

» ver. 43. 

«ch. 29.9. Exod.2.16. 

hii own mind upon a sign, and appavenU 
ly prefcribing it to God aa a test of the 
floleotion about to be made. In reply 
we may observe, (1.) That the event 
Mcms clearly to prove that the proceed- 
ing received the divine approbation, if 
it were not in fact of divine sugges- 
tion.- (2.) Let the drcumstances of 
the case be considered. It does not ap- 
pear that any parHcidar individtud or 
particuiar famUif bad been designated 
by Abraham, to whom his servant was 
to apply. All was micertuntyin this 
respect; and yet a choice was to be 
made without any great delay, which 
might have b«en attended with special 
incoDveniences on aft sides. The exi- 
gency, ther^re, was peculiar, and the 
servant seems to have determined to 
do what common prudence would have 
Rotated to any sensible man under sim- 
ilar ctrcnmstances. Being an entire 
stianger to all the people of the city, he 
resolved to take his stand at the pabhc 
watering-place, and judge as well as he 
could from the deportment of the young 
women, which of them promised iairest 
to possess the requisite endowments of 
person, temper, and manners. AH this, 
as far as we can see, was both proper 
and politic ujider the circumg^ancea ; and 
being an habitually pious man, when 
once he had fixed upon a definite course 
of action, he looks up to God, and im- 
plores his blessing upon it. This was 
aH But his conduct, except in implor- 
ing the divine blessing upon whatever 

thou hast appointed for thv servant 
Isaac ; and "^ thereby shafl 1 know 
that thou hast shewed kindnees un- 
to my master. 

15 ^ And it came to pass, before 
he had done speaking, that behoki, 
Rehekah came out, who was bom 
to Bethuel, son of *• Milcah, the wife 
of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with 
her pitcher upon her shoulder. 

w Sw Judg. 6. 17, 37. 1 Sam. 6. 7. & 14. 8. 
& 30. 7. » ch. 11. 29. k, S3. 23. 

he undertook, is evidently no rale for 
us in the ordinary transaotioiis of Hfe. 

^ Send me good speed. Heb. mpn 

hakr^, bring U to pate, or cmue U t&mp- 
pen ; i. e. the object of the jowney. 
Gr. no^taow tvemov tfum proepero ud y 
direa before me. Cbal. *Meet me this 
day.' The same word occurs in the 
original. Gen. 27. 90, *And Isaac said 
unto his son. How is it that ibon bast 
found it so quickly, my son 7 And he 
said. Because the Lord thy God knmgkl 
it to me',* i. e. made it to occur. It is 
used in speaking of events and occur- 
Fences, M^ch, though ordered by the 
special providence of God, be&tt men 
so little in consequence of their own 
skill or foresight, that in common dis- 
course they are ascribed to ckanoe. 
Thus, liuke 10. 31, * And bychoneeJiheto 
came down a certain priest that way.' 
When Eliecer repeats the incidents of 
his journey, v. 42, the paraHel word em- 
ployed is * prosper* 

13. Wea of waer. Heb. ta^Wl VS^ 
ovYA h/ommoyvtHf joufuotn e^ sMssr* 
* Wen* and * fountain' are often used in 
the scriptures inte mb— gwabl y. The 
original has * well,' v. 1 1, and * fonutain,' 
V. 13. The primary and common signifi- 
cation of "^"^ ayin is eye ,- but as the eye 
is the source from which tears fiow, so sn 
opening in the earth from which waters 
gush out has the same tern applied to it 

14. Haet cppointed. Heb. nrOH ^ 
Jtakta ; a term having the import of dtr 
motuitaiuteiy prepOTtd. 



B. C. 1857.] 

16 And the damsel 7 was very 
fair to look npoo, a virgin ; neither 
had any man known her : and she 
went down to the weU, and fflled 
her pitcher, and came up. 

17 And the servant ran to meet 

7 eb. 96. 7. 


15. It came to pass he/ore he ha.l done 
speaking. In the subsequent recital, v. 
45, Eliezer says, * Before I had done 
■peaking in mine hearty* ftom which it 
appears that this waa a mental, instead of 
a veM player ; and in reference to the 
speedy uswer with which it met, we 
may cite the very apposite remark of 
Boehait, that ' so forward is God to be- 
8tuw his besefits upon us, that they do 
not so moch foUow onr prayers, a» pre- 
vent and go be/ore them.' Js. 65. 24, 
'And it shall eome to pass, that before 
they e^ I will answer ; and while they 

are yet speaking, I will hear.' "S Her 

pitehetwpen her shoulder. 'The East- 
em women, according to Dr. Pooocke, 
fiometiffle* carry their jars upon their 
h»sdM\ bat Rebeeca's wa« earned on 
her shoulder, -in such a case, the jar is 
not to be supposed to have been placed 
upright on the shoulder, but held, by one 
of the handles, with the hand over the 
shoulder, and suspended in thia manner 
on the back ; h^d, I should imagine, 
by the zig^t handover the ieftahoulder. 
Consequently, when it was to be pre- 
sented lo Abraham's servant, that he 
might drink out of it, it was to be gently 
moved over the left arm, and being 
expended by one hand, while the other, 
probably^ waapJBcad uiider the bottom 
of the jar, it was in that positioii yire- 
aented to Alnmham's servant, and his 
anendaata^ ta drink out of. *• She said, 
Drink, my lord ; and she hasted, and 
let dowB bar |Htefaer upon her band, and 
gave him to drink.' v. J8.— Jftrrwuw. 

16. Very fair to look Mpon. Heb. 
HK^Ta tOQ *obotk imirtht good of roun- 
terumct, or vhage, Oomp. Gen. 26. 7. 

Kx. S. 2. ^ Wera doom to ifiewUand 


her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, 
drink a little water of thy pitcher. 

18 ' And she said, Drink, my 
lord : and she hasted, and let down 
her pitcher upon hte band, and ^ve 
him drink. 

Bl Pet. 3. 8.^4. 9. 

filed her pitcher, * It would seem that 
this well Imd a descending stair. Such 
wells are not very common in the Eabt, 
except in India, where they occur fre- 
quently enough. Chardin, as quoted 
by Harmer, is disposed to underetaiid, 
that where steps to a well are mention- 
ed, a reservoir of rain-water is always 
to be understood. Such reservoirs be- 
ing selibm of the great depth of wells, 
it is convenient to have steps, so that 
the surface of the water may be reach- 
ed by the hand as its quantity diminish- 
es. > AH reservoirs have not, however, 
such steps, nor are aJl wells without 
them. The grand well at Cairo in 
Egypt, called * Joseph's Well,' 1ia« a 
descent of about one hundred and fifty 
feet, by a winding staircase six feet in 
width. It is however true, that steps to 
wells occur but rarely in the Eaf>t. 
Their greater frequency in India is pro- 
bi^bly because tbe Hindoos do not use 
leathern buckets to draw water, and 
their earthen vessels would be very 
liable ta be broken if let down into wells 
by a rope. Neither Chardin nor any 
other traveller seems to have noticed 
the existence of steps to streams of run- 
ning vfoxer in the l£ast ; yet in Persia 
we have ourselves sometimes obtained 
water from a covered stream, access to 
which was afi<wded by descending stepb, 
protected by a vaulted superstructure 
of brick. We are, upon the wholei, dis- 
posed to deckle less positively than 
Chardin, that the present * well' could be 
nothing else than a reservoir of rain- 
water, although we must allow the pro- 
babilities to be in favor of his supposi- 
tion.'— Ptct. BtUe. 
18. My lord, - The Hebrew is uaad in 




tB. C. 1857. 

19 And when siob had done giv- 
ing him drink, she said, I will draw 
water for thy camels also, until they 
Jiave done drinking, 

20 And she basted, and emptied 
her pitcher into the trough, and ran 
again unto the well to draw toater^ 
and drew for ail his camels. 

21 And the man, wondering at 
her, held his peace, to wit whether 

*the Lmd had made his journey 
proeperous, or not» > 

22 And it came to paas, as tho 
camels had done drinking, that the 
man took a golden *> ear-ring of half , 
a shekel weight, and two toacelets 
for her hands of ten shekels weight j 
of gold, 1 

• V r. 12, 56. * Exod. 32. 2. 3. Isal. 3. 19, I 
90, 31. Easek. 16. 11, 13. 1 Pet .3. 3. i 

•ddreMes of politeneas Bnd civility, 
equivalent to our *■ Sir.' 

19. Wm draw water /or thy casnds al- 
to. * Had Rebekab done no more than 
Efiezer had prayed for, we might have 
fupposed that she acted not as a free 
agent, but was impdled to it by the ab- 
■olutaly eontroUing power of Cjod : but 
as she exceeds all that was requested, 
we see that it sprang from her native be- 
nevolence, and sets her conduct in a 
most amiable point of view.* — A. Clarke. 

20. Emptied her pitcher into the trough. 
* Trdbghs of stone or wood are some- 
times, but not often, found near wells in 
the East. When found, they are com- 
monly at wells near towns, and, like the 
descending steps, are nwre common in 
India than elsewhere. This also may 
arise from the prejudices of the Hindoos 
precluding the use of the leathers which 
the Arabs and travellers thrdugh deserts 
employ in watering their cattle at wells. 
As the cattle can seldom get direct ac- 
cess to the water in a well, they are 
usually supplied by the water being 
thrown into a sort of leathern trough 
used for the express purpose ; but very 
commonly a simple skin is used, to 
which the necessary concavity is given 
by scraping a hollow in the sand 
9w«t which it is placed, or by propping 
up the edges with sand, earth, or stones. 
What sort of trough is intended here 
and HI Ezod 2. 16, does not appear.* — 

Pict, BiMe. ^ Drew/or aU his eamda. 

In view of the arduousness of such a 
task for a young female, we know not 
ham to resist the impression that she 

was accompanied and asristed by other 
inmates of the iamSy of her own sei, 
or that the water was principally drawn 
by Efiezer*s attendants under her su- 

21. Wondering at her, kdd his peace. 
Heb. TD'^nn^a rrb mSWO middaAlak 
maharishj amazed on account of Aer, hM- 
ing his peace. Gr. ^Considered her, 
and lield his peace.* Chal. *Wassileni 
in contemplation.* He was rapt in sd- 
miration of the divine providenee, which 
had made the event to oorreapond vt 
remarkably vnth his desires. The 
maiden's conduct so amiable m itself^ and 
so exactly in unison with Ma previous 
wishes, struck him with a kind of 
amazement, accompanied by a nwmen- 
tary hesitatkm whether all ecndd be 
true. Thus the disciples of Jesus won- 
dered when Peter was east into prison ; 
and when their prayers were lieaid, and 
Peter stood without knoektqg at the 
gate, they could not credit th« joyful 
news, but said, * It is his angeL* We 
pray for Messings, and when our pray- 
ers are answered, we can scarcely be- 
lieve them to be so. 

22. ThemantoAmgimmmr^rimg,iLC. 
It would seem from v. 47, that fthfaough 
he now * took* or drew out, and had 
in readinoss the jewels, yet he did 
not actually present them till after 
he had proposed the em a iwug ques- 
tions. *dur generally exeelleBt tiaiis- 
lation Bometimea indieates Ibe pain- 
ful difficulties in whiofa the tnaslators 
were ooeasioBally involved, in eonse- 

oi the ignaniioe of 




B. C. 1857.] 

countries which t1i«ft generally prevail' 
ed, and which often left them in great 
doubt about the true renderings. Here 
we have * a golden ear-ring,* that is, an 
odd ear-ring. This being felt as some- 
what of an absurdity, the marginal ren- 
dering iBi^^^-jr..<}l ibr the face ;' but 
kgam, m v. 47, it is, * I put the ear-ring 
upon her face,' which is rather a curious 
disposition of an ear-ring. The thing 
leti^y intended seems to be a ring or 
jewel for the noee ; but our translators 
havmg no knowledge of such an orna- 
ment, which seemed to them to imply 
•n absurdity, . have carefully avoided 
the true idea everywhere except in 
Inuah 3. 21, the translator of which por- 
tion had probably gained some inibrma- 
tioo not possessed by the others, of this 
peculiarity of oriental ornament Yet 
dl their care could not preclude an oc- 
rasiona] allusion to it, as where Prov. 11. 
23, could not but be rendered * a jewel 
in a twines snout.' The extensive use 
of nose-ornaments among the Arabian 
and other females of the East having 
now become known, modem translators 
render the present text * nose-ring,' as is 
done in the Arabic and Persian versions. 
Such rings are generally of silver or 
gold, but sometimes of coral, mother-of- 
pearl, or even horn, according to the 
torte or means of the wearer. Chardin, 
who was professionally a jeweller, must 
have been conversant with this subject ; 
and he says that the better port of rings 
aie set with a ruby between two pearls ; 
we do not recollect, however, to have 
seen rubies in them ; but the turquoise 
is oommon. This curious ornament va- 
ries considerably in size and thickness ; 
but it is always circular, and is worn, 
not from the middle cartilage of the 
nose, but from the external cartilage of 
the left nostril, which is pierced for the 
purpose. We have also seen an orna- 
ment ibr the nose worn by the Koordish 
and Bedouin females, which has escap- 
ed the notice of illustrators of Scripture, 
but which we should prefer to consider 


the * noat'jewd,* when a ring w not 
expressly mentioned It is a thin cir- 
cular plate of gold, frequently a coin, 
about the size of half a crown piece, 
and in appearance not unlike the large 
fancy buttons which decorated the costs 
of a past generation. A trnqmisc w 
often set in the centre over the pin by 
which it is attached to the side ef 
the nose, where its appeaiance is su^ 
ciendy striking, and it always a e e ia c d 
to us much less pleasing than even the 
nose-rtfi^.*— jPicf. BiNe. 


T Two bracelets for her kandffitu 

iliekeU weight of gold.—* That is, about 
four ounces and a half, which seems an 
extraordinary weight for a pair of brace- 
lets. But they are worn as heavy, or 
indeed, much heavier, in the Ewrt, re- 
sembling, as Chardin remarks, rather 
manacles than brackets, l^ey are 
sometimes flat m shape, bnt more usu- 
ally round or semicircular, taking a cu- 
bical form at the section where they 
open to admit the hand. They have 
no fastenings, bnt open and compress 
by their own elasticity akme ; they are, 
in fact, enormous rings, which we have 




[B. C. 1857. 

23 And said, Whose daughter 
art thou ? tell me, I pray thee : is 
there room in thy father's house 
for us to lodge in? 

often Men not less dianen inch in dinm- 
eter ; bat their weight, although great, 
is notoommensarate to their size, as they 
are usually hollow. The weight which 
a woman carries on her arms is, howev- 
er, not to be estimated by that of a sin- 
gle pair of bracelets ; for no woman 
who can possibly get more is contented 
with one pair. It is not unusual to see 
five or six bracelets on the same arm, 
covering it from the wrist nearly to the 
elbow. These and their other orna- 
ments form the sole wealth of the bulk 
of the women ; and they are anxious, 
on an oceasions, to accumulate it, and 
loath to part with it ; hence, on com- 
paratively poor women, living and dress- 
ing meanly, it is not so uncommon to 
see a considerable quantity of precious 
metal in the ornaments of her head- 
dress, and of her arms and ankles ; and 
whatever ornaments she possesses are 
not treasured up to be produced ofn 
grand occasions, but are worn daily as 
parts of her ordinary costume, 'fhus 
she puts all her bracelets on her arms at 
once, all lier anklets on her legs, and all 
her ear-rings in her ears. Such orna- 
ments firm her whole personal wealth, 
and OB their value she rests her claim to 
permanent consideration. This is par- 
ticulariy the case with the Bedouin fe- 
males, who are generally well suppUed 
with an kinds of trinkets of personal or- 
nament; for although the Arab cares 
little about his own dress, he is anxious 
to deck his wife as richly as possible, 
Chat honor may be reflected upon him- 
self, and his circumstances property es- 
timated. The use of ornaments on all 
occasions seems to explain why Eliezer 
placed the nnse-ring at once on the 
nose of Rebekah, and the bracelets on 
her hands, instead of giving them to 

24 And she said unto him ^lam 
the daughter of Bethuel the son of 
MDcah, which she bare unto Nahor 

« ch. 33. S3. 

her as things to be treasured up. The 
material of the bracelets is exceedingly 
various. Gold is necessarily rare ; siK 
ver is the most common, but many that 
seemed to be silver, we have found te 
be plated steel. Amber, coral, mother- 
of-peari, and beads, are also used for 
bracelets, particularly for the npper 
part of the arm* for, whatever be the 
material of the others, it is uauaUy de- 
sired that the one on the wrist should be 
of silver. The poorer sort of women 
are, however, often obliged to content 
themselves with rings of copper, horn, 
common glass beads, and other articles 
of inferior description. Estimating the 
gold by its weight, nearly five ounces. 
Eliezer*s present was altogether very 
valuable.*— Ptc«. Bitiie. 


B. C. 1857.] 


25 Sbe said, monover, unto him, 
We have both straw and prorender 
enough, and room to lodge in. 

26 And the man ^ bowed down 
his head, and worshipped the Lord. 

27 And he said, -Blessed he the 
LoBD God of my master Abraham, 
who hath not left destitute my mas- 
ter of ' his mercy and Ins truth : I 
being in the way, the Loed ded 
me to the house of my master's 

28 And the damsel ran, and told 
fhem cf her mother's house these 

IT And Rebekah had a bro- 

d ver. 52. Ezod. 4. 31. « Exod. 18. 10. Hath 
4. 14. 1 Sam. S5. ^39. 3 Sam. 18. 28. Luke 
]. 68. 'ch. 33. 10. Pa. 98. 3. i ver. 48. 

25. Straw and prmender. — ^^ The straw 
p^l feften, Arab tObn^ aeema to have been 
'cot straw,' to render it more portable. 
The Septuagim renders it by axvpa, chaffs 
wbidi it a name applied to straw after 
it has been cut fine by the use of a 
chaff-eotter. The ^ provender* was, it 
would seem, a mixture of several kinds 
of fodder, c'ut-straw, bariey, beans, Stc. 
so combined as to render the whole 
palatable. The original word is &(1&D)a 
mupo, which the Septoagint translates 
by xoprmofiara^ which is a derivative 
fitnn %9prof gras8^ and hence signifies 
fodder^ of which herbage is the princi- 
pal ingredient. Hay is not made in the 
East. Cattle continue at the present 
day to be fed with chopped straw mix- 
ed with bariey. The common reader 
«fVM)ii suppose the *• straw' to be for lit- 
ter ; bnt straw is never so employed in 
the East ; dang, dried and pounded, be- 
ing used for that purpose.' — Ptd. BSAe, 

27. And he said, Blested, &c. If this 
was a vocal, and not a mental prayer, 
we most suppose that it was uttered 
while Rebekah was running to inform 
her £unily of what had happened. For 
it appears, from v. 48, that he made use 
of die expressiou * which led me in the 

thef!, and his nanae was ^ Laban : 
and Laban ran oat unto the maOf 
unto the well. 

80 And it came to pass, when be 
saw the ear-ring, and bracelets up- 
on his sister's hands, and when he 
heard the words of Rebekah his 
sister^ saying, Thus spake the man 
unto me; that be came unto the 
man, and behold, he stood by the 
camels at the welL 

31 And he said. Come in, * thou 
blessed of the Lordi wherefore 
Btandest tJiou without 1 for I have 
prepared the house, and room for 
the camels. 

hch.99.5. Jadg. 17. 9. Rath 
3.10. Pa. 115. 15. 

right way to take my master's brother's 
daughter unto his son ;' but it is by no 
means to be imagined that he would 
have spoken those words in her hearing. 
It would be difiieult to point out a more 
striking instance of one who * acknow- 
ledged God in all his ways,' than we be- 
hold in this pious domestic. He neither 
takes any step without prayer, nor re- 
ceives any fiivor without praise. 

IT Hath not left deitUute my masUr of 
his mercy and his truth, Heb. *Hath 
not left off his mercy and his truth from 
with my lord.' 

2S. And the damsd nfn. That is, as 
intimated above, while Eliezer was 
worshipping.--^ir Told them of her 
mother's house. Because her mother and 
the females had apartments or tents 
separate from those of the men. Daugh- 
ters, too, are naturally more fiuniliar 
with their mothers than their fiithers, 
particulariy in the East. 

90. When he saw the ear-rings and 
bracdets, &c. From what we after- 
wards learn of Laban, it is not perhaps 
doing him injustice to suppose that the 
golden ornaments had great influence 
in prompting a behavior which had the 
appearance of being highly disinterest* 




[B. C. I85T. 

32 IT And the man came intothe 
honse: and ungirded his camels, 
and ^ gave straw and provender for 
the camels, and water to wash his 
feet, and the men's feet that were 
with him. 

33 And there was eeXmeat be. 
fore him to eat : but he said, ^ I will 
not eat until I have told my errand. 
And he said, Speak on. 

k ch. 43. 34. Jade. Itt. 31. i Job. 33. 13. 
John. 4. 34. Epb.ftTs^e,?. 

ed and generous. His whole history 
•hows him to have been a mercenary 
man, and quite susceptible to the im- 
pressions which the display of great 
wealth would make upon a covetous 
mind. But, wliatever were^his motives, 
hi* treatment of the servant was kind. 
Finding him at the well, modestly wait- 
ing for a farther invitation, he accosts 
him in language that would have be- 
fitted the lips of a much better man ; 
* Come in, thou blessed of the Lord,* &c. 
32. The man came into the house ; and 
ungirded hie oameU^ &c. A somewhat 
inaccurate rendering, owing to the fact, 
undoubtedly, that the Heb. is often 
wanting in precision in making transi- 
tions from one part of a narrative to 
another. It often omits a nominative 
where the scope of the context enables 
the reader easily to supply it Here 
there is no doubt that Laban is the sub- 
ject of the verb, and our translation ought 
to have inserted *he* before * ungirded ; 
for it would have been a gross lack of 
civility to have made Eliezer unload 
And feed his o wncamels The old Geneva 
version is more correct .•-— * And he (to 
wit, Lahan — marg.) unsaddled the ca- 
mels and brought,' &c. We are to un- 
derstand, therefore, that Laban, or those 
.who acted by his orders, performed the 
service here mentioned. The original 
for ^ungirded' {r\t^^ yephattah) properly 
signifies he opened, by which is meant i 
the Icodng of the travelling gear, and | 
taking off the burdens of the camels. A i 

34 And he saidf I am Abraham's 


35 And the Losn « hath blessed 
my master greatly, and be is be- 
come great: and he hath (^ven 
him flooks, and herds, and silver, 
and gvdd, and men-servants, add 
maid-servants, and camels, and 

36 And Sarah, my master's wife, 

IP v«r. 13.3. 

similar usage occurs 1 Kings 20. 11, 

* Let not him that girdeth on his har- 
ness, boast himself as he that puttetk it 
off; Heb. Ashe that openeOi it. P^. 102. 
20, * To loose those that are appointed to 
death ;* Heb. To open those, &c. Jer. 
40. 4, * Behold I loose thee this day from 
the chains which were upon thine hand ;* 

Heb. I open thee. V Water to wash 

hiefeeL See Note on Gen. 18. 4. 

33. There woe set meat before him. 
Or, * he set.' i. e. Laban ; as the original 
has a double reading to afford both 
senses. 6r. iraptBnKtv^ he set. Chai. 

* They set* The word * meat' or * food,' 
which is wanting in the Heb. is to be 

supplied in rendering. T He said I 

wUl not eat until, &c. How does the 
character of this devoted servant bright- 
en with every new circumstance intro- 
duced into this beautiful narrative ! So 
full is his heart of his errand, so much 
does he prefer his master's interest to 
his own comfort or gratification, that he 
will not eat till he has discharged his 
mission ! He esteems his work mere to 
him than his necessary food. Sncb i« 
the feeling of •▼•ry true servant of God. 

* I will not give sleep to mine «yes,' 
says David, *nor alumber to mine eye- 
lids, till 1 find out a place for Jehovah, 
an habitation for the mighty God of Ja- 
cob. * A striking illustration of this is 
furnished by Mr. Frazer, who, in his 
woric, the ^Kussilbash,* and its sequel, 
^The Persian Adventurer,' has noticed 
many oriental usages which were but 



■ bare a 800 to iny naater wli«i the 

was old: and "> unto him hath he 
gi?fln all that he hath. 

37 And my f master made me 
swear, saying', Thou shalt not take 
a wife to my son of the daughten 
of the Caaaanites, in whoae land 

38 « But thou shalt go unto my 
Other's house, and to my kindred, 
and take a wife unto my son. 

39 ' And I said unto my master, 
Peradventure the woman will not 
follow me. 

40* And he said unto me* the 
Lord, ^ before whom I walk, will 
send his angel with thee, and pros- 

« eh. 21. 2. • ch. 21 . 10. & 25. 5. 9 ver. 3. 
1 ver. 4. t ver. 5. • ver. 7. « ch. 17. 1. 

CHAPTER xxnr. 

little known in this country. The Per- 
aan noble, Isbinael Khan, hAving occa- 
sion to claim the protection of an Aff- 
gbaon chief, who was known to dislike 
the Persians, was advised to throw him- 
self npon the protection of this formid- 
able peraoQ, and daim his safe-conduct 
as a boon of hospitality. In reply, Ish- 
mael observed,—* I might take the 
sanctnary of his table. The Affghauns, 
I believe, regard it as sacredly as we 
PenJans.' * No,* replied he, * that is not 
the Afighaun custom ; but they have a 
cDgtom which is of equal sacredness 
^ force; they term it nunnauxiutee. 
If you desire to receive a favor from 
any man among these clans, be he khan 
or ryot, you must repair before him, and 
proclaim yourself his guest ; but at the 
uime time declare that you will accept 
of no office of hospitality ; that you 
will neither taste of his salt, nor share 
bia carpet, unless he consents to grant 
your request ; and this request, so de- 
■naoded, be it for protection only, or for 
"lore efficient assistance, he cannot, 
connstently with Affghaun honor, deny, 
PiOTided it be at all within the bounds 
ofreaaon.' Pict. Bible. 
36. Whm she wudd. Heb ^^mat 

POT thy way ; and thou shalt take a 
wife for my son of my kindred, vod 
of my father's house. 

41 ''Then shah thou he clear 
from this mine oath, when thou 
comest to my kindred ; and if they 
give not thee one, thou shalt be 
dear ffran my oath. 

42 And 1 came this day unto the 
well, and said, "" O Lord God of 
my master Abraham, if now thou 
do prosper my way which I go : 

43 ' Behold I stand by the well 
of water; and it shall come to pass, 
that when the virgin cometh forth 
to draw toater, and I say to her. 
Give me, I pray thee, a little water 
of thy pitcher to drink ; 

■ ver. 8. » ver. 12. " ver. 13. 

«in3pt ahare ziknaihah^ after her eld age ; 
a very striking expression, emphatically 
implying her natural incapacity to 
become a mother. The usual phrase 

-would be * in her old age.' IT Haih 

he given aU that he hath. That is, hath 
purposed to give : for the actual giving 
did not occur till some time after this. 
Gen. 25. 5. 

37. My master made me swear. Heb. 
^3!P^1D^ yashbiani, adjured me. Eliezer 
did not swear otherwise than in being 
sworn. See on v. 3. 

38. But thou shall go. Heb- ^b &M 

"ibn *'" ^® '^^» if ***"* '^*^ '"^ S^' -^ 
imprecatory mode of speech, in which 
part of the sentence is understood. See 
the idiom explained in the Note on Gen. 
21. 23. Gr. aWa vopevvri, hut thou shalt 

40. Before whom, I vxdk. Heb. n'^DBb 
^^nSbmnn 1B» <**'*«• hithhaUakti lepo' 
nav, before whom I have walked. That is, 
before whom I have habitually walked 
in a way of obedience. Gr. to evtiptarnva. 
tvavTiov avTov^ whom I have pleased hem 
fore him. The idea of acceptable walk- 
ing is undoubtedly implied. 

41. Clear from my oath. Heb. *inb«?3 
meedaihif from my execration or curse. 



[B. C. 1867. 

44 And ehe Bay tome, BoUi drink 
tiioa, and I will also draw for thy 
camels : Jet the same be the woman 
whom the Lobd hath appointed out 
for my master's son. 

45 'And before I had done 
7^ speaking in mine heart, behold, 
Rebekah came forth with her pitch- 
er on her shoulder ; and she went 
down unto the well, and drew too* 
ler: and I said unto her, Let me 
drink, I pray thee. 

46 And she made haste, and let 
down her pitcher from her shoulder, 
and said. Drink, and I will give thy 
camels drink also : so I drank, and 
she made the camels drink also. 

47 And I asked her, and said. 
Whose daughter art thou? And 
she said. The daughter of Bethuel, 
Nahor's son, whom she bare unto 
him : and I ' put the ear-ring upon 

« ver. 15, &c. r I Sam. 1. 13, « Easek. 16. 
11, 12. 

Gr. o^iriffftov id. In the corresponding 
passage, v. 8, it is *iri5STD shdmathi, my 
cath ; but an oath naturally implies an 
imprecation of evil to him who fails to 
perform it. 

48. My master's broiher*8 daughter. 
Rebekah was not Abraham's brother's 
daughter, but grand-daughter. Here 
too Bethuel, who was Abraham's 
nephew, is called his brother, as Lot 
was before. 

49. That I may turn to the right hand, 
or to the left. That is, that T may go some 
other way in order to fulfil the obliga- 
tion of my oath. 

50. The thing proceedeth from the 
Lord. Heb. ^ann ^'^^yatzaohaddabar, 
the word cometh forth from the Lord. It 
appears to be the divine will and plea- 
sure. 1 Cannot speak unto thee bad or 

good. That is, cannot say any thing 
flt all against the measure. Corap. Gen. 

51. Take her^ and go^ and let her he^ 
Ae. * The whole conduct of this affair 

her Isee, and tlw Vraerie(K«poiiher 

48 *And I bowed down my head, 
and worshipped the Lokd, and Usbs- 
ed the Lord God of my muter 
Abraham, which bad led me in the 
right way to take ''my master's 
brofjier's daughter unto his son. 

49 And now if ye wifl 'deal 
kincBy and tndy with my master, 
tell me : and if not, tell me ; that 
I may turn to the right hand, or to 
the left 

50 Then Laban and Bethuel an- 
swered, and said, ^ The thing pro- 
ceedeth from the Lobd: we can- 
not 'speak unto thee bad or good. 

51 Behold, jRebekah is ^ before 
thee, take her, and go, and let her 
be thy master's son's wife, as the 
Lord hath spoken. 

• ver.SS. bch.22.23. «>ch. 47.29. Josh. 
2. 14. «» Ps. 118. 23. Matt. 21. 42. Mark. 12. 
11. ech-Sl. 24. 'C..20. 15. 

is calculated to surprise an European 
reader. A servant is sent on a distant 
jonmey, with lull powers to select a 
wife and conclude a marriage for hii 
master's son. The servant addresses 
himself to the lady*s father and brother, 
and they agree to his proposals withoat 
consulting Rebekah. The agent makes 
valuable presents to the lady and her 
relations, and carries her away, and 
Isaac and Rebekah meet as man and 
wife without having ever seen each 
other before. But all this is most pre- 
cisely analogous to usages which still 
prevail in the East, with tsome #«i«fl ^ ' 
versity in different nations. We wD 
state the process of a marriage of a 
young couple in Persia, which seems, 
on the whole, to present a very 'close 
parallel to this patriarchal procedure. 
When a young man becomes mar- 
riageable, his parents begin to look abont 
among their kindred and acquaintance 
for a suitable partner for him, frequent- 
ly assisting their inquiries or leaving the 


a C. 1867.] 


60 And it came to pvi^ tbtt» 
vihen Abraham's servant heard 
tMr wordi, he f womhifiped the 
LoBB, bowing kimsel/ to the earth. 

53 And the servant brought forth 
^ jewek of sSver, and jewels of gold, 
and raiment, and gave them to Re- 
b^Eah. He gave also to her bro- 

w Tvr. 83 h Bxod. 3. 22. lb 11. ^ & ]«. 35 

matter entirely to a confidential ser- 
vanW-generally the young raan'i old 
nurse, who goes about from house to 
h owse, and having found a suitable ob- 
ject, endeavora to create a mutual pre- 
possession by speaking to each of the 
fHher. Very often, however, the whole 
matter is concluded without any refer- 
ence to the parties moot immediately 
interested. When the parents have 
found a suitable female, they proceed to 
the house of her father, and make their 
overtures to him ; and if they are ac- 
ceptable, he denotes his acquiescence 
by ordering sweetmeats to be bronght. 
A few days after, another * meeting is 
held at the same place, and tbere it is 
finally settled what the parents of the 
young man are to give in his behalf to 
the bride [for the principle of such gifts, 
see Note on Gen. 34. 12] ; and this is a 
matter of great importance, as these 
presents remain with the lady, and form 
her dower or provision in case of a di- 
vorce from her husband. It consists of 
fine dreeees and shawls [raiment in the 
text, V. 53], with female ornaments, 
some money, and a complete outfit of 
domestic utensils. Among some of the 
Arab tribes, the present or (|ower re- 
ceived for the bride on such occasions 
is called the *five articles,* and consists 
of a carpet, a silver nose-ring, a silver 
neck-cham, silver bracelets, and a ca- 
mel-bf^. As to the consent of the wo- 
man, the usage varies in different na- 
tione. In Persia, after all has been 
coneioded, the woman has nominaUy 
the power, almost never exercised, of 
expressing her dissent before the eon- 
VOL. II. 5 

tlMT and to ker mother 

M And they did eat and drinfcy 
he and the men that were with lum, 
and tarried all night ; and they roso 
up in the morning, and he said» 
^ Send me away unto my master. 

55 And her brother and her 

««CliTOn.Sl.3. EsraLC kver.M,&9ll 

nexion receives ita final sanction; hut 
among many Bedouin tribes, the woman 
is seldom sufiTered to know, until the be- 
trMhing ceremonies announce it to her, 
who is to be her husband, and then shs 
has no power of negativing the contract ; 
but she may, if she pleases, withdraw 
the day afler her marriage from her 
husband's tent to that of her father ; 
and, being divorced, is thenceforwanl 
regarded as a widow. In the inetance 
before us, it does not appear te us that 
the consent ef Kebekah waaMquifBd,t» 
her own marriage. The question whieh 
was usked her the next day — *■ Wilt thoa 
go with this man V (v. 58)— we oottrider 
to mean no more than to ask whether 
she were willing to set out so mmb as 
Eliezer desired, or vrould rather iamm 
on staying a few days longer with 
her relations as they had wislied.*->*l^isfc 

53. Jewels qftiher, andjewdt ofgoU^ 
<fee. Heb. :]05 "^btS ^«i^ heseifh^ wemth 
of iiher, Ac. The original for * jewela* 
fvesselt) is a word of large import, b*» 
ing applied to implemenui, inetrumenli^ 

and utensils of all kinds- T Preciam 

Hangs. Heb. WnS^ frngdattotk^ tfnw i t^ a. 
Gr. iiopa gifts. But from compsuriMB ef 
other places where the term er its kindred 
*Ta^ ffM^ed occurs, particularly ])Mit.33k- 
13.— 15. Cant. 4. 13, 2 Chron. SI. ^^ 
32.23. Ezra, 1. 6, it seens to dmolo 
the precious or daitUy/ruils qf lAa eorA. 

55. Afewdmfs^at ihekastten. Heb. 
ni©y IftI Q-»n'^ yuttim o asor, ttt. dq^a 
or ten. Our marginal rendeiiog is, *« 
full year, or ten montha,* which is tswoe* 
ed by the ChMdee TMSPmB, hut wia. 



OENEESXS. [B. €. 1857. 

mother said, Let the dainse} abide 
with us a few days, at the least ten ; 
after that she shall go. 

56 And he said unto them, Hin- 
der me not, seeing the Lord hath 
prospered ray way : send rae away, 
that I may go to my master. 

57 And they said. We will call 
the damsel, and inquire at her 

58 And they called Rebekah, and 

believe the English Yorsion expresses 
die true idea of the original. 

57. Inquire at her mouth. The case 
being somewhat difficult, and neither of 
llie parties disposed to disoblige the 
other, they agree to leave it to the deci- 
sion of the damsel herself. A few days 
to take leave of her friends would, no 
dMibt, have been desirable to her ; but 
seeing so much of God in the affair, and 
tiM man*s heart so deeply set upon it ; 
fteling also her own heart entirely in it, 
slie determines to throw no hindrance 
m the way, and therefore answers free 
horn an affectation, *I will go. — *Do 
fttople wish to know the truth of any 
thing whidi has been reported of ano- 
ther, they say, * Let us go and inquire of 
bis mofutk.^ — ^^Let us hear the hirQi of 
bis mouHk* Do servants ask a favor of 
^Mir mistress, she will say, * I know not 
^at will be the birth of the master's 
MMtA ; I will inquire at his moulk' So 
fbe mother and brother of Rebecca in^ 
spired at the moufft of the damsel, whe- 
ther she felt willing to go with the man. 
*-Aiid she said, I will go.* — Rc^rU. 

59. And her nuTM. The name of this 
mme was Deborah. We hear no more 
of her till we are told of her death. She 
appears to have survived her mistress, 
•ad to have died in the family of Jacob, 
mneh lamented. *How often have 
ieenes like this led my mind to the pa- 
tnarchai age! The daughter is about 
for the first time tb leave the paternal 
leof : the servants are all in confusion ; 

said unto her. Wilt then go with 
this man ? And she said, 1 will go. 

59 And they sent away Rebekah 
then* sister, and ^ her nurse, and 
Abraham's servant, and his men. 

60 And they blessed Rdiekab, and 
said unto her. Thou art our sister ; 
be thou " the- mother of thousands 
of millions, and °let thy seed pos- 
sess the gate of those which hate 

I ch. 35. 8. » ch. 17. 1«. " ch. 28. 17. 

each refers to things long gone by, each 
wishes to do something to attract the 
attention of his young mistress. One 
says, *Ah*. do not forget him who 
nnrsed you when an infant:' another, 
* How often did T bring you the beauti- 
ful lotus from the distant tank ! Did 
I not always conceal your faults ?' The 
mother comes to take leave. She weeps, 
and tenderly embraces her, saying, *■ My 
daughter, I shall see you no more; — 
Forget not Vo«r mother.' The brother 
infolds his sister in his arms, and promis- 
es soon to come and see her. The 
father is absorbed in thought, and is on- 
ly aroused by the sobs of the party. He 
then affectionately embraces his daugh- 
ter, and tells her not to fear. The fe- 
male domestics must each ameU of the 
poor girl, and the men touch her feet. 
As Rebecca had her nurse to accompa- 
ny her, so, at ihis day, the Aya(the 
nurse) who has from infancy brought up 
the bride, goes with her to the new 
scene. She is her adviser, her assist- 
ant, and fHend ; and to her will she tell 
all her hopes and all her fears.* — Roberts. 
60. Blessed R^bdoaih. Implored, in- 
voked a blessing upon her, to wit, what 
immediately follows, that she might be 
indefinitely multiplied in her seed. See 
on Gen. 17. 16. * From the numerous 
instances which are recorded in the 
scriptures, of those who were aged, or 
holy, giving their UeMtng, may be seen 
the importance which was attached to 
such benedictions. Has a son, or a 





61 T And Rebekah arofle« and 
her damsels, and they rode upon 
the camels, and followed the man : 
and the servant took Rebekah, and 
went his way. 

62 And Isaac came from the way 

daughter, to leave a father, an aged 
friend, or a priest, a blessing is always 
given. To be the mother of a nume- 
rous progeny is considered a great hon- 
or. Hence parents oflen say to their 
daughters, * Be thou the mother of fftotc- 
sands* Beggars, also, when relieved, 
say to the mistress of the house, *■ Ah ! 
mi^dam, miUions will come froni you.* 
i2o^/s.— <^-— IT Thou art our sister. 
This should rather have been rendered, 
* thou, our sister !* It is not, according 
to the Heb. ascents, a proposition, but 

an exclamation. IT Be thou the mother 

of thousands. Heb. nni^ "^^bvt "^^^V^ 
alphe rdfobahy he thou to thousands of mU- 
Uons. This, according to the Jewish 
writers, is the form of the ancient solemn 
benediction which was wont to be pro- 
nounced upon the bride when she was 
taken home to her future husband. — It 
is remarked by Arbp. Seeker that when 
our translators make rCD'n retefcoA, a de- 
terminate number, they elsewhere ren- 
der it 10,000 ; but here and Ezek. 16. 7. 
o mUUon. The tenn properly denotes 

any large indefinite number. IT La 

4hy seed possess the gaie^ &c. That is, 
have their enemies in their power, as ex- 
plained Gen. 22. 17. As these are the ve- 
ry terms of the last blessing pronounced 
from heaven on Abraham ch<. 22. 17, they 
had probably been made acquainted 
with that blessing either by Abraham's 
servant, or previously in some other 
61. Arose. See Note on Gen. 23. 3 

T And her damsels. Given as a part 

of her marriage portion. As nothing 
was said of them in v. 59, this affords 
anather instance of the usage mention* 

of the ° well of Lahai-roi ; lor be 

dwelt in the south country. 

63 And Isaac went out p to med- 
itate in the field at the even-tide ^ 
amd he lifted up his eyes, and saw, 
and behold, the camels were coming. 

• ch. 16. 14. it 35. 11. f Josh. 1. & Ps. 1.8. 
4c 77. 13. fc 119. 15. A: 143.5. 

ed above, by which a circuiiMtaiiee . 
omitted in one pert of a narratiye is dis- 
tinctly related in another. 

62. Isaac came from the way &fihewdl 
Lahai-roi. Heb. ^»n ^ni "^80 R'O'a B*a 
bamibibohear lahai roi, came fromthe com- 
mgf I e. from the usually travelled way 
to and from the weU of Lahai-ni. The 
phraseology in the original is unwonted 
and obscure, and we have accordingly 
a great variety of renderings in the ver- 
sions. Gr. * Walked through the wfl- 
derness of the well of vision.' Chal. 

Came from the well whereat the An- 
gel of life appeared to him.' Arab. 

* Had returned from the journey to the 
well of the Living One that seeth.' Vu%. 

* Walked ak»og the way that leadeth to 
the well of the living and the Seeing, to 
called.' From all this, and from its be- 
ing said, ch. 25. 11, that * Isaac dwelt by 
the weU Lahaieroi,* which was some- 
what to the south of Canaan, v. 63, we 
gather that Isaac was now residing fiv 
the most part in the vicinity of that me-v 
morable well, or at least that he was 
frequeptly passing to and fro (b^*in?a) be- 
tween that place and Beer-sheba ; axfed 
that, having now come to the latter 
place, the dwelling of his aged fiither, 
in expectation of meeting his bride, he 
took occasion, while waiting there, to 
walk out into the fields at the dose of 
the day, when the incidents related in 
the text occurred. 

63. Went out to medUaie, Heb. Vd*^ 
rniDb yftze lasuahf went out to mediiate^ 
contemjiilaiet or pray. Gr. aioXtvxn^ai 
to exercise himself; i. e. religiously ; to 
give scope to the pious sentiments of 
bis heart in a retired place, at the tian- 




[B. C. 18Sf. 

V 64 And Rebekah lifted uj) her 
eyes, and when she saw Isaac, ^ she 
lighted off the camel. 

65 For she had said unto the ser- 
vant, What man is this that walk- 
eth in the field to meet us 1 And 
the servant had said, It is my mas- 
ter : therefore she took a vail and 
covered berseif. 

4 Joib. 15. la 

tpA hour of twilight, when the soul is 
most disposed for devout contemplations. 
As meditation and prayer are the right 
improvement of mercies past, so they are 
the best preparative for mercies yet ex- 
pected. Isaac could not have put him- 
self in a more suitable posture for wel- 
ooming the anUcipated bleasing, than 
that in which he is here represented, 
nor in one which would have been more 
apt to ensure its being made substantial 
and durable. As a general fact, it may 
safely be affirmed that those husbands 
and wives are likely to prove the great- 
est blessings to each other, whose un- 
ion is brought about in answer to pray- 
er. ^ A prudent wife is from the Lord. 
64. She UgTUed qf the camd * Isaac 
waa walking, and it would therefore 
have been the highest breach of orient 
al good manners to have remained on 
the camel when presented to him. No 
' doubt, they all sdighted and walked to 
meet him, conducting Rebecca as 
bride to meet the bridegroom. It is 
a customary mark of respect to great 
personages for a person to alight from 
the animal on which he is riding, and 
lead it until the superior has ridden by ; 
and as no conventional superiority is in 
fhe East conceded to women, as in Eu- 
icpOf this will show that it would have 
been highly improper to have rode di- 
rectly up to Isaac when he was on foot. 
This would have been treating him as 
an inferior. In Persia, on occasions 
when it is thought necessary to stand 
upon punctilio, two persons of equal 
tank, after having been riding side by 

6i(> And the servant t«ild Isaac aH 
thimrt that he had done. 

6t And Isaac brought her into 
his mother Sarah's tent, and toe* 
Rebekah, and she became his 
wife ; and he loved her ; and Isaac 

was comforted after his mother's 


side, will take care, when both dismount, 
that it shall be done at precisely the 
same moment ; for he whose foot first 
touches the ground is considered to ad- 
mit his inferiority to the other.' — PicL 

65. Took a veHy <fec. The veil might, 
in the present instance, answer a double 
purpose ; (1^ It would express lier sub- 
jection to her husband, as being al- 
ready in fact his espoused wife (2) It 
would prevent that confusion which the 
exposure of her person, especially in so 
sudden and unexpected a manner, must 
have occasioned. ' Whether veiled be- 
fore or not, she now covered herself— 
her whole person — with the ample en- 
veloping veil with which brides are still 
conducted to the bridegroom- Roseik- 
muller, in illustration of this passage, 
quotes an ancient father (Tertullian), 
who, with an express reference to the 
same text, observes, as a custom stiU ex- 
isting in his time, that the heathen brides 
were also conducted to their husbanik 
covered with a veil. It is still all but 
universal in the East, and it will be ob- 
served that it is used not only by the fe- 
malevB whose faces are always conceal- 
ed, both before and after marriage, but 
by those who display part or the whole 
of their faces on a]] ordinary occasions. 
It is, in fact, the indispensable costume 
for the occasion. Whether the bridal 
veil was distinguished from other veils 
does not appear, but we observe that 
one of red silk or muslin is affected by 
the Persians on such an occasion, al- 
thougb the ocdinarv veils are white m 


R C. 1853.] 



THEN again Abraham took a 
wife, and her name teas Keturah. 

blue ; and Dr. Ru»$el, in bis account of 
a Maronite marriage, observes tbat tbe 
bride's veil was of tbe same color. 
Thus we see that Rebekah, by envelop, 
ing her person in a veil, put herself into 
the costume usual for a bride when con- 
ducted to tbe tent or house of her hus- 
band.*— Ptc«. Bible. 

67. And he loved her. • The force of 
this first expression of such an attachment 
seems to have escaped notice. Isaac, 
from all that appears, was the only one 
of the ^triarchs who had no opportuni- 
ty of exhibiting a preference to his wife 
before marriage. He had never seen 
her tin she stood unveiled in his tent as 
his wife. It seemed, therefore, neces- 
sary to add, that *he loved her' when 
he did see her. It is remarkable, that 
what merely arose from circumstances 
in the case of Isaac, is now amply il- 
lustrated by the established practices of 
the East. The women being complete- 
ly secluded, and never seen without 
veils, no opportunity of {lersonal ac- 
quaintance, or even of inspection before 
marriage, is afforded. The man sees 
his wife for the first time unveiled when 
he enters the room into which she has 
been received on her arrival at his house'. 
Having previously formed no Idea of 
her person and qualifications, but from 
the gei:eral and exaggerated praises of 
the old nurse, who is usually his agent, 
this is a critical and anxious moment ; 
and it is a most happy circumstance for 
both, when the account of such a trans- 
action can conclude with the emphatic 
words *he bved her.' Pict. Bible. 
Thus the comfort of a wife was made 
to compensate for the loss of a mother. 
God, in infinite wisdom, »aw fit to set 
a day of prosperity over against a day 
of adversity. Now he wounds our 
spirits by dissolving one tender unbn, 
aod BOW binds up our wounds by oe- 

2 And ••he baie him Ziiiinii» 
and Jokshan, and Medao* and Midi. 
an, and Ishbak, and Shuab. 

• 1 Cbron. 1. 3S. 

menting another. But while these vi- 
cissitudes occur, let us remember that 
the transition from the character of a 
a dutiful son to that of a kind and affee- 
donate husband, is natural and easy, and 
that he that fills up one station io lii^ 
with credit and honor, is thereby pre- 
pared for all those that follow f 

Was comforted after his moOtei's dsaOk. 
Heb. 1?2X ^^'^nj* ahare immo, after his 
mother; an elliptical mode of expression 
not unusual in the Hebrew. Gr. in^ 
"^Eappai ms fiTitpos avrov^ concerning Sk^ 
rah his mother. The interval between 
her death and his marriage was three 
years, during tbe whole of which period 
he had cherished towards his deceased 
parent all those mournful and tender 
regrets which would naturally spring 
up in the bosom of the most devoted 
filial aflTectaon. 

I. 7*hen again Abraham took a wife. 
Heb. np-^l qD*^ yotephvayMah, added 
and took. In 1 Chron. I. 32, Keturah is 
called Abraham*s concubine, and if such 
were the foct, it gives no little counte- 
nance to the idea of Calvin and other 
cximmentators, that she had been as- 
sumed into this relation before Sarah*s 
death ; forif she were married q/iCerthat 
event, we know not how to account for 
the fact of her being thus ranked as a 
concubine or secondary .wife. If Surah 
were dead, why did she not come td&y 
into her place as principal wife ? The 
silence of Mo^es about her pedigree fiik- 
vers this opinion. As it is wholly im- 
probable tbat Abraham would make an 
alliance vdth any family of the Canaan- 
ites, and equally so ttua any princess of 
Canaan would aocept.of him in his old 
age, when the whole inheritance was to 
go to Sarah s son, we seem to be war* 
ramed in the belief that Ketwah was 



[1. a I860. 

8 AndJoltohsabegttiSlieba, and 
Dedan. And thd sons of Dedan 
were Awhurixn, and Letustum, aad 

4 And the sons- of Midian; 
Ephafa, and Epher, and Hanool], 
and Abidab, and Eldaah. >AQ^ these 
toere the children of Keturah. 

hit concubine, taken, doubtless, from 
•mong the servants of his familsr. Ac- 
eoiding to the stbndard of morality then 
acknowledged, might he not have co- 
habited witii her without any imputa- 
tion on his continence, before Sarah's 
death ? Was the interval suflScieni, be- 
tween Sarah's death and Abraham's, 
for six sons to be born to him of one 
woman, and grow up to manhood, when 
manhood hardly took place before the 
age of thirty at soonest ? In the charge 
given by Abraham to the servant in 
the preceding chapter, he talks like an 
Did man preparing to leave . the world. 
Js it likely that after this he should lake 
« concubine and beget six children? 
Y There is nothing in the original properly 
' •'^i-.. f uiswering to the word * then' at the com- 
_3r^ j mencementof theverse,ortomarksuc- 
i cession. True, the incident comes in out 
* of its proper order, but this w very com- 
mon virith the sacred penmen, and here 
the reaaon may have been, that the wri 
er wished to carry on the history of the 
grwl and prominent events of Abraham's 
life uninterrupted by minor details, till 
he had reached the consummation of 
Isaac's marriage. He then, before giv- 
iog an account of Abraham's death, and 
the settlement of his famUy, goes back, 
by way of brief preface* to the circum- 
stance of his having, some years before, 
. tak^n a concubine, by whom he had sev- 
eral children. This view of the mat- 
ter is still fartlier confirmed by the fact 
that Paul speaks of Abraham's begetting 
Isaac when he was as good as dead. 
The bifth of a son at such an advanced 
Sige was out of (he ordinary course of 
' nature ; it was nothing short of a mira- 
de. If then he had six sons bom to 
him after he was one handred and forty 
fe9M of fl^e, mast it not hare been in 
cwnaefiieaee.ef the miraado^i oontiAa- 

ance of his physical vigor ? For how 
could he be said to be the father of six 
children in the course of nature at one 
hundred and forty, when it is expressly 
said that Isaac was born to him out of 
the course of nature at one hundred 1 
For these reasons, we have little hesi- 
tation in supposing that the verse would 
be more correctly rendered, * And Abra- 
braham had taken in addition (another) 
wife, and her name was Keturah.' *It 
seems to us,' says the editor of the Fict 
Bible, * that the current usages of the 
East give great probability to this con- 
jecture, which is strengthened by con- 
sidering the great age of Abraham when 
Sarah died ; and that his sons by Keturah 
were old enough to be sent away to forai 
independent clans before his own death' 

2. And she bare him Zimran cmd Jok- 
ghan^ &G. Of some of these nations 
we have no further account in the sa* 
cred volume, and but very doubtful 
traces in profane history. From Medan 
descended the Medanites, Gen. 37. 36, 
(on which, see Note). They seem to 
have peopled that part of Arabia Petrtes 
contiguous to the land of Moab, east' 
ward of the Dead Sea. Jerome terms 
the people of this country Madkineans ; 
and Ptolemy mentions a people called 
MadianUeSf who dwelt in the same re- 
gion. From Midian came the Midion- 
ites, who soon after lapsed into idolatry, 
as is evident from the narrative contain- 
ed in Num. 25. From Shuah iMK>bably 
came Bildad, the Shuhite, Job, 2. II; 
and from Sheba, the Sabeaos mention- 
ed in the same book, ch. 1. 15, as the 
marauders who robbed Job of his ojsa 
and asses. 

3. The §ons of Dedan were As«ft«na, 
&c. As their tenns are plunU, if they 
are truly proper names, they most have 
been designed to denote <rt6es orfum 




5 f And ^ Abrsbam gave all that 
he had unto Isaac. 

9 But unto the sons of the con- 
cabines which Abraham had, Abra- 
ham gave gifts, and ° sent them 
away from uaac his son (while he 

»cli.34. 36. ech 31. 14. 

heg, and not individuaLt. But the an- 
cient versions vary from onrs. Onkelos 
interprets the words of persons dwelling 
mcampSf tentSft^nd islands ; and Jonathan 
ben Uzziel calls them merchants^ artijl- 
«w«, and heads or chiefs of peof^. 

5. Gave att that he had unto Isaac. 
Gave him the bulk, the principal part, 
of his possessions; not absolutely the 
whole, for we find it immediately said 
Aat he * gave gifts* to his other, sons. 
But as Isaac was the only son of Sarah, 
the free woman, and born according to 
promise, it was proper that he should 
be considered the legitimate heir, and 
inherit accordingly the substance of the 

6. The sons of the concubines. Tliat 
is, of Hagar and Keturah. Of course 
Ishmael was included, and we thus 
learn incidentally that he was not lost 
sight of by his father, who made a bet- 
ter provision for him than has yet ap- 
peared in the course of the narrative. 
With a view, no doubt, to preserve pence 
vnong his sons, Abraham distributed all 
his property in his lifetime, giving the 
greater portion of it to Isaac, and supply- 
ing the others with cattle and materials 
for a domestic establishment, with ad- 
vice to go and settle themselves eas^ 
ward in the Arabian desert. * The ar- 
nngement was, doubtless, satisfactory, 
to an parties ; for among the Bedouins of 
the present day, we observe that the 
son, although he treats his father with 
respect while in his tent, is anxious to 
Kt up an independent establishment of 
his own, and spares no exertion to at- 
tttn it ; * and when it is obtained,* says 
finrekhardt) *he listens to no advice, 
aor obeys any earthly command but 

yet lived) eastward, unto ^ the euit 

7 And these are the days of tiie 
years of Abraham's life whch be 
lived, an hnndred threescore and 
fifteen years. 

d Jiidg. 6. 3. 

that of his own will/ Though often to6 
proud tn ask for what his own arm may 
ultimately procure, he nsnally expects hhi 
father to make the offer of some cattle to 
enable him to begin life ; and the omission 
of it occasions deep disgust, and leads 
to quarrels in after-times, which form tb« 
worst feature of the Bedouin character. 
They have few children circumstanced 
like those of Abraham by his conca- 
bines ; but in other Asiatic nations, 
where parallel circumstances occur, the 
fathers provide for such sons much m 
the same way as Abraham, giving tbem 
some property proportioned to hiB 
means, with advice to go and settle at 
s^ime place distant from the family seat.* 
Pict. Bible. Allusion is probably made 
to these descendants of Abraham under 
the title of * children of the East ;* Judg 
6. 3, and also Job, 1. 3, where Job hhn* 
self, who may have descended from this 
stock, is called * the greatest of the peo- 
ple of the East.' 

7. These are Hie days of the years^ &c. 
A peculiar and impressive mode of com- • 
puting time, as if intended to intimate that 
we are creatures of a day, whose life is 
to be reckoned rather by • the inch of days 
than the ell of years. * Thus died this 
venerable patriarch, the father of the 
faithful, after having sojourned as a ! 
stranger and a pilgrim in the land of i 
promise one hundred years. From a ) 
comparison of dates, it appears that he j 
survived Shem twenty-five years ; his -^ 
father Terah, one hundred years ; and 
his wife Sarah, thirty-eight years ; that 
he lived after Isaac's marriage, thirty- 
five years ; and consequently saw Ms 
two grandsons, Jacob and E^n; and 
fina&y lintflhed hts eoune A. M. S188; 





[B. c. isas. 

•ter tii« flood, 587. His life, though 
•hotter by &r than that of any of liia il- 
histrioiw predeceflwn whose history has 
eome particularly under review, was 
yet much fuller of incidents and events. 
It was a hfe chequered with uncommon 
trials, and marked with blessings no less 
extraordinary ; a life distinguished by 
the most signal virtues, yet not wholly 
exempted from frailties and infirmities. 
His chiefest happiness consisted not in 
his being fiivored with a remarkable de- 
gree of worldly prosperity, and an un- 
usual term of years to enjoy it, but in 
the high distinction of being called *the 
firiend of God,* and made the depositary 
of a promise in which the whole world 
was to be blessed. The event of his 
decease is but briefly related. Doubt- 
less it would have been highly gratifying 
had the Spirit of God seen fit to have 
handed down to us some longer me- 
morial of the death of the eminent and 
fiir-iamed subject of our history. Most 
instructive would it have been to have 
•tood in imagination by the side of his dy- 
ing bed, and to have heard his assuran- 
ces of the mercy and faithfulness of Him 
in whom he had believed, and who had 
led him through the mazes of so long a 
pilgrimage. Nothing of this, however, 
has been vouchsafed us, and, except for 
the purpose of our gratification, nothing 
of it was needed. After such a life of faith 
and piety, there is little need of inquir- 
ing into the manner of his death. We 
know that it could not have been other- 
wise than full of peace and hope. From 
the earthly, he no doubt, looked believ^ 
ingly forward to the heavenly Canaan, 
the land of immortal rest, and thither, 
after a bug and honorable course below, 
we have every asfmrance that he was 

graciously received. Luke 16. 22. f 

Qixve up the ghost and died. Heb. 3)i:|i 
ra*^*! yigwi vayatnoth, expired and died ; 
or, breathed his last and died. Gr. 
nX((ircuv aire0ayey, faSing died; from 
which probably originated the expres- 
.Bon, inke 16. 9, * that when ye fcal 

{oikMenrt) diey may recMVe yon, 4ec.' 
The original term «p*^3 g*«»^ signifies 
■imply to cmaefnm. hreaOong^ to brwaike 
one* a lagt^ to expire. The word does not 
strictly signify to give up the souL in the 
modem sense of that phrase, any hi- 
ther than as it intpUee that he who diea 
yields back hi& soul to Him who gave it. 
Hence !^13 gavd^ to expire^ dififers from 
D173 mu/A, to die, in the simple fact that 
it presents one of the prominent pheno- 
mena attending death, viz. the sending 
forth the breath without inhaling it again. 
The Eng. word * ghost' is supposed to 
be derived from the Anglo-Saxon *■ gaat' 
an inmate, inhMtant, guest, and also 
spirit ; but in popular use it is now re- 
stricted to the latter meaning. But the 
primitive idea seems to be that ot'dis- 
missing the soul or spirit as the guest of 
the body. It is almost always rendered in 
our translation by * expire,' but the pre- 
sent version * giving up the ghost,* i. e. 
yielding up the spirit, is liable to no se- 
rious objection. IT In a good old age. 

Heb. }-Q1t3 rO'^TCn hesdxi iobah, in a 
good hoary age ; the idea of grey-headed 
age being prominent in the original 
term. This was according to promise. 
Upwards of four score years before this, 
the Lord addressed Abraham in vision. 
Gen. 15. 15, saying, * Thou shalt go to 
thy fathers in peace ; thou shalt be bu- 
ried in a good eld age.* In every thing, 
even in death, the promises were ful- 
filled to Abraham T FuU of days. 

Heb. simply y^to »abea, fuH Our 
translators have supplied the word years, 
but the original signifies/uS in the sense 
of satisfied, satiated, and may as well 
imply here /uK of blessings ai^ comforts. 
Targ. Jon. ^Saturated with all good.* 
The previous expressions would seem 
sufiicient to denote the fact of his lon- 
gevity. The present, we think, to be 
better understood of his having had 
in every respect, a satisfying experienceot 
life ; he had known both its good and 
its evil, its bitter and its sweet ; and h# 
now desired to hve no longer ; he wai 


a C; 1857.1 

- 8 Then Abnteu gave up the 
gfaoet, and * died in a grood old ajge^ 
an old man, and f oH cf ymn ; and 
' was gathered to hit people. 

O And V his sons Isaac and Ish- 
nrnel buried him in the caVe of 
Machpelah, in the field of Ephron 
the son of Zohar the Hittite, which 
is before Mamre ; 

*• ch. 15. 15. %^49. 39. rch.35.29. &49. 33. 
9 < h. 35 39 & SO. 13. . 



ready and anxious to depan. It 
to be a metaphor taken from a ^neat 
regaled by a plentiful banquet, who ris- 
es fifomtbe table MtmfiedmAf^. Thns 
Seneca, remarking in one of his epis' 
tlee, timt he bad lived long enongh, 
aays 'Mortem plenns expecto/ /<^9 *o- 

tisfied^ ItDttilfordmtk. IT Was ga&k- 

eredtnLupeiple, Heb. Tn?33> bfi^ tjDSfc*^ 
yeagqakeiammaxti was gathered tohv peo- 
pks ; i. e. to his fathers, as the promise 
stands. Gen. 15. 15. The phrase is fre- 
<|iiently understood as equivalent to <m«'« 
wfirit heijng gathered to the spirits of the 
Ueewed in another worM, but it is extreme- 
ly doubtful whether a strict philobgical 
iaduction.wiU warrant us in affixing to it 
any other sense than that of being add- 
ed to the number of the dead^ without any 
reference to the partieMlar state of de- 
puted souk. Moreover, as Abraham's 
ancestors were idolaters, the promise 
that his spirit should be gathered to 
theirs, would be one of very equivocal 

9. Hie sons buried him in the cave of 
Machpddh. Abraham, therefore, in pur- 
chasing a grave for Sarah, was merely 
fROviding a final resting-place for him- 
8^! How certain, and often how sod- 
den, the transition, from the funeral rites 
we prepare for others, to those which 
others prepare for us! Were we to 
leave out of view the spiritual and eter- 
nal blessings conferred upon Abraham, 
how hamble would be the conclusion of 
so grand a career. Virion upon vision, 
ooveaant upon eovanant, promise upon 

1« i^The fieM iidiieh Abraham 
purehaMd of the sons of Heth : 
> there was Abr^am boried, and 
Sanh hii wife. 

11 And it came to pass after the 
death of Abrahain« that God bless- 
ed his son isaae; and Isaac dwril 
by the ^ weH Lahai-roi. 

i> e}|. S3. 16. 
34. 6S. 

{Ch.49. 31. k eh. 18. 14.* 

promise, conducting only to a little cave 
in Hebron ! Bat from the divine deda* 
ralion uttered three hundred and thirty 
years after this event, * I am the God of 
Abraham,' it appears that his relation to , 
God was as entire at thai time, as at any 
fomner period in his whole life. * God 
is not the God of the dead, bat of the 
living ;' and the fiuthfal of aH past ages 
tive with God, and their dost is preeioits 
in his eyes, in whatever cavern of the 
earth or recess of the ocean ir may be 
depo8ited.->-From the circumstance of 
Isaac and bhmael being both present at 
the burial of their fiither, it is to be in- 
ferred that they were now living on 
amicable terms with each other as 
brethren. Though previously at va- 
riance, they now unite in sympathetic 
sorrow at the grave of Abraham. The 
latter must have been * a wild roan' in- 
deed not to have been tamed at least in- 
to a temporary tenderness by such an 
event. A wise providence oH/en works 
a forgetfulness of past resentments by 
the common calamities visited uponiami- 
lies and kindred. They tend to recon- 
cile the alienated, to extinguish bittef> 
ness and strife, to rekindle the dying 
embers of filial duty and bmtherly lore. 
Isaac and Ishmael, men of diflTerent na- 
tures, of opposite interests, rivals from 
the womb, forget all animosity, and min- 
gle tears over a (ather*s tomb. Let the 
lesson thus afibrded be carefully learn* 
ed by all who bear the firatemal relation* 
and let them be admonished to go and 
i do likewise. * Death brings thofif to|^ 



[B. C. 1823. 

12 IT Now tiiese tutt ^ geii«ra- 
tioDS of Ishmael, Abraham's son, 
iwhom Uagar the Egyptian, Sa* 
rah's handmaid, bare unto Abra- 

13 And ■" these are the names of 
the sons of Ishmael, by their names, 
according to their generations : the 
first-born of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and 
Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, 

icbap. 16. 15. B 1 Chron. 1. 29. 

ther who know not how to Meociate U>> 
gether on any other occasion, and will 
bring ue aH together, sooner or later.* 

11. Gfod UeMed Uaae, The death 
and burial of so great and good a man 
as Abraham mutt have made an im- 
presflkm upon survivors, bat it caused 
no interruption in the flow of the en- 
tailed and covenanted blessings of the 
God of Abraham. Isaac was heir to 
the promise, and the blessings and in- 
Aaenoes which had distinguished the 
father, re4ed on the son ; and this was a 
better legacy than if the patriarch had 
bequeathed to bim all the riches and 
honors of the worid. . It was, no doubt, 
in consequence of his connection with 
the covenant that he experienced so 
largely of the bounties and benefactions 
of heaven.-— -T Isaac dwAt &y the 
wbS Lakai-roL That is, he continued, 
after Abrahara*s death, to reside at the 
same place where he had fixed his hab> 
itatioo before. See on ch. 24. fiS. 

12. The$e are Ae generationg of Itk- 
mad. The historian having adverted to 
the blessing of God upon Isaac, here 
pauses before proceeding with the se- 
quel of his history, to show how ex- 
actly the promises made to Ishmael, ch. 
17. SO, were also fulfilled. His descend- 
ants, like those of Isaac, branched out 
into twelve tribes, and constituted the 
bulk of the population which spread 
over the Arabian peninsula. — An in 
teresting view of dieir history oonsid- 

14 And Mifllima, and Dumah, <} 
and Massa* "^ 

15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Na- ^ 
phish, and Kedemah : 

16 These are the sons of Ish- i 
mael, and these are their names, by 
their towns, and by their castles ; 7 
" twelve princes according to tlieir ' 
nations. ' 

»ch.l7.«0. '' 

ered in its connection with the ants> 
cedent prophecies, will be found in 
Forstor's ' Mahomeianism unveiled,' 
vol. I. p. 113—161. 

13. According to their genenfiem. 
That is, says Jarchi, arcordUng to the or- 
der of their birthe, which Rosenmuller 
pronounces the correct interpretation. 

16. Bff iheir tmtnu. Heb. tSH^'^Sm 
hekatzrehem^ Irif or in their villager. Both 
these terms, • town' and • village,* natu- 
rally convey to the reader the idea rath- 
er of European than of Asiatic modes 
of habitation, bnt the wantof appropriate 
terms in our langnage to answer to the 
original, renders this unavoidable. Mi- 
chaelis derives the word from an obso- 
lete Heb. root ^SH Aoteor, the Arabic 
equivalent of which haizara still exists, 
signifying to surround^ to encircle, to en- 
viron. From this radical meaning he 
deduces for the noun hatzar the sense 
of a portable village of the Nomadee, cm- 
eisting of tents placed in a cirde, usually 
denominated by the Tartar word horde, 
(Arab. Oordtt, Gr. ovoia, ourda), which 
was brought into Europe by the Mogul 
conquerors upwarcis of five centuries 
ago. The term occurs in the same 
sense and in respect to the same peo- 
ple. Is. 42. 11, 'Let the wilderness and 
the cities thereof lift up their voice, the 
tnZIo^es (Qn-)sn) that Kedar doth inhab- 
it :* where the villages appear to be some- 
thing different from the cities. Thus 
also. Josh. 13. 23, 28, where cities and 
adjacent viOages are attributed to the 


B. C* 1778.] 


17 Aod these «fv the years of 

the life of Ishmael : an buodred and 
thirty and seven years: and <>be 
gave ap the ghost and died, BJod was 
gathered unto his people. 

tribes of Reuben and Gad on the eaat 
of the Jordan, whose habits were pro- 
bobly, from their local simatkm, more 
Domsdic than those of their brethren in 
Canaan proper. It is natnral to suppose, 
however, that such villages or encamp- 
ments would, in process of time,- be 
transformed to more stable and fiied 
dwelling-^places, and it may be that 
the word in the present case is in' 
tended to be used in that sense.— < — IT 
By Iharcatttlat. Heb. m*T^Da betirolh. 
The precise distinction between the im- 
port of this term and the former is not 
easily ascertained. The primary sense 
of the root y\o toor is order^ regtHarity ; 
and though not used as a verb, yet as a 
noun it is employed to ngnify a row, 
range, orderlt/ dispoaition, 9» in Ex. 28. 
17, 18. 1 Kings, 6. 36. 2 Chron. 4. 3, 
13. The present term n*l'^l3 i*rah is 
usually rendered either castle or pal- 
acCf perhaps from the orderly row$ or 
tiers of stones of which such buildings 
were composed. Indeed, Farkhurst 
suggests very plausibly that both the 
£Qg. ' tier* and * tower' as well as the 
Lat ' tnrris,* are to be traced to this root 
as their origin. The Gr. renders it by 
travhi, which MichaeUs and Rosenmul- 
ler are inclined to interpret of stalls for 
catUe. But the leading usage of the 
original rather favors the sense of towers, 
ekadelt, or fortified places, although with- 
out a more accurate knowledge of the 
ancient civil life of the Ishmaelitish no- 
mades, we may be unable to define pre- 
cisely the class of buildings intended. 

^ Tweboe princes according to tkar 

natUms. That is, twelve chiefs or heads 
of tribes (Phylarchs) corresponding to the 
number of tribes. 
17- These are the years of the Itfe^&e. 

18 f And thejr dweK ttom Hvru 
lah unto Shnr, that it hefon JSgypt* 
as thoa goest toward Assyria : and 
be died « in tbe presence of idl bit 

PlSnm.15.7. «ich.]8.1S. 

This account of Ishfoaei's death, as wel 
as that of Abraham's above, is inserted 
by anticipation, in order that the sabae* 
qnent history of Isaac might not be in- 
terrupted. In point of fact, though the 
circumstance of his death is stated he- 
fore the birth of Jacob and Esau, yet it 
did not happen till aome yean after* 
rds. Abraham Kved tOl they were 
fifteen years old, and Ishmael till they 
were sixty-three. H]« death occurred 
A. M. 2231, 573 years after the fiood, 
48^ years after the death of Abraham, 
and when Isaac was 123. There is, 
perhaps, no good reason to doubt that 
Ishmael died in the liaith of his iather 
Abraham, and was received lo the 
same reward in another world. 
^ 18. And tiiey diwdt, Gr. MroMnrM, hs 
dweU ; as if the translators undemlood 
the term of Ishmael, but still taken col- 
lectively, as including his descendants. 
This is strictly according to the usna 
loquendi of the scriptures, and the ver- 
sion we regard as a good one. ^ They/ 
therefore, in this daure of the verse is, 
we conceive, perfectly equivalent to 
* he* in the subsequent one, on which 

see note below. ^ From HatOah un^ 

to Shur. There are undoubtedly diffep- 
ent countries referred to in scripture un- 
der the name of Havilah. See Note en 
Gen. 2, 11. The allusion here seems to 
be to a region lying on the west border 
of the Persian GuU; and the statement 
of the sacred writer is, that IshmaeFa 
descendants spread themselves over the 
tract extending from this region in the 
east, to the desert of Shur in the wett^ 
which was adjacent to the land of 

Egypt. Y He died in the presemce ef 

aU hit brethren. Heb. b&a naphal, he 
fdL As Ishmael's death has already 

Digitized by LjOOQIC 


[B. C. 1867. 

19 IT And fhe&e are thi» genera, 
ticms of Isaac, Abraham's eon: 
' Abraham begat Isaac : 

20 And Isaac was forty years 
old when he took Rebekah to wife, 
• the daughter of Bethuel the Syr- 

'Matt 13. •ch.33;33. 

been menlioned, and as the term * fall' 
10 seldom used in the Scriptures in ref- 
Sfence to 'dying,' except in cases of 
sudden and violent death, as where one 
* falls* in battle, the probabilitj is that it 
here signifies that his territory or pos- 
sesaons.^Z to him in the presence of 
his brethren, or immediately contiguous 
to their borders. Accordingly the Gr. 
and the Chal. both render it, * And he 
dteeU before his brethren ;* evidently re- 
garding it as the fulfilment of the prom- 
ise, ch. 16. 1% * And he thall dwell in the 
fMresence of his brethren.* Moreover, 
as tribes and nations are often called 
by the names of their individual found- 
ers, as Lnrael, Moab, Midian, &c., and 
•s the rest of the verse speaks solely of 
the posterity of Ishmael, we doubt not 
that 'he' is a collective term, referring 
Bot to Ishmael personally, but to the 
body of his descendants. We would 
therefore render the clause, ' They fell 
(i. e. their lot or inheritance /eZI to them) 
in the presence of all their brethren.' 
A similar usage of the term occurs 
Num. 34.2, *This is the land that shall 
fidl unto you for an inheritance.' Josh. 
23. 4, * Behold I have divided unto you 
hy lei these nations that remain ;' Heb. 
'•I have caused to fall unto you.* P^. 
78. 55, ^Divided them an inheritance.' 
Pi. 16. 6, • The hues are fallen unto me 
in pleasant places, and I have a goodly 
heritage.' If the passage be taken lite- 
rally as it reads, it is difficult to under- 
stand what is meant by his ' dying in the 
presence of all his brethren' 'Breth- 
ren' must be taken in the wide sense of 
kindred or relatives in general, for he 
hpd bat one brother strictly so called. 

tan of Padftn-aram, * the sster to 
Laban the Sjrrian. 

21 And Isaac entreated theLosD 
for hiswifc, because she was barren : 
" and the Lord was entreated of him, 
and " Rebekah his wife conceived. 

« ch. 34. 29. « 1 Chron. 5. 20. 2 Cbron. 33. 
re. Rzra 8. 23. w Rom. 9. 10. 

and if it indude the general stock of hii 
kindred, how can we suppose that they 
were all eonvened from distant regions 
on this occasion ? — especially as it was 
predicted that he and they should sus- 
tain a hostile relation to each other. 

19. Arid thege are the generaiiem^ &c. 
That is, not only the history of his off- 
spring, the genealogy of his descendants, 
but also of the leading occurrences and 
events that happened to him in the 
course of hia life. — See Note on Gen. 2. 
4. It is a kind of inscription or tide to 
the whole narrative, which runs on ffom 
this place to the end of ch. 35. 

21. T^aac entreated the Lord for his 
wife, &c. The history having now re- 
turned to the son of promise, weshoold 
suppose, from tlie situation in which we 
left htm, V. 11, that nothin;^ was WBn^ 
ing to complete his earthly felicity. We 
should, at any rate, have supposed, that 
as the promise respected principally the 
multiplication of his seed, the great num- 
ber of his children would have made s 
prominent part of his history. But 
God's thoughts are not as our thoughti, 
nor his ways as our ways. Though 
now possessed of the bulk of his father's 
property, confirmed by God as the sole 
and undisputed heir of the covenant 
promise, and enjoying with Rebekah all 
the tender endearments of the roost hal- 
lowed union — ^yet one thing was want- 
ing, in the lack of which, his conjugal 
and domcijtic bliss still left hie mind a 
prey to corroding anxieties. His wife 
was barren, and he was childless. 
While Alnraham's other sons abounded 
in children, he whose seed was to be as 
the stars of heaven for muldtade, is 


B.tX ISaB.| 


3S And tfa« tMdraii i^ng^M 
together withta her : nlid iihe said. 

without the prospect of an heir. Though 
he had been now nmted to Rehekah for 
twenty yean, yet no token* of ap- 
proaching paternity cheer hie heart. 
The child of promiae oontinnes to be 
denied. In tkia manner Hod had helbte 
tried hie fittiier Abmham i and ff he be 
heir to^ hie btaaaingm he -mnst expect 

. to hiherit » portkm of his triak. Yet 
we do not find that in tine emergency 

! he had reoonrae like Abraham in nfn- 
ilar cirennKtancee, to any e«ooked poli- 

. cy, to any donbtfal Expedient. He 
looks for relief to that sonrce onty 
whore hef wai nccortomed to seek and 

' to find the care or the sofatoe ef all 
his iSs. *He entreated the Lofd for 
his wife;' ^r rather as the Heb. ex- 
presses h iVWV( nS^y lenokak igkta, 
before hu wift : i. e. in her i^reaence ; 
united with her in joint supplication. 
* Under MMttlar rircaiBstancetf, the hus- 
band and the wife fast and pmy, and 
make a vow before the temple, that, 
f4u>uld their dente be granted, they will 
make certain gifte, (specifying theiT 
kind,) or they will repair die wa%, or 
add a new wing to the temple; orihat 
the chUd shall be -dedicated to the deity 
of the place, and be called by tlie same 
name. Or they go to a distant temple 
which has obtained notoriety by grant- 
ing the farors they require. I have 
heard of hnsbandsand wives remaining 
for a year together at aach places, to 
liain the <ie«trv of their hearts ]-^RoberU. 

IT The Lord was entreated qf hm. 

*Ile asked a child, and his prayer is 
aniwered by the gift of two sons, and 
thus Providence, often slower than 
our "Wishes, frequency compensates 
that delay by greatly ootdoing our re- 
qneats and ex^iefMatkmsr.*— Hiunfer. 

22. Tftc children ttmggled together xmOi- 
m fter. Heb. T»2*in"1 yithrotaxizu, 
brmted fhtrntdvea hy ^trug^ing. The 
Vol. II. 6 

If it ^msyrhymnlthw^ 'And 
■he went to inquire of the Losix 
X 1 earn. 9. 9. fc n. n. 

original tenn, which is very strong, it 
employed to signify a etofen^ cotutu^ 
sim, or Cle imfmging of one Omg 
agmntl enoAer. She was oonsciona of 
extraordinary and painfal sensations 
during her pregnancy, as if her chiMren 
w ei e wresding wirhm her. The cir- 
eumatance filled her mind with perplexi- 
ty, and prompted the exclamation and 
the inquiry immediately spoken of. 
The incident was no donbt supernatural, 
and intended to pre-intiniate the future 
strife and variance that should subsist 
betwe<Bn the respective Knes destined to 
descend from these two unborn children. 
* She is no less troubled with the strife 
of the children in her womb, than be- 
fore with the want of children. We 
know not when we are pleased: that 
which we deshe,ofttimes discontents us 
more in the fruition: we are ready to 
complain both full and fasting : before 
Rebecca conceived, she was at ease: 
before spiritual regeneration, there is 
all peace in the soul : no sooner is thei 
new man formed in trs, but the flesh con- 
flicts wilh the spirit. There is no grace 
Where is no unquielness. Esau alone 
wonfd not have striven: nature will 
ever agree with itself. Never any Re- 
becca conceived only an Esau ; Cff was 
^o happy as to conceive none but a Ja- 
cob : she must be the mother of both, 
that she may have both joy and exer- 
cise. This strife began eariyj every 
true Israelite begins war with his be- 
ing. How many actions, which we 
know not of, are not without pre- 
sage and signification !* — Bishop HaU. 

IT If it his so, why am I thus ? Heb. 

^!D3» nt nfzb *ptiHvnJcen lamnuih zek 
anoJdj if so, wherefore this to me? the 
mesening of which perhaps is, If it be 
so that God hath heard our prayers, 
why am I iii this painful condition? 
Why have I conceived, if such strange 





. 93 And the Ii«D said unto lier, 
7 Two nations are in thy womls 
and two manner of people shall be 
separated from thy bowels: and 

7Ch. 17. 16. «c94.fl0.' 

»lke ang people shall be a l ro n ger 
than ih€ other people; a^d ^the 
elder shall serve the yoonger. • 

> 2 Sam. 8. 14. ■ eh. 37. S9. MaL 1. 3. Rom. 

9. n. 

tenafttions be the result 7 The paBsage, 
however, is exceedingly obscure, nor 
do we obtain much light from the an- 
cient versions. The Gr. has, *Ifk 
I shall be so with me, why is this 'unto 
me ?' Chal. * If it was to be so, why 
did I conceive ?' Arab. * If I had known 
that the thing would be so, I would not 
have requested it !* Vulg. 'If it should 
be so with me, what need was there to 

conceive ?* IT She went to mjuire of 

Ifte Lord. There are very different opin- 
ions as to the fnanner in which she made 
this inquiry. Some think it was simply 
by secret prayer ; but the phrase to in- 
guin of the Lord, in general usage signi- 
fies more than praying, and irom its being 
said that she toerU to inquire, it is more 
probable tliat she resorted to some estab- 
lished place, or some qualified person for 
the purpose of consultation. We are told, 
1 Sam. 9. 9, that * Beforetime in Israel 
when a man went to inquire of God, thus 
lie spake. Come and let us go to the seer ; 
for he that is now called a prophet, was 
beforetime called a seer.* As Abraham 
was now Uving, and no doubt sustained 
the character of a prophet. Gen. 20. 7, 
she may have gone to him, and inquir- 
ed of the Lord through his means. The 
Rabbinical writers, as usual, abound' 
with fanciful conceits on this subject, 
but they are not of sufficient importance 
to deserve recital ; nor can any thing 
beyond conjecture be advanced upon 
the passage. 

S3. TiDo natunu are in thy womh. In 
what particular manner the response 
was made to her inquiry, we are not 
informed, any more thin how the in- 
quiry itself was proposed ; but the pur- 
port of it was, that two nations, i. e. the 
founders of two nations^were in her 
womb, and leaviqg her to infor that the 

intestine strife which caused her pain 
and perplexity, was a pre-intiroation of 
the oontinned hostility that should snbaiat 
between their reapeetive poetsritiea. 

f Shan he e^pamled from ihf Vom^ 

ele. Heb. 11^5*^ yippandu^ that ia, 
shall be eigpftratid from eat^ other from 
the time of their birth. The sense or- 
dinarDypiit upon the words, is dtat of 
ieeuiatg from the womb. But this is nn- 
doubtedly incorrect, as the original is 
never used to signify that kind oipkyei' 
oaX eeparation implied in the removal of 
the child from the forming receptacle in 
which it had repotfed before birth. It 
properly denotes eepanUwn in the senaa 
of partings ewnderimg^ and thence of <iis- 
pereimg or sootfm/ig, as may be s%en 
(torn the fottowiag examples, whieh ex- 
hibit its prevaiUng use ; 2 Sam. 1. 23, 
'Saul and Jonathan were lovely and 
pleasant in their Uvea, and in their death 
they vfere not dimaed OTtS*^)-' IVov. 
19. 4i * Wealth maketh maqy frienda, 
but the poor is eoparated ("i^HQ^) from 
his neighbor.* Neh. 4. 19, * The work is 
great and hirge, and we are eeparaied 
CQ^n^M) upon the wall.' Gen. 10 
5, * By these-were the isles of the Gen- 
tiles divided {rV^^) in their lande«>' 

f TVie one people ehaU he elromger^ 

&c. The two people or nations intend- 
ed were the Israelites and Edomitea^ 
and nothing is dearer from history than 
that these races were not only diSerent 
in their dispositions, manners, cnetonui, 
and religion, but that after a long contaa 
of hostilities, the seed of Isaac obtained 
the ascendancy, and reduced the Edom- 
ites to complete subjection. See the de- 
tails of their history, as drawn oot in 
* Newton on the Ptophecies.'— ^»f 7^ 
dder shall serve the younger. That is, 
shall be subject ta Heb. '^nans ^l^yn ^*) 


B. C. 18SB.1 


24 IT And when her days to he 
delivered were fulfilled, behold there 
were twins in her woml). 

25 And the first came oat red, 
i>a]l over like an hairy garment: 
and they called his name Esau. 

20 And after that came his broth- 
er out, and " his hand took hold cm 

k elk S7. 11,1ft, 33. « Hot. ISL 3. 

ra6 jfoabod tzair^ (he great ihaU serve the 
litde. That is, the greater in dignity ; 
wrhidi waa a distinction pertaining to the 
elder on the ground of the birthright. It 
ia, however, constantly to be borne in 
nind, that what is here said of the chi1> 
drain, refers not so much to Jacob and 
Esau persanaUy^ as to their posterity, 
although in the former sense it still 
holds trae.— The Heb. ni rab is the 
root fiom wliich comes RiMij the Jew- 
ish term for great men and masters. 

25. Thefrst came out red. Heb.nj^aTi* 
odflMMit, rubicund or ruddy, a word of the 
same origin with Edom (Qix)« another 
appellation by which Esau was called. 
It elsewhere occurs only twice, 1 Sam. 
16. 12, and 17. 42, in both which cases 
it is spoken of the florid complexion of 
JDaind, and is translated ruddy. But 
here it is undoubtedly a term rather of 
repnmch than of commendation, and ap- 
plied to Esau to denote iheferce, cruel, 
vAsangumary disposition by which he 
and hia posterity should be character- 
iied. In proof of this, see Gen. 27. 40, 
41. Obad. 1. 10. Ezek. 25. ]2. Thus 
the cruel persecuting dragon of the 

j Apoealypae, Rev. 12. 3, is depicted of a 
red color, for ths same reason.—^ — IT AU 

[ over like an hairy garment. Heb ib^ 
IJWJ in^YTfib A**^ headdereth sear^ aU of 
kiM as a mande of hair. Gr. * Wholly 
like a rough hide.* Vulg. * A.U hairy or 
shaggy in manner of a «kia.' Chal. * As 
a bristly garment* Thus denoting his 
strong, rough, flerce, and uncultivated 
character, with perhaps a secondary al- 
lusion to his licentious temperament. 
From the epithet ^y^ sear, hairy or 

Eaan's heel; and 'hW fiame wu 
called Jacob : and Isaac was three- 
score years old when she bare them. 
27 And the boys grew: and 
Esaa was ' a canning hunter, a man 
of the field ; and Jacob uhis ^ a phun 
man ' dwelling in tents. 

«ch.9T. 38. •ch.27.3,.'?. fJobl.l,&* 
3. Ps.37.37. cHebr. U.9. 

shaggy, is deriTed the name of the prin- 
cipal range of monntams, Mt. Seir, lying 

in his territory Mai. 1. 3. 1 They 

caBed his name Esau. Heb. *\KD^ eeav, 
which the Jewish commentators Inter- 
pret by made, made up, perfected, i. e. 
not having a soft, smooth skm like other 
infants, but covered with hair like a ftiO- 
grown man; indicating the possession 
of a constitutional vigor entirely out of 
the common course of naturo. Others, 
however, -With great probability think 
Esau to be a dialectical variation from 
the Arabic /oot y^T\9 oiha, to be covered 
with hair, whence "^r^^M athai, hairy. 
The true etymology cannot perhaps Im 
definitively settled. 

Hie name woe oaUed Jacob, Heb. 
np!^*^ yaakob, heduM hold by ike ^M^ 
from :3p:p ahah, to mppZonl, to trip up 
the beds, to throw down by tripping up 
the beds, and thence metaphorically 
to deceive, to defraud. The name waa 
giv^n to Jacob because it was found 
that he had at birth laid hold on hia 
brother's heel, an act emblematical of 
his subsequently supplanting and db- 
frauding him in the matter of the birth- 

87. A cunning hunter. Heb. ^'^ IDH 
T^2Z ifh yodeatzayidfO manknowinghuMt' 
ing; i. e. skilled or expert in hunting. 

IT A man of the fidd. Addicted ti> 

ranging the field. IT A plain man 

dwelling in tents. Heb. tin W^ «* 
tarn, literally a perfect or upright man ; 
but in what sense precisely the epithet 
is to be understood in this connection, 
is not obvious. The ancient veraioiia, 
most of them, especially the ChaL, 1^ 



[B. C. 1838. 

^SfTn vn^tk^e Arab^adheM ta the prim- 
iAve MOM of the term ae given above, 
hut the Gr. has rendered it by avXav 
rof, guUdesSj and the Vulg. by simplex^ 
fiom which comes our tranelBtion /^in. 
But this is a v^ry ambiguous term 
* Plain/ in one of its senMs, is opposed 
to splendid, sumptuous, extravagant; 
but this caa hardly be its import here, 
as in this particular there can be little 
doubt that the two brothers were very 
much upon a level. The state of soci- 
ety in those primitive ages would not 
aUow of any marked difference in their 
modes of living in this respect. Again, 
that it is a term descriptive of moral 
i^aracter, implying that high degree of 
gincer'ay, ttprighinesa^ and integrity which 
is predicated in the xvvrd perfect of Noah, 
Job, and others, is not very easily con- 
ceivable, while so much evidence to the 
contrary is aflfurded in regard to Jacob 
by the sequel of the narrative. Per- 
haps the most probable supposition is 
that it refers not to moral ^wdities, but 
to native difposiUoH, temperament^ or prt' 
dUectitm as to a particular mode of life, 
and that- Jacob is here called a * plain 
man/ notes plainness is opposed to sulh 
flefy in general, in which he seems to have 
beenasmucbanadeptashis brother, but 
as opposed to Esau's skill, cunning, or 
dexterity in hunting, a pursuit to which 
Jacob was habitually or constitutio^IIy 
averse, preferring the more calm and 
quiet occupations of the pastoral life. 
— — T Dwelling in tents. It would, per- 
haps, be too much to infer from this that 
Esau did not dwell at fdl in tents ; but 
as Jacob followed the occupation of 
a shepherd, and as the pastoral life was 
necessarily in those regions nomadic or 
■ligratory, this would naturally lead to 
his Kving more emphatically in tents, 
as a needful appendage to his pursuits 
as a shepherd. * The use of tents pro- 
bably arose at first out of the exigencies 
of pastoral life, which rendered it ne- 
cessary that men removing from one 
^oe to another in March of pasture 

should have a portable habitati0n. Ac- 
cordiu^y we find that the first mention 
of tents is connected with the keeping 
of cattle (ch. 4. 20), and to this day 
tents remain the exclusive residence of 
only pastoral people. Portability is not 
the only recommendation of tents to the 
nomade tribes of the East ; the belter 
which they offer in the worm hat de- 
licious climates of Weetem A«ia is posi- 
tive enjoyment. Shelter from the sun 
is all that is needful : and this a tent 
sufficiently affords, without exclndii^ 
the balmy and delicate external flir, the 
dompftrative exclusion of which renden 
the finest houM detestable to one ae- 
cnstomed to a residence in tents. The 
advantage of tents in this respect is so 
well understood even by the inhabtmnts 
of townsy that in many places, those 
whose circumstances admit it, endeavor 
so far as possible, to occupy tents dW' 
ing the summer months. This was the 
constant practice of the late king of 
Persia, who every year left his capitsi 
with all the nobles, and more than half 
the inhabitants, to encamp in the plain 
of Sultanieh. Many of the prinoas, his 
sons, did the same in thejr several pio- 
vinces ; and the practice is an old one 
in Persia. It is true that tonta would 
seem to be rather cheerless abodes in 
the winter ; but it is to be recoHeeted 
that the nomades have generally the 
power of changing the climate with tiie 
season. In winter the Bedouins plunge 
into the heart of the Desert, and others 
descend, in the same season, from the 
mountainous and high lands, where they 
had enjoyed comparative oodnets in 
summer, to the geniaf winter climate ot 
the low valleys and plains, wluch in the 
summer had been too warm. It is im- 
possible to ascertain with inreoision the 
construction and appearance of the pe- 
triarchnl tents; but we shall not pro- 
bably be far from the truth, if we con- 
sider the present Arab tent a» aflbrding 
the nearest existing appronmalion to 
the ancient model. The common Amb 


B. c. i«8ro 

CUAFraR xxv. 

28 ADd I«aae loved BMra,bec8«ie 
he did ^eat of kU venieoii: * but 
Rebekah loved J acob. 

keb. 37.19,25,31. >ch.37.& 

tent is gvneraUy of an oblong figure, va- 
rying in SIM according to the wants or 
rank of the owner, and its general shape 
not amiptly compared by Sallust, and 
after him Dr. Shaw, to the hull of a ship 
turned npside down. A length of from 
25 to 30 feet, by a depth or breadth not 
exceeding 10 feet, form the dimensions 
of a rather large ihmily tent ; but there 
are many larger. The extreme height — 
that is, the height of the pole^^ which 
are made higher than the others in order 
to give a slope to throw .off the rain 
fiom the roof— varies from 7 to 10 feet : 
bat the height of the side parts seldom 
exceeds 5 or 6 feet The most usual 
sized tent has 9 poles, three in the mid- 
dle, and three on each side. The cover- 
ing of the tent among the Arabs is usu- 
ally black goats*-hair, so completely 
woven, as to be impervious to the hea- 
viest rain; but the side coverings are 
often of coarse wool. Tliese tent-cov- 
erings are t-pun and woven at home by 
the women, unless the tribe has not 
goats enough to supply its own demand 
for goats'-hair, when the stuff' is bought 
from those better furnished. The front 
of the tent is uRuaHy kept open, except 
in winter, and the back and side hang- 
ings or coverings are so managed, that 
the ahr can be admitted in any direction, 
or exdnded at pleasure. The tents ore 
kept stretched in the usual way by cords, 
iastened at ono end to the poles, and nt 
the other to pins driven into the ground 
at the distance of three or tour paces 
from the tent. The interior is divided 
into two apartments, by a curtain hung 
ttp agamst the middle poles of the tent. 
This partition is usually of white wool- 
en smff, sometimes interwoven with 
patterns of flowers. One of these is 
for the men, and the other for the wo- 
men. In the former, the ground is usu- 


29 T And Jaeob md 
and Bsaa came from the 
he toag faint 

ally covered with earpeta or mata, and 
the wheat-sacks and camal-baga are 
heaped up in it, aroand the middle poat, 
like n pyramid, at Che bnse of which, or 
towards the back of the tent, are a»* 
ranged the camels* pack-saddlea, againat 
which the men recline as they sit on tb« 
ground . The woroen*s apartment is leas 
neat, being encumbered with all tha 
lumber of the tent, the water and bat» 
ter skins, the culinary utennla, Ae. 
Some tents of great peo{rfe are aqu«re, 
perhaps 30 feet square, with a propor- 
tionate increase in the number of polea, 
while others are so small aa to requim 
but one pole to support the centre. The 
principal differences are in the skipe of 
the roof, and in the part for entnnea^ 
When the tent is oblong, the front is 
sometimes one of the broad, and at oth- 
er times one of the narrow, sides of the 
tent. We suspect this difference de- 
pends on the seastm of the year or the 
character of the locality, but we cannot 
speak with certainty on this poiiii. 
Some further information concerning 
tents has been given in previous notes, 
and other tents and huts will hereafter 
be noticed. It will be observed, that tke 
tent covering among the Arabs is nan- 
ally black ; but it seems that they aae 
sometimes brown, and occacsionally strip- 
ed white and biack. . Black teatfi seen 
to have prevailed among the Arabs from 
the earliest times.' — Picl, Bibk. 

2S. iMiHc loved Esau, because^ SbC. 
This partiality of Isaac towards Esau, 
efipecially considering the grounds of it, 
was not only a weakness wholly unwor- 
thy of him, bat the prolific source ef 
most of the troubles which afterwards 
arose to disquiet the family of the pa- 
triarch. The mischief was increased 
by Rebekoh's having her favorite also ; 
although the reasons of her preference 




90 And Esati said to Jacob, Feed 
Bie» I prky thee* with that eamared 

•re not stated. Perhaps her affections 
centered more upon Jacob, becaose 
was the youngepr, more deUcate, more 
plaeid, and of a more domestic torn. 
Or it. may be that her fondness was di- 
lectad by the prophecies which had 
gone before upon him, marking him out 
as the one more favored of hearen. 
Bat, whatever may be said of the res- 
pective grounds of these parental prefer- 
ences, it is clear from the sequel that 
nothing could be more unhappy than 
the consequences to which they led. 
The distresses which embittered the re- 
mainder o£ Isaac's life are to be traced 
direody to this source ; teaching us by 
an impressive example, the lesson which 
all parents may expect to leam from the 
ezMbition of a similar weakness. 'A 
distinction among children* whil^ it sows 
die seeds of discord between the heads 
otf die household themselves, produces 
effects upon its objects equaHy disas- 
trous. It kindles the flames of jealousy 
and Eesentment between brottiers and 
' sisters, and renders the heart, which 
ahoold be the seat of every gende and 
kindly emotion, the habitation of anger, 
malice, and revenge ; and if such bale- 
iul passions do not break out into deeds 
4>f violence and blood, it will be simply 
because a kind providence in some way 
interposes, and spares those that have 
■own the wind from reaping the whirl- 
wind. Let these considerations haye 
their due weight with those who stand 
in this dehcat« and responsible relation. 
Let the principles of equity combine 
with the dictates of nature to forbid an 
tmeqoal distribution of parental favors 
or aiSections. It may not perhaps be 
always possible to suppress the/ee2mg 
of pro£»rence, but the expretaion of it, 
at least, is in our power ; and as we val- 
ue the peace and happtnest. of the do- 
mestic circle, as weH as the rea2 ^ood of 
the object of our partiality, we shall ttu- 

jmMb«; ht X am faiDt: therefore 
was nis name called Edom. 

dioody av^ betraying it either by 

word or deed. i Because he did eat 

of hie venitoTL Heb- I^Bi *PS '^3 hi 
tzayid hephto, becauee his venison tbas in 
his month. Gr. * His wild game was his 
food.* The original denotes not merely 
the flesh of the deer as among ns, but 
any kind of game taken in hun^ng ; and 
the import of the expression * was in his 
mouth' is, that it was agreeable to his 
taste. This phraseology, it seems, it 
not unknown elsewhere in the EaSt. 
* Has a man been supported by another, 
and is it asked, * Why does ICandan love 
Muttoo?* the reply is, 'Because Mut- 
too's rice is in his mouth.* * Why hive 
you such a regard for that man T — ^"Is 
not his rice in my mouth?* — Ri^erts. 
But how humiliating the reason' assign- 
ed for Isaac's preference of his elder 
son! By what grovelling and unwor- 
thy motives are wise and good men 
sometimes actuated ! How mortifying 
a view of human nature to see prudence, 
justice, and piety controlled by one of 
the lowest and grossest of our appetites ! 

29. Jacob sod pottage. * Sod* is the 
past tense of ^seethe,* to hail. The 
word rendered pottage signifies a £sh 
made by boiling. See farther of this 
dish in the subsequent note. 

30. Feed me. Heb. n^U'^^bn haUteni, 
let me have a draught ; a word occurring 
nowhere else in the Bible, and evident- 
ly implying that the di&h was served up 
in a Uquid form. * The people of the 
East are exceecTingly fond of pottage^ 
which they call Kotol. It is something 
like gruel, and is made of various kinds 
of grain, which are first beaten in a 
mortar. The red pottage is made of 
Kurakan, and other grains, bot » not 
superior to the other. For such a con- 
temptible mess, then, did Esau sell his 
birthright. When a man has sold his 
fields or gardens for an insignificant sum, 
the peo^e say *The fellow baa aotd Ilia 


B. c. tm.] 


31 And Jftcob said, 8^ me tins 
day thy birthright 

32 And Bsau said. Behold, I 

land hr pottage.* Does a father give hi^ 
daughter in marriage to a loiv caste man, 
it is olwerved, • He has giten her for 
pottage* Doei> a person by bese means 
seek for some paltry enjoyment, it is 
said, •For one leaf (i. e., leaf-ftil) of pet- 
tage, he wiQ do nine days' work/ Has 
s learned man stooped fo any thing which 
was not expected from him, it is said, 
'The learned, one has Men into the 
pottage pot.* Has he given instraction 
or advice to others — * The lizard which 
gave warning to Che people, has faHen 
into the pottage potJ" *Of a man in great 
poverty, it is remarked, * Alas ! he can- 
not get /wtfa^c' A beggar asks, 'Sir, 
win you give me a little pottage V Does 
a man seek to acquire large things by 
small means — ' He is trying to procure 
rubles by pUiage." When a person 
greatly flatters another, it is common to 
Bay, * He juraises him only for his pot- 
tage* Does a king greatly oppress his 
subjects, it is said, * He only governs for 
\aB pottage* Has an individual lost 
much money by trade—* The specula- 
tion has broken his pottage pU* Does 
a rich man threaten to ruin a poor man, 
the latter will ask, 'Will' the lightning 

strike my pottage pot T Roberts.- 1 

WUh that same red pottage. Heb. yz 
filStfl Dlb^n Tnin hatutom, haadom^ of or 
from ike red, that red. The repedtion of 
the epithet and the omission of the sub- 
stantive, indicated the extreme haste 
and eagerness of the asker. His eye 
W9a caught by the color and lusdous ap- 
pearance of the dish, and being faint 
with hunger and fatigue, he gave way 
to the solicitations of appetite, regardless 
of consequences. * The t^^^* edom, or 
redpottage, was prepared, we learn from 
this chapter, by seething lentils Q^lDl^ 
adaihwi in water ; and subsequently, as 
we may guess, from ft practice which 
prevails in many countries, additig a lit- 

mn at tiie point to die: and what 
pr[>fit shall tins birthright do to 

tie mantecaj or snet, to give them a fla> 
vor. The writer of these observations 
has often partaken of this self-same 'red 
pottage,* served up in the manner juat 
described, and found it better food than 
a stranger would be apt to imagine. 
The mess had the redness which gained 
fur it the name of edom ; and which, 
through the singular circumstance of a - 
son selling his birthright to satisfy the 
cravings of a pressing appetite, it impart- 
ed to the posterity of Esau in the people . 
of E^om. The lentil (or Lens esmlen-'a of 
some writers, and the Eroum lens of 
Linn^us) belongs to the leguminous or 
podded family'. The stem is branched, 
and the leaves consist of about eight 
pairs of smaller leaflets. The flowen 
are small, and with the upper division 
of the flower prettily veined. The poAi 
contain about two seeds, which -^vaapy 
from a tawny red to a black. It deligfete 
in a dry, warm, sandy soil. Three ta- 
rieties are cultivated in France — *• smal} 
brown,' 'yellowish,* and the 'lentiJ of 
Provence.* In the former country th«y 
are dressed and eaten during Lent as a 
haricot ; in Syria they are ijsed as food 
after they have undergone the simpte 
process of being parched' in a pan at€r 

the fire.'— P/«<. Bi&fe. ^ Tkeh^fm: 

was his name called Edom. Tliat ia, red. 
That another reason eiisterf for his b»- 
ing so called, viz. the peculiar cast of 
his complexion or skin ot birth, appmre 
from V, 25 ; but the epithet aicquansd a 
new significancy from the eircuraslanee 
here recorded, and was in (act «ppK«*d 
to him as a tnemorial of hrs inordimtte 
craving iix the matter of the rtti potttige, 
under the promptings of which he w«b 
induced to sell his birthright. 

31. SdlmethisdaythyhitlhrigM. That 
is, the right of primogenitore, th# pm- 
rogatives of which were very impot^ 
taut, although the attempts of thb leflMr 


« G£NK»f». 

[B. C. 1637. 

•d lo dftfDC th«m with absulate precii* 
ion faftve not been saccescful. The fol- 
lowing ve naoally enumerated as tlie 
pffinei|Ml prhrOegea which constitated 
the diatinction of the first-born : (1) They 
were pecutiarly given and conaecrated 
fo God, Ex. 23. 29 ; (2) they stood next 
in honor to tlieir parents. Gen. 49. 3 ; 
^3) had a double portion in the paternal 
iDherilance, Deut. 21.17; (4) succeed- 
ed in the guvemment of the iamily or 
kingdom, 2 Chron. 21. 3; and, (5) were 
honored with the office of priesthood, 
iod the administration of the public 
wofshipofGod. The phrase * first-bom,' 
therelbre, was used to denote one who 
was peculiariy near and dear to his 
Ihther, Ex. 4. 22, and higher than his 
brethren, Ps. 89. 28; and typically 
pointed to Christ, and to all true Christ- 
tans, who are joint heirs with him, to an 
•lenial inheritance, and constitute the 
fint^kom whose names are written in 
hesTwi. Heb. 12.23. *It should be 
understood, that previously to the es- 
taUiahment of a priesthood under the 
Law of Moses, the first-bom had not 
only a preference in the secular iiiherit- 
•noe, but sncoeeded exclusively to the 
prieetly functions which had belonged 
to his father, in leading the religious ob- 
serraneos of the family, and performing 
the simple religious rites of these 
•petriarchal times. The secular part of 
the birthright entitled the first-born to a 
* doable portion* of the inheritance; 
but wntera are divided in opinion as to 
the proportion of this double share. 
Some think that he bad one-half, and 
that the rest was equally divided among 
the other sons; but a careful coiisidera- 
taon of Gen. 47. 5—22, in which we see 
that Jaeob transfers the privilege of the 
fint-born to Joseph, and that this privi- 
lege oonaieted in bis having one share 
more than any of his brethren, inclines 
OS to the opinion of the Rabbins, that 
the first-bom had merely twice as much 
aa any other of his brethren. It is cer- 
tainly peesible, but not very likely, that 

in the eneiyency, Esan bartered all 
his birthright for a mess of pottage; 
but it seems more probable that Esaa 
did not properly appreciate the value of 
the sacerdotal port of his birthright, and 
therefore readily transferred it to Jacob 
for a trifling present advantage. This 
view of the matter seems to be confirm- 
ed by St. Paul,, who calls Esau a * pro- 
fane person* for his conduct on this oc- 
casion ; and it is rather for despising his 
spiritual than his temporal privileges, 
that he seems to be liable to such an 
imputation.* — Picl. BUbiUt, 
32. Behold^ I am at the poini to dk. 

mTab nbnn '^'sivf, •ntid holds hmutk,! 

am going (or vxtthng) to die; i. e. I am 
daily exposed to die; liable to be cut 
off hi consequence of my precarious 
mode of life, and nt best have but a 
short time to live. Tliis was doubtless 
his meaning, and not that he should noxv 
die of hunger unless be ate of the pot- 
tage ; for it is not conceivable but that 
in the house of Isaac there either was, 
or might easily be procured, something 
to satisfy the cravings of nature. But 
men seldom abstain from any thing they 
are anxious to do, for want of some ex- 
cuse on the ground of expediency or 
necessity to justify it. So it was 
with Esau. He was eager for the food, 
and, under the pressure of hnnger, was 
willing to part with his birthright to ob- 
tain it, though he was still too well aware 
of the value of his inheritance to alien- 
ate it without presenting to himself the 
semblance of a ^oson for so unequal a 
barter. He therefore makes the expos- 
edness o{ his condition a pretence for 
the step. With this flimsy apology, he 
endeavors to hide from himself the in- 
fatuation of his conduct. The spirit of 
his language was, ' I cannot live upon 
promises ; give me something to eat 
and drink, for to-morrow I die.' Such is 
the spirit of unbelief In every age ; and 
thus it is that poor deluded souls con- 
tinue to despise things distant and 
heavenly, preferring to them the mo- 


B. C. 1837.] 



3S And Jacob seld.'Swear to me 
tfan day; and he swarc unto him : 
and k be sold fais birthright unto Ja. 

34 Thoii Jacob gave Esau bread 

k Bebr. 12. 16. 

mentary groUficatioAs of flesh and 

34. Chme Eaau bread and pottage qf 
laaUau Rather according to the Heb. 
*G«Te Eeaii ibod» even pettage of len- 
tflM. * Lentilee* were a kind of pulse, 
fike^Mchee or pease. Dr. Shaw ob- 
Mrves of the E^ptians, * that beans, 
fatf&s, kidney beans, Imd garvancos, 
sra tba chiefest of their pulse kind. 
Beans, when boiled, and ttte^ed with 
oil and garlic, are the principal food of 
persons of all distinctions. Lentilee are 
dressed in the same manner as beans, 
dissolving easily into a mass, and mak- 
inga poUage cf a chocolate color,* — Tra- 

teb, p. 140. ir Thu Emu despised his 

iif^uigkt. That is, ivrac/uxcSy despised 
it; not that he did in his private judg- 
ment entertain a eontemptuous idea of 
iu ▼alne, but by bartering it away for 
soeh a paltry consideration, he acted as 
if he despised it ; and the Scriptures re- 
gard cmdudnM the true test of jirinct- 
pleuud modoo. Thus was the momen- 
UMs bargain ooneloded which was to 
transfer for ev^r to the younger son the 
light of pdriniogeniture--a bargain of 
wfaick Bp. Hall significantly remarks, 
*dM»« was never any meat, except the 
finbiddea fruit, so dear boqgbt as this 
broth of Jaool).* It would have been a 
strong proof of Ids indifference to re- 
ligious privileges, had he sold them far 
«B the neiies that Jacob could have giv- 
en hira io return; but what oan be 
thoi^^ of the infatuation- of throwing 
thorn away for ao very a trifle t How 
JBstly does the apostle, writing as mov- 
ed by the Holy C^ost, affix the epithet 
*pn>&Be* to the cftaraoter of the man 
who, * for one monel of meat sold his 
hirthoni^' A profiuu penon ia one 

and pottage of lentOea ; and * he did 
eat and drink, and rose up, and 
went his way : thus Esau despised 
his birthright. 

>£Gcles.ai5. ISIIL3S.13. I Cor. U. aS. 

who treats sacred things with irreligious 
contempt. Esau is so termed because 
he practically demised and undervalued 
tliose inestimable spiritual privileges 
and blessings secured in the birthright* 
Had he disregarded only temporal ben- 
efits, he had been guilty indeed of egre- 
gious/ofly, but it would not have amount- 
ed to profaneness. But now by one 
rash act, prompted by the urgency of a 
fleshly appetite, he voluntarily renounc* 
ed, and forfeited for himself and his 
posterity, aU the precious prerogatives 
which flowed in the line of the 
covenant, and which ought to ha^e been 
ddarer to him than life itself It may, 
indeed, be said that it was Unjust and .un- 
kind in Jacob to take advantage of his 
brother's necessity and thoughdessness, 
and we may not perhaps he able wholly 
to acquit him of the charge ; but still 
this affords no real palliation of the con- 
duct of Esau. The Scriptures nowhere 
represent Jacob as a perfect character ; 
and it is, moreover, altogether suppos> 
able that be had long been aware of 
his brother's indifference in this matter, 
and that he had daily proofs of the light 
estimation in which he held these s|tiril» 
ual favors, and therefore would be less 
scrupulons in availing himself of the op- 
portunity to get possession of then. 
But all this aSbrds no upcdogy for Esau, 
whose criminality was enhanced by 
his evincing no remorse on account of 
what he bad done. He expressed no 
regret for his folly, nor made any over- 
tures to his brother to induce him to 
cancel the bargain. On the oootrary, 
it is said that ^ he did eat and drink, and 
rose up and went his way ;* as if ho 
were perfectly satisfied with the equiv- 
alent, such as it was, which he had ob* 





CHAPTER xxyr. 

AND there was a famine in the 
land, besides * the first famine 
that was in the days of Abraham. 
And Isaac went unto ''Abimelech 
king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 

«ch.lit.lO. bch.20.2, 

tained. But while we justly condemn 
the reckless and ruinous conduct of 
Esau in this transaction, }et us not for- 
get how many there are that virtually 
justify his deed by following his exam- 
ple. Though living embosomed in an 
economy of light and love, yet what 
numbers are th^re who manifest the 
tame indifference about spiritual bless- 
ings, ani) the same insatiate thirst after 
■ensual indulgence, as did Esau ? The 
language of their conduct is, ' Give me 
the gratification of my desires ; I must 
and will have it, whatever it cost me. 
If I cannot have if but at the peril of my 
soul, go be it. Let my hope in Christ 
be destroyed ; let my prospects of hea- 
ven be for ever darkened ; only give me 
the indulgence which my lusts demand.* 
What do we^ see in all this but the very 
temper end behavior of the profane 
Esau ? What is this but a sale of the 
birthright for a mess of pottage ? Such 
conduct, in such circumstances, is far 
more inexcusable than even that of 
Esau. It may be pleaded in excuse for 
him that he knew not comparatively 
what a Saviour or what an inheritance 
he despised. But we have had the 
Saviour fully revealed to us, and know 
what a glorbus place the heavenly Ca- 
naan is. Yet with thousands Christ and 
heaven areas little thought of as though 
they were utterly tm worthy of atten- 
tion. And what aggravates this per- 
verseness is, that it is followed by the 
same reokless unconcern as marked the 
conduct of Blsau. Its subjects do not 
bethink themselves of what they have 
done. They go on in their woridly ca- 
reer regardless of consequences. They 
do not acknowledge and bewail their 

2 And the Lord uppeaf^d iinto 
him, and said, Gi> not down inio 
Egypt : dwell in = the land which I 
shall tell thee of. 

3 ^ Sojourn in this land, and •! 

« ch. 12. 1. * cb. 30. 1. Ps. 3B. 12. Hebr. 
11. 9. « ch. 28. 15. 

sin and folly. They do not repent and 
pray for pardon. They do not Jesort to 
the means which God in mercy has pro- 
vided for the forgiveness of offenders. 
Alas ! what a fearfully dose resemblance 
in all this to the mad career of their 
prototype ! We can only earnestly be- 
seech all such to reflect deeply on their 
folly and danger, and to contemplate 
that moment when they shall be * at the 
point to die.* Let them think what 
judgment they will then form of earthly 
and eternal things. Will they then ny 
contemptuously, * What profit will thii 
birthright be to me ?' Will it then ap- 
pear a trifling matter to have' an inter- 
est in the Saviour, and a title to hes' 

1. And there was a famine^ ^. Ths j 
times of the patriarchs appear to have I 
been remarkable for "the frequent occar* 
rence of famines. It may not be easy 
to account for the foct, but it \A obviouf 
that every such season nrust have been 
a trial to their faith, as it would tempt 
them to think lightly of the land of 
promise. Unbelief would say that it 
was a land which *■ ate up the inhabit- 
ants thereof,* and that it was not worth 
waiting for. Thus Abraham had been 
tried. Gen. 12. 10, and Isaac is now 
made to pass through the same ordeal 

^ Isaac went, unto Abimdech. * TTie 

name of the king and of th^d captaia of 
the host, Phichol (v. 86), are the same as 
in Abraham's time ; but the persons are 
no doubt different, as more than ninety 
years have intervened between the visit 
of Abraham and this of Isaac. It is not 
unlikely that ' Abhn^ch' and* Fhiehol' 




thee : for onto thee, and unto thy 
seed el will give aJU these countriee, 

'ch. IS. 1. I cb. 13. 15. it 15. i& 

were standing official, names for the 
kings and generals of this litUe kingdom. 
A king of this country is called Abime- 
lech in David's time. In the history, 
indeed, 1 S^am. 21. iO, he is called Achish, 
bat in Ps. 34, he is called Abimelech. — 
There is a surprising similarity between 
the history of Abraham's s()ioum at Ge- 
rar, and that of liia son. 

2. Go not down into Egj/pL ^Thither 
it was Qodoubtedly his original purpose 
to have gone. But although Abraham 
in like circumstances had been permit* 
ted to go to the same country, and so- 
journ there during the extremity of the 
famioe, yet this permission was denied 
to Isaac ; perhape , because God fore- 
saw thai, from the native gentleness of 
his character, he would be less able than 
his father to encounter the perils and 
temptations with which he would meet 
among a people, from whose vices the 
more hardy virtue of Abraham himself 
had scarcely escaped unharmed. It 
wouldj indeed, have been easy for God 
to have armed him with a sufficient de- 
gree of inward fortitude to withstand 
the assaults to which bis religious princi- 
ples would be exposed, but this would 
have been a departure from the ordina- 
ry course of his moral government, and 
he consults his well-being at once more 
wisely and more kindly by sparing him 
the necessity of the conflict. Where 
the heart and the general course of con- 
duct is right, we may take it for grant- 
ed that God will order his providence, 
with a special reference to our infirmi- 
ties, so as graciously to anticipate and 
avert the evils into which we should 
otherwise have plunged ourselves. 

^ Diocfl in the land, &c. Heb. "pic 

^iekon, iabemacU,, or dweB tent-wise. 
Thus Heb. 11. 9, *By fiiith he (Abra- 
han) st^ourned in the Md of promise, 

aadlwrnpeffioRB^the oatiiwhicli 
I sivare unto Abraham thy fttth- 

keh.S8.16. Fa. 105. 9. 

as in a strange country, dweOing m lo^ 
enutdeg with Isaac and Jacob ;* i. a. m 
the same way with Inac and Jacob. Ha 
is commanded to abide in tha land of 
bis present aojoumtng, and yet in raoli 
a way that he should J>e perpetnaOy 
reminded that he was merefy a Mjoom- 
er, and that the tima for the ftiH poflta»> 
sion of the promised land had not yatais 
rived. *He feeds his mind with tlM 
hope of the proouMd inheritanee, but at 
the same time magnifies bis word by 
giving him inward peace only in Ilia 
midst of outward agitations. And ssra- - 
ly we never lean upon a better prop 
than when, trusting simply to the divhia 
declaration, and disregarding the present 
aspect of things, we apprehend by 
faith a blessing which does not yet ap- 
pear.' — Calvin. 

3. Iwmhe with thee, &c. Chal. * My 
Word shall be an help unto thee.* Ta 
satisfy Isaac that he should never want 
a guide or a provider, the Lord renews ta 
him the promises that had been made to 
his father Abraham. *■ Had he met with 
nothing to drive him from his retreat by 
the well of Lahai-roi, he m%ht have en- 
joyed more quiet, but he might not have 
been indulged nith such great and pre- 
cious promises. Times of affliction, 
though disagreeable to the flesh, have 
often proved our best times..* — FuBer. 
It is in this way that God is wont to 
arouse his sluggish servants to action, 
by assuring them that their labor shidl 
be in vain. He does, indeed, claim at 
our hands, as a father from a son, a rea- 
dy and unrecompensed service, but he is 
pleased by the exhibition of rich rewards 
to stimulate and quicken the diligence 
which is so prone to grow slack. This 
solemn renewal of the covenant is dis^ 
tinguished by two i^roarkable featoree: 
i(l) The good Aingt pfomised f 'Iwiflba 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


[3. C. 1804. 

4 And * I win make % seed to 
nmltipljr aa the etare of hoayen, 
•nd Will give unto thy seed all 
these countries : ^ and in thy seed 
riift]] all the nations of the earth be 
Diofuseu I 

> eh. 15 5. tc 22. 17. k cb. 13. 3. Sc 22. 18. 

with thee, and bless thee/ &c. The 
■om and 8ab«tanee 0f liie blessings 
is, ^e grant of the land of Canaan, 
a numerous progeny, and, chief of aH, 
the Messiah in wbom the nations should 
be blessed . On these precious pro mises 
baac was to live. God provided him 
biead in the dayof iamiae, but he lived 
not on bread only, but on every word 
which proceeded out of tho mouth of 
God. (2) Their being given for Abra- 
ham's tedse ; * Because Abraham obeyed 
By voice,' 4&c. While all the essential 
good of the promise is assured to Isaac, 
and thus made a source of enconra^ 
raent and comfort to him, any incipient 
rising of self-complacency is kept down 
by the intimation, that it is rather to 
Abraham's merit than to his own, that 
he is to look as the procuring cause of 
soch signal favor. ^ All these coun- 
tries. Heb. riX'll* eratzothf lands ; viz. 
those which are so particularly rehears- 
ed Gen. 15. 18—81, though now pos- 
sessed by numerous and powerful na- 
tions. Comp. Pb. 105. 42—44 

T WMperform. Heb. •in>Dpn hakmtoUd, 
leiB cau9e to stand up, will establish ; a 
phraseology of very common occur- 
rence in speaking of the fulfilment of 
the divine promises. Gr. ffrnvot, IwiU 
esuMisb, oonjirm. 

5. Kept my charge, my commandments J 
Ac. Heb. *in*l?3tt3*5 '1'!;S"> yishmor 
mukmarti^hepi'mylsee^ping; i.e. myor^ 
dinances^; a general term for whatever 
God commands or ordains for man's ob- 
servance. Comp. Lev. 8. 35.-22. 9. 
Dent. 11. 1. The variety of terms here 
employed, many of which did not come 
into oommon use till some ages after- 
wards, seems intended to convey the idea 

5 1 Because thftt Ahrvhaan ob^* 
ed my voice, and kept my cfaaige^ 
my eommandmeoti^ my statole^ 
and my laws. 

6 TT And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 

7 And the men of the place ask- 

>ch. 22. 16^18. 

of the universality of Abraham* s obedi- 
ence. He gave the most diligent and 
exact heed to every precept, admonition, 
and institution which God was pleased 
to impart. Very nice distinctions are at- 
tempted to be made by the Jewish wri- 
ters in Hkmg the precise import of these 
several terms ; but it innll be sufficiont to 
remark in general, that by * command- 
ments' is meant both moral precepts, as 
those of the decak)gtte, to which it is- 
oflten applied, and also occasional direc- 
tions or appointments, such as the com- 
mand to leave the land of the Chaldees, 
to (iffer up Isaac, to send away Ishmael, 
Sec. By ' statutes' is meant the ceremo- 
nial institutes, or the rules and ordinan- 
ce6 pertaining to the ritual services, snch 
as circumcision, sacrifices, distinction of 
clean and unclean, dec. ; aU which are 
founded solely upon the Will of God, and 
not upon the intrinsic natnre or propriety 
of things. * Laws,' again, are atUhorita' 
iive instruriions relative to the doctrines 
and duties of religion in general ; moral 
teachings which have a binding power 
upon the conscience. The original word 
tty^r^. iorah is derived from a root n*l"^ 
yarah^ signifying to teof^ to iroin by m- 
stifutioriy and this etymt^ogy is plainly 
hinted at in the sacred text, Ex. 24. 12, * I 
will give thee tables of stone, and (6ven) 
a law (rr^in torah^) and comraandmentst 
that thou mayest teach them (DD'*lTlb fe- 
korafJtamV A fuller exjfdication of thepe 
terms will be given as .we proceed in 
our expository notes upon the eidtoe- 
qnent books. 

7. The men of the place asked him of 
his wife. As the word answerii^ to 
* him' is wanting in the original, the idea 
probably is, that the men of the place 


B. C. 1804.] 


ed Tdfn of his wife ; and ""he sftid, 
She ts my sister : fbr " he feared to 
gay. She is my wife ; lest, said he, 
the men of the place should kill me 
for Rebekah; because she '"teas 
fair to look upon. 

8 And it came to pass when be 
had been there a long time, that 
Abiinelech king of the Philistines 
looked out at a window, and saw, 
and behold, Isaac ivas sporting with 
Rebckali his wife, 

-«)i. Id. 13. & 90. 3. 13. - ProT. «. S5 

•cli. 24. 16. 

9 And Abimelech called Isaafii 
and said. Behold, of a surety she u 
thy wife : and how saidst tlion, She 
is my sister ? And Isaac said unto 
him. Because I said, Lest I die for 

10 And Abimelech said, What is 
this thou hast done unto us! one of 
the people might lightly have lien 
with thy wife, and p thou shouldest 
have brought guiltiness upon us. 

11 And Abimelech charged all 


in the first instance asked of each other 
respeeting her, made her a frequent topic 
of onnversation. But the reralt .was 
chat rhtese inquiries came at length to 
faaac himself, and he was prompted to 
answer them in the manner described. 
— f He Mtid^ she is my sister, &c. 
Isaac here fells into the same infirmi- 
ty which had dishonored his father in 
Egypt. Influenced by a fear unworthy 
of a firiend of God, he gives an equivo 
eating answer, the criminality of which 
was aggravated by the eitraordinary 
manifestations of the divine goodness so 
recently vouchsafed to him. He is in- 
deed entitled 'to the same apology that 
was made fbr Abraham on a similar oc- 
casion, viz. that according to common 
asage in respect to the words * brother* 
and * sister', he was not guilty of a posi- 
tive fiedaehood; for Rebekah was his 
cousin, and the terms above-mentioned 
are used indiscriminately of all kindred. 
Stin, it may be property said to have 
been taking advant^e of a quibble, and 
as snob, was a conduct wholly unbe- 
coming one who had so much reason to 
repose an unlimited confidence in the 
• divine protection. He was in all pro- 
bability prompted to this expedient by 
the eiarople of his father in similar cir- 
cumstances, forgetting that the infirmi- 
ties of pious men are not to be indtated, 
but avoided. *The falls of them that 
VOL. lis 7 

have gone before us, are so many rocks ^ 
on which others have split ; and th« 
recording of them is like placing buoys 
over them, for the security of future 
mariners.* — Fidler. But the incident 
teaches another and quite as important 
a lesson, viz. that in swerving at all 
from the strict path of duty, we may be 
furnishing a precedent to others of whom 
wo little dream. No man knows, in do> 
ing wrong, what use will -be made of 
his example. ^ 

8. Isaac toas sparling wUh Rtbekah, 
That is, taking freedoms, using famiUari* 
ties with her, such as exceeded those that 
were common between brothers and sis- 
ters. The original is pn:rr3 melzahek, a 
derivative from pnz i^ohak, the rootfrom 
which IsaRC*s name comes, on the im- 
port of which see Note on Gen, 21. 9. 

9. Of a surety she is thy wife. But 
why was this a necessary inference ? 
Might not Isaac justly have subjected 
himself to evil imputations ? Might he 
not have been guilty of great crimes un- 
der the covert of his alleged relationship 
to Rebekah? The answer to this is 
highly creditable to the patriarch. It is 
clear that his general deportment at Ge- 
rar had been so uniformly upright and ex- 
emplary, that Abimelech knew not bow 
to entertain an ill opinion of his cm* 
dwt ; and though his words were incon- 
sistent with his conduct in the prosent 




[B. C- 1804. 

his people, sp.ymg, Ue that ^touch- 
eth this man or his wife shall surely 
he put to death. 
12 Then Isaac sowed in that 

, Ps. 105. 15. 

instance, .yet, judging from his whole de- 
portment, he comes to the conchision 
rather that his voords had heen somehow 
false, than that his actions had heen 
wrong. Snch is usually the paramount 
influence of a good Hfe. 

10. Might lightly have lien with. Heh. 
SitD t35lbs himat sluihav^ within a little 
had Uen with. Cbal. * It lacked but a 
little of one of the people** lying with 
her.* The word * lightly' in our trans- 
lation seems to be equivalent to ' easily.' 

IT ShoidAeM have brought guiUinesa 

upon US. Heb. C3i231* ashavn, gross or 
shameful crimen a term applied both to 
sin and the punishment of sin. It is 
here rendered by the Gr. ayvoiav, igno- 
rance, a kindred term to which is applied 
also by the apostle, from the Septuagint 
UJ^age, to the sins or ' errors' (ayvoi}ftar(ov 
ignorances, or ignorant trejtpasses) of 
the people, Heb. 9. 7, for which atone- 
ment was made every year. In Paul's 
use of it, it doubtless denotes that class 
of sins which were committed rather 
through inadvertence than presumption 
and wilfulness ; and such a distinction is 
very appropriate here. The sin which 
the king of Gerar intimates might have 
been brought upon his people, would 
have been strictly one of inadvertence 
or ignorance on his part — an ayvoia. 
His words show, however, that it was 
a deeply fixed persuasion in the minds 
of heathen nations, that the violation of 
the marriage covenant was a sin of deep 
die, and one which merited, and was 
likely to draw after it, the divine indig- 

U. He that toucheih, &c. That is, 
injureth, or wrongeth, either by word or 
deed, in person, honor, or possessions. 
Thus Josh. 9. 19, • We have sworn un- 
to them by the Lord God of Israel; 

land, and received in the same year 
' an hundred-fold: and the Losd 
■ blessed him : 

r Matt. 13. 8. Mark 4. 8. • vet. 3 ch 24. 
1,35. Job 42. 13. 

now therefore we may not touch them,' 
i. e. hurt them. Job 1.11, * But put forth 
thy hand now, andtoucft all that be hath,' 
i. e. injure, blast, or destroy. Ps. 105. 15, 
' Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and 
do my prophets no harm,' i. e. injurs 
not, as implied in the latter or exegeti- 
cal clause. The conduct of Abimelech 
on this occasion was as worthy of a 
good king, as that of Isaac had beenun* 
worthy of a servant of God- 

12. Isaac sowed in thai land. * A gen- 
tleman who had spent many years in 
Persia gave us the following information 
while conversing about the pastoral 
tribes (Eelauts) which form a large part 
of its population ; — There are some 
that live in their tents all the year ; and 
others that build huts for the winter, 
which they abandon in the summer, 
and often return to them in the winter. 
They then begin to grow corn in the vi- 
cinity, and leave a few old persons to 
look after it. As the cultivation increa«- 
es, a greater number of persons stay at 
the hur« in the summer also, until at 
last nearly all the tribe remains to at- 
tend to the cultivation, only sending out 
a few with the (locks. Thus the wan- 
dering tribes gradually change from a 
pastoral to an agricultural people. May 
not this illustrate the situation of otir 
pastoral patriarch when he began to 
cultivate ? And may not the prospect 
which it involved of Isaac's permanent 
settlement in Gerar with his powerful 
clan, account for the vidible uneasiness 
of the king and people of that district, 
and for the measures which they took 
to prevent such settlement ? We thus 
also see the process by wliich a wander- 
ing and pastoral people gradually he- 
come settled cultivators.' Pict. B3). • 

IT Received in the same year, &c. Heb. 


B. C. 1804.] 



13 And the man < waxed great, 
and went forward, and grew until 
he became very great : 

14 For he had possession of 
flocks, and possession of herds, and 
^eat store of servants: and the 
Philistines " envied him. 

» ch. 34. 35. Pb 112. 3. Prov. 10. 82. 
» ch. 37. 11. £ccl«8. 4. 4. 

founds implying that it was more than 
he looked for ; an increase far exceed- 
ing his roost sanguine expectations. 
Chal. 'He found in that year a hundred- 
fold more than he thought of.* This 
was die evident effect of'the special 
blessing of Gttd. 

13. Went forward. Heb. ifi^n "ib*^ 
ydek haloky went or walked going ; i. e. 
kept continually increasing. The Heb. 
term for ' walk' or ' go' is frequently us- 
ed in the sense of cwitinued increase or 
growmg intensify. Thus, 2 Sara. 3. 1, 
' Now there waa long war between the 
house of Saul and the house of David ; 
but David waxed stronger and stronger ;' 
Heb. Went on or walked, and be- 
came strong. Jon. 1. U, 'For the sea 
vonmght, and was tempestuous ;' Heb. 
The sea waJked and was tempestuous. 
See Note on Gen. 3. 8. 

14. Cheat store of servants. Heb. 
n^^rni^ atfuddak rahbah, much ser- 
vice; abstract col. sing, for concrete. 
Thus Ezek. 1. 1, ' I was among the cap- 
tives ,•' Heb. I was among the captivity. 
It is an idiom of frequent occurrence. 
Ainsworth and the marg. give ' husband- 
ry', as does the Gr. ysoipyia^ implying 
not only the collective body of servants 
belonging to a thrifty agricultural es- 
tablishment, but also the various work 
in tillage, &c. which they performed. 
The same thing is said of Job 1. 3. 

T And the Philistines e^tvied him. 

The original VCip hana, which is usually 
rendered as here by the Gr. ^//Xow, to 
he zealous, lias, when used in a bad sense, 
the import of a jealous, envious, indig- 
Mftt zeal, *Here again we see how 

15 For a]I the wells * which bb 
father's servants had digged in the 
days of Abraham his fother, the 
Philistines bad stopped them, and 
filled them with earth. 

16 And Abimelech said tmto 
Isaac, Go from us : Ibr thoa * ait 
much mightier than we. 

w ch. 21. 30. X Exod. 1. 9. 

vanity attaches to every earthly good; 
prosperity begets envy, and from envy 
proceeds injury.* — Fuller. 

13. An, the wells, &,c. A more effec- 
tual mode of expressing envy or enmity 
could not well have been devised, as it 
was in effect to destroy the flocks and 
herds which- could not subsist without 
water. In those countries a good well 
of water was a possession of immense 
value ; and hence in predatory wars it 
was always an object for either party to 
fill the wells with earth or sand, in order 
to distress the enemy. 'The same 
mode of taking vengeance on enemies 
has been practised in more recent times. 
The Turkish emperors give annually to 
every Arab tribe near the road by 
which the Mahommedan pQgrims travel 
to Mecca, a certain sum of money, and 
a certain number of vestments, to keep 
them from destroying the wells which 
lie on that route, and to escort the pil- 
grims across their country. D'Herbelot 
records an incident exactly in point, 
which seems to be quite common among 
the Arabs. Gianabi, a famous rebel in 
the tenth century, gathered a number 
of people together, seized on Bassorah 
and Caufa ; and afterwards insulted the 
reigning caliph, by presenting himself 
boldly before Bagdad, his capital ; after 
which he retired by little and little, fill- 
ing up all the pits with sand, which 
had been dug oh the road to Mecca 
for the benefit of the pilgrims.'— Pac- 
ton. Had the Philistines merely forced 
their way to these wells, and drank of 
them, it might have been excused ; hut 
to stop them, was an act of downright 

d by Googk 



[B. C. 180C 

17 IT And Isaac departed thence, 
4riKl pitched his tent io the valley of 
.Gerac, and dwelt there. 

18 And Isaac digged again the 
wells of water which they had dig- 
4ged m the days of Abraham his 
Either : for the Philistines had stop- 

barbarity, and a gross violation of the 
maty of peace which had been made 
between a former Abimelech and Abra- 
ham. Gen. 21. 25—31. But envy con- 
nden that which is lost to another as 
^gained to itaelf, and not only delights in 
working gratuitous mischief, but will 
seven pnnish itself in a measure to have 
■the malicious satisfaction of doing a still 
Tgreater injury to an enemy. 

16. Ch from us ; for thou art much 
mightier than we. It is not, perhaps, to 

[ be inferred that this request expresses 
the personal feelings of Abimelech to- 
wards Isaac ; but perceiving the temper 
of his people, he entreated him quietly 
to depart. The reason he gave for it, 
that *he was much mightier than they," 
was framed perhaps in part to apologise 
lor his people's jealousy, and in part to 
soften his spirit by a complimentary 
style of address. Had Isaac been dis- 
posed to act upon Abimelech*s admis- 
sion, he might, instead of removing at 
his request, have resolved to stand 
hb ground, alleging the covenant made 
with his father, and his own improve- 
ments of his lands ; but being a man of 
peace, and willing to act upon the 
maxim of the wise man, that * yielding 
pacifieth great offences,* he waves all 
dispute, and meekly retires to * the val- 
ley of Gerar,' either beyond the bor- 
'ders of Abimelech's territory, or at 
least farther off from his metropolis. 

17. Pitched his terU. Heb. TTT*^ y^n. 
This is a common term in reference to 
military encampments^ and denotes some- 
what of a permanent residence, in op- 
position to frequent removals and migra- 

The root rOn hanah, differs, 

ped them after the death of Abra- 
ham: 7 and he called their names 
after the names by which his father 
had called them. 

19 And Isaac's servants ^digged 
in the valley, and found there a we!) 
of springing water. 

ych. 21. 31 

according to Farkhurst, from bHi^ a/iolf 
the usual term for pitching tent9^ bbJup- 
ing OT fastening down a tent differs from 
stretching it out, 

18. Isaac digged again^ Ac. Heb. 
*1&n'^*l ^uD*^ yashov vayahpor, rehsmed 
and dug ; i. e. re-dog ; not rernrned to 
Gerar. Gr. iniKiv a)owJ«, dug agmm 

T Called their names^ &c. *This ' 

would appear a trifle among us, bo- i 
cause water is so abundant that it is ' 
scarcely valued, and nobody thinks of ;' 
perpetuating his name in the name of 
a well. But in those deserts, where 
water is so scarce, and wells and springs 
are valued more, and as they are there 
the general permanent monnments of 
geography, it is also an honor to hsrve ' 
given them names.' — Burder. It is elear, 
that wherever Abraham sojourned he* 
improved the country; yet it wotdd' 
seem that wherever the Philistmes fol- 
lowed him, it was their study to mar his 
improvements, and they were willing 
even to deprive themselves of the bene- 
fit-s of his labors rather than to sufiiKr 
them to remain undisturbed. But as 
these waters would be doubly sweet to 
Isaac from having been first tasted by 
his beloved father, he resolves to open 
them again , and, to show his filial affec- 
tion still more, he chooses to call them 
by the same names by which his father 
had called them — ^names which proba- 
bly carried with them some interesting 
memorials of the divine favor towards 
Abraham. * Many of our enjoyments, 
both civil and religious, are the sweeter 
for being the fruits of the faibor of our 
fathers ; and if they have been cormpt- 
ed by adversaries since their days, we 



B. C. 18011 



20 And the herdmen of Crerar 
*did strive with Isaac's herdmen, 
■ cb. 31. 2r>. 

nmst reatoro them to their ibnaer puri- 
ty.'— JFWfer. 

19. haac*8 servanU digged in the vol- 
ky ; the re-opened well, it would seem, 
not farnisfain; an adequate supply of 
water. He accordingly searches for a 
richer vein, and succeeds in finding one. 
The contention that arose, it appears, 
had respect not to the old wells which 
he re-opened, but to the new ones which 
he dug himself. The former were prob- 
ably somewhere in the near neighbor- 
hood of the latter, but of much inferior 
value, from their scanty supply of wa- 
ter.— f A well <^ springing voaler. Heb. 
tJ*^in ^"^^ mayim hoj^itn, Uving toater. 
Waters that run or spring forth from 
fountains are called, from their con- 
tinued ebullition, Uuing^ in opposition 
to the ttttgnoM waters contained in pools 
and cisterns. Tlius Lev. 14. 5, 6, the 
phrase running taater is in the original 
Uving toater. Thus, too, Rev. 21. 6, * 1 
will give to him that is athirst of the 
fountain of the water of life freely ;' i. e 
of the fountain of living water ; though 
th^ Uxing water is no doubt at the same 
time a symbol of spiritual blessings as 
refreshing to the soul as draughts of 
fresh water to the thirsty traveller. 
As a large portion of the water made 
use of in Oriental countries is rain col- 
lected in cisterns, we may see how nat- 
ural it would be to attribute a peculiar 
value, and apply an expressive name, to 
springs or streams of running water. 

20. The toater is ours. ' Tlie cauf-e 
of these difierences seems to have been, 
that a question arose whether wells dug 
by Abraham's and Isaac's people within 
the territories of Gerar belonjied to the 
people who digged them, or those who 
enjoyed the territorial right. The real 
motive of the opposition of the people 
of Gerar, and their stopping up the wells 
made by Abraham, seems to have been 

eaying, The water is otm : and he 
called ^he name of the well Esek ; 
because they strove with him. 

to disoourage. the visits of such powow 
ful persons to their territory ; for other, 
wise the wells would have been suffer- 
ed to remain on account of their utility 
to the nation. Stopping up the wella is 
still an act of hostility in the East. Mr. - 
Roberts says that it is so in India, wliers 
one person who hates another will 
sometimes send his slaves in the night to 
fill up the well of the latter, or else to pol- 
lute it by throwing in the carcases of uu* 
clean animals. However, of all people in 
the world, none know so well as the Arabs 
the value of water, and the imporunce 
of wells, and hence they never wanton- 
ly do them harm. They think it an act 
of great merit in the sight of God to dig 
a well : and culpable in an equal degree 
to destroy one. The wells in the des- 
erts are in general the exclusive pr(Q)er* 
ty either of a whole tribe, or of individ- 
uals whose ancestors dug them. The 
posesssiou of a well is never alienated ; 
perha|)s because the Arabs are firmly 
persuaded that the ov^'ner of a well is 
sure to prosper in all his undertakings, 
since the blessings of all who drink 
his water fall upon him. The stopping 
of Abraham's wells by the Pliilisitint- s, 
the re-opening of them by Isaac, and 
the restoration of their former names — 
the commemorative names given to 
the new wells, and the strifes about 
them between those who had sunk them 
and the people of the land — are all cir- 
cumstances highly characteristic of 
tho$e countries in which the want of 
rivers and brooks during summer ren* 
ders the tribes dependent upon tlie well 
for the very existence of the fiochs and 
herds which form their wealth. It would 
seem that the Philistines did not again 
stop the wells while Isaac was in their 
country. It is probab?e that the wells 
successively sunk by Isaac did not fur- 
nish water suificient for both his own 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


[B. C* 1604 

21 AndtlieydkgedaDotherweB, 
and 8tro?e for that also: and he 
called the name of it Sitnah. 

22 And he removed from thence, 
snd digged another well; and for 
that they strove not: and he ciUled 

herdf and those of Gerer, and thus the 
qaestion became one of exclusive right. 
Such questions often lead to bitter and 
bloody quarrels in the East ; and it was 
probably to avoid the last result of an 
appeal to arms that Isaac withdrew out 
of the more settled country towards the 
Desert, where he might enjoy the use of 
his weDs in peace. Whether the wells 
tunk or re^opened by Isaac were sub- 
•ervient to the agricultural pursuits men- 
tioned in V. 1% does not appear ; but, 
having stated the importance of water 
to the shepherds, we may subjoin its 
value to the agriculturist, as exemplified 
in Persia. In that country, the govern- 
ment duty on agricultural produce is 
always regulated according to the ad- 
vantages or disadvantages of the soil 
with respect to water. Those lands 
tiiat depend solely on rain, are almost 
never cultivated ; those that are water- 
ed from wells or reservoirs pay five per 
cent, on the produce : those thnt get a 
supply of water from aqueducts pay fif- 
teen per cent, and those that have the 
advantage of a flowing stream pay 
twenty per cent These rates are after 
deducting the seed, and allowing ten 
per cent, for the reapers and threshers. 
(See Malcolm's * History of Persia,* vol. 

H. p, 473.)'— Ptct BiWe. f Esdc. 

That is, contention, strife, wrangling. 
The 6r. renders the clause, * And they 
called the name of the well aSiKtaVf riSi- 
Knvav yap avrov, injury (or wrong), be- 
cause they injured (or wronged) Arm.' * It 
is ofiten the lot of even the roost quiet 
and peaceable, that, though they avoid 
■triving, they cannot avoid being striven 
with. In this sense Jeremiah was a 

the n»ne of it Rehohoth; and be 
said. For now the Lord hath made 
room for us, and we shall * be fruit- 
ful in the land. 

23 And he went up from thence 
to Beer-sheba. 

. ch. 17. 6. fc 38. 3. fc 41. 93. Exod. 1. 7. 

Christ himseli^ though the Prince of 
Peace.* — Henry. 

21. Sitnah. That is, hatred, spH^ 
nets. From the same root with ' Sil- 
nah,* (viz. •po satan) is derived * Satan' 
an adoeraary, or hater, a well-known ap* 
pellation of the Evil Spirit. 

22. Rdidbolh. That w,room,enkarg»' 
ment, free space; a plural term in tlit 
original, and properiy convejring the 
idea o£ an^itude with special emphaiia 
The two former names carried with 
them by implication a charge of «oroR|r- 
ful strife and hostdity against the Via- 
listines, who had thus defrauded him of 
the fttiit of his labor, while the latter 
was expressive of his gratitude to God. 
whose kind providence had at length 
removed him beyond the regioa of these 
molestations and conflicts. The Psahn- 
ist, in acknowledging, Ps. 4. 2, the di" 
vine deliverance, makes use of a term 
derived from the same root, * Thou hast 
enlarged me i*^^ ntSTT'in hirhahla U, thou 
hast made room for me) when I was in 

He went up f torn thence to Beer- 
sheba. With the reasons which led to 
this removal we are not made acquainted 
He would naturally feel attached to the 
]ABce where Abraham had sojourned, 
where he had so often called his house- 
hold together for the worship of Jeho- 
vah, and where every object wouM 
serve to remind the son of the covenant 
blessings pledged to the father. Bnt, 
whatever were his immediate induce* 
mente, it was obviously a step prepara- 
tory, on the part of God, to a larger 
measure of consolation than he had fn 
some time aflfbrded to his servant. Af- 
man of oontentiDo,' Jer. 15. 10, and Iter having been insulted and outvaged 


B. C. 1804] 



24 And the Ldbd appeared unto 
him the same night, and said, ^ I 
mt the God c^ Abraham thy feither : 
" fear not, fx^l am with thee, and 

keiL 17. 7. Jk 94. 13. A 28. 13. Exod. 3. 0. 
Acu 7. as. e cb. 15. 1. d ver. 3» 4. 

by the Phihstmes, he needed especial 
-encoarageinent, and God immediately 
appean to oomfort-and support him in 
hiB trials by a renewal of hie promiaea. 
'Became/ aays Calvin, *one word of 
God weighs more with the fiiithftil than 
the greatest abundance of earthly good, 
it it nut to be doubted that this revela- 
tion was more precious to Isaac than 
if athoosand rivers had flown with nec- 
tar. And Moses must be presumed to 
have set forth this gracious manifesta- 
tion with the express design of teaching 
us 80 to estimate tlie gifts of God, as 
ever to assign the palm to the testimo- 
Df of Ilia paternal love imparted through 
his word. Food, raiment, health, peace, 
and all our prosperous issues, give us, 
indeed, a taste of the divine beneficence ; 
hot it is only when he familiarly ad- 
(hpesses as, and makes himself known as 
our father, that we are filled to satiety.' 

24. And the hard appeared unto him, 
&c No doubt by the usual visible sym- 
bol of the Shekinah. Such appearances 
would tend to quicken attention, con- 
firm faith, and inspire reverence towards 
the word uttered. The vision of the eye 
woidd deepen the impression made by a 
•imide voice, and remove every doubt 
of Uie reaUty of the revelation. Satan 
may indeed transform himself into an 
>ngel of Hght, and play off his illusions 
^n a distempered or corrupt imagina- 
^n ; but the visions of God's glory car- 
ry their own evidence with themv and 
^xampt their subjects from the danger 
of mistake. Such -revelations, howev- 
«fi are necessarily partial. The full 
display of the Godhead is never to be 
^eralood by such expressions as that 
of the text; for human nature, in its 
feebleness, would sink at once under 

>Qch an overpowe.*ing disclosuiww God 

wiU bleas thee, aod multiply tbv 
eeed for my servant Abraham^ 

25 And he * builded an altar ther^i^ 

•ch. 12.7. fcl3.18. 

appeared to Isaac only so far as he was 

enabled to bear it T lamike Qod^ 

MnAam, ^c. These promises are the 
same Ibr substance as were made lo hiB 
on his going to Gerar, v. 3—4. But ihe 
same truths are new to us under b«w 
circumstances, and loach oar heaiti 
with all their original sustaining and ia» 
freshing power. This prefatory deek^ 
ration would at once renew the memo* 
ry of aU the promises before made, and 
direct the mind of Isaac to that abiding 
covenant entered into with Abrohaio, 
and to be transmitted to his posterity. A 
self-righteous spirit would perhaps hsve 
been oflfeoded at the idea of being hleaa* 
ed/or another's mke ; but be who walk- 
ed in the steps of his father's fhith wooU 
enjoy it; and by bow much he lovod 
him for whose sake it was bestowed, bf 
so much would his enjoyment be the 

25. He btt3ded an dUar there, &c. Aa 
an expression of his gratfeful sMse of 
the divine goodness oh the present oe- 
casion, and as a part of his habitaal prae- 
tice as a pious man, he set up the ttaied 
worship of God on the spot which had 
been consecrated by similar observan- 
ces in the days of his father. Gen. IS. 
7.— 13. 18. *We are no better than 
brute beasts if, contenting ounelv«s 
with a natural use of the creature^ we 
rise not up to the Author ; if, instestd of 
being temples of his praise, we become 
graves of his benefits. Isaac first built 
an altar, and then digged a weU.*~7Vi9^. 

% PiichedhieteiUthere, Heb.D'^yef, 

stretched tmtf extended. This is not the 
word usually employed to signiiy the 
act of pitching, pianUngf or locatuig a 
tent ; but properly implies that kind of 
exfennon in an racampmeat of tents 
which would be caused by av addition 




[B. C. 1801 

and ' eaUej upon the name of the 
LoBDi and pitched his tunt there : 
and there Isaac's servants digged a 

26 1) Tiien Abimelech went to 
him from Gerar, and Ahiizzath one 

fPi.116. 17. 

to the namber of occnpanta. The origi- 
nal terra occart Is. 54. S, * Enlarge the 
place of thy tent, and let them atretch 
forth the curtains of thy habitations; 
■pare not, lengthen thy cords, strength- 
en thy stakes.* This affords the true 
clew to the meaning of the passage be- 
fore us. Isaac's regular maintenance of 
the worship of God was the means of 
gathering to his establishment a consid- 
erable number of proselytes, and this 
was the reason of his sfretoAm^ or ex- 
tending his tent, or rather his tenfs, as 

tke4mport of the term is plural. 

f There Isaiufe eerwmtt digged a wtM^ 
It cannot bat appear singular that when 
this place bad receiYed its name from a 
well, Isaac should again have sought to 
find water, especially as Abraham had 
purchased the right of the well lor Um- 
telf and his posterity. Add to tliis, that 
the digging of a well in that rocky re- 
gion was a very arduous undertaking, 
as is cleariy intimated by the fact of 
the discovery of water being communi- 
cated to Isaac, V. 3*^ as a very impor- 
tant piece of intelligence. Why then 
was a new well attempted to be dug ? 
The probability, we think is, that from 
a malignant opposition to his character 
or his religion, there was a concerted 
plan among the natives, to drive that 
holy man from their territories by cut- 
ting off the necessary supply of water 
for his flocks and herds, and that in the 
execution of this nefarious project, they 
had stopped up this well at JBeer-sheba, 
as well as the others mentioned above. 
S6. Abimdechwentiokim. One would 
scarcely have expected that after driv- 
ing him, in a manner, out of their coun- 
try, the Philistines would have had any 

of his friends, ^and Phiohol the 
chief captain of his army. 

27 And Isaac said onto them, 
Wherefore come ye to me, seeing 
'' ye hate me, and have * sent me 
away from youl 

I ch. SI. 33. k J udg. 11. 7. t ver. 1& 

more to say to him. But Abimelech 
and some of his courtiers are iadaced 
to pay him a visit They were not easy 
when he was with them, and now they 
seem hardly satisfied when he has left 
them. Afraid, probably, of his growing 
power, and conscious that they had 
treated him unkindly, they now seem 
to wish ibr their own sakes to adjuit 
these differences before they proceeded 
any forther.— — T Ahuzzaih one of his ' 
friends. Heb. In5"l)a ntilfife Aliuzxath 
mereahu. This is rendered appellative* 
ly by the Chal. ' A company or retinue 
of his friends.* The Gr. more plau&ibly 
regards it as a proper name, rendering it 
Cyxo^aQ vvfi^ayfoyri avTov^ Ochozath hts 
paranymph ,* i. e. the leader of the bride, 
or he who conducts the bride from her 
father's house to the house of her future 
husband. The same word occurs in 
the 6r. version of Judg. 14, 22, render- 
ed in the Eng. translation companioa. 
See Note in loc. In the New Testa- 
ment, the same personage is called the 
friend of thebridegroomt John, 3. 29. 

27. Isaac said unto them, &c. Isaac, 
while they acted as enemies, bore it pa- 
tiently, as a part of his lot in an evil 
world ; but now that they want to be 
thought friends, and to renew covenant 
with him, he feels keenly, and speaks 
his mind ; * Wherefore come ye to me, 
seeing ye hate me,' &c. We can bear 
that from an avowed adversary which 
we cannot bear from a profeissed friend ; 
nor is it any transgrecsion of the law of 
meekness and love plainly to signify 
our strong perception of the injuries re- 
ceived, and to stand on our guard in 
dealing with those who have once acted 


B. C. 1796.] 


28 And thej said, We saw cer- 
tainly that the Lobd ^ was with thee: 
and we said, Let there he now an 
oath hetwizt ue, ewen hetwizt us 
and thee, and ]et us make a co¥e^ 
nant with thee : 

29 That thou wilt do us no hurt, 

keti. 21. 32,83. 

88. We jow certaudy^ Ac. Heb. 1M^ 
^y^*^ rack ramu, 9eanf( voe «ato. Had 
they, then, any true regard for Inac'a 
God, or fat him on that acooant 7 We 
fear not But ^when a man*s ways 
please the Lord, even his enemies shall 
be si peace with him/ and there w 
■omethiog sacred in the character of 
a good roan, to which the wicked often 
pay an involnntary tribute of respect 
aod admiration. Discarding the envy 
which he mny have cherished, he 
comes to. do homage to a man highly 
isTored of the Lord. The worst of 
men often find it for their interest to 
five on good terma with the wiae and 
the pious, while the good cleave to each 
other not from policy, but from af- 
fection. ^ir Thai the Lord was toUh 

ihee. Ghal. *That the Word of the 
Lord was thine help.' Such a confession 
from such a source is fmught with a 
useful lesson. When profane or world- 
ly men pronounce him blessed of the 
LArd, whose temporal affairs prosper, 
they do in effect acknowledge that God 
is the sole author of every good ; and 
if others refer our mercieti to this source, 
we shall be guilty of enormous ingrati- 
tude not to express for ourselves the 
same devout recognition of the divine 
benefits.— T Let there be now an oath, 
Ac. Heb. nbK olah, an oath of. execra- 
tion' 6r. apa, a curse ; i. e. an oath im- 
pieeating a curse upon the breaker of it. 
The Chal., however, understands it 
somewhat differently; *Let now the 
oath which was between our fathers be 

confirmed between us and thee.* 

f M(Ae a eooen an t. Heb. * Cat a cove- 

as we have not towsbed thee, and 
as we have done unto thee noUiiqg 
but good, and have sent thee away 
in peace : ' tlioa art now the hless- 
ed of the Lord.. 

30 " And he made them a feast, 
and they did eat and drink. 

I e:%. 34. 31. Ps. 11». 15. • eh. 10. 3. 

89. That thou wOt doits,Ac. Heb. 
*If thou ahalt do us,* Ac. That is, 
*■ taking a curse upon thee, t/'thou shalt 
do us hurt.*— —IT As we hone noi laifdk- 
ed thee, iui. We cannot, of coarse, bat 
commend Ablmelech and has people 
for wishing to be on good terms witli 
such a man as Isaac, but. what shall 
be thought of their assertion that they 
*had done unto him nothing but goody 
and had sent him away in peace?* 
Surely they must have known, and 
he most have feh. the contrary to be 
true. They had, indeed, at fint, in a 
courteous manner, shown the riles of 
hospitality to Isaac, but ere long their 
kindnees was changed to hatred, aad ^ 
this hatred to persecation. Bat this i» 
the very spirit of the native self-ooiB- 
plaoehcy of the human heart, and a spe* 
cimen of its pronenees to lose sight of its 
own demerits. We magnify the slighleet 
oflloes of good neighborhood into such 
stapendoos ads of eharity, that they 
completely edipse all other conduct of a 
contrary description.— T TAmiartiMv 
the blessed of the Lord. AsifheshoaU 
say, 'Since God hath so abundantly 
blessed thee, thoa canst aflR>rd to forget 
the slight annoyance experienced fimn 
the contention of our servants with thine.* 

90. And he made them a feasts dec. As 
Isaac was of a peaceable spirit, and ua- 
willing to sharpen the reproaches wUdi 
their own consciences* administered to 
them, he admitted their plea, though a 
poor one, and treated them generoo4y. 
The providing and partaking of a ban- 
quet by the parties appears to have 
been a osnal appendage to the f9f6§fm 
ing of a covemuit. Sec €ieii. 81« 54, 




[B. a 1796. 

81 And they rose upbetimeein 
the morning and "sware one to 
another : and Isaac sent them away, 
and they departed irom him in 

32 And it came to pass the same 
day, that Isaac's servants came and 
told him concerning the well which 
they had digged, and said unto him, 
We have found water. 

"ch.Sl. 31. 

31. Stoare one to another. Heb. tO^^Hi 
I'^n^b <^ Udlnxf^a man to hit brother. 
Gr. tKavroi rto irXniftovt €ach to his neigh- 

33. Called k Shebah. Heb. niPlnS? 
thebah. That is, he confirmed and rati- 
lied this name, which had been before 
given it by Abraham, Gen. 21. 31, va- 
rying it, however, by the addition of the 
emphatic letter n /i, which may perhaps 
have been inteuded to convey the idea 
otfvUness^ stUisf action, resulting from 
the blessing obtained. Or the meaning 
may be, that the name had been given 
by Abraham to the * place,' i. e.,the re- 
gion, in which the well was situated ; 
but that it was now given to the partic- 
ular spot near the well, where the city 
of Beer-sheba was afterwards built. 
However this may be, such, at any rate, 
was the name (Beer-sheba) by which 
the city was subsequently called to the 
time when the history was written. 

34. Took to wife Judith the daughter of 
Beeri the Hittite. From the period men- 
tioned in the preceding verse, a delight- 
ful calm of eighteen years ensued, uf 
which no record remains for our instruc* 
tion, but which, from the well-known 
character of Isaac, we cannot doubt 
was so passed as to be had in everlasting 
remembriince with God. At the end 
of that period, his domestic peace was 
again disturbed by the waywardness of 
his favorite son. The patriarch bore 
in mind the extreme anxiety of his &th- 
er Abraham lest be should form an 

33 And he called it Shebah: 
" therefore the name of the city is 
Beer-sheba unto this day. 

34ir p And Esau was forty yean 
old when he took to wife Judith the 
daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and 
Bashemath the daughter of Elon the 
Hittite : 

35 Which •« were a grief of mind 
unto Isaac and to Rebekah. 

28. 1, 8. 

pcb.36.2. «ch.27. 46.t 

idolatrous connexion, and therefore, ani- 
mated by the same pious sentiments, he 
was naturally desirous that his sons 
should follow his example. How then 
must his paternal feelings have been 
shocked to find his favorite Esau, with- 
out consulting him, introducing two Ca- i 
naanjtish wives at once into the holy • 
family! In this high-handed measure ' 
there was a double evil. It was, on the 
one hand, being unequally yoked with 
infidelity ; and, on the other, it was up- 
holding a practice which has ever been, 
and ever will be, fetal to domestic peace. 
The daughter of an Hittite would na- 
turally be disposed to interrupt the re- 
ligious harmony that prevailed; and 
two wives at once would as certainly 
be disposed to annoy each other, and 
embn^ the whole household in their 
quarrels. The consequences, we learn, 
were precisely such as might have been 
anticipated. Both the parents were 
grieved, and their lives embittered, by 
the step. Such is the return which pa- 
rents are sometimes faced to meet with 
for all that profusion of tenderness and 
affection which they lavish upon their 
offspring ; for all their wearisome days 
and sleepless nights. 

35. Which were a grief of tnind, Ac. 
Heb. tt\1 tri^ marath ruah, a bittemm 
of spirit. Gr. 170-ay ept^owai were con- 
tentious with Isaac and Rebekah. Chal. 
*They were rebellious and stubboni 
against the mandate of Isaac and Re- 
bekah.' The idea of both these an* 


B. C. 1760.] 


ND it came to pass, that when 
^ Isaac was old, and ^ bb eyes 

>cfa.48.10. 18am. 3.3. 

cient versions accords with what some 
have thoaght to b» the trae sense of 
the Hebrew, viz. that they were of a 
r(MLioia spirit, as the original n^?3 
may be derived either from ■^153 marar, 
to he bitter, or from ni?3 marahj to rthel. 
The sense is, no doubt, substantially the 
«&me, whichever etymology we adopt ; 
but as the grammatical form of the word 
favors the former constraction, and as 
we find elsewhere, Prov. 14. 10, the par- 
allel phrase 0&3 tTl?3 momjtOi nephesht 
hittemess of soul, we conclude that that is 
the more correct of the two. The Jerusa- 
lem Targam attributes to them the posi- 
« tive practice of idolatry ; — * They serv- 
ed God with strange service, and receiv- 
! ed not the instruction of Isaac or Re- 
bekah.' But the disquiet which it pro- 
duced, was no doubt overruled to a hap- 
py result. Had the aged couple found 
these daughters-in-law mild, gentle, and 
amiable in their deportment, it is easy 
to see that this circumstance might 
have tended gradually to work a kindly 
spirit towards the reprobate race from 
which they sprang, and led in the end 
perhaps to a general amalgamation of 
two peoples designed by God to be 
kept perpetually distinct But the do- 
mestic jars which arose from this ill- 
assorted union, went undoubtedly to 
counteract any undue bias in this direc- 
tion in the minds of Isaac and Rebekah. 
Thuti a wise and benignant providence 
extracts good out of evil. 

The life of Isaac may be divided into 
three periods. The first, containing sev- 
enty-five years, firom his lurth to the| 
death of Abraham, during which, being 
under parental government, and of a 
meek, unaaniming dispoeition, his histo- 
ry is blended with and ineloded in that 

were dim, so that he could not eee, 
he called Esan hie eldest son, and 
said unto him. My son : and he said 
unto him, Betiold, here am L 

of his father. The second, commencing 
at his father's death, and ending in his 
one hundred and thirty-seventh year, 
when it pleased God to visit him with 
extreme weakness, and a total loss of 
eye-sight, contains the space of sijity- 
two years, which may be called his ac* 
tive period. To this succeeds a dreary 
period of forty-three years to the day of 
his death, daring which we see an in- 
firm, dark old man, holding fast, on the 
whole, his integrity and his confidence 
in God, but placed by his physical and 
mental infirmities so much at |he dispos- 
al of others, as to become inadvertently 
the source of the most trying embarrass- 
ments and disunions in his own family. 
How this happened, it is the object of 
the present chapter to relate; and in 
following the thread of the narrative, we 
are struck with the feature so peculiar 
to the inspired historians of merely 
relating their story without interposing 
any comments of their own. In the 
account of Jacob's obtaining the bless- 
ing by subtlety from his father, no cen- 
sure is passed upon his conduct by 
Moses ; and an inadvertent reader might 
consider it only in the light of a trick, 
displaying considerable ingenuity of 
contrivance, and dexterity of execution, 
but not, perhaps, as involving any special 
moral delinquency. But though the sa- 
cred writer does not stop to descant upon 
Jacob's guilt, yet the subsequent history 
plainly discovers a just providence pun- 
ishing his sin, and reads to u^ a most in- 
structive lesson on the baneful effects of 

1. When Isaac was old. The age to 
which he had now attained is stated 
above. He seems for some reason to 
have been impressed with the idea that 
he was at this time near his end, though 
he lived upwards of forty years from 




[E C. 1760. 

2 And he said, Behold now, I am 
old, I ^know nr>t the day of my 

3 ' Now therefore take, I pray 
thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and 

kProv.37.1. Jam. 4. 14. « cb. 85. 97, SB. 

the dnte of this event. 7 CaO/ed Esau 

hi» ddest son. Heb. b*Tan 15^ TO^ Esau 
beno haggadd^ Esau his son the great ; 
i. e- the greater or older ; a usa^e a1> 
ready explained, Gen 10. 21.— 25. 23. 
The whole of the ensuing narrative 
makes it plain that, notwithstanding 
Esau's perverse and undutiful carriage 
towards his father in marrying into the 
stock of Canaan, he was still the ob- 
ject of his doting partiality. 

3. Thy weapons. The Heb. •^bS *cZc 
signifies properly vessels, impLanKnts, 
utensils of any kind ; and it is probable 
that our Eng. word * weapons,' instead 
of being exclusively applied to armor, or 
toarUke instruments, was formerly used 
in a like general sense. The old Gene- 
va version has, more correctly, * instru- 
ments.* IT Take me some venison. 

Heb. m^iS *^b riTIS tzudah li tziyidah, 
hunt me a hunting, i. e. game, of what- 
ever kind. 

4. Make me savoury m^at. Heb. 
6*^^513^ matammim, from t3J9t3 taam, to 
taste. • There are several points in this 
account that require explanation. One 
if, how it happened that Isaac should 
direct Esau to go hunting, to get him 
venison, when, as it seems from the re- 
sult, a * kid of the goats' ahat is, a young 
kid still sucking the dam) would have 
done as well. The fact is that the ori- 
ental shepherds seldom, except to enter- 
tain a stranger, think of diminishing their 
flocks to supply themselves with meat. 
They are as glad of any game that falls 
in their way as if they had not a sheep 
or goat in their possession ; and it was 
quite natnral that such * a cunning hunt- 
•r* as Esau should rather be directed to 
fp out into the fields and shoot game 

thy bow, and go oat to the field, 
and take me some venison ; 

4 And make me savoury meat, 
such as I love, and bring it to me, 
that I may eat ; that my soul *may 
bless thee before I die. 

d vpf 27. ch 48. 9, 15. it, 49.98. Dent. *0. 1. 

than to go and fetch kids from the flock. 
Another thing is, howtho flesh of young 
kids could be imposed upon Isaac for 
venison : but if by venison is to be un- 
derstood the flesh of a young gazeDe, 
which is by no means clear, the dtflfer- 
ence between it and that of a young 
kid is not great, as we know from per- 
sonal experience; and a still greater 
difference would be lost, even to per- 
sons with senses more acute than Tsaac's 
were at this time, when disguised by the 
strong flavors, salt, spicy, sour, or sweet, 
which the Orientals are fond of giving 
to their more Inxorious dif^hes. We have 
often hesitated at an oriental supper to 
determine of what meat the strongly- 
seasoned, or highly-acidulated, or sweet- 
ened, mesies set before us were com- 
ied. As Tsaac intended a particular 
indulgence, there is no doubt that the 
utmost resources of patriarchal cookery 
were employed upon the dish prepared 
for him. The word *matamim* has a 
more extensive signification than the 
word * savoury,' here used to translate 
it. It means in general any thing higMy 
grateAil to the taste, and may express 
any of the more self-indulgent prepara- 
tions admired by the Orientals ; all 
whose most esteemed dishes are satu- 
rated with butter or fat — highly season- 
ed with salt, spices, garlic, and onions — 
sharpened with vegerable acids, or 
sweetened with honey or vegetable 
sweets. Sometimes the oleaginous, the 
saline, the spicy, the sweet, and the 
sour, concur to aggrandize and mystify 
the same dish. If Jacob's kids had 
been roasted whole, in the way formerly 
mentioned, after being staffed with 
raisins, pistachio nuts, almonds, and 



B. C. 1760.1 

5 And Rebekah heard when 
Isaac spake to Esau his son : and 
Esau went to the field to hunt for 
venison, ani to bring %l. 


hnslwd com or rice, the remit would 
have been a most savoury dish, now 
much admired in the East, and which a 
man with all his senses in perfection 
would not readily distinguish from a 
young gazelle simiiariy treated.* TvA. 

BQite. T That my nmd may Uets 

thee, ^c. That is, that Jmay bless thee, 
as y. 7 ; smd being often used in Heb. 
for one's person. See Note on Gen. 2. 7. 
Rat wherein consisted the blessing 
which was now aboat to be bestowed, 
and why was savory meat required in 
oHer to the bestowment of it ? It can- 
not be doubted that, from such a father 
n« Isaac, a common blessing was to be 
expected on all his children ; but in this 
famDy, there was a peculiar blessing per- 
taining to the first bom— a solemn, ex- 
traordinary, prophetical benediction, en- 
tailing the covenant blessing of Abra- 
ham, with all the promises, temporal and 
spiritual belonging to it, and by which 
bis posterity were to be distinguished as 
God's peculiar people. This was the 
blessing which Isaac was now about to 
bestow, and, by way of preparative to 
the solemn act, he calls for a dish of his 
favorite food. The reason of this is not 
entirely obvious ; but, as the transmis- 
sion of the covenant blessing w^as sup- 
posed to be performed with the tpecial 
and powerful concurrence of the Holy 
Spirit, very great weight and solemnity 
were attached to it; and as certtiin 
"tetes of the animal system were snp- 
P«ed to be more favorable than others 
to the illapses of the Spirit, as is evident 
from the effect of music on the pro- 
phets, 2 Kings 3. 14, 15, it is not unlikely 
that Isaac designed, by eating savory 
raeatand drinking wine, v. 25, so to re- 
we the languid tone of nature, so to 
refresh and exhilarate all his physical 
VOL, ir. 

6 IT And Rebekah spake unto 
Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I 
heard thy father speak unto Esau 
thy brother, saying, 

powers, that, like an instroment of mu- 
sic perfectly attuned, he might render 
himself a more fit organ of the oracular 
impulses of the Holy Ghost. At the 
same time we cannot but regard the 
suggestion of Adam Clarke, on this 
subject as highly plausible, viz: *That, 
as eating and drinking were used 
among the Asiatics on almost all re- 
ligious occasions, it is reasonable to 
suppose that something of this kind was 
essentially necessary on this occasion ; 
and tliat Isaac could not convey the 
rights till he had eaten of the meat pro- 
vided for the purpose by him who was 
to receive the blessing.* This hypothe- 
sis may be admitted in entire consisten- 
cy with what we have said of the patri- 
arch's design to refresh himself by 
suitable and grateful nourishment for 
the work before him. As to his purpose 
of conferring the blessing upon Esau 
rather than upon Jacob, it is, perhaps, 
too much to afiirm that in this he went 
intentionaUy counter to the divine conn- 
sels. We cannot be positively certain 
that he was acquainted with the oracle. 
Gen. 25 23, announcing that the elder 
should serve the younger, or that he 
knew of Gsan's selling his birth-right ; 
still, it is not eas^y to conceive of his hav- 
ing been ignorant of them ; and just in 
proportion to the probability of his being 
informed on this head is the difficulty of 
accounting; for his conduct. As the sacred 
narrative affords us no clue on the sub- 
ject, we are, perhaps, shut up to a mere- 
ly hypothetical solution, viz. that, his 
partiality for Gsau, and the custom of 
the elder son being heir, led him to forget, 
misunderstand, or disregard the previ- 
ous intimation of the divine will. 

6 — 10. And Rebekah spake unto Jacobs 
4rc. We now come to a detailed ao- 



[a C. 1760. 

7 Brmg me venison, and make 
me savooiy meat, that I may eat, 

comit of the ftratagem by which the 
Uetfling was diverted from Eeao, and 
oonfemd upon Jacob ; and we cannot 
, but pauM in astonishment, at beholding 
a person of Rebekah*8 exemplary char- 
acter devising such a plot, and a phiin 
roan like Jacob, executing it in accord- 
ance with her wishes — a plot to deceive a 
holy and aged man, a husband, a parent, 
in the very hour of his expected decease, 
and in a transaction of the most sacred 
importance. We cannot, indeed, sup- 
pose this to have been their ordinary 
mode of acting ; and this renders it not a 
little surprising that they should all at 
once have shown themselves such profi- 
cients in the arts of dissimulation and 
fraud. But, although the measure was ut- 
terly unjustifiable and base, yet, as we 
cannot at this distance of time, put our- 
selves into the precise position of the 
pafties, nor possess ourselves of the ex- 
act state of mind by which it was prompt- 
ed, this fact should somewhat soften our 
condemnation. On the one hand, it is 
clear that God designed that Jacob should 
have the blessing, and that Rebekah 
was aware of this design. There is 
every reason to believe, also, that she 
highly prized the blessing, and was in- 
fluenced by a principle of sincere faith 
in seeking to obtain it ; and so far she 
is to be commended. But the scheme 
which she formed to compass the end 
was exceedingly culpable. She had no 
right to suppose that treachery and false- 
hood, were under any circumstances, 
admissible in bringing about the divine 
purposes. It is as high presumption for 
men to think that their cunning is need- 
ed to accomplish God*s purposes, as that 
by their cunning they can defeat 
them. Rebekah*s was, therefore, a 
crooked policy, wholly at variance 
with the simplicity of a child of God ; 
and not only so, it was an expedient that 

and bleu thee before the Loash he- 
fore my death. 

was not barely nn/i(2, but tmneoaasory. 
As she had been assured by a divine ora- 
cle that the elder should serve the young- 
er, as the birthright was traosfenble, 
and Jacob had actuaUy purchased it, 
the proper course would have been lor 
her and Jacob to have set the matter 
plainly before Isaac ; and by arguments, 
expostulations, and entreaties, urged 
him thus to comply with what was evi- 
dently the will of heaven. Isaac was a 
pious man, and would scarcely have 
dared to set himself knowingly againjst 
the counsels of God. This should have 
been their first eflfbrt, and, had it foiled, 
still they should have borne it in mind 
that God was able to overrule his actions 
and to constrain him, as he afterwards 
did Jacob himself, to cross his hands, 
and, even against his will, to trans- 
fer the blessing to him for whom it 
was designed. They should have 
committed the result implicitly to him. 
He might be safely left with the exe- 
cution of his own purposes. The sin of 
deceiving a roan into what is right, dif- 
fers litUe from the sin of deceiving him 
into what is wrong. The effect of the sin 
may mdeed be diiferent, but its moral 
character, in the eyes of Omniscienoe, 
is substantially the same. On the whole, 
after every abatement, we cannot bat 
severely condemn the conduct of Re- 
bekah and Jacob. The slightest devia- 
tion from the straight-forward princi- 
ples of integrity and honesty, is con- 
trary to the very genius and actings of 
a true faith ; and though the event was 
overruled to good, yet this was no jus- 
tification of the parties concerned. Evil 
ceases not to be evil, because God 
makes it redound to his glory.-:^^ 
T Ele$8 Ihee before the Lord. That is, 
with special solemnity, with a blessing tii 
be pronounced as in the divine presence, 
and sanctioned by the divine authority. 


B. C. 1760.1 



8 Now therefore, my son, « obey 
my voice, according to that which I 
command thee. 

9 Go now to the flock, and fetch 
me from thence two good kids of the 
goats ; and I will make them 'sa- 
Yoory meat for thy futher, such as 
he loveth : 

10 And thou shalt bring it to 
thy £ither, that he may eat, and 

vet. 13. ' VCT. 4. 

11. And Jacob said to RMsah^ ^c. 
The feelings of Jacob instinctively re^ 
▼olt at the proposition of bis mother, 
and he remonstrates against it. Would 
that he had duly heeded tlie warning of 
the internal monitor, which, with far 
greater anthority than that of Rebekah, 
was saying to him, * Obey my voice, ac- 
cording to that which /command thee !* 
Bat the remonstrance, snch as it was, 
loses nearly all its merit by being found- 
ed on the consequences of the act, and 
not on the act itsdf. He seems not to 
have been struck by the enormity of 
the deed as an offence against God. 
How great the contrast between his 
reaaomng on this occasion, and that of his 
son Joseph when assaulted by a pow- 
erful temptation. * 1 shall bring a curse 
upon me, and not a blessing,* said the 
one ; * How shall I do this great wicked- 
ness, and sin against God,* said the other. 
Bat we learn from the sequel, that as he 
now sowed, so he afterwards reaped. 

12. J HioEL seem to him as a deceiver. 
Heb. I^nlP.-ioS kimtaiaa, as one that 
causeth greatly to err^ or, as a very de- 
oojoer. The original from n5n to uwn- 
der^ to en-y is of an intensive form, con- 
veying a meaning, the exact shade of 
which cannot well be transfused into 
Engtish. Gr. *As one despising him.* 
Chal. *As one mocking him* The 
particle * as* is often osed in the Scrip- 
tores, to signify, not similitude, but re- 
ality, or the thing itself; thus, Ob. 1. 11, 
'Thou wast OS one of them ;* i* e. wast 

that he ' may bless thee before his 

11 And Jacob .said to Rebekaii 
his mother. Behold, ^Esau my bro- 
ther is an hairy man, and I «m a 
smooth man: 

12 My fiither peradventore will 
* feel me, and I shaH seem to him as 
a deceiver ; and I shall bring ^a 
curse upon me, and not a blessing, 

f ver. 4. k eb. 35. SS. * ver. 23. 
kcb.9.S5. DeuLS7.18. 

one. Deot. 9. 10, ' On them (the tablet) 
was written according to all the words ;* 
Heb. 'as all the words;* Neh. 7. 2, 
*For he was a &ithfal man;* Heb. 
as a faithful man.' Johnl. 14, 'We 
beheld his glory, the glory as of the 
only begotten of the Father;* i. e. 
simply, the glory of the only begotten ; 
2 Cor. 3. 18, *Are changed into the same 
image as by the Spirit of the L4>rd ;* i. e. 

by the Spirit. IT Shall bring a curse. 

That his fears on this head were well 
founded^ appears evident from the fol- 
lowing passage in the Law, Dent. 87. 
18, ' Cursed be he that maketh the blind 
to wander out of the way.'-r — T Upon 
me he the curse. Chal. *It was said 
unto me by prophecy, that curses shall 
not come upon thee, but blessings.* By 
Jacob's corse she meant the curse that 
he might incur. But her presumption 
in this case is as much to be ceiisured 
as her subtlety in the outseL As it was 
impossible that she could have the foil 
approval of her own conscience in 
this affair, she run a fearfol risk in 
making such a declaration; and it 
would argue a very low tone of moral 
sentiment to imagine that her pledging 
herself to bear the blame, would at all 
extenuate the guilt of her sin. There 
is but one being who ever has said, or 
could truly ray, *Upon me be thy 
curse.* The compassionate Saviour of 
sinners, ' the Lamb slain from the foun- 
dation of the world,* has graciously 
put himself in such a relation to fallen 



13 And his mother said unto 
him, ^ Upon me be thy curse, my 
son; only obey my voice» and go 
fetch me them, « 

14 And he went, and fetched, 
and brought them to his mother: 

I cb.<3. 9. 1 8am. 25. 24. 2 Sam. 14. 9. 
Matt. 87. 35. 

GENESIS. [B. C. 17W. 

and his mother <"made8avoury meat, 
such as his father loved. 

15 And Rebekah took " goodly 
raiment of her eldest son Esau, 
which toere with her in the house, 
and put them upon Jacob her youn- 
ger son : 

"» ver. 4. 8. ■ ver. 27. 

man that he can properly adopt thfs 
language, and to him only b it appro- 
priate. Rebekah' 8 words eyince, in- 
deed, a great strength of assurance in 
the divine promise or prediction, but 
this does not extenuate the fraud she 
was now practising upon Isaac, nor the 
bad morality which she was virtually 
teaching her son. 

14. And k^ went, ^c. Rebekah takes 
the consequences upon herself, and then 
he has no more to object, but does as 
she instructs him. Had his remon- 
strance arisen from an aversion to the 
evil, he would not so readily have 
yielded to her suggestions. But whero 
temptation finds the heart fortified by 
nothing stronger than a regard to present 
consequences, it is very certain to pre- 
vail. Let us beware, however, how 
we are drawn by any authority what- 
ever to the commission of evil. It will 
be of little avail to say, My adviser was 
my father, or my mother. There is a 
plain path, from which no authority 
under heaven should induce us to 

15. Rebekah took goofUif raiment, ^c. 
Heb. m^ann hakamudoOt, destrehU. 
But whether this * desirableness* arose 
from their peculiar make, or from their 
color, or firom some other circumstances 
which gave them an adventitious pre- 
ciousness, is uncertain ; though we are 
inclined to give considerable weight to 
the suggestions that folio w^. The Gr. 
has rqv o-roXifv rtiv koKhv the fair stole or 
rclbe. Chal. * Vestments which were 
dean.* The * stole* was a long robe 
with fringed or flounced borders, usual- 
ly white, though sometimes purple ; and [ 

worn by the great as a mark of dislinc- 
tion, Luke i;>. 22, and 20. 46, in both 
which passages the original word for 
* robes' is trroXai stoles. The same 
word is applied by the Gr. of the Sept. 
to the 'holy garments* in which the 
priests ministered under the law, Ex. 
28. ^-4, * And thou shalt make hdy gar- 
ments (orroXnv ayiOLv a holy stole) for Aaron 
thy brother, for glory and for beauty,* 
&c. From general usage, therefore, we 
may regard the * stole' as a species of 
vestment appropriated mainly to the sa- 
cerdotal office, and perhaps from a very 
early period preserved and handed 
down anK>ng the patriarchs as a bad^e 
of the birthright. Such a robe, we are 
disposed to think, was the many-colored 
coat of Joseph, the possession of which 
excited the envy of his brethren, be- 
cause worn as a sign of the transfer of 
Reuben's forfeited birthright to Joseph. 
See Note on Gen. 37. 3. As the privile- 
ges and prerogatives included in the 
birthright had a {mncipal reference to 
Christ, and were never fully realized 
bnt in him * who is the frst-bom of ev- 
ery creature,* so it can scarcely be 
questioned that the reason of his being 
represented in his different apparitions 
after the resurrection, and when he had 
entered upon his eternal priesthood, as 
clothed in a long white garment, is to 
intimate that the shadow of the robe of 
primogeniture had now passed into its 
appropriate substance. This circum- 
stance was made evident to the senses 
of the disciples present at our Lord's 
transfiguration, which was nothing else 
than an anlicipative visible display of 
the personal glory with which he was 


B. C. 1760.] 

16 And she pat the skina of the 
kids of the goats upon his hands, 
and Dpon the smooth of his neck : 

17 And she gave the savoury 
meat and the bread, wliich she had 
prepared, into the hands of her son 

18 IT And he came unto bis fath 
er, and said, My father. And he 



to be invested after his resurrection. 
Accordingly we are told, Mark 9. 2. 
that among the splendors of the scene, 

* his raiment became shining, exceeding 
white as snow ; so as no falter on earth 
can white them.' Well, therefore, might 
Moses be commanded to make the typi- 
cal * stoles' for Aaron and his sons * for 
glory and for heaiUyJ* But as all true 
Christians are fellow-heirs with Christ, 
and come into a participation with him 
in all the consummated blessings of the 
birthright, being made kings and priests 
unto God, this fact lays the foundation 
for such allusions as the following. Rev. 
3. 4, 5, * Thou hast a few names even in 
Sardis, which have not defiled their gar- 
ments ; and they shall walk with mc in 
vfdte; for they are worthy. He that 
overcometh shall be clothed in white 
Toimept ;' Rev. 6. 9 — 11, * And I saw 
under tbe altar the souls of them that 
were slain for the word of God, d'c , 
and uihite robes (Gr. * white stolet;,'; were 
given onto every one of them.' Rev. 
7. 9, * After this I beheld, and lo, a great 
multitade which no man could number, 
stood before the throne and before the 
Lamb, clothed toitk white robes (Gr. 

* with white stoles*). All these pasi^a- 
ges we conceive have a direct allusion 
to the birthright garments of which the 
first mention occurs in this history of 
Jacob and Esau. These * garments of 
desire* were, in all probability, the sa- 
cred symbolical 'stole* received from 
their ancestors, and kept by the mother 
of the family in sweet-scented chests or 
wardrobes, to preserve them Arom the 

said. Here am I ; who art thou, my 

19 And Jacob said onto his fath- 
er, 1 am Esau th^rst-bom ; I have 
done according as thou badest me : 
anse, 1 pray thee, sit and eat of my 
venison, <* that thy soul may bless 

o ver. 4. 

depredations of moths. Targ. Jon. * And \ 
Rebekah took the desirable rolMs of her 
elder son Esau, rohich had heUmged to 
Adam the first parent.^ In allusion to 
this aromatic fragrance it is said, v. 27, 
that * Isaac smelled the smell of his rai- 
ment.* If these were mere common 
garments, it may be asked why they 
were in the keeping of Esau's mother, 
rather than of himself or of his wives, 
especially as he had been married , 
37 years, and was now, as well as Ja- ] 

cob, 77 years old ? T In the house, i 

• They were certainly living in a tent ; 
but it is to this day not unusual to call 
a tent a house. The word house is used 
much as we use the word ' home,' be- 
ing applied quite irrespectively of the 
sort of domestic habitation denoted by 
it. The Bedoums always denommate a 
tent *a house,' using the same word 
Ti'^D (J>eil) in sound and meaning as the 
Hebrew word in the text.* Pict. Bible. 
19. I am Esau thy firsi-hom. Our es- 
timate of Jacob's conduct in this stage 
of the transaction will depend upon the 
views we entertain of the real drift of 
this reply. That the words taken in 
their literal sense convey a direct and 
positive fal^eht'od is clear; but it may 
still be a question whether there were 
n )t another sense intended by Jacob in his 
own mind ; one in which the expression 
might be understood so as to free the 
speaker from the charge of uttering a 
downright lie. It is, at any rate, contend- 
ed by some commentators,that, as he had 
virtually come into the place of Esaa 
by the purchase of the birthright, h<i 




[B. a 1760. 

20 And Isaac said unto bis son. 
How is it that thou hast found it so 
quickly, my soni And he said, be- 
cause the Lokd thy God brought U 

21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, 
Come near, I pray thee, that I Pmay 
feel thee, my son, whether tliou be 
my very son Esau, or not. 

p ver. 12. 

might ny that he was the first-bom on 
the same grounds that John the Baptist 
is called Elias, and the Gentiles termed 
* the circarocision. As it is not supposed 
that John the Baptist was guilty of a 
falsehood when he denied that he was 
Elias, John 1. 21, though our Saviour 
■aid that he was, so it is suggested that 
Jacob's words may be trae if interpreted 
as equivalent to ' I am Esau thy first- 
bom ; not in person^ but in right.' But 
this plea, however specious, besides 
resting upon a very uncertain basis, does 
not afibrd a vindication broad enough to 
cover all the features of Jacob's crooked 
policy on this occasion. With Henry 
we may ask, * How could he say ' I have 
done as thou badest me,' when he had 
received no command from his father, 
but was doing as his mother bade him ? 
How could he say, * Eat of my veni- 
son, when he knew it came not from 
the field, but from the fold 7' On the 
whole, we must, we think, be content 
to leave this humiliating conduct as a 
blot on the character of Jacob, without 
apology and without excuse, only ob- 
serving, that, disgraceful as it was, God 
could forgive it, and did forgive it, for 
the sake of a better righteousness than 
his own. 

20. Because the LORD thy God brought 
it to me. Heb. ^3Db n"'\pn hUerah le- 
pkanai, made to occur ; the appropriate 
term for expressing a special interposi- 
tion of providence. See note on Gen. 
24. 12. Gr. 'For the Lord thy God de- 
livered it before me.' Chal. * Because 

22 And Jacob went near unto 
Isaac his father; and he felt him, 
and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, 
but the bands are the hands of 

23 And he discerned him not, be- 
cause his 4 hands were hairy, as his 
brother Esau's hands: so he blessed 

% ver. 16. 

the Lord prepared it before me.* The 
answer intimates that his speedy suc- 
cess was oviing to a particular divine 
interference in his behalf! It is not 
easy to conceive a more daring piece of 
effrontery than tiiis. It was bad enough 
to deal in so many gross equivocations ; 
but to bring in the Lord God of his fath- 
er, in order to give them the appearance 
of tmth, was much worse, and what we 
should scarcely have expected but from 
one of the most depraved of men. But 
this was the natural result of a first 
wrong step. Little do we know whith- 
er we may be drawn if once we depart 
from the plain direct course of honesty 
and truth. Jacob probably had no idea 
of going beyond a little stroke of dissim- 
ulation and fraud ; yet here we find him 
treading upon the borders of absolute 
blasphemy, by making («od himself con- 
federate in his sin ! Let us beware then 
of evil in its very first approaches. 

23. He discerned him not, because^ ^e. 
It is remarked by Bochart (Hierozoic. L 
ii. c. 51.) that in the eastern countries 
the goats' hair has often a soft, delicate 
feel, very much like that upon the hu- 
man person ; sj that Isaac might be, 
without much difficulty, deceived, es- 
pecially considering that at his advan- 
ced age his sense of touch might be 
nearly as much impaired as that of vis- 
ion. T So he blessed him. That is, 

after eating and drinking, as mentioned' 
V. 25. The incident is related a little 
out of iu place. It comes in here by 
anticipation, as the writer intends to say. 


B. C. 1760.] 



24 And he said. Art thou ray 
vay son Esan? And he said, I 


5J5 And he said. Bring it near 
to me, and I wUl eat of ray pon's 
venison, r that my soul raay bless 
thee. And he brought it near to 
him, and he did eat : and he brought 
him wine, and he drank. 

26 And his &ther Isaac said un- 
to him, Come near now, and kiss 
ms, my son. 

' ver. 4. 

in general terms, that Jacob deceived 
his father, and thus obtained the bles- 
sing; but it is not till afterwards that he 
proceeds to detail the variooe particu- 
lars that led to it. 

26, Kiis me. A sign of afiection and 
reverence. Corap. Gen. 48. 10. Ps. 2. 
12. His thus coming in contact with his 
father's person would also afford a proof 
to the senses, from the peculiar scent of 
his apparel, in favor of his alleged iden- 
%• Bnt it was deceiving^ if not betray- 
"^, his father with a kiss. 

27. The smeU of my son is as the smdl 
ofajield, 4-0. Gr. • the smeU of a full, 
orplenteous, field,* i. e. a field abounding 
wtth herbs, fruits, and flowers of every 
description, regaling the senses with 
their gratefnl fragrance. Pliny observes 
jhatland, after a long drought, moislen- 
^ hy the rain, exhales a delightful 
«lor, with which nothing can be com- 
pared; and adds, that » it is a sign of a 
fnmfol soil when it emits an agreeable 
•meB after having been ploughed.* Even 
*« parched herbage of the deserts and 
Jjncukivated plains is often exceedingly 
fngrant, and would, perhaps, be capable 
of imparting its odor to the garments of 
«jVamanof the field;' and Poole par- 
aphpfttes the words of Isaac, * These 
^•nts smell not of the sheep-cotes 
T «all«, as Jacob's do, but of the fields 
» which Esau hves.' But the smell 
JJ 'h» case was probably occasioned by 
the aromatic herbs which had been laid 

27 And he earae near, and kissed 
him : and he smelled the smell of 
his raiment, and blessed him, and 
said, See, "the smell of my son is as 
the smell of a field which the Lobd 
hath blessed: 

28 Therefore »God ig^ive thee of 
" the dew of heaven, and " the fat- 
ness of the earth, and* plenty of corn 
and wine : 

• Hos. 14. 16. t H^-br. 11. 20. • Dent 
33. 13, 28. 2 Sam. 1. 21. w ch.M5. 18. 
' Dent. 33. 28. 

up with the clothes, both to prevent 
theirbeing fretted by the moths, and to 
give them an agreeable odor. * The 
Orientals are proverbially fond of per- 
fumes. They sprinkle their clothes 
with scented oils or waters, or fumi- 
gate them w^ith the incense from odorif- 
erous woods, or carry such woods or 
fragrant herbs in a small bag, or sewed 
up in their clothes. Even the great 
simplicity, of their mode of Hfe does not 
preclude the use of perfumes from the 
Bedouins, who often perfume their head- 
kerchief with civet, or with an odorife- 
rous earth called ares^ which comes from 
Aden, and is much in use among the 
desert Arabs.' Pint. Bible. * It is not 
common to salute as in England ; they 
simply smdl each other ; and it is said 
that some people know their children by 
the smell. It is common for a mother 
or father to say, * Ah ! child, thy S7ncll 
is like the Sen-Paga-Poo,' (a dower sa- 
cred to Chrisna.) The crown of the 
head is the principal place for smelling. 
Of an amiable man, it is said, * How 
sweet is the smeU of that man ! the smell 
of his goodness is universal.' Roberts. 
The Jerusalem Targum gives this more 
of a mystical import, interpreting it of 
* the smell of the perfumes of good spi- 
ces, that should afterwards be offered in 
the mount of the house of the sanc- 

23. Qod give thee ofihe dew of heaven^ 
&c. Or, Heb. 'fr\^ yitten, to'dL give ; at 




[B. C. 1760. 

29 y Let people scrre thee, and j * cursed be every one that coisetfa 
nations bow down to thee : be lord thee, and blessed to he that b lo oe cth 

over thy brethren, and * let thy mo- 
ther's sons bow down to thee 

y ch. 9. 25. & 25. 23. 

> ch. 49. 8. 

once a prayer and a prophecy. *' The 
value of this blessing cannot be ade- 
quately appreciated by the European 
reader. But in Palestine, and indeed 
throughout We.stern Asia, rain rarely if 
ever falls from April to September, and 
tiie heat of the sun being at the same 
time very strong, all •egelation would 
be parched and dried up, were it not for 
the copious dews which fall during the 
night and completely moisten the ground, 
keeping in a fertile condition lands which 
would otherwise be sterile and desolate, 
But all this moisture evaporates with 
astonishing rapidity as soon as the sun 
has risen. It seems that the advantage 
of these abundant dews is not generally 
enjoyed, except in regions more or less 
hilly or elevated, or in confined valleys. 
In extensive 6pen plains and deserts it 
does not seem that any dews fall in sum- 
mer. But in such tracts no men can in- 
habit, except the wandering tribes, and 
to^ns and villages are only found on 
the banks of natural or artificial streams ; 
nor, unless in the same situations, is 
any cultivation attempted where there 
are no night dews in summer to com- 
pensate for the want of rain. The pas- 
sage Gen. 2. 5, C, has led some to sup- 
pose that there was no rain, but dew 
only, previous to the atmospheric and 
other changes which are conceived to 
have taken place at the Deluge. If the 
passage in question afTords suflicient 
foundation for this theory, there could 
then have been no rainbow previous to 
the Deluge, and the opinion would be 
justified which considers that the rain- 
bow was first manifested to Noah, when 
it was made a token of the covenant be- 
tv/een God and man. But see also the 

note on Gen. 9. 13.* Pict. Bible. IT 

The fatneis of the earth. Heb. *^3?3tt5?a 


• cb. 12. 3. Numb. 34. 9. 

*f 'li^n muhman'^nai haaretz, of the fat- 
netses of the earth { i. e. the choicest and 
best. See note on Gen. 4. 4. This in- 
cludes the land of Canaan for an inher- 
ance, the emblem of all blessedness, and 
thence termed, Neh. 9. 25—35, the Jut 
land. That the language of the ivhole 
verse has a sense beyond that of the 
simple letter ; or in other words, that the 
blessing was not exhausted in the an- 
nunciation of mere /empomZ good things, 
we think altogether probable. Yet it 
might savor too much of the Kabbinicsl 
mode of interpretation tx) attempt (o give 
a precise import to these figurative 
phrases. We perhaps go to the full ex- 
tent of-sober explication, when we say, 
in general terms, that the ' dew of hea- 
ven' and the * fatness of the earth* sha- 
dow out to us the doctrines of the gos- 
pel and the graces of the Holy Spirit 
shed forth upon men ; in fine, the urbole 
inventory o( spiritual mercies which flow 
to the holy seed in virtue of the coven- 
ant made with Abraham. This is con- 
firmed by the evident drift of the fol- 
lowing, among other passages of sacred 
writ, Deut. 32. 2, Hos. 14. 0, 7, Is. 25. 
6, — 1. 8. 8. Indeed, so closely analogous 
is this, in point of phraseology, to the 
blesmng pronounced upon Esnu, v. 39, 
that unless we would make them almost 
equivalent, it would seem imperative 
upon us to affix some ^ense to the words 
over and above that conveyed by the 
mere letter. 

29. Let people serve thee, <fec. Heb. 
t3'n^9 ammim, peoples ,* that is, foreign 
people, the various hostile natioiM by 
which the Israelites were surronnded, 
viz. the Moabites, Ammonites, Syrians, 
Philistines, and Edomites, all of ^vhom 
were effectually subdued in the dayrs of 
David.— T Be lord over thy hretkratj Ac 


B. C. 1760.] 


30 IT And it came to pafl8» as 
Boon as Isaac had made an end of 
blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet 
Bcarce gone oat from the presence 
of Isaac his father, that Esau his 
brother came in from his bunting. 

31 And he also had made savoury 
meat, and brought it unto his father ; 
and said unto his father, Let my 
father arise, and ^ eat of his son's 
venison, that thy soul may bless me . 

» ver. 4. 

In these words was ratified to Ja^ 
cob the principal prerogative of Uie 
birthright, viz. that of pre-eminence 
over the rest of the family. It is to be 
understood, however, mainly of his pos- 
terity; for Esau was never personaUy 
in subjection to Jacob. The elemento 
of the blessing, we perceive, were 
three-fold, consisting of the promise 

(1) of worldly wealth and prosperity ; 

(2) of dominion or empire; (3) of 
&mily pre-eminence. It is somewhat 
remarkable that the blessing should be 
pronounced in such general terms, that 
there should be no mare express men- 
tion of those crowning spiritual mercies 
connected with the promised land, 
which are commonly supposed to have 
constituted the burden of the patriarchal 
benediction. While it is rich in the 
promise of earthly good, there is no dis- 
tinct allusion to heavenly. This is per- 
haps to be accounted for simply by say- 
ing that such partial intimations were in 
keeping with the nature of that eariy 
dispensation. It was mainly an econo- 
my of shadows and symbols. None of 
the patriarchs appear to have been fa- 
vored with explicU revelations of the 
good things promised. The earthly Ca- 
naan was to them a pledge and a type 
of the heavenly, and in that it would 
seem they were required to read about 
all that it was given them to know of 
their eternal inheritance. Other com- 
mentators give other explanations on 
(his point, but perhaps none nqorv mm^ 

d2 And Isaac his father said unto 
him, Who art thou 1 And he said» 
I am thy son, thy first-bom, Esau. 

33 And Isaac trembled very ex- 
ceedingly, and said. Who? where 
is he Uiat hath taken venison, and 
brought it me, and I have eaten of 
all l^fore thou earnest, and have 
blessed him ? yea, <" and he shall be 

c cb. 23. 3, 4. aoin. 11. 39. 

factory ; as, after all our efforts, we are 
obliged to confess that, in regard to the 
actual amount of knowledge possessed 
by the ancient beUevers, of the gospel 
mysteries, we are still left in utter un- 
certainty. In all probability the clear- 
nera of their knowledge was greatly 
dispruportioned to the strength of their 
faith. But we arc obliged ta speak 
doubtingly on the wliole subject. 

30 — 33.— And it cams to pass, &c. — 
Jacob has succeeded in clandestinely 
and surreptitiously obtaining the bles- 
sing, and in view of the result we can 
hardly refrain from asking, how a bles- 
sing obtained by such means can he a 
blessing. Certainly we are ready to say 
that Jacob had about as much ground 
of deep repentance for thus obtaining 
the blessing, as Esau for losing it. Yet 
the secret purposes of Heaven are thus 
often accorapUshed, while they receive 
no taint from the corrupt and contam- 
inating agencies with which they are 
interwoven. — But the issue of the trans- 
action is now to be detailed. Jacob had 
scarcely left his fatlier's presence, when 
Esau, returning from the chase, came to 
the bedside of the Patriarch, and pre- 
sented him venison. This at once dis- 
covered the imposition. The conse- 
quence was what might have been ex- 
pected. IT Isaac tremhied very exceed- 
ingly. Heb. 12? nbia mnn nnn'^ 

lK9a yeherad haradah gedolah ad meod^ 
trenMed (with) a great trembling ex- 
cepdingly, 6r. 'Was thrown into an 




[B. c. irm. 

34 And when Esau heard the 
words of his father, <^ he cried with 


eeftacy of astonishment.' Ohal. * Won- 
dored with an exceedingly great admi- 
ration/ His emotions were absolutely 
overwhelming. On the one hand he 
could not but feel a degree of just indig' 
nation in view of the imposition which 
had been practised upon him, especial- 
ly when he remembered the precau- 
tions he had taken against being thus 
deceived ; yet, on the other, a moment's 
reflection would convince him that the 
transfer of the blessing must have been 
* of the Lord,' and consequently that he 
had all along been acting against his will 
in designing to have it otherwise. Two 
such considerations, rushing on hu mind 
at once, like two impetuous counter-cur- 
rents coming together, sufficiently ac- 
count for hiH feelings, especially when 
we add his consciousness of the irrevoc- 
able nature of the blessing, and the mo- 
mentous consequences annexed to it. 
But, while he resents the subtlety of Ja- 
cob and the unkind ness of Rebekah,Jie 
acknowledges and acquiesces in the will 
of God. The blessing which he had 
unwittingly pronounced, and which he 
knows to be irrevocable, he deliberately 
and solemnly confirms ; * I have blessed 
him ; yea, and he shall be blessed.' HSs 
feelings would perhaps be not inaptly 
expressed by the language of Balaam, 
Num. 23 : 19, 20, * God is not a man, 
that he shonld lie ; neither the son of 
man that he should repent'; hath he 
eaid, and shall he not do it ? or hath he 
spoken, and shall he not make it good ? 
Behold, I have received commandment 
to bless, and he hath blessed ; and I 
cannot revente it.' Hence, probably, ii 
is that the Apostle, Heb. 12. 17, af- 
firms that Esau * found no place for re- 
pentance, though he sought carefully 
wi^ tears.* That is, he found no place 
for repentance, or change of purpose, in 
hiafidher. He could not prevail upon 

% great and exceeding bitter cry, 
and said unto his father, Bless me, 
eten me also, O my father ! 

him to reverse the word that had pro- 
ceeded from his lips. The blessing hsd 
been solemnly conferred and confirmed, 
and could not now be revoked. From 
that passage, therefore, we can infer no* 
thing positive as to Esau's final Ralvation. 
34. Cried vnth a great and exceeding 
bitter cry. The language is very em- 
phatic, and describes a poignancy of 
grief amountii^ to positive anguish, i 
The time had now come that he bitterly ! 
bewailed his folly in despising and 
throwing away his birthright for so tri- 
fling a consideration — a proof that the vis- 
itation of crimes often sleeps for a time, ' 
and that vengeance may awake when the 
misdeed itself is almost forgotten. * Why 
did he not rather weep to his brother for 
the pottage than to Isaac for a bless- 
ing ? If he had not then sold, he had not 
needed now to buy. Jt is just with God. 
to deny us those fhvors which we were 
careless in keeping, and which we unde^ 
valued in enjoying. How happy a thing 
is it to know the seasons of grace, and not ' 
to neglect them ! How desperate to have 
known and neglected them ! These 
tears are both late and false.' — Bp. Hall. '• 
In like manner, the time wiU come 
when all who profanely neglect the 
proffered mercies of Christ, and practic- 
ally barter away their hopes and pros- 
pects of eternal life for sinful indtilgen- , 
ces, will mourn in bitterness of spirit the 
loss of the blessings which they have 
NO thoughtlessly despised. Still it would 
appear, that in the case of Esau, in the 
midst of all his regrets, there was no 
real contrition, no godly sorrow of heart, 
hut only disappointment and vexation 
at his loss. We find at the time no self- 
condemnation, no confession of his sin ; 
but a severe accusation of his brother, as 
if he only were to blame for what had 
happened. Neither does he give any 
evidence of having been a true penitent 


B. C. 1706.] 


S5 And he said. Thy iirother 
came with subtilty, and hath taken 
away thy bleseinff . 

36 And he said, * Is not he right- 
ly named Jacob? for he hath sap- 
planted me these two times : ^ he 
took away my birth-right ; and be- 
hold, now he hath taken away my 
blessing. And he said, Hast thou 
not reserved a blessing for me ? 

37 And Isaac answered and said 


' ch. 25. 33. 

unto Esau,! Behold I Lave nade 
him thy hrd, and all his brethren 
have I ifiven to him for servants ; 
and ^ with corn and wine hare I 
sustained him : and what shall I do 
now unto thee, my son ? 

38 And Esau said unto his fa- 
ther, Hast thou but one blessing, 
my father ? bless me, even me also, 
O my father ! And Esau lifted up 
his voice, » and wept. 

• 3 Sara. 8. 14. ver. X). h ver. 28. i Hebr. 
12. 17. 

afterwards, for his heart was evidently 
fall of rage and enmity towards his 
brother, under the influence of which he 
determines on a fit opportunity to put an 
end to his life. AU this shows a state 
of mind at the widest possible remove 
from sincere repentance. 

36. Is he liol rightly named, Ac . Heb. 
I'DDt^'lp "^Sn htiki hara »hemo. There 
seems to be nothing in the original an- 
swering to •rightly" in our version. 
The word ^^H haJci, compounded of the 
interrogation n ha^wkelher, and n^ *i, that, 
implies no more than a simple question, 
' Is it because his name is called Jacob ?' 
The rendering of the whole clause by 
Junius and TremelUus, is a litUe different 
from ours, yet perhaps equally correct ; 
'Is it not because his name is called Ja- 
cob (supplanter) that he has supi^anted 

me this second time ?' IT He hath 8up- 

plaaied me. Heb.^3ap5^ yakdHmi; in 
obvious allusion to Jacob's name, Op3>-i 
yoakd),) of which he here gives a cavil- 
ling interpretation ; as much as to say, 
that his brother had shown himself well 
entitled to his name. It can\iot be de- 
nied that there was some ground for the 
reflections thus cast upon Jacob. He 
had indeed acted the part of a supplant- 
er in a way altogether unjustifiable ; 
Jtill the statement was exaggerated. 
Esau was not warranted in saying, *He 
took away my birthright,' as though he 
robbed him of it ; for the surrender was 
his own voluntary act. He parted wUh 

it because he practically despised it. Bm 
it is no nnasual thing for men to act aa 
if accusing others were the most efiTect- 
iial mode of justifying themselves. 

37. / have made him thy lord. Heb. 
T^riTaS tamtiv, I have put, appointed ; i. e. 

I have dedarativdy made him so. 

T AU his brethren have I given ; I.e. de- 
clared that they shall be given. 

H With com and wine ftave I sustained 
him; i. e. declared that he shall be sus- 
tained. Gr. earripi^a have strengthened. 
Comp. ft. 104. 15. Isaac, in using this 
language, is not to be considered as giv- 
ing vent to a self-sufficient or self-corn- 
placent spirit; it is the ordmary pro- 
phetic style. Men speaking by inspira- 
tion are often said to do that which they 
merely announce shaU be done. Thus, 
Ezek. 43. 3, * The vision that I saw when 
I came to destroy the city ;' i. e. to fore- 
tell it« destruction. Jer. 1. 10, ♦ I have 
this day set thee over the nations and 
over the kingdoms to root out, and to 
pull down, and to destroy, and to throw 
down, to build and to plant ;' i. e. to pre- 
dict that these all things shall be done. 
Jer. 15. 1, 'Cast them (thin people) out of 
my sight ;' i. e. announce to them that 
they shall be cast out. Gen. 41 . 13, ' Me 
he restored and him he hanged ;* i.e. fore- 
told these events. Ezek. 21. 26, • Re- 
move the diadem, take off the crown, 
exalt him that is low, abase him that ie 
high;' i. e. predict that these eventn 
shall occur. 



GENESIS. [B. C. mo. 

d9 And Isaac his fether answer- 
ed, and said unto him, Behold, ^ thy 
dweUing shall be the fatness of the 
earth, and of the dew of heaven 
from above ; 

40 And by thy. sword shalt thou 

I k ver. 28. Flebr. 11. 20. 

39. TkydwdUngshaabeofihefatneBf 
of ike earth, &c. Heb . ->i)aO)a flush- 
tnanne, from the fatness, &c. Taken 
according to the letter, this blessing, as 
far as it goes, is precisely identical with 
that of Jacob, v. 28 ; and if that, as we 
suggested, includes the promise of the 
land of Canaan, it is perfectly incon- 
ceivable how the same earthly inherit- 
ance could be prophetically secured to 
both. For this reason we are strongly 
inclined to adopt the rendering of some 

i of the Jewish critica, *Thy dwelling 

' shall be from (i. e. at a distance from) 
the fatness of the earth,' &c. This is 

' the Uteral sense of the original, although 
we know not that the present rendering 
can be considered as doing any positive 
violence to the Hebrew idiom. Hot 

' we think, on the whole, that there is a 
designed equivocation in the words of the 
oracle. They were so framed as to be 
suscej^le of the most favorable sense 
which EUau could draw from them, and 
yet at the same time, in. Isaac's irUention, 
or rather in the mind of tiie Spirit, legi- 
timately conveyed the meaning attri- 
buted to them above. We see not that 
the phraseology can justly be objected 
to on this score, for it does not appear 
that Isaac was under dbUgation to bestow 
upon Esau any blessing at all ; and if 
he uttered one which, as he would na- 
turally understand it, would have the 
effect to soothe and satisfy his mind, 
while at the same time in reality it but 
confirmed the previous blessing of Jacob, 
and disjoined Esau from all participation 
in it, who had any right to complain ? 
The land of Edora, or Mount Seir, 
which fell to him for a possession, was I 
no doubt Bu/nciently distinguished fori 

live, and ^ shalt serve thy brother: 
and "* it shall come to pass when 
thou shalt have the dominion, that 
thou shalt break his yoke from dS 
thy neck. 

1 ch. 33. 23. Obad. 18, 19, 20. 3 Sam. 8. 
14. m3Kiup8.20. 

its fertility to warrant the expressiona 
here used, and yet we are assured, from 
the whole tenor of the Scripture, that 
that region was not to be compared in 
this respect with the destined inherit- 
ance of Israel 

40. By thy sword shdU thou live, Heb. 
TS'in b5 o^ Juxrheka, upon thy sword; 
implying not only that his life should be 
passed in wurs and tumults ; that he 
should be engaged in perpetual hostilities 
with surrounding nations ; but also that 
he should procure his subsistence, his 
living, by this means jrather than by the 
peaceful pursuits of agriculture ; that he 
should live upon the prey or spoil that he 
should acquire by his warlike weapons. 
This, perhaps, confirms the interpreta- 
tion of the preceding verse ; for if a Very 
rich and fertile country were assigned 
to him, why was such a roving and 
freebooting kind of life predicted ? Why 
should he not draw his subsistence from 
the dew of heaven and the fatness of 

the earth ? IT Shalt serve thy brother. 

This clause, and in fact the whole pro* 
phecy, has a more especial reference to 
the posterity of Esau than to Esau him- 
self ; for Esau in person was never sob- 

ject to Jacob. IT Wien thou shall 

have dominion. Ileb. Tn'^fl tarid; a 
word of very difficult explication, as it 
may be derived from three difierejit 
roots, either (1) ni'^ radadf to pro*- 
trate, to suhjed, to bring down ; (2) m' 
radah, to obtain rule, to have dmninion; 
or (3) nn^ rud, to complain. A very 
similar form from the last root occurs, Fs. 
55. 2(3), ' Attend unto me, and hear me : 
I mourn in my complaint (I'^'^fi^ arti) and 
make a noise.' An idea not unsuitable to 
the context may be, that when Esau, in 




41 1 And Etta > hated laeob 
because of the Messing wherewith 
his &ther blessed him : and Esau 

•oh. 37.4|6. 

his posterity, should have sufTered long 
under the ascendancy of his brother's 
race, and should be brought penitently 
to grieve and complain by reason of the 
sore oppression, that then God would 
interpose by his providence, and enable 
them to strike the yoke of bondage from 
their necks ; especially if the sins of 
brael should provoke him thus to give 
the advantage to their enemies. Ac- 
cordingly both the Jerasalem Targum, 
•nd that of the Onkelos, render the pas- 
sage as follows : — * When the sons of 
Jacob attend to the law, and observe 
the precepts, they shall impose the yoke 
of servitude upoti thy neck; but when 
they shall transgress the words of the 
law, thou shnlt break off the yoke of 
servitude from thy neck.' 8yr. * If thou 
shalt repent, hi? yoke shall pass from 
off thy neck.* This rendering, which 
is adopted in the version of Junius ahd 
TremelUus — Erit tamen quem planx- 
eris, €md it shall be when thou shtdt have 
bewailed thyself— htcs at least the merit of 
harmonizing with what we know to 
have been the tenor of the divine dis- 
pensations toward the chosen people. 
They invariably k>st their ascendancy 
over their enemies ia proportion asr they 
sinnsd against heaven. The proposed 
interpretation, therefore, we think pre- 
ferable to any other, especially to that 
of our translation, which makes the 
dause a perfect tautology. Would it 
be possible to gain the dominion without 
breaking the yoke from their necks? 
The prediction was not fblly accom- 
plished till about nine hundred years 
after it was uttered. The yoke was not 
firmly fixed upon them tiU the time of 
David, 2 Sam. 8. 14; and at that pe- 
riod the Jewish peo[!4e observed the 
law; but the nation having gradually 
degenerated, Hadad the Edomite, (o-j 

said in hk haait» * The dajv of 
motirniD^ for roy &ther are at hasdt 
p then wdl I slay my brother Jacob. 

• eh. 50. 3, 4, 10. w Obad. 10. 

wards the end of Soloraon*s reign, made 
a vigorous attempt to free himself iiavi 
the gidfing subjection, but without ane- 
cess. His Mlure, however, was aoC 
kHig sikerwarda retrfeved, as in the 
reign of Joram * Edom revolted ftoa 
under the hand of iudah, and made a 
king oTer themselves.* 2 Kings, 8. 90; 
22. Jehoram made some attempts to 
subdue them again, hot ooold not pre- 
vail; *so the Edomites revolted (Wms 
under the hand of Judah unto this day.' 
2Chron.21.8— 10. 

41. And Esaukated Jacob, Ac. What- 
ever feeling of commiseration or syin. 
pathy we may hitherto have cherished 
for Esau in seeing him supplanted by 
the subtlety of Jacob, it is aU baniahed 
from our bosoms when we here behold 
him inwardly cherishing the most malig- 
nant passions, and coolly anticipating the ^ 
time when he can imbrue his hands ia * 
the blood of his brother ! His guilt in 
this assumes an awfully atrocious char- 
acter. As he was well aware of Isaai^a 
partiality towards himseli; he must have 
been convinced that it was not owing 
to him, nor to Jacob's fraud, but to Aa 
LordCs d/aiMg, that the actual result had 
been brought about. Hence it appears 
that his hatred was of the same nature 
with that of Cain towards Abel, and of 
Saul towards David, being directed 
against him prindpatty on accooat of 
his having been a spedal object of the 
divine favor. Under these eirmink 
stanoas to attempt to take Jacob's hlh 
was virtually waging war with the high 
purposes of heaven, and an attempt to 
frustrate the decree of God by a stroke 
of his swoid! The depravity whieh 
could have prompted such a Sloody r»> 
solve in the bosom of a brother and ia 
the family of a patriareh, seems scanse- 
ly credible; yet history and 




[B. C. 1760. 

4S And these words of Esau her 
elder son were told to Rebekah : 
and she sent and called Jacob her 
younger son, and said unto him. 

tion both unite to teach us that no 
bcMuids can be set to the wickedness of 
which human nature is capable. The 
■ame spirit of hatred seems to have been 
perpetuated in his posterity against the 
seed of Jacob. As nothing but the 
death of Jacob could comfort £sau, so 
nothing could satisfy his descendants 
but to see Jerusalem * razed to its foun> 
dations.' Obad. v. 10, 11, &c.— ^IT The 
days of mourning for my father are at 
hand. Heb. ^pa^ bnst ^iJa'n yeme abd 
tAif the days ofmourning of my father. 
That is, the days in which he shall be 
bewailed by mourning; the days of 
mourning on account of my ftither. 
The original will also bear another sense, 
*The days of my father's mourning 
shall be at hand,* i. e^ the days in which 
he shall himself be a mourner over his 
slain son. The former, however, is pref- 
arable. * When the father ^r the mo* 
ther) has become aged, the children 
■ay, *The day of the lamentation of our 
fifther is at hand.' * The sorrowful time 
for our mother is fast approaching.' If 
requested to go to another part of the 
country, the son will ask, * How can 1 
go ? the day of sorrow for my father is 
fast approaching.' When the aged pa* 
rente are seriously ill, it is said, * Ah ! 
the days of mourning have come.' — 
Roberts. Esau, by proposing thus to 
suppress his resentment till his father 
were inemoved beyond the reach of be- 
ing grieved by its effects, did indeed 
somewhat consult the feeUngs of a pa- 
rent ; yet he evidently had no consider- 
ation for the grief of his mother. So 
cruel are even the tender mercies of the 

42. These words were tdd to RMuth, 
4te.^ Esau, it seems, had not only ' said 
in his heart,' that he would slay his bro- 

Behold, thy brother Esau, as touch- 
ing thee, doth , comfort himself, pur- 
posing to kill thee. 


ther, but that he had in some way actu- 
ally avowed his intention, perhaps before 
some of the servants. His purpose, thus 
divulged, had come to the ears of his 
mother, and she clearly foresaw what 
was to be expected. It would be at the 
hazard of Jacob's life, and consequently 
of the frustration of the divine counsels 
concerning him, that he remained any 
longer under the same roof with his 
vindictive brother. Immediate precau- 
tions must therefore be taken to have 
him removed out of the way. Thus 
the unhappy mother begins to reap ac- 
ccMrding as she had sown. The safety 
of her favorite can only be secured at 
the price of his banishment. We see 
from this, that though their imposition 
succeeded, yet it was a success that 
embittered the whole life, both of Jacob 
and his parents. Rebekah, the contri- 
ver of the fraud, was deprived of her 
favorite 8on« probably for the rest of her 
days. He, who shcrold have been the 
stay and the consolation of her declining 
years, was a stranger in a distant land. 
Nor did the evil terminate here, hi' 
stead of the elder serving the younger, 
Jacob was now a banished stranger, a 
wanderjng fugitive, in continual terror 
of his enraged brother. The retributive 
justice of heaven, moreover, is seen par- 
suing him at every step. First, he whp 
had imposed upon his fother, was him- 
self imposed upon by his uncle in the 
circumstances of his marriage. Next, 
the continual jealousies and hatred be- 
tween his wives Leah and Rachel must 
have reminded him of his own want of 
fraternal affection. His sin also was vis* 
ited upon him in his own family ; oontio- 
ual feuds prevailed amongst his own 
children ; and he who was most beloved 
by the fother, was most hated by the 


B. c. ireo.] 



43 Now therefore, my son, obey 
my voice: and arise, fleis thou to 
Laban my brother ' to Haran ; 

44 And tarry with him a few 
days, untD thy brother's fury turn 

45 Until thy brother's anger turn 
away from thee, and he forget that 
which thou hast done to him : then 
I wSi send, and fetch thee from 

r ch. 11. 31. 

rest. At length he ynm himself the dupe 
of an impostnre more successful even 
thao that by which he had deceived his 
father. Josep^h, his beloved son, was 
sold by his brethren, and stated to be 
tisin. In a word, the rest of the Hfe of 
Jacob was signalized by scenes of do- 
mestic trouble and vexation, which had 
their origin in the unhappy step we are 
now considering. At the close of bis life 
he justly said, ' Few and evil have been 
my days;' and he might have added, 
'I am a melancholy example of the ef- 
fects of deviating from the path of sim- 
plicity and truth.* IT Esaucomforteih 

Inmtdff purposing to laU ihee. Heb. 
^STO 'lb tDron^D mUknahem Uka 1e- 
horgdoOf comforteOi KimMdf over thect or 
UmAing thee, to JbTZ thee. What a source 
from whence to draw comfort! How 
uqfathomably deep in depravity must 
that soul be sunk which can find conso- 
lation in such a bloody and barbarous 
thought as this ! 

44. Tarry nnlh him a few days. This 
proved eventually to be a period of 
twenty years, and it is at best doubtful 
whether Rebekah everagam beheld her 

45. Why shmdd I he deprived of you 
both in one day ? But why does Rebe- 
kah fear a two-fold bereavement 7 It 
is indeed possible that she may have ap- 
prehended that a murderous attack from 
Esau upon his brother might arouse 
him m self-defence, so that it should be 
only at the ezponse of the aggressor's 

thence. Why should I be deprived 
sUbo pf you both in one day 1 

46 And Rebekah said to Isaac, 
■ 1 am weary of my life, because of 
the daughters of Heth : ' if Jacob 
take a wife of the daughters of 
Hef h, such as these which are of 
the daughters of the land, what good 
shall my life do met 

• ch. ao. 35. 4t 9B. a • eh. 34. 3. 

life that he should kise his own. But a 
more probable ezplanation is the follow- 
ing : If Esau had killed Jacob, he woaM 
have been liable either to have been 
punished with death, according to the 
law, ch. 9. 6; or to have been driven 
into exUe Uke Cain, where he would haw 
been virtually tost to her forever. 

46. /aiitiseiiryo/'mylife.^c.Itwoukl 
appear from the circumstanceathat Re- 
bekah was here framing an excuse for 
Jacob's departure, and concealing the 
true cause. Though Isaac was now so in- 
firm as to have lost all power of man- 
agement, and every thing devolved on 
Rebekah, yet it was expedient before Ja- 
cob's departure, to obtain his father's 
concurrence. Butinordertodothisshe 
passes over the true reason of the propo- 
sed journey in silence, and knowing that 
he, as well as herself, had been grieved 
by Esau's wives, she now pretends to 
fear that Jacob may form a similar con- 
nexion, and makes this the ostensible rea- 
son why he should go immediately to 
Pftdan-aram, viz. that he might take a 
wife from among their relations in that 
country. She does not propose it, how- 
ever. <!hrect]y, but merely in the form of 
a bitter complaint of the conduct of 
Esau's wives. But this policy com- 
pletely answered the end, as is clear 
fVom the next chapter. 

Rkmakks. Several of the important 
reflections suggested by the foregoing 
narrative, deserve to be dwelt upon a 
lUtle more in detaiL 




[B. C. 176a 

(1.) 7^ kiti^ry /umukts an adnum- 
Uory leuon to parents, llie foondation 
of tfi« most material enora in life ia often 
laid at a very early period. Parents are 
frequently disappointed in their off- 
spring, and troubled initheir lives, from 
a cause which they little suspect. They 
eomplain of their children, when, per- 
haps, the fault is to be traced mainly to 
themselves. They have indulged an 
early partiality, founded upon no just 
reasons, which has been productive on 
both sides of the worst efiecu. Let 
them guard them with anxious vigilance 
against the symptoms of a weak Bavor- 
ilma toward their cbddren. God has 
nade them equally the guardians of 
«U their cJiUdren, and they who mis- 
■anage so important a trust must ex- 
pact to sufier for it. A wise providence 
often points out the sin in the punish- 
ment, and teaches parents discretion 
in the discharge of their duties, by se^ 
ting before their eyes the bad effects 
which flow from the want of it. 

(2.) We fMf learn from this gtory not 
to make the supposed designs of God the 
ruU of our conduct. We say * supposed 
ilesiffna,* beoause as to us, they can be 
only supposed. It may please God to 
li»rotel future eveitta, but it is not there- 
l»fa our duty by crooked means to bring 
them to pass. God does not give pro- 
phecy for a rule of action. He will ac- 
aottidisb his own purposes in his own 
wi^. It is happy for us that the course 
of doty is clearly marked out, in the 
preceptive portions of the word. We 
are to follow what is fair^ and just, and 
honorable, and leave the consequences 
to God. 

(a) Wears reminded that the way to suc- 
cess aasdto prosperity in our undertakings 
is often not that tshieh appears the short- 
tstt or even the surest Jaoob was, indeed, 
lor the time being successful in his fran- 
jMent device. But what fruits had he 
ofhia triumph? He sowed the wind 
and reaped die whirlwind. Sood was 
he forced to fly from his brothAr's wrath, 

and years of trouble followed his de* 
psrtnre from the paternal mansion. Had 
he [>ennitted God to accomplish his ds- 
claretion in his own way ; had his con- 
duct to his brother been, as it should 
have been, kind and affectionate, and 
free from guiie, we cannot doubt that 
his history would have been far differ- 
ent. His life might then have been ai 
remarkable for happiness and peace as 
it was for calamity and disqmetode. 
The true source of prosperity is the 
blessing of God, and this cannot be 
counted upon, except in strict adherence 
to the principles of rectitude. A man 
is exposed to temptation; some great 
advantage offers itself; a little art or 
deceit in supplanting another is thought 
indispensable ; excuses are not wanting 
to justify the act But what, in general, 
is the result? Either his arts recoil 
against himself, and he is utteriy disap- 
pointed of his aim ; or if he apparently 
succeeds, his success is Aither a curse 
than a blessing. The attainment of hir 
end is more to be deprecated than fail- 
ure. Our highest wisdom and oui sb- 
rest safety lie in the course of plain, 
simile, undeviating integrity. 

(4 J We are taught that regret is o^ 
imotKriZtii^ to restore an offender to tie 
privileges of innocence, Esau, having 
sold his birthright and lost the blessing, 
discovered his error too late. The bles< 
sing once gone, was gone forever; and 
tears, and prayers, and exclamationi 
were in vain employed to recover it 
Let us leam then, that however momen- 
tous the consequences depending upon 
a single wrong step, they may be irrt' 
trievable. Regret, however bitter, en- 
treaty, however ul'gent, may come too 
late. And even should we escape the 
doom of final despair, yet our whole 
hves may be embittered by the recollec- 
tion of our guilt and folly. In vain shall 
we look for our former peace of mind, 
the sweets of conscious innocence, and 
the fruits of pleasing hope. We may 
seek for them with tears, but they will 


B. C. 1780.1 




AND Isaac called Jacob, and 
* blessed him, and charged him, 
and said unto him, ^ Thou thalt not 
take a wife of the daughters of Ca- 
2 • Arise, go to * Padan-aram, 

a CA. S7 33. k eh. S4. 3, 
a 4cli.85.9Q. 

•Hos. 12. 

not be found. Let ua not, by yielding 
to temptation, cast away our confidence^ 
which hath great recompense of re- 


1. Blessed him. That i«, deliberately 
confirmed and ratified to him the bles- 
sing which he had before given him 
unaware*. He had undoubtedly by 
this time become satisfied that Jaeob 
WES the real object of the blessing which 
he had pronounced, and he now renews 
it not only intelligently and expliddy, 
but with all his heart 

2. Arise^go to Padan-aram. That is, 
to Mesopotamia or Syria between the 
rivers. See Note on Gen. 25. 20. G^. 
airoipaBi tif mv Jllsffoworaftta» run to 
Mesopotamia. The precise limits of the 
country to which the name applies can- 
not well be ascertained. * Properly 
speaking, it would seem to include all 
the country between the rivers ; bur it 
is only apj^ied to the great plain which 
extends southwanl of Mount Masius, 
which passes between the rivers in the 
north of this region, and which changes 
entirely the nature of the country : all 
that lies to the north-west of this point 
being mountainous and rugged ; while 
to the south-east a flat and sandy char- 
acter prevails. From the latter charac- 
ter we must, however, except the ex- 
treme south-eastern portion, formerly 
called Babylonia and ChaMea, but now 
Irak Arabi, which possesses a soil natu- 
rally rich, the fertility of which u-as pro- 
verbial in remote antiquity, when innu- 

to the house of "Bethuel thy moth, 
er's father; and take thee a wife 
from thence of the daughten of 
' Laben thy mother'r brother. 

3 9 And God AJmiffhty bless thee^ 
and make thee fruitful, and mxdt^ 
ply thee, that thou mayest be a 
multitude of people ; 

•eh. 8^.23. f eh. 94. 99. >ch.l7.1r«. 

roerable canals traversed it m aQ diree- 
tiona, but the interior of which is now 
destitute of either inhabitants or vege- 
tation. Many parts also of the north- 
western portion, which is usually dis- 
tinguished as Mesopotamia PW>per, are 
naturally fertile ; but, except near tha 
great rivers vdiich inclose this country, 
or on the brooks which flow into them, 
the whole country may be described 
as a desert — ^being, in fact, little better 
than a continuation of the great desert 
of North Arabia; and equally with it 
claimed by the Bedouins, who are its 
sole inhabitants, and who exact the cus- 
tomary tribute fW>m all travellers. Ona 
of the most agreeable of the fertile and 
pleasant tracts by which this desolaie 
region is skirted is the north and north- 
eastern part, in which Jacob fed the 
flocks of Laban for so many years ; and 
which contains numerous rich pastures 
and pleasant hills; although the want 
of water prevents large portions of natu- 
rally fertile soil from being productive. 
The air is uncommonly pure throughout 
Mesopotamia : but the sandy deserts, by 
which the southern portion is envircmed 
render the climate there so very wsmi 
in summer as to be considered remark- 
able even by Asiatics, who are aeeoi- 
tomed to strong summer heats.* Pitt, 

3. That ihou mayest he a mukitude 9/ 
people. Heb. ta'^TS!? blTpb ^iWW ■••- 
fnm, to a congregation ^peoples. Or. 
ets irwaytayaf tBvtav^ to synagogues of 
nations. Chal. * An assembly of tribes ;' 
in allusion, probably, to the twelve 



GENfiSIg. [B.G.1760. 

4 And gife tbee ^ Che blegnng of 
Abraham, to ihee, and to thy seed 
with thee ; that thou mayest inherit 
the land ' wherein then art a stran- 
fer, which God gave unto Alnra- 

5 And Isaac sent away Jacob: 

*> eh. 12.2. t eh. 17. 8. 

tabea wlucfa were to «j«ing from Jacob. 
The phraseology in the original is re- 
markable, the term being the same that 
10 ^[^ied in several instances to the 
dkurc^ of Israel in the wilderness, and 
oonveyiog nnder it an ulterior allusion 
to the Christian churck, composed of ev-. 
•ry kindred, and nation, and people, and 
tongue. Comp. Gen. 35. 11, Deut. 31. 
30, Num. 1$. 3, Ex. 16. 3, Acts 7. 38. 

4. Owe thee the blessing of Abraham. 
That is, confirm, fulfil, make real to thee 
the blessing promised to Abraham, one 
prominent feature of which was the in- 
heritance, by his seed, (^ the land in 
which Jacob himself ia said to be a stran- 
ger and sojourner, though he had been 
bo«n in it, and thus far bred up in it. 
— ^ The land viherem thau art a stran- 
ger. Heb. *]*i^3>3 y^ D» eth eretz m^ 

gw^tnL, ihe land of thy sojowrmngs, 

T Which Ctod govt. Gave by promise ; 
purposed to give. Gen. 12. 7,-13. 15, 
—15. 7, 18,— 17. 8. 

5. BeAud the Syrian^ Heb. '^TS'IMM 
AaanrnMrn, the Aramite, or Aramean ; to 
called, not because he was of the race 
of Aram, the son of Shem, but because 
he dwelt in that country which had for- 
merly been possessed by the descend- 
ants of Aram. See Note on Gen, 25. 20. 

6. When Esau saw, dec. That is, 
took cognizance of the iact; attentively 
considered it. The incidenU here re- 
corded in respect to Esau are very 
remarkable. Finding Jacob now dis- 
missed, and himself left alone under the 
paternal roof, he begins to think of 
taking advantage of circumstances, and 
•adeavoring, if possible, to recover 
what he had so Iboliahly ioet. To this 
end he knows he must &8t of allcondl- 

and he went to Patdan^aram nnK^ 
Lahan, son of Bethnel the Syrian, 
the brother of Rebekah, Jacobus ana 
Esau's mother. 

6 ^ When Esau saw that Isaae 
had blessed Jacob, and sent him 
away to Padan-aram, to take him a 
wife from thence ; and that as he 

iate his father. It was only by ingrfr> 
tiating himself afresh into his favor that 
he could hopeio induce him to revoke 
the blessing conferred upon Jacob, &n4 
besto w it upon himself. His great study, 
therefore, now is, to please his father, 
to work effectually upon his parents} 
fondness. He acoerdingly entere with 
feigned repentance upon a partial refor- 
mation. Knowing that his parents were 
both gn^ved by his marriage with the 
Hittite women, and perceiving, from the 
charge given to Jacob and the ready 
obedience he had yielded to it, that it 
was on this point that the patriarch vm 
most accessible, he seems to have said 
to himself; ' If that will please him, 1 
will take another wife ; and as he thinks 
so much of his kindredf it shall be from 
among them. Moreover, as Jacob, who 
is his mother*s favorite, intends to mar- 
ry into her family, I, who am my fii^ 
ther's, will marry into his* Such a 
measure, he seems to have little doubt, 
he could pass off* upon his father as a 
noble act of filial duty, as a grand sacri- 
fice of inclination to conscience. But 
in all this we see the awkward and 
wayward manceuvring of a self-inter- 
ested hypocrite. In the first place he 
stood in no need of a wife, for he had 
two already ; and if he had sincerely 
aimed to gratify his parents, he would 
rather have put away these than have 
taken a third in addition to them. In 
fact, in pretending to avoid one sin he 
faUs into another ; and so it often hap- 
pens to those whose hearts are not right 
with God. From not guiding their fiwt- 
stepe by hie word, their very efforta 
towards amendment plunge them deep^ 
er into difficulty. Because it was 


B. C. 1760.] 



Ueased him, he gave him a chuj^je, 
saying. Thou e&Jt not take a wife, 
of the daughteni of Canaan ; 

7 And Uiat Jaeob obeyed his la- 
in done of Esau to lake wives of the 
daoghten of Canaan, it did not foHow 
that it would be doing well to add to the 
number by taking another from a dif- 
fereot stock. It is well to refrain from 
any thing which we know to be dis- 
pieasing to God ; bat it is making bad 
woTsSf it, in enr profected amend- 
ment, we fellow the desires and devices 
of car own hearts without eonsoHing 
his wilt. Yet snch was Esau's oondnct 
on this occanon ; and not only so, but, 
secondly, he goes to alamily which had 
become, in the rigfateons providence of 
God, alienated, if not oatlawed, from the 
pale of the covenant, and which at this 
time had in all probability greatly apos- 
tatized from the true faith and the true 
worship. Thirdly, the extreme fanlti- 
ness of his conduct appears m this, 
that he consulted the fbelings of his 
father only, regardless of those of his mo- 
ther. As his father had it in his power to 
favor him in a way in which his mother 
could not, his sole aim was to work upon 
hi$ partialities without any reference to 
hers. Finally, that he had no sincere 
and ingenuous sorrow for the past is 
clear from the fact that he still retained 
his hatred against Ms brother. He was 
even now laying snares for his feet, and 
'hnnting for his precious life.' This 
of itself was enough to give the lie to 
all his pretensions. IVue repentance 
would have softened down the malignant 
feeiings which he cherished, and diougfa 
he might not have been reinstated in 
the blessmgs and prerogatives which 
he had lost, yet he would have acknow- 
ledged the hand of an overruling provi- 
dence in what bad occurred, and es- 
teemed it a mercy to hold even a second 
phce in a line so honored and favored 
as that of Abraham. The conduct of 
Esau throughout this transaction affords 

ther, and hv motlier, and was gome 

to Padan*aram; 
8 And Esau seeing k ^^i the 

k eh. 91. 3. & 98. 3& 

abundant matter of reflection and im- 
provement. What a striking type do 
we behold in it of the mercenary 
and one-sided religion of great ■iall»> 
todesofmen! They wouM fiua aeenra 
the frivor of God and the advantage* ef 
piety, while at the same time they ara 
at the fortheat remove from having 
respect to oS God's commandments ; and 
their hearu are replete with vnkind, n»> 
filial, unfratemal, envious, and vindie^ 
ive feelings toward their fellow-menL 
Many will go far m the outward pras* 
tice of piety, provided there may be a 
privileged exemption on the seere of 
some particular sin. They wifl pat 
away some offences, if only there may 
be a reservation of o^rs. But of what 
avail can be any rdigioas profesainns or 
doings when marred bysooh glaring tUi- 
congruities and inconsislendes as tfieee ? 
We can see at a glance how growic^ 
less would be any one's pietensioiis to 
the spirit of the gospel who should attow 
his enmity to rise to the mardnwM 
height of that of Esaa. But let ne nol 
ibiget that there are lower degrees of 
malice which are as really decisive 
againstour claims to Christian charaotor, 
and put an inseparable obstacle in the 
way of our obtaining the light of God's 
countenance. A cherished pique, a la> 
tent grudge against a brother eraai»tot, 
is not only destructive of the peace of 
our own minds, but conclusive evidenee 
that the meek and merciful spirit of 
Christ is not in us. Of what nature 
must be that so-called religion, which 
does not avail to quench the unholy 
fires of passion, and m^ away all our 
little lends and ammosities in the 
stronger, the sacied fervors oi that leva 
which is bora of God ? 
8. Phased fud Itaae. Hob. niVn 




[B. C. 1760. 

daugliteTs of Canaan leased n«t 
Isaac his father ; 

9 Then went Esau unto Ishmael, 
and took unto the wives which he 
had > Mahakth, the daughter of Ish- 


enlm theeyei oflaaac; i. e. displeas- 
ing, disagreeable, offensive : as, on the 
contrary, good in ike eyes of is eqniva^ 
lent to pleasing, grateful, acceptable. 
Gen. 16. 6. 

9. Then toent Esau tmtoIsTmad. That 
is, to his family, for Ishmael himself^ it 
<would seem, was now dead. Gen. 25. 

17. H MaAalath, caUed Bashemath, 

ch. 36. 3. 

10. Jacob went out from BeershAa^ &c. 
The circnmstances of Jacob's departure 
from hi8,father*B house, formed a stri- 
king contrast with the pompous mission 
which had been sent to the same coun- 
try when a wife was to be procured for 
Isaac. Without a servant to attend him, 
or a beast to carry hira, or any other 
accommodation, except, as he afterwards 
informs us, Gen. 32. 10, * a staff' to walk 
with, he pursues his solitary way. The 
reason of this, though not expressly as- 
mgned, is perhaps to be referred to the 
hatred of Esau. Jacob may have stolen 
away secretly, and without any retinue, 
and have shunned the frequented path to 
Fbdan-Aram, in order to elude the -vi- 
gilance and resentment of his brother, 
who, he had grounds to fear, would pur- 
fltte him to take his life. But however 
this may have been, his reflections on 
the occasion must have been pungent in 
the extreme. Great as we may suppose 
his comfort to have been in receiving 
his fS&ther's pardon and blessing, and 
rich as were the promises embraced in 
this paternal benediction, yet it was 
donbtless with many a bitt«r pang that 

'he prosecuted his journey. His sin has 
fbund him out. He cannot but feel that 
he has been himself the architect of his 
present lonely, destitute, and perilous 

mael, Abraham's son, *" the sister 
of Nebajoth, to be his wife. 

10 IT And Jacob " went out from 
Beer-sheba, and went toward ** Ha- 

a ch. 25. 13. B Hos. 13. 13. « Acts 7.1 

condition. Had it not been for hii 
criminal impatience, and the sinful strat- 
agem to which it led, he would not, 
probably, have excited his brother's ha* 
tred, or subjected himself to exile from 
the home of his childhood. But we here 
behold the heir of promise, the choeen 
servant of God, in whose loins were an 
elect people and many powerful kings, 
whose history was to occupy so large a 
space in the book of God, in whom all 
the families of the earths were to be bles- 
sed, a forlorn wanderer, banished from 
his father's house, his whole inheritance 
his staff in his hand ! We see him go- 
ing forth, an alien and a fugitive from 
that very country, his anxiety to obtain 
which had formed one motive of his 
late duplicity ! But the lesson which 
is taught by the patriarch's lot is full of 
instruction. We cannot but read in it a 
st«m rebuke of that sinister proceeding 
to which it was owing. Nor can we 
doubt that the train of thought that 
now passed through Jacob's mindvios 
of a gloomy and distressful character. 
Oppressed with a desolating sense of his 
loneliness, and inwardly pained with the 
compunctious visitii^ of his faithful 
conscience, he must often have a^ked 
himself, on his dreary route, *Why am 
I here ?' — a question to which the recol- 
lection of his sin would furnish a ready 
answer. The secret doubt whether he 
were indeed the object of the pardonmg 
love and the special guidance of the 
Most High, must have occasioned him 
many a bitter pang while the shades of 
the first evening were closing around 
him ; but the sequel informs us that, is 
the midst of this scene of outer and m* 
ner darkness, God was graciously prepar* 


B. c. neo.] 

11 And he lifted 
place, and tanned there all niffht, 
becanse the san was set: and he 
took of the stones of that place, and 
pat iksmfor his pillows, and lay down 
m that place to sleep. 



ing a message of peace and joy for his 

exiled servanL IT Wtnt toward Ha- 

ran. Which is computed to have been 
at least four hundred and fifty miles 
distant from Beer-sheba. The route 
thither ivas through a country in many 
places desert and saFage, and in others 
no less dangerous from the hostile tribes 
that dwelt in it ur ragged through it. 
It should not be forgotten, moreoTer, 
that Jacob at this time, instead of being 
a hale young man, in the prime of life, 
had attained the age of seventy-seTen 

11. He lighted upon a certain place. 
Heh. y^'^^ yw^g<^% chanced to meet with, 
implying that his being overtaken by 
nightfall in that particular place, and tar- 
rying there all night, was in consequence 
of a providential ordering, rather than 
of his own purpose. Thus, Eccl. 9. 11, 
* Time and chance (2^:}& pega) happen- 
eth to them all ;* where the noun doubt- 
less has the import of something at once 
unexpected^ unforeseen, and yet providen' 
tiai. The doctrine of chance, fortune, 
or mind fate, did not enter into the theol- 
ogy of the Hebrews. This place was eight 
miles north of Jerusalem and forty-eight 
from Beer-sheba. Jacob probably in- 
tended to reach the city before sunset, 
but being delayed beyond his expecta- 
tions, and finding the gates shut upon his 
arrival, he was under the necessity, it 
seems, of lodging in the open field in the 
suburbs. Even at the present day it fre- 
quently happens in the eastern coun- 
tries, that travellers not reaching the 
city previous to the shutting of the 
gates, are compelled to abide under the 
walla all night; as, when once shut, 
they refuse to open them tUl next day. 

12 And he "f dreamed and be- 
hoidt a ladder set up on eaith, and 
the top of it readied to heaven: 
and behold, ^the angels of God as- 
cending and descending' on it 

FCh. 41. 1. 
Hebr. 1. 14. 

Job. 93. 15. % John 1. 51. 

But sleeping in the open air is a custom 
very common in the Ea^t, and fW>m tfas 
temperature of the climate much lees 
dangerous than in colder latitudes.—— 
%Pui them for hia pOhwt. Heb. 
1'^SM'I^ meraashaHhav. This word, 
derived from idh^ ^otk, head, property 
signifies head4>oitter, or what is at the 
head of any one, and itands opposed to 
mia'lJa margeloth, from ian regd,fooiy 
signifying any thing placed at the feet. 
It occurs also 1 Sam. 26. 7, ' And behold 
Saul lay sleeping within the trench, and 
his spear stuck in the ground of his boi' 

»ter (im23ft^")>3>.' ^ -Anrf lay down m 

that place to sleep. Heb.n^:^*^ yishkoA, 
strictly implying nothing more than 
simply to lie dmon^ without necessarily 
invol^nng the idea of sleeping. Tbs 
words *■ to sleep,* added at the close of 
the verse by our translators, are purely 
supplemental, and ought, no doubt, to 
have been printed in Italics. 

12. And he dreamed, &c. The sove- 
reign manner in which the Most High 
.dispenses his favors is here strikingly 
illustrated. Jacob had been guilty of a 
high-handed offence in personating his 
brother, and imposing on his father, and 
thus fraudulently obtaining the blessing. 
In consequence, he was now fleeing tn 
avoid the effects of his brother's indig- 
nation. And in what manner should 
we suppose that God would meet him, 
if indeed he should deign to notice such 
an offender at all ? Would he not say 
to him, as he afterwards did to the fugi- 
tive prophet^ *What doest thou here, 
Elijah 7' Or rather, would he not m«et 
him in a way of judgment, as he di2 
Moses on the way to Egypt, Ex. 4. 24 — 
28, and painfidly indicate to hia 




[B. C. 1760. 

hii lore diiplaMnre ? But behold, in 
order to display the riches of his grace, 
he revenls himself to him in a most in- 
■troctive vision. He confirms to him 
all the promises previously made to 
Abraham and to Isaac, and extends the 
manifestationB of his favor beyond all 
former bounds ! Well may he exclaim 
with David, *Is this the manner of men, 

O Lord God ?' V And behold, a ladder. 

Heb. tabs etdlam. 6r. rXt/iaf. It is 
extremely doubtful whether the real ob- 
ject seen in Jacob's vision was an ordi- 
nary Madder.' We are not satisfied 
that this rendering yields the genuine 
sense of the original. It is certainly very 
incongruous in point of imagery to con- 
ceive of a ladder with its base standing 
upon the earth, while its top had no- 
thing solid to lean against.^ As to its top 
reaching to heaven, this implies its great 
height, but properly conveys no intima- 
tion of any support afforded to its upper 
extremity. The Heb. terra, wiiich oc- 
curs only here, is a derivative from 
bio talal, to raise up in a pile, to exalt 
by casting or heaping up,as in ihe con- 
strucUon of a mound or highway. In 
this sense, from which there is no im- 
portant deviation throughout the Scrip- 
tures, the verb occurs, Is. 57. 14, • Cast 
ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way.' Is. 
68. 10, *Go through, go through the 
gates ; prepare ye the way of the peo- 
ple ; cast up, cast ttp, the highway.* Jer. 
SO. 26, 'Come against her from the ut- 
most border, cast her up as heaps, and 
destroy her utterly.' With these pas- 
sages, therefore, as a clew, we take the 
term to mean, instead of * a ladder,' in 
the common acceptation, a toioering de- 
vation, as of several mouniains cast up 
and heaped together m one, with broken 
irregular sides, composed of ledges of 
rocks serving as steps or stairs, by which 
it might be ascended to the top. The 
reason of iU being rendered ' ladder' in 
' the 6r. of the Sept., which most modem 
versions, and our own among the rest, 
have adopted, may have been, that high 

moimtainf which are ascended in tlyi 
manner by jutting prominences on 
their sides, (called in the Spanish lan- 
guage * ladderas,* with which compare 
the Eng. phrase *to scaie a height,') 
were sometimes termed * ladders.' Thus 
Josephus, J. W. b. ii. c. 10, speaking of 
the situation of Ptolemais^ says, * It vna 
bounded on the north by a mountain 
called the Ladder of the TyriansJ' Anal- 
ogous to this, *the stairs that go down 
from the city of David,' in Jerusalem, 
are rendered xXi/iajra; ladders, Neh. 3. 
15, and 12. 36, though they were in 
reality nothing else than stone steps ex- 
cavated from the side of the hill. In 
the vision of the patriarch, the angeli 
of God, we suppose, were seen ascend- 
ing and descending the declivities of 
this heaped^up mountain, while the di- / 
vine Glory, in visible apparition, rested 
upon its summit. Though the dream 
was undoubtedly supernatural, yet it is 
not unlikiBly that the object presented 
in this vision was suggested by the pre- 
vious circumstance of Jacob's rudely 
heaping together his pillow of stones^ 
and that the little pile on which his 
head rested was the miniature model of 
the object which God spread before his 
imagination in his, sleep. The interpre- 
tation given of this visionary mountain- 
pile by the Jewish commentators is the 
following: *The ladder, which Jacob 
our father saw, was a parable of the 
monarchies ;' i. e. of the series of great 
monarchies and kingdoms forming the 
subject of the predictions of Daniel. Of 
these, mountains, in the figurative lan- 
guage of Scripture, is a standmg 
symbol, and the overthrow of a king- 
dom is thus described in the prophetic 
style.: Jer. 51. 25, * Behold I am again* 
thee» O destroying mountain, saith the 
Lord, which destroyest &11 the earth: 
and I will stretch out mine hand upon 
thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, 
and will make thee a burnt (or, Heb. 
*a burning') mountain.' Closely con- j 
nected with this, and of a parallel in* 


B. a 1760.] 

13 ' And behold the Lobd Btood 
above it, and said ' I am the Lord 

rcb. 35.1. &48.3. .ch.96.84; 



port, 18 the following passage from the 
Apocalypse, ch. 8. 8, * And as it were a 
great mountotn, burning with fire, was 
cast into the sea ; and the third part of 
the 'sea became blood.* A similar dic- 
tion prevails thronghout the prophets. 
We are inclined to think, therefore, that 
there is some ground for this interpreta- 
tion, so far at least as to warrant us in 
understanding the scenery of the vision 
as foreghadowhig seme future kingdoms 
or kingdom destined to arise and held a 
conspicuous place on the earth. That it 
hastntome toay a reference to gospel 
times and events is clear fiom our 
Savionr's allusion to it, John, 1. 51, 
. * Verily, verily, I say unto you, hereaf- 
ter ye shall see heaven open, dnd ifte 
angds of Ood ascending and descending 
upon the Son of man ;* that is, ye shall 
one day see that realized in regard to 
me which was shadowed forth in Jacob's 
vision. But that the ladder, as it is 
termed, was a type of Christ in his di- 
vine and human nature, mediating be- 
tween heaven and earth, is, in our 
opinion, an entirely fanciful and unwar- 
ranted mode of interpreting the vision, 
It will perhaps be sufficient to say, that 
the Saviour's words will be fulfilled at 
the period to which we have referred, 
when his kingdom shall have become 
fully established on earth. It is not un- 
likely that the> communication between 
heaven and earth by means of angels 
will then be much more complete than 
it has ever yet been. But, though the 
above may have been its uhinuUe scope, 
7et we cannot well doubt that its more 
immediate object was of a simpler char- 
acter, and one more especially adapted 
to the circumstances of Jacob at the 
time. He had now left his father's 
house sotitary and sorrowful, with much 
lo fear and little to hope. He had, in- 
I deed, received the paternal blessing, but 
^t had irritated his injured brother, and 

God of Abraham thy fiekther, and the 
God of Isaac : ' the land whereon 

t ch. 13. 5. & 35. IS. 

under the reproofs of his own conscience 
he could not but be a prey to the most 
disquieting apprehensions. Under these 
circumstances, what could dispel his 
fears and allay the inward tumult of his 
mind, bat the firm persuasion of an 
overruling providence, of a real though 
invisible communication between hea- 
ven and earth ? This, then, we may 
suppose to have been the proximate de- 
sign of the vision. God would teach 
him, by its significant imagery, the con- 
soling truth, that there was a constant 
intercourse kept up, through the me- 
dium of angelic ministers, between the 
visible and invisible world ; that al- 
though he was now an exile from his 
native land, and traversing alone unin- 
habited deserts ; that though he was in 
danger from the wild beasts that roamed 
abroad at night, and from the lawless 
tribes that prowled for spoil through the 
day, yet he was encompassed by the 
presence and protection of his Maker, 
whose angels pitched their camps about 
his bed, and under the shadow of whose 
wmgshe might rest. To all this nothing 
could be better adapted than the vision 
of the towering mountain-height and 
the ascending and descending angels, 
now vouchsafed to him. At the same 
time we know of nothing to forbid the 
supposition that an ulterior and deeper 
meaning was couched under this sym- 
bol, of which it was not necessary that 
Jacob himself should be aware. He 
learned enough from it to answer hia 
present purposes; enough to inspire 
him vnlh confidence, and fill him with 
comfort ; and if we with the aid of sub- 
sequent revelations and a superior in- 
sight into the symbolic language of the 
Scriptures, can elicit from it a greater 
fulness and richness of import, what 
should prevent us from. so doing? 

13. BeholdtheLordstoodabove it Heb. 
*l*^b3? MI3 iTin^i TW hinneh Jehovah ntf«- 




IB. a neo. 

tkott KMt, to thee will I give it, and 
10 thy seed. 

14 And » thy seed shall he as 
the dust of the earth; and thou 
shalt spread abroad ^ to th^ west, 

• eh. 13. 10. w ch. 13. 34. Deot IS. 90. 

jtnd to4he east, and to the north, and 
to the south ; and in thee and * ia 
thy seed shail all the families oithe 
eajth be blessed. 

> ch. Vt, 3. ft 18. 18. lE 22. 18. k, 36. 4. 

fsoft oZov, hehcld JAovah standing upon 
if or (Aove it. Gr. O Kvpto; eirco-niptx- 
' to ««•' avrnii the Lord was frmhf faeed^ 
grounded^ or established upon it, ChaL 

* And the glory of the Lord was faced, 
(*iri2?te meattcui, constihuta. — BuxtorO up- 
on or over it.* The originid word !233 

• for * stood,' (or • atanding,') is from the 
tame root with that rendered 'set,* 
(52>3 nwizab. Gr. tarnpiyntvn JiTfnbj 
fixed), in the succeeding clause, and is 
used for the most part to signify, not an 
octivf stationing or placing one's sdf, but 
passively, a being jimdy faced, settled, es- 
tablished, usually spoken of pillars, sta- 
tues , columns, and other abiding fix- 
tures, and less properly applied to a 
personal agent, except in the sense of 
being constituted, or appointed to office, 
made to preside over, as I Sam. I9« 20. 

* And when they saw Samuel standing 
as appointed Q23) over them;* where 
the terms for * standing,* and * appoint- 
ed,* are entirely different. 1 Sam. 22. 
9| * Doeg, which was set over QSS) the 
servants of Saul.* Ruth 2. 5, * Said un- 
to his servant that was aef over QS;) the 
reapers.* The phraseology, therefore, 
legitimately points to a visible object, 
which was capable of being firmly fac- 
ed and established on the summit of the 
visionary pile. And aa the title ' Jeho- 
vah* is applied to this object, we cannot 
but conclude that it was the Shekinah, 
Che usual visMe symbol^ not so much of 
the divine nature in the abstract, as of 
ike future tnanifested Deity m the person, 
glory, and kingdom of the Messiah. We 
suppose, then, that this part of the vision 
distinctly imported that'the future king- 
dom of Christ was destined finally to 
riee tuperior to the glory of all worldly 
kingdoms, and to be established above 

them. This fact the prophet Isaiah an- 
nounces in terms strikingly corrobora- 
tive of our present interpretation, k 
2. 2, *■ And it shall come to pass in the 
last days, that the mountain of the 
Lord's house shall be established in ihs 
top of the mountains, and shall be exalt- 
ed above the hills ; and aU nations shall 
flow unto it.' In this view of the sub- 
ject we not only perceive a sufficient 
reason for tlie use of the exteaordinary 
term DS3t implying at once establi^ 
ment and pre-eminence, or presidency, hot 
are also enabled to see more distinctly, 
we believe, than on any other interpre- 
tation, the grand scope of the whole va- 
ion, and particularly of the Divine ad- 
dress mode to Jacob in connexion with 
the imaginary scenery beforo him. It 
was, if we mistake not, to assnre him 
that his fioal lot, in the multiplication 
and enlargement of his seed, should be 
as much superior to his present hum- 
ble state, as the immense mountain-pile 
seen in his vision exceeded the little 
heap of stones thrown together for hie 
piUow. Of this assurance Jacob after- 
wards records himself a partial fnlfil- 
ment; Gen. 32. 10, *For with my staff 
I passed over this Jordan, and now lam 
become two bands.' 

14. Am the dust of the earth. Thii 
prediction makes very striking the apos- 
trophe of Balaam, Num. 23, * Who can 
count the dust of Jacob, andthenmo' 
ber of the fourth part of Israel?- — 
T Thou shall spread abroad, &c. Heb. 
r)S*^& paraizta, shtdl break forth, like 
waters, on every side. The aasuranoe 
here given to Jacob, respecting the fu- 
ture increase of his weed, while itre> 
news and confirms the blessings before 
announced to Abraham, foils in, at ths 



CHAPTKR xxnn. 

15 AndbdKildrldMiwiththee, 
and wiO •Itevp thee in bH flace$ 
whither tfaoo goest» and win * braig 
thee again into this land: ibr>I 
wiD not leave thee, ' until 1 have 

7 ver. 90, 31. eb. 9B. 94. & 31. 3. « ch. 
48. 1& P8.191. 5, 7, 8. • ch. 35. 6. 

» l>eat S8. 6. Joeh. 1. 5. 1 KiB||B& 97. 
H«b.l3.5. •Niitab.S%]9. 

same lime with whnt we here said of 
the symbofic diift of the viaion. What 
the hflge mountain mam waa u> the lit- 
tle heap of atooea at hie head, that 
shoidd the coontleaa muktitede of the 
patrieieh*8 choeen aeed he to faimaelf 

15. BdtoldlamwUhiheetXmdwiUkeep 
ikee, Ac. The €^, of the Sept. gives 
this pext of the promiae in a raoie re- 
stricted aenae, — tv-ni^ita navti, inaUihe 
Moy, or maUikis way, i. e. I vnU direct, 
help, end aapport thee in a pectdiar thf preaeot joomey. But 
the words have probaUy a more exten* 
rive reach of meaning, pledging the di- 
vine preaeace and protection in ofl the 
journeys he might undertake. The 
promiaes now vouchsafed to Jacob are of 
two kinda ; the former being a repetition 
and ratification of those before made to 
Abraham .and Isaac, relating rather 
to hia posterity than to himself; while 
the latter had a more distinct reference 
to Jacob personally, «nd to the circum- 
stanoea of hia present distress. It is to 
Jacob, indimdtudfyt that God more espe- 
dally speaks 'in the verse before us. 
Though now wandering forth alone, 
and not knowkig to what dangers and 
temptations he might be exposed in the 
country to which he is going, or whether 
ha should ever return again insafety, yet 
the Lord assures him that, however he 
mig^ be an alien fri»m hia father's 
house, he sbonid not be east away lirom 
Ats pr es e nce, and that he would, be his 
guide and guardian tohtremr he should 
go. Why should we not, as the Bpvit» 
nal aeed ef Jacob, catch a gleam of re- 


dooe<Airt wfaidi I fasvs gpokon to ' 
tbeeof. . 

16 T And Jacob awaked out of 
hia slaep) and he aaid. Surely the 
Lord ia in' tine place; and I Imiw 
it not 

<exod.3,5. Josh.5.lS. 

freshing light from this assurance aa we 
posa ak>i«} If €k)d will be widi ict ; 
if he win keep us in all pkees and cfaw 
cnmstances ; if he will never leave «• 
ncHP fonake us ; a«d if he will bring at 
at laat to our promiaed and hoped^Cw 
land of rest, then may we go on our 
way with confidenoe and joy. Who- 
ever we may leave, or whatever we 
may lose, stiU we pan not fiem our beat 
friend, nor are we deprived of our most 
valuable portion. We cannot be lone* 
ly, if God be with us. We cannot want, 
if he provide for ua. We eannot err, if 
he guide us. We cannot perish, if he 
preserve ua And all this he imB do for 
those that put their trust in htm 

16. Surdy the LORD is in tfctt jrfaos, 
and Iknewit tut' Chal. 'In very deed 
the glory of ihe Lord dweOeth in thio 
phice.' Arab. * The light of God ia hi 
thtt place.* Aa might have been ex* 
peeted, the dream produced a powerful 
impression upon the tnind of JaeelK 
His foehngs upon awaking were thoae 
of grateful wonder mingled with eme- 
tions of reverential awe, bordering doae 
upon dread. He who had folt no foar 
in laying himsdf down to sleep in a 
lonely place, and under the cloud of 
nigfat, ia now fQled with holy dismay 
when the morning arose, at the diaqght 
of being surrounded with God. But 
the element of joy wm not extix^guished 
by tike feeling of the awfol which the 
scene had inspired. The driit of hii| 
exclamation was, that the Lord had been 
eapedally preaent to him where' he Isl*' 
de thought of meetmg with him. He 
i had laid him down to aleep, aa en com* 





« 17 And he wu afraidy and said, 
How dreadful is this place! this i$ 
none other bat the house of God, 
and this is the gate of heaven. 
18 And Jacob rose up early in 

mon groQiid, but h« found that it was a 
consecrated place, hallowed by the 
presence of God himself in this blessed 
vision of the night It seemed a kme 
and uninviting spot, but it had proved 
to him a magnificent temple. He had 
seen in it a giorious appearance of God, 
with his attendant retinue ; and the gates 
of heaven itself had, as it were, been 
opened to his view. Such a visitation 
was too precious not to be especially 
commemorated, and this, accordingly, 
was his immediate care. 

18. Took^ skme—and $et H tip for a 
paiar. Heb. rmS^ maizebah, a fixed, 
ttandmg pSOar. The original term is 
rtaidered. Lev. 26. 1, a * standing image ;* 
and it is elsewhere rendered in like man- 
ner, either * image,* or * statue ;* but the 
6r. has 9m\n pillar^ and it is properiy 
used ibr those Bacredf memorial^ or rep- 
reieiUatnte pSUtn, which were after- 
wards fortudden to the IsraeUtes, prob- 
ably on account of the too common idola- 
trous abuse of them. Lev. 26. 1. Deut 
16. 82. When Jacob is said to have ta- 
ken the * stone* upon which his head 
had lain, and set it up for this purpose, 
wa are probably to understand die word 
as a collect, sing. Ibr ' stmies ;* as it ap- 
pears obvious from V. 11, that there was 
more than one of them*-«— f And pour- 
ed oil upon the tep of it. This was to 
Jacob not only a night much to he re- 
menrf>ered, but a place much to be faon-^ 
ored. He therefore resolves to fix upon 
the spot a solemn memorial of the 
Lord's appearance to him there. From 
the little cruse, which had no doubt form- 
ed a partof his slender stock of provision 
for liis j<wmey, he pours oil upon the 
piBar te consecrate the place. Things 
•od persons aomnted with oil were re- 

the taaaaag^ and took the stooe 
that he had put /or his jhUowb* and 
'set it up /or a piUar* ' and ponied oil 
upon the top of it 

• ch. 31.13,4S.4t3S.14. 
11,13. Numb. 7.1. 

f Lev. &10^ 

garded as eetaqmrtioibid «ervioe of God, 
to a holy and sacred use. Thus the 
tabernacle and its vessele were anoint- ' 
ed, Ex 40. 9—11. In like maimet 
kings and priests, when inaiigarated into 
office, pasised through the same cereroo* 
ny, 1 Sam. H). 1. And thus Jacob ren- 
ders the present place henceforth Aoly, at 
least in his own estimation, and j;ives it a 
name of corresponding import. The prac- 
tice of erecting pillars as memorials of 
events is coeved with the eariiest history 
of nations. Where men are ignonmtof the 
art of writing, a durable monument of 
this kind, which is associated with the 
story of some remarkable foot, will long 
preserve that story in recollection. Af- 
ter the art of writing was introduced 
among the nations of antiquity, we find 
that they still continued to erect these 
pillars, but availing themselves of thtf 
invention, they sculptured the history 
deeply in the stone, that in this endur- 
ing ftirm it might become the possession 
* of nations yet to be.* Every reader 
has heard of the pillars or obeUsks of 
Egypt and Nubia. We learn from En- 
sebius and other authors, ftat it was 
very common, in eariy times, to rear pil- 
lars of stone, to anoint them with oil, and 
then perform retigious rites around or 
over them. To these pillars the Greeks 
gave the name * Baitolia,* an evident de- 
rivative from * Bethel,* the place of their 
origin. (See Le Clere on Gen. 28. 1^*) 
From the same source undoubtedly ori- 
ginated the worship of the * Black Stone,' 
among the followers of Mohammed, 
which is still preserved at Mecca, in the 
temple of the Caaba, otherwise denooi- 
inated*Beit4]lah,' houee t^ Ood, tttom 
which also deariy bctmys its etymolo- 
gioed relation to 'Bethel.' ^HoOiiDgcan 


A. C. 1760.] 



19 And he eaUM the name of 
r that place Betb-d: bnk the name 

be more natural than this act of Jacob, for 
the purpose of marking the site and mak- 
ing a memorial of an occurrence of such 
greatinterest and importance to him (we 
Note on chap. 35. 90.) The tnie dedgn of 
this humble monument teems to have 
b^n« however, to set this anointed pil- 
lar as an evidence of the solemn vow 
which he made on that occasion. This 
use of a stone, or stones, is definitely 
expressed in chap. 31. 48 and 52. Mr. 
Dforier, in his * Second Journey through 
Persia,* notices a custom which seems 
to illastrate this act of Jacob. In trav- 
eQiog through Persia, he observed that 
the guide occasionaDy placed a stone 
on a conspicuous piece of rock, or 
two stones one upon- another, at the 
same time uttering some words which 
were understood to be a prayer for the 
safe return of the party. This explained 
to Mr. Morier what he had frequently 
observed before in the East, and par- 
tioulaxly on high roads leading to great 
towDfl, 9X a point where the towns are 
first seen, and where the oriental travel- 
ler sets up his stone, accompanied by a 
devout exclamation in token of his safe 
arrival. Mr. Morier adds : * Nothing is 
so natural, in a journey over a dreary 
country, as for a solitary traveller to set 
himself down fatigued, and to make the 
vow that Jacob did : * If God will be with 
me, and keep me in the way that I go, 
and will give me bread to eat and rai- 
ment to put on, so that I may reach my 
father's house in peace,' &c., then will 
I give so much* in charity ; or, again, that 
on first seeing the place which he has 
so long toiled to reach, the traveller 
should sit down and make a thanksgiv- 
ing, in both cases setting up a stone as 
a memorial.* The writer of this note 
has himself often observed such stones 
without being aware of their object, un- 
til happening one day to oyertum one 

c^ that city toot eelU Loi at the 

that had been set upon another, a man 
hastened to replace it, at the same tine 
informing him that to displace such 
stones ^was an act unfortonate for the 
person so displacing it, and unpleasant 
to others. The writer afterwards ob- 
served, that the natives studiously avoid- 
ed displacing any of these stones, ' set 
up for a pillar,* by the way-side. The 
place now pointed out as Bethel ooii> 
tains no indication of Jacob's pillar. 
The Jews believe that it was pbced in 
the sanctuary of the second temple, and 
that the ark of the covenant rested upon 
it; and they add, that after the destrae- 
tion of that temple, and the desolation pf 
Judea, their lathers were accustomed 
to lament the calamities that had befidlen 
them over the stone on which Jacob-*s 
head rested at Bethel The Mohamme- 
dans are persuaded that their famous 
temple at Mecca is built over the same 
stone.* Pict. Bible. 

19. But the name of that dty wat ca0- 
ed Imz at the fartL It does not foUow 
from this that there was any city in thia 
place at Utu time, h is quite clear from 
the preceding narrative that Jacob had 
slept in the open field at some distance 
from any house. But there may have 
been a city in the vicinity which waa 
originally called * Lux,* and which after- 
wards, in consequence of the event 
here mentioned happening in iti nei^* 
borhood, may have received the name 
of * Beth-el.' Or we may take what is 
perhaps the still more plausible solution 
of Calvin, who thinks there waa no 
city whatever on the spot or in the 
vicinity at the time, but that afierwafds 
one was built there by the Canaanitee, 
and called * Luz* from the abundance 
o{a2numd trees which grew there, with* 
out any regard to Jacob's appellation ; 
bat that in subsequent ages, when the 
children of Israel obtained possession of 




[B. c. nao. 

90 ^ And Jaeob vowed aTovyny- 
iqg,If* Godwin be with me, and 

kclkSLia. Jii4g. 11.30. 9 8uk1&ia 
iTer. IS. 

win keep me in ibm way that I go 
and win pve me ^ bread to eat,aiia 
raiment to pot oo, 

k 1 Ttm. ft. a 

<he oountry, and of this dty among 
oCfaeEit they reatored, from motives of 
rererenee, the ancient name which the 
patriarch had bestowed nponit. That 
the place was long regarded with reh- 
giona veneration we may infer from Jer- 
oboam's having chosen it for the seat of 
hia idolatrous worship of the golden 
calves, 1 Kings, 12. 28, 29, for which 
leasoD the prophet Hosea, ch. 4. 15, 
alluding to the name given it by Jacob, 
calls it * Beth-aven,* the Junue of vanity , 
i. 0. of idols, instead of * Beth-el,' house 
tf Ooi. In like manner Amos, 5. 5, 
* Bethel shall come to nought (Heb. 
*)*ttl rm*^ «A^ ^ Aven:) A good 
name has no security of permanence 
where a change for the worse has taken 
place in the character. God even 
writes npon his own people, * Lo- Ammi,* 
not tmf people instead of * Ammi,* my peo- 
pie, when, by their transgression, they 
fcrfeit his fiivor. 

90. And Jacob vowed a vote, taying, 
&c. Not satisfied with merely erecting 
and anointing the memorial-piUar, Jacob 
gives way still further to the prompt- 
n)gs of a grateftil heart, and binds him- 
self by the solemnity of a vow to be 
more ftilly the Lord's than he had ever 
been before. It is not to be understood, 
however, from his conditional mode of 
expression, * If God will be with me,* 
dbo. that he had any doubt as to the 
Adfibnent of the divine promise, or that 
he would prescribe term^ to his Maker. 
The language implies nothing more 
than his cordially taking God at his 
word; his laying hold of his gracious 
assurances ; and a sincere avowal, that 
since the Lord had kindly promised him 
Ae bestowment of inestimable blessings, 
he would endeavor not to be wanting 
in the suitable returns of duty and de- 
God had promised to be 

with him, to keep him, to bring him 
again into the land, and not to leave him. 
He takes up the precious words, and 
virtually says, * Oh, let it be according 
to thy word unto thy servant, and thou 
shalt be mine, and I will be thine, fop 
ever.* This was all right ; for Jacob 
sought nothing which God had not pro- 
mised, and he could not well err while 
making the divine promises the rule 
and measure of his desires. Our vows 
are wrong when either we hope that by 
them we can induce God to do ibr m 
what otherwise he has not engaged or ii 
unwilling to perform ; or when we im- 
agine that the services which we 
stipulate to render to him will be any 
compensation for the mercies vouch- 
safed. Vows are not intended to have 
the force of a bargain or compact by 
which to involve the Deity in obliga- 
tions of any kind ; but merely to bind 
ourselves to the performance of some- 
thing which was before indifferent, or 
to impress our minds more stronj^y 
with the necessity of executing some 
acknowledged duty. From the connex- 
ion and circumstances, it is dear that 
Jacob's vow was one of the most unex* 
oeptionable character, and such as Go^ 
approved. *■ The order of what he dei 
sired is deserving of notice. It corres' 
ponds with our Saviour's rule, to seek 
things of the greatest importance first. 
By how much God*s favor is bettei^ 
than life, by so much his being wiih ttf« 
and keeping u», is better than food and 

raiment.* FuUer. T WiU give mi 

bread to eat and raiment to put on. It iff 
impossible not to be struck with the 
moderation of Jacob's desires, as evinced 
in these words. He speaks tike one 
who is firmly persuaded that if God be 
with us, and keep us, the mere neoestu- 
ries of life will make us happy. He 


B. C. 1760.1 

chaptee xxvni. 


^ So that 1 1 come ngm to my 
fiLther's house m peace : * then shall 
the Lord be my God : 

22 And this stone, which I have 

* Judg. n. 31. 2 Snin. 19. 24, 90. 
• I>eiit. 98. 17. 2 Sam. 15. 8. 3 KiugH $. 17. 

seeks not high tilings for himself. He 
asks not for wealth or equipage, for rank 
or renown. The means of a baresiib- 
asteiice, a simple competency, bounds 
the narrow circle of his wishes, as far as 
woridly good is concerned ; and where 
this spirit exists, we know from the case 
of Solomon, 1 Kings, 3. 5 — 12, that God 
is wont to grant not only the favors re- 
quested, but vastly more. Thus it was 
with Jacob, and thus we shall doubtless 
find it with ourselves. 

21. Then shall the Lord he my God. 
That is, I will utterly renounce and for- 
sake an the idolatries and stiperstiiions 
of the surrounding heathen ; I will ac- 
knowledge, worship, and cleave to Je- 
hovah alone, having no other God be- 
fore him, and serving him in my own 
person and in my family faithfully and 
reverently all the days of my life. It 
should not, however, be withhcW- from 
the reader, that Greddes, Rosenmnller, 
and many other critics of note, consider 
this clanse as one of the condificns, and 
not of the consequences^ of the vow^. 
They accordingly render * If God will 
be with me, &c., and if the lx)rd will be 
a God to me;' i. e. according to the 
promise made to Abraham, Gen. 17. 7, 
to be a God to him and to his seed. 
The original will undoubtedly admit of 
this rendering as naturally as of the 
other, and it is perhap«i equally pro. 
bable. In this sense it seems to have 
been understood by all the ancienf 
translators, except the Syr , Vnlg , and 
Pers., who took the prefix 1 (^^'^^ 
vdiaifak) in the sense of turn, then, and 
like the Eng. version, make it a part of 
Jacob*B stipulation to (5od. But Mi- 
ehaeliB rejects this, and adopts the former 

SS. Tkig dmw^^haa he God^s hortse. 

eet for 9, piBarr, "shall be God's 
house : « and of aU that thoa shak 
give me, I will sm«Iy give the teoth 
unto thee. 

"ch.35.7,14. .Lev. 87. 30. 

That is, shall stand for, shall represent, 
shall signify; for which the Hebrew 
has no other term than the verb of exist- 
ence. See Note on Gen. 40. 12. H 
does not appear that he intended to 
erect a structure in this place for 
the permanent worship of God, which 
should be called 'the house o{ God,* 
or that his words, rightly understood, 
announce any such purpose. We rather 
take the drift of the clause to be, that 
he should ever regard the place as pe- 
culiarly sacred, a spot honored and 
hallowed by an extraordinary manifes* 
tation of the divine presence; and, 
prompted by thatfeeUng,he would leave 
there a monument which should not only 
be a memento of the mercies so signally 
vouchsafed him, but also a shadow, a 
symbol, a prefiguration of that future 
structure which in process of time God 
would cause to be erected within the 
bounds of the promised land, and which 
should itself be but a type of that final 
spiritual mystical house, fJie rhurch^ 
composed of living stones^ and forming 
the body of his spiritual seed. It may, 
indeed, be doubted whether Jacob him- 
self understood the fuU import of the 
words he now uttered. The true expo- 
ntion, if we mistake not, is to be read 
in a passage of the New Testament, 
where Paul appears to be guided by the 
Holy Ghost to the right explication of 
the patriarch's language. 1 Tim. 3. 15, 
*That thou mayest know how thou 
oughtpst to behave thyself in the house 
of God, which is the church of the liv- 
ing God, the pillar and ground of truth.' 
The phrase * house of God' seems to 
have suggested to the Apostle its Heb. 
designation, 'Bethel,' and this again, 
by a natural association, the memorial 
pillar there erected by Jacob, the spiiit- 



GENESIS. [B. C. 1760. 


THEN Jacob went on his jour- 
ney, ■ and came into the land 
oi the people of the east. 

a Numb. 23. 7. HO0. 13. 13. 

nal import of which he pronounces to 
be to represent ^ the church of the liv- 
ing God/ a declaration properly based 
upon Jacob's words, v. 22, *And this 
stone shall be God's house.' The ex- 
pression ' pillar and ground of the truth/ 
is probably a Hebraism, equivalent to 
* the true pillar and ground ;' i. e. the 
church is the reality, the truth, the sub- 
stance, of which Jacob's pillar was the 
shadow. The terms true and InUh are 
clearly applied in this sense in the New 
Testament. Thus, John, 1. 17, *The 
law was given by Moses, but grace and 
truth came by Jesus Christ.' Now, as it 
is certain that truth, in its ordinary ac- 
ceptation, came as really, though not to 
the same degree, by Moses as by Christ, 
we are forced to understand this of the 
substance of the gospel as contradistin- 
guished from the shadows of the law. 
By Moses came the letter and the fypc, 
by Christ came the spirit, the reality, 
tlie substance, or, in a word, the truth. 
So here we take the apostle's meaning 
to be, that the church was the true, the 
real, the substantial pillar and ground 
{sSpat<iiita, supporting base) which Jacob 
erected, anointed, and named at Bethel. 
If so, we can hardly doubt that the Holy 
Spirit had a scope in the transaction far 
beyond what entered into the thoughts 

of Jacob. IT / will surely give the tenth 

unlo thee. From which it is clear that 
tithes were paid and set apart for reli- 
gious U3es before the giving of the law 
of Moses. To whom they were paid, 
or to what particular purpose applied, 
in this case, does not appear; but it 
seems very probable that Jacob intend 
ed to lay an obligation upon his poster- 
ity to reserve a tenth of the fruits of 
their labor for the maintenance of reli- 
gious institutions. 

2 And be looked, and behold, a 
wen in the ^Id, and lo, there toere 
three flocks of sheep lying by it; 
for ont of that well tliey watered 


' Isaac's life was not more retired and 
quiet than Jacob's was busy and trou- 
blesome : in the one I see the image of 
contemfJation, of action in the other. 
None of the patriarchs saw so evil days 
as he, from whom justly hath the 
church of God therefore taken her 
name: neither were the faithful ever 
since called Abrahamites, but Israelites. 
That no time radght be lost, he began 
his strife in the womb ; after that, he 
flies for his Ufe from a cruel brother to 
a cruel uncle. With a stafT he goee 
over Jordan alone, doubtful and com- 
fortless, not like the son of Isaac: 
in the way the earth is his bed, and 
the stone his pillow ; yet even there he 
sees a vision of angels. Jacob's heart 
was never so full of joy as when his 
head lay hardest. God is most present 
with us in oar greatest dejection, and 
loves to give comfort to thoee that are 
forsal^n of their hopes.' Bp. HaU, 

1. Went on his journey. Heb. »TD"i 
1 ^b^'^ y»*«» raglav, lifted up his feet The 
phrase is emphatic, and implies that he 
travelled on briskly and cheerfully, not- 
withstanding his age, being refreshed in 
his spirit by the recent manifestation 
of the divine favor. Thus, Ps. 74. 3, 
'Lifiuptkyfeetvaitjo the perpetual de- 
solations ;' i. e. come speedily for our 
deliverance. A Jewish commentator 
says, * His heart lifted up his feet,' an 
expression strikingly indicative of the 
buoyancy and Ught-heartedness with 
which he re-commenced his travels 
Although many a weary day's journey 
still lay between him and the place of 
his destination, and much of uncertain- 
ty, danger, and fatigue attended his 
solitary way, yet such was the influence 
of the cheering assurances he had ie> 


B. C. 1700.] 



(he flocks : and a ^at Btone teas 
upon the weD's mouth. 

3 And thither were all the flocks 
gathered : and they rolled the stone 

oeivedof the divine presence and pro- 
tection, that he proceeded on his course 
OD the following morning with feelings 
of alacrity and joy to which he had 
been before a stranger. The effect of, 
his feelings on the remainder of his 
journey wonld almost appear to be 
hinted by the brevity with which the 
historian recounts it ; for the four hun- 
dred miles are despatched in a single 
verse, 'He lifted up his feet, and came 
into the land of the people of the east. 
•The joy of the Lord was Jacob*s 
strength ; it became as oil, wherewith 
his soul bein^ suppled, he vtras made 
more lithe, nimble, and fit for action. 
He that is once soaked in this oil, and 
bathed with Jacob in this bath at Beth- 
el, vnH cheerfully do or suffer aught for 
God's sake. Let us pluck up our feet, 
pass from strength to strength, and take 
long and lusty strides toward heaven. 

It is but a little before us.* Ttapp. 

^ Of the people of the east. Heb. njs 
^^p hene kedem^ children or sons of the 
east. That is, to the country of Mesopota- 
mia lying to the east of Canaan. The peo- 
ple of this region are spoken of under a 
similar designation, Judg. 8. 3. 1 Kings, 
4. 31. Job, L 3. The Gr. omits the 
word * children,* and renders eig ynv 
araroXuv, to the land of the east. It was 
'from the east' that the Lord had for- 
merly 'raised up the righteous man* 
(Abraham), and to the same region 
was his grandson now conducted, that 
he might * serve for a wife.' Hos. 12. 

2. A great titone loas upon the wdFs 
nuntih. * In Arabia, and in other places, 
they are wont to close and cover up their 
weUs of water, lest the sand, which is 
put into motion by the i^iinds there, like 
the water of a pond, should fill them, 
and quite stop them up. This ia the ac- 

from the well's mouth, and watered 
the sheep, and put the stone again 
upon the well's mouth in bis pbuie. 
A And Jacob said unto them. 

count Sir J. Chardin gives us in a note 
on Ps. 69. 15. I very much question 
the appUcableness of Uiis custom to that 
passage, but it will serve to eiplain, I 
think, extremely well, the view of keep- 
ing that well covered with a stone, from 
which Laban*s sheep were wont to be 
watered; and their care not to leave 
it open any time, but to stay till the 
flocks were all gathered together, be- 
fore they opened it, and then, having 
drawn as much water as was requisite 
to cover it up again immediately, Gen. 
29. 2, a The extreme scarcity of water in 
those arid regions entirely justifies such 
vigilant and parsimonious care in the 
management of this precious fluid ; and 
accounts for the fierce contentions aboot 
the possession of a well, which so fre- 
quently happened between the shep- 
herds of different masters.* Harmer, 

3. TAt^er toere aU the flocks gathered. 
Not only the flocks, but the shepherds 
with them. Both are included according 
to Heb. usage under one and the same 
term. So ' tents,* Gen. 13. 5, includes 
those who dwelt in them; 'horses,* 
Zech. 1. 8, includes their 'riders,* as 
appears from v. 11; and 'chariots/ I 
Ghrou. 19. 18, those who drove them. 
The word ' rolled,' immediately after, 
necessarily requires that 'shephcrdu* 
should be understood in 'flocks,* as 
otherwise we have a dialogue occupying 
several verses, and yet no man mention- 
ed but Jacob ; the only living creatures 
present beside himself being three flocks 

of sheep. IT They rolled the stone from 

thetoelTsmouth, &,c. There is an apparent 
discrepancy between this and the sequel 
of the narrative, which implies that the 
stone was not rolled away till Rachel 
came to the well. But this is easily re- 
conciled by the remark, that the present 
verse simply informs us what it was ciis* 




[B. C. 176a 


My brethren, whence he ye J 
they said, Of Haran are we. 

5 And he said unto them. Know 
ye Laban the son of Nahorl And 
they said, We know him, 

6 And he said unto them »» Is he 
welll And they said, He is well: 

* ch. 43. 27. 

and behdd, Rachel hi» daughter 
cometh with the sheep. 

7 And he said* Lo, t< is yet high 
day, neither is U time that the cat- 
tle should be gathered together: 
water ye the sheep, and go awl feed 

Umary to do at this well, while the rest 
of the passage describes what was after- 
wards done on this occasion in conform- 
ity with general usage. This idea is 
distinctly and properly preserved in the 
Lat. Vulgate ; * Morisque erat, ' 4&c., €md 
the custom toas^ token aU the sheep were 
gathered together^ &c. *The passage, 
as a whole, is one that strongly illus- 
trates the value of a well of water, and 
the care that was usually taken of it. 
Wells are stiU sometimes covered with 
a stone, or othen^iise, to protect them 
from being choked up by the drifted 
sand ; and it was probably to prevent 
the exposure of the well by too frequent- 
ly removing the stone, ^at the shep- 
herds did not water their flocks until the 
whole were assembled together ; for it 
is not to be supposed that they waited 
because the united strength of all the 
shepherds was requisite to roll away the 
stone when Jacol) was able singly to 
do so. When the well is private prop- 
erty, in a neighborhood where water is 
scarce, the well is sometimes kept 
locked, to prevent the neighboring shep- 
herds from watering their flocks fraudu- 
lently from it ; and even when left un- 
locked, some person is frequently so far 
the proprietor that the well may not be 
opened unless in the presence of himself, 
or of some one belonging to his house- 
hold. Chardin, whose manuscripts fur- 
nished Harmer with an illustration of 
this text, conjectures, with great reason, 
that the present well belonged to La< 
ban's family, and that the shepherds 
dared not open the well until Laban's 
daughter came with her father's flocks 
Jacob, therefore, is not to be supposed 

to have broken the standing rule, or to 
have done any thing out of the ordinary 
course; for the oriental shepherds are 
not at all persons likely to submit to the 
inference or dictation of a stranger. He, 
however, rendered a kind service to 
Rachel, as the business of watering 
cattle at a well is very tiresome and 
laborious.' Pict, Bible. 

5. Laban the son of Nahor. That is, 
ihe grandson or descendant of Nahor ; for 
he was^he son of Bethuel. But this is 
the well-known usage of the Hebrew. 

6 Ishewea? Heb. nb Dlbffin*«^ 
atom hf (is there) peace to him 7 I e. not 
only health, but general welfare and 
prosperity ; a sense often conveyed by 
the word * peace.' This has ever been, 
and still is, the customary mode of salu- 
tation in the east, the Arabic word 

* salaam,' which is constantly employed 
on such occasions, being derived from 
the Heb. talblli shalom, Gr. vytaivsii 
is he weU ? On the subject of oriental 
salutations, see * Scripture IHustrations,' 
p. 280. 

7. It is yet high driy. Heb. tiTH 115 • 
J3^^a od hayom gadoL, yet ihe day is great i 
i. e. a great part of the day yet remains. 
Gr. cTt scTtv riiie^ w XXi?, yet there u 
much day. * Are people travelling 
through places where are wild beasts, 
those who are timid will keep troubling 
the party by saying, ' Let us seek for » 
place of safely :' but the others reply. 

* Not yet ; for the day is great' ' Why 
should I be in such haste ? the day » 
yet great: When tired of working, i| 
is remarked, * Why, the day is yet great. 
— * Yes, yes, you manage to leave off 
while the day is yet great: K4)berts. 


B. C. I7«0l] 



8 And they md» WeeuinoC «• 
til all the fiocki be nthered to- 
gether, and It// thej.ndl the stone 
hm the well's month ; then we 
water the sheep. 

Af it was 7«t too «arly to gather the 
6ocbi imo their ootee or stiiUa for the 
oight, Jacob, who wae well veraed in 
the putoml life, wai at a Ion to account 
for the (Ssct that they were not watered 
and turned again to pasture, instead of 
wutoDg a good part of the day idly 
about the well. After being watered 
aod allowed to rest themselves awhile 
in the shade in the middle of the day, 
(Cant. 1. 7.) the flocks were usoally turn- 
ed out again, to feed till sun-set. 

8. And they mid. We cannot, du;., L e. 
either from physical inability were not 
o&le, or from moral incapacity, not hav- 
ing the right, as being contrary to com- 
part or usage. Thus, in the latter sense, 
Gen. 34. 14, ' We cannot do this thing, to 
give oar sister to one that is unoircum- 
deed;* it is contrary to law. Gen. 43. 
92, ^Because the Egjrptians might not 
eat bread with the Hebrews;' Heb. 

*ca|inot' ^ir TiU they rdU the stone, 

I e. till the stone be rolled ; the active 
fm the passive ; a very common idiom. 
Thns, Neh. 2. 7, ' If it please the king 
1st letters he given me ;' Heb. * let them 
give me letters.' Est 2^ 2, ' Let there 
be fiur young virgins eought for the 
)m«;* Heb. Met them seek.* Is. 9. 6. 
'Unto us a child is bom, and his name 
ikaU be called;* Heb. *One shall caU 
his name.' So in the New Testament, 
Lake 16. 4, M am resolved what to do ; 
that when I am put out of the steward- 
ihip, they may receioe me into their hous- 
es;* i. 6. that I may be received. So 
likewise, v. 9, * that when ye ^ail (i. e. 
die) they may receioe you into everlasting 
hsbitations ;' i. e. that ye may be re- 
ceived. Rev. 12. 6, * And the woman 
fled into the wilderness^ where she hath 
aplaoe prepared of God, ttotOeyaAoiiU 

9 irAiid«rfiilelMj«tepak«witli 
them, « Rachel came with her ftlh* 
er'seheep: for the kepi them* 


feed her there;' ue. that she ahooldba 
fed there. 

9. Rachd came with her faiher'etke^; 
for ehe hept them. Heb. vCHn XVP^ "^ 
Id roah hi, for the ehepherdixed^ or acted 
the ehepherdess. *The pastoral poetry 
of classical antiquityv which has been 
imitated more or less in all nations, has 
rendered us fiimiliar with the idea of fe- 
males of birth and attractions acting aa 
shepherdesses long after the practice it- 
self has been discontinued, and the em- 
ployment has sunk into contempt. 
When nations originally pastoral, settled 
in towns, and adopted the refinements 
of life, the care of the sheep ceased to 
be a principal consideration, and grad- 
ually devolved upon servants or slaves, 
coming to be considered a mean em- 
ployment, to which the proprietor orlua 
household only gave a general and su- 
perintending attention. The respecta- 
bility of the employment in these patri- 
archal times is not evinced by finding 
the daughter of so considerable a per> 
son as Laban engaged in tending the 
flocks, for in the laM all drudgery de- 
volves upon the females ; hot by oar 
finding the eons of such persons similar- 
ly engaged in pastoral duties, which in 
Homer also appears to have been con- 
sidered a fitting empbyment for the sons 
of kings and powerful chieft. We are 
not aware that at present, in the East, 
the actoal care of a flock or herd is con- 
sidered a dignified employment* Forbes, 
in his * Oriental Memoirs,* mentions that 
in the Brahmin villages of the Concan, 
women of the first distinction draw the 
water from wells, and tend the cattle to 
pasture, *iike Rebecca and Rachel.' 
But 01 this instance it cannot be because 
such amptoyments have any dignity iri 





10 And it eaone to pass, when 
Jaeob Baw Rachel the daughter of 
Laben his mother's brother, and the 
sheep of Laban his mother's brother, 
that J acob went near, and ^ roUed the 

* Exod. 2. 17. 

them, but because the women are ob- 
liged to perform every servile office. 
.So, among the Bedouin Arabs, and 
other nomade nations, the immediate 
care of the flocks devolves either upon 
the women or the servants ; but most 
generally the latter, as the women have 
enough to 'occupy them in their multi- 
farious domestic duties. However, 
among some tribes, it is the exclusive 
business of the young unmarried women 
to drive the cattle to pasture. * Among 
the Sinai Arabs,* saysBurckhardt, *a boy 
would feel himself insulted were any 
one to say, ' Go and drive your father*s 
sheep to pasture ;* these words, in his 
opinion, would signify, * You are nobe^ 
ter than a girt.* ' These young women 
set out before sun-rise, three or four to- 
gether, carrying some water and vic- 
tuals with them, and they do not return 
until late in the evening. Throughout 
the day they continue exposed to the 
ran, watching the shee|) with great care, 
for they are sure of being severely beat- 
en by their fiather should any be lost. 
These young women are in general 
civil to persons who pass by, and ready 
enough to share with them their victuals 
and milk. They are fully able to pro- 
tect their flockf against any ordinary 
depredation or danger, for their way of 
life makes them as hardy and vigorous 
as the men. Pict. Bible. 

10. And it came to pas$j &c. While 
they are yet speaking, Rachel, in the 
bloom of maiden beauty, and as inno- 
cent as the lambs which she tended, 
draws nigh with her fleecy charge. 
The meeting of the patriarch with his 
relative, the daughter of his mother's 
brother, was, as might be expected, re- 
plete with tender interest, and we may 

stcme hoBk the well's nmoh, and 
watered the flock of Laban his n»> 
ther's brother. 

11 And Jacob "kissed Rachd, 
and lifted op his voice, and wept. 


well suppoee, that in proffering his «id 
in wateftng the flocks, his civility ma 
quickened by a warmer impulse of 
kindness than he would have felt to- 
wards any other stranger. This wssa 
labor which had to be performed twice 
in the day, and occupied a considerable 
space of time, so that the service ren- 
dered by Jacob was something more 
than a trifling attention. Whether 
he rolled away the stone by his own 
unassisted strength, is perhaps doubtM. 
It may have been ascribed to him be- 
cause he bore a very active and con- 
spicuous part in it Thus, it is said of 
Joseph, Gen. 50. 14, * after he had bu- 
ried his father ;* whereas, in v. 13, it is 
said that his (Jacob's) sons carried him 
into the land of Canaan, and buried bim. 
The presence of Rachel and the exdted 
state of his own feelings would no donbt 
prompt him to put forth- his very best 
exertions on the occasion. *A light 
heart makes a strong hand.* 

11. And Jacob kisaed RachA^ &c. Ac- 
cording to the simple manners of those 
ancient times. The tears shed on this 
occasion must have flowed from a fall 
heart, and it is not, perhaps, diflicult to 
imagine the mixture of emotions bj 
which his bosom was agitated. On the 
one hand, beholding Rachel, and seeing 
in her every thing that was amiable and 
engaging, his heart overflowed with 
tenderness. But again his thoughts re- 
verted, by natural association, to his 
mother ; and every thing that revived hf 
memory, even the very flocks of sheep 
that belonged to her brother, was full of 
pleasing yet saddening interest. From 
his mother, his fiither, his home, his 
mind would pass to the consideration of 
his own peculiar circumstanoee— alone 


B. C. 1760.] 



12 And Jacob IddRacM that iM 

tpos ' her father's brother, and that 
he was Rebekah'a son ; « and she 
ran and told her father. 

13 And it came to pass ^en 
Laban beard the tidings of Jacob 
his sister's son, that ^ he ran to meet 
hun, and embraced him« and kissed 
him, and bronght him to hit boose. 
And he told I^ban all these things. 

' eh. 13. & & 14. 14, le. f eh. 94. », 
kch. 94.30. 

and unattended in a land of ttnnfen, 
anziona to secure a particular object, 
yet doubting whether he had grounds 
for hope in the lack of those induce- 
ments which were ordinarily essentia 
to success. With such a ccHopIi^ated 
throng of feelings rushing at once upon 
him, and all heightened by the recollec- 
tion of the precious and unexpected dis- 
dosnres made to him at Bethel, who 
can wonder ^at the historian represents 
him as giving vent to the inrappressive 
burden of his feelings in a flood of 

12. And Jacob told Racket, Ac It 
must have excited ^surprise In Rachers 
mind to see a stranger so attentive in 
watering her flock, and still more so to 
receive from him so affectionate a salu- 
tation; but now, having relieved his 
heart by a burst of weepmg, he tells 
her who he is ; he is her Other's near 
kinsman, AebekaVs son ! On hearing 
this she was too much overjoyed not to 
run at once and coomiunicate the ti- 
dings to her family. This brings on 
another scene of affecting salutations, 
and Jacob*s subsequent recital of his 
interesting story so tenderly impresses 
Laban, that he addresses him in the 
most affectionate language, * Surely thou 
art my bone and my flesh,* — a common 
Hebraism lor expressing near re]ation> 
ship, and probably derived from the cre- 
ation of Eve. 

13. Heard ike iidinga. Heb. 3^)90 
y)2TD skemaa shema, heard tie kaarmg. 

14 Apdliabansaidtohim,*8tg». 

ly thou art my bone and my flesh : 
and he abode with him the space of 
a month. 

15 IT And Laban said unto Jacobi 
Because thou art my brother, should* 
est thou therefore serve mc hr 
nought ? tell nie» what shall thy 
wages ief 

eh. S.9X Jiidg.O.S. 
10. 13, 13. 

S8am.S.l. a 

L e. the word or matter heard. The 
corresponding Gr. term occurs Rom. 10. 
16, *■ Who hath believed our report V 
Gr. oKon, our hearing. The phrase .is 
sometimes explained by parallel ex- 
prsflsions* Thus, where one Evange- 
list. Mark 1. 28, says, * His /ami; (Gr.his 
hearing) spread abroad,* another, Luke 
4. 37, says, * 'Hufame (Gr. his sound or 
echo) went out into every place / the 

original words being different. T AH 

ihete things. That is, all the particulars 
relative to the present journey. The con- 
trast between the humble style in which 
Jacob now a|^ared before him, and 
the equipage which had distinguished 
the mission sent in behalf of Isaac for a 
similar purpose, made it proper that ho 
should go into a foU detafl on this head; 

14. The space qfamoath. Heb. ISITI 
Q"^^*^ hodesh yomuit, a month of days^ 
i. e. a full month ; as a year of days, 
2 Sam. 14. 28, is a full year. It is not 
implied by this that Jacob stayed no 
longer than a month with Laban, but 
that he staid with him, in the first in- 
stance, the space of a month, and at the 
expiration of this period entered into a de- 
finite contract with him for a longer term. 

15. Because ihou art my Ifrother, &c. 
That is, my kinsman. The latitude 
with which this word and its cognates, 
* sister,* * son,* &c., are used in the sa- 
cred writings, has already been advert- 
ed to, Gen. 12. 13. During the first 
month of his stay, Jacob, for from being 
an idle guest, employed himself about 




[6. c. nee. 

16 And Labui had two daugh- 
ters : the name of the elder was 
Leah, and the name of the younger 
•oas Rachel. 

17 Leah vxu tender-eyed, but 

hif ancle*! buaineM; but nothing was 
■aid with respect to terms. On sacli • 
■nbject it was not for Jacob to speak ; 
■0 Laban very properly intimated that 
be did not wish to take advantage of his 
near relationship, and obtain gratnitons 
service from him any more Uian from 
any other manJ This suggestion brought 
out the delaration of Jacob's love for 

17. Leah teas tender-eyed, &c. Au- 
thorities are about equally divided \b 
to the true import of this phrase ; some 
contending that it is designed to indicate 
a beauty, others a defect in Leah. The 
C^. has aoOivits voeak, infirm, Chal. 
* Fair.' Vulg. * Blear-eyed. ' Jerus . Taig. 
'Tender with weeping and praying.* 
In this diversity of rendering, it is scarce- 
ly possible to speak with positiveness 
of the true meaning of the phrase. As 
the peculiarity denoted by the term is 
mentioned by way of contrast to Rebe- 
kah's beauty, we think it most probable, 
on the whole, that it was some natural 
blemish, or some accidental distemper 
in. the eye, which greatly injured the 
countenance. The sense of the original 
tiXD!^ rdkkoCk, is doubtless closely allied 

to that of weak, tender, delicate 

T Beautiful and wett-favoured. That is, 
having a fine lAape and fine features, 
the two grand requisites of personal 

18. I vnU serve thee seven years, &c. 
This he protTered becaase he had no 
money or other goods, which he could 
give to the father for his daughter. 
Among many people of the East, in an- 
cient and modern times, the custom has 
flilways been, not for the bride to bring 
a dowry to the bridegroom, but the 
bridegroom must, in a manner, purchase 

Rachel wai heantiful andwell-£u 

18 And Jacob loved Rachel ; and 
said, ^ 1 will serve thee seven yeare 
for Rachel thy younger daughter. 

k ch.31.41. 3 Sam. 3. 14. 

the girl whom he intends to marry, from 
the fothef. Therefore Sbechem says, 
(cfa. 34. IS-Vto Dinah's father and broth- 
era, * Ask me never so much dowry and 
gift, and I will give according as ye shall 
say unto me : but give me the damsel 
to wife.* In the same manner Tacitus 
relates that among the ancient Ger- 
mans the wife did not bring the dowrf 
to the man, but the man to the woman. 
*The parents and relations are present, 
who examine the gifts, and choose, not 
such as are adapted to female dress, or 
to adorn the bride, but oxen, and a ha^ 
nessed horse, a shield, and a sword. In 
return for these presents he receives 
the wife.' This custom still prevails 
among the Bedouins. *When a young 
man meets with a giri to his taste, he 
asks her of her father through one of his 
relations: they now treat about the 
number of camels, sheep, or horses, for 
the Bedouins never save any money, 
and their wealth consists only in cattle. 
A man that marries must therefore lit- 
erally purohase his wife, and the fo&ers 
are most fortunate who have many 
daughters. They are &e principal rich- 
es of the family. When, therefore, a 
young man negotiates with the lather 
whose daughter he intends to marry, 
he says, * Will you give me your daugh- 
ter for fifty sheep, six camels, or twelve 
cows V If he is not rich enough to give 
so much, he offers a mare or foal. The 
qualities of the girl, the family and the 
fortune of him that faitends to marry 
her, are the principal considerations in 
making the bargain. {fyArvieux.) This 
is confirmed by Seetzen, in his account 
of the Arab tribes whom he visited in 
1808. The ceremonies at the marriage 
of a wandering Arab are remarkable ; 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

B. a 176a] 



19 And Laban said, It is better 
that I give her to thee, than that I 

a young Arab knows a girl who pleaset 
him; he goes to her father, and makes 
her wishes known to him. The latter 
speaks to his daughter. ^Daughter/ 
says he, * there is one who asks you 
for his wife : the man is good, and it 
depends upon yourself if you will be- 
come his wife ; you have ray consent.' 
If the girl refuses, there is an end of the 
matter ; if she is contented, the father 
returns to his guest, and informs him of 
the happy intelligence, * But,' he adds, 
* I demand the price of the girl.' This 
consists of five camels ; but generally, 
by the intorvention of others, a couple 
more are added, and those given are 
frequently miserable enough. When 
the young man, although otherwise an 
unexceptionable match, had no proper- 
ty which enabled him to furnish the re- 
quisite payments and presents, some ser- 
vice or enterprise was occasionally ac- 
cepted from Uie suitor as an equivalent. 
Tbna Jacob, heing destitute of property, 
and having no other prospect than a 
younger brother's share in the inherit- 
ance of his father, offers seven years* 
service as an equivalent for what La- 
ban might othewise have expected in 
parting with his daughter. In a similar 
case, when another unprovided young- 
er brother, David, loved Miohal, the 
daughter of King Saul, the father pro- 
posed to the snitorr and actually accepted 
from him, a successful enterprise against 
the Fhiliistines as an equivalent for the 
ordinary advantages which the father 
derived from the marriage of his daugh- 
ter. (1 Sam. 18. 25.) Thelisage of an un- 
provided young man to serve the father, 
whose daughter he sought in marriage, 
has been found by travellers to exist in 
many countries distant from each other. 
Out of various illustrations which we 
could quote, we shall content ourselves 
with one mentioned in Buckhardt's 
VOL. I£. 

should pve her to another man : 
abide with ne. 

Travels in Syria,* whidi not only af- 
fords a striking parallel; but is the moie 
interesting from its occurring at no very 
great distance from the scene of patri- 
archal narrative. In his account of the 
inhabitants of the Haouran, a region 
south of Damascus, this traveller saya, 

I once met a young man who hod 
served eight ^ars for his food only ; at 
the expiration of that period he obtained 
in marriage the daughter of his master, 
for whom he would otherwise have had 
to pay seven or eight hundred piastres. 
When I saw him, he had been married 
three years, but he complained bitteriy 
of his father-in-law, who continued to 
require of him the performance of the 
most servile offices without paying him 
any thing, and thus prevented him firom 
setting up for himself and his family.' In 
his account of Kerek, the same traveller 
describes it as a customary thing for a 
young man without property to serve 
the father five or six years as a menial 
servant, in compensation for the price 
of the girl. Thus Jacob also served 
seven years for Rachel, and it was well 
for him that, according to the touching 
and beautiful expression of the text, 
these seven years * seemed unto him but 
a few days, for the love he bore to- 
her.' Pict. B3Ar. 

19. Better that I should giveher toOm^ 
&c. * So said Laban, in reference to hit 
daughter Rachel ; and so say &thers in 
the East, under simtZor circumstances. 
The whole affair is managed in a bun- 
ness-Ukewtff, without any thing like a 
consultation with the maiden. Her liket 
and dislikes are out of the question. 
The father understands the matter per- 
fectly, and the mother is very knowing ; 
therefore they manage the transaction. 
This system, however, is the iniitfbl 
source of that geneirtd absence of do- 
happiness which prevaile therv. 






She hai, perhaps, never seen the man 
with whom she is to spend her days. 
He may be yoang ; he may be aged ; 
he may be repulsive or attractive. The 
whole is a lottery to her. Have the 
aervants or others whispered to her 
something about the match? she will 
make her inquiries ; but the result will 
never alter the arrangements : for though 
her stral abhor the thoughts of meeting 
him, yet it must be done.* Rcberts. 
• We have already remarked, that the 
propriety of giving a female in mar- 
riage to the nearest relation who can 
lawfully marry her, is to this day gene- 
rally admitted among the Bedouin Arabs 
and other Oriental tribes. The same 
principle was certainly in operation in 
the patriarchal times, but its close ap- 
plication in the present instance seehis 
to have escaped notice. It will be ob- 
•erved that Jacob was the first cousin to 
Laban's daughters, and, according to 
ensting Arab usages, he had in that 
character the best possible claim to 
them, or one of them, in marriage. His 
elder brother, Esau, had perhaps in this 
view a preferable claim to the elder 
daughter, Leah ; but Jacob, himself a 
younger brother, had an unquestionable 
claim to Rachel, the youngest daughter 
of Laban, and therefore, independently 
€»f his affection for her, it was quite in 
the customary course of things that he 
■hould apply for Rachel in the first in- 
stance. Among all the Bedouin Arabs 
flU the present day, a man has the exclu- 
tive right to the hand of his first cousin ; 
he is not obUged to marry her, but she 
cannot be married to another without 
hia consent. The father of the giri can- 
not refuse him, if he offers a reasonable 
payment, which is always something 
lesa than would be demanded from a 
stranger. For this, and much other 
infbimation m the course of these notes, 
we are indebted to Burckhardt, whose 
work on the Bedouins supplies a valua- 
ble mass of information, the applicability 
of which to the illustration of the Scrip- 

tures does not appear to have been 
hitherto perceived.* Pict.. BHiU. Had 
Laban really possessed the generosity 
whic'h his words seem to express-, he 
would have given Jacob the object of 
his choice without compelling him to 
wait seven years for her. Though 
it was proper for Jacob to make the 
offer he did, it was mean and sordid 
for Laban tO' accept it. But it is evident 
that his own private interest was all 
that he studied. In his sister Rebekah'i 
marriage there were presents of gold 
and silver, and costly raiment— things 
which wrought much on his mind. But 
here were none of these moving induce- 
ments. Here was a poor man who 
could only talk of promised blessings; 
but upon these he set no value. He 
was governed by sights and not hy faith ; 
and seeing that Abraham's descendants 
were partial to his family, he resolved 
to make his market of it. * Indeed he 
sold her to him for some years* service. 
This was Laban or Nabal^ choose you 
which. Their names were not more 
like than their natures.* Trapp. God 
makes use elsewhere of the circum* 
stance of this servitude of Jacob to keep 
up a spirit of humility, as well as a 
memory of their ancestry, among the 
children of Israel. It was a part of the 
confession required to be made by every 
Israelite when he presented his basket 
of first ripe firuits before the Lord, *■ A 
Syrian ready to perish was my father,' 
alluding to Jacob's poverty and dis- 
tress when he first came, at this time, 
into Syria. Again, when the prophet 
Hosea, ch. 12. 12, reproves the people for 
their luxury and pride, and haughtiness, 
he reminds them that ' Jeycob fled into 
the country of Syria, and Israel served 
for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep* 
It would, no doubt, tend to abate the 
loftiness of spirit of many of the wealthy 
and the great of this world, if they would 
look back upon the humble and perhaps 
sermle condition of the founders of their 


B. C. 1753.] 



20 And Jacob ^ seired seven 
years for Rachel ; and they seemed 
unto him but a few days, for the 
love he had to her. 

«ch. 30. 26. Hob. 32. 12. 

20. They seemed unto him but a few dqy», 
&c. As human nature is constituted, 
it i« not ea^y perhaps to avoid some de- 
gree of surprise at this intimation. Our 
first impressions would undoubtedly 
be that love would operate directly in 
a contrary way, cau^ng the time to 
appear rather long than short. To a 
^oVrng husband, absorbed, in the object 
of his affections, the period of seven 
years might, one would say, appear but 
as a few fleeting days ; but how it could 
so have seemed to an ardent Zoucr dwel- 
ling under the same roof with her upon 
whom his heart was set, is not so obvious . 
For this reason some have been confi- 
dent in the belief that what is here 
spoken is expressive of what it appeared 
wAcn it tDos past ; or, in other words, 
that Rachel was given to Jacob at the 
heginning of the stipulated term, a week 
after his nuptials with Leah. In accord- 
ance with this view of the subject, 
those who hold it would render the pre- 
ceding clause *had served' instead of 
* served,' as the Hebrew will no doubt 
admit. But the proposed interpretation 
on the whole seems less natural than 
the common one, especially upon refer- 
ence to V. 25, where he says, * Did I not 
serve with thee for Rachel V where the 
implication of a past service is too pal- 
pable to be explained away. It cannot, 
therefore, be adopted without appearing 
to do violence to the letter of the text ; 
and it is easier to account for the time 
seeming short to .Tacob, than for a. mode 
of expression so foreign to the alleged 
sense of the writer. It should be borne 
in mind that Jacob was now seventy- 
seven years of age, and consequently 
had passed those days when passion 
would be apt to overmaster reason. 
^ilh all due allowance for the ardent 
temperament of the east, we may still 

21 IT And Jacob said unto Laban, 

Give me my wife (for my days are 

fiilfilled) that I may "* go in unto 

her. ' 

tt Judg. 15. 1. 

believe that the love affairs of an aged 
patriarch would be carried on more so- 
berly and sedately, and savor less of 
passionate impetuosity , than at an earlier 
period of life. Hie affection, moreover, 
had the solace of the daily society of its 
object. The tedium of absence would 
not operate to make the days and 
months linger in their course. The 
pleasant commerce which he enjoyed 
would make the recurrence of his daily 
task easy and delightful. Every morn- 
ing would he commence his accustom- 
ed labors with renewed spirit and ac- 
tivity. Every evening would he return 
from his occupation, with pleasing anti- 
cipations of the period when his toils 
would be re numerated and his wishes 
crowned. Thus the seven years of 
service, cheered by the constant pre- 
sence, and sweetened by the daily con- 
versation of his beloved, would imper- 
ceplibly glide away. That an earlier 
consummation of his wishes would have 
been agreeable, we cannot question. 
But the whole tenor of the divine dis- 
pensations seems to have been ordered 
with a view to exercise the patience of 
the patriarch, and Jacob had only to 
reflect back a few years to be reminded 
of what his impatience had cost him, and 
thus to be reconciled to a lot which, after 
every abatement, had so many sweet 
alleviations, s As to the objection that 
according to this construction Jacob 
must have had twelve children in seven 
years, it may be answered that this is 
not an improbable number to be bom 
in that time from two wives and as 
many handmaids. Besides, as God had 
promised a numerous posterity to Abra- 
ham, an extraordinary fruitfulness might 
reasonably be expected. 

21. Give me my wife. That is, my 
betrothed, affianced wife, though tha 




[B. C. 1753. 

22 And Laban gathered together 
all the men of the place, and " made 
a feast. 

23 And it came to pass in the 
evening, that he took Leah his 
daughter, and brought her to him ; 
and he went in unto her. 

24 And Laban gave unto hb 

> Judg. 14. lO. John 8. 1,2. 

nuptials were not yet celebrated. Thus, 
Mat. 1. 20, *Fear not to take unto thee 
Mary thy wife;* i. e. thy betrothed 
wife, or, as she is termed, Luke 2. 5, 
* espoused wife.* See also Deut. 22. 23, 
24, where this sense of the word * wife' 

is indubitable. -IT My days arefulJUkd. 

The terra of my stipulated service ; the 
•even years agreed upon. 

22 Made a feast. Heb. r;t\Xf2 mish- 
tell, a drinking^ or a feast of drinking. 
See note on Gen. 19. 3. The word is ren- 
dered in the Gr. yafnoi a wedding, 
whence the word * wedding' is used in 
the New Testament and elsewhere, in- 
terchangeably with 'feast.' Thus, 
Luke 14. 7, * When thou art bidden of 
any man to a weddings* i. e to a com- 
mon feast. Est. 9. 22, *That they 
should make them days oi feasting and 
joy.' Gr. * Days of wedding and joy.' 
As marriage was a very solemn con- 
tract, there is much reason to believe 
that sacrifices were offered on the occa- 
sion, and libations peured out ; and we 
know, that on festival occasions a cup 
ofwine was offered to every guest : and 
as this was drunk with particular cere- 
monies, the feast might derive its name 
from this circumstance, which was the 
most prominent and observable on such 

23. And it came to pass in the evening, 
&c. t According to the custom of those 
eastern nations, the bride was conduct- 
ed to the bed of her husband, with si- 
lence, in darkness, and covered from 
head to foot with a veil ; circumstances, 
aU of them favorable to the wicked, 
selfish plan which Laban had formed, 

daughter Leah, ZDpah hici maid, 
for a handmaid. 

25 And it came to pass, that in the 
morning, behold, it was Leah: and 
he said to Laban, What ts this tboa 
hast done unto me ? did not I serve 
with thee for Rachel? wherefore 
then hast thou beguiled me ? 

26 And Laban said. It must not 

to detain his son-in-law longer in his ser- 
vice.' Leah is accordingly substitnted 
instead of her Sister. And he who, 
by subtilty and falsehood, stole away 
the blessing intended for his brother, is 
punished for his deceit, by finding a 
Leah where he expected a Rachel. He 
who employed undue advantage to a^ 
rive at the right of the first-bom, has 
undue advantage taken of him in hav- 
ing the first-born put in the place of the 
younger. He who could practise upon 
a father's blindness, though to obtain a 
laudable end, is, in his turn, practised 
upon by a father, employing the cover 
of the night, to accomplish a very un- 
warrantable purpose.' Hunter. In such 
a way God often deals with men, causing 
them to reap the bitter fruits of sin, even 
when they have lamented and forsaken 
it. * When thou shalt make an end to 
deal treacherously, they shall deal trea- 
cherously with thee.* 

24. And Laban gave, &c. ' It is still 
customary in the east for a father, who 
can afford it, to transfer to his daughter, 
on her marriage, some female slave of 
his household, who becomes her confi- 
dential domestic and humble friend in 
her new home, but not the less a slave. 
This slave forms a link between the old 
and new households, which often proves 
irksome to the husband; but he has 
little, if any, control over the female 
slaves in his establishment.* Pict. Bible. 

26. And Laban said, It must not ba to, 
&c. As selfish and mercenary as Laban 
was, and as little scrupulous about the 
means of promoting his own advantage, 
it can scarcely be supposed that he 


B. C. 1753.1 



be so done in our country, to give 
the younger before the first-born. 

27 " Fulfil her week, and we will 
give thee this also for the service 
which thou shalt serve with me yet 
seven other years. 

23 And Jacob did so, and fulfilled 
her week : and he gave him Rachel 
his daughter to wife also. 
o Jodg. 14. n. ' 

should have ventured upon the extraor- 
dinary step here mentioned, had such 
a practice been in that age and country 
wholly unknown. But there is reason 
to believe that Laban*s statement here 
was correct, though he evidently ought, 
in common honesty, to have acquainted 
Jacob with this custom before he made 
his bargain with him. Mr. Roberts 
Bays of the marriage customs in India, 
that *when the eldest daughter is de- 
formed, or blind, or deaf, or dumb, then 
the younger may be given first : but un- 
der other circumstances it would be dis- 
graceful in the extreme. Should any 
one wish to cdter the order of things, the 
answer of Laban is given. Should a 
lather, however, have a very advanta- 
geous offer for a younger daughter, he 
will exert all his powers to get off the 
elder ; but until this can be accomplish- 
ed, the younger will not be married 
^ wmger brothers are sometimes married 
first, but even this takes place but very 
seldom.' The same usage still exists in 
many parts of the east * The Rev. John 
Hartley, in his * Researches in Greece 
and the Levant,' relates an anecdote of 
a young Armenian in Smyrna, who sol- 
icited in marriage a younger daughter 
who had obtained his preference. The 
girl's parents consented to the match ; 
bat when the time for solemnizing the 
manriage arrived, the eldest daughter 
was conducted by the parents to 
the altar, and the young man was 
({iiite unconsciously married to her. 
'Hie deception was not discovered till 
it could not be rectified. Mr. Hartley 
•dds *It was in a conversation with an 

29 And Lahan gave to Rachel 
his daughter, fiilhah his handmaid, 
to be her maid. 

30 And he went in also unto 
Rachel, and he p loved also Ra^l 
more than Leah, and served witii 
him "• yet seven other years. 

p ver. 20. Dent. 21. 15 4 ch. 30. 26 SlZI 
41. Hob. 12. 12. 

Armenian in Smyrna that this fact was 
related to me. I naturally exclaimed, 
*Why, that is just the deception thai 
was practised upon Jacob !' ' What de- 
ception ?' he exclaimed As the Old 
Testament is not yet translated into 
any language with which the Arme- 
nians are familiar, he was ignorant of 
the story. Upon giving liim a relation 
of Jacob's marriage, as related in Gen, 
29, he assented to it at once as a circum- 
staTice in no respect improbable. Mr. 
Hartley says, the father excused his 
conduct in precisely the same way as 
Laban, alleging that custom did not 
warrant the marriage of the younger 
before the eld^ daughter. We have 
heard of cases in which, when a man 
wished to obtain a younger daughter, 
he found it the best course to do all in 
his power to promote the previous mar- 
riage of her elder sister. A father also 
will often exert all his powers to get off 
his elder daughter, when a very advan- 
tageous and acceptable match for tho 
younger is proposed to him.' Pict. BtUe. 
27. FuljU her weeli. ' We rend, that 
a great feast was made, after which Leah 
was consigned to Jacob. It is not said 
how long the feast lasted ; but it was 
doubtless a week ; and now Laban 
says in effect : — * Let there be anotiier 
week of feasting for Rachel, after which 
she also ^ha]l be given to thee, and then 
thou shalt serve me yet other seven 
years.' It is evident that the marriage 
of Jacob with Leah and Rachel took 
place nearly at the same time. Cairoet, 
indeed, thinks, that ' the week' refers to 
Leah's marriage ; but this is an error 




[B. C. 1753. 

31 Tf And when the Lord ' saw 
that Leah was hated, he • opened 
her womb : but Rachel was barren. 

32 And Leah conceived, and bare 
a son , and she called his name 

» Pb. 127. 3. • ch. 30. 1. 

ibr in that case the festivities must have 
been after the final completion of the 
marriage ; whereas, as Calmet himself 
states, the bride was not consigned to 
the bridegroom until 'after the days of 
feasting had expired. As to the seven 
days' feasting, the Rabbins acquaint us 
that this term was a matter of indispen- 
sable obligation upon all married men ; 
and that they were to allow seven days 
for the marriage of every wife they 
took, even though they should marry 
several on the same day. In this case 
they made so many wedding weeks suc- 
cessively as they married wives. These 
seven days of rejoicing were common- 
ly spent in the house of the woman's 
father, after which the bride was con- 
ducted in great state to her husband's 
house. (See Calmet, article *■ Marriage,' 
edit. 1732.) ,Thus we read, that Samson's 
wedding entertainment l^ted seven 
full days (Judges 14. 17, 18,) and also 
that of Tobias (Tobit 11. 19.) When 
the bride was a widow, the festivities 
lasted but three days. Similar practices 
have prevailed among other nations. 
The famous Arabian romance of* Antar,' 
translated by Mr. Terrick Hamilton, is 
full of allusions to this custom.* Pict. 
Bible. lAban's policy was to obtain 
Jacob's voluntary consent to the mar- 
riage, which would be secured by his 
pohabiting and rejoicing with her during 
the week, and then he knew the nup- 
tial knot would be too fast tied to be af- 
terward loosed. 

31. Thai Leah toas hated. That is, 
loved lest. The expression is not abso- 
lute, but comparative. Apart from any 
thing repulsive in her person, this ef- 
fect was perhaps to be expected from 
the part she had voluntarily borne in 

Reuben: for she said, Sorely the 
Lord hath *■ looked upon my afflic- 
tion; now therefore my husband 
will love me. 
33 And she conceived again, and 

t Exod. 3. 7. & 4. 31. DeuU 26. 7. Ps, 25. 
18. ic 106. 44. 

the imposition practised upon him. 
From this and the preceding verse, we 
obtain a clue to the genuine meaning of 
the Heb. IK2V ^anah^ to hate^ in certain 
disputed passages. It evidently im- 
plies nothing more than a less degree of 
love. The subsequent narrative makes 
it plain that Jacob did not hate Leah, in 
tlie ordinary acceptation of that term ; 
but lie felt less affection for her than for 
her sister. So by the declaration Mai. 
1. 2, 3, Rom. 9. 15. ' Jacob have I loved, 
but Esau have I hated,' we are simply 
to understand that God had shoxvn a 
greater degree of aflfertion for Jacob 
and his posterity than for Esau and 
his descendants, which was evinced in 
giving the former a better earthly por- 
tion than he did the latter, and by 
choosing his family to be the progeni- 
tors of the Messiah. From this lan- 
guage alone no inference can be drawn 
as to the eternal states of the two na- 
tions. It is worthy of notice in this 
case, how God balances the good and 
illof the present life. Leah is slighted 
in comparison with Rachel, but he gives 
children to her, while he witholds 
them from the other ; and children in a 
family whose chief blessedness consist- 
ed in a promised seed, were, of course, 
very highly prized. 

32. Called his name Reuben. Heb. 
plS^I re-u-6m, Ut. see ye a son. The 
names of the four sons successively bom 
to her were all significant, and expres- 
sive of her state of mind, either as grieved 
for want of an interest iii her husband's 
heart, or as prompted by piety to view 
the hand of (jod in all that befel her. 

33. She caUed his name Simeon, Heb 
"py^STD shimoTii hearing, from ^lyS3 ***>• 
ma, to hear. 


B. C. 1752.] 



bare a son; and said, Because the 
Lord hath beard that 1 toas hated, 
he hath therefore {riven me this son 
also: and she called his name Si- 

34 And she conceived ajjrain, and 
bare a son; and said. Now this 
time win my husband be joined un- 

34. There/ore was his name caUedLemt 
Heb. 1*1^ levif (pron. laivee,) joined^ 
from tvb fawiA, to join, 

35. She called his name Judah. Heb. 
tVDiX^ yehudah, praise^ from }XV^ yadah, 
to give Ihanksj praise, cdebrate.-^, — 1 Left 
hearing. Heb. tnbf2 lfz:Pt\ taamod 
mUedeth^ stood from bearing, * When a 
mother has ceased to bear children, 
should a person say it is not so, others 
will reply, *She stood from bearing at 
such a time.' Roberts. Our common 
tranBlation would seem to imply that 
she now ceased eniirebf from having 
children; but the original purports no 
more than that she ceased for a time from 
child-beaxing, and this is the sense evi- 
dently required, as she had three more 
children after this, Gen. 30. 17—21. 

Remarks. — ^The following brief prac- 
tical hints will easily refer themselves 
to the several verses on which they are 

(1.) Cheerily tokens of the divine 
presence are greatly calculated to quick- 
en zeal and accelerate speed in the way 
of duty. 

(3.) Objects and incidents of the most 
common occurrence, and of the slight- 
est heed to others, often have the char- 
acter of special providences in the esti- 
mation of the spiritually-minded. 

(3.) The civility, kindness, and bene- 
volence, w hich distinguish good men at 
home, should characterize them on their 
journeys abroad. They know not what 
precious fruits they may reap from at- 
tentions shown to strangers. 

(4.) The waste of time by men in any 
occupation, wili not iiul to grieve the 

to me, because I have borne him 
three sons : therefore was his name 
called Levi. 

35 And she conceived again, and 
bare a son : and she said. Now will 
I praise the Lord: therefore she 
called his name " Judah* and left 

• Mate 1.3. 

hearts and prompt the admonitions of 
those who have been trained to habits 
of active industry. 

(5.) The outward expressions of a 
sincere and cordial affection, as they 
are prompted by nature, so they ar« 
sanctioned by religion. 

(6.) If the people of God are melted 
to tears, or kindled to transports, it is 
usually in view of some striking indica- 
tions of a special providence. 

(7.) The plea of kindred should never . 
interfere with the claims of justice. 

(8.) Unprincipled men will not scru- 
ple oftentimes to admit the propriety 
of a conduct which they never mean to 

(9.) How sordid, and how deeply 
poisoned by avarice, must have become 
the hearts of those parents who value 
their children only so far as they are pro- 
fitak^ to them ! 

(10.) Hard and long service is made 
easy and short where love is the moving 
spring of action. 

(llj Good men, in the unsuspecting 
simplicity of their hearts, are sometimes 
unwarily seduced into evil by tho sub- 
tlety of mercenary deceivers, but when 
aware of their error, they are filled with 
a holy indignation against the fraud 
practised upon them. 

(12.) The plea of custom, fashion, de- 
corum, &e., is often set up as an exten- 
uation of conduct directly at variance 
with the will of God. 

(13.) Children me joining meroies be- 
tween husband and wife. As many 
children as parents have, so many bonds 
of love exist between them. 




[B. C. 1749. 


AND when Rachel saw that 
* she bare Jacob no children, 
Rachel ^ envied her sister ; and said 
unto Jacob, Give me children, « or 
else I die. 

ch.S9. 31. *ch. 37. 11. 'Job. 5.2. 

2 And Jacob's anger was kin- 
dled against Rachel ; and he said, 
^ Am 1 in God's stead, who hatb 
withheld from thee the froit of the 

4 ch. 16. 2. 1 Sam. 1. 5 

1. Rachd envied her sister. Heb. 
MSpri tekanna. The original expresses 
by one and the same word, the emo- 
tions of envy, zeal, and jealousy. But 
how it is to be interpreted in any given 
connexion, whether in a good or bad 
sense, can be determined only by the 
context. That the evil affection denote 
ed by the term is stronger and more 
baneful in its consequences than anger, 
is to be inferred from such passages as 
the following, Prov. 27. 4, * Wrath is 
cruel, and anger is outrageous; but 
who is able to stand before envy?* 
Prov. -14. 30, *£nvyis as rottenness in 
the bones.' Cant. 8. 6, * Jealousy is 
cruel as the grave.* 'Her envy was no 
doubt sharpened in this case by the 
fact that Leah was her sister, and by 
the knowledge that she was herself the 
favorite and elected wife. She must 
have feared that she should lose her 
ascendancy over Jacob by the want of 
children- The natural domestic evils 
of polygamy must be rendered more 
intense when the wives are sisters; 
and this seems to be stated in the law 
(Lev. 18. 18.) as a reason why such 
marriages should not in future be con- 
tracted. * Neither shalt thou take a 
wife to her sistec, to vex Aer,— beside 
the other in her Ufetime.* Jacob was, 
in a great measure, forced by circum- 
stances into such a connexion; but it 
does not' appear that a marriage with 
two sisters at once was at this time con- 
sidered singular or improper. The 
Arabians, who retained many patriarch- 
al usages which the law forbade to the 
Jews, continued the pmctice ontfl the 
time of Mohammed, who dedared 

such connexions unlawful.' Pict Bibie, 
IT Qive me childreny or elseJdiit. Heb. 
"^SDX t1t\'0 VVt ft» iw ain methah anofd, 
i/none, lam a dead woman, or a corse; 
i. e. I shall be as good as dead; my 
name will not be perpetuated ; as to the 
raising op of seed, I shall be as though 
I had never been. See note on the 
expression, *tbou art a dead man,' 
Gen. 20. 3. A possible sense undoubt- 
edly is, that she would die of vexation 
and grief; but the former we conceive 
to be the legitimate import of the 
phrase. She would intimate that with- 
out children she would be like a seed 
cast into the ground, which is never 
quickened. The idea is substantially 
the same atf that conveyed by the an- 
cient Jewish proverb, that * the childless 
are but as the lifeless.' The eager de- 
sire for offspring among the Hebrew 
women is easily accounted for, if we 
bet^ in mind that the distinguishing 
blessing of Abraham was a numerous 
posterity, and in particular one illus- 
trious person in whom all the nations of 
the earth should be blessed. It was 
natural, then, that they should feel a 
laudable ambition to contribute to the 
fulfilment of the prophecy ; and we axe 
not to be surprised if many of five's 
daughters flattered themselves, like 
their first parent, with the hope of being 
the mother of the Messiah. But Ra- 
chel's language was that of a sinful im- 
patience, for which it would seem, that 
in the righteous providence of God she 
afterwards paid dear, as she died in giv- 
ing birth to Benjamin, ch. 37. 16—19. 

2. Jacob's anger was kindled agakut 
Radtdf &c. His spirit was stizred with* 
in bim rather by the reflection which 


B. C. 1748.] 



3 And she said. Behold .my 
maid Bilhah, go in nnto her ; ' and 
she shall bear upon my knees, ' that 
I may also have children by her. 

4 And she ga,ve him Bilhah her 
handmaid ^ to wife : and Jacob went 
in unto her. 

5 And Bilhah conceiyed, and 
bare Jacob a son. 

• ch. 16. 2. 
c cli. 16. 2. 

fch.50.23. Job 3. IX 
b ch. 16. 3. k 35. 33. 

her complaints cast upon God, than by 
sny injury or injustice done to himself. 
It excited a holy resentment to find one 
whom he so tenderly loved failing to 
recognise her entire dependence on 
tlie power and providence of the Most 
High for the mercy desired ; for the 
tnith so plainly expressed by David, 
P^. 127. 3, that * children are a heritage 
of the Lord,' was no donbt as cordially 
held by the patriarch as by the monarch 
of Israel. His, therefore, was a * being 
angry and sinning not;' and we may 
add, that if any thing ever tends to pro- 
voke anger in the bosom of the pious, 
it is not so much the sense of their own 
wrongs, as of the dishonor done to their 
heavenly Father. A rash demeanor, a 
murmuring or rebellious spirit towards 
hira, grieves them to the heart, and 
they cannot forbear to rebuke it even 
in their nearest and dearest ftiends. 
Thongh they may love their persons, 

they wiU chide their sins.' V Am I 

in (rod's stead? Am I greater than 
God to give thee what he has refused 7 
Chal. * Why dost thou ask children of 
me ? . Ougbtest thoa not rather to have 
asked them from before the Lord.?' 
Arab. * Am I above God, who hath with- 
held,' &c. A rightly framed spirit 
shtidders at the thought of being ac- 
counted in God's stead in any respect. 

3. Go in unto her. This is similar to 
the case of Sarah giving Hagar to Abra- 
ham. Such things, we are told by tra- 
vellers, happen to this day in India and 
China, often with the fnll concurrence, 

6 And Rachel aaid, God hath 
' judged me, and hath also heard 
my voice, and hathffiven me a son : 
therefore called the his name Dan. 

7 And Bilhah, Rachel's maid, 
conceived again, and bare Jacob a 
second son. 

> 8 And Rachel said, with great 
wrestlings have I wrestled with my 

'PS.35.24.&43.1. L8ni.3.5l». 

and at the request of the lawful wife, 
when she is herself sterile, or when the 
children are dead and she has ceased 

to hope for more. ^ She shall hear 

upon my knees. That is, bear children 
which I may nurse and dandle on my 
knees as though they were my own ; 
which shall be mine adoptively. Ac- 
cordingly, V. 6, she calls Bilhah's son 
her own. The handmaid was the sole 
property of the mistress, and therefore 
not only all her labor, but even the 
children borne by her, were also her 
property. For this reason these female 
slaves may be said to have borne chil- 
dren vicariously for their mistresses. 

IT That I may also have children by 

her. Heb. H^^ ibbaneh, may be buUded 
by her. See note on Gen. 16. 2. 

6. God hath judged me. Heb. *^Dn 
dannani, judged me, whence y^ dan, 
judging, the name given to her child. 
The original word forjudge, when used 
in reference to the righteous, sometimes 
implies chastisement, or affliction for 
sin, as 1 Cor. 11. ^ ' when we are judg- 
ed we ve chastened of the Lord ;' and 
sometimes the vindication or dehver- 
ance of those who are unrighteously 
condemned, afflicted, or punished, as 
1 Sam. 24. 15, * The Lord therefore be 
judge, and judge between me and thee, 
and see and plead my cause, and deZto- 
er me out of thine hand.' . The latter 
sense especially is to be understood 

8. With great wrestlings, dec. Heb. 
t^bVi '^binfta napkttde ekkim, meet- 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



[B. C, 1749. 

aister, and I have prevailed: and 
she called his name ^ Naphtali. 

9 When Leah saw that she had 
left bearing, she took Zilpah, her 
maid, and ^ gave her Jacob to wife. 

10 And , Zilpah, Leah's maid, 
bare Jacob a son. 

» Matt. 4.13. ivcT.4 

lings of Ood; i. e. great, urgent, vehe- 
ment wrestlings. See the Heb. idiom 
Uluatrated, Gen. 23. 6. The original 
comes from a root, i^JD patkal, signify- 
ii^ to twisty vjreaike, intwist, fn/iome, and 
hence applied to wresiUnff, from the ef- 
forts of the combatants to iatujine or in- 
terlock their limbs so as to throw each 
other to the ground. That the expres- 
sion, as used by Rachel, implies what we 
ordinarily understand by earnest wrest- 
ling toith God in prayer J is highly proba- 
ble, and so the ChaJ. expressly renders 
it ; but as she says that she wrestled 
with her sister, we may suppose that it 
impHes the diversified and anxious 
ejcpedienis to which she resorted, turn- 
ing, writhing, struggling by crafty strat- 
agems to effect her object. Hence the 
name 'Naphtali,* i. e. my wrestling; 
called * Nephtalim,* Mat 4. 13. 

11. A troop cometky &c. Heb. ^3^ 6a- 
gad, either a troop cometk, or with a troop, 
as the original has a double reading. The 
rendering in our version is taken from 
the margin of .the Heb. Bible, which 
has -7:1 1^^ 6a gad, a troop cometh, in two 
distinct words ; while in the text itself 
these words coalesce into one, ^y^ ^ 
gad, with or in a troop. Yet all this pro- 
ceeds upon the assumption that the true 
sense of ^^ gad, is a troop, which is 
doubtful. Nearly all the eariier versions 
give the sense of 2uc^ fortune, or. pros- 
perity, derived perhaps from some su- 
perstitious notion of the auspicious influ- 
ence of some one of the heavenly bo- 
dies, either the sun, moon, or one of the 
planets. As in Arabic the planet Jupi- 
ter is called Qad, and the Targum of 

11 And Leah said, A troop com- 
eth, and she called his name Gad. 

12 And Zilpah, Leah's maid 
bare Jacob a second son. 

13 And Leah said, Happy am 
I, for the daughters "' will call me 
blessed: and she called his name 

»Prov.31. 28. Luke 1.48. 

Jonathan renders the present phrase, 
&^1t3 &tbt^ mazzda to6a, a prapitious 
star. The Chal. , moreover, has ^a fi^fiji 
atha gad, fortune cometh. Some have 
supposed that this name was applied as 
the title of a species of divinity, and that 
from it comes, by remote derivation, 
our terms good and Chd. See the com- 
mentators on Is. 65. 11, where the same 
word occurs as the name of an idol. 
The Gr. translates it sv rvxii vrith good 
fortune, and the Vulg. * Feliciter,' hap 
pily,fortunatdy. But it is much more 
likely that these versions should have 
mistaken the meaning of the original, 
than that Leah, who had evinced so 
pious a recognition of God in naming 
her other children, should now aU of a 
sudden so strangely act the heathen as 
to acknowledge the power of a fictitious 
deity. On the whole, therefore, we ad- 
here to the rendering given in our Eng. 
Bible as the most correct, particularly 
when compared with Jacob's interpre- 
tation of the name in Gen. 49. 19, * G^ 
a troop (ninri gadud) shall overcome 
him,' <&c. 

13. And Leah said, Happy am I, Sue. 
Keb.'^'^'Xl^'^^oskri, in my happiness, or 
in my blessedness, Gr. /laKapta tya, 

happy I! IT The daughters wUl caU 

me blessed. All coming generations will 
felicitate me on my happy lot. Marked 
allusions to this phraseology occur else- 
where. Prov. 31. 2S, *Her chUdren 
arise up and call her blessed.' Cant. 6. 
9, * The daughters saw her, and blessed 
her. Luke 1. 48, *For, behold, from 
henceforth all generations sftoZZ caU me 
blessed. T Called his name Asher, 


a C. 1748.] 



14 H And Reaben went in the 
days of wheat-harvest, and found 
mandrakes in the field, and brought 

That w, happtfj bleased. The following 
Bcriptoral names are all of the same 
etymological import with * Asher/ vix. 
Felix, Fortunatus, Eutychas, Tychicua 
So among the Greeks and Latins, Eu- 
denum, Eutychus, Macarius, Fanstus, 
Faustulos, Felicianns. 

14. In the days of uiheat-harvett. 
Which in that climate ordinarily occur- 
red in the month of May. T Man- 

drakes. Heb. ^-^fc^lIT dudaim, hndy, 
amiable, from ^T diid, beloved ; proba- 
bly from the common opinion of their 
tendency to excite amorous propensities. 
The Gr. renders them MiXa /lavSpayopiov, 

them unto hie mother Leah. Then 
Rachel said to Leah, " Give me, I 
pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes. 

■ rb. 25. 30. 

apples of mandragora, or wtandrake ap- 
ples; the Chal. '^'^m^^ ychnihU, a 
word of Arabic origin applied to diis 
plant from the resemblance of its smell 
to the rank savor of a goat. By some 
they are supposed to have been, not 
fruits, hut flowers of peculiar beauty and 
fragrance. The mass of commenta- 
tors, however, nnderstand by * Dudaim,* 
mandrakes, a species of melon, abound- 
ing in Palestine and the East, and which 
was in high repute for it^ prolific vir- 
tues, as from it philtres or love-potiom 
were made. The plant grows low like 
the lettuce, to which ita leaves have a 


d by Google 



[B. C. 1747. 

15 And she said unto ber, "" Is it 
a tma}! matter that thmi haet 
taken my husband 1 and wouldest 
thou take away my son's mandrakes 
alsol And Rachel said, Therefore 
he shall lie with thee to-night for 
thy son's mandrakes. 

16 And Jacob came out of the 
field in the evening, and Leah went 
out to meet him, and said, Thou 
must come in unto me ; for surely I 
have hired tHee with my son's man- 

o tVuiub 16. 9, 13. 

great reflerablance, except that they 
have a dark green color. The flowery 
are purple, and the fruit when ripe, in 
the beginning of May, is of the size and 
ook>r of a small apple, exceedingly rud- 
dy, and of a most agreeable odor. Has- 
aelquist, speaking of Nazareth in Galilee, 
says, * What I found most remarkable 
at this village was the great number of 
mandrakes which grew in a valley be- 
low it. ( had not the pleasure to see 
this plant in blossom, the fruit now 
(May 5th,) hanging ripe on the stem, 
which lay withered on the ground. 
From the season in which thin mandrake 
blossoms and ripens fruit, one might 
form a conjecture that it was Rachel's 
Dudaim. These were brought to her in 
the wheat harvest, which in Galilee is in 
the month of May, about this time, and 
the mandrake was now in fruit.* The 
word occurs only here and Cant. 7. 13, 
*The mandrakes give a sme]!,* which 
Michael is thus paraphrases: *Now the 
voluptuous mandrakes, widely exhaling 
their somnirerous odor, breathe and ex- 
cite to love.* 

17. God hearkened unto Leah. That 
is, mercifully had respect to her, not- 
withstandmg her infirmities. We do 
not read that she prayed unto him, yet 
he condescended to bless her. See 
what is said, Gen. 21. 17, on God's 
hearing the fioice of a particular con- 
dition or estate. 
. 18. She oaUedhia name Istachar, Heb. 

drakes. And he lay with her that 

17 And God hearkened unto 
Leah, and she conceived, and bare 
Jacob the fifth son. 

18 And Leah said, God hath 
given me my hire, because 1 have 
given my maiden to my husband ; 
and she called his name Issachar. 

19 And Leah conceived again, 
and bare Jacob the sixth son. 

20 And Leah said, God hath en- 

'^wOlD'^ yt»«afezr, he bringetk hire^ or he 
beareth tDoges, or reward. The word is 
written in the original with the letters 
of * Issaschar,' but with the vowel-points 
of * Issachar,' suppressing the sound of 
the latter s which is quite unusual, asd 
the reason of which is unknovini, un- 
less the interpretation of Ewald be 
admitted, who supposes the name 
to be contracted from ""ilDS T"^ y«*A 
sahar^ there is reward, the first a sh 
being resdlved in sound into the ig 9 
following, though the ancient ortho- 
graphy has retained both ^id's. In look- 
ing upon her son as a * reward* given 
her by God for yielding her maid 
to Jacob, we may probably suppose her 
laboring under a mistake. The Lord 
favored her not /or that act, but in spite 

20. Now wiU my hus^nd dwell with 
me. Heb. 'ijblt'^ yizbdeni, wdl dvoeU 
(with) me. Gt. aiptrui /xe, wtO, choose 
me. *Many reasons concur to render 
the possession of sons an object of great 
anxiety to women in the east. The 
text expresses one of these reasons. 
Sons being no less earnestly desired by 
the husband than by the wife, a woman 
who has giyen birth to sons acquires 
an influence and respectability which 
strengthen with the number to which 
she is mother. To be without sons is 
not only a misfortune, but a disgrace to 
a woman, and her hold on the affections 
of her husband, and on her standing as 

d by Google 

B. C. 1747.] 



dued me toUh a ffood dowry ; now 
wiU my husband dwell with me, be- 
c^use I have bcmie him ra sons : 
and she calJed his name p Zebujun. 

21 And afterwards she bare a 
daughter, and called her name Di* 

22 IT And God « remembered Ra- 

P Matt. 4. 13. 4 ch. 8. 1. 1 Sani. 1. 19. 

his wife, is of a very feeble description. 
Divorces are easily eiTected in the East 
An Arab has only to enunciate tbe 
simple words, ent taleka — ^*thou art 
divorced/ which, in whatever heat or 
anger spoken, constitate a legal divorce.* 
Pict. BSt^. Mr. Roberts's testimony 
is equivalent. *■ Should it be reported 
of a husband that he is going to forsake 
his wife after she has borne hirt chil- 
dren, people will say, *She has borne 
him sons; he will never, never leave 
her.' To have children is a powerful 
tie upon a husband. Should she, how- 
ever, not have any, he is almost certain 

to forsake her.* ^ Zebuhin. That is, 

dwdling; implying that he should be 
the cause or occasion of the dweUing 
together of his parents. 

21. Called her name Dinah. Heb. 
rO*^! dinaht judgment ; a word coming 
from the same root with Dan, v. 6. Ho 
reason is assigned by the mother for the 
name, but the inference seems fair that 
it was prompted by sentiments similar 
to thof e which led Rachel to adopt an 
equivalent name for her son by Bilhnh, 
V. 6. * The simplicity of t|iis announce- 
ment, contrasted with the exuberant 
thankfulness and exultation which ac- 
company the birth of sons in this and 
the preceding chapter, is remarkably 
expressive to persons acquainted with 
the customs and feelings of the east. 
When there is prospect of a child, both 
the parents hope and pray, that it may 
he a son. All their desires centre in 
male offspring, which is everywhere 
Kgvrded at the greatest of blessings ; and 
the disappointment is most acute when 

cbel, and God hearicened to her* ind 
'' opened her womb. 

2S And she eaacmyed, and ban 
a son ; and said, (lod hath taktn 
away * my reproach : 

34 And she called his name lo- 
sepli ; and said, *■ The }jOBD shall 
adid to me another son. 

'eh, 89. 31. • ] Sam. 1. ft. Int. 4. 1. Lnlw 
1. 2i5- » ch. 35. 17. 

the cluM provea to be a female. Thia 
IS not that the poeaesaion of a daughter 
is in itself regarded as an evil, but ba- 
cauae her birth disappoints the sanguine 
hopes which had been entertained of 
the greater blessing. Time enables 
the liltle creature to win her way to 
the hearts of her parents. But it is 
only time that can reconcile them to 
their disappointment; and in the first 
instance the household in which a fe- 
male child has been bom, has the ap- 
pearance of having been visited by 
some calamitous dispensation. Her 
birth is quite unmarked by the rejoicings 
and congratulations which greet the 
entrance of a son into the world, and 
every one ik reluctant to announce the 
untoward event to the father; whereas, 
when the infant is a boy, the only ques- 
tion is, who shall be foremost to bear 
to him the joyful tidings.' Pict. Bible. 

23. God hath taken away my reproack. 
That is, the reproach of my barrenness. 
In like manner Elizabeth says, Luke, 
1. 25, 'Thus hath the LorJ dealt with 
me, in the days wherein he looked on 
me, to take away my reproach among 
men.' Comp. 1 Sam. 1. 6. Is. 4. 1. 

24. CciUed his name Joseph. Heb. 

S01*i yosepk, adding, or, he wiU add. hi 
B. 81.. 6, and in the engraving on 
Aaron's breastplate, Ex. 28. the naroa 
is written CjOin"' yehoseph, analogous te 
which we find 1 Chron. 10. 2, Jona^mtf 
and 1 Sam, 31. 8, JHhonathan ; and ia 
like manner 2 Chron. 24. J, Jaash, and 

2 Kings, 12. 1, JeAoasA. ^iShaaadi 

^io me another ton. Thus piophetiadly . 
declaring the event which was aeaom-M 




[B.C. 1745. 

25 IT And it camQ to pass, when 
Rache] had borne Joseph, that Ja- 
cob said unto Laban, " Send me 
away, that I may go unto "^ mine 
own place, and to my country. 

26 Give me my wives and my 
children, "" for whom I have served 
thee, and let me go : for thou know- 
est my service which I have done 

• eb. 94. 54, 56. w ch. 18. 33. ic 31. 55. 
X ch. 29. 30, 30. 

plished in the birth of Benjamin, Gen. 
35, 18. Yet it shoald be remarked that 
the original will admit of its being ren- 
dered* in the form of a prayer, * May the 
Lord add another.' 

25. Send me away, &c. Having now 
fulfilled the second seven years' period 
of service, and attained the age of about 
ninety years, Jacob's desire to return 
to his native country was prompted not 
only by his experience of the hard, 
selfish, unjust, and perfidious character 
of Laban, and an earnest anxiety once 
more to behold his aged parents before 
they died, but by a paramount regard 
to the promise of God. He remember- 
ed that this, the land of his sojourning, 
was not the land of his inheritance. 
He called to mind the hereditary hope 
of his family, the parting benediction of 
Isaac, the vision at Bethel, and under 
the influence of these impressions felt 
all the ties that bound him to Mesopota- 
mia to give way. That he was finally 
induced to protract his stay somewhat 
longer with his uncle does not essential- 
ly militate with this view of his present 
feelings; for the determination was 
partly forced upon him by the urgent 
solicitation of Laban, whom he saw he 
could not leave without making him his 
enemy, and partly by the desire to pro- 
vide more amply for his family, that he 
might not return empty-handed to his 
friends in Canaan. 'Phis he distinctly 
hints at below ; 'When shall I provide 
iot mine own house also ?' 

27 And Laban said unto him, I 
pray thee, if I have found favour in 
thine eyes, tarry :for r I have learn- 
ed by experience that the Lord hath 
blessed me * for thy sake. 

28 And he said, * Appoint me 
thy wages, and I will give it, 

29 And he said unto him, ^ Thou 
knoweet how I have served thee, 
and ,how thy cattle was with me. 

r ch. :«. 3, 5. « ch. 26. 34. « ch. S9 
15- b ch. 31. 6, 38, 39, 40. Matt. 24. 45. 

Tit 2. 10. 

27. And Laban said unto him, I pray 
thee, &c. Although Jacob's proposal to 
return to Canaan was very modestly 
made, yet his greedy kinsman, well 
aware of the advantages which had ac- 
crued (0 liim from his nephew's faithful 
service, expresses much regret on hear- 
ing his departure spoken of. But it is 
not regret at the thought of parting with 
his daughters and his grand- children. 
It is not the tender concern of bidding 
a long farewell to a near relation and a 
devoted servant. No, it is regret at 
losing an instrument of gain- . It is the 
sorrow of a man who loves only him- 
self IT I have learned by experience, 

&c. Heb. '^inffini nihashii, I have learn- 
ed by experiment. Gr. oKaviaanriv, Thave 
divined by birds, or augury. The root of 
tlie original word is ©pia nahash, from 
which comes the Heb. of serpent, (Gen. 
3. 1.) signifying to ascertain by means of 
a close, subtle, and insidious inspection. 
Laban had ho doubt watched Jacob 
with the most jealous vigilance, and the 
conclusion to which he was brought 
was, that his kinsman was an object of 
the special superintending providence of 
God, and that he himself was blessed 
for his sake. Thus a testimony is some- 
times extorted from the lips of the wick- 
ed, that they are prospered for the sake 
of the good. 

2S. Appoint me iky wages, Heb. 
i^Dp^ noldkih, puncture, or prick down; 
L e. state with the most absolute pre> 


B. C. 1745.] 



30 For it toas little which thou 
hadst before I came, and it is now 
increased uoto a multitude; and 
the Lord hath blessed thee since 
my cominfi^ : and now, when shall I 
* provide for mine own house also 1 

• 1 Tim 5. 8. 

30. It 18 nmo increased. Heb. V^B^ 
yiphrotz, broken forth, spread abroad; a 
term usually employed to signify a vast 
and sodden increase. Comp. Gen, 38. 

14. f StJice my coming. Heb *^ba*ib 

hragU, at my foot. The linage in regard 
to the original tenn for ' foot,' is pecu- 
liar. In some cases itobviou&ly has the 
sense of lahor, as Is. 58. 13, *If thon mm 
away thy /oof from the Sabbath ;' i. e. 
if thou refrain from all servile work on 
the Sabbath. Is. 32. 20$ " Blessed are 
ye that send forth the feet of the ox and 
the ass ;' i. e. that employ the labor of 
these animals. The phrase is elsewhere 
nsed as equivalent to condiLct, gttidance^ 
directum. Thus, 2 Sam. 15. 17, * And 
the king went forth, and all the people 
after him ;* Heb. * at his foot.* ^ Kings 
3. 9, 'And there was no water for the 
host, and for the cattle that followed 
them;' Heb. *at their feet.' So here, 
* the Lord hath blessed thee at my foot ;' 
i. e. under my guidance and manage- 
ment. * By the labor of Jacob's foot^ the 
cattle of Laban had increased to a mtd- 
titode. Of a man who has become 
rich by his own industry, it is said, 
' Ah ! by the hibor of his feet these 
treasures have been acquired.' *How 
have you gained this prosperity T' * By 
the favor of the gods, and the labor of 
my feet.* *How ia it the king' is so 
prosperous ?' * By the labor of tUe feet 
of his ministers.' Roberts, 

31. Shalt not give Tne any thing. That 
is, no definite fixed amount, as Laban 
was minded to do. Jacob had in view 

another plan of proceeding. IT If 

thou wk do this thing for me, &c. ' There 
is a difllculty in this passage which will 
not escape the notice of the careful 

31 And he said, What shall I 
g^ve thee? And Jacob said, Thou 
shalt not give me any thing. If 
thou wilt do this thin^ for me/I wiU 
again feed and keep tny flock : 

reader. The terms of the agreement ^ 
were, that, in consideration of Jaoob*t 
services, Laban should allow to him all 
the sheep or goats of a certain descrip- 
tion which should thereafter be bom. 
The agreement refers to no present dis* 
tribution of the flocks ; yet we find La- 
ban immediately selecting the animals 
of the description defined by Jacob, an i 
sending them three days' joomey dis- 
tant from the others, under the chaige 
of his son^. Perhaps the first impres- 
sion of the reader would be, that Laban, 
for the greater security, placed with his 
sons the animals of the class (parti-co- 
lored) defined by Jacob, leaving with 
him those of one color, and that, from 
time to time an exchange was effected, 
the parti-colored in the one-colored 
flock of Laban, fed by Jacob, going to 
the parti-colored flock of Jacob, fed by 
Laban's sons ; and the one-colored ani- 
mals produced in Jacob's parti-colored 
flock, in charge of Laban's sons, being 
transferred to the flock in charge of Ja- 
cob. But this hypothesis assumes that 
Laban made over to Jacob in- the first 
instance all the parti-colored animals in 
his flocks, whereas the agreement only 
states a prospective advantage. We 
have therefore no doubt that the solu- 
tion offered by Dr. Adam Clarke is the 
most reasonable. He supposes that the 
separation was a stratagem of Laban, 
for the purpose of diminishing Jacob's 
chances as much as possible, by leaving 
him with a flock that did not contain a 
single animal of the sort to which he 
was to be entitled, and from which it 
might therefore be expected that the 
smallest possible proportion of parti- 
colored animals would proceed. The 




[B. a 1745. 

32 I win pnss throngh all thy 
flock to-day, removing from thence 
aD the speckled and spotted cattle, 
and an the brown cattle among the 
sheep, and the spotted and speckled 
among the goats : and ^ cfsuch shaU 
be my hire. 

33 So shall my * righteonsness 
answer for me in time to come, 
when it shall come for my hire be- 
fore thy fece : every one that is not 
speckled and spotted am(»ig the 
l^ts, and brown among the sheep, 
that shaU be counted stolen with 

'eh. 31.8. 

• P«. 37. 6. 

coimt«r-strBtag«n of Jacob, and it* re- 
■uU, appear in the eequel of the chap- 
tar.* Pict.BHie^ 

32. I wOl pass through aB. thy jLodi, 
isc * Flock* here ia a general term un- 
der which Jacob goes on to spedfy the 
two qpecies of animals of which it was 
oomposed. The original for ' removing' 
(^IDTI haaer) is a word of very doubtful 
constmction in this place. Grammati- 
caUy, it may refer either to. Jacob or to 
Laban. In the former sense it is taken 
by the Syr. and Arab. ; in the latter by 
thia 6r., Choi., and Vulg. Probably it 
would be best, in translating, to leave it 
IB its native ambiguity ; * Let me pass 
through all thy ik>cks to-day, (and) re- 
move,* d&c. By * speckled* is meant 
^Qse marked with small sprinklings, 
and by * spotted,* those bearing spots of 
a larger size. The term * cattle,* more- 
over, is applied in the Scriptures to sheep 
and goats, as woll as to cows and oxen. 
——IT Of such shaU he my hire. It is all 
along to be borne in mind that this was 
Si prospective m'rangement. Jacob did 
not propose, by removing the parti-co- 
k>red from the one-colored, now to ap- 
propriate one portion to himself and 
another to Laban; but the stipulation 
was iherueforth to take effect All the 
browB and speckled which should there- 
ofUf be brought forth should belong to 

34 And Laban ^aid» Behold, I 
would it might be according to thy 

35 And he removed that day the 
he-goats that were ring-streaked 
and spotted, and afl the she-soats 
that were speckled and spottec^ and 
every one that had wme white in it, 
and an the brown among the sheep, 
and gave them into the Hands of his 

36 And he set three days' jour- 
ney betwixt himself and Jacob : and 
Jacob fed the rest of Laban's flocks. 

Jacob, and the rest to Laban; and it 
was so unlikely that the single-colored 
should produce many pani-colored, that 
Laban gladly embraces tb« propossl. 
But the event shows him to have been 
supplanted by the superior aattiteness cf 

33. So shaUmyrightewuness answer far 
me in tmeto come, Heb, Tff2 til*^ &^y0<* 
mahurJnthedaytO'morrssDfi, a. shortly 
hereafter, or in time to come. The 
clause might perhaps be mora oorrectty 
rendered, *So shall my righteoasaesi 
answer for me before thee hereafter 
when thou shalt come upon my wages 
before thee ;* i. e. shalt cone to eiann- 
ine my portion of the flock, and io see 
that all is right, it is as if be had 
said, so shaU my honest and upright 
conduct bear witness for me. The 
thing will show for itself thai I am gvflty 
of no fraud whatever, but simply take 
what y«.u agree to give me. The origi- 
nal word for answer (roy anahy is often 
rendered testify. Thus Is. 59. 18, * Ow 
rins testify against us.' Heb. Answer 

against us. T ShaU be counted siden 

with me. You shall count it to have 
been stolen by me. 

34. I would that k might fa, Ae. Or, 
Let it indeed be. 

35. AU the hroum among Iks shisp 
As the original has the importof hfi^ 


B.C. 1739.1 



37 T And- ' Jaoob took btm pods 
of green poplar, and of the haxel 
and chesnut-tree ; and pilled white 
streaks in them, and made the 
white appear which loas in the rods. 

38 And he set the rods which he 
had pilled before the flocks in the 
gutters, in the watering-troughs 
when the flocks came to drink ; 
that they should conceive when 
they came to drink. 

39 And the flocks conceived be- 
fi)re the rods, and brought forth 
cattle ring-streaked, speckled, and 

40 And Jacob did separate the 
lambs, and set the faces of the 
flocks toward the ring-streaked, and 

fch. 31. 9— 18. 

all the brown in tbefloekof Labtti : 
and be put his own flocks by them- 
selves, and put them not unto La> 

ban's cattle. 

41 And it came to pass wheoBO- 
ever the stronger cattle did eon- 
.ceive, that Jacob laid the rods be- 
fore the eyes of the cattle m the 
gutter, that they might conceive 
among the rods. 

42 But when the cattle were 
feeble, he put them not in : so the 
feebler were Laban's, and the 
stronger Jacob's. 

43 And the man ' increased ex- 
ceedingly, and ^had much cattle, 
and maid-servants, and men-ser- 
v.-iut8, and camels, and i 

sultriness, humirig, it is probable that by 
* brown' here we are to understand suti' 
burrUm hUuk. It is not known that any 
Bheep are brown. 

37. And Jiuxib iO€k him rod*,, dfc. 
Many have contended that this was a 
natural means sufficient for producing 
the effect ; and it is an established fact, 
that any strong impression upon the 
mind of the female during the period of 
gestation has a corresponding influence 
upon the offspring. Even on this sup- 
position Jacob cannot be considered as 1 
violating his contract, for he only used 
such means to produce variegated cattle 
as his knowledge of natural causes af- 
forded him. But it is evident from cli. 
31. 5—13, that there was something mi- 
raculous in it, and that in the mean^ 
which he employed, he followed some 
divine intimation. If so, his conduct, 
so far from being culpable, was praifo- 
worthy, as being a compliance with the 
will of God. He is, in fact, hereby ac- 
quitted of selfishness and every other 
improper motive, just as the divine com- 
mand to the Israehtes tu borrow of the 
Egyptians acqiuts them of fraud. Both 
were extraordinary interpositions on be- 
half of the injured ; a kind of divine re- 

I vnr. 30. i^ ch. 13. S. & 24. 35. & 96. 13, 14. 

prisal,in which justice was executed on 
a broad scale. * They shall spoil those 
that spoiled them, and rob those that 
robbed them, saith the 1 ord God.' And 
as the Egyptians could not complain of 
the Israelites, inasmuch as rhey had 
freely lent, or rather given their jewels, 
without any expectation of receiving 
them again (see note on Ex. 9. 1 — 3> ; 
so neither could Laban complain of Ja- 
cob, for that he had nothing more than 
it was agreed he should have : nor was 
he, on the whole, injured, but greatly 
'benefited by Jac^ib's devices.—— 
IT PiUed. Pealed. He took green rods 
of different trees, or shrubs, and pealed 
off the bark so as to make streaks of 
white in them, and then placed them in 
full view of the flocks at tjie times men- 
tioned in the text that the designed ef- 
fect might take vplace. If unbelievers 
object to this as a crafty device origin- 
ating with Jacob, we may answer. Let 
them make use of the same means, and 
see if the same restilts will follow. We 
presume it will not be pretended that 
any person has since made the experi- 
ment with success. 

Remarks. (I.) The jealousy and 
strife which took place in the tents of 




[B. C. 1739. 


ND be heard the words of La- 
^ ban's sonst sayingf Jacob hath 

Jacob, by reason of his many -wives, 
may make us thankful that a practice, 
common amongst the people of God in 
early times, has been totally abolished 
by the gospel of Christ. It is one of the 
many instances in which the liberty 
wherewith we should be apt to indulge 
ourselves, would be far less conducive 
to our happiness, than that liberty where- 
with Christ has made us free. This 
lesson of gratitude is still more strongly 
enforced upon us by considering the ef- 
fects of Jacob's marrying two sisters, 
who thenceforth seem to have lost all 
nsterly affection ; envying each other, 
and trafficking with each other for the 
kindregardsof their common husband- 
May we hence learn to feel thoroughly 
convinced, that the bounds which God 
sets to oar desires are in all cases or- 
dered for our good ; and that whether 
we can see the reasonableness of his 
laws or not, it must be as much for our 
real interest, in every case, to refrain 
ftom that which he forbids, as to enjoy 
that which he allows. 
, (2) Though some of the names given 
by the sisters to their respective children 
have perpetuated the memory of their 
strife, yet in others they seem to have 
been piously designed to express their 
sense of the divine goodness. In this, 
their example may sng^st to us a claim 
lor our thankfulness too often forgotten 
upon the birth of those little ones whom 
God brings into the worid. It may teach 
us to render our devout acknowledg-' 
ments to him who thus setteth the soli- 
tary in families; and not only so, but it 
may hint the propriety of giving more 
scope to religious sentiments in the 
choice of names for our children than is 
common amongst many professing god- 
liness. Why should not such names be 
selected as will not only remind us of 

taken away all that was our (lather's ; 
and of that which tvas our faitber'^ 
hath he gotten all this * glory. 


what we owe to the father of mercies^ 
but such also as will establish an iro< 
portant association in the minds of uar 
children between their names and their 
duty ? We are probably buthttle awara 
of the secret influence exerted upon the 
character fromlhis source. The bestow- 
ing of the names of great military chief- 
tains and heroes has,no doubt tended to 
kindle up and keep aUve the baneful spir- 
it of war among men, and, in general, we 
could not well more effectually secure 
the transfusion of any one*s spirit into 
another, than by giving him in inhncy 
his name, and then rearing him up un- 
der the influences of all the associations 
which it carries with it. Let us then 
avail ourselves of this principle to a 
good end. Let us call our children af- 
ter the good, rather than the great. 
Let us name them, not so much from 
our earthly relations as from our spirit- 
ual kindred, those whose names are 
written in the book of God, on purpose 
that We may ibllow their examples. 


1. And he heard, Ac. Not periiaps 

that he heard it directly from them, for 

they were three days* journey asunder ; 

but it was reported to htm ; il came to 

his ears. f Jaco6 hath taken away all 

that was our father's. The spirit which 
prompted this calnmnbus assertion was, 
no doubt, of the most malevolent char- 
acter, and but for Jacob's timely remov- 
al, would probably have led to a violent 
seizure of all his possessions under the 
pretext of their belonging in equity to 
Laban. In this extremity Go^ inter* 
feres for the protection of his servant- 

1 ChMen oS this glory. Heb. W^ 

asah, made, in the sense of ao^txredt oo- 
curmdated, amassed, as explained in the 
note on Gen. 12. 5. Chal. •Gotten »B 


B. C. 1739.1 



2 And Jacob beheld ^ the coun- 
tcnance of Laban, and behold, it 
loas not « toward him as before. 

3 And the IjObd said unto Jacob, 
^ Return unto the land, of thy fa- 

kcb.4.5. • Dene 38. 54. « ch. 98. 15, 9D, 

31. & 33. 9. 

these richea.* The original for glory 
(1^^ hAod) properly signifies weight or 
harden, as Gen. 13. 2, where Abraham 
i« said to have been * very rich/ Heb. 
'very weighty.* The word is rendered 
'glory/ because glory and honor are the 
UEoal concomitants of riches. This 
sense ^f the term occurs Is. 61. 6, 'Ye 
shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and 
(or, even) in their glory shall ye boast 
yourselves;* i. e. in their abundance, 
their opulence. Rev. 21. 24, * And the 
kings of the earth do bring their glory 
and honor into it;' i. e. their riches. 
Mat. 4. 8, * He ahoweth him all the king- 
doms of the worldr and the glory of 
them ;* i. e. all their riches and treasures. 
2. Was not toward him as before. Heb. 
tioic b*17an5 hithmd shilshon^ as yes- 
terday (and) the day before. * Tliis form 
of speech is truly oriental, and means 
time gone by. Has a person lost the 
friendship of another, he will say to 
him, *Thy face is not to me as yester- 
day and the day before.* Is a man re- 
duced in his circnrostances, he says, 
'The face of God is not upon me as 
yesterday and the day before.* The fu- 
tnre is spoken of as to-day and to-morrow ; 
' His face will be upon me to-day and 
^o-morrow^ which means, ^oZtfxi^;*. *I 
will love thee to-day and to-morrow.' 
' Do you think of roe ?'—* Yes, to-day 
and to-morrow.' * Modeliar, have yon 
heard that Tamban is trying to injure 
your-.* Yes; and go and tell him that 
neither to-day nor to-morrow will he 
Mieceed.' Our Saviour says, * Behold, I 
cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and 
to-morrow.* Jacob said to Laban, ' My 
nghtaoosnosa answers for me in time 
to Gome ;* but the Hebrew has for this, 

thers, and to thy kindred; and I 
will be with thee. 

4 And Jacob sent and called Ra*' 
chel and Leah to the field unto his 

^to-morrow;* his rigliteousneaa would 
be perpetual. In eastern language, 
therefore, ' yesterday and the day be- 
fore* signifies time jnu< ; but * to-day and 
to-morrow,* time to come. See Ei. \X 14> 
Joe. 4. 6, alao 24. 22, margin.* Rcheru, 

3. The I.jord said unto Jacoh, dec. 
Had Jacob removed under the impnlae 
of mere personal resentment, be mighft 
have sinned against God, though not 
against Laban. But when an express 
command came to him from Jehovah to 
return to the land of his fathers, with a 
promise that he would be with him, the 
path of doty was plain. In all our re- 
movals it becomes us so to act that we 
may hope for the divine presence and 
blessing to attend us ; else, though we 
may flee from one trouble, we shall fall 
into many, and be less able to endure 

4. Jacob sent and caUed Rachd and 
Leahf &c. 'I*his is easily explained on 
the supposition, which eastern cuaCuma 
abundantly confirm, that while Laban 
and his daughters dwelt in a house, Ja- 
cob was now at some distance with 
his flocks abiding in tents. We know 
from ch. 30. 3{), that Laban's Hocks 
were in two parcels, one under the care 
of Jacob ; the other committed to the 
care of Laban's sons, three days* jour- 
ney off. Jacob's also were probably, 
for the same reason, removed to an 
equal distance. This, of course, made it 
necessary for him to send for hia- wives, 
a measure stiU more natural if we 
tiuppose it to have been at the sheep- 
shearing season, which was a time of 
feasting and special entertainment to 
relations and friends, who were invited 

I to be present. Comp. Gen. 39. 12. 1 . 




[B. C. 1739. 

5 And said unto thein« •! see 
your Other's countenance, that it is 
not toward me as before : but the 
God of my father ^ h^th been with 

6 And (sje know that with all 
my power I nave served your father. 

7 And your father hath deceived 
me, and ^ changed my wages ' ten 

• ver. 2. r ver. 3. i ver. 38, 30, 40, 41. ch. 
30.20. Over. 41. > N umb. 14. 32. Neb. 
4.13. Job 10. 3. ZfCh. 8.S3 

Sam. 25. 4, 8, 36. 2 Sam. 13. 25. Bp. 
Patrick's explanation of the circum- 
stance, that it was for greater secrecy, 
and perhaps to avoid the danger of be- 
ing seized upon by Laban and his sons, 
is &r less plausible. Could not a hus- 
band speak, to his wives with sufficient 
privacy in Laban's house? Were 
matters come to such an extremity that 
Jacob durst not venture himself within 
the doors of his uncle's house, for fear 
of being seized upon and made a pri- 
soner ? In fact, Jacob seems actually 
to have communicated his intention to 
Rachel in her father's house ; for when 
he sent for his wives, she brought her 
father's teraphim with her, which she 
infuuld by no means have done had.she 
been unapprised of his design. 

5. I tee your father's countenance, that 
it is notj &c. Had Laban's sons only 
murmured, Jacob might have borne it ; 
but their father partook of their disaffec- 
tion, as was palpably evident by his al- 
tered demeanor. It is wisely ordered 
that the countenance shall, in roost 
cases, be an index to the heart ; else 
there would be much more deception 
in the world than there is. We gather 
more of men's dispositions towards us 
from looks that from words; and do- 
mestic happiness is more influenced by 
the one than the other. Sullen silence 
is often less tolerable than contention 
itself, because the latter, painful as it in, 
afibfdfl opportunity ftv mutual explana- 
natk>n. But while Jacob had to corn- 

times : but God ^ su&red him not 
to hurt me. 

8 If he said thns* > The speckled 
shall be thy wages; then all the 
cattle bare speckled : and if he said 
thus, The ring-streakcd shall be thy 
hire ; then bare all the cattle ring- 

9 Thus God hath « taken away 

k ch. 90. 6. Ps. 105. 14. » ch. 30. 32. 
» ver. 1, 16. 

plain of Laban's cloudy countenance, 
he could add, »The God of my father 
has been with me ;' or, as the Cbal. hai 
it, * The Word of the God of my father 
has been for my help ;' thus bearing 
witness to his integrity ; forbad he done 
wrong, he would not have been thua 
blessed. The smiles of God are the 
best supports under the frowns of men 
If we walk in the light of Aw countenance, 
we need not fear what man can do 
unto us. 

7. Your father hafh deceived me, Heb. 
br-n hethel. This word, in Judg. 16. 10, 
is rendered mocked ; in Ex. 8. 29, deal 
deceitfully, and by the Chal. is here 
rendered hath lied unto me. It properly 

denotes all these. T Changed my wh 

ges ten limes. That is, many times ; a 
definite number for an indefinite, ac- 
cording to a common usage of the origi- 
nal. Thua, Num. 14. 22. 'Ye have tempt- 
ed me these ten times,' i. e. many times. 
Job 19. 3, * These ten times have ye 
reproadied me,' i. e. in repeated instan' 
ces ; again and again. In like manner, 
Lev. 26. 26, * Ten women shall bake 
your bread in one oven.' Eccl. 7. 19» 
* Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more 
than ten migtity men the city.' Zech. 
8. 23, ' In those days— ten men shall take 
hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew. 
Rev. 2, 10. » Ye ehall have tribulation 

ten days.' IT Suffered him not. Heb. 

13^3 nethanOy gave him not. See the 

idiom explained Gen. 20. 6. 

! 9, 10. ThvM Oodhath taken avay, ^ 


B. C. 1799.] 



the cattle of your {kUker, and gifen 
them to me. 

10 And it came to paai at the 
time that the cattle conceived, that 
I lifted up mine eyes, and saw in a 
dream, and befadd, the rams which 
leaped upon the cattle were ring- 
streaked, speckled, and frizzled. 

11 And * the angd ofGod spake 
unto me in a dream, sayir^f Jacob : 
And I said. Here am I. 

12 And he said, lift up now thine 

• ch. 48. ML 

Theie words contain a clear vindication 
of Jacob from the charge brought 
■gainat him by Laban'a sons, v. 1, of 
having deapoiled their ftither of his 
wealth. In whatever form hia wages 
were to be paid to him, God, and not 
he, had ao ordered the course of thinga, 
that it should turn to his. advantage, and 
thii he would piously and gratefully ac* 
knowledge. To this assertion of the 
patriarch the aentiments of hia wives, 
as they expresa themaelves, v. 16, moat 
cordially respond. 

10. Saw m a dream. It waa doubtleaa 
inthiaway that the expedient deacrib- 
ed in the preceding chapter waa aug- 

geited to the mind of Jacob. V Qriz- 

M, Heb. &'^l*t2 hemddiMn^ from the 
verb "1^ borad, to sfrsis, soiflsr, tprin' 
Ue, and henee lo AotZ. Indeed, our word 
griabd comes from the old French grtdt^ 
haS, now written grile. The import 
of the epithet therefore here iahaH-ipot- 
ted, or marked with rather large white 
■pots, like hail-etones on a dark ground. 
It differs from tS'^Hp^ nekuddim, tpedded, 
oecuzring in the same connexion, only 
by nidicating spots of a larger sixe. 
This was the cok>r of the horses seen 
in the fourth chariot in Zechariah's 
vinon, Zeeb. 6. 3, bay mottled with 

11. TkemngdpfCfadtpakeuntomein 
a dream* It is somewhat doubtftd 
whether this and the dream mentioned 
T. 10, were one and the tame. That 

ejes and see, all the ranie which 
leap upon the cattle drvring-streak- 
ed, speckled, and grizzled: for* I 
have seen aU that l^ban doeth unto 

13 I am the God of Beth-el, 
T where thou anointedst the pillar, 
and where thou vowedst a tow un- 
to me : now « arise, get thee out 
from this land, and return unto the 
land of thy kindred. 

• Exod. 3. 7. 9 eh. 98. 18, 19, Sa 
«ver.3. eh.a(K.9. 

they were so, appears on the whole most 
probable, and if we render v. 11, * For 
the angel o/Cod spake unto me,* &c. 
the words contained in w. 12, 13, be- 
come merely a more expanded smte- 
ment of the particulars of tlie dream 
briefly alluded to in v. 10. Not having 
previously mentioned it to his wives, he 
here takes occasion, in order to confirm 
them still more in the belief that he was 
under special divine direction in the 
contemplated removal, to recite it in 
fuller detad. The words uttered by the 
angel are very remarkable. * I am the 
God of Bethel* It is scarcely conceiv- 
able that such language should ever 
have proceeded from the lip» of a crea- 
ted being. . Indeed, the evidence of the 
supreme divinity of the speaker here 
is the same with that which meeto us in 
the account of similar apparitions alrea- 
dy considered. Gen. 16. 7.-22. U. It 
is therefore unnecessary to dwell upon 
it here. 

13. Where thou anoiniedet the pSBar. 
This was a clear intimation, if any such 
were needed, that God had accepted 
the services of Jacob, performed at Beth- 
el. But in directing his thoughts to the 
vision at Bethel, the Lord reminds his 
servant of those solemn acta by which 
he had at that time devoted himself to 
him. It is not only necessary for our 
support in trouble that we should re- 
member the promises of God to us, bat 
our solemn engagements also to hisk 




[B. C. 1739. 

14 And Rachel and Leah an- 
swered, and said unto him, ^ Is there 
vet any portion or inheritance for us 
in our father's house ? 

15 Are we not counted of him 
strangers 1 for * he hath sold us, and 
hath quite devoured also our money. 

16 For all the riches which God 
hath taken from our father, that 15 
ours, and our children's : now then, 

'ch.2. 24. -ch. 29. 15, 27. ' 

It is thus that the same devout and joy- 
ful affections which distinguished the 
happiest seasons of our lives will be 
kindled afresh, and in all our movements 
we shall more distinctly keep in view 
the end for which we live. 

14. Is there yet any portion or tjiherit- 
ance ? Implying that they had no hope 
of deri^dng any farther benefit from their 
relation to such a father, and conse- 
quently no motive for remaining longer 
with him. By * portion,' is to be under- 
stood such voluntary gifts and presents 
as he might be induced to make to them, 
and by * inheritance,' that to which they 
might expect to succeed by law or com- 
mon usage. 

15. Hath sold t«, and hath quite devoW' 
ed dUo our money. Instead of dealing 
with us as daughters, disposing of us 
with honorable dowries, he has bar- 
gained us away like slaves, and applied 
the proceeds to his own use, instead of 
besto^ng any portion of it upon us. 

T Devoured our money. Heb. 13BD3 

kaspenu^ our silver ,* i. e. the price, the 
equivalent, for which we were sold. 
The * selling* to which they allude, was 
Laban's compact with Jacob for four- 
teen years' service. As this eerviee, 
was in lieu of a dowry, which would 
naturally have accrued to the wives as 
a right, they jointly complain of being 
excluded from all participation in the 
avails of it. Their crimination of their 
father is not to be reckoned a breach of 
filial reverence, for they are not tradu- 
cing bim in the preseooe of strangers, 

whatsoever God hath said unto thee, 

17 IT Then Jacob rose up, and 
set his sons and his wives upon 
camels ; 

Id And he carried away all his 
cattle, and all his goods wiiich he 
had gotten, the cattle of his getting^ 
which he had gotten in Padan-aram ; 
for to go to Isaac his father in the 
land of Canaan. 

but merely stating the reason which 
justified them to their own consciences 
in leaving him. 

17, 18. Then Jacob rose up, &c. The 
result showed that Jacob acted prudent- 
ly in taking his departure without the 
knowledge of Laban. Had he known 
it, there is every reason to 'believe he 
would either have detained him by force, 
or deprived him of a part of his proper- 
ty. — * A very interesting part of Orien- 
tal usages consists in the difTerent forms 
of travelling and migration, in which 
little alteration seems to have taken 
place since the most early times, the 
usages of which are briefly indicated in 
the book of Genesis. It is impossible 
for one who is acquainted with the Bi- 
ble to witness the migration of a nomade 
tribe,»whether Arabian or Tartar, with*, 
out being forcibly reminded of this jour- 
ney of Jacob, and the various removals 
of his grandfiither and.fether. The de- 
gree of change probably extends little 
further than to the more warlike char- 
acter which \he tribes now assume in 
their journeys, arising from the increase 
of poptflation, and from the extension of 
the aggressive principle among the chil- 
dren of the deserts. We have already 
mentioned the expedition with which 
the people in the East prepare for on 
entire removal (see note on clmp. W. W-^ 
In a quarter of the time which it wonU 
take a poor family in England to gel the 
furniture of a single room ready fo' *•* 
moval, the tents of a large encampment 
will have been struck, and, together 



B. C. 1739.] 

with an the moTeables and provinons, 
packed away upon the backs of camels,^ 
malefl^ or asses ; and the whole palty 
will be on its way, leaving, to use an 
expression of their own, not a halter 
or a rag behind. The order of march in 
the removal of a pastoral tribe of fami- 
ly seems to be much the same as that 
which may be traced in the next and 
ensuing chapter. When the number of 
animals is considerable, they are kept in 
wparate flocks and droves, under the 
charge of shepherds and herdmen, or of 
ihe young men and women of the tribe, 
who hnrry actively about, often assisted 
by dogs, to restrain the larger and more 
lively am'mals from straying too for- 
The very young or newly-born lambs 
and kids are carried either under the 
annsof the young people, or in baskets 
or panniers thrown across the backs of 
camels. To this custom of carrying the 
iambs in the arms of the shepherds, as 
well as to the necessity mentioned by 
iacob (chap. 33. 13.) of driving slowly 
when the sheep are with young, there 
>> a beautiful allusion in Isaiah, chap. 
40. 11; 'He shall feed his flock like a 
shepherd ; he shall gather the lambs 
with his arm, and carry them in his bo- 
«on», and shall gently lead those that are 
with young.' The sheep and goats 
generally lead the van, and are followed 
by the camels, and perhaps asses, laden 
more or less with the property of the 
community: consisting of the tents, 
with their cordage, mats, carpets, clothes, 
*lun8, water and provision^bags, boilers, 
and pots, and atundry other utensils, 
bandied up in admirable confusion, un- 
l«w when all the property belongs to 
one person^ as in the case of Jacob. 
The laden beasts are usually followed 
by the elderiy men, the women, and the 
children, who are mostly on foot in the 
ordinary migrations with the flocks ; 
which must be carefully distinguished 
^ a caravan journey, or a "predatory 
excorsion across the deserts. The very 
yoong children are carried on the baeks 


or in the arms of their mothers, who m 
general are on foot, but are sometimes 
mounted, with their infants, on the 
spare or lightly-laden beasts. The sick 
and very aged persons are similarly 
mounted ; and the children old enough 
to take some care of themselves, but 
not to go on foot, or perhaps to speak, 
are either carried on the backs of the 
young men or women, or set upon the 
top of the baggage on the beasts of 
burden, and left there to shift for 
themselves. The little creatures cling 
to their seats, and seldom require or 
receive much attention. The mid- 
dle-aged men, well armed and ready for 
action, march steadily along by the 
flanks of the column, controlling and di- 
recting its general progress ; while the 
younger people attend to the details. 
The diief himself brings up the rear, 
accompanied by the principal persons of 
the party. He is generally on horse- 
back, however the rest may be circum- 
stanced< Sometimes, when the tribe 
is wealthy, a great proportion of the 
people may be mounteil in some way 
or other ; and the men, arrhed with lan- 
ces, ride about to bring up the march of 
the cattle ; but, as a general thing, we 
may say that the mass of the people 
perform such migrations on foot. A. 
day's stage, with numerous flocks, is 
necessarily short, and the pace easy ; 
and must not be confounded with a 
day's journey by the caravan. It would 
seem as if most of Jacob's people went 
on foot. It ia only said that he set his 
wives and children upon camels : and 
in chap. 33. 14, where the phrase which 
the text gives is, *I will lead on softly, 
according as the cattle that goe^h hefort 
TTie, and the children are able to endure,* 
— ^the margin more literally renders, 
* According to the foot of the work, ac- 
cording to <Ae/oo< of the children.' jPicf. 

Bible. ^ Carried away (dl his cattle, 

Heb. arO"^ yinhag^ led, drove, or conduct- 
ed away. ^—•'^ Cattle of hie getting. Or, 
Heb. lO'iDp Mnyano, of hit poaeeseing. 






19 And Laban went to shear 
his iheep: and Rachel had etol- 

19 And Laban vaent — and Rachd had 
ttaien. Rather, * For Laban had gone — 
and Rachel stole/ as several of the an- 
cient versions read it. His absence gave 
Rachel the opportunity of possessing her- 
self of the images. It is impossible to 
speak with confidence of the motives by 
which Rachel was actuated in this tran- 
saction. Among the many solutions 
which have been attempted of her con- 
duct, the foUowing may be specified. 
(1) That the images were of pre- 
cious metal, and Rachel stole them, 
to compensate for the loss of dowry 
flUKtained through Laban*s bargain 
with Jacob. (2) Tliat she thought 
that by taking the oracles, she should 
deprive liaban of the means of disc-over- 
ing the flight of her husband. (3) That 
she expected by this act to bring pros- 
perity from the household of her father 
to her husband. (4) Some conclude 
that she hoped to cure her father of his 
idolatrous propensities by depriving him 
of the instrumenu ; while many, on the 
other hand, imagine that Rachel and 
her sister wejre infected 'by the same 
superstitions as their father, and wished 
to continue the practice of them in the 
land of Canaan. Thia last supposition 
is not / very easily reconciled with 
what we are led to infer respecting the 
character of these women in the forego- 
ing narrative. They were both, on the 
birth of their children, appatently so 
full of devout acknowledgments to the 
Most High, as the author of their mer- 
cies, that^we were constrained to enter- 
tain a hope of their piety. Nor ought, 
perhaps, the clandestine abduction of 
the images to forfeit for them our good 
opinion on the whole ; although, if her 
object was, aa some suppose, by a pious 
theft, to remove from her lather a 
prominent occasion of sin, it is not 
easy to see why she should not have 

en the ^ imngee that were her f;i- 


cast them into the Oipbrates as ihs 
crossed it, or at least have informed Ja* 
cob, after their departure, of what ahe 
had done. F»r this reason her conduct 
appears questionable. In foct, the more 
we ponder the story, the greater are our 
misgivings as to the purity of her mo- 
tives. But whatever they were, it ii 
clear that these images afterwiidi 
proved a snare to Jacob's family; for 
we are informed, ch. 35. 1—3, that he 
could not go up to Bethel till he had 
cleansed his house of them. The prob- 
ability, we think, is, that the family of 
Laban, though possessed of some 
knowledge of the true God, was yet in 
a measure tinctured with some remains 
of the idolatry and superstition of the sur- 
rounding countries, andafforded a speci- 
men of that mixed and mongrel wonbip 
which ii elsewhere expressed, Zeph. 1. 
5, by * swearing by the Lord and by 
.Malcham,* equivalent to aiming to serve 
God and mammon at the same tima 
The human heart is sadly prone to idol- 
atry, and even when in possession of 
some knowledge of God is ever mixing 
up with his the worship of other strange 
gods. We see this, if we mistake not, 
here among the descendants of Nahor, 
the near relatives of Abraham ; we see 
it in the images of tlie Romish chnrch; 
we see it in many who set up their iddi 
in their hearts, if not in their honaee, 
who worsliip the creature more thsn 
the Creator, who make gods of their 
rich«t, their pleasures, their lusts. Bat 
the irrevocable commandment of the 
Almighty is, *■ Thoa shak have no other 

gods but me.* ^ Ten^kim, Heb. 

O'^ED'in teraphim. Gr. ttStaU, idd». 
Chal. Arab., and Syr. * Imafies.* Jose- 
phus, ' Types of gods.* The etymolofy, 
and consequently the exact signifie&lion 
of the word, is doubtful. Of the varioas 
conjecuires respecting its origin, the 





fiiDowiDg appMT to iMt upon th« moet 
pfauuible gronndi : (1.) That it is de- 
rived from the Syriac *Teiiiph/ to m^ 
fmret from their being consulted and 
inquired of aa oradee, Ezek. 21. 21 ; 
?ecb. 10. 2. (2.) That it it formed by 
t common change of the letters T and 
S IVom SeraphiMf the same as Cher- 
abim, from which the original hint of 
them is supposed to be taken ; or, (3.) 
That, as Jurieu saggests, it comes from 
StC*! fopfca, to heal or cure^ whence, by 
sdding formative letters D'^D'^n tera- 
plmtty dii aanatorety god» thai can cure or 
^ai. This is supposed to be confirmed 
by the fact that the Toraphim are called 
in the Gr. of Judg. 17. 5, tfcfia^ciy iher- 
<9>A«in, to whichf it is conjectured, we 
are to trace the origin of the word 
^cpaircvo) therapeuOi to healy from these 
idols being consulted, and thns, in a 
sense, worshipped, "by their votaries, 
with a view, among other things, to the 
obtainment of health, healing, and the 
general prosperity of the households to 
which they pertained. But, leaving the 
question of the etymology of the term 
undecided, we remark that the Tera- 
phira are frequently mentioned in the 
Old Testament. They seem to have 
been images— sometimes very small and 
■ometimes large — apparently in the hu- 
iBan figure, or at least with a human 
head ; and the Jewish writers say that 
they were placed in niches, with lamps 
bnming before them. *From the pas- 
wges of Scripture in which they are 
mentioned, it would seem that they 
were not idols in the worst sense of the 
^wrd, no primary worship being render- 
ed to them. They were certainly used 
hy persona who had professed the wor- 
ship of the true God; but as they 
proved a snare to take away the heart 
from Him, and to divide or supersede 
that exclusive confidence and trust 
^di he required, we find them de- 
nounced by the prophets; and they 
) doubtlesa included in the general 

No doubt th«y often beeam« 
objects of positively idolatrous homage ; 
but in their general use, before and after 
the deliverance of the law, they seem 
to have been popularly considered aa 
not being incompatible with the alle- 
giance due to Jehovah ; and there are 
instances in which we find teraphim 
connected, in some way or other, with 
the family and public worship rendered 
to Him. So far as this matter can be 
understood, it seems to us that these 
images were considered to fix a protect- 
ing and gtiiding presence t<^ the placet 
in which they were set— protecting, 
perhaps, as an Oriental talisman is con- 
sidered to protect; and guiding as an 
oracle, which in some way or other was 
considered to indicate the course that 
ought to be pursued on occasions of 
doubt and difficulty. Thus the Danitea 
denred the Levite, who had charge of 
Micah's teraphim, to ask counsel for 
them, and he gave them a response as 
from the Lord (Judges 18. 5, 6.) The 
prophets also mention them as oraclea. 
Ezekiel (chap. 21. 21.) describes the 
king of Babylon as using divination — 
consulting with teraphim ; and Zecha- 
riah (chap. 10. 1.) tells the Jews that 
their teraphim * have spoken vanity, and 
the diviners have seen a lie.* Our 
translation sometimes retains the origin- 
al word, and at other times renders it 
* images' or * idols.' The Seventy have 
generally rendered the word by * ora- 
cles' [3ii\(t}v and ivo<pdeyy6fisvot) ; but 
in Sam. 16. 13, 16, they have Mvor^^io, 
as if they thought that the teraphim 
there meant images placed as sepulchral 
mojiuments. Some, however, render 
this Greek word by * vain figures.' Pid, 
BibUi. The * Teraphim' may be defin- 
ed divining images, and there can b« 
little doubt that they were regarded M a 
kind of Penates, Lares, or hou§A6U 
gods, as Laban himself virtually tennp 
them, v. 30. They appear to have 
been employed in fiilse worship ftr a 
interdietion of imagei by the law of | purpose simihir to that of the EfMUk 
▼OL. u. 13 

Digitized by VjOOQiC 


[a 0.1791. 

90 And Jaaob stole awaj oMb- 
mm to Laban the Syfian, m that 
ke told him not that he fled. 

31 So he fled with aH that he 

Uie tnie. Accordingly the prophet 
Hosea, ch. 3. 4, in ^ prediction of the 
fotnre desolate condition of the Jews, 
■ays, * They shall be without an image, 
and without an ephod, and without teror 
phim^* or as it should probably be render- 
ed, * without an ephod, eoen teraphim ;* 
the word * without* not occurring in the 
original ; aa if in their degenerate state 
the Ephod were in God^s sight no better 
than the Teraphim. The drift of the 
passage is to predict that they should 
be reduced to such extremities, that they 
should neither have the implemenU 
of the worship of the true God nor of 
idols. For a fuller account of the Tera- 
phim, see ^Jurieu's Critical Hist, of 
Doct. and Wor. of the Church,* vol. ii. 
p. 77. 

20. Jacdb stole away unawares to La- 
han. Heb. ib tT» ^23*^ y«7«* effi Ze6» 
stole away the heart, a Hebraism for de- 
parting without the consent or privity of 
Ldban. Gr. gspvil/t rov Aafiap, hid (i. e. 
eovertly eluded) Laban, Chal. * Jacob 
concealed it from Laban.* To * steal 
the heart,* in the original idiom, is to 
conduct or demean one*s self in such a 
way as to create a false impression 
aa to a matter of fact. Thus Absalom 

* stole the hearts of the men of Israel,* 
2 Sam. 15- 6, by so framing his conduct 
as to produce the impression of his being 
at once a dutiful son and a loyal subject, 
while he was at the same time plotting 
the overthrow of the government at the 
hazard of his father's life. So Jacob 

* stole the heart of Laban' by acting as 
if he had no other design butof remain- 
ipg with hira, while he was, in fact, 
making arrangements for a clandestine 
departure. In like manner we find in 
Homer, II. 14. 217, xXcirrcci' voov, to 
<fda)tJU mtfid, L e. to nfitlead, to deceive. 

had; aad he raw vi^ and paMod 
over the mer, and " aet h» f aee 
toward the mount Gilead. 
* eh. 40. sa SKiaeslS. 17. Lake 9. SI, SI 

to impose upon. T LaAan the Syrian, 

But what necessity was there of here 
mentioning his country ? Was not this 
already sufficiently known? We incline 
to the belief that there is in the origiml 
a designed play upon words, which af- 
fords the only clue to the use of the epi- 
thet in this place. The Heb. for Synaa 
i« '^l^ltk arammi, Aramite, uid it so hap- 
pens that the Heb. term for cunning, 
crafty, wHy, is XTCP aram, differing hot 
little in its letters, and still leas in 
sound ; so that the import would be 
that Jacob (the supplanter) had, in 
thus secretly stealing away, outwitted 
his scheming kinsman, whatever maj 
have been his previous stratagems for 

detaining him ^ In that he told JktK 

not. Or, impersonally, in that no one toM 
him ; in that it came not at aU to his ean. 
21. Passed over the river. The river 
Euphrates, lying between Mesopotamia 
and Canaan ; so called by way of dia- 
tinction. T Set his face. That is, di- 
rected his course with the full bent of 
his soul ; going forward with the most 
determined purpose. Accordingly it if 
rendered in the Gr..&>^/t99c, implying an 
earnest and violent running or rushing 
forward. It is equivalent to the expres- 
sion, Luke 9. 51, ' He steadfasOy set ka 
face to go to Jerusalem ;* so also Jer. dO. i, 
* They shall ask the way to Zion with that 
faces thitherujard ; i. e. fully resolved to 

go. T The Mount OHead. The moun* 

tainous regions of Gilead ; * mount* be- 
ing used as a collect, sing, for *monB- 
tains.' The range is so called here pro- 
leptically, as the name was first given by 
Jacob himself (v. 4,) to the round heap 
of stones, and it was ultimately extend- 
ed to the adjoining mountains and dia- 
tricL Mount Gilead is properly a chain 
of mountains, forming |Murt of die ezteii* 

d by Google 


a. c. ir».] 


32 And it was tioid Laban on the 
third day, that Jacob was fled. 

23 Ajid he took ' his brethren 
with him, and pursued after him 
seven days' journey : and they over- 
took him in the mount Gilead. 


nye ridge which, under Tarious names 
extends north and south, and forms the 
eastern boundary of Canaan, towards 
Arabia Petrea. It is situated on the 
east side of the Jordan, and stretches 
from Hermon, one of the highest peaks 
of Lebanon or Libanus, on the north, 
to Arabia Petrea on the south. The 
northern part of it, known by the 
name of Bashan was celebrated for its 
stately oaks and numerous herds of cat- 
tle pastured there, to which there are 
many allusions in the Scriptures. The 
scenery of this elevated tract is describ- 
ed by Mr. Buckingham as exceedingly 
beautiful ,* its plains covered with a fer- 
tile soil, its liills clothed viath forests, 
and at every new turn presenting the 
most beautiful landscapes that can be 
imagined. The middle part, in a strict- 
er sense, was termed Gilead ; and in 
the southern parts, beyond Jordan, were 
the mountains of Abarim. The most 
eminent among these are Pisgah and 
Nebo, which form a continued chain, 
and command a view of the whole land 
of Canaan. From Mount Nebo Moses 
surveyed the promised land before he 
was gathered to his fathers. This flight 
of Jacob occurred A. M. 2266, 610 years 
after the flood, in the 153th year of 
Isaac's age, and the 98th of Jacob's. 

22, 23. It was told Laban on the third 
day. He heard of it no earlier on ac- 
count of the distance that intervened 
between his flocks' and Jacobus, as we 
learn from comparing ch. 90. 36, with 
ch. 31. 19. But no sooner does he hear 
of his son-in-law's abrupt departure, 
than he collects a suflicient force from 
among his kinsmen and adherents, and 
sets out in hot pursuit of him. It is easy 

24 And Ood r eane to Laban 
the Syrian m a dream by night, and 
said unto him, Take hsed that thoB 
* speak not to Jacob either good or 

ych.20.3. Job 33. 15. Matt 1.90. 
> eh. 94. 90. 

to see from this with what reception a 
formal request or proposal to be dismiss-** 
ed from his service that he might return 
to Canaan, would have i^et at the hand 
of Laban. The patriarch was no doubt 
fully satisfied in his own mind that he 
must leave his employer clandestinely 
if he left him at all. 

24. Qod came to Laban in a dream 6y 
night. Not that there was any personal 
manifestation of the Deity to Laban, bttC 
he -was visited hytL supernatural dream ; 
a dream in which it was in some way 
mysteriously impressed upon his spirit 
that he must offer no harm to Jacob. 
Such communications were anciently 
made to men independent of their mo- 
ral character. The divine influenosi, 
which makes known the will of God, or 
the coming events of his providence ie 
entirely different from that which is pot 
forth in the renewal of men's characten 
and making them heirs of eternal life. 
Accordingly, we find such men at 
Abimelech, Laban, Balaam, and Nebu- 
chadnezzar made, on particular occa- 
sions and for particular purposes, the rs- ' 
cipients of divine revelations. But the 
gift of prophecy is of infinitely less va- 
lue than the saving graces of the Holy 

Spirit. IT Speak nU to Jacob either 

good or had, Heb. 5*1 ny mtsya ffuttdb 
ad raa, from good to had. The sequel 
shows that this could not have been in- 
tended, as the letter of the text would 
seem to indicate^as a prohibition against 
saying any thing at aU to Jacob. It is 
probably-to be understood in a restrict- 
ed sense, that is, in reference to Ae 
special design with which he had pur- 
sued his kinsman. He waa not to at- 
tempt; either by entieing words or by 




[B. C. 1739* 

25 IT Then Laban overtook Ja- 
■cob. Now Jacob had pitched his 
tent in the mount : and Laban with 
Ins brethren pitched in the mount 
oi Gilead. 

26 And Laban daid to Jacob, 
What hast thou done, that thou hast 
Btolen away unawares to me, and 

rough usage or threats, to prevail upon 
Jacob to desist from his present journey, 
and return to Syria. Some, however, 
propose to adhere to the literal rendering, 
and to interpret it as a warning to La- 
ban not to (kangefrom a friendly toue of 
address to a harsh menacing one ,* q. d, 
do not begin with * Peace be unto thee,' 
and then proceed to injurious langus^e 
or acts of violence. Whether this be 
the true construction or not, the sense 
it gives is rather confirmed by seve- 
ral of the versiQns. Gr. /xij vots XaXijaris 
Hsra laKoP vovrtpa lest tit any voay thou 
9peak evil with Jaccb. Vuig. Cave ne 
quidquam aspere loquaris contra Jacob, 
take heed that thou speak TiU any thing 
harshly against Jac<A. Coverd. * Take 
heed that thou speak not to Jacob aught 
save good.' Germ. Vers, of Luth. 
* Watch thyself that thou speak with 
Jacob no otherwise than friendly.' 

26. What hast thou dotie that, &c. Thus 
evincing the truth of the remark, that 
those whose own conduct is the most fla- 
grantly unjust and oppressive, are often 
the most ready to interrogate sharply 

the doings of others. IT Stolen away 

unatmres to me. Heb. "i^u^b flb^ SDatl 
tignd) eth lehabi, stolen away my heart. 
See above, on v. 20. — ^T As capiioes ta- 
km with the sword, Heb. Din m'^niO^ 
lashbuyoth luxrdiy as captives of the sword ; 
i. e. as captives or prisoners taken and 
carried away by a predatory band. But 
the assertion was entirely false, as they 
had gone voluntarily with Jacob, and as 
they belonged to Jacob, why should 
they not have gone with him ? 

27. ThoA I might have sent thee with 

* carried away my dauglrters, as cap- 
tives taken with the sword 1 

27 Wherefore didst thou flee 
away secretly, and steal away frona 
me, and didst not tell me, that I 
might have sent thee away with 
mirth, and with songs, with tabret, 
and with harp ? 

• lSam.30.S. 

mirthi &c. * The Easterns used to set 
out, at least on their long joumeya, 
with music. When the prefetto of 
Kgypt was preparing for his journey, he 
complained of his being incommoded by 
the songs of his friends, who in this 
manner took leave of their relations and 
acquaintance. These valedictory songt 
were often extemporary. If we consi- 
der them, as they probably were, used 
not on common but more solemn occa- 
sions, there appears peculiar propriety 
in the complaint of Laban.' Harmer, 

IT With tttbret. Heb. t)in toph. An 

instrument of music, otherwise term€ld 
a tiwiyreh It is supposed to have resem- 
bled very neariy the tambourine of mo- 
dem days. A skin is stretched over a 
rim hke the fend of a drum \ around the 
rim are hung little bells, jand the, plfiyer 
strikes lAm skin with the knuckles of one 
hand, and shakes it with the other. It 
was used, in ancient times, chiefly by 
women. * The original word seems to 
stand generally for all instruments of the 
drum kind. The word * drum,' howev- 
er, occurs nowhere in our translation, 
the Hebrew word being always render- 
ed either *tabret' or * timbrel.' The 
toph seems to have bifep much used in 
civil and religious rejoicings, and is of- 
ten mentioned as being beaten by wo- 
men. Thus, after the passage of the 
Red Sea, Miriam, the sister of Moses, 
took a timbrel, and began to play and 
dance with the women (Exod. 15. 20.) ; 
and when Jephtha returned to his home 
after his victory over the Ammonites, 
his daughter came forth to meet him 
with timbrels and dances (Judges 11. 





28 AadluuitBotiiifiirediiie^to 

isB my 80Q8, and my dauffaten 1 

\thon bast now done fooliahly in so 

It is in the power of my hand 

» w. 55. Bath 1. 1, 14. 1 Ktofi 1». 90. 
Aem 90. 37. • 1 iSwB. 13. 13. 3 CbroB. 

3i). Oar weQ-kaown iiutroraent, the 
tambowiiie, ao oMily Msembles the 
Oftontal timbrel, horn which it ie eo- 
fied, u to render aay particular deecrip- 
taon imneoeaary. This inrtronient eon- 
tionee Co be mach wed in the Eant^and 
ocevpiee m conspicuoos place in all nrn- 
«oal entertainments. It invariably ac- 
Gompaniee a dance. Dancing and the 
nee of the timbrel are almoat the only 
accomplishraents which a lady acquires. 
The female slaves dance to its sound 
beiore their mistress, who has almost 
inyariably at hand in her apartment a 
tambourine, whidi she takes up and 
plays many times in the course of a 
day.' PicL BMe, 

28. My 80M and way daughlen, Hy 
his *sons,* Laban here means bis grand- 
sons, the sons of his daughters and of 
,^cob. We shall find many instances 
in which the term 'son' is applied to 
grandsons. Thus Laban himself is cnll- 
ed (ehap. 29. 5,) the son of Nabor, who 
was, in foict, bis grandfisither; and Me- 
phibosheth is in the same way rolled 
the son- of his grandfather Said (2 Sam. 
59. 24.). Throughout his address La- 
ban means to insinuate that Jacob had 
no cause to leave him on account of 
any thing A« had done ; tliat where there 
was so much secrecy, there must be 
something dishonomble; and ibat in 
pursuing him he was moved only by 
afledion £>r his children. But his words 
are obviously full of hypocrisy and cant. 
However he may talk about his regard 
to his children and grand-children, that 
which lay nearest his heart was the sub- 
stance whieh Jacob had taken with him, 
and which bo no doubt meaiU in some 
way to recover, fiat he acts the part 

to do Yoa hurt: tet the < God of 
your tether sfMiko mito mo • yootilw 
night, saying, Take tboa heed that 
thou speak not to Jacob either good 

or bad. 

* ver. 53. sh.98. 13L 


of thousands, who, when g^ed by an 
evil conscience, endeavor to ease them* 
selves of its reproaches by transferring 
the blame from themselves to the pei^ 
sons they have wronged. He reproach- 
es Jacob with a conduct which he well 
knew had resulted entirely fitim his 
own harshness and severity ; and with 
the utmost self-complaisance talks of 
the liberal and generous things which 
he intended to have done, after the caO 
and occasion are over, and when his 
generosity is in no danger of being put 
to the test. 

29. It is in the power of my hand^ dec. 
Or perhaps more correctly, *■ It was in 
the power of my hand.* The reader of 
the original will notice that the pro^im 
for * you,* is here in the plural number, 
as also that which immediately follows, 
* the God of your father* — t3;:'^Sit obikem 
your father^ implying him and his par- 
ty, instead of '^'^'2Vt tAika, thy faiher, 
conveying the idea of a single individual. 
This cannot well be expressed in English 
without a circumlocution. — The pro- 
gress of the story makes it evident that 
truth will usually in the end make itself 
to appear, whatever may have been the 
disguises in which it was wrapped. 
Laban here virtaally acknowledges the 
violent purpose with which he had un- 
dertaken the pursuit ; but in the sanie 
breath he would fain make a merit of 
abstaining from the harm which he 
meditated. As his company was no 
doubt more powerful than that of Ja- 
cob, he would impress upon him the 
idea that his forbearance was the effect 
of generosity, and that he had, in fact, 
^acted very religiously in paying so 
much deference to the warning voice 




[B. C. 1738. 

80 And now. though thou woiild- 
est needs be gone, because thou soFe 
kogedst after thy father's hou^e; 
yet wherefore hast thou ' stolen my 

31 And Jacob answered and said 
to Laban, Because I was afraid: 
for I said, Peradventure thou would- 
f ver. 19. Judg. 18. 24. 

of Jacob's God, as though he were a 
Deity diflferent from the God of his own 
father, and one whom he might exercise 
his pleasure about serving. Tlius do 
men sometimes vainly magnify as a 
virtue that which is imposed upon them 
through sheer necessity. 

30 Wherefore hasi thou stolen my 
gods ? We can figure to our8**lve8 Ja- 
cob's surprilBe at hearing this charge. 
If there was any thing about Laban*s 
house more odious and contemptible 
in the patriarch's eyes than anoth^, it 
was his Teraphim. Had he supposed 
such an abomination to have been mix- 
ed with his goods, he would, no doubt, 
have looked upon it as corrupting the 
whole. While, therefore, it was. cutting 
to his feelings to be accused of theft, it 
was doubly so to be accused of having 
stolen that which he abhorred. In 
these circumstances his defence, as 
might bo expected from one who felt 
himself wronged, is, with the exception 
of the first, charge, manly and spirited, 
perhaps to a degree bordering upon un- 
due resentment. 

31. Because I toas afraid. This was 
Jacob's reply to the first part of Laban *s 
address, v. 26 — ^28, in which he expos- 
tulates with him for leaving him at all. 
By saying nothing to justify the fear 
which he had entertained, and dwelhng 
wholly on the fact, he leaves Laban to 
infer, if he pleases, that his conduct in 
fleeing was liable to some exception ; 
holding it sufficient to vindicate liimself 
from the charge of having unfeelingly 
taken his departure. As to the question 
of right in the case, that he leaves unie- 

est take by Ibcce thy daughters 
from me. 

32 With whomsoever thou find- 
est thy gods, ^ let him not live : be- 
fore our brethren discern thou what 
is thine with me, and take il to 
thee : for Jacob knew not that Ra- 
chel had stolen them. 

I ch. 44. 9. 

solved; herein, says CalviD, affordiaga 
hint to the children of God, not to be 
over-anxious in the matter of repelling 
false and slanderous aspersions cast 
upon their character or conduct. Having 
turned aside the weight, the gramxmoi, 
of a calumnious chaige, we may safsly 
wave an argumentative rebutting of the 
mihor items. 

32. With VEhomsdever thou jindesl iky 
gods let him not lioe. Here, in reply to 
the second head of Laban's charge, 
Jacob, as might be expected, speaks in 
language expressive of the strongest in- 
dignation. Indeed, we do not know 
that he can be acquitted of the chaige 
of giving way to a culpable precipitancy 
of speech. Unless he had .been as wdl 
assured of the innocence of all about 
him as h« was of his own, we see not how 
such a severe imprecation is to be ex- 
cused. Good men are often too confident 
of the goodness of those connected with 
them. Without deigning even to disown 
the charge, he at once pronounces the 
doom of death against the individual, 
with whom, upon strict search, the idols 
should be found. At least such is the 
drift of his reply, according to the con- 
struction put upon "it by our own and 
several other versions. But the origin- 
al admits of a somewhat different read- 
ing if a slight change be made in the 
punctuation. By putting the pause af- 
ter * brethren,' instead of after 'live,* a 
milder and, we think, a more probable 
sense is assigned to the words, — ^^Let 
him not live before his brethren ;* i. e. 
let him be banished fW>m the preaenca 
of his brethren ; let him not pitch hi* tent 

Digitized by VjOOQiC . 

B. a 1730.] 

33 And Laban went into Jacob's 
tent, and into Leah's tent, and into 
the two Diaid-servants' tents ; but 
he found them not. Then went be 



tbein ; let him henceforth be re- 
garded as a worthless outlaw from their 
society. Thus, when Abraham prayed 
for his son : ' O that Ishmael might live 
hefiire thee;* the import of the petition 
doubtless was, that he might live in the 
enjoyment of tho«e privileges which 
pertained to the people who walked bud 
worshipped before God; who were fa- 
vored with the tokens of bis peculiar 
presence. According to the present 
trandation, not only does the punish- 
ment denounced seem wholly dispro- 
portioned to the crime, but it would ap- 
parently compel us to - believe that the 
I power of life and death, or the right of 
I inflicting capital punishment, was lodged 
in the hands of private families, which 
may well be doubted. On the whole, 
dierefore, as the original will allow of 
either, we prefer the latter mode of in- 
terpretation, especially as we find it 
confirmed by most of the versions. Gr. 
•« ^n^trai evavTiov rtav aSt\^<a» rj/ioiy, 
he ^aUnotUve before our brethren. Syr., 
Sam., Arab, the same. Vulg. Necetur 
coram firatribus nostns, let him be shin 
before our brethren. This, however, 
shows the connerum rather than the exact 
tenMe of the words. The same may be 
said of Coverdale*8 version ; * Let the 
same die here before our brethren.' 

34. Rachd had taken the imagee^ &c. 
'Ladies and sick persons sometimes 
ride in a sort of covered chair or cradle 
thrown across the back of the camel, 
I3ce panniers one on each side. Pro- 
fsMor P^xton, in his excellent * niustra- 
tions of Scripture/ thinks that Rachel 
hid her fiither's teraphim in such a cra- 
dle, in which she had ridden during 
I the day. But it is said that she also sat 
upon them in the tent; and these cra- 
dles are never used Ibr seaU except 

oat of Leah's tent, and entered into 
Rachel's tent. 

34 Now Rachel had taken the 
imagers, and put them in the cam* 

while actually riding, and so singular m 
circumstance as Rachel's sitting upon 
them would alone have sufficed to have 
attracted Laban's suspicion. On the 
other hand, the common pack-saddle of 
the camel, as we have already mention- 
ed (note to chap. 25. 27), is peculiarly 
appropriated to the purpose of a seat, or 
rather of a cushion, l^^nst which m 
person seated on the fioor may lean. 
These saddles, which are made of wood, 
are high, and the concavity usually 
filled by the back of the camel would 
have formed an excellent hiding-place 
for such images as the teraphim. H 
this does not seem reasonable, we may 
tak# the akemative of supposing that 
Rachel hid the images under the Aesdr, 
which consists of things (carpets, cloaks, 
cloths, &c.,) heaped upon the pack«sad* 
die to form a comfortable seat for ladies, 
who do not use the hamper or cradle. 
These things «re always taken off at the 
end of a day's journey, and being laid « 
on the ground, serve as a sort of mat- 
trefts in the tent, on which a person may 
sit or lie down while he reclines against 
the pack-saddle itself. Rachel might 
easily conceal the images thus; and 
there is one reason which perhapa 
makes it most probable that she did so ; 
and that is, that -it is not customary to 
take off the pack-saddle at the end of a 
day's journey, but always lo remove 
the hegdr by which the saddle bad been 
covered. Boothroyd renders the text 

' camel's pillion.* Pict. Bible. S Search' 

ed. Heb. 10X072'^ tfema^shegh^ fdt by 
handling. His going into and searchlnif 
Jacob's and the women's tents, after his 
solemn asseveration of his innocence 
and ignorance in respect to the missing 
gods^ shows how httle confidenee he 
had in his vemcity. 




[B. C. 1739. 

«1'8 fdraiture, and sat upon them. 
And Laban searched all the tent, 
bat ibund them not. 

85 And she said to her father, 
Let it not displease my lord that I 
cannot ^ rise up before thee ; for the 
eiutoni of women is upon me. And 

kEznd.90. 12. Iiev.19.a2. 

85. Let it wd dispieate my feni, Ac, 
' This apology was very necessary ac- 
cording to existing usages and feelings 
in the East, which inculcate the great- 
est external deference on the part of the 
children towards their parents. This 
is particularly the case in Persia, and 
appears always to have been so. In 
Quintus Curtios, Alexander is represent- 
ed as saying, to the Queen-mother of 
Persia, * Understanding that it is in Per- 
sia considered a great offence ibr a sod 
to be seated in the presence of his mo- 
ther, unless by her permission, I have 
always in my visits to you remained 
standing till you authorized me to sit.* 
In tiieir respective * Travels in Persia,' 
both Sir William Ouseley and Mr. Mo- 
rier mention that at an entertainment 
l^en to the ICnglish ambassador by the 
Ameen-ad-Dowlah (second vizier), aU 
' the persons of distinction >at Ispahan 
joined them at dinner, except the gov- 
ernor of the city, Abdallah Khan, a per- 
son scarcely inferior to the minister in 
wealth and rank, atod about thirty 
years of age. But the minister was his 
&ther; and therefore, instead of occu- 
pying his proper place among the guests, 
he stood humbly in the court-yard with 
the servants ; for a son never sits before 
his father on anything like a public oc^ 
caaion, whatever be his dignity or pow- 
er. Even the king's eldest son always 
stands in his presence, and is only re- 
garded as the first of his servants. 
Daughters occupy a still humbler place. 
Strong external indications of respect 
«ve also shown to parents among the 
BedfMiin Arabs. Boys never eat out of 
Uie same dish, or even in the presence 

he searched, bat found not the im. 

38 1 And Jacob was wroth, and 
chode with Laban : and Jacob an- 
swered, and said to Laban, What 
is my trespass? what is my sin 
that thou hast so hotfy ptuwied after 

of their fisther. Burckhardt says that it 
would be reckoned scandalous were 
any one to say, * Look at that boy; hs 
satisfied his appetite in the presence sf 
his father.' The youngest male cU- 
dren, not more than four or five yetrt 
of age, are, however, often invited to 
eat by the side of their father.' PuL 
Bible. Although we are not warranted 
in saying that the reason here alleged 
by Rachel was fictitious, yet it is ce^ 
tain that our confi<lence in her sincerity 
will be weakened just in pioportieo as 
we believe her to have been influeaced 
by wrong motives in abstracting the 
Teraphim. One who could secretly 
cherish a vile idolatry would no doubt 
be capable of prevarication. 

36. Jacob IMS wroth, and chode wilk 
Laban. Heb. ^^"i yartbt pleaded, gtrove^ 
or disputed with ; a term mostly applied 
to judicial or forensic. proceedinge, and 
implying a process of earnest aigumen- 
tative reasoning in proof of one's ionu- 
cence. During the search, Jacob was no 
doubt, a silent spectator ; and when no- 
thing was foundthat CQuld justify the hea^ 
vy charges preferred against him, his spi- 
rit wasdee{jy stirred within him. Prompt- 
ed by a just resentment at the unworthy 
reflections cast upon him, he takes a r» 
view of his whole conduct towards hit 
ftither-in-law for twenty years past, and 
proves that he had been very hardly 
dealt with, while Laban himself bad 
been a great gainer by his services.-" 
IT What is my trespass ? Heb. ^yW!B 
pishi ; a term implying guilt of a higher 
degree than that denoted by the vivid 
*sin.' Thus Job. 34.37, 'He addeth 
rMlion iJ^VSt pe»ha) unto his sin.' h 


B. C. 1739.1 



37 Whereas thou hast searched 
an my 8tu$ what hast thoa found 
of all thy household stuff? set it 
here before my brethren, and thy 
brethren, that they may judge be- 
twixt Qs both. 

38 This twenty years have I been 
with thee ; thy ewes and thy she- 

ll for the most part used in this sense of 
rebellion agbinst God ; hence the import 
of Jacob's question would seem to be, 
* What divine or human law have I vio- 

37. That they may jttd^e betunxt us. 
Heb. Tn"»5T^ yof^hu ; not the word 
BsnaUy rendered ,^iidl^«, but a term sig- 
nifying to discuss, debatCy argue, and thus 
consequently to come, to a decision re- 
spectiDg the matter in question. It oc- 
curs in the foHowing passages, Job 13. 
3,*Sarely I would speak to the Al- 
mighty, and I desire to reason with 
God.' Job 32. 12, * Behold, there was 
none of you that convinced Job, or that 
•Mwered his words.* Is. 1. 18, *Come 
DOW, and let us reason U^ether.' 

38. Cast iheir young. Miscarried ; 
anffered abortion. T Not eaUn, Ja- 
cob's fidelity in this respect will appear 
more striking when contrasted with the 
opposite conduct of shepherds, whose 
neglected duties and abused functions 
Me so graphically portrayed by the 
prophet, Ezek. 34. 1—^. * Son of man, 
prophesy againet the shepherds of Is- 
rael, prophesy, and say unto them. Thus 
isdth the Lord God unto the shepherds ; 
wo ie to the shepherds of Israel that do 
feed themsdves ! should not the shep-' 
berds feed the ilocki? Ye eat the 
H and ye clothe yon with the wool, 
ye kill them that are fed : friif ye feed 
iM>t the ilock. The diseased have ye 
not Mrengtbened, neither have ye heal- 
ed that which was sick, neither have 
ye bound up that wkkk was broken, 
"either have ye brought again that 
*Wch was driven away, neidier have 

goats have not cast their yonng^ 
and the rams of thy flock bave 1 
not eaten. 

39 > That which was torn <fbea$t»t 
I brought not unto thee ; I bare the 
kiss of it ; of ^ my hand didst thou 
require it whether stolen by day, or 
stolen by night* 

' Exod. 33. 10, fcc. k Ezod. S3. IS. 

ye sought that which was lost; but with 
force and with cruelty have ye ruled 
them. And tbey were scattered, be^ 
cause there is no shepherd: and they 
became meat to all the beasts of the 
field, when they were scattered.' 

39. I bare the loss of it, Heb. rCtSHtl 
dhattanaK I expiated, aUmed, or saHsjied 
for it ; i. e. I paid for it, as the Gr. ex> 
pressly renders it, avtnwvov. The 
shepherds of the East were acoountaUe 
for the flocks under their charge. Of 
this fact, the following extract, cited 
by Plaxton from the Gentoo law, fur- 
nishes a remarkable proof: * Cattle 
shaU be delivered over to the cow-herd 
in the morning; the cow-herd shaU 
tend them tlie whole day with grass and 
water; and in the evening shall re- 
deliver them to the master, in the same 
manner as they were intrusted to him ^ 
if, by the iault of the oow-herd, any of 
the cattle be kwt or stolen, that cow- 
herd shall make it good. When a cow- 
herd has led cattle to any distant place 
to feed, if any die of some distemper, 
notwithstanding the cow-herd applied 
the proper remedy, the cow-herd shaU 
carry the head, the Uil, the fore-loot, or 
some such convincing proof taken from 
that animars body, to the owner of the 
cattle ; having done this, he shall be no 
further answerable; if he neglects to 
act thus, he shall make good the loss.* 
This had probably been an established 
usage in the East from the earliest pe- 
riods, but the milder tenor of the divine 
jaw subsequently given dispensed with 
this rigid requisitioii. See Ex. 29. 10-^ 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



40 Thus I was ; in the day the 
drought consumed me, and the frost 
by night: and my sleep departed 
from mine eyes. 

41 Thus liave I been twenty 
years in thy house : I * served thee 
Jbnrteen years for thy two daugh- 
ters, and six years for thy catUe : 

1 ch. 29. 27, 88. 

40. Inlhedttjfihe drought ooniumedme^ 
Ac. * Does a master tepruve his ser- 
vant for being idle, he will ask, * What 
can I do 7 the heat eats roe ap by day, 
and the cold eats me up by night; 
how can T gain strength 7 I am tike the 
trees of the field : the sun is on my 
head by day, and the dew by night.* 
Roberts. *Thronghout Western Asia 
there is a much more remarkable difier- 
ence between the temperature of the 
day and night than is generally expe- 
rienced in Europe. The time when 
this difference is the strongest, is in the 
months of September, October, Novem- 
ber, March, April, and May. In the 
depth of winter, the increased ceklness 
of the day and the diminished coldness 
of the nights in the midst of summer, 
tender the difference less eonsideraMe, 
although it is still very striking. An 
Idea of this alternation can only be ima- 
gined by supposing a night of our win- 
ter temperature fbUoviiug a day warm- 
er than any that our summers afford. 
In the summer time the night air 
is, in the warmest situations, cooler 
than that of our summer nights, and 
in other situations often as cool as 
the nights in our early spring. The 
iBght-coolnessin the East is, however, 
felt as a gratification after the intense 
and relaxing heat of the day, as its bra- 
cing and reyiving influence strengthens 
the frame to bear the daily heat which 
would otherwice be scarcely tolerable. 
But when the nights become positively 
cold, while the days remain extremely 
warm, the rapid alternation is. most dis- 
tressing to those who are exposed to its 

and ■" thou hast changed my wagee 
ten times. 

42 " Except the God of my fath- 
er, the €rod of Abraham, and <> the 
Fear of Isaac had been with me, 
surely thou hadst sent me away now 
empty, p God hath seen mine af- 

» v»*r. 7. ■ Ps. 134. 1, 2. • ver. 51 
Isai.8. 13. »ch.29.33. Exod.3.7. 

lull influence in the open air. Euro- 
pean travellers feel the effects of thii 
alternation very sensibly ; the fiice be- 
comes rery sore, and the skin peels off; 
the eyes also suffer, and the hands and 
lips are chapped. In many parts of 
Asia very severe and even frosty nights 
are, even in winter, succeeded by very 
warm days ; and it may be said, indeed, 
that the only experience of what we 
should can winter weather which the 
inhabitants obtain, is exclusively diH 
ring the night time.' Pict. B&U. Mr. 
Bruce, the Abyssinian traveller, lost 
all his camels by the cold in one night 
in the deserts of Senaar ; and Yofaiej 
relates an affoeting story of a haple« 
wanderer who was, like Jacob, frozen 
by the north wind at night, and burnt 
by the dreadful heat of the sun by day. 

Comp. Jer. 36. 3a. f Myt^depmi- 

edjrom mine eyes. This implies inore 
than that when he lay down at night, 
and endeavored to compose himself to 
rest, the eflbrt was vain, as often hap- 
pens to the sick and tl)fi. distressed ; vis. 
that by prolonging his labors into the 
night season, he voluntarily deprived 
himself of that repose and refreshment 
which nature reqiiires. ^ 

48. Except ike Bod <^my father, kit. 
With exemplary humihty, and a devoitt 
sense of his dependence on the blesaiag 
of heaven, Jacob here refers his^pros- 
perity to its true source ; and in so do- 
ing he administers a keen reproof to 
Laban. He gives him plainly to UQde^ 
stand that, notwithstanding ail hiii spe- 
cious talk about his regard lor his chil- . 
dren, and his tending hitai away with 





Aietioo, and the Uoorofmy haiid^ 
and « rebuked iJhee yesternight. 

43 f And Lahan answered, and 
said onto Jacob, These daughters 
are my daughters, and these children 
are my children, and these cattle are 
my cattle, and aU that thou seest is 
mine ; and what can I do this day 
onto these my daughters, or unto 

1 1 Chron. 1& 17. Jude9. 

soDgs, with tabret, and with harp, yet it 
wu owing to a special interpoflition of 
the Almighty that he was not stripped 
of every thing he had. Laban had 
made a merit of obeying the dream, but 
Jacob was not to be imposed upon by 
soch a shallow pretence. He therefore 
coDstraesthe divine visitation into an 
evidence of his evil design, one by 
which God intended expressly to rebuke 
bim, and thus plead the cause of the in- 
jured. As to the twofold title which 
be here applies to the Most High, * The 
God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac' — 
the reason assigned for it by Adam Clarke 
strikes us as extremely plausible, viz. 
that * Abraham was long since dead, and 
God was hi8 tmdUenable portion for ever. 
Isaac was yet alive in a state of jtrdba- 
^ living in the /ear of God ; not ex- 
empt from the danger of fallings there- 
fore God is said to be his /ear ,* not on- 
ly the object of his religious worship in 
ft general way, but that holy end just 
God, before whom he was working out 
hi« salvation with fear and trembling — 
fear, lest he should fall; and trembling, 
iMt he should ofiend.' Thus, Ps. 76. 12, 
'L«t an that be round about him bring 
presents unto him that ought to be fear- 
«ii' Heb. •who is a fear.' Is. 8. 13, 
' Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself and 
let him be your feoTf and let him be 
jam drmd: 

43. And Laban angwered, &c. La- 
ban, whose spirit was checked before 
be began, was now confounded. He 
quite gives up the cause, and wishes to 
sdJQst matters in the best way he can. 

their ehildreii vthoAh they have 

borne 1 

44 Now therefore come thoi^ 
let lis make a covenantp I and 

thou ; ' and let it be for a witneag 
between me and thee. 

45 And Jacob * took a 8toiie» and 
set it up /or a pillar. 

tch.26.38. >Josb.34.S7. >cb.98. 1& 

He cannot help prefacing his wish, how- 
ever, by another sample of vain boasting 
and affected generosity. As if he had 
said, * Yes, God hath given you many 
things; but remember they were all 
mine, and you have obtained them un- 
der me. Let us have no more disputes, 
however ; for though I have come so 
far, and possess so great a force, yet 
how can I find it in my heart to hurt 
my own children ? Come, therefore, 
and let us make a covenant, and be 
good friends.' It will be observed that 
he attempts no defence against the 
charge of havmg repeatedly altered the 
terms of contract with Jacob, nor will 
conscience allow him to deny his se- 
cret purpose of sending him away emp- 
ty. But this strange mixture of ave* 
rice, canning, Aid effrontery is not with- 
out its parallel in every age and coun- 

44. Let us make a covenant. Heb. 
n'l'in nn^5D nikrethah berith, let ue cut 
a covenant. As it was usual in the more 
solemn ratification of covenants for the 
parties to slay a victim, cut it in ftoatn, 
and pass between the pieces, the verb 
n'^IS harathf to cul, has been appropria- 
ted as a proper word to signify the mak- 
ing of a covenant, even in cases where 
no blood was shed. A similar mode of 
expression is found among the Greek 
classic writers; rtuvtiv cpKov temnein 
orhtnty literally, * to cut an oath,* is used 
to indicate the act of making what is 
Hebrew is termed ri'i'T^ beriik, or cov^ 
nant. See Gen 15. la 

45. Jacob took a sUme^ &c. Jacob 




[B. C. 1739. 

40 And Jacob said unto his 
brethren. Gather stones ; and they 
look stonesi and made an heap: 
and they did eat there upon the 

47 And Laban ca]led it Je^- 
•ahadutha : but Jacob called it Ga* 

48 And Laban said, " This heap 
is a witness between me and thee 

■ Jotih.34.27. 

makes no reply to Laban*B boasting, but 
lets it pass ; and though he had felt so 
keenly and spoken so warmly, yet he 
consents to a covenant of peace. His 
resentment is under the control of his 
moral principle. He said nothing ; but 
expressed his mind by actions. Indeed, 
it wo aid almost seem that in his eager- 
ness for reconciliation he is beforehand 
with Laban in the erection of a heap. 

46. Made a heap. Heb. ia gal, pro- 
perly a round heap ; and this heap was 
probably made for the double purpose of 
an aUar and a table. Jacob's stone or 
pillar was then perhaps set upon it for 
a memorial. The incident, however, of 
their eating together upon the heap is 
apparently introduced here by anticipa- 
tion, as it does not seem to have occur- 
red till after they had ratified the cove- 
nant mentioned below. Comp. vv. 53, 

47. Called U Jegar-8uhadiUha. Heb. 
Wmnrra na"^ yegar aahaduOia ; a pure- 
ly Syriac phrase, signifying heap of toil- 

nets. T Oaleed. Heb . T^ba galeed ; 

compounded of ^3 gol* o heap, and ^^ 
ed, witness^ testimony, making the epi 
thet perfectly equivalent to that bes- 
towed by Laban. From this circum- 
stance the mountain and country adja 
cent were called * Galaad* or *Gilead.' 

49. Mizpah. There were several 
places of this name in Palestine. The 
word taken in one form means a high 
place affording an extensive prospect; 
and in another, a tiKUc/i-toioer or beacon^ 

this day. Therefore was the name 
of it called Galeed : 

49 And ' Mizpah ; for he said, 
The Lord watch between me and 
thee, when we are absent one from 

60 If thou shah afflict my diin|rh. 
ters, or if thou shalt take other wives 
besides my daughters ; no man is 
with us ; see, God is witness be- 
twixt me and thee ; 

> Judg. 11. 29. 1 Sam. 7. 5. 

as in the present text ; whence we may 
conclude that the names were given to 
towns in elevated sttuatk>ns, or where 
watch'towers existed, or where com- 
memorative heaps had been formed to 
mark the site of some important occur- 
rence. A town built near the scene of 
this transaction between Jacob and La- 
ban took the name which ha'l been 
given to the heap of stones. It is men- 
tioned in Judges 11 and 12 ; and fxt>m 
the 29th verse of the latter chapter, it 
seems to have been called ' Mizpeh of 
Gilead,' to distinguish it from other towns 
of the same name. It belonged to the 
half-tribe of Manasseh beyond Jordan, 
and was the residence of Jephthah. In 
after-times the Ammonitos obtained 
possession of it, and it was in their hands 
when Judas Maccabeus utterly destroy- 
ed it with fire. f When we are edh 

sent one from another. Heb. 'ItlDS ««• 
sather, are hidden. The Lord take cog- 
nizance of our conduct when we can- 
not see each other. The language im- 
plies his firm cenvicdon that in the ab- 
sence of human witnessesor judges, the 
Most High would show himself a stem 
avenger of wrong-doing, whichever 
were the guilty party; and we may 
safely affirm that the power of religion 
is extremely weak in our nunds, if the 
consideration of the all-seeing eye of 
Jehovah does not operate more strong- 
ly to restrain us from evil than the pres- 
ence of the world of mortal men. 
50. No man is with us. Some have 


B. C. 1739.] 



51 And Laban said to Jacob, 
Behold this heap, and beliold this 
piflar, which I have cast betwixt 
me and thee ; 

52 This heap &6 witness, and this 
pillar be witness, that [ will not pass 
o?er this heap to thee, and that 
thou shalt not pass over this 

inferred from this, that in making the 
contract Jacob and Laban withdrew 
from their several companies, and tran- 
sacted the business in private, taking 
God alone to witness it. But it seems 
a more natural construction to under- 
stand this of each other after they had 
separated ; q. d. * We are soon to part, 
and shall neither of us have any third 
party to see to our performance of our 
engagements. We are to be mutually 
thrown upon our honor and fidelity, and 
shall have nothing to keep us firm to 
onr stipulations but our supreme regard 
to the presence of a just and holy God.' 
The sentiment is very striking, as com- 
ing from the lips of one who was doubt- 
less an idolater ; but it shows that some 
knowledge of tbe true God vas exten- 
avely prevalent at that early period, 
though in Laban's case it did not avail 
to extinguish tbe relics of his idolatrous 
propensities. Like thousands of others, 
^e 'held the truth in unrighteous- 

51. This pillar which I have exist ^ &c. 
Heh. '^t^'i^^^n yarilhi^ fixed, set up, placed. 
The erection of the pillar is indeed, in v. 
45, ascribed to Jacob, but Laban may 
pethaps have claimed the act as his own 
from his having *first suggested it, v. 
^' At least we know of no other 
ground on which the assertion could be 

53. TKeGodofAbrcJtam,&c. judge be- 
l^'irt us. Notwithstanding the seem- 
ingly devout and orthodox vein in which 
I^ban had previously addressed Jacob, 
l^e cannot well help manifesting his at- 
tachment to idolatry. This is evident 
from the ambiguity of the language in 
VOL. 11. 

heap and this pilkr unto me^ for 

53 The God of Abraham, and 
the God of Nahor, the God of their 
father, y judge betwixt us. And 
Jacob * aware by * the Fear of his 
father Ii|aac. 

y cb. 16. 5. >ch. 21.23. ■ ver. 43. . 

respect to the being whom he invoked. 
As we have already noticed, in speaking 
to Jacob of Jehovah, v. 29, he cells him 
* the God of your father,' as if he were 
not also his God ; and now, in swearing 
to the solemn covenant which was 
made between them, he does not ap- 
pear to have invoked Jehovah as the 
onh/ true God. He does indeed make 
mention of the 'God of Abraham,* yet 
it is in connection with Nahor and their 
father, that is, Terah ; and we well 
know that when Abraham was with 
Nahor and Terah, they were idolaters. 
This is clearly intimated Josh. 24. 2, 
'The God of Abraham, of Nahor, and 
of Terah,' therefore, were words capa- 
ble of a very ill construction. It is, in 
fact, little else than swearing by the 
idols of his Chaldean ancestors, and a 
virtual reproach of Jacob for having 
forsaken the religion of his forefathers. 
Thus strangely do men, whose minds 
are darkened by superstition, mingle sa- 
cred things with profane, and adulterate 
the truth and the worship of Jehovah 
with the vain figments of human de- 
vice. — -IT Jac(A sware hy the Fear of his 
father Isaac. Jacob seems evidently 
aware of Laban's design in thus refer- 
ring to their early anceistors, and there- 
fore, that he might bear an unequivocal 
testimony against all idolatry, even that 
*of Abraham in his younger years, he 
would swear only * by the Fear of hia 
father Tsaac,' who had never worship- 
ped any other than the true God. Thus 
studiously will the pious mind ever for- 
bear giving countenance to aught that 
dishonors God, or that would establish 
a fellowship between him and idols, 




[& 0.1739. 

54 Then Jaeob ofiered sacrifice 
upon the monnt, and called his bre- 
thren to eat bread: and they did 
eat bread, and tarried all night in 
the mount. 

54. Ofered sacrifice. Heb. rOT ran 
yizhah zdtaht flew a slaughter. Laban 
had before, v. 27. 28, professed his re- 
gret that he had not an opportunity to 
enjoy a day of feasting and of mirth at 
parting nith his children. Such a part- 
ing would hardly have been seemly, even 
in a family which had no fear of God 
before their eyes, and Jacob accordingly 
prepares a religious feast previously to 
we departure of his father-in-law. To 
this he invited the whole company, not 
only his own party, but Laban*s also, the 
effect of the recent happy reconciliation 
having been to ma^e him regard and 
address thos^ as * brethren* whom a lit- 
tle before he could not but look upon 
as his determined enemies. So season- 
ably and kindly had God interposed to 
convert a threatening storm into a de- 
lightful calm. * When a man's ways 
please the Lord, even his enemies shall 
he at peace with him.' 

55. And early in the mornings &c. 
* Early rising is a universal custom. 
Thus, in every season of the year, the 
people may be seen at sunrise, strolling 
in all directions. At the time of the 
heavy dews, they bind a part of the 
robe round the head, which also falls 
on the shoulders. When a journey has 
to be taken, were they not to rise early^ 
they would be unable to travel far be- 
fore the sun had gained its meridian 
height. They therefore start a Uttle 
before daylight, and rest under the shade 
during the heat of the day. Here also 
M^e have another instance of the inter- 
esting custom of blessing those who 
were about to be separated. A more 
pleaang scene than that of a fiiiber 
bleming hia aom and daughters can 

55 And early in the moining 
Laban ruee up» and kissed his sons 
and his daughters, and ^blessed 
them : and Laban departed, and 
^ returned unto his place. 

b ch. 38. 1. « ch. 18. 33. ft 30. 3S. 

the language, the expreaaion (ff the 
countenance, and the afiection of their 
embraces, all excite our atrongest sym- 
pathy. ' My child, may God keep thy 
hands and thy feet !' ' 3Iay the beasts 
of the forest keep far from thee !' ' May 
thy wife and thy children be preserved V 
' May riches and happiness ever be thy 

portion !* Roberts IT Laban departed^ 

and returned unto his place. That is, to 
Haran. This parting proved final We more of Laban, or of the family 
of Nahor. They might for several ages 
retain some knowledge of Jehovah ; bat 
mixing with it the superstitions of the 
country, they naturally would, as there 
Uttle doubt they did, sink into gross 
idolatry and be lost among the heathens. 
Thus you will often see a man who 
has descended from religious parents, 
but whose heart ia entirely taken up 
with the world : he keeps up the forms 
of godliness, though he denies the pow* 
er; and mixes with them all the e^ol 
that he can rake up from the examples 
of his forefathers, with conaiderable ad- 
ditions of his own. The next genera- 
ration degenerates slill more, having 
less of the form of religion and more 
conformity to the v^di-Jd. The third 
throws off* both the form and the power, 
retaining no vestige of the religion of 
their ancestors, excepting a few specu- 
lative notions, learnt from a few old 
books and sayings, wliichhave no other 
influence upon them than to enable them 
to be more wicked than their neighborst 
by sinning again&t somewhat of nip^ 
rior light. How important is it tor good 
men to act in character in their fiuiiilie*i 
inasmuch as every evil which they 
practise will be re-acted and increased 

scarcely be conceived. The fervor of i by their carnal posterity.' FuUtr. 


B. C. 1790.1 

CHAP. xxxn. 

AND Jacob went oo his way, and 
*tiie angcto of God met him. 
3 And when Jacob saw them, he 

« Ptt.91. 11. Hebr.1.14. 

CHAP. xxxn. 

I. Tie amgeU of Chd met him. In 
what way this apparitkni of angvk was 
■ade fo Jacob, whether in vision or to 
his ootward senses, the sacred writer 
does noC inform ns. It wonld, perhaps, 
be more consonant to the nsnal analogy 
of the divine dispensations towards the 
patriarchs, to suppose the former ; yet 
as God had called Abraham and his 
posterity to be a peculiar people, a peo- 
ple to whom special privileges and pre- 
rogativea were to be granted, and as 
they then had no Scriptures contain- 
ing the will of God, it is perfectly credi- 
Ue'tbat he should communicate with 
them by the direct ministry of angels, 
as we know- he often did. Some of the 
Jewish critics indeed, who usually show 
such an extravagant taste for the false 
mmrveBonw, are here as much inclined to 
ahrinkfirom the true. They contend 
that tbeeo angels were merely Atimon 
■wstw'n^rrt, who were somehow provi- 
dentially directed to meet him there, to 
infenn him oi his brother Esau's ap- 
proach. But in that case they would 
hardly have been called * the angels of 
God,* nor would the incident have af- 
forded sufficient reason for giving a com- 
memorative name to the place. We 
can see, moreover, that on the present 
occasion there was aniple c^use, if ever, 
for a visible manifestation of angelic 
agency. In returning to his native land, 
Jacob had to pass through the country 
of Edom, wliich was in the poesession 
of his brother Esau. As he had left 
Esau deeply exasperated at being de- 
frauded of his birthright, and resolved 
to take hia life, he could not but feel 
an intense anxiety in the thought of 
passing unarmed through the territories 
of a powerful and hostile brother. God^s 
hosts, therefore, now became visible to 



said, This is God's ^hott: and he 
called the name ol that jdace M a- 

kjQSh.5.14. Fa. 103. 21. lb 148. S. Lnha 

allay the fear of man's hosts. Bmog 
jost escaped one host of enemies, anoth- 
er is coming forth to itieet him. At 
this juncture the heavenly messengMS . 
make their appeaiance, teaching him 
to whom he owed his late escape, and 
that he who had delivered, did deliver, 
and he might safely trust would still de- 
liver him ; thus making good the pre- 
vious proroiie. Gen. 28. 15, 'Behold, I 
am with thee, and will keep thee in all 
places whither thou goest, and will 
brmg thee again into this land.* It does 
not appear, indeed, that they were 
charged with any verbal communication, 
but^ Jacob would have no difficulty in 
inferring the object of their mission, viz. 
to work in his mind an assurance of the 
over-ruling and protecting providence of 
God. Thus, too, when the vision of 
the fiery chariots was vouchsafed to 
Elisba*s servant, it was left to lus own 
mind to draw the proper conclusion 
from such a cheering spectacle. 

2. Called the name of that place Mahan^ 
aim. Heb. U'^SPDa maharudm, a dual 
term, implying two hosts or encampments. 
It would seem that the angels were di- 
vided into bands, encompassing him, as 
it were, behind and before ; thus cor- 
responding with the two hosts of ad- 
versaries which at the same time, and 
with almost the same violent designs, 
were arrayed against him ; the one ha- 
ving already been sent back without 
striking a blow, and the other soon to 
be dealt with in the same manner. 
This, however, was not expressly re- 
vealed to Jacob, but merely a general 
encouragement afforded him, that he 
might be inspired with confidence in the 
use of appropriate means for his pres- 
ervation, a course which the divine in- 
terpositions are never intended to su- 
persede. It was, perhaps, in allusion to 





[B. C, 173». 

3 AndJacob sent me^seiigerB be- 
fore him to Eeau his brother, ^ unto 
the land of Seir, <* the country of 

• cb. 33. 14, 16. d cb. 36. 6, 7, 8. Deut 
9.5. JoBluai. 4. 

this incident that the Psalmist, some 
ages afterwards, Ps. 37. 7. was prompt- 
ed to say, * The angel of the Lord (i. e. 
the angdnf^ the collective multitude of 
angels) encampeth ground about them 
that fear him.* The Gr. in rendering 
these two verses, makes use of the term 
7rapsii0o\ii paremboief camp — * And look- 
ing up he saw the camp (paremboie) of 
God encamping round about him.* * And 
Jacob said when he saw them, this is 
God's camp (parembcle) ; and he called 
the name of that {^ce camps (parembo- 
lot).' This term has been transferred 
from the Septuagint usage to the Apo- 
calypse, ch. 20. 9, ^ They compassed the 
camp (paremtbde) of the saints about, and 
(i. e. even) the beloved cit}%* the camp 
and the city being one and the same. 
Near the place where this, event occur- 
red, and probably named from it, after- 
wards stood the city of Mahanaim, Josh. 
21. 38, inhabited by the priesU of the 
tribe of Levi. It was situated between 
Mount Gilead and the smaU river Jah- 
bok, at the confines of the tribe of Gad, 
and the half-tribe of Manasseh. It 
■eema to have been a place of great 
strength, and was therefore selected by 
Abner as the royal seat of Ishbosheth, 
■on of Saul, during the war between 
him and. David ; and it was probably 
for the same reason that David himself 
withdrew thither during the rebellion of 
his own son Absalom. We know no- 
thing of the subsequent history of the 
town, the precise situation of which has 
not been ascertained. 

3. Jacob sent messengers. Heb D'^^t^b^ 
*malakim, the same word with that ren- 
dered * angels* in the first verse. See 
Gen. 16. 7. The verb might doubtless 
be rendered * had sent,' L e. sometime 

4 And be commanded them, say- 
ing, * Thus shall ye ^peak unto my 
lonl Esau ; Thy servant Jacob saith 
thus, I have sqjourned with LabaOi 
and stayed there until now : 

• Prov. 15. 1. 

before this ; for it is quite clear, from 
comparing v. 6 with the ensuing nanra- 
tive, that the messengers returned 
while Jacob was encamped at the bn)ok 
Jabbok, where the angels appeared to 
him. This mission was obviously a 
measure of wise precaution. Jacob had 
as yet heard nothing of his brother 
Elsau, except that he had settled * in the 
land of Seir, the country of Edom ;' but 
knowing what had formerly taken 
I^ace, and the temper (^ the man, he ia 
apprehensive of consequences. He 
therefore resolves on sending messen- 
gers before him, in order to sound him, 
and, if possible, to appease his anger. 

T Unto the hind of Seir. At what 

time, or for what special reason Ems 
had removed to this region, we are not 
informed. It is highly probable, from 
Gen. 36. 6, 7, that the gradual enlarge- 
ment of his possessions, and the domes- 
tic difficulties occasioned by his own 
and the unfilial deportment of his wives, 
had rendered his longer residence with 
his parents impracticable. But howev- 
er this may have been, we cannot ftil 
to recognise the ordination of heaven in 
his thus vacating the land of promise, 
and making room for its destined inhe^ 
itor. He acted in the affair with the 
most absolute freedom, and yet was 
bringing to pass the divine counsels at 
every step. 

4. Thus shaU ye speak wUo my M 
EsaUf &c. We may observe, in these 
conciliatory instructions to the messen- 
gers, (1.) That he declines the honor of 
precedency given in the blessing, call- 
ing Esau his lord. Isaac' had said to 
him, ch. 27. 29, ♦ Be lord over thy bre- 
thren, and let thy mother's sons bow 
down to thee.' But Jacob either under- 


B. C. 1739 J 

5 And ' 1 haT9 oxen, and aM68» 
flocks^ and men- Bervants, and wo- 
men-servants: and I have sent to 
tell my lord, that f I may find grace 
in thy sight. 

6 IT ^d the messenfrers return- 
ed to Jacob, saying, We came to 
thy brother Esau, and also ^he 

reli.30. 43. ich. 33.8,15. » ch. 33. ]. 



stood it of spiritual ascendancy, or, if of 
temporal, as referring to his posterity, ra- 
ther than to himself. He therefore wisely 
refrains from all ground of ofTence on 
that head, and, without any derogation 
from his predicted superiority, a>«sunies 
the air and language of deference to his 
brother, just as David did towards Saul, 
I Sam. 24. 7 — ^9, from purely prudential 
considerations. (2.) He would have him 
know that he was not come to claim 
the double portion, nor even to divide 
with him his father's inheritance; for 
that God had given him plenty of this 
world^s goods without it. Now, as these 
were things which had fo greatly pro- 
voked Esau, a relinquishment of them 
would tend more than any thing else to 
concitiate him. 

5. I have oxen and asses, &c. We arc 
not to construe this as language prompt- 
ed by a spirit of vain or self-complaisant 
ostentation. His Resign in acquainting 
Esau with his present prosperous cir- 
cumstances, was perhapS'to intimate to 
him that he was disinterested hi seek- 

^ing reconciliation, inasmuch as he had 
now become independent, and there- 
ibre could be under no necessity of suing 
for his friendship. 

6. We came to thy brother Esau, &c. 
It cannot be doubted, we think, that the 
messengers had an interview with Ksau, 
but as they make no report to Jacob of 
his answer to their message, it is proba- 
ble that he maintained a guarded ro- 
serve as to the expression of his real 
sentiments, and merely informed them 
that he should go forth to meet the ad- 
ranoing company with a band of four 

Cometh to meet thee* and km Inm- 
dred men with him. 

7 Then Jacob was greatly afraidp 
and ' distressed : and he divided the 
people that was wttji him, and the 
flocks, and herds, and the camels 
into two bands ; 

I eh. S5. 3. 

hundred men, without giving them le 
undenttand whether hie intentions were 
hostile or pacific. Perhaps he was not 
fuUy resolved in his own mind what re- 
ception to give his brother. Had his 
purposes been unequivocally those of 
an enemy, it is not likely that he wouM 
hare acquainted Jacob beforehand with 
his intended movements, but would 
have come upon him unawares. The 
space of twenty years would naturaUy 
tend to cool down the most violent ha- 
tred, especially towards an absent ob- 
ject, and it is not improbable that 
the message of Jacob now found in 
Esau but the feeble relies of an ancient 
grudge, which, though revived perhaps 
for a moment, on the intelligence of 
Jacob's apfNToach, was speedily extin- 
guished by the exhibition of a brother's 

7. Orcathf afraid and distressed. Heb. 
"t2'^ yetxer, straitened. This terra witli \ 
us is sometimes lightly applied to the ' 
state of mind produced by ordinary ' 
troubles; but in the Scriptures it de- 
notes a sore strait, from which there 
seems to be no way of escape. Thie 
distress wpuld probably be heightened 
by the recollection of his sin, which had 
first excited the resentment of Esaa. 
But throughout the whole we must re* 
cognise the secret working of the MiMt 
High. He designed, by suffering bifi 
servant to be pressed for a time with 
this extreme perplexity, to quicken his 
fervency in prayer. Conscious security 
begets in the best of men a woful re- 
missness in this reapect. In order, 
therefore, to prevent the tovpidiiy which 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

GENESIS. [B. C. 1739. 

8 And said, If Esaa come to the 
one company, and smite it, then the 
other com^xany which is left shall 

9 H^ And |acoh said, ^ O God 

k Fs. 50. 15. 

1 ch. 38. 13. 

is apt to come over the life of our faith, 
God it placed oftentimes to suffer us to 
be harrassed with fears for which there 
is no real occasion. Our earnest pray- 
ers may have secured the desired deli- 
verance, yet the visible display is delay- 
ed to the last moment, that our graces 
may receive their fullest exercise. In 
the mean time we are taught hy this 
incident that the constancy of the chil- 
dren of God is never so firm hut that 
■ome carnal misgivings will betray 
themselves ; and that they who imagine 
themselves possessed of a confidence 
void of all distrust, are probably stran- 
gers to a true faith ; for God does not 
promise his present aid in order wholly 
to free us from the dominion of fear, but 
rather that fear may not prevail and 
drive us to desperation. Still, our fears 
often gain an ascendancy for which 

there is no good reason. V And he 

divided, &c. Although the patriarch 
was extremely perplexed, and knew not 
what to think of his brother's intentions, 
yet he determines to prepare himself for 
the worst. Though assured, on the 
whole, of the divine protection, he will 
neglect no means necessary for his own 
preservation. First, he divides all his 
people with the flocks and herds into 
two parts, that if Esau should come 
and smite the one, the other might flee 
and escape. Secondly, he betakes him- 
self to earnest prayer to God. And 
lastly, he "prepares a large present of 
cattle, which he sends forward in sepa- 
rate droves to his brother.— ^IT Into two 
landi. Heb. t\lSn'f2 ^TOb U^ne maha- 
nocA, tnio two camps, or enoan^unents ; the 
lame word as that employed V. 8. *Thi8 
plan seems not to have been first 
invented by Jacob ; but it may be con 

of my father Abraham, and God of 
my father Isaac, the Lord "* which 
saidst mito me. Return unto thy 
country, and to thy kindred, and I 
wiU dead well with thee. 

» eh. 31. 3, 13. 

jectured that large caravans used at thai 
time to take this precaution against hostile 
attacks. Sir H. Blount relates in hii 
Travels, that he travelled v%ith a cara- 
van which had divided itself in liks 
manner into two troops ; one of which 
that went before, being attacked by 
robbers, had an action with them, and 
were plundered, whereas the other es- 
caped uninjured.* Rosenmuller. 

8. And said. That is, thought, con- 
cluded with himself. See Note on Gen. 

20. 11. IT ShaU escape. Heb. rT:3-«i£b 

Uphletahf {shall be) for an escaping. Gr. 
eis TO c(»)gse6ai, for a being preserved 

9. Ajid Jacob said, &c. As this is one 
of the most striking of the scriptoral 
examples of an eminently devout and 
•successful prayer, it claims a very par- 
ticular notice. Observe, (1.) It is not 
merely commending himself to the di- 
vine protection. He pleads the pro* 
mises. He approaches God as the God 
of his father, and as such a Ood in cove- 
nant. This was laying hold of the di- 
vine faithfulness. It was the prayer o{ 
fdith ; and though we may not have ex^ 
actly the same plea in our approaches 
to God, yet we have one that is more 
endearing and more prevalent. The 
God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ 
is a character which excites more 
hope and in which more great and 
precious promises have been made, 
than in any other. (2.) He addresses 
him as his own God, pleading what he 
had pronused to him, as well as to his 
fathers. * Who saidst unto me. Return,' 
dsc. Jehovah has never made promises 
to us in the same extraordinary way 
that he did to Jacob ; but» whatever he 
has piomisod to beUeveia in general 

d by Google 

B. C. 1739.] 



10 I am not worthy of the least 
of all the ■ mercies, and of all the 
truth, which thou hast shewed un- 
to thy servant : for with • my staff 
I passed over this Jordan, and now 
I am become twt> bands. 

>cli. 34.37. • Job 8. 7. 

may be pleaded by every ofie of them 
in particular, especially when encoun- 
tering opposition in the path of duty. 
(3.) Another remarkable feature in this 
prayer, ia the deep spirit of sdf-ctbaaelnent 
which breathes through it. While he 
celebrates the great mercy and trutii 
of God towards him, he acknowledges 
himself unworthy of the least instance of 
either. The original is, if possible, still 
more emphatic ; ' I am less than aU the 
mercies,* <Src^ as if he not only disclaim- 
ed the worthiness of merits but also 
that of meetness. In view of his own 
sinful conduct on a former occasion, he 
is amazed at the returns of mercy and 
truth which he had met with from a 
gracious God. By sin he had reduced 
himself in a manner to nothing; but 
God's goodness had made him great. 
So, do we desire to succeed in our ap- 
proaches to God, we must be moved by 
the same spirit of humility; prostrat- 
ing ourselves in the dust before him, 
and esteeming every, even the small- 
est favor, as an unmerited boon of 
heaven. (4.) Finally, having in this 
devout and humble manner prefaced 
his petition, he now presents it ; * Deli- 
ver me, r pray thee, from the hand of my 
brother,* &c. This was doubtless the 
petition of a kind husband and a tender 
father. Bnt it was not as such only 
that it was presented. It was mainly 
in the character of a believer in the 
promises, and one deeply concerned for 
the divine glory, that it was oflered. 
It was as though he had iiaid, ^ If my 
life, and that of the mother with the 
children be cut off, how are thy pro- 
mises to be fulfilled V ■ It is natural for 
w, as husbands and parents, to be im- 

11 r Deliver me, I pray thee, from 
the hand of my brother, from the 
hand of Esau : for I fear him, lest 
he will come and smite me, ani 
« the mother with the children. 

»Ps.50.1, 3. «Hos. la 14. 

portnnate with God for the weU-beinf 
of those who are so nearly related to 
us; bat the way to obtain mercy for 
them is to seek it in subordination to 
the divine glory. 

10. The truth whidi thou hast showed, 
Heb. n*iB5 *l©fi^ n?2fctn haenuih oAer 
aeiihay the truth which thou hast done; 
from which it appears that truth, in the 
scriptural sense of the term, denotes 
something which may be done or tuied, 
as well as spoken. Thus, John 3. 21, 
* He that doeth truth (»meth to the light.*- 
See also 1 John 1. 6, Mic. 7. 20. 'Do- 
ing truth,' is fulfilling iii act whatever 
is promised or commanded in word. 
Thus understood, it may be affirmed 
either of God or man.— -T With my 
staffs <bc. ' That is, having nothing but 
a staff when I passed over this Jordan, 
J am now become so prosperous as to 
be able to divide my people, and m'y 
flock and herds, into these two large and 
imposing bands. Chal. *By myself 
alone, I passed over this Jordan ' 

11. SmUe me, and the mother with the 
children. Literally, * smite me, even the 
mother with the children ;* thus iden- 
tifying himself with the company of 
which he was the leader and head. So 
2 Sam. 17. 12, * And of him, and of all 
the men that are with him, there shall 
not be left so much as one ;*'i. e. of him, 
even of nil the men that are with him; 
spoken of as one body. Thus, too, Gen. 
14. 15, * And he divided himself;* i. e. 
his party. The phrase * to smite, or 
slay, the mother with the children,' is 
probably a Jewish idiom for leaving no- 
thing remaining. Calvin suggests that the 
eipression is taken from a bird-catch* 
er's seizing and carrying away the ■ 




[B. C. 1739. 

12 And ' thou saidst, I wiH sure- 
]f do thee good, and make thy seed 
as the sand of the sea, which can- 
not he numbered for multitude. 

IB IT And he lodged there that 
same night, and took of that which 

' eh. 38, 13, 14, 15. 


mother-bird and all ber youDg, thus 
■poiling the whole nest. But as the 
literal rendering is * the mother upon the 
children,* it is perhaps rather founded 
upon what sometimes happens in the 
sacking of a city, when a devoted moth- 
er rushes between her child and the im- 
plement of death about to be plunged 
into its heart, *and is thus massacred with 
or upon her offspring. Thus, Hos. 10. 
14, 'The mother was dashed to pieces 
upon her children.* As Jacob's life was 
now, as it were, ninltiplied in the per- 
sons of so many, dear to him as his own 
soul, his apprehension increases in pro- 

12.. Thou saidstt I toiU surely do thee 
good. We do not find these precise 
words in any of the previous pn^mises, 
but it is clear that they are Jacob's in- 
terpretation of the assurance contained 
eh. 28. 15, * Bnhold, I am with tliee, and 
will keep thee in all places whither 
thou goest.* We may learn, tlierefore, 
from this how much is meant when God 
is said to he with any one. It is virtual- 
ly a promise to do hiro good, to bless 
him, to crown him with prosperity. 

13. Lodged there that night. Jacob 
and his company seem now to have 
been north of the small river Jabbok 
near to the place where it falls into the 
Jordan. Here he is said to have lodg- 
ed that night. AfYemards, v. 22, we> 
read of his * rising up,' and sending his 
eompany * over the ford.' Probably it 
was during one single night that the 
whole of what follows in this chapter oc- 
curred. In the order of the narrative, 
hin first step is to try the effect of a 

Iftosent. IT Took of that whirh came 

to his hand. This is generally understood 

came to his hand * a present for 
Bsau his brother ; 

14 Two hundred she-goats and 
twenty he-goats, two hundred ewei 
and twenty rams, 

15 Thirtyroilchcamels with their 
•ch. 43.11. Proy.18.16. 

to mean that he took of that which, at 
the time, came most readUy to hand ; but 
the usage of the priginal makes it doubt- 
ful whether the true sense of it be not, 
that he took of that which had come into 
his hand, tehich he possessed, whiek kehai 
previously acquired. 

14. Two hundred she-goafs^ Ac. The 
sum total of the cattle selected for this 
purpose was five hundred and fifty ; a 
most magnificent present for one in his 
circumstances. It was a striking proof 
of his high estimation of the covenant 
promise, that he was willing, for its sake, 
to forego so large a part of his posses* 
sions. We know how tenaciously, for 
the most part, men cleave to those so- | 
quisitions which have cost them ^luch 
labor and care. Yet Jacob here volun- 
tarily subjects himself to so immense a 
loss, that he may purchase a secure re- 
turn to the land of his inheritancs. 
Had he been so disposed, he could ea- 
sily have retired to some quiet nook, 
where he could have enjoyed his sub- 
stance unimpaired. But so highly daes 
he prize the promised blessing, that be 
is ready, if needs be, to impoverish him- 
self for the present that he may be un- 
speakably enriclied in his latter end. 
* Heaven, he knew, would pay for all. 
Get but a patriarch's eye to see heaven 
afar off, and we shall be soon ready to 
buy it at any rate. The pearl of price 
cannot be a dear bargain, though we 
part with all to purchase it.* Trapp. 

15. Thirty milch camels. That is, ca- 
mels of the most valuable sort *The 
Bedouins ride the male camel in prefe^ 
ence to the female, and the former is 
also capable of carrying heavier bu^ 
dens, and yet the female is much mora 





co]t8, forty kine and ten bulls, twen- 
ty she-asses and ten foak. 

16 And he delivered tliem into 
the hand of his servants, every 
drove by themselves ; and said un- 
to his servants. Pass over before 
me, and put a space betwixt drove 
and drove. 

17 And he commanded the fore- 
most, saying, When Esau my bro- 
ther meeteth thee, and asketh thee, 
saying. Whose arf thou 1 and whith- 

valuable, on account of her milk, which 
forma a prominent article in the diet of 
the Arabs. They drink it either fresh 
or sour. They are fond of sour milk, 
and it seems tbat the milk of the camel 
tarns sour sooner than that of most oth- 
er animals. . Butter and cheese are 
very seldom made of this milk. It is 
remarkable that some of the tribes re- 
iiise to sell milk to the towns-people, 
the epithet * milk-eeUer* being regarded 
as a term of great opprobrium. It is 
also observable, that the Arabs not only 
drink the camels' milk themselves, but 
give great quantities of it to their horses. 
Foals also are weaned from their dams 
in thirty dflys, and f5r the next hundred 
days are fed exclusively on camels' 
milk ; and during the ensuing hundred, 
they receive. a bucket of milk every 
evening along with their barley. Burck- 
haidt says that when the Bedouins take 
colts of two or three years old to sell 
in Syria, they recommend their animals 
by protesting (of course falsely) that 
since they were weaned they have had 
no other food than camels* milk.' Pict. 

16. Avery drove by themselves. The 
dioves were arranged in this manner, 
separated by pretty wide intervals, that 
Esau's enmity, if he cherished any, 
might be gradually abated as one mark 
of kindness after another met him, and 
also to afford a better opportunity for 
those in the rear to escape, if those in 
^l|e viui should be attacked* Every 

ergoesttbout and whose ore these 

before thee ? 

18 Then thou shajt say. They he 
thy servant Jacob's : it u a present 
sent unto my lord Esau : and be- 
hold also he is behind us. 

19 And so commanded he the 
second, and the third, and all that 
followed the droves, saying. On this 
manner shall ye speak unto Esau, 
when ve find him. 

servant presenting his drove with the 
same words would strike Esau with' 
amazement. It would seem as if all 
the riches of the East were coming in 
upon him ; and every one concluding 
by announcing his master as comingbe- 
hind them, would work upon his gene- 
rosity. He expected, it is likely, a host 
of armed men, and felt resolved to fight 
it out ; but instead of an enemy, here is 
a present worthy of a prince, and the 
owner coming after it with all the con- 
fidence of a friend and the kindness of 
a brother.^^T Pvt a space hehnxt drove 
and drove. Heb. ftVl revah, breath, i e. 
space or room that shall give freedom 
to the breath, hreathmg-space. 

19. On this manner thaU ye speak, ^. 
'I almost think I hear Jacob telling 
his servants what they were to say to 
Esau. He would repeat it many times 
over, and then ask, * What did I say V 
until he had completely schooled them 
into the story. They would be moM at- 
tentive ; and at every interval, some of 
the most officious would be repeating 
the tale. The head servant, however, 
would be especially charged with the 
dehvery of the message. When they 
went into the presence of Esau, they 
would be >very particular in placing 
much stress on Jacob's saying, *the 
present is sent unto my lord /' and this 
would touch his feelings. Servants 
who see the earnestness of their master, 
imitate him in this when they stand be- 
fore the person to whom they are s^nt 

d byCoogk 



[B, C. 1730. 

90 And say ye moroover. Be- 
boldt thy servant Jacob is behind us. 
For he said, I will ^ appease him 
with the present that goeth before 
me, and afterward I will see his 
&ce; peradventore he will accept 
of me. 

21 So went the present over be- 

»Prov.31. 14. 

They repeat a number of little things 
respecting him ; his great sorrow for his 
offence, his weeping, his throwing him- 
self into the dnst, and his fearful expres- 
sions. Should the occasion, however, 
be of a pleasing nature, they mention 
his great joy, and his great anxiety for 
an interview. The dependants of 
Esau, also, would hear the story, and 
every now and then be making excla- 
niationfi at the humility of Jacob, and 
the value of his present They would 
also put their hands together in a sup- 
plicating posture, fi>r Esau to attend to 
the request He, feeling himself thus 
acknowledged as 2or<2, seeing the ser- 
vants of his brother before him, and 
knowing that all his people had witness- 
ed the scene, would consider himself 
greatly honored. In this way many a 
culprit in the East gains a pardon, when 
nothing else could purchase it. Should 
the oflender be too poor to send a pres- 
ent, he simply despatches his wife and 
children to plead for him ; and they sel- 
dom plead in vain.* Rci)erts. 

20. Bekcidt thy servant Jacob is behind 
us. He was particular to have this fact 
distinctly announced, lest Esau should 
suppose he intended himself to escape. 
——IT For fie said. That is, said to him- 
self— IT I wiU appease him. Heb. 
fljE) mtSJft ahap^erak panav^ IwiU co. 
ver (i- e. pacify) his face ; from *^s:3 ka- 
phar^ to covetf the term usually employ- 
ed under the law to signify * making 
atonement.' (^r. e^tXao-o/iai rov lepoa-O' 
irov avrovt I will propitiate his counten- 
ance, Chal. * I will assuage his anger.* 
—IT Accept of me. Heb. *^3B iffO*^ 

fore mm ; and himself lodged that 
night in the company. 
' 2^ And he rose tip that night, 
and took his two wives, and hb two 
women-servants, and his eleven 
sons, " and passed over the ford Jab- 

n Deut 3. 16. 

yissa pani^ vnU lift up my face. See the 
import of tlus idiom explained, Gen. 19, 
21. Thus, Prov. 21. 14, * A gift in se- 
cret pacifietk anger.* 

21. Lodged thalnight. Not the whole 
of the night, but only a part of it, as 
will soon appear. 

22^. And he rose up and passed oner Ik 
ford. Having sent off* the present, he 
seems to have tried to get a little left; 
but whatever sleep might jfall to the bt 
of the women and children, or rest lo 
the beasts of burden, there was but 
little of either for him. Unable to dose 
his eyes, he * rose up* and having fint 
crossed the ford to ascertain the safoty 
of the passage for the rest of the eom- 
pany, he returned to the northern side, 
and took his whole family and all that 
he had, and sent them over the stream. 
His par^ having all safely passed the 
ford, he himself itaid behind ; and in 
this incident we see another proof of 
the prevalence of his fidth ; for, bad he 
been governed by the usual niaximi of 
worldly prudence, he would at this crit- 
ical junction have remained with the 
host. For, how did he know but Esau's 
band might suddenly set upon them 
when they thought themselves most 
secure ? But,* purposing to devote the 
rest of the night to fervent prayer, he is 
not afraid to confide his company to the 
protection of that God, whose hce and 
favor he desired to seek, assured that 
the most efiectual defence he could af- 
ford them would be to engage omnipo- 
tence in their behalf. It is very seldom 
that our worldly affairs suffer from the 
time spent in prayer. J Jabbok. 





23 And he took them, and sent 
them over the brook, and sent over 
that he had. 

This 18 the name of a brook or small 
river rising near Rabbah, the chief city 
of the AmmoniteSf and emptying into 
the Jordan on its .eastern side not far 
below t}ie lake of Tiberias. As the 
original is ' Yabbok,' and closely related 
in its etymology to * Abak/ wrestled, it 
is supposed to have derived its name 
from Jacob's there wrestling with the 
angel. Mr. Buckingham says that 
where he crossed tlie river it was ten 
yards wide, and that the stream being 
deeper than the Jordan, and quite as 
rapid, was forded with difficulty. The 
natives call the river ' Nahr-el-Zerkah,' 
or river of Zerkah, from a neighboring 
village of that name. 

24. And Jacob was left dhne, and 
there wrestled, &c. Heb. p^*^ yeabek ; 
a term occurring only here, and appa- 
rently derived from p^^abak^ dust, and 
applied to wrestling, from the dust that 
was excited by the action of the com- 
batants. In the Grecian games, more- 
over, it was common for the wrestlers 
to raise as much dust as possible, both 
for the purpose of bUnding each others' 
eyes, and for grasping more firmly the 
naked body, which, in order to make it 
supple for the occasion, was copiously 
besmeared with oil. — In the words be- 
iure us we come upon the narrative of 
ooB of the most remarkable and myste- 
rious incidents recorded in the sacred 
page. In considering it with, some min- 
uteness, the first and ,most obvious in- 
quiry has respect to the Person with 
whom Jacob wrestled, and the second 
to the nature and object of the Wrestling 
itself. (1.) As to the person, it will be 
noticed that in the^passage before us he 
is termed a man ; but in Hos. 12. 4, 
where the incident is somewhat more 
folly described, the prophet says of Ja- 
cob that * he had power over the angel, 

24 IT And Jacob was left alone, 
and there ' wrestled a man with 
iiim, until the breaking of the day. 

s Hos. 13. 3, 4. Epli.6.13. 

and prevailed.* This makiss it clear 
it was not a human antagonist with 
whom Jacob was now called to enter 
the lists. But we have a farther clue to 
his identity in the sequel of the present 
narrative. In giving the reason for 
calling the name of the place Peniel, v. 
30, he says, ' for I have seen God face 
to face.' Here then it is obvious that 
he who is at one time called ' a man,' is 
at another called ' the angel,* and again 
designated by the august title of * God ;* 
leaving us to the inevirnble inference 
that the mysterious wrestler was no 
other than the divine personage so fre- 
quently brought before us under the ap- 
pellation of *■ the Angel' — ' the Angel of 
the Lord' — 'the Angel of the Cove- 
nant,' &.C. ; that is, in other words, the 
Son uf God appearing in that nature 
which he afterwards assumed in accom- 
plishing the work of our redemption. - 
Could there be the least remaining 
doubt on the subject it is dispelled by the 
farther statement of Hosea in the pas- 
sage above cited, v. 4, 5, * fie found him 
in Bethel, and there he spake with us ; 
even the Lord of Hosts ; the Lord is his 
memorial ;' i. e. the name by which he is 
perpetually to be remembered in con- 
nection with this event. (2.) As to the 
true nature and scope of tliis transaction, 
although it has been much doubted 
among commentators whether it were 
a real event or a vision only, yet the 
words of the text s^em spontaneously to 
yield the sense of a liteial personal en- 
counter. Le|t alone in the silence of the 
night, and in the open field, with his 
mind deeply exercised with the perils 
that surrounded him, the patriarch sud- 
denly feels himself laid hold of by some 
unknown assailant. It is not unlikely 
that at the first onset he might appre- 
hend him to be one of Esau's four hun- 




[B. C. 1730. 

drad men, for he eomfw upon him not 
mi a friend, but as a foe. Wlioever he 
may be, he at once begins to straggle 
with Jacob, and apparently aims, by a 
violent assaalt, to throw him to the 
ground. He, on the other hand, defends 
himself to the utmost of his power. He 
grasps his antagonist, and exerting all 
his strength, seems determined not to 
suffer himself to be thrown. How long 
the conflict continued before he discov- 
ered the true character of his opponent, 
is uncertain ; but we are informed that 
it was not * until the breaking of the 
day* that the wrestling ceased, nor even 
then did the victory declare itself for 
the divine antagonist. * He saw that he 
prevailed not against him.* Such, with 
the added particulars soon to be detail- 
ed, was the nature of this mysterious 
encounter, in which, from the mode of 
narration, we can scarcely fail to recog- 
nise a real occurrence^ a true and literal 
act ofwrestUng; in a word, as actual a 
contest as ever took place among the 
athleroB of the Olympic or Isthmian 
gam es. This interpretation is confirmed 
by what is said of the effect of the en- 
gagement upon Jacob's person. The 
hollow of his thigh was touched, and a 
permanent dislocation of the hip joint 
ensued, which, for sught that appears, 
attended him through life. It is hardly 
probable that a visionary conflict would 
thus have resulted in an abiding hodHy 
injury. But while we thus understand 
the narrative of a real transaction, we 
are not thereby precluded from assign- 
ing to it a spiritual^ figurative^ or symbol- 
ical import of the hig^hest moment, both 
to Jacob and his believing seed in all 
ages. Indeed, it is not possible to con- 
ceive how such a peculiar mode of 
manifestation could be worthy of the 
Deity, were it not intended to shadow 
out some great instructive moral truth 
or lesson. We have only to revert to 
the circumstances in which the transac- 
tion occurred to see that such a purpose 
was undoubtedly designed by it Jacob 

was now agitated and distressed in view 
of the uncertain issue of a meeting with 
his brother. In his perplexity he had 
recourse to the throne of grace ; he cut 
himself entirely by prayer and supplies* 
tion upon the protection of heaven. In 
order to calm the disquietude of hii 
spirit, and arm him with all needed con* 
fidence, God is pleased to inform him hf 
a significant action of the favorable insoe 
of the affair. As he was permitted to 
prevail over the Angel, so he should pre- 
vail over Kaau. Viewing the transac- 
tion as having a special reference to 
Esau, we see not why the Angel nay 
not be considered m this respect as itu- 
taining the person of Esau. This is the 
opinion of several Jewish commentaton, 
and thus understood, the symbolical strife 
has a pertin endy which is by no meant 
so obvious on any other construction. 
It is well known that nothing was more 
common in God's mode of intercourse 
with the patriarchs and prophets than to 
impart information to them by means of 
action as w^ell as words ; and as Jacob's 
predicted ascendancy over his brother 
was to be obtained through a series of 
struggles well reprGMnied'hy wrestUng ; 
as he did, in fact, receive his name from 
an act appropriate to a wrestler, vii. 
that of supplanting or tripping up the 
heels ; we know not by what emblem- 
atic procedure the grand fact of his 
prevalence over Esau could be more 
suitably set forth than that of the myt- 
ticoL athletic strife here describe, though 
its more immediate and special refer- 
ence is to his triumph over Esau's re- 
sentment on the present occasion. Nor 
is it, we conceive, a suflficient objection 
to this, that it makes the divine person- 
age, while evidently favoring Jacob, to 
appear at the same time as the represeol* 
ative of an enemy ; for we find, iQ the 
commencement of the chapter, that the 
good angels who appeared to Jacob for 
his encouragement represented at the 
same time two hostile bands. Besides, 
we find, if we mistake not, a striking 


B. c. vm.] 

oonfirtnfttion of thii view of the nibjeet 
in the pttnlM pMWge of Homa before al- 
lOded to ; * He took his brother by the heel 
m the womb, and by his sireiigth he had 
power vHlh God : yea, he had power over 
the Angel, and prevailed : he wept, and 
m^de sapplication nnto him.' We here 
see the ascendancy of Jacob traced back 
to its very commencement at the birth 
of the two brothers, and thence carried 
forward to the time now mentioned, 
when he prevailed over E^au in the 
person of the representative angel, as 
a pledge of his prevailing over him in his 
own person, as we learn that he shortly 
after did. This is indeed called * having 
power with God,' hecanse it was by the 
special favor and blessing of God that he 
was enabled to come off conqueror over 
the exasperated feelings of his brother. 
It was, in fact, a twofold prevalence, the 
one the type and earnest of the other. 
' He wept and made supniication ;* he 
threw himself, in all the fervency of the 
most importunate prayer, upon the mer- 
cy of God, and God heard him and 
granted his request. This was prevail- 
ing over infinitely superior power, and 
his prevalence in this case was at the 
same time an image of his prevailing 
over Esau ; and we have only to con- 
sult the details of the ensuing narrative 
to see how strikingly all the circum- 
stances of the shadow correspond with 
those of the substance. As he humbled 
himself in deep abasement of soul, and 
implored the favor of the Angel, so he 
bowed himself seven times to the 
ground, and by expressions and postures 
of the profoundest reverence, sought to 
conciliate his brother. As the symbol- 
ical Angel, though infinitely stronger 
than Jacob, suffered himself to be over- 
come, holding his power in abeyance ; 
so Esau, though coming against him 
with four hundred lAen, a force no doubt 
vastly soperior to that of the patriarch, 
was in Uke manner wrought upon, soft- 
ened, and subdued by the melting im- 
portunities of his brother, who would i 


not port fhMD hini* tny i 
the Angel withont the exehoogo of o 
I blessing, and who seoma, in fret, olmoil 
I in express words to identify Esaa whh 
'the divine wrestling Angel, when bo 
! says, ch. 33. 10, * Receive my present ot 
I my hand ; for therefore have I mem ikif 
face, as though I had seen the face ef 
Oodf and thou wast pleased with me ;' im- 
plying, that in the mystical strife which 
had taken place he had seen his iiice or 
person in that of his angelic adversary ; 
and as he then appeared pleased, i. e. 
pacified, or conciliated towards him, so 
he hoped he would be noto, and that 
turn all the shadowy incidents into a de- 
lightful reality. But while we consider 
the above as the legitimate and leading 
scope of the transaction here recorded, 
we do not hesitate at the same time to re- 
coG^nise another subordinate drift of 
infinite wisdom in ordering its occur- 
rence. We believe it was designed, as 
it has generally been understood, to 
teach the importance and the efficacy 
of earnest, fervent, agonizing prayer, 
particularly in circumstances of afflic- 
tion and distress. It is, indeed, regard* 
ed by some as doubtful whether the 
* weeping and supplication' of which 
Hosea speaks, took place at the same 
time with the wre<itling, or whether he 
refers to the humble and importunate 
prayer made some hours previous, and 
contained, v. 9 — 12. But as he nndoubt- 
edly recognised the true character of 
his divine antagonist before they part- 
ed, and as he refused to let him go 
until he had received a blessing at hie 
hand, this is evidently to be considered 
as implying the essence of a prayer, and 
that, no doubt, of the most fervent de • 
scription. In order, therefore, to gain 
an adequate view of the true nature of 
this mysterions strife, we must look upon 
it as shadowing forth that secret inward 
struggle of the soul, which forma the 
very life of all earnest and prevalent 
prayer ivith God. In the athletic exer* 
cise of wrestling, the highest efibrt of* 





25 And when he saw that he pre- 
vailed not against him, he touched 
the hollow of his thigh : and ^ the 

7 Matt. 26. 41. 2 Cor. 12. 7. 

hollow of Jacoh's thigh was out of 
joint, as he wrestled with him. 

corporeal prowess is required. Every 
nerve and muscle of every limb is call- 
ed into play, and put to its utmost ten- 
sion. The whole energy of the frame 
is concentrated in the act, and the least 
relaxation perils the issue of the con- 
flict. So also in prayer. All tlie pow- 
ers of our minds, and all the strong- 
est feelings of our hearts are to be en- 
listed in this duty. Our earnestness 
atid zeal should be wrought up to the 
highest pitch of intensity. Precepts, 
promises, arguments, — whatever can 
constitute pleas of the most cogent and 
prevailing nature, should be brought for- 
• ward. We should * stir ourselves up to 
take hold on God.' And oftentimes 
weeping and supplication, in imitation 
of Jacob, yea, strong crying and tears, 
in imitation of the Saviour, should be 
resorted to. Then it is that we know 
something of the effectual fervent pray- 
er of the righteous, which availeth much. 
Then it is that we feel the deep internal 
movings of the Spirit, * which makelh 
intercession for us with groanings which 
cannot be uttered.* But this view of 
.the subject will be more folly developed 
as we proceed. 

25. And when he mw^ &c. That is, 
when the Angel saw. Gr. and Chal. 
'When he saw that he could do nothing 
against him.' The feet stated is indeed 
wonderful — Omnipotence unable to van- 
quish the ' worm Jacob !' But in order 
to understand it, we must penetrate be- 
yond the veil of the physical encounter, 
and direct our view to the hidden spir- 
ituality that is couched within. The 
strength by which Jacob sustained the 
contest with an almighty opponent was 
not the strength of bones and sinews, 
nor was the non-prevalence of the An 
gel any thing else than the inability to 

faith pleading his own promises. He 
may be said, t|;ierefore, not to have pre- 
vailed, just as a benevolent roan, who 
is beset by a needy* beggar, pileously 
telling his tale of w^oe, and clinging to 
the skirts of his garment, may be said 
not to prevail' to cast him off, though 
possessed of far superior physical 
strength, b.ecause he yields to the kind- 
ly impulses of his nature. Yet we must 
not forget that it was all along by the 
secret ministration of God's Spirit that 
Jacob was enabled to put forth the mo- 
ral power which he did in the present 
conflict. The strength by which he 
prevailed was as truly God's strength, 
as that by which God himself in out- 
ward show contended against him. In- 
deed, we must consider God in this tran- 
saction as acting in the double capacity 
of an adversary and an assistant, evincing 
in the second character greater strength 
than in the first ; fighting, as it were, 
against him with his left hand, and /or 
him with his right ; putting for greater 
force into the defence than into the as- 
sault, and, as Calvin says,* being stron- 
ger^than himself by yielding the victory 
to fiith,' Such a mode of represenution 
appears strange and paradoxical to one 
who is inexperienced in the warfare of 
the spirit, who has never passed through 
the sifti'ngs and trials to which God of- 
ten subjects his children. But the sto- 
ry teaches a familiar doctrine to those 
who have waded in the deep waters of 
affliction and temptation. They are 
never at a loss to understand, or back- 
ward to acknowledge, the source to 
which they are indebted for the strength 
that enables them to overcome in those 
arduous struggles in which the Almigh- 
ty himself seems to come forth in bat- 
tle array against them. H He touched 

withstand the power of an unwavering } (Ac hoUow of his thtgh^ &c. Inat 


B. C. 178D.1 



hort, mjured. See note on Gen. 20. 6- 
What is here termed the * hollow of the 
thigh/ is undoubtedly the socket of the 
hip-joint, though it is not easy to deter- 
mine the precise nature of the injury in- 
flidted. From its being said, y. 32, that 
the children of Israel ate not of the si- 
new which shrank, it would seem that 
one part especially affected ' Was the 
tendinous ligament connecting the thigh- 
bone with the hip-joint. But if so, it 
was probably owing to a dislocation of 
the thigh-bone. This would naturally 
be attended with such a^olent wrench- 
ing of the muscles and sinews in the 
neighborhood, that even after the bone 
was replaced, it might cause a perma- 
nently halting or limping gait. Yet it is 
highly probable that the effect, in Ja- 
cobus case, was produced unthout pain, 
and was designed to impress him with 
a profound sense of the divine condes- 
cension, from the fact that one who had 
thus shown himself possessed of infinite 
power, should deign to be prevailed over 
by a worm of the dust. As Paul, in the 
abundance of his revelations, 2 Cor. 12. 
7, received a * thorn in the flesh,* to 
humble him, or to prevent undue exalta- 
tion, so in the present case Jacob receiv- 
ed a similar token, which it was fitting 
he should carry with him to his grave. 
But this incident cannot be rightly 
viewed, except in connexion with the 
spiritual bearing of the whole transac- 
tion ; in which light we shall dwell 
upon it somewhat more at length. The 
hip, as is well known, is the foundation, 
so to speak, of the edifice of the body. 
If dislocated, the body falls down. A 
dislocation of the hip is an extremely 
rare case, only practicable to astonish- 
ing strength, especially in the posi- 
tion which a person roust assume in 
wrestling with another. Bat this effect 
was wrought upon Jacob in the midtit of 
the encounter, and the consequence 
would of course be that he could wres- 
tle no longer. All that remained for 
him was to hold fast to his opponent by 

his arms, to cling to him with all bis 
might, so that his antagonist oouid not 
remove from the place without dragging 
him along with him. Indeed, Jaeob 
could now neither stand nor go ; and 
the wrestling angel, who had thus de- 
prived him of his strength, left him no 
alternative but to hang upon his neck, 
if he wished to be preserved from fall- 
ing. And this he appears to have done, ' 
retaining his grasp with unflinching te- 
nacity, as if resolved that nothing should 
separate him from one who had it in 
his power to bless him as no other being 
in the universe could. But passing from 
the letter to the spirit, and interpreting 
what is here said of wrestling of the in- 
ward conflicts of the soul, we remark, 
that no purpose is more settled in the 
counsels of heaven, than to beat down 
the vain self-confidence, which in one 
form or other is so prone to intrude it- 
self into the devoutest doings of eyen 
the best of men. Some secret reliance 
upon their own strength, or uprightness, 
or understanding, mingles with the 
workings of their hearts, and prevents 
that entire renunciation of themselves 
which is essential to their being fiHed 
with the fulness of God. But when the 
Most High begins to wrestle with a 
soul, that is, to carry on more effectual- 
ly the work of grace, he struggles with 
him in such a manner as to abase eye- 
ry high thing that exalts itself within 
him, and bring him to the lowest depths 
of self-abasement and self-annihilation. 
He will leave him nothing to plead but 
his pure gratuitous mercy in Christ. 
He will cause him, by his hidden inflii- 
ences in his heart, to feel that he has 
no alternative remaining but to embrace 
with the arms of faith the Son of God, 
and thus, as a crippled conqueror^ to pre- 
vail. He thus learns to believe from 
the heart the declaration that * it is not 
of him that willeth, nor of him that run- 
neth, but of God that showeth mercy.* 
He is thus led into those mysterious pro- 
cesses of the inward Hfe whicl^ may 





26 And * he said. Let me go, for 
the day breaketh : and he said, ^ I 

« Luke 24. 28. « Hoa. 12. 4. 

will not let tfaoe go, exoept 
blesd me. 

jady be called a continual riddle, which 
«annot be solved without personal ex> 
perience. In a word, we may see« in 
this incident of the mystical conflict, 
how completoly the Lord designs to 
■tripthe sinner of every relic of self-con- 
ftbnee, that he may cast himself, 
weak, weary, lame, baiting, and help- 
less, into the arms of the all-suSicient 

96. And he taid. Let nu^ ^o, dec. The 
Angel evidently proved his infinite su- 
periority to Jacob by depriving him of 
•U power to continue the combat ; and 
yet he enhances the wonders of the 
■eene by saying to the patriarch, * Let 
me go/ and thus virtually declaring him- 
aelf to be vanquished. How astonishing 
the procedure ! As long as Jacob pos- 
■esaes strength, he is overoorae, and 
eonquers at the moment it forsakes him ! 
But thus says the Apostle, * when I am 
weak, then am I strong.* The AngePs 
words were obviously designed as a 
larther trial of the patriarch's faith. As 
warnn usually at eariy dawn, instead of 
■pending the time in prayer, are enjoy- 
ing their repose, or deem it their duty 
to enter upon the business of the day, 
Jacob's divine antagonist would try 
whether he would yield to natural in- 
oUnatioii and desist, or wmdd hold out a 
littU longer in his supplications. Thus 
our Saviour seemed by his words to dis- 
courage the addresses of the Syro-Phe- 
nidan woman. Matt. 15. 22—23, when 
in>reality his object was to quicken and 
animate her to still greater fervency in 
her intercessions. ' Let me go,* says 
the wrestling angel. What life and cour- 
age must this have imparted to Jacob ! 
For what did the words imply ? That 
the Son of God was in his power, and 
that he would not depart unless Jaoob 
gave his consent to it. This was an ad- 
vantage too precious to be neglected. 
Aecoidingly be makes no acooimt of 


the reason which the 'Angel urged for 
his request, *For the day breaketh.* 
* T^t it break,* might Jac^b have replted, 
*• What is that to me ? I have a thousand 
reasons why I will not let thee go ; and 
even the breaking of the day is one of 
them. A perilous day is approaching. 
I am afraid of my brother Esau. I 
stand in special need of thy blessing. 
Thou dost well to remind me of it, that 
I may cleave to thee the doeer.*— ^ 
T / will not let thee go, except thou Uen 
me. The highest heroism of faith shines 
forth in these words. He declares him- 
self determined to retain his pertinaoioaB 
hold upon the author of blessing. But 
could He not easily have shaken him 
off? Could He Wot have dislomted or 
paralysed his arms, and thus have freed 
himself from his death-like embrace? 
Doubtless his physical power was com- 
petent to this, but his omnipotence wss 
limited in its operation by his promise 
to his servant * to do him good.* He 
had bound himself to bless him, and his 
great power could only be eiercised 
towards him in accordance with this en- 
erageroent. Nor did he really desire that 
Jacob should free him from the obliga- 
tion to do him good. He rather aimed 
to have the pleasure of seeing how firm, 
by his grace, are the hearts of his chil- 
dren, even when many waters of afflic- 
tion go over them, and how the seed of 
God remains in them. It was the same 
kind of pleasure that he experienced 
when Job exclaimed, * Though he slay 
me, yet will I trust in him.* He him- 
self is the author of this constancy, and 
hence it is that it is so pleasing in his 
sight ; for he takes pleasure in all his 
works. And what pleasure does it still 
afford him, when the Christiaa does not 
suffer himself to be dismayed by afflic- 
tions and temptations, but even then 
cleaves to his word and his grace, when 
every thing seems to go against him ? 


B. C. 1739.] 



27 And he said unto him, What 
is thy name ? And he said, Jacob. 

28. And he said, ^Thy name 
shall be called no more Jacob, but 

^cb, eh. 35. 10. 2 Kings 17. 34. 

27. Afid he said unto Aim, W?iat is thy 
name? This question respecting Ja- 
cobus name is asked by the Angel, not, 
of course, because he was previously 
ignorant of it, but that from the answrr 
he might take occasion to change it, as he 
immediately did. But not only so. He 
put the question in order to instruct Ja- 
cob respecting the signification of his 
present name, and to lead him to reflect 
upon the occasion of its being given 
him. This was at his birth, when he 
held his twin brother Psau by the heel. 
His birth reminded him of the divine 
prediction, * that the elder should serve 
the younger.' He might have forgot- 
ten it, but the Lord had not. He de- 
signs, therefore, that the patrarch shall 
derive encouragement from this name. 
It means suppUmter^ and was, of course, 
well adapted to inspire him with confi- 
dence that Esau should not overcome 
him. This will account for such an 
apparently irrelevant mode of replying 
to his petition. Jacob, no doubt, thought 
with himself, * Why this question ? I 
ask for a blessing, and he inquires my 
name. I should have preferred an im- 
mediate fulfilment of the desires of my 
heart.* But God often takes what ap- 
pears to ns a circuitous method of an- 
swering our requests ; though the result 
shows that it is the wisest and best. 
Upon the mention of his name, it is high- 
ly probable that a new light shone lipon 
it, rendering its import clear and consol- 
ing to his mind. It reminded him not 
only of his predicted ascendancy over 
Esau, bat also of all the rich blessings 
and prerogatives of the covenant estab- 
lished with his fathers. And what 
would more tend to pheer and encourage 
him on this occasion than such refresh- 
ing recollections 7 Yet the ensuing 

Israel: for as a prince hast thoo 
^ power with God, and «> with men, 
and hast prevailed. 

c Ifos. 12. 3, 4. « ch. 35. 31. & S7. 33. 

words disclose a still deeper drift in the 

2S. Tky name shaU he called no more 
Jacobs hut Israel. * Israel' signifies ' prince- 
ly prevftiler with God,' one of its com- 
ponent members Mgnifying the same as 
the name of ' Sarah,' princess. The 
proper names occurring in the, sacred 
volume are frequently used to designate 
the character rather than the common ap- 
peUation of those to whom they are 
applied. T\in3 it was predicted of 
Christ, that * his name should be called 
Wonderful, Immanuel,' &c., Is. 9. 6, and 
7. 14, of whi(;h the true interpretation 
is, that his nahire should be wonderful, 
should be Tmmanuel, &c. ^o also our 
Lord says lo his dipciplcc, John 15. 13, 
'Henceforth I call you not servants, but 
I have called you friends,' i. e. I declare 
you to be friends. Yet we find that in 
point of mere nominal appellation they 
were subsequently called 'friends,' as 
John 18. .35. So in the present case, it 
is not so much intended liiat Jacob's or- 
dinary and familiar title should be su- 
perseded, Rsis evident from the subse- 
quent history, as that he should now be 
declared to be possessed of a neio char- 
acter by the significant designation as- 
signed him. Arab. * Thy name shall not 
always be called Jacob only, but Israel 
likewise.' Hitherto his name Jacob had 
merely denoted his being a supplanter 
of his brother, but now he had moreover 
shown himself a prevailer wiih God, m 
token of which it was proper that the 
name ' Israel' should lie given him, as 
an honorable testimonial of the fact in 
all ages. It is to be observed, also, that 
Jacob'9 posterity, to whom the same 
name is apphed, are so denominated 
principally upon the ground of their 
i being supposed to be a praying and 

d by Google 



[B. C. IT*. 

'29 And Jacob asked hiffh and 
•aid. Ten me, I pray thee, thy 
name : and he said, * Wherefore u 

• Jadg.13.18. 

frewaSiag wetd, eapecially his spiritaal 
■eed. Gal. 6. 10, which embraces the 
GentQes, who are affiliated by faith. 
— T Am a pnnce hoft thou power with 
Ood. Heb. tl^^^tS 8arWut, i. e. thon 
hast acted the inince ; thou hast carried 
thyself prince-like. The tame word 
occurs, Hos. 12. 4, * He had power with 
God* Heb. '^ID'^T twywor, he was a 
prince with CML- In allusion to this 
transaction, the Most High says by the 
Prophet, Is. 45. 19,** I said not to the seed 
f^Jacch seek ye me in vain.* The seed 
ofjacdb is specified rather than the seed 
of Abraham, from this eminent instance 
of Jacob's praying and prevailing in n 
season of extremity, and thus carrying 
an implication that his * seed* would in- 
herit their father's spirit in this respect. 
As far, therefore, as Christians consti- 
tute the true Israel of God, they should 
doubtless deem themselves bound to 
be distinguished for their perseverance 

and prevalence in prayer. IT And 

imt& man. Doubtless with a more special 
reference to his prevailing with Esau in 
their coming mterview, of which, as 
remarked above, his prevailing with the 
Angel was a designed earnest and 

29. TeO, me, I pray thee, thy name. It 
cannot be doubted, from the drift of the 
narrative, that Jacob was aware that 
his antagonist was a truly divine per- 
sonage. It was not, therefore, for fur- 
ther satisfaction on this head that he 
made the present inquiry. Two reasons 
may be suggested as having, perhaps, 
prompted the question. (1.) He may 
have been desirous of knowing how the 
Lord ought properly to be called. He 
was usually called * Elohim* Ood, and 
this title Jacob himself had recognised 
«l Bethel, and God also had subsequent;- 
ly confirmed it by saying, *I am the 

it UuUthoa doat adi after my name ! 
And he Uesaed him there. 

God of Bethel.' But when he appeand 
to Abraliam, Gen. 17. I, and renewed 
the covenant with him, he denominated 
himself * El Shaddai' €h)d aOsufficieiU, 
and at other times, he was called sim- 
ply * EH,' the strong One. But these ap- 
pellations no longer satisfied the patri- 
arch after his recent experience. He 
seems to have thought it possible that 
some other title having a special com- 
memorative reference to this event 
might be proper, and accordingly 
wishes to know what' it was. But (2.) 
The import of the question undoubtedly 
extends beyond the mere name. He wish- 
ed to have a fuller development ta vxrdg 
of that divine nature or character which 
had displayed itself so wonderfally i» 
act. It is as if he had said, * Lord, how 
shall I call thee ? I know not what to 
think, much less to say. Such con- 
descension as thou'liast shown me, who 
am but dust, is more than my heart 
could have dared to anticipate. I know 
and confess that thou hast previously 
appeared wonderful and gracious to 
Abraham, to Isaac, and to me also. But 
what is all this compared to what tboa 
hast now done to me ? Thou diaguisesi 
thyself in human flesh and blood ; thoo 
feignest thyself to be my opponent, in 
order to do me good ! Thou even wres- 
tlest with me ! Thou grieve st roe only 
to console me ! Thou breakest down 
all my strength, in order to declare that 
thou art in my power. Thou givest me 
a new name, which represents me aa 
the conqueror, and thee as the conquer- 
ed ; which renders that which is impos- 
sible, real. This is too wonderful for 
me ; I cannot attain unto it. Tell me, 
what is thy name?* This we nay 
conceive to have been the drift of hit 
inquiry, and under the . comparatiTely 
dark dispensation of that eoriy period, 


B. C. 1799.] 



90 And Jftoob called the name of 
the place Peniel : for ' I have leen 

t ell. 16. 13. Ezod. 94. n. & 33. 90. D«ut 

when the full gospel revelations were 
not yet made, it was a natural inquiry. 
In like manner, and from a similar im- 
pulse, Manoah, the father of Samson, be- 
sought the Angel who * did wondrously' 
before him, to tell him his name, i. e. to 
disclose fully his character ; which he 
ostensibly declined and yet really grant- 
ed. See Note on Josh. 13. 18. Moses 
also, Ex. 3. 13, 14, entreated him to tell 
his name, in order that if the children 
should inquire as to the name of the 
Ciod who had sent him, he might be 
able to give them an answer. To which 
the Lord replied by giving him an inti- 
mation of his nature; * 1 am that I am.* 
The answer to Jacob is now to be con- 
sidered. IT Wherefore is it that thou 

dost ask after my name ? And he Uessed 
kim there. As for as the letter of Jacob's 
inquiry is concerned, the Lord refused 
to answer it ; and yet we cannot doubt 
that the patriarch was favored with 
what was equhoalent to a direct and full 
reply. The truth is, the interrogation 
itself of the Angel impHes that he had 
am|rfe groimds for drawing the proper 
inference himself as to the character of 
the Being with whom he had to do. It 
was as much as if he had said, * Canst 
thou, after such a manifestation, be ig- 
norant who I am?* But it is highly 
probable, that in addition to this there 
was something in the blessing now im- 
parted which virtually answered his 
question. Before, when Jacob implored 
a blessing, he asked the patriarch's 
name. Now, on the other hand, when 
Jacob asked his name, he answers by 
giving him a blessm^. This he was 
doubtless made to experience internally. 
His mind was sweetly tranquillized. 
His Ibrmer fear departed from his soul, 
ae did the shades of night at that very 
» belbre the breaking of the day. A 

God &oe to face, and my hhm^pm^ 

Jud^. 6. 33. Sl 13. i29. Isal. 6. 5. 

heavenly peace descended upon h^ 
spirit, such as God alone could create, 
l^e wild animals, whose roar may have 
previously grated upon his ear, had re* 
tired into their caves, and the birds of , 
heaven were chanting their morning 
hymn. Hin painful forebodings haii 
dissolved into confident hope. Th« 
thought of threatening Esau and hii 
hosts disturbs him now no more. He 
may come with his four hundred or 
four thousand men, if he please ; what is 
that to him ? He knows in whom he 
has believed. His heart is strengthened 
by the secret succors of the God of all 
grace, which are. far more efiectiH«l 
than words or more literal ptomises; 
And what could he desire beyond this 
ineffable inward calm and oonfidenee^ 
to assure him of the nature and attiv 
butes of Him with whom he had eon* 
tended? His question was answered 
in the state of his soul. 

30. And Jacoh called the name qfihs 
place Peniel. Heb. bfc^*^3D pemd, i. e. 
face of God ; called also * Tenuel,* v. 31, 
a word of precisely the same import. 
Gh etios 6eov, the form or aspexiqfGod. 
The Lord had blessed Jacob, therefore he 
let him go. He inwardly felt that though 
the Lord might visibly disappear from 
him, yet he remained with him and in 
him. Such, also, was the case of the 
disciples at the ascension of Jesus. He 
departed from them bodily, but spirit* 
ually and essentially he remained with 
them, and in fact continues with us to 
the end of the world. Of this we are 
conscious from his Spirit which he hath 
given us, and from the consequent peaee, 
joy, and power which we are made to 
experience. The ^hole affair deserved 
a memorial. Jacob instituted this by 
giving a new and snitaUe name to the 
place where such a remarkable evem . 




[ii. C. 1739. 

had occurred. Bot God himielf ap- 
pointed a much more durable one by 
eannng it to be recorded by his servant 
Moses, and tii be called to mind b|^ the 
prophet Hosea. The patriarch in this 
acted according to the instinctive prompt- 
ings of a pious mind . The world 
abounds with memorable places. The 
natural man finds tho^-e the most inter- 
esting where nature manifests herself in 
peculiar splendor and majesty; where 
lofty mountains yield delightful pros- 
pects, and smiling plains exhibit the 
blessings of heaven ; where majestic 
livers roll along, or the wide ocean ex- 
pands itself before the eye, which seeks 
in vain its limit. The man of letters and 
taate lingers with pleasure on the mon> 
uments of ancient and modem art, ad- 
miring the magnificence of palaces and 
the productions of painters and sculp- 
tors. The historian loses himself in re- 
flection when visiting the scenes of 
former important events, the sites of 
powerful cities, and the fields where 
great battles have been fought. The 
Christian also has his memorable pla- 
ces., Bethlehem, Capernaum, Jerusa- 
lem, Calvary, and the Mount of Olives 
are among them. Though prone to de- 
generate into superstition, yet the feel- 
ing which prom|[^ts the pilgrim foot to 
wander over these venerable spots 
springs from a sacred source. These 
places are Peniels to believers, revela- 
tions of the glory of God ; since their 
faith and. love draw nutriment from the 
recollection of what there took place. 
And has not every Christian beside his 
particular Peniels, in which God reveal- 
ed himself to him in an especial manner 
—his closet, the sanctuary, a book, a 
sermon, a company, a solitary hour, 
which continue consecrated in his grate- 
ful memory ? He surely can enter into 
the feelings of Jacob on this occasion. 
— ^As to the locality itself, it may bo re- 
marked, that a city called Fennel was 
afterward built in this place, the tower 
of which was demolished by Gideon, be- 

cause the inhabitants refused hhn bread 
when in pursuit of the kings, Jndg. & 
17, though subsequently re-edified by 
Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12. 25. It belonged 
to the tribe of Gad, was situated on or 
near the Jordan, Judg. 8. 4, 8, and wai 
40 miles distant from Jerusalem, in a 

north-eastern direction. IT Ihaveaetn 

Chdface to face. Chal. ' I have seen the 
Angel of God face to face.* Here we 
find a complete explanation who it was 
that wrestled with Jacob, dislocated hia 
thigh, gave him a new name, and blei- 
sed him. It was no created Angel, but 
that divine person, the ' Sent of God,' 
the Messiah that was to be, who in the 
fulness of time was really manifested in 
flesh and blood. If we ask by what it 
was that Jacob perceived with such cer- 
tainty thai it was a divine person with 
whom he had to do, we answer, he was 
assured of it in the same raysterioui 
manner as the weeping Magdalen at the 
sepulchre was assured by, the single 
word * Mary !' that it was not the gar- 
dener, bot .lesus himself, who was com* 
rauning with her ; and as the disciples 
on the Sea of Tiberias were so per- 
fectly convinced that it was the Cord 
that none of them needed to ask him, 

* Who art thou T The Christian's con- 
viction is something peculiar. It is a 
consciousness that it is really so ; a cer^ 
tain confidence, which does not, and 
cannot doubt ; whilst, on the contrary, 
a mere human belief thinks it may be 
so, or may be otherwise. Jacob's words, 
however, are not to be understood as 
contravening our Lord*s declaration that 

* no man hath seen God at any time.' 
This refera to his essence, which is in- 
trinsically invisible. This Jacob did not 
see, but only the human form assumed 
for the occasion. But there is an inward 
spiritual seeing of God, far superior to 
the vision of sense ; and this we sup- 
pose was the {H'ivilege of Jacob at 
this time. Distmguished light had ari-' 
sen upon him by means of this conllieti 
such as he had never possessed belers. 


A. a i7aa.] 



91 And as. be psMed overPe 
mielt the sun rose apoo him, and he 
halted upon hk thigh. 

32 Therefore the children of Is- 
rael eat not of the sinew which 

He became moch more intimately ac- 
qosinted with God titso previoudy; 
even ae when we tee the fiice of aome 
one whom we had only known before 
fiom report. It cannot be doubted, theie- 
Ibre, rfaat this event conutituted a new 

era in Jacob's spiritual existence. 

If My Ufe is preterved. These words, 
eontain, perhaps, an allusion to the 
preralent opinion that no man could see 
Ood and live. But this is not alL He 
was delivered. His former state was a 
periions and oppressive one — ^without 
were fightings, and fears within. Esau, 
with his four hundred men, terrified 
hhn. Hie faith was weak, his courage 
small ; joy had departed from him, and 
doQda of sorrow darkened his soul, 
which vented themselves in tears. That 
night had been the most painful and 
distreaaing one he had ever spent ; he 
saw nothing but death before him. It 
seemed as if God himself had delivered 
him over to the power of his enemies, 
m commanding him to return out of 
Meaopotemia. Bat now a pleasing re- 
verse had taken place, and he was as- 
smred of safety. His eonfidence in God 
was qnickened, and his whole soul com- 
manded into a conscious security, in 
which he could look boldly around him. 
Hm if we would enter into the full mean- 
mg of his words, we must understand 
them as equivalent to the declaration, 
* I am preserved, and shall be preserv- 
ed.* The Lord had said to him, * Thou 
hast had power;* or, perhaps more cor- 
rectly, * Then wilt be enabled to pre- 
vail.' Here then is the echo of faith, 
*I am and stiall be preserved. Although 
new tribulations may befal rae, accord- 
ing to the will of God, yet I shall be 
preserved, and he will at length deliver 
mt ftom an evil, ond bring me to hii 

shrank, which is upon the hoQow of 
the thii(h, unto this day ; because 
he touched the hollow of Jacob's 
thigh in the sinew that shrank. 

glorious kingdom. Of this I am assured, 
for I know in whom I have believed.* 
His subsequent history showed that his 
confidence was well founded. 

31. At he parted over PenueL, the sun 
rose upon him, &c. This splendid spec- 
tacle in nature was also an image of 
what had passed in the soul of the pa- 
triarch, "the night had disappeared. 
A lovely momini^ dawned. It rose 
upon him. The Sun of Righteousness, 
the Day-spring from on high, had cheer- 
ed his inward spirit with its inextin- 
guishable beams. Yet he halted upon 
his thigh. A memento of humility was 
ira pressed upon his person. Every step 
reminded him of the great mercy of the 
Lord, and yet of hw own notliingness. 
Every step at once exalted and humbled 
him. And when others heard his new 
name, and saw his lameness, they also 
would be reminded that the Most High 
condescends more graciously to his peo- 
ple than they could ever venture to 
hope. Our own experience in the di- 
vine life must be very small it' we are 
not often taught the same lesson. 

32. Eat not of the sinew which »hrank. 
Or, Heb. ntD3 nusheh^ lahich was remoty 
ed, or which forgot iU place. Gr. * The 
sinew that was benumbed, or waxed 
feeble.* We have already remarked 
that this was the sinew that fastened 
the thigh-bone in its socket, including, 
probably, the muscfes In the immediate 
neighborhood. The abstaining from 
this part of the flesh of slain animals, it 
seems from this, was a very ancient 
custom, and we read a good deal of it in 
the Hebrew canons ; but as no mention 
is made of it in the law of Moses, it is 
very doubtful whether it rested upon 
divine authority. Yet it may have re- 
ceived the divine sanction, as being ^ 




[S. G. 1739. 

prompted by pious reverence, and not 
by motives of mere superstition. At 
present the Jews do not know what si- 
new this was, nor even which thigh it 
was in ; and the effect of this uncertain- 
ty is, that they judge it necessary to ab- 
stain from both the hind-quarters, lest 
they should inadvertently eat the inter- 
dicted sinew. They sell those parts to 

Remarks. We are taught by the 
preceding narrative, (1) That great iriah 
often hefal the people of God token in the 
way of commanded duly. God had com- 
manded Jacob to enter upon this jour- 
ney, and had promised to be with him ; 
yet what * fightings without and fears 
within' came upon him while going for- 
ward in the way of duty. True, indeed, 
the gathering clouds, which seemed to 
threaten a furious storm, were all gra- 
ciously dispelled, and succeeded by a 
delightful sunshine and calm ; yet for the 
time being he was brought into sore dis- 
tress, and prompted to say, as he did on 
a subsequent occasion, * All these.things 
are against me.' So we are not to in- 
fer that because^ we are walking in the 
path which our Heavenly Father points 
out to us, we may therefore promise 
ourselves exemption from afflictive tri- 
als. Indeed, it is not unusual for God 
to assume most of the character of an 
enemy towards his children when they 
are already reduced to the greatest ex- 
tremities and dangers. It was at such 
a crisis that the Most High appeared to 
Jacob as an antagonist^ and wrestled 
with him as if with the most hostile in- 
tentions. And when did the Saviour 
himself more bitterly mourn the hidings 
of his Father's countenance, than at the 
very time when delivered into the hands 
of his enemies, and made to feel the 
pangs of crucifixion ? Lot it not be 
thought strange, then, that our severest 
outward sufferings should be aggravated 
by a sense of the divine desertion, even 
though we may be unconscious of hav- 
ing wandered firoon God, or of having 

partictdariy ofiended him. We may be 
broken with breach upon breach ; one 
"wave of trouble after another may roll 
over us; yet let us not sink in dis- 
couragement or despair. Let us learn 
from the ease of Jacob that the moM 
signal mercy may be intended for us, 
even when every thing around qb ^vears 
the darkest aspect. • 

(2.) The sutest tpay of preoaSing wiA. 
man is toprevaU with Ood. . It was thua 
that Jacob obtained the pledge of pre- 
vailing .with his brother. Notwithst4ind- 
ing the formidable array in which B^u 
came against him, yet, having like a 
prince prevailed with God, he thereby 
virtually disarmed and vanquished his 
menacing adversary. This is, in fact, 
the grand secret of like success in all 
cases. What is all human power ? It 
is entirely at the disposal of God, and at 
our own, so far as by prayer we enlist 
omnipotence in our behalf. We look 
abroad, and behold the dangers that 
threaten ourselves or the church of 
God ; the enemy coming in like a flood, 
and our hearts perhaps filled and foiling 
with trepidation.^ Let us betake onr- 
selves to our closets, and wrestle in fer- 
vent prayer with God, who has the 
spirits of all flesh nnder his control, l^ 
us have truly the faith and fervency of 
wresiUng Jacobs^ and we may come forth 
and conclude the work is done. These 
earnest agonizing supplications, coupled 
with a uniformly meek and blameleas 
deportment, will assuredly give ns the 
mastery in the end over all opposition, 
and crown us with the honors of pnrooil- 
ing Israels. 

(3.) Prevailing at last iDtS recompense tJl 
our striving. Jacob continued long in 
wrestling, even until the dawn of 
day, and perhaps was at times prompted 
to give over the contest. But how rich- 
ly did the mercy repay his peraeve 
ranee ! He then saw what he wonki 
have lost had he not vigorously held 
out to the end. So with us. The bles- 
sing obtained will pay for all oar toiL 


B. C. 1739.] 




AND Jacob L'fted up his eyes, 
and looked, and behold, * Elsau 
came, and with him four hundred 
men. And he divided the children 
unto Leah, and unto Rachel, and 
unto the two handmaids 
2 And he put the handmaids and 

a cb. 32. 6. 

CHAP. xxxm. 

The chapter before us describes the 
meeting between the brothers, in refer- 
ence to which the events related in the 
preceding chapter tended to create a 
deep anxiety. But as we there saw how 
Jacob had power with God, we here 
discern hew he had power with man, 
according to the promise, ch. 32. 28. 
He who by a touch disjointed Jacob's 
thigh, eould, by a word, have scattered 
Esau's hosts. But we are called to 
witness a more signal interposition of 
heaven. He who has the hearts of all 
men in his hand, and turns them as the 
rivers of water are turned, accompanies 
and blesses, by his secret, softening 
influences, the conciliatory measures 
of Jacob, and fills the alienated heart of 
Esau with kind and brotherly feelings. 
How different a result from that which 
we at first anticipated ! They meet, 
they converse, they love as brethren 
We can only express our admiration at 
the wonderful power and goodness 
which thus wrought effectually in ihe 
heart of an angry man, converting his 
long-harbored hatred towards Jacob into 
the most sincere and tender affection. 
Instead of an angry and hostile encoun- 
ter we behold a contention of kindness ! 
All revengeful sentiments, all cruel pur- 
poses melted away in the endearments 
of fraternal love ! Let the proud and 
the vindictive contemplate this delight- 
fhl scene, and say whether it be possible 
for any gratification of private resent- 
ment, any triumph of malicious passion, 
to yield such pure satisfaction, such hol- 

tbeir children foremost, and Leah 
and her children after, and Rachel 
and Joeepli hindermost. 

3 And he passed over before 
them, and ^ bowed himself to the 
ground seven times, until he came 
near to his brother. 

i» eh. 18. S. & 43. 6. & 43. 98. 

lowed joy, as that which filled the bo- 
soms of these now reconciled brethren. 

1. And Jacob lifted up his eyes, dec. 
With what emotions he had before 
looked forward to the interview, we 
learn from the preceding chapter, v. 7, 
where we are told that even at the bare 
mention of Esau*s threatened visit he 
was 'greatly afraid and distressed.* 
But now, as the historian relates, * he 
looked, and behold, Esau came, and 
with him four hundred men,* but not a 
word of his fear. He was now suffi- 
ciently strong in faith to say with the 
Psalmist, * Though an host should en- 
camp against me, yet will I not be 
afraid.' He no longer trembled at the 
issue, and yet we find that he omitted 
none of those wise precautions which, 
before receiving the tokens of the di- 
vine blessing, he had determined to 
adopt. With the most wary policy he 

carries all his measures into effect. 

% Handmaids. Chal. * Concubines,' a* 
one of them is called Gen. 35. 22. 

2. Rachel and Joseph hindermost. As 
these were the roost dear to him, he 
stationed them at the point of apparently 
the least danger. Or it may be that he 
purposed to reserve his choicest trea- 
sure to the last, and exhibit bis beautiful 
Rachel and his favorite Joseph, after 
Esau had seen all the rest, in order to 
make the deeper impression on his 

3. Bowed himself to the ground seven 
times ; i. e. many times ; a definite num- 
ber for an indefinite. See note on Gen. 
31. 7. Thus, 1 Sam. 2. 5, *The barren 




[B. C. 1739. 

4 <" And Esau ran to meet hiin, 
and embraced him, ^ and fell on his 
neck, and kissed him: and they 

5 And he lifted up his eyes, and 

• ch. 32. 38. 

<i cb. 45. 14, 15. 

hath borne seven ;' i. e. many. Prov. 26. 
27, * Believe him not, for there are seven 
abominations in his heart ;' i. e. a great 
many. Ps. 119. 164; * Seven times a day 
do I praise thee ;' i. e. many times. * This 
seems to mean that Jacob, on approach- 
ing his brother, stopped at intervals 
and bowed, and then advanced and 
bowed again, until the seventh bow 
brought him near to his brother. This 
was a n»ark of profound respect ; nor 
need we suppose tliere was any simula- 
tion of humility in it, for it was, and is, 
customary for elder brothers to be treat- 
ed by the younger with great respect 
in the East. A similar method of indi- 
cating respect is still u^ed in approach- 
ing the king of Persia, and has been 
thus described by Colonel Johnson : — 
*We saw the king- seated upon his 
throne, in an upper room, open and sup- 
ported by pillars. When we came to 
the end of the walk turning toward and 
fronting the king, we made two low 
bows, ns did also the minister, whose 
motions we observed and repeated ; then 
advancing to the first cross-walk, we 
made another bow ; proceeding thence 
until we arrived within about fifty yards 
of the building, we again halted and 
made two bows. Here we took off and 
left our slippers, and walked in the cloth 
boots to another turning, and bowed 
again. We now came to a small door, 
from which a flight of steps led up to 
the open room. These were covered 
with blue glazed tiles. At the head of 
the stairs was the door of the king's 
sitting-room, on advancing to which, 
fronting the king, we made two bows, 
rather low, and severally entered the 
room, keeping close to the wall on the 
left. When we had taken our stations J 

saw the women and the children, 
and said, Who are those with thee? 
And he said, The children • which 
God hath graciously given thy ser- 

«cb. 48. 9. P8.1?7. 3. Isai. 8.18. 

here, we each made a very low bow, 
and ranged ourselves standing.' (Jour- 
ney from Iiidia to England, p. 166.} 
Here there were six pauses and nine 
. bows : the number of both diminishes 
with the increase of rank in the person 
admitted to an audience.* PicL BSbk. 

4. FeU on his neck^ and kissed him^ &c. 
How remarkable the issue of this long- 
anticipated trouble ! What a delightful 
termination to all Jacob's anxieties and 
fears ! And how much in it to instruct, 
to encourage, and to establish the Chris- 
tian ! Who of this class cannot sympa- 
thize in Jacob's apprehensions and in Ja- 
cob's deliverance ? Have we never 
beheld at a distance some calamity or 
trial, the approach of which' was so ap- 
palling that we scarce dared to realize it, 
and yet so certain that we knew it to 
be inevitable ? And have not our faith- 
less he&^ts almost persuaded us that it 
was in vain even to pray against it; 
that it was * hoping against hope' to ex- 
pect deliverance ? And yet how often 
has the event been mercifully overruled, 
and the cloud, apparently black with 
overwhelming tempest, made to burst 
in blessings on our heads ! If so, why 
should not the teview of the past fortify 
us against all gloomy forebodings of the 
future ? 

5. Who are these loiih thee? Heb. 
'lb n5» "^72 mi elleh Idk, who are these to 
thee ? ii e. in' what relation do they 

stand to thee ? T And he said, The 

children, &.c. As E^u's question had 
respect not to the children only, but to 
the women also, it is but fair to mclude 
both in the import of Jacob's answer. 
As in Gen. 29. 3, * flocks' does by impji* , 
cation include ' shepherds,' so here, in 
like mau ner, * children' virtoallyinclades 


B. C. 1739.1 



6 Then the handmaidens came 
near, they and their children, and 
they howed themselves. 

7 And Leah also with her chtl 
dren came near, and bowed them- 
selves ; and after came Joseph near 
and Rachel, and they bowed them- 

* women,* or ' wives.* We eann ot foil to 
notice in this reply Jacob's habitual re 
cognition of the hand of God in the or 
dittuy conoems of life. He aeknow- 
ledges that God had not only given, bat 
graciouslf given, him all the chfldreii 
which now stood before his brother. It 
is one of the signal effects of a truly de- 
vout spirit to discern the present direct 
operation of divine power and goodness, 
where the mass of men discover only 
the working of the established laws of 

6. The hand-maidens came near — and 
bowed themselves. One cannot help ob- 
serving how strikingly the deportment 
of Jacob's family -was in unison with his 
own. rnius Esan would perceive that 
aB his brother's people, as weU as him- 
ae\t, were r^ady to do him reverence. 
Had any of them failed in this respect, 
it might have counteracted all the good 
effecu of his own ingratiating conduct. 
How happy is it when the example of 
the head of a family is worthy to be 
ioHowed, and is followed ! Had Esau 
been possessed of Jacob's spirit, he 
could hardly have refrained from say- 
ing, when the companies thus present- 
ed themselves, * The Lord be gracious 
onto you, my children !' But Esau ap- 
pears to have been less susceptible to 
those more refined emotions, those cour- 
tesies of the Spirit ; and we may rejoice 
that his reception of them was as kind 
as it was. We often have occasion to 
be thankful for civiUties, where we find 
nothing like religion. 

7. And after came Jos^ near and Ra- 
ehd. In the former clause Leah is 
mentioned before her children, but here 


8 And he said. What meaneU 
thou by f all this drove which I met t 
And be said, These art ^Xo find 
grace in the sight of my lord. 

9 And Esau said, Ihave enough, 
my brother; keep that thou hast 
unto thyself. 

f ch. 38. 1«. I ch. 32. 5. 

Joaeph is named before Rachel, to indi- 
cate the high place which he held in his 
father's affections. 

8. What meanest thouhy aU this drooe^ 

Ac. Heb. ntn rertan bb nb *^yi miieha 

hoi hammahanek hatzeh^ what (is) aU tM» 
camp to thee? — alluding to the drove 
which had been sent on before, and 
which, with its driven, seemed like 
the entire encampment of a nomade fiu 
rally. The answer is, * To find graeo 
in the sight of my lord.' This would 
express how high a value he set npon 
his favor, and how much he desired to 
be reconciled to him. Of course nothing 
would more directly tend to conciliate 
him. The title, * my lorl,* with which 
he salutes him, and which he studiously 
repeats in the following conversation, 
was no doubt more efllcacious than tite 
present itself, in winning his heart. It 
would go to satisfy htm that hia object 
was not to claim that kind of pre-emi- 
nence upon which he himself appears 
to have set so high a price, as it teachea 
us the propriety of conceding ail that we 
can to others for the sake of makim^ or 
preserving peace, and smoothing the in* 
tercourse of life. The Christian's in- 
heritance will leave him riches enoHgh, 
ahd his prerogatives honor enough, af** 
ter all the abatements that his generopt^ 
ty prompts him to make. 

9. Keep that thou hast unto ^ysetf, 
Heb. "lb *^m *]i ^'T^ yehi leka ai^ 
lak^ let that be to thee which is thine. 'Chal. 

Much good may it do thee, that which 
is thine.' No doubt a high spirit of in- 
dependence breathed through this an- 
swer of Esau. Whatever efleet Jsk 
cob*s present had had upon ^■k,4i# 




taC. 1739. 

10 And Jacob said, Nay» I pray 
thee, if now I have found grace in 
thy sight, then receive my present 
at my hand : for therefore I ^ have 
Been thy face, as though I bad seen 
the face of God, and thou wast 
pleased with me. 

11 Take, I pray thee, ' my bles- 
sing that is brought to thee ; because 
God hath dealt graciously with me, 

k eh. 43. 3. SSam. 3. 13.&14.34,»<,3S. 
Matt, la 10. > Judc. 1. 15. 1 Sam. 25. 37. 
& 30. 26. 2 Kings, 5. 15. 

woald not be thoaght to be influenced 
bsr any motive of that kind in his treat- 
ment of the donor ; especially as he pro; 
feffses to have enough of his own. His 
-possessions were to be earthly and tem- 
poral, and with them his spirit corres- 

10. Jacob said, Nay, I pray thee, &c. 
Notwithstanding his refusal, Jacob con- 
tinues to urge his present upon him, not 
as if be thought he needed it, but as a 
token of his good will, and of his desire 
to be reconciled. He did not, indeed, 
make use of this term, nor of any other 
that might lead to the recollection of 
their former variance. He did not say 
Aat he should eonsider the acceptance 
of his present as a proof that he was 
cordially reconciled to him ; but what 
he did say, though more delicately ex- 
IHretsed, was ti>the same effect; and his 
aniiety^tm this head will be at once ex- 
plained by a reference to Eastern cus- 
toms. * Not to receive a present, is at 
once to show that the thing desired will 
not be granted. Hence, nothing can be 
more repulsive, nothing more distress- 
ing, than to return the gifts to the^ver. 
Jacob evidendy labored under this im- 
pression, and therefore pressed his broth- 
er to receive the gifts, if he had found 
fiivor in his sight.' RdberU- T There- 
fore have I seen thy face, &c. We have 
already given, ch. 32. 24, what we con- 
ceive to be the true import of these 
words, and to that explanation we refer 
the reader. We can understand it only 

and because I have enough: ^ and 
be urged him, and be took it. 

12 And be said. Let us take our 
journey, and let us go, and I wiQ go 
before thee. 

13 And he said unto bim. My 
lord knoweth that the children are 
tender, and the flocks and herds 
with yoimg are with me, and if m«i 
should over-drive them one day* aD 
the flock will die. 

k2KiDg8 5.S3. 

in allusion to the mystical enooimter 
with the Angel, whose face or person 
he beheld as the representative of Esau, 
and in whose propitiousness towards him 
he read a pledge of Esau's own ftivora- 
ble r^ard. ^^liat other sense can be 
assigned to the expression, * Thou wast 
pleased with me,' than that he was 
pleased in the person who represent* 
ed him ? Yet it is not necessary to sup- 
pose that Jacob's language was intelli- 
gible in its fan extent to Esau. 

11. Take my Uetsing. That is, my 
gift ; which will be a source of blessing 
to thee. From this the usage became 
common, of denominating a gift, or an 
act of UberaUty, *a blessing.' Thus, 1 
Sara. 25. 27, * And now this blessing, 
which thine handmaid hath brought;' 
i. e. this gift. 2 Kings 5. 15, * Now, 
tl^erefore, I pray thee, take a blessing 
of ihy servant.' 2 Cor. 9- 5, * That they 
would go before unto you, and make up 
beforehand your bounty.'' Gr. 'Your 
blessing.* T / have enough. The ex- 
pression is rendered in our version in 
the same way with that of Esau, v. 9, 
but they differ in the original. Esau 
says D*^ '>b 831 yesh U rob, I have much ; 
but Jacob bi ^S 23"» yesh UTsol, J Itavc 
aU. * Jacob had all, because he had the 
GodofaU.' Trapp. 

12, 13. het us take our journey, Ac. 
Eean here proposes to accooipany his 
brother through the country, not only in 
token of his cordial reconciKation, but al- 
so as akind of escort or guard to him and 


B. C. 173©.! 



hii family. The proposal was doubdew 
very friendly and very honorable, but 
Jacob very wisely declines it. We say 
tnsdy, (or, notwithstanding their present 
amity, they were so es8entia}Iy differ- 
ent in their spirit, habits, manners, and 
occupations, that in all probability little 
ttapiMness would have accrued from 
.thf ir intimate association. Esau, as we 
have seen, was a man of the world, Ja- 
cob a man of God. Still they were 
brothers, and children of the same pa- 
tents ; it was unquestionably their duty 
to know, and to love, and to be kindly 
afiecUoned one towards another ; but 
they were not called upon to live in the 
closest bonds of intimacy, to travel in 
the same road, or to intermingle in the 
same company. Jacob was therefore 
discreet in resolutely declining the oflfer 
of Esau. Pie would do better to pursue 
his journey alone, refusing even the re- 
tinue which Esau would have 
honored him^ and which "would have ill 
assorted with the plain and simple man- 
ners of the patriarch. They might 
properly embrace for a few moments, 
or act affectionately for a passing hour ; 
but if they had attempted to sojourn to- 
gether, the enmity so early planted be- 
tween the seed of the woman and the 
seed of the serpent, would in all likeli- 
hood have broken fbrth. Esau would 
once more have hated Jacob, or the 
spiritualfy-minded man of God have 
been drawn from his allegiance by his 
more ' worldly-minded brother. The 
Scriptures are full of examples where 
the want of suoh prudence as Jacob 
now manifested has produced these on- 
happy efifects ; and not the Scriptures 
only, but the world also, teems with il- 
lustrations of the same kind. Christians 
are indeed commanded, in virtue of 
their holy calling, to * seek peace and 
ensue it ;' * as much as Ueth in them 
to live peaceably with all men ;' but they 
are not commanded to unite companies, 
to contract intimacies, to league them- 
selves closely with any, but such ' as 

are of the hoosehold of faidi.* i)aily 
experience demonstrates, by the broken 
friendships, the utihappy intiinaeies, and 
the miserable marriages which abound, 
the truth of the sacred maxim, that * two 
cannot walk together except th^y be 
agreed.* Scarcely any thing is more 
dangerous or entangling to Christians^ 
especially to youthful Christians, than 
close alliances writh those who cannot 
fully appreciate the motives from which 
they act; who can but little sympathiie 
in their hopes and joys, then* troubles 
and fears. From an amiable desire of 
conciliating the good- will, or perhaps of 
being useful to those with whom they 
associate, they are apt to begin by giving 
up what they consider the non-essentials 
of religion ; but as they advance they find 
that one concession makes way for anoth- 
er, till, partaking with them first in what is 
indi^erent, or perhaps in itself innocent, 
they are gradually led on to things that 
are inexpedient, and finally to that which 
is absolutely sinful. Let us watch, then, 
with ceaseless vigilance, against aU un- 
due compliances of this nature, and, 
while kind and courteous to all, remem- 
ber that we are a chosen generation, a 
pecuKar people, a holy priesthood, or- 
dained to shine as lights in the worid, 
and to benefit it rather by forsaking its 
dominant course than following it. 
IT My lord knovoeth that the chUdren are 
tender. There is no reason to doubt 
that the motive here alleged by Jacob 
for declining his brother's invitation 
was a true and real one, and as such it 
was strikingly expressive of his gentle- 
ness as a shepherd and his tenderness 
as a father. Yet it is not to be ques- 
tioned that other considerations, wluch 
he did not see fit to mention, wereprev 
alent in his own mind against it. We 
are not required, in accounting to the 
world for our declining their overtures, 
to state all the reasons which govern 
our decisions. It is enough if we can 
state those which will satisfy their jodg- 
ment without offending their self-love. 



OENBSia [B.G.1738. 

14 Lot my lord, I pray thee, pass 
o?er b^ore hie servant : and I will 
lead on softly, according as the 
cattie that goeth before me and the 
children be able to endure ; until I 
come nnto my lord ^ unto Seir. 

15 And Esau said, Let me now 


1 With young. The original tTii^ 

alothf signifies both those which are 
* great with young,* as ft. 71. 71, and 
those which actually have young, as 1 
Sam. 6. 7, where the phrase * mUck kine,' 
is the same as that here rendered * with 

young.' Chal. * Giving snck.' IT Are 

toUh me. Heb. "iJlP olah (are) Uponme ; 
i. e. are devolved upon my care ; their 

welfare rests with me. IT 1/ men 

should over-drive them^ &c. * Their 
flocks,' says Chardin, speaking of those 
who now live in the East aft«r the pa- 
triarchal manner, * feed down the places 
of their encampments so quick, by the 
great numbers which they have, that 
iiey are obliged to remove them too of. 
ten, which is very destructive to their 
flocks, on account of the young ones, 
which have not strength enough to fol- 

14. / toiU lead on sojtly. Heb. 
^"OVA nbn3n» ethriahalah leitti^ I loiU 
gently lead — softly; a very emphatic 
phrase as applied to the oflSce of a shep- 
herd, and apparently alluded to in the 
parallel expression of the prophet. Is. 40. 
11, speaking of Chrift as the great 
Bishop and Shepherd of souls ; * He 
shall feed his flock like a shepherd ; he 
shall gather the lambs with his arm, 
and carry them in his bosom, and shall 
gently lead (^nD*^ yennehal) those that 

fure with young.' 1 According as the 

caltle and the children he able to endure. 
Heb. * According to the foot of the 
work — and according to the foot of the 
children.' That is, according to the 
face of the cattle an<l children, or ac- 
joordin^ to the rate at which they were 

leave with thee some of the fdSk 
that are with me: And he said, 
What needeth it ? "" Let me find 
grace in the sight of my lord. 

16 ir So Esau returned that day 
on his way unto Seir. 

> eh. 34. 11. A: 47. 35. Rath. 3. 13. 

naturally able to go without being an- 
duly pushed. Gr. * According to the 
leisure of the progress * Cattle are here 
by a flgure of speech called * work' be- 
cause they were the ohjects of work, be- 
cause Jacob's labor was bestowed in 
feeding and tending them. See IVote on 
ch. 31. 17, 18, where the eastern mode 
of travelling is fully described.— 
IT Until I come, <fec. From which it 
would seem that he then had the idea 
of visiting Esau at his residence in 
Mount Seir ; but we do not learn from 
his subsequent history that he ever ac-, 
tually fulfilled this intention. He may 
have been providentially prevented, as 
Paul was from taking his proposed joar- 
ney into Spain, Rom. 15. 34. Yet the 
silence of the sacred writer is not proof ' 
positive that the visit was never made. 
We have no express account of his 
visiting his father Isaac for several yean 
afler his return to Canaan, and yet we 
cannot but admit a strong presumption 
that he did, -especially, as we find Debo- 
rah, Rebekah's nurse, in Jacobus family 
at the time of her death, whither she had 
doubtless been transferred from Isaac's. 

15» Letmenoiw leave with th0S,&c. Heb. • 
r»3"'Xi!^ atzigah^ I wiU places station, set. 
Esau's first proposal being declined, he 
next offers to leave a p^rt of his men as 
an escort or guard to Jacob's company. 
But this also he respectfully declines, on 
the ground of its being unnecessary; 
adding ^ Let me find grace in the sight 
of my k>rd,' which is probably tanta- 
mount to saying, * Let me have thy &• 
vor, and it is all I desire.* Gr. ' It ii 
enough that I have found grace in thy 


B. C. 173^.] 



17 And Jacob journeyed to " Suc- 
cotb, and built him an house, and 
made booths for his cattle : there- 
fore the name of the place is called 

» Josh. u. 27. 

18 IT And he came to « Sbafem, a 
city of p Shechem, which is in the 
land of Canaan, when he came 
from Padan-aram ; and pitched hii 
tent before the city. 

• John 3. 23. p Jo«h. 34. 1. Judg. 9. ] . 

ngbt' The spirit of piety shrinkt from 
the thought of subjecting friends to un- 
Dseessary trouble; and how little do 
they Tumd a convoy of creatures who 
are enabled to assure thMoselves, with 
Jacob, of the constant presence and 
protection of Jehovah ? 

17. Jacch journeyed to Succofh, and 
htik him a house. * Dr. Boothroyd con- 
curs in this rendering ; but we consider 
that the phrase translated * built him a 
hoQse,' means no more than that Jacob 
erected his tent at this place. We have 
already indicated the usiage of calling a 
tent a house (note on ch. 27. 15), and 
we find that Gesenius concurs in the 
opinion, that the word ^^z f>eth certain- 
ly means a tent in this place. The 
very name given to the pbce, which 
means * tents* or * booths,' and the fact 
that Jacob made no long stay there and 
never returned, would alone suffice to 
render it probable that this is the true 
meaning. It seems to be recorded as a 
singular circumstance, that Jacob erect- 
ed booths for his cattle. His motive 
does not appear ; but it was, and is, 
unusual in the Kast to put the flocks and 
herds under cover. They remain night 
and day, winter and summer, in the 
open air. The number of booths neces- 
sary for the purpose must have given a 
singular appearance to his encampment, 
occasioning the circumstance to be com 
memorated in the name given to the 
spot, and to the town which was bnilt 
there at a subsequent period. The 
maps place Succoth south of the Jabbok, 
in the angle formed by this river and 
the Jordan, and at a distance nearly 
equal from either river. It was includ- 
ed in the territories of the tribe of Gad. 
The mhabitants provoked Gideon in the 

same way aa the men of Penael had 
done, and in revenge he. on his fe> 
turn, *tore the flesh* of the principal 
persons of the town with thorns and 
briars. The Jews say that the name of 
Darala was given to Succoth at some 
subsequent period.* Pict- Bible. 

18. And Jacob came to Shalem. Heb. 
Q^lS shalem. It so happens that the 
original word is the same with that sig- 
nify iilg weJly tahole. safe^ in peace ; and con- 
sequently it is so rendered by the Chal. 
and several of the other ancient versions, 
implying that Jacob arrived at Sechem 
safe and unharmed as it respected his 
apprehended danger from Eeau. The 
Gr., on the other hand, renders the pas- 
sage like the Eng. version, as the name 
of a city. It might possibly have been 
the place afterwards called Salim, near 
Enon, where John baptized, John 8. 
23 ; but as there is a difficulty in under- 

tanding how this could he caUed * a city 
of Shechem,* the weight of opinion 
among commentators preponderates in 
favor of the former rendering ; and in 
this we on the whole concur. This ren- 
dering also gives additional propriety 
and force to the phrase * when he came 
from Padan-aram.' It is a declaration 
to the honor of him who had said, * Be- 
hold, I am wiih thee, and will keep thee 
in all places whither thou goest^aod 
will bring thee again into this land.* 
He arrived in peace at his journey's end, 
notwithstanding all the difficulties wd 
dangers wiiich had threatened him in 
the way. It v^ould seem that Jacob's 
original intention was to have passed 
round the Dead Sea, through the prov- 
ince of Seir, the country of Esau, witii- 

out crossing the Jordan, perhaps wHha 
'view to hitarn to Beer-sheba, the reti- 




[B. C 1799. 

19 And ^ he bought a paieel of a 
field, where he had tpread his tenti 
at the hand of the children of Ha- 

«Joflh.34.a3. John 4. 5. 

d^ce of Isaac ; though even in that 
■ oMe hiB lonte was extrenely circuitous ; 
but, for raaaona notdlMskMed, he sudden- 
ly altered his course, 'and passing the 
Jordan, penetrated ' at once into the 
land of Canaan. 

19. And he bought a panxl of afidd. 
Or, astheHeb. might with equal pro- 
priety be rendered, * a portion of the 
country.* This field, it seems. Gen. 48. 
82, was taken from him by the Amor- 
ites, and he was under the necessity of 
recovering it 'by his sword and his 
bow ;* after accomplishing which he be- 
queathed it to his son Joseph. The 
transaction has doubtless something of 
a singular air, as the whole land was 
made over to Abraham and his descen- 
dants by promise ; but he probably 
made the purchase under the influence 
of the same motives which governed 
Abraham himself in purchasing the field 
and cave of Machpelah, viz. as a pledge 
of his faith in the future possession* of 
the land. * Nor is the remark of Fuller 
on this passage without weight ; ' I have 
sometimes thought that this parcel of 
ground might be designed to exhibit a 
specimen of the whole land of Canaan. 
When the Most High divided to the na- 
tions their inheritance, Deut. 32. 8, he 
marked out an allotment for the children 
<»f Israel; but the Canaanites taking 
possession, of it were obliged to be dis- 
possessed by the rightfulowners with the 

•word and the bow.' ^ Forahundred 

pieces of money. Heb. nt3'^9p heeitah, 
kmbt but here to be rendered in the 
plnr. Mambs,* by which is probably 
meant a kind of coin with the image of 
a lamb stamped upon it The phrase 
it entirely simUar to the usage among 
onrselves when we speak of * a hundred 
mit^% meaning thereby a hundred 

mor, Sbechem'a £»tber, for a hun- 
dred pieces of money. 

20 And he erected there an altar, 
and ' caUed it EIl-Elohe-Israel 

»ch. 35. 7. 

pieces of the coin so denominated. * The 
primitive race of men being shepherds, 
and their weahh consisting in their cat- 
tle, in which Abraham is said to have 
been rich, for greater convenience me- 
tals were substituted for the commodity 
itself. It was natural for the represen* 
tative sign to bear impressed the object 
which it represented ; and thus, accord- 
ingly, the earliest coins were stamped 
with the figure of an ox or a sheep.* 
Maurice Ind- Antiquiiiea.. Thus the an- 
cient Athenians had a coin called 0ov{ 
or, because it was stamped with the 
image of an ox. Hence the saying in 
iEschylus, Agam. v. 30, * I must be si- 
lent concerning other matters ; a great 
ox walks upon ray tongue ;' implying 
that he had received a bribe for secrecy. 
Thus, too,.the LAtin word for money, pe- 
cuniae is derived from pecus, caide, from 
the image stamped upon it. The cus- 
tom no doubt arose from the fact that 
in primitive times the coin was the or- 
dinary value of the animal whose image 
it bore. 

20. Erected there an aUar, and called 
it EUElohe larad. That is, *God, the 
God of Israel.* Having at length fixed 
upon a place of a somewhat permanent 
residence, the patriarch, after the pious 
example of Abraham and Isaac, again 
establishes the public worship of God. 
For although we must believe that wher- 
ever they were they were strict in the 
discharge of the more private duties of re- 
ligion, yet they seem to have felt them- 
selves called to a more open and formal 
recognition of Jehovah in all cases where 
a more fixed abode rendered it practica- 
ble. This w^as important, not only in or- 
der to preserve the leaven of piety in his 
family, which might otherwise be in 
danger of relapaing into the genetal 



B. C. 1732.] 




ND * Dinah, the daughter of 

^ Leaht which she bare unto Ja- 

» ch. 30. 21. 

heathenism, hut also to testify most ef- 
fectually against the corrupt systems of 
worship by i^hich he was surrounded. 
TTiough the Shechemites and the neigh- 
boring nations doubtless had altars, yet 
Jacob refused to worship upon them, 
and by setting up one of his own, dis- 
tinctly proclaimed that he acknowledged 
and served another God, and would have 
no fellowship with their vile idolatries. 
This was a conduct worthy of the pi- 
ous patriarch after the many signal 
deliverances he had experienced. It 
was a kind of preliminary dedication of 
the land of promise to God.* It was as 

I if he had taken possession of it in the 
name of the God of Israel, by setting up 
his standard in it, and said, * Whenever 
this whole country shall come into the 
hands of my posterity, let it in this man- 
ner be devoted to God. It is the first 
time also, in which he is represented as 
availing himself of his new ndme.^ and of 
the covenant blessing conferred upon him 
under it. The name given to the altar 
was no doubt designed to be a memorial 
of both ; and whenever he should pre- 
sent his offerings upon it, it would tend 
to revive all th >se sentiments which he 

I fead felt when wrestling with God at Pe- 
nieL In like manner it were weB for 
us if every important event in our lives 
were distinguished by renewed resig- 
nations of ourselves to God. Such times 
and places would serve as memorials of 
mercy, and enable us to recover those 
thoughts and feelings which we expe- 
rienced fti our happiest daya 

The arrival of Jacob, afrer an absence 
of more than twenty years, in the land 
of Canaan, promised fair for a holy and 
happy residence in it. A guardian pro- 
vidence had protected and delivered 

cob, ^ went out to see the daughters 
of the land. 


him from hia avowed enemies, from La- 
ban, and from Esau. He had purchased 
an estate, he had spread his tent, he had 
erected his altar, and apparently hia 
* mountain stood strong.* Bat alas ! the 
removal of foreign tronbles is quickly 
succeeded by domestic ones; and we 
are called to contemplate the patriarch 
under a greater affliction than any oT 
which the record has heretofore been 
given. His only daughter, prompted 
by female vanity, curiosity, or some 
other motive equally censurable, ven- 
tures unattended beyond the verge of 
parental superintendance, and ffdia a 
victim to her temerity ! But it was not 
only the blighted innocence and blasted 
character of Dinah that made the heart 
of Jacob to bleed. A wound, no less 
deep, was inflicted by the treacheiy and 
the barbarity of his sons Levi and Sim- 
eon, in the execution of their bloody 
purpose of revenge. Surely the waters 
of a full cup are wrung ont to the aged 
patriarch. The lives of few men on re- 
cord present a greater complication of 
distress than fell to the lot of Jacob. 
As a son, a servant, a husband, a father, 
in youth, in manhood, in old age, he is 
unremittingly aflHicted. No sooner is 
one difHculty surmounted, one woe 
past, than another and a greater over- 
takes him. How justly and how atfec- 
tingly does the poor old man atjast close 
tne bitter recapiiulation of his misfbr- 
tunes by saying, * All these things are 
against me !' But we come to the eon 
sideration of the details. 

1. And Dinak-^went out to tee the 
daughters of the land, Gr. rara^odsir, 
to knoWf team, become acquainted with ; 
in other words, to observe their man- 
ners, cnstoms, and fashions. Josephni, 
in speaking of this event says, * Now as 
the Shechemitea were keeping « feaii- 



GENESIS. [B. C. 1738. 

2 And when Shechem the son of 
Hainor the Hivite, prince of the 
country, « saw her, he ^ took her, 
and lay with her, and defiled her. 

e ch. 6. 2. Judg. )4. 1. •» ch. 20. 2. 

val, 0inah went into the city to see the 
iinery of the women of the country.' 
This may possibly hkve been the occa- 
sion of her going out, but from Scriptu- 
ral usage we rather infer that the words 
imply not a single instance of going out^ 
butthatshe did it repeatedly, that she 
was tn the habit ofgoingr out. On these 
visits she had attracted the notice of 
Shechem, who, by often seeing and 
meeting with her, had at length con- 
ceived a passion for her, which he was 
led to abuse to the vilest purposes. The 
circumstances must have been peculiar 
indeed, to lead to such a result on a first 
interview, especially when we consider 
what is said of Shechem*s subsequent 
attachment. A sudden deed of violence 
of this kind would he but little apt to 
give rise to a genuine and permanent 
affection, and yet such an aflfection he 
appears to have entertained for Dinah. 
If our view of the matter be correct, 
the evil had not been one of sudden 
but of gradual, and perhaps scarcely 
perceptible growth ; and it affords 
a melancholy illustration of the tnith, 
that in relation to morals there are 
scarcely any actions that are trifling 
and insignificant. The greatest private 
and public calamities, when traced up 
to their proper source, are often found 
to commence in some little error, inad- 
vertence, or folly, which at the time 
may have been overlooked or neglected. 
Yet nothing is trifling that is fraught 
with momentous consequences ; and it 
is no doubt true, that from the first trans- 
gression down to the present day, female 
disgrace anJ niin have, in thousands of 
instances, begun in the seemingly harm- 
less desire to see and to be seen. It 
waa to the gratificati<m of the vain and 
idle wirii to see something new that 

3 And hi? soul clave unto Dinah 
the daughter of Jacob, and he loved 
the damsel, and spake kindly unto 
the damsel. 

Dinah fell a sacrifice. Her curiosity 
was indulged at the expence of her vir- 
tue and her peace. Nor at this time ia 
the danger to female innocence from 
this source at all diminished. The on- 
ly wisdom is in keeping within the 
bounds of due restraint Let the habit 
be formed of lightly forsaking the sanc- 
tuary of home, and human foresight can- 
not set limits to the possible or probable 
consequences. Many a broken heart, 
and many a weeping family, bear wit- 
ness to the perils of going heedlessly be- 
yond the bounds of the tutelary influ- 
ences of a mother's eye, or a faiher'i 
or brother's care. — The events related 
in this chapter could not have happened 
till Jacob had lived six or seven years in 
the neighborhood of Shechem ; for in a 
less time than this the two brothers could 
not have arrived at man's estate, nor 
Dinah herself have attained a marriage- 
able age. 

2. When Shechem Ote son o/Hamor^ 
&.G. His being the prince, or the son of 
the prince, of the country, no doubt 
gave him advantages for accomplishing 
his purpose, of which he did not fail to 
avail himself In tj\e eyes of an artless, 
inexperienced girl, professions coming 
from such a source would have more 
effect, and, unhappily, men of rank and 
opulence are too apt to think themselves 
entitled to do any thing to which their 

inclination, prompts them. ^ Dtfied 

her. Heb. ^5"^ yaenneh, humUed her ; 
a word similarly applied elsewhere, m 
Deut. 21. 14. Judg. 19. 24. 2 Sam. 13- 
12, 14. Ezek. 22. 10, 11. 

3, 4. Ajid his »oul dam taUo Dindh, 
&c. The possession of its object, in- 
stead of extinguishing, served but to 
increase the passion of Shechem; and 
though his proposal of honovmble ma^ 


A c. i7a«.] 



4 And Sheefacm tepake unto bis 
fether Hainor, saying, Get me this 
damsel to wife. 

5 And Jacob heard that he had 
defUed Dinah his danghter: now 
his sons were with his cattle in the 

• Judg. 14. 3. 

lia^ did not wipe away the itam of 
guilt firom his character as a sedacer, yet 
it was not only soothing to her, bnt 
tended in some degree to repair the 
wrong done to her and to herfemily. 
Indeed, if we except the leading step in 
this transaction, the conduct of the 
yonng prince was generous and noble 
throughout, and such as loudly to re- 
prove the cool, cruel, remorseless se- 
ducers of a christian age, who often 
leave the haplese victim of their arti- 
ficea to shame, wretchedness, and de- 
spair. Still the sequel shows that no- 
thing pould retrieve the mischief of the 
first false etep. That which was done 
last ooght to have been first ; and be- 
cause it was not, the delinquent must 
suffer. A willingness to make amends 
Ibr sin will not avert its legirimate con- 
sequences. 7 Spiike kindly unto the 

dumsd. Heb nb b5 121'^ yedabber at 
left, j^ieaX; to the heart ; i. e. spake in a 
manner calculated to soothe, comfort, 
and console ; Chal. * Spake consolations 
to the heart.* Vnlg. * Comforted her 
with Bweot words.' Thus, Is. 40. 2, 
* Speak ye cmnfcrtiMy to Jerusalem.' 
Heb. ' Speak to the heart of.' Hos. 2. 
14, * I will allure her in«o the wilderness, 
and »peak eom/ortably to her.' Heb. 
'Speak to her heart.' So where in the 
Gr. of John 11. 19, it is said that * many 
of the Jews came to Martha and Mary 
to eomfnt them concerning their bro- 
ther,' the Syr. renders it * came to tpeak 
mlk ikeir heart* concerning their bro- 
thsr.*-^^^ Qet me this damsel to wife. 
Tmm this it appears that even among 
the heathen of that period children were 
in the habit of consulting their paieitts 
m refefsnoo to the choice of a wife. 

field : and Jacob ' held his peaee 
nntil they were come. 

6 t And Hamor the father of 
Shechera went out uato Jacob to 
commune with him. 

7 And the sons of Jacob came 

1 1 Sam. 10. 37^ 8 Sam. 13. 33. 

5. Ajtd Jacob heard, &c. The news 
of his daughter's dishonor and detention 
soon reached the ears of Jacob, and as 
a father and a saint he could not bnt 
feel deeply; yet we are told that he 
* held his peace, till his sons returned ; 
by which b meant, not that he was en- 
tirely silent, saying nothing about it in 
his family, which would be inconceiv* 
able under the circumstances, but that 
he took no measures m respect to it, he 
foihore aU action. This is the sense of 
the original term in several other pas- 
sages, denoting rather a refraining from 
action than from utterance^ equivalent to 
remaining stiU^ quiets inert. Thus, Kx. 
14. 14, * The Lord fiha!l fight for you, 
and ye shall haldyour peace (tlCinn) ;' 
i. e. be quiet. 2 Kings 19. 1 1, * Why are 
ye the last (D'^TD*iin?D? to bring the king 
back from his house V i. e. why are ye 
remiss or negligent in bringing, &c. Ps. 
83. 1, * Keep not thou silence, O God ; 
hold not thy peace (XS^rO !b»)i and be 
not still, O God ;' i. e. do not forbear to 
act. Ps. 50. 3, * Our God shall come and 
shnU not keep silence (O'^rj'^ bb^);' »• ©• 
shall not remain inactive. But Jacob did 
not foresee the issue, or he would pro- 
bably have taken the afiair into his own 
hands, and acted upon it at once. As it 
waB,however, he did better in thus 'ruling 
his spirit' than did his sons who too^ the 

city. Prov. 16. d'Z. T His sons toere 

with his cattle in the field. Probably at 
the distance of one or two days' journey, 
as it was then customary to take a wide 
range in the pasturage of cattle, and as 
we have seen before, jSeU is synony- 
mous with fxtenaioe tract of country* 

6, 7. And Hamor teent out^ &o. Ae< 
companied by his son Shechem, as ap« 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



[B. C. 1738. 

out of the field when they heard U: 
and the men were grieved, and they 
t were very wroth, because he *• had 

I cli. 49. 7. 3 Sam. 13. 21. k Josh. 7. 15. 
Judg. 20 G. 

pears from v. 1 1. It had been well if 
he and Jacob had settled it, and this to 
all appearance they might have done, 
had it not been for the sudden relurn of 
the young men, who seem to have come 
upon the parties, all glowing with re- 
sentment, while they were engaged in 
the negotiation. This was unfortunate. 
Had Jacob and Hamor conversed the 
matter over by themselves, or Jacob 
and his sons by themselves, their anger 
might have been abated, and the whole 
affair perhaps amicably adjusted. But 
all meeting together, the expression of 
their inward feelings in their full force 
was suppressed ; and such feelings 
when suppressed, like the subterranean 
fires, will find some outlet, and most 
commonly issue in a fearful explosion. 
Such v^as the case in the present in- 
stance. Though the young- men said 
but little, yet a deep smothered indig- 
nation is implied in the words which 

■ describe their emotions. IT Were 

grieved. Heb. inSJri'^ yiiJudzebuj vex- 
ed, pained^ afflicted. Gr. Karawyricavy 
were pricked in their hearts ; the same 
word that occurs Acts 2. 37, * When 
they heard this they were pricked 
(Karevvyrjirav) in their hearts, and 3aid 
unto Peter,' &,c , though, of course, the 
nature of the feelings in the two cases 
was not the same, the hearts of the one 
class being pierced with resentment^ of 
the other with compunction. T Be- 
cause he had wrought folly in Israel. Ra- 
ther, * Because folly had been wrought 
in Israel ;' the active for the passive, an 
idiom already explained. See Note on 
Gen. 16. 14. This is the first instance 
on record where the family of Jacob is 
designated by the distinguished patro- 
nymic tide of * Israel,' which after- 
vrards became the dominant appellation 

wrougbt folly in Israel, in lying with 
Jacob's daughter; * which thing 
ought not to be done. 

i Deut. 33. 17. 9 Sam. 13. 13. 

of his posterity.. The word * folly' in 
Scriptural usage, implies not so much 
a conduct marked by stupidity, simplici* 
ty, or weakness of intellect, as an act, 
or series of actions, of shameless turpi- 
tude committed against the Divine pre- 
cept, attended with scandal and perpe- 
trated with a reckless indifference to 
consequences. The ' fool' of the Scrip* 
tures, therefore, is not by interpretation 
VL simjAeton^ hut a sinner; and 'folly,' 
instead of mental infirmniy, is moral deZm- 
quencif, and that of an aggravated char- 
acter. This femark should be especial- 
ly borne in mind in reading the book of 
Proverbs. It is not unlikely that from 
the present example the phraseology 
here employed became proverbially ap- 
plied to express the same sinful conduct. 
Thus Tamar replied to her brother 
Amnon, 2 Sam. 13. 12, *Nay, my bro- 
ther, for no such thing ought to be doM 
in Israel: do not thou this/oZ/y. Thou 
shall be as one uf the fools in Israeli' 
Deut. 22. 21, ' They shall stone her with 
stones that she die ; because she hath 
wrought folly in Israel.' It caimot be 
.doubted that there was cause for great 
displeasure; and provided it had beeo 
directed against the sin, frankly avowed, 
and kept within due limits, erreat dis- 
pleasure ought to have been manifested. 
To take advantage of a thoughtless, un- 
protected female, and consummate her 
ruin, was inexpressibly base. It was 
destroying the liappiness not of one indi- 
vidual only, but of a whole family. 
That her seducer endeavored afterwards 
to repair the wrong, is true ; but, as io 
all similar cases, the injury was abso- 
lutely irreparable ; and therefore we do 
not wonder that it excited a deep re- 
sentment in the breasts of her dishonor* 
ed relatives. But theu* resentment was 



B. C. 1732.] 

8 And HamcMT communed with 
tbcoiL sayingy The soul of my son 
Shechem longeth for your daugh- 
ter: I pray you give her him to 

9 And make ye marriages with 
us, and give your daughters unto 

fiiiilty in assfiming the character of a 
bloody vindictiveness. It was proper 
that they should be grieved ; it was not 
unnatural that they should be wroth ; 
and it was much to their honor that they 
were disposed to brand the violator of 
chastity with infamy, and to speak of it 
a« a *' folly which ought not to be done ;' 
for heathen and wicked men in nil ages 
have been prone to account it but a 
trifling ofience. But was it for the sin 
committed against God, or only for the 
shame visited upon the family, tlmt they 
were enraged ? Hdre, alas, they failed ; 
ai^ their failure here paved the way 
ht their subsequent atrocious wicked- 
ness — a conduct which elicited from the 
dying lips of the^ father the prophetic 
denunciation, Gen. 49. 7, * Cursed be 
their anger, for it was fierce, and their 
wrath, lor it was cruel: Iwill divide 
them in Jacob, and scatter them in Is- 

8. And Hamor commUned with them, 
ioying, Ac. There is an air of candid, 
friendly, upright, and generous dealing 
in the proposals of Hamor, that strongly 
wins upon us. They indicate a dispo- 
sition to make an honorable reparation 
of the injury done to Jacob and his fa- 
mOy, and we would fain hope that his 
terms might be acceded to, and the dis- 
grace thus obliterated as far as possible, 
forever. But on a doser inspection, we 
percmve that there was something 
wrong in the line of conduct pursued by 
Hamor and Shechem. (1.) The out- 
ride of the son had been of a very ag- 
gravated character, and such as merited 
a severe punishment. But it does not 
appear from the narrative that either 
Hamor or the men of Shechem had once 


U89 and take our daughters unto 

10 And ye shaU dwell with us : 
and ^ the land shall be before you : 
dwell and ' trade ye therein, and 
" get you possessions therein, 
k ch. 13. 9. & 30. 15. I cb. 4Q. 34. 

thought of passing any censure or pen- 
alty upon the oflTender, nor is a word of 
apology or regret expressed to Jacob 
on the score of what had happened. 
(2.) They still detained Dinah, who 
ought at once to have been restored to 
her parents. Till they had done this, 
they had no reason to expect any thing 
like reconciliation on the part of Jacob 
or his 8ont>. But it is probable that the 
young man's being of m honorable a fa- 
mily, and the sin of which he was guilty 
80 comroon in the country, made them 
think these punctilios might be dispens- . 
ed with in the present instance. And 
being wholly under the influence of 
sensual and worldly motives, they are 
prepared to profess any religion, or pro- 
fane any institution, however sacred, so 
they can accomplieh their selfish ends. 
From these causes, therefore, it is not 
so much to be wondered at that the af- 
fair terminated so unhappily as it did. 
The whole subsequent proceeding, on 
the part of Hamor and his son, was vitia- 
ted by this error in the outset. 

IT Longeth. The original is a word ex- 
pressive of the most inteni;;e affection, 
though not the same with that, v 3, 
rendered 'clave unto.' itut the two 
combined go to show the truth and ar- 
dor of Shechera*s attachment to the 
maiden. I^he Hebrew is more a lan- 
guage of emotion than of thought, and 
expresses all the various kinds and de- 
grees of passion with an emphasis pecu- 
liarly its own. 

9, 10. Make ye marriages with u«, &c. 
Their unins'tructed minds could not en- 
ter into the reasons of such an exclusive 
policy in this respect as the Israelites 
felt constrained to adopt. It no donbl 





11 And Sheehem said onto her 
father, and unto her brethren. Let 
me find gprace in your eyee, and 
what ye shall say unto me, 1 will 

I appeared to them as a very needless, if 
not an absurd singularity ; and in the 
tme spirit of an unbelieving world, they 
mideavor to break down what they 
ivonlddeem the narrow vtri/ o/ «wte, 
by holding out to them those induce- 
ments of gainful traffic which they are 
sensible they cxiuld not themselves with- 
stand in similar circumstances, and 
which, alas, ai'e usiully but too potent 
in overcoming the scruples of the pro- 
fessed people of God. 

11, Let me find grace in your eyes. 
That is, by having my request granted. 

12. Ask me never so mudi dowrtf and 
gift Heb. n»?a "^i:? mvt *«»*« alai 
meodf muUipLy upon me exceedingly. It 
is supposed that there was a distinction 
between the * do wry* and the *gift;' 
that the former was the marriage-por- 
tion, which was setded upon the wife, 
and remained her*s after her hnshand*s 
death ; while the * gift' was merely a 
present made at the time of the be- 
trotHmg, as a pledge of plighted faith. 
Of this nature, probably, were the jew- 
els of silver and goW brought to Rebe- 
kah by Abraham's servant, Gen. 24. 53. 
* In some previous notes we have had oc- 
casion to allude to the dower and pre- 
sents required of the bridegroom on his 
marriage, but have referred to this place 
for a more detailed statement. Sub- 
ject to the exceptions to which every 
general position is -incident, we think 
it may be safely stated, — that among 
all savage and barbarous people — 
and therefore in the early history of 
every nation which afterwards became 
civilized— the father of a girl, in relin- 
quishing her to a husband, conceives ho 
has a right to receive a compensation 
lor losing the benefit of her services, as 
well as for the trouble -and expense of 

12 Ask me never eo mneh * dow- 
ry and ^'fr, and I will give aceor^ng 
as ye shall say unto me : hot give 
me the damsel to wife. 

- Exod. 9SL 10, 17. Oeut 22. 29. 1 Saia. 
18. 25. 

bringing up and providing for her i 
The principle is still the same, whether, 
as among the Bedouins, the sum exact- 
ed be called the ' price* of the woman* 
or is merely described as a *gift' or 
* present' to the father. The antiquity 
of this usage will appear from various 
passages in the book of Genesis; al« 
though the only instance m which a 
provision for the female is overlooked, 
is that of Jacob's engagement with La- 
ban. The classical scholar is aware of 
numerous allusions to this custom, hi 
one passage of the Iliad an accomplish- 
ed lady is valued at four oxen. In an- 
other place, A^memnon is made to say, 
that he would give one of his daughters 
to Achilles without exacting the least 
present in return. Homer never men- 
tions any thing as given to the bride, 
but always the presents which the 
bridegroom makes to the lady's father. 
It is also related by Pausaniaa, that 
when Danaus found himself unable to 
get his daughters married, he caused it 
to be made known that he would not 
demand any presents from those who 
wOHild espouse them. • (See Goguet, 
' Origine des Lois,' tome ii. p. 60, where 
these instances are adduced.) it would 
too much extend this note, to multiply 
examples from the eariy history of na- 
tions, and from existing practices in the 
world. It may suffice to state genefal- 
ly, that, under sundry modifications, 
the principle oT paying the father for 
his daughter is distinctly recognized 
throughout Asia, even where the father 
actuallj' receives nothing. We ahaU 
confine our instances to the Bedouins. 
Usages difier considerabiy in this and 
other points, among the Arabian tribes; 
>end travellers have too hastily ooadad* 
ed that the cueioms of osm iribe lepre- 


B. C. 17a?.] 


IS And the sens of Jacob answer- 
ed Shechem and Hamor hid father 

tented those of vthe eotiie natkm. The 
principle of peyiaent w- indeed known 
to an the tribee, but its operation vft- 
rieewiy coDflidembly. Among some 
very important tribes it ia considesad 
disgraceful for the father to demand 
the daughter's * price,* (hakk d bint), 
nor is it thought creditable to re- 
ceive even Yolantary presents ; among 
other tribes the price is received by the 
perant, but is made over to the daugh- 
ter, constituting her dower. Among 
other tribes, however, the price is rigid- 
ly exacted. The price is generally paid 
in cattle, and is sometimes so considera- 
ble, as to render it an advantageous cir- 
cumstance when there are many daugh- 
tera in a family. Five or six camels are 
a very ordinary payment for a person 
in tolerable circumstances, and, if the 
man can afford it, and the bride is much 
admired or well connected, fifty sheep 
and a mare or foal are added.* Pict. Bible. 

13. The »on$ of Jac4ii answered deceit' 
fuBy^ &c. In the language of the 
Fmlmist, Ps. 55. 21, *The words of their 
mouths were smoother than butter, 
but war was in their hearts ; their words 
were softer than oil, yet were they 
drawn swords.* But before character- 
ising the conduct of his sons as it de- 
serves, we cannot but advert to that of 
Jacob himself on this occasion. It was 
certainly lacking in the wisdom and 
firmness diat might have been expected 
from him. He allowed his sons too 
much to take the lead in the transac- 
tion. It was very proper for the bro- 
then to consider themselves as in a 
sense the guardians of their sister's hon- 
or ; but not in such a way as to super- 
sede fhe authority or silence the coun- 
sel of their father. The answer to the 
4|ueation, whether Dinah should be 
given in marriage to Shechem belonged 
lo the parents, and not to the brothers. 


"^ deceitfalhr» and said, BeeaoM he 
bad defiled Dinah their sister : 

• 8 Sam. 13. 34, ^e. 

Age and infirmity may pertiape be 
pleaded as an apok^ ^ ^^ patriareft's 
yielding so much to the headstrong paa> 
sions of his sons, but the sequel shows 
that it was a concession which ought 
at all hazards to have been avoided. 
But how did they demean themselves? 
'Hiey listened to Hamor*s and She- 
chem*s proposals with much apparent 
coolness, and the studied quiet of their 
manner probably gave no intimation of 
the deep and deadly purposes of ravengis- 
whioh they inwardly cherished. Under 
the calm exterior which they now as- 
sumed, they were enteitaining one of 
the most wicked and diabolical schemes 
that ever enterad into the heart of man. 
Not satisfied with confining their re- 
venge to the guilty party, they reeqlv* 
to embrace the whole city within die 
dcope of their bloody retribution, and 
knowing that they were too few Is 
effect this without stratagem, they de- 
vise a plan of first ditabting and then 
daying them. The eieoution of this 
project was marked, (1) by Ae wIsK 
hypocrisy. They pretended to ha«ie 
scruples of conscience about Qonnect- 
ing themselves wilJi persons who wefs 
uncircumcised. Could this difficultly be 
removed, they intimate that'there would 
be no bar in the way to the pnq'eoted 
union. Now, although there is no «vi^ 
deuce that such a law was at this time 
established in Jacob's family, yet it is 
true that marriages with the neigfaboiw 
ing heathen were discouraged ; and if 
they had sincerely aimed in this way Is 
bring them off from their idolatrous 
practices, and to cast in their V>t witb Is* . 
rael, the measure would have beenmem 
excusable. But it is clear they had ao 
such design. The interests of roligiiai 
did not enter into their thoughts ; sad 
consequently their proposition was 
marked, (2) by the gros$egl fnfimamB. 



14 And they said unto thein» We 
cannot do this thing, to give our 
fister to one that is uncircumcised : 
ibr P that toere a reproach unto us : 

15 But in this will we consent 
onto you : If ye will be as we ^e, 
that every male of you be circum- 

V J<Nh.'5. 9. 

GENESia [B. a 1732, 

16 Then will we give our daugh- 
ters unto you, and we will take 
your daughters to us, and we will 
dwell with you, and we will become 
one people. 

17 But if ye will not hearken 
unto us, to be circumcised; then 
will we take our daughter, uid we 
will be, gone. 

They knew that if the Shechemites 
were persuaded to submit to circum- 
ciatonf it would be a mere form, lea^ving 
them, as to their relation to God, just 
where they were before. They knew 
that both the prince and his people were 
altogether ignorant of Jehovah, and des- 
titute of the smallest wish to be interest- 
ed in the covenant made by God with 
Abraham ; and yet they propose that 
all the males should receive the seal of 
this holy covenant ; and that too, not in 
order to obtain any spiritual benefit, but 
solely with a view to carnal gratifica- 
tion ! What a profanation was this of 
God's sacred ordinance ! What awful 
inl]nety, in recommending to them such 
a method of attaining their ends ! But 
this is not all. The measure Was con- 
ceived, (3) in -the spirit of ike moat sav- 
age crudty. That a motive of revenge 
should excite them to murder the per- 
son more immediately implicated in the 
ofience, was possible enough. But that 
it should prompt them to involve a mul- 
titude of innocent persons in the same 
rain, and that at a time when they 
were making the most painful sacrifices 
to conciliate their &vor; this almost 
exceeds belief. Yet such was their 
inhuman plot, which they too success- 
fuBy carried into effect ! What amaz- 
ing depravity does it argue first to form 
such a horrid purpose, and then to cover 
it with the eloak of religion ! V^at had 
ikey to do to talk of coiuaence^ when 
they could deliberately contrive a plan 

for murdering a whole city ! T Aiid 

mid, BecauMe he had de/Oed Dinah their 

sister. We take these words as design- 
ed to render a reason for the deceitful- 
ness to which, it is said in the preceding 
clause, that they had recourse. • They 
said,* i. e. they justified the matter by 
saying to themselves that Shechen^ had 
acted the part of a vile deceiver in be- 
traying their sister's innocence, and hav- 
ing thus forfeited all right to truth and 
sincerity from others, it was perfectly 
lawful for them to retaliate upon him 
with equal duplicity. It was no doubt 
a very natural, but at the same time a 
very sinftd logic, by which they came 
to this conclusion. 

14. We cannot do this thing. ' * Can- 
not' is here utied as frequently else- 
where in the sense of moral and not na- 
tural inability. * We cannot, for it would 
be contrary both to custom and can- 
on.' Thus, Gen. 43. 32; * Because the 
Egyptians might not eat broad with the 
Hebrews, for that is an abomination 
unto the Egyptians.' This, though cor- 
rect, is rather a p?iraphrase than a trans- 
lation, for the original has it * cannot eat ;' 

). cannot without violating law or 

15 — 17. In this wiU we consent. That 
is, on the condition.— IT We wiU taks 
our daughter. They here speak as in 
the person of Jacob, for she was his 
daughter only, and not theirs. So above, 
V. 8, where Hamor says, * The soul of 
my son longeth for your daughter,' the 
Heb. suffix for your is plural, as if she 
were the daughter of the whole compa- 
ny. Targ. Jon. 'We will take our 
daughter by violence.' 


B. C. 17«2.] 



IS And their words pleased Ha- 
mor, and Shechem, H amor's son. 

19 And the youn? man deferred 
not to do the thing, because he had 
delight in Jacob's daughter: and 
he was « more honourable than all 
the house of his father. 

20 m And Hamor and Shechem 
his son came unto the ^te of their 
city« and communed with the men 
of their city, saying, 

21 These men are peaceable with 
us, therefore let them dwell in the 

< 8 Chron. 4. 9. 

18. Their toordg pleased Hamor and 
Skechem. Heb. * Were good in the eyes 
of;' by which is meant, not that the 
conditions, in themselves considered, 
were pleasing, bat they were willing on 
the whole to agree to diem ; the advan- 
tages they promised themselves by 
complying were sufficient to counter- 
balance all objections. 

19. Deferred not todoihe thing. De- 
ferred not consen^tn^ to it; for he cer- 
tainly deferred actaally doing it till ho 
had obtained the concurrence of his 

30, 2L Came ufito the gate. To the 
place of public convocation, where the 
dtizena assembled to deliberate upon 
matters of general interest, correspond- 
ing to the halls, council-chambers, or 
town-houses, of modem times. When, 
therefore, our Saviour says that *the 
^oles of hell shall not prevail against his 
church,* his meaning is, that the coun- 
sels, plots, and policies of hell, shall not 
prevail against it ; employing a figure of 
speech by which the pface of counsel 

stands for the counsels ihemseltoes. 

T Communed with the men of the city^ 
saying, &c. The deceitful proposal suc- 
ceeds with Hamor and Shechem, and 
they at once undertake to persuade the 
citizens to a compliance ; not as a matter 
of principle, but of policy; a measure 
which would contribute to the public 
good. No little art is discoverable in 

land, and trade therein: for th« 
land, behold, U U large enough fcr 
them: let us take their daughten 
to us for wives, and let us give them 
our daughters. 

22 Only herein wiD the men con. 
sent unto us for to dwell with us, to 
be one ^ople, if every male among 
us be circumcised, as they art cir- 

23 iSAoZ/ not their cattle, and their 
substance, and every beast of theirs 
be ours ? only let us consent unto 
them, and th^ will dwell with us. 

the arguments employed for this par- 
pose. The principal prominence is giv- 
en to those considerations Which were 
merely secondary, while the main point, 
the circumcision, comes in as a litde 
by-clau6e, a slight condition, to which 
they could not reasonably object. This 
was approaching wotldly men through 
the most effectual avenue. Appeals to 
their interest usually succeed wher* 
their principles are addressed in vain. 
Yet we are not to lose sight of the over^ 
ruling hand of Providence in the dirs 
result. The licentious outrage of She- 
chem called ibr punishment, and h» 
own and his people's readiness to pro- 
fane and prostitute a sacred ordinance 
for the mere purpose of worldly gain, 
could not but provoke the displeasure of 
heaven. A.s there was no human au- 
thority to call them to an account for 
their conduct, God was pleased to visit 
their iniquity upon them in an extraor- 
dinary way, and while the instruments 
were acting from the most culpable 
motives^ still the righteous retributions 
of Providence were taking effect. One 
wicked spirit of man was made to chas- 
tise another. 

23. Shall not their cattle, A^.—ie ours. 
Be more likely eventually to become 
ours. It does not appear that his drift waa 
to insinuate that they could possess 
themselves of Jacob's riches dishonestly ; 
but they doubtless appealed to merce- 




[B. C. 1732. 

24 And unto Hamor, and unto 

Shechem his son, hearkened all that 

' went out of the gate of his city : 

and every male was circumcised, 

' all that went out of the gate of his 

IT And it came to pass on the 

* ch. 23. 10. 

iwry motiTes/in speftking with the She- 
chemites, and moreover gave them to 
undenitand that the meaeure was rather 
•ne of Jaoeb*8 seeking than their own. 
' But if they thus deceived their fellow- 
oHizens, they were soon stiD more sadly 
deceived themselves. 

S4. And unto Hamor — kMrkened (dl 
that went put, &c. There is scarcely a 
more singular fact in all history than the 
ready compliance of the whole inhabit- 
ants of Shechem with the proposal here 
made to them. The operation in adult age 
is pecoliariy painful, and so far as they 
regarded it as implying a change in their 
religion, the incident is equally remarka- 
ble ; for we know the tenacity with which 
men cleave to their establisbeJ modes of 
fMtfa and worship— a principle distinctly 
jjBOOgnised by the Most High himself, 
•peaking by the mouth of his prophet, 
Jer. 2. 10, 11, ' For pass over the isles of 
Chittkn, and see ; and send unto Kedar 
and consider diligently, and see if there 
be such a thing. Hath a nation chang- 
ed their gods^ which are yet no gods 7* 
In accounting for such a step on the 
part of the Sheche mites, we may doubt- 
less allow much to the hope of gain, and 
much to the reverence of their rulers ; 
but we must go beyond this, and ac- 
knowledge a secret permitted infatua- 
tion upon their minds, in order that their 
connivance at a gross iniquity might be 
suitably punished. And 
assuredly was, in a way to make the 
ears of every one that beareth of it to 

25. It came to past on the third day, 
uken Ihey were Mire, Chal. * When their 
pains were sorest upon them.* Thus 

third day, when they were aore, 
that two of the sons of Jacob, * Si- 
meon and Levi, Dinah's brethren* 
took each man his sword, and came 
upon the city boldly, and dew all 
the males. 
26 And they slew Haoaor and 

• cb.49.5,5,7. 

taking advantage of the disabled state 
of their victims, whose wornida, like all 
others, were moet severe and pamfnl on 
the tfiird day. The whole transactioR 
in this instance was imdoabtedly con- 
ducted without JacoVs knowTedge or 
consent. See his emphatic sel^cqaittal. 

Gen. 49, 6, with the note. H Simeen 

and Levi. These were the aterine 
brothers of Dinah, and might natmally 
be expected to be most prompt in aveng- 
ing her wrongs. Though these two 
only are mentioned, yet there is no 
doubt that they were assisted by « band 
composedof their brethren, domestics, 
or other associates. It is in entire ac- 
cordance with the genera! oaage of the 
Scriptures to speak of that being dtfOB 
by one or two, in which one or two aie 
the prime movers, leaders, or overseers, 
though many subordinate agents are 
employed. In view of LeviU participa- 
tion in this horrid deed, the divine cle- 
mency, in making his the priestly tribe, 
is strikingly displayed. We ahould 
rather have expected that some lasting 
stigma would have been affixed to the 
posterity of one who had covered his 
own name so deep with infiuny. Bo^ 
we leam from it how, where sin has 
abounded, grace often much more 
abounds ; and we gather also hence a 
fresh proof of the veracity of Moses. 
Himself a Levite, he does not spare the 
character of his progenitor. In all the 
simplicity of truth, he gives an nnvar- 
nished statement of atrocities which 
have reflected everlasting disgrace upon 
the memory of the founder of his line- 
Would an impostor have done this t 
I 26. With (he edge of the smtrd. Beh. 


B. C. 1732.1 



Shechem his son with the edge of 
the sword, and took Dinah out of 
Shechem's hoose, and went out. 

27 The sons of Jacob came upon 
the slain, and spoiled the city ; be- 
cause they had defiled their sister. 

28 They took their sheep, and 
their oxeni and their asses, and that 
which was in the city, and that 
which was in the field. 

29 And all their wealth, and all 

^'Vl ^&b ^t hareb^ by the mouth of the 
sword ; whence the sword is said to ' de- 
vour.' T Came upon the city boldly. 

Heb. ntDD balah, in confidence. This 
may refer either to the manner oj the at- 
loci, which is favored by the Gr. aaipa' 
Xfti( undauntedly^ securely; or to the 
state of the cify^ as understood hy the 
Chal. 'The city which dwelt confident- 
ly.' Bat their fancied security was an 
idle dieam, from which they were awa- 
kened by the terrors of a merciless mas- 
sacre. The story teaches us, with af- 
fecting emphasis, how one sin lepds on 
to another, and, like flames of fire, 
spreads desolation on every side! 
Dissipatioii leads to seduction; seduc- 
tion produces wrath ; wrath thirsts for 
rsTenga ; the thirst of revenge has re- 
course to treachery ; treachery issues 
io murder ; and murder is followed by 
lawless depredation ! Were we to trace 
the history of illicit commerce between 
the Mxes, we should perhaps find it, 
more than' any other, terminating in 
bkxMl. We may read this warning truth, 
not only in the history of David and his 
fiunfly, but In what is constantly occur- 
ring in our times. The murder of the in- 
nocent oflTspring by the hand of the 
mother, or of the mother by the hand of 
the aeducer, or of the seducer by the 
hand of a brother or of a supplanted rival, 
are events which too frequently fall un- 
der our notice. Nor is this all, even in 
the present world. Murder seldom es- 
espss detection ; ar public execution, 

their little ones, and their wives 
took they captive, and spoiled even 
all that was in the liouse. 

30 And Jacob said to Simeon and 
Levi, * Ye have " troubled me, * to 
make me to stink among the inhabb. 
itants of the land, among the Ca- 
naanites and the Perizzites : f and 
I being few in number, they shall 
gather themselves together against 

t eh. 49. 6. > Josh. 7. 2S. > Exod. 5. 
21. 1 Sam. 13. 4. 7 Deut. 4. 37. Ps. lOS. 13. 

therefore, may be expected to close ths 
tragic scene. 

29. AU their toealth. Heb.b'^n*<iyt?. 
a word of large import in the original 
comprehending every thing in which a 
man*s strength, power, or ascendancy 
consists; being applied to prowess of 
body, Eccl. 10. 10 ; to an army of men, 
1 Sam. 10. 26 ; to worldly riches, Prov. 
10. 15 ; and to the rampart of a city. 
Nab. 3. 8. The Chal. renders it * riches', 
and the Gr. etoiiara bodies, a term equitr- 
alent to ser^iants, as is clear from llev. 
18. 13 — * and beasts, and sheep, and hor- 
ses, and chariots, and doves ((roi/f ara) and 

souls of men.* IT Spoiled even all that 

was in the house. Took as a spoil all that 
was in the houses ; * house' being here 
a collect, sin^t for the plur., }\ift as * Ut- 
tle ones* is in the origirial in the singu- 
lar (tjtt) tnph. 

30 And Jaccb said to Simeon and he- 
ot, &c. It is some relief^to find the good 
old man expressing his disapprobation 
of these bloody proceedings. Yet it is 
a natural query why he manifested so 
little apparent concern for their sin, as 
sin, dwelling entirely upon the conse- 
quences. Why did he not reproach 
them, in the name of the God whom they 
professed to serve, with their cruelty, 
their perfidy, their rapacity? Why 
does he give way so entirely to thoughts 
of his own calamity, and speak as if 
they had destroyed him instead of the 
Shechemites 7 No doubt his real drift 
was, by this very mode of address, to 




[B. C. 1732. 

AW) and slay me, and I eha]] be des- 
troyed, I and my house. 

work upon their compunctions and 
bring them to a proper acknowledg- 
ment of what they had done. He 
knew they were to hardened in wiek- 
edneM that nothing but consequences, 
and such ae aflected their m/ety too, 
would make them feel. Unhke Abraham 
and laaac, who had demeaned them 
•elves peaceably wherever they had 
pitched their tents, and by their good 
conduct had not only gained the respect 
of the heathen, but recommended true 
leligion, he bad now, in consequence of 
his close coimexion with such sons of 
Belial, rendered himself odious to the 
neighboring Canaanites. And what else 
could he anticipate, but that they should 
combine against them, and cut them 
off root and branch? This, we. say, 
was calculated to rouse them from their 
guilty apathy, and when they saw that 
they were likely to plunge their aged 
father and themselves into one common 
perdition, to lead them to call upon God 
for that mercy to which they had so 

little claim. ^ Make me to stink. This 

is the literal and highly expressive sense 
of the original, but most of the ancient 
versions resolve the phrase into less 
figurative terms. Chal. * Ye will occa- 
sion or put enmity between me and the 
Canaanites.' Syr. * Ve have offended 
me to bring evil between me and the 
inhabitants.' Arab. * Ye have rendered 
me infamous, and corrupted my condi- 
tion with respect to the Canaanitos.' 
Vulg. ' Ye have made me odious to the 
Canaanites.* * Of a man who has bst 
hb honor, whose fame is entirely gone, it 
is said, *Ah! he has lost bis smell — 
where is the sweet smell of former 
years V t Alas !* says an old man, * my 
smell is forever gone.' ' Roberts. 
T Trmibledme. That is, not only by griev- 
ing and disquieting my spirit, but by put- 
ting me in danger of being destroyed by 
Aose with whom I have hitherto Uved in 

31 And tbey said. Should be deal 
with our sister as with an harbt ? 

peace. Thus Achan is said to have 
troubled' Israel, and was himself 
troubled ;' i. e. destroyed. Josh. 6. 18, 
and 7. 25. Thus, Prov. 15. 27, 'He 
that is gpreedy of gain trouUeth his own 
house ; but he that hateth gifts shall 
hve.' Here, * tronblingone's house' is 
opposed to 'living,' which makes it 

equivalent to • to destroy/ ^ Iheing 

few in nwsJber. Heb. 1fcD>a ^"K^ "^iW 
ant meOie mispar, Imen of number. An- 
other instance of an individual beii^ 
identified with his party ao as to consti- 
tuto a kind of plurality of denomination. 
The phrase * few in number,' or ' men 
of number,' signifies rapdble of heing 
numbered. It arose probably from the 
language of the promise made to Abn* 
ham, that he sh<»uld be the firther of a 
seed which could nU be numbered. 
The opposite of this, of course, is a com- 
pany which can be numbered, and there* 
fore comparatively /cio. 

31. Should he deed with our sister as 
wUh an harlot ? We see little in this an- 
swer to their father's reproof, but the 
workings of offended pride and unyield- 
ing obstinacy. They would not have 
felt any displeasure againtit Shechem 
had he dealt with any other female, or 
any number of them, as hark>ts ; bat 
that he should offer an indignity to their 
sister^ this was the offence — an offence 
inexpiable by any thing less than the 
blood of all that were, even in the most 
distant way, connected with him. So 
much more sensibly are men prone to 
feel for an affront to their own honor 
than to that of God. Again, bow shock- 
ing is the relentlessness which they 
evince. We might reasonably expect, 
that after a little reflection these bloody 
murderers would be nfled with remorse* 
But all sense of guilt, yea, all regard for 
their own and their father's safety, seem* 
ed to be totally banished from their 
minds, instead of regretting that they 


B. C. 1732.] 




A ND God Baid unto Jacob, Arbe, 

.£X, go up to • Beth-elt and dwell 

there : and make there an ahar un- 

>ch. 88. 19. 

had acted 8o trescheronf and cruel a 
part, they vindicate thenuelvea without 
heaitatioo, and eTen tacitly condemn 
their fether as manifesting less concern 
for faM daughter than they had shown 
lor their sister. We ean scarcely con- 
ceive a more awful instance than this, 
of die power of sm to hfind the nnder- 
aiandio^ and to harden the heart. Bat 
daiiy expi^nence shows that when once 
the conscience is seared, there is no 
nuqnity too gross to be palliated or 

BniAKKS. Two additional reflec 
lions are suggested by the present nar- 

(1.) How asUmukmgly mety Ihejudg- 
mem of men he vktrped by parUaUty and 
•Af-Ume ! These men could see evil in 
the conduct of Shechem, and yet justify 
their own; though theirs was beyond 
all comparison more vile and horrible 
than his. Yet is this an nndommon 
spectacle ? If the world behold any 
thing amias in the conduct of a person 
professing religion, with what severity 
will diey condemn it, even though they 
diemaehres are living in the unrestrain- 
ed commission of a thousand sins ! And 
even professon ef godliness themselves 
are too apt to be officious in pulling out 
a moie^firom their brother's eye, while 
they are inattentive th the beam that is 
in their own eye. Let us learn rather 
to exareise fbrbeanince towards the 
froha of others and severity towards 
our own> 

(2J HomcertahdywiUihertheadayof 
f^^tTo. retribution. Here we behold a 
whc^ city of innocent men pnt to death, 
and their murderers going away nnpon- 
ished. But let us not on this account 
arraign the dispensations of Providence, 
hi die last day these apparent inequali- 

to God, b that appeared imto tfaee 
*" when thou fleddeat from the fcce 
of Esati thy brother. 

kch.S8.13. •cb.97.43, 

ties will be rectified. It wi 
iallibly go well with the righteona and 
ill with the wicked. Tlie excuses whleh 
men now make, will then be of ne 
avail . Every transaction shall then api. 
pear in its proper ootors; aad every 
man receive arcording to what he h«s 
done in the body, whether it be good or 


1. And Ood eaid tmto Jaeob, Anas, go 
up to Beth' d^ &c. The events which 
had recently occurred at S hech e m 
would no doubt render it unsafe for Ja*- 
oob to remain longer in that place or its 
viciiiity. Indeed it would scarcely bav« 
been surprising to hear of a confedaravy 
among aU the neighboring clans to ex>- 
terminate such a band of robbers and 
murderers from the (ace of the earth- 
men who would perpetrate, in a time of 
profound peace, an- atrocity mvheard of 
even among the cruel practices of wan 
Jacob was undoubtedly aware of his 
danger, and deeply exercised on acooimt 
of it; and it pleased God in the midst of 
his bitter and perfdexing reflections 
again to appear, and give him directions 
what to do. Of the manner in which 
the present communication was made 
to him, nothii^ is said : but the pnipoit 
of it was that he should remove to Be«h> 
el, situated about thirty miles south of 
Shechem,. build there an ahar, and pei^ 
form the vow which he had presrionsiy 
made. Gen. 28. 90, 22. It was now t 
about thirty years since that vow was [ 
made ; Jacob had dwelt eight or ten in 
Canaan since his return from Psdaft- 
aram, and had now attained to one ban- 
died and six years of age ; yet for some ; 
reason unexplained he had hitherto de- ' 
layad to pay it. Possibly he may have . 






3 Then Jacob said unto his 
4 household, and to ail that were 
with him, Put away *the strange 

<cb.l8.19. Josb. 34.35. « ch. 31. 19, 34. 

been culpably remira in this matter, and 
the remark of a Jewish commentator 
may be well fnmided, that God permit- 
ted the ravishment of Dinah as a pun- 
uhment to Jacob for his criminal delay, 
just as he met Moses with alarming to- 
kens of his displeasure, Ex. 4. 24, for hav- 
ing sinfully deferred the circumcision 
of his child. But without assuming to 
pronounce upon Uiis point, we cannot but 
advert to the mild and affecting tone of 
the expostulation here addressed to Jacob 
—one that reminds him not so much of 
the neglect of the servant, as of the mer- 
cy of the master. He does not say, 
* Build an altar to the God whom thou 
hast promised,' and hast disappomted ;' 
but unto the *God who appeared unto 
thee when thou fleddest from the face 
of E^au thy brother.* There muBt have 
been something peculiarly touching in 
the recollections awakened by these 
words; and that their due effect was 
not lost upon Jacob, appears from the 
fact that he made immediate prepara- 
tions for the accomplishment of his 

2. Jacob said unto his household^ &c. 
No sooner is Jacob admonished to go to 
Bethel, than he feels the necessity of a 
household reformation, and orders it to 
be at once entered upon. His first in- 
junction is, that the strange gods among 
them should be put away. This was 
acting faithfully and conscientiously 
towards the members of his numerous 
family ; but who would have believed 
that such a command could have been 
necessary ? Did he then know of the 
corrupt pfactices of his family, and had 
he connived at them? Was this the 
first time that his voice had been raised 
against them? We know not how to 
avoid the inference that this was the 

gods that are among you, and be 
'clean and change your gannents: 

'£xod.l9. 10. 

case. We fear that even Jacob partook 
so largely of the infirmities of fallen na- 
ture, that he had failed to discharge hit 
dnty in this respect ; that even though 
the honor of God was at stake, he had 
been unwilling to incur the resentment 
or the complaints of those that were 
dear to him ; and had accordingly, after 
finding that the teraphim were in Ra> 
chers possession, tolerated an evil which 
he ought promptly to have checked in 
its very outset. We are glad, how- 
ever, to find him at length resolved to 
^put them away,' though the command 
carries an implication of his own 

crime as well as that of his family. 

T Strange gods. Heb. "n^^n "Vlb^ <**« 
harmekaTf gods of the stranger ; i. e. gods 
of strange or foreign nations. Gc * Foreign 
gods.' Chal.* Idols of peoples,* Allusion 
is perhaps had not only to the idolatroni 
images stolen from Laban, but to those 
also which might have been brought in 
among the spoils of the captured She- 
chemites. Accordingly the Targ. Jon. 
terms them * the gods which thou didst 
receive from the house of the idols of 

Shechem.' ^ Be dean and change 

your garments. Targ. Jon. 'Cleanse 
yourselves f^om the pollutions of the slain 
to whoip you have come nigh.* This 
outward purification and change of rai- 
ment was enjoined as indicative of that 
internal cleansing of the soul which is 
always requisite to the acceptable wo^ 
fchip of God, and which the recent de- 
filement of his house, by the double 
stain of idolatry and murder, rendered 
still more indispensably necessary. See 
Ex. 19. 10, 15; Lev. 15. 18. It does not 
appear that this ceremony was exprea* 
ly commanded to Jacob, but a certain 
intrinsic decorum commended it to bis 
judgment. From a similar sense of fit- 


B. C. l*3ia.] 



8 And fetus MMe»«od cotipio 
Beth-el ; and I wiH make Stere an 
altar imto Grod, ^ who answered mc 
m the dajT of my distrees, ^ and was 
with me in the way which I went. 

iefa.3S.7,S4. Pft. 107. 6. 

k cb. 98. 90. 

nam UotM directed tbote who had 
hMQ concerned in the affair of the 
goUen calf at Horeb to Ex. 33. 4, 5, to 
put off their omamenta, that their out- 
ward attira might norreapond with the 
raqnired humility of their apirit. With 
men of lomewhat crude cooceptions of 
ipiritoal thinga» anch an ontwanl change 
would help them to diseem more clear- 
ly the offeoaive natore of idolatry, and 
though true penitence ia seated in the 
heart, yet ita external indicatioot react 
upoB and quicken the inward lentiment. 
3. Who angwered mem ike day of my 
liiifreM. Chal. * Unto God who received 
my prayer in the time of my tribulation, 
and hia word was my help in the way 
vhich I weal.* Ged*t ^anaweiing' bis 
ps^ ishia efHoackmdy hearing them, so 
•saetoafly, by word or deed, to grant 
their reqnest. Thus he ia said to * on- 
ner by fire,* 1 Ciagi 18. 34, when by 
thst token he teatified his approbation 
of his worshippers. He * answers' also 
ia the actual beatowment of blessings ; 
la. 41. 17, * When the poor aod needy 
ieek water, end there is none, and 
their tongue faileth £»r thirst, I the Lord 
«iS hear them.* Heb. 'WiU afuwer 
them;* L e. will euppLy Aeir wmts* 
Abo by delivering them from danger; 
IV. S2. 21, ' Save me fiom the lion*e 
month, for thon Aosf heard me firom the 
horns of the nnioom.' Heb. * Hast aiu 
nKred me.' In using these words Ja- 
cob seems te have endeavored to im- 
press upon his hooaeheld his own senti- 
ments. What had been a mercy to him 
was a mercy to them, and they were 
bound BO to consider it. By putting them 
ia mind, moreover, of God's answering 
him in the d»y ef hii dirtress, he would 

4 And tbey me unto Jacob aH 
theatranffe ffods which were in their 
hand, and oS thgir > ear-rings which 
wcK in their ean ; and Jacob hid 
them under ^ the oak which wom by 

*Hos.S.13. kieah.M.96. Jadg.0.6. 

not only excite them to gratitude for the 
past, but kindle a hope also that Heevao 
would disperse the cloud that hung over 
them wow, on account of the late impure 
and bloody transaction. 

4. Ear^ringe which were m their eon. 
This may be, meant of the gold and 
silver ear-ringa in the ears of the idols ; 
but if intended of tboee worn in the ean 
of the women, they were probably 
taken from the idols, and so by associa- 
tion might themselves become a source 
of idolatry, or at least of superstitious 
reverence. They were therefore to be 
abolished as among the appendages of 
a forbidden worship. Deut. 7. 25, * The 
graven images of their gods shall ye 
bnm with fire ; thou shalt not desire the 
silver or the gold that is on them, nor 
t^e it unto thee lest thou be snared 
therein ; for it is an abomination to the 
Lord thy God.* Hence the Jewish 
canon: *It is commanded to destroy 
idolatry and the ministerial instruments 
thereof^ and whatsoever is made for the 
same ; and it is forbidden to have, any 
use or profit by any of these things.* 
donaidering the eviUi which prevailed 
in Jacob's family, and the bewitching 
nature of idolatry, it is somewhat Bur> 
prising to observe the readiness with 
which they now complied with his 
commands. But undoubtedly the whole 
air, manner, and language of Jacob on 
this occasion was decided, and such aa 
convinced his household that he was 
engaged in earnest in a very solemn 
duty, in which it would be dangeroue 
for them not to unite. The incident 
teaches us that where our spirit is right, , 
we have great access to the hearts ot 
otl»era. Duties diflicult and hopeless in 



[R C. 1732. 

5 And they journeyed : and > the 
terror of Gc^ was upon the cities 
that were round about them, and 

1 £xod. 15. 16. & 23. 37. & 34. 34. Beut 

proapect are rendered easy and success- 
ful the moment we have suffidMit fidth 
to attempt to carry them into execution. 
Where a reproof or remonstrance is of- 
fered in a truly Christian temper, and 
the general deportment of the speaker 
is in accordance with his words, men 
wUl often listen much more willingly 
than we anticipate. Although no in- 
stantaneous effect should be produced, 
yet some arrow may be fixed in the 
conscience which is never afterwards 
extracted. Some seeds may be sown 
in the memory which, after lying dor- 
mant for a long time, may at last Hake 
root downwards and bear fruit upwards,' 
when the sower who went forth to sow 
the seed has long since been called to 
his reward. Let us consider this, ui^d 
be more studious to improve the offered 

opportunities of doing good. IT Hid 

them under the oak which wu by She- 
diem. It was under this same oak that 
i Joshua afterwards set np a stone of 
' witness, upon the occasion of his having 
. convened the people at Shechem, and, 
\ probably in memory of this very trans- 

* action of Jacob, cleansed them of their 
; idols, and brought them renewedly into 

• a solemn covenant with' God. Josh. 24. 
f 25, 26. As the oak, among the Canaan- 

ites, was dedicated to religious purposes, 
Deut. 12. 2, he might have supposed 
that the sacredness of the depository 
would be likely to guard them from 
being discovered or disturbed. If it be 
asked why Jacob did not burn instead 
of burying them, it may be' answered, 
that perhaps he might in the first in- 
stance have caused them to pass through 
the fire, but as metallic substances are 
not consumed, but merely transformed 
by the action of fire, he would still have 
had the material on his hands to be dis- 
p6sed of some other way ; and as dead 

they did not punme after the aons 
of Jacob. 

11. S5. Josh. 3. 9. & 5. 1. 1 Sam. 14. 15. 2 
Chron. 14. 14. 

bodies, and every thing foul, loathsome, 
and abominable, was buried out of sight, 
he seems properly to have taken the 
game course with these idols and their 
appendages. It would seem* moreover, 
that the procedure afterwards enjoined 
under the Mosaic law, Deut. 7. ^, was 
now acted upon by the patriarch, and 
perhaps generally considered obligatocy 
in similar circumstances ; ' The graven 
images of their gods shall ye barn with 
fire ; thou shalt not desire the silver or 
the gold that is on them, nor take it unto 
thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it 
is an abomination to the Lord thy Ged.' 
5. The terror of God was upon the 
cities^ &,c. That is, toas made to be. The 
Heb. rr^n hayah^ and the Gr. eysvsro, fre- 
quently express, not the simple fticc of 
being, but being in consequence of ac- 
tive causation or efficiency. Thus, 
Ezek. 37, * And the hand of the Lord 
was upon me ;* i. e. was efiicaciovaly 
made to be upon me. Rev. L 10, ' I was 
in the Spirit on the Lord's day ;* i. e. I 
was made to be in the Spirit, by a strong 
supernatural impulse. The phrase * ter- 
ror of God' is probably equivalent to a 
mighty t^rror^ an oftotmding dread ; be- 
ing an instance of the idiom mentioned 
in the note on Gen. 23. 6. Otherwise 
we may understand it with Aineworth 
of a terror sent of Ood. Had it not been 
for such a supernatural panic, the heigh - 
boring clans might easily have combin- 
ed, and fUIing upon Jacob's company, 
have put them all to death, by way of 
avenging the massacre of the Shechem- 
ites. The kind care which God evinced 
towards the family on this occasion 
would appear to have been no leas con- 
trary to the parenta' fears, than to the 
deserts of his ungodly children, and iu 
beinfT extended to them for his soAe, 
must have bad the effect, one would 


B. C. 1732.] 



9 T So Jacob came to "■ Ldi, 
which is in the land of Canaan 
(that is fieth-el^ he and all the peo- 
ple that tvere with him. 

7 And he " built there an altar, 
and called the place ELbeth^l ; be- 
cause <> there God appeared unto 

a cb. 38. 19. 83. B Eoelei. S. 4. 
• ch. 28. 13. 

tbink, to abase their proud spirits, ^nd 
make them feel how much they were 
indebted to the divine clemency. 

6. Jaccib came to Lux. * Lnz* is the 
Heb. term for dbnond-iree^ and the place 
was perhaps so called from this species 
of tree growing abundandy in that re- 
gion. See Note on Gen. 28. 19. From 
this it appears that Beihd had not yet 
become the common name of the place, 
though it was thirty years since it had 
been bestowed by Jacob. Bnt he then 
did it as a private individoal, in memory 
of a special manifestation made to him- 
self. From the time of this his second 
sojourn there, we may suppose that the 
name * Bethel' came gradually into 
vogue, and was at length firmly estab- 

7. EUBeOi-d, That is, The God of 
Bethd. He had before called il simply 
Bethel, kouge of God ; but now, with a 
view to impart a still greater degree of 
sanctity to every association connected 
with the place, he again affixes the 
common title of God to the name. Still 
we cannot but consider it as doubtful 
whether the present rendering affords 
us precisely the sense of the original. 
According to the distinction of the He- 
brew accents, the first * EU' is separated 
from the rest of the word, as if the wri- 
ter meant to say, * And he connected 
the name of El (God) with the place, to 
wit, by calling it * Beth-el' or house of 
Gfoe2.* This is at once intelligible aud 
pertinent ; bnt what shall we understand 
by a title, of which the literal translation 
is either ' God-house-of-God,' or *God- 
of-the-house-of-God ?* Qn the whole, 

him, when he iled from the face of 
hia brother. 

8 But p Deborah, Rebekah's 
nureot died, and she was buried 
beneath Beth^el, under an oak: 
and the name of it was called At 


we have little doubt that the first 

* EI* does not belong to the name of 
the place, especially as we have no evi- 
dence that it was ever subsequently 

called any thing but * Beth-el* T Bs- 

caufe God there appeared unto him. Heb. 

a^ibwi I'^bx liaa mgiu dauv ha-tUh 

him^ the Elohim v)ere- revealed to hm. 
As * Elohim* is here contrary to general 
usage, connected with a verb plural, it 
is doubtful whether it be not intended 
as a designation of the angels seen in 
Jacob*s vision. So at least it is under- 
stood by the Chal., which renders it, 

* Because there the angels of God ap- 
peared to him.' The Gr., however, 
renders it, as in the Eng. version, * Be- 
cause there God appeared to him.' Va- ' 
tablus, Michaelis, and several other 
critics of note, agree with the Chal., 
though Rosenmnller doubts whether 

* Elohim' by itself ever signifies angdt. 

8. But DAorah, Rebekah's nurse, died. 

* Deborah ;' i. e. a bee. From the rea- « 
pect paid to her memory, we may fair- 
ly infer that Deborah was a venerable 
matron of exemplary piety. 1( we sup- 
pose her to have been fifty years of age 
when she left Mesopotamia with Re- 
bekah, she cctuld not have been far 
from a hundred and eighty at this time. 
On what occasion she was transferred 
from Isaac's to Jacob*8 family we are 
not informed. She might have been 
sent to him on his return from Syria, af- 
ter leaving Laban, when. to his young 
and growing family her services would 
have been peculiarly acceptable.— 
T And she Hoas luriedt &c. The death 
of an aged servant, when her work wae 





9 H And < God appeared uoto 
Jacob again when he came out of 
Fadan-aram ; and blessed him. 

10 And God said unto him, Thy 
name ts Jacob: ■'thy name shall 
not be called any more Jacob, ■ but 
Israel shall be thy name ; and he 
called his name Israel. 

11 And God said unto him, * I am 

« Hm. 13. 4. r cb. 17. 5. • cli. 3S. S8. 
tch. 17.1-48.3,4. Exod.6.3. 

done, would not brdinarily excite much 
regret. To have afforded her a decent 
burial was all that in most cases would 
be thought of. But Jacob*8 family were 
to much affected by the event, as not 
only to weep over her grave, but to call 
the very tree under the shadow of 
which she was interred, *Allon-ba- 
chuth,* the oak 6/ weeping. It is the 
more singular, too, that the family that 
wept over her was not that in which 
she had spent what we should call her 
best days ; but one that had merely ta- 
ken her under their care in her old age. 
We may suppose, however, that the 
sorrow expressed on this occasion was 
prompted not only by the recollection 
of her character, but also of her office, 
V having been * Rebekah's nurse.' The 
text seems to lay an emphasis on 
these words. We are told, ch. 29. 10, 
that the sight of the daughter of Laban, 
*his mother's brother,' and even of his 
sheep, had interested Jacob's heart; 
much more would the burial of his 
nurse. In weeping over her grave he 
would seem to be weeping over that of 
his beloved parent, and paying diat trib- 
ute of affection to her memory, which 
Providence had denied him at the time 
of her decease. 

9. And God appeared unto Jacob again^ 
&c. We are not probably to under- 
stand from this that the divine manifes- 
tation here spoken of occurred at the 
time of his return from Padan-aram, or 
immediately after it ; but he has refer- 
ence to the present time, and it is so 
spoken of in order to distinguish it from 

GodAlmightgr: befrttftlalandnul. 
tiply : " a nation and a company of 
nations shall be of thee, and kings 
shall come out of thy loins. 

12 And the land * which I gave 
Abraham and Isaac, to thee I w31 
give it, and to tfay seed after thee 
will I give the land. 

« ch. 17. 5, 6, 16. fc 38.3. fc 48. 4. 
»ch. 12.7.& I3.15.fca6.3, 4.lt9B.13. 

the former appearance of God to him at 
the same place, recorded Gen. 28. He 
appeared to him at Bethel whenhewst 
going to Padan-aram, and now he ap- 
peared to him again on the same spot 
when he was come out of Padan-anm. 
He had indeed, in. the interval, testified 
in various ways his ever- present aid to 
his servant, and fulfilled his promise of 
being with him wherever he went, but 
up to this time he had not so deariy 
and so signally manifeste<l himself as en 
this occasion. >— IT And Uessed hm. 
Confirmed afresh all his previous prom- 
ises of blessing. 

10—12. Ood taid unto hint, Tky name, 
&c. The whole account contained in 
these verses, of the appearance of 
God to Jacob, and of his consequent 
conduct, describes nothing more than 
a solemn and mutual renewal of 
the covenant already established. There 
is nothing material now said or done, 
but what had been said or done before. 
(1.) God had before said. Gen. 32. 23,' 
that his name should no more be called 
Jacob, but Israel, i. e. that he should 
mainly be called Israel. This honor is 
here renewed. (2.) God had before de- 
clared that the promises made to Abra- 
ham should be fulfilled in his posterity. 
This declaration is here renewed, and 
prefaced with an assertion of his own 
all-sufSciency to fulfil them. (3.) When 
God had before appeared to bim, he set 
up a pillar of stone, and poured oil upon 
it, and called the name of the (rface 
Bethel, Gen. 28. 13, 14. This ceremony 
he now renewed, with the addition of a 


B* c. i7ad.] 


IS And CM ' went vp from biiB, 
in the place where he talked with 

14 And Jaeeb ^ set up a pillar in 
the place whore he talked with him, 
even a pillar of stone : and he pour- 
ed a dnnk-ofTering thereon, and he 
poured oil thereon. 

sell. 17. S3. ych.«.i8. 

driak-olieriiig, for which in his first 
joamey he probably bad not the raate- 
riah. The«e incidenta may teach us 
tkat tb« most piecioas favors of heaven 
often come to us, not in the form of 
blessings or promises entirely new, but 
m the repetition or revival of those 
which we have already experienced in 
times past And so, on the other hand, 
it may be that the most acceptable man- 
ner in which they can serve God will 
be, not by engaging in something unat- 
templed before, but by * doing our first 
woika,* by reminding ourselves' of our 
eovenant vows, and seeking anew that 
spiritual communion which is t^life of 
our souls — — T A nation andawKkpofty 
tf Mtfssas. Or, Heb. * A nation, even a 
dinrch of nations.' Gr. * Nations and 
synagogues of nations.* Chal. * People 
«id a congregation of tribes shall be of 
thee, and kings reigning over people^t.' 

^f To thee and to thy eeed ; i. e. to 

thee, even to thy seed. The patriarchs 
are thus frequently identified with their 
posterity. See Gen. 13. 15. The key to 
the interpretation of this promise i% fur- 
' niflhed us by «uch paraages as the fol- 
lowing, Josh. 5. 9, — * the land which the 
Lord' sware unto their fathers that he 
wouM give us.' 

13. And CM ^aent up fnxm Aim, &c. 
This implies a visible manifestation in 
the symbol of his presence. Chal. 
* The glory of the Lord went up.' Arab, 
and Ethiop. 'The light or splendor of 
God went up.' See the explanation in 
the Note on Gen. 17. 22. 

14. And Jaedb set up a piBar^ dec. If 
the pUlar which he had formerly erect 


15 And Jacob cafled the Baaie of 
the place where God spake wA 
him, * Beth-eL 

16 IT And they journeyed from 
Beth-el ; and there was bat a litlie 
way to come to Ephrath : and Ra« 
chel trayailed, and she had hardfa^ 

*ch.88. 19. 

ed were now standing, the setting up a 
new one would seem to have been aai^ 
necessary, as the remaining rites ooakl 
have been easily performed upon that. 
The probability is, that as several years 
had elapsed, the first erection had gout 
wholly tf> decay, or become so mueh 
dilapidated as to require |o be set up 
up anew ; and thia we suppose iaeoh 
now to have done. He then poured 
upon it a Ubatten of wine and oil, aa4 
bestowed again the name of Bethel as^ 
a memorial of his fiiith and gratitads,' 
and with a design to havethe appellatioa 
perpetuated to the latest geneiatioaa. 

16. And they journeyed. The Gr. 
here inserts in addition the final clause 
of V. 21, rendering it, ' And Jacob jons^ 
neyed from Bethel, and pitched his tent 
beyond the tower of i£dar,' The i 
on of this will shortly be ex| 
f Buta Uuie way. Heb. f-lKH n*-Q!) 
kivraih haareta^.a Utile epaoe of gmumd k 
The same wosd in the original, Gen..48. 
7, is rendered in the Gr. * Hippodrsow,' 
or the lengthof a hone^raee coarse, which, 
Michaelis says, among the people of die 
East was about a mile. This agrees 
very nearly with what travellers bav« 
reported of the distance of RachePs 

tomb from Bethlehem. % EpkroAf 

i. 6. fruitful i called also here *Bphr»« 
ta.' See below, on v. If .— ->T Asid As- 
ckdtramihd^ 6te. Jacob's sojoura at 
Bethel was no doubt one of the peea* 
liarly bright spots in his history. ThesM« 
mory of former merciful visttatioiMi was 
here graciously revived to him $ hie fo^ ^ 
mily and household were brooghtili'ap- * 
I parent sincerity to the worship «# lbs ; 




[B. C. 1732 

17 And it came to pas8 wben she 
was in hard labour that the midwife 

true God ; and, in addition to this, the 
comforts of worldly prosperity were 
mingled in his cup. But an event soon 
occurred, which taught him how close- 
ly connected, in this vale of tears, are 
our sorrows and our joys. Bethel be- 
held him at the summit of worldly hap- 
piness. Bethlehem, the next town 
through which he passes, sees him in 
the depths of affliction, mourning the un- 
timely death of his beloved Rachel. 
The history does not expand itself here, 
but simply relates the fact that she died 
in giving birth to a son ; and the inci- 
dent recalls, with painful vividness, the 
passionate exclamation she had before 
ottered, *Give me children, or else I 
die.* Her prayer was heard, but at the 
expense of her life ! Alas ! how often 
should we be ruined at our own request, 
if God were not more merciful to us 
than we are to ourselves ! 

17. Arid it came to pass, &c. ■ The 
words now uttered by the midwife 
seem to have had allusion to what was 
said by Rachel herself on a former oc- 
casion. At the birth of her first son. 
Gen. 90. 24, she called him Joseph, a 
name which has the import of adding^ 
* for jshe said, the Lord shall add to me 
another son.' Her words, if now report- 
ed to Jacob, with the recollection of the 
above prophetic hint, would work ten- 
derly upon his feelings, *knd render his 
loss more affecting. But they appear 
to have had no influence on Rachel. 
life was ebbing too rapidly to permit 
her to rejoice ev«n in the acquisition 
die had so long and so ardently desired. 
[ Neither the recollections nor the pros- 
pects of worldly blessings avail much to 
gladden the chamber of sickness and of 
death. Rachel has the sentence of 
death in herself, and makes no answer ; 
but, turning her dying eyes towards the 
^lild, and calling him ' Beq-oni,' son of\ 

said auto her, Fear not ; * thoufihalt 
have this eon also. 

a cfa. 30. 24. \ Sam. 4. 20. 

my sorrow^ she expires! The circum- 
stances were very similar to those of 
the k death of Phineas' wife, 1 Sam. 4. 
20, 21, * And about the time of her . 
death, the women that stood by her ' 
said unto her. Fear not; for thou 'hast 
borne a son. But she answered not, 
neither did she regard it. And she 
named the child Ichabod, sajnng, The 

glory is departed from Israel.* ^ Hit 

father called him Benjamin. Heb. 
']'^>a'i33 hinyamin^ son of th§ right hand; 
implying that he should be peculiarly 
near and dear to his father, as is evident 
from the Scnptural usage of the phrase 
'right hand.* Thus it is the especial 
prerogative of the Saviour that he 
should * sit <U the right hand of GoA,' Ps. 
110. 1; parallel to which it is said, Pb. 
80. 17, * Let thy hand be upon the man 
of thy right hand^ upon the son of man 
whom thou madest strong for thyself.' 
So when we are commanded to cut olf 
the offending right hand, it is the same 
as requiring us to resign whatever is 
most dear arid precious to us, if it be 
inconsistent with our higher interests. 
The former name, though very appro- 
priate at the time, yet, if continued, 
would tend perpetually to revive the 
r-ecoUection of his beloved wife ; and of 
such a monitor he did not stand in need. 
The grief of a good n^n under the loss 
of earthly comforts may be very deep 
and unfeigned, yet it is unbecoming 
such a man to pore over his afnictions 
with cherished melancholy. We should 
aim rather to surround ourselves with 
the mementos of our mercies than of our 
afflictions, and to divert our thoughts from 
the objects taken away, and direct them 
to those that are left. Above all, let us - 
guard against setting our hearts unduly 
on any treasure upon the earth, lest what 
we reckon Bisaddingio our joys should be 
made a source of su0>%nng and sorrow. . 





18 And it came to pasfi as her 
flool was in departing, (for she died,) 
that she called his name Ben-oni : 
bat his father called him Benjumin. 

19 And ^ Rachel died, and was 

* ch. 48. 7. 

buried in the way to •Ephrath* 

which t5 Beth-lehem. 

20 And Jacob set a pillar upon 

her grave : that is the pillar of Ka- 

chers grave ^ unto this day. 

e Ruth. I. 3. & 4. 11. Micah 5. 3. Matt. 
2. 6. <! 1 Sam. 10. 2. 3 Sara. 18. 18. 

18. As ^ soul ttxu in departing, Heb. 
TO53 riifc!2i hetzetk napfishaJi^ in thegomg 
out of her soulj or life. Gr. tv rw a^ievai 
avinv Ti\y tpvxnvf in her sending out her 
life. The language legitimately implies 
no more than the departing or ceasing 
of (he vital principle, whatever that be. 
In like manner, when the prophet Eli- 
jah stretched himself upon the dead 
child, 1 Kings 17. 21, and cried three 
times, saying, * O Lord my God, let this 
child's soul come unto him again,' he 
merely prays for the return of his physi- 
cal vitality. See Note on Gen. 9. 4. 

19, Ephrath, which is BethUhem. Eph- 
rath, or Ephrata, was the old, and Beth- 
lehem the later name of this town. 
'Bethlehem* means 'house of bread;' 
hot we do not know on what occasion 
it was imposed. The town was in the 
•ilotment of the tril^e of Judah, being 
ntuated abont six miles south of Jerusa- 
lem, on the road to Hebron. It was a 
city in the time of Boaz, Ruth 3. 11. 4. 
1, whose grandson was Jesse, the father 
0/ David, who was born and reared 
there; in consequence of which the 
place is very frequently distinguished as 
'the city of Dovid.' It was one of the 
cities fortified by Rehoboam. But its 
greatest and most holy distinction re- 

, salts from its havingbeen the appoint- 
ed birth-place of our Saviour. The 
town is called someiimes in the Old 
Testament * Bethlehcm-Judah,' to dis- 
tinguish it from another Bethlehem, 
mentioned, in Josh. 19. 15, as a city of 
Zebulnn. Its ancient name is nearly 
preserved to this day, it being now call- 
^BeiuLahhm. The modern Bethlehem 
isaviOage covering the ridge of a hill 
on the southern side of a deep and ex 

tensive valley, and containing about 
three hundred inhabitants, the greater 
part of whom gain their livelihood by 
making beads, carving mother-of-pearl 
shells with sacred subjects, and manu- 
facturing small tables and craciiixes, all 
of which are eagerly purchased by the 
pilgrims who annually resort thither. 
Jerome, one of the Christian fathers, 
passed a great part of his life in this 
place ; and in the grotto shown as his 
oratory, he is said to have translated 
that version of the Bible which has been 
adopted by the church of Rome, and is 
called the Vulgate. He died at the ad- 
vanced age of ninety-one, A. D. 422. 

20. The piUar of BjochePs grave unto 
this day. That is, to the time when 
Moses wrote this history ; nearly three 
hundred years after the event; and 
that it remained for a long time after 
this, even to the days of Saul, w^ 
have indubitable proof from the sa- 
cred narrative, 1 Som. 10. 2,' *And 
when thou art departed from me to-day, 
then shalt thou find two men by Rftp 
chel's sepulchre, in the border of Benja- 
min at Zelzah.' It is by no means im- 
probable that the very spot is still cor- 
rectly designated at the present day, 
although the monument now visible is 
confessedly a Turkish structure. 'The 
Turks have generally enclosed the real 
or supposed sepulchres of the chief char- 
acters of the Old Testament- in some 
building or other: that which covers 
the tomb of Rachel is of a very humble 
description. It is a small square build- 
ing surmcmnted by a dome, and resem- 
bling the common tombs of sheikhs and 
saints in Arabia and Egypt. Mr. Buck- 
ingham, who has particularly described 



[B. C. 17» 

21 T And lorael jaorneyed, and 
spread bis tent beyond * the tower 

• Mic 4. 8. 

it, layv, *We entered it on the south 
4Bide hy an aperture through which it 
waa difficult to crawl, ai it has no door- 
way ; and foand on the inside a square 
mass of masonry in the centre, built up 
from the floor neariy to the roof, and of 
such a size as to leave barely a narrow 
passage for walking round it. It is plas- 
tered with white stucco on the outer 
surface; and is sufficiently lai^ and 
high tn inclose within it any ancient 
pillar that might have been found on the 
grave of RacheL' As this interior cen- 
tral mass is certainly different from 
•any thing we have ourselves ever wit- 
4ieiised in such structures, we are dis- 
posed to concur with Mr. Bucking- 
ham in thinking it probable that it was 
originally intended to inclose a pillar, or 
-fragment of one, which tradition had 
.pointed out as the pillar of RacheFs 
.grave ; and that the present structure 
was afterwards built over the whole by 
4he Mohammedans, who do not yield to 
•the i(ews or Christians in their venera- 
tion for such places. The precincts of 
the sepulchre tire now used by the 
Turks as a cemetery. The desire which 
these peo(4e feel that their ashes may 
rest in this spot is described by Mr.- 
Game <* Reoollections of the East,' p. 
160.) as * singular and extreme.* He 
adds, * All round this simple tomb lie 
thickly strewn the graves' of the Mus- 
sulmans. No slender pillars of wood or 
■lone, with inscriptions in letters of gold, 
are here ; not a single memorial which 
this people are otherwise so fond of 
erecting in their cemeteries. It eeems to 
be sufficient that they are placed be- 
neath the favorite sod: the small and 
numerous mounds, over which the sur- 
vivor sometimes comes and weeps, 
mark the places of their graves.' ' Pict. 

22 And it came to pass, when 
Israel dwelt in that land, tbat Reu- 

21. Itrad journeyed^ tmd wprtad Ms 
tent beyond Oie tower of Edar, Heh. 
^1^ iia>a migdcd eder, tower o/" tke 
flock; as the same phrase is rendered, 
Mic. 4. 8, 'And thou. O leiser of Ike 
fiock^ rHeb. ' Migdal Kder,*) the strong 
hoM of the daughter of Zion.* It is 
supposed that towers were made tor 
the use of the shepherds in watching 
their flocks by night ; and Jerome, mho 
had collected a great many ancient tra- 
ditions on the spot, affirms that it was 
at this place, near Bethlehem, that the 
shepherds were abiding in the field, 
keeping watch over their flock by night, 
when the angels announced the birth of 
the Messiah. And it is well worthy of 
note that the Targ. Jon. paraphrases the 
words of Moses thus ; ' And Israel went 
forward and pitched his tabemaole be- 
yond Migdal Eder, the place whence 
the Messias is to be reveaded in the end 
of days.* Others, however, "from the 
passage of Micah above cited, in wbich 
it is identified with * the strong hold of 
Zion,* conMder it as a denomination cX 
Jerusalem itself, whither the tribes of 
Ismel were wont to repair three times 
in a year as a flock to their fold, or to t^e 
tower of their shepherd ; or, with light- 
foot, of some place in the immediate 
vicinity. The Sept. version, as already 
remarked, has inverted the order of the 
history, and made the encampment of 
Jacob beyond the tower of Edar to be 
previous to his arrival at Ephrata. This 
may have been hecaufte the translators 
considered Jerusalem, or some place in 
its near neighborhood, to have been the 
site of the tower, in. which case it was 
necessary that one travelling from Beth- 
el to Bethlehem should pass the tower 
on his way. We are of opinion, on the 
whole, that they are correct in their to- 
pography, though their license of tians- 


B. C. 1729.] 



ben went and ' lay with BUhah his 
Other's concubine : and Israel 

f ch. 49. 4. 1 Chron. 5. 1. 2 Sam. 16. 22. 

position ifl scarcely pardonable. We 
would accordingly render the verse 
thus; ' For Israel Aa<2 journeyed, and had 
spread his tent beyond tbe tower of 
£der;' i. e. supposing the starting point 
10 have been Bethel, and the direction 
southward. This makes the scope of 
the writer to be, to state how it happen- 
ed that Jacob was at Ephcam when Ra- 
chel died. After leaving Bethel, he grad- 
ually advanced in a southern direction, 
fixing himself at intervals at diflTerent 
points as the prospect of pasturage in- 
vited, and as his company increased he 
continued to * spread his tent ;' i. e. to 
cover more and more ground, till at 
length, by extension and advancement, 
he had passed beyond Jerusalem and 
the 'tower of Edar' which lay in his 
route, and was in the immediate vicin- 
ity of Bethlehem Ephrata when Rachel 

22. And it came to pass, &c- The 
pious patriarch, in removing from one 
scene of sorrow, finds himself suddenly 
in another. A more heart rending event 
than even the deaih of his favorite wife 
is here related,— one pt the recite^ of 
which we are ready to pronounce Ra- 
chel hlessed in having been laid in the 
grave pre vious to its occ urren ce. R eu- 
ben, his eldest son, * the beginning of his 
strength, and the excellency of his dig- 
nity,' he who enjoyed tiie highest pre- 
rogatives among his brethren, degrades 
and dishonors himself by the nommis- 
«on of a crime of the deepest die, ' such 
as is not so much as named among the 
(^entiles.* Had such a wrong been 
done to the aged patriarch by a stran- 
ger and a foreigner, a person of another 
stock, we can easily paint to ourselves 
and justify, the mingled emotions of 
grief and indignation which the act 
must have excited in his bosom. But 

Jieard it. New tbe sons of Jacob 
were twelve : 

«t20.3. 1 Cor. 5. 1. 

what is'this compared to the anguish «f 
recognising the guilty perpetrator in 
one of his own household, in his owi\ 
his eldest son! It is as unnecessary, 
however, as it is painful, to dwell on 
this overwhelming blow to the domestic 
peace of Jacob. It was done in secret ; 
but * Israel heard of it ;' and not only so, 
but God so ordered it that this flagrant 
deed of sin should be heard of, not by 
Jacob only, but by all that read the sa- 
cred story to the end of time. If tempt* 
ed, therefore, to sin witli the hope of 
a>ncea}ment, let us be warned by this 
example, remembering that * there is 
nothing covered, that shall not be reveal- 
ed ; neither hid, that shall not be known.' 
In tbe Heb. there is an abrupt breakii^ 
off in the midst of the verse, with a long 
empty space between this and the find! 
clause, together with an extraordinary 
mark [o] in the word ' heard* to prompt 
attention. Grief is sometimes most em*- 
phatically expressed by silence, and this 
perhaps may be intended to be intimated 
by certain significant signs inserted into 
the sacred text. It does not appear that 
any notice in the way of punishment 
was taken of Reuben's conduct at th» 
time, but we afterwards 4earn, Gen. 
49. 4, that he lost the birthright in con- 
sequence of it Judgment never fails In 
the end to wait upon transgression. By 
his conduct, however, in reference to 
his brother Joseph, Gen. 37. 20, 22, he 
seems to have obtained, in behalf of his 
posterity at least, a mitigation of his 
punishment ; for Moses, in blessing the 
tribes, said of him. * Let Reuben live 
and not die, and let not his men be 
few.* Yet even here he does but Uve. 
No idea is suggested that he shquld 
ever excel, and with this the history of 
his tribe, in aftcNages, perfectly ac- 





23 The S0D8 of Leah ; r Reuben, 
Jacob's first-born, and Simeon, and 
Levi, and Judab, and Jssachar, and 
Zebulun : 

24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, 
and Benjamin : 

35 And the sons of Bilhah, Ra- 
ebel's handmaid ; Dan, and Naph- 

26 And the sons of Zi]pah, Leah's 
handmaid; Gad, and Asher. These 
CTt the sons of Jacob, which were 
bom to him in Padan-aram. 

f ch. 46. 8. Ezod. 1. 3. 

23—26. At the history henceforward 
ii occapied chiefly with the ' aons of Ja- 
cob,* as the fathers of the twelve tribes 
oTIsrael, the writer here, at the outset, 
briefly recapitulates their names, which 
are grouped together, not in the order of 
their birth, but according to their mater- 
nal parentage. It may perhaps appear 
strange that they should all be said to 
have been bom in Padan-aram, when it 
is clear from this chapter that Benjamin 
was bom in Canaan. But according to 
m common usage of the sacred writers, 
that is sometimes affirmed of a compa- 
ny or number taken collectively, which, 
though it holds good of the major part, 
caniwt be predicated of each individual, 
considered separately.. Thus, when our 
Saviour said to his disciples, Mat. 19. 
28, * Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones 
judging the twelve tribes of Israel,* it is 
manifest that Judas, oue of the twelve, 
is to be excepted. So, John 20. 24, 
Thomas is called one of lAe tioelvf, though 
in reaUty, as Judas was now dead, there 
were but eleven, and Mark accordingly 
mentions the latter number, Mark 16. 
14, * Afterward he appeared unto <Aee2e- 
vot as they sat at meat.* In hke man- 
ner Paul, Heb. 11. 1 — 13, having recited 
a list of the ancient worthies, says v. 
13, * these aUdied in iaith,' whereas it 
is expressly asserted, v. 5, that one of 
them, Enoch, did not die, but was trans- 

27 IT And Jacob came unto Isaac 
his hther unto ^ Mamre, wito the 
' city of Arbah (which is Hebron) 
where Abraham and Isaac sojoam- 

28 And Uie llays of Isaac were 
an hundred and fourscore years. 

29 And Isaac gave up the ghost 
and died, and ^ was gathered unto 
his people, beh^ old and fuU of dap : 
and * his sons Esau and Jacob buried 

k ch. 13. 18. 83. 8, 19. f Josh. 14. 15. 

15. 13. k ch. 15. 15. SS. & I «Ui. 25. a. 

27—29. Before the sacred writer pro- 
ceeds with the history of Jacob's twelve 
sons, particularly as involved in that of 
Joseph, he pauses a little upon two oth- 
er subjects, that the thread of the story 
may not afterwards be broken. One of 
these is the conclusion of Isaac^a life at 
the age of 180 ; and the other, contained 
in the thirty-sixth chapter, a brief sketch 
of the family and the temporal prosperi- 
ty of Esau. Had the death of Isaac 
been introduced in the proper order of 
time, it would have fallen in the midst 
of the history of Joseph ; but it occurred 
about twelve or fifteen years after his 
being sold into Kgypt. Esau and Ja- 
cob were 120 years of age at the deatli 
of their father, and from their uniting, 
as Isaac and Ishmael had done on a sim- 
ilar occasion, in performing the funeral 
obsequies of their father, it is to be in- 
ferred that the reconciliation between 
them was cordial and lasting. The 
event itself occurred A. M. 22S3, and 
after the flood 632 years. 

The present chapter is occupied with 
a somewhat detailed account of the pos- 
terity of Esau, eaBed from him Edom- 
itet, inserted mainly for the purpose of 
showing the accomplishment of the pro- 
mises made to Isaac respecting him, 
Gen. 27. 39, 40. The promise of tempo- 
ral prasperty was made ta Esau when 


B. C, ITHftl 


NOW these are the generations 
of Esau, • who is Edom. 
2 ^ Esau took his wives of the 
daughters of Canaan ; Adah, the 

>ch.S5. 30. bch.96. 34. 

theapiritiial bleanngs w«re Mcared to 
s Jacob ; and it is remarkable tbat on the 
aoore of worldly diiitinction he floarieh- 
ed in hie lifrtime, and for eeveral gene> 
mtione, far beyond his brother. While 
the latter vi-as a servant in Padan-aram, 
he established his dominion in Moant 
Seir ; and while the descendants of the 
one were groaning under Egyptian 
bondage, those of the other were form- 
ed into an independent kingdom, and bad 
eight kings in succession * before there 
reigned any king over the children of 
Israel.' But the notice here taken of 
Esan is like an honorable inscription on 
his tombstone. It is a kind of final 
leave taken of him and of his posterity, 
for we hear no more of them but as 
enemies of the chosen people. He is 
presented to onr view for a moment, as 
nuionnded with a glare of earthly glo- 
ry, but as there is nothing stable with- 
out the pale of the kingdom of God, the 
curtain speedily.drops upon oil his splen- 
dor and pomp, and it is seeji no more. 
The spirit of inspiration pauinng for a 
moment to show that no word of God, 
hoviever slight, fails of its effect, imme- 
diately passes to its main drift., and directs 
oar view to the raoro abiding and truly 
glorious c^mccrns of the line of Jacob. 

1. These are the generations of Esau. 
Heb. rmiin toledoth^ births ; i. e. oc- 
currences, memorable events, matters 
of record. See this sense of the origi- 
oal confirmed in the Note on Gen. 3. 4. 

^ Who is Edom. It is worthy of 

notice that in four different places in 
this chapter Esnu is expressly and em- 
phatically identified with Edom. This 
latter name, as we have seen. Gen. 25. 
34—^ was given him with a latent 
reference to his saii^ttiiiary disposition, 



daughter of Ekm the Hitthe, tnd 
« AhoUbamah the daughter of Anah 
the daughter of Zibeon the Hivite ; 
3 And <• Bashemath, IriipuMl'k 
daughter, sister of Nebajoth. 

• ver. SS. « eh. 98. 9. 

and as this was notorioosly the charac* 
ter of the Edomitea, especially towards 
Israel, it would seem as if the Holy 
Spirit of set purpose dwelt' upon thai 
appellation in order that its significanry 
might make a deep impreision upoatha 

2. Esau took his wives ofthedaughUn 
of Canaan. Not the daughters, i. e. the 
descendants of the country called Ca- 
naan, but of the person of that name, 
the head and founder of the Canaanitish 
nee, Gr. awo rtaw Bvyarxptav nav \ava- 
¥aiiav^qfthe daughters of the Canaaniles. 

^ Adah, the daughter of Elan, &c. 

It is to be observed that Moses here gives 
the three wives of Esau different names, 
when he comes to speak of the posteri- 
ty he had by them. We might infer 
from this that he had more than three ; 
especially as the fathers of the two for- 
mer are called also by other names; 
88 for instance his first wife Judith, the 
daughter of Beer the Hivite, is here call- 
ed Adah, the daughter of Elon the Hit- 
tite; the second, viz. Bashemath, the . 
daughter of Elan, is again called Ahoii- 
bamah, the daughter of Anah, the 
daughter of Zibion the Hittite ; the last 
called, ch. 29. 9, Mahalath, is here call- 
ed Bashemath. But the true solutionis 
no doubt to be found in the fact that 
the two last are names of the same per- 
son, as in both places she is called the 
daughter of Ishmael, and the sister of 
Nebaioth ; the same therefore may b« 
supposed of the other two. They were 
probably sometimes called by the one 
they had in Idumea and Arabia, as DR. 
chaelis conjectures, and sometimes by 
the other which was given to them in 
Palestine. It was no uncommon thing 
for women in those days to be distin- 



4 And "Adah bare 'to Esau, Eli. 
phaz ; and Bashemath bare Reuel ; 

5 And Aholibamah bare Jeush, 
and Jaalam, and Korah : these are 
the sons of Esau, which were bom 
unto him in the land of Canaan. 

6 And Esau took his wives, and 
his sons, and his daughters, and all 

• 1 Chron. 1. 35. 

guisbed by a plurality of names. Thus 
Sarah was called also Iscah ; and Maa- 
cha, the daughter of Abishaloin, 1 Kings 
15. 2, is called elsewhere, 2 Chron. 13, 
2, Michaiah, the daughter of Uriel. 
Compare Gen. 26. 34, with this passage. 

4. Adah bare to Emu, EHpkaz. As 
this Eliphar. had a son named Teman, 
V. 11, ^ Eiiphaz, the Temanite,* mention- 
ed in Job, may have been a grandson or 
some other descendant of this son of 

6. AndEsau took his wivea^ &c. Rath- 
er, * had taken,* i. e. previous to Jacobus 

coming. T AU the persons^ &c. Heb. 

tnOCa naphskoihj souls. Gr. oonarai 
bodies. Upon this peculiar usage of the 
Hebrew we have had occasion to re- 
mark before. See Note on Gen. 34. 
29. In like manner Rom. 13. 1, *Let 
every soul be subject to the ]^owers 
that be ;' i. e. let every person. The 
same phraseology, it appears, still pre- 
vails in the East. *■ Has a man gone to 
a distant place, it is said, ' Viravan, and 
all the souls of his house, have gone to 
the far country.' * Have you heard that 
the old man and thirty !<ou1* have gone 
on a pilgrimage?' *Sir, I can never 
get rich, because I have fifteen souls 
who daily look to me for their rice.* 

Roberts. H And went. Rather, ' had 

gone.' T Into the country. Or more 

properly, in an indefinite sense, * into a 
land or country.' Chal. * To another 
land ;' as if the design w^ere to intimate 
that he had no fixed destination in leav- 
ing his native land. He went forth to 
seek such a residence as might appear 
to him most eligible, and pitched upon 

GENESIS. [B. C. 1740, 

the persons of his house, and bw 
cattle, and all his beasts, and all his 
substance which he had got in the 
land of Canaan ; and went into the 
country from the face of his brother 

7 ^For their riches were more 
than that they m»ght dwell togeth- 

'ch. n.6,11. 

Mount Seir, because that region promis> 
ed to answer his expectations. The Gr. 
renders it, * And Esau journeyed from 

the land of Canaan ' 1 From the fait 

of. Or, Heb. •^iD?a mippene^ from he- 
fore; i. e. before his arrival; the pro- 
vidence of God BO ordering it, that as Jap 
cob gradually advanced to take posses* 
sionofhis promised inheritance, Esau 
should gradually withdraw to make 
room before him. It is not necessary 
to suppose that they actually made the 
eiperiment of living together before 
they separated and entered upon tlieir 
appropriate provii^ces. God foresaw, 
and thus enabled Moses to state, what 
would have been the result, and therefore 
so overruled events as to preclude an 
experiment being made. Neither is it 
necessary to suppose that Esau retired 
from Canaan and took possession of 
Mount Seir with the least design of ma- 
king room for his brother, and thus giv- 
ing scope for the fulfilment of the di- 
vine promises and predictions. But 
God overrules by a secret influence the 
movements of men, so that they arc 
made blindly to accomplish his purpos- 
es, even while intent upon seeking their 
own private ends. Lot us learn, there- 
fore, to discern with the eye of faith the 
occult workings of a wise and a kind 
providence in the midst of the evil couo- 
sels of wicked men, and in those events 
which to human .view appear to be pure- 
ly fortuitous. 

7. For their Hclies toere more than thai 
they might dwell together. The same 
thing, as we have before seen, Gen. I'i. 
6, 11, had happened to Abraham and 


B. C. 1740.] 



tr: and 'the knd wherein they 
were etrangen could not bear them, 
beeanse of their catde. 

8 Thue dwelt £eaa in ^ mount 
Seir : ^ Esau it Edom. 

IT And these are the genera- 
tions of Esau the father of the 
Edomitee, in mount Seir : 

10 These an the namee of 
&aa'8 eons ; ^ Eliphaz the eon of 
Adah the wife of Esau ; Reuel the 
son of Bashemath the wife of Esau. 

11 And the sons of Eliphaz were, 
Teman, Omar, Ze|kho, and Gatam, 
and Kenaz. 

12 And Timna was concubine to 

I ch. 17. & S!8. 4. b ch. 33. 3. Dent. 

2. 5. Jfwh. 34. 4. * ver. 1. ^ 1 Cbron. 1. 
35, &c 

Lot. Yet who would have thonght that 
the fulfilment of Esau't blessing, by his 
increase in woridly wealth, would be 
one of the means by which the promise 
to Jacob was accomplished, that he 
should have the land of Canaan for his 
own. Does not this result teach us 
that the prosperity of our neighbors, so 
^ ftom being a detriment to ourselves, 
is one of the ordinary means by which 
God contrives to promote our manifold 

advantages ? T 7*he land wherein ihey 

vert ttrangers. Heb. WT^^iaJa f^ 

8. Thus dwdl Emu in MoutU Seir. Or, 
more properly, *in the mount, ormoun* 
tains, of Seir ;* * Seir* being the name of 
a man, one of the race of the Horites, from 
whom the whole mountainous region was 
called. It wms the purpose of God from the 
beginmng that this region should revert 
to Esau for a possensiou. Joeh. 24. 4, 
* And I give unto Esau mmmf. Seir to 
possess it.* Dent. 8. 5, 'Meddle not 
with them ; iur I will not give you of 
their land, no, not so much as a foot- 
breadth ; because I have {^ven mount 
Seir unto Esau for a possession.* For 
an eitended geographical account of 
Mbiuit Seir, see Pictorial Bible in loc. 

ESlwhaz, £«au*8 son ; and she bare 
to £2ipha^ ^ Ainalek : these vere 
the sons of Adah, Esau's wife. 

13 And these are the sons of 
Reuel ; Nahath, and Zerah, Sham- 
mah, and Mizzah : these were the 
sons of Bashemath, Elsau's wife. 

14 IT And these were the sons of 
Aholibamah, the daughter of Anah, 
the daughter of Zibeon, Esau's 
wife : and she bare to Esau, Jeush, 
and Jaalam, and Korah. 

15 IT These toere dukes of the 
sons of Esau : the sons of Eliphaz, 
the first-born son of Esau ; duke 
Teman, duke Omar, duke Zepho, 
duke Kenaz, 

1 Kxnd. 17. 8, 14. Namb. 34. 90. 1 Sam. 
15. 3, 3, &e. 

'f E§au ia Edom ; i. e. Esau is the 
same man who is elsewhere called 
Edom ; or taking the names collectively, 
it may be paraphrased, * Edomiles is but 
another name for Esauites.' • Targ. Jon. 
And he (Esau) is the prince of the Idu- 

9. Emu Ihe fatlur of the EdomiteM, 
Heb. Dllfet "^^M obi »iom, the father nf 
Edom ; but nothing ia more common 
with the sacred writers than to denomi- 
nate a tribe or nation from its foimder. 
The classical names for Edom and 
Edomites are Idumea and Idomeans. 

15. These wen the duhe» of the gone of 
Esau. That is, governors, chieftains, 
princes; an order of rulers inferior to 
kings, and such as are at present deno- 
minate in the East emirs. The English 
word * duke* must not here be taken as 
implying any tiling like the order of bo- 
bihty with which in modem times we 
usually associate it, but rather in the 
sense of the Latin <2ttx, leader, ftom which 
duke is derived. The original D1^fi( 
^aUuph, from the same root with C)bM 
nJeph the first or leading letter of the 
Heb alphabet, properly Mgnifies a chief 
leader^ condtirfor, guide; as also occa- 
sionally chiJinrch, or captain of a thou- 
Band, no doubt from the use of Cjbfel 




[B. C. 1740. 

16 Duke Korah, duke Gatam, 
and duke Amalek: these are the 
dukes ih(U came of Eliphaz, in the 
land of Edom : these loere the sons 
of Adah. 

17 IT And these are the eons of 
Rcuel, Esau's son ; duke Nahath, 
duke Zerah, duke Shammah, duke 
Mizzah : these are the dukes th^it 
came of Reuel, in the land of Edom : 
these are the sons of B ashen lath, 
lean's wife. 

18 IT And these are the sons of 
Aholibamah, Esau's wife ; duke 
Jeush, duke Jaalatn, duke Korah : 
these were the dukes that came of 
of Aholibamah the daughter of 
Anah, Esau's wife. 

€deph as a numeral for a thousand. The 
Chal. renders it * Rabba/ a master ; the 
Gr. iiyeittav^ h^emon^ a governor or presi- 
dent. Still it would seem from the usage 
of the Hebrew that there is a sense ad- 
ditional to that of ruling involved in the 
term tTjlb^ aUuph. The verbal root 
C)!b&( olaph has the import of teachings 
and also of being closely cotmected^ asso- 
dated, familiarly intimate, and legiti- 
mately implies rather the relation of a 
master to his disciples, or of a friendly 
leader to his devoted followers, than 
that of a ruler to his subjects ; intima- 
ting that the government was mild and 
patriarchal rather than despotic. Schul- 
tens remarks that nothing is more fre- 
quent in Arahic than to designate a mas- 
ter, chieftain, lord, prefect, or even 
king, Ky a term signifying associate or 
companion. Thus it' is a common idiom 
to speak of the master of a flock as a 
companion of the flock, the governor of 
ft city as the companion of the city, and 
the ruler of a di.strict as the companion 
of a district ; a mode of speech which 
he thinks is founded upon the close re- 
lation conceived to exist between rulers 
and subjects. With these hints before 
1)1 we are prepared better to enter the 

19 These are the tons of Esau 
(who tff'Edom) and these are their 

20 IT «• These are the sons of 
Sbir " the Horite, who inhabited the 
land ; Lotan, and Shobal, and Zibe- 
on, and Anah, 

21 And Dishon, and Ezer, and 
Dish an : these are the dukes of the 
Horites, the children of Seir in the 
land of Edom. 

22 And the children of Lotan 
were Hori, and Heman : and LiO- 
tan's sister was 7'imna. 

23 And the children of Shobal 
toere these ; Alvan, and Manahatb, 
and Ebal, Shepho, and Onam. 

•p 1 Chron. 1. 38. n ch. 14. 6. Deut 2. 
12, 22. 

spirit of the following passages where 
the same word occurs. Ps. 55. 12, 13, 

* It was not an enemy that reproafihed 
me, <bc., but it was thou, a man mine 
equal, my guide ("^tl^fc^ aUuj^i), and 
mine acquaintance.' Prov. 2. 16, 17, 

* To deliver thee from the strange wo- 
man, &c., which fprsaketh the guide 
( C)nb» alluph) of her youth.' Prov. 16. 
28, ' A whisperer separateth chief Jriendt 
(Cjlbfi^)" i. e. he will, if listened to, 
separate parents from their children, 
husbands from their wives, and suhjecU 
from their rulers. The same phrase 
in the original occurs Prov. 17. 9, thongh 
rendered * very friends,* where Diodali's i 
Italian version gives ' conductor,' which 
he explains in a note by *a most trusty 
friend, who is one's usual counsel- 
lor in any difficulty and perplexity,' | 
referring to Mic 5. 7, * Trust ye not in 

a friend, put ye not confidence in a 
suide (C]lb» alluph): On the whole, 
therefore, we gather from the word the 
sense of precedency or rvding, but at the 
same time so connected with that of/«- i 
lowship and mutual confidence as to ill* | 
vest it of every offensive idea of rigid ^ 
and arbitrary lordship, wliich. i» ^ \ 
odious in the East. j 


B. C. 1740.] 



24 And these are tbe elifldren of 
Zibeon ; both Ajah, and Anah : this 
tM» that Anakthat found <> tbe mules 

oLev. 19. 19. 

84. AnoA that fomd the mules in the 
wQdemess. Heb. tS^^^S*^ yemitn, occur- 
ring only here. This is one of the pre- 
eminenUy doabtfal passages of holy 
writ. Jerome says that in his\ime th*»re 
were as many opinions concerning it, 
as commentators, and the variety of 
versions to winch it has given rise, 
would seem to confirm the remark. 
The Gr. leaves the wofd untranslated, 
in the form of lafietv iamrin^ as not know- 
ing what to render it. The (^hal. trans- 
lates by »*i*^a fftbbaraya, giartff^ as if 
confounding the original with * Emira/ 
one of the Heb. terms for giants. The 
Sam. has * Eraira/ under^^tandlng it of a 
warlike people bordering upon the Ho- 
rites. The Syr. has * raaye/ waters^ 
and in like manner the Vulg. from the 
fancied affinity which fi'^>3*i yemim 
bears to S*^ .V«''»» ^c sea, and ft'n^ may- 
im, toaterSf translates it * aquas calidas,* 
hot or tepid waters; as if Anah had discov- 
ered, in the parched and barren wilder- 
ness, several springs of that description. 
Amidst these discordant opinions we 
shall not assume the province of decid- 
ing, but state the evidence of the two 
most probable, leaving it to the reader 
to adopt that which seems to him to 
carry the most weight with it. (1.) The 
most accredited rendering among the 
Jews is that of mvles, which is adopted 
also by our English version. By those 
that hold to this opinion it is contended 
that the real object of Anah^s discovery 
was the method of breeding mules, from 
the hitherto unknown conjunction of 
tbe horse and the a.<)s. The fact is now 
well known, that mules are the mongrel 
product of a cross-breed propagation, 
and consequently were not created 
among the animal tribes with which the 
Most High originally stocked the earth ; 
for to all the creatures which he at first 

in tbe wflderness, as be fed the i 
ea of Zibeon his father. 

brought into being, he gave the capacity 
and the command to increase and mtz2f»- 
pfy, «en. 1. 22, 28, and this increase 
was to be made in each of the difTerent 
species, nccordinv to its kind^ Gen. 1. 
24. But as mules are not possessed of 
this property of sui generis propa^atioUf 
the inference is necessarily drawn that 
rhey were not originally created ; and 
Anah, therefore, by some accidental 
circumstance, or perhaps under the 
prompting of some impure and licen- 
tious motives, might have been the firat 
who discovered this unnatural mode of 
engendering between animals of differ- 
ent races. Accordingly some have 
supposed that his conduct in the affair 
was criminal, and that Moses intended 
to censure his mig^ided and preposte> 
rons ingenuity, in that, instead of being 
satisfied with the numerous flocks and 
herds bestowed by the bounty of Pro- 
vidence on his family, he contrived to 
originate a new and spurious breed of 
animals, unknown to nature, and con- 
trary to the laws of her operations. 
But, on the other hand, it must be con- 
fessed that Bochart^ in his Ilierozoicon, 
reasons very forcibly against this inter- 
pretation. His objections are ihatft^SJa 
matzti, found, never signifies to Hnvent, 
but rather to meet with, to happen on, or 
to encounter — ^tha't mules are never call- 
ed ta^Ja'i yemim in the Scriptures, but 
0*^*7*15 peredim — ^that Anah fed asses 
only, and not horses — and that there ia 
no mention made of mules in Palestine 
till the days of David. From the whole 
he concludes that ft formidable people 
called Emim are meant, with whom 
Anah/ou^A< ; and he quotes in confir- 
mation a number of passages in the sa- 
cred writers where the same form of 
expression, he or they found, signifies 
the onset to hatOe, as Judg. 1. 5. 1 Sam. 





25 And the ckildr^i c^Anah tpere 
these: Dishon, and AhoUbamah 
the slaughter of Anah^ 

26 And these are the children of 
Dishon ; Hemdan, and Eshban, and 
Ithran, and Cheran. 

^ 27 The children of Ezer are 

81. 3. 1 Kingrg 13. 24. 2 Chron. 23. 8. 
Num. 35. 27, etc. His arguments, how- 
ever, on the whole, go more stroi^rly to 
refute the adverse position, than to estab- 
lish his own, and therefore the rurrent of 
opinion among modem commentators 
■eto rather in favor of, (2.) The Vulgate 
rendering of warm springs. This view 
of the subject is presented most strong- 
ly in the words of Mr. Bryant, in his 
* Observations upon some passages of 
Scripture,* p. 26. * Why the word Q'l^*^ 
yemtm, is here rendered mules, I know 
not ; and why in some other versions it 
is expressed giants. It manifestly de- 
notes waters ; and it is so translated in 
the Syr. version ; and by aquas calidas 
in the Vulgate. The account given in 
Scripture is short, and was well under- 
stood by the persons to wiiom it is ad- 
dressed, and undoubtedly related to u'a- 
ter. The circumstance mentioned must 
have been of consequence, otherwise 
there would have been no necessity to 
specify the person by whom it was ef- 
fected. We should therefore read, that 
instead of mules Anah found out water 
in the wilderness : but to what does the 
history amount ! Every known spring 
must have had somebody to have disco- 
vered it; so that Anah, if this be all, 
did no more than hundreds had done 
before. But to me there seems to be 
something of ihore importance in the 
account than at firat appears, and for that 
reason the name of the person is re- 
corded, as being of moment to those 
who Uved in the vicinity of Edom, and 
wwe acquainted with the rites of Mid- 
ian. It is to be observed, that the sa- 
cred writer, in speaking of Anah's fint 
discovery of these waters, does not in- 

theee: Bilhan» and Zaavsn, and 

28 The children oi DiahaB arc 
these ; Uz, and Aran. 

29 These are the dukes thai came 
of the Horites ; duke LotaiH duke 
Shobalf duke Zibeon, duke Anah, 

form us when or where he was feeding 
his father's asses ; but only that the 
event took place as he was feeding 
them. This may be found of some mo- 
ment. I imagine that the latent purport 
of the history is this. As Anah was at» 
tending these animals in the desert, be 
observed that faculty with which they 
were endued, of snuffing the moisture 
of the air, and being by these meant 
led to latent waters. Accordingly, 
either by the intimation of those which 
he fed, or by the traces of the wild 
brood, he was brought to the knowledge 
of these resources.' This interpretation 
is perhapH, of the two, entitled to prefe^ 
ence ; eflpecially as it is said by travel- 
lers that springs of that description do 
actually exist in that region to the pres- 
ent day. Five or six mUes south-east 
of the Dead Sea, towards Petra, and 
consequently in or near the region in 
which the Seirites, and afterwards the 
Edoraites dwelt^ is a place celebrated 
^mong the Greeks and Romans for its 
warm baths, and called by them Caffir- 
hoe. But it is scarcely to be expected 
that the passage will ever be cleared of 
all uncertainty. 

29. These are the dukes that came of 
Horii among their dukes^ &c. Heb. 
t)n*^Dbttb leahiph^em^according tolheir 
dukest i. e. according to their dukedoms. 
Thus, » king' is frequently used in Scrip- 
ture for * kingdom,' particolariy with the 
prophets. Is. 23. 15, *Tyre shall be 
forgotten seventy years, according t» 
the years of one king ;' i. e. of ooekiiV 
dom ; viz. that of Babylon. Dan. 7. iTi 
* These great beasts are four king* 
which shall arise out »»f the esK^ 
This is interpreted by the Holy Spirit 


B. C. 1740.] 



90 Doke Disbon, dnke Eser, 
dake I>i8baii: these art the dnkee 
that cmrne of Horit amoDg their 
dokes in the land of Seir. 

31 ir And p these «re the kings 
that reigiied in the land of Edom, 

^imaelf of kingdoms ; t. 23 : ' The fourth 
beftit tthall be the fourth kingdom upon 
eaith.' Thus, also, Rev. 17. 42, * And 
the tea home which thou aa west are ten 
kmgs ;* i. e. ten Jdngdonu. So where 
it is a^id, 2 Kings 11. 19, * And he sat in 
the thiune of ike kingt^* another pro- 
phet, in allusion to the same event, 
says, 2 Chron. 23. 20, * And set the king 
upon the throne of the kingdom.* This 
pecaliarity of diction is very important 
to be borne in mind in the interpretation 
of prophecy. These «even sons of Seir 
possessed their dukedoms or chieftain- 
ships simultaneously in different parts 
of the land, instead of succeeding each 
other, lik« the kings mentioned below. 

31. T^fcrse are the kings that reigned, 
&C. before there reigned any king ov& the 
daldrsn, of brad. Whether these kings 
were descendants of £sau or of Seir, 
it is impossible to say. As the two ra- 
ces seem to have been miogled togeth- 
er, they might have been. the blended 
issue of both. But a point of ^till great- 
er moment, and equally difficult of so- 
lution, is to account for the expression 
* befoie there reigned any king over the 
chiUien of Israel.* It is objected, that 
as this implies that there tras a king 
feigning ia Israel at the time the present 
leeoid was written, and as there was no 
Uiig thoB reigning till some centuries 
slier the death of Moses, therefore Mo- 
ses himself could not have been its au- 
thor. To this it may be repKed. 
(1.) That theire is nothing incredible in 
the supposition of Moses having written 
it; however, it may be said that this is 
cutting the knot, instead of untying it. 
Not to remark that the word * king' may 
be taken in a general sense for any c&ts/* 
VOL. 11. 

before there reigned any king over 
the children of fsrael. 

»2 And Bela the son of Beer 
reigned m Edom : and the name of 
his city was Dinhabah. 

33 And Bela died, and Jobab the 

rvHer or gwemor^ as in Deut. 33. 5. Judg. 
17. 6. Ps. 119. 46. Luke 22. 25. AcU 9. 
15., it is certain that Moses had before. 
Gen. 35. 11. recorded the prediction 
that * kings should come out of the 
loins* of Jacob, and why may he not 
have been prompted by inspiration to 
foretel,' in this incidental way, the fulfit 
raent of this promise? But although 
this be a satisfactory reply, yet, (2.) It 
can scarcely be doubted by any one 
who compares the account contained 
V. 31—13 with 1 Chron. 1. 43-^54, th«l 
the one has been taken from the oth- 
er ; and the probability we think is mock 
stronger that the genealogy in Ge- 
nesis is a copy from that in Chronidesi 
than that the reverse is the case. It is 
unquestionable that similar interpolA* 
tions are made also by later writers, and 
we see no reason why this may not be 
regarded as one ? — ^As such things are 
usually estimated among men, it pnnst 
have been trying to the seed of Jacob, 
groaning in Egyptian bondage, to 
know that the descendants of Esau had 
in the mean time become great and 
powerful, and had the royal dignity es- 
tablished among them. But though the 
honors of E^n's race blossomed early, 
they soon decayed ; while, on the other 
hand, the issue of Israel eventually rose 
into a pre-eminence, whicJi, either tem- 
porally or spiritually, was designed to 
be everiasting. — >-ir Over the diUdren ef 
Israel. Heb. inn©*^ ^^DSb Hmte Yierael^ 
to the sons, or children of Israd ; i. e. 
for or among them; for their advan- 
tage. Gr. tv l<rpari\ in Israd. Ver|r 
nice distinctions are often made in the 
original by the use of the mino^ words 
and cotmectives, which are lost sij^ 




[B. C. 1740 

flon of Zqrah of Bozrah reigned in 
his stead. 

34 And Jacob died, and Hushain 
of the land of Temani reigned in 
his stead. 

35 And Husham died, and Hadad 
thO/Son of Bedad (who smote Mid- 
ian in the field of Moab) reigned in 
his stead : and the name of his city 
IMW Avith. 

36 And Hadad died, and Samlah 
of Masrekah reiened in his stead. 

37 And Samlah died, and Saul 
of Rehoboth by the river reigned in 
his stead. 

38 And Saul died, and Baal- 
hanan the son of Achbor reigned in 
his stead. 

»f in a version. This is paiticularly 
the case in regard to terms and phra- 
ses which relate to government^ where 
the idea of absoluie despotic nUe finds 
but little countenance from the insti- 
tutions of the Israelites. Thus, in 
like manner, it would seem that the 
popular title of the present monarch of 
France, to wit, King of the French, was 
preferred to that of King of France^ be- 
cause it carried with it a more distinct 
recognition of the lotS of the people in 
conferring the office upon him. 

34. land of Tenumi. That is, of the 
Temanites; who derived their name 
from the grandson of Esau called duke 
Teman, v. 15. From this region came 
Eliphaz, the Temanites one of the three 
friends of Job. 

40. These are the names of the dukes, 
^. From a view of the whole chapter 
it would seem that the government of 
the Edomites was at first ducal ; that is 
to say, patriarchal, in which families 
are governed by heads or chiefs, very 
much afbr the manner of the clans in 
the highlands of Scotland, or the hidian 
tribes of our own country ; that in pro- 
eesB of time as the people increased, a 
change took place and a dynasty of 
tight kings succeeded. As a new enu- 

39 And BaaKhanan the son of 
Achbor died, and ^ Hadar reiffned 
in his stead : and the name of his 
city was Pau ; and his wife's name 
was Mehetabel, the daughter of 
Matred, the daughter of Mezahab. 

40 And these are the names of 
'' the dukes that came of Esau, ac- 
cording to their families, after theii 
places, by their names ; duke Tim- 
nah, duke Alvah, duke Jethetb, 

41 Duke Aholibamah, duke Elah, 
duke Pihon, 

42 Duke Kenaz, duke Teman, 
duke Mibzar, 

43 Duke Magdiel, duke Iram: 
these be the dukes of Edom, accord- 

« 1 Chron. 1. 50. r I Chron. 1. 51. 

meration of dukes occurs from v. 40 to 
the end of the cfiapter, some have in- 
ferred from this that another change 
took place, by which the government of 
dukes was again restored. Certain it is, 
that upon Israel's coming out of Egypt 
mention is made Ex. 15. 15, of the ' dukes 
of Edom,' and while passing through the 
wilderness they sent to the *king of 
Edom,' Numb. 20. 14, from which it ap- 
pears that the royal dynasty was then 
in power. And as these eight kings are 
said to have reigned before any king 
reigned in Israel, v. 31, it is perhaps to 
be inferred that such a change as that 
suggested above had taken place. Yet, 
on the other hand, if we regard v. 31 — 
39 as an interpolation, then the portion 
from V. 40 to the end of the chapter is 
to be taken in immediate connexion 
with V. 29, and understood as a contin- 
uation of that account, the former part 
giving us a list of the Horite dukes, and 
the latter of those of the line of Esau. 

43. In the land d/* their possession. 
That is, the land of their firm, fixed, 
abiding possession. The expression 
conveys a tacit allusion to the contrast 
between the mode of Esau's and of Ja- 
eob's possessing severally their respect- 
ive inheriunces. The one is represented 


B. C. 149ai 

ing to their habHatioiifl, in the land 
of their possession : he is Eiau, the 
£ither of the Edomites. 



as holding his by a permanent tenure, 
and therefore it is called the landofhispot- 
session^ whereas, when Canaan is spoken 
of as the allotment of Jacob, it is term 
ed the land of his sojourning. And so of 
Abraham and Isaac. They were pil 
grims and DOt possessors. 

CHAP, xxxvn. 

We here enter upon one of the most 
remarlcable and interesting portions of 
the whole mass of sacred history. The 
life and fortunes of Joseph, embracing, 
with the exception of two chapters, the 
residue of the book oj Genesis, or about 
one-tenth of the whole, form a story 
of unrivalled attraction, whether we 
consider the simplicity and beauty of 
the narrative, the touching pathos of 
the event8,related, or the vastly import- 
ant moral lessons which it teaches. 
Viewed as an illustration of the doc- 
trine of a particular Providence, bring- 
ing to pass the grandest results from the 

. most apparently trivial events, nothing 
can be more significant or striking. It 
has all the effect of a pictorial delinea- 
tion. While the recital flows on with 
all the charm of a highly- wrought tale of 
fiction, we are still assured of the tnah 
and reality of every incident, and feel 
that we are contemplating an epitome 
of the dispensations of that overruling 
Power which is * wonderful in counsel 
and mighty in operation* — which con- 
trols the free and voluntary action of 
intelligent creatures, even when prompt- 
ed by a spirit of malevolence and rebel- 
lion, so as to render them subservient 
to the accomplishment of tliose very 

. plans which they are inten^yupon de- 
feating, while the guilt of tne agents 
remains resting upon tliem in all its 
unabated aggravations. But while this 
is doiibtless the most important aspect 


AND Jacob dwelt in the land 
* wherein his father was a 
stranger, in the land of Canaan. . 

>eh.l7.8.&33.4. ic36.7. Hebr. 11.9. 
in which the history of Joseph is to be 
viewed, it is stiH worth while to observe 
that merely as a human composition, 
as a specimen of simple, graceful, elo- 
quent, and pathetic narrative, it is imi- 
versally conceded that it has no paralleL 
We find in it all that gives beauty to the 
finest drama — a perfect unity of deiigo ; 
a richness and variety of incident in- 
volving the plot in obscurity, yet grad- 
ually drawing to its intended de- 
velopment; and the whole issuing 
happily, rewarding pre-eminent virtue 
with appropriate honors and blessings, 
and visiting iniquity with deserved hu- 
miliation and punishment. It is a story 
which persons of all ages, and minds of 
all orders, peruse with equal interest; 
and the degree of secret moral influence 
which the spotless example of Joseph 
has exercised upon omntless numbers 
of the readers of the Scriptures, can 
never be appreciated till the day of the 
revelation of all things. We behold in 
him one who in every period of life, in 
every change of condition, in every v»- 
riety of relation, secures our confidence, 
our respect, our love. In advenrity, we 
see him evincing the most exemplary 
patience and resignation ; in temptation, 
the most inflexible firmness ; in exalta- 
tion, the most unaffected simplicity, 
integrity, gentleness, and humility. 
Whether as a son, a brother, a servant; 
a father, a master, a ruler, we behold 
him exhibiting a deportment equally 
amiable and praiseworthy; and the 
respect which we entertain for the sa. 
gacity of the statesman and the penetra- 
tion of the prophet, mingles with onr 
profound admiration of the purity of the 
saint. But we leave it to the sequel to 
disclose, in all their richness, these inter- 
esting traits of biography and history. 

1. Jacob dwdt in the land where his fa- 



[B.C. 172». 

2 These are the generadons of 
Jaeiob: Joseph beinff seventeen 
yeanr^old, was feeding the flock 
with his brethren, and the lad was 

Aer VMM a stranger. Heb. "nmayaf *15C 
';\'^^y^ bearetz megure (Aiv, in ike land of 
his /atiter*s aojcurving; where 'fa- 
therms may be taken as a collect, ving. 
indading Abraham as well a« Isaac. 
The character of * sojourners^ was com- 
mon to the patriarchs, and as Jacob 
dwelt in the same country with his 
forefathers, he dwelt in the same way, 
and under the influence of the same mo- 
tives. This he afierward:^ cunressed to 
Pharaoh. Though he had bought a 
•mail piece of ground in the country, yet 
be still was, and counted himself, a 
atranger and a sojourner in the land of 
Canaan. Heaven was . the country 
which he regarded as his possession, his 
inheritance, his liome. 

2. These are the ffeneratinns of Joseph. 
Heb. rmbiri toUdotK Urlhe : i. e. the 
lamily history. That the original aigni- 
Ifofl something more than mere genealo- 
gff is obvious from the matter which the 
history contains, although it can hardly 
be taken in the extended and general 
amaae of our word history. When the sa- 
cred writer, therefore, says, * these are 
the generations of Jacob,* he may either 
refer to what goes before, implying that 
Aeae were the principal events in the per- 
aonal and domestic history of Jacob, of 
which, being about to pass to another 
•uJbject, he says no more at present; 
or it may refer, to what follows, in 
which case the sense will be that this 
is the family history of Jacob, an ac- 
count of the most important incidents 
that befel his house, but more especial- 
ly in respect to Joseph, who hencefor- 
ward becomes the prominent theme of 
the story. The date of this narrative is 
to be placed twelve years before Isaac's 
death, when he was 168 years old, and 
Jacob lOB; for if Joseph were 39 when 

with the SOBS of BUhfth, and with 
the SODS of Zilpaht hjs father's 
wives: and Joseph brought imto 
his father ^ their evil report. 

kl Sam. 2. S3, 33, 24. 

Jacob was 130, (compare Gen, 41. iS^ 
with 45. 2. and 47. 9.) it will folk>w that 
Joseph was bom when Jacob was9T, 
and consequently when he was 17 his 
father was 103. But when Isaac died 
at the age of 180, Jacob was 120, as be 
was bom when Isaac was 60 ; (herefore 
Joseph's age of 17, and Jacob's of 108, 
win bring the date of his being sold into 
^gyp^ twelve yean prior to the death 
of Isaac — — T Joseph being seventeen 
years old, was feeding the flock^ Ac. Heb. 
T«3m T»r« n« ny^ rr^n hayah roeh 
eth ehav haiztzon, literally, voas tending, 
or acting the shepherd over, his brethren 
in the flock. However uncouth to our 
ears the phraseology, this is undoubted- 
ly the exact rendering, and the import 
of the words we take to be, that Joseph 
was charged with the superintendence 
of his brethren, particularly the sons of 
Bilhahand Zilpah. Whether this wasovr- 
ins^ merely to the fond favoritism of his 
father, or to his superior fidelity, capa- 
city, and diligence in the discharge of 
his diuies, we know not ; but we can- 
not but infer from the text that such 
was the fact-, that in some way the 
management and direction of the flocks 
and their keepers was entrusted to him. 
If so, his making report to his father of 
the conduct of his brethren, instead of 
being an act of oflficious intermeddling, 
was in fact but the discharge of an im- 
portant part of his duty; 'for it is 
required in stewards that a man be found 
faithful.* From the Note on Gen. 29. 3, 
it will be seen that the term * flocks,* as 
used by the sacred writers, frequendy 
carries with it by implication the idea of 
shepherds' or *■ keepers,* to whose care 
they were consigned. See the "Sote 

also on Gen. 47^ 6. T And the ladms 

wkh the sons of BiViah. Heb. ^:p^ KTTl 


B. C. 17S».] 



«e&v iMor^ and he a lad. Prom a carefiil ; remaineth yet the youn^st, end be- 
iospecdon of the original we are perraa- hold, he *^S1 tl^^ heepelh tieakeep,* 

ded that the exact shade of meaning is 
not represented here by the rendering 
of oar version. Tlie definite article ^ the,' 
as well as the supplemental word ' was,* 
we conceive to have been introdnced 
withoQt authority, as there is nothing to 
countenance them in the Hebrew. The 
connect tiandation is doubtless the fol- 
lowing ;* *■ Joseph being seventeen years 
old, was tending his brethren among the 
ilocke, and he a (mere) lad, (even) the 
ions of Bilhah, &e.* The mention of 
his yonth is brought in parenthetically, as 
something peeuliaiiy worthy of notice, 
while the clause *■ with the sons of Bil- 
hah,' &c. is designed to limit and epeci- 
fjr the term * brethren' going before. As 
this construction, however, is somewhat 
new, and as it can be established only by 
•n appeal to the common diction of the 
sacred writers, we shall briefly advert to 
a few passages which go rtrongly to 
confirm it. The commoa translation, 
it will be observed, renders l^ni^ rsM 
tlh t*ae, by with his brethren. Hat the 
particle p.^^ eth very generally follows 
the verb n9"^ raoA, as the sign of the ac- 
cusative, and not as a preposition. Thus 
Gen. 30. 36, * And Jacob yx2 DK HlPn 
fed the flocks of Laban.' 2 Sam. 7. 7, 
'Whom I commanded "nJa^ Tfi^ m^l^ 
to feed my people Israel.' Jer. 23. 2, 
'Thus satth the Lord God of Israel 
•gainst the pastors -«?a5 n» D'^^'in thai 
feed my people,' Indeed, in no other in- 
stance throughout the Bible, if the 
VKsent be excepted, does ri^ follow ns^'n 
^ a preposition. Again, according to 
the established version, "^a^sn n?1 roeh 
^ioiztzon signifies to/ee<2 or ietid tite flock, 
"'fn^'l governed its accusative by 
the interposition of the particle ^h. But 
this is contrary to usage in every in- 
stance in the Heb. Scriptures except 
two, and those are undoubtedly cases 
precisely parallel to the present, in 
which the particle signifies ta or among. 
The first occurs 1 Sam. 16. 11/ There 

The second is found 1 Sam. 17. 34, 
* And David said unto Saul, Thy ser- 
vant "iBisa roxkb rrn n^n *cp< Au 

faiher'e sheep.* In both these caaea 
we doubt not the true rendering is 
that David performed the qfiee cf a 
ehepherd-ooerteer in or awtang the flodtt^ 
just as we say of a military officer, 
he commanded in the army. As to 
the true meaning of DV% it will be 
found that all the Lexicons give it the 
sense of overseeing, gwemingt presiding 
over^ superintending, and such, we can- 
not question, is its impart here, in res- 
pect to Joseph. This circumstance, in 
all probability, first prompted the enviom 
feelings of his brAthren, which were 
greatly enhanced by the incident men- 
tioned below.—-— T Brought unio his 
father titeh evU report. That is, an evil 
report concerning them, it may be re- 
marked, too, that the Heb. has ^"t!U| 
abihem, their father, instead of^l-^nK «^t 
his father, as our translators have ren- 
dered it. Heb. nyn tsnai t^ethdA- 
baiham raah. The original r\'21 ddibah, 
signifies a report of infamy, scandaUms 
information. The term is in itself pe- 
culiarly expressive and emphatic, but it 
has here an angroented sense by the 
addition of the epithet n^^n raah, ewi, 
as if it was intended to convey the idea 
of some peculiar, flagrant, enormous 
act of wickedness, the report of which 
Joseph carried to his father. Chal. 
* Their evil accusation.' What this 
conduct was, we are not informed. 
The silence of the sacred oracles 
hns veiled it from human view till 
the judgment day. SutHce it for us 
to know, that the feelings of Joseph 
were wounded by the bad behaviour 
of his brethren, and that he could 
not rest easy without disclosing the par- 
ticulars to his father. In this he is to 
be commended, as it was in fact per- 
forming a kind and brotherly ofliee. 
Though a child should not be indulged 



[a C. 1498. 

8 Now Israel loved Joseph more 
ffaan aH his children, because he toas 

by hit parents in repoirting every trivial 
trie to the diMidvantage of bis brothers 
«r sisters, yet mme offences are so gross 
that they ought not to be concealed. 
Parents shonld be made acquainted 
-with them that they may correct them, 
or if that cannot be, that they may, as 
lar as possible, counteract their ill ef- 
ItBcts. The witnesses of evil conduct 
often contract no small part of its crim- 
inality by neglecting or refusing to 
make it known. 

3. Now Ifrad loved Joteph more than 
aU hig daJdren, because, Ac Jbseph 
held this high place in his father's afiec^ 
tions, not only because he was the first- 
born son of his best bek>ved wife, and the 
child of many prayers, but because be 
Was the son of his old age. This latter 
expressioi^ however, as used in the 
original, is not of very definite import-, 
nor if taken as usually understood, is it 
easy to see precisely the ground of the 
usertion. Benjamin was much more 
the son of his old age than Joseph ; and 
it cannot well be supposed that Joseph 
was younger than Zebulun and Dinah. 
In fiict, Jacob was an old man before 
any of his children were bom. ^ How 
dien is the language to be understood ? 
The original ibb'^Spt p hen zekunim lo, 
ii literally rendered son of old age to himf 
which in the Chal. is paraphrased by 
* wise son,* taking the phrase * son of 
old age,* to be equivalent to * son of wis- 
dom,* the ideas of o^e and toisdom being 
intimately related. In this case the 
idiom is to be considered the same 
witii that which appears in the expres- 
sions, 'son of wickedness,* *son of per- 
dition,' * son of strength,' * son of peace.' 
According to this the idea is, that Jo- 
seph, even in his early years, had the 
wisdom of a sage; and perhaps, as 
hinted above, it was on this account 
tet he was preferred to the office 

« the son of his old age : and he 
made him a coat of many cok>iu8. 
• eh. 44. 90. 

of superintendent over his brethren. 
For ourselves, although the common 
interpretation does no violence to the 
original, we feel strongly inclined to &• 
vor this sense of the phrase. It afibrdi 
a more worthy reason for Jacob's loving 
hiin so intensely than the time of hu 
birth. The time of birth would proba- 
bly have ingratiated the oldest 8on„nr 
ther than the youngest but one or two, 
with his father, had not Reuben been 
utterly unworthy of Jacob's fondness. 
Certain it is, that Joseph was very wise 
in his early years ; and it is no less cer- 
tain that a wise sbn makes a fond a« 

well as a glad father. H He modi 

him a coat of many ctiUns, That is, or- 
dered or procured it to be o^ade; not 
tliat he did it by liis own personal act. 
See Note on Gen. 8. 21. But there U 
great doubt as to the garment itself, nor 
could the common reader imagine to 
what a vast variety of interpretations the 
expression * coat of many colors' haa 
given rise. The Heb. phrase is ti^ 
t3^0& htQwntfik pagsioh property signi- 
fying coat ofpiecee. The Chal. has * tu- 
nic of strips or shreds.' Gr. xirwya 
troiKiXovt parlucolored oir variegated coaL 
Vulg. * Tunicam poljrmitam,' embtoidend 
coat. Syr. * Fringed tunic' The phrase 
occurs only here and 2 Sam. 13. 18, 
*• And she had a garment of divers cdbrs 
(Heb. b'^DB nans coat of pieces) upon 
her : for with such robes were the king's 
daughters that were virgins apparelled;* 
from which it is plain that it was a gw 
ment worn as a mark of distinction. 
But whether the common rendering 
* coat of many colors,' gives the true im- 
port of the original, may justly be doubt- 
ed. As the Heb. has simply *tH>at of 
pieces,* it is a matter of inference only 
to suppose that these *■ piec^' were of 
different * colors,' although not improba- 
ble that this was the case. But it woold 



0. C. 1496.] 

4 And when b» brethren saw 
that their father loved him more 
than all his brethren, they *> hated 

<cb 37. 4I.&49.<23. 


be important to show that the art of in- 
terweaving a piece in various colors was 
at this time actually discovered. Jodging 
from the information offered by the pre> 
sent passage, we should rather infer that 
it was HOC ; for the pecaliar term Q^^D^ 
piece» here employed, makes it probable 
that the agreeable effect resulting from a 
combination of colors was obtained, if at 
all,bx patch-workin the first instance,and 
in after-times by being wrought with a 
needle. 8och variegated garments were 
no doubt worn as they still are in the 
East at this day, but as to Joseph's 
coat, Braunius, in his great work * On 
the Dress of the Jewish Priests,* con- 
tends that it was a long robe reaching 
to the ankles and wrists, and that the 
word *■ pieces* refers, not to the body of 
the garment, but solely to the borders 
of the skirts and sleeves, which were 
fbmiahed with an omamei^tal fringe, 
composed, perhaps, of parti>colored 

* pieces.' The body of it was probably 
white, correspooding with the 'stole,* 
of which see Note on Gen. 27. 15. This 
coat we cannot but regard, like the 

* goodly raiment* of Jacob, as a badge of 
the IMkrighU which we are expressly 
taught, 1 Chton. 5. 1, having been for- 
feited by Reuben,' was transferred to 
Joseph ; and we regard it as highly pro- 
bable that It was this circumstance, 
mora than any other, which inflamed 
the envy of his brethren ; so that as 
Esau, iroder the galling sense of his lost 
superiority, laid wait for the lifo of his 
brother Jacob, in like manner the bre- 
thren of Joseph plotted against his inno- 
cent blooid. The birthright-robe we 
have before ventured lo consider as an 
emblem of the resurrection-garments of 
the saints; and we suppose that a direct 
sllnsion to the dipping of Joseph's coat 
in the blood of the kid is made in the 

him, and could not speak pesfeeably 
unto him. 

expression. Rev. 7. 14, * These are they 
which came out of great tribulation, and 
have washed their robes, and made them 
white in tfie blood of the Lamb ,•' or Gr. * &y 
the blood of the Lamb ;' i. e. by pa- 
tiently suffering even unto the shedding 
of their own blood in the cause of the 
Lamb, and by the merits of the Lamb's 
blood, they have entitled themselves to 
be clothed with the white robes, indica- 
tive of the spiritual and eternal blessings 
which belong to * the general assembly 
and church of the/rsC-6om, whose names 
are written in heaven.' 

4. They hated him. This result showed 
that Jacob acted unwisely in distinguish* 
ing Joseph from his brethren by this 
mark of his regard, it seemed to bo 
a palpable, invidious, and premature 
taking away of the birth-right firom 
Reuben and giving it to the firsi- 
bom of his beloved wife. The birth* 
right was indeed to be Joseph'^; and 
it was due to him as the eldest son of 
Rachel, when the first-born son of Leah 
had forfeited it. But, as might have 
been expected, Joseph was at once ex* 
posed to the envy of his brethren by 
this mark of his father's fondness ; and 
the effects of that envy cost the good 
old man many years of pungent afflic- 
tion. Parents indeed cannot well avoid 
loving most affectionately those chil- 
dren who best deserve their love, nor is 
it wrong they should. But they have 
great need of cauticm lest by impru- 
dent testimonies of their regard, they 
injure instead of benefitting the children 
whom they k>ve. Joseph might have 
lived happily in his father's house withr 
out being clothed with a garment of 
divers colors, but h6 could not wear it 
without encountering the hatred of all 
his brethren. Yet let us not blane 
Joseph for aeeepting this token of his 




[B. C. 1496. 

5 IT And Joseph dreamed a 
dream, and he told it bis brethren : 
and tbey hated htm yet the more. 

father's Ipve. It was not bis province 
to affect wisdom superior to that df his 
aged parent, nor would it have become 
him to suspect all the evil that was in 
the hearts of his brethren. Only the 
bad are ready to suspect that others are 
bad, till experience makes them ac- 
quainted with the corruption that 

abounds in the world. 7 Could not 

$peak peaceably urOo him. That is, they 
could not through the moral inabihty 
growing out of the extreme aversion of 
their hearts towards him. Thus Mat. 
12. 34, * How can ye, being evil, speak 
good things ?' It is evident at a glance 
that an inability like this is utterly inex- 
cusable, aniT the more so in proportion 
to the real worth and excellence of the 
person towards ^hom the hatred exists. 
How aggravated then is the guilt of that 
inability which prevents- sinners from 
loving and serving God ! The expression 
* could not speak peaceably unto him,' 
does not, as with us, imply that tbey were 
continually quarreling with him, hot they 
could not accost him in a friendly man- 
ner ! they could not imsh him u«22,nor bes- 
tow upon him the usual salutations which 
. were every where current among those 
who were not openly and avowedly at 
variance with each other. The original 
■> Dbob Usiudom, to peace, and the 
Eastern mode' of salutation still is q^c 
n]b shaiom leka, peace be to thee, (Arab. 
talam) ; and as the invocation of peace 
comprehends all kinds of blessings, tem- 
poral and spiritual, hence they are care- 
ful not to utter it to those to whom they 
do not wish well, as is often the cose 
with the Turks towards the Christians, 
and the witholdiog it may generally be 
considered as a mark ofhostiliti/, and an 
evidence that when an opportunity oc- 
curs tbey will not scruple to do you an 
injury. Viewed in this light, the refu- 
sal of Joseph's brethren to exchange 

6 And he said unto them, Hear, 
I pray you, this dream which I have 
dreamed : 

with him the common civilities of friends 
and acquaintances showed a very alien- 
ated and exasperated stale of heart. 
And this circumstance, taken in connex? 
ion with the sequel of their conduct, af« 
fords a most impressive commentary 
upon the baleful effects of envy, and 
the importance of checking it in the 
germ. lis fruits, when they have had 
time to ripen, are always deadly. Jo* 
soph's brethren, when first seized with 
this fiendish passion, did not proceed at 
once to the extremes of cruelty. They 
could not, indeed, * speak peaceably' to 
him, but they entertained no thoughts of 
killing him till their envy had by indul- 
gence attained a greater degree of 
strength. Gradually, however, their 
malice assumed a deeper hue, and from 
the character of iheir intentions they 
contracted the guilt of murder before 
they had shed it. In the sight of men 
they were chai^eable with intended 
murder when they cast Joseph into the 
pit ; bnt in the sight of God they were 
chargeable with this crime as soon as 
they began to hate Joseph ; for * he that 
hateth his brother in his heart, is a mur- 

5. And Joaeph dreamed a dream, &c. 
We take this verse to be a general and 
summary declaration of that which is 
particularly detailed in the ensuing ver- 
ses ; just as we understand Gen. 1. 1, a« 
a summary of the six days' work after- 
ward minutely described. We thus 
avoid the appearance of repetition in 
the sacred writer. Joseph was destined 
to high honor before he came into the 
world, and it pleased God now to fitvor 
hun with a presage of his exaltation in 
a dream that made a deep impression on 
his mind. This might be expected to 
be the case with a dream supernatural* 
ly imparted. Dreams coming from God \ 
to announce future events would of ! 




7 For * behold, vre vfere binding 
ahsaves in the field* and lo, my 
iheaf arose, and also stood upright ; 
and behoU, your sheaves stood 
kxbA about, and made obeisance 
to my sheaf. 

• ch. 43. 6, 0. 4b 43. 96. & 44. 14. 

I differ in this respect from such 
I M were mere ilhitioiw of the fancy. 
; When God spak» to men in these noctor- 
nal Tititations, he nsnally made his yoice 
to be recognized as his, and distingmsh- 
ed from the wild reveries of a wander- 
ing imagination, if in no other way, at 
least by the effects which they prodiH 
Md Qpon the minds of the subject of 
, them. In the present instance, the 
Most High, by pre-intim«ting in dreams 
what he was about to effect, woirid 
make it clear, when the course of events 
came afterwards to be reviewed, that 
nothing had happened fortnitously, but 
«very thing in pursuance of a previons 
phn, however intricate and perplexed 
A» stepe by wMch it was brought 
•bout Whether Joseph acted wisely 
in teHing hie dream, may be question- 
ed ; but it was evidently done hi all the 
•implictty of a chiid«hke heart, without 
tbe remotest idea of inflaming a resent- 
ment ^thready too strong. But as the 
dream was oAyviousiy suggested by God 
Inmaelf, so we cannot doubt that Joseph 
was aecretly directed by an overruling 
J^ovidence in relating it For although 
Ws brethren made a very bad use of it, 
7«t that use of it, such as it was, tended 
^'i^nt their knowledge, and against 
^eir indniation, to its fulfilment. God 
oyerndes not only the imprudence of 
lui friends, bat the wickedness of his 
nwmies, to the accomplishment of his 

own pleasure. ^ They hated him yet 

**« more. The scope of the dream, 
^atever might be the particular man- 
*^w of its fuifilmenf, evidently pointed 
to lome kind of future advaneement 
^^d ascendancy destined for Joseph, and 
it is not unlikely that his brethren had 

8 And his brethren said to him, 
Shah thoQ indeed reign over ns 1 or 
shalt thou indeed have dominicii 

er OS ? And they hated him yet 
the more for his ^ams and for his 

a secret persuasion that it was pfophet- 
ic. The idea, therefore, that God, ae 
well as Jacob, had determined to honor 
him, provoked them the more. Sach 
were the operations of malice in Cain 
towards Abel, in Esau towards Jacob, 
in Saul towards David, and in the 
Scribes and Pharisees towards the Lord 
of glory. 

7- Behddf we were binding sheofsetf^tc. 
The imagery employed in this dream 
was not drawn from objects or occupa- 
tions with which Jacob's sons, a ihmify 
of nomades, were most familiar, nor did 
Joseph himself yet know that his exaH- 
ation was to be procured by the inter- 
pretation of another dream respecting 
the fruits of the earth, or that his breth- 
ren were to bow down to hhn for a sup- 
ply of that precious commodity. The 
propriety and beauty of the images used 
in the language of prophecy; are best 
understood when the prophecies are ao- 
comptished. " 

8. And his brethren eaid to Wm, Shah 
thou, &.C. The general signification of 
this dream was very obvious. Jo8eph*s 
brethren undoubtedly perceived it at 
once, as clearly as Joseph himself, if 
not more so. • What' say they, * do 
you imagine that all of us will ever bow 
down to you ? Shall we be subject to 
our own younger brother ? Has he the 
presumption to hope that we ever shall ?* 
Moved with the same indignant feel- 
ings with which our Saviour informs 
us that he himself would be roceived, 
they say, in effect, ' We will not have 
this man to rule over us.' Such is onr 
native pride and stoutness of spirit, that 
we cannot bear the thought of being 
subject to those who have been our 




[B. C. 1496. 

T And he dreamed yet anoth 
er dream* aod told it his brethren, 
and aaid* Behold, I have dreamed a 
dream more : and behold ' the sun 
and the moon and the eleven stars 
made obeisance to me. 

10 And he told t^ to his father, 

t ch. 46. 39. 

equals or inferiors. But let us remem- 
ber that * promotion cometh not from 
the south, nor from the east, nor from 
the west ; it is the Lord that putteth 
down one, and setteth up another ; and 
who shall stay his hand, or say unto 
him. What doest thou ?' 

9. He dreamed yet artother dream. This 
second dream, which is evidently of the 
same import with the first, though rep- 
resenting his exaltation by brighter co- 
lors, was vouchsafed, doubtless, with a 
view to confirm the certainty of the event 
predicted. The same reason was after- 
ward aasifnied by Joseph for the dupli- 
cation of Pharaoh's dream, Gen. 41. 32, 
* And for that the dream was doubled 
unU> Pharaoh twice ; it is because the 
thing is established by God ;* i. e. most 
firmly fixed in the divine determination. 
If the narrator was envied by his breth- 
ren when they heard the former dream, 
it was to be expected that their spirits 
would be kindled into rage when they 
heard this also. * God speaketh once, 
yea twice, unto men ; but man perceiv- 
eth it not.' Here we find men so far 
fh>m perceiving what God said, when 
Ihey heard it twice, that they were fill- 
ed with the blackest malice against the 
child who told them what God had spo- 
ken to him. Hatred and envy turn 
good into evil, and fill the minds of wick- 
ed men with an irrecondleable aversion 
to the word and the providence of God. 
If Joseph's dreams had been the mere 
rovings of the fancy m sleep, they were 
not worth the minding ; but if they were 
indeed from God, and signified the fu- 
ture advancement of Joseph, his breth- 
ren siDOed not only against the lad, but 

and to his brethren : and his father 
rebuked him, and said nnto him, 
What is this dream that thou hast 
dreamed ? Shall I and thy mother 
and r thy brethren indeed come to 
bow down ourselves to thee to the 


against the Lord himself, when they 
were displeased with them. What 
were they that they should resist or 
make light of the counsels of the Most 

High? T Themtn and the moon and 

the eleven stars made aibeieanoe to me. 
Rather, * eleven stars* simply. There 
is nothing in the original to require or 
warrant the use of the article * the' in 
our translation. The scope of the 
dream was in the main the same with 
that of the former. But in order to se- 
cure greater regard to the oracle, the 
scenery is kid in heaven. Joseph'a 
brethren hnd made light of the \ision of 
the sheaves growing upon the earth ; 
God now directs their view to the lumi- 
naries above, as something which would 
more forcibly seize their attention and 
inspire reverence. 

10. And his father rebuked him, and 
said unto Atm, dec. .Tacob himself no 
doubt entertained difiereut views from 
his sons concerning Joseph's dreams, 
though he seems, from motives of poli- 
cy, to have affected to treat them with 
contempt. It is said in immediate con* 
nexion, v. 11, that * his father observed 
the saying ;' i. e. pondered the dreams 
in his heart. He thought it possible, if 
not certahi, that they came from God ; 
and if so, they merited the closest at- 
tention; for God says nothing that is 
fiilse or unimportant. In his reproof^ 
therefore, he meant not so much to 
check vanity or ambition in Joseph 
himself, as to dispel the hostile feelings 
of his other children, who were filled 
with indignation against him. But it 
may be questioned whether in thus ap- 
parently siding with thenii he took the 


B. C. 1729.] 



11 And ^hiB brethren envied 
bim; but his father >obeerv^tbe 

12 S And bis brethren went to 
feed their father's flock in She- 

>i Acts 7. 9. » Dan. 7. 28. Lake 2. 19. 51, 

fairest or wisest m4e>thod to allay the 
fierce pa ssions that threatened the re- 
pone and safety of his favorite son. He 
Ke^ms rather to have given too much 
montenance to their ill natnre and to 
have famished them with a fair pretence 
for alleging that Joseph's dreams were 
the fruit of his own pride, and not the 

dictates of the Spirit of God. V SJuOl 

land iky mother and thy hretkren bow 
dmon to thee ? A very natural exposi- 
tion is here given of the dream in such 
a manner as to suggest that it could not 
he accomplished. The head of afami- 
]y might, in fignrative language, be rep- 
resented by the sun ; the mother and 
mistress of a family by the moon ; and 
the children of a family by the stars. 
Thus Achmet, the Persian, in his Oneir- 
ocriticon, or work on the interpretation of 
dreams, explained according to the sense 
of the ancient Persian and Grecian magi, 
says, * If any one dream that he com- 
mands all the stars, (it signifies) that he 
^^ ill role over all people.* (Heideg. Hist.. 
Pat. vol. 2. p. 533). But according to 
this interpretation, it had the appearance 
of absurdity. Joseph would not wish 
nor expect that his father should do him 
obeisance. It would be strange too if 
his brethren, who were all older than 
himself, did all bow down to him ; and it 
was impossible that his mother could do 
it» who was already in her grave. But it 
i« not necessary to the accomplishment 
of a dream, that every object which pre- 
sented itself to the fancy should have 
something correspondent to it in ihe 
event, but only that the general idea 
should agree with what was afterwards 
to happen. ThnS in parables, it would 
be unreasonable to seek tL distinct 

18 And fnael mid unto Joeeph* 
Do not thy brethren feed thejCxk 
in Shechem? Come, and I wiU 
send thee unto them. And he said 
to him, Here am I. 

14 And he said to biro, Gro^ 1 
pray thee, see whether it be well 

meaning for every circnmstance em" 
ployed in stating and adorning them. 
It is certain that Rachel could not bow 
down to Joseph, nor is it absolotely cer- 
tain that any of Jacob's wives went 
down with him to Egypt; but it is cer- 
tain that Jacob himself paid homage to 
Joseph, Gen, 43. 11, before he knew 
that he was alive, and that afler he did 
know it he depended upon him for sup- 
port. This was sufficient to justify the 
pertinency of the dream. The words 
of God, if rightly understood, will be 
found faithful and true ; but we are not 
to think that he is under any obligation 
to verify the comments which we may 
put upon them. ^ Observed ihe say- 
ing. Heb. ^2in n» n>3© Bhamar elk 
haddabar, kept the word, or the matter ; 

e. laid it to heart, reflected deeply 
upon it. Thus it is said of Mary, the 
mother of Jesus, Luke 2. 19, 51, * But 
Mary kept all these things, and pondered 
them in her heart.' So also, Dan. 7. 
' As for me, Daniel, my cogitations 
much trouUed me, and my countenance 
changed in me ; btU I kept the matter ta 
my heart.* » 

12. Went to feed their father's Jlock in 
Shechem. The vale of Hebron, where 
Jacob now was, did not perhaps con- 
tain sufficient pasturage for his flocks. 
It was at or near Shechem that Jacob 
had formerly bought a piece of ground. 
Gen. 33. 19, the right to which he 
doubtless still retained ; and this was 
probably the reason of sending hither 
his flocks, though the distance from 
Hebron was sixty miles. 

14. See whether it be weU toitk ihy hre^ 
thren. Heb. tpibVD fl?ft tllk^ reaih eth 
shahm, tee the peace^ or ihe wdfwre ; i. .e. 




with fbf brefliveo. and w^ with 
the flocks; and bring me word 
ugean. So he sent him out of the 
i^e of ^ Hebront and he came to 

15 1 And a certain man found 
him, and behold, he was wandering 
in the field: and the man asked 
him, saying, What seekest thou ? 

k ch.35.27. 

go and we how it fare* with thy bre- 
thren and the flocks. Though enter- 
taining a peculiar regacd for the beat of 
his tons^ yet the welfiire of all of them 
waa dear to Jacob, and from former oc- 
currences. Gen. 34. 25 — ^31, he would 
naturally suppose that Shechem would 
be a place of dangerous neighlx>rhood. 
The former inhabitants of the place had 
indeed been destroyed, but the memory 
of that bloody transaction no doubt still 
lived over that whole vicinity, and no- 
thing was more natural, under these cir- 
cumstances, than the fother's anxiety 
respecting his children.. He accord- 
ingly sends Joseph to bring him intelli- 
gence o f their condition. How little did 
either father or son think of the cx>nse* 
qnences of that paternal mission ! Jo- 
seph leaves his father's house never, 
never, to return to it more ! Who can 
tell what a day may bring forth ? The 
last meeting, the last parting ; the last 
coming in and going out ; the last time 
of speaking and of hearing ; the last of 
every thing will soon overtake us all! 

15. A certain man found him^ Sdc. Jo- 
seph did not find it so easy as he bad 
supposed to gain the intelligence which 
his father desired. His brethren were 
not in Shechem ; but he did not return 
to tell his father that they coald not be 
found. He knew the patriarch's ant* 
iety, and felt himself interested in the 
MFelfare of his brethren. He therefore 
holds on his way in quest of them, and 
ofier wandering about for some time in 
the fiekl, that is, in the region or country 
adjacent to Shechem, he falls in with. a 

16 And he ssid, I seek rayhreth^ 
ren : ^ tell me, I pray thee, where 
they feed their flocks. 

Yt And the man said. They are 
departed hence : for I beard them 
say, Let us go to Dothan. And 
Joseph went after his brethren, and 
found them in "> Dothan. 

18 And when they saw him afar 

> Cant. 1. 7. « 2 Kings 6. 13. 

stranger, one acquainted with the fami- 
ly, who informs him that they had in all 
probability gone to Dothan. Thither, 
aeoofdingly, he goes without delay, and 
there meets with his brethren, though 
he found too much reason, for the pres- 
ent, to lament his success. But of this 
more in the sequel. Dothan was sitna' 
ted from eight to twelve miles north 
of Samaria (Sebaste), which was m 
miles beyond Shechem^ in going from 
Jerusalem ; so that it was abont seven- 
teen miles north of Shechem, and near 
Mount Giiboa, making the whole dis- 
tance from Hebron at least seventy 

18. And HBhen dtey saw him afar off, 
&c. — they conspired against kim, Heb. 
liSitl^ yiiknakkehi^ ikey craftdy oonspir 
red. 6r. tvwiipsvowro, they maUgnarUl^ 
plotted. The original term occurs also 
Ps. 105. 25, in reference U> the conduct 
of the Egyptians towards Israel ; ' He 
turned their hearu to hate his people, 
to deal nMOy (b^3tn hiihnakkeD with 
his servants.' So also Num. 25. 18, res- 
pecting the insidious plots of the Midian- 
ites ; * For they vex you with their wiles 
(OiTibSa benikUhem) wherewith (key 
have beffuHed'you oblD3 rnkkdaV We 
read of very cruel actions performed, in 
different ages, by the degenerate sons 
of Adam, but it would not be easy to 
find a parallel in history to the cruel in> 
tentions and the cruel conduct of Jo- 
seph's brethren. Cain was of that wick* 
ed one, and slew his brother, and has 
left a name of infomy to all the genera- 
tions of mankind. But where shall we 


B. a i7».] 


«K even belbre he eame near un- 
to tbem, "they conspired ag^ainst 
him to slay him. 

19 And they said one to another* 
Behold this dreamer cometh. 

> 1 Bam. 19. 1. Ps. 31. 13. 4b 37. 19, 33. 
fcM. 21. Matt 27, 1. Mark 14. 1. John 
11.53. Acta 23. 13. 

find niDe men conspiring^ at once to kill 
a brother — a brother whose amiable 
qualities deserred their warmest love 
— « brother who tenderly loved them, 
and -was in the yery act of showing his 
love to them at the time when their fu- 
ry broke loose upon him ! Joseph had 
too good reason, as David afterwards 
had, to say in the person of Christ, * For 
my love they are mine adversaries* 
The bare sight of him at a distance, re- 
kindles all the foul passions that had be- 
fore rankled in their breasts, and though 
crime is nsually gradual in approaching 
its crisis, yet here the very first proposal 
is murder ! Joseph, on the other hand, 
fitde thinking what they were plotting 
against him, draws nigh, in the fulness 
of his aflfectionate heart, overjoyed af- 
ter all his wanderings and anxieties, to 
catch a sight of his brothers, with their 
tents and their flocks, afar off. How 
easy is it to imagine the tear of tender- 
ness falling from his eye, while he de- 
livers his father's greeting, and tells the 
tale of his disappointments and mistakes 
on the road, and to see his countenance 
flushed with delight at the thought of 
being again among friends, of having 
once more a protector. But alas ! what 
a fearfi^ reviilsion were his feelings des- 
tined soon to experience ! What pangs, 
like those of death, must have pierced 
him, when, instead of meeting the kind 
reception which he had anticipated, he 
finda himself attacked by assassins in 
the persons of brothers ! 

19. Bekdld this dreamer cometh. Heb. 
ttTTairm byS fcaa^ kakalomothf lord or 
matter of dreamt ; a phraseology imply- 
ing habitual usage or addictedness. See 
Note on Gen. 14. 13. It was, therefore, 


90 •Come now therefore, and 
let us slay him, and cast him into 
some pit ; and we will say. Some evil 
beast hath devoured him ; and we 
shall see what will become of hii 

• Prov. 1. 11, 16. fc 6. 17. & 27. 4. 

a contemptuous and taunting epithet, 
ifpplying not merely thd simple fact of 
his dreaming dreams, but his making, 
as it were, a trade of it So bis breth- 
ren in JacoVs prophecy. Gen. 49.23, 
are called * lords of arrows,* Eng. * ar- 
chers,' from their habitual evil practices 
against Joseph. But why were they 
so much piqued at his dreams ? Had 
they deemed them no more than mere 
illusions of the brain, the wandering 
images which float through the mind in 
the hours of sleep, they would doubtless 
have suffered them to pass away from 
their memories like other vanities of 
which they took no account. But it ii 
plain that they considered them as inti- 
mations of the purpose of heaven, and 
as such they were bent upon frustrating 
them. Instead of merely aiming to 
hnmble the arrogance of a presumptu- 
ous boy, w^ho fondly dreamed of rising 
into honors above his equals or superi- 
ors, they in reality declare their inten- 
tion to thwart the counsels of Omnipo- 
tence. We may be amazed at such 
hardihood, but as long as we have upon 
record the infatuation of Pharaoh, of 
Saul" of Herod, and of the conspiracy 
of the Jews against Christ, we cannot 
deem it incredible. 

20. Let tu tlay Aim, and cast him into 
some pit, &c. This is their device for 
securing themselves from the reproach 
of the world and the indignation of their 
father. Bat where were they to find a 
pit deep enough to hide their crime from. 

the 6ye of the All-Seeing? ^ Jbtd 

we vnlt say, Ac Lying seldom hak to 
accompany other sins. One sin neads 
another to guard it from deteetioa ; and 
he who can commit any groaa criflM 



[B. C. 1739 

21 AndpRenbeii heard ti, and 
he delivered him out of their hands; 
and aaid, Let us not kill him. 

22 And Reuben said unto them, 


will not scrapie to utter a hundred lies 
to protect himself from the tbame to 
which his oondact exposes him. If we 
would avoid the temptations to the lying 
lips which God abhors, let us beware of 
other sins. 

21. And Reuben heard it, and he ddiv- 
ered him out of their hands. The word 
* delivered/ in this connexion, is design* 
ed to express the intention rather than 
the act of delivering him. He resolved 
within himself to deliver him; or at 
least to do his utmost towards it This 
it an idiom of frequent occurrence in 
Hebrew. Thus Josh. 24. 9. 'Then Ba- 
lak the son of Zipper, king of Moab, 
«ro8e and warred against Israel.' But 
we do not find, from any part of the 
history, that Balak engaged in actual 
conflict with Israel. He is said, there- 
ibre, to have warred against them, be- 
cause he intended it, because he cher- 
ished a Kostile purpose^ and made his 
preparations accordingly. Thus too, 
Ex. 6. 18, *And the magicians did so 
with their enchantments ;' i e. attempt- 
ed to do ao, See Note in loc. Pb. 68. 
4, (Heb.) ' They that destroy me are 
mighty ;* i. e. (Eng.) they that would 
destroy me. Ezek. 24. 13, * Because 
I have purged thee, and thou wast not 
purged ;' i. e. I vxndd have purged thee. 
GaL 5. 4, * Christ is become of none 
effect unto you, whosoever of you are 
justified by the law;' i. e. who would 
be, justified, who seek to be justified. 
•— ^Y And $aidi i. e. said to himself. 
This verse, we apprehend, expresses 
meteLy what passed in Reuben's mind ; 
|he next acquaints us with what he 

caid to his brethren. T hetutnothU 

tfm, Heb. SJ^S 13:33 Mt^ h nakkenu ne- 
fikuh, Ut uanot emile him (as to his) 
$fidi i. •. bia UCb i so as to take away 

8iied BO fabod, hut caat him into 
this pit that is in the wilderness, 
and lay no hand upon hitn ; that he 
mi^bt rid him out of their hands, to 
deliver him to his father again. 

his life. In like manner, Jer. 40. 14, 
*I>08t thou certainly know that Baslis 
the king of the Ammonites hath sent— 
to slay thee: (Heb. tDB3 "rrOfib fc*«*- 
kotheka nephesk, to smite Ihee astoibi 
soul or life). Comp. in the original 
Deu^. 19. 6, 11. Num. 35. 11, 15. Lev. 
24. 17. 18. Gen. 19. 17. 

22. And Reuben said unto them. Shed 
no Hood, dec. From what we have for- 
merly read of Reuben, Gen. 35. 22, we 
should not perhaps be surprised to find 
him foremost in any scene of wicked- 
ness that might be projected by thesoni 
of Jacob. But let not the worst of men 
be held worse than they really are. We 
here behold htm the only dissentient fai 
thill council of blood. He was no doubt 
sincerely anxious to save Joeeph, for the 
sake of his father whose life he knew was 
bound up in that of the lad. Having for- 
merly himself pierced the heart of bis 
father with a wound which could never 
be healed, charity require»U8 to suppose 
he had repentod of his wickedness, and 
now wibhes to make his father all the 
compensation in his power. He could 
not undo what had been done, but it 
would certainly be doing an eminent 
service to Jacob, could he save the life 
of his best-beloved sop. But Reuben 
knew that it would be of no avail to 
protest with a loud voice against the 
meditated crime. Though he was the 
elder brother, and his opinion on that 
account entitled to the greater weight, 
yet he sees them so madly resolved 
upoir their purpose that it would be in 
vain directly to remonstrate against it. 
He therefore takes a way that appears 
to him more efiectual to defeat ita 
execution. He pretenda not to oppose 
the proje<:tod measure, but alleges tifst 
it. would be unxMLtural to lay hands Qp- 


B. C. 17a9.J 


23 1 And H came to pass when 
Joseph was cume unto his brethren, 
that tiiey stript Joeeph out of his 

on him, and proposes to pnt him into a 
pit, whence he might be prevented mak- 
ing his escape tiU he died. We shoaU 
haidly have ihongbt that his propoM- 
tion would be acceded to. It was evi* 
dencly wone to kill him with hunger in 
a pit, bf a lingering death, than to dis- 
patch hina at onee. They ooold not 
think their guilt would be diminished by 
this barbarous mode of perpetrating the 
crime. But as they would thus spare 
their eyes the sight of biood shed by 
their own hands, they -suffer their in- 
fttoafiad Aiads to be imposed upon by 
this false show of mercy, and by an act 
wlueh really made their crime greater, 
rendered their remorse for the present 
less. 80 strangely does wickedness blind 
men's minds to the plainest truths ! But 
the result was that Reuben prevailed to 
obtain a respite for Joseph— Y Thai 
he might rid khn, &o. lliat is, in order 
titttt; to the end th»ic The drift of his 
eomael was, that at aome convenient 
oppDitnnity he might restore him to his 

S3. T^key ttripped Jo$eph out of kit 
eoaC,&c. AU that had hithertotakenplace 
occurred as Jowph was approaching. 
No sooner does he arrive than they dis- 
cover the foul passions which had poison- 
ed their hearts. With relentless hands 
they ftttl upon him, and disrobe him of his 
odious coat of many colors. How dearly 
did he purchase this honor, bestowed 
upon him by his father! They no 
doubt considered it as an insuh to them- 
selves, that he came to thom decked 
with this trophy of his superior standing 
in the patriarch's regard. But if they 
had any reason to be offended, why 
was not their father the object of their 
resentment 7 The truth is, their treat- 
ment of him on account of his coat was 
an aggravation of their guilt, though 
they might have supposed an ezteiiba- 

cost, his eoat of manif oohxin tiiat 
toasoa him. 
^ And they Uxk him, and east 

tion or justification. His robe, the evi- 
dence of Jacob's tender regard, might 
have reminded them that to murder Jo- 
seph vras in effect to murder their i»« 
ther. If it would not deprive him ef 
life, it would deprive him of the comlbit 
of HfOi and fiH up the rest of his days 
with bitterness and sorrow. 

21 Ckut him intoapiL The original 
word is sometimes rendered * cistern,' a 
term applied to hollow reservoirs ezcava» 
ted out of the solid rock for the purpose of 
holding rain water, or to natural cavitiea 
amtaining fonntahis, which were often 
walled up with stone to prevent the w»> 
tor from escaping. These * pits* or * oi»> 
terns,' from earthquakes or other acci- 
dents, were sometimes broken, so that 
they could no longer answer the end for 
which they were constructed. In aOi^ 
sion to this it is said, Jer. 2. 13, *Tbay 
have hewed them ont pits, (Eng. 'oi*' 
terns,') broken pits, which can hold no 
water.' In such cases they were often 
employed as prisons or dungeons for tha 
confinement of criminals. It was into 
a vaoU of this kind that the prophet 
Jeremiah was thrust, at the instigatiaB 
of his enemies, Jer. 38. 6. And such, 
doubtless, was the * pit' or * cistern' into 
which Joseph was now put by bis bre- 
thren. From such receptecles figura- 
tively c<Mundered, does the Lord deliver 
his people. Zech. 9. 11, 'I have sent 
forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein 
is no water.' In view of this horrid 
cruelty how clear is it that the demons 
ofenvy and revenge had taken posses- 
sion of their' hearte. In vain he weeps, 
in vain he prays, in vain employs the 
tender names of fother and brother to 
win their pity. For it was at this time, 
as they afterwards confessed in the 
Egyptian prison. Gen. 42. 21, that they 
* saw the anguish of his soul, when he 
beaonght them, and they woukl not 




[R C. 1729. 

him into a pit: and the pit was 

empty, there was no water in it. 

25 «And they eat down to eat 
hread : and they lifted up their eyes 
and looked, and behold, a company 

f Prov. 30. 20. Amos. 6. 6. 

hear.' Now too it was that Reuben 
shrank from his own connsel and inter 
ceded in his behalf, saying, * Do not sin 
against the child.* But ail is nnavail- 
ing. They immure him in the pit, and 
leave him, without raiment, food, or 
drink, to his fate. But tfoseph would 
learn, in this dreary cavern, to bear those 
other sufferings that were allotted to 
him. He was sold to foreign merchants. 
He was carried into a strange land, to 
be again sold as a slave. He was cast 
mto a prison where he lay for several 
years. But the remembrance of the pit 
wherein was no water, and of his frait- 
less crie? for relief, would make him 
think, under all these circumstances of 
distress, that it was not so bad as it 
might have beep, and as it once actually 

25. They tat down to eatbread. This 
denotes something more than the par- 
taking of an ordinary repast As the 
children of Israel after forming the gol- 
den calf in the wilderness, are said to 
have *8at down to eat and rose up to 
play,' or, in other words, to have given 
themselves up to revelling and riot, so 
in the present case, in order to stifle the 
workings of conscience in their bosoms, 
Joseph's brethren probably sat down to 
a joyous feast, eating, drinking, and 
making merry, regardless of the tears 
and anguish of the victim of their envy. 
In allusion to this unfeeling conduct of 
Joseph's brethren, the prophet. Am. 6. 
6, utters a severe denunciation against 
those who *eat the lambs out of the 
flock, and the calves of the midst of the 
stall, who drink wine in bowls, and 
anoint themselves with the chief oint- 
ments ; but are not grieved for the uffiir- 
Hon qf JoMph,* The sacred historian 

of ' Ishmadites came from Gilead, 
with their camels bearinjgr gpicery, 
and * balm, and myrrh, going to car- 
ry it down to Egypt. 

r ver. 28. 36. 

• Jer. 8. 23. 

in recording this atrocioQs condoct of 
Joeeph's brethren, affixes a brand of 
perpetual infamy upon the founders of his 
race. In this he gives a proof of his fidel- 
ity, which is in itself an irrefragable proof 
of insphtitien. An impostor would havs 
-spared the reputation of his ancesUnrs. 

IT Beheid a company of Ishmadibes. 

Heb. l3'ii»3>)3TD'^ m^K- orehaih yiik- 
madim, a wayfaring band of Idtmadites ; 
i. e. a caravan. Gr. oUtfopot WnMiXirai, 
journeying Ishmadiies. Chal. * A troop 
of Arabians.' The probability is that it 
is the same company of men who arc 
here called *■ Ishmaelites ;* in v. 28, 
Midianites,' and in v. 36, (Heb.) ^Medsf 
nites ;' this diversity of appellation be- 
ing designed to intimate that they were 
a mixed people, made up of different 
races, and perhaps for that reason called 
in the Chal. * Arabians,* which signifiei 
mixed. *Here,' says Dr. Vincent, 
(Com. and Nav. of the Anc. vol. 2. p. 
', * upon opening the oldest history 
in the worid, we find the Ishmaelites 
from Gilead conducting a caravan loaded 
with the spices of India, the balsam and 
myrrh of fladramaut; and in the regu- 
lar course of their traffic proceeding to 
Egypt fbr a market. The date of this 
transaction is more than seventeen cen- 
turies before the Christian era, and not- 
withstanding its antiquity, it has all the 
genuine features of a caravan crossing 
the Desart at the present hour.' The 
route of these Ishmaelites towards 
Egypt may be easily traced. They 
passed the Jordan, which is Ibrdable in 
many places during the summer months, 
then took their way through the valley 
of Jezreel or Esdraelon, which lay but 
little north wfird from Dothan — a valley 
running from east to west, and leading 


B. C. 1729.] 



96 And Jndah taid unto his bi«- 
tlirai^ What profit is ie if we 

Aom til* Jonbui, in th« mMr convenient 
way, lo th« «boraft of the Meditemnoaa. 
Henoe they eooM joarney in the safest 
and most speedy manner to Egypt 
Hind they taJien the other route through 
Hebron, where Jaoob lived, the bre- 
thren of Joseph would scar«;ely have 
Ihongbt of selling him to the Ishmael- 
ilea As to the aitides which they 
were now carrying to Egypt, we may 
lematk that the word translated tpieery 
(rtBQ3 ndbolA; is supposed to signify a 
peculiar species of reonnm gum called 
* Styrax' or * Storax/ This is the most 
hagnoH of all the solid Tesins, and in- 
deed of all known vegetable substances. 
It is obtained liom a tree, of the same 
name, said still to grow most plentifully 
in Syria, Cilicia, and Pismphilia. The 
pare native juice, flowing from incisions 
made in the trunk of the tree, and call- 
ed * storax in the tear,* is rarely met 
with, as the odoriferous parts are soon 
dissipated by evaporation. The com- 
mon atorax obtained of the droggists is 
mixed with saw-dust enough to thicken 
it and reduce it to a consistent mass. 
Its use is entirely limited to that of a per- 
fume. The * balm ;* i. e. balsam, is usually 
called in the Scriptures * balm of Gilead.* 
This is also obtained from a tree by in- 
einon of the trunk or branches, and is 
sometimes termed 'opobalsam;* i. e 
the pitch of the balsam bush or tree. 
The balsam tree which yielded it, 
though not a native of Jadea, was cul- 
tivated in great perfection on the plain 
of Jericho, in the neighbOThood of the 
Jordan, having been introduced, acc«>rd- 
ing to Joaepfaus, in the reign of Solo- 
mon, by the queen of Sheba, from 
Arabia Fdiz. The genuine bdm was 
produced in small quantities, and was 
exceedingly Talnable. Pliny says that 
*wfaen Alexander the Great was in 
Fdesline, a ^oonftd of balm was aO 

slay our brother, and * conceal his 


tch.4.10. vsr.». Job. 16.1& 

that could be collected on a i 
day, and in the roost plentiful year tha 
great royal paik of these trees yielded 
only six gallons, and the smaller only 
one gallon. It was consequently so 
dear that it sold ibr donble its weight 
in silver.' According to Mr. Bucking- 
ham, nnce the conquest of Paleatias by 
the Romans, the balsam tree has entire- 
ly disa>:peared ; not one is now to be 
found. Its production appears to be 
confirmed pruicipaOy to Arabia. It is 
chiefly used in the East as a cosmetic, 
though occasionally given as a medi- 
cine. * Myrrh ;' alias * Ladanum ;* is a 
gum-resin which exudes from a shrab, 
the Cigtug Ladaniferus^ abounding in 
Arabia, Candia, and in some parts of the 
Archipelago. The best sort is in dark- 
colored masses of the consistence of 
hard wax, which grows softer when 
handled. It has an agreeable smell, 
and a Ught, pungent, bitter taste. Grand 
Cairo in Egypt is still the grand mart 
for the myrrh trade. It is used both as 
an aromatic and a medicine. The prac- 
tice of embalming in Egypt probably 
created a market for all these diflerent 
kinds of spices. 

26. And Judah said unto his brethren. 
What profit, &c. The passing by of the 
caravan of Ishmaelites at this particular 
jnctiire, is to be attributed to that over- 
ruling Providence which was secretly 
bringing its purposes to pass by the un- 
witting and unwilling agency Of die va- 
rious actors employed. The same di- 
vine Providence inspired Judah vsith 
the proposal to sell Joseph to these trav- 
elling merchants, and disposed the hearts 
of his brethren to approve of the sug- 
gestion. We do not read that Judah at 
first opposed the motion for killing Jo- 
seph, but it may be supposed that he 
soon relented, and proposed to have the 
sentence of death Mchanged for a Mii> 




[II. C. 1729. 

27 Come» and let us sell him to 
the IshmaeJites, and *> let not our 
hand be upon liim ; for he is ' our 
iMTOther, and J our flesh : and his 
brethren were content. 

28 Then there passed by ' Mid. 
ianites, merchant-men; and they 

' drew and lifted up Joseph out of the 

• 1 Sam. 18. 17. « eh. 43.31. 
' ch. 29. 14. * Judg. 6. 3. ch. 45. 4, 5. 

pit, * and add Joseph to the Ish- 
maelites for *> twenty pieces of sil- 
ver : and they brought Joseph into 

IT And Reuben returned un- 
to the pit; and behold, Joseph uMis 
not in the pit : and he « rent his 

• Pa. 105. 17. 

Acts 7. 9. 
• Job 1.90. 

» Miitt. S7. 9. 

fence of perpetual slavery. This meas- 
ure be broaches by asking what profit, 
that is, what adoantage, there would be 
in killing Joseph and concealing his 
blood. * Our hands will still be stained 
with blood, though he should die of 
•tarvation.' Yet there may have been, 
M others suggest, a mixture of cove- 
tousness in the proposal, though we 
imagine his drift is mainly to intimate 
that it would be better to sell him thi^n to 
■lay him. If a balance were struck, 
the advantage would be found to be in 
the issue on the side of his preservation 
It was well that this consideration had 
some degree of influence upon their 
hard hearts. Their consciences and 
their feelings told them that they ought 
not to kill Joseph. But their envy told 
them that they must at least sell him, 
that they might remove him to a distance 
ih>m themselves and their father's house. 
Their consciences had leave to dictate 
as far as their envy would permit, and 
no fiirther. 

587. Hisbretiiren toere content. Heb. 
*l97alD^ yishmeuj hearkened; which in 
the original is equivalent to consented 
and cbeyed 

28.* TTien there passed 5y Midianites, 
merchant-men. The proposal of Judah 
and the deliberations of his brethren 
probably took place in the interval be- 
tween their first espying the caravan and 
its oonring up. These words bring the 
parties together. It cannot be doubted 
that these Midianites are the same com- 
pany as that before alluded to under the 
tid« of bhmaelitet. See Note on y. 

25.-— —T Sold Joseph— for twenty pieces 
of silver. The value of this sum was 
about five dollars of our money. A 
goodly price at which to value the son 
of a patriarch! How many thousand 
pieces of silver would Jacob have given 
for his redemption, had he known that 
his beloved son was become a slave? 
But we cannot forget that he who was 
infinitely greater than Joseph, was sold 
by one of his brethren, and of his disci- 
ples, for a price not much greater. 

29. And Reuben returned unto the pit, 
&c. From this it is evident that Reu- 
ben was absent when Joseph was sold, 
and consequently did not consent at the 
time to the deed, however he might 
have done so afterward, in order to con- 
ceal his fate from his father. He had 
perhaps withdrawn himself from his 
brethren with the design of going by a 
circuitous route to the pit, taking him 
from thence, and sending him home in 
safety to* his father. His intentions 
were good, and his plan seemed to be 
well concerted, but it was not success- 
ful. It was not by Reuben that Joseph 
was to be delivered. He must yet pass 
through a deep scene of affliction, be- 
fore he obtains that glory for which he 
was destinbd. God often blasts those 
designs that are formed for the good of 
his people, not because he frowns upon 
them, but because the whole work is 
not yet accomplished which he intends 
to accomplish by their afflictions. They 
must pass from one trouble to another, 
that they may be made meet fur those 
honors and felicities that God has in 


B. C. 172a] 


90 And he retamed unto bkbre* 
Uuren, and said, The child ^ is not: 
and I, whither Shan Ifo? 

31 And they took • Joseph's coat, 
and killed a kid of the goats, and 
dipped the coat in the Umd : 

32 And they sent the coat of fna- 
mf colours, and they brought it to 

<dL43.13,36. Jer.Sl.15. -ver-SS. 

•tore for them. T And he mU kU 

tkthet. As Reuben appears to have 
kved and sincerely pitied the child, it 
WB8 natural that he should mourn bi(- 
teriy on finding his plan defeated. Jo- 
seph, he thinks, is now lost to his father 
fimver, and he pictures to himself the 
anguish of that new affliction which 
threatened to fall upon the good old 
man after the severe grieft which he 
had already sustained from his own mis- 
behavior and that of his brethren. He 
poors out his bitter complaints to his 
hard-hearted brethren, but to little pur- 
pose. They could not well undo what 
was done, nor had they any wish to 
undo it. At another time Reuben will 
be better heard by them, when their 
consdences are awakened to take a 
JQst and painful revie wof their conduct. 
Gen. 42. 22. 

31, 32. And they took Joseph's coat,, 
Ac. Though they feel not for Joseph 
nor for Reuben, yet they have some 
concern for themselves. They know 
that they mnst again meet their father, 
Bnd Id him some reason must be as- 
ngned for the non-appearance of his be- 
loved son. If the truth be told, how 
CM they escape his resentment ? They 
therefore-make lies their refuge. They 
dip the variegated coat in the blood of 
a kid, and, as if not daring themselves 
to witness the effect upon their Other's 
breaking heart, send it to him with the 
message, * Know now whether this be 
thy «on*s coat or no/ They pretended 
npt to know with certainty what they 
knew too well, and insult their father 
with a question which one would almoet 

their father; and said, Thk have 
we found ; know now whether it ftt 
thy son's coat orno. 

33 And he knew it, and said. It 
is my son's coat ; an ' evil lieaat 
hath devoured him : Joseph is with- 
out doubt rent in pieces. 

' eh. 44.9B. 

think was dedgned to upbraid him with 
the envied mark of his partiality to lo- 

■ephr T And they brought it. That 

is, not the sons themselves in their own 
persons, for it is said that they * sent* it; 
but it was carried by their agents, as 
men are said to do that which they pro- 
cure or order to be done. 

33. And he knew it, and said, Ac How 
exquisitely cruel the conduct of these men 
to their venerable father, who loved 
them so much better than they deserv- 
ed ! With what anguish did they rend 
his soul ! He knew too well the coat 
of his beloved boy, and the conclusion 
to which he, came was the most natural 
that could be. There appeared to be 
no reason for calling it in question, ft 
would have been a flagrant breach of 
charity to suspect the truth, while there 
was no evidence on which suspicion 
could rest^ He can only sit down un- 
der the uverw^helming conviction that 
his dear child has been torn to pieces 
by ravenous wild beasts ! What were 
all his former afflictions compared with 
this 7 They were griefs that admitted 
of consolation. They were more direct- 
ly from the hand of God ; they were in 
the course of nature; they might be 
cured or endured. But this wound 
was mortal. It defied medicine ; it re- 
fused assuaging; it mocked at length of 
time. He would be continually prompt- 
ed to say with Reuben, *The chUd is 
not; and I, whither shall I go?' in 
view of snch accumnlated misery rend- 
ing the heart of the father, we cannot 
but feel that it was a gracions Provi- 
dence which had previously taken 



[B.C. 1729. 

84 And Jacob ' rent hin clothes, 
tnd put sackcloth opon^ his loins, 
and mourned for his son many days. 

35 And all his sons and afl his 
daughters ^ rose up to comfort him ; 

t ver.». 3 Sam. 3. 31. ^3 Sam. 12. 17. 

away the mother from the evil to come. 
The sight of Joseph*! vesture dipped in 
blood, if it had not proved at once fatal, 
fvoold at least have been attended with 
pangs more agonizing than those which 
had nshered him info life. Our sympa- 
thy, indeed, in reading the story, is re- 
lieved of its pungency by knowing that 
Jacob*s sorrows were founded on a mis- 
take, as he himself afterwards learned ; 
and the incident may serve to show that 
the sorest griefs of God's people, often 
have no other than imaginary grounds. 
But they are no less wisely or kindiy 
ordered on this account. The present 
concealment of many things contributes 
not a little to the augmentation of future 

joys. ^ Joseph ig without doubt rent in 

pieceti. The original here is very ener- 
getic, and may be literally rendered 
*rent, rent in pieces is Joseph.* 

34. Rent his dothes and put aadsdath 
upon his loins. These were among the 
well-known modes of expressing grief 
among the ancient orientals. The 
* ^ckclotb* was a coarse rough garment, 
made sometimes of camels* hair, Hev. 
6. 12; and from its being said to have 
been * pot on the bins,* it was probably 
worn inwardly, next the skin, both as a 
sign and an instrument of humiliation. 
It was made in the form of a sack with 
arm-holes. After every allowance on 
the score of his poignant sorrow, we 
cannot still avoid the impression that 
Jacob, on this occasion, scarcely be* 
baved Uke himself. Although he had 
borne many afflictions of th« moat 
grievous kind with unshakon fortitude, 
yet he is here quite unmanned, and 
mourns for Joseph almost Uke one that 
had no hope. He speaks of going to the 
grave mooming and weeping through 

but he refused to be comforted; 
and he said, For ' 1 will go down 
into the grave unto my son mounw 
ing. Thus his £&ther wept for him. 

i rh. 43. 38. k 41. 39, 31. 

the whole remainder of his life. Emh 
nent saints may be sometimes o?tr- 
whelmed with sorrow, but they do not 
demean themselves like saints when 
they speak of their afflictions as if they 
were insupportable. God had before 
this dispelled many dark clouds from 
Jacob's horizon, and he ought not to 
have given way to such deep despon- 
dency now. But we would not sit in 
severe judgment upon the deportment 
of a father, whose heart was crushed by 
such a blow as had now fallen upon 
Jacob. We are yet in the flesh, and 
know not what infirmities we should 
betray were the hand of God hid 

thus heavily upon us. T Moum- 

fid for his. son many days. It was 
not till twenty-two years after this 
that Jacob heard of Joseph's being 
alive; and though it cannot be sup- 
posed that he was equally afflicted 
during that wbole period, yet the whole 
of it might be termed a mourning period ; 
and nothing can show more cleariy the 
hard-hearted cruelty of his sons, than 
the fact of their so long withholding 
from him the truth, when their conceal- 
ment of it was the occasion of so much 
mental suffering. 

35. All his sons and all his daughters 
rose up to comfort hyu- That is, tinder- 
took to comfort him ; engaged in the 
work of consolation. See Note on the 
phrase *to rise up,' Gen. 22. 3. The 
phraseology implies that a special ^wi 
was made on the part of his family to 
dispel the gloom which had settled oB 
his spirits and probably threatened hii 
life. It is an indireet but very expresaire 
mode of suggesting to us the g r e a t » ■ ■ 
of his sorrow. As he bad but one 
daughter (Dinah), by the tarn 'dapgl*' 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

B. C, ir29.] 



96 And ^ the Midiamtes gold him 
into Egypt noto Potiphar, an officer 

k ch. 39. 1. 

ten* hen mutt be underttood bis daugh- 
tera-in-lBW, to|[ether with fail grand" 
danghten, if he bad any. Jaoob't bom 
acted very hypocritically- wheu they 
endeavored to comfort him. They 
were themaeWee the wild beasta that 
had devoured Joeeph. Had they been 
smcere, they wooM have confeaaed 
the tnithf and tried every poaaible 
means to find oat their brother, that 
tbef might redeem him from alavery. 
As it was, he refused to be comforted. 
He did not know what they had done 
against Joseph, but he was not ignorant 
of their ill-wiU towards him ; and this 
probably was a chief reason why he 
tamed a deaf ear to all that they could 
say for hi« comfort. We may auppose 
too that he was the more inconsolable 
fix)in thinking that he had reason to re- 
flect with remorse upon himself for 
sending him away without at^ndants 
to travel where he would be exposed to 

wiM beasts.' ^ I vnU go doton into the 

grave unto my son mourning. Heb. 
nbKO theoiah, to Sheol; i. e. to the 
state of the dead, to the invisible world. 
6r. hini. Hades. Vulg. Infernum, helL 
The word in the original is entirely dif- 
ferent (ironrthat usually rendered graoe^ 
which is 'iQ.p hAer. Here the Heb. is 
V^m theolj from bfi^lD ^laalt to ask, hav- 
the import of craving, requiring, insaiia^ 
Ky longing, from its being one of the 
four things which Solomon says are 
JMwr «al«>rf, Pruv. 30. 15, 16. Though 
Bometinies translated * grave,' sometimes 
'pit,' and sometimes * hell,' still it legi- 
timately denotes the state of the dead in 
g^tiend, without implying either the 
piace of torment or the place of bliss.- 
J>cob surely did not suppose that Joseph 
^ gone to the abodes of wo, nor did 
^ expect to follow him thither.— Jacob 
nnoimeed the hope of seeing any more 
food in this world,' when his choicest 

of Pharaoh's, ana captain of the 

comfort in life was taken away. He 
had the prospect of no days of gladness, 
when Joseph, the joy of his heart, was 
torn in pieces by wild beasts. But he 
did not know what joys were yet before 
him in the recovery of his lon|f-k>st 
son. We know not what joys or what 
sorrows are before us in the coming 
periods of our existence. It is rash, 
therefore, to prejudge the allotments of 
Providence, to infer the permanence of 
what we now feel. At any rate, we 
have no reason to despond while God's 
throne continues firm and stable in 

36- And the Midxaniies sold him into 
Egypt. Ueh.^'^2iy2tlhammedanim,the 
Medanites. These were the descen- 
dants of Medan, the son of Abraham, 
Gen. 25. 2« Both these and the Midian- 
ites seem to have lived intermingled 
with the Ishmaelitesj'by which general 
name they are called, y.*25. — Little did 
the Egyptians dream that their future 
lord was come to be sold in their coun- 
try, when the Midianites brought down 
Joseph to be exposed to sale. Still 
less did they know the dignity and glory 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, when he v«|m 
brought into their country by another 
.foseph, and by Mary his wife. Time 
brings the real characters and dignity of 
some men to light. There are still more 
whose real glory will remain unknown 

till the last day. IT Unto Potiphar, an 

officer of Phantoh* 8. Heb. 0*^*10 «orw, 
an eunuch. But as he had a wife, the 
literal sense can hardly hold in this in* 
stance. The reason of this application 
in the passage before us is probably to 
be traced to the fact that the word di- 
verged from its original import ot keeper 
of the harem, and came gradually to de- 
note qfficert, or oourt-ministera in gene- 
ral.-^— ^ Captain of the guard. Heb. 
QTl^dilhlD Mr hattatbahim, prince ofths 






AND it came to pass at that 
time, that Judah went down 

daughter-men or executioners. The na- 
ture of the office designated by this 
term is not very obvious. By some it 
is taken as equivalent to captain of the 
body-guard, or palace-guard of the king, 
who were always ready to execute his" 
orders upon rebels or other malefactors, 
upon whom the ruyal indignation might 
ftjl. Such a guard is always in attend- 
ance upon oriental monarchs, and the 
head of them might very properly be 
styled the • prince of the executioners.* 
By others^ a hint is taken from the Gr. 
which renders itapx'/*<>X<tf'<'$i^^^^^ 
and the original supposed to mean eith- 
er one that had charge of the king's ta- 
ble, or the president of the sacrifices. 
But whatever his office was, lie now 
became the master of one who was one 
day to become his lord. What Joseph 
now thought of his dreams, it is impos- 
sible to say ; but Certainly he watr ilti- 
der a great temptation to think that the 
word of the Lord had failed forever- 
more. Yet it is wrong to judge of God's 
word by his providence ; let us rather 
judge of his providence by his word. 
We must hot think that the promise *of 
a crown of glory is made void because 
we are at present subjected to the cross. 
, Many promises have seemed to be for- 
gotten by the promiser, and yet- have 
been exactly fulfilled in their season. 

CHAP, xxxvni 

The story of Joseph is interrupfled nt 
this point for the purpose of introducing 
some particulars in the family history of 
Judah, which are mainly important as 
having a bearing on the genealogy of our 
Lord. The Saviour was to derive his 
origin from the tribe of Judah, and the 
spirit of inspiration sees fit to aSbrd us the 
means of most exactly authenticating his 
human extraction, even though some 

from his brMteti» and ^tasned in 
to a certain AduUainite, whose name 
was Hirab. 

a eh. 19. 3. 3 Kings 4. 8. 

links in the chain wdre ftr (rom being <^ 
a reputable cbaracter. But we learn 
tiotti this that Christ derives all hisj^ry 
fVom himself and not from hisanowtry, 
and that his condescension is the mora 
to be admired, the lower he descended 
in the scale of worldly hotior in taking 
our nature upon him. 

1. It came in paw at that time. That 
is, not at or about the time of Joseph's 
being sold into Egypt, but, in a larger 
sense, in the interval between Jacob's 
return fhim Mesopotamia and the 
events recorded in the foregoing chap- 
ter. For it appears, on examining the 
age of Joseph, as shown in different 
passages of the history, that he wai 
about thirty-nine years old when Jacob 
and his family went down into Egypt 
And it is stated. Gen. 40. 8, 12, that 
Phare^ the son of Judah, whose biitii 
\A mentioned' at the end ofthii tihapien 
had at that time two sons bem to bin, 
Hezron and Hamul. But as Joseph ww 
seventeen when he was sold into 
Egypt, this leaves only the space of 
twenty-two years for Judah to beget 
three sons, to have them grow op end 
be married, and their wife Tamar to 
have sons and grandsons. This period 
is evidently too short for theoccurrenfs 
of all these events, and we are therefbre 
necessitated to refer the oommenee- 
ment of them at least as far back as 
to about the time of Jacob's coming to 
Shechem, Gen. 39. 18. ; bat the inci- 
dents are related here, because there 
was no more convenient place for them. 
Tn like manner, according to Aben-E>* 
ra, the phrase 'at that time,' Deut- lO- 
8, is used in the same lai|;e and inde- 
finite sense; for the historian having 
mentioned, v. 7, that they eame tof^ni- 
godah, goes on to say that * at that tiiiie 
the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to 


& C. 1729.] 


8 And Jii4ah ^ iav there a daugh- 
ter of a certain Canaanite, whose 
name was ° Shuah ; and he took 
her, and went in unto her. 

3 And she conceived, and bare a 
am ; and he called hie name ^ £r. 

4 And she conceived again, and 
bare a soo; and she called his 

5 And she yet again conceived 
and bare a son ; and called his name 

bch.34.2. •lCbron.S.3. ^ch 46. 13. 
Numb. 95. 19. •ch. 46. 13. Numb. 96. 19. 

bear the ark of the covenant,* whereas 
it appears elsewhere thar this separation 
took place on the second year from 
their ccjming ont of Egypt, which was 
forty years before their arrival at Gud- 
godah. Le Clerc also remarks that 
several instances occur in the New Tes- 
tament where the phrases * then* — * in 
those days' — *at that time' — must be 
taken vnth very considerable latitude of 
meaning. Apparent difficulties and 
discrepancies of this nature arise of ne- 
cessity from the very structure of the 
Mosaic books, which are by no means 
a systematically connected history of 
the world, from the creation to the times 
of Moses himself; but rather a series of 
detached accounts, with one grand bond 
of connexion running through them all, 
viz. their relation to the chosen seed and 
the promised Messiah. Whatever is 
written we may assure ourselves is 
true, and might no doubt be shown to be 
perfecdy consistent, were we sufficient- 
ly acquainted with all the circumstan- 
ces. — 1 Judah went down from his hreth' 
ren^ &c. Here was the beginning of evil. 
Whatever were his motives, he now 
leaves a family and a spot where the 
tnie God was known and honored, and 
wandering towards the south, enters the 
house of a native Canaanite, vnth whom 
he forms an intimate acquaintance. 
And not content with sojourning 
amongst idolaters, he must needs mar- 
ry into one of their families. Though 

'Shelah: and he was at Cbenb, 

when she bare him. 

6 And Judah 'took a wife for Er 
his firat-born, whose name uhu Ta- 

7 And ^ £r, Judah's first-born, 
was wicked in the sight of the 
Lord ; ' and the Lord dew him. 

8 Ajid Judah said unto Onan, Go 
in unto *f thy brother's wife, and 

rch. 46. 19. Numb. 98. 90. i ch. 31. 91. 
k ell. 46. 19. Numb. 96. 19. « 1 Chron. 9. 3. 
^DeutSS.S. Matt. 99. 94. 

he had joined in objecting to his sister'a 
marriage with Shechem, yet he makes 
no scrapie of taking this Canaanitish wo- 
man to be his wife ; and that without at 
all consulting his father. In all this his 
conduct to human view was that of cme 
who, weary of the restraints of religion, 
had yielded himself too much to the 
control of his evil propensities. His 
children were such a8*might be expect- 
ed from such a parentage. * 

5. And he was at ChezSb when she bare 
him. Called also Achzib, Josh. 15. 44, a 
place that feQ to the tribe of Judah. Gr. 
Xaafii, Chasbi. The original y^t^ kezib, 
comes from the root y^'j hazab, to Ke, 
whence the prophet Micah, ch. 1. 14, by 
a play upon words alludes to it thus, 
The houses ot Achz3> shall he a Ue Xo 
the Kings of Israel. (Heb. ntSj^J n'^t5» 
akz^ leakzcb)* 

7. And the Lord slew him. It is dear 
that he was cut off by some special 
stroke of divine judgment on account of 
his high-handed wickedness. The lan- 
guage is not usually applied even to 
those who die by sudden death in the 
prime of their days. The character 
given of Er fixes upon him the brand 
of some enormous guilt, the pu6ishnent 
of which was to be read in the manner 
of his death. He was too wicked to 
live ; and God took the work of veo- 
geance immediately into his own hand. 

8. Marry Aer, and raise up seed to Iky 
hrather. That it, raise up offiipring. The 





many her» and raise up seed to thy 

9 And Onan knew that the sef d 
should not be ^ his : and it came to 
pass, when he went in unto his bro- 
ther's wife, that he spilled it on tiie 
ground, lest that he should give 
seed to his brother. 

10 And the thing which he did 


original word for marry CO'2'^ y(Mem) is 
not the ordinary Heb. term, used to sig- 
nify- the forming of the marriage con- 
nexion. .It is a term of restricted im> 
port, being applied exclusively to mar- 
riage with a brother's widow. It is a de- 
nominative terb from the noun b^'i 
yaham, husband^s brother^ corresponding 
with which we have pJaS"! yebemetk, 
brother* s toife. The requisition of Judah 
here is remarkable, as affording us the 
earliest trace of the singular law after 
vrards incorporated into the Jewish code, 
and frequently termed by modem writ- 
ers the Lemrate4aw^ from the word 
Levir^ which, though it appears not in 
the ancient classic authors, but only in 
the Vulgate and the Pandects, is really 
an old Latin word, and is explained by 
Festus to signify a h\tsbanfCn brother. 
By this law, which is expressly given, 
Dent 25. 5, when a man died without 
issue, his brother was obliged to marry 
the widow he had left, and that with 
the express view, that the first son pro- 
duced from sucli marriage should be 
ascribed, not to the natural father, but to 
his deceased brother, and become his 
heir. In every other case marriages of 
this description were absolutely forbid- 
den. See NoteH>n Rnth, 4. 10. A for- 
tiler aeoount of the Levirate-iaw may 
be seen in Michaelis* CTomment. on 
JUiw* of Moses, vol. 2. p. 21—23. 

9, 10. Jt came to past when he went 
m, Ac. The motive of Onan's perverse 
condoet is clearly intimated in the first 

displeased the Loed : wheiefore he 
slew ■" him also. 

11 Then said Judah to Tamar 
his daughter-in-law, " Remain a 
widow at thy faithei:'s house, tiU 
Shelah my son be grown ; (for he 
said, Lest peradventure he die also 
as his brethren did^ : and Tamar 
went and dwelt ^in her Other's 

- ch. 46. 13. Numb. 96. 19. - Ruth, 1. 11 
. Lev. 22. IX- 

clause of the verse. He was actuated 
by a fixed and apparently a malignant 
opposition both to his brother*s interests, 
and his Other's will. Although fuUy 
aware of the strong instinctive desire in 
the hearts of all men to have their name 
and their lineage preserved when they 
are no more, yet he sets himself with 
nnfeelmg pertinacity against the com- 
mon usage, which, in the defect of one's 
own issue, provided for such an exigen- 
cy. Suppose that his lot and that of 
his brother had been reversed — that he 
liad died and Er survived — would he not 
have accounted it a favor to have bis 
line perpetuated in this way by the sub- 
stituted seed of his brother? Viewed 
in this light, how ungenerous, invidioas, 
and mean does his conduct appear? 
Such a conduct, moreover, in the pre- 
sent instance was peculiarly aggravated 
from the fact, that the Messiah was 
to descend from the stock of Judah, and 
for aught he knew, from himself, as we 
know he certainly did from this very 
Tamar, Mat. 1. 3. Was it not then 
doing despite to the covenant-promise 
thus to crush in embryo the most sacred 
hopes of the world ? Did he not act an 
impious as well as unbrotherly part? 
Can we wonder, therefore, that *the 
thing which he did displeased the Lord,' 
so that * he slew him also 7* 

11. Then said Judah to Tamar, Ac. 
This injunction would seem to intimate 
that Tamar was not to consider herself 
free to marry into another fiioiilyi ^ 


B. C. 17«r.j 


13 T Audio proeMs of tlnie» the 
dftVffiitor of Slnuii, Jadah'a wife 
died: and Jodah 'wu ooraforted^ 
and went up unto his sheep-oheaF. 
«B to Timnath. be and hig friend 
Hirah the Adullamite. 

13 And it was tcdd Tamar, say- 

mg, Behold thy iath^-io-Iaw ffoeth 

up « to Timnath, to shear his sneep^ 

p^Smtn. 13. aa « Jodi. U. 10, 57. Jndf. 

long M Jadah saw fit to retain her under 
his control, which he here did with the 
promiae of bestowing her in due iiBie 
upon his youngest son. In this he Imm 
probably sincere ; for we have no evi- 
dence that he did not intend to give her 
in marriage according to his word, Bat 
he delayed the solemnization of i| appa- 
rently from the vague apprehension of 
some strange iatality attending the 
eonlagal bed of his daughter4n-law, 
againat which his son could better guard 
when he became fully grown, lu this 
he was evidently mistaken, imputing to 
an innocent, woman a calamity which 
had beiaflea him solely on acoount of 
the flagrant wickedness of his c)iildren. 
Hia delay, however, proved too severe 
a trial to Tamar*s patience, and she was 
pRMBpted to resort to the stratagem re- 
hoed, V. 12--23b However ciplpable 
this expediunt may be deemed when 
viewed by the light of the Gospel, it is 
probable that according to the notions 
and mftoners of the age, ^he considered 
herself justified in doing as she did. J u* 
dah's conduct does not admit c^ the 
same palliaiion; for in w. 23, 26, he 
acknowledgAs it to have been morally 

12. Ajtd in process of time. Heb. 
6*^JD^^ lay^ tM-yirhu hayammy and 
dhe days were mtikipUed, Meaning prob- 
ably that aeuenU years had elapsed. See 
Note on Gen. 4. 3. — -T Was comforted. 
That is, had passed through the usual 
ceremonies of mourning, and become 
restored to bis ordinary state of mind. 


14 And she put her widow** 
innents off from her, and eoverad 
T with a Tail, and wrapped beiw 
seH; and "sat in an open placob 
which tf by the way to Timnath : 
for she saw ' that Sheiah was grown^ 
and she was not given onto him to 

• Prov.7.13. Ivor. 11,9a 

^ He and his friend JSrah, As the 

season of sheep^shearing among the Is* 
faelites was one of great festivity, il 
seems to have been customary for thens 
to invite their friends to be present on 
the occasion. Thus, 2 Sam. 13. 23, 
And it came to pass after two MH 
years, that Absalom had sheep-shearers 
in Baal'haxor, which is beside Ephraim ; 
ami Absalom invited all the lung*s sons.* 
Timnath was a dty in the tribe of Jn- 
dah, Josli. 15. 57, not far from the aea» 
nor far from AduUam. It was for a bog 
time in possession of the Philistines. 

14. Covered her with a veU. As we 
have no historical documents, except the 
present, extending back to Uus ancteofr 
period, we know not how iar the inci* 
dents here mentioned were oorauMMi i& 
those days. But thus much it seeow fiur 
to infer from whatis here said ; that thersi 
were public women of this description; 
that they generally veiled themselves i 
satin public places by the highway side ; 
and received a certain hira.'-«-T Satm 
an open place, Heb. Q^'iy nnSa ^q p ^ i 
Ihah enayim, at ike openings or dear^ 
the eyes, or of the tmofrmntains. A Viify< 
obscure expression, and variously mnkf 
dered in the old versions. (1.) The Qi# 
takes the last word as a proper nsiiw, 
and gives vfo; ratt wXeic At^asi, eft As 
gates of Enan. This is appiwed hK 
La Clerc, who thinks she Mtsftlhsfate 
of a little, town called Enayim fnm IWe 
fountains that happened to he nser. 
This opinion is favorsd eim hfcOswi* 
niiw. <2.) Oibeis take the. phiMbte 

d by Google 


[a. c. war. 

r 15 When indah saw heiv he 
thought her lobe ^ harlot ; because 
she had covered her £ice. 
. 16 And he turned unto her by 
the way» and said, Go to, I pray 
thee* ]et me come in unto thee; 
rfor he knew not that she toas his 
daughter-in-]aw ;) and she said, 
What wilt thou give rae, that thou 
maycst come in unto me ? 

17 And he said, " I will send thee 
a kid from the flock : and she said, 
^ Wilt thou give me 2l pledge, till 
thou send tV ? 

18 And he said, What pledge shall 
I give thee 1 And she said, * Thy 
signet, and thy bracelet?, and thy 
staff that is in thy hand : and he 
gave it her, and came in unto her, 
and she conceived by him. 

• Ezek. 16. 33. ^ yer. 20. « ver. g5. 
•ignify literally the opening' of the eyes^ 
and to indicate a place coMpicuious to 
Ihe eyes of all that passed by, or one of 
large prospect, commanding an exten- 
sfve view on every side. (3.) Several 
of the Jewish interpreters understand it 
^{ a place where two ways meet^ where 
the traveller had to tarn his eyes in two 
directions in order to determine which 
Co choose. But the Hebrew generally 
terms sach a place the mother of the way^ 
or (he beginning of two ways, as E^ek. 
SI. 24, upon which see the commenta- 
fors. (4.) Rosenmuller gives the pre- 
ference to a fourth rendering, viz. the 
opening of two fountains,, i. e. a place 
Where two fountains burst forth. But as 
iris by no means clear that the Heb. 
woidfor opening ever signifies muin^, 
we are compelled to regard this con' 
strUction as doubtfVil as any of the rest, 
and to say of the whole that they are 
unsatisfactory. It is happily one of 
lliose critical points of ii|inor moment 
which we can aflford to leave unsolved. 
. 15—82. When Judah saw her, Ac, 
The narrative reflects greatly on the 
•haracier of Judah, in whom it might 

19 And she arose and went away 
and y laid by her vail from her, and 
put on the garments of her widow- 

20 And Judah sent the kid by 
the hand of his friend the Adullam- 
ite, to receive his pledge from the 
woman's hand: but he found her 

21 Then he asked the men of 
that place, saying, Where is the 
harlot that ipas openly by the way- 
side 1 And they said, There was no 
harlot in this place, 

22 And he returned to Judab, 
and said, 1 cannot find her ; and al- 
so the men of the place said, that 
there was no harlot m this place. 

23 And Judah said, Let her take 
it to her, lest we be shamed : be- 

y ver. 14. 

have been expected that the memory of 
the past, if not a more advanced age, 
would have cooled or extinguished the 
fires of unholy passion. On th^ contra* 
ry, it would seem that he was transport- 
ed beyon^l the bounds, not of reanon and 
religion only, but even of sense ; for he 
evidently did not recognise the voice of 
Tamar, though he must have been fa- 
miliar with her for years. No doubt 
God had suffered bim to fall under 
somewhat of a judicial infatuation, as a 
punishment of hi« perverseness ; for how 
else should he have been so precipitate 
as to give into the hands of a strange 
woman a pledge for the kid, which she 
would naturally consider far more valua- 
ble than the kid itself, and therefore be 
very certain to retain? * He appears,' 
says Calvin, sternly, *to have been de- 
prived of all discretion ; nor are these 
facts recorded by Moses to any other 
end than to show us howr the just judg- 
ment of heaven had darkened the mind 
of this miserable man, who by heaping 
sins upon sins, had quenched the light 
of the Spirit.* 
2Z Let her take it to her.UstwU 


B. C. 172r.] 



bold, I sent this kid, and thou hast 
not found her. 

24 If And it came to paflB about 
three months after, that it was told 
Ju^h, saying, Tamar thy daughter- 

shamed, Heb- Tiab nVO *p !»»* nihyek 
hbuz, lest we be for a contempt. The mean- 
ing is, iet \iet take or keep the pledge to 
herself; let ua give oarselves no farther 
ooDcern abuatit. I have acted up to 
my agreement by sending the kid, bat 
. od she is not to be fouitd, it will be bet« 
ter to ha»h up tUe affair entirely, as 
otherwise we shall expose ouraelvea 
to scorn and derision for being outwitted 
and deceived by a harlot. He had rather 
l^ise the bracelets and the signet than 
run the risk, by making much ado about 
it, of blaz.>iiing abroad his own scandal. 
^ Judah now fears \e*t he shall be beaten 
with his own staff, lest his signet shall 
be used to seal his reproach ; resolving 
not to know them, and wishing they 
were unknown of others. Nature is not 
more forward to commit sin, than wil- 
ling to hide it.' Bp. Hall. This fear 
of shame, this anxioas wish to guard 
•gainst pubticity being given to a 
▼lie act, ahows that God has inAxed in 
the minds of men an instinctive con- 
demnation of it, a sentiment which roust 
have violence done to it before the 
deed can be perpetrated. 

24. Ijet her be burnt. It is to be borne 
in mind that the crime for which Tamar 
was adjudged to this severe punishment, 
was not fornication, but aduUery; she 
being considered the wife of Shelah, 
though the marriage had not yet taken 
fiill effect, ftlxcept in the case of a 
priest's daughter who was to be burnt^ 
Lev. Si. 9, the usual punishment under 
the Law of this crime was stoning, Deut. 
23. 23, 2i. As the former law could 
not apply to Tamar, MichaeUs supposes 
that the sentence here passed upon her 
by Judah is to be understood of posthu- 
mous buming—Umt she was first to be 

in-law bath 'played the hailot; 
and also, behdd, she ta with child 
hy whoredom. And Judah said* 
Bring her forth, *and let her be 

• Jadg.n^.3. « Lev. 31. 9. Deut. 9S. SI.- 

stoned to death and then burnt. This 
idea he thinks strongly supported by 
what is related of the fate of Achan, 
Josh. 7. 15 and 25, as also by the drift of 
John, 8. 5—7, when the Jews say of the 
woman taken in adultery, that * Moses 
in the taw commanded that such should 
be stoned ;* and our Saviour himself re- 
cognising that mode of punishment says, 
* He that is without sin among you, let 
him 6rst cast a stone at her.* From this 
it would seem that «/07!'7i;ar and no%humi^ 
ing^ was the ordinary practice of the . 
Jews in such cases in our Saviour's 
time. Yet in the present instance the 
language of the text is so explicit and 
unqualified, that we do not feel it safe 
to depart from it, especially as we find 
the punishment of burning inflicted 
upon the wife of Samson, Judg. 15. fi, 
who had married another man, and 
learn, moreover, Jer. 29. 22, 23, that the 
King of Babylon roasted two Jews in 
the fire for committing adultery. These, 
it is true, were not Jewish instances, 
but they show that that punishment for 
that crime prevailed more or less among 
other nations, and the probability, there- 
fore, is, that it obtained among the 
chosen people also. In later times, in 
Bnrope, the punishment of burning has 
been mostly confined to offences of a 
reUgwts character, particularly heresy. 
But it is now almost every where dis- 
used, having been banished by the 
more humane and merciful codes which 
have sprung up under the genuine influ- 
ences pf Christianity. The qtiestion 
has been asked, how Judah came to 
possess the power which is implied in 
his passing such a sentence upon his 
daughter-in-law ? Were parents, in the 
patriarchal times, invested with tha 




ta a 1727, 

35 WUnvhetmVraiffhlfbrtli, 
«fae i9iit to her fatlier4]iJiiw, My- 
JBgv By the nmn whose thene mrt^ 
wm I with ebiid: ud the said, 
^ Discern, I pray thee* whose are 
these, « the signet, and bracelets, 
and staff. 

k ch. 37. 82. • v«r. 18, 

36 And Jiidah /i admowledged 
them, and said, *iSbehaih been more 
r^tdbus than I; b(>caiise that ' I 
gaire her not to Shelah my son: 
and he knew her again f no move. 

27 IF And it came to pass in the 

4 ch. 37. 33. • i Sam. 9i. 17. ' rer. M. 
f Job. 34. 31,33. 

power of life and death over dieir fami- 
liet ? To this we answer, that ah hough 
there is no doabt that fathers in the 
£ast have always governed their wo- 
aaen, children, and slaves with a far 
nore despotic aathority than is usual in 
the West, yet we are not probably to 
understand Judah*s words in the text as 
implying any thing more than that he con' 
denied that the ordinary law in sttcA cages 
«limU go inio effect. As he was dwel- 
ling among the Canaanites merely as a 
aejoumer, we can scarcely conceive 
him to foe here speaking in a judicial or 
magisterial character, but as a private 
citizen, simply saying that he not only 
liad nothing to object to her being dealt 
with after the usual manner, but that as 
a friend of good order in society, he 
ceuld not but approve of it. No doubt 
ihere were then public courts and tri- 
bunals before which such cases were 
tried, and when Judah says, 'Bring her 
forth, &c* it is equivalent to expressing^ 
his willingness that she should, like 
other criminals, be arraigned and pun- 
idied according to her deserts. Yet, as 
not nnfireqnently happens, in thus con- 
tenting to the sentence passed npon 
her, he was really condemning himself. 
25. By the man whoee these are, Ac. 
It is obvious that Tamar might before 
this have exposed Judah, had she been 
so inclined. But she defers it, probably 
under a secret prompting of the Spirit 
of God, till matters come to a crisis when 
she can make the disclosure to the most 
effect. In this, however, it does not ap- 
pear that she was influenced by vtndic< 
five feelings towards Judah, or that she 
had any wish to hold him up to public 
abhorrence, but simply to vindicate her 

own conduct ; whilo God, in die mean 
time, was carrying on his purpose to 
bring the offender, by this means, to a 
penitent confession of his fotdt. In fact, 
Tamar appears to have managed the 
affair with great delicacy. Instead of. 
boldly summoning him into her presence, 
and requiring of him to stand forth as her 
accuser before thejodges, she does not 
even name him, nor seek an interview, 
but sends to him the pledged articles, 
leaving it to his oWn conscience to re- 
buke him before God. it is well when 
injured innocence can rest satisfied with 
the vindication of itself, without Twrw- 
mg the offending party to the extrens 
point of justice or revenge. In romy 
cases much may be left to the inward 
self-inflicted conrectbns of an ingennoas 

26. Judak admwdsdgtd th•fl^ and 
said, Ac. Heb. '^t)*^ yMer, knew, di^ 
cemed, recognised ; the sane word in 
the original with that which occurs 
above, ▼. 85, and is rendered * discern.' 

% She haih been more righteoMS Am 

L That M, less eulpoble. The conduct 
of neither had much to commend it, on 
the score of r^rMeoicsness, nor does he 
perhaps intend to say that she hadtn thit 
maiter committed a less sin than him- 
self but that his wrong-doing maneAer 
instance had been Uteoceasim of hers, at 
tkistitne. This feet gave her the advan- 
tage; it attached more blame to hie eon- 
doct, m common estimation, however 
it might be in the sight of God, than le 
hera He had broken his word to her, 
but riie had kept her feith with him, 
living patiently in a state of widowhood, 
year after year, till she saw no prospect 
of her hopes being realised. 'Godwitt 



time of her travail, that behold, 
were m her womb. 

28 And it came to pass when she 
travailed, that the mie put out his 
hand; and the midwife took and 
bound upon his hand a scarlet 
thread, saying, This came out first.. 


Itbd a time to bring his children on their 
kiiees, and to wring from them penitent 
eonfeBsions ; and rather than he will not 
have them soundly ashamed, he viill 
make them the trumpets of their own 

reproach.' Bp. HaU. IT He knetD her 

again no more. This seems to be insert- 
ed as a sort of seal and assumnce of the 
nocerity of Judah's repentance. A gen- 
uine sorrow for sin is inconsistent with 
again relapsing into it. 

23. And it came to pass when sire tra- 
tenUdj &c. The circumstance here 
mentioned is extraordinary, and shows 
her parturition to have been hard and 
perilous. But it is not, perhaps, a matter 
of surprise, that in the righteous provi- 
dence ufC^od she shoiild have been thuK 
chaotened for her waywardness ; that 
a sinful conception should be followed 

by a bitter travail. ^ The midwife 

took and hounds &c. This was dune to 
distinguish the iirat-bom, as many im-> 
poftant privileges belonged lo primo- 
geniture. The word here rendered 
'scarlet,' (*^jTD shaniL^^ signifies a Wonw- 
edor^ coming from an excrescence made 
in a kind of oak, by a Ay, ax the com- 
mon gaUs are produced. The color 
was a beautiful crimbOH, and retained 
its loatre for ages. 

29. fliwo host thou broken fortfi ? &c. 
Ileb. fiS'HB XTf2 mahparatzla. Wheth- 
er these are to be understood as the 
words of Tamar or the midwife is not 
clear. They seem to be an exclama- 
tion of wonder that when Zarah was 
apparently upon the point of being born 
6rst, Pharez had, as it were, forced his 
way through his brother, as if he had 
bn^en through an intervening wall, 

29 And it cane to pass as 'he 
drew Iwck his hand,* tnat beholdi 
hie brother came out ; and shesaid^ 
How hast thou broken ft>rth ? tki$ 
breach be upon thee : therefore his 
name was called >> Pharez. 

k eh. 46. 19. Numb. 2d. 90. 1 Chion. t. 
4. Matu J. 3. 

and preceded him in birth. It plainly 
denotes something extraordinary in the 
manner of his emerging into life, and 
from the renderings of the ancient v<r> 
siona it would seem that the cirram- 
stance was considered like Jacob's tak- 
ing Esan by the heel, oa portending 
something imponant in his future Ibrw 
tunes. Gr. * Why is the partition divid- 
ed for thee 7' Chal. * What great strength 
was in thee that thou hast prevailed ?* 
Targ. Jon. *With how great strength 
hast thou prevailed ! — and thine it is to 
prevail, for it shall come to pass that 
thou shalt possess the kingdoms.* Arab. 
* How hast thou prevailed ! — ^thy strength 
is upon thee.* These versions no doubt 
recognise a mystical import in the 
words, as pointing mainly perhaps to 
David and the Messiah, who both de»> 
cended in a direct Hne from Pharez.— 
U Tht8 hrea<:h he upon thee, ilftb. '^ijjy 
*|^-^»3 aleka paretz. That is, the breach 
is thine ; thou hast made it ; and thou 
shalt carry the memorial of it upon thee. 
By hre€u:h or eruption has thy birth l»een 
marked ; hreadli or eruption siiall be thy 
name. At the same time it may be re- 
marked, that if the sense of premlenee 
be rightly attributed to the root in the 
former clause, it mpy also be retained 
here, and then the words may be un- 
derstood as a prophetic announcement, 
that thepre-eminencei fheascendancy, or in 
other words, the chief distinction of 
the birthright, should pertain to Pharez 
oyer his brother. Accordingly, the 
Jewish writers say, 'In Pharez thp 
strength of David^a house was portend- 
ed ; and therefore from him proceedeth 
the kingdom of the house of David.* See 



80 Aadafteffwiideftine.oiit hk 
Iraiher that had the Marlet thread 
ttpoQ hit hand ; and bk name was 


^ A ND Joteph was brooffbt down 
^^^ to Egypt: and • Potiphar, an 

« eh. 37. 36. Ft. 105. 17. 

Aintworth in loe. This interpretation 
aflbn|« a reason for the particular men- 
taoii of an incident which otherwiie we 
ahoiild flcarcely have thought worthy of 
a place in the sacred record. 

The aaered writer now reramet the 
■Qipended history of Joseph, and it 
woidd seem as if the leading event of 
diis chapter, viz. the signal triumph of 
Joseph*s virtue, were designed to be set 
m contrast with the opposite weakness 
of his hrother Judah, detailed in all its 
humiliating particulars in the preceding. 
Of the various incidents of his lot in 
Egypt prior to his temptation, little is 
said, and nothing at all of the grief of mind 
which he undoubtedly felt, both on his 
own and his ligither*s account. The 
thouglits of the disttess which his mys- 
terious absence must have occasioned to 
thO' heart of his doting fiither, no doubt 
constituted one of the sharpest pangs 
that pierced his own. But apart from 
this, his aiAictkai was very severe. A 
youth of seventeen, accustomed to eve- 
ry indulgence, suddenly torn away from 
his paternal home, enslaved to all ap- 
pearance flit Ufe, and that among a na- 
tion of idolaters wholly ignorant of the 
God of his fathers— what allotment can 
we conceive more bitter and trying to 
the spirit of an affectionate and pious 
6hild like Joseph! Yet from all that 
can be inferred from his history, he 
bore his sufleiinga with the most exem- 
plary meekness, presenting at this time 


ct Fhaf9olii eaptam of the 
guard, an £ffyptian« ^ boogfat him of 
the hands of the lahnaaelites, which 
had bronght him down thither. 
2 And « the Lobd was with Jo. 
and he was a pnsperow 
and he was in the house of 
his oiaster the Egyptian. 

»cb.S7.98. •ver.SI, ch. tl.«.*fllM, 
e. It 98. 15. 1 Sam. JS. 18. 4b la 14, 9& 
Acts 7.9. 

the spectacle of a mind unsubdued by 
the deepest distress, as he afterwards 
did of one uncorrupted by the highest 
elevation. In humble submission to the 
win of God and the cafm of an unruffled 
conscience, he found a balm for the 
wound of the arrows with which the 
cruel archers so sorely grieved him. 

1. And Joafipk was brought down to 
Egypt. Heb. I'T^n hurad, wa$ made to 
descend. For the reason of this pecn* 
liar diction in reference to a journey to 
Egypt, see Note on Gen. 12. 10. h 
order to view aright a dispensation of 
Providence which involved the selliog 
and removal of Joseph, as if he hsd 
been a beasi or a captive taken in vrar, 
we must advert to his owa interprets- 
don of the affair at a subsequent period, 
Gen. 45. 5, 7, * Now, therefore, be not 
grieved nor angry with yourselves tbst 
ye- sold me hither — ^for God sent me be- 
fore you to preserve to you a posterity 
in the earth, and to save your bves by 
a groat deliverance.* All the ways oft 
good man are ordered of the Lord, and 
his eyes are upon his people for good st 
the very times when they seem to be 

2. And the Lord was wWi Joseph^ kc. 
Chal. * The Word of the Lord was hii 
help.* From this source he had an in&I- 
lible security of happiness. Though 
withdrawn from under the shadow of a 
fond fiither*s wing, though a stranger 
in a strange land, and subject to the ca- 
price of a heathen master, yet he wts 

How could it be odierwiie, 




3 And fm nmster mw tbftt the 
LosD was with lufii» and tiiat the 

* dieliOid WW with faini ?*— when 
h« enjoyed the pfeaence, the proteetien, 
the fiiwir of the Lord Ahnighty 7 We 
are. too ready, when met by adverte 
eveota, or when not apeedily deliTered 
horn onr effiietiona, to doubt of Ciod*a 
iavor; aa if outward ^nosperity were a 
flgn of his love, and edyersity a tore 
■gn of hia hatred. Bat how clear is the 
Scriptore declaration, that *whom the 
Lord loveth he chaateneth, even as a &• 
dier the aon in whom he delighteth.' 
God oonid easily haTe restored Joseph 
at once to his fother's bosom, yet he 
did it not, but left him manf years in a 
state of slavery, where *the iron enter* 
ed his souL* Let us cease then to 
judge of his ways by ours. Though all 
his iKspensations towards his people are 
prompted by infinite love, yet his love 
doea not show itself in the way of the 
weak, fond favoritism of many earthly 
parents, who spare their children the 
present smart, even at the expense of 
the future joy. Joseph might have 
been rmsed at once to all the dignity 
which he afterwards possessed, but 
where then would have been the pre- 
cious fruits of meekness and continenoef 
of wisdom and patience, which were ma- 
turing under his unparalleled trials ?— -> 
^ And he wai a protperoua man, Heb, 
fl'^bSTa VPM ^ matalitih^ a man oaus- 
rnf( to pmgper. This may be understood 
acthrely, viz. that Joseph was a man 
makibg Potiphar's house to prosper, and 
this is perhaps more in accordance wtth 
the ordinary usage of the word. See 
my Note on Pk. 1. 3. Yet it will adaiit 
of the sense ofdinarily put upon it, that 
die Lord made Joseph to succeed and 
iSrosper in all his undertakings, so that 
he soon obtained the esteem, the love, 
•ad the confidence of his master. Pros- 
perity ia not always a sign of 6od*s spe- 
del £lTor, yet his hand is always to he 

LoBO ^ made tn that he did to ptQ0. 
per in hie hand. 

< Pfc I. 3. 

recognised in it by his people, «pen 
whom he ooafera it when he aeee it 
would be better lor them than adveni- 
ty, or when, by means of it, he | 
to make them blessings to 
From Jose|A*s prosperity we dmw one 
very interesting inference, via. that he 
submitted himself duerJvBif to his lot ; 
that he studied to make himself noi 
only useful, but agreeable to his maa* 
ter ; that instead of sinking into a torpid 
melsneholy under his sudden change of 
condition, be applied himself with alac- 
rity and spirit to the discharge ef hia 
duties, as a diligent servant ; for in no 
other way would it seem possible for 
him to have commended himself so ef- 
fectually to the good graces of Potiphar. 
No doubt in all this the joy of the Lord 
was his strength. He saw the love of 
God mitigating and sweetening his sor- 
rows, and the more deariy we can die* 
cem the same love ruKng in the eventa 
of our lives, the greater pleasnre sIiaB 
we take in the discharge of our duties. 

IT And he toas m the house of kie 

master Ihe Egyptian. That is, he pa- 
tiently continued in the house, or foimly, 
foithfully discharging the duties of a 
household servant, without attempting 
to escape, distinctly recognising the 
hand of providence in his present lot. 

3. And his master saw that the Lord 
was with him. The prosperity of Joseph 
was manifest. The blessing of God 
upon his labors was so conspicuous, that 
his master himself observed and ac- 
knowledged it. It is not probably to be 
understood that Potiphar knew God by 
the name of * Jehovah,' or called him 
so. But he saw that 'Joseph was the 
object of supernatural care and favor ; 
and this Moses, and not Potiphar, as- 
cribes to its true source. He prospered 
because Jehovah, and tiot any imagina- 
ry deity, blessed hia. TUa is a ei». 



[ij. c. vm. 

4 And Joseph *faand ftBce in 
his sight, and be served him : and 
he made him 'overseer over bis 
house, and all that he had he put 
into his hand. 

5 And it came to pass from the 

• ch. 18. 3. & 19. 19. ver. 21. t Gen. M. 2. 

emnttance not a litde to Joseph*! 
eredit, inatraach as it implies that he 
made no secret of his religion. Ifod he 
diasemhled on this score, had he dis- 
guised his real faith, and apparently 
conntenanced the Egyptian idolatries, 
he certainly could not have looked for 
those tokens of the divine favor which 
he received. We must suppose, there- 
ikHre, that he firmly, though probably 
without ostentation, avowed himself a 
worshipper of Jehovah, and as his con- 
duct in every other respect was per- 
fectly exemplary and satisfarCory to 
Potiphar, lie made no objection to it. 
This affords a most encouraging exam- 
ple to religious servants to recommend 
the gospel by their fidelity and diligence. 
Servants, it is true, cannot command 
■access and prosperity ; and God does 
BOt absolutely bind himself to grant 
success to the best-conducted affairs. 
But it is undoubtedly the duty of ser- 
vants to study to promote the prosperity 
of their masters, and to seek the divine 
blessing upon all the interests entrusted 
10 them ; and from the example of Jo- 
seph we learn what fhiits tliey may ex- 
pect to reap from such deportment. 
The circumstances are mureover an 
admonition to all Christians to be faitli- 
ful to their heavenly Master, even 
when there are no religious friends 
about them to watch over them. 

4. And he servtd hinif &c. Heb. 
in» n^tTO*^ yet^iareth otko, miniftered to 
kmf not as a slave, but as a steward 
The ensuing clause is explanatory of 
the phrase. He ' ministered,* by acting 
IB the ca paeity of an * overseer.* He bad 
.bdfiNre served htm meniaUyf but this 

time that he had made him overseer 
in his house, and over all that he 
had, that i^the Lord blessed the 
Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake ; 
and the blessing of the Lobd was 
upon all that he had in the house, 
and in the field. 

« ch. 30. 27. 

kind of service was the first step of hit 
preferment. The Gr. has svapetrrnter 
avro), he pieased him, which lacks the 

requisite precision. ^ And he made 

him overseer. Rather, ^for he made him 
overseer.* The words are designed to 
explam the manner in which he mtnU' 
tared to him. The original has here bat 
a single woffl I'^p&'^yapAAaicf, signifying 
Hterally to make to vtsit ; i. e. to cloths 
with a visitorial or superintending pow- 
er. The Gr. renders it irare«rir(rey, coih 
stituUd him over his house, parallel to 
whi<;h the Evangelist says, ' Of a truth 
I say unto you that he will make him 
rufer (Gr. Karaarnatt^ will eorutiiute him) 
over ail that he hath;* i. e. he will 
honor him as Potiphar did Joseph. The 
meaning is, that he made him his chief 
steward ; and it is the business of a 
steward to have charge ^f a household 
establishmenL Having been faithful 
over a few things, he is now made ruler 
over many things. Thus was God gnui- 
ually fulfilling his own word, * Them that 
honor me I will honor,* and at the same 
time bringing about his ultimate par- 
poses of mercy to the house of Jacob. 

5. And it came to pass from the ftsie, 
&c. The blessing of heaven previous 
to Joseph's advancement to the steward- 
ship had rested more especially upon 
himself and his doings. He had been 
made to prosper iu a tsignal manner, and 
Potiphar was constrained to acknow- 
ledge it. But now from this time the 
blessing of the Lord was upon Poti- 
phar, upon all that he had, whether 
in ;the house or the field, but still for 
Joseph's sake. As Potiphar had shewn 
binaelf disposed to favor the Lord's 




6 And he left ail tiiatbe had m 
Joseph's hand; and he knew not 
aqght he had, save the bread which 
he did eat: and Joseph ^was a 
gnodly person^ and well &vottred. 

7 IT And it came to psss after 
these things, that his master's wife 
east her eyes upon Joseph: and she 
said, > lie with me. 

6 But he refused, and said mito 


IS. 13. 

«t8wn. 13. n. 

nnrsnt, the Lord will repay hit kind- 
iMM by faToring and blawing him. 
How denrable is it to be eoonected 
with thote who are beloved of God! 
How highly are they to be prized, whe- 
ther ae tervaou or a« friendt ! The 
kiadneaa of the Most High towards his 
people overflows to ail with whom they 
an related. Pious stewards, and pious 
serraots of every elass, are a blessing to 
their masters', not only because they 
are fisithfol, and manage their affairs 
with disoretion, but because they draw 
down the apecial blessing of God upon 
the households to which they belong. 
Masters may 4eam likewise from this 
passage, what treatment is due to faith- 
ful servants. They ought to trust, to 
honor, and to love them. When men 
■re precioos in God's sight they are 
honorable, whatever be their station in 
fife. If they are at present undervalued 
or despised by men, they are honored 
by angels; and when God, by signal 
pioofr of his favor, makes it known that 
he k>ves them, he will make them hon- 
orable in the eyes of those who former- 
ly despised them. Christian masters 
who do not honor feithful servants, do 
what in them lies to felsify the words 
of SokHnon, Prov. 27. 18, ' As he who 
keepeth the fig-tree shall eat the fruit 
thaieoC eo he that watteth on his mas- 
ter shall be honored.' 

6. Knem not aught he had, saw the 
hrmdmkidihedid eat, Heb. y*in ^^ 
imrvailDa lo ffoJawummakitto^ faasw 

his master's wife, Behold, my mas. 
ter wottethnot what ts with me in 
the hoose, and he hath committed 
all that he hath to my hand. 

9 T^iere U none greater in this 
house than I ; neither hath be kept 
back any thing from me, but thee^ 
because thou art his wife: ^how 
then can I do this great wickedness, 
and * sin against (jod ? 

k Prov. 6. 29, 32. > eh. 90. «. Lev. 9 
% 3 Bsm. 13. 13. h. 51. 4. 

not any ikmg wUhkim, Thatts, he took 
no oognixance or care of any thing that 
was entrusted to Joseph ; he required 
him not to render an account of his ei- 
pences or receipts ; he left every thmg 
to his exclusive management; he sur- 
rendered every thing so entirely ihto 
bis hnnds, that he took no care tor any 
thing hot to eat and drink what was set 
before him. This was the highest pos- 
sible expression of confidence, and how 
well it was bestowed is evident from tha 
sequel-*— Y Ooodly and toeU: favored. 
The Ibrmer of these words has refer- 
ence to the form or shape of the wholp 
person, the latter to the countenance. 
Beauty of person and (ace is a quality 
which gains love, and ought to make the 
possessor of it thankful ; but it easily 
proves a snare to the po s sesso r himself 
or to others. It was Joseph's comfort 
that he was beloved by his master, but 
it was his misfortune that he was too 
toefl beloved by his mistress. He had 
an attmctive countenance that she coufcl 
not behold without conceiving a regard 
for him, which proved for a time preju- 
dicial to Joseph, but infinitely more^pre- 
judicial to herself. 

7—9. And it came to fues afUr ikute 
things, &c. A new and-severe trial is 
now appcMnted for Joseph. Raised by 
his good conduct |to a high post of honor 
and trust, possessing the unlimited con- 
fidence and approbation of his master, 
we are ready to congratulate him npon 
his happy lot, and coald foin wish lo 




[B. C. 17», 

Me him continued long tnd anintemlp^ 
edly in the enjoyment of it But God 
only know8 what degree of trobble is 
oeceBsary for his people, or how long it 
it proper they should continue un- 
der its pressure. When we should plead 
for rest and peace, he often sees fit to 
tammon us to labor and conflict ; and 
in tracing the course of his providence, 
nothing is more obvious than that sea- 
sons of advancement and prosperity are 
usually the seasons when the most vio- 
lent temptations befal his children. So 
it was with Joseph. Prom a quarter 
which he little expected, a storm of temp- 
tation was coming upon him which 
threatened to make shipwreck of all 
that was precious and dear to him, in 
time and eternity. But by the grace of 
God he was enabled to resist the fierce 
tkssauU, and to baffle a plot against his 
innocence more formidable than the 
cruel machinations of his brethren 
against his life. He achieved a victory 
over himself, such as has seldom been 
witnessed in this fallen world. And 
nothing related of him speaks more 
highly for the lessons of piety and puri- 
ty, of honor, integrity, and universal 
rectitude with which his mind had been 
' early imbued, than his conduct on this 
occasion. His unprincipled mistress, 
lost to the modesty and every other vir. 
tue of her sex, cast an eye of unhallow- 
' ed desire upon the amiable inmate of 
her house, and by various wanton looks 
end gestures signified too plainly the 
eriminality of her intentions. It is not 
perhaps to be understood by the clause 
'she said, d&c.' thftt her vile solicitation 
was actually expressed in so many 
words But this was the language of 
her conduct, and conduct in the eye of 
Che Scriptures is virtual speech. Thus, 
Eocl. 10. T, 'When he that is a fool 
walketh by the way, his wisdom failetli 
him, and he eailh to every one that he 
is a fool ;' i. e. his conduct declares him 
to be a fool. See Note on Gen. 15. 1 
0at however this maybe, the nurrative 

ia too plain to admit a doubt that her de- 
meanor towards Joseph was marked by 
a most shameless effrontery. Not 
only was the sacredness of the marriage 
compact lost sight of, but all the decor- 
ous, timid reserve which distinguu«hei 
the sex, except among the most aban* 
doned, had disappeared. Alas, bow few 
young men would have resisted the 
strong temptation which Joseph waa 
now called to encounter ! How eswly 
did his brother Judah, in a more advan- 
ced period of life, fall before a tempta- 
tion, which, 'n the comparison, was very 
small ! But the lure in Joseph*8 case 
was unavailing. He held fast his integ* 
rity, and would not let it go, for hii 
heart was strongly fortified by the fear 
of God, and he was powerfully sopportf 
ed by that grace ' which is able to keep 
us iVom falling, and to present us faob- 
less before the divine glory with ex- 
ceeding joy.' S But he re/utedj and 

saidf &c. He not only refused te coin- 
ply with his mistress, but gave his rea- 
sons for refusing; and these reasoM 
were well adapted to cure her of her 
madness, had it not been incurable. He 
begins by a modest but severe remon- 
strance, exactly suited to his sitoatioD. 
Without expressly adverting to the 
wickedness of the tempter, or reproach- 
ing her with the indelicacy, the infideli- 
ty, and the baseness of her proposal, he 
confines himself to what resp<>cted Uf 
own obhgation, and what would be hit 
oum sin. He alludes to the responsible 
station to which he had been raised by 
his master, and intimates that his obli- 
gation was in exact proportion to the 
trust reposed in him. * He hath con- 
roitted all that he hath to my hand ; 
there is none greater in this house thsn 
I.* Confidence will alwajrs beget in a 
well-disposed mind a disposition to re- 
pay it with fidelity ; and one who be- 
trays trust is justly regarded as afla* 
grant transgressor of the laws of society. 
Joseph displays the lofty integrity of 
his sold by pleading this eoosideratiOQ. 




JLC. 1729.1 
10 And it caine to pawi as ihe spake to loraph day by day, that he 

Men of perverse minds would have been 
emboldened by the very idea which ex- 
eitased sacb a restraint upon the mind 
of Joseph. But not so with tlie noble- 
■pirited captive in the house of Potiphar. 
To tbe glory of Joseph it is recorded 
that the very largeness of the trust and 
authority reposed in him, witbeld him 
from the guilty abuse of it. ft is ob- 
vious that he was influenced by other 
moiives, but he dwells at greatest length 
upon this, because tbe force of it would 
be best understood ^nd perhaps felt^ by 
his mistress. How base was her conduct, 
when she tempted herhusband's favorite 
servant to betray him in the most cruel 
manner, and to repay the greatest fa- 
vors with an irreparable shame ! But 
he pleads also the obligation arisirg 
from tbe generosity and kindness of his 
master, who had witbeld nothing from 
him but her, and that because she was 
his wife. These words ought to have 
pierced her heart like daggers. She 
was his wife, and a man's wife ought to 
be his alone, and not another's with 
him. The most confidential servant, 
the fnost esteemed friend, must consid- 
er a man's wife as a sacred reservation, 
and regard and treat her as his exclusive 
treasure. The more favored they are 
in other respects, the more careful must 
they be tu hold this possession inviola- 
ble. A man's wife is a part of his own 
flesh. To separate between one's soul 
and body is scarcely a greater injury 
than to separate between parties thus 
closely related. This Joseph deeply felt 
and strongly urged. Penetrated with a 
sense of the favors heaped upon him, he 
woidd not behave in a manner so unwor- 
thy of them. And if Joseph, a poor slave, 
had such a grateful sense of Potiphar's 
&vors, how monstrously ungrateful was 
the wife of his bosom, who wished to 
repay his love with the blackest stain to 
his honor ! But he rises to a considera- 
tion of still higher and holier import. 
*Bow can I do this great wickedness, 

and sin against God 7' It will not only 
be treachery to my master on earth, 
but daring wickedness against my mas> 
ter in heaven. The offence against 
Potiphar would be very inexcusable, 
but it was a small thing compared wilh 
the offence which would have been 
given to God. God is our maker and 
our judge ; and if honor required Jo- 
seph to be faithful to bis master, much 
more did religion, which is a far strong- 
er principle than honor, oblige biro to be 
faithful to God. If gratitude bound 
him not to sin against the former, how 
much more strong ought that feeling to 
be towards God 7 If the reverence 
which he owed to his master's station, 
ought to secure him from insult, how. 
much more ought the majesty of God to 
restrain every offence against Him! 
It is all-important that in circumstances 
of temptation we should fix our eye up- 
on the evil to which we are tempted^ 
If we suffer our thoughts to dwell on its 
ngreeableness, as Eve did in regard to 
the forbidden fruit, its sinfulness will 
insensibly diminish in our sight, many 
fipecious pleas and excuses will suggest 
themselves, and we shall in all likeli- 
hood be carried away by it. But if wa 
direct our view steadfastly to the holy 
will of God. and the strong obligations 
we are under to him, that which would 
otherwise appear a little thing will be 
accounted what it truly is, a great wick- 
edness^ and we shall revolt at the idea 
of sinning against God. This was the 
view of things which weighe(| with Jo- 
seph, and he therefore speaks as if it 
had been impossible for him to bring him- 
self under the guilt of such atrocious in- 
gratitude, injustice and impurity. He 
could not do it without at once divest-, 
ing himself of piety as well as of hu- 
manity, and therefore his language is 
that of unconquerable reluctance to such 

10. As she spake to Joseph day ly day^ 
dec. Had Joseph resisted but a single 




iMMtaied not nBto ii«r, to lie by 
lier, or to be with her. 

11 And it came to pass aboot 
this time* that Josejh went into the 
house to do his business ; and there 
wa$ none of the men of the house 
there within. 

a«aob from thii •onrce in the raAoner 
related above, it would ttill have been 
a most lignal triumph of principle over 
passion, of the fear of God over the 
promptings of evil. But it enhances 
greatly the merit of Joseph's constancy, 
dial it was proof against an oft-repeated 
and long-continned solleitation to sin. 
We all know the effect of persevering 
importunity in any thing. We know 
that it is not every one who withstands 
a temptation in the first instance, that 
holds out to the end. Eve repelled the 
tempter on the first onset, but was car- 
ried away by the second. Samson re- 
fased for a longtime to satisfy Delilah's 
insidious questions, but at last the 
mighty man was conquered by the tears 
and importunities of a fiiir woman. 
And thus in all ages sinners refuse for a 
time to comply with the great enemy 
of souls, but at last, tired of resistance, 
they yield to the destroyer, and plunge 
themselves in aggravsted guilt and mis- 
ery. But Joseph stood firm against a pro- 
longed series ofurgent temptations. None 
of the tempter's arts or blandishments 
succeeded in inducing him to swerve 
fkom his integrity ; nor if she could have 
given him all the treasures of Egypt, as 
the price of his virtue, could she have 
accomplished her object. The inward 
operation of faith, love, fear, and duty 
were more than a match fo^ the seduc- 
tive influences which bore upon him 
from without. But doubtless where Jo- 
seph stood, thousands would have fal- 
len.— —«V He hearkened not tinio her to 
He 5y her, or to be wiA her. This passage 
aflbrdt an instance of a very important 
shade of meaning being lost to the Eng- 
lish reader, by the translators* not hav- 

12 And » she caogfat'faim b| he 
ffarraent, saying. Lie with me : and 
be left his srarment in her hand, 
and fled, anagot him oat 

19 And it came to pass, when 
she saw that he had left his gar- 
» Prov. 7, 13, &G. 

ing adverted to, perhaps not being sc- 
quainted with, the genuine force of the 
original When we read that Joieph 
refiised to hearken to Ms mistress's foli- 
citations, or * to be with her,' we natu- 
rally understand the meaning to be, 
that he declined being in her cumpaojr, 
that he shunned her presence, and ei- 
pecially that he avoided, as much ai 
possilile, being alone with her. All this 
may indeed have been ao ; we think it 
ver)'' probable that it was; still thii 
does not by any meana represent the 
true sense of the original phrase. The 

* or' is not found in the Hebrew, and iti 
insertion in our translation prevents the 
precise drift of the writer from being 
apprehended. The true renderiog 
results from the omission of the particle 
— *■ he hearkened not unto her to lie by 
her to be with her* — and the import of 

* being with her* unquestionably is, 
being united, and ks it were identified 
with her, so as in a sense to co-exist 
with her by a constructive reciprocatioo 
of being. This sense is cleaiiy devel- 
oped by the words of the Apostle, 1 Cor. 
6. 16, 17, * What? know ye not that he 
which is joined to an harlot is oaehoAff 
for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. 
But he that is joined to the Lord is cm 
epirit,* To he with one, therefore, in this 
sense, is, in the eye of the Scriptures^ 
to haoe a community of being. This is 
the nature of the conjugal union, which 
is trenched upon and invaded by every 
act of unlawful commerce, such as that 
meditated by Potiphar's wife. 

11—13. And it came to pastaboui this 
time, &c. Undoubtedly in most cases 
it would be the duty of one circum- 
stanced as Joseph was to seek safety by I 


B. a 17i9.J 


in her hand, and wu fled 

14 That she caOed onto the men 
of her booee, and spake onto them, 
eajm^. See, he hath brought in an 
Hebrew onto os to mock as: he 
came in unto me to lie with me, 
and J cried with a k>ud voice : 

flight. Gome kinds of temptations are 
to be boldly encoontered, whatever 
may be the resalt Others are to be 
overooroe only by removing ourselves 
beyond their reach. Bnt in Joseph's 
ease tbia would appear to have been 
impoesiMe. He was a bought servant, 
however exalted, and therefore was not 
at liberty to leave. Nor coald he speak 
on the sabject to his roaster withont 
mhiing hia peace forever. He, there* 
fere, keeps the whole matter a profound 
secret to himself, and goes steadily for- 
ward in the discharge of his duties, in- 
wardly leaning npon God for support in 
Ihe oonflust. On one occasion the busi- 
nesa of Bis calling brought him alone 
into her presence. She suflfered not the 
emMMtimity to pass neglected. 8he re- 
Bewed her solicitations; and finding 
dmt words were vain, proceeded to 
fiircfaer extremities. Joseph was now in 
a critical situation. By his superior 
strength or swiftness, it was indeed pos- 
wble for him to escape from the presence 
of this wicked woman ; but how will it 
be possible for him to escape the effects 
of her fierce resentment ? He, however, 
did not at this time think of her resent- 
ment? His engrossing care is to get 
awmy from her hated presence. In so 
doing ha left hia garment in her hand. 
The danger incurred by this was very 
«bvkHia. Her resentment might im- 
prove it as the instrument of his destruc- 
tion ; or if she endeavored, for her own 
sake, to conceal it, an accident might 
probably discover it, and raise very 
daik suspicions against him. But con- 
vinced that sin was an infinitely worse 
evil than disgrace or death, ha is deler- 

15 And itcame to |>a8i,wheii h« 
heard that 1 lifted op my voice and 
cried, that he left hia garment with 
me, and fled, and ffot him oat 

16 And she laid up his i^arment 
by her, nntil his lord came home. 

17 And she " spake onto him a6-> 

■Exod.23. 1. Pa. 190. 3. 

mined to fly at all hazards. The ( 
quences were such as might be expect- 
ed from a lascivious and abandoned 
woman. Disappointed and defeated in 
her vile intentions, the demon of lost is ' 
suddenly converted into that of rags 
and revenge. She could not ruin ^ 
seph's soul, but she will, if possible, 
ruin his body, and will sparo no Ilea or 
hypocrisy to atuin her purpose. Jo- 
seph himself, in his haste to escape, haa 
fornislied her with the means ; and her 
genius is fruitful in expedients to im- 
prove them. * This second time is Jo- 
seph stripped of his garment : before in 
the violence of envy, now of Inst ; be- 
fore of necessity, now of choice ; befera 
to deceive his father, now his master; 
for, behold, the pledge of his fidelity, 
which he left in those wicked hands, is 
made an evidence against him of that 
which he refused to do. Therofore, did 
he leave his clonk, because he would 
not do that of which he is accused and 
condemned, because he left it. What 
safety is there against great adversarieSi 
when even arguments of innocence are 
used to convince of evil ? Lust is a de»> 
perate madness when it is opposed ; no 
hatred bums so furiously as ihat whioih 
arises from the quenched coals of lovs.' 
Bp. Hall 

14—17. She called tado the mm of har 
house^ &c. If we were amazed, in read- 
ing the foregoing narrative, to find this 
woman so brasen-feced, we are now 
astonished at her infernal artifices. She 
scrupled at nothing that was wieksd. 
She not only dissembles and liea, but 
she plots the destruction of the beat of 
i men, for no other reason bnt has in 



[EC. 179. 

to thMe wordi^ sa^ng^ 
The fiebrew tenrant which tboa 
last brought unto oi, came in unto 
ne to mock me : 

16 And h came to ptas as I ISted 
op ray voice and cried, that he left 
to garment with me, and fled out. 

19 And it came to pass, when 
Ub master heard the words of his 
wife, which she spake mito him, 

parable virtuet.- She fint calls the ser- 
'vanti and makes bitter complainta Cc» 
fh&tHj at if her lord had intended to af- 
ibont her by bringing the yoong Hebrew 
into the boose. That she should ex- 
|iress herself in language so disrespect- 
Ihl to her hnsband, half attributing the 
pretended insidt to iuin, shows the es- 
trangement of her heart from its proper 
nbject, and nothing could have tended 
more directly to set the servants 
against their master. But all manner of 
ainor wickednesses are apt to cluster 
about a larger, and so it was here. 
From her own account, Joseph was a 
monster of iniquity, and herself a pat- 
tern of purity. And it must be admitted 
that the presumptive evidence against 
him was very strong, and her language 
Was calculated to indame their an- 
ger towards him. By employing the 
plural * us*—* hath brought in an Hebrew 
noto as to mock as*— she no doubt in- 
tended to represent the alleged wrong 
aa done against the whole house, that 
ahe might enlist them more ftiUy in her 
imersst ia seeking revenge^ *lf he 
4ara be so bold with me, what baseness 
and villany would he not practise 
against any of you?* In all this we are 
reminded of the inspired poftraitnie of a 
Woman of ttusdeaeriplion. * And I find 
snore bitter than death the woman 
^khom heart is snares and nets, and her 
aands aa bands : whoso pleasetfa God 
aball escape fium her; but the sumer 
abali be taken by her.' 

19, SO. Wkm hit Master heard the 
wetdf V Alt «i^ Ae. Hie aeheme of 

saying. After this manaer did iksf 
servant to me; that his ° wrath wm 

20 And Joseph's mastsr took 
him, and r pat him into the ^priaoB, 
a place wiieie the king's prisonm 
ware bound : and he was there ia 
the prison. 

• Prov. ft. 34. 35. »P8.105.ia IPetS. 
19. «4:h. 40.3, 15. tb41.l4. 

this wicked woman is permitted to sne- 
ceed. By her lying speeches, by her 
fiendish art, she deceives her haibsikl 
and draws him unwittingly into a part- 
nership of her guilt. The nmn whon 
no consideration oi pleasure or adwA- 
tage could for a moment allnre fiora the 
path of rectitude, is accoeed of attempl* 
ing to seduce his nnstreas, and the sc* 
cttsation is believed! The story «ni 
plausible, and if Potipharhad herstoftis 
had no reason to doubt his wife's fidel* 
ity, it is not perhaps surprising that he 
should have beHeved it ; and hetieving it, 
he could not but be roused to the bighsit 
pitch of indignation on account of it. 
Yet, on the other hand, there vien 
some things calculaled, on closer inspse- 
tion, to throw suspidon upon his wife's 
story. It was in itself very ualiksly 
that Joseph should have left hisgannsnt 
in the haJnds of his mistresa to be a wit- 
tgainst himself; if he had really in- 
sulted her. His strength was superior 
to hers, and he could, no doubt, have 
recovered the robe had he been so die- 
posed, even againat her efforts to retain 
it. No explanation, therefore, but tbs 
true one could reoscsiaUy aooonnt ibr 
the incident. But Potiphar was not in 
a mood to be awayed merely by whst 
was reewmaUe, His wife's sutemente 
raised a storm of passion in his breast, 
which prevented him from listemngto 
the voice of equity and truth. In sU 
this he plainly did wrong. He paid too 
much deference to has wife. He oqght 
not to have believed her words againet 
Joaeph, without investigatiiig the aflair 



B. a 17».] 

Bore thorodgfily. A mail oaght indeed 
•» low his %vife at a part of Umselft but 
however dear she may be to him, truth 
aad jualaee ought to be iitiU dearer. 
The conflMeration of Joseph's kmf and 
ftithfal aerricea, and his unexoeplion- 
able deportment hitherto, was certainly 
entitled to some weight in opposition to 
her testimony. But to all pleas fn>m 
this quarter he seems to have been en- 
tirely deal^ and accordingly, without 
fadier ceremony Joseph is immured in 
prison, to be dragged forth in due time 
to s^ severer punishment Truly has 
i man said, Pfov. 6. 25, that * the 
t win huntfor the precious life.* 
I the mean time, svems meek- 
ly and silently to have submitted to hii 
Imrd lot. Had he told his own storyi 
eoold he have expected it to gain cred- 
it ? Who would have believed that 
young man could have exhibited such 
» rare instance of selMenial? And 
bow could a husband be expected to 
believe that his own wife was so utterly 
ahaKdoned as the tmth would have 
made her ont to be? It is indeed poa^ 
«bl0 that he may have wished and en- 
deavored to disabuse PtMiphar's mind by 
stating the truth, bnt that the lordly 
I^pcian was too much fired with an- 
ger to give an ear to what he could say 
In his own behalf. Yet, as nothing is 
said of Joseph's reply, we think it more 
likely that he chose rather to incur his 
maAer*8 displeasure, and sink under the 
weight of a false accusation, than to 
vindicate his honor by exposing the 
shame <^a bad woman. So that he 
was consulting his master's peace of 
mind at the very time that ht was con- 
demning him to the horrors of a gloomy 
diii^;eon. As to the preservation of his 
Ufa and the clearing op of his injured 
character, that he will leave to God, in 
whose hands his breath is, and whose 
are all his ways. Except in tlie case of 
the Saviour himself, where do we find 
a magnanimity that is a parallel to this 7 
^ Put him tato f4e piuom, Heb. 


"no tl*^ in el Wk 9okat. U 
seem that Moaaa himself thought ihtK 
the word "vio aoAer, which occurs only 
in this and the two sncceediog versia, 
and m eh. 40. 3; S, stood ia need of aomt 
kind of explanation of his immediately 
adding — ^ a place where tlie king's pria? 
oneia were bound.' It properly signi- 
fies rowuiaess, and the phrase ' house of 
roundness,' or 'round-house* probably 
implies an edifice mostly subterranean, 
of which the roof or vault rising imme- 
diately from the surface of the ground* 
round or shaped Uke an inverte4 
howL This plaiC^ is aAerwards called % 
'dungeon,' ch. 41. 15i, and it appeaiy 
from the reports of eastern travelleif 
that dungeons so oonstmcted, with aa 
aperture at the top, throQgh which the 
piiseners were let down, are still found 
in different parts of Asia. Comp. Jer. 38. 

6. S Where the Idtig^s priMoners toert 

bouHd. Heb. ft-iniDat Tpan ^^IIQil 
otere hammdek aeurim, wKere the boun^ 
oneg of the king were bound. The term it 
derived from ysik ^m*** *o ^^ ^ ^^ 
airraid and here Impliea those who were 
reatrained of their liberty. Whethar 
in ordinary cases their liraba were Uteial- 
ly bound in addition to their being con* 
fined, is not clear, but we learn elsor 
where that this was the case with Jor 
seph, at least in some part of his impri»> 
onment; Pfe. IQ^IS, ' Whose feet they 
hurt with fetters ; he was laid in iron.* 
Thus far then the accursed stratagem 
haa succeeded. The exemplary He> 
brew youth, the faithful steward, the 
pattern of purity, the humble fearer of 
God, the heir of a glorious promise, 
the future lord of Egypt, is consigned to 
the dreary walls of a prison. His feel- 
ings under this affecting reverse of con- 
dition must have been most pungentl^r 
distressing. A stranger in a Strang 
land, without a friend to sympathise 
with him or intercede fi>r him, with 
what a heavy heart most he have en- 
tered the gloomy abode which not hja 
crimes but his virtues had opened fiir 




[EC. 1729. 

SI T Bot the Lord was with Jo« 
•eprih, and shewed him mercy* and 

him ! With what anutterable emotion* 
woald he think of home and exclaim/ 
• O if my poor father knew of this V 
Again, with what deep anxiety would 
he reflect upon the mysterious ways of 
Providence. How difficult, with his 
imperfect light- and knowledge, to re- 
concile an inflexible adherence to right, 
with the hard lot which he was now 
called to experience. Rut still, in the 
midst of alli and over all, his faith tri- 
umphed, and with meek suhmissiDn to 
the divine will he bows to the severity 
of the stroke. It is doubtless somewhat 
surprising that his master, having so 
much power in his hands, should have 
satisfied himself with the punishment 6f 
imprisonment, in.<>tead of putting him at 
once to death. We kno w that * jealousy 
is the rage of a man, and that he will 
not spare in the day .of vengeance ;' but 
we know too that jealousy and every 
other passion is under the control of the 
Host High, who mightily restrains them, 
•pd bind)* them to a compliance with 
the purposes of his will. Potiphar^s 
former regard for Joseph may have so 
iar operated upon his mind as to prevent 
him from ordering hi^nstant execution, 
and he may have entertained some 
^nt doubts of his wife's veracity. Mux 
whatever motives witheld him from 
proceeding to extremities, certain it is 
.that he was tinder the overruling influ- 
ence of God, whose set time for Joseph's 
dissolution was not yet come. He had 
much to do in this world before he ob- 
tained his dismission to another. He 
was to become ' the shepherd and the 
■tone of Israel.* He w^as to be the lord 
of Pharaoh^s house, according to the 
dreams which cama to him from hea- 
ven. He was to become the father of 
two pc^werful tribes in Israel. He was 
to see good and glorious days on earth ; 
and he could not perish while th^ pro- ' 

' gave him favour in the sight of the 
keeper of the prison. 

r Kz(id. 3. 31. «c 11. 3. & 12. 36. Pa. 106. 
46. Pniv. 16. 7. Acra 7. 9, 10. 

mises he had received were yet unac- 
complished. All the powers of dark- 
ness combined would find theroselvet 
unable to put one of God's servants to 
death, whilst any part of his work on 
earth remained unperformed. It was 
not Joseph's death, but his imprisonment, 
that was to be the means of his eleva* 
tion ; and Potiphar, and even Pottphar's 
wife, served providence in all the evil 
which they did to Joseph. Whilst they 
were most egregiously violating God's 
commandments, they were fulfilling his 
counsels. What can man do against 
God ? Not only the righteous and the 
wise, and their worths, but the unrigh- 
teous, the unwise,.and the worst of tlieir 
works, are in his hand. 

21. But the Lord was toith JosejA^ &^. 
Joseph is incarcerated, but God, who 
had delivered him from the pit, accom- 
panies him to the prison, and when the 
iron entered his soul, he prevented him 
from sinking under his calamities. 
Where providence leads us into diffi- 
culties and hardships, grace can sustain 
us under them ; and if we suffer for 
righteousnesses sake, as Joseph did, we 
may be assured that it will be so. All 
will be right at last. Nothing shall 
eventually harm us, if we be followers 
of that which is good. It was not .long 
before Joseph obtained favor in the eyes 
of the keeper of the prison, as he 
had before done in those o^ Potiphar. 
While we cannot doubt that ms charac- 
teristic meekness and modesty tended 
strongly to work upon the kindly dis- 
positions of the jailer, there is reason to 
think that- Potiphar's rage had become 
softened ; for the jailer could not, we 
should suppose, have treated Joseph 
with so much humanity without Poti- 
pharos leave. Upon calm reflection, he 
might see reason to think that the ac- 
cusation against Joseph was not to be 



B. C. 17».] 


22 And the keeper of the prieon 
■ committed to Joseph's hand all the 
• cb. 40. 3, 4. 

credited, and yet he might think it in- 
prndent to liberate him from eonflne- 

ment. T Skewed Ami wurey. Heb. 

lOT] 1*^^K tS*^ eojf^ olcue AeMd, extend- 
ed hndnees to him. It ia certain that the 
original word *TOn AesecK, uaoally oanies 
with it the idea ot gtaUuimu henefatHxm^ 
aod we know not that it ia at all ybrcin^ 
t practical inference from the worda, to 
lay that they were tnlended to inti- 
nate, that Joseph could not o2iitM the 
fiiTor which waa shewn him in prison 
•s the reward of merit. Even when 
God delivers us from unrighteous viO' 
lence, or aids us in a good cause, we are 
not at liberty to refer his dealings to the 
discharge of a debt which he owes us. 

f Keeper of ihe prison. Heb. *yo 

*VTO tl*^U ear belh soher, captain of ike 

22. Committed to Joseph*e hand aB 
Ae pruosery, &c. It was scarcely to be 
expected that a poor prisoner, coridemn- 
ed to a dungeon for one of the worst of 
crimes, should find such fiivur with his 
keeper. iThe calling of a jailer is not 
pecoliarly fovorable to the kindlier sen- 
sibilities. It is a business which implies 
itemneM and severity. But there is a 
power in true moral exceUence to con- 
ciliate and captivate, even where if doee 
not convert ; and the henrts of the keep- 
en of prisons are in the hands of the 
lord, as well as the hearts of other men. 
Paul had much favor shewn him in 
l>onds and imprisonments, for wliich 
Christians in 'every age ought to be 
thankful to God. He was in prisons 
oft, but his keepers allowed him paper 
tod iok, with which those epistles were 
written that will be read with pleasure 
end edification while the world stands. 
Onfsimas, and probably others, were 
begotten by Peul in his bonds. The 
ioHowing remarks, from Jamieson*s 
'Eastern Mannera illustrative of Old 

priMBOTi that mtn in xhm priMo ; 
and whatsoever tfaey did thBt% Im 
was the doer of ii. 

Tesument History/ p. 93—^, on the 
general police of prison eauUialiiMnii 
aasong the Orientala, will perhapa thiMP 
some Ught on thia part of the aamliee, 
* In peasing through the cities and viOsr 
ges of Asiatic coonlries, one looks m 
vain for the gloomy and' sequestered 
building, whose massy walls and grated 
windows point it o«t as the cheerlaaa 
residence of the sons of crime ; and taOi 
tu a native of the East, of the perMnage 
who, with awftil importance in his fiMa^ 
and a ponderous key at his side, ismea^ 
tor or porter at the gate, and he will 
tell you that such a character and suck 
an edifice are there altogether onknowaw 
Scarcely, indeed, is there any point m 
which the notions and practices \}f the 
people of the East differ so essentially 
from ours as in those which relate to the 
treatment of criminals ; for while ia Eu- 
rope there are places reared iorthecoi»> 
finement of offenders, and, officers ipe^ 
cially appointed to have the custody 9f 
them, the houses of the highest sod 
greatest persons in the East, are net 
unfreqnently dedicated to the purpoaaa 
of a prison, and men who fill public aod 
official stations of the greatest dignity, 
perform the duties of an office which, 
in our eatimation, is the most ignoble. 
From tlie eariiest times, the jails in the 
East have been of this description, and 
under the care of perM>ns of elevated 
rank ; and as it is highly probable thai 
the place of Joseph's confinement wm 
some dungeon, or seclnded part of the 
house of Potiphar, who was the prioch 
pal state officer of Egypt at the time, 
the knowledge of this circumataocie 
furnishes a natural way of accouQtiflig 
fi)r the freedom allowed to Jo*eph by 
the deputy jailor, who might have ae- 
cess to know his entire innocenoe of the 
charge that led to his being incaroeral- 
ed ; and who, fiom bis impresaioii el'the 


S8 Hie keeper of the prison look- 
ed sot to any thing that was under 
his hand ; because < the Lord was 
' tver.3, a 

GENESIS. [B. G. 1729. 

with him : and that which he did, 
the Lord made it to prosper. 

▼irtooas and honorable character of the 
yonng Hebrew was persuaded he ran 
no risk in allowing his prisoner to go at 
large. Such discretionary power, no 
doubtf belonged to the Egyprian turn- 
key, as it does still to all jailers of the 
East, who, without being bound by any 
rales, such as prevail in Europe, or 
being obliged to place their prisoners 
in certain celts, according to the magni- 
tnde of their offences, are required sifn> 
ply to produce them when called for by 
the king or the judges, and are left to 
the exercise of their own discretion to 
determine whether the intermediate 
treatment of the persons under their 
custody, shall be of a mild or a severe 
character. If the jailer be a man of a hu- 
mane disposition, he will accordingly 
extend to them every indulgence, and 
keep them under no greater restraints 
than are absolutely necessary to the 
right discharge of his duties ; whereas, 
if he be a cruel or unjust person, he has 
the power of annoying them in every 
•possible way, with a view to extort a 
bribe from them Or their friends. Of 
tibe former kind of treatment, Rauwolff* 
gives a beautiful instance that came 
within his knowledge at Tripolis in 
'Syria. He had some friends confined to 
the prison of that city, to whom he was 
allowed access at all hours. Sometimes 
ke was permitted to remain with them all 
Ugh t, and there was no part, either of the 
jail itself, or of the extensive gardens 
connected with it, over which the in- 
dulgent keeper did not give htm and his 
Iriendsthe privilege of walking; they 
were even entertained in the jaik»r*s 
own apartment, treated as members of 
Ms own family, and enjoyed such un- 
lea^cted liberty of doing whatever, and 
going wherever they pleased, that Ran- 
wolffeooidsee no difference between 

their condition and his own. A very 
different treatment was experienced by 
an Armenian merchant, who is men- 
tioned by Chardin as having been 
thrown into prison for some cause or 
other. So long as his money lasted, 
and he possessed the means of satisfying 
the cupidity of the jailer, he met with 
the greatest humanity and kindness, 
but the moment that his resources fail- 
ed, and on his adversary who pursued 
him presenting a ^^andsome bribe to ihs 
jailer, he experienced an abatement of 
the kind attentions of his keeper. His 
privileges were first aliridged ; he was 
then subjected to close confinement, 
and treated with so great rigor, that he 
was not allowed any water but once in 
the twenty-four hours, and that, too, in 
the sultriest season of the year; and, 
last of all, he was thrown into an un* 
wholesome dungeon, to complete the 
catastrophe which all this inhumanity 

was designed to hasten.* ^ WHoIf' 

soever they did thefe he was the doer 
of it. That is, it was done by his di- 
rection and authority. Ckel. ^Aod 
all that was done there was done ac- 
cording to his word.* Thus Pilate is 
said to have given the body of Christ 
unto Joseph, Mark 15. 45, when he 
commanded it to be given. Mat. ^. 58. 
23. Looked not to any things &c. Heb. 
n?3l»>a ba nn ns^'l roeh eth kd meu^ 
moA, saw not any tlung ; i. e. did not at> 
tend to or concern himself with any 
thing that was under his (Joseph's) hand. 
Nor did he call him to account, or quet* 
tion him in any way as to his manage- 
ment of whatever was submitted to his 
control. So unlimited was the trust re- 
posed in him. Let a man be inflexibly 
honest and true, and he vrill never bivt 
reason to accuse the world of want U 
confidence. Dishonesty bcgeta distnut 


B. C. 1720.] 




AND it came to pass afier these 
things, that the •btttler of 
the kiog or Egypt and his baker 
had oflSnded their lord the king 
of Egypt. 
2 And Pharaoh w^s ^ wroth 

a Neh. 1. 11. b ProT. 16. U. 


Tri present chapter carriefl us for- 
ward another decided step towards the 
winding up of that wonderful drama, 
in which Joseph was at this time such 
a prominent but unconscious actor. 
Tfie all- wise Jehovah is laying his 
plana, marshalling his forces, prepar- 
ing his instrunienis, at Tery different 
tunes, and in very different places. The 
envy of Jacob's sons, the lascivious- 
neas of Potiphar*s wife, the disobedi- 
ence of Pharaoh's servants, the anger 
of the king himself— all meet by a 
Btnnge concurrence of circumstances, 
in one point, th& elevation of Joseph to 
the right hand of the throne ! Remove 
but one link, and the chain is broken 
asonder. Take away but a single stone, 
ind the whole fabric fitlls to the ground. 

1. And it came to past after theae 

edngs, Ac. Heb. ntvin ti'^in'n nn« 

ohar haddebarim haelleht after these 

wmU. See note on Gen. 15. 1 H 

Butier; I e. cup-bearer; one who us- 
ed to give the cup into the king's hand, 
V. 13. Thus the word is translated 
Neh. 1. 11, » For I was the king's cup- 
hearerJ The Gr. renders it apxiotvo- 
X«oi chitf teine-paurerf implying him 
who had charge of the rest, which, as 
ippears from v. 2, is the true meaning. 
——IT Baker. Gr. ap^icriroiroios chief 

hread-maker, HI Had offended. Heb. 

"IlktStl hate^ had sinned {against). 
We are not informed either of the 
»ames or the crimesof these two ser- 
vants of the king of Kgypt; nor have 
we any wish to know, either the one 

against tmo of hit officers, against 
the chief of the butlers, and 
against the chief of the bakers. 

3 * And he put them in ward 
in the bouse or the captain of the , 
guard, into the prison, the place 
where Joseph was bound. 

e eh. 39. ao, 23. 

or the other. We feel no interest in 
what concerns them any fiEirther than 
as their lot was connected with that of 
Joseph. One of them came to an un- 
timely end, and perhaps deserved il. 
The other deserved not to have his 
name recorded. He escaped the sword 
of Pharaoh ; but bis name, if it had 
been handed down to us, would never 
have been mentioned with honor, for 
he could receive favors without retunw 
ing them when it was in the power of 
his hand to do it. He could sufier an 
innocent youth to languish in prison^ 
without endeavoring to procure his re* 
lease, although he could have told a 
story that would probably have gained 
him his liberty. He did indeed tell 
this story to the king a long time after* 
wards, but at a season when he hoped 
to recommend himself by dmng what 
he long before ought to have done in 
gratitude to Joseph. 

2. Was wroth against two of his ^^ 
cers. That is, against the two above- 
mentioned, who are designated in the 
original by the term eunuchs ; but this 
as we have seen, is a term of laiys 
import in the East. 

a. He put them in ward. That m, 
in custody. It often happena to the 
righteous according to the wish ef 
the wicked. Here we find two men, 
who sinned against their lord, the 
king of Egypt, confined in the same 
prison with Joseph. Yet the same 
prison is not the same thing to a good 
and to a bad man. The two ofTendors 
tremble in anzJoua dread of some woia^ 




[B. C. W18. 

4 And the eaptain of the guard 
charged Joseph with them, and 
he served them; and they con- 
tiDoed a season in ward. 

5 T And they dreamed a dream 
both of them, each man his 

punishment ; and the consciousness of 
Aeir demerit, if they were really guilty, 
was snore painful to them than the 
irons were to Joseph, though they en- 
tered into his soul. It takes away the 
sting of such calamities, to have the 
testimony of a good conscience. 

4. Otargtd Joseph, with fkem, Heb. 
WW CjOT* tm TpD"^ yifhkod dh 
YoHpk Utamy made Joseph to visit 
Ami/ a phrase, as before remarked, 
sqpivslent to investing one with author- 
<^— IT Served ffisnu Heb. pnTD*^ 
ttm fsshareth othanti ministered to 
them! I e. by supplying them with 
food and other necessaries. The cap- 
tain of the guard had the command of 
ths royal prison ; and as this title is 
toon than once before given to Poti- 
phar, It is probable he is the person 
hsrs alluded to. If so, he was in all 
EksUhood now convinced of Joseph's 
inneosnoe^ and therefore loosed his fet- 
mn, though he did not dismiss him 
from confinement But why did he 
not velease 'Joseph entirely from the 
prisDii, if be thought him fit to be trust- 
> sd with the care of other prisoners 1 In 
- this his conduct is inexplicable. If Jo- 
saph was guilty of the crime imputed 
10, him, the closest imprisonment wss 
loo good for him. But if the accusa- 
tioD were fiidse^ he ought to. have been 
ht forth with honor, and t6 have 
a compensation for the injury 
»to him by his master and mis- 
L It is possible that private rea- 
, springing from a mistaken sense 
sf honor, or a too partial regard to 
Ins wifiii operated to overbalance the 
aoMidsnuion of justice. But though 

dream in one night, each man 
according to the interpretation 
of his dream ; the butler and the 
baker of the king of Egypt, which 
were bound in the prison. 

A< /;. 

Joseph bad been unjustly enslaved, 
unjustly imprisoned, and uiqustly de- 
tained in prison, yet he dechned not 
the work enjoined by his master, even 
though that master confessed, by tbs 
trust reposed in him, that he deserved 
very difierent treatment. He was a 
better man than the men whom hs 
served, and could not but have sons 
intimations in bis own mind thst bs 
should one day be exalted above theo^ 
yet at this time h^ cheerfully perform- 
ed to them every service in his power.^ 
Let us learn from him cheerfully to a^ 
commodate ourselves to those circum- 
stances in which divine providence ii 
pleased to place us. They are unwor- 
thy to be exalted, who cannot bear to 
be humbled. 

S. And they dreamed a dream both 
qf them, Dreama for the most are 
worthy of little attention on any other 
account than as they indicate the pres- 
ent state of the body or mind. Tet 
God, who spake in divers manners to 
the fathers by the prophets^ was pleas- 
ed occasionally to apeak to other m«a 
than the prophets by dreams snd vis- 
ions. We read in the following chap- 
ter of a prophetical dream presented to 
the imagination of Pharaoh, king of 
Egypt. Here we have an account of 
a prophetical dream sent to two of 
Pharaoh's servants, men who wers 
probably ignorant of thelffost H^ 
But the fancies as well as the hearts of 
those that know not God, are as much 
under his control, as the hearts of tbs 
saints, and he makes whst impres- 
sions upon them he pleases. Whea 
dreams had such an origin there is of 

B. C. 17ia] 



6 And Joseph came in unto 
them in the morning, and- looked 
upon them, and behold, they 
were sad. 

doubt that there was some peculiar 
impression made upon the dreamer's 
miiid which enabled him to refer it to 
its proper source. These poor men 
had often dreamed upon their beds, but 
none of their dreams had taken such 
hold of their ^spirits as these. By a 
secret suggestion from above, they 
were convinced that their dreams ^ere 
supernatural, and portended something 
that was to happen to them, though 
what it was they were as ignorant of 
as before their dreams. — -^ Each man 
according to the interpretation qf his 
dream. Thai is, answering to the 
SFent The expression implies that the 
dreams were not vain, empty, and un- 
meaning, as dreams usually are, but 
each of them highly significant, and 
capable of a sound interpretation, which 
Joseph gave. See Note on Josh. 24. 5, 
. where the peculiar force of this phrase- 
ology is clearly explained. 

6w BAoid they were sad, Gr. rtrtpa- 
Y/ufot troubled. The original D'^B2PT 
xoaphimf legitimately implies both 
mental vexation and irritation, and a 
sombip, lowering countenance. It oc- 
curs elsewhere four times, and is ren- 
dered, Dan. 1. 10, * worse liking;' i. e. 
worse looking; Prov. 10. 3, 'fret- 
ting;' 2 Chron. 16. 19, 'wroth.' Su- 
pernatural dreams seem usually to have 
left an impression upon the minds of 
their recipients amountmg to a violent 
agitation. Thus, Dan. 2. 1, 'Nebu- 
chadneizar dreamed dreams wherewith 
kit apirU wa» troubled^ and his sleep 
brake from him.' So also the dream 
of Pilate's wife, Matt 27. 19. We see 
from this what access God has to the 
ipints of men, and bow easily be can 

7 And he asked Pharaoh's offi- 
cers that were with him in the 
ward of his lord's house, saying, 
Wherefore look ye so sadly to- 

arm their imaginations against their 
own peace. He can at pleasure send 
a secret panic into our souls and scars 
us, as he did Job, with dreams and vis- 
ions, and even fill our days and nights 
with terror by presages and forebodings 
of uncertain evils. Let us then endeav- 
or to preserve a pure conscience and a 
clear judgment, that we may neither 
fear where no fear is, nor be shaken in 
our minds by the apprehension of those 
evils that cannot be avoided. 

7. And he asked Pharaoh's offieen^ 
&,e. Their melancholy and dejected 
appearance excited his sympathy, and 
he kindly inquires into the cause of i|. 
It was not from an impertinent curios- 
ity jhat he proposed the question, but 
being habitually pitiful, courteous, and 
kindly afTectioned, he would fain 
know what ailed them, that he migBt 
administer all the comfort in his power* 
Joseph indeed had private griefs of his 
own of no common character, and ws 
might be prompted to ask, why he 
was not as sad in heart and aspect ss 
the two servants of Pharaoh. But he 
had a source of calm and even cheerful 
resignation to the will of Gh>d, to which 
they were strangers, and so far from 
sinking under the weight of his calam- 
ities, or being absorbed in his own 
troubles, he generously proposes to aid 
his fellow-prisoners in bearing the bur- 
den of theirs. IT Wherefore look ys 

so sadly to day? Heb. q^i^o ^y^)2 
Q^J^I maddua jienektm raimy voher^ 
fore are your faces etil? Of. 
oKvOpnwa from axvOpoi grim and u^ 
countenance ; i. e. sad, gloomy, morose^ 
desponding. The same word occuia 
in a similar sense in the New Testa- 

' Digitized by^pQ^Je^,. ^ 



[B. C. m8. 

8 And they said unto him. 
'We hare dreamed a dream, and 
Ikere is no interpreter of it. And 

d eh. 41. 16. 

ment, Mat. 6. 16» < When ye fast, be 
Dot ai the hypocritee, qf a tad coun- 
^Unancty* (6r. nvBpixot,) Luke 24. 17, 
'What manner of commanications are 
these that ye have one to another, as 
yo walk and are tad?* (6r. vKvd^iroi.) 
And as *evil' signifies saxl^ so on the 
other hand 'good' is sometimes used in 
the sense of thterfvd or merry. Thus, 
Est 1. 10, 'On the aeventh day when 
the heart of the king was merry with 
wine.* Heb. ' ^ood with wine.' Is. 65. 
14, ' Behold my servants shall singybr 
joy qf heart* Heb. ' for goodness of 

8. There is no interpreter qfit He 
found upon inquiry that they had each 
had a dream which, from the circum- 
stances attending them, and the im- 
prpssion left upon their spirits, they 
considered extraordinary. Both of 
them dreamed, and both in one night. 
The dreams of both also related to tlteir 
past employments, and they could not 
resist the belief that they were omin- 
ous of something which was to happen 
to them. But what it was they could 
not divine, and having neither any in- 
terpreter at hand to instruct them, nor 
the liberty of resorting to one, they 
were exceedingly dejected. So miser- 
able a thing is it to stand in dread of 
uncertain evils. When men know the 
worst of what they have to fear, they 
will makeup their minds and fortify 
their spirits to bear the expected shock. 
But when they apprehend themselves 
exposed to some dreadful evils without 
knowing distinctly what they are, how 
does the heart sink in the prospect! 
Here we have a proof of the inestima- 
ble value of our religion, that it fiirnish- 
aa aa with effectual antidotea against 

Joseph said nnto them, * Bo not 
Interpreta'ttoofl beltmg to Qod? 
Tell me them, I pray yoo. 

6 cb.41.16. Dan. 2.11,28,47. 

every sorrow, and every fear. Tlis 
butler and baker wonhl have thought 
themselves happy could they have pro* 
cured an interpreter to set their minds 
at rest about their dreams. Bat, alas ! 
what could they reasonably expect 
from such interpreters of dreams as 
Egypt afforded? Were they sure that 
the interpreters would not impose upon 
them some groundless imaginations of 
their own hearts? Or if their dreams 
portended some great evils, had the in- 
terpreters any power to avert them, or 
to furnish them with any adequate sup- 
port under them 7 How vain are tbs 
wishes and hopes of minds unenlight- 
ened by revelation I IT Do not inter- 
pretations belong to God? Gr. 'Is 
not the manifestation of it by Godf 
Chal. * Surety from before God is the 
interpretation of a dream.' By thiB 
question, which was a tacit reproof to 
his companions, Joseph aimed to call 
off their thoughts from the lying pra- 
tensions of fidse prophets, diviners, and 
magicians, and to lead them to plaes 
their hope in the true God, who alone 
knows what is to befal any of his creft* 
tures, who alone can avert the evili 
which we dread, or turn them to oar 

comfort. IT Tell me them, / pray 

you. Let it not be set down to the ac- 
count of an undue presumption in Jo- 
seph that he here seems to claim for 
himself the prerogative which he had 
just before ascribed exclusively to God. 
He merely intimates hereby that God 
would make him an organ, by which 
to impart to them the information they 
so much desired. It is probable that 
when he first put the question to them 
respecting the cause of their sadness he 
thought nothing of dreams or their a* 


& c. i7ia j 



9 And the chief faatler told his 
dream to Joseph, and said unto 
iiim, Id my dream, behold, a vine 
v>a8 before me ; 

. 10 Aod in the vine loere three 
braocbes : and it wot as though 
it budded, and her blossoms shot 
forth; aod the clusters thereof 
brought forth ripe grapes : 

11 Aod Pharaoh's cup wcta in 
mioe band : and I took the grapes, 
and pressed them into Pharaoh's 
cup, and I i^aye the cup into 
Pharaoh's hand. 

lation, but that now all of a sudden he 
was conscious of an extraordinary 
prophetic impulse upon his spirit, en- 
abling him to act the part of an inter- 
preter. Yet he required that the dreams 
should first be made known to him. 
God could easily have saved him the 
trouble of learning from the men what 
they had dreamed. The same Spirit 
that taught him to interpret could have 
made known to him the dreams, as we 
know was the case with Daniel in the 
court of Nebuchadnezzar. But in this 
instance the dreams had not been for- 
gotten by the dreamers, and Grod does 
not impart that knowledge supernat- 
urally which can be acquired by the 
ordinary methods. It was sufficient 
for Joseph to be enabled to show the 
meaning of the dreams when informed 
what they were. And even this was 
ultimately rather for his own sake than 
for theirs. 

9. Behold a vine waa before me, ^, 
ft was not strange that a butler, de- 
prived of his office and his liberty, 
diould dream of wine, and grapes, and 
cnps, and of putting a cup into his 
master's hand. Had Joseph been left 
wholly to the direction of his native 
ttgacity, he would have told the butler 
that his dream was the pure effect of 
hh waking thoughts ; that he had often 

12 And Joseph said ooto him, 
'This U the interpretation of it: 
The three braacbes fare thn* 

13 Yet within three days shall 
Pharaoh ■'lift up throe head, and 
restore thee unto thy place: aod 
thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup 
into his hand, after the former 
manner when thou wast his bot* 

fver. 18. ch.41.12;26. Jadg.7.14. Daa. 
2. 36. & 4. 19. « ch. 41. 20. h 2 Kii«a 2B. 
27. P«.^.3. Jer.S2.31. 

anxiously wished for restoration to hit 
former office ; and that his fancy, in tiha 
time of sleep, had gratified him with 
the enjoyment of his desires. But ws 
shall soon see that there were other 
particulars in the dream which woidd 
have completely baffled his unassisted 

10. In the vine were three bramhit. 
Heb. fia'^nas »arigim. By this term la 
undoubtedly meant three little shoots 
just perceptible and budding on the 
bark of the stalk. It was from theSS 
that the clusters grew. The design is 
to intimate the rapidity of the growili. 
The phraseology in the original is In 
like manner exceedingly brie^ bnAsii^ 

and abrupt IT Her bloBaonu tkt$ 

forth. The wonder of the dream was 
that the vine came so soon to matorityi 
that a process which usually rcquii s a 
the space of several months was ap* 
parently completed in as many mo* 
ments. He had scarcely time to toth 
template its germinating b