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THE contents of this volume, in accordance with a
plan which I have set forth elsewhere,1 consist-''of
Lectures, actually or in substance, addressed to my
usual hearers at Oxford, chiefly candidates for Holy
Orders. The Twentieth (with some slight variations
from its present form) was preached as a sermon from
the University Pulpit. These circumstances will ac-
count both for the local allusions, and for the practical
character of the Lectures, which I have left in most
cases as they originally stood.
Throughout the volume I have endeavored to bear
in mind three main objects, indicated in its title.
In the first place, the work must be regarded not
as a History, but as Lectures. This mode of in-
struction, besides being that to which I was naturally
led by the duties of my Chair, appeared to me spe-
cially adapted to the subjects of which I was to treat.
In the case of a history so familiar as that of which
the materials are for the most part contained in the
Bible, and containing, as it does, topics of the most
varied interest, the form of Lectures, whilst it avoided
1 Introductory Lectures to the History of the Eastern Church, pp. 30-84.
the necessity of a continuous narrative, enabled me
to select the portions most susceptible of fresh illus-
tration and combination, and at the same time most
likely to stimulate an intelligent study of the whole.
Moreover, there already exists in English a well-known
historical narrative of the History of the Jews, which
is now, I am glad to hope, on the point of reappearing,
with the most recent revisions from the pen of its
distinguished author. I trust that the venerable Dean
of S. Paul's will add to his many other kindnesses
his forgiveness of this intrusion on a field peculiarly
his own, -an intrusion which would never have been
attempted, but in the belief that it would not inter-
fere with those labors which have made his name
dear to all who know the value of a genuine love
of truth and freedom, combined with profound theo-
logical learning and high ecclesiastical station.
Secondly, although for the above reasons abstaining
from the attempt to write a consecutive history, I
have wished to present the main characters and events
of the Sacred Narrative in a form as nearly historical
as the facts of the case will admit.
The Jewish History has suffered from causes similar
to those which still, within our own memory, obscured
the history of Greece and of Rome. Till within the
present century, the characters and institutions of
those two great countries were so veiled from. view in
the conventional haze with which the enchantment
of distance had invested them, that when the more
graphic and critical historians of our time broke
through this reserve, a kind of shock was felt through
all the educated classes of the country. The same
change was in a still higher degree needed with regard
to the history of the Jews. Its sacred character had
deepened the difficulty already occasioned by its ex-
treme antiquity. That earliest of Christian heresies
Docetism, or "phantom worship" the reluctance
to recognize in sacred subjects their identity with our
own flesh and blood- has at different periods of the
Christian Church affected the view entertained of the
whole Bible. The same tendency which led Philo and
Origen, Augustine and Gregory the Great, to see in
the plainest statements of the Jewish history a series
of mystical allegories, in our own time has as com-
pletely closed its real contents to a large part both
of religious and irreligious readers, as if it had been
a collection of fables. Many, who would be scandal-
ized at ignorance of the battles of Salamis or Canne,
know and care nothing for the battles of Beth-horon
and Megiddo. To search the Jewish records, as we
would search those of other nations, is regarded as
dangerous. Even to speak of any portion of the Bible
as "a history," has been described, even by able and
pious men, as an outrage upon religion.
In protesting against this elimination of the histor-
ical element from the Sacred Narrative, I shall not be
understood as wishing to efface the distinction which
good taste, no less than reverence, will always endeav-
or to preserve between the Jewish and other histories.
Even in dealing with Greek and Roman times, we
must beware of an excessive reaction against the old
system of nomenclature. An indiscriminate introduc-
tion of modern associations into the ancient or the
sacred world is almost as misleading as their entire
exclusion. But we shall be best preserved from such
dangers by a true understanding of the actual events,
persons, and countries of which we profess to speak.
And there are so many signs of returning healthiness
in regard to Biblical History, that we need not fear
for the result. It is one of the many debts of grat-
itude which the Church of England owes to the
author of the "Christian Year," that he was one of
the first amongst our divines who ventured in his
well-known poems to allude to the scenes and the
characters of the Sacred Story in the same terms
that he would have used if speaking of any other
remarkable history. It is for this reason, amongst
others, that I have on all occasions, where it was pos-
sible, employed his language -now happily familiar
to the whole of English Christendom-to enforce and
to illustrate my own descriptions. Similar examples
of freely handling these sacred subjects in a becoming
spirit may be seen (to select two works, widely dif-
fering in other respects) in Dr. Robinson's Biblical
"Researches in Palestine," and the Prefaces to Dr. Pu-
sey's Commentary on the Minor Prophets." Indeed
it may safely be said, and it is the almost inevitable
result of an intimate acquaintance with the language,
the topography, or the poetry of the Bible, that
whoever has passed through any one of these gates
into a nearer presence of the truths and the events
described will never again be able to speak of them
with the cold and stiff formality which once was
thought their only safeguard.
Thirdly, it has been my intention to make these
Lectures strictly "ecclesiastical." The history of the
Jewish race, language, and antiquities belongs to other
departments. It is the history of the Jewish Church
of which my office invited me to speak. I have thus
been led to dwell especially on those parts of the
history which bear directly on the religious develop-
ment of the nation. I have never forgotten that the
literature of the Hebrew race, from which the mate-
rials of these Lectures are drawn, is also the Bible, -
the Sacred Book, or Books, of Christendom. I have
constantly endeavored to remind my hearers and
readers that the Christian Church sprang out of the
Jewish, and therefore to connect the history of the
two together, both by way of contrast and illustra-
tion, wherever opportunity offered. Whatever me-
morials of any particular form or epoch of the Jew-
ish History can be permanently traced in the institu-
tions, the language, the imagery, of either Church, I
have endeavored carefully to note. The desire to
find in all parts of the Old Testament allegories or
types of the New, has been pushed to such an excess
that many students turn away from this side of the
history in disgust. But there is a continuity of char-
acter running through the career of the Chosen Peo-
ple which cannot be disputed, and on this, the true
historical basis of "types," which is, in fact, only
the Greek word for "likenesses," I have not scru-
pled to dwell. Throughout I have sought to recog-
nize the identity of purpose -the constant gravita-
tion towards the greatest of all events which, un-
der any hypothesis, must furnish the main interest of
the History of Israel.
These are the chief points to which I have called
attention in my Lectures, and to which I here again
call the attention of my readers. There are many
collateral questions naturally arising out of the sub-
ject, for which the purpose of this work furnishes no
scope. Discussions of chronology, statistics, and phys-
ical science, of the critical state of the different
texts and the authorship of the different portions of
the narration,-of the precise limits to be drawn be-
tween natural and supernatural,' providential and
miraculous,-unless in passages where the existing
documents and the existing localities force the con-
sideration upon us,-I have usually left unnoticed. I
have passed by these questions, because I do not
wish to disturb my readers with distinctions which to
the Sacred writers were for the most part alien and
unknown, and which, within the limits of the plan of
this work, would be superfluous and inappropriate.
The only exception which I have made has been in
favor of illustrations from Geography. These, from
1 For an able statement of this tide on "the Supernatural" in the
question I venture to refer to an ar- Edinburgh Review, No. 236, p. 378.
the circumstance of my having been twice enabled to
visit the scenes of Sacred History, I felt that I might
be pardoned for offering as my special contribution
to the study of the subject, even if they somewhat
exceeded the due proportion of the rest of the work.1
On all other matters of this secondary nature, I have
been content to rest on the researches2 of others, and
to refer to them for further elucidation. No one will,
I trust, suspect me of undervaluing these researches.
It is my firm conviction that in proportion as such
inquiries are fearlessly pursued by those who are able
to make them, will be the gain both to the cause of
Biblical science and of true Religion; and I, for one,
must profess my deep obligations to those who, in
other countries, have devoted their time and labor,
and in this country have hazarded worldly interests
and popular favor, in this noble, though often peril-
ous, pursuit of Divine Truth.
To name any, in a field where so many have con-
tributed to the general result, would be difficult and
invidious. But there is one so distinguished above the
rest, and so closely connected with the subject of this
work, that I must be permitted to express here, once
1 This must be my excuse for the Hebron, and the Samaritan Pass-
frequent references to another work, over.
Sinai and Palestine, which was origi- 2 It will be seen that there is one
nallyundertaken with the express pur- name constantly recurring here, as in
pose of a preparation for such a work all else that I have written on these
as is here attempted. I have also subjects. It is an unfailing pleasure
ventured to take this opportunity of to me to refer to Mr. Grove's con-
giving in the Appendix an account of tinued aid such as I could have re-
the two most remarkable scenes, which ceived from no one else in like degree
I witnessed in my late journey to the in all questions connected with Sa-
Holy Land,- the visit to the Mosque of cred history and geography.
for all, the gratitude which I, in common with many
others, owe to his vast labors.
It is now twenty-five years ago since Arnold wrote
to Bunsen,' "What Wolf and Niebuhr have done for
"Greece and Rome, seems sadly wanted for Judsa."
The wish thus boldly expressed for a critical and his-
torical investigation of the Jewish history was, in fact,
already on the eve of accomplishment. At that time
Ewald was only known as one of the chief Orientalists
of Germany. He had not yet proved himself to be
the first Biblical scholar in Europe. But, year by year,
he was advancing towards his grand object. To his
profound knowledge of the Hebrew language he added,
step by step, a knowledge of each stage of the Hebrew
Literature. These labors on the prophetic and poetic
books of the ancient Scriptures culminated in his no-
ble work on the History of the People of Israel as
powerful in its general conception, as it is saturated
with learning down to its minutest details. It would
be presumptuous in me either to defend or to attack
the critical analysis, which to most English readers
savors of arbitrary dogmatism, with which he assigns
special dates and authors to the manifold constituent
parts of the several books of the Old Testament; and
from many of his general statements I should venture
to express my disagreement, were this the place to do
so. But the intimate acquaintance which he exhibits
with every portion of the Sacred Writings, combined
as it is with a loving and reverential appreciation of
I Arnold's Letters, Feb. 10, 1835 (Life and Correspondence, i. 838).
each individual character, and of the whole spirit and
purpose of the Israelitish history, has won the respect
even of those who differ widely from his conclusions.
How vast its silent effect has been may be seen from
the recognition of its value, not only in its author's
own country, but in France and in England also. One
instance may suffice: -the constant reference to his
writings throughout the new "Dictionary of the Bible,"
to which I have myself so often referred with advan-
tage, and which more than any other single English
work is intended to represent the knowledge and
meet the wants of the rising generation of Biblical
But, in fact, my aim has been not to recommend
the teaching or the researches of any theologian how-
ever eminent, but to point the way to the treasures
themselves of that History on which I have spent so
many years of anxious, yet delightful, labor. There
are some excellent men who disparage the Old Tes-
tament, as the best means of saving the New. There
are others who think that it can only be maintained
by discouraging all inquiry into its authority or its
contents. It is true that the Old Testament is inferior
to the New, that it contains and sanctions many in-
stitutions and precepts (polygamy, for example, and
slavery), which have been condemned or abandoned
by the tacit consent of nearly the whole of Christen-
dom. But this inferiority is no more than both
Testaments freely recognize; the one by pointing to
a Future greater than itself, the other by insisting on
the gradual, partial, imperfect character of' the Reve-
lations that had preceded it. It is true also that the
rigid acceptance of every part of the Old Testament,
as of equal authority, equal value, and equal accuracy,
is rendered impossible by every advance made in Bib-
lical science, and by every increase of our acquaintance
with Eastern customs and primeval history. But it is
no less true that by almost every one of these ad-
vances the beauty and the grandeur of the substance
and spirit of its different parts are enhanced to a de-
gree far transcending all that was possible in former
My object will have been attained, if, by calling at-
tention to these incontestable and essential features
of the Sacred History, I may have been able in any
measure to smooth the approaches to some of the
theological difficulties which may be in store for this
generation; still more if I can persuade any one to
look on the History of the Jewish Church as it really
is; to see how important is the place which it occu-
pies in the general education of the world,- how
many elements of religious thought it supplies, which
even the New Testament fails to furnish in the same
degree, how largely indebted to it have been already,
and may yet be, in a still greater degree, the Civil-
ization and the Faith of mankind.
CHRIST CHURCH, OXFORD:
Sept. 16, 1862.
ON THE HISTORY
THE JEWISH CHURCH
ABRAHAM TO SAMUEL
BY ARTHUR PENRHYN STANLEY, D.D.
BEGIUS PROFESSOR OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY IN THE UNIVERSITY O0
OXFORD, AND CANON OF CHRIST CHURCH
wqjI M-rrMAfD :PLAhs
CHARLES SCRIBNE, 124 GRAND STREET
**. **.* .
*. *.* .*.* .
CHARLES SCRIBNER, 124 GRAND STREET
[Pulidsed by arrangement with the Authorl
SBfOGITPID AND PRINTED BY H. 0. HOUGHTON
*. *. .. *. .
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Three Stages of the History of the Jewish Church
Authorities for the History .
1. Comparison of the different Canonical Books
2. Lost Books
8. The Hebrew Text. The Septuagint.
4. Traditions of the East. Josephus .
. xxix, xxx
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
The beginning of Ecclesiastical History 8
I. The Migration of Abraham 5
Ur of the Chaldees. Orfa. Haran. Passage of the
Euphrates. Damascus 5-10
Likeness to the Arabian Chiefs 11
II. The Call of Abraham 14
1. The Friend of God."- The Worship of the Heavenly
Bodies and of the Kings. Abraham the first Teacher
of the Divine Unity 14-18
2. "The Father of the Faithful:" 20
Faith of Abraham 20
His universal Character 21-24
The name of Elohim 24
The Covenant. Circumcision. The Father of
the Jewish Church 26-28
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
The First Entrance into' the Holy Land
,I. The Halting-places of Abraham:
1. Shechem. 2. Bethel.-3. The Oak of Mamre. The
Cave of Machpelah. 4. Beersheba
II. Simplicity of the Patriarchal Age:
Ishmael. Isaac.- Rebekah
III. External Relations of Abraham. .
1. To the Canaanites .
2. To Egypt.. ..
8. To Chedorlaomer. .
4. To the Cities of the Plain
IV. Sacrifice of Isaac .
Contrast of Abraham and Jacob
I. Characters of Jacob and Esau
Esau the likeness of the Edomites,- Jacob, of the Jews
Examples of mixed Characters .
II. Wanderings of Jacob .
1. Jacob at Bethel
2. In Mesopotamia .
8. At Gilead .
4. At Mahanaim
5. At Peniel .
Retirement of Esau
The Book of Job
6. Jacob's Settlement at Shechem. .
The Oak of Deborah. .
The Grave of Rachel
7. The Stay at Hebron
8. The Descent into Egypt
The Death of Jacob
ISRAEL IN EGYPT.
I. Joseph in Egypt .
I. Israel in Egypt .
The Shepherd Kings and pastoral state of Israel.
The Servitude. .
TABLE OF CONTENTS. xix
III. Effects of their Stay: PAon
1. Heliopolis, and Worship of the Sun 94
2. Idolatry of Kings.- Rameses 99,100
3. Leprosy 104
4. The Use of the Ass 104
Points of Contact and Contrast in the Religions of Egypt and Israel 106-108
Strabo's Account of Moses 114
I. The Birth of Moses 116
His Education 116
His Escape 119
II. THE CALL OF MOBES. The Burning Bush.- The Shepherd's
The name of Jehovah 122
The Return of Moses 125
His personal Appearance and Character 125
His Family 128
II. THE DELIVERANCE 129
The Plagues 130
The Exodus 132
The Passover 133
The Flight 137
Rameses. Succoth. Etham. Passage of the Red Sea 138-141
Its peculiar Characteristics 142-144
The Song of Miriam 146
The Importance of Moses .149,150
Uncertainties of the Topography of the Wanderings .151
Importance of the Stay in the Wilderness to Christian and to Jewish
History: Its Peculiarities 152-154
Battle of Rephidim 157
The Kenites.--Jethro. 158,159
The Difficulties of the Desert. Water. Manna 160-162
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
SINAI AND THE LAW.
March from Rephidim .165
I. Negative Revelation .168
II. Positive Revelation 169
Prophetic Mission of Moses 171
Absence of the Revelation of a Future Life .173
The Theocracy 174
III. The Law 179
Traces of the Desert:
1. Constitution of the Tribes 181
2. The Encampment 182
The Ark 183
The Tabernacle 185
3. Sacrifice. The Tribe of Levi .186-188
4. Distinctions of Food 189
5. Blood Revenge 191
6. The Law generally 192
The Ten Commandments. 194
KADESH AND PISGAH.
I. Journey from Sinai to Kadesh 199
Relics of the Time 200
Death of Aaron and Miriam 203
Moses and El Khudr 205
II. Journey from Kadesh to Moab 206
Passage of the Zered 207
Passage of the Arnon 207
The Well of the Heroes 207
The Last Days of Moses. -PIBGAH 209
1. Balaam. His Character 209
His Journey 212
His Vision 215
2. Farewell of Moses. Deuteronomy. The Two Songs. -
"The Prayer of Moses, the Man of God" 218-220
The last View from Pisgah 220
The End of Moses .223
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
THE CONQUEST OF PALESTINE.
THE CONQUEST OF THE EAST OF THE JORDAN.
The Early Inhabitants of Western Palestine 230
The Phoenicians or Canaanites .232
Conquest of Eastern Palestine 234
Sihon, King of Heshbon. --Battle of Jahaz. -Defeat of
Og, King of Bashan. Battle of Edrei. Settlement of Ba-
shan. Jair. Nobah 237-240
Pastoral Character of the Settlement 241
Gad.- Manasseh 242, 243
Controversy between the Eastern and Western Tribes 244
Legend of Nobah .245
Eastern Palestine the Refuge of the West 247
THE CONQUEST OF WESTERN PALESTINE-THE FALL OF JERICHO.
Importance of Western Palestine
His Character. His Name
The Passage of the Jordan
Its Fall .
Fall of Ai
THE BATTLE OF BETH-HORON.
Siege of Gibeon .
Battle of Beth-horon.- First Stage
Second Stage .
XXii TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Third Stage. The Slaughter of the Kings at Makkedah 271
Difficulties of the Story 274
1. The Sun standing still.- Answer of Galileo and of Kepler 274-27 7
2. The Massacre of the Canaanites. Answer of Chrysostom.
Answer of our Lord. Answer of the Epistle to the
Illustrations 280, 281
The Moral Lesson 282-285
THE BATTLE OF MEROM AND SETTLEMENT OF THE TRIBES.
J. Hazor 286
Gathering of the Kings 287
The Battle of Merom 288
II. Settlement of the Tribes:
1. Separate Conquests 290
Jair and Nobah. Dan. Attack on Bethel. Judah.
Caleb and Hebron. Othniel and Debir 290-293
2. Assignment of Land:
Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali
III. Effects of the Conquest .
1. Settlement of the Nation
2. Contact with Canaanites
3. Occupation of the Holy Land
4. Laws of Property. Decrees of Joshua
IV. Remains of the conquered Races .
Tributary Towns .
Joshua's Grave .
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
ISRAEL UNDER THE JUDGES.
Characteristics of the Period. 315
I. Outward Struggles 317
Continuation of the Conquest Military Discipline 18-320
II. Internal Disorder 321
Office of Judge 322
III. Phoenician Influences 328
The Name of Baal 24
Worship of Baal Berith 824
IV. Primitive Simplicity. 325
1. The Danites and Micah 327
2. The War with Benjamin 33
3. Ruth .......... 886
V. Mixed Characters 338
Classical Element 341
VI. Analogy to the Middle Ages 848-847
Preliminary Conflicts. Othniel .
Jabin of Hazor .
Gathering of the Tribes
The Meeting on Tabor
Encampment at Taanach .
Battle of Megiddo
The Murder of Sisera
Effect of the Battle
The Blessing on Jael
The Song of Deborah .
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
The Midianites .
The Massacre on Tabor
The Mission of Gideon .
1. The Overthrow of the Worship of Baal
2. The Insurrection against Midian
The Battle of Jezreel. .
The Battle of the Rock of Oreb
The Battle of Karkor .
Royal State of Gideon
Rise of Abimelech
Parable of Jotham .
Internal State of Shechem .
Fall of Abimelech
JEPHTHAH AND SAMSON.
JEPHTHAH. Transjordanic character of his History. Shibboleth
Sacrifice of his Daughter 393-399
SAMSON. The Philistines 400
Birth of Samson 403
The First Nazarite 403
His Humor ..405
His Philistine Conquests 406
"Samson Agonistes" 412
THE FALL OF SHILOH.
The Rise of Eli
Elkanah and Hannah
Hophni and Phinehas
Doom of the House of Ithamar
Battle of Aphek
Capture of the Ark
Fall of the Sanctuary of Shiloh
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
SAMUEL AND THE PROPHETICAL OFFICE.
Close of the Theocracy 429
Beginning of the Monarchy 430
Rise of SAMUEL 432
I. His connection with the Past 432
The Last of the Judges 433
The Battle of Ebenezer 434
His Oracular Fame 435
His Prayer of Intercession 436
His Outward Appearance 437
II. The First of the Order of Prophets 437
His "Revelations" 438
Samuel the Seer" 439
SThe Schools of the Prophets 440
The Prophetic Mission of Samuel 443
His Mediation between the Old and the New 444
His Independence 447
His Anti-sacerdotal Character 448
His Gradual Growth 449-451
His End 453
His Grave 453
The Lesson of Samuel's Life 454-456
THE HISTORY OF THE PROPHETICAL ORDER.
I. The Meaning of the word Prophet
U. The Office .
In the Jewish Church
1. The Age of Moses
2. The Judges. -Samuel .
3. David and Nathan
4. Prophets of the Kingdom of Israel
5. Prophets of the Kingdom of Judah
6. Prophets of the Captivity and the Return
. TABLE OF CONTENTS.
7. Prophets of the Christian Era:
John the Baptist .
THE CHRIST .
I. Characteristics of the Institution
1. The Prophetic Call
2. Absence of Consecration
3. Universality of Selection
4 Schools of the Prophets
5. Modes of Prophetic Teaching.- Poetry
6. Community of Prophetic Literature
Summary of the Office. -Its Functions in the
Catalogue of the Prophets:
I. In the Jewish Canon
II. In Rabbinical Traditions
III. In Mussulman Traditions
IV. In Ecclesiastical Traditions
State and Church
ON THE NATURE OF THE PROPHETIC TEACHING.
Importance of the Prophetic Teaching 491
I. In Relation to the Past:
The Historical Works of the Prophets 493
II. In Relation to the Present:
1. Their Theology:
The Unity and the Spirituality of God 495
2. Their Exaltation of the Moral above the Positive Law 496
3. Their position as Counsellors 502
4. Their Political Functions 506
5. Their Independence 509
III. In Relation to the Future 511
Their Predictions 514
1. Political and Secular Predictions 514
2. Messianic Predictions 519
3. Predictions of the Future of the Church, of the Future of
the Individual Soul, and of the Future Life 521
TABLE OF CONTENTS. *
TRADITIONAL LOCALITIES OF ABRAHAM'S MIGRATION.
I. Ur of the Chaldees
1. Haran in Mesopotamia
2. ldrrdn-el-Awamid, near Damascus
II. The Place," or Mosque, of Abraham," near Damascus
THE CAVE OF MACHPXLAH.
History of the Cave
Visit of the Prince of Wales
The Samaritan Passover .
Note. The Arithmetical Errors in the Pentateuch
: : : :
LIST OF MAPS AND PLANS.
Map of the Migrations of Abraham
Palestine before the Conquest .
Sketch Plan of the Mosque at Hebron .
Plan of Mount Gerizim. .
to face page 5
S page 557
THE History of the Jewish Church is divided into
three great periods; each subdivided into lesser por-
tions; each with its own peculiar characteristics; each
terminated by a single catastrophe.
The First is that which, reaching back for its pre-
lude into the Patriarchal age, commences, properly
speaking, with the Exodus; and then, passing through
the stages of the Desert, the Conquest, and the Set-
tlement in Palestine, ends with the destruction of the
Sanctuary at Shiloh, and the absorption of the ancient
and primitive state of society into the new institution
of the Monarchy. It includes the rise of the tribes
of Joseph. It is the period often, though somewhat
inaccurately, called by the name of the "Theocracy."'
Its great characters are Abraham, Moses, and Samuel.
It embraces the first Revelation of the Mosaic Religion
and the first foundation of the Jewish Church and
The Second period covers the whole history of the
Monarchy. It begins with the first rise of the insti-
tution at the close of the aristocracy or oligarchy of
the Judges. It includes the Empire of David and
Solomon; and then, dividing itself into the two sepa-
rate streams of the Northern and Southern kingdoms,
1 See Lectures VIII., XVIL, XVIII.
terminates in the overthrow of Jerusalem and the
Temple by the Chaldean armies. It comprehends the
great development of the Jewish Church and Religion
through the growth of the Prophetic Order, and the
first establishment of the Jewish commonwealth as a
fixed institution. It is marked by the rise and fall
of the tribe of Judah.
The Third period begins with the Captivity. It
includes the Exile, the Return, and the successive
periods of Persian, Grecian, and Roman dominion. It
is marked by the rise of the tribe of Levi in the
Maccabean dynasty; by the growth of the Jewish
colonies in Egypt, Babylonia, and the West; and,
lastly and chiefly, by the formation of the last and
greatest development of the Prophetic Spirit, out of
which rose the Christian Church, and the consequent
expansion of the Jewish Religion into a higher region;
whilst at the same time the dissolution of the exist-
ing Church and Commonwealth of Judaa was brought
about by the destruction of Jerusalem and of the Tem-
ple, in the war of Titus, and by the final extinction
of the national independence, in the war of Hadrian.
The present volume includes the first portion of the
History extending from Abraham to Samuel,' and will,
it is hoped, be followed by two others, bringing down
the history to its natural conclusion.
It will be observed that, at the beginning of the
several sections, I have prefixed the special authorities
treating of the subjects contained in them.
Of course the main bulk of the authorities is to be
1 From the extreme uncertainty any dates. In the second and third
of the chronology during this early periods, where the chronology be-
period, I have abstained from affixing comes fixed, the case is different.
found in the Canonical Books of the Hebrew Scrip-
tures. It has been at various times supposed that
the Books of Moses, Joshua, and Samuel, were all writ-
ten in their present form by those whose names they
bear. This notion, however, has been in former ages
disputed both by Jewish and Christian theologians, and
is now rejected by almost all scholars. It has no foun-
dation in the several Books themselves, and is contra-
dicted by the strong internal evidence of their contents.
To determine accurately the authorship and the dates
of these and the other Sacred Writings is a question
belonging to the same Biblical Criticism, which has thus
modified the opinion just mentioned; and to those who
are called to enter into the details of such inquiries
I gladly leave the solution of this problem. But there
are, meanwhile, certain helps to guide us in the study
of the general history, which, though obvious in them-
selves, often escape the notice of the ordinary theologi-
(1.) The history of the Jewish Church and People is
not written at length in the Jewish Scriptures Compari-
in the form in which we should desire ulti- 8ofthe
mately to possess it. The order of the books Books.
as they stand in the Canon is often not their real
order, nor are the events themselves always related in
the order of time. Accordingly, if we wish to have
the full account of any event or character, we must
piece it together from various books or passages, often
separated from each other by considerable intervals.
Obvious examples of this are to be found in the illus-
trations furnished to the life of David by the Psalms,
and of the history of the Jewish Kings by the Pro-
phetical writings. Again, portions of the same historical
events are related from different points of view, or
with fresh incidents, or by implication, in parts of the
historical book where we should least expect to find
them. Thus the slaughter of Gideon's brothers,1 and
a long untold stage of his career, is suggested by a
single allusion, in the existing narrative to events of
which the record has not come down to us; the
storming of Hebron by Caleb2 is partly made up from
the Book of Joshua and partly from that of the Book
of Judges; the narratives8 affixed to the end of the
Book of Judges must chronologically be transferred to
the beginning of the period. Many of these scattered
notices are ingeniously collected by Professor Blunt as
undesigned evidences to the truth of the history; and,
though his arguments are sometimes too fanciful to
be safely trusted, yet his method is one of great
value to the historical student, and is the same which
has been followed out, in a larger and more critical
spirit, and with more permanent and fruitful results,
in Ewald's reconstruction of the history both of the
Judges and of David.
(2.) The Books of the Old Testament, in their present
The lost form, in many instances are not, and do not
Books. profess to be, the original documents on which
the history was based. There was (to use a happy
expression used of late) a "Bible within a Bible," an
"Old Testament before an Old Testament was written."
To discover any traces of these lost works in the act-
ual text, or any allusions to them, even when their
substance has entirely perished, is a task of immense
interest. It reveals to us a glimpse of an earlier world,
of an extinct literature, such as always rouses innocent
inquiry to the utmost. Such is the ancient document
1 Judg.viii. 18. See Lecture XIV. l Josh. xi. 13; Judg. i. 10. See
: See Lecture XIII. Lecture XII.
describing the conquest of the Eastern kings in the
14th chapter of the Book of Genesis ; the inestimable
fragment of ancient songs in the 21st chapter of the
Book of Numbers; the quotations from the Book of
Jasher, in the Book of Joshua and the First Book
of Samuel. Whenever these glimpses occur, they de-
serve the most careful attention. We are brought by
them years, perhaps centuries, nearer to the events
described. We are allowed by them to see something
of the construction of the narrative itself. The indi-
cations of the origin of the different documents by
variations of style, by the use of peculiar names and
titles, may be too minute to catch the attention of
any except a professed Hebrew scholar. But the points
to which I now refer are open to the consideration of
any careful student.
(3.) Yet, again, we must always bear in mind that
the history of the Chosen People is not ex- TheHe-
clusively contained in the Authorized English brew text.
version, nor even only in the Hebrew text from
which that version is a translation. The Authorized
Version, indeed, is a sufficient account of the history
for the general purposes of popular instruction. But
as no scholar thinks of reading Thucydides even in
the best English translation, so no scholar should be
satisfied unless he at least endeavors to ascertain how
far the English version represents the original. And
in proportion to the value we attach to the actual
words of the Bible itself, ought to be the care not
to over-estimate the words even of the best mod
ern translation. The variations are, perhaps, not im
portant as to the general sense. But as to the
precise life and force of each word, (I speak chiefly
from my experience of a single department, the geo-
graphical vocabulary,) they are very considerable;
and in a language so pregnant as the Hebrew, in-
volve often serious historical consequences.
The Hebrew text, however, is not our only source
The Sep- of information as to the original materials
tuagint. of the Sacred History. Without arguing the
relative merits of the Hebrew and the Septuagint
texts, we have no right to set aside or neglect
such an additional authority as the Septuagint fur-
nishes. Whatever may be the value of the He-
brew text in itself, or its authority in the present
Jewish Church, or the present Church of West-
ern Europe, the Septuagint was the text sanc-
tioned probably by our Lord Himself, certainly by the
Apostles, and still acknowledged by the whole East.
The Septuagint must, therefore, be regarded as the
Old Testament of the Apostolical, and of the early
Catholic Church. And, though we may refuse to ac-
knowledge this its coordinate authority with the
received text of our present Bible, it has at least
the value of the very oldest Jewish tradition and
commentary on the Sacred Text. Therefore, no pas-
sage of the Sacred History can be considered as ex-
hausted unless we have seen how it is represented
by the Alexandrian translators; and if, as is often
the case, we find variations of considerable magnitude
from the Hebrew, such variations may always be re-
garded, if not as the original account of the matter,
at least as explanations and traditions of high an-
tiquity. Such, for example, are the details of the
descent of the Eastern kings,' of the passage of the
Jordan,2 of the execution of the sons of Saul,8 of
the coronation of Jeroboam.' The Jews of Palestine,
t Gen. xiv. 16. 2 Josh. iv. 20. 3 2 Sam. xxi. 16. 4 1 Kings xxi. v.
in their horror of a rival text, perhaps of a trans-
lation which should render their sacred books acces-
sible to all the world, held that on the day on
which the Seventy Translators met, a supernatural
darkness overspread the earth; and the day was to
them one of their solemn periods of fasting and hu-
miliation. But to us, who know what the Septuagint
was in the hands of the Apostles, as the means of
spreading the knowledge of the Old Testament
through the Gentile world -who, in the scantiness of
any remains of the ancient Jewish literature, gladly
welcome any additional information to fill up the void
-who feel what a bulwark this double version of
the Old Testament furnishes against a too rigid or
literal construction of the Sacred History- the Sev-
enty Translators, if not worthy of the high place to
which the ancient Church assigned them, may well
be ranked amongst the greatest benefactors of Bib-
lical Literature and Free Inquiry.
(4.) There is yet another class of authorities to
which I have referred whenever occasion of- Heathen
fered. It has been truly said that the history traditions.
of the Chosen People is the history, not of an in-
spired book, but of an inspired people. If so, any
record that has been preserved to us of that people,
even although not contained in their own sacred
books, is far too precious to be despised. These rec-
ords are indeed very scanty. They consist of a few
fragments of Gentile histories preserved by Josephus,
Eusebius, and Clement of Alexandria; a few state-
ments in Justin, Tacitus, and Strabo; a few inscrip-
tions in Egypt and Assyria; the traditions of the
East, whether preserved in Rabbinical, Christian, or
Mussulman legends; and the traditions of the Jewish
Church itself, as preserved by Philo and Josephus.
All these notices, unequal in value as they are to
each other, or to the records of the Old Testament
itself, have yet this use that they recall to us the
existence of the facts, independent of the authority
of the Sacred Books. It is true that the larger part of
the interest and instruction of the Jewish history
would be lost with the loss of the Hebrew Scriptures.
But their original influence on the world was irre-
spective of the Scriptures, and must always continue.
Even had we only the imperfect account of the
Eastern Jews in Tacitus and Strabo, we should know
traditions that they were the most remarkable nation of
ancient Asia. This argument applies with still greater
force to the traditions of the East, and to the tradi-
tions of Josephus. With regard to the former, it is
impossible, without greater knowledge than can be
obtained by one who is ignorant of Arabic, and who
has only visited the East in two or three fugitive
journeys, to ascertain how far they have a substantial
existence of their own, or how far they are mere am-
plifications of the Koran and the Old Testament.
Some cases such as the wide-spread prevalence of
the name of "Friend" for Abraham, too slightly no-
ticed in the Bible1 to have been derived from thence,
and the importance assigned to the Arabian Jethro or
Shouayb2--seem to indicate an independent origin.
But, whether this be so or not, they continue to form
the staple of the belief of a large part of mankind on
the subject of the Jewish history, and as such I have
ventured to quote them, partly in order to contrast
them with the more sober style of the Sacred Records,
but chiefly where they fall in with the general spirit
1 See Lecture I. 2 See Lectures V., VI.
of the Biblical narrative, and thus furnish an instruc-
tive, because unexpected, illustration of it. Many
common readers may be struck by the Persian or
Arabian stories of Abraham or Moses,1 whose minds
have by long custom become hardened to the effect
of the narrative of the Bible itself.
The traditions of Josephus are yet more significant.
It is remarkable that, of his four works, two Josephus.
run parallel to the Old Testament, and two to the
New. Whilst the histories of "the Wars of the Jews"
and of his own "Life" throw a flood of light by con-
temporary allusions on the time of the Christian era,
the "Antiquities" and "Controversy with Apion" illus-
trate hardly less remarkably the times of the Older
Dispensation. The Controversy with Apion," indeed,
is chiefly important for its preservation of those Gen-
tile traditions to which I have before referred. But
the "Antiquities" furnish an example such as hardly
occurs elsewhere in ancient literature of a recent
history existing side by side with most of the original
documents from which it is compiled. It would be a
curious speculation, which would test the value of
the style and spirit of the Sacred writers, to imagine
what would be the residuum of the effect produced
by the Jewish history if the Old Testament were lost,
and the facts were known to us only through the
"Antiquities" of Josephus. His style is indeed a con-
tinual foil to that of the Sacred Narrative -his ver-
bosity contrasted with its simplicity, his vulgarity
with its sublimity, his prose with its poetry, his uni-
formity with its variety. But, with all these draw-
backs, to which we must add his omissions and emen-
dations, as if to meet the critical eye of his Roman
I See Lectures I., VIII.
masters, the main thread of the story is faithfully
retained; occasionally, as in the case of the death of
Moses and Saul,1 a true pathos steals over the dull
level; occasionally, as in the case of the story of Ba-
laam, a just discernment brings out clearly the moral
elevation peculiar to the ancient Scriptures. But
there is a yet further interest. His account is filled
with variations not to be explained by any of the dif-
ferences just cited. To examine the origin of these
would be an interesting task. Sometimes he coin-
cides with the variations of the Septuagint; and in
case where he seems not to have copied from that
Version, his statement must be considered as a confir-
mation of the value of the text which the Septuagint
has followed. Sometimes he supplies facts which agree
with existing localities, but have no direct connection
with the Sacred Narrative either in Hebrew or Greek,
as is his account of the mountain (evidently Jebel
Attaka) which hemmed in the Israelites at the Red
Sea, of the traditional sanctity of Sinai, and of the
still existing manna.2 Sometimes he makes statements
which are not found in the narrative itself, but which
remarkably illustrate indirect allusions contained either
in the history or in other parts of the Old Testa-
ment -as, for example, the thunder-storm at the Red
Sea, which coincides very slightly with the narrative
in Exodus, but exactly and fully with the allusions
in the 77th Psalm ; or the slaughter in the torrent
of Arnon, which has no foundation in the Mosaic nar-
rative, but is the natural explanation of the ancient
song preserved in the Book of Numbers.' In a more
critical historian these additions might be considered
1 Ant. iv. 8. 48; vi. 14, 7. 3 Ibid. iii.; i. 6, 7; v. 1; ii. xv. 1.
2 Ibid. iv. 6. 4 Ibid. ii. 16, 3; iv. 5, 2.
mere amplifications of the slight hints furnished by
the original writers, but in Josephus it seems reason-
able (and, in that case, becomes deeply interesting)
to ascribe them to an independent source of informa-
tion, common to the tradition which he used, and to
the occasional allusions in the Sacred writers. Some-
times his variations consist simply of new information,
capable neither of proof or disproof, but receiving a
certain degree of support from the simplicity and
probability which distinguishes them from common
Rabbinical legends; such as the story of Hur being the
husband of Miriam,' or of the rite of the red heifer
having its origin in her funeral.2 Finally, other state-
ments exist, which agree with the Oriental or Gentile
traditions already quoted, and thus reciprocally yield
and receive a limited confirmation; as, for instance,
Abraham's connection with the contemplation of the
stars,3 and the great deeds of Moses in Egypt.4
Such are the main authorities. In using them for
these Lectures, it will sometimes happen that they
hardly profess, or can hardly be proved to contain,
the statement of the original historical facts to which
they relate. But they nevertheless contain the near-
est approach which we, at this distance of time, can
now make to a representation of those facts. They
are the refraction of the history, if not the history
itself, the echo of the words, if not the actual words.
And, throughout, it has been my endeavor to lay
stress on those portions and those elements of the
1 See Lecture VI.
2 See Lecture VIII.
3 See Lecture I.
4 See Lecture V.
Sacred Story, which have hitherto stood, and are
likely to stand, the investigations of criticism, and
from which may be drawn the most solid instruction
for all times.
There may be errors in chronology- exaggerations
in numbers contradictions between the different
narratives. These may compel us to relinquish one or
other of the numerous hypotheses which have been
formed respecting the composition or the inspiration
of the Old Testament. But as they would not destroy
the value of other history, so they need not destroy
the value of this history because it relates to Sacred
subjects; or prevent us from 'making the very most
of those portions of it which are undeniably his-
torical, or full of the widest and most permanent
lessons, both for "the example of life and instruction
of manners," and for "the establishment of" true
I. THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
I. ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
IV. ISRAEL IN EGYPT.
SPECIAL AUTHORITIES FOR THIS PERIOD.
1. Gen. xi. 27-1. 26 (Hebrew and Septuagint); Josh. xxiv. 2-15;
Neh. ix. 7, 8; Ps. cv. 6-23; Hos. xii. 3, 4, 12; Isa. li. 2.
2. The earlier Jewish traditions: in Ecclus. xliv. 19-23; Judith v.
6-11; Acts vii. 1-16; Josephus, Ant. i. 7-ii. 8; Philo, De Migra-
tione Abrahami, De Abrahamo, and De Josepho.
8. The Heathen traditions preserved by Berosus, Nicolaus of Damascus,
Hecatoeus of Abdera, Cleodemus Malchus (in Josephus, Ant. i.
ch. 7, 15), Eupolemus, Artapanus, Apollonius Melon, Alexander
Polyhistor, Theodotus, Aristeus, and Demetrius (in Eusebius,
Prep. Ev. ix. 16-25), Justin (xxxvi. 2).
4. The later Jewish traditions in the Talmud and the Targum Pseudo-
jonathan; and collected in Otho's Lexicon Rabbinico-philologicum
(Altona, 1757), and in Beer's Leben Abrahams (Leipsic, 1859).
5. The Mussulman traditions scattered throughout the Koran, collected
in D'Herbelot's Bibliotheque Orientale ("Abraham;" "Ishak;"
"Jacob;" "Jousouf") ; and conveniently arranged in Lane's
Selections from the Kur-dn, 12, 13: Weil's Biblical Legends
(London, 1846), pp. 47-90: and Jalal-addin, Hist. of Temple of
Jerus. (London, 1836), ch. xi.-xv. The Persian legends in Hyde,
De Religione Veterum Persarum, ch. 2, 3.
6. The Christian traditions: in Fabricius's Godex Pseudepigraphus Vet.
Testamenti, pp. 311-800 : Suidas, Lexicon (" Abraham ").
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
THE Patriarchal Age is not in itself the beginning
of the history of the Jewish Church or nation. That,
as we shall see, has its origin from Moses. But the
more primitive period is the necessary prelude of that
history, because it contains the earliest distinct begin-
nings of the Jewish religion and of the Jewish race.
It is in this sense that the first event in this period
may fitly be treated as the opening of all Ecclesias-
tical History, as the first historical commencement of
a religious community and worship, which has contin-
ued ever since, without interruption, into the Chris-
tian Church, such as, with all its manifold diversities,
it now exists. This event, according as it is appre-
hended from its human or its Divine side, may be
described as "the Migration," or as "the Call" of
Abraham. In every crisis of history these two ele-
ments in their measure may be perceived, the one
secular, the other religious; the one belonging merely
to the past, the other reaching forward into the re-
motest future. In this instance, both are set dis-
tinctly before us in the Biblical narrative, side by
side, as if in almost unconscious independence of each
other. "And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
"of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law,
" his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them
" [LXX. "he led them"] from Ur of the Chaldees, to
"go into the land of Canaan: and they came unto Haran,
"and dwelt there. And Abram took Sarai his
"wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance
"that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten
" [the slaves that they had bought] in Haran ; and they
"went forth to go into the land of Canaan ; and into the
"land of Canaan they came." This is the external as-
pect of the Migration.1 A family, a tribe of the great
Semitic race, moves westward from the cradle of its
earliest civilization. There was, nothing outwardly to
distinguish them from those who had descended from
the Caucasian range into the plains of the south in
former times, or who would do so in times yet to
come. There was, however, another aspect which the
surrounding tribes saw not, but which is the only
point that we now see distinctly. The Lord 'said' 2
" unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kin-
"dred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will
"show thee : and I will make of thee a great nation, and
"I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou
"shalt be a blessing : and I will bless them that bless thee,
" and curse him that curseth thee : and in thee shall all the
"families of the earth be blessed." Interpret these words
as we will; give them a meaning more or less literal,
more or less restricted; yet with what a force do they
break in upon the homeliness of the rest of the nar-
rative: what an impulse do they disclose in the inner-
most heart of the movement: what a long vista do
1 This is the title of Philo's first "had said," is an alteration of the
treatise on Abraham. text, probably to meet the statement
2 The tense in the English version, of Acts vii. 2.
THE MIGRATION OF ABRAHAM
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9 .:: -.-C *.'' L
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I~~_iie~e of Greenw--Fich~~lii--i~
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Logiitudii eE t
they open, even to the very close of the history, of
which this was the first beginning!
Let us then follow the example of the sacred narra-
tive by drawing out both these views of the event.
Take, first, its outward character as a national or mi-
I. The name of Abraham, as we shall afterwards see
more fully, is not confined to the Sacred His- The Migra-
tory. Over and above the Book of Genesis, tion.
there are two main sources of information. We have
the fragments preserved to us by Josephus and Eusebius
from Greek or Asiatic writers. We have also the Jew-
ish and Mussulman traditions, as represented chiefly in
the Talmud and the Koran. It is in the former class
- those presented to us by the Pagan historians that
the migration of Abraham assumes its most purely secu-
lar aspect. They describe him as a great man of the
East, well read in the stars, or as a conquering Prince
who swept all before him on his way to Palestine.
These characteristics, remote as they are from our com-
mon view, have nevertheless their point of contact with
the Biblical account, which, simple as it is, implies more
than it states.
In the darkness of this distant past, the most distinct
images we can now hope to recall are those of Ur of the
the place and scene of the event. Where was Chaldees.
" Ur of the Chaldees ? "1 It would seem at first sight
as if this, the most solid footing on which we could rely,
shifted beneath our feet so rapidly as to deprive us of
any standing ground whatever. The name itself of
" Chasdim or Chaldea has, in the progress of centu-
ries, descended like a landslip from the northern Arme-
1 Ur Chasdim," i. e. Ur of the people of Chesed as it is expressed
in the original.
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
nian mountains, to which it originally belonged, into the
southern limits of Mesopotamia, which claimed it in
after-times. This is the first source of confusion. Is it
the northern or southern, the ancient or the more recent
Chaldaca, of which we are speaking ? But, besides this,
the name of Ur also seems to have(been sown broadcast
over the whole region. One is pointed out near Nisi-
bis, another near Nineveh; a third and fourth have
lately been found in the neighborhood of Babylon. It
is perhaps the most probable solution that the name
originally meant (as the Septuagint translators have ren-
dered it) a country rather than a place. But no argu-
ments advanced, even by the high authority of recent
discoverers, seem as yet sufficiently established to dis-
turb the old and general tradition which fixes the chief
centre of the early movements of the tribe of Abraham
at the place variously known as Orfa, Roha, Orchoe,
Callirhoe, Chaldeopolis, Edessa, Antioch of the far East,
Erech,1 Ur; and, were it more in doubt than it is, the
singular ecclesiastical position occupied by this city of
many names calls for a few words in passing.
In Christian times, it was celebrated as the capital of
orfa. Abgarus, Agbarus, or Akbar, who received,
according to the ancient tradition, the letter and por-
trait of our Saviour,2 and thus became the first Christian
king. Gradually it was invested with a sacred preemi-
nence, as the cradle, the university, the metropolis of
the Christianity of the remote East. Within its walls
lived and died and is buried the chief saint of the Syrian
Church, Ephrem, Deacon of Edessa. In its neighbor-
1 Bayer, Historia Osrhoene et Edes- messenger, attacked by thieves, drop-
sena, 3. ped the letter, which gave the spring
2 A well was shown in Pococke's a miraculous character.
time (Travels, i 160), in which the
UR OF THE CHALDEES,
hood, in strange conformity with its earliest history
wandered a race of hermits, not monastic or coenobitic,
but nomadic and pastoral, who took to the desert life,
and almost1 literally grazed like sheep on the desert
herbage. In later times, yet again, it became the seat
of a Christian principality under the chiefs of the First
Crusade. But whilst these later glories of Edessa are
gathered from books, the stories of Abraham alone still
live in the mouths of the Arab inhabitants of Orfa,
and in the peculiarities of its remarkable situation.
The city lies on the edge of one of the bare, rugged
spurs which descend from the mountains of Armenia
into the Assyrian plains,2 in the cultivated land which,
as lying under those mountains, is called Padan-Aram.
Two physical features must have secured it, from the
earliest times, as a nucleus for the civilization of those
regions. One. is a high crested crag, the natural for-
tification of the present citadel, doubly defended by a
trench of immense depth, cut out of the living rock
behind it. The other is an abundant spring,8 issuing
in a pool of transparent clearness, and embosomed in
a mass of luxuriant verdure, which, amidst the dull
brown desert all around, makes, and must always have
made, this spot an oasis, a paradise, in the Chaldaean
wilderness. Round this sacred pool, "The Beautiful
Spring," "Callirhoe," as it was called by the Greek
writers, gather the modern traditions of the Patriarch.
Hard by, amidst its cypresses, is the mosque on the
spot where he is said to have offered his first prayer:
the cool spring itself burst forth in the midst of
1 Tillemont, S. Ephrem, ch. 16, 17. 3 At times it swells into a flood,
2 Olivier (Voyage & Syrie, iv. 329) and is hence called Daizon or Scirtus
gives a good description of the several ("the leaper"), Bayer, 14.
zones of Mesopotamia.
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
the fiery furnace which the infidels had kindled to
burn him; its sacred fish, swarming by thousands and
thousands, from their long-continued preservation, are
cherished by the faithful as under his special patron-
age; the two Corinthian columns which stand on the
crag above are made to commemorate his deliverance.
In the first centuries of the Christian era we know
that other memorials of the Patriarchal age were
pointed out. The year of Abraham was long adopted
in Edessa as the epoch of its dates.2 Josephus speaks
of the sepulchre of Haran, still shown in his time at
Ur; Eusebius3 speaks of the tent which Jacob inhab-
ited whilst feeding the flocks of Laban, as preserved
till it was accidentally burnt by lightning in the
second century. But, apart from all such transitory
and doubtful reminiscences as these, we may well be-
lieve that the high rock, the clear spring, the burst
of verdure, must have as truly made this (such
might be a possible interpretation of the name) "the
light of the race of Arphazad" (Ur Chasdim), as the
like circumstances made Damascus "the eye of the
East;" and amongst the countless sepulchres which
fill the rocky hill4 behind the city, some may reach
back to the earliest times of human habitation and
From this spot, invested with a tender attractiveness
from which even the passing traveller5 reluctantly
tears himself away, we may believe that the family
of Abraham were called. Was it, as according to Jose-
1 This probably arose from a mis- 4 It is now called Top-dag," the
conception of the words He came hill of the cannon. Olivier, iv. 226.
" out of Ur," i. e. the light," or 5 I owe this, and much else of the
" fire." impressions of Orfa (which I have not
2 Bayer, 24. myself visited), to the kind informa-
3 Chron. 22. tion of two recent travellers.
LECT. I. HARAN. 9
phus,"1 the grief-,.f Terah over the untimely death
of Haran ? Was it, as according to the tradition fol.
lowed by Stephen, that the higher call had already
been made to Abraham ? We know not. We are
told only that they went southward: they went upon
the track which Chaldaans, and Medes, and Persians,
and Curds, and Tartars, afterwards in long succession
followed, as if towards the rich plains of Nineveh or
One day's journey from Ur, if Orfa be Ur, was the
spot which they chose for their encampment3 Haran.
- Haran, Charran, Carrha. That it was a place of
note may be gathered from its long-continued name
and fame in later days. As the sanctuary of the
Moon goddess, it was, far into the Roman Empire,
regarded as the centre of Eastern Paganism, in rivalry
to Edessa, the centre of Eastern Christendom. It
was the scene, too, of the memorable defeat of Cras-
sus. But no modern traveller, up to the present time,
has left a written account of this world-old place.
There is hardly anything to tell us why it was fixed
upon either as the scene of that fierce conflict, or as
the scene of the Patriarchal settlement. Only we
observe that it is the point of divergence between
the great caravan routes towards the various fords of
the Euphrates on the one hand, and the Tigris on the
other; and therefore must have had some marked
features to make it a fitting encampment both for
Roman general and Chaldaean Patriarch. Beside the
1 Jos. Ant. i. 7, 1. country is well described in Merivale's
2 Acts vii. 4. Philo, i. 464; per- Hist. of Romans under the Empire,
haps Neh. ix. 7. i. 520, and, with elaborate learning, ir.
3 Visible from Orfa almost at all Chwolson's Ssabier, i. 304.
times (Ainsworth, Assyria, Babylonia, 4 Ritter, vii. 296. As such it seems
Chaldmea, 153). The surrounding to be mentioned in Ezekiel xxvii. 23.
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
settlement, too, were the wells,' round which for the
next generations one large portion of the tribe of
Terah continued to linger; and the settlers in the
distant west are described as still retaining their affec-
tion for the ancient sanctuary,2 where the father of
their race was buried, and whence they sought, ac-
cording to the true Arabian usage, their own kins-
women and cousins in marriage.
But for the highest spirit of the Patriarchal family
Passage Haran could not be a permanent abiding-place.
Euphrates. The great river," "the river," as his de-
scendants called it, the river Euphrates, rolled its vast
boundary of waters between him and the remote coun-
try to which his steps were bent. Two days' journey
brought him to the high chalk cliffs which overlook
the wide western desert. Broad and strong lay the
great stream beneath and between. He crossed over
it, probably near the same point where it is still
forded.8 He crossed it, and became (such at least
was one interpretation always put upon the word)
Abraham, "the Hebrew," the man who had crossed the
river flood-the man who came from beyond the Eu-
For seven days' journey 6 or more, the caravan would
Damascus. advance along what is still the main desert
road to Syria. Nothing is said in history of their
route. It is but an etymological legend which con-
nects Aleppo6 with the herds of the Patriarch's pas-
1 Nieb. Trav. ii.410. Gen. xxix. 2. 4 LXX. Gen. xiv. 13, 6 repdryrc,
2 Gen. xi. 31, xxix. 4. Ewald, Renan, Langues Semitiques, i. 108.
Geschichte, i. 413. 5 Gen. xxxi. 23. Ritter, West Asia,
3 Zeugma, the ancient passage, was vii. 296.
a little west of the present passage at 6 Haleb," the milk of Abraham's
Birs. Olivier(iv. 215) comparesit in cow. See the legend in Porter's
size and rapidity to the Rhone. Handbook of Syria, 613.
LECT. I. HIS OUTWARD APPEARANCE. 11
toral tribe. They neared the range of the Lebanon
which screened the Holy Land from their view; and
underneath its shade they rested, for the last time, in
Damascus.' It is curious that whilst the connection
of Abraham with this most ancient of cities is almost
entirely derived from extraneous sources, it is yet
sufficiently confirmed by the sacred narrative to be
worthy of credit. "Abraham," we are told, "was king
"of Damascus."2 He had crossed the desert with his
tribe, as not many years afterwards came Chedorlao-
mer and the kings of the East; and, as they descended
on the green oasis of Siddim, so this earlier conqueror
established himself in the green oasis of Damascus, the
likeness, on a larger scale, of his own native Ur. In
later ages his name was still honored in the region;
and a spot pointed out as "Abraham's dwelling-place."
And in the primitive play on the name of Abraham's
faithful slave, preserved in the sacred record, we have
a guaranty of the close tie which subsisted between
the patriarch and his earliest conquest. "Eliezer of
Damascus" was the lasting trophy of his victory.
As we pause at the last halting-place before his
entrance into Palestine, let us look more fully in the
face the great character that we have brought thus
far on his way.
Not many years ago much offence was given
by one, now a high dignitary in the English Likeness to
Church, who ventured to suggest the original chiefs.
1 Compare the descent of the Ara- the Greek, version This son of
means on Damascus from Kir in Ar- Masek is Damasek Eliezer." The
menia, Amos ix. 7. Arab tradition makes Eliezer's name
2 Justin, xxxvi. 2. Nicolaus of to have been Dimshak," and the
Damascus (Jos. Ant. i. 7, 2). origin of the name of the city. D'Her-
3 Gen. xv. 2. Ewald, i. 366. It is belot, "Abraham" and Damaschk,"
lost in the English, but preserved in i. 209.
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
likeness of Abraham, by calling him a Bedouin Sheik.
It is one advantage flowing from the multiplication of
Eastern travels that such offence could now no longer be
taken. Every English pilgrim to the Holy Land, even the
most reverential and the most fastidious, is delighted to
trace and to record the likeness of patriarchal manners
and costumes in the Arabian chiefs. To refuse to do so
would- be to decline the use of what we may almost call a
singular gift of Providence. The unchanged habits of the
East render it in this respect a kind of living Pompeii.
The outward appearances, which in the case of the
Greeks and Romans we know only through art and
writing, through marble, fresco, and parchment, in the
case of Jewish history we know through the forms
of actual men, living and moving before us, wearing
almost the same garb, speaking in almost the same
language, and certainly with the same general turns
of speech and tone and manners. Such as we see
them now, starting on a pilgrimage or a journey,
were Abraham and his sister's son, when they "went
"forth" to go into the land of Canaan. "All their
"substance that they had gathered" is heaped high
on the backs of their kneeling camels. The "slaves
"that they had bought in Haran" run along by their
sides. Round about them are their flocks of sheep
and goats, and the asses moving underneath the tow-
ering forms of the camels. The chief is there, amidst
the stir of movement, or resting at noon within his
black tent, marked out from the rest by his cloak of
brilliant scarlet, by the fillet of rope which binds the
loose handkerchief round his head, by the spear which
he holds in his hand to guide the march, and to fix
the encampment. The chief's wife, the princess of
1 Sarah" = princess. Sarai" = my princess.
HIS OUTWARD APPEARANCE.
the tribe, is there in her' own tent, to make the
cakes, and prepare the usual meal2 of milk and but,
ter; the slave or the child is ready to bring in the
red 3 lentile soup for the weary hunter, or to kill the
calf for the unexpected guest.4 Even the ordinary
social state is the same: polygamy, slavery, the ex-
clusiveness of family ties; the period of service for
the dowry of a wife; the solemn obligations of- hospi-
tality; the temptations, easily followed, into craft or
In every aspect, except that which most concerns
us, the likeness is complete between the Bedouin
chief of the present day, and the Bedouin chief who
came from Chaldea nearly four thousand years ago. In
every aspect but one; and that one contrast is set off in
the highest degree by the resemblance of all besides.
The more we see the outward conformity of Abraham
and his immediate descendants to the godless, grasping,
foul-mouthed Arabs of the modern desert, nay even
their fellowship in the infirmities of their common
state and country, the more we shall recognize the
force of the religious faith, which has raised them
from that low estate to be the heroes and saints of
their people, the spiritual fathers of European religion
and civilization. The hands are the hands of the Bed-
ouin Esau; but the voice is the voice of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, the voice which still makes itself
heard across deserts and continents and seas; heard
wherever there is a conscience to listen, or an imag-
ination to be pleased, or a sense of reverence left
Gen, xxiv. 67. 4 For the Arab life in Chaldaa,
2 Gen. xviii. 2-8. see Loftus, Chaldaea and Susiana,
3 Gen. xxv. 34. 156.
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
II. What then is the position which has been
accorded to Abraham by the general witness of his-
tory ? What was it which caused his own nation to
make their highest boast of a descent 1 from him ? which
caused them to look forward to the rest in his bosom2
as the fitting repose of wearied souls that have escaped
from the toil of their earthly pilgrimage ?
The answer may best be given by considering the
two names by which he is known in the traditions
of the East, and which, though they only occur once
or twice in Scripture, yet so well correspond to its
whole representation of Abraham, that they may fitly
be taken as his distinguishing characteristics.
1. First, he is the Friend of God." El-Khalil-Allah,"
The Friend or, as he is more usually called, El-Khalil," sim-
of God. ply, the Friend," I is a title which has in Mus-
sulman countries superseded altogether his own proper
name. In many ways it has a peculiar significance.
It is, in its most general aspect, an illustration of the
difference which has been well remarked between the
early beginnings of Jewish history and those of any
other ancient nation. Grant to the uttermost the un-
certain, shadowy, fragmentary character of these prim-
itive records, yet there is one point brought out
1 It was a tradition that the Hebrew
letters were given by him; and that
Aleph stood first as being the first let-
ter of his name. (Suidas in voce
" Abraham.") Artapanus (in Eus.
Prcep. ix. 18) derives the name He-
brew" from that of Abraham.
2 See Lightfoot on Luke xvi. 22.
3 See D'Herbelot (" Abraham"),
for its precise import. The name of
Abraham was interpreted by Apol-
lobipe Melon (Eus. Prep. ix. 19) as
"Friend of the Father." In Scrip-
ture it occurs only in James ii. 23;
" He was called the friend of God:"
and more doubtfully in Isaiah xli. 8;
" Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed
"of Abraham my friend:" 2 Chron.
xx. 7; "The seed of Abraham my
"friend." In Clem. Rom. (Ep. i. 10)
he is called simply the friend,"
'A3paail 6 iilor irpoaayopem9eic. In Gen.
xviii. 17, Philo (i. 40) reads friend"
HIS RELIGIOUS ASPECT.
clearly and distinctly. The ancestor of the Chosen
People is not, as in the legends of Greece and Rome,
or even of Germany, a god or a demi-god, or the son
of a god: he is, as we have just observed, a mere
man, a chief, such as those to whom these records were
first presented must have constantly seen with their
own eyes. The interval1 between the human and the
divine is never confounded. Close as are the- com-
munications with Deity, yet the Divine Essence is
always veiled, the man is never absorbed into it.
Abraham is "the Friend," but he is nothing more.
He is nothing more; but he is nothing less. He is
"the Friend of God." The title includes a double
meaning. He is beloved of God." Fear not, Abram,
"I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward."
He was "chosen by God: he was "called "3 The call of
by God. Although in the word "ecclesia," in God.
its religious sense, the etymological meaning, as of an
assembly called forth by the herald," is lost in the gen-
eral idea of a congregation," yet this original mean-
ing gives a fitness to the consideration that he who
was the first in the succession of the ecclesia," or
" church," was so by virtue of what is known in all
subsequent history as his "call." The word itself, as
applied to the summons which led the Patriarch forth,
rarely occurs in the sacred writers. But it gathers
up in a short compass the chief meaning of his first
appearance. In him was exemplified the fundamental
truth of all religion, that God has not deserted the
1 This is well brought out in Dean 2 Neh. ix. 7: Thou didst choose
Milman's History of the Jews, i. 23. Abram."
Contrast the attempt of the legends 3 Isaiah li. 2: I called him."
to invest Abraham with a supernatu- Heb. xi. 8: "He was called to go
ral character. out.
16 THE CALL OF ABRAHAM. LEOT. I.
world; that His work is carried on by His chosen
instruments; that good men are not only His creat-
ures and His servants, but His friends. In those
simple words in which the Biblical narrative describes
" the call," whatever there is of truth in the predes-
tinarian doctrine of Augustine and of Calvin finds its
But the further meaning involved in the title of
Abraham indicates the correlative truth,-not only
was Abraham beloved by God, but God was beloved
by him;" not only was God the Friend of Abraham,
but Abraham was "the friend of God." To expand
this truth is to see what was the religion, the com-
munion with the Supreme, which raised Abraham
above his fellow-men.
The greater histories of the Christian Church usu-
Belief in ally commence with dissertations on the state
God. of the heathen world at the time of the birth
of Christ. Something analogous to this ought, if it
were possible, to be in our minds in conceiving the
rise of the Jewish Church in the person of Abraham.
But it would be of a totally different kind; it would be-
long to the province rather of philosophy than of history.
We must transport ourselves back to that primeval time
of which so lively a picture has lately been furnished
Worship from the results of philological research; of
eenly which, in the European world, we see perhaps
bodies, the last traces in Homer, but of which still later
memorials were preserved in the New World in the Pe-
ruvian worship, even down to the sixteenth century,
when it was seen and elaborately described by the
first Spanish discoverers.2 The objects of nature, espe-
1 Professor Miller's Comparative 2 See Helps's Spanish Conq. iii
Mythology," in Oxford Essays, 1856. 488.
cially the heavenly bodies, were then invested with a
" glory" and a "freshness" which has long since
"passed away" from the earth; they seemed to be
instinct with a divinity, which exercised an almost
irresistible fascination over their first beholders. The
"sight of the sun when it shined, and of the moon
"walking in brightness,"' was a temptation as potent
to them as to us it is inconceivable; "their heart
"was secretly enticed, and their hand kissed their
"mouth." There was also another form of idolatry,
though less universal in its influence. There were
"giants on the earth in those days;" giants, if not
actually, yet by their colossal strength and awful
majesty: the Pharaohs and Nimrods, whose forms we
can still trace on the monuments of Egypt Worship
and Assyria in their gigantic proportions, the kings.
mighty hunters, the royal priests, the deified men.
From the control of these powers, before which all
meaner men bowed down, from the long ancestral
prepossessions of "country and kindred and father's
"house," the first worshippers of One who was above
all alike had painfully to disentangle themselves. It
is true that Abraham hardly appears before us as a
prophet2 or teacher of any new religion. As8 the
I Job xxxi. 26, 27.
2 He is so called incidentally, Gen.
xx. 7, and perhaps Ps. cv. 15. He is
also a prophet" (Nabi) in the Mus-
3 I cannot forbear, in illustration
of these statements, to refer to a far
more forcible and exact exposition
of it which appeared (since the de-
livery of this Lecture) in an Essay on
Semitic Monotheism (in The Times
of April 14 and 15, 1860) by Pro-
fessor Max Miiller. How is the fact
" to be explained that the three great
" religions of the world in which the
" Unity of the Deity forms the key-
" note are of Semitic origin ? .
"Mohammedanism, no doubt, is a
" Semitic religion; and its very cor
"is Monotheism. But did Mohammed
"invent Monotheism ? Did he invent
" even a new name of God ? Not at
"all. .. And how is it with Chris-
"tianity ? Did Christ come to preach
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
S-lipture represents him, it is rather as if he was
possessed of the truth himself, than as if he had any
call to proclaim it to others. His life is his creed;
Abraham his migration is his mission. But we can hardly
teacher of doubt that here the legendary tales fill up,
of God. though in their own fantastic way, what the
Biblical account dimly implies. He was, in practice,
the Friend of God, in the noblest of all senses of
the word; the Friend who stood fast when others
fell away. He is the first distinct historical 'witness,
at least for his own race and country, to Theism -
to Monotheism, to the unity of the Lord and Ruler
of all against the primeval idolatries, the natural relig-
ion of the ancient world. It may be an empty fable
that Terah was a maker of idols, and that Abraham
"faith in a new God? Did He or
" His disciples invent a new name
"of God? No. Christ came not to
"destroy, but to fulfil, and the God
' whom He preached was the God of
Abraham. And who is the God of
"Jeremiah, of Elijah, and of Moses ?
" We answer again, the God of Abra-
"ham.' Thus the faith in the One
" Living God, which seemed to re-
' quire the admission of a monotheistic
"instinct, grafted in every member
" of the Semitic family, is traced back
"to one man, to him, in whom all the
"families of the earth shall be blessed.'
" And if from our earliest childhood
"we have looked upon Abraham, the
" Friend of God, with love and ven-
"eration his venerable figure
Swill assume still more majestic pro-
"portions, when we see in him the
"life-spring of that faith which was
"to unite all the nations of the earth,
'Id pthe author of that blessing which
"was to come on the Gentiles through
"Jesus Christ. And if we are asked
"how this one Abraham passed
"through the denial of all other
" Gods, to the knowledge of the one
" God, we are content to answer that
"it was by a special divine revelation
" .... granted to that one man, and
" handed down by him to Jews, Chris-
"tians, and Mohammedans to all
"who believe in the God of Abraham.
"... .We want to know more of that
"man than we do; but even with the
"little we know of him, he stands be-
" fore us as a figure second only to One
"in the whole history of the world."
Abraham," says Baron Bunsen,
"is the Zoroaster of the Semitic race;
"but he is more than the Zoroaster,
"in proportion as his sense of the
"divine was more spiritual, and more
"free from the philosophy of nature,
" and the adoration of the visible
"world." Bibehlerk, ii. 88.
was cast by Nimrod into a burning fiery furnace for
refusing to worship him. But even in the Book of
Joshua we read that the original fathers of the Jew-
ish race who dwelt beyond the Euphrates served
other1 gods, and the deliverance implied in the call
indicates something more than a mere change of state
and place.2 We may be forgiven if we supply the
void by a well-known legend, which has left its traces
in almost every traditional8 account of Abraham. The
scene is sometimes laid in Ur, sometimes in the cele-
brated hill above Damascus.4 The story is best told
in the words of the Koran. When night overshadowed
" him, he saw a star, and said, This is my Lord.' But
"when it set, he said, 'I like not those that set.' And
" when he saw the moon rising, he said, 'This is my Lord.
" But when the moon set, he answered, Verily if my Lord
" direct me not in the right way, I shall be as one of those
"who err.' And when he saw the sun rising, he said,
"' This is my Lord. This is greater than the star or
" moon.' But when the sun went down, he said, 0 my
"people, I am clear of these things. I turn my face to
" Him who hath made the heaven and the earth."' It is
an illustration of this ancient legend that many ages
afterwards another dweller in Ur of the Chaldees, that
Syrian saint of whom I have before spoken, Ephrem
of Edessa, relates5 that once coming out of the city
very early in the morning with two of his compan-
1 Joshua xxiv. 2, 14. One inter- 1; Suidas (in voce Abraham") ; the
pretation of "Ur" (light) is that it Talmud and Midrash (where it is
was the seat of the sun-worship: as founded on Isa. xli. 2). See Beer's
it certainly was in the fourth century. Leben Abrahams, 102. Koran, vi.
Bayer, 4. 74-82.
2 See Judith, v. 7, 8, a statement 4 Ibn Batuta, 231.
independent of Genesis. 5 Tillemont, S. Ephrem, ch. 12.
3 Philo, ii. 12. Josephus, Ant. i. 7,
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
ions, he gazed upon the heavens, spangled with bright
stars. Their brilliancy struck him as they had struck
the Chaldaean shepherd of old; and he said, "If the
"brightness of these stars be so dazzling, how will the
"saints shine when Christ shall come in glory !" What
a world of new hopes, new fears, new prospects, lies
between the reflection of the primitive patriarch and
the reflection of the Christian saint.
2. This leads us to the second name by which Abra-
The Father ham is known, "The Father of the Faithful."1
Faithful; Two points are involved in this name also.
First, he was himself "the Faithful." In him was
most distinctly manifested the gift of faith." In him,
long, long before Luther, long before Paul, was it pro-
claimed in a sense far more universal and clear than
the "paradox" of the Reformer, not less clear and
His faith. universal than the preaching of the Apostle,
that man is justified by faith." Abraham believed in
" the Lord and He counted it to him for righteousness."
Powerful as is the effect of these words when we
read them in their first untarnished freshness, they
gain immensely in their original language, to which
neither Greek nor German, much less Latin or English,
can furnish any full equivalent. "He was supported,
"he was built up, he reposed as a child in its moth-
"er's arms" (such seems the force of the Hebrew
word ) in the strength of God; in God whom he did
not see, more than in the giant empires of earth, and
the bright lights of heaven, or the claims of tribe and
kindred, which were always before him. It was count-
"ed to him for righteousness." It "was counted to
"him," and his history seals and ratifies the result.
3 See Gesenius, Lexicon, 72
1 Rom. iv. 12.
SGen xv. 6.
His faith, as we have seen, transpires not in any out-
ward profession of faith, but precisely in that which
far more nearly concerns him and every one of us,
in his prayers, in his actions, in the righteousness, the
"justice" (if one may again so draw out the sense of
the Hebrew word1, the uprightncss," the moral "ele-
vation" of soul and spirit which sent him on his way
straightforward, without turning to the right hand or
to the left. His belief, vague, it may be, indefinite
and scanty, even in the most elementary truths of
religion, is in the Scriptures implied rather than stated.
It is in him simply "the evidence of things not seen,"
" the hope against hope." His faith, in the literal
sense of the word, is known to us only through "his
works." He and his descendants are blessed, not
as in the Koran, because of his adoption of the
first article of the creed of Islam, but because
he had "obeyed the voice of the Lord, and kept
"His charge, His commandments, His statutes, and His
" laws." 2
Such was the faith of the First Believer: in how
many ways, an example, a consolation, a study, His univer-
to his latest descendants. And this prepares ter.
us for observing that he was not only "faithful," but
"the Father of the Faithful." In modern ages of the
history of the Church it has too often happened that
the doctrine of faith" has had a narrowing effect on
the conscience and feelings of those who have strongly
embraced it. It was far otherwise with S. Paul, to
whom it was almost synonymous with the admission
of the Gentiles. It was far otherwise with its first
exemplification in the life of the Patriarch Abraham.
His very name implies this universal mission. The
1 See Gesenius, Lexicon, 854. 2 Gen. xxvi. 5; xviii. 19.
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
Father (Abba); The lofty Father" (Ab-ram); "The
Father of multitudes" (Ab-raham2); the venerable
parent, surveying, as if from that lofty eminence, the
countless progeny who should look up to him as their
spiritual ancestor. He was, first, the Father of the
Chosen People, the people who, by reason of their
faith, though in one sense the narrowest of all ancient
nations, yet were also the widest in their diffusion
and dispersion,-the only people, that, by virtue of
an invisible bond, maintained their national union in
spite of local difference and division. But he was
much more than the Father of the Chosen People.
It is not a mere allegory or accidental application of
separate texts, that justifies S. Paul's appeal to the
case of Abraham as including within itself the faith
of the whole Gentile world. His position, as repre-
sented to us in the original records, is of itself far
wider than that of any merely Jewish saint or national
hero; and he is, on that ground alone, the fitting im-
age to meet us at the outset of the history of the
Church. He, the founder of the Jewish race, was yet,
by the confession of their own annals, not a Jew, nor
the father exclusively of Jews. He was "the He-
brew," to whom, both in the Biblical record' and their
own traditions, the Arabian no less than the Israelite
tribes look back as to their first ancestor. The scene
of his life, as of the Patriarchs generally, breathes a
larger atmosphere than the contracted limits of Pal-
estine, -the free air of the plains of Mesopotamia
1 According to the Persian tradi- (hamon = multitude, as of the drops
tions his name, before his conversion, of rain, the swelling of springs, the
waa,Zerwan, "the wealthy." Hyde, voice of singers). Gesenius, Lexicon,
Rel. Pers. 77. 281.
2 An abbreviation of rab-hamon 3 Gen. xvi. 15; xxv. 1-6.
HIS UNIVERSAL CHARACTER.
and the desert, -the neighborhood of the vast shapes
of the Babylonian monarchy on one side, and of
Egypt on the other. He is not an ecclesiastic, not
an ascetic, not even a learned sage, but a chief, a
shepherd, a warrior, full of all the affections and in-
terests of family and household, and wealth and power,
and for this very reason the first true type of the
religious man, the first representative of the whole
Church of God.
This universality of Abraham's faith,-this eleva-
tion, this multitudinousness of the Patriarchal, paternal
character, which his name involves, has also found
a response in those later traditions and feelings of
which I have before spoken. When Mahomet1 attacks
the idolatry of the Arabs, he justifies himself by argu-
ing, almost in the language of S. Paul, that the faith
which he proclaimed in One Supreme God was no new
belief, but was identical with the ancient religion of
their first father Abraham. When the Emperor Alex-
ander Severus placed in the chapel of his palace the
statues of the choice spirits of all times,2 Abraham,
rather than Moses, was selected, as the centre, doubt-
less, of a more extended circle of sacred associations.
When the author of the "Liberty of Prophesying"
ventured, before any other English divine, to lift up
his voice in behalf of universal religious toleration, he
was glad to shelter himself under the authority of the
ancient Jewish or Persian apologue, of doubtful origin,
but of most instructive wisdom, of almost Scriptural
simplicity, which may well be repeated here as an
1 Koran, ii. 118-126 ; 129, 180 ; "tiores." Lamprid. Alex. Sever. Vit.
iii. 30, 91. c. 20.
2 Optimos electos et animos sanc-
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.L
expression of the world-wide sympathies which attach
to the Father of the Faithful.'
When Abraham sate at his tent-door, according to his
custom, waiting to entertain strangers, he espied an old
"man stooping and leaning on his staff, weary with age and
"travel, coming towards him, who was an hundred years of
age. He received him kindly, washed his feet, provided sup-
"per, caused him to sit down, but observing that the old man
"ate and prayed not, nor begged for a blessing on his meat,
K asked him why he did not worship the God of Heaven ?
The old man told him that he worshipped the fire only,
"and acknowledged no other god; at which answer Abra-
"ham grew so zealously angry, that he thrust the old man
Kout of his tent, and exposed him to all the evils of the
"night and an unguarded condition. When the old man
"was gone, God called to him and asked him where the
"stranger was; he replied : I thrust him away, because he
"did not worship thee.' God answered, I have suffered
"him these hundred years, though he dishonored me; and
couldest not thou endure him for one night, when he gave
"thee no trouble ?' Upon this, saith the story, Abraham
"fetched him back again, and gave him hospitable entertain-
"ment, and wise instruction. Go thou and do likewise; and
"thy charity will be rewarded by the God of Abraham."
If we may trust the ingenious conjecture of a dis-
The name tinguished writer,2 whom I have already quoted,
ofElohim. a more certain and enduring memorial has
1 The story and its origin are given whilst working as a slave, thence
in Heber's Life ofJeremy Taylor, note copied by Grotius, thence by Taylor,
xx. (Eden's edit. vol. i. p. cccvi.), and thence appropriated by Franklin.
in a letter of Mr. Everett, in the Life 2 What follows has been added, in
of Sydney Smith, 14. It was appar- a condensed form, from the Essay of
ently told by a Jewish prisoner at Professor Miller on Semitic Mono-
Tripoli to the Persian poet Saadi theism, already cited. (See p. 17.)
HIS UNIVERSAL CHARACTER.
been preserved of this side of Abraham's mission.
The name by which the Deity is known throughout
the patriarchal or introductory age of the Jewish
Church is "Elohim," translated in the English version
" God." In this name has been discovered a trace of
the conciliatory, comprehensive mission of the first
Prophet of the true religion. "Elohim" is a plural
noun, though followed by a verb in the singular.
When "Eloah" (God) was first used in the plural,
it could only have signified, like any other plural,
"many Eloahs;" and such a plural could only have
been formed.after the various names of God had be-
come the names of independent deities; that is, dur-
ing a polytheistic stage. The transition from this into
the monotheistic stage could be effected only in two
ways; either by denying altogether the existence of
the Elohim and changing them into devils,- as was
done in Persia, or by taking a higher view, and
looking upon them as so many names invented with
the honest purpose of expressing the various aspects
of the Deity, though in time diverted from their orig-
inal intention. This was the view taken by Abraham.
Whatever the names of the Elohim worshipped by
the numerous clans of his race, Abraham saw that all
the Elohim were meant for God; and thus Elohim,
comprehending by one name everything that ever was
or ever could be called Divine, became the name by
which the monotheistic age was rightly inaugurated:
a plural conceived and construed as a singular. From
this point of view the Semitic name of the Deity,
which at first sounds not only ungrammatical, but
irrational, becomes perfectly clear and intelligible. It
is at once the proof that Monotheism rose on the
ruins of a polytheistic faith, and that it absorbed and
.- .. .'-:.. :...
.... : .. ....: *..
*: -....-. .
.. .. ..
.. '. ':.* .
26 THE CALL OF ABRAHAM. LECT. I
acknowledged the better tendencies of that faith. In
the true spirit of the later Apostle of the Gentiles,
Abraham, his first predecessor and model, declared the
God "whom they ignorantly worshipped," to be the
" God that made the world, and all things therein,"
"the Lord of heaven and ehrth," "in whom we live,
"and move, and have our being."1
Yet, however comprehensive is this type of the
The Cove- Patriarch's character, there is an exclusive-
nant. ness also. In one point of view, "he is the
cision. Father of all them that believe, though they
"be not circumcised:" in another point of view he is
the Father of the circumcision only. That venerable
rite, indeed, which in the first beginnings of Chris-
tianity was regarded only as a mark of division and
narrowness, was, in the primitive Eastern world, the
sign of a proud civilization. It was not only a Jew-
ish, but an Arabian, a Phoenician, an Egyptian cus-
tom. As such it still lingers in the Coptic and Abys-
sinian Churches. How far any of these countries re-
ceived it from Abraham, or Abraham from them, is
now almost as difficult to ascertain, as it is to dis-
cern the original signification of a usage, once so
honorable and so sacred, and now so entirely re-
moved alike from honor and from sanctity. But the
limitation, of which, in a religious sense, it was the
symbol, is expressed in a passage of the Patriarch's
life, which stands midway, as it were, between his
Thevision wider and his narrower call. In the visions8
sacrifice. of the night Abraham is called forth by the
1 Acts xvii. 23-28. 3 Gen. xv. 1. By Jewish tradition
2 See Ezekiel xxxii. 24-32, with this scene is fixed on a mountain three
Ewald's notes. Compare also Ewald's miles north of Banias. Schwarz,
Alterthiimer, 100. 802.
*** '*. ***..
'' **:* .
..'..'. ...: .
.. .* .* .
(.' **. .*,
LECT. I. ITS RELATION TO THE JEWISH CHURCH. 27
Divine voice, from the curtains of the tent, under the
open sky. He is told to look towards heaven, the
clear bright Eastern heaven, glittering with innumer-
able stars, those stars which all tradition, as we have
seen, has so naturally and so closely connected with
the education and conversion of Abraham; the stars
which have in all times taught unearthly wisdom and
vastness of spiritual ideas to the mind of man. "Look
"toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to
" number them. So shall thy seed be." This was, if
taken in its fullest sense, that wide, incalculable, inter-
minable view of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples,
and tongues--each star differing from the other star
in glory of which we have already spoken. But
the vision was not ended. He was bidden to prepare
as for the peculiar forms of sacrifice which, it is said,x
for centuries afterwards, in his own country, were used
to sanction a treaty or covenant. The birds, and the
fragments of the heifer and the goat, were parted, so
as to leave a space for the contracting parties to pass
between; and the day began to decline, and the birds
of prey, of evil omen, hovered like a cloud over the
carcasses; and at last the sun went down, and the
heavens, so bright and clear on the preceding night,
were overcast; and "a deep sleep fell upon Abraham,
"and lo! a horror of great darkness fell upon him."
And in that thick darkness a light, as of a blazing
fire, enveloped with the smoke as of a furnace, passed
through the open space, and the covenant, the first
covenant, "the Old Testament," was concluded be-
tween God and man. Taking these figures as they
are thus shadowed forth, and in combination with the
1 See Von Bohlen's note on Gen. scene see Koran, ii. 262, in Lane's
xv. 10. For the amplification of the Selections, 153.
THE CALL OF ABRAHAM.
words which followed, they truly express the peculiar
"conditions," to use the modern phrase, under which
the history of the Chosen People was to be unfolded
from its brighter and from its darker side. Darkness
and light are mingled together; the bright heavens
of yesterday overclouded by the horror of great dark-
ness to-day; wheresoever the carcasses of the victims
lie, the ravenous eagles are gathered together, and
with difficulty scared away by the watchful protector;
the light, burning in the midst of the smoke as it
sweeps through the narrow pathway, is the same image
that we shall meet again and again throughout the
history of the Older, and of the New covenant also:
the bush burning but not consumed; the pillar at
once of cloud and of fire; the children in the midst
of the furnace, yet without hurt; the remnant pre-
served, though cut down to the root: exile and bond-
age, yet constant deliverance; a narrow home, yet a
vast dominion; the perverse, wayward, degraded peo-
ple, yet the countrymen and the progenitors, after
the flesh, of One in whom was brought to the high-
est fulfilment their own union of suffering and of
triumph, the thick darkness of the smoking furnace,
the burning and the shining light.2 This is the mixed
prospect of the History of the Jewish Church; this is
the mixed prospect, in its widest sense, of all Eccle-
1 Gen. xv. 18-21. The "river of in Gen. xviii. 23, occurs in the le-
Egypt" (here only) is the Nile. It gends (Beer's Leben Abrahams, 88),
Is inserted, evidently, as the extreme where, after the overthrow of Jeru-
western limit of Jewish thought and salem, the figure of Abraham emerges
dominion, from the ruins to plead for the
SA fine passage, which unites the repentance and restoration of his
thought of the vision of Gen. xv. 12, people.
with the universal prayer of Abraham
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
IT is an advantage of visiting a country once civil-
ized but since fallen back into barbarism, that The frst
its present aspect more nearly reproduces to us ,nt"'ae
the appearance which it wore to its earliest Holy Land
inhabitants, than had we seen it in the height of its
splendor. Delphi and Mycenae, in their modern deso-
lation, are far more like what they were as they burst
upon the eyes of the first Grecian settlers, than at
the time when they were covered by a mass of tem-
ples and palaces. Palestine, in like manner, must ex-
hibit at the present day a picture more nearly re-
sembling the country as it was seen in the days of
the Patriarchs, than would have been seen by David,
or even by Joshua. Doubtless many of the hills
which are now bare were then covered with forest;
and the torrent beds which are now dry throughout
the year were, at least in the winter, foaming streams.
But, as far as we can trust the scanty notices, the
land must have been in one important respect much
what it is now. It is everywhere intimated that its
population was thinly scattered over its broken surface
of hill and valley. Here and there a wandering shep-
herd, as now, must have been driving his sheep over
the mountains. The smoke of some worship, now ex-
tinct for ages, may have been seen going up from the
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
rough, upright stones, which, like those of Stonehenge
or Abury, in our own country, have survived every form
of civilized buildings, and remain to this day standing
on the sea-coast plain of Phoenicia. Groups of wor-
shippers must have been gathered from time to time
on some of the many mountain heights, or under some
of the dark clumps of ilex; "For the Canaanite was
"then in the land." But the abodes of settled life
are described as confined to two spots: one, the oldest
city in Palestine, the city of Arba, or the Four Giants,
as it was called, in the rich vale of Hebron; the other,
"the circle" of the five cities in the vale of Jordan.
These were the earliest representatives of the civil-
ization of Canaan; the Perizzites, or, as they were
usually called, "the Hittites," the dwellers in the
open villages, who gave their name to the whole
country; so much so, that the children of Heth are
called "the children of the land," and the land itself
was known both on Egyptian and Assyrian monu-
ments as the land of "Heth."' Mingled with these,
on the mountain-tops, as their name implies, were2
the warlike Amorite chiefs, Mamre and his two broth-
ers. Along the southern coast, and the undulating
land called the south country," between Palestine
and the desert, were the ancient predecessors of the
Philistines, probably the Avites; not, like their future
conquerors, a maritime people of fortified cities, but a
pastoral, nomadic race, though under a ruler entitled
"king." On the east of the Jordan, round the sanc-
tuary of the Horned Ashtaroth, and southward as far
as the Dead Sea, were remnants of the gigantic abo-
riginal tribes, not yet ejected by the encroachments
1 Gen. xxiii. 7. See Ewald, i. 317. to in war, as the Hittites (xxiii. 7)
2 Gen. xiv. 13. They are applied in peace.
of Edom, Ammon, or Moab,- the Horites, dwellers in
the caves of the distant Petra, the Emim and Zam-
zummim on the east of the Jordan, and the Rephaim,1
whose name long lingered in the memory of the
later inhabitants, and was used to describe the shades
of the world beyond the grave.
I. Such must have been the general outline of Pal.
estine when Abraham "passed over" from Damascus,
and passed through the land." Let us briefly alting-
note his halting-places, as he roves, almost at places.
will, through the unknown country to which we are
specially invited by the Sacred narrative, and also by
the account of the Patriarchal wanderings in the speech2
of S. Stephen, which gives us a warrant, even from a
higher point of view, for touching on these rapid
transitions from place to place. They bring before us
the point often forgotten, which that great precursor
of S. Paul was specially endeavoring to impress upon
his hearers, that the migration was still going on:
that the Patriarch "had no inheritance in the land,
"no, not so much as to set his foot on." Fixed
locality was to form no essential part of the true
religion. Abraham was still the first Pilgrim, the first
Discoverer; "not knowing whither he went."3 The
words which Reuchlin used to Melanchthon leaving
his father's home were directly and without effort
taken from the call to Abraham, to go out from his
"country and from his kindred and from his father's
"house." The figures which we thus employ, in prose
and poetry, in allegory and sermon, are the direct
bequest of the Patriarchal pastoral age. In the sight
SGen. xiv. 5-7; Deut. ii. 10-12, 2 Acts vii. 2-16.
20-23. See Lecture IX. For the 3 Heb. xi. 8.
Rephaim see Gesenius (in voce).
32 ABRAHAM AND ISAAC. LBCT. II '
of that primitive time the symbols and realities, which
we now regard as separate from each other, were
blended in one. The curtain of the picture of life, if
I may use the expression of the Greek artist, was to
,hem the picture itself
1. Look at the Patriarchal wanderings in this light,
ihechem. and it will not be thought misspent time to
well for a short space on the successive stages of
their advance. The first was "the place," as it is
called, of Shechem; then, as it would seem, only
marked by the terebinths' of Moreh. It is the
earliest instance of these primitive wanderers pitching
their tents, for shelter against wind or rain, under
the shade of some spreading tree. As a rock or
a palm-grove in the desert, so in Palestine itself was
the isolated terebinth or ilex, the most massive and
majestic of its native trees, and therefore legitimately,
though not quite correctly, rendered by the English
parallel of "the oak." The oak of Moreh, like that
of Mamre, to which we shall presently come, probably
derived its name from some ancient chief, and was
perhaps already regarded as in some measure sacred.
Here, doubtless, by the side of the gushing streams
of the vale of Shechem, the first encampment was
described to have been made, and the altar of the
earliest holy place in the Holy Land to have been
consecrated. Even the oak remained for many cen-
turies the object of national reverence. The sanctity
of the place lasts even to this day.
2. The second halt was a day's journey farther
Bethel. south, on the central ridge of Palestine, at
Bethel; then doubtless only known, if known at all,
by its ancient name of Luz; and to this same spot"
1 Gen. xii. 6. See Sinai and Palestine, 142, 235.
Abraham returned after the journey from Egypt, of
which we will presently speak more at length. This
was more than a halting-place; it is represented as
the turning point of his life. In the philosophical
and religious traditions of all countries there is often
described a separation as between two parting roads,
a divortium, or "watershed," as the Romans called it,
where those who have been companions up to a cer-
tain point are thenceforth severed asunder. In Greek
teaching the choice is described, through the well-
known fable of Hercules, between the rugged path of
Virtue and the easy descent of Pleasure. In Mussul-
man legends, Mahomet stands on the mountain above
Damascus, and, gazing on the glorious view, turns
away from it with the words, Man has but one para-
"dise, and mine is fixed elsewhere." Often, too, in
the lives and conversions of good men in later times,
shall we see this same necessity of selection brought
before us in the spiritual world. Here it is pre-
sented to us in one of those instances which I just
noticed, in which the spiritual lesson and the out-
ward image are so blended together as to be indis-
tinguishable. The two emigrants from Mesopotamia
had now swelled into two powerful tribes, and the
herdsmen of Abraham and Lot strove together, and
the first controversy, the first primeval pastoral con-
troversy, divided the Patriarchal Church. Let there
"be no strife, I pray thee" (so the Father of the
Faithful replied in language which might well ex-
tend beyond the strife of herdsmen and shepherds, to
the strife of "pastors and teachers" in many a
church and nation), "Let there be no strife, I pray
"thee, between thee and me, between my herds-
"men and thy herdsmen, for we are brethren. Is
De LCT. 11.
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
"not the whole land before thee ? Separate thyself,
"I pray thee, from me. If thou wilt take the left
" hand, then I will go to the right; or, if thou depart
"to the right hand, I will go to the left."'
It was the first instance of "agreeing to differ," in
later times so rarely found, so eagerly condemned; and
yet not less suitable to all times, because of the ex-
treme simplicity of its earliest application.
Meanwhile let us take our stand with them on the
mountain east of Bethel. The indications of the sacred
text, and the peculiar position of the localities, enable
us to fix the very spot. On the rocky summit of that
hill, under its grove of oaks, Abraham had pitched his
tent and built his altar,-the first of the high places
which so long continued in Palestine amongst his
descendants. And now, from this spot, he and his kins-
man made the choice which determined the fate of
each, according to the view which that summit com-
mands. Lot looked down on the green valley of the
Jordan, its tropical luxuriance visible even from thence,
beautiful and well-watered as that garden of Eden of
which the fame still lingered in their own Chaldeean
hills, as the valley of the Nile in which they had so
lately sojourned. He chose the rich soil, and with it
1 Gen. xii. 8; xiii. 3-17. There
is another like passage in the history
of Isaac: I give it as it appears in
the Vulgate. This, by translating the
Hebrew proper names, preserves the
spirit of the original, which in our
version is entirely lost: Isaac's
"servants digged in the valley, and
" found there a well of springing
" water; and the herdsmen of Gerar
"did strive with Isaac's herdsmen,
" saying, The water is ours; and he
" called the name Calumny, because
" they strove with him. And they
"digged another well, and strove for
" that also; and he called the name
"of it Strife. And he removed from
"thence and digged another well,
"and for that they strove not; and
" he called the name of it Latitude,
" and he said, For now the Lord hath
"made latitude for us, and we shall
"be fruitful in the land."- Gaen, .
the corrupt civilization which had grown up in the rank
climate of that deep descent; and once more he turned
his face eastward, and left to Abraham' the hardship,
the glory, and the virtues of the rugged hills, the sea-
breezes, and the inexhaustible future of Western Pales-
tine. It was Abraham's henceforward; he was to "arise
"and walk through the length and through the breadth
" of it, for God had given it to him." This was the first
appropriation, the first consecration of the Holy Land.
3. "Then Abraham removed his tent, and came and
"dwelt in the 'oak-grove' of Mamre, which is The oak of
"in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Mare.
"Lord." Here we have the third and chief resting-place
of the wandering Patriarch. The modern town of He-
bron, or, as it is now called after its first illustrious occu-
pant, "El Khalil," "The Friend," lies on the northern
slope of a basin formed by the confluence of two broad
valleys, whose superior cultivation and vegetation have
probably caused the long historical celebrity of this spot
as the earliest seat of the civilization and power, if not
of Palestine, at least of Judaa. The hills which rise
above it on the north present for a considerable distance
a level table-land slightly broken by occasional depres-
sions, now mostly occupied by cornfields. It is on this
high ground, in one of the depressions, that a large
square enclosure of ancient masonry marks in all prob-
Sability the remains of the sanctuary which the Kings
of Judah built round what is still called by Jews and
Arabs "The House," or "The Height,"' of Abraham.
On this spot, in the time of Josephus, a gigantic tere-
1 It is on this divergence of the 2 Gen. xiii. 18. See Sinai and Pal-
characters of Lot and Abraham that estine, 142, 164.
is founded the legend of the Holy 3 Ramet el Khalil. See Robinson,
Cross, commemorated in the con- Bib. Res. i. 216.
vent of that name near Jerusalem.
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
binth was shown as coeval with the Creation, and as
being that under which the tent of the Patriarch was
pitched. A fair used to be held under its branches, in
which Christians, Jews, and Arabs assembled every
summer, when each with his peculiar rites honored the
sacred tree with the images and pictures which hung
from its branches. Constantine destroyed the images
but left the tree; and its trunk, standing in the midst
of the church, was still visible in the seventeenth
century. Now, the only indication of the exact
spot is a deep well,' being in truth precisely what
one would expect to find hard by the Patriarchal
This is the nearest approach to a home that the
wanderings of Abraham present. Underneath the tree'
his tent was pitched when he sat in the heat of the
Eastern noon. Thither came the mysterious visitants
whose reception was afterwards commemorated in one
of the pictures hung from the sacred oak. In their en-
tertainment is presented every characteristic of genuine
Arab hospitality, which has given him the name of" The
Father of Guests." But there is another spot in He-
bron which gives a yet more permanent and domestic
character to its connection with Abraham's life. When
Darius pursued the Scythians into their wilderness, they
told him that the only place which they could appoint
cave of for a meeting was by the tombs of their fathers.
Machpelah. The ancestral burial-place is the one fixed
element in the unstable life of a nomadic race; and
this was what Hebron furnished to the Patriarchs. The
1 Early Travellers, p. 87. This well and throughout, "plain" =" oak-
(at the south-west corner of the en- grove."
closure) is not mentioned by Robin- 3 For the haste (Gen. xviii. 6-8)
son. of Arabian hospitality, see Porter's
2 Genesis xviii. 4, the tree," Damascus, i.
one spot of earth which Abraham could call his own,
the pledge which he left of the perpetuity of his in-
terest in "the land wherein he was a stranger," was the
sepulchre which he bought with four hundred shekels
of silver from Ephron the Hittite. It was a rock with
a double cave (" Machpelah"), standing amidst a grove
of olives or ilexes, on the slope of the table-land where
the first encampment had been made, its valley prob-
ably occupying the same position with regard to the
ancient town of Hebron, that the sepulchral valley of
Jehoshaphat did afterwards to Jerusalem. Round this
venerable cave the reverence of successive ages and
religions has now raised a series of edifices which, whilst
they preserve its identity, conceal it entirely from view.
But there it still remains. Within the Mussulman
mosque, within the Christian church, within the massive
stone enclosure built by the Kings of Judah, is, beyond
any reasonable question, the last resting-place of Abra-
ham and Sarah, of Isaac and Rebecca; and there Jacob
"buried Leah;" and thither, with all the pomp of
funeral state, his own embalmed body was brought
from the palaces of Egypt. Of all the great Patriarchal
family, Rachel alone is absent. All that has ever been
seen of the interior of the mosque (held by Mussulman
pilgrims to be the fourth most sacred in the world) is
the floor of the upper chamber, containing six chests,
placed there, as usual in Mussulman sepulchres, to
represent the tombs of the dead. But it is said that
here, as in the analogous case of the tomb of Aaron on
Mount Hor, the real cave exists beneath; divided by
an artificial floor into two compartments, into the upper
one of which only the chief minister of the mosque is
admitted to pray in times of great calamity. The lower
compartment, containing the actual graves, is entirely
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
closed, and has never been seen by any one' within the
range of memory or tradition.
4. Although the oaks of Mamre and the cave of Mach-
Beersheba. pelah rendered Hebron the permanent seat of
Patriarchal life beyond any spot in Palestine,
and although they are always henceforth described as
lingering around this green and fertile vale, there is
yet another circle of recollections more in accordance
with their ancient pastoral habits. Even at the moment
of the purchase of the sepulchre, Abraham represents
himself as still "a stranger and a sojourner in the land;"
and as such his haunts were elsewhere. He journeyed
"from thence toward the south country, and dwelt be-
"tween Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar."
None of these particular spots are known with cer-
tainty,* but it is evident that we are now far away
from the hills of Judmea, in the wide upland valley, or
rather undulating plain, sprinkled with shrubs, and with
the wild flowers which indicate the transition from the
pastures of Palestine to the desert,-marked also by the
ancient wells, dug far into the rocky soil, and bearing on
their stone or marble margins the traces of the long
ages during which the water has been drawn up from
their deep recesses. Such are those near the western
extremity of the plain, still bearing in their name their
identification with the well of the oath," or "the well
of the Seven,"2- Beer-sheba-which formed the last
point reached by the patriarchs, the last centre of their
wandering flocks and herds; and, in after-times, from
being thus the last inhabited spot on the edge of the
desert, the southern frontier of their descendants. This
1 See, however, Benjamin of Tudela sheba in Dr. Smith's Dictionary of
in Early Travellers, p. 87. the Bible.
2 See Mr. Grove's articles on Beer-
southernmost sanctuary marks the importance which,
in the migratory life of the East, was and is always
attached to the possession of water. Here the solemn
covenant was made, according to the significant Arab
forms, of placing the seven lambs' by themselves, be-
tween Abraham and the only chief of those regions
who could dispute his right, the neighboring king of
the Philistines or Avites. "And Abraham," still faith-
ful to the practice which he had followed in Canaan
itself, "planted there a sacred grove,"2- not now of
ilex or terebinth, which never descend into those wild
plains, but the light feathery tamarisk, the first and the
last tree which the traveller sees in his passage through
the desert, and thus the "appropriate growth of this spot.
Beneath this grove and beside these wells his tents
were pitched, and "he called there on the namepf the
"Lord, the everlasting God." It was the same wilder-
ness into which Ishmael had gone forth and become an
archer, and was to, be made a great nation. Is it not
as though the strong Bedouin (shall we add the strong
parental) instinct had, in his declining days, sprung up
again in the aged Patriarch?-as if the unconquerable
aversion to the neighborhood of walls and cities, or
the desire to meet once more with the first-born son
who recalled to him his own early days, drew him down
from the hills of Judea into the congenial desert ? At
any rate in Beersheba, we are told, he sojourned "as
a stranger" many days. In Beersheba Rebekah was
received by his son Isaac into Sarah's vacant tent; and
in the wilderness, as it would seem, "he gave up the
" ghost and died in a good old age," in the arms of his
two sons, Isaac the gentle herdsman and child of
1Herod. iii. 8. Compare Biihr's 2 Gen. xxi. 33. Sinai and Pales-
Symbolik, 200. tine, 21.
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
promise, Ishmael the Arabian archer, untamable as the
wild 1 ass of the desert,-" and they buried him in the
"cave of Machpelah."
II. We turn from this external framework to the
simpnlit general effect of the Patriarchal age, as sug-
Stacha- gested, amongst many other scenes, by the few
age. words which have just been quoted describing
the end of Abraham. They bring home to us, beyond
any other writings, the force and the beauty of simple
feeling and natural affection. It is Homer, and more
than Homer, carried at once into the hands and hearts
of every one. We all know the instantaneous effect pro-
duced upon us in countries, however distant, in classes
or races of men, however different from our own, by
hearing the cry of a little child; with what irresistible
force iA reminds us that we belong to the same human
family; how suddenly it recalls to us, however far
away, the thought of our own home. Is not this the
exact effect of reading the story of Ishmael ?
Remote as it is in language, garb, and manner
from ourselves, we instantly recognize the testimony
to our common nature and kindred in the prayer of
Abraham for his first-born, Ishmael,-the child who
had first awakened in his bosom the feeling of parental
love:--"0 that Ishmael might live before Thee:"2 or
yet more in the pathetic scene where the imperious
caprice of the Arab chieftainess forbade Hagar and her
son to remain any longer in the tent, and "the thing
"was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his
"son. Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took
"bread and a 'skin' filled with water, and gave it to
" Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and
" sent her away into the wilderness."
SGen. xvi. 12 (Heb.). 2 Compare Milman's Hist. of Jews, i. 13.
THE PATRIARCHAL HOUSEHOLD.
Or look at the story of the other son, the child of
laughter and joy, the gentle Isaac. Read the narrative
of Eliezer's mission to fetch Rebekah. Track every
stage of that journey-our first introduction in early
childhood to the pictures of Oriental life, only deepened
more strongly by the sight of the reality. Watch the
long pilgrimage over river and mountain, retraced back
to the original settlement of the race. See the camels
kneeling beside the well without the city;Rebekah.
Rebekah descending the flight of steps with
the pitcher on her shoulder, exactly as the traveller
Niebuhr met the Syrian damsels at one of these very
wells. Look at the different characters as they come
out, one by one, in the interview,--Eliezer, the faith-
ful slave bent solely on discharging his mission: "I will
" not eat till I have told mine errand. Hinder me not,
"seeing that the Lord hath prospered my way." Send
" me away, that I may go to my master; "-the aged
Bethuel always in the background;'-Laban's hard
temper relaxing when he sees the exact ornaments still
so dear to Arab acquisitiveness in this very region, the
ear-ring or nose-ring, and the bracelets on his sister's
hands;-Rebekah, eager to receive, forward to go, the
same high spirit as we shall see afterwards in her future
home. I will draw water for thy camels also till they
" have done drinking." We have both straw and
" provender enough, and room to lodge in." "And they
" called Rebekah, and said unto her: Wilt thou go with
"this man? and she said, I will go." "And they sent
"away Rebekah, their sister, and her nurse. And they
"blessed Rebekah and said unto her, Thou art our sister;
"be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let
1 This is well brought out by Professor Blunt, Veracity of the Books of
Moses, ch. v.
42 ABRAHAM AND ISAAC. LECT. II.
"thy s&ed possess the gate of them that hate thee."
Nor can we overlook the first touch of what may be
called sentimental feeling, in the close of the journey,
when the mournful meditations' of Isaac, by the well
at eventide, are suddenly interrupted by the arrival
of the bride: "And he brought her into his mother
"Sarah's tent, and Rebekah became his wife; and he
"loved her, and Isaac was comforted after his mother's
What an insight into the primitive age! but what a
cradle also for the earliest religious history! We often
say that in the family is to be found the Patriarchal
Church, in the father of the family the Patriarchal
Priest. It is indeed so in more senses than one. When
we think of the many periods in which the relations of
brother and sister, father and child, husband and wife,
have, even by good men, been thrust into the back-
ground as unworthy of a place in the religious rela-
tions of mankind, we may well hail this first chapter of
Ecclesiastical History, as possessing far more than a
merely poetical value. It is like one of those ancient
Patriarchal wells so often mentioned in the history. Its
waters are still fresh and clear in its deep recess. It
has outlasted all other changes. It ministers indeed
only to human affections and feelings, but it is precisely
to those feelings which are as lasting as the human
heart itself, and which therefore give and receive from
the record which so responds to them, a testimony
which will never pass away.
III. And now turn from the Patriarchal household
External to its points of contact with the external world.
Abraham. These are perhaps what most escape us as we
1 "Mournful." See Blunt, Vera- "By the well," LXX. Gen. xxiv.
city of the Books of Aloses, ch. v. 63.
read it for other purposes, and therefore what may be
most fitly noticed here.
1. The general relations of Abraham to the Canaan-
itish tribes have a twofold aspect. On the one To the
hand, as if with the full consciousness of the generally.
separation which was to exist between his seed and the
tribes of Canaan, and also of its future superiority over
them, he always keeps himself distinct from them: he
professes to be a stranger amongst them; he will accept
no favor at their hands; he will not have any inter-
marriage between his race and theirs; he refuses the
gift of the sepulchre from Ephron, and of the spoils
from the King of Sodom. The tomb of Machpelah is
a proof standing to this day, of the long predetermined
assurance that the children of Abraham should inherit
the land in which this was their ancestor's sole, but most
precious possession. It is like the purchase of the site
of Hannibal's camp by the strong faith and hope of the
besieged senators of Rome.
But on the other hand, there is not in his actual deal-
ings with the Canaanites a trace of the implacable en-
mity of later ages; no shadow cast before, of long wars
of extermination waged against them; no indication
of what, in modem times, has been supposed to be
the origin of so many dark legends, and severe accu-
sations,-the national hatred of rivals and neighbors.
The anticipation of distinctness and superiority is not
more decided in one class of incidents than the absence
of any anticipation of war or animosity is in another.
Abimelech, Ephron, Mamre, Melchizedek, all either wor-
ship the same God, or, if they worship Him under
another' name, are all bound together by ties of hos-
I The God of Melchizedek (Gen. xiv. 18) was not Eloah or Elohim, but
Eliun, the name given to the God of Phoenicia by Sanchoniathon (Kenrick,
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
pitality and friendship. The times when the Canaanite
is to be utterly destroyed, when the Amalekite is to be
hewn in pieces, when the Jews are to have no deal-
ings with the Samaritans, are still very far beyond
us: we are still above the point of separation be-
tween the various tribes of Syria: distinction has not
yet grown into difference; "the iniquity of the Amo-
"rites is not yet full." To overlook the unity, the
comparative unity, between Abraham and the neigh-
bor races of Palestine, would be to overlook one of
the most valuable testimonies to the antiquity, the
general Patriarchal spirit of the record as it has been
handed down to us.
2. Further, there are the more special occasions on
which Abraham is drawn, as it were, out of the pas-
toral or individual life, into wider relations. The chief
of these is the journey into Egypt.
I shall not endeavor here, or elsewhere, to deter-
mine, where uncertainty still prevails, the special
points where the history or chronology of Egypt or
Judea cross each other's path: neither shall I draw
out at any length, what in this instance is but
slightly noticed by the sacred story, the impression
Abraham left by Egypt on the mind of this, the first
in Egypt. of the myriad travellers who have visited the
valley of the Nile. But it is impossible not to pause
for a moment on the few points which this event
suggests to us. It is the earliest known appearance
in Egypt of the nomadic races of Asia, who, under
the Shepherd Kings, exercised so great an influence
over its destinies in its primitive history,--who, un-
der the Arab conquerors, have now for thirteen cen-
turies occupied it as their own. Charlemagne is said
to have wept in anticipation of the coming misfor-
tunes of his empire when he saw the sail of the first
Norman ship on the waters of the Mediterranean.
And the ancient Pharaoh, whoever he was, might
have wept in like manner, could he have foreseen in
that innocent and venerable figure the first of the
long succession of Asiatic wanderers, like in outward
form, though unlike in almost all beside, attracted to
the valley of the Nile by the very same motives,
coming down from the table-lands or parched valleys
of their own deserts or mountains, because "the famine
"was grievous in the land," and sojourning in Egypt,
because its river gave the plenteous sustenance which
elsewhere they sought in vain.1
If the Egyptian may have been startled by the
sight of Abraham, much more may Abraham have
been moved to awe by his approach into Egypt.
Whatever may be said in legendary tales of his con-
nectio'a with Nimrod and the Assyrian powers, this
arrival in Egypt is the only indication given by the
sacked historian of any conscious entrance into 'the
pr sence of a great earthly kingdom. The very craft
ir to which the Patriarch is betrayed "as he was come
"near to enter into Egypt" is not without its signifi-
Cance. "They will kill me, but they will save thee
/" alive; say, I pray thee, thou art my sister, and it
" shall be well with me for thy sake, and my soul
"shall live because of thee." His faith and courage
are unnerved, at the prospect and at the sight of the
great potentate amidst his princes in his royal house,
with his harem and his treasures around him. Yet
it is also characteristic of the Biblical narrative, that
the impression left upon us by this first contact of
the Church with the World is not purely unfavorable.
1 Isaac was going down in like manner, when he was stopped. Gen. xxvi. 2
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
It has been truly remarked1 that throughout the
Scriptures the milder aspect of the world is always
presented to us through Egypt, the darker through
Babylon. Abraham is the exile from Chaldma, but he
is the guest, the client of the Pharaohs. He dwells,
according to the account of a Pagan historian, many
years in the sacred city of On, where afterwards his
descendants lived so long, and there teaches the Egyp-
tians astronomy.2 He receives (as we infer from the
sacred narrative) the gifts of male and female slaves,
of asses and camels, with which then as now the
streets of the Egyptian cities abounded. He departs
in peace. And such as Egypt is described in this
narrative, such both in its secular greatness and in its
religious neutrality it appears to have been in those
of her monuments which alone can be with certainty
ascribed to its most ancient period. The range of
the thirty pyramids, in all probability, even at that
early time looked down on the plain of Men;phis.
They remain to indicate the same long anterior state
of civilization which the story of Abraham itself im-
plies, yet exhibit neither in their own sepulchral char -
bers, nor in those which immediately surround their ,
any of those signs of grotesque idolatry which giv,
additional point to the story of the Exodus, and which
exist in the later monuments of Thebes and Ip-
3. The next notice of Abraham's connection with
War with the outer world is of a wholly different kind,
laomer. and is far more in accordance with the secu-
lar aspect of his life presented in Gentile historians
than anything else which the sacred narrative pre-
sents. "Abram the Hebrew" (so, as if from an ex-
1 Arnold, Sermons on Prophecy. 2 Eupolemus (Eus. Prep. ix. 17).
ternal point of view the fragment, apparently of some
ancient record,1 represents him) was dwelling in state
at Hebron, in the midst, not merely of his familiar
circle, but of his three hundred and eighteen trusty
slaves, and confederate not merely with the peaceful
Ephron, but, after the manner of the Canaanite chiefs
of later2 times, with the Amorite mountaineers, Mamre,
and his brothers Aner and Eshcol. Suddenly a mes-
senger of woe appeared by the tent of the Hebrew.
From the remote East, a band of kings3 had descended
on the circle of cultivation and civilization which lay
deep ensconced in the bosom of the Jordan valley.
They had struck dismay far and wide amongst the
aboriginal tribes of the desert, all along the east of
the Jordan and down to the remote wilds of Petra,
and up into the mountain fastness and secluded palm-
grove of Engedi. In the green vale beside the shores
of the lake the five Canaanite kings rose against the
invaders on their return, but were entangled in the
bituminous pits of their own native region. The con-
que'ors swept them away, and marched homewards
the whole length of the valley of the Jordan, carry-
in/g off their plunder, and above all the war4 horses
f1r which afterwards Canaan became so famous. But
from the defeat in the vale of Siddim had escaped
one who climbed the wall of rocks that overhang the
field of battle, and announced to the new colony
established beneath the oak of Hebron that their
kinsman had been carried away captive. Instantly
Abraham called his allies together, and with them
1 For the character and importance of Chedorlaomer and Amraphel has
of this chapter as an historical record, been found in the Assyrian monu-
see Ewald, Gesch. i. 401, &c. ments. Rawlinson's Herod. i. 486,
2 Josh. x. 3; xi. 1, 2, &c. 446.
3 Some slight likeness to the names 4 Gen. xiv. 11, 21 (LXX.).
48 ABRAHAM AND ISAAC. LECT. U.
and his armed retainers he pursued the enemy, and
(if we may add the details from Josephus') on the
fifth day, at the dead of night, attacked the host as
it lay sleeping round the sources of the Jordan.
They fled over the range of Antilibanus, and once
more Abraham beheld the scene of his first conquest,
the city of Damascus, and in its neighborhood, in a
village still bearing the same name (Hobah),2 he finally
routd the army and rescued the captives, and returned
again to the banks of the Jordan. In a vale or level
spot not far from the river, called probably from this
encounter the vale of the king or of the kings," the
victorious chief was met by two grateful princes of
the country which he had delivered; one was the
King of Sodom, the other was one whose name in
Melchiz- itself commands respectful awe,-- Melchizedek,
edek. the King of Righteousness. Whence he came,
from what parentage, remains untold, nay even of
what place he was king remains uncertain (for Salem
may be either Jerusalem or the smaller town of which
in after-times the ruins were shown to Jerome,\ not
far from the scene of the interview). He appears for
a moment, and then vanishes from our view altogether.
It is this which wraps him round in that mysterious
obscurity which has rendered his name the symbol
of all such sudden, abrupt apparitions, the interrup-
tions, the dislocations, if one may so say, of the ordi-
nary even succession of cause and effect and matter
of fact in the various stages of the history of the
Church, "without father, without mother, without be-
'; 1 Ant. i. 10, 1. Compare alsoEus. mosque of Abraham, still the object
Prep. ix. 17. of pilgrimage, an hour north of Da-
2 Gen. xiv. 15. The scene of this mascus. Porter, i..82.
is commemorated in a chapel or
LECT. II. EXTERNAL RELATIONS. 49
"ginning or end of days." No wonder that in Jewish
times he was regarded as some remnant of the earlier
world Arphaxad or Shem. No wonder that when,
in after-times, there arose One whose appearance was
beyond and above any ordinary influence of time or
place or earthly descent, the author of the Epistle to the
Hebrews could find no fitter expression for this, aspect
of his character than the mysterious likeness of Melchiz-
edek. But there is enough of interest if we merely
confine ourselves to the letter of the ancient narrative.
He was the earliest instance of that ancient, sacred,
though long corrupted and long abused name, not yet
disentangled from the regal office, but still of sufficient
distinctness to make itself felt: Priest of the Most
" High God." That title of Divinity also appears for the
first time in the history; and we catch from a heathen
author a clew to the spot of the earliest primeval
sanctuary where that Supreme Name was honored
with priestly and regal service. Tradition2 told that
it was on Mount Gerizim Melchizedek ministered. On
that lofty summit, from Melchizedek even to the pres-
ent day, when the Samaritans still maintain that
"on this mountain" God is to be worshipped, the
rough rock, smoothed into a natural altar, is the only
spot in Palestine, perhaps in the world, that has never
ceased to be the scene of sacrifice and prayer. But
what is now the last relic of a local and exhausted
though yet veiferable religion, was in those Patri-
archal times the expression of a wide all-embracing
worship, which comprehended within its range the
ancient chiefs of Canaan and the founder of the chosen
1 Jerome, Epist. ad Evangelum, 2 Eupolemus (Eus. Prcp. Ev. ix.
5; and Liber Hebr. Qucsst. in Gen- 17).
esim, ad loc.
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
people. The meeting of the two in the "King's Dale"
personifies to us the meeting between what, in later
times, has been called Natural and Revealed Religion;
and when Abraham received the blessing of Melchiz-
edek, and tendered to him his reverent homage, it
is a likeness of the recognition which true historical
Faith will always humbly receive and gratefully render,
when it comes in contact with the older and everlast-
ing instincts of that religion which "the Most High
"God, Possessor of Heaven and Earth," has implanted
in nature and in the heart of man, in the power of
"an endless life."
4. There is yet another occasion on which Abraham
Abraham appears in connection, not indeed with the
itieaof the revolutions of armies or of empires, but with
plain, the more awful convulsions which agitate the
fabric of the world itself. What were the precise
special means by which the fertile vale of Siddim was
blasted with eternal barrenness--how and to what
extent the five guilty cities of the plain were over-
thrown, is still a vexed question equally with theo-
logians and geologists.2 We need only here consider
the aspect of the catastrophe, as it was presented to
the Patriarch. I will not weaken by repetition the
well-known words in which the Friend of God" and
of man draws near to plead before the Judge of all
the earth against the indiscriminate destruction of the
righteous with the wicked. Such an union of the
yearnings of compassion with the sense of justice and
of profound resignation, such a sympathy with the
calamities, not only of his own countrymen but of a
1 Jerome, Epist. ad Evangelum, 6, ham gave tithes to Melchizedek or
justly remarks that the narrative Melchizedek to Abraham.
leaves it ambiguous whether Abra- 2 Sinai and Palestine, 289.
SACRIFICE OF ISAC.
foreign and a detested race, must in that distant age be
counted (to say the least) as a marvellous anticipa-
tion of a higher morality and religion, such as we are
accustomed to think peculiarly our own. Read and
study that chapter well; we may go much farther
and fare much worse, even in modern and Christian
times, in seeking a true justification of the ways of
God to man. "And on the morrow Abraham gat up
"early in the morning to the place where he stood
"before the Lord." The hill is still pointed out1
amongst the many summits near Hebron command-
ing a view down into the deep gulf which parts the
mountains of Judsea from those vast, unknown, un-
visited ranges which, with their caves and wide table-
lands, invite the fugitives from the plain below. The
subsequent history of that chasm was like a perpetual
memorial of Abraham's prayer. The guilty cities dis-
appear forever. The descendants of the innocent fugi-
tives become the powerful nations, of mixed character
and dark origin, -Ammon and Moab.
IV. Lastly, the history of the world and of the
Church requires us to notice the act of faith Sacrifice of
which takes us back into the innermost life Isac.
of Abraham himself, and marks at least one critical
stage in the progress of the True Religion.2 There
have been in almost all ancient forms of Religion, in
most modern forms also, strong tendencies, each in itself
springing from the best and purest feelings of human-
ity, yet each, if carried into the extremes suggested
by passion or by logic, incompatible with the other
I Now called Beni-naim; probably -396; Maurice, Doctrine of Sacrifice,
the ancient Caphar-Barucha. See 33; Ewald, i. 430; iv. 76; Bunsen's
Jerome, Epit. Paula, 11; and Rob- Gott in Geschichte, i. 170; and (in
inson, i. 490. part) Kurtz's History of the Old
a See Arnold's Sermons, vol. ii. 394 Covenant, i. 15.
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
and with its own highest purpose. One is the crav-
ing to please, or to propitiate, or to communicate with
the Powers above us by surrendering some object near
and dear to ourselves. This is the source of all Sac-
rifice. The other is the profound moral instinct that
the Creator of the world cannot be pleased or pro-
pitiated or approached by any other means than a
pure life and good deeds. On the exaggeration, on
the contact, on the collision, of these two tendencies,
have turned some of the chief corruptions, and some
of the chief difficulties, of Ecclesiastical History. The
earliest of these we are about to witness in the life
of Abraham. There came, we are told, the Divine
intimation, "Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac,
"whom thou lovest, and offer him for a burnt-
"offering on one of the mountains which I will tell
"thee of." It was in its spirit the exact expres-
sion of the feeling of self-devotion without which
Religion cannot exist, and of which the whole life of
the Patriarch had been the great example. But the
form taken by this Divine trial or temptation1 was
that which a stern logical consequence of the ancient
view of Sacrifice did actually assume, if not then, yet
certainly in after-ages, among the surrounding tribes,
and which cannot therefore be left out of sight in
considering the whole historical aspect of the narra-
tive. Deep in the heart of the Canaanitish nations
was laid the practice of human sacrifice; the very
1 That this temptation or trial, where the same temptation, which in
through whatever means it was sug- one book is ascribed to God, is in
gested, should in the sacred narrative another ascribed to Satan: The Lord
be ascribed to the overruling voice of moved David to say, Go, number
God, is in exact accordance with the Israel" (2 Sam. xxiv. 1). "Satan
general tenor of the Hebrew Scrip- provoked David to number Israel"
tures. A still 'pore striking instance (1 Chron. xxi. 1).
is contained in the history of David,
SACRIFICE OF ISAAC.
offering here described, of "children passing through
"the fire," "of their sons and of their daughters,"
" of the first-born for their transgressions, the fruit of
"their body for the sin of their soul." On the altars
of Moab, and of Phoenicia, and of the distant Canaanite
settlements in Carthage and in Spain, nay even, at
times, in the confines of the Chosen People itself, in
the wild vow of Jephthah, in the sacrifice of Saul's sons
at Gibeah, in the dark sacrifices of the valley of Hin-
nom under the very walls of Jerusalem -this almost
irrepressible tendency of the burning zeal of a primi-
tive race found its terrible expression. Such was the
trial which presented itself to Abraham. From the
tents of Beersheba he set forth at the rising of the
sun, and went unto the place of which God had told
him. It was not the place, which Jewish tradition
has selected on Mount Moriah at Jerusalem, still less
that which Christian tradition shows, even to the
thicket in which the ram was caught, hard by the
church of the Holy Sepulchre; still less that which
Mussulman tradition indicates on Mount Arafat at
Mecca. Rather we must look to that ancient sanctu-
ary of which I have already spoken, the natural altar
on the summit of Mount Gerizim.1 On that spot, at
that time the holiest in Palestine, the crisis was to
take place. One, two, three days' journey from land
of the Philistines-in the distance the high crest of
the mountain appears. And "Abraham lifted up his
"eyes and saw the place afar off"
The sacrifice, the resignation of the will, in the
Father and the Son2 was accepted; the literal sacri-
1 Sinai and Palestine, 251. pathos in the collection of legends in
2 The dialogue between Abraham Beer's Leben Abrahams, 56-70.
and Isaac is given with considerable
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
fice of the act was repelled. On the ,one hand, the
great principle was proclaimed that mercy is better
than sacrifice-that the sacrifice of self is the high-
est and holiest offering that God can receive. On the
other hand, the inhuman superstitions, towards which
the ancient ceremonial of sacrifice was perpetually
tending, were condemned and cast out of the true
worship of the Church forever.'
There are doubtless many difficulties which may be
raised on the offering of Isaac; but there are few, if
any, which will not vanish away before the simple
pathos and lofty spirit of the narrative itself, provided
that we take it, as in fairness it must be taken, as a
whole; its close not parted from its commencement,
nor its commencement from its close, the subordi-
nate parts of the transaction not raised above its
essential primary intention. And there is no diffi-
culty which will not be amply compensated by re-
flecting on the near approach, and yet the complete
repulse, of the danger which might have threatened
the early Church. Nothing is so remarkable a proof
of a divine and watchful interposition, as the deliver-
ance from the infirmity, the exaggeration, the excess,
whatever it is, to which the noblest minds and the
noblest forms of religion are subject. We have a
proverb which tells us that "Man's extremity is God's
opportunity." S. Jerome tells2 us that the corre-
sponding proverb amongst the Jews was "In the
1 According to the Phoenician tra- "occasion of a great national calamity
edition, Israel, king of the country, adorned him with royal attire, and
"having by a nymph called Anobret sacrificed him on an altar which he
" [' the Hebrew fountain'] an only had prepared."- Sanchoniathon, see
"son, whom they called leoud, the Kenrick's Phoenicia, 288.
"Phoenician word for only son," [so 2 In his Qucstiones Hebraice on
applied to Isaac, Gen. xxii. 2] on Gen. xxii. 14.
SACRIFICE OF ISAAC.
mount of the -LORD it shall be seen," or "In the
mountain the LORD will provide,"- that is, "As He
had pity on Abraham, so He will have pity on us."
A few words remain to be added on the relation of
this crowning scene of the beginning of sacred history
to the crowning scene of its close. The thoughts of
Christian readers almost inevitably wander from one
to the other; and without entering into details of
controversy or doctrine which would be here out of
place, there is a common ground which no one need
fear to recognize. The doctrine of the types of the
Ancient Dispensation has often been pushed to excess.
But there is a sense in which the connection indicated
thereby admits of no dispute, and which may be illus-
trated even by other history than that with which we
are now concerned. Not only in Sacred, but even
in Grecian and Roman history, do the earliest records
sometimes foreshadow and represent to us the latest
fortunes of the nation or power then coming into
existence. Whoever is (if we may thus combine the
older and the more modern use of the word) the
type of the nation or race at any marked period of
its course is also the type of its final consummation.
Abraham and Abraham's son, in obedience, in resig-
nation, in the sacrifice of whatever could be sacrificed
short of sin, form an anticipation, which cannot be
mistaken, of that last and greatest event which closes
the history of the Chosen People. We leap, as by a
natural instinct, from the sacrifice in the land of
Moriah to the sacrifice of Calvary. There are many
differences- there is a danger of exaggerating the
resemblance, or of confounding in either case what is
subordinate with what is essential. But the general
feeling of Christendom has in this respect not gone
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
far astray. Each event, if we look at it well, and
understand it rightly, will serve to explain the other.
In the very point of view in which I have just been
speaking of it, the likeness is most remarkable. Human
sacrifice, it has been well said, which in outward form
most nearly resembled the death on the Cross, is in
Spirit the furthest removed from it. Human sacri-
fice, as we have seen, which was in outward form
nearest to the offering of Isaac, was in fact and in
spirit most entirely condemned and repudiated by
it. The union of parental love with the total denial
of self is held up in both cases as the highest model
of human, and therefore as the shadow of DiVine,
Love. "Sacrifice" is rejected, but "to do Thy will, O
God," is accepted.'
Questions have often arisen on the meaning of the
words which bring together in the Gospel history the
names of Abraham and of the true and final Heir of
Abraham's promises. But to the student of the whole
line of the Sacred history, they may at least be
allowed to express the marvellous continuity and
community of character, of truth, of intention, between
this, its grand beginning, and that, its still grander
Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he
"saw it, and was glad."2
Note. To the illustrations of the Israelite History from Egypt, ante, p. 48,
and post, p. 85, may be added some details which can be found in Brugsch's
Egypt, i. 56; Sharpe's History of Egypt, book ii. 16; Bunsen's Egypt, v.
511, 545, 561 ; as also the new light thrown upon the Temples of the Sun
(as given in Lecture IV. 96) by the complete excavation of the Temple of
2 John viii. 39, 56, 58.
1 Heb. x. 5, 7.
"ABRAHAM was a hero, Jacob was 'a plain man,
"dwelling in tents.' Abraham we feel to be Contrastof
" above ourselves, Jacob to be like ourselves." and Jacob.
So the distinction between the two great Patriarchs
has been drawn out by a celebrated theologian?
" Few and evil have the days of the years of my life been,
" and have not attained unto the days of the years of the
" life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage." So
the experience of Israel himself is summed up in the
close of his life. Human cares, jealousies, sorrows, cast
their shade over the scene the golden dawn of the
Patriarchal age is overcast: there is no longer the
same unwavering faith; we are no longer in com-
munion with the "High Father," the "Friend of God;"2
we at times almost doubt whether we are not with His
enemy. But for this very reason the interest attach-
ing to Jacob, though of a less lofty and universal
kind, is more touching, more penetrating, more at-
tractive. Nothing but the perverse attempt to demand
perfection of what is held before us as imperfect could
blind us to the exquisite truthfulness which marks the
delineation of the Patriarch's character.
1 Newman's Sermons, v. 91. his birthright (Beer's Leben Abra-
2 It is a striking legend that Abra- hams, 84).
ham died on the day that Esau sold
I. Look at him, as his course is unrolled through
the long vicissitudes which make his life a faithful
mirror of human existence in its most varied aspects.
characters Look at him, as compared with his brother
and Esau. Esau. Unlike the sharp contrast of the earlier
pairs of Sacred history, in these two the good and
evil are so mingled, that at first we might be at a
loss which to follow, which to condemn. The distinct-
ness with which they seem to stand and move before
us against the horizon of the clear distance is a new
phase in the history. Esau, the shaggy red-haired1
huntsman, the man of the field, with his arrows, his
quiver, and his bow, coming in weary from the dhase,
caught, as with the levity and eagerness of a child,
by the sight of the lentil soup,-"Feed me, I pray
"thee, with the 'red, red' pottage," -yet so full of
generous impulse, so affectionate towards his aged fa-
ther, so forgiving towards his brother, so open-handed,
so chivalrous: who has not at times felt his heart
warm towards the poor rejected Esau; and been tempt-
ed to join with him as he cries with "a great and ex-
"ceeding bitter cry," Hast thou but one blessing, my
"father? bless me, even me also, 0 my father!"
And who does not in like manner feel at times his
indignation swell against the younger brother? "Is
"he not rightly named Jacob, for he hath supplanted
"me these two times?" He entraps his brother, he
deceives his father, he makes a bargain even in his
prayer; in his dealings with Laban, in his meeting
1 Esau (hairy) Arabic word. As horse (Zech. i. 8; vi. 2). So also of
if with a cloak of hair (Adrath Seir)." lentils (Gen. xxv. 80), or blood (Isa.
Zech. xiii. 4. Edmoni (LXX. irvA- lxiii. 2). Compare Scott's description
do'W) is red-haired" here, and in of Rob Roy" (ch. 7).
speaking of David. Edom (red), as of 2 Gen. xxv. 30 (in the original)
the hair of a cow (Num. xix. 2), or
CONTRAST WITH ESAU.
with Esau, he still calculates and contrives; he dis
trusts his neighbors, he regards with prudential in-
difference the insult to his daughter, and the cruelty
of his sons; he hesitates to receive the assurance of
Joseph's good-will; he repels, even in his lesser traits,
the free confidence that we cannot withhold from the
Patriarchs of the elder generation.
But yet, taking the two from first to last, how
entirely is the judgment of Scripture and the judg-
ment of posterity confirmed by the result of the
whole. The mere impulsive hunter vanishes away,
light as air: "he did eat and drink, and rose up,
"and -went his way. Thus Esau despised his birth-
" right." The substance, the strength of the Chosen
family, the true inheritance of the promise of Abra-
ham, was interwoven with the very essence of the
character of "the plain1 man, dwelling in tents,"
steady, persevering, moving onward with deliberate
settled purpose, through years of suffering and of
prosperity, of exile and return, of bereavement and
recovery. The birthright is always before him. Ra-
chael is won from Laban by hard service, "and the
"seven years seemed unto him but a few days for
"the love he had to her." Isaac, and Rebekah, and
Rebekah's nurse, are remembered with a faithful, filial
remembrance; Joseph and Benjamin are long and
passionately loved with a more than parental affec-
tion, -bringing down his gray hairs for their sakes
"in sorrow to the grave." This is no character to
be contemned or scoffed at; if it was encompassed
with much infirmity, yet its very complexity demands
I Gen. xxv. 27. The word trans- has softened, probably from a sense
lated plain" implies a stronger ap- of the difficulty.
probation, which the English Version