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Notable women of olden time

Material Information

Title:
Notable women of olden time
Creator:
American Sunday-School Union ( Publisher )
Place of Publication:
Philadelphia ( 1122 Chestnut Street )
Publisher:
American Sunday-School Union
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
301 p., [ 8 ] leaves of plates : ill. ; 17 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Women in the Bible ( lcsh )
Biographies -- 1852 ( rbgenr )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding) -- 1875 ( rbbin )
Bible O.T -- Biography
Genre:
Biographies ( rbgenr )
Embossed cloth bindings (Binding) ( rbbin )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
collective biography ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage:
United States -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia

Notes

Scope and Content:
Sarah -- Hagar -- Rebekah -- Leah and Rachel -- Miriam -- Deborah -- Jezebel -- Athaliah -- Esther.
General Note:
Publisher's embossed cloth binding and paper type, indicate Baldwin Library copy was printed later (ca. 1875) than copyright date of 1852.
General Note:
"Grand choice library"-spine.
Funding:
Brittle Books Program
Statement of Responsibility:
Written for the American Sunday-School Union.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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This item is presumed to be in the public domain. The University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries respect the intellectual property rights of others and do not claim any copyright interest in this item. Users of this work have responsibility for determining copyright status prior to reusing, publishing or reproducing this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions may require permission of the copyright holder. The Smathers Libraries would like to learn more about this item and invite individuals or organizations to contact The Department of Special and Area Studies Collections (special@uflib.ufl.edu) with any additional information they can provide.
Resource Identifier:
026893268 ( ALEPH )
6819925 ( OCLC )
ALH5473 ( NOTIS )

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NOTABLE WOMEN

oF

OLDEN TIME.

WRITTEN FOR THE AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UN-ON,

PHILADELPHIA:

AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION,
1122 CHESTNUT STREET.





Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1852, by the
AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION,

wm the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of
Pennsylvania,



Bay No books are published by the AMERICAN SUNDAY-SCHOOL UNION
without the sanction of the Committee of Publication, consisting of four-
tcen members, from the following denominations of Christians, viz. Bap-
list, Methodist, Congregationalist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and
Reformed Dutch. Not more than three of the members can be of the same
denomination, and no book can be published to which any memter of the
Committee shall object,



CONTENTS.

THE WIFE—(SARAI)....000ccssssceesceseceesssssoscesseessseee 7
THE W1iFE UNLOVED—(HAGAR).....0.ccceeeceneeeeee sevees 35

Tue PartiaAL AND INTRIGUING MOTHER—(REBEKAH) 63

THe Rivat Sisters—(LEAH AND RACHEL)....... +0000 89
THE AFFECTIONATE SISTER—(MIRIAM).......000 cesses . 119
THE PROPHETESS—(DEBORAH) ......+0seeees ceeeeseee sees 171
THE ARTFUL WOMAN—(JEZEBEL)......00000seeeeecoeseeees 187
THE AMBITIOUS WOMAN—(ATHALIAH)......ss000ceeseeees 208
THe ORPHAN QUEEN—(ESTHER)......006 v0. seves socvesees 231

1* . 5



rs tin Sf Wt





THE WIFE—SARAH.

ITHIN a few centu-
ries after the flood,
while some who had
witnessed the sin and
the destruction of the

antediluvian world



were still living, Je-
hovah saw fit, in accordance with his de-
signs of eternal wisdom, to separate Abra-
ham from his brethren, calling upon him to

leave the land of his birth and go out into a
7



8 THE WIFE—SARAH.



strange land, to dwell in a far country. He
was to pass the rest of his days as a sojourner
in a land which should be thereafter given to a
people yet unborn,—to a nation which was to
descend from him.

Abraham was a lineal descendant of Shem,
who was doubtless still living while “the father
of Abraham yet abode with his kindred in
the land of the Chaldees;” and from the lips
of his venerable progenitor, Abraham himself
may have first received the knowledge of the
true God, and- have learned lessons of wisdom
and obedience, as he sat. at his feet. Shem
may have conversed with Methuselah ; and
Methuselah must have known Adam; and
from Adam, Methuselah may have heard that
history of the creation and fall, which he nar-
rated to Shem, and which Shem may have trans-
mitted to Abraham; and the history of the world

would be thus remembered as the traditional



THE WIFE—SARAH. 9



recollections of a family, and repeated as the
familiar remembrances of a single household.
Tales of the loveliness of Eden,—of the glo-
ries of the creation,—of the blessedness of the
primeval state,—of the days before the fall; re-
membrances of the “mother of all living” in
the days of her holiness, when she was as beauti-
ful as the world created for her home, in all the
dewy sweetness of the morning of its existence,
—of the wisdom of man before he yielded to the
voice of temptation, when authority was en-
throned upon his brow, and all the tribes of
the lower creation did him homage ;—of the
good spirits who watched over to minister unto
and bless them ;—of those dark, unholy and ac-
cursed ones, who came to tempt, betray and de-
stroy them,—were recounted as events of which
those who described them had been the wit-
nesses. And from the remembrances thus

preserved and transmitted by tradition, each



10 THE WIFE—SARAIN.



generation obscuring or exaggerating them,
have descended what we call fables of antiquity,
—great facts, now dimly remembered and darkly
presented, as shadowed over by the mists of
long ages.

How must the hearts of the descendants
of Shem have thrilled as they heard from him
the history of by-gone times—of a world which
had passed away! How much had the great
patriarch of his race, himself, beheld? He
had seen the glory and the beauty of the world
before the flood. It was cursed for the sin
of man, in the day of his fall—but slowly, as
we measure time, do the woes denounced by
God often take effect, and, though excluded from
Eden, the first pair may have seen little change
pass over the face of the earth. The consum-
mation of this curse may have been the deluge;
and those who dwelt on the earth, before this

calamity swept it with its destroyin g wing, may



THE WIFE—SARAH. t1



have seen it in much of its original beauty;
while those who outlived that event witnessed
a wonderful change.

From that frail fabric, the ark, which proved
the second cradle of the race, Shem had be-
held a world submerged,—a race swept off by
the floods of Almighty wrath. He had heard
the shrieks of the drowning, the vain prayer
of those who had scoffed the threatened ven-
‘geance, the fruitless appeal of those who had
long rejected mercy. As the waves bore up
his frail vessel, he had seen the black and
sullen waters settle over temples, cities and
palaces; and he had gazed until he could behold
but one dark expanse of water, in whose turbid
depths were buried all the families of the
earth—save one.

Those he had loved and honoured, and much
which, perhaps, he had envied and coveted—

the pride, the glory, the beauty of earth—all



12 THE WIFE—SARAH.



had passel away. And after the waters sub.
sided, and the ark had found a resting-place,
what a deep and sad solemnity must have
mingled with the joy for their preservation.
How strange the aspect the world present-
ed! How must the survivors have recalled
past scenes and faces, to be seen no more!
How much they must have longed to recog-
nise old familiar places,—the Eden of Adam
and Eve,—the graves in which they had been®
laid! For doubtless Seth and his descendants
still remained with their first parents, while Cain
went out from their presence and built a city
in some place remote. The earth which Noah
and his descendants repeopled was one vast
grave; and what wonder that those who built
above a race entombed, should mingle fancy
with tradition, and imagine that the buried
cities and habitations were yet inhabited by the

accursed and unholy. Such have been the



THE WIFE—SARAH. 13



fancies of those who darkly remembered the
flood; and as the wind swept through the ca-
verns of the earth, the superstitious might still
imagine that they heard the voices or the
shrieks of the spirits imprisoned within.

Shem seems to have far exceeded his bro-
thers in true piety, and the knowledge of Jeho-
vah was for many generations preserved among
his descendants, while few or none of them ever
sank into those deep superstitions which de-
based the children of Ham. And it is beautiful
to remark, that the filial piety which so pre-
eminently marked him has ever been a promi-
nent trait among all nations descended from
him. Thus receiving his impressions of the
power, the truth, the awful justice of Jehovah,
from one well fitted to convey them,—and taught
the certain fulfilment of promises and of threats,
—Abraham was early inspired with that deep

reverential and yet filial love, that entire con-
2



14 THE WIFE—SARAH.



fidence, which led to the trusting obedience
which distinguished his character.

Yet, from his very piety, sad must it have
been when the command came to leave the plains
of Mesopotamia, and go out a stranger and a
pilgrim into distant lands, to become a dweller
among those who were fast apostatizing from
the true faith. ‘But by faith he obeyed,” and
by his obedience he has given us an example and
illustration of faith, which has been held forth
through all succeeding ages. To be the child
of Abraham, to walk as he walked, is, after
the lapse of thousands of years, the character-
istic of the true worshipper of God.

Guided by an Omniscient hand, trusting in
an Almighty power, cheered by that mysterious
promise, which, as a star of hope shining in the
hour of deepest darkness, still rose to higher
brightness as it guided the long line of pa-
triarchs, kings, and prophets, until it settled



THE WIFE—SARAH. 15



over the manger of Bethlehem, and was lost
in the full glory of the Sun of righteousness,
—Abraham girded his loins and prepared for a
departure to far distant lands.

At first, attended by his father and brother,
he sojourned with them in Haran; and the fa-
mily pitched their tents in that spot which was
to become in future ages the battle-ground
of nations, when the proud eagle of imperial
Rome was trailed in the dust, and her warriors
and her nobles fell before their fiercer foes.
Long ages have intervened since the tents of
this Syrian family were pitched by the side of
the waters of Charan; and midway between
their days and ours, were these waters disco-
loured with the blood of those who fell in the
battle of Charae, so disastrous to Rome, ever
haughty, and then exulting in the height of her
prosperity. A few wandering shepherds now
lead their flocks in the plain in which Sarah



16 THE WIFE—SARAH.



and Abraham dwelt, and where Cassius and his
legions fell. But a short sojourn was per-
mitted Abraham here. “Arise and depart, for
this is not your rest’’—and again he listened to
the command from above, and gathered his
flocks and servants, and girded his loins, and
set his face towards the land promised to him,
and to his seed after him. And now he left
his father and his brethren, and went with his
own family, the head of his house, the future
patriarch of his race.

Yet he was not alone. The wife of his
youth was by his side. In all his wanderings,
in all his cares, there was one with him to
participate # his joys and to alleviate his
sorrows. With him and for him, his wife
forsook home, kindred and country. We doubt
not that she too shared the faith of Abra-
ham; that she too trusted and loved and wor-
shipped the God of Abraham, and of Shem,





THE WIFE—SARAH. 17



and of Noah. Like Abraham, a descendant of
Shem,—like him too, she had been trained in
the worship of Jehovah. Yet to the faith of
the true believer, there was added the strong
affection of the wife; and while Abraham went
out obeying God, Sarah followed, trusting God
indeed, but leaning still upon her husband. In
all her future life, she is presented to us the
wife; devoted, affectionate, submissive; loving
her husband with a true affection, and honour-
ing him by a due deference.

With a beauty that fascinated kings, preserv-
ing the charms of youth to the advanced period
of her life, she still lived but for her husband;
and when even the faith of Abraham failed, and
he withdrew from the wife the protection of the
husband, and said, ‘She is my sister,” Sarah ap-
pears to have acquiesced in a deceit so unworthy
of her husband and of herself, merely to insure

his safety among the lawless tribes around them.
o*



18 THE WIFE—SARAH.



As we read the story of Abraham’s wife, we
catch glimpses of ages and nations that were
hoar with antiquity, and had passed away when
‘our ancient historians began the record of the
past. Nation after nation had perished and
been forgotten before the profane historian be-
gan his annals. Yet childless, still trusting
in the promise of Jehovah, Abraham wandered
for many years through the land which was to
be given to him, and his seed after him. Now
pitching his tent in Moreh; then building his
altar at Bethel; then driven by famine into
Egypt; then returning to his altar at Bethel,—
and there separating from his nephew Lot, be-
cause “‘ the land could not bear” both, he fixes his
abode in Hebron.

No pictures of pastoral life are more beau-
tiful than those presented in Genesis; and while
we contemplate the character of Abraham, we

catch eccasional glimpses of his household,



THE WIFE—SARAH. 19



and of the manners of his age. We see him
exercising forbearance and relinquishing the
rights of a superior, that there might be no
strife between him and his too worldly rela-
tive. We see him leading out his own band
as a prince, to rescue that same relative,—
who, tempted by the promise of large wealth,
had chosen a location full of dangers,—and, in
the hour of victory, refusing all spoil and showing
all honour to the priest of the mest high God.

Again he is before us, sitting in his tent
in the heat of the day, and hastening to receive
strangers,—‘“ thus entertaining angels una-
wares,’—and then interceding for that city
doomed to destruction for the wickedness of the
dwellers therein.

And again he appears as the prince, the
patriarch, the head of his own family, and
high in honour with those around him, ever

observing all the lecorum and proprieties of



20 THE WIFE—SARANH.



oriental life. We see him, too, as cae who
walked with God; as the priest of his house-
hold, presenting the morning and the evening
sacrifice ; as holding high communion with God
in the hours of darkness; entering into that
covenant which is still pleaded by those who
claim the promise, “I will be a God to thee,
and to thy seed after thee.”

This promise of a seed, from which was to
spring a great nation, “like to the stars of
heaven in number,” was frequently repeated,
yet still deferred. Youth, manhood, middle
age, all had passed, and still no child blest the
tents of Sarah; and while Abraham still be-
lieved, and it “was accounted to him for right-
eousness,’’ Sarah seems to have felt that not
upon her was to be conferred the distinction of
becoming the mother of the promised seed.
With the warm impulse of the woman, she sa-

crificed the feelings of the wife and the instincts



THE WIFE—SARAH. 21



of the heart, to promote what she doubtless
believed to be the plan of God and the happi-
ness of Abraham. ‘There is a deficiency of
faith as much to be manifested in the forestall-
ing the plans of Providence as in the denial
of the promises of God: and while Abraham
still trusted and waited the fulfilment of the
promise, Sarah sought, by her own device, to
accomplish prophecy and insure the blessing.
In accordance with the usages of those around
her, she gave her handmaid to her husband to
be his wife, “that their children might bless
her age.” She doubtless felt herself strong
enough in love to Abraham and to Hagar to
believe that her affection would embrace their
children. But when the trial came, and all
the instincts of the heart, all the feelings of
the wife revolted, she proved that this violation
of a heaven-appointed institution brings only

sorrow and strife. Yet there was no alien-



22 THE WIFE—SARAH.



ation between Sarah and Abraham. The wife
of his youth was ever dearer to him tha: the
mother of his child.

At length, however, the promise was fulfilled.
Sarah became a mother. Many years had
passed since she had left the home of her
fathers. The days of man were now much
abridged, and she was fast approaching the
ordinary limit of human life; but we may sup-
pose her cheek was still fair and her brow
smooth, and that she still retained much of the
beauty of youth.

With a wondering joy, Sarah gazed upon
the child so long desired—the child in whose
seed “all the nations of the earth” were to
be “blessed.” And she said, ‘God hath made
me to laugh, so that all who hear shall laugh ;”
and while those that heard that Sarah “ had
borne Abraham a gon in hig old: age,” won-

dered at an event so strange, Abraham must



THE WIFE—SARAH. 23



have pondered the prophecy which had revealed
to him the destiny of his race,—perhaps fore
secing that Star which was to rise in a still
distant age, and apprehending, however dimly
and faintly, something of the mysterious con-
nection between the birth of the child and the
promise given in the hour of the curse—the
blending of the fate of his race with the eter-
nal plan of mercy and redemption.

There is an instinct in our natures which
leads us to rejoice at a birth; but, could Sarah
have foreseen the destiny of her race, tears
would have mingled with her smiles. Won-
derful has been the past history of that people,
‘strange their present condition, while the fu-
ture may develop mysteries still more incom-
prehensible.

In the hour of rejoicing over the new-born
babe, past transgression brought forth its legiti-

mate fruits. Sullenness and strife were brood-



24 THE WIFE—SARAH.



ing in the bosoms of the Egyptian bond-woman
and her son; and the quict eye of the mother
saw all the danger arising from the jealous
hate and rivalry of the first-born of Abraham.
If the decision was stern, it was needful.
“Cast out the bond-woman and her child, for
her son shall not be heir with my son, even with
Isaac.” Harsh words,—but it is better to dwell
peacefully asunder, than together in strife and
bitterness. The malignant passions which led
Ishmael to mock, might soon be stimulated by
the mother to murder,—chafed and Irritated as
she was by the constant presence of the child
who had supplanted her own. From the time
of the departure of Hagar from the household
of Abraham, peace seems to have rested upon
it. Prosperity attended him. He no longer
wandered from place to place. He remained in
Hcbron, sojourning with Sarah and her child.

Many years passed,—years of peaceful quiet



THE WIFE—SARAH. 25



and happiness seldom allotted to such an age,—
while they trained their child in the nurture
of the true God, and were honoured by the
princes around him, who sought to enter into
league with him, for they saw that “ God
blessed him in all that he did.”

Once again God saw fit to test the faith of
Abraham by calling upon him to offer his son
—his only son Isaac, whom he loved—as a
sacrifice ; and Abraham obeyed the divine
command, and thus doing, uttered that pro-
phecy which has thrilled so many souls, “ God
will himself provide a sacrifice.” In this trial,
Sarah seems not to have been called to parti-
cipate. The mother was spared the agony of
feeling that her only child was to be offered as
a sacrifice—that the hope of her life was to
perish.

“ Sarah was an hundred and twenty years

old, and she died.” The dark shadow of death

ov



4

26 THE WIFE~—SARAH.



is, sooner or later, to fall upon each household.
Abraham seems to have been at a distance—per-
haps in the charge of some of his numerous
flocks—when he was recalled to Hebron by news
of Sarah’s death. And he came to mourn over
her. The remembrance of her maiden beauty
and modesty, the grateful recollection of all her
conjugal devotedness, filled his soul. Tf light
and immortality were brought to light in the
gospel, still the divine rays were faintly reflected
in the former dispensation, and the eye of, faith
even then penetrated the thick darkness of the
grave.

And now, after these long years. of pro-
mise and waiting, Abraham takes possession
of the land which God had given to him and
to his seed. He asks, however, but a small
portion,—a tomb, a place for his dead,—and a
more beautiful description of a scene of mutual

deference, of regard for rights and respect for



- mYE WIFE—SARAH. 27

character and position, was never penned than
that which records the negotiation between the
bereaved patriarch and the children of Heth.
With the touch of magic, the whole scene is
before us. The bereaved patriarch, courteous
in grief, bowing in the presence of the sons of
Heth,—the deep respect, the kindly sympathy,
manifested by those who, strangers to his reli-
gion, felt the claims of his character,—mingled

_“ith that deep awe which the visitation of
death ever inspires.

The last scene was now Over, and Sarah has
first taken possession of that home to which she
was to be followed by her husband and their
descendants. One by one they take their places

by her side,—unwelcomed, unquestioned,—
«‘ Where none have saluted and none have replied,” —

and yet where all are gathered at last. We see

her not as a sister or a daughter. She is not



28 THE WIFE—SARAH.



known to us in the house of her father. Sara.
is only presented to us as the wife of Abraham.
And as a wife the apostle has held her up to her
Own sex as a model and example. “Even as
Sarah obeyed her husband, calling him lord,”
—exclaims the apostle, exhorting the wife to due
deference. The deep, fervent affection of the
heart led to that outward manifestation of
honour so beautiful and becoming ; and as the
only love which can be enduring is that which
is founded on respect, so it is the highest hap-
piness of the wife to be able truly to honour
him whom she is bound to love and obey.
When the heads of a household are thus
united in warm affection and mutual respect,
the influence will pervade the whole circle, and
the family of Abraham presented a beautiful
picture of such a household. The numerous
members composing a large family were go-

verned by one who provided for their guste.



THE WIFE—SARAH. 29



nance, led them forth for the defence of rights,
or the redress of injuries, or the rescue of the
captive; and who officiated as the priest as
well as ruler of his household. In such a com-
munity, the character of the head would be
impressed upon the whole people; and it was
with obvious meaning that Jehovah exclaimed,
‘“T know him that he will command his house-
hold after him.” It was by example that ad-
monition was made availing. And the wife
was ever ready, with her ardent and trusting
love, to aid and co-operate. Hastening, when
he welcomed the stranger, to prepare the feast,
she was ever ready to receive his guests and
add her efforts to his hospitality.

Hatred, strife, and mutual alienation so often
vioud over the unison of wedded life, and cause
its sun to set in darkness, that few spectacles
can be presented more beautiful or more de-

lightful than the old age of wedded life, soothed

Qe



30 7HE WIFE~—SARAH.

by true affection and mutual kindness. It ig
more touching than the glow of youthful passion.
It proclaims the Presence of high moral worth.
It is never found in the habitations of the un.
holy. The love which thus survives the glow
of youth, which bears the storms and the trials
of life, must be founded on truth, on unimpas-
sioned esteem, on approved integrity; and
those alone who love God supremel y, love each
other unselfishly, |
While Sarah honoured her husband, she too
was treated with Proper deference. Her coun-
Sels were ever heeded, her voice had its due
influence, and he still deferred to her wishes,
It is beautiful to note the increasing esti-
mation in which she is heid, Sarai, “the
mistress,” betokened her station as the head
of a household; and as years brought honours,
and an enlarged Sphere of duty, and a more

©

elevated position among the people around



YHE WIFE—SARAH. 31



them, Sarai was changed into Sarah—my lady.
Her husband, in addressing the former Sarai
as Sarah, “my lady,” gracefully returned the
honour she bestowed when she called him “lord.”
By such manifestation of mutual respect and
love, the chain of family affection is kept bright.

As the household of Abraham was the house-
hold of faith, ordained as the model for all ages,
it is well to analyze.the elements which com-
posed it, and to trace their combined influence.
There was the conjugal union of the true wor-
shippers of Jehovah, animated by the same hopes,
governed by the same principles, whose hearts
were united in the strong bonds of valainel
affection. There was the confiding, unfailing
affection, the decp, reverential respect, and due
obedience of the wife. There was the tender
love, protecting care, the unwavering faith, the
honourable deference of the husband. The reli-

gion of this household was the religion of faith



82 THE WIFE—SARAH.

—_—————

and of obedience,—a religion which Jed them
to forsake all at the command of God, which
taught them to rely upon his promises, to fear
his threatenings, to plead his grace, to trust his
mercy, while it was a religion which led to a
due observance of all the relative duties of life,
which taught the exercise of that impartial jus.
tice, careful benevolence, disinterested kindness,
and ready hospitality to those without the
family; and of Steady love, of affectionate
kindness, of sympathetic forbearance to the
members of the household Within. The family
of faith, where faith Is pure, will eyer be a
family of love; and as true piety is the best
security for family happiness, go family love ig
the best nurse for family piety.

There are many families among us who aim
at being families of faith, who profess to walk
in the steps of Abraham, to imitate his exam-

vle. Let such not confine themselves to the



THE WIFE—SARAH. 83



manifestation of his peculiar faith, to his trust
and dependence alone. Let them walk as he
walked before his household, in the fear of God
and the love of man, in the careful fulfilment
of every relative and social duty, in the daily
exemplification of a tender and loving spirit,
carefully avoiding or removing all sources of
division. Let that piety which unites them to
God, be a bond, encircling all and drawing
them near to each other.

By the cultivation of the simple domestic
virtues, by the daily, quiet, self-denying trials,
by the observance of the thousand decencies,
the unaffected proprieties, the unostentatious
efforts to bless and comfort,—by the elevating
influence of personal example,—by the breath-
ing atmosphere of a holy spirit,—the family is
to be made the household of faith, the nursery
of the church.

Direct instruction and formal efforts and



34 THE WIFE—SARAH.



stated observances are neither to be forgotten
nor to be remitted ; but these can only be made
effectual by the living exemplification of a
spirit of love, a life of holiness. It will ever
be found true that he who prays most loves

most.



ys

\

N
~N
N

WZ

y





HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



Tux Hebrew patriarch led his flocks and
herds, surrounded by his large household, from
Haran to the land of the Canaanites; from
thence to that of the Philistines, down into
‘Egypt; wherever so numerous a family and
such large flocks could find sustenance—water
and herbage. And as he thus sojourned, many
of the poor of these lands flocked to him for
employment and support ; and while he bought
the services of the parents, the children »orn
in his house became members of his family,
were trained as his servants, and were subject to
his authority as the master of the household,
the prince among his people, the patriarch of

his tribe.
35



86 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.

—_—_—_—_—_——.

And among these was Hagar, the Egyptian.
We are not told whether she was born in the
house of Abraham, or rescued from those who
may have stolen her from her home, or given
by her parents to the wealthy and childless
Sarai. She was Sarah’s handmaid—a relation,
according to the customs of the East (almost
immutable) nearly as dear as that of a child.
She was the personal attendant, the constant
companion of her mistress: and by her was”
doubtless instructed in the principles of the true
religion, while she was thus accustomed to the
accomplishments and occupations of the age.
The tasks of the favourite handmaids of East-
ern families are still light. To sit at the feet
of her mistress with her embroidery; to cheer
her with the simple music of the shepherd’s
tent; to aid her in those domestic duties to
which Sarah gave her own superintendence ;

v9 assist in preparing the wool of the flocks





MAGAR—-THE WIFE UNLOVED. 37



for the garments of the family; to watch her
tent as she reposed by day, and keep by her
side as the camels slowly wandered through
the valleys in search of pure streams or more
abundant herbage, were probably the occupa-
tions and duties of Hagar.

Years thus passed on—and the dark-browed
and dark-eyed Egyptian maiden had grown into
womanhood, and the freshness of youth, the
joyousness of health and early life were her’s,
while her mistress was passing into age. Sarah
no longer hoped to become a mother, and, be-
lieving that the promise was not intended for
her, she urged Abraham to take another wife,
offering for his acceptance her own handmaid,
the Egyptian Hagar.

The authority of the mistress of the East
over her own establishment is so absolute, the
husband so interdicted from all interference,

that, although Hagar had passed her youth
4



88 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



with Sarah, she may have been hardly aoticed
by Abraham until Sarah proffered her. Av-
cording to the usage of the east, Sarah had
a right (the right then claimed by the parent)
thus to dispose of her handmaid; and a mar.
riage with her master was the highest honour
which could be bestowed on Hagar. She
was given to Abraham to be his wife, and, the
relation was—according to the usage then pre-
vailing—as legal as that sustained by Sarah,
although the station was inferior. No injury
was intended to Hagar. N¢é higher distinction
could have been conferred upon her, and, strong
in love to both Hagar and Abraham, Sarah
doubtless supposed she might be able to wel
come and love their children, though denied
offspring of her own.

But such departure from the law, precept, or
institution of God, involves a long train of

sin and sorrow, no matter what the intention—



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 39

—_—_— oo

and the union of Abrahari with Hagar was a
direct violation of the institution of marriage
in all its principles and intentions, and it could
not but bring confusion and strife to the tent
of the patriarch.

It was merely @ marriage of interest and
convenience, unhallowed by love. The heart
of Abraham never departed from the wife of
his youth, nor could Sarah ever have intended
to relinquish her hold upon his affection. It is
the last claim a woman foregoes. And on the
other hand, Hagar could have felt no love for
her master, so much her superior in age and
station. Unholy pride and rank ambition were
all the feelings which such an alliance could
awaken in the heart of Hagar. Yet Hagar was
the least blameworthy, and, perhaps, not even-
tually the greatest sufferer. By the customs of
society, she had no voice in the disposal of her-

self. Her heart was never consulted. She



40 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



was only allowed to receive the husband allotted
to her—to acquiesce in the decision of others,

The natural results of such a union fol-
lowed. The exaltation of Hagar excited her
pride and led to arrogance; and when she
knew that she should become a mother, her
childless mistress was despised.

It is hard to bear contempt from those upon
whom we have lavished kindness; to feel that
we have exalted those who despise us: and all
the indignation of Sarah was roused by the
assumption and ingratitude of Hagar; and, with
the quick instinct of the woman, she retorted
upon her husband, “ My wrong be upon thee.”

A stranger indifference could not have been
manifested than that showed by Abraham to-
wards the youthful wife who should have now
received his protection and kindness. “Behold
thy handmaid is in thy hands.” He recognised
no tie—he felt no obligation. What wag Hagar,



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 41



that she should occasion strife between him and
the wife of his youth, the partner of his life,
the daughter of his own people !

Hagar was from this hour abandoned by
Abraham to her mistress. When Sarah re-
sumed the authority belonging to her station,
she assumed with it a power never before ex-
ercised. Forgetting all the love of past years,
all the claims of the present hour upon her
kindness and forbearance, she treated the un-
happy Hagar with such intolerable harshness,
that the wretched woman fled from the face
of her mistress and from the tents of her
master, and sought refuge in the wilderness.

We can conceive what bitter, despairing
thoughts, what a keen sense of injustice and
injury may have pressed upon her, as she sat
alone by the fountain in the desert. Proba-
bly a little spot of green herbage denoted the

presence of water, while, all around, lay the
4%



42 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.

es

sandy, rocky desert. The stars, in the bright.
ness of an oriental night, were looking down on
her as she sat alone, her face buried in her
hands, unheeded, there to die. Then came the
visions of her youth, the remembrances of her
childhood, the sound of her mother’s voice, the
dream of her smile—then the tent of Sarah—
then the alliance with her master, the ex-
citement of her pride, the flush of hope, the
exultation of a fancied triumph over the child-
less, but stil] honoured wife; succeeded by the
cold withdrawal of a] the kindness of the patri-
arch, and the entire abandonment of her whom
he had taken to his bosom, to the implacable
rescniment of her former mistress !

The temper of Hagar, the feelings thus
excited—dark, sullen, bitter, revengeful—when
she fled from all, may have been impressed
upon her offspring, and thus marked the future
character of her race.



HAGAR—-THE WIFE UNLOVED. 43
a”



Still, Hagar was not alcne. The wanderer
was not forgotten. In the hour of darkness
and of desolation, there is One nigh even to
those who forget him. “And the angel of the
Lord found her by the fountain in the wilder-
ness, and he said: Hagar, Sarah’s maid,
whence camest thou? And whither wouldst
thou go?”

She was not addressed as the wife of Abra-
ham. The conventional usage, 80 opposed
to the positive institution, was not recognised
and thus hallowed by Him who had established
marriage ; and while Hagar was pitied, she
was reminded of her real condition. “ And
she said, I flee from the face of my mistress,
Sarah. And the angel of the Lord said unto
her, Return unto thy mistress and submit thy-
self under her hands. And the angel of the
Lord said, Thou shalt have a son, and shalt

call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has



44 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED,



heard thy affliction. He shall be a wild man.
His hand will be against every man, and every
man’s hand against him—and he shall dwell in
the presence of all his brethren. And she
called the name of the Lord that spake unto
her, Thou God seest me, for she said, Have I
also here looked after him that seeth me?” im-
plying a recognition of the unexpected interfer-
ence, protection and blessing of God.

The promises of God are always preceded
by his commands, and the faith which clings
to the promises is to be tested by the obedi.
ence which alone can make them availing
And when the words of the angel came to
the desolate soul of the woman in the desert,
there were admonition, reproof, and command
mingled with promise and blessing. “ Returr
to thy mistress.” Return to thy duty, is thy
first requirement made of those God seeks out

And Hagar humbled herself and obeyed the



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 45



yoice of the Lord. She returned to her mis-
tress. Trying as it must have been to one so
aggrieved, she submitted to her authority, and
again became a member of the household of
Abraham. Had she disobeyed the angel, she
and her child had doubtless perished in the
wilderness; but in yielding her proud and
arrogant temper, she secured the future bless-
ing to her race, and insured the safety of her
child, while her submission and gentleness
must have won back Sarah to a kinder temper,
to a more forbearing treatment.

After the birth of Ishmael, there intervened
years—long years—in which Hagar tasted the
bitterest cup ever presented to the lips of wo-
man. regarded—a woman held in bondage by one
who had made her a rival—dwelling in the
presence of him who had put her from him!

Her very presence brought reproach and



46 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



sorrow to Sarah and Abraham-—the viola-
tion of the divine institution ever entailing its
penalty.

The wife deserted, neglected, whose Lopes
have been crushed, ever turns to her offspring
for comfort and Sympathy ; and ardent was the
love, strong were the ties, which bound the
Egyptian mother to the son of the patriarch ;
and in Ishmael must al] the hopes and affec-
tions of Hagar have centred. Could she,
indeed, have penetrated the future, could she
have seen her race, the seed of her son,
filling the desert and dwelling as princes ;
while the seed of Sarah and of Abraham were
held, as if in retribution of her own sufferings,
in bondage in her own native Jand,—could she
have passed through the intervening ages and
seen the children of Ishmael issuing from their
desert and setting their feet upon the necks of

the proudest and mightiest, imposing their



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. AT



faith upon a world, while they marched forth
conquering and to conquer—could she have
contrasted the triumphant warriors of Arabia,
the caliphs of the east and the west, with
_the wandering, desolate, persecuted, trodden-
down tribes of Israel—the proudest expecta-
tions of the woman and the mother would have
been all answered. Could she have penetrated
the meaning of the words she must have so
often pondered, she would have found that
the loftiest dreams of the rankest ambition
were to be more than realized.

But dimly and faintly must she have appre-
hended the meaning of the mysterious pro-
phecy, even while she trusted the accompany-
ing promise. As she saw Ishmael, the only
child in the tent of the patriarch, and loved
by the father, she perhaps allowed herself to
hope that he was yet to be the heir, and
that in his future honours she was to find

-



48 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



& full recompense for all the trials of her
blighted youth.

After long years of waiting, Sarah embraced
a son, and the event, so Joyous to the parents,
awoke afresh the bitter remembrances of
Hagar, while it roused her to the conscious-
ness of her present lot and of all the injuries
inflicted upon her.

In all the trials and sorrows through which
she had passed, she had had none to sustain
or sympathize with her. Her child remained
her only earthly hope; and now she felt that
another was to supplant him, and thus disap-
point all her expectations.

Her spirit rose in pride and wrath, and she
infused her own bitter feelings into the heart
of her child. When Isaac was hailed as the
heir, while all rejoiced, Hagar and Ishmael
mocked both the infant and the aged parents.

Forbearance was no longer -safe, and the



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 49



decision of Sarah was wise, though harsh—yet
it was sad to Abraham. Ishmael was still his
son—his first-born. He had been ever dear to
him; and when the angel of the Lord had
again confirmed the promise of a seed in
whom all the nations of the earth were to be
blessed, he had almost seemed to overlook it
as he pleaded for the son of the bond-woman,
“Oh that Ishmael might live before thee!”
while to Abraham was then confirmed the
promise given before the birth of her child
to Hagar. There was sorrow and perplexity
in the heart of Abraham, but a message ftom
heaven confirmed the decree of Sarah.

The patriarch arose, after a night of conflict
and prayer, while the stars were still shining
in the heavens, while the flocks lay in stillness
around the tents, and before those who had
revelled and rejoiced were awake, and celled

Hagar and her child. Can we not sec them
5



50 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



in the gray of the morning? The father, the
mother, the child,—the patriarch, aged, but not
bowed by age, still retaining the vigour of man-
hood—the boy shy, yet half-defying—the mo-
ther! In such an hour, all distinctions of rank
and station would be forgotten, and all the feel-
ings of the woman be roused. Then and
there Hagar might well forget that she was
Sarah’s bondmaid, and only remember that
she had been Abraham’s wife—that she was
still Ishmael’s mother.

In that hour must have risen the memory
of her wrongs, of her saddened youth, her
darkened womanhood—of the selfishness with
which he had wedded her; of the heartlessness
with which he had deserted her ; of her long years
of trial and contempt. And her eye might
speak reproach, although the lips were closed
and there was no voice. Should we not re-

joice to believe that the patriarch whispered



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 51

—w— eee

some regret for the past, and spoke of sorrow
and repentance to her whose happiness he had
so selfishly sacrificed, even as he consummated
his work by casting her out, a homeless exile.
Such is the enslaving power of custom, 80
easily do we blind ourselves to our own delin-
quencies, that Abraham probably aggravated
Hagar’s faults while he overlooked her injuries.
He saw in her but the despiteful, revengeful
handmaid ; he forgot that she was an injured
wife—a neglected mother.

Yet no words of reproach, of entreaty, or
explanation of the past, or promise for the
future, are recorded as having passed between
them. He pronounced the decree, and laid
upon the bond-maid, and not upon his noble
boy, the provision for the journey. She turned
from the tents, and thus they parted!

But the connection of Abraham and Ha-

gar had woven a thread into the destiny of



52 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



nations, still to be traced. She left the pa-
triarch in sorrow, in bitterness of soul; but
she went out to found nations, to punish rulers,
to establish a long line who should transmit
the name of her son and the influence of her
character to remotest ages—even to the end
of time.

Accustomed to the wandering life of the
desert, and provided for the journey, Abraham
probably deemed Hagar competent to guide
her steps to a place of safety. But sorrow
may have blinded her eyes, or despair made
her reckless, and she was lost in the desert.
The water was spent in the bottle—tons of
gold could not open a fountain in the desert—
and she saw her child parched with thirst,
“faint and ready to die; and she cast him
under one of the shrubs, and went and sat a
good way off, as it were a bow-shot, for she
said, Let me not see the death of the child;



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 53



and as she sat over against him, she lifted up
her voice and wept. And God heard the
voice of the lad, and the angel of God called
to her out of heaven, and said unto her, What
aileth thee Hagar? Fear not! For God hath
heard the voice of the child where he is. Arise,
lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand, for
I will make of him a great nation. And God
opened her eyes, and she saw @ well of water,
and she went and filled the bottle with water,
‘and gave the lad to drink.” What an inimitable
description of a mother’s love! What a display
of the watchful benevolence of Jehovah!

In this hour of desolation, when no human
aid was near, there was again the Divine inter-
position, while there was no reproach, no
allusion even to that sinful temper which had
led to the banishment of both mother and_
child, and caused them to come here to

yerish in the wilderness. Blessed be God
5*



54 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



that he does not suffer the unworthiness of
his children to separate them from his love;
that in the hour of extremity he is still nigh;
that his ear is ever open to hear and his arm
ready to save.

“And God was with the lad: and he grew
and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an
archer; and he dwelt in the wilderness of
Paran.” And his mother still dwelt with
him; and in all his wanderings, wherever his
footsteps were turned, there was her home.
There is a touching remembrance of her early
life, in the fact that Hagar chose a wife for
her son from among the daughters of her own
people: ‘* She took him a wife out of the land
of Egypt.” And from this union have sprung
the tribes who still fill the deserts where Hagar
sought a refuge. A wild race, dwelling in

the presence of al] their brethren, whose hand



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 55



is against every man, while every man’s hand
is against them.

Ishmael rose rapidly to rank, and Hagar
lived to rejoice in his prosperity. The life
which commenced in want, privation and
wandering in the wilderness, conducted her to
wealth and honour. So dark and inscrutable
are the ways of Providence, that at each step
we are taught but to seck the path of duty
and obey the direction of Heaven.

The children of Ishmael seem to have long
preserved the knowledge of Jehovah. Hagar,
who had received so many proofs of the being,
power, and providence of the God of Abraham,
might well instruct her descendants in the prin-
ciples of the true faith. The race of Ishmael
have still preserved the rite which Abraham
received as the seal of faith. Often may
Hagar have recounted the providences of
God—the account she had heard, in the tent



56 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



of Abraham, of the creation, the fall, the deluge,
the re-peopling of the world; and often, in the
course of their wandering lives, she may have
led her descendants to those deep waters which
covered the guilty cities of the plain, and then
described them as she knew them before the
wrath of God fell upon them.

The tribes of Ishmael have ever recognised
their descent from Abraham; and the instruc-
tions of Hagar are preserved as national tradi-
tions to this very day, though exaggerated by
Eastern fancy, and mingled with wilder ro-
mance, as they have been transmitted from one
gencration to another by the children of Ish-
mael, who still lead their flocks in the same
valleys, and pitch their tents by the same foun-
tains to which Hagar resorted with Ishmael.

Hagar and Ishmacl were no more members
of Abraham’s household, yet the relationship

of father and son was ever recognised. Doubt-



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 57



less Abraham imparted of his wealth to his first-
born; and as Abraham often sojourned after-
wards in Beer-sheba, probably not far from
the spot where Hagar and Ishmael so nearly
perished, the father and son may have often met;
and Isaac and Ishmael may have held kindly
intercourse, when the bitter feelings of rivalry
and of conscious wrong had subsided. The ties
of kindred were still allowed, and Esau sought
a wife from the family of his own kindred, as a
means of conciliating his father and mother ;
thus showing that a purer morality and a
higher religious feeling were cherished than
those among surrounding tribes. And when
Abraham died, having attained a full age, his
sons, Isaac and Ishmael, both far advanced in
years, buried him. The strifes, the bitterness,
the hate of early life seem to have been for-
gotten, and they united in the last offices of
filial love and duty.



58 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



The son of the bondmaid had attained,
during the life of Abraham, a distinction beyond
that of the son of the wife; and his immedi-
ate descendant rose to wealth and honour,
while, if one branch of Isaac’s family tasted
prosperity, those recognised as the«heirs of
that mysterious blessing were long known
as wanderers, and then despised as slaves.
Their long line of descent has run parallel,
side by side, distinct, unmingled; recognising
a common origin, but never acknowledging a
common brotherhood. The oldest nations
of the earth,—the one exiled from the land given
them, dwelling as outcasts and strangers among
all the nations of the earth, yet still separate,
apart, a peculiar people; the other living at
this day in the deserts where Hagar wandered,
and where she fainted—a never-conquered
people. And while Assyrian, Greek, and

Roman have swept the world and exacted



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 59



tribute of the nations around them, and other
tribes have been swept with the besom of de-
struction, the sons of Ishmael have still dwelt
in the presence of their brethren, ever en-
forcing, but still refusing to pay tribute—free
and wild as the lad who first became an archer in
the wilderness. Unconsciously confirming pro-
phecy, and still attesting the truth of a revela-
tion which they contemn and deny,—thus
strangely dwelling so different from all other
nations,—preserving the initiatory rites and
the mystic symbols of the faith of Abraham,
the customs and traditions of the age of the
patriarch,—these nations dwell distinct, sepa-
rate from each other and from all other nations,
awaiting the day when blindness shall be re-
moved from the eyes of the children of promise,
and the descendants of Sarah and of Hagar
shall be both gathered with the fold of Christ.

There are Hagars of modern, as well as of



60 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



ancient days,—of western as of eastern lands,
She who is wedded from interest and convenj«
ence; she who forms a heartless union from
pride and ambition; she who awakes from her
dreams of bliss to find herself an unloved, and
perhaps to become a deserted wife—all these
prove the bitterness of the lot of the Egyptian
Hagar. He who has ordained marriage has
graciously implanted the affections which arc to
make it a source of happiness; and those who
form this union under other motives and in-
fluences run fearful risks. There are many
Hagars in the highest ranks of life, and even
where the artificial distinctions of society are
most highly regarded and carefully recognised.

When youth is wedded to age or sacrificed
to decrepitude to promote some State policy,
though the victims are not clothed in the garb
of the Egyptian slave, but arrayed in the

pomp of regal vestments, yet the diamond



HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 61



often rests upon an aching brow, and the
pearls press a saddened bosom; and when the
holiest of earthly institutions is thus violated,
cach relation of life is profaned; and polluted
streams descend from the highest sources and
diffuse their poison through all the ranks of
life—through all the gradations of society.
There will still be Hagars—women who
marry for a home, or a support ; and especially
while woman is educated to be helpless—unable
to provide for her own wants; or while that pre-
judice is cherished which leads her to deem

useful employment a degradation.



HAGAR’S EXILE.

Sue fled, with one reproachful look
On him who bade her go,

And scarcely could the patriarch brook
That glance of voiceless wo:

In vain her quivering lips essay’d
lis mercy to implore ;

Silent the mandate she obey’d,

Aud then was seen no more.
6



62

HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



The burning waste and lonely wild
Received her as she went;

Hopeless, she clasp’d her fainting child,
With thirst and sorrow spent.

And in the wilderness so drear,
She raised her voice on high,

And sent forth that heart-stricken prayer
‘*Let me not see him die!”

Her beautiful, her only boy,
Her all of hope below;
So long his father’s pride and joy,
And yet—from him the blow!
Alone she must his head sustain,
And watch his sinking breath,
And on his bright brow mark the stain
Of the destroyer, Death.

‘Let me not see him die,” and lo!
The messenger of peace !

Once more her tears forget to flow,
Once more her sorrows cease.

Life, strength, and freedom now are given
With mighty power to one

Who from his father’s roof was driven,
And he—the outcast’s son.

How often we, like Hagar, mourn,
When some unlook’d for blight
Drives us away, no more to turn
To joys we fancied bright!
Forced from our idols to retreat,
And seek the Almighty’s care,
Perchance we are sent forth to meet
A desert-angel there.







THE PARTIAL AND INTRIGUING
MOTHER—REBEKAH.



FTER the departure of
re Hagar and her son
| Sec) i from the tents of Abra-
a > kam, peace seems to
, have returned, and it
> \ became the abode of

filial and parental as




well as of conjugal affection. Sarah's days
were still prolonged, that she might exercise
the duties and enjoy the pleasures of a mother.

The heir of wealth, and the child of love and

indulgence, the character of Isaac scems to have
LS)



64 THE PARTIAL AND



been the reverse of his brother, the restless,
wandering Ishmael. The one, cast off from the
care of the father and taught to rely upon his
own energies, early distinguished himself, and
became the leader of a band, and a prince among
the nations around; while the other, cherished
and cared for, was content to dwell in the peace-
ful enjoyment of wealth and prosperity. Thus
do we find that trials are necessary to develope
the higher qualities and to call them into ac-
tion. The truly great and noble, the eminent
in talent or usefulness, are never nursed in the
bosom of ease.

Sarah died; and while the bereaved husband
felt his loss, the son could not have been insen-
sible. There was a dreary void in the home of
the patriarch when the wife and the mother
had been laid in the sepulchre. There was no
one to fill the place of Sarah—no one to bless

their simple meals. She no longer appears to



INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 65



welcome them as they returned from the field
or the flock. The tribe is without a mother,
the household without a mistress. Many con-
siderations led Abraham to desire the marriage
of his son, and he cast around his thoughts
for a wife worthy of being the mother of the
promised seed, and one who could well fulfil
the duties which must devolve upon her as the
head of his large household. The people
around him would have courted his alliance,
and as yet no command from God forbade his
forming family ties with the inhabitants of the
land. But Abraham too well knew the influ-
ence of the wife and the mother, to choose a
wife for the child of promise from a race apos-
tate from the religion of Jehovah. He knew
the ensnaring influence which would there be
brought to bear upon his family, and he resolved
to seck a wife for Isaac among his far-distant

kindred—those who yet retained the knowledge
oF



66 THE PARTIAL AND



and clung to the worship of the God of Shem,
of Noah, and of Adam. Though far separated
from his brethren, yet communications seem to
have passed, and Abraham had been told of the
enlargement of the family of his brother; and
he resolved, not only to seek a wife for his son
from among his own kindred, but, while making
arrangements for such a marriage, he solemnly
guarded against the return of his descendants
to the land from whence he had been called.
Trying as might be the long journey, and
uncertain as seemed the issue, no inferior mo-
tives were allowed to be put in competition with
the perpetuity of the worship and knowledge
of God. A connection with any of the families
of the Canaanites would have been at once en-
snaring to the household of Abraham and inju-
rious in its influence upon the heart of Isaac.
Had Isaac married the daughter of an idolater,

irreligion and immorality would soon have per-



INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 67

—_—_-_e_——

vaded the family of the patriarch, and the
knowledge of the true God have departed from
the earth. Thus the beacon light of nations had
been extinguished, and the last altar erected to
Jehovah had been broken down: for the other
descendants of Shem were fast departing from
the God of their fathers,—and if the children
of Keturah and Ishmael for a period retained
the faith of Abraham, the torch which kindled -
the fire on their altars was lighted at that which
was kept burning on those of Isaac and Jacob,
and the example of their families preserved
alive the remembrance and the acts of the liv-
' ing God in the nations around them.

With a train which became the suitor of a
prince, with costly presents of gold and orna-
ments according to the custom of both ancient
and modern days, but more particularly con-
forming to Eastern usage, the confidential ser-

vant of Abraham was sent on his embassy to



68 THE PARTIAL AND



the kindred of his master, there to receive a
bride for the son of the patriarch. We gain a
delightful impression both of the piety and in-
telligence of the household of Abraham from
the account of the messenger to whom this im-
portant transaction was intrusted. The faith
of the patriarch animated the other members
of his household, and a strong chain of love
encircled all. After a long journey, the train
reached the plains of Mesopotamia, and then
the tents of Nahor appeared in view; and then,
in the prospect of the immediate discharge of
his commission, the messenger of the patriarch
sought explicit direction from the God of Abra-
ham.

While the description of the interview at the
fountain, “‘ without the gate of the city,” gives
a most beautiful view of the manners of the
age and the people, and an unsurpassed picture

of the freshness and simplicity of pastoral life,



INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 69



it proves at once the piety and the clear dis-
crimination of the agent employed. The beau-
ty of the youthful Rebekah caught his eye,
while the test he devised afforded a safe crite-
rion of the character of the woman. Weary
with the labours of the sultry day, after tend-
ing her own flocks, had she been indolent or
inactive, selfish or sullen, she had turned from
his request, and suffered his attendants to ad-
minister to his wants. But as she looked upon
them—dusty, weary, parched by thirst, worn
down by long travel—the sympathies of a kind
nature were awakened, as the servant ran to
meet her, saying, “Let me, I pray thee, drink
a little water from thy pitcher.” She said,
“ Drink, my lord,” and she let down the pitcher
upon her hand and gave him to drink ; and when
he had done drinking, she said, “I will draw
water for thy camels also, until they have done

drinking.” Thus did the maiden clearly prove



70 THE PARTIAL AND



that she possessed some of the qualities most
necessary for a wife—that ready self-forget-
fulness, that kindness, cheerfulness, and desire
to promote the happiness of others, that sun-
shine of the heart which sheds its brightening
beams over all the clouds that darken domestic
life. Through all the ages of the world, in all
the circumstances in which mankind are placed,
the wife has ever need of them, and wisely may
the suitor look for them. But the servant of the
patriarch, “still wondering, held his peace.”
Not until assured that she was of the race of
the true worshippers of the God of Abraham,
that she had been trained in the fear of the
Lord, did he feel assured that the fair and kind
Syrian damsel was to be chosen for the wife of
his master’s son. He had felt that the prayer
was answered. He had taken out the rich
gifts intended for her, but he seems to hesitate

as he says, “ Whose daughter art thou! Tell



INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 71



me, I pray thee, is there room in thy father’s
house for us to lodge in?” And she answered,
“I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of
Milcah, whom she bore unto Nahor.”

“ And the man bowed down and worshipped
the Lord, and he said, Blessed be the Lord
God of my master Abraham, who hath not left
destitute my master of his mercy and his truth.
I being in the way, the Lord hath led me to
the house of my master’s brethren.”

The negotiation between the servant of
Abraham and the father and brothers of Re-
bekah was soon concluded. They deferred not
the answer to be given, when the messenger
had laid before them his errand, and told them
of the wealth and honour of his master; and
the whole transaction impresses us with an
idea of the piety .and kindness of the family
of Bethuel.

The thing is from the Lord—while the rich



72 THE PARTIAL AND



gifts, made to all the members of the family,
proved the truth of the statements of the mes-
senger, and perhaps enforced his plea. Yet,
when he urged the immediate departure of the
bride for the tent of her husband, the hearts of
the mother and of the brothers yet clung to the
youthful maiden. They shrank from a separa-
tion so sudden, so complete—and they said,
Let the damsel stay with us a few days—at
least ten. Oh, do not snatch her away from
us so suddenly. But after that, she shall go.

And he said, “‘ Hinder me not. Seeing that
the Lord hath prospered me, send me away
that I may go to my master.” And they said,
“We will call the maiden, and inquire at her
mouth.” And they called Rebekah, and said
unto her, “ Wilt thou go with this man?” And
she said, “I will go.”

Are we not, even at this period, taught lessons

of parental wisdom, in the care displayed by the



INTRIGUING MOTHER—KEBEKAH. 73



ancient patriarch respecting the choice of a wife
for his son? In the care taken to secure an un-
stained parentage in one who had been early
trained in the habits of piety and godly princi-
ples of action? The character of the family is
is often stamped upon each member, and the
marked features are transmitted from generation
to generation, even where the character of the
woman may be modified by her new relations.
As she advances in years she often returns to
the habits of her youth, while she almost inva-
riably adopts the practice of her own mother in
the early nurture and training of her children.

He who would have reformed France was
taught that he must begin his work by training
mothers. And thus the ancient patriarch fore-
saw that the great nation that was to descend
from him, like to the stars of heaven for multi-
tude, would long bear the impress of the cha-

racter of the mother who rocked it in the first
"



74 THE PARTIAL AND



cradle of its existence, and his wisdom was
manifested in the pains which he took to secure
a good lineage and right habits and principles.
The foresight of the father could go no farther.
Time must test the individual character.

After they left the tents of Bethuel, the
train, now augmented by the presence of the
bride and her immediate attendants, her nurse
and handmaids, slowly wended its way back
to the tents of the patriarch, pursuing the na-
tural highways of the country,—now by the
stream, then across the plain, then through the
desert, sandy, barren, trackless; then winding
through the mountain pass, encamping during
the heat of the day by the fountain and under
the shade, and pursuing their journey in the
cool of the evening and of the morning.

Love or devotion, or the mingling of both,
led Isaac out into the fields at eventide to medi-

ti te, and his feet turned towards the route by



INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 75



which his messengers might be expected, and
the eye of his servant descried him afar off, and
he pointed him out to the stranger. And while

the messenger seems to have hasted to meet his

master and give an account of his mission, Re-
bekah descended from her lofty seat and covered
herself with a veil.

Henry the Fourth, of France, met his bride
soon after she entered his kingdom, and mingled
with her attendants, that he might watch her
unobserved; and when his presence was an-
nounced she kneeled, and he gracefully raised
her up. Napoleon entered the carriage of his
Austrian bride, and announced himself, while
she gazed with wondering eyes upon one, long
only known as the enemy of her father’s house
and the terror of his kingdom. The meeting
of the heir of the patriarch and his youthful
bride is quite as interesting a scene as any of

those recorded of more modern days.



76 THE PARTIAL AND



And Isaac went out to meditate in the fields
at eventide, and he lifted up his eyes, and, be-
nold! the camels were coming. And Rebekah
lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she
lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the
servant, “‘ What man is this that walketh in the
field to meet us?’ And the servant said, “It
is my master;” therefore she took a veil and
covered herself. And the servant told Isaac
all things that he had done. And Isaac brought
her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Re-
bekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her.

Rebekah seems to have made an affectionate,
happy wife. Many years passed before children
were born to Isaac; and when the twin boys,
Ksau and Jacob, were in childhood, there was
evidently a marked difference in their charac-
ters. HKsau was active, restless, and enterpris-
ing. He grewupa hunter,—daring and bold,

—loving . life of change and adventure; while



INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 17



Jacob was a “plain man, dwelling in tents.”
Blindness was stealing over Isaac and unfitting
him for the cares which rested upon him, for
the supervision of his numerous servants and
his many flocks and herds. During the fre-
quent absences of Esau upon his hunting ex-
peditions, these cares must have devolved upon
Rebekah and Jacob. Her heart clung to the
child who was ever with her in sympathy;
while the tales of peril and adventure with
which Esau enlivened the wearisome days of
his father, were as acceptable to blindness and
loneliness, as were the presents of the game
he so frequently brought. ‘And Isaac loved

?

Esau.”’ Thus the injudicious fondness of the
parents sowed the seeds of bitterness and alien-
ation between the two brothers, and led to their
mutual estrangement. The birthright, which
implied the inheriting of the blessing promised

to the seed of Abraham, was despised by Esau,
7*



78 THE PARTIAL AND



who, doubtless, in his prolonged wanderings
from home, and his frequent associations with
the inhabitants of the land, had been led te
feel contempt for the worship and the promiset
of God, and in his reckless levity he transferred
it to Jacob for “a mess of pottage,” while he
further alienated himself from his parents and
brother by marrying the daughter of a Hittite.
‘This was a grief and sorrow of mind to Isaac
and Rebekah.” Forgetting the respect due to
them as his parents ; forgetting his own position
as the eldest son of the heir of the promise ;
heedless of the example of filial deference
shown by Isaac, and of all the care that pre-
served the family free from the corruption
around them, he formed an union with those
who were strangers to the faith of Abraham
and of a race apostate from the worship of Jeho-
vah. Yet, while mourning the perverseness of
his favourite ch‘ld, the father, aged and blind,



INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 79



did not propose to withdraw his favour from
him; and, feeling that his infirmities increased,
Isaac bade Esau with his own hands prepare
him a favourite dish, that he might eat and
bless him before his death. Did we better un- |
derstand the customs of that age, we might find
that Isaac was not merely influenced by bodily
appetite, but that there might be a peculiar
significance in the act.

We do not love to dwell upon Rebekah’s de-
ceit and the lessons of falsehood she taught her
son—and the prophecy uttered before the birth
of the children, neither justifies nor extenuates
her guilt; for God has never taught his people,
that to promote his plans they are to violate
his laws.

Alienated from her elder son, we see Re-
bekah, ky intrigue and treachery, seeking to

advance the interests of the younger at the



80 THE PARTIAL AND



expense of the rights of his brother. As we
read the sacred narrative, every sympathy is
awakened in favour of the injured Esau, and
we hear, with burning indignation against the
author of his wrong, his pathetic ery, “‘ Hast
thou no blessing for me! Bless me, even me,
my father!’ But the artifice of the mother
and wife was successful. She secured all she
sought—and her success brought its own punish-
ment. Dark clouds of hate settled over the
household, and Esau waited only for the death
of his father that he might destroy the life of
his brother ; and to save the life of her son, the
mother was forced to send him into banish-
ment. Again the intriguing, managing cha-
racter of the mother appears. She assigned
what might be a reason, but not the true reason,
to Isaac. ‘I am weary of my life, because of

the daughters of Heth. If Jacob takes a wife



INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 81



of the daughters of Heth, such as these which
are of the daughters of the land, what good
shall my life do me?”’. The plea of the mother
prevailed, and Isaac blessed Jacob, and he left
the land of his father, ostensibly to seek a wife,
but in truth to flee from the vengeance of his
brother.

The son of the wealthy patriarch went not
out like an Eastern suitor—not with a train
such as Abraham sent when he wooed Rebekah
for his son. To avoid the hate of Esau, he
stole like a fugitive from the tents of Isaac;
and, a foot-worn pilgrim, unattended, he sought
the kindred of his mother. And here the
mother and her favourite child parted. She
had alienated his brother to promote his in-
terests. She had sacrificed her integrity to
secure his fortune, and her plan had succeeded.
She had secured the object at which she had

aimed, and yet in the result she had been forced



82 THE PARTIAL AND



to send forth her darling child—a homeless
wanderer.

There is no reason to believe that the mother
and the son ever met again. From this time
she disappears. Surrounded by the alienated
Esau’s hated wives and ill-loved children,
separated from the child of her affection, she
may have sunk into a premature grave, or she
may have lived many sorrowful years to feel
the miseries she had drawn upon herself by her
violations of the rules of rectitude, and an
eager desire to promote the happiness of one
child at the sacrifice of that of another.

There are still too many families involved in
all the bitterness of domestic strife from the
unjust partiality of one or both of the parents
for favoured children. If, as children advance
in life and their characters are formed, a
calmer feeling succeeds the trembling tender-

ness which guarded their infant days, and our



IXTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 83



love to them (as to all other mortal beings) re-
sults from an appreciation of their characters,
so that one may awaken a purer regard than
another, this feeling is very different from that
partial fondness which adopts one and gives
him a place in our affection to the exclusion of
another. That instinctive justice which com-
pels a higher regard for the purer moral worth,
will, of itself, prevent that parental partiality
which leads to injustice or to an infringement
of established rights and recognised principles.
An unjust parent presents one of the most
revolting pictures of human nature. The
character involves a disregard of the most
sacred tics and the tenderest relations. And
whoever exhibits parental injustice, or that
partial fondness which leads to injustice, at
once destroys the affections and violates the
moral sense. Families trained under such

influences, still exhibit revolting scenes of



84 THE PARTIAL AND



human depravity—of bitterness, strife, aliena-
tion and revenge. Who can tell how much of
the estrangement of Esau, and this early intro-
duction of the worship of strange gods among
his descendants, may have been induced by the
conscious alienation of his mother, and the un-
just preference of the interests of his brother ?
Had Rebckah, with a mother’s love, striven to
win her eldest son back to his father’s tent and
the altar of his God—had she still respected
his rights and preserved his regard by unde-
viating truth and faithfulness, she would have
retained a strong hold upon him, and her influ-
ence might have been long felt by her descend-
ants, in restraining them from the sins of those
around them. |
We cannot yet part with the two principal
actors in these sad scenes of treachery and de-
ceit. We think of Rebekah, the companion of
her blind husband—deprived of the son who had



INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKANH. 85



shared and alleviated her cares, and conscious
of having awakened that bitter hate which
would seck the blood of a brother—still follow-
ing in her thoughts the footsteps of the wan-
dering Jacob, feeling that by her own intrigues
she had banished him from his home and her
presence.

And we may follow Jacob, as he stole from
the tents of Isaac, a wanderer like the first
fugitive, with his brother’s curse upon him.
Until this hour all Jacob’s views and feclings
seem earthly and grovelling. Until now, there
has been no indication of that trust and piety
which afterwards marked his life. He had
seemed worldly, cunning, ready to snatch any
personal advantage. From this period he
seems to awaken to a higher—a spiritual life.
He seems to have comprehended the deeper
meaning of promise and prophecy. We cannot

tell what remorseful and despairing thoughts
8



86 THE PARTIAL AND



filled his soul as he left his home—how strange
and inexplicable may have seemed all the ways
of God toward him. Yet he must have felt
that, in punishment of his deceit and falschood,
he was thus sent forth with but his scrip and
staff, while he left Esau to inherit the posses-
sions of his father.

We had wandered until he was faint and
weary, and then he had Jain himself down on
the earth, with stones for his pillow and the
heavens for the curtains of his tent. In
the silence of the night his soul was opened to
spiritual revealings—to those influences from
heaven which marked the change in his future
life. He saw the angels of God ascending and
descending upon him. Often before this may
they have visited him—constantly may they
have hovered over him—but now he was made
conscious of the presence, watch and interposi-

tion of the heavenly intelligences of the higher



INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAI. 87



presence of the God of Abraham. From this
hour we trace a different influence pervading
the heart and life of Jacob. He was awakened
to higher motives—and from this hour he en-
tered into covenant with God, and took Him to
be his God.

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and
said, ‘ ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I
knew it not;” and he was afraid, and said,
«“ Tow dreadful is this place! This is none other
than the house of God—and this is the gate of
heaven.” And Jacob rose up early in the morn-
ing, and took the stone that he had put for his
pillow, and set it for a pillar, and poured oil upon
the top of it. ‘And he called the name of that
place Bethel.” And Jacob vowed a vow, saying
“Tf God will be with me, and will keep me in the
way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and
raiment to put on, so that I come again to my

father’s house in peace, then shall the Lord



88 THE PARTIAL MOTHER—REBEKAH.



be my God, and this stone, which I have set
for a pillar, shall be God’s house, and of all
that thou shalt give me I will surely give the
tenth unto thee.”

The future life of Jacob was not free from
the infirmity of human purpose—the imperfec-
tion of human nature. Yet from this time he
walked with God, and all his deportment was
marked by deep and humble piety. We doubt
not that at this period he passed through that
transforming change by which, in every age, and
under every dispensation, the human soul has
been enabled to enter into the mysteries of the
spiritual life and enjoy communion with the
Author of its existence, through that Spirit
which breathed the first breath of life by which

man became a living soul.







THE RIVAL SISTERS—LEAH
AND RACHEL.

yam SR >

om
re . 50 on ILERE are two cha-
D—o-S Us. NV
3 ey da Uy '® yacters, which by some

SUES OR a IEP associations of me-







EP °
ss Sz 4 mory, or caprice of
Ve.) ) Ca ¥
CW A ws ) fancy, are ever blend-
: J J e yj . e
PBS KES ed in our recollections

—the one of ancient, the other of modern days

—the one of sacred, the other of profane his-

tory. Catharine of Arragon, the unloved con-

sort of the King of England, and Leah, the

daughter of the Syrian shepherd, the hated
8* 89



90 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



wife of the Hebrew patriarch. There may
seem to be as little assimilation of character

and destiny, as there is of condition, between
the daughter and the wife of a Syrian shep-

herd, and the daughter of one of the proudest
monarchs of Spain and the wife of the haughti-
est king of England; but they were both
women, and both wives of those who loved
them not; and this fact, whatever the con-
dition of woman, stamps her lot as one of
wretchedness. The wife neglected and des-
pised is a woman sorrowful, whether she
be the inmate of a tent or the dweller in
a palace—whether she tend the flock or
grace the throne.

Catharine of Arragon, the daughter of
Isabella and Ferdinand, seems a truth-loving,
devout woman, well prepared to welcome the
great principles advanced by the Reformers,

had she not been placed in circumstances



LEAH AND RACHEL. 91



most adverse to their influence. Had Henry
embraced the doctrines and the principles of
the Reformation from a conviction of their
truth and importance—had he sought to
regulate his own life by the pure precepts
of the Bible, and thus striven to disseminate
a pure faith among his people—had the con-
scientious Catharine been the patroness and
the friend of the Reformers, instead of the
trifling, if not guilty, Anne Boleyn—the En-
glish church and the state of religion in the
English nation would doubtless have presented
a different history for the past, and a different
aspect for the future.

But these are vain speculations. Catharine
lived and died in the Papal faith. From the
circumstances in which she was placed, she
clung to it as to her womanly honour, her
queenly dignity—as she would preserve her
name from blight, her child from shame. And



92 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



when she saw herself supplanted, when she
was disgraced, divorced, her child declared ille-
gitimate, and she knew her death was desired
by one to whom she had been a devoted,
faithful wife, what words could be more touch
ing than those the dramatist gives as her last
message to the king! “Tell him, his long
sorrow has passed away.” Oh, none but a
wife dying thus, with the bitter consciousness
that her life was undesired and that her death
would be unregretted, can feel their full import.

The bells which had tolled for Catharine
of when the roar of the cannon announced the
execution of Anne. The one died in January,
the other was beheaded in May; and she who,
by exciting and encouraging the unholy love of
the king, had unchained his fierce passions
and taught him to break through all restraints,

was herself, full early, their victim.



LEAH AND RACHEL. 93



Shall we pass from the palaces of England
to the tents of Mesopotamia—from the last
days of chivalry to those of the ancient patri-
archs and shepherds of the earliest of recorded
ages ?

When the wandering Jacob reached the
abode of his mother’s kindred, the land of
Haran, he met, at the same fountain at which
Rebekah had watered the flocks of the messen-
ger of Abraham, the daughter of her brother
Laban. He had seated himself by the well,
and when the maiden came, he aided her to
water her flocks; and he was thus introduced
to his kinsmen by Rachel; and he told them that
he was the son of Rebekah, of whom, perhaps,
they had long lost the recollection ; and with
all the hospitality of the East—that hospitality
which ever prevails among a simple and pas-
toral people—he was welcomed by the kindred

of the mother.



94 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



The brother of Rebekah had two daughters.
Leah, the elder, was tender-eyed, but Rachel
was beautiful; and both sisters loved their
cousin, while the heart of Jacob clung to the
younger, the fair damsel who first welcomed
him; so that he overlooked the claims of the
elder,—the plain, if not disfigured, Leah. He
brought no offerings with him to conciliate the
favour of the father, and, according to the cus-
tom of the East, to facilitate his marriage. But
he offered his personal service as an equivalent.
And the son of Isaac served seven years for
the daughter of Laban. But this long period
was passed ; and dwelling, as Jacob did, in the
presence of Rachel, a member of the household
of her father, they seemed but as a few days,
for the love he bore her.

But the time had now arrived when the mar-
riage should be celebrated, and Jacob claimed

his bride. But he who had wronged his bro-



LEAH AND RACHEL. 95



ther, who had by disguise deceived his father,
was now imposed upon by guile and treachery ;
and all the hopes and expectations of these
long years were defeated. The customs of
Eastern marriages favoured the deceit, and
Jacob found that he was wedded to Leah, and
not to the object of his affection. The deceit
was most unjustifiable. The disappointment
and the resentment must have been propor-
tionably great; and miserable was the excuse
of Laban, and wretched the device which was
offered as anatonement. Yet Jacob must have
bowed before the retributions of an avenging
God, and the remembrance of his own treach-
ery may have stayed his anger.

Thus commenced the family of Jacob, with
all the elements of dissension, strife and bitter-
ness incorporated into its very earliest exist-
ence. The daughters of Laban both became

the wives of Jacob, and they were rivals as



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CONTENTS.

THE WIFE—(SARAI)....000ccssssceesceseceesssssoscesseessseee 7
THE W1iFE UNLOVED—(HAGAR).....0.ccceeeceneeeeee sevees 35

Tue PartiaAL AND INTRIGUING MOTHER—(REBEKAH) 63

THe Rivat Sisters—(LEAH AND RACHEL)....... +0000 89
THE AFFECTIONATE SISTER—(MIRIAM).......000 cesses . 119
THE PROPHETESS—(DEBORAH) ......+0seeees ceeeeseee sees 171
THE ARTFUL WOMAN—(JEZEBEL)......00000seeeeecoeseeees 187
THE AMBITIOUS WOMAN—(ATHALIAH)......ss000ceeseeees 208
THe ORPHAN QUEEN—(ESTHER)......006 v0. seves socvesees 231

1* . 5
rs tin Sf Wt


THE WIFE—SARAH.

ITHIN a few centu-
ries after the flood,
while some who had
witnessed the sin and
the destruction of the

antediluvian world



were still living, Je-
hovah saw fit, in accordance with his de-
signs of eternal wisdom, to separate Abra-
ham from his brethren, calling upon him to

leave the land of his birth and go out into a
7
8 THE WIFE—SARAH.



strange land, to dwell in a far country. He
was to pass the rest of his days as a sojourner
in a land which should be thereafter given to a
people yet unborn,—to a nation which was to
descend from him.

Abraham was a lineal descendant of Shem,
who was doubtless still living while “the father
of Abraham yet abode with his kindred in
the land of the Chaldees;” and from the lips
of his venerable progenitor, Abraham himself
may have first received the knowledge of the
true God, and- have learned lessons of wisdom
and obedience, as he sat. at his feet. Shem
may have conversed with Methuselah ; and
Methuselah must have known Adam; and
from Adam, Methuselah may have heard that
history of the creation and fall, which he nar-
rated to Shem, and which Shem may have trans-
mitted to Abraham; and the history of the world

would be thus remembered as the traditional
THE WIFE—SARAH. 9



recollections of a family, and repeated as the
familiar remembrances of a single household.
Tales of the loveliness of Eden,—of the glo-
ries of the creation,—of the blessedness of the
primeval state,—of the days before the fall; re-
membrances of the “mother of all living” in
the days of her holiness, when she was as beauti-
ful as the world created for her home, in all the
dewy sweetness of the morning of its existence,
—of the wisdom of man before he yielded to the
voice of temptation, when authority was en-
throned upon his brow, and all the tribes of
the lower creation did him homage ;—of the
good spirits who watched over to minister unto
and bless them ;—of those dark, unholy and ac-
cursed ones, who came to tempt, betray and de-
stroy them,—were recounted as events of which
those who described them had been the wit-
nesses. And from the remembrances thus

preserved and transmitted by tradition, each
10 THE WIFE—SARAIN.



generation obscuring or exaggerating them,
have descended what we call fables of antiquity,
—great facts, now dimly remembered and darkly
presented, as shadowed over by the mists of
long ages.

How must the hearts of the descendants
of Shem have thrilled as they heard from him
the history of by-gone times—of a world which
had passed away! How much had the great
patriarch of his race, himself, beheld? He
had seen the glory and the beauty of the world
before the flood. It was cursed for the sin
of man, in the day of his fall—but slowly, as
we measure time, do the woes denounced by
God often take effect, and, though excluded from
Eden, the first pair may have seen little change
pass over the face of the earth. The consum-
mation of this curse may have been the deluge;
and those who dwelt on the earth, before this

calamity swept it with its destroyin g wing, may
THE WIFE—SARAH. t1



have seen it in much of its original beauty;
while those who outlived that event witnessed
a wonderful change.

From that frail fabric, the ark, which proved
the second cradle of the race, Shem had be-
held a world submerged,—a race swept off by
the floods of Almighty wrath. He had heard
the shrieks of the drowning, the vain prayer
of those who had scoffed the threatened ven-
‘geance, the fruitless appeal of those who had
long rejected mercy. As the waves bore up
his frail vessel, he had seen the black and
sullen waters settle over temples, cities and
palaces; and he had gazed until he could behold
but one dark expanse of water, in whose turbid
depths were buried all the families of the
earth—save one.

Those he had loved and honoured, and much
which, perhaps, he had envied and coveted—

the pride, the glory, the beauty of earth—all
12 THE WIFE—SARAH.



had passel away. And after the waters sub.
sided, and the ark had found a resting-place,
what a deep and sad solemnity must have
mingled with the joy for their preservation.
How strange the aspect the world present-
ed! How must the survivors have recalled
past scenes and faces, to be seen no more!
How much they must have longed to recog-
nise old familiar places,—the Eden of Adam
and Eve,—the graves in which they had been®
laid! For doubtless Seth and his descendants
still remained with their first parents, while Cain
went out from their presence and built a city
in some place remote. The earth which Noah
and his descendants repeopled was one vast
grave; and what wonder that those who built
above a race entombed, should mingle fancy
with tradition, and imagine that the buried
cities and habitations were yet inhabited by the

accursed and unholy. Such have been the
THE WIFE—SARAH. 13



fancies of those who darkly remembered the
flood; and as the wind swept through the ca-
verns of the earth, the superstitious might still
imagine that they heard the voices or the
shrieks of the spirits imprisoned within.

Shem seems to have far exceeded his bro-
thers in true piety, and the knowledge of Jeho-
vah was for many generations preserved among
his descendants, while few or none of them ever
sank into those deep superstitions which de-
based the children of Ham. And it is beautiful
to remark, that the filial piety which so pre-
eminently marked him has ever been a promi-
nent trait among all nations descended from
him. Thus receiving his impressions of the
power, the truth, the awful justice of Jehovah,
from one well fitted to convey them,—and taught
the certain fulfilment of promises and of threats,
—Abraham was early inspired with that deep

reverential and yet filial love, that entire con-
2
14 THE WIFE—SARAH.



fidence, which led to the trusting obedience
which distinguished his character.

Yet, from his very piety, sad must it have
been when the command came to leave the plains
of Mesopotamia, and go out a stranger and a
pilgrim into distant lands, to become a dweller
among those who were fast apostatizing from
the true faith. ‘But by faith he obeyed,” and
by his obedience he has given us an example and
illustration of faith, which has been held forth
through all succeeding ages. To be the child
of Abraham, to walk as he walked, is, after
the lapse of thousands of years, the character-
istic of the true worshipper of God.

Guided by an Omniscient hand, trusting in
an Almighty power, cheered by that mysterious
promise, which, as a star of hope shining in the
hour of deepest darkness, still rose to higher
brightness as it guided the long line of pa-
triarchs, kings, and prophets, until it settled
THE WIFE—SARAH. 15



over the manger of Bethlehem, and was lost
in the full glory of the Sun of righteousness,
—Abraham girded his loins and prepared for a
departure to far distant lands.

At first, attended by his father and brother,
he sojourned with them in Haran; and the fa-
mily pitched their tents in that spot which was
to become in future ages the battle-ground
of nations, when the proud eagle of imperial
Rome was trailed in the dust, and her warriors
and her nobles fell before their fiercer foes.
Long ages have intervened since the tents of
this Syrian family were pitched by the side of
the waters of Charan; and midway between
their days and ours, were these waters disco-
loured with the blood of those who fell in the
battle of Charae, so disastrous to Rome, ever
haughty, and then exulting in the height of her
prosperity. A few wandering shepherds now
lead their flocks in the plain in which Sarah
16 THE WIFE—SARAH.



and Abraham dwelt, and where Cassius and his
legions fell. But a short sojourn was per-
mitted Abraham here. “Arise and depart, for
this is not your rest’’—and again he listened to
the command from above, and gathered his
flocks and servants, and girded his loins, and
set his face towards the land promised to him,
and to his seed after him. And now he left
his father and his brethren, and went with his
own family, the head of his house, the future
patriarch of his race.

Yet he was not alone. The wife of his
youth was by his side. In all his wanderings,
in all his cares, there was one with him to
participate # his joys and to alleviate his
sorrows. With him and for him, his wife
forsook home, kindred and country. We doubt
not that she too shared the faith of Abra-
ham; that she too trusted and loved and wor-
shipped the God of Abraham, and of Shem,


THE WIFE—SARAH. 17



and of Noah. Like Abraham, a descendant of
Shem,—like him too, she had been trained in
the worship of Jehovah. Yet to the faith of
the true believer, there was added the strong
affection of the wife; and while Abraham went
out obeying God, Sarah followed, trusting God
indeed, but leaning still upon her husband. In
all her future life, she is presented to us the
wife; devoted, affectionate, submissive; loving
her husband with a true affection, and honour-
ing him by a due deference.

With a beauty that fascinated kings, preserv-
ing the charms of youth to the advanced period
of her life, she still lived but for her husband;
and when even the faith of Abraham failed, and
he withdrew from the wife the protection of the
husband, and said, ‘She is my sister,” Sarah ap-
pears to have acquiesced in a deceit so unworthy
of her husband and of herself, merely to insure

his safety among the lawless tribes around them.
o*
18 THE WIFE—SARAH.



As we read the story of Abraham’s wife, we
catch glimpses of ages and nations that were
hoar with antiquity, and had passed away when
‘our ancient historians began the record of the
past. Nation after nation had perished and
been forgotten before the profane historian be-
gan his annals. Yet childless, still trusting
in the promise of Jehovah, Abraham wandered
for many years through the land which was to
be given to him, and his seed after him. Now
pitching his tent in Moreh; then building his
altar at Bethel; then driven by famine into
Egypt; then returning to his altar at Bethel,—
and there separating from his nephew Lot, be-
cause “‘ the land could not bear” both, he fixes his
abode in Hebron.

No pictures of pastoral life are more beau-
tiful than those presented in Genesis; and while
we contemplate the character of Abraham, we

catch eccasional glimpses of his household,
THE WIFE—SARAH. 19



and of the manners of his age. We see him
exercising forbearance and relinquishing the
rights of a superior, that there might be no
strife between him and his too worldly rela-
tive. We see him leading out his own band
as a prince, to rescue that same relative,—
who, tempted by the promise of large wealth,
had chosen a location full of dangers,—and, in
the hour of victory, refusing all spoil and showing
all honour to the priest of the mest high God.

Again he is before us, sitting in his tent
in the heat of the day, and hastening to receive
strangers,—‘“ thus entertaining angels una-
wares,’—and then interceding for that city
doomed to destruction for the wickedness of the
dwellers therein.

And again he appears as the prince, the
patriarch, the head of his own family, and
high in honour with those around him, ever

observing all the lecorum and proprieties of
20 THE WIFE—SARANH.



oriental life. We see him, too, as cae who
walked with God; as the priest of his house-
hold, presenting the morning and the evening
sacrifice ; as holding high communion with God
in the hours of darkness; entering into that
covenant which is still pleaded by those who
claim the promise, “I will be a God to thee,
and to thy seed after thee.”

This promise of a seed, from which was to
spring a great nation, “like to the stars of
heaven in number,” was frequently repeated,
yet still deferred. Youth, manhood, middle
age, all had passed, and still no child blest the
tents of Sarah; and while Abraham still be-
lieved, and it “was accounted to him for right-
eousness,’’ Sarah seems to have felt that not
upon her was to be conferred the distinction of
becoming the mother of the promised seed.
With the warm impulse of the woman, she sa-

crificed the feelings of the wife and the instincts
THE WIFE—SARAH. 21



of the heart, to promote what she doubtless
believed to be the plan of God and the happi-
ness of Abraham. ‘There is a deficiency of
faith as much to be manifested in the forestall-
ing the plans of Providence as in the denial
of the promises of God: and while Abraham
still trusted and waited the fulfilment of the
promise, Sarah sought, by her own device, to
accomplish prophecy and insure the blessing.
In accordance with the usages of those around
her, she gave her handmaid to her husband to
be his wife, “that their children might bless
her age.” She doubtless felt herself strong
enough in love to Abraham and to Hagar to
believe that her affection would embrace their
children. But when the trial came, and all
the instincts of the heart, all the feelings of
the wife revolted, she proved that this violation
of a heaven-appointed institution brings only

sorrow and strife. Yet there was no alien-
22 THE WIFE—SARAH.



ation between Sarah and Abraham. The wife
of his youth was ever dearer to him tha: the
mother of his child.

At length, however, the promise was fulfilled.
Sarah became a mother. Many years had
passed since she had left the home of her
fathers. The days of man were now much
abridged, and she was fast approaching the
ordinary limit of human life; but we may sup-
pose her cheek was still fair and her brow
smooth, and that she still retained much of the
beauty of youth.

With a wondering joy, Sarah gazed upon
the child so long desired—the child in whose
seed “all the nations of the earth” were to
be “blessed.” And she said, ‘God hath made
me to laugh, so that all who hear shall laugh ;”
and while those that heard that Sarah “ had
borne Abraham a gon in hig old: age,” won-

dered at an event so strange, Abraham must
THE WIFE—SARAH. 23



have pondered the prophecy which had revealed
to him the destiny of his race,—perhaps fore
secing that Star which was to rise in a still
distant age, and apprehending, however dimly
and faintly, something of the mysterious con-
nection between the birth of the child and the
promise given in the hour of the curse—the
blending of the fate of his race with the eter-
nal plan of mercy and redemption.

There is an instinct in our natures which
leads us to rejoice at a birth; but, could Sarah
have foreseen the destiny of her race, tears
would have mingled with her smiles. Won-
derful has been the past history of that people,
‘strange their present condition, while the fu-
ture may develop mysteries still more incom-
prehensible.

In the hour of rejoicing over the new-born
babe, past transgression brought forth its legiti-

mate fruits. Sullenness and strife were brood-
24 THE WIFE—SARAH.



ing in the bosoms of the Egyptian bond-woman
and her son; and the quict eye of the mother
saw all the danger arising from the jealous
hate and rivalry of the first-born of Abraham.
If the decision was stern, it was needful.
“Cast out the bond-woman and her child, for
her son shall not be heir with my son, even with
Isaac.” Harsh words,—but it is better to dwell
peacefully asunder, than together in strife and
bitterness. The malignant passions which led
Ishmael to mock, might soon be stimulated by
the mother to murder,—chafed and Irritated as
she was by the constant presence of the child
who had supplanted her own. From the time
of the departure of Hagar from the household
of Abraham, peace seems to have rested upon
it. Prosperity attended him. He no longer
wandered from place to place. He remained in
Hcbron, sojourning with Sarah and her child.

Many years passed,—years of peaceful quiet
THE WIFE—SARAH. 25



and happiness seldom allotted to such an age,—
while they trained their child in the nurture
of the true God, and were honoured by the
princes around him, who sought to enter into
league with him, for they saw that “ God
blessed him in all that he did.”

Once again God saw fit to test the faith of
Abraham by calling upon him to offer his son
—his only son Isaac, whom he loved—as a
sacrifice ; and Abraham obeyed the divine
command, and thus doing, uttered that pro-
phecy which has thrilled so many souls, “ God
will himself provide a sacrifice.” In this trial,
Sarah seems not to have been called to parti-
cipate. The mother was spared the agony of
feeling that her only child was to be offered as
a sacrifice—that the hope of her life was to
perish.

“ Sarah was an hundred and twenty years

old, and she died.” The dark shadow of death

ov
4

26 THE WIFE~—SARAH.



is, sooner or later, to fall upon each household.
Abraham seems to have been at a distance—per-
haps in the charge of some of his numerous
flocks—when he was recalled to Hebron by news
of Sarah’s death. And he came to mourn over
her. The remembrance of her maiden beauty
and modesty, the grateful recollection of all her
conjugal devotedness, filled his soul. Tf light
and immortality were brought to light in the
gospel, still the divine rays were faintly reflected
in the former dispensation, and the eye of, faith
even then penetrated the thick darkness of the
grave.

And now, after these long years. of pro-
mise and waiting, Abraham takes possession
of the land which God had given to him and
to his seed. He asks, however, but a small
portion,—a tomb, a place for his dead,—and a
more beautiful description of a scene of mutual

deference, of regard for rights and respect for
- mYE WIFE—SARAH. 27

character and position, was never penned than
that which records the negotiation between the
bereaved patriarch and the children of Heth.
With the touch of magic, the whole scene is
before us. The bereaved patriarch, courteous
in grief, bowing in the presence of the sons of
Heth,—the deep respect, the kindly sympathy,
manifested by those who, strangers to his reli-
gion, felt the claims of his character,—mingled

_“ith that deep awe which the visitation of
death ever inspires.

The last scene was now Over, and Sarah has
first taken possession of that home to which she
was to be followed by her husband and their
descendants. One by one they take their places

by her side,—unwelcomed, unquestioned,—
«‘ Where none have saluted and none have replied,” —

and yet where all are gathered at last. We see

her not as a sister or a daughter. She is not
28 THE WIFE—SARAH.



known to us in the house of her father. Sara.
is only presented to us as the wife of Abraham.
And as a wife the apostle has held her up to her
Own sex as a model and example. “Even as
Sarah obeyed her husband, calling him lord,”
—exclaims the apostle, exhorting the wife to due
deference. The deep, fervent affection of the
heart led to that outward manifestation of
honour so beautiful and becoming ; and as the
only love which can be enduring is that which
is founded on respect, so it is the highest hap-
piness of the wife to be able truly to honour
him whom she is bound to love and obey.
When the heads of a household are thus
united in warm affection and mutual respect,
the influence will pervade the whole circle, and
the family of Abraham presented a beautiful
picture of such a household. The numerous
members composing a large family were go-

verned by one who provided for their guste.
THE WIFE—SARAH. 29



nance, led them forth for the defence of rights,
or the redress of injuries, or the rescue of the
captive; and who officiated as the priest as
well as ruler of his household. In such a com-
munity, the character of the head would be
impressed upon the whole people; and it was
with obvious meaning that Jehovah exclaimed,
‘“T know him that he will command his house-
hold after him.” It was by example that ad-
monition was made availing. And the wife
was ever ready, with her ardent and trusting
love, to aid and co-operate. Hastening, when
he welcomed the stranger, to prepare the feast,
she was ever ready to receive his guests and
add her efforts to his hospitality.

Hatred, strife, and mutual alienation so often
vioud over the unison of wedded life, and cause
its sun to set in darkness, that few spectacles
can be presented more beautiful or more de-

lightful than the old age of wedded life, soothed

Qe
30 7HE WIFE~—SARAH.

by true affection and mutual kindness. It ig
more touching than the glow of youthful passion.
It proclaims the Presence of high moral worth.
It is never found in the habitations of the un.
holy. The love which thus survives the glow
of youth, which bears the storms and the trials
of life, must be founded on truth, on unimpas-
sioned esteem, on approved integrity; and
those alone who love God supremel y, love each
other unselfishly, |
While Sarah honoured her husband, she too
was treated with Proper deference. Her coun-
Sels were ever heeded, her voice had its due
influence, and he still deferred to her wishes,
It is beautiful to note the increasing esti-
mation in which she is heid, Sarai, “the
mistress,” betokened her station as the head
of a household; and as years brought honours,
and an enlarged Sphere of duty, and a more

©

elevated position among the people around
YHE WIFE—SARAH. 31



them, Sarai was changed into Sarah—my lady.
Her husband, in addressing the former Sarai
as Sarah, “my lady,” gracefully returned the
honour she bestowed when she called him “lord.”
By such manifestation of mutual respect and
love, the chain of family affection is kept bright.

As the household of Abraham was the house-
hold of faith, ordained as the model for all ages,
it is well to analyze.the elements which com-
posed it, and to trace their combined influence.
There was the conjugal union of the true wor-
shippers of Jehovah, animated by the same hopes,
governed by the same principles, whose hearts
were united in the strong bonds of valainel
affection. There was the confiding, unfailing
affection, the decp, reverential respect, and due
obedience of the wife. There was the tender
love, protecting care, the unwavering faith, the
honourable deference of the husband. The reli-

gion of this household was the religion of faith
82 THE WIFE—SARAH.

—_—————

and of obedience,—a religion which Jed them
to forsake all at the command of God, which
taught them to rely upon his promises, to fear
his threatenings, to plead his grace, to trust his
mercy, while it was a religion which led to a
due observance of all the relative duties of life,
which taught the exercise of that impartial jus.
tice, careful benevolence, disinterested kindness,
and ready hospitality to those without the
family; and of Steady love, of affectionate
kindness, of sympathetic forbearance to the
members of the household Within. The family
of faith, where faith Is pure, will eyer be a
family of love; and as true piety is the best
security for family happiness, go family love ig
the best nurse for family piety.

There are many families among us who aim
at being families of faith, who profess to walk
in the steps of Abraham, to imitate his exam-

vle. Let such not confine themselves to the
THE WIFE—SARAH. 83



manifestation of his peculiar faith, to his trust
and dependence alone. Let them walk as he
walked before his household, in the fear of God
and the love of man, in the careful fulfilment
of every relative and social duty, in the daily
exemplification of a tender and loving spirit,
carefully avoiding or removing all sources of
division. Let that piety which unites them to
God, be a bond, encircling all and drawing
them near to each other.

By the cultivation of the simple domestic
virtues, by the daily, quiet, self-denying trials,
by the observance of the thousand decencies,
the unaffected proprieties, the unostentatious
efforts to bless and comfort,—by the elevating
influence of personal example,—by the breath-
ing atmosphere of a holy spirit,—the family is
to be made the household of faith, the nursery
of the church.

Direct instruction and formal efforts and
34 THE WIFE—SARAH.



stated observances are neither to be forgotten
nor to be remitted ; but these can only be made
effectual by the living exemplification of a
spirit of love, a life of holiness. It will ever
be found true that he who prays most loves

most.
ys

\

N
~N
N

WZ

y


HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



Tux Hebrew patriarch led his flocks and
herds, surrounded by his large household, from
Haran to the land of the Canaanites; from
thence to that of the Philistines, down into
‘Egypt; wherever so numerous a family and
such large flocks could find sustenance—water
and herbage. And as he thus sojourned, many
of the poor of these lands flocked to him for
employment and support ; and while he bought
the services of the parents, the children »orn
in his house became members of his family,
were trained as his servants, and were subject to
his authority as the master of the household,
the prince among his people, the patriarch of

his tribe.
35
86 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.

—_—_—_—_—_——.

And among these was Hagar, the Egyptian.
We are not told whether she was born in the
house of Abraham, or rescued from those who
may have stolen her from her home, or given
by her parents to the wealthy and childless
Sarai. She was Sarah’s handmaid—a relation,
according to the customs of the East (almost
immutable) nearly as dear as that of a child.
She was the personal attendant, the constant
companion of her mistress: and by her was”
doubtless instructed in the principles of the true
religion, while she was thus accustomed to the
accomplishments and occupations of the age.
The tasks of the favourite handmaids of East-
ern families are still light. To sit at the feet
of her mistress with her embroidery; to cheer
her with the simple music of the shepherd’s
tent; to aid her in those domestic duties to
which Sarah gave her own superintendence ;

v9 assist in preparing the wool of the flocks


MAGAR—-THE WIFE UNLOVED. 37



for the garments of the family; to watch her
tent as she reposed by day, and keep by her
side as the camels slowly wandered through
the valleys in search of pure streams or more
abundant herbage, were probably the occupa-
tions and duties of Hagar.

Years thus passed on—and the dark-browed
and dark-eyed Egyptian maiden had grown into
womanhood, and the freshness of youth, the
joyousness of health and early life were her’s,
while her mistress was passing into age. Sarah
no longer hoped to become a mother, and, be-
lieving that the promise was not intended for
her, she urged Abraham to take another wife,
offering for his acceptance her own handmaid,
the Egyptian Hagar.

The authority of the mistress of the East
over her own establishment is so absolute, the
husband so interdicted from all interference,

that, although Hagar had passed her youth
4
88 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



with Sarah, she may have been hardly aoticed
by Abraham until Sarah proffered her. Av-
cording to the usage of the east, Sarah had
a right (the right then claimed by the parent)
thus to dispose of her handmaid; and a mar.
riage with her master was the highest honour
which could be bestowed on Hagar. She
was given to Abraham to be his wife, and, the
relation was—according to the usage then pre-
vailing—as legal as that sustained by Sarah,
although the station was inferior. No injury
was intended to Hagar. N¢é higher distinction
could have been conferred upon her, and, strong
in love to both Hagar and Abraham, Sarah
doubtless supposed she might be able to wel
come and love their children, though denied
offspring of her own.

But such departure from the law, precept, or
institution of God, involves a long train of

sin and sorrow, no matter what the intention—
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 39

—_—_— oo

and the union of Abrahari with Hagar was a
direct violation of the institution of marriage
in all its principles and intentions, and it could
not but bring confusion and strife to the tent
of the patriarch.

It was merely @ marriage of interest and
convenience, unhallowed by love. The heart
of Abraham never departed from the wife of
his youth, nor could Sarah ever have intended
to relinquish her hold upon his affection. It is
the last claim a woman foregoes. And on the
other hand, Hagar could have felt no love for
her master, so much her superior in age and
station. Unholy pride and rank ambition were
all the feelings which such an alliance could
awaken in the heart of Hagar. Yet Hagar was
the least blameworthy, and, perhaps, not even-
tually the greatest sufferer. By the customs of
society, she had no voice in the disposal of her-

self. Her heart was never consulted. She
40 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



was only allowed to receive the husband allotted
to her—to acquiesce in the decision of others,

The natural results of such a union fol-
lowed. The exaltation of Hagar excited her
pride and led to arrogance; and when she
knew that she should become a mother, her
childless mistress was despised.

It is hard to bear contempt from those upon
whom we have lavished kindness; to feel that
we have exalted those who despise us: and all
the indignation of Sarah was roused by the
assumption and ingratitude of Hagar; and, with
the quick instinct of the woman, she retorted
upon her husband, “ My wrong be upon thee.”

A stranger indifference could not have been
manifested than that showed by Abraham to-
wards the youthful wife who should have now
received his protection and kindness. “Behold
thy handmaid is in thy hands.” He recognised
no tie—he felt no obligation. What wag Hagar,
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 41



that she should occasion strife between him and
the wife of his youth, the partner of his life,
the daughter of his own people !

Hagar was from this hour abandoned by
Abraham to her mistress. When Sarah re-
sumed the authority belonging to her station,
she assumed with it a power never before ex-
ercised. Forgetting all the love of past years,
all the claims of the present hour upon her
kindness and forbearance, she treated the un-
happy Hagar with such intolerable harshness,
that the wretched woman fled from the face
of her mistress and from the tents of her
master, and sought refuge in the wilderness.

We can conceive what bitter, despairing
thoughts, what a keen sense of injustice and
injury may have pressed upon her, as she sat
alone by the fountain in the desert. Proba-
bly a little spot of green herbage denoted the

presence of water, while, all around, lay the
4%
42 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.

es

sandy, rocky desert. The stars, in the bright.
ness of an oriental night, were looking down on
her as she sat alone, her face buried in her
hands, unheeded, there to die. Then came the
visions of her youth, the remembrances of her
childhood, the sound of her mother’s voice, the
dream of her smile—then the tent of Sarah—
then the alliance with her master, the ex-
citement of her pride, the flush of hope, the
exultation of a fancied triumph over the child-
less, but stil] honoured wife; succeeded by the
cold withdrawal of a] the kindness of the patri-
arch, and the entire abandonment of her whom
he had taken to his bosom, to the implacable
rescniment of her former mistress !

The temper of Hagar, the feelings thus
excited—dark, sullen, bitter, revengeful—when
she fled from all, may have been impressed
upon her offspring, and thus marked the future
character of her race.
HAGAR—-THE WIFE UNLOVED. 43
a”



Still, Hagar was not alcne. The wanderer
was not forgotten. In the hour of darkness
and of desolation, there is One nigh even to
those who forget him. “And the angel of the
Lord found her by the fountain in the wilder-
ness, and he said: Hagar, Sarah’s maid,
whence camest thou? And whither wouldst
thou go?”

She was not addressed as the wife of Abra-
ham. The conventional usage, 80 opposed
to the positive institution, was not recognised
and thus hallowed by Him who had established
marriage ; and while Hagar was pitied, she
was reminded of her real condition. “ And
she said, I flee from the face of my mistress,
Sarah. And the angel of the Lord said unto
her, Return unto thy mistress and submit thy-
self under her hands. And the angel of the
Lord said, Thou shalt have a son, and shalt

call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has
44 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED,



heard thy affliction. He shall be a wild man.
His hand will be against every man, and every
man’s hand against him—and he shall dwell in
the presence of all his brethren. And she
called the name of the Lord that spake unto
her, Thou God seest me, for she said, Have I
also here looked after him that seeth me?” im-
plying a recognition of the unexpected interfer-
ence, protection and blessing of God.

The promises of God are always preceded
by his commands, and the faith which clings
to the promises is to be tested by the obedi.
ence which alone can make them availing
And when the words of the angel came to
the desolate soul of the woman in the desert,
there were admonition, reproof, and command
mingled with promise and blessing. “ Returr
to thy mistress.” Return to thy duty, is thy
first requirement made of those God seeks out

And Hagar humbled herself and obeyed the
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 45



yoice of the Lord. She returned to her mis-
tress. Trying as it must have been to one so
aggrieved, she submitted to her authority, and
again became a member of the household of
Abraham. Had she disobeyed the angel, she
and her child had doubtless perished in the
wilderness; but in yielding her proud and
arrogant temper, she secured the future bless-
ing to her race, and insured the safety of her
child, while her submission and gentleness
must have won back Sarah to a kinder temper,
to a more forbearing treatment.

After the birth of Ishmael, there intervened
years—long years—in which Hagar tasted the
bitterest cup ever presented to the lips of wo-
man. regarded—a woman held in bondage by one
who had made her a rival—dwelling in the
presence of him who had put her from him!

Her very presence brought reproach and
46 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



sorrow to Sarah and Abraham-—the viola-
tion of the divine institution ever entailing its
penalty.

The wife deserted, neglected, whose Lopes
have been crushed, ever turns to her offspring
for comfort and Sympathy ; and ardent was the
love, strong were the ties, which bound the
Egyptian mother to the son of the patriarch ;
and in Ishmael must al] the hopes and affec-
tions of Hagar have centred. Could she,
indeed, have penetrated the future, could she
have seen her race, the seed of her son,
filling the desert and dwelling as princes ;
while the seed of Sarah and of Abraham were
held, as if in retribution of her own sufferings,
in bondage in her own native Jand,—could she
have passed through the intervening ages and
seen the children of Ishmael issuing from their
desert and setting their feet upon the necks of

the proudest and mightiest, imposing their
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. AT



faith upon a world, while they marched forth
conquering and to conquer—could she have
contrasted the triumphant warriors of Arabia,
the caliphs of the east and the west, with
_the wandering, desolate, persecuted, trodden-
down tribes of Israel—the proudest expecta-
tions of the woman and the mother would have
been all answered. Could she have penetrated
the meaning of the words she must have so
often pondered, she would have found that
the loftiest dreams of the rankest ambition
were to be more than realized.

But dimly and faintly must she have appre-
hended the meaning of the mysterious pro-
phecy, even while she trusted the accompany-
ing promise. As she saw Ishmael, the only
child in the tent of the patriarch, and loved
by the father, she perhaps allowed herself to
hope that he was yet to be the heir, and
that in his future honours she was to find

-
48 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



& full recompense for all the trials of her
blighted youth.

After long years of waiting, Sarah embraced
a son, and the event, so Joyous to the parents,
awoke afresh the bitter remembrances of
Hagar, while it roused her to the conscious-
ness of her present lot and of all the injuries
inflicted upon her.

In all the trials and sorrows through which
she had passed, she had had none to sustain
or sympathize with her. Her child remained
her only earthly hope; and now she felt that
another was to supplant him, and thus disap-
point all her expectations.

Her spirit rose in pride and wrath, and she
infused her own bitter feelings into the heart
of her child. When Isaac was hailed as the
heir, while all rejoiced, Hagar and Ishmael
mocked both the infant and the aged parents.

Forbearance was no longer -safe, and the
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 49



decision of Sarah was wise, though harsh—yet
it was sad to Abraham. Ishmael was still his
son—his first-born. He had been ever dear to
him; and when the angel of the Lord had
again confirmed the promise of a seed in
whom all the nations of the earth were to be
blessed, he had almost seemed to overlook it
as he pleaded for the son of the bond-woman,
“Oh that Ishmael might live before thee!”
while to Abraham was then confirmed the
promise given before the birth of her child
to Hagar. There was sorrow and perplexity
in the heart of Abraham, but a message ftom
heaven confirmed the decree of Sarah.

The patriarch arose, after a night of conflict
and prayer, while the stars were still shining
in the heavens, while the flocks lay in stillness
around the tents, and before those who had
revelled and rejoiced were awake, and celled

Hagar and her child. Can we not sec them
5
50 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



in the gray of the morning? The father, the
mother, the child,—the patriarch, aged, but not
bowed by age, still retaining the vigour of man-
hood—the boy shy, yet half-defying—the mo-
ther! In such an hour, all distinctions of rank
and station would be forgotten, and all the feel-
ings of the woman be roused. Then and
there Hagar might well forget that she was
Sarah’s bondmaid, and only remember that
she had been Abraham’s wife—that she was
still Ishmael’s mother.

In that hour must have risen the memory
of her wrongs, of her saddened youth, her
darkened womanhood—of the selfishness with
which he had wedded her; of the heartlessness
with which he had deserted her ; of her long years
of trial and contempt. And her eye might
speak reproach, although the lips were closed
and there was no voice. Should we not re-

joice to believe that the patriarch whispered
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 51

—w— eee

some regret for the past, and spoke of sorrow
and repentance to her whose happiness he had
so selfishly sacrificed, even as he consummated
his work by casting her out, a homeless exile.
Such is the enslaving power of custom, 80
easily do we blind ourselves to our own delin-
quencies, that Abraham probably aggravated
Hagar’s faults while he overlooked her injuries.
He saw in her but the despiteful, revengeful
handmaid ; he forgot that she was an injured
wife—a neglected mother.

Yet no words of reproach, of entreaty, or
explanation of the past, or promise for the
future, are recorded as having passed between
them. He pronounced the decree, and laid
upon the bond-maid, and not upon his noble
boy, the provision for the journey. She turned
from the tents, and thus they parted!

But the connection of Abraham and Ha-

gar had woven a thread into the destiny of
52 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



nations, still to be traced. She left the pa-
triarch in sorrow, in bitterness of soul; but
she went out to found nations, to punish rulers,
to establish a long line who should transmit
the name of her son and the influence of her
character to remotest ages—even to the end
of time.

Accustomed to the wandering life of the
desert, and provided for the journey, Abraham
probably deemed Hagar competent to guide
her steps to a place of safety. But sorrow
may have blinded her eyes, or despair made
her reckless, and she was lost in the desert.
The water was spent in the bottle—tons of
gold could not open a fountain in the desert—
and she saw her child parched with thirst,
“faint and ready to die; and she cast him
under one of the shrubs, and went and sat a
good way off, as it were a bow-shot, for she
said, Let me not see the death of the child;
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 53



and as she sat over against him, she lifted up
her voice and wept. And God heard the
voice of the lad, and the angel of God called
to her out of heaven, and said unto her, What
aileth thee Hagar? Fear not! For God hath
heard the voice of the child where he is. Arise,
lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand, for
I will make of him a great nation. And God
opened her eyes, and she saw @ well of water,
and she went and filled the bottle with water,
‘and gave the lad to drink.” What an inimitable
description of a mother’s love! What a display
of the watchful benevolence of Jehovah!

In this hour of desolation, when no human
aid was near, there was again the Divine inter-
position, while there was no reproach, no
allusion even to that sinful temper which had
led to the banishment of both mother and_
child, and caused them to come here to

yerish in the wilderness. Blessed be God
5*
54 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



that he does not suffer the unworthiness of
his children to separate them from his love;
that in the hour of extremity he is still nigh;
that his ear is ever open to hear and his arm
ready to save.

“And God was with the lad: and he grew
and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an
archer; and he dwelt in the wilderness of
Paran.” And his mother still dwelt with
him; and in all his wanderings, wherever his
footsteps were turned, there was her home.
There is a touching remembrance of her early
life, in the fact that Hagar chose a wife for
her son from among the daughters of her own
people: ‘* She took him a wife out of the land
of Egypt.” And from this union have sprung
the tribes who still fill the deserts where Hagar
sought a refuge. A wild race, dwelling in

the presence of al] their brethren, whose hand
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 55



is against every man, while every man’s hand
is against them.

Ishmael rose rapidly to rank, and Hagar
lived to rejoice in his prosperity. The life
which commenced in want, privation and
wandering in the wilderness, conducted her to
wealth and honour. So dark and inscrutable
are the ways of Providence, that at each step
we are taught but to seck the path of duty
and obey the direction of Heaven.

The children of Ishmael seem to have long
preserved the knowledge of Jehovah. Hagar,
who had received so many proofs of the being,
power, and providence of the God of Abraham,
might well instruct her descendants in the prin-
ciples of the true faith. The race of Ishmael
have still preserved the rite which Abraham
received as the seal of faith. Often may
Hagar have recounted the providences of
God—the account she had heard, in the tent
56 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



of Abraham, of the creation, the fall, the deluge,
the re-peopling of the world; and often, in the
course of their wandering lives, she may have
led her descendants to those deep waters which
covered the guilty cities of the plain, and then
described them as she knew them before the
wrath of God fell upon them.

The tribes of Ishmael have ever recognised
their descent from Abraham; and the instruc-
tions of Hagar are preserved as national tradi-
tions to this very day, though exaggerated by
Eastern fancy, and mingled with wilder ro-
mance, as they have been transmitted from one
gencration to another by the children of Ish-
mael, who still lead their flocks in the same
valleys, and pitch their tents by the same foun-
tains to which Hagar resorted with Ishmael.

Hagar and Ishmacl were no more members
of Abraham’s household, yet the relationship

of father and son was ever recognised. Doubt-
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 57



less Abraham imparted of his wealth to his first-
born; and as Abraham often sojourned after-
wards in Beer-sheba, probably not far from
the spot where Hagar and Ishmael so nearly
perished, the father and son may have often met;
and Isaac and Ishmael may have held kindly
intercourse, when the bitter feelings of rivalry
and of conscious wrong had subsided. The ties
of kindred were still allowed, and Esau sought
a wife from the family of his own kindred, as a
means of conciliating his father and mother ;
thus showing that a purer morality and a
higher religious feeling were cherished than
those among surrounding tribes. And when
Abraham died, having attained a full age, his
sons, Isaac and Ishmael, both far advanced in
years, buried him. The strifes, the bitterness,
the hate of early life seem to have been for-
gotten, and they united in the last offices of
filial love and duty.
58 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



The son of the bondmaid had attained,
during the life of Abraham, a distinction beyond
that of the son of the wife; and his immedi-
ate descendant rose to wealth and honour,
while, if one branch of Isaac’s family tasted
prosperity, those recognised as the«heirs of
that mysterious blessing were long known
as wanderers, and then despised as slaves.
Their long line of descent has run parallel,
side by side, distinct, unmingled; recognising
a common origin, but never acknowledging a
common brotherhood. The oldest nations
of the earth,—the one exiled from the land given
them, dwelling as outcasts and strangers among
all the nations of the earth, yet still separate,
apart, a peculiar people; the other living at
this day in the deserts where Hagar wandered,
and where she fainted—a never-conquered
people. And while Assyrian, Greek, and

Roman have swept the world and exacted
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 59



tribute of the nations around them, and other
tribes have been swept with the besom of de-
struction, the sons of Ishmael have still dwelt
in the presence of their brethren, ever en-
forcing, but still refusing to pay tribute—free
and wild as the lad who first became an archer in
the wilderness. Unconsciously confirming pro-
phecy, and still attesting the truth of a revela-
tion which they contemn and deny,—thus
strangely dwelling so different from all other
nations,—preserving the initiatory rites and
the mystic symbols of the faith of Abraham,
the customs and traditions of the age of the
patriarch,—these nations dwell distinct, sepa-
rate from each other and from all other nations,
awaiting the day when blindness shall be re-
moved from the eyes of the children of promise,
and the descendants of Sarah and of Hagar
shall be both gathered with the fold of Christ.

There are Hagars of modern, as well as of
60 HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



ancient days,—of western as of eastern lands,
She who is wedded from interest and convenj«
ence; she who forms a heartless union from
pride and ambition; she who awakes from her
dreams of bliss to find herself an unloved, and
perhaps to become a deserted wife—all these
prove the bitterness of the lot of the Egyptian
Hagar. He who has ordained marriage has
graciously implanted the affections which arc to
make it a source of happiness; and those who
form this union under other motives and in-
fluences run fearful risks. There are many
Hagars in the highest ranks of life, and even
where the artificial distinctions of society are
most highly regarded and carefully recognised.

When youth is wedded to age or sacrificed
to decrepitude to promote some State policy,
though the victims are not clothed in the garb
of the Egyptian slave, but arrayed in the

pomp of regal vestments, yet the diamond
HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED. 61



often rests upon an aching brow, and the
pearls press a saddened bosom; and when the
holiest of earthly institutions is thus violated,
cach relation of life is profaned; and polluted
streams descend from the highest sources and
diffuse their poison through all the ranks of
life—through all the gradations of society.
There will still be Hagars—women who
marry for a home, or a support ; and especially
while woman is educated to be helpless—unable
to provide for her own wants; or while that pre-
judice is cherished which leads her to deem

useful employment a degradation.



HAGAR’S EXILE.

Sue fled, with one reproachful look
On him who bade her go,

And scarcely could the patriarch brook
That glance of voiceless wo:

In vain her quivering lips essay’d
lis mercy to implore ;

Silent the mandate she obey’d,

Aud then was seen no more.
6
62

HAGAR—THE WIFE UNLOVED.



The burning waste and lonely wild
Received her as she went;

Hopeless, she clasp’d her fainting child,
With thirst and sorrow spent.

And in the wilderness so drear,
She raised her voice on high,

And sent forth that heart-stricken prayer
‘*Let me not see him die!”

Her beautiful, her only boy,
Her all of hope below;
So long his father’s pride and joy,
And yet—from him the blow!
Alone she must his head sustain,
And watch his sinking breath,
And on his bright brow mark the stain
Of the destroyer, Death.

‘Let me not see him die,” and lo!
The messenger of peace !

Once more her tears forget to flow,
Once more her sorrows cease.

Life, strength, and freedom now are given
With mighty power to one

Who from his father’s roof was driven,
And he—the outcast’s son.

How often we, like Hagar, mourn,
When some unlook’d for blight
Drives us away, no more to turn
To joys we fancied bright!
Forced from our idols to retreat,
And seek the Almighty’s care,
Perchance we are sent forth to meet
A desert-angel there.

THE PARTIAL AND INTRIGUING
MOTHER—REBEKAH.



FTER the departure of
re Hagar and her son
| Sec) i from the tents of Abra-
a > kam, peace seems to
, have returned, and it
> \ became the abode of

filial and parental as




well as of conjugal affection. Sarah's days
were still prolonged, that she might exercise
the duties and enjoy the pleasures of a mother.

The heir of wealth, and the child of love and

indulgence, the character of Isaac scems to have
LS)
64 THE PARTIAL AND



been the reverse of his brother, the restless,
wandering Ishmael. The one, cast off from the
care of the father and taught to rely upon his
own energies, early distinguished himself, and
became the leader of a band, and a prince among
the nations around; while the other, cherished
and cared for, was content to dwell in the peace-
ful enjoyment of wealth and prosperity. Thus
do we find that trials are necessary to develope
the higher qualities and to call them into ac-
tion. The truly great and noble, the eminent
in talent or usefulness, are never nursed in the
bosom of ease.

Sarah died; and while the bereaved husband
felt his loss, the son could not have been insen-
sible. There was a dreary void in the home of
the patriarch when the wife and the mother
had been laid in the sepulchre. There was no
one to fill the place of Sarah—no one to bless

their simple meals. She no longer appears to
INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 65



welcome them as they returned from the field
or the flock. The tribe is without a mother,
the household without a mistress. Many con-
siderations led Abraham to desire the marriage
of his son, and he cast around his thoughts
for a wife worthy of being the mother of the
promised seed, and one who could well fulfil
the duties which must devolve upon her as the
head of his large household. The people
around him would have courted his alliance,
and as yet no command from God forbade his
forming family ties with the inhabitants of the
land. But Abraham too well knew the influ-
ence of the wife and the mother, to choose a
wife for the child of promise from a race apos-
tate from the religion of Jehovah. He knew
the ensnaring influence which would there be
brought to bear upon his family, and he resolved
to seck a wife for Isaac among his far-distant

kindred—those who yet retained the knowledge
oF
66 THE PARTIAL AND



and clung to the worship of the God of Shem,
of Noah, and of Adam. Though far separated
from his brethren, yet communications seem to
have passed, and Abraham had been told of the
enlargement of the family of his brother; and
he resolved, not only to seek a wife for his son
from among his own kindred, but, while making
arrangements for such a marriage, he solemnly
guarded against the return of his descendants
to the land from whence he had been called.
Trying as might be the long journey, and
uncertain as seemed the issue, no inferior mo-
tives were allowed to be put in competition with
the perpetuity of the worship and knowledge
of God. A connection with any of the families
of the Canaanites would have been at once en-
snaring to the household of Abraham and inju-
rious in its influence upon the heart of Isaac.
Had Isaac married the daughter of an idolater,

irreligion and immorality would soon have per-
INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 67

—_—_-_e_——

vaded the family of the patriarch, and the
knowledge of the true God have departed from
the earth. Thus the beacon light of nations had
been extinguished, and the last altar erected to
Jehovah had been broken down: for the other
descendants of Shem were fast departing from
the God of their fathers,—and if the children
of Keturah and Ishmael for a period retained
the faith of Abraham, the torch which kindled -
the fire on their altars was lighted at that which
was kept burning on those of Isaac and Jacob,
and the example of their families preserved
alive the remembrance and the acts of the liv-
' ing God in the nations around them.

With a train which became the suitor of a
prince, with costly presents of gold and orna-
ments according to the custom of both ancient
and modern days, but more particularly con-
forming to Eastern usage, the confidential ser-

vant of Abraham was sent on his embassy to
68 THE PARTIAL AND



the kindred of his master, there to receive a
bride for the son of the patriarch. We gain a
delightful impression both of the piety and in-
telligence of the household of Abraham from
the account of the messenger to whom this im-
portant transaction was intrusted. The faith
of the patriarch animated the other members
of his household, and a strong chain of love
encircled all. After a long journey, the train
reached the plains of Mesopotamia, and then
the tents of Nahor appeared in view; and then,
in the prospect of the immediate discharge of
his commission, the messenger of the patriarch
sought explicit direction from the God of Abra-
ham.

While the description of the interview at the
fountain, “‘ without the gate of the city,” gives
a most beautiful view of the manners of the
age and the people, and an unsurpassed picture

of the freshness and simplicity of pastoral life,
INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 69



it proves at once the piety and the clear dis-
crimination of the agent employed. The beau-
ty of the youthful Rebekah caught his eye,
while the test he devised afforded a safe crite-
rion of the character of the woman. Weary
with the labours of the sultry day, after tend-
ing her own flocks, had she been indolent or
inactive, selfish or sullen, she had turned from
his request, and suffered his attendants to ad-
minister to his wants. But as she looked upon
them—dusty, weary, parched by thirst, worn
down by long travel—the sympathies of a kind
nature were awakened, as the servant ran to
meet her, saying, “Let me, I pray thee, drink
a little water from thy pitcher.” She said,
“ Drink, my lord,” and she let down the pitcher
upon her hand and gave him to drink ; and when
he had done drinking, she said, “I will draw
water for thy camels also, until they have done

drinking.” Thus did the maiden clearly prove
70 THE PARTIAL AND



that she possessed some of the qualities most
necessary for a wife—that ready self-forget-
fulness, that kindness, cheerfulness, and desire
to promote the happiness of others, that sun-
shine of the heart which sheds its brightening
beams over all the clouds that darken domestic
life. Through all the ages of the world, in all
the circumstances in which mankind are placed,
the wife has ever need of them, and wisely may
the suitor look for them. But the servant of the
patriarch, “still wondering, held his peace.”
Not until assured that she was of the race of
the true worshippers of the God of Abraham,
that she had been trained in the fear of the
Lord, did he feel assured that the fair and kind
Syrian damsel was to be chosen for the wife of
his master’s son. He had felt that the prayer
was answered. He had taken out the rich
gifts intended for her, but he seems to hesitate

as he says, “ Whose daughter art thou! Tell
INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 71



me, I pray thee, is there room in thy father’s
house for us to lodge in?” And she answered,
“I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of
Milcah, whom she bore unto Nahor.”

“ And the man bowed down and worshipped
the Lord, and he said, Blessed be the Lord
God of my master Abraham, who hath not left
destitute my master of his mercy and his truth.
I being in the way, the Lord hath led me to
the house of my master’s brethren.”

The negotiation between the servant of
Abraham and the father and brothers of Re-
bekah was soon concluded. They deferred not
the answer to be given, when the messenger
had laid before them his errand, and told them
of the wealth and honour of his master; and
the whole transaction impresses us with an
idea of the piety .and kindness of the family
of Bethuel.

The thing is from the Lord—while the rich
72 THE PARTIAL AND



gifts, made to all the members of the family,
proved the truth of the statements of the mes-
senger, and perhaps enforced his plea. Yet,
when he urged the immediate departure of the
bride for the tent of her husband, the hearts of
the mother and of the brothers yet clung to the
youthful maiden. They shrank from a separa-
tion so sudden, so complete—and they said,
Let the damsel stay with us a few days—at
least ten. Oh, do not snatch her away from
us so suddenly. But after that, she shall go.

And he said, “‘ Hinder me not. Seeing that
the Lord hath prospered me, send me away
that I may go to my master.” And they said,
“We will call the maiden, and inquire at her
mouth.” And they called Rebekah, and said
unto her, “ Wilt thou go with this man?” And
she said, “I will go.”

Are we not, even at this period, taught lessons

of parental wisdom, in the care displayed by the
INTRIGUING MOTHER—KEBEKAH. 73



ancient patriarch respecting the choice of a wife
for his son? In the care taken to secure an un-
stained parentage in one who had been early
trained in the habits of piety and godly princi-
ples of action? The character of the family is
is often stamped upon each member, and the
marked features are transmitted from generation
to generation, even where the character of the
woman may be modified by her new relations.
As she advances in years she often returns to
the habits of her youth, while she almost inva-
riably adopts the practice of her own mother in
the early nurture and training of her children.

He who would have reformed France was
taught that he must begin his work by training
mothers. And thus the ancient patriarch fore-
saw that the great nation that was to descend
from him, like to the stars of heaven for multi-
tude, would long bear the impress of the cha-

racter of the mother who rocked it in the first
"
74 THE PARTIAL AND



cradle of its existence, and his wisdom was
manifested in the pains which he took to secure
a good lineage and right habits and principles.
The foresight of the father could go no farther.
Time must test the individual character.

After they left the tents of Bethuel, the
train, now augmented by the presence of the
bride and her immediate attendants, her nurse
and handmaids, slowly wended its way back
to the tents of the patriarch, pursuing the na-
tural highways of the country,—now by the
stream, then across the plain, then through the
desert, sandy, barren, trackless; then winding
through the mountain pass, encamping during
the heat of the day by the fountain and under
the shade, and pursuing their journey in the
cool of the evening and of the morning.

Love or devotion, or the mingling of both,
led Isaac out into the fields at eventide to medi-

ti te, and his feet turned towards the route by
INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 75



which his messengers might be expected, and
the eye of his servant descried him afar off, and
he pointed him out to the stranger. And while

the messenger seems to have hasted to meet his

master and give an account of his mission, Re-
bekah descended from her lofty seat and covered
herself with a veil.

Henry the Fourth, of France, met his bride
soon after she entered his kingdom, and mingled
with her attendants, that he might watch her
unobserved; and when his presence was an-
nounced she kneeled, and he gracefully raised
her up. Napoleon entered the carriage of his
Austrian bride, and announced himself, while
she gazed with wondering eyes upon one, long
only known as the enemy of her father’s house
and the terror of his kingdom. The meeting
of the heir of the patriarch and his youthful
bride is quite as interesting a scene as any of

those recorded of more modern days.
76 THE PARTIAL AND



And Isaac went out to meditate in the fields
at eventide, and he lifted up his eyes, and, be-
nold! the camels were coming. And Rebekah
lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac she
lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the
servant, “‘ What man is this that walketh in the
field to meet us?’ And the servant said, “It
is my master;” therefore she took a veil and
covered herself. And the servant told Isaac
all things that he had done. And Isaac brought
her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Re-
bekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her.

Rebekah seems to have made an affectionate,
happy wife. Many years passed before children
were born to Isaac; and when the twin boys,
Ksau and Jacob, were in childhood, there was
evidently a marked difference in their charac-
ters. HKsau was active, restless, and enterpris-
ing. He grewupa hunter,—daring and bold,

—loving . life of change and adventure; while
INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 17



Jacob was a “plain man, dwelling in tents.”
Blindness was stealing over Isaac and unfitting
him for the cares which rested upon him, for
the supervision of his numerous servants and
his many flocks and herds. During the fre-
quent absences of Esau upon his hunting ex-
peditions, these cares must have devolved upon
Rebekah and Jacob. Her heart clung to the
child who was ever with her in sympathy;
while the tales of peril and adventure with
which Esau enlivened the wearisome days of
his father, were as acceptable to blindness and
loneliness, as were the presents of the game
he so frequently brought. ‘And Isaac loved

?

Esau.”’ Thus the injudicious fondness of the
parents sowed the seeds of bitterness and alien-
ation between the two brothers, and led to their
mutual estrangement. The birthright, which
implied the inheriting of the blessing promised

to the seed of Abraham, was despised by Esau,
7*
78 THE PARTIAL AND



who, doubtless, in his prolonged wanderings
from home, and his frequent associations with
the inhabitants of the land, had been led te
feel contempt for the worship and the promiset
of God, and in his reckless levity he transferred
it to Jacob for “a mess of pottage,” while he
further alienated himself from his parents and
brother by marrying the daughter of a Hittite.
‘This was a grief and sorrow of mind to Isaac
and Rebekah.” Forgetting the respect due to
them as his parents ; forgetting his own position
as the eldest son of the heir of the promise ;
heedless of the example of filial deference
shown by Isaac, and of all the care that pre-
served the family free from the corruption
around them, he formed an union with those
who were strangers to the faith of Abraham
and of a race apostate from the worship of Jeho-
vah. Yet, while mourning the perverseness of
his favourite ch‘ld, the father, aged and blind,
INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 79



did not propose to withdraw his favour from
him; and, feeling that his infirmities increased,
Isaac bade Esau with his own hands prepare
him a favourite dish, that he might eat and
bless him before his death. Did we better un- |
derstand the customs of that age, we might find
that Isaac was not merely influenced by bodily
appetite, but that there might be a peculiar
significance in the act.

We do not love to dwell upon Rebekah’s de-
ceit and the lessons of falsehood she taught her
son—and the prophecy uttered before the birth
of the children, neither justifies nor extenuates
her guilt; for God has never taught his people,
that to promote his plans they are to violate
his laws.

Alienated from her elder son, we see Re-
bekah, ky intrigue and treachery, seeking to

advance the interests of the younger at the
80 THE PARTIAL AND



expense of the rights of his brother. As we
read the sacred narrative, every sympathy is
awakened in favour of the injured Esau, and
we hear, with burning indignation against the
author of his wrong, his pathetic ery, “‘ Hast
thou no blessing for me! Bless me, even me,
my father!’ But the artifice of the mother
and wife was successful. She secured all she
sought—and her success brought its own punish-
ment. Dark clouds of hate settled over the
household, and Esau waited only for the death
of his father that he might destroy the life of
his brother ; and to save the life of her son, the
mother was forced to send him into banish-
ment. Again the intriguing, managing cha-
racter of the mother appears. She assigned
what might be a reason, but not the true reason,
to Isaac. ‘I am weary of my life, because of

the daughters of Heth. If Jacob takes a wife
INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 81



of the daughters of Heth, such as these which
are of the daughters of the land, what good
shall my life do me?”’. The plea of the mother
prevailed, and Isaac blessed Jacob, and he left
the land of his father, ostensibly to seek a wife,
but in truth to flee from the vengeance of his
brother.

The son of the wealthy patriarch went not
out like an Eastern suitor—not with a train
such as Abraham sent when he wooed Rebekah
for his son. To avoid the hate of Esau, he
stole like a fugitive from the tents of Isaac;
and, a foot-worn pilgrim, unattended, he sought
the kindred of his mother. And here the
mother and her favourite child parted. She
had alienated his brother to promote his in-
terests. She had sacrificed her integrity to
secure his fortune, and her plan had succeeded.
She had secured the object at which she had

aimed, and yet in the result she had been forced
82 THE PARTIAL AND



to send forth her darling child—a homeless
wanderer.

There is no reason to believe that the mother
and the son ever met again. From this time
she disappears. Surrounded by the alienated
Esau’s hated wives and ill-loved children,
separated from the child of her affection, she
may have sunk into a premature grave, or she
may have lived many sorrowful years to feel
the miseries she had drawn upon herself by her
violations of the rules of rectitude, and an
eager desire to promote the happiness of one
child at the sacrifice of that of another.

There are still too many families involved in
all the bitterness of domestic strife from the
unjust partiality of one or both of the parents
for favoured children. If, as children advance
in life and their characters are formed, a
calmer feeling succeeds the trembling tender-

ness which guarded their infant days, and our
IXTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAH. 83



love to them (as to all other mortal beings) re-
sults from an appreciation of their characters,
so that one may awaken a purer regard than
another, this feeling is very different from that
partial fondness which adopts one and gives
him a place in our affection to the exclusion of
another. That instinctive justice which com-
pels a higher regard for the purer moral worth,
will, of itself, prevent that parental partiality
which leads to injustice or to an infringement
of established rights and recognised principles.
An unjust parent presents one of the most
revolting pictures of human nature. The
character involves a disregard of the most
sacred tics and the tenderest relations. And
whoever exhibits parental injustice, or that
partial fondness which leads to injustice, at
once destroys the affections and violates the
moral sense. Families trained under such

influences, still exhibit revolting scenes of
84 THE PARTIAL AND



human depravity—of bitterness, strife, aliena-
tion and revenge. Who can tell how much of
the estrangement of Esau, and this early intro-
duction of the worship of strange gods among
his descendants, may have been induced by the
conscious alienation of his mother, and the un-
just preference of the interests of his brother ?
Had Rebckah, with a mother’s love, striven to
win her eldest son back to his father’s tent and
the altar of his God—had she still respected
his rights and preserved his regard by unde-
viating truth and faithfulness, she would have
retained a strong hold upon him, and her influ-
ence might have been long felt by her descend-
ants, in restraining them from the sins of those
around them. |
We cannot yet part with the two principal
actors in these sad scenes of treachery and de-
ceit. We think of Rebekah, the companion of
her blind husband—deprived of the son who had
INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKANH. 85



shared and alleviated her cares, and conscious
of having awakened that bitter hate which
would seck the blood of a brother—still follow-
ing in her thoughts the footsteps of the wan-
dering Jacob, feeling that by her own intrigues
she had banished him from his home and her
presence.

And we may follow Jacob, as he stole from
the tents of Isaac, a wanderer like the first
fugitive, with his brother’s curse upon him.
Until this hour all Jacob’s views and feclings
seem earthly and grovelling. Until now, there
has been no indication of that trust and piety
which afterwards marked his life. He had
seemed worldly, cunning, ready to snatch any
personal advantage. From this period he
seems to awaken to a higher—a spiritual life.
He seems to have comprehended the deeper
meaning of promise and prophecy. We cannot

tell what remorseful and despairing thoughts
8
86 THE PARTIAL AND



filled his soul as he left his home—how strange
and inexplicable may have seemed all the ways
of God toward him. Yet he must have felt
that, in punishment of his deceit and falschood,
he was thus sent forth with but his scrip and
staff, while he left Esau to inherit the posses-
sions of his father.

We had wandered until he was faint and
weary, and then he had Jain himself down on
the earth, with stones for his pillow and the
heavens for the curtains of his tent. In
the silence of the night his soul was opened to
spiritual revealings—to those influences from
heaven which marked the change in his future
life. He saw the angels of God ascending and
descending upon him. Often before this may
they have visited him—constantly may they
have hovered over him—but now he was made
conscious of the presence, watch and interposi-

tion of the heavenly intelligences of the higher
INTRIGUING MOTHER—REBEKAI. 87



presence of the God of Abraham. From this
hour we trace a different influence pervading
the heart and life of Jacob. He was awakened
to higher motives—and from this hour he en-
tered into covenant with God, and took Him to
be his God.

And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and
said, ‘ ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I
knew it not;” and he was afraid, and said,
«“ Tow dreadful is this place! This is none other
than the house of God—and this is the gate of
heaven.” And Jacob rose up early in the morn-
ing, and took the stone that he had put for his
pillow, and set it for a pillar, and poured oil upon
the top of it. ‘And he called the name of that
place Bethel.” And Jacob vowed a vow, saying
“Tf God will be with me, and will keep me in the
way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and
raiment to put on, so that I come again to my

father’s house in peace, then shall the Lord
88 THE PARTIAL MOTHER—REBEKAH.



be my God, and this stone, which I have set
for a pillar, shall be God’s house, and of all
that thou shalt give me I will surely give the
tenth unto thee.”

The future life of Jacob was not free from
the infirmity of human purpose—the imperfec-
tion of human nature. Yet from this time he
walked with God, and all his deportment was
marked by deep and humble piety. We doubt
not that at this period he passed through that
transforming change by which, in every age, and
under every dispensation, the human soul has
been enabled to enter into the mysteries of the
spiritual life and enjoy communion with the
Author of its existence, through that Spirit
which breathed the first breath of life by which

man became a living soul.

THE RIVAL SISTERS—LEAH
AND RACHEL.

yam SR >

om
re . 50 on ILERE are two cha-
D—o-S Us. NV
3 ey da Uy '® yacters, which by some

SUES OR a IEP associations of me-







EP °
ss Sz 4 mory, or caprice of
Ve.) ) Ca ¥
CW A ws ) fancy, are ever blend-
: J J e yj . e
PBS KES ed in our recollections

—the one of ancient, the other of modern days

—the one of sacred, the other of profane his-

tory. Catharine of Arragon, the unloved con-

sort of the King of England, and Leah, the

daughter of the Syrian shepherd, the hated
8* 89
90 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



wife of the Hebrew patriarch. There may
seem to be as little assimilation of character

and destiny, as there is of condition, between
the daughter and the wife of a Syrian shep-

herd, and the daughter of one of the proudest
monarchs of Spain and the wife of the haughti-
est king of England; but they were both
women, and both wives of those who loved
them not; and this fact, whatever the con-
dition of woman, stamps her lot as one of
wretchedness. The wife neglected and des-
pised is a woman sorrowful, whether she
be the inmate of a tent or the dweller in
a palace—whether she tend the flock or
grace the throne.

Catharine of Arragon, the daughter of
Isabella and Ferdinand, seems a truth-loving,
devout woman, well prepared to welcome the
great principles advanced by the Reformers,

had she not been placed in circumstances
LEAH AND RACHEL. 91



most adverse to their influence. Had Henry
embraced the doctrines and the principles of
the Reformation from a conviction of their
truth and importance—had he sought to
regulate his own life by the pure precepts
of the Bible, and thus striven to disseminate
a pure faith among his people—had the con-
scientious Catharine been the patroness and
the friend of the Reformers, instead of the
trifling, if not guilty, Anne Boleyn—the En-
glish church and the state of religion in the
English nation would doubtless have presented
a different history for the past, and a different
aspect for the future.

But these are vain speculations. Catharine
lived and died in the Papal faith. From the
circumstances in which she was placed, she
clung to it as to her womanly honour, her
queenly dignity—as she would preserve her
name from blight, her child from shame. And
92 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



when she saw herself supplanted, when she
was disgraced, divorced, her child declared ille-
gitimate, and she knew her death was desired
by one to whom she had been a devoted,
faithful wife, what words could be more touch
ing than those the dramatist gives as her last
message to the king! “Tell him, his long
sorrow has passed away.” Oh, none but a
wife dying thus, with the bitter consciousness
that her life was undesired and that her death
would be unregretted, can feel their full import.

The bells which had tolled for Catharine
of when the roar of the cannon announced the
execution of Anne. The one died in January,
the other was beheaded in May; and she who,
by exciting and encouraging the unholy love of
the king, had unchained his fierce passions
and taught him to break through all restraints,

was herself, full early, their victim.
LEAH AND RACHEL. 93



Shall we pass from the palaces of England
to the tents of Mesopotamia—from the last
days of chivalry to those of the ancient patri-
archs and shepherds of the earliest of recorded
ages ?

When the wandering Jacob reached the
abode of his mother’s kindred, the land of
Haran, he met, at the same fountain at which
Rebekah had watered the flocks of the messen-
ger of Abraham, the daughter of her brother
Laban. He had seated himself by the well,
and when the maiden came, he aided her to
water her flocks; and he was thus introduced
to his kinsmen by Rachel; and he told them that
he was the son of Rebekah, of whom, perhaps,
they had long lost the recollection ; and with
all the hospitality of the East—that hospitality
which ever prevails among a simple and pas-
toral people—he was welcomed by the kindred

of the mother.
94 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



The brother of Rebekah had two daughters.
Leah, the elder, was tender-eyed, but Rachel
was beautiful; and both sisters loved their
cousin, while the heart of Jacob clung to the
younger, the fair damsel who first welcomed
him; so that he overlooked the claims of the
elder,—the plain, if not disfigured, Leah. He
brought no offerings with him to conciliate the
favour of the father, and, according to the cus-
tom of the East, to facilitate his marriage. But
he offered his personal service as an equivalent.
And the son of Isaac served seven years for
the daughter of Laban. But this long period
was passed ; and dwelling, as Jacob did, in the
presence of Rachel, a member of the household
of her father, they seemed but as a few days,
for the love he bore her.

But the time had now arrived when the mar-
riage should be celebrated, and Jacob claimed

his bride. But he who had wronged his bro-
LEAH AND RACHEL. 95



ther, who had by disguise deceived his father,
was now imposed upon by guile and treachery ;
and all the hopes and expectations of these
long years were defeated. The customs of
Eastern marriages favoured the deceit, and
Jacob found that he was wedded to Leah, and
not to the object of his affection. The deceit
was most unjustifiable. The disappointment
and the resentment must have been propor-
tionably great; and miserable was the excuse
of Laban, and wretched the device which was
offered as anatonement. Yet Jacob must have
bowed before the retributions of an avenging
God, and the remembrance of his own treach-
ery may have stayed his anger.

Thus commenced the family of Jacob, with
all the elements of dissension, strife and bitter-
ness incorporated into its very earliest exist-
ence. The daughters of Laban both became

the wives of Jacob, and they were rivals as
96 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



women, as sisters, as wives and as mcthers—
forced to ‘dwell together, yet ever in sullen
hatred or bitter strife. When the ties of
natural affection are severed, the heart never
ceases to bleed; and there is no hatred so deep,
so implacable as that which springs up where
hearts once knit are thus alienated and forced
asunder: and the sorrows and evils which
sprang up in the family of Jacob may have
led to that command so explicitly given by
Moses—“ Neither shalt thou take a wife to
her sister to vex her, in her lifetime.”

The heart of Jacob never departed from
Rachel. She was the chosen bride. He loved
her with a deep and true affection, while the
forced claims of Leah awoke only the remem-
brance of the deceit. In the emphatic lan-
guage of the Bible, “he loved Rachel, but he
hated Leah,” and it was in accordance with

the constant exhibitions of human nature that
LEAH AND RACHEL. 97



*; should be thus. He had never sought her
love. No love, no devotedness, could efface
the remembrance of her connivance at that
deep-laid plot which had imposed her upon
him as a wife. Yet the lot of Leah was pecu-
liarly a lot of reproach and trial—and as we
behold her wretchedness, we are led, not to
extenuate her fault, nor to palliate her sin,
but to forgive and pity her sorrows.

In early youth the sympathies are all
awakened for the beautiful and the beloved
Rachel, the only chosen, the betrothed bride.
As we advance in years, in deeper acquaint-
ance with human hearts, in truor fellowship in
human suffering, we learn to feel for the plain
and hated Leah. There is something deeply
touching in the quiet sorrow which marks her
lot ; in her deep consciousness of her husband's
alienation and her sister’s hate. We feel how

difficult it might have seemed to resist the
9
98 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



authority of the father, when it was aided by
the pleadings of her own affection and the
customs of her people. We glance into the
tents of Jacob, and contrast Leah with the
beautiful, the loved, the indulged, the self-willed
Rachel. There we see her, plain and unat-
tractive in person, broken in spirit, bowed down
by the consciousness of her own sin and her
husband’s hate—her sister’s bitter contempt—
striving, though scarce hoping, to win the
love of her husband; and welcoming the
anguish of a mother, with the fond assurance,
“Now will my husband love me, for I have
borne him a son.”

We follow the sisters, as, still side by side,
but with alienated hearts and _ estranged
affections, they depart from the tents of their
father to follow the footsteps of their husband,
—Rachel and her offspring are the first objects

of the care, as of the affection, of the patriarch.
LEAH AND RACHEL. 99

Yet we find Rachel, the loved and indulged
wife, more murmuring, more repining, more
fault-finding than Leah. By sorrow and
trial, Leah may have learned submission ;
and the dearest earthly hopes disappointed—
all her affections as a wife crushed and des-
pised—in her hour of grief, and in the deso-
lation of a widowhood of hate, she may have
sought and found that love which never fail-
eth, which giveth liberally and upbraideth not.

And He whose car is ever open to the
cry of his creatures, who forgives even while
he punishes their iniquities, pitied Leah, and,
without upbraiding her for that deceit by
which she became a wife, gave her the joys
of a mother; and in all the names bestowed
upon her children, Leah at once recognises
the mercy of God, while she still remembers
that she is hated of her husband—attesting at

once her conscious sorrow und her trusting faith.
100 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



Rachel was childless—and when she saw
Leah rejoicing as a mother, it awoke all the
bitterness of envy. With the unreasonable
pettishness of a wife ever indulged, she re-
proached her husband. For once, the anger
of Jacob was kindled against the idolized
Rachel. “Am I in God’s stead?” said he.
The consciousness of being the loved and the
cherished one—the overflowing tenderness and
the ready indulgence which Rachel received,
made her only more exacting and imperious ;
and while Leah seemed softened by trials
and sorrows, her sister grew more unreasona-
ble by indulgence, and was at once haughty
and insolent. So corrupt is human nature,
that the gratification of our desires too often
merely excites the pride and haughtiness of
the human heart, and the prosperous claim
the blessings of Heaven as a matter of right ;

while it is mercifully ordained that the very
LEAH AND RACHEL. 101



sorrow which ever follows transgression, the
evils which await all departures from duty
and right, should, by their very tendency,
awaken repentance and lead to a penitent
and humble spirit.

When the daughters of Laban left the
house of their father, either from a latent
superstition, or from a family cupidity, Rachel
stole the household gods of Laban and secre-
ted them; and with an art worthy of the
daughter of Laban, she prevented her father
from reclaiming them; thus paving the way
for the introduction of idolatry into the house-
hold of Jacob. He had already introduced
polygamy by his marriage with her, and, to
secure her, and thereby gratify her rivalry
of her sister, he had multiplied his wives,
and brought upon himself still heavier sor-
rows and trials. It was the beauty of Rachel

which first captivated the eye, and then en-
ge
102 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



thralled the heart of Jacob; and the wisest
of men, thus ensnared, are still led inte sin
and folly. All the influences of Rachel upon
his heart and life seem to have been unhappy ;
and the narrative shows that the strongest
passion, gratified in defiance of prudence and
previously imposed obligation, can only lead to
disappointment and vexation. The two sisters
both proved the love of the wife, in leaving all
at the command of the husband; and the God
in whom Jacob still trusted, guarded him
against all the designs of Laban, averted
the wrath of his brother, and guided him to
the land of Isaac. He had passed Jordan
with his staff and his scrip—he went out an
outcast, and a fugitive; he returned with the
train of a chief, the retinue of an Eastern
prince; and his heart swelled with thanks-
giving as he recounted the mercy and remem-
bered the faithfulness of Jehovah. His father
LEAH AND RACHEL. 103



was still living—-the nurse of Rebekah, who
so long since had left the family of Bethuel,
came to close her eyes in the tents of the
grand-daughter of her former master; but
the mother who had led her son into sin, who
had taught him to practise that deceit which
had recoiled upon himself, is not mentioned.
She, doubtless, was laid by the side of Abra-
ham and of Sarah, in the cave of Machpelah.
She had anticipated a short absence, a tran-
sient separation from her son. She purposed
to send for him to return to his father, that
he might yet be heir of the estate ; but when
Jacob did return in wealth and honour—yet
bearing that bitter burden of care and sor-
row, from which no honour, no wealth are
exempt,—she who would have assuredly ex-
ulted in the one, and sympathized with the
other, was not in the tent of Isaac. She came

not forth to welcome her son, to embrace her
104 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



relatives and daughters or caress their chil-
dren. Her place in the tent and at the board
was vacant—her voice was hushed—her heart
cold. The places that had known her, knew
her no more. And thus it often is. Before
man attains wealth or honour, those who had
most rejoiced to witness it have passed away ;
while still, fair as is the outward lot, there are
internal sorrows, imbittering every pleasant
draught, and casting a shadow over all the
rightness of human existence. Thus it is that
the most prosperous are often followed by a
cloud, reflecting glory and radiance upon such
as are without, but covering with gloom and
darkness those who fall within its shadow.

And soon followed the bitterest trial of
Leah’s life,—the shame, Sorrow, and widow-
hood of her only daughter ; avenged by
those who neglected to guard her—while the

husband, though indifferent to the sorrow and
LEAH AND RACHEL. 105



love of the wife, must have felt the anguish
of the father.

And the rivalry and strife of the sisters was
over. ‘Give me children or else I die,” was
the cry of the wife whose wishes had been
laws—and the prayer prompted by hate and
envy was answered. Yet Rachel died. And
in that hour of mortal agony, of bitter suffer-
ing, Leah probably stood by her sister. With
affections estranged, love turned into bitter-
ness, with hearts alienated, but fates insepa-
rably united, they had passed their days.
Their tents had been pitched side by side,—
the voices of their children had been mingled
together as they fell upon their mothers’ ears,
—they had been called to worship at the same
altar,—they had been members of the same

household.
Forced thus to dwell together, constantly to

meet, to be familiar with the same objects, to
106 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



have the same interests, they were alienated, but
not separated; and if their feelings were crushed,
they were not afl uprooted. As Leah saw her
younger, her beautiful sister in the hour of
extremity, in the agonies of a mother’s suf-
ferings, the sympathies of a woman must
have risen with the love of a sister, and bitter
tears of repentant sorrow must she have shed
upon the pallid brow and quivering lips, as
the hopes and the memories of youth and child-
hood gathered around, to reproach her for
that deceit by which she had sown their path
through mutual life with thorns, and made
their joys to be but ashes. There are no
tears so bitter as those which are shed by
affection, too late revived, over those whom
we have loved and yet injured,—over those
from whom we have suffered ourselves to be
estranged.

Rachel was buried in the way to Ephrath,
LEAH AND RACHEL. 107



which is Bethlehem. She was not laid in the
sepulchre of Abraham. The children were left
to the fostering care of her hated sister. Her
sons passed through trials from which she could
not guard them, and they came to honours
while she knew it not. At this distance, her
life seems to us a dream—a few years of
pleasant childhood, a short vision of youth-
ful love,—then comes: the strife of life, its
stern discipline, its bitter trials, its disappointed
hopes, and its termination in the grave.

As we dwell upon the characters so truth-
fully delineated in the word of God, and
follow the record of human pride, passion and
infirmity, we are taught at once to magnify
and adore the patience, the forbearance and
the mercy of Jehovah. And Ict us remember
that it is because these characters are reflected
in the pure mirror of truth that the dark
shades so plainly appear. In every age the
108 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



heart of man is the same; but the temptations
which especially evince this depravity may be
peculiar to some particular age or condition.

We know not how long Leah survived her
sister. Her advancing years were not exempt
from affliction, and age brings its own trials;
yet prosperity rested upon Jacob—and in the
declino of life she may have known happiness
desired, but not realized, in youth.

After the death of his beloved Rachel, the
heart of Jacob may have turned to Leah, and
a peaceful friendship have succeeded the storm
and the conflicts of youthful passion. Sorrow
may have knit hearts softened by the mutual
consciousness of error and by the tears of
repentance, and strengthened by the hopes
of pardon, and drawn to each other by the
strong ties of parental love for their mutual
offspring. When the patriarch was called
into Egypt, Leah went not with him. He
LEAH AND RACHEL. 102



had laid her in the gathering-place of his
sons, in the tent of his fathers. From the
touching expression of the dying patriarch—
himself far from the land of his fathers’ sepul-
chres—“ And there I buried Leah,” we feel
that, in age and bereavement, the heart of
Jacob turned to Leah. The repudiated wife of
his youth became the solace of his age, and her
memory awoke the last tender recollections
in the dying patriarch. As we have read the
book of God, we have been taught that good,
inordinately coveted, or obtained by injustice
and deceit, ever brings a curse. The princi-
pal actors in the events recorded in these
chapters of Genesis, may have secured the ob-
ject which they sought, yet the attainment did
not avert or mitigate the punishment of the
treachery by which it was secured.

Rebekah obtained the birth-right and the co-

veted blessing for her favourite child, and by
10
110 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



that act separated him from herself and
doomed him to a banishment from his father’s
house, and from that hour she saw his face no
more. Laban secured by his deceit the mar-
riage of his unattractive daughter and the
establishment of the beautiful Rachel, but he
thus alienated the children he still seems to
have loved, and that wealth which he so |
coveted.

Leah, by her connivance at her father’s
deceit, married the man she loved, but it was
to lead a life of bitter, of heart-consuming
sorrow. Jacob, departing from the institution
of marriage that he might yet possess Rachel,
entailed upon himself a career of strife, bitterness
and disappointment; and introduced into his
family an example that became a fruitful
source of individual depravity and national
corruption; while he first witnessed the evil

effects of his complicated domestic relations
LEAH AND RACHEL. 111



in the conduct of his eldest son, and felt at
once his shame as a husband and his reproach
as a father. And are not these things written
for our edification? Are we not, in every page
of God’s word, taught explicitly that for man
there is neither safety nor happiness save in
the path of duty and of literal obedience ? That
each departure from the rule of right, what-
ever be the motive, and crowned as it may seem
to be with success, draws a long succession of sin
and sorrow in its train? Many have studied
the word of God to justify sin, or palliate
guilt, by the examples of the former dispen-
sation. Let it be carefully studied, and it will
show that the transgression which secured a
positive object, still brought its punishment,—
if delayed, never remitted—although successful,
never justified. The word of God never

justifies crimes, though in infinite wisdom He
112 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



over-rules them to promote the designs of his
eternal providence.

Modern days and Christian institutions allow
no examples of the exact type of the strife and
rivalry exhibited in the household of the patri-
arch of Israel. Yet, while human nature re-
mains as it is, there will ever be the jealousies,
the strifes, the bitterness arising from misplaced
affection, or alienated hearts, or jarring interests.
There is still to be found the coquetry which
would win love from a sister or a friend, and
the treachery that would supplant the rival—
as there are still fathers who, for motives of in-
terest, would sacrifice their daughters, regardless
of their hearts or their happiness. Youthful
beauty still attracts the eye and wins the heart,
and the best and wisest of men are too often
enthralled by mere personal attraction.

Human nature is ever the same, and the

motives and feelings which swayed the genera-
LEAH AND RACHEL. 113



tions who have mouldered back to dust are
still felt and acknowledged.

While we thus attempt to trace the outlines
of the domestic history of these individuals, we
cannot but feel that there is a surpassing beauty
and excellence in the character of Abraham.
He bore the fresh impress of a renovated world,
and was truly worthy of the pre-eminence which
is always allotted to him. Isaac seems to
have dwelt in quiet, peaceful prosperity. In-
heriting great wealth, dwelling until mature
age with his parents, there seem to have
been few occasions in which the prominent
traits of the character are displayed. His
life offers less of interest, less to excite, less
to praise and less to blame than either Abra-
ham’s or Jacob’s. The father’s energy, patience,
faith and obedience had prepared the way for
the prosperity of the son; and Isaac, nursed in

affluence and cherished by maternal affection,
10*
114 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



seems to have exhibited less energy, enterprise
and decision than either his father or his descend-
ants. His premature blindness doubtless con-
duced.to this inactive life. Yet he trusted and
obeyed the God of his father, though he enjoyed
neither the exalted faith of Abraham, nor was
he favoured with the enlarged prophetic views
of Jacob.

In all the trials and infirmities of Jacob—
from the day in which he left his father’s
house until the hour in which “he gathered
his feet in his bed and died” in Egypt—we
see the evidence and the growth of true piety,
of enlarged faith. He was encompassed with
infirmities, and these infirmities betrayed him
into sins, which brought in their train the sor-
rows which, through Divine grace, purified and
sanctified him. Thus his character excites our
increasing love and sympathy, and his advancing

piety our veneration.
LEAH AND RACHEL. 115



From the glimpses we obtain of the families
of Nahor, Bethuel, and Laban, we trace a
gradual departure from Jehovah among the
descendants of Shem. Nahor and Abraham
were possessors of like faith. They both
worshipped the God of their fathers—of Shem,
of Noah, of Methusaleh, of Enoch, of Seth, of
Adam. Bethuel’s household still remained a
household of faith, but in Laban we see the
beginning of a departure from the true God.
The first steps towards idolatry were taken.
There was the resort to a sensible representa-
tion,—some image probably used as a symbol
of the true God at first, but certainly ensnaring
the heart, and ending in idolatry. Thus the
gods of Laban, which Rachel stole, were lead-
ing him and his family rapidly to idol-worship,
and to forgetfulness of the true God. Still he
had not sunk into gross idolatry. Laban still
pledged himself, and invoked the name of the
116 THE RIVAL SISTERS:



God of Abraham and of Nahor, and of ther
fathers, when he entered into covenant with
Jacob. He had not yet altogether abjured
the worship of Jehovah: he had begun to
mingle a false worship with it, and thus pre-
pared the way for the full apostasy of his
decendants.

That the chosen people might be kept from
the taint of idolatry, Jacob left Laban; yet
Rachel had stolen her father’s images—and
there is then great significance in that act
by which Jacob renewed his covenant with
God, when called upon to build the altar at
Bethel.

“‘ And Jacob said unto his household, and to
all that were with him, Put away the strange
gods that are among you and be clean, and
change your garments: and let us arise and
go up to Bethel; and I will make there an

altar unto God, who answered me in the day
LEAH AND RACHEL. 117



of my distress, and was with me in the way
which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all
the strange gods which were in their hand, and
all their ear-rings which were in their ears;
and Jacob hid them under the oak which was
by Shechem.”

Probably the ear-rings were used as heathen
charms or amulets. While idolatry, as a leprosy,
was thus beginning to infect the household, he
saw the need of their purification; and there
seems no accidental connection between this
searching out and putting away of idolatry in
the household of Jacob and the following death
of Rachel: “ With whomsoever thou findest thy
gods, let him not live.”

The cherished wife of Jacob, deeply tainted
with the superstitions by which her family were
corrupting the religion of J ehovah, may have
been thas removed to prevent further contagion.

While the apostle may refer to this example in
118 THE RIVAL SISTERS.



his promise: “ Nevertheless she shall be saved
in child-bearing, if she continue in the faith.”
And this sin may have excluded Rachel from
the sepulchre of Abraham. The plague-spot
disappears from this time, and the purification
of the household was availing. For many
generations, whatever their other sins, the

children of Jacob were kept from idolatry.

MIRIAM.

THE INFLUENCE OF WOMEN UPON TIE DESTINY
AND CHARACTER OF MAN, AS EXEMPLIFIED IN
TIIE LIFE OF MOSES.



% HERE were designs of

infinite wisdom to be



‘oer by the

st long sojourn of the

Egypt. The people of
Israel were appointed
to guard the name and worship of J ehovah,
until He who was to bring life and immortality
to light should rise from among them. Until

e “Star” that was to come from Jacob should

shed its glorious radiance over this darkened
119
120 MIRIAM.



earth. When all the children of men were Je-
parting from God, He chose this family to
perpetuate the memory of his works and his
mighty acts in preserving the first history of
the race, and to prepare the way for the fulfil-
ment of the designs of infinite mercy toward
a sinful and apostate world. By miracles and
judgments, by type and prophecy, by altars
and sacrifices, he kept before this people the
mysterious promise given in the hour of trans-
gression.

From this family was to descend him who
was to be the light of the Gentiles, and the
glory of Israel, him who was at once the Al-
mighty Saviour, the everlasting Father, the
wonderful Counsellor, the man of sorrows and
acquainted with grief, who bore our sickness,
and took upon himself our iniquities. And
while from the family of Israel that high

spiritual influence was to emanate, which was
MIRIAM. 12)



to renovate men’s moral nature and change
the aspect and condition of the race, restoring
the knowledge of the true God; and again,
through the great atoning sacrifice, opening the
gates of eternal life and bringing spiritual bless-
ings to all mankind,—the character of the chil-
dren of Israel, their civil institutions, their
legislation, their history, their laws, their lite-

rature, were to leave their impress upon all
the nations of the earth.

The apostle accounts it the chief honour of
the Jews that unto them were committed the
oracles of God. They were employed to tran-
scribe and preserve the inspired books. From
them went forth those who first announced the
great truths of a Saviour crucified and a Com-
forter promised. For successive ages the nation
of Israel stood surrounded by the heathen
world,—stood the witnesses of the faithfulness

of Jehovah, the monuments of his truth and
11
122 MIRIAM.



power, the only nation upon the face of this
earth who worshipped the true God.

Thick moral darkness shrouded all other
lands—the nation of Isracl alone had light in
their dwellings, and the beams of the rising Sun
of righteousness fell upon them and revealed
the gross darkness around them.

And he who had chosen the people of Israel
for such a high purpose, in infinite wisdom de-
vised the means to fit them for their destina-
tion, and he guided and guarded them in cach
stage of their national existence. Egypt was
one of the first kingdoms founded after the
deluge, and it is probable that those who re-
peopled it after this event, had retained many
impressions of the former world. Her monu-
ments, yet remaining, attest the high antiquity
of her arts and sciences, and her early ad-
vancement in refinement and civilization.

Iler priests and wise men were the instruct-
MIRIAM. 128



ors of the ancient world, and the philosophers
of Greece resorted to Egypt to study legislation
and philosophy, and Egypt imparted to Greece,
and Greece to Rome, the arts and sciences by
which they refined and elevated Europe.

God designed Egypt to be the nursery of the
nation of Israel. The granary of the ancient
world offering abundant sustenance, he brought
Jacob and his sons into it as one family, and
here they remained until they multiplied and
increased, and became like the stars of heaven
for number; and He who led them into Egypt
ordained all the events of their national history
so as to promote his own eternal plans.

The patriarch led his children, with thei
flocks and herds,—the wealth of a pastoral peo-
ple,—into this land as the invited guests of Pha-
raoh, the monarch of Egypt. And as he bowed
before the king, the aged patriarch taught him

at once the brevity of man’s life and the un-
124 MIRIAN.



satisfying nature of all earthly enjoyments, as
recalled at the close of a long pilgrimage:
‘Few and evil have been the days of the years
of my pilgrimage.” Pharaoh received the aged
man with respect, and showed him all honour;
while in consideration of the pastoral habits of
his sons, a portion of land, separate from the
Egyptians, was allotted them for a place of
abode. Thus they were kept a distinct, un-
mingled people, and enabled to maintain their
own peculiar institutions, practise the rites of
their own religion, and preserve the worship of
the God of Abraham. And in all the oppres-
sion which they here sustained, we do not find
that their religion was ever persecuted or their
rites forbidden. And as Egypt was the cradle
of the nation of Israel, so it was to be the school
in which the children of Jacob were to form a
national character. The wandering, pastoral

tribes, transformed into an agricultural people
MIRIAM. 125



and settled residents, and instructed in the arts
of civilized life, were fitted to take possession
of the allotted heritage. After fostering their
infancy and feebleness, the monarchs of Egypt
gradually changed their course as the increas-
ing numbers of the Israelites excited jealous
apprehension. Yet all this varying policy and
every cruel edict advanced the designs of Jeho-
vah and promoted the welfare of his chosen
people. The cruelty of the Egyptians alien-
ated the hearts of the Israelites from the nation
and from the land of Egypt, and kept freshly
before them the remembrance of the inherit-
ance promised. While considered as strangers,
treated as aliens, and surrounded by enemies, the
bonds of brotherhood were more closely drawn,
and they clung together, a distinct and separate
people.

The tribes were one nation. While the

people of Israel were oppressed, they were not
l1*
126 MIRIAM.



enslaved. They were tributary, but not re-
duced to personal bondage. They dwelt to-
gether in that portion of Egypt assigned to
them. ‘They spoke their own language. They
seem to have regulated their internal affairs by
their own elders. They maintained their own
worship. Their family relations were unbroken.
They must have amassed riches, for they
brought great wealth out of Egypt, as the of-
ferings at the tabernacle show—and although
in part this may have been received from the
restitution which the conscience-smitten Egyp-
tians offered upon their departure, all could not
have been thus derived. The whole narrative
of the Israelites shows that they were rich in
silver and gold, and possessed much cattle.
Yet all their property was personal—they owned
no land. And much of the tribute was, doubt-
less, exacted as rent, paid by many in personal

labour; and while they thus erected, perhaps,
MIRIAM. 127



the proudest monuments of Egyptian art by
this enforced labour, they were acquiring the va-
rious knowledge needful to a nation; while their
very task-masters, by compelling them to ac-
quire the habits of industry, to which a pastoral
people are always averse, were school-masters,
needful though harsh, teaching them to deve-
lop their energies and forcing them to exercise
patience and to acquire skill.

Learning and wisdom have departed from
Egypt. She has long been the basest of king-
doms. The race of the Pharaohs has passed
away. She has been for ages governed by
slaves. ‘Temple and palace are inruins. Her
tombs, sacred and precious, have been pillaged ; |
and the bones of her great and noble ones, her
priests and kings, feed the fire by which the
wandering Arab prepares his food. Yet many
monuments of her ancient arts remain, inte-

resting as attesting her power, grandeur, and
128 MIRIAM.



high advancement in civilization, and still more
valuable as corroborating the sacred history
and throwing light on many passages of the
inspired word,—at once showing the former re-
sidence of the Israelites in Egypt, the close
connection of these ancient people, and afford-
ing proofs of that wisdom which selected Egypt
for the cradle and school of the chosen race.

The Egyptians, gradually after the flood,
lost the knowledge of Jehovah and departed
from his worship.

At the time Joseph married the daughter of
the priest of On, the Egyptians could not have
sunk into that gross idolatry which contrasted
so strangely with their wise legislation and
scientific attainments; and their priests are
supposed to have concealed, under mystic
symbols, mysterious truths, which they imparted
to the initiated, while they taught a grosser
system to the common mind. While in Egypt
MIRIAM. 129



the Israelites seem never to have been exposed
to the debasing immoralitics which prevailed
among the nations around the promised land.
The children of Jacob sojourned in the land of
Ham four hundred years. When Jehovah called
his people out of Egypt they were fitted to re-
ceive the laws and institutions which he designed
to give them, and to take the high position he
assigned them among the nations of the earth.
And lest, during their long sojourn in the wil-
derness, they should lose the arts of civilized
life, they were employed in the construction of
the tabernacle. By the minute enumeration
of all that was required for the completion of
this work, we see that the erection involved an
extensive acquaintance with the mechanical
arts, and of those, too, which indicate a high
degree of advancement in the luxuries of
polished life. Thus the generation born in the

wilderness were instructed, and preserved from
130 MIRIAM.



degenerating into mere shepherds, hunters, or
warriors. The restless were occupied, and the
work proved a bond of union for the whole peo-
ple, exciting the interest and employing the
energies of all the different classes of the great
multitude.

The long ages of the sojourn of the children
of Jacob were drawing toa close. The iniquity
of the Canaanites was now full; the children
of Isracl were prepared to be numbered among
the nations of the earth; and the events dic-
tated by the craft and policy of men were or-
dained to promote the infinite designs of Jeho-
vah. For four hundred years the descendants
of Jacob had dwelt in Goshen. From a pas-
toral they were already become an agricultural
people; they had learned to prize the comforts
of an established life, of quiet, peaceful homes,
of pleasant places of aboie. Dwelling in the
richest portion of Egypt, protected from all
MIRIAM. 131



foreign aggression, they there enjoyed abun-
dance, peace, and prosperity, to which their wan-
derings in the desert furnished a sad contrast.

The policy of Egypt had excluded the Israel-
ites from her crimes. The energy, the love of
change and adventure, which a martial life im-
parts, were unfelt; and had not oppression
driven the Israelites from Egypt, the promise
of that goodly land destined for their race had
hardly induced the nation to leave their pre-
sent abundance and protection. Thus, by the
various dispensations of his providence, Jeho-
vah was at once preparing a guide, leader,
ruler, and future lawgiver for his people, while
by the continued vexation, oppression, and
cruelty of the Egyptian rulers, he was suffering
them to alienate the affections of the children
of Jacob from a country which had become the
native land of the Israelites, which was the

birth-place of generation after generation.
182 MIRIAM.



At the time Miriam, the sister of Moses, ap-
pears before us, the children of Israel had
reached the fourth generation. A family had
become a nation, a people in the bosom of an-
other, dwelling together, distinct, separate, too
numerous to be easily or safely held in subjec-
tion, too valuable as tributaries to be relin-
quished. Thus to hold them safely in bondage
and to prevent their further increase, it became
the settled policy of Egypt to oppress and de-
grade them. As their jealous apprehensions
were at length awakened, by a policy as pro-
found as it was cruel, the Egyptian monarchs
endeavoured, in destroying the sons of this peo-
ple, to force the daughters of Israel to inter-
marry with their oppressors, that they might
obtain the wealth of the sons of Jacob, while
the name and memory of his family would be
swept from the earth. Yet dwelling, as the

Israelites did, in a separate province, it was not
MIRIAM. 133



easy for Pharaoh to find those who would exe-
cute his purposes; and the first efforts to cut
off the race of the chosen, failed. He was
however so intent upon their extermination, that
he did not hesitate to direct that all the male
children of the Israelites should be cast into
the river as soon as they were born.

While there were so many to court the favour
of the monarch and ever ready for the darkest
deeds, how could the sons of the Hebrews now
escape? When Moses was born, his mother
hid him three months; and when concealment
was no longer possible, she sought for the babe
a strange place of safety—in the very element
which was indicated for its destruction. ‘The
slender ark is framed by the mother’s hands,
and deposited among the flags on the bank
of the Nile. The morning was perhaps dawn-
ing, and the sky yet gray, when the anxious

mother withdrew.
12
134 MIRIAM.



In a few hours after, the chant of the boat-
men is suddenly hushed, and the passing labour-
ers shroud their heads in token of reverence, as,
surrounded by her attendants, the daughter of
Pharaoh approaches the river. The slight ark,
with its precious burden, floating among the
reeds, attracts her eye, and, as her maidens
draw it from the water, the wail of the desolate
infant strikes her ear.

“The babe wept”—and full fountains of
womanly tenderness were broken up in the
heart of the princess of Egypt. “This is one
of the Hebrew children,” said she; and as she
drew him from the waves, she resolved to save
and adopt the child.

Miriam, the sister, had lingered near to
watch, if not to save the child. We may fancy
the Hebrew maiden at a little distance, eagerly
bending forward, and gazing with intense and

breathless interest. And when the princess
MIRIAM. 135



announces her intention to protect the infant,
in all the gladness of childhood she bounds
forward, and, mingling with the royal train,
asks, “‘ Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the
Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child
for thee ?”’ And Pharaoh’s daughter said unto
her, “Go;” and the maid went and brought the
child’s mother!

Thus had the God of Israel overruled all the
designs of evil to his people, by providing in the
very family of Pharaoh a shelter and a home
for the child—doomed by the impious monarch .
to destruction—but designed by Jehovah to
be the saviour of his people. He who was thus
drawn from the water was the ordained de-
liverer, guide, legislator, and prophet of Israel.

As Jehovah had appointed him to this high
vocation, he not only guarded his life, thus
threatened, but made the instruments intended

for the extermination of the race the means of
136 MIRIAM.



ithe full accomplishment of all its mysterious
destiny.

The child thus adopted into the royal family
was not only saved from death, but was thus
placed under influences most propitious for the
attainment of all the various knowledge which
could fit him for the high station to which he was
destined. That helpless infant was not only to
be the deliverer of Israel, but by his political in-
stitutions, his legislative enactments, his moral
precepts, his inspired teachings, he was to
mould the character of his own people, and to
influence other nations down through all coming
ages. High was the honour allotted him as
the deliverer and the lawgiver of Israel—still
higher that as the prophet of the Lord. He
was the promulgator of the great moral laws
of the universe, originally engraven on the
hearts of men, but now so effaced by sin as to

be scarcely legible ;—he was to establish those
MIRIAM. 127



institutions which were to perpetuate the name
and the worship of Jehovah among the children
of men; and that memorial which, by along line
of types and sacrifices, was at once to prefigure
and prepare for the great atoning sacrifice, of-
fered for a lost world.

Of all the fallen sons of Adam, none were
ever destined to a station of more arduous re-
sponsibility, of more extensive and long-con-
tinued influence than that appointed to this
Hebrew infant; and He who had marked out his
destiny ordained the means which were to pre-
pare him for it. Transplanted into the family of
Pharaoh, he was there instructed in all the “ wis-
dom of the Egyptians,” and Egypt (as we know)
was the fountain of ancicnt learning, science,
and philosophy. While Jehovah communicated
by direct inspiration to Moses, yet the mind of
the ruler and leader of Israel had been pre-

pared by that instruction which develops the
12+
138 MIRIAM.



capacity, expands the mind, and enlarges the
apprehension to receive and understand the in-
stitutions Jehovah gave his people, and he was
thus enabled to co-operate with an enlightened
mind in all the designs of God. But if the
schools of Egypt imparted that intellectual at-
tainment, mental discipline and knowledge of
legislation in its various forms, so necessary for
the law-giver, there were other influences which
were needful for the perfection of the character.
There was a knowledge higher and holier than
that ever taught by priests or Grecian philoso-
phers,—a wisdom beyond that of the Egyptians,
“the knowledge of the Lord,” the God of his
fathers, and the first great truths of religion
should be breathed into the soul in the whispers
of parental love. The earthly parent should
lead the child to the feet of the great Creator.

And then in the formation of a character

which was to leave its impress upon all future
MIRIAM. 139



ages to the close of time, the affections were te
be cultivated, the sympathies awakened, and all
that is pure and kind and elevated in the na-
ture of man drawn forth. And where is the
influence which so gently moulds the character,
refining, softening, and elevating it, as the af-
fectionate, intelligent sister? As a man ad-
vances in life, the continual influence and asso-
ciation of virtuous and accomplished women is
felt in all the relations he is called to sustain.

We sce in the various circumstances of the
life of Moses a Divine recognition of the value
of the family relation and of the importance
of the influence of women in the formation of
character.

Before Moses was admitted to the schools of
Egyptian learning, before he was exposed to the
snares and the splendours of a court, before he
was called to a throne, he had learned lessons

of the deepest wisdom from the lips of his pa-
140 MIRIAM.



rents. One higher than the royal of earth
spoke through the princess, when she said,
“Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will
give thee wages.”’ And faithfully did the mother
fulfil her charge. She strove to imbue the soul
of her child with living faith, while upon that
infant heart she impressed the maxims of
eternal truth—she imparted those lessons of
trust and confidence, and inculcated that deep
conviction of the power of truth, which led the
man, by the grace of God, in the prime and
flush of life, to refuse to be called the son of
Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer
dflliction with the people of God than to enjoy
the pleasures of sin for a season.

Had that mother been unfaithful to her high
trust, had she infused into that infant heart les-
sons of ambition and worldliness, he had perhaps
failed in the hour of trial, and another had led

the tribes of Israel to the chosen land. A little
MIRIAM. 141



band guarded Moses; the princess of Egypt,
the mother of Moses, and his sister Miriam.
Each one exerted her peculiar influence upon
his character, while his future destiny attested
the varied power of these influences and their
relative value.

As the saviour of the young Hebrew, as his
protectress and adopted mother, the daughter
of Pharaoh had a large claim upon him, and to
her he was indebted for many of those high at-
tainments which fitted him for his office. The
slight incidental notices of the daughter of
Pharaoh give us a delightful impression of her
character.

There is something higher and nobler than a
princess. She was a true woman, filled with ail
the quiet sympathies and kind affections of
her sex, and possessing an energy and a perse-

vering constancy which led her to fulfil her
142 MIRIAM.



generous purposes, and made her impulses bear
the fruits of benevolent action.

Such women show what women should be,
and such women in all ages make the influence
of their characters to be felt. To her fostering
care Moses owed life and advancement, educa-
tion, honour, the standing of a prince, the
polish and the refinement of the court. She
proved her appreciation of knowledge, and we
may well infer her own cultivated intelligence
from the care with which she provided for the
instruction of her charge. She showed that she
could feel and that she cherished all the sym-
pathies of domestic love, by providing for their
indulgence, by allowing their continuance, and
yielding to their claims, even though she was a
princess of Egypt, the daughter of the haughty
Pharaoh, and her adopted child belonged to a
race studiously oppressed, degraded, and ex-

posed to all contumely, and while, douktless,
MIRIAM. 143



she was nc stranger to the prejudices which led
her countrymen to look upon the sons of Israel
as an outcast and despicable race. Still the
bonds of national affection, of kindred and
brotherhood, were all respected. The whole
narrative shows that Moses was never alienated
from his family, never taught to forget that he
was a Hebrew. His patroness felt that there
were holy ties never to be disregarded nor
trampled upon.

And while the princess of Egypt surrounded
her infant charge with right influences, while
she provided wisely for his intellectual culture,
she likewise brought the influence of her own
personal character to bear upon him. The influ-
ence of a pure woman, who unites refinement to
intelligence, and adds to them the polish of the
court without its corruption, would be as powerful
as it would be salutary, and when to the higher

qualities, mental and moral, the polished refine-
144 MIRIAM.



ment and graceful attention to all the proprie-
ties of life are imparted, a high finish is given
to the character. Nor was that acquired grace
and courtly manner a thing of frivolous import.
It exerted an important influence upon the fu-
ture destiny of the individual. The successful
leaders of great multitudes have often owed al-
most as much to that high bearing and dignified
demeanour which should be the distinct badge ot
those who are numbered with the great, as to
their skill and discernment; and while treated
in the court of Pharaoh as a scion of royalty,
the young Hebrew acquired that air of con-
scious ‘authority to which inferior minds al-
ways defer. He gained there that knowledge
of courtly splendour and gayety which forced
‘1 him the conviction of their perfect insufii-
ciency for the high demands of the spiritual
nature, and that knowledge of the heart of man

end its depraved qualities most needful to one
MIRIAM. 145



who was at once to lead and control a multi-
tude, and who was to stand before kings as the
envoy of Jehovah.

The Israelites never seem to have entered
the Egyptian armies. It would have been con-
trary to the policy of the kings either to
have encouraged a martial spirit or to have
placed arms in the hands of this multitude; yet
as one of the family of Pharaoh, Moses led the
armies of Egypt. And needful it was that the
future leader of Israel should be well instructed
in all the tactics of war—should understand all
the providing for, the ordering, and the encamp-
ing of vast hosts. It was perhaps only by ar-
duous military service that he could have deve-
loped that capacity indicated by the vast skill
with which an army of six hundred thousand
men, encumbered with their wives and little
ones, could be encamped in regular order,

whether marching or resting. Ever desiring
13
146 MIRIAM.



peace and acting on the defensive, yet ready
to repel aggression, for forty years the nation
of Isracl were encamped as the hosts of an
army. Lach tribe with its own banner, march-
ing and countermarching, taking down and
putting up their tents, with all the skill and
regularity of a disciplined army, and often en-
gaged in actual warfare. He who could thus
order and regulate such a host must have pos-
sessed the skill and science of the general.
While the habits of long command, added to
the consciousness of authority and Divine reli-
ance, enabled him to prevent or control turbu-
lent outbreaks. |

While the legislator of Israel ewed so much
to the fostering care of the daughter of Pha-
raoh in preparing him for his high destination,
we cannot but feel a deep interest in her who so
unconsciously contributed toward an influence

and prepared an instrumentality quite adverse
MIRIAM. 147



to the apparent interests of her people. We
cannot but hope that, while she thus hastened
the accomplishment of promise and prediction,
she was herself led to the knowledge and wor-
ship of Israel’s God.

Might not one who thus adopted the brother,
encircle in her affection the sister whose affec-
tionate entreaty gave the babe a mother for its
nurse? The fraternal affection which marks the
family seems to indicate more than occasional
intercourse. Between Miriam and her brother
there was that sympathy which always results
from an intimate association. The princess of
Egypt may have imparted to Miriam many of
the accomplishments of the courtly circle, for we
find that she was skilled in music, that she led
the dance; while, in return, Miriam may have
imparted that higher knowledge and those deep
truths of which her people were the appointed

conservators, and the daughter of Pharaoh may
148 MIRIAM.



have tasted the blessings which were held in
trust for future ages.

Miriam was the only sister of Moses, and she
first appears as watching the fate of that child
in whose destiny all the ages and all the nations
of earth were to have an interest. The tender
care which watched the cradle on the Nile con-
tinued through life, and from the day Moses was
saved, down to the day when Miriam died in the
wilderness, she seems ever associated with her
brothers in all their efforts and designs. The
influence of the sister is peculiarly her own.
It is felt in early life in its softening, refining,
and purifying tendency—in diverting opening
manhood from rude sports or gross pursuits to
the enjoyments of a more elevated and pure na-
ture, and shedding a charm around the pleasures
of home; while, if no other ties intervene, the
bonds of affection grow stronger with each suc-

cessive year.
MIRIAM. 149



We cannot trace the course of Miriam’s life.
She appears before us for a season and then we
lose sight of her for many years. She may
have passed them in the retirement and ob-
scurity of her rural home in the land of Goshen.
She may have been counted in the train of the
princess of Egypt and shone in the court of
Pharaoh. Princes may have flattered her and
nobles sued for her love. She seems never to
have married,—yct her heart may hawt had its
own history of love, perhaps unrequited, dis-
appointed, or sacrificed at the altar of pru-
dence, of conscience, or, it may be, ambition.
Oh what a tale of suffering and of enjoyment
would the history of one human heart present,
if faithfully recorded !

Years had passed: childhood was gone—
youth was fleeing. The brother had attained
a high distinction in the court of Egypt. He

had tasted the pleasures of wisdom and the
18*
150 MIRIAM.



enjoyments of science and knowledge, while, as
the adopted child of Pharaoh's daughter, he
stood before the people, the prospective heir to
the crown.

Thus, in the prime of life, endowed with the
richest gifts of mind and the attractions of
manly beauty, adding the polish of the courtier
to the wisdom of the philosopher—and all the
adventitious advantages of royal birth received
by his” adoption—there lay before the young
Hebrew a bright vista of prospective glory
and honour and earthly happiness.

But not to sit on the throne of Egypt had
Jehovah raised this child of the chosen people
from the death designed by their oppressor.
Not to fit him for the throne of Egypt had he
surrounded him with all that was propitious to
‘ntellectual and moral attainments and guided
and watched each step of his course from hie

infancy.
MIRIAM. 151



Deep and inscrutable must have seemed the
designs of Jehovah, as, when all was brightest,
the dark clouds gathered around this favoured
son of the Hebrews, and all the promise and pur-
pose of his saved life seemed defeated. The
hour of trial came—probably, as it gencrally
comes, suddenly and unexpectedly. It was the
hour which was to test his principles and prove
his faith. The hour in which all the allure-
ments of sense, the gratification of ambition,
and (it may have seemed) the claims of grateful
affection, were brought into conflict with the
stern claims of duty and principle, and in this
hour he did not fail. He chose rather to suffer
affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy
the pleasures of sin for a season. He refused
to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
His choice was made. He abjured the throne
and left the court. What disappointment must

have fallen upon nearts who had looked to his
152 MIRIAM.



exaltation as a pledge of good for his race, and
who saw in his downfall the prolonged dominion
of tyranny and persecution !

Yet Moses was not permitted to remain in
peace, although he had sunk into obscurity.
Ee who was to lead the hosts of Israel through
the great and terrible wilderness—who was to
endure toil, labours, and privation, needed the
nerve, the hardihood, the physical training,
which could not be gained in the luxurious
courts of the Pharaohs, or in the quiet, and,
doubtless, comfortable and abundant homes of
the husbandmen of Goshen. Amid the enjoy-
ments of home, the pleasures of study, he need
not have regretted the loss of a throne.

For many years he, who had been trained in
luxury and elegance, led the flocks of Jethro,
and knew all the privations and the endurances
of the shepherd in the desert. And while his

frame was thus hardened and invigorated, while
MIRIAM 153



he learned to forego pleasure and endure bodily
toil, his soul was nourished by solitary medita-
tion and high communion with God. The phi-
losopher can find instruction and interest in the
works of creation, but only he who adds the
adoration of the worshipper to the wisdom of
the philosopher is prepared to study the works
of Jehovah aright.

What deep thought, what high imaginings,
what profound reverence must have filled the
soul of the Hebrew shepherd as he watched the
stars in the silence and loneliness of the desert.
As he sat, a solitary and banished man, under
the shadow of the rocks of the wilderness, how
strange, how incomprehensible must have
seemed the events of his past life. The visions
of his youth, the splendour and warlike pomp
of the army or the pageant of courts, must
have come over his soul like a dream. Liven

to us how strange seems this long sojourn in
154 MIRIAM.



the wilderness, this enforced inactivity and ap-
parent uselessness. Yet the God of Israel was
promoting his own designs both among his peo-
ple and in the heart of him who was to be their
leader—weaning them from their place of
abode, and preparing them for their departure,
and fitting Moses to be their leader, guide, ruler,
and lawgiver. Each dispensation of his pro-
vidence, each passing occurrence, all the
thoughts, the emotions, the solitary meditations,
the reverential communion, the occasional in-
tercourse with the few dwellers of the desert,—
like the strokes, slight and almost impercep-
tible in their effect, which the block receives
from the hand of the sculptor,—all were fitting
the apparently exiled Hebrew for his high vo-
cation as a prophet and legislator.

And it is often thus. For many years may
Jehovah be preparing his instruments for that

event to which he destines them, and which they
MIRIAM. 155



may then speedily accomplish. Yet this work in
the soul, by which man is prepared to co-operate
with his Maker, is silent, unseen, unmarked, so
that often we may account this time as lost.
And man, ignorant of his future destiny, and
of the state to which he is to be called, will
ever find it his true wisdom carefully to fulfil
the present duty and to aim at deriving in-
struction and benefit from each dispensation of
Divine providence, and from the ordering of
each event of his life.

In the careful provision made for the train-
ing of Moses, in the various instrumentalities
used to prepare him for his appointed trust, we
are taught that by no miraculous intervention
does God supersede the necessity of the im-
provement of the faculties he has bestowed.
The more enlightened the understanding, the
more the powers of reason are cultivated, the

more intelligently can man serve his Creator,
156 MIRIAM.



and the more entirely does he co-operate in the
designs of Infinite Wisdom. God does not be-
stow, by direct inspiration, that wisdom or know-
ledge which is to be gained by the diligent cul-
tivation of the natural faculties, to save man
the fatigue and labour of the acquirement.
Those upon whom he has most richly bestowed
the gifts of spiritual wisdom have been most
careful to cultivate their natural endowments.

Both Paul and Moses were learned before
they were inspired, but God did not supersede
the use of the powers of the mind by the higher
gift of the Spirit. The providential dealings
of God are adapted to the laws of the human
mind, and in the government of his creatures he
never violates the principles which he has esta-
blished.

The occupation of the shepherd was at
length to be abandoned. By oppression and

suffering and ignominious exactiors, the chil-
MIRIAM. 157



dren of Israel were prepared to leave their
homes—the land in which they had dwelt for
centuries—and venture across the sea and into
the desert. When we remember that husbandry
had been the national occupation, when we con-
sider how strong is the instinct which binds man
to the land of his birth and the graves of his
fathers, and how strong is that bond which at-
taches one to the spot he has cultivated, to the
land he has ploughed and sowed and reaped,
we cannot wonder at the coercion needful to

rouse a people whose energies were all de-
pressed, and who had been held in check and

kept stationary for ages.

But the people were ready to depart. The op-
pression of Pharaoh had prepared the way for
the display of the Divine faithfulness and power.
Jehovah sent his ambassador from the desert to
the court of the King of Egypt, to demand their

freedom. During his long exile, most who had
14
155 MIRIAM.



known Moses in his early days, had passed away ;
and the few that were left would hardly recognise
in the shepherd of the desert, with his staff for
his badge of office—bearing the marks of toil
and exposure, of deep thought and solitary
meditation—the young and gallant prince, the
courtier and the warrior of former days. She
who had cherished him had probably been laid
in the tomb of her royal race, and the name and
the memory of Moses may have been forgotten
in the palace and the court. Yet there he
stood, before the throne which might have been
his seat, the ambassador of the King of kings,
bearing the stern message of Jehovah—“ Let
my people go, that they may hold a feast unto
me in the wilderness.”” Yet wo after wo was
denounced and executed—pledge after pledge
given and violated—and not until one long wail
over the dead and dying resounded through

the land were the children of Israel permitted
MIRIAM. 159



to leave the land of Egypt. The loss of three
millions of subjects, of their labour, their tri-
bute, and the removal of all their personal pro-
perty, would weaken and impoverish the king-
dom. Every motive of policy and pride urged
the monarch to resist the demand, and thus he
suffered the penalty due to his contumelious defi-
ance of the God of Israel, while the judgments
inflicted upon him strengthened the faith of the
Israelites. The expulsion of the Moors and
of the Jews from Spain, the banishment of the
Huguenots from France, furnish similar though
not parallel cases, in modern ages; and these
show that the loss of peaceful, industrious sub-
jects to a kingdom is like taking the life-blood
from the system. Centuries have passed, yet
these nations have not recovered—and thus
Egypt must long have felt her loss.

After the tribes of Israel had passed through

the Red Sea, the sister of Moses again appears
160 MIRIAM



before us. When he poured forth that chant
of triumphant thanksgiving—the oldest song of
nations—Miriam gave a response worthy of the
sister of the leader of the hosts encamped be-
fore the Lord. With timbrel she led the daugh-
ters of Israel in the dance. And well might the
prophetess of Israel teach the dance of an-
cient Egypt to the daughters of her people on
this occasion. The representations preserved
in painting and sculpture show that this was
not the gay and voluptuous movement of
modern days, but rather a succession of grace-
ful gestures, regulated by music, expressive of
joy and emotion. Thus the maidens of Israel
offered praise and adoration; nor was it un-
seemly in the warlike monarch of after ages
thus to worship before the ark of the Lord, al-
though his pious act provoked the ridicule of
the daughter of Baal.

From this time until the day of her death, Mi-
MIRIAM. 161



riam is found co-operating with her brcthers in
their designs and efforts. However the earlier
years of her life had passed, she had attained
to a high distinction among her people. While
she seems to have neither claimed nor exerted
authority, her rank and position, in her sphere,
were as well defined and as elevated as that of
her brothers. Throughout the whole narrative
we find proofs of the high consideration with
which she was regarded.

While in early life her influence as a sister had
refined and softened the rudeness and rough-
ness of their boyhood and youth, and similar
associations with the brothers in mature years
had enlarged her mind and imparted intelligence
and strength to her understanding,

During the long sojourn in the wilderness,
Miriam, “the prophetess of Israel,” was pro-
bably the counsellor of the mothers and the

instructress of the daughters of her people;
14*
162 MIRIAM.



while between the sister and the brothers
there ever seems to have subsisted the most
tender, confidential friendship.

But, alas for imperfect woman! There was a
time in which the dark passions and malignant
tempers of our evil nature so triumphed in the
hearts of Miriam and Aaron, that they arrayed
themselves against Moses. The dissension which
troubled the camps of their leaders threatened
to spread and involve the multitude of Israel in
all the evils of rebellion and civil war.

During his exile, Moses had married the
daughter of the priest of Midian. The descend-

ant of Abraham, Jethro was a worshipper of
the God of his fathers, and we have recorded

proofs of his piety and wisdom. Yet the mar-
riage of Moses was not apparently in accordance
with tne views either of his brother or sister.
There is a selfish tenderness sometimes exhibit-

ed, which leads the dependent mother or sing’
MIRIAM. 163



sister to 1egard with jealousy one who claims a
closer tie, and Miriam may not have been free
from the infirmities of weaker natures. Yet the
notices, slight as they are, of the “ Ethiopian”’
woman, perhaps impress few minds favourably ;
and we cannot but feel that in herself she may
not have been all that the friends of the law-
giver of Israel could have wished in a wife.
Bred in the seclusion of the wilderness, she was
probably deficient both in the intelligence and the
accomplishments which distinguished Miriam.
And Miriam and Aaron seem at last to have
cherished feelings of bitterness toward their
sister-in-law, which were fast extending to the
brother himself.

They evidently disliked the foreigner. They
may have compared the toil-worn daughter
of Midian with the high-bred maidens of Egypt,
Who in former days would have welcomed the

addresses of one numbered with the princes
164 MIRIAM.



of Egypt, or with the daughters of his own
people, as offering an alliance more worthy
the ruler of Israel; and Miriam, elevated by
the distinction conferred upon her as the pro-
phetess of Israel, conscious of superiority in all
feminine accomplishments, seems to have for-
gotten the love of a sister and to have lost the
humility befitting a woman. Domestic bitter-
ness was fast preparing the way for political
disaffection, and the dark clouds which had
gathered around the tents of the leaders threat-
ened to burst upon the whole camp of Israel. °

Then Jehovah himself interposed. As the prin-
cipal offender, the prophetess of Isracl was pub-
licly rebuked before all the congregation of the
Lord; and then, as a leper, expelled from the
camp, shut out from all human associations, in
shame and solitude, Miriam, diseased and suf-
fering, lay for seven days. In this time she

doubtless humbled herself and repented cf her
MIRIAM. 165



sin. Yet, during this interval, the vast multi-
tude showed their respect by remaining station-
ary ; and while Aaron confessed their sin, Moses
interceded for his faulty, erring, but still be
loved sister.

If the conduct and fault of Miriam are to be
censured and deplored, it is to be confessed
that it was not peculiar to the sister of the
leaders of the hosts of the Lord. Women
of later ages, conscious of intellectual superi-
ority, elevated by position, or merely distin-
guished by usefulness, have sometimes been
proud enough to despise the inferior of their
own sex, and to arrogate to themselves the
power allotted to man; and their awakened
pride and vanity have introduced strife and
confusion into the counsels of those who were
appointed to guide the people of God.

There is meaning in this record of the faults

of those whose hearts had been, from infancy
166 MIRIAM.



to age, knittogether. While God hasimplanted
the natural and domestic affections, they are
still to be guarded, cherished, and cultivated.
The jealousics, the petty strifes of domestic
life, the little dislikes, the unguarded tempers
of those who dwell together, have sometimes
alienated hearts that have been united from
childhood. The love that has grown strong by
the mutual endurance of oppression, toil, priva-
tion, and danger, has been turned to gall by the
infusion of the constant droppings of domestic
strife. Pure, unselfish love is the spontaneous
growth of a holy heart. It must be nurtured
and tended, or it will wither and die in our
corrupt nature.

The afflictions and punishments which harden
the hearts of those who reject God, bring such
as love his laws and character to submission
and penitence. Miriam was restored to her

former usefulness, probably better fitted for her
MIRIAM. 167



high position, while the hearts of the brothers
seem united anew to each other and to her;
and the authority of Moses, vindicated by God,
was strengthened by his own forbearing love and
disinterested gentleness. And from thence-
forth, while a due subjection was observed, there
seems to have been an entire co-operation
between them.

Miriam died in the wilderness of Zin, and
the brothers buried her. There is a peculiar
sadness in this separation, occurring, as it
evidently did, not long before the close of their
various pilgrimages.

As we follow the inspired narrative, we are
naturally impressed by the care with which
Jehovah selects and prepares those whom He
intends as the instruments of advancing the
welfare of his people and his own glory; and
while this may be more clearly traced in the

case of the highly distinguished legislator and
168 MIRIAM.



prophet of Israel, we may be assured that it
extends not less certainly to the lowest and the
humblest. |

The influences by which the lawgiver of Isracl
was so early surrounded, we are willing to ac-
cept as a divine sttestation to the power and
value of female culture in the formation of the
character.

Three women are brought distinctly before
us, as connected with the early history of
Moses. The mother’s high duty and privilege it
was (as it ever is) to instil into his opening
mind those great truths and first principles
which are at the foundation of all excellence.
Had the nurse of Moses been an Egyptian
idolatress, the character of the man had doubt-
less been very different. While Moses owed
all his worldly advancement to the princess of
Ecypt, he derived other advantages from being

brought under the familiar influence of one who
MIRIAM. . 169



preserved, amid the corruptions of a court, the
best sympathies of our nature. A knowledge
of human character and a power of adaptation
to all the circumstances of his eventful life
were thus imparted, and which could be hardly
elsewhere acquired, yet they were very needful
to one who was to fill the office allotted to him.

God has graciously ordered that while the
parents and guardians are to pass away, there
are early ties which are enduring. Where
families are properly regulated, added yearg
strengthen the bonds of natural affection.
Through all the vicissitudes of his life, the
brother and sister of Moses clung to him. We
first see Miriam watching the cradle-ark in
which the infant was concealed, and she never
appears except some event in his career brings
her into view. Yet, through their long lives
she was his companion and helper, partici-

pating in his labours, soothing his sorrows,
15
179 MIRIAM.



and aiding and encouraging him in his work.
She is a type of a large class—we mean the
daughters and the sisters who are not wives.
Her life shows that a woman may be honour-
able, useful, distinguished, and happy, and yet
remain single—that the holy duties of the wife
and the mother are not the only duties. How
many homes would be comparatively unblessed
but for the presence of a dutiful daughter or a
loving sister! How largely our own age is In-
debted to women as teachers; women, who, like
the prophetess of Israel, while assisting their
brothers to proclaim the oracles of God, devote
themselves to the instruction of their own sex,

and bless men by instructing women !
\
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N
N
N

4 AY AN /

NY


DEBORAH—THE INFLUENCE OF
WOMAN.



T'nE book of Judges gives a concise view of
the people of Israel for a period of four hun-
dred years, extending from the death of J oshua
to the birth of Samuel.

It is peculiarly interesting as showing how
God deals with the nations of the earth in
visiting national sins with national punish-
ments. It has ever been the painful office of
the historian to record the crimes and misfor-
tunes of mankind, and to present the out-
breaks of society rather than to note its
gradual advance and improvement, or to dwell
upon the periods of peaceful prosperity. Like
the records of a court of justice, it presents

the criminals and the offences and those im-
171
172 DEBORAH.



plicated, while the thousands of peaceful
citizens are never brought to view. The flow
cf human life is, like that of a mighty river,
unmarked during its mild course; but when
it bursts its bounds and overflows its channel
and spreads a wide destruction, it is watched
with interest and its desolating ravages are all
recorded.

Of the many women who have attained
honour and celebrity amidst the intrigues of
courts and cabinets and the revolutions of em-
pires, few have retained the purity and the pe-
culiar virtues of their sex. Deborah seems to
have united the sagacity and courage of man
to the modest virtues of woman. She appears
before us affecting no pomp, assuming no state.
The wife of Lapidoth—one known only as the
husband of Deborah, but thus known never to be
forgotten—she abode with her husband in their

own dwelling, under that palm-tree distin
THE INFLUENCE OF WOMAN. 173



guished, when Samuel wrote this book, as “the
palm of Deborah,” between Ramah, where
Rachel died, and Bethel, where Jacob wor-
shipped. ‘And all the children of Israel came
up to her there for judgment.”

The people of Israel had departed from God
and from the laws of Moses, and for twenty
years they had been mightily oppressed by —
Jabin. During this long period no priest
called the people to repentance, no prophet
was commissioned to promise them relief.

We may imagine Deborah dwelling among
her people, a devout, strong-minded, enlight-
ened woman. She saw their sins, she partici-
pated in their trials, and she warned those
around her of the evil of departing from
Jehovah. She recalled His past acts of judg-
ment and of mercy. She was well acquainted

with the laws of Moses, and she recognised in the

15*
174 DEBORAH.



punishment of the people the fulfilment of pro
phecy.

The influence of such a woman—a woman
instructed in the religion of Jehovah—a wo-
man of faith and of prayer—would be felt, first,
in her own family, or in her immediate circle of
friends ; and then would commence the re-
formation and the repentance and putting away
of past sins and the return to the God of
Israel. And as the influence spread, the circle
extending, the whole nation would seem to
have been affected, and they naturally resorted
to one whose wisdom and piety were so well
established, when any questions of their law,
either civil or religious, were to be settled.
Thus the children of Israel came up to her
for judgment. They came to her—for her feet
abode within her own dwelling. Her influ-
ence extended throughout all the borders of

her land, but her presence still blest her own
THE INFLUENCE OF WOMAN. 175



house. The prophetess of Israel was still the
wife of Lapidoth, and her only authority was
that of piety, wisdom and love. A more beau-
tiful instance of a woman’s true, legitimate in-
fluence cannot be given. Quietly, unostenta-
tiously exercised, it penetrated through the
nation and brought them back to Jehovah,
and prepared the way for the removal of
their yoke.

For many years she was doubtless em-
ployed in reclaiming and instructing her peo-
ple. Through this influence the children of
Israel were prepared to assert their liberty ;
and then Deborah was inspired to call upon
“Barak the son of Abinoam,” to gather an
army, and take his station on Mount Tabor,
where the Lord would deliver the enemies
of Israel into his hands. She did not propose
to attend—certainly not to lead—the army;

but, giving her message, her counsel and her
176 DEBORAH.



prayers, would still abide under the palm-
tree and remain with her husband. But the
appointed general knew so well the value of
her presence in inspiring the people with
confidence, and felt so much the need of her
prayers, that he refused to go unless she
sanctioned the expedition with her attendance.
“And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go
with me, I will go; but if thou wilt not go with
me, then I will not go.”

Thus appealed to, the answer was immediate :
“J will surely go with thee; notwithstanding
the journey that thou takest shall not be for
thine honour, for the Lord shall sell Sisera
into the hands of a woman.”

Mount Tabor, chosen for the encamping-
place of the army of Barak, still rises like a
tall cone in the vast plain of Esdraelon, which,
- stretching across the land to the sea, has since

been the battle-ground of nations. From the
THE INFLUENCE OF WOMAN. 177



wide plain on its lofty summit, Deborah and
Barak could look over almost all the Jand.
The view of the hills of Judea, of the sea of
Tiberias, and of a country of wide extent,
still repays the toil of those who climb to its
summit.

But since the days of Deborah and of
Barak, Tabor is generally supposed to have
witnessed another scene. The Man of grief,
who bore our sins end took upon himself our
sorrows, climbed its steep ascent with his
favoured disciples—And Moses and Elias
appeared unto him there, and there “they
talked with him.” Of what? Not of the battle
of Deborah and Barak with Sisera—although
they stood where the leaders of Israel had
watched the hosts of their enemies encompass-
ing them. It was a converse of high things,
not meet for us to know. And there he was

transfigured before hig wondering disciples,
178 DEBORAH.



and his “raiment became exceeding white as
snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them.”
And there was a cloud that overshadowed
them, and a voice out of the cloud, This is
my beloved Son—hear him. Alas! the Divine
command has been ill obeyed. Tabor yet
retains the remains of a fortress and preserves
the marks of warfare; but no trace of the
mecting there of the great lawgiver and re-
former of Israel with Him who came both to
fulfil and to abolish. No temples have yet
been there erected to Him whose mission was
far above all who were sent either to announce
or prepare for his forthcoming.

From Mount Tabor the leaders and hosts
of Israel watched their enemies gathering from
afar and encompassing them. With the chariots
of iron, so much dreaded by the Israelites,
came the archers, and the spearmen, and the

multitude that were with them—all assembled
THE INFLUENCE OF WOMAN. 179



to surround and to destroy the allies of
Barak.

But when Deborah gave the signal, “Up!
for this is the day in the which the Lord hath
delivered Sisera into thine hands: is not the
Lord gone out before thee?” Barak went from
Mount Tabor with ten thousand men. The
victory was complete—“ Jehovah triumphed,

His people were free.” The hosts of the enemy

were vanquished. The river Kishon, that an-
cient river, swept them away. And the victory
was celebrated by a song of most triumphant,
yet grateful exultation, in a strain of the loftiesi,
purest poetry, such as the prophets and psalm-
ists of Israel alone could pour forth :—

Praise ye the Lorn for the avenging of Israel,
When the people willingly offered themselves.
Hear, O ye kings!

Give ear, O ye princes !

I, even I, will sing unto the Lorn;

I will sing praise to the Lorp God of Israel.
“Lond, when thou wentest out of Seir,

When thou marchedst out of the field of Edom,
The earth trembled, and the heavens dropped,
180 DEBORA.



The clouds also dropped water.
The mountains melted from before the Lor»,
Even that Sinai from before the Lorp God of Israel.
In the days of Shamgar the son of Anath,
In the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied,
And the travellers walked through byways.
The inhabitants of the villages ceased,
They ceased in Israel,
Until that I Deborah arose,
That I arose a mother in Israel.
They chose new gods ;
Then was war in the gates:
Was there a shield or spear seen
Among forty thousand in Israel ?
My heart is toward the governors of Israel,
That offered themselves willingly among the people.
Bless ye the Lorp!
Speak,
Ye that ride on white asses,
Ye that sit in judgment,
And walk by the way!
They that are delivered from the noise of archers in the
place of drawing water,
There shall they rehearse the righteous acts of the Lorn,
Even the righteous acts toward the inhabitants of his villages
in Israel:
Then shall the people of the Lorp go down to the gates.
Awake, awake, Deborah!
Awake, awake, utter a song!
Arise, Barak!
And lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.
Then he made him that remaineth have dominion over the
nobles among the people:
The Lorp made me have dominion over the mighty.
Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek ;
After thee, Benjamin, among thy people ;
Out of Machir came down governors,
And out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.
And the princes of Issachar were with Deborah ;
THE INFLUENCE OF WOMAN. 181



Even Issachar, and also Barak :

He was sent on foot into the valley.

For the divisions of Reuben

There were great thoughts of heart.

Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds,

To hear the bleatings of the flocks ?

For the divisions of Reuben

There were great searchings of heart.

Gilead abode beyond Jordan :

And why did Dan remain in ships?

Asher continued on the sea shore,

And abode in his breaches.

Zebulun and Naphtali were a people that jeoparded their lives

Unto the death in the high places of the field.
The kings came and fought,

Then fought the kings of Canaan

In Taanach by the waters of Megiddo ;

They took no gain of money.

They fought from heaven;

The stars in their courses fought against Sisera.

The river Kishon swept them away,

That ancient river, the river Kishon.

O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.

Then were the horsehoofs broken

By the means of the prancings, the prancings of their mighty

ones.

Curse ye Meroz! said the angel of the Lorp,
Curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof;
Because they came not to the help of the Lorp,
To the help of the Lorn against the mighty.

Blessed above women
Shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be,
Blessed shall she be above women in the tent!
He asked water, and she gave him milk ;

She brought forth butter in a lordly dish.
She put her hand to the nail,
And her right hand to the workmen’s hammer ;
And with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his
head,
16
182 DEBORAH.



When she had pierced and stricken through his temples.
At her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down:
At her feet he bowed, he fell :
Where be bowed, there he fell down dead.
The mother of Sisera looked out at a window,
And cried through the lattice,
Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why tarry the wheels of his chariots?
Her wise ladies answered her,
Yea, she returned answer to herself,
Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey ;
‘l’o every man a damsel or two;
To Sisera a prey of divers colors,
A prey of divers colors of needlework on both sides,
Meet for the necks of them that take the spoil!
So let all thine enemies perish, O Lorp!
But let them that love him be as the sun when he goeth forth
in his might.

One such strain preserved from any other
ancient nation would establish their claims
to the highest order of poetic genius, and
lead to the most industrious and painful
research for all that could throw light upon
their literature. It comes over the soul now
like the full burst of martial music. It stirs
the blood and quickens the pulses with its
strain of triumph, while it melts us to pity, as

it brings before us so graphically, with such
THE INFLUENCE OF WOMAN. 183



exquisite power—yet such slight allusion—the
distress and desolation of Israel. It is a
finished picture of the age. We see the
judges, those that ride on white asses (still
reserved for royal stables) that walk by the
way; while it gives us a full character of
Sisera and the mother who trained him.
We see the mother—haughty, proud, avarici-
ous, surrounded by “her wise ladies,” who
are flatterers rather than counsellors—ready to
exult in the rapine and plunder of the army of
her son; her natural fears awakened by his
delayed return, yet hushed and soothed by the
enumeration of the spoil. No feeling of pity
softening the love of vengeance,—the desire for
the plunder of a conquered people engrossing all.

And in Sisera we see the proud, cruel,
licentious spoiler—all the powers of his evil
nature called into exercise by success and the

long indulgence of every evil passion and gross
184 DEBORAH.



appetite—arrogant, oppressive and cruel in
success; abject, cowardly and overreaching
in adversity. We can well imagine the state
of an oppressed people ruled by such a man at
the head of a licentious soldiery. And harsh
as may seem some of the expressions of
Deborah, in her joyous outbursts of praise and
thanksgiving, they arise from the ineffable
miseries, the deep degradation, the oppressive
cruelties, to which all the daughters of Israel
would have been exposed had he been triumph-
ant; and a mother in Israel might well exult in a
deliverance from one whose desolating track
was marked by lust and carnage.

We do not love to dwell on the treachery of
Jacl—we do not feel called upon to justify
the act, although Deborah might well rejoice
in the deliverance of her people from so stern
a foe, so foul an oppression. Sisera appears

as abject in the hour of defeat as he had
THE INFLUENCE OF WOMAN. 185



peen insolent and arrogant and cruel in the
hour of triumph.

After Israel was restored to liberty we hear
no more of Deborah; but “the land had
rest forty years.” She again returns to her
own sphere, to the unostentatious, yet all-
pervading usefulness of domestic life. No
honours, no triumphs, no statues were awarded
to her. No monuments seem to have been
erected to her memory. The palm-tree was
her fitting memorial; delighting the eye, af-
fording shade, shelter and nourishment; ask-
ing and securing nought from man, watered by
the dew and rain of heaven, and rejoicing in
the beams of the sun—still pointing to heaven
while sheltering those beneath it.

Jehovah scems to permit such examples to
stimulate woman to usefulness and to vindicate
their capacity; and thus there ever have been

and are still Deborahs—mothers in Israel—
16 *
186 DEBORAH.



those who, dwelling under their own roof, in
the seclusion of domestic life, yet send forth
an influence which extends far and wide.

‘The sound, rational piety of such women,
and their lives of humble faith, of prayer, and
of consistent usefulness, have often awakened
a1 high tone of religious feeling and led to
extensive revivals of pure religion.

Without departing from their allotted sphere,
without forgetting the delicacy and proprieties
demanded from their sex, they have been
greatly instrumental in elevating the moral
and religious standard of a community by their
faithfulness in reproving the erring and re-
claiming the backsliding, while by their kindly
sympathy and effectual co-operation, they have
aided, encouraged, and, by their prudent, ju
dicious counsel, guided—the appointed leaders

of Israel.




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A throne of Israel, yet
those who succeeded

wt a still pom the policy
by which he had been governed; and through
all the contention and bloodshed which marked
the reigns of different dynasties, they all per-
sisted in the idolatry established by him.
“They all did evil in the sight of the Lord,
and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his
sin, wherewith he made Israel to sin.”” But of
Ahab, the son of Omri, it is written that “he
187
188 JEZEBEL.



did more to provoke the God of Israel than all
that were before him.” He pursued the path
which had been marked out by his predecessors
when he married, and he found in his wife an
efficient aid. By the strength of her mind, by
the energy of her character, by the introduction
of an idolatry at once more corrupt and more
ensnaring, she did more to complete and seal
the apostasy of Israel than all who had gone
before her.

The name of Jezebel has descended to us as
one of the most opprobrious epithets which can
be applied to awoman. Little did the lraughty
queen who bore it imagine what a reproach and
offence it was to become for future ages, in
unknown lands, and among unborn nations.

We think of her always as old, withered,
thirsting for blood, and incapable of the finer
sentiments and all the softer emotions of human

kind. There was a time in which she shone as
JEZEBEL. 189



the centre of a splendid and luxurious court,
where minstrels sang to her and poets praised
her and princes flattered her, while statesmen
confessed her influence and cabinets adopted
her plans. Fascinating, artful, able, ambitious,
and unprincipled, she may be regarded as chief
among many of the most celebrated of this
class of her sex of ancient or modern days.
There have been queens, not of heathen
lands and barbarous Asia, but of refined and
christianized Europe, upon whose memories rest
quite as dark shadows as those which cover the
character of the Queen of Israel. It is sad to
remember how many of the most atrocious acts
which disgrace the annals of our race are to be
traced to the influence of female ambition,
Jealousy, hate, or revenge. Larger possessions
than that of the vineyard of Naboth have been
obtained by perjury and blood; and few modern

courts could consistently condemn the princi-
190 JEZEBEL.



ples or the policy by which the monarchs of
Israel attempted to consolidate and perpetuate
their dominion. In the estimation of many
statesmen and many historians, greatness has
sanctified all the means by which power is
either to be attained or preserved, and the
splendour of the court has fully atoned for all
the oppression of the people.

While she was fitted to co-operate with her
husband, and ready to promote his designs and
to embrace the policy which had guided the
court of Israel, she soon assumed and ever
maintained that influence which the stronger
mind, the more powerful will, ever exerts over
the inferior and weaker. Through all his reign,
Ahab ever deferred to her; and while she
goaded him onward in his career of crime, she
stimulated and upheld him by her daring de-
Gance of the commands and threatenings of

the prophets of the Lord. She possessed all
JEZEBEL. 191



the energy, power, and constancy which ever
belongs to minds of a high order, and which
fit them for greatness in virtue or crime—in-
suring widespread usefulness or leading to
desperate wickedness. She never was turned
from her course. She never faltered, trembled,
or hesitated in the pursuit of her object. She
witnessed, unawed and unmoved, miracles of
Judgment and of mercy. She saw unpitying a
land consumed by drought and a people perish-
ing by famine; and when the parched earth
drank the showers of heaven, while she rejoiced,
she was neither softened nor made penitent by
the blessing.

Ahab could not entirely divest himself of
every national characteristic, or the remem-
brances and associations of his faith and his
people. There still clung to him some remains
of the fear of the “Lord God of his fathers,”

some feelings of reverence and awe for the
192 JEZEBEL.



name and worship of Jehovah. No such com-
punctions troubled Jezebel. When Elijah visited
Ahab, the impious monarch quailed before him
and trembled at the denunciation of Divine
wrath. Jezebel answered his reproofs by scorn
and threats, and her menaces drove the prophet
from the altar where he had triumphed.

Yet her history is replete with sad inte-
rest. While it declares the certain ruin which
follows national sins and national corruption,
it displays also much of the wonderful for-
bearance of Jehovah. As we retrace his
dealings even with the guilty house of Ahab
and the apostate people of Israel, we are re-
minded of One who, ages after, wept over
Jerusalem. “Oh, if thou hadst known, in this
thy day, the things which belong to thy peace
—but now they are hidden from thine eyes.”

During the earlier years of the reign of Ahab,

while Jezebel was engaged with all zeal and ac-
JEZEBEL. 193



tivity in proselyting the people of Isracl to the
worship of Ashtaroth and Baal, she was constantly
- resisted by the prophets sent as messengers from
Jehovah. And many miracles of mercy and of
Judgment, wrought before her by the power of
the Lord God of Israel, should have convinced
her of the truth of His messengers—His indis-
putable claim to be the God—the Lord God.
She resisted all—not from the want of evidence
or the power of believing, but from the per-
verseness of a determined will and a hardened
heart. Yet he who styles himself a God mer-
ciful and gracious, long strove with her, though
at last she provoked him to depart and leave
her to her chosen way.

The seizure of the vineyard of Naboth
seems to have consummated the iniquity of
Jezebel, while it brought all the distinguishing
traits of her character into full light.

Judah was a land of rocky hills and narrow
17
194 JEZEBEL



though fertile valleys. The possessions of Is-
rael were broader and more luxuriant; and in
the beautiful plain of Jezreel the kings of Israel
had built their favourite city of Samaria. In
that city, Ahab erected the temple consecrated
to Baal, and there he maintained four hundred
and fifty priests for his service, while the Queen
of Israel kept four hundred in the groves con-
secrated to Ashtaroth. ‘But the vineyard of
Naboth the Jezreelite was hard by the palace
of Ahab, King of Samaria.”

The King of Israel desired the vineyard of
Naboth, either to enlarge his grounds or to add
to their beauty and variety. Yet, despotic and
unprincipled as he was, the laws of possession
were so fixed, the rights of property so esta-
blished, that, on the refusal of Naboth to sell his
inheritance, he dared not use violence; and he
sank into sullen despondency.

It has ever been characteristic of wives like
JEZEBEL. 195



Jezebel to maintain their ascendency by arts
and blandishments, and by ministering to every
corrupt propensity of their husbands. With
the watchfulness of a devoted wife, she saw the
vexation of her husband.

‘“‘ Why is thy countenance so sad?”

“And he said unto her, Because I spake
unto Naboth the Jezreelite, and said unto him,
Give me thy vineyard for money; or else, if it
please thee, I will give thee another vineyard
for that.”

Naboth had said, God forbid that I should
give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee.

The faithful Israelite may have recoiled from
the thought of its passing into the hands of the
unholy worshippers of Baal and Ashtaroth and
being polluted by their orgies. But Ahab did
not give the denial in its full force. He repre-
sents Naboth as simply refusing. “I will not

give thee my vineyard.”
196 JEZEBEL



We seem to see the actors before us, in the
spirited, yet simple narration, as it proceeds.
Ahab, heavy, sullen, morose—with clouded brow
and furrowed cheek. Jezebel, with her flashing
eye, her queenly gait, her haughty aspect, and
all the workings of pride and craft and ambi-
tion expressed in her faded but still striking
features. With what utter contempt would she
look upon the husband who sank into despond-
ency because he had not the skill to devise,
or the will to perpetrate, the iniquity which
would insure the attainment of his desires!

“Dost thou govern Isracl? Arise, and eat
bread, and let thine heart be merry. TZ will
give thee the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreel-
ite.”’

And a darker plot, or one more artfully de-
vised, has seldom been unravelled among all the
iniquitcus intrigues of courts and statesmen.

Naboth was doubtless a true worshipper; and
JEZEBEL. 197



for once Jezebel professed all honour to the
laws of Jehovah. He was arraigned and
tried by the laws of Moses—long trampled
upon and disused. And all the solemnities of
religion were resorted to, to aid her plans and
advance her purpose.

Falsely arraigned, accused, and condemned,
Naboth was executed, and his sons perished with
him. The hands of his brethren were imbrucd
in their blood. She who managed the plot
found other agents to execute her designs.
With impious hypocrisy, she insulted heaven by
ordaining a solemn fast, for God and the king
had been blasphemed. ‘These transactions
display the deep depravity of the Queen of
Isracl, while they show the influence of her
character and example upon her people. The
very ministers of justice were made the abettors
of her guilt; and law, with all its formalities

and solemnities, was made to sanction crime.

17 *
198 JEZEBEL.



How many sins were committed to gratify
one idle, covetous desire! God was insulted
and defied and blasphemed ; justice was cor-
rupted; and falsehood, perjury, and murder
were all used to accomplish the wicked will of
Jezebel. And how many victims have been thus
arraigned, and perished thus, in later days!
This decd awoke the vengeance of Jehovah.
Even as Ahab took possession of his blood-
stained field, the prophet of the Lord met him
and denounced the doom of the perpetrators of
the dark crime. All were to perish, and all
were to die deaths of blood and shame. Hus-
band, wife, parents, and children—all, to the
latest generation, were to be cut off—to be
rooted out of the earth as an abominable stock,
and to rot in the sight of the heavens. Ahab
humbled himself, as he received the message of
the prophet, and showed an outward reverence :

and his doom was so far softened that the de-
JEZEBEL. 199



struction of the familyavas not immediate: but
Jezebel seems still as bold and unmoved as ever.
Jehoshaphat, the King of Judah, entered into
alliance with Ahab, and visited his court to
witness the splendour and share the hospitalities
of Jezebel ; and while both were warring against
Syria, Ahab was slain in battle.

Jezebel doubtless would have scouted the folly
of those who saw the fulfilment of both prophecy
and sentence in the dogs licking the blood from
the chariot and the armour, as they were washed
in the pool, which probably was on the lands of
Naboth; yet she might have foreseen thus her
certain fate—and as Ahab had died, so she
should die. Her doom was yet deferred. She
long survived her husband, and prosperity and
such honours as attend the prosperous were her’s.
She was the daughter, wife, and the mother of
kings. Hersonsruled Israel. Her daughter sat
on the throne of Judah. She dwelt in royal
200 JEZEBEL.



state at Jezrecl, and enjoyed possessions which
had been obtained by revolting crimes. Ahab
had died a bloody death. Jehoshaphat was ga-
thered to his fathers; the King of Syria perish-
ed by the hands of his servant; and Elijah was
taken up to heaven—but Jezebel still lived.
What were the occupations of her old age?
Was she still busy, restless, and intriguing? Or
did the past haunt her with dark remembrances
of shame and crime, and the avenging future
cast its shadow over her soul? Did the stern
decree of the prophet ring in her ears, and late
remorse drive her to the dark cruelties of her
bloody idolatry, in the idle hope of expiation ?
Such an old age could not have been happy.
She was left to fill up the measure of her ini-
quity, while memory told of past sins, and con-
science whispered of the coming retribution,
and the avenging justice of heaven hung like a

dark cloud over her guilty house. Past the
JEZEBEL. - 201



season of pleasure, deprived of the power she
had so abused, without the honour and sacred
reverence due to virtuous age, she may have
had a foretaste of her future retribution, though
surrounded by all the splendour of royalty,
with trembling and abject slaves ministering to
all her wants.

One son after another quietly took possession
of the throne of Israel, and Jezebel may have
derided the prophecy of Elijah; yet the sen-
tence, long delayed, was fully executed. The
hour of foretold vengeance arrived. In one
day, the King of Israel was dethroned and
murdered, and the race of Ahab was swept
from the face of the earth. The last act of
her life was worthy of Jezebel herself,—of
the Queen of Israel in the days of her prime.
She heard of the death of Jehoram and of the
insurrection of Jehu. Neither the timidity of a

woman nor the yearnings of a mother had a
202 JEZEBEL.



place in her soul. In the hour of carnage,
surrounded by all the horrors of death, the
pride of her nature prevailed, and all the daring
of her character was displayed. She forgot
neither the proprieties due to her rank nor the
embellishments needful for her person. With
the vanity of the woman and the pride of a
queen, “she painted her face and tired her
head,” and then haughtily presenting herself
before the murderer of her children, she uttered
maddening taunt and defiance. By the hands
of her servants she was cast from the windows of
the palace of Israel into the very grounds which
had been the vineyard of Naboth; and as she
was dashed to the earth, the wheels of the
chariot of the destroyer of her race passed over
her, and the feet of the horses trampled upon
her. “And the dogs ate Jezebel by the walls
of Jezreel.” Thus her doom was accomplished !

There have been many likeher. Her crimes
JEZEBEL. 203



have been sometimes equalled in atrocity.
Her ruling passions were pride and ambition;
and she doubtless clung to the idols of her
land from the unbounded license their worship
gave to sensuality, and the opportunities it af-
forded, in its feasts and festivals, for display
and gayety.

But she clung more tenaciously to her idol-
atry from motives of self-interest and national
aggrandizement. It was the test of loyalty
for Israel. It was in perfect consistency with
such a character to turn away from all evi-
dence and to reject what she did not wish to
believe. In the expressive language of the Bi-
ble, she “hardened her heart;” and doubtless,
like skeptics of later days, she could ascribe
what she could not disprove to the work-
ing of natural causes, or to the arts of
priestcraft.

We can all stifle the convictions of conscience
204 JEZEBEL.



and contemn the principles which conflict with
our interest or our inclination; and there are
in every station unconscious imitators of the

Queen of Israel.


ATHALIAH.

ee a

HE pious king of Judah not
only formed a political alli-
ance with Israel, but he

even permitted, and pro-



bably encouraged, his son,
and the heir to his throne, to marry
the daughter of the impious Ahab
and the idolatrous Jezebel. Jehoshaphat saw
not the Queen of Israel as we see her—
as unlovely as she was unholy. Dazzled
by the splendour of her court, won by her
grace and queenly bearing, he may have over-
looked her crimes. The most unprincipled

have sometimes carefully and successfully cul-
18
206 ATHALIAH.

—_—_—_——_——

tivated much that gives grace and attraction to
social life. Some, whose hearts have been
utterly selfish and callous, and whose lives have
been one dark record of crime and cruelty,
have yet shone as the centres of splendid cir-
cles, diffusing all around them pleasure and
gayety. And men, themselves unstained, have
been won by these fascinations to a close asso-
ciation with those whose principles were worthy
only of reprobation, and whose association should
have been shunned as in the last degree con-
taminating.

The intimacies between those who love and
worship God and those who reject him are
ever full of danger. And while the courtiers
of Ahab and the flatterers of Jehoshaphat may
have applauded the liberal policy of the King
of Judah, and his freedom from the bigotry of
the prophets who would reform Israel, he was

pursuing 2 course which was to involve his
ATHALIAG. 20%



family in calamity and bring corruption into
his kingdom. Jerusalem and Samaria were
not very remote from each other, and the kings
of Israel and Judah seem at this period to have
maintained frequent personal intercourse: an
intercourse which appears not to have elevatec
the moral character of Israel, while it surely le
to the deterioration of the piety of Judah; for
when godly persons mingle freely with the im-
pious,—especially if this intercourse originates
from mere motives of ambition or worldly ex-
pediency,—the former will be much more ready
to sink to the level of the worldling than to
raise the worldling to their own.

The influence of this association with the
depraved court of Israel doubtless had its effect
upon the heart of Jehoshaphat. He was not
drawn into idolatry, but he probably was less
zealous in the service of Jehovah and in the vin-

dication of his ways. He may have rather sym-
208 ATHALIAH.



pathized with the monarchs of Israel in their at-
tempts to establish their own faith and main-
tain their own authority, than with the perse-
cuted people of Israel in their efforts to preserve
the worship of their fathers. While he regretted
the idolatry of Jezebel, he may have censured
what would be called the uncourtly intolerance
or the bigoted zeal of the prophets, who uttered
such denunciations and threatenings against
the reigning family. Perhaps he pointed out
to the few faithful Israelites whom he might meet
‘nthe train of Ahab or at the court of Israel the
propriety of a more gentle mode or a more con-
ciliating policy. As the friend of Ahab, he
betrayed the cause of God, and upheld his
iniquities. In all the persecutions they sus-
tained, we do not find that the prophets of the
Lord ever sought a refuge among their brethren
of Judah. Ifardly could they have expected

shelter and protection from the king who was
ATHALIAH. 209



allying his own family with the house of Ahab.
They found shelter among the heathen; they
were nourished by miracles ; they were hid in
the coverts of the rocks, and were fed by
ravens, while Jehoshaphat and his court were
rejoicing in the alliance of Jehoram with
Athaliah—the royal son of Judah with the
royal daughter of Israel; and the worshippers
of Jehovah and the devotees of Ashtaroth and
Baal were mingled in their train.

There might have been heavy forebodings
and low, suppressed murmurs among those who
remembered the statutes of the Lord, and who
recalled his dealings with his people; but the
multitude could rejoice in the splendour and the
festivities of the occasion; the court could exult
in the pomp and display; and wise politicians
could talk of the benefits to the two countries
of speaking one language, springing from a

common origin, and preserving their own
18*
210 ATHALIAH.



national integrity, and yet presenting one
united front to the common enemy. And
J choshaphat may have hailed this marriage as
the master-stroke of his policy, while religiousl y-
disposed courtiers whispered that a scion of
Israel, transplanted to Judah and nurtured by
Jehoshaphat, under the influences of Zion, must
indeed prove a plant of righteousness in this
garden of the Lord.

Did Jezebel fear this? Did this strong-
minded, politic, crafty woman feel that her
daughter was placed under influences which
might draw her from the idols of her mother,
and make her recreant to the policy of her
father’s house ?

Jezebel was too strong in the consciousness
of her own power, to fear that her children
would oppose her wishes or her plans. All
experience proves that the wife exerts a power-

ful influence upon the character of her husband,
ATHALIAH. 211



Even where she has apparently little mental
strength, she may possess great moral power,
for evil or for good. This influence pervades
her family, and is felt even while it is despised
and disavowed. When holy and pure, it is as
reviving, strengthening, invigorating as the
pure breath of the morning. When it has its
source in a selfish, polluted heart, it comes like
the midnight miasma or the blast of the desert,
prostrating and destroying all over which it
passes.

The character of the mother often determines
the course and the destiny of her children.
She imprints her own moral lineaments upon
her offspring. She moulds their habits and
she transfuses into them the feelings, motives,
and principles which actuate herself. The
influence of the mother is often so perpetuated
in her daughters that the individual seems

multiplied as she is faithfully reflected by them.
912 ATHALIAH.



Where the mental and moral characteristics
are marked, they are almost sure to descend;
and the character of Jezebel was one to leave
its impress.

Thus we find Athaliah worthy of the stock
from which she sprang. She was the true, as
she seems to be the only daughter of Jezebel.
Though early allied to Jehoshaphat and removed
into the kingdom of Judah, she retained all
the idolatrous prepossessions of her father’s
house, and she exhibited all the traits which
marked her race. She possessed the qualities
which had been so prominently displayed by
the course and life of Jezebel. The same des-
perate will, the same determined energy, the
same daring courage and dauntless resolution,
and the same proud ambition; and she was
even more devoid than her mother of all the
kinder feelings, affections, and sympathies.

Jezebel had resolutely crushed all those af-
ATHALIAH. 2138



fections and sympathies of her nature which
would be likely to check her progress in her
career of crime and power. She had trampled
upon all that would obstruct her in the attain-
ment of her object. Yet some of the feelings
of the woman, the tenderness of the wife, the
fondness of the mother, still seem to linger in
her proud heart. Unprincipled as she was,
she did not abandon herself to utter selfishness.
In her most atrocious acts she seems to have
had some regard to the aggrandizement of her
family and to the gratification of her husband.
The daughter was more depraved than her
mother. Athaliah was utterly selfish, devoid
even of the instinct of natural affection. A
character more revolting 1s not presented to us
in the pages of the historian, sacred or profane.

A woman rioting in blood that she might
gratify her ambition! A mother destroying

her offspring that she might possess thei
914 ATHALIAH.



inheritance! Jezebel was a depraved woman,
but Athaliah was a monster—a woman destitute
of all the feelings of humanity, working all
evil, and only evil, from the mere love of self.
With sclfish desires which absorbed all con-
sideration, and in their intensity prompted to
unnatural crimes, having no object in view be-
yond her personal gratification or aggrandize-
ment, there was not even the extenuation to be
offered for Athaliah which could be urged for
Jezcbel; for the policy of Judea was opposed to
idolatry, and in the family of Jehoshaphat she
was surrounded by influences most favourable
to a virtuous course, and influences which had
never rested upon her mother. Under the
very shadow of the Temple she perpetrated her
most flagrant crimes.

Although the depravity of Jezebel led her to
adopt a corrupt religion, to reject a pure and

holy worship, and to cling to the dark and cruel
ATHALIAH. 215



rites of heathenism, the voice of conscience was
not silenced, the light of the soul was not en-
tirely extinguished. She felt the need of some
faith—she clung to the altars of her gods. But
Athaliah seems to have sunk into the brutishness
of those who own ‘no God.”’ She seems to have
trampled upon all faith, as she violated all obliga-
tion—insensible alike to the calls of conscience
and the aspirations of devotion. She had no wo-
manly sympathies. She had high mental endow-
ments—she had a powerful will and strong pas-
sions—but she had no affections. There have
been many Jezebels—but few Athaliahs. The
affections compose so large a part of a woman’s
nature that we disown one who is without them.
In her deepest guilt, in her lowest debasement,
they still cling to her; and raised to the summit
of power, they do not often wholly desert her.
The princess of Isracl must have been mar-

ried at an carly age, and she was long restrained
916 ATHALIAL.



by the character of J choshaphat from the pub-
lic display of her wishes and inclinations.
While he lived, Judah still retained the out-
ward show of reverence for the God of Israel,
and doubtless Athaliah often led her train to
the temple of Jehovah; yet the infection of
the character and principles of the daughter
of Ahab was at work. A poisonous leaven
spread through the royal family. The younger
princes of Judah were contaminated; and when
Jehoshaphat died, this imfluence of Athaliah
was first manifest in the character of Jehoram.
It is written of him that “he walked in the
ways of the kings of Israel, after the house of
Ahab, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife,
and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.”

He commenced his reign by the murder of
his brethren, the sons of his father. J ehosha-
phat had provided for all his sons, giving them

wealth and appointing them to offices of trust,
ATHALIAN. O17



while he left the kingdom to Jehoram. And
without pretext or apology, Jehoram put them
all to death; and their families were involved,
as we may well believe, in their ruin. They
were probably proclaimed outlaws, and then
murdered wherever found, perhaps while dwell-
ing in perfect security and in profound peace ;
and with them fell many of the other princes
of Judah not so nearly connected with the
royal family. The very commencement of his
reign, the occasion of so much joyful festivity
to the court, was thus marked by crimes which
brought utter desolation to the families and
terror to the hearts of the people of his king-
dom; and we may well presume that the woman
who afterwards proved herself so reckless and
heaven-defying, prompted to this first crime.
She who was herself so ready to commit deeds

of blood would be quick to instigate others.

The whole reign of Jehoram was impivus
19
218 ATHALIAH.



and disgraceful. He erected altars on all the
hills of Judea, to draw his people into the wor-
ship of Baal and Ashtaroth; while he compelled
the inhabitants of Jerusalem to join in the
corrupt festivals and the abominable rites of
this Syrian goddess.

Elijah, the prophet of Israel, was commis-
sioned to reprove Jehoram, and to denounce
the impending doom of his house. He was
not ordered to present himself at the court
of the King of Judah, but to write his message.
“There came a writing to Jehoram ;” and pro-
bably the King of Judah scoffed at the warning,
and perhaps referred him to the unexecuted
judgments denounced upon the house of Ahab,
and to the present prosperity of the family, and
the continued stability of the kingdom, as a
proof of the fanatical delusion of the pretended
prophets of the Lord. Yet the doom of the

guilty Jehoram was accomplished even before
ATHALIAH. 219



the woes denounced upon Jezebel were fulfilled.
Tributary kingdoms revolted, and in vain he
sought to bring them back to obedience. The
Philistines and the Arabians made an incursion
into Judah, and carried away all his wealth,
while they took his family captive; and Jeho-
ram, smitten by a most loathsome and painful
disease, died. He was buried without the
usual honours paid to royalty. His memory
and his person were alike offensive.

Upon the accession of Ahaziah, the next
king, the influence of Athaliah is soon recog-
nised. He was the youngest and the only son
not carried into captivity. It is said that “his
mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter of
Omri. He also walked in the way of the
house of Ahab, for his mother was his coun-
sellor to do wickedly,”—as wife and mother,
alike unholy. ‘‘ Wherefore he did evil in the
sight of the Lord, like the house of Ahab,
220 ATHALIAN.



for they were his counsellors, after the death
of his father, to his destruction.”

The second son of Ahab had succeeded to
the kingdom of Israel, and Jezebel was sur
rounded by all the splendours of royalty.
Peace and prosperity still attended her family.
The death of Naboth and his sons, and the
denunciations of the prophet, were probably
forgotten, or remembered only to be despised.
The royal houses, so closely allied, maintained
a familiar intercourse, and the King of Judah
was on a visit of sympathy to the King of
Israel, who was sick and wounded, when the
rebellion of Jehu broke out. It came upon
the house of Ahab like a hurricane: in the
midst of security and of apparently profound
peace, the storm swept over and destroyed them.

While the kings were in the palace of Israel,
the rapid approach of a messenger awoke the

curiosity rather than the apprehension of the
ATHALIAR. 291



King of Israel. With the rashness of a doomed
man, he rushed upon his own destruction. Ag
the messengers, whom he had sent to meet the
approaching foes, returned not, the two kings
hastened to meet the advancing troop. And
they met Jehu by the vineyard of Naboth, and
there the King of Israel was slain, while the
King of Judah fled, mortally wounded, to
Megiddo, where he died. All that belonged to
the house of Ahab in Israel perished in this
hour of vengeance and righteous retribution.
Jehu murdered those of the descendants of
Jehoram who fell in his way; and Athaliah
hastened.to complete the fulfilment of the
prophetic doom of her house by herself insti-
gating the murder of all who remained of the
royal family of Judah, although they were her
own descendants! In her ruthless ambition she
destroyed her grandchildren, that she might
herself ascend the throne of Judah. She

19*
$23 ATHALIAH.



seems to have exulted in the blood and carnage
which opened her way to royal power. Un-
moved by the fate of her mother, with her sons
and her brothers scarce cold in their untimely
graves, by her cruel treachery she consummated
the destruction of her family ; and, stained
with blood and polluted by crimes, she seated
herself upon the throne of David, and usurped
the inheritance of her children !

For eight years Athaliah held this usurped po-
sition. No compunctious visitings of conscience
seem to have haunted her. She felt neither
pity nor remorse. She may have well sustained
her ill-gotten power while she resided amidst
the pomp and pageantry of royalty. Her reso-
lute despotism scems to have held her subjects
in awe, and to have quelled them all into sub-
jection. She had herself wrought the fulfil-
ment of the doom of her race. As the last of

Ahab’s children, the sword of divine vengeance
ATHALIAH. 223



was suspended over her head, and in the time
appointed it fell. She was to die the death of
her house—a death of blood.

When the kings of Judah apostatized, while the
individuals were punished, the race was spared.
God still remembered his covenant with David;
and, amid all the sin and desolation of Judah,
the line of hereditary descent was unbroken.
The root remained, and some scion worthy of
the stock sprang from it.

When Athaliah was ingrafted on the stock
of royal Judah, she so debased it, that it seemed
needful to purify it by cutting off all the bran-
ches to the very root. Yet one was saved.
And, as if to display his own power and grace,
God is at times pleased to select from the
families the most apostate and unholy, the
instrument of his work and the trophy of
his grace. So he made the daughter of Atha-

liah the nurse and the instructress of him who
994 ATHALIAN.



was to reform the kingdom of Judah. Jeho-
shabeath, wife of the high-priest of the Lord,
seems to have escaped the character and the
doom of her family. Her’s was a task most diffi-
cult. She was called to oppose the depravity of
her mother and to thwart her bloody policy, and
yet not to appear as her accuser and as hast-
ening the execution of the Divine vengeance.
Hard is it to the virtuous child to reprobate
the character and course of the unholy parent,
and yet preserve the reverence due to the re-
lation. Jchoshabeath appears before us in 4
light which leaves a most favourable impression.
The saviour of the infant heir of Judah, the
gon of her brother, she cherished, instructed
and guarded him. At the proper time the
high-priest communicated the secret of the ex-
‘stence of the child to the princes of the land,
and the son of Ahaziah was proclaimed king.

No assault was made upon Athaliah. She
ATHALIAH. 225



rushed, like others of her family, upon her doom,
as if she were infatuated. The tumult of the
people, the triumphant strains of sacred and
martial music, the clashing of the shields of the
soldiers as they bore their king aloft, brought
the first tidings of the existence of the last of
her race to Athaliah. |

The daughter of Jezebel was not easily daunt-
ed. Her courage rose in the hour of danger.
She had purchased the throne at a price too great
readily to relinquish the possession of it. She
forced her way through the crowds who surround-
ed the Temple, and through the bands of soldiers
who guarded the young king, until she confront-
ed the child whose brow already bore the crown
of Judah—a heavy weight for the infant king.
In vain she rent her royal robes, and in vain
she cried, “Treason! Treason!” None ad-
hered to her—none followed her—none perish-
ed with her. She died by the sword,
226 ATHALIAH.



‘And left a name to other times
Link’d with no virtue, but a thousand crimes.”

The history of modern nations is not without
examples of similar evils entailed upon those
who, professing themselves the heads of a
purified church and a reformed faith, choose
(from motives of pride or policy) to seek an
alliance with the adherents of ‘a dark, cruel, and
persecuting superstition. Such a marriage
precipitated the Stuarts from the throne of
England, cost one king his life, and the family
a kingdom; and the marriages of policy among
princes, contravening the rules of God’s word,
are often followed by most disastrous results,
and hasten the evils they are contracted to
prevent.

In private life, also, the marriage of those
who have renounced this world for a higher
portion, with the worldly and the ungodly, is

generally a source of sin or of sorrow. There
ATHALIAH. 227



can be little congenial feeling between the
spiritual and the earthly; and the servant of
God who chooses a wife from the daughters of
sin and the devotees of pleasure, places him-
self in a position of peculiar trial.

The spirit of the wife pervades the household.
The husband may rule, but the wife influences.
His voice is obeyed, but the wishes of the wife
are consulted. Her friends are the welcome
guests. His associates gather around his
board and claim his leisure hour, but her voice
whispers to him in his retirement. She comes be-
tween God and his soul. The strongest of men
was shorn of his might by the companion of his
bosom ; the wisest was led into foolishness and
idolatry by the influence of a corrupt woman.

We are prone to think of the period to which
we have been referring as one of barbarism,
and of the nations of Israel and Judah as

ignorant and uncivilized. Does it not seem as
228 ATHALIAH.



if the very heavens must have been shrouded
and the course of nature changed during the
perpetration of such bloody crimes? Does it
not seem as if a natural darkness must have
overspread the land? And yet it was not so.
The sun shone in his brightness, the skies were
as serene, the rain and the dew descended, the
vine and the olive ripened, and the flowers shed
forth their sweetness, and all the bustle and
show of life went on, as at other times. The
people were oppressed, but the courts of Israel
and Judah were splendid and luxurious; and
they doubtless boasted of their advancing re-
finement, even when they were sinking into
corruption and depravity. It has ever been
the policy of the monarchs who are guilty of
the most atrocious crimes, who shrink from no
acts of cruelty, to promote that despotism which
may banish the remembrance of their enormi-

ties, and to dazzle and blind the eyes of their
ATHALIAH. 229



people by the glare and splendour which’ sur-
rounds their court. And thus these guilty
monarchs, by the patronage of the licentious
festivals of heathen worship and the alluring
rites of a corrupt religion, compelled their peo-
ple to sin. They drowned the voice of con-
‘science and prevented all reflection.
All history has shown us that, as nations
have been verging to their ruin, they have
yielded themselves to criminal excess and sen-
sual indulgence; and the boasted periods of
splendour and high refinement have been but
the preludes to long seasons of national
calamity or entire overthrow. Thus we may
suppose it to have been with the ancient de-
scendants of Israel. The courts were splendid
and all the arts were patronized, while the thin
veil of refinement was thrown over deeply cor-
rupt manners. The people, departing from a

holy faith, were sinking into a sullen debase-
20
230 ATHALIAN.



ment, or giving themselves to sensual indul-
gence and brutal ferocity.

Modern nations have followed in the foot-
steps of the ancient world. The same idols are
still worshipped under other names—the same

passions rule the unholy heart.


WAX 24 Z mat
UAL TS


ESTHER.

Pave HEN Isaiah wrote, Baby-







lon sat a queen among
the nations, in the pride
iD Wade, of pomp and power,
in the full security
of strength; yet he
P graphically depicted her desola-
ny tion and foretold her present
» state, while he pronounced her
doom—a perpetual desolation. She shall never
be rebuilt! Her towers are fallen and her
site marked by ruins.

The decline of Babylon had begun. It was

certain, although slow. Years were to pass
231
932 ESTHER.



before the sentence should be fully executed.
At the period, when the transactions recorded in
the book of Esther took place, Shushan was the
royal city of Persia. We are told that in this
—the City of Lilies—the king Ahasuerus held
a great feast, probably in celebration of some
recent success, or in commemoration of some
great national event. He assembled all the
princes and nobles of his vast empire, extend-
ing from Egypt to India, and gave a feast or
succession of festivities, which continued for
more than the third of a year.

All that oriental splendour and magnificence
could contribute, all the expedients that eastern
luxury could desire, to multiply the resources
and to heighten the enjoyment of pleasure, were
brought to aid the designs of the monarch and to
add to the festivities of his court.

Yet motives of policy may have combined

with the designs of pleasure. In all ages the
ESTHER. 233



despot has sought to blind and dazzle the peo-
ple by a display of power and magnificence;
and the princes and nobles around, from distant
provinces, have swelled the retinue of their at-
tendants.

The amusements of monarchs and of courts
have, through all varieties of manners and
degrees of refinement, been much the same.
The ancient Syrian or Persian, like the modern
British or French monarch, had his royal parks
and forests for hunting.

All nations have patronized the various trials
of skill and strength, and the mimic fight has
ever been an amusement where war was the
great business of life. And the royal pa-
geantry was doubtless intermingled with the
religious ceremonies which allowed a license
to criminal indulgence and at the same time
offered a supposed expiation for crime.

While these employed the day, the games

20*
934 ESTHER.



of chance, the wine, the music, the movements
of the degraded dancing-girl, and the tricks of
the buffoon and the jester, amused the late hours
and varied the festive scenes of the night.

The feast was drawing to a close, and, at the
termination of this long season of hilarity,
Ahasuerus extended the pleasures of the
occasion to all classes of his subjects at
Shushan.

He threw open his palaces and pleasure-
grounds, his parks and gardens—always of
vast extent around eastern palaces—and ad-
mitted all the citizens to a feast prepared for
them. Tents had been erected within the pre-
cincts of the palace for the tables—and these
tents were furnished with all the luxurious ap-
pendages of the east—with white and green
and blue hangings, fastened with cords of fine
linen and purple to silver rings and marble

pillars ; while the beds—the couches around the
ESTHER. 235



tables, against which the ancients reclined—
were of gold and silver, upon a pavement of
red and blue, and black and white marble;
while they gave them to drink in vessels of
gold. Until these last days the princes and
nobles alone had participated in the festive
scenes; but now, as we have said, all ranks
were allowed to share, and the citizens of
Shushan, subjects of Ahasuerus, thronged the
palace and trod the royal gardens, and, enter-
ing the tents, enjoyed all that royalty could
offer in ancient Persia—far surpassing in costly
splendour and elegance the entertainments of
modern courts. And surely the monarch must
have had strong confidence in the security of
his government and the loyalty of his people,
as he thus from day to day, for successive days,
flung open to them the recesses of his palace.
While the king thus feasted the men in the
gardens and parks of the palace, Vashti, the
236 ESTHER.



queen, held a festival for the women within
the secluded apartments appropriated to the
female part of the royal household. She made
them a feast within the house of Ahasuerus:
and this queenly entertainment was conducted
with all that regard for retirement and decorum
which accords with Eastern manners. But
whatever the amusements of the queen and her
train of attendants, no rumours passed the
carefully guarded bounds of the women’s apart-
ments. At length the long season of pleasure
came to a harmonious close. No outbreak of
the people of Shushan, no rising of distant
provinces, no plotting of high-born traitors had
marred the festal pomp. Yet the season of
pleasure is always a period of trial, and the
seeds of remorse and repentance are almost
invariably sown in the hours of gayety. Amid
all this brightness, a dark cloud hung over
Ahasuerus. On the seventh and last day,
ESTHER. 237



when the heart of the king was morry—when
he had forgotten royalty dignity and personal
decorum, by sitting too long at the festive
board—excited by pride and vanity, and stimu-
lated by wine, he resolved to dazzle the eyes
of the people by presenting to their admiration
a gem, brighter and more lovely than any
which sparkled in the royal crown. To verify
his loud boasts of her matchless charms, he
sent his chamberlain to bid the queen array
herself in that royal attire which befitted her
state while it displayed her beauty and pro-
claimed her rank, and thus present herself,
that the assembled multitudes might admire
her loveliness and confess his happiness.

In Western lands, and in modern days, this
command would convey no idea of shame or im-
propriety. The royal consort and her train of °
fair attendants have often graced the presence

and shared the honours of the monarch and his
238 ESTHER.



court, and added refinement to luxury. But
no offer could be more opposed to all ideas of
Eastern delicacy and propriety—more degrad-
ing to the woman, or more offensive to the
queen.

By thus unveiling herself before the crowd,
she would sink herself to the level of the most
unworthy of her sex—while the violation of an
established usage, in the time of such excite-
ment and excess, might lead to the wildest
disorder, and the queen might be exposed to
every insult from crowds maddened by wine
and ripe for disorder ; while the monarch him-
self might not be able to protect her in a posi-
tion so strange and unfitting.

The modesty of the woman and the dignity
of the queen alike forbade compliance with the
strange order—and Vashti might well presume
that, in the hour of reflection, when his senses

had returned, the monarch would thank her for
' ESTHER. 239



a prudence which probably alone preserved her
dignity and his honour.

But the passions of the king were inflamed
His reason was blinded, and artful courtiers,
from motives of intrigue or pique, stimulated
his anger. There are ever those who stand ready
to administer to unholy passions, and who art
watching for the fall of such as are high in place
or favour. And still under the influence of wine,
the rash monarch, by his own act, placed an
inseparable barrier between himself and her
whose charms had so lately been his proudest
boast, and whose conduct had proved that she
well deserved all honour and all affection.
Vashti was separated from the king’s favour ;
and flattering sycophants extolled the act of
folly, as a measure which gave peace and
security to every household in the realm.
“All the wives shall give to their husbands
honour, both to great and small.” And thus
240 ESTHER.



the day closed by an edict that brought sorrow
to many hearts, and desolation even to the
gates of the palace.

The excitement was past. The hour of re-
flection arrived, and “the king remembered
Vashti.”” His resentment was appeased. “ He
remembered what she had done, and what was
decreed against her.” That which had been
magnified into a crime and had given such
deep offence, was now seen to be an act of
wisdom and prudence—the result of true
modesty, and that deep affection which sought
alone the love of her husband, which shrank
from the admiration of the crowd, and which
yentured to disobey rather than forfeit sclf-
respect and womanly pride—preferring to lose
his love rather than expose his honour. An
immutable decree—his own—separated him
from one lately so beloved, and 0 truly worthy

of high honour.
ESTHER. OAl

too eee ee

The darkened and saddened aspect of the
monarch declared his late repentance; and
those who had precipitated the fall of the
queen, to screen themselves, were prompt to
devise methods of banishing the remembrance
of the divorced Vashti. They would replace
her by a new favourite. Yet, so surpassing was
her loveliness, and so rare her beauty, that the
courtiers could with difficulty find one whose
charms might banish from memory the repudi-
ated consort, until they sought through all
the provinces of that vast empire for the
fairest of the daughters of men.

Hadassah, a daughter of Israel, a descendant
of Benjamin, of the house of Kish, the family
of Saul, first king of Israel, won the monarch’s
favour, and was promoted to the place of the
disobedient but high-minded Vashti. Esther
was an orphan, but she had been carefully

guarded and instructed by her kinsman Mor-
21
942 ESTHER.



decai; and while we are told that the maiden
was exceeding fair, we may believe that her
beauty was of a high order, stamped too by
‘ntellect and feeling, and that the soul which
often sustained and impelled her in her trying
exigencies, breathed through her features and
animated her form. Yet Ahasuerus merely
bowed to the fair shrine. He sought not to
awaken the response of the soul that dwelt
within.

When the daughter of Israel was placed upon
the throne of Persia, and another royal feast
proclaimed the trimaph of Esther and the
happiness of Ahasuerus, the king displayed
his royal magnificence by the bestowal of gifts
upon his favourites ; and the name of Esther
was blended with other and higher associations,
as, upon her elevation, the taxes of the burdened
provinces were remitted and pardons granted

to the condemned
ESTHER. 243



Mordecai, the relative who had supplied the
place of parents to Esther, was, as we have said,
of the house of Kish. Mordecai was the Jew
rather than the Benjamite. His heart was de-
voted to his country. When the child of his
adoption was taken to the palace, Mordecai dis-
played his wise forethought in cautioning her
against making her parentage and kindred
known. He had been as a father to her, and a
deep interest in the orphan of his care led him,
day by day, to watch the gate of the palace—to
mingle with the attendants, that he might catch
a view of her train or gather tidings of her
welfare. And thus, unknown as the relative
of the fair queen, or as especially interested
in the king, Mordecai was enabled to detect
and reveal a plot for the assassination of
Ahasuerus. _ Esther being informed of the plot,

disclosed it to the king—-the criminals were
944 ESTHER

—



defeated and punished—but no reward was
conferred upon Mordecai.

The passion of Ahasuerus for his fair bride
scems to have soon declined. The fickle volup-
tuary sought new pleasures, and the bride so
lately exalted to a throne was no longer an
object of envy. Many bitter tears have been
shed by the victims of family pride or state
policy, when thus allied to greatness and splen-
dour. The sacred rite has often been prostituted
to purposes of ambition and selfishness, and has
thus become a source of guilt and misery.
Esther, in her elevation, may have shed as
bitter tears as fell from Vashti in her banish-
ment and disgrace.

Thus cach state has its own trials and its
own griefs—and it has its peculiar alleviations
too. Perhaps the progress of the narrative

will show us the source of that influence which
ESTHER. 245



seems early to have estranged Ahasuerus from
his bride.

Among the courtiers of the king there was
the descendant of a race long at variance with
the Jews. The Amalekites had been the ene-
mies of the Israelites from the infancy of the
nation. When the tribes came up from Egypt,
faint and weary in the desert, the Amalckites
had fallen upon them and attempted to destroy
them; and during a series of ages there had
been a war of extermination between the races.
Nor had Amalek been subjected until Saul was
raised to the throne and Israel had become a
kingdom. |

When Israel and Judah had been destroyed
or carried captive by the hosts of the Assyrians,
the remaining Amalekites seem likewise to‘
have been carried into the east, either as prison-
ers or allies. And now, from among all his

courtiers, Ahasuerus had chosen, as his chief
21
946 ESTHER.



favourite and counsellor, Haman, the son of
Hammedatha, a descendant of Agag—that
king of Amalek who, as the prisoner of Saul,
was condemned to death by Samuel, the judge
of Israel. The descendant of a royal line and
of an ancient race, Haman was as crafty as he
was unprincipled and malignant, and his evil
influence seems to have first drawn the king’s
favour from Esther. He did not know her
lineage, but by plunging the king in every
excess, by keeping all safe counsellors at a
distance, he intended to increase his own in-
fluence and perpetuate his own power, while
he was accumulating great wealth from the
prodigality of his master and from the presents
offered as bribes to obtain his favour.

As he did not know the lineage of Esther,
he did not persecute her; but as he feared an
influence that might compete with his own, he

strove to alienate the heart of Abhasuerus from
ESTHER. 247



her. Haman was advanced to honours far
above all the native princes of the kingdom ;
even to the first seat in counsel, to the highest
honours in the realm, and to constant com-
panionship of the monarch.

As, with trains of slaves and flatterers, he
was hastening to the audience of the monarch,
or returning loaded with marks of royal favour,
he passed Mordecai the Jew, seated alone—
unknown, unheeded, without rank or wealth—
by the gate of the palace. “Yet Mordecai
bowed not, neither did reverence to Haman.”
The two men seemed to represent to.each other
their respective nations; as if all the hate and
malice of the race, and of long ages of national
bitterness, were concentrated in an individual.
They met as the Israelite and the Amalekite;
and the memories of centuries of aggression
and injuries, of shame and defeat, were crowded

Into the present moment. Mordecai saw in
248 ESTHER.



Haman, not only the foe to his race, but the
crafty, unprincipled, unholy counsellor, who
had already alienated the heart of the mo-
narch from his youthful bride, and whose per
nicious influence was spreading blight and cor-
ruption, misery and destruction—through an
empire.

Every feeling of the Jew, every principle of
an upright, sincere heart forbade Mordecai to
pay the homage demanded of him by Haman.
Every sentiment of national pride, of family
honour, of personal dignity, of self-respect, arose
to deter the descendant of Israel from showing
nonour to the hereditary foe of his people and
the persecutor of his faith.

Haman, at the same time, saw in Mordecai
the descendant of those who had triumphed
over his nation and destroyed his ancestors.
The descendant of Agag, the captive of Saul,

he might naturally vent his indignation upon
ESTHER. 249



the tribe that humbled his house and subjected
his nation and destroyed his ancestors. The
contempt with which Mordecai regarded him
roused all the ancient malignity of the Amalek-
ite, and his hot blood called for vengeance.

Yet he thought it a foul shame to lay hands
on Mordecai alone. The ruin of one man
would not heal his wounded pride. He medi-
tated a deeper and more deadly revenge. He
resolves to sweep the remnant of the Jews
from the face of the earth !

The proposed plan displays at once all his
cruelty and malignity, and all his crafty in-
fluence over Ahasuerus, while it proves the
king too much immersed in pleasure, or too
much subjected to his artful favourite, to regard
the welfare of his subjects or the interests of
his kingdom.

Superstitious and idolatrous, Haman cast

lots day after day, for successive days, that a
250 ESTHER.



fortunate one might decide the day to be
chosen for the work of death on which he was
bent. And this accomplished, he hastened to
secure the edict from the king. Surely the
monarch must have been sunk in wine and
debauchery who could thus unhesitatingly
accede to the proposition to murder, in cold
blood, thousands of unresisting subjects, when
the worst allegation preferred by their enemy
was ‘that their laws were diverse from all
people.” Yet here was the very principle
of religious persecution; and as sanguinary
edicts as these, enacted against God’s ancient
people, have been too often issued in more
modern days, and no Mordecai has sat at the
gate of the palace, mutely to plead for mercy—
no Esther has staked her life upon the attempt
to avert the doom!

By the offer of an enormous bribe, to be

collected from the plunder of those doomed to
ESTHER. 251



death, Haman sought the acquiescence of the
king in his scheme. And though he refused
the bribe, yet he bade Haman do with the
people and their possessions as seemed best to
him; giving him his signet ring, he seems to
have divested himself of all care and responsi-
bility, and Haman having issued the edict
and commanded the couriers to distribute the
royal mandate, they both returned to their
pleasures. ‘The king and his counsellor sat
down to drink.”

No elaborate essay upon the character of Aha-
suerus, no analysis of the arts of Haman, could
so display the indolent, luxurious, self-indulgent,
voluptuous monarch, or so illustrate the secret
of the favourite’s power. The companion of his
pleasures, he was careful to minister to all the
sensual indulgence that could lead him to forget
his duty and the obligations of right and justice

incumbent upon the ruler of a great people.
252 ESTHER.



Of all the cruel and bloody mandates issued
by despotic monarchs, and designed to answer
either the purposes of private malice or unholy
policy, few, if any, have exceeded this which was
directed against the ancient people of Jehovah.
The Jews who had returned to their own land
were included in this proscription, for Judea was
at this time a tributary of the Persian empire.

‘Then were the king’s scribes called, the
thirteenth day of the first month, and there
was written according to all that Haman had
commanded, unto the king’s lieutenants, and to
the governors that were over every province,
and to the rulers of every people of every pro-
vince, according to the writing thereof; and to
every people after their language, in the name
of King Ahasuerus, was it written, and sealed
with the king’s ring. And the letters were
sent by posts into the king’s provinces, to de-

stroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews—
ESTHER. 253



“both young and old, little children and women, —
in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of
the twelfth month.’

Thus we see all the machinery of this power-
ful government put in motion to crush the
Jews—a people widely dispersed and weak from |
their recent captivity and overthrow. As no
crime was specified, so there was no offer of
pardon or exemption on any terms; while to
make it more distinctly understood, the terms
which indicated their fate were singularly
multiplied. “To destroy, to kill, to cause to
perish.” And while the murder of a nation
was thus made a legal execution, the mode was
left to the option of the executioners ; and every
torment that malignity could devise might be
inflicted, while all were stimulated by the pro-
mise of the plunder of their victims—“ and to
take the spoil of them for a prey.”

What scenes of horror, of suffering, would
22
954 ESTHER.



have followed the execution of this barbarous
edict! The whole empire had protably been
deluged in blood—for man, like the inferior
animals, seems maddened by the taste of blood
_and one cruelty is but the prelude and pro-
vocation of another; and in the time of strife,
while all were made executioners of the law,
private malice would confound others with the
proscribed, and few could be safe in the hour
of commotion.

When this edict was published, and while
Ahasuerus and Haman sat down to indulge in the
pleasures of the table, all the city of Shushan
was perplexed, confounded, and troubled—won-
dering what motives, what state policy, what
strange conspiracy, had led to this sanguinary
enactment against a people long dwelling
among them—a nation who had furnished
counsellors and ministers to their wisest mo-

narchs.
ESTHER. 255



When Mordecai saw what was done, he rent
his clothes and put on sackcloth with ashes, and
went out into the midst of the city and cried with
aloud and bitter cry. He published—he could
not conceal—his grief and terror; and his
crafty foe perhaps exulted in his misery. The
long struggle between the Amalekite and the
Israelite seemed now to be concluded. The
fall of the Jews seemed to be sealed. All the
power of the Persian empire was arrayed
against them. They were prisoners in her
different provinces, appointed to execution!
All human power and authority and presump-
tion of success was on the side of Haman, and
against his intended victims.

Mordecai had no hope on earth. His trust
was alone in the God of his fathers—the God of
Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob—the God
often defied by Amalek. In his distress he pre-
sented himself, clothed in sackelcth, at the gate
956 ESTHER.



of the royal palace; but no one arrayed in the
garb of sorrow might enter the haunts devoted to
luxurious pleasure. Yet the sight of his distress
and the tones of his deep grief arrested the at-
tention of the attendants of the queen, and her
chamberlain reported the circumstances to her.

No tokens of sympathy, no expression of con-
dolence, however grateful, could assuage the
grief of Mordecai in this hour of terror and
alarm; and even though commanded by the
queen, he declined to lay aside the tokens of wo,
while he diligently sought to convey to the se-
cluded Esther an account of all the machinations
of Haman, and the assurance of the imminent
danger to which her nation was exposed, and
‘1 which she was involved. He not only sent
her a copy of the edict which condemned the
Jews, but he charged her to supplicate the
king on their behalf.

The young queen must have felt like one
ESTHER. 257



awakened froma sleep to find herself unon the
brink of a precipice. Ter situation was full
of danger. The flush of royal favour was past.
She was neglected and forgotten. Her splendid
palace was indeed but a prison, and her lordly
consort might prove her executioner. Fora long
time she had not seen the king or received the
least token of royal favour or remembrance,
and a new favourite might have succeeded her
in the court of the capricious voluptuary. Yet
she was sternly charged by Mordecai to rouse
herself, meet the peril, and, if possible, save her
people, while he taught her to recognise the
designs of a wise Providence in her elevation.
“Then Mordecai commanded to answer
Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt
escape in the king’s house, more than all the
Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace
t this time, then shall there enlargement and

deliverance arise to the Jews from another
22%
258 ESTHER.



place; but thou and thy father’s house shall
be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou
art come to the kingdom for such a time as
this ?”’

In the appeals of Mordecai to Esther, we
may recognise the principles upon which he
had trained her. The sense of duty, the ob-
ligations of religion, the call to self-sacrifice
and exertion, had all been instilled while Esther
was in private life, and they bear their fruit on
the throne. Yet there must have been a con-
flict in the heart of Esther, before she could
adopt the decision which might accelerate the
doom of her people, while, if her appeal failed,
her own fate was sealed with their's.

Surrounded by all the splendour of the
court, with all the pleasures that pomp and
power can command, with troops of menials
treading marble halls, with the more genial

luxuries of fair flowers and pure fountains and
ESTHER. 959



soft music—Hsther felt the insufficiency of all
that earth can yield in the hour of sorrow and
trial. We may almost fancy that we see her,
with lofty brow and pale check, her dark soft
eye fixed in thought, and the compressed lip
telling of the firm resolve. She has decided!
She will venture the loss of royal favour, and
life itself, to secure the safety of her people.
“JT WIL. GO IN TO THE KING, AND IF I PERISH
—I prrisn.”’. Words more simple, yet sublime
in their high meaning, have seldom been re-
corded. Strong purpose and high resolve call
for but few words.

Yet Esther relied upon a power higher than
that of Ahasuerus. She may have recalled the
history of her nation; she may have remembered
all the interpositions of Divine mercy in past
extremities; and doubtless she relicd upon those
promises for the future which induced in Mor.

decai a confident hope of deliverance. She re-
260 ESTHER.



membered that Jehovah—the God of Israel—
hears the prayers of the humble and the con-
trite. She appointed a solemn fast of three
days, in which the Jews of Shushan should
humble themselves and remember her before
the God of their fathers.

A more eminent instance of simple depend-
ence upon the Divine interposition, or of entire
reliance upon the voice of prayer, has seldom if
ever, occurred. There was no resort to out-
ward ceremonies to awaken a deeper feeling, or
to atone for the want of it by a formal observ-
ance. There was no altar, no sacrifice, no
long procession, no promised offering, no resort
to temple or priest, but there was the call upon
God from the depth of the soul—the simple,
unfailing trust of the heart, the personal
humiliation, the individual prayer, the united
offerings of supplication and confession from a

whole people. There was the simple faith that
ESTHER. 261



relies on the Divine power and pleads the
Divine promises with submission to the Divine
will. It was a strange contrast to the sensual,
gross, superstitious, and unholy rites of the
heathen, while from its deep spiritual meaning,
and from the entire absence of all merely formal
observance, it was both a precedent and a
model for future ages, and for the holy spiritual
worshipper of other days.

It was no heartless service, no formal act
of worship rendered by the Jews of Shushan,
when Esther called upon them to pray and
to fast with her and for her. While the queen
and her maidens fasted in the recesses of the
palace, in many a lowly home or quiet cham-
ber were gathered the race of Esther, to
commit her and themselves to Jehovah, to
beseech him to forgive the sins of his people
and save them, for his mercy’s sake, in this

hour of their extremity. Mingled with their
962 ESTHER.



personal apprehension and anxicty for their
wives and their children would be thoughts
of “the daughter of their people’—their beau-
tiful queen—so young, so fair, so lately exalted
to the pinnacle of honour and glory; adorned
with gems and wreathed with flowers, the pride
of a monarch and the ornament of a court;
now, neglected, abject, forsaken—included in
the doom of her race, prostrate In some Sse-
cluded apartment of the palace—her royal ap-
parel exchanged for sackcloth and ashes—still
cleaving to the God of her fathers, and still iden-
tifying herself with her kindred and country-
men. Whether they regarded her royal state,
her tender years, her bitter desolation, or her
heroic resolution, all the sympathies of the
heart, all the purest feelings of the nation,
would be called forth in her behalf.

Other feclings would find a place in the

hearts of the Jews as they contemplated their
ESTHER. 263



present state. The last deed of the Amalckite
would bring to recollection the injuries of ages.
This Haman, who now, in a time of profound
peace and full security—while both races were
exiles from the land of their fathers—had
plotted the ruin of their nation, the total ex-
termination of their race; who had doomed the
feeble and helpless, the little one and the aged,
to perish with the strong man in his might;
this Haman was the son of those who fell upon
the tribes, faint and weary, in the wilderness ;
who had pursued them with inveterate hatred;
who had ever joined with their foes or stood
ready to attack them in their defenceless
State.

When we recollect that the conspiracy of
Haman but closed the long train of injuries
inflicted on Israel by Amalek, we shall not so
much wonder at the feelings sometimes ex-

rressed by the Jew. The character of the
964 ESTHER.



tribe was still the same—their course through
all years was unaltered. And now, while
Amalek has perished and the Jew survives,
we can form no just estimate of that national
feud. Haman was a type of his race—artful,
cruel, treacherous, and bloody; and what the
Roman was to Hannibal, what the ancient Per-
sian was to Greece, what the Turk 1s to modern
Greece, what Russia is to the Pole, such was
the Amalekite to the Jew.

While Esther had manifested her sense of
dependence upon the eternal Ruler of nations,
and her faith and reliance upon the God of her
fathers, by humbling herself before him and
relying upon his protection and interposition
in this hour of darkness, she showed, too, a
knowledge of the human heart, not often ac-
quired at her age; an instinctive insight into
the character and the motives of those around

her, with the power of adapting herself to ESTHER. 265



cumstances, that has seldom been displayed in
one so young, combined with so many of the —
higher qualities of the woman.

She knew the weak point in the character
of Ahasuerus, and she forgot not the power of
beauty, the influence of personal charms, as
she arrayed her fair form in the rich and
splendid vestments that so well became her,
and summoned all the aid of oriental art and
elegance to her toilette, that her presumption
might be forgiven in her loveliness—that favour
won by her beauty might be extended to her
nation; and if she felt the hope of pleasing, as
she surveyed herself in the polished metallic
mirror, decked with the magnificence of a
royal bride and adorned with the gifts of him
Whose favour she would seek, her heart might
have sunk too at the remembrance of the favour
she had once won and lost. In assuming the

frown placed upon her brow by Ahasuerus,
23
°66 ESTHER.



there was a tacit claim to her royal rights; for
that gemmned circlet was not only a badge of
rank, but a pledge of affection—a token of
honour and royal favour, which elevated her
above the throng of beauties who filled the
courts of the palace. Had she arrayed herself
‘1 sackcloth, had she appeared as @ mourner,
an afflicted suppliant, she would probably have
found the royal voluptuary more anxious to
banish one who disturbed his pleasures, than to
redress the grievances that appealed to his
justice.

Yet it must have been with trembling limbs
and a beating heart that she stood before
Ahasuerus; and, by entering his presence
unbidden, she made her mute. appeal to his
mercy.

And strange, at that unwonted place and
hour, must have appeared the beautiful vision

to the king, while courtiers and attendants
ESTHER. 2°67



stood in silent amazement. There was but one
anxious moment before the sceptre was extended ;
the trembling queen touched it, and thus was
encouraged to prefer her petition for any favour
that the royal hand could bestow. The presence
of Esther seems to have revived at once the
fondness of the monarch, and all his coldness
and indifference vanished like the mist before
the rising sun. All the arts of Haman hed been
needed to wean him from her and to teach him
to forget her. How rarely does a vile, unholy
counsellor or companion seek to corrupt a pri-
vate man, or a prince, or a ruler, without striving
first to undermine the influence of the virtuous
wife, mother, or sister!

Warily does the royal suppliant present her
request, still uncertain of the degree of favour
on which she might rely. She offered no peti-
tion that could embarrass the king. She made

no coniplaint of past neglects. She uttered no
268 ESTHER.

——_—_——"

word of upbraiding for forgotten vows; but
delicately implying that his presence was tho
source of her happiness, that this had con-
strained her to break through all the formal
observances of courtly restraint and endanger
life itself, she besought him to honour her
by attending a banquet which she had prepared.
Thus she avoided the awakening of the sus-
picions of Haman by even asking to see the
monarch without his presence. Including him
in her invitation, she allayed all jealousy of
a wish to exert an ‘nfluence inimical to his,
while she thus offered an additional inducement
to Ahasuerus to honour her feast.

By astrong effort and great self-command, the
young queen retained her calmness and preserved
her grace and gayety. And even when the ban-
quet had closed and the guests had retired, and
the king again asked her to prefer her petition,

ghe did not venture to prefer that which was
ESTHER. 269



nearest her heart. His favour was too uncertain
and his favourite too powerful. She only be-
sought his presence again as a guest, and again
his favourite was included in the invitation.
The Jews were still lying low before their
God. When the feast in the palace was bro-
ken up, and the gates were shut, the high walls
cast their shadows upon the moat. The senti-
nels still moved with measured tread. The lights
gradually disappeared, except those that told of
some one watching over the sick or dying, or some
chance-beam betraying a late carousal. In the
palace, the soft footfall of the attendants in
the antechambers, could not disturb the slum-
bers of the monarch, while strains of swectest
music were ready to lull him to repose, as
warder and sentinel kept watch over his safety.
But still “that night the king could not sleep ;”
and wakeful, restless, solitary, he commanded

his attendants to bring him the archives of
23%
270 BSTHER.



his kingdom, and readto him the records of his
reign. Strange request! How few monarchs
would care thus to review the past, and force
themselves to the judgment awaiting them from
a higher tribunal and from future ages!

Tt was not chance which held the eyes of the
king waking. It was not chance which drew
his attention to the conspiracy defeated by
Mordecai, and to the investigation of the treat-
ment he had received for 80 high a service.
No reward, no honour had been conferred
upon one who had saved the life of the sove-
yeign. A strange forgetfulness oF neglect of
the prime minister of the realm! While Ahasv-
erus was devising some mode of requiting the
obligation due to one who had rendered the
state important service, he called for a coun-
sellor, and was told that Haman was without,
in the court.

Haman left the banquet of Esther in all the
ESTHER. 271



assurance of royal favour. He had attained
to honours which distinguished him above all
the subjects of the Persian empire. He had
received distinctions which elevated him above
even the princes and nobles of the kingdom ;
and in his pomp and power he passed, with his
train of attendants, menials, flatterers, and
followers, through the gates of the royal palace,

’

“the observed of all observers; and as he
came into the thronged thoroughfare that led
from the royal abode, all did him homage and
showed him reverence—save one.

Mordecai, the Jew, still sat at the king’s gate—
probably, still wrapped in sackcloth. His eye
met that of Haman, but it quailed not. It was
a stern, reproving glance! And while all others
did lowliest obeisance, Mordccai neither bowed
nor uncovered his head.

There was no word—there was no reproach—

but there was a silent defiance, that conveyed to
272 ESTHER.



the soul of Haman an assurance of disgrace and
defeat, and that told him he was despised,
amid all his honours and prosperity. He has-
tened to his home. He gathered his household
around him and told them of his riches, his ho-
nour, his prosperity, and the assurance his large
family afforded him that his riches would descend
‘n his own line, and that his ancient lineage and
royal race should thus be perpetuated. He told
them of the high honour that day received at the
royal feast, and of a like honour in reserve for
the morrow. But still his pride was mortified
by Mordecat’s course. ‘¢All this availeth me
nothing,” he said, “so long as I see Mordecai,
the Jew, sitting at the king’s gate.” Wretched,
malignant man! What a picture of the power
and force of evil passions—of that selfishness
which could find its happiness in the misery
and suffering of others!

His hatred of Mordecai seems the more in
ESTHER. 273



sane, when we remember that Haman held his
fate in his hands, or rather had actually sealed
his doom. He might well forego forms of re-
verence from the man he had doomed to death.
Yet the desire for the humiliation of Mordecai,
for some token of abasement and fear, seems to
have absorbed all other feelings; and as this
was the only thing withheld, so it was the
only thing desired. To soothe the disgust
and allay the indignation of Haman, the family
council decreed the immediate death of Morde-
cai, and they doomed him to the gallows—a
most ignominious death. While this instrument
of his destruction was in preparation upon the
grounds of Haman, he sought Ahasuerus, that
the sentence might be ratified. He who had
given him the power to murder a nation, would
surely assent to forestalling the doom of an
individual ; and Mordecai’s disobedience to the

royal order, his disrespect to the minister who
274 ESTHER.



represented the authority of the sovereign and
the laws of the realm, seemed to offer a fitting
pretext.

While Haman was waiting in the antecham-
ber for audience, Ahasuerus was resolving some
mode of requiting Mordecai; and, ever prone
to rely on favourites and counsellors, he was
unable to decide for himself; so he sought
advice from his favourite courtier, who was so
near at hand. To him the question was sub-
mitted: “What shall be done to the man
whom the king delighteth to honour ?” Ever
selfish, ever intent upon his own promotion,
and constantly loaded with marks of royal
favour, Haman very naturally presumed that
fresh honours were destined for him, and that
he was to be allowed to designate the very
marks of favour which he most desired.

“Now Haman thought in his heart, to whom

would the king delight to do honour more than
ESTHER. O75



to myself?’ And so he answered the king:
“To the man whom the king delighteth to
honour, let the royal apparel be brought which
the king useth to wear, and the horse that the
king rideth upon, and the royal crown which is
set upon his head. And let this apparel and
horse be delivered to the hand of one of the
king’s most noble princes, that they may array
the man withal whom the king delighteth to
honour, and bring him on horseback through
the streets of the city, and proclaim before
him, Thus shall it be done to the man whom
the king delighteth to honour.”

If Haman intended this as a mere vain-
glorious display—an impressive pageant, de-
signed to publish to the people the high dignity
of royal favour which he personally enjoyed—it
would not be without meaning; but we cannot
but think that, according to Eastern usage, there

was a deeper significance in the ceremony.
26 ESTHER.



The customs of the Kast are al. nist immuta-
ble, and there was much similarity between
those of Egypt, Assyria and Persia. When
Joseph was exalted to be ruler of Egypt, he was
clothed in royal vestments, and passed in tri-
umphant procession through the city, while all
were called upon to bow the knee before him.
Daniel was clothed in scarlet and in purple
(the badges of royalty) while his honours
were announced. But Joseph rode in the
second chariot of Pharaoh, and his distance
from royal state was clearly defined, while
Daniel was declared third in the empire of the
Medes and Persians.

In appropriating all the badges of royalty—
the crown, the robes, the horse, the princely
attendance—Haman seems to have been pre-
paring a claim to higher honour than those of
Joseph or Daniel; to be even preparing to

ascend the throne. All the homage that could
“

ESTHER. QTT



be shown the subject had long been exacted.
A nation was now under a dreadful doom
because only one of their race withheld it;
and now he would take to himself all the
appendages of royal state!

A. sudden tumult in the palace, a popular
vutbreak, so common with despotic govern-
ments, might easily be accomplished, and
Haman might ascend the throne of Ahasuerus
for the lines of descent seem to have been
not unfrequently changed in the Persian em-
pire; and in the convulsions of des»otic states,
even slaves have mounted the thrones of their
masters.

Whether, in his designs, he merely sought the
gratification of a present vain-glorious ambition
or was preparing for a higher destiny, the re-
vulsion must have been most overwhelming,

the change and surprise inexpressible, when
24
278 ESTHER.



the announcement and command of the king
fell upon his ear.

“Make haste!” said he, ‘take the apparel, ©
and the horse, as thou hast said, and do even
so to Mordecai the Jew, who sitteth at the
king’s gate. Let nothing fail that thou hast
spoken.” You have devised the very highest
honour that I can render: now confer it on the
man I designate.

The Eastern despots are arbitrary; and
Haman, confounded and petrified, ventured no
remonstrance. He bowed and obeyed. He
departed as the messenger of honour to Mor-
decai the Jew. Whatever the malignant and
bitter feelings of his heart, he dared not give
expression to them. He was compelled to
serve the man he hated, to confer the highest
honour on the man he had doomed to the
deepest obloquy, publicly to bow before one

whom he hoped to trample beneath his feet!
24
ESTHER. ae



With what contending feelings must he have
delivered the mandate of the king to Mor-
decai! What strong emotion must have con-
vulsed his soul! Yet the most powerful feel-
ings are seldom displayed. The green sod
covers the pent volcano, and a slight trembling
alone denotes the action of the devouring ele-
ment. It is all repose and calmness on the
surface while the billows of flame are raging
beneath.

Thus the aspect of the courtier was calm,
though sullen, while with his own hands he
acted as chamberlain to the Jew and arrayed
him in robes of royalty and honour. We may
imagine a group for a painter, in Haman, dark,
malignant, and sullen—and Mordecai, calm,
proud, unbending, receiving service from his
enemy. And after having with his own hands
arrayed the new object of royal favour, Haman

was placed at the head of the proud war-horse, as
280 ESTHER.



he slowly bore the Jew through the multitude,
who thronged the street “to behold the man
whom the king delighteth to honour.” We
seem to see him—the proudest, the most arro-
gant of men—with bowed head and averted eye,
while Mordecai sits erect and firm, in all the
dignity of conscious worth.

As they slowly proceed through the thronged
thoroughfare, obstructed by crowds who came
to gaze upon the pageant, many & significant
sneer or half-uttered jest would convey to Ha-
man a sense of his degradation in appearing as
the groom of the despised Jew.

When the ceremonies were over, Mordecai
again appeared at the gates of the palace. No-
thing in the apparent condition of the two was
changed, and the pageant may have seemed like
a dream to Mordecai. He was only anxious to

know the proceedings and fate of Esther. Yet
ESTHER. 281



he must have gathered hope for the future, as
he still trusted and waited upon God.

But a dark cloud had fallen upon Haman. He
eoreboded his doom. He was humbled, disap-
pointed, degraded, disgraced. He had been pa-
raded, before the multitudes, the menial of the
Jew. He had been forced to confer on the man
he hated the very honours his soul most coveted.
« And Haman hasted to his house mourning and
having his head covered.” And he told his wife
and the friends whom he had gathered to consult
upon the fall of the Jew, all that had befallen
him. And clear, far-sighted, daring, and unscru-
pulous, the wife who had counselled Mordecai's
destruction, foretold to Haman his own doom.
“Tf Mordecai be of the Jews, before whom
thou hast begun to fall, thou shalt not prevail
against him, but shall surely fall before him.”

And they were probably counselling some

measures for his personal safety; for when

24%
982 ESTHER.



they were yet talking, came the king’s chamber-
lain, and hasted to bring Haman to the feast
Esther had prepared.

As the feast proceeded, the king entreated
Esther to ask some gift that he might bestow
as a token of favour, or a pledge of affection.
And then Esther, with a simple fervour, force,
and dignity, and with the pathos of true feel-
ing, offered her supplication for herself and
her nation. ‘And Esther answered the king
and said, If I have found favour in thy sight,
O king! and if it please the king, let my life
be given me at my petition, and my people at
my request. For we are sold—I and my peo-
ple—to be destroyed, to be slain, to perish.”’
She quotes the words of Haman’s edict, and
then adds, “But if we had been sold for bond-
men and bond women, I had held my peace,
although the enemy could not countervail the

king’s damage,’ nor recompense the loss of so
ESTHER. 283



many of the king’s useful citizens and peaceful
subjects. Nothing could be more sweet, gentle,
submissive, and truly dignified than her appeal.
And the imagination and astonishment of the
king are graphically displayed in his answer.
Who is he? Where is he that hath presumed
in his heart to do so? Who has dared to con-
spire against one so near my person, 80 exalted
by my favour?

Confounded, amazed—and prebably for the
first time suspecting the Jewish extraction of
the queen—Haman was still speechless when
Esther made her direct and firm reply: “That
adversary, that wicked maz, is Haman,” here
in the royal presence—here in the full blaze of
royal favour.

In the conscious justice of her cause, she had
desired to be confronted with the man she
accused, and he was present, that he might

enjoy every opportunity of defence, if inno-
984 ESTHER.



cent; and if guilty, that he might receive the
just reward of his deeds. The king was filled
with wrath at this proof of the presumption and
malice of his favourite, and he left the banquet-
ing-room and went into the palace-garden.
Haman, quick to read the feelings of his mas-
ter, “saw that wrath was determined.” Unable
to escape the watchful attendants, and moved
by terror, he approached the royal couch of
Esther to beseech her, whom he had greatly in-
jured, to intercede for him. And while he was
thus engaged, the king re-entered the banquet-
ing-house. His wrath was rekindled. The mm-
prudence of Haman hastened the doom his
crimes had provoked. The excited monarch, wit-
nessing his apparent familiarity, accused him of
designs of which his previous presumption might
show him capable. His sentence was pronounced
his doom was sealed. The attendants covered

his face, (a most significant act, still retained in
ESTHER. 285



Eastern courts,) and he was carried from the
royal presence-chamber, and hung upon the very
gallows he had erected for Mordecai. The
flowers which were gathered for the feast and the
wreaths entwined for his brow were still fresh.

The succeeding interview of Ahasuerus with
his still loved and more than beautiful consort,
must have been one of no slight interest. There
was much to unfold and to explain; there was
something to confess and to forgive; and as
the character of Haman was now exposed and
his acts were revealed, the king may have
regarded himself as the bird escaped from the
fowler. Esther revealed her lineage; while
the rising favour of Haman, the dangers to be
anticipated from his hatred to her nation, well
justified the prudent caution of Mordecai. As_
the queen told the king in what relation Mor-
decai stood to her, Mordecai was brought be-

fore him; and the former honour proved but
286 ESTHER.

—_——

‘ndeed the installation ‘nto the highest offices
of trust, while the vast possessions of Haman
were conferred on Esther, and Mordecai was
appointed her steward.
- Yet, while the royal favour and protection
was extended to these individuals, the edict
was still in force against the race, and again
Esther besought the king to interpose his power
and protection. The laws of the Medes and
Persians, however impolitic and unjust, could
not be repealed. The king had no power over the
statutes he had made. Like the deeds of life, once
passed, they were unchangeable. He might
regret the act, he might deprecate the influ-
ence thus put in operation, but he could neither
recall nor cancel them ; and one instance at-
tempted might have destroyed the royal power.
Although Haman was removed, his family
were numerous, and there was doubtless a large

class of his ancient tribe who viewed him 1s the
ESTHER. 287



lineal descendant of their monarchs and entitled
to their allegiance. They expected to share
his triumphs, and, disappointed and exasperat-
ed, they would be ready to avenge his death.
Haman being recognised as the highest officer
of Ahasuerus and as his chief counsellor as
well as favourite, he had great power and
influence, and doubtless had a large party in
his interests—either won by past favours or
hope of future wealth and honour. At the
same time all the discontented and turbulent of
the land would be ready to join an outbreak
which made the murder of any Jew lawful,
where it could be accomplished, and which
gave their possessions to those who were their
destroyers.

All that Ahasuerus could do to avert the
threatened extermination of the children of
Israel, was to allow them to defend themselves

if any dared to attack them ‘The whole em-
288 ESTHER.

———e

pire was convulsed with the desperate struggle
between the Jews and the faction of Haman;
and while the royal authority aided the Jews
‘1 Shushan, so that they were entirely victori-
ous, seventy-five thousand of their assailants
perished in the provinces, where we are told
the Jews gathered themselves together and
stood for their lives; and it 1s recorded to
their honour, that upon the spoil of their ene-
mies they laid not their hands. And all this
suffering and plood was the result of the policy
of Haman. The Jews were not the aggressors,
although they came off victors.

It was the last conflict between the nations of
Amalek and Israel, and threatening and pro-
phecy were thus fulfilled while both nations were
strangers and exiles from their own lands; and
while the tribe of Amalck perished, the sons of
Haman, who probably led the conflict in Shu-

shan, were condemned to the same ignominious
ESTHER. 289



death which their father had suffered. We infer
their actual guilt from the fact that they seem to
be unmolested until the day appointed for the
extermination of the Jews. As leaders of the
tumult they deserved the doom they received.

The lot is from the Lord; and the day of
vengeance thus deferred from Haman’s regard
to the casting of the lot, gave the Jews full
time to prepare themselves to resist their foes,
and defend themselves after the issuing ef the
second edict, by which they were empowered to
act on their own defence, and to repel openly
by armed resistance.

Tho book of Esther is one of the most beauti-
ful and variously instructive and interesting
portions of the Old Testament. While it illus-
trates the providential care of Jehovah over all
his people, and his readiness to hear their
prayers and interpose for their deliverance, it

shcws too that he ruleth over all the nations

20
99) ESTHER.

——

of the earth, and that all the arts of intriguing
men in courts and cabinets, the various changes
which occur, either affecting nations oF indi-
viduals, are all allowed to promote his infinite
designs—all accomplishing his eternal plans.
While his people, like Esther and Mordecai,
gladly co-operate in the designs of the Almighty,
his enemies are made the unwitting and unwill-
ing instruments of advancing the same designs,
and are accomplishing his purposes for the re-
generation of a corrupt world—for the establish-
ment of the kingdom of the redeemed, and the
complete redemption of the children of God.
As we look at the book of Esther, through
the long dark vista of intervening ages, we are
presented with a beautiful picture of a past
period. Nations have perished and left 20
memories; and while all the other portion of
cour world, at that day, 18 shrouded in darkness

or buried in forgetfulness, the light of revela-
ESTHER. 291



tion falls upon the court of Ahasuerus, and we
see it in all the gorgeous splendour of oriental
magnificence.

The prosperous monarch of a powerful empire
—munificent, prodigal, not deficient in capacity
or heart, but indolent, and fond of luxury and
feasting, he yields himself to the influence of
the favourite; and when ready to rush into the
seductions of pleasure, he still, at times, rouses
himself and executes his own will, asserting
his authority by some act of despotic power,
of justice or cruelty, as the impulse prompts—
he is a type of a large class of those to whom
the destinies of more modern nations have been
committed.

In Haman we see the ccurtier—crafty,
proud, vain, ambitious, aspiring—intent upon
personal aggrandizement, and the acquisition.
of wealth; gaining his influence over the mind

of the monarch by ministering to his pleasures,
992 ESTHER.



and maintaining it by banishing all pure influ-
ences and crushing all nobler feelings. The
history of Haman is replete, too, with in-
struction, in displaying the absorbing power
of the selfish and malignant passions, and
their fatal influence upon character and happi-
ness.

One unsatisfied desire will embitter all the
most coveted possessions. There will ever be
something to be achieved—some enemy to
humble, some higher elevation to attain, some
Mordecai in the gate, whose reverence withheld
is more desirable than all the homage of the
multitude bestowed.

Ho who cherishes in his heart a hatred of
a class or an individual, is nursing a scorpion
which will poison every kind feeling. We
must love, not only to make others happy, but
that we may be hapyy ourselves. We may with-

hold all marks of approbation from the un-
ESTHER. 293



worthy, and still regard them with the benevo-
lence required by the law of love.

Thus while Mordecai saw in Haman the
same persecuting spirit that had marked all his
race; while he saw him, unholy, unprincipled,
securing by his acts an influence over his mas-
ter, which he abused; prostituting the royal
authority to the ruin of the kingdom, making
it subserve the purpose of his own unhallowed
ambition; alienating the monarch from the
queen, and inducing the disregard of the duties
of private life as of sovereign power—Mordecai,
as an upright, honourable, high-minded man,
refused to render one, whose course he depre-
cated, whose character he abhorred, the honour
accorded even by royal favour. He neither
bowed nor did him reverence. Dut he did not
assail him. He did not form any dark and
treacherous plots against him. He did not

revile him. All that he sought was to lead the

25*
994 ESTHER.



blinded monarch to a calm investigation into
the proceedings of his treacherous counsellor.
And Haman had every opportunity of repelling
accusation and justifying himself, as he was
ever allowed to be present when Esther made her
charges against him. There is a world-wide
difference between the firm, indignant disappro-
bation with which a virtuous mind regards an
evil man, working ill to all, and that malignant
hatred which arises from selfishness and envy,
and which pursues with bitterness and cruelty
all that does not minister to its indulgence.

If it should seem strange to us that the
national antipathy should so long be cherished,
we may remember that it is quite as strange
that national character should be thus faith-
fully transmitted through so many generations ;
and those who so confidently predict a change
of character from the mere change of the

circumstances of a people, may do well to
ESTHER. 295



ponder tre facts presented by the past history
of the races of the earth.

There are other contrasts between the cha-
racters of Mordecai and Haman. Haman was
superstitious, yet not religious. He was artful,
selfish, treacherous, bloodthirsty, corrupt him-
self and corrupting others, ambitious and vain-
glorious. Mordecai was pious, upright, con-
scientious; fulfilling every duty, yet seeking no
selfish aggrandizement, no wealth, no personal
honour—even when placed in circumstances
where he might claim them as a just reward—
and never exerting an influence for selfish pur-
poses; still ready to forego and sacrifice all
that was demanded at the call of duty.

While we see in Mordecai the devoted wor-
shipper of the true God, the high-minded pa-
triot, the man of inflexible integrity—an in-
tegrity that scorned the bad acts that would

minister to the pride of false greatness—and a
296 ESTHER.



nobleness that rose above the desire for court
favours, the strong features of his character
are softened into beauty by his love for the
orphan relative, his watchfulness over her
childhood, and the interest displayed by his
daily inquiries for her welfare. His affections
were kind and tender, while his principles were
unbending; and we feel that we love the man,
though we are constrained to render a deeper
homage to the patriot.

Esther is one of the most beautiful cha-
racters in the gallery of Scripture portraits.
Her character is peculiarly feminine ; and while
her path is marked by events of moment, it
appeals to our hearts in each vicissitude of her
Jot. Youth and beauty always throw a charm
around the possessor. Faint, perishing, tran-
sient as they are, they awaken all the sympa-
thies of our nature ; a deep compassion, a fore-

boding of the future ; while the knowledge of
ESTHER. 297



the sorrows and trials which await those to
whom the present is so bright, heightens our
interest. ‘Thus in each stage of the narrative,
Esther comes to us with all that can awaken
sympathy and excite interest.

The fair flower is transplanted from Judea
to the lands of the East—a scion of a stock
soon removed—sheltered, watched, nourished
by the pure dews of Divine truth; taken from
seclusion and loneliness, where but one eye
beheld its opening beauty, to the gardens of
royalty ; and there, among gayer and gaudicr
flowers, like the pure lily of the valley, win-
ning royal favour by purity, sweetness, and
graceful loveliness.

We follow her from her lonely home to the’
palace, and think how many fears and alarms
mingled with the triumph of her beauty, the
consciousness of her power, when an empire

blessed her name and celebrated her beauty.
298 ESTHER.



And a deeper feeling is roused for the royal
bride, lately so flattered, caressed, and honoured,
now suddenly forgotten, neglected—left te the
loneliness of her apartments or the companion-
ship of her formal attendants, while her lord
pursued his career of pleasure, apparently un-
mindful of her existence.

A bitter lot it is to the young, to be loved
and then forgotten. And sad the contrast to
the royal Esther, between her late elevation
and all the incense of homage and affection then
offered, and her present desolation. Yet it was
a, season of needful humiliation. It awoke her
from the dream of splendour and gayety, and
brought her back to the sober realities of life
and its stern duties; and it was also a season
of preparation for the trials that awaited her.
It brought her to seck a happiness higher than
could be found in palaces or courts, a favour

more desirable than that of an eazthly monarch,
ESTIIER. 299



a love that is unfailing, a faithfulness that should
be enduring—and thus, when the day of trial
came, she was prepared. She could cast her-
self upon the arm that never falters, she could
seck the interposition of the God of her nation,
and of each individual who trusteth in him and
relicth upon his mercy.

There was something beautiful in the blend-
ing of her conscious helplessness, her sense of
loss of the favour of her royal lord and of the
love and courtly honour she deserved, of her
entire dependence upon the protection and
interposition of Heaven, and her resolution to
venture all for her people.

Ir I perisu—I perisH! If we can recall
the recollections of our childhood, we shall
remember the breathless interest with which we
attended her, in fancy, to the presence-cham-
ber and awaited the extended sceptre. All the

excitement of romance is concertrated in the
300 ESTUER.



story of Esther. And as we follow the narra-
tive of her final triumph, her restoration to the
love of her husband, the salvaticn of her people,
and the exaltation of her family, we cannot but
pursue the train of thought and feeling, and
fondly hope that the influence of Esther and
Mordecai might redeem Ahasuerus from the
vices of youth, inspire him with higher motives,
elevate him to a loftier standard, and rouse one,
not deficient in natural kindness or nobleness
of capacity, from a selfish voluptuary to an en=
lightened, able, and just ruler of a great people.

The Jews still commemorate the feast of
Purim, and celebrate their deliverance from
Haman; and in all the climes and lands to
which the race have been transported, they
have carried the remembrance of the daughter
of their people—the beautiful queen of ancient
Persia, who ventured her life to ransom her

race.
ESTHER. 301



We would learn from the whole history les-
sons of sobriety, of contentment with an humble
lot, of the duty of cherishing the spirit of love,
of kindness, of benevolence, of repressing the
first germ of selfishness, of malignity, of envy;
of dependence upon an over-ruling Providence ;
of encouragement to prayer, to trusting and
waiting upon God.

‘Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I
will answer thee,” is said to each contrite heart
now, as truly as to Israel of old; and none
who have thus truly sought the Lord in lowli-
ness and penitence, ever sought him in vain.
His care and protection are still around his
people; and although the enemies of his church

may try her, they shall never triumph over her.






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