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ESAU AND JACOB.
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.
CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE.
-I 3L i-,
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
ABRAHAM AND ISAAC.
ESAU AND JACOB.
SAMUEL IN THE TEMPLE.
DAVID FEEDING THE SHEEP.
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT.
CHRIST IN THE MIDST OF THE DOCTORS.
THE name is a very well chosen one. It means laughter, and tells of the joy with
which the boy was welcomed at his birth by his father and mother. No wonder they
There is always rejoicing when a child is born into the world. Parents are glad that
God has given them another little baby, and relations and friends come and speak their
But there was special cause for joy when Isaac was born. His parents Abram and
Sarai had no child, and they had long ceased to hope God would give them one, for
they were both old and stricken in years-Abram was 100 years old.
We can imagine then, can we not, how great their joy must have been when God's
promise that they should have a son came true and a little boy was given to them. What
name could be so fitting as Isaac or Laughter to call him by in the greatness of their
happiness. We are not surprised when God's messenger told them that God would
give them a child that they both of them laughed, Abram with joy because he believed it,
and Sarai with amusement because it seemed too good to be true. And now their hearts
and Sarai with amusement because it seemed too good to be true. And' now their hearts
were filled with laughter when Isaac was born, and he was to them the child of promise
because God had told them they should have a son.
And in their thankfulness they gave him back to God and marked him with God's
mark. For Isaac was the first baby who was ever circumcised and brought into covenant
You know what a covenant means, do you not ? It is an agreement made between
two parties, both of whom promise to do something. What then was this covenant into
which Isaac was brought ? It was an agreement between God and man. It had an out-
ward sign or mark by which men were reminded of it so that they might not forget it,
and the sign or mark was called circumcision. In this covenant the child was named
Isaac, and God made him His child and promised to watch over him all his life'through, and
Isaac promised to observe and do God's commandments and be an obedient child. And
at the same time Abram and Sarai were given the new names of Abraham and Sarah.
They were very beautiful names. Abraham means Father of a Multitude and
Sarah means a Princess." Sometimes those who made this covenant with God did not
keep it and grew up to be bad men. But Isaac was true to his covenant and grew up to
be first a gentle and obedient boy, and afterwards a humble and God-fearing man.
r- r :--... -,.1 -*.. .
He lived with his parents in tents, moving about from one place to another, with the
flocks and cattle, to new pastures and cool streams. Abraham his father was very rich, and
I suppose Isaac, who was their only child, had everything he wanted ; but he never seems
to have given any trouble and instead of being spoiled and wilful and troublesome was
always dutiful and meek and teachable.
There was one time in his life when he showed this in a very wonderful way. Let me
tell you about it. When he was a young man, his father Abraham had to do a very hard
thing. It was not the first time he had to do what was hard. It must have been very hard
to leave his own land and father and home and friends and go forth to a far country where
he would be a stranger to the people who lived there. But though it was so hard he went
forth, not knowing whither he went, because it was God's will.
It must have been hard to send away his son Ishmael with Hagar his mother because
he mocked and ill-treated his little brother Isaac. But he did it, in spite of being so hard,
because he felt and knew it was right and necessary.
But how much harder it must chi, had everthin heis son Isaac whom he loved so
dearly and offer him up as a sacrifice. But he believed God wanted to try and see how
much he loved Him, and so he trusted in God and did the right. What a sad morning it
must have been when he set out with Isaac his son and the two young men leading the
ass on which they had placed the logs of wood. How his father's loving heart must have
ached when they came to the foot of Mount Moriah and leaving the ass and the young
men there he set out with Isaac to climb the mountain, carrying between them the fire and
the wood. What pain it must'have been to him when Isaac asked him where the lamb
was which they were to offer on the altar. And when they reached the top and made an
altar of stones and put the wood upon it, how his hands must have trembled as he bound
the hands of his loved son and took the knife to slay -him.
But have you ever thought how wonderful it was of Isaac to let his father do this ? He
could easily have prevented him, for Abraham was an old man, while he was young and
strong. But no, he was patient and obedient and did not resist his father. Why ? I think
there were two reasons.. First, he loved his father and was sure he would only do what he
thought was right, although he could not understand why he did it. Secondly, he trusted
in God and knew he was safe in His hands.
And he was not mistaken. For just as Abraham was going to'kill him his hand was
stayed, God's Angel told him he had done enough to show he believed in God, and lo, close
by, with his horns caught in a thicket, there was a ram for him to offer as a sacrifice
instead of his son.
We do not wonder when we are told how dearly Isaac loved his mother, mourning for
her when she died for many years.
We do not wonder that he was always a faithful and loving husband to Rebekah his
wife and a good kind-hearted father to his two sons, Esau and Jacob.
We do not wonder that God's blessing went with him and that his enemies were
changed into his friends.
We do not wonder that his name was held in honour by the Jews, and that hundreds
of years after his death they loved to talk of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as the great men
of the long ago whose names they held in honour.
How much he can teach all of us, boys and men.
We have been brought into the Christian covenant in our baptism. We were each of
us made the child of God and given our Christian name. The sign of the cross was signed on
our foreheads to show we belonged to Him. And we promised to keep God's holy will
and commandments and walk in the same all the days of our life."
Are we trying to be like Isaac, obedient to our parents and God-fearing? We often
cannot un!der-tarid why fatherland mother tell us to do things we do not like or why God
sends us things that make us sad. But wemust try like Isaac to do what we are told and
trust in God, and all'will come right if we are only patient.
. ++ ,,/ ,
( .. ,'_
Esau antb 3acob.
H ', i .:.- t' in: ,ote-iin .r t.. -tie i.nother. \\'e rust all of us
,j. .-ii anid :I '.in h.v.e C o ider at th- ll- I reimemrrbera mother
' .ho ad t n -- li:. o..ne another that -he w ia- obliged to tie a
S pic:-. :t' il I .rin rin..[d the .trm n: them in :order that she
niht r? 'bl t !:no.: .- i-- friom the other -tnid if the mother could
n -it b: -,Ire, w.Ce are !r,:.t urpli-ed, oth r [ic :. le made mistakes.
But n: .-ne '.,,:,ul evl r lia e pp..:-..l tha.-t the two boys in
thi- p[ ti!:i!e r.ere t .ini. Thev are not in the l,.-ast like one
n,;. tli r, but ar.- quite dlfeient in _-ppeA.rainc. Sometimes, indeed,
,:hi' Ir'.r .re \ir'.r lil-, wvhen the-. ame :iiung but I ::.l-.e the likeness
a- thi: .- .i 1 older. But een ,.l h en the:,,- cioe quite little
h:biE.:, E'au and Jacob .i ec ver i. T unlke., for Esau at his birth
.*ai .v-.ere with hii r, but Jac.:,b was -mi.,:otlh.
And a th i' thl.c~e tiu, tey became me more and more unlike,
int onlv in their :loks but ini their -..a-s and tastes and character.
Es;iiu c-:.m : to: have been a roiL:hII, wild, tho:iughtless lad,'bent
on enjiyinjg hlim-JIf, nii ia.tter what it cost him, very fond of
lshootiing arnd hunting. ;ut thc:re \va: ,romiethiing good in him, for
his father loved him.
ESAU AND JACOB
But Jacob was quiet and cautious, living at home in the tents with his parents
Isaac and Rebekah, taking care of the flocks and herds, always on the look-out for
what he could get for himself, and not very particular how he got it. Yet, as we shall see
by and by, there was good in this lad whom his mother was so fond of.
Twice in his life he showed this selfish spirit and readiness to take advantage even
of his own brother.
The first time was when they were both young lads. Esau had come back
from the fields faint and tired after a long hot day's hunting. He had had no
food all day, and coming into the tent he saw some pottage or lentil soup which
Jacob had been making. And he said to his brother, Feed me, I pray thee, with
that same red pottage, for I am faint." But Jacob, instead of giving the soup to Esau who
was so tired and hungry, would only sell it to him. And the price he asked for it was the
birthright which belonged to his brother, who was born just before him.
This birthright was a very precious thing and gave the owner of it most of his
father's property, the headship of the tribe, and other blessings. And Esau sold
his birthright to Jacob.
They were both of them wrong. Esau was wrong to think so little of his birth-
right and to sell it for a mess of pottage when he might have waited patiently for a
little while for what he wanted. But he cared more for eating and drinking than for the
blessings God had given to him. And Jacob was wrong, very wrong, to take advantage of
his brother's need to get away from him what by right belonged to him. He was selfish,
caring and thinking only of himself, and obtaining what he wanted by cunning, underhand
But that was not the worstwe are told about him. Some years after Jacob for the
second time got the better of his brother and by deceit stole away his father's blessing
Do you remember the story? Isaac was now an old man, and thought he was
going to die, although he really got better and lived forty-three years longer. So
he called his elder son Esau to him and told him that he wanted "to bless him
before the Lord" ere he died. But first he bade him take his quiver and bow and go
into the fields and bring him some of the venison he was so fond of. And Esau
immediately did so, for he was very fond of his old father, and hurried away to
get him what he wanted.
But Rebekah overheard what Isaac had said, and she wanted the blessing for
Jacob, who was her favourite son. So she called him to her and told him to go and fetch
two tender kids from the flock of goats and she would make of them savoury meat
for his father such as he loved, and then he would get Esau's blessing just as years
before he had got Esau's birthright.
At first Jacob was afraid to do it, not because it was wrong but because he thought
his father would find out who he was. "Behold," he said to his mother, "Esau my
brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man. My father peradventure will feel
me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a
blessing." But his mother soon over-persuaded him : My son, only obey my voice."
And when he brought the kids to her, she cooked them in the way she knew Isaac
liked, and she made Jacob put on some of Esau's clothes, and then she placed the skin
of the kids on his hands and neck and sent him with the meat into Isaac's tent. At
first when he came saying I am Esau thy firstborn," his father suspected that there
was something wrong. Very likely he knew how deceitful Jacob was, and though he
was nearly blind and could not see him, his voice did not sound like his elder son's voice.
So hemade him come nearer to him, that he might feel him, and when he felt his hands
covered with hair like Esau's hands he thought it must be Esau, and he gave him the
ESAU AND JACOB
But very soon he found out he had been taken in. For he had only just finished his
blessing and Jacob had-scarcely gone out of the tent, when in came Esau bringing with him
the venison he had killed for his father. How grieved the old man was when he knew he
had been deceived. How bitter Esau's cry of disappointment was, when he learned that
Jacob had taken away his blessing. In his anger he vowed vengeance on his brother and
he said to himself, The days of mourning for my father are at hand, then will I slay
my brother Jacob." How terrible the punishment their sin brought upon Rebekah and her
favourite son. She was so afraid that Esau would kill Jacob that she persuaded Isaac to send
'-V .-;~-; 1
T~ ;~L* :.~~' J
him away from home, and mother and child never met again. Jacob did not return home
for many years, and Rebekah died while he was away. And before the day arrived when he
came back to the old home, how much trouble Jacob had to go through, which he had
brought on himself by his sin. He had to live among strangers in a strange land.
He had to work for many years without any wages. He was cheated by others, just
as he had cheated his father and brother. Several of his sons turned out very badly
and made his home unhappy. And long after, when he had been sent for by Joseph and
stood an old man before Pharaoh in Egypt, he tells him about his past life in these
ESAU AND JACOB
words: "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are 'an hundred and thirty years; few
and evil have the days of the years, of my life been."
But among his long travels there were some bright days, like the wells and palm-trees
which grow in the bleak, barren desert.
It was a very bright day when, twenty years after he had been obliged to run
away from home to escape from the anger of his brother, and had gone forti-h a
wanderer with only his staff in his hand, sleeping on the ground, the stones his Iiill-:,'.,
he returned home with his wives and children, and sheep and cattle, and the
brothers were reconciled and became friends again. At first when Jacob was on his
way back to Beersheba, where his old father still lived, he dreaded meeting Esau. He
remembered how they had parted in anger, and when he heard his brother was coming
to meet him with four hundred armed men he was afraid, for he and the people with
him were all unarmed. There was only one thing he could do. His troubles had
brought good out of evil. Just as gold is put over the hot fire until all the dross comes
away and only the bright shining gold remains, so it had been with JIcc:b. He no
M -,. A,<
to God to help and turn Esau's heart from an to And God heard his
prayer and answered it, for Esau, as soon as he saw him, ran to meet him and embraced
him, and fell on his neck and kissed him." It must have been one of the happiest days
in his life 'when the heart of Esau his brother was changed toward him in spite of the
falsehood and deceit with which he stole away his blessing..
Soon after this the brothers separated again. They were so different in ha.bit. and
character that it was wiser for them not to try and live together in the same place. But
they parted as friends, and some years after that they met again at the tomb of Isaac their
father, for when he died both Esau and Jacob came to bury him.
How pleased the old dying man must have been to know they had made up their
quarrel. He looked back to that day nearly fifty years before when he thought he was dying
and the brothers fought and hated one another because each wanted the blessing. And
now he was really dying, and as they stood as friends at his bedside he blessed them both
with a father's blessing.
WHAT a dreadful thing envy is Like the viper which the man found frozen in the
snow and carried it home and which when warmed into life at the fire immediately turned
upon the man and bit him with its
deadly poisonous fang, so envy. ',I-, ,
it finds its way into a man's he.~rt .
home, brings with it misery : -r.:l .
It was envy spoiled the pe;tc,:, :i :
the home where Joseph and !ii
brethren lived together with their c
It was envy filled the heart .:- :
Joseph's elder brothers with I;ttrr
hatred so that they could not -feal.:I
peaceably unto him.
It was envy that at last madie
them sell Joseph to be a slave iI a
There was everything wihii:h
should have made them a l,-
family and filled their home iv tll
peace where they lived in tents v.. ith _
their father, having everything th-,l-v
could want. But instead of thi'
there were angry quarrels in thl,
home and jealous thoughts i:n th,
hearts of these ten brothers.
What was it made these big
brothers envy their younger broth I,'
Joseph so that instead of lovin.: hioi
and taking care of him lest
any harm should happen to .
him, they treated him un- L
kindly and at last tried to
kill him in order to get him .. .d
out of their way? ?"; "
The Bible tells us that it ,/ /
was because their father Israel, v / i
which was the new name -
given to Jacob, loved Joseph "
more than all his other
We cannot wonder that he loved him very dearly.
It was partly because he was the son of his old age, born after all his other sons except
Benjamin the youngest. But it was.partly, too, because he was the child of Rachel, the
wife he loved so dearly and for whom he waited fourteen years, and through all these long
years he had worked for her father Laban without any wages, in the hope that he might.
make her his wife.
How sad it was that after waiting for her so long she died very soon, when she was
still quite young, leaving, two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. It was natural, was it not, that
18 JOSEPH'S DREAM
these two were very dear to him, for they were the children of his loved wife who had died
such a short time after their marriage.
And Israel did not try to hide his love, but gave Joseph a beautiful white embroidered
coat edged with a many-coloured fringe such as was always worn in those days by the
favourite son. And so his brothers, who were older than he was, and thought that one of
them, Reuben perhaps who was the oldest, should have the coat, envied him and hated him.
They envied him too, I dare say, because he was good and obedient, so much better than
they, and would not join in their wrong doings, and sometimes came back to the tent and
told his father of their bad ways, not because he liked to tell tales-a tale-bearer is never a
nice boy-but that they might be stopped in their evil ways before it was too late.
One day he made them very angry so that they could bear it no longer but resolved
to get rid of him somehow or other. He told them about a. dream he had had: Perhaps
it would have been better if he had kept it to himself or only told his father. You can see
what he dreamed in the picture at the beginning of this story. Listen to his own
account of it. Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed. For behold, we were
binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf arose and also stood upright: and behold, your
sheaves stood round about and made obeisance to my sheaf." And his brethren said to him,
" Shalt thou indeed reign over us or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us ?" and they
hated him all the more for his dream and for his words.
JOSEP 1'S DREAM
And yet, unlikely as it seemed, the, dream came true, and the very men who were angry
with Joseph for telling it, helped without knowing it to bring about its fulfilment.
In their hatred and envy one day when Joseph had come to them from their father,
who wanted to know how they and their flocks were getting on, they conspired against him.
At first when they saw him coming they called to one another, Behold this dreamer cometh,"
and talked of killing him, but Reuben, who was the oldest, persuaded them not. So they
stripped his beautiful coat off him and threw him into a deep pit where the water was dried
up, and then sat down and ate their food. If Reuben had been really brave he would have
stood by his younger brother and refused to let them touch him; but no, he too envied him,
and though he would not kill him was glad to have his revenge on him for a little while,
meaning by and by to take him out of the pit and give him back to his father.
But while Reuben was away looking after his sheep, some merchants, descendants of
Ishmael, came by that way with their camels. As soon as they saw them one bf Joseph's
brothers said, Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites." So they drew him out of the pit
and for twenty pieces of silver, for they had no regular money then as we have now, they sold
their brother. In vain he begged them, with tears and cries, not to send him away, but they
paid no attention to him. And as he was led away across the desert they congratulated
themselves that they had got rid of him at last and would never be troubled with him again.
Ah, they little thought as they dipped his coat in goat's blood and bringing it to their
father told him they had found it stained and torn by some wild beast, when and how they
would meet again.
Years passed away, and Joseph, carried as a slave into Egypt, had gone through strange
ups and downs. The merchants sold him to Potiphar, a great officer, who soon found out how
trustworthy he was, and made him steward of his house and put all he had into his charge.
After a time he was accused falsely by his mistress, and was thrown into prison, where
he remained for some years until Pharaoh King of Egypt heard of him from his cup-bearer,
who had been a prisoner with Joseph, and sent for him' to come and interpret a strange
dream he had had which none of his wise men could explain. As a reward for his
cleverness Joseph was made governor of Egypt, second only to the King, and he had charge
of all the corn, which by his advice had been stored up during the seven years of good
harvest against the seven years of famine which Pharaoh in' his dream had dreamed of.
As Joseph sat on a lofty throne, dressed in a magnificent robe, with a chain of gold
about his neck and a massive ring on his finger, who would ever recognize in him
the young slave boy ? Certainly his brothers did not *know him as they came into
.his presence to buy- corn for their father and their families. But Joseph knew them
.directly he saw the" although they knew him not. They were not changed as he
was. They had gr older but they wore the same dress they used to wear, and
talked the same lang ge. And when they bowed down before him and touched the
ground with their foreheads after the Eastern custom as a mark of respect, he knew
the dream he had dreamed long ago had come true. His brothers' sheaves made obeisance
to his sheaf.
But though he spoke roughly and seemed hard to them, in his heart he forgave
them, and by and by he told them who he was and bade them not to grieve, for it
was God who had brought him to Egypt to save their lives in the time of famine.
With what glad hearts they must have' gone back to their father and told him
the wonderful news that Joseph was not dead but alive, and had sent for him to come to
him in Egypt. It seemed too good to be true. No wonder the old man would not believe
it, but thought they were deceiving him. But when he went out of his tent and saw the
waggons and presents Joseph had sent, his spirit revived and he said, It is enough; Joseph
my son is yet alive, I will go and see him before I die."
So God watches over those who try to do what is right, and in His own time
and way brings good out of evil.
How dear Benjamin must have been to his old father Jacob, dearer than ever after
Joseph had been taken from him. He was his youngest son, like Joseph the child of
Rachel the wife he loved so much. He had always been very fond of him; but when
Joseph was gone and he thought he would never see him again, but would go down to his
grave mourning for the son he had lost, he loved Benjamin more than ever. He was all
that was left to comfort him in his old age, for his brothers by their 4ad conduct were only
an anxiety to him.
So he clung to Benjamin for fear he should lose him too. He would never let him
out of his sight lest some. harm should happen to him.
This was the reason why, when the famine came into tihe lan__ Canaan where Jacob
lived with his family, and news was brought that there was corn to be had in the land of
Egypt, he had sent his ten elder sons to try and buy some, but Benjamin stayed at home
with him. But when they came back bringing the corn with them and told their father all
the strange things that had happened to them, and how the governor had spoken roughly
to them and asked them questions about their home and would not believe what they
said ; and when they finished their story by giving their father the governor's message
that they were not to go back for more corn unless Benjamin their youngest brother went
with them, and that he had kept.Simeon in prison as a hostage till Benjamin came, we cannot
wonder that the old man's heart sank within him and that he cried, ":\le have ye bereaved of
my children ; Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these
things are against me." Better starve than let the boy go with the brothers who had taken
so little care of Joseph, perhaps like him never to come back to him again. No, no, he
will not part with his youngest child. "My son- shall not go down with you: for his
brother is dead, and he is left alone.. If mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go
BENJA MIN 21
then shall ye bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave." And so saying
he draws Benjamin closer to his side. He will never part with him as long as he lives.
But the days go by. The corn they brought from Egypt is all eaten. The last sack is
empty. There is not a grain of it left. What is to be done ? Must they all starve, the
strong men with their wives and little ones ?
There is only one way of escaping so dreadful -.
a death. They must go back to Egypt and buy
more corn. And Jacob calls his sons and says
to them, Go again, buy us a little food." But
Judah reminds him that they cannot go without
Benjamin. It is no use taking this long journey
unless they take him with them. The governor
of Pharaoh who sat on the throne and sold the
corn had told them so plainly and sternly. He
had solemnly protested, saying, "Ye shall not
see my face except your brother be with you."
And they knew he meant what he said. They
dared not disobey him.
And when they saw the distress of their
old father at the thought of parting with
Benjamin, Judah promised to look after him:
" I will be surety for him: if I bring him not
unto thee and set him before thee then let me
bear the blame for ever." Reuben had said
much the same some time before, but Jacob
would not trust him. He knew how that eldest
son of his was unreliable, unstable as water that
is so easily moved by the wind that passes
But he is persuaded by Judah, and at last
he gives in. He must part with Benjamin or
they will all die of hunger. Oh, how anxious he
is for his safety 1 But he does not spend the time
thinking of what may become of Benjamin. He
will do all he can for him to gain favour with the
governor. So he chooses a present for them to
take to the great man. What a long list of
things. Listen to what he tells his sons: If
it must be so now, do this: take of the best
fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down
the man a present, a little balm and a little
honey, spices and myrrh, nuts and almonds."
At last everything is ready and they set
out. How fondly he kisses Benjamin, fearful
lest he may never see him again. How sorrow-
fully 'he speaks his last words to them:
God Almighty give you mercy before the
man, that 'he may send away your other
brother and Benjamin.. If I be bereaved of my children I am bereaved." How sadly he
stands at his tent door, shielding his eyes from the hot sun, watching them through his
tears till they are out of sight. How slowly he goes back into his lonely tent where there
is no Benjamin now, wondering what will become of him. There is only one thing he can
do. He can ask God to take care of his darling son and bring him safe home again. Ah,
little does he think what wonderful things will happen before he sees Benjamin again.
Shall we follow the brothers and see what becomes of them ?
They make their way as fast as they can, but they are very careful of their youngest
brother. They are changed since the day they hated Joseph and sold him as a slave to get
rid of him. After some days' journeying they find themselves at the palace of the great
lord of Egypt. They are taken into his house and are told to their astonishment they are
to dine with him at noon No wonder they.are fearful and think they are going to be
made his bondmen. But the steward tells them not to be afraid. "Peace be unto you,"
he says, as he brings Simeon out of the prison to them, and gives them water to wash their
feet and provender for their asses. At last the governor comes in and they bow them-
selves to him to the earth, and he asks, "Is your father well ?" and then turning to
Benjamin says, Is this your younger brother of whom ye spake unto me? God be
gracious unto thee, my son." How little they thought that this great man was Joseph,
the brother they had ill-treated in their hatred and envy. But he had known them
directly he saw them the first time they had come for corn. Oh, how he longed to take
Benjamin in his arms and kiss him, for he loved him dearly; but the time was not yet
come; he must wait a little longer. So he leaves them and entering into his chamber
weeps there for joy at seeing his loved brother once again after all these long years.
And now the banquet begins. It is held in the great hall of the palace where
Joseph lives. How strange it must all have seemed to the men. On a raised platform the
governor is seated by himself, at another table are the Egyptians, while they are placed by
themselves, because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews. And in the
middle of the feast the great man who'is their host sends messes or portions to each of
them as a mark of honour, but to Benjamin he sends five-times as much as to any of the
others. Perhaps they wonder why he does so, but they do not envy him. They have
learned how bitter a thing envy is and what misery it always brings with it.
And when the banquet is over they set out for home. Their hearts are glad, for things
have turned out so much better than they had expected. The governor has treated them
kindly and spoken gently to them and their sacks are filled with corn. Simeon has been
brought out of prison and Benjamin is safe. But before they have gone very far a
messenger overtakes them. What can he want ? They can hardly believe their ears when
he tells them that the governor's silver cup out of which he drank at the banquet is
missing and they are suspected of having taken it.
But they know they are innocent, they have not got the cup. God forbid that thy
servants should do according to this thing," they say as at once they take down the sacks
off the asses and open their mouths. But what must be their feelings when on opening
Benjamin's sack there is the cup in its mouth! How wretched they are as they turn back
again How downcast as they find themselves in Joseph's presence What shall they do
or say ? And then Judah speaks out like a brave man. He cannot explain how the cup
came in Benjamin's sack, but one thing he asks. If the governor will only let Benjamin
go back to his old father he will take his place. "Now therefore I pray thee let thy
servant abide instead of the lad, a bondman to my lord ; and let the lad go up with his
brethren, for how shall I go up to my father and the lad be not with me ?"
But just as the night is blackest just before daybreak, so when they have given up all
hope their troubles are at an end, everything turns out well. The governor sends out all
the rest of the people and then turning to them he says, I am Joseph whom ye sold into
Egypt." Oh, how wonderful it seems 1 It is too good to be true. But he tells them how
God took care of him when they sold him to be a slave, and how he had prospered and
become the ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. And then "he fell on his brother
Benjamin's neck and wept, and Benjamin fell on his neck. Moreover he kissed all his
brethren and wept upon them : and after that his brethren talked with him."
And once again they all set out for the land of Canaan, and they take with them pieces of
silver and changes of raiment which Joseph has given them and a present of corn and
bread and meat, and the good things of Egypt which Joseph has sent to his, father, and
there are waggons too, for they are all to come back, the old father and their wives and little
ones, and dwell in the land of Egypt.
What a glad meeting that must have been between the old man and Benjamin as he
held him in his arms again With what joyful surprise he hears the news that Joseph is
yet alive, and governor over all the land of Egypt. No wonder he cannot believe what
they tell him, until, when he sees the waggons Joseph has sent to carry him and his
belongings, his spirit revives and he cries, It is enough: Joseph, my son, is yet alive: I
will go and see him before I die."
Do you remember about the little boy who lived in the Tabernacle at Shiloh ? His
mother had brought-' him,when he.was quite young, to Eli, the High Priest, and had told
him she wished to dedicate him to Gpd's service, as she had pron-mised "when she had
prayed to God to give her a son.:
We saw what sort of a life his must have been, as he lived in Eli's .'chambner.-- and took
care of the lamps, and v.ent me -ages
for the old priest, and learned',about -- .- ,'.
God and -tried to please'Him. ; -"F',. ,ii*
But we cannot' help wanting to'
know what became :df"'hiim, andf what '-_ -
sort of a man he grew up *tobe; Did -' .
the teaching of Eli, whe&i` ia uel was' '
a boy, help to mak 'e him a good -
man ? It was not easyfor him to do ,
what was right; for Eli's two sons, I
who were priests in the Tabernacle,, '
were very bad mefn They were so "
bad, that many people complained of .'- -
their evil conduct, atfd called them
"Sons of Belial," which means very '..'
wicked men.'- But Samuel, although '.
he was obliged oftento be with them,
never did as they did, but grew on
and was in favour both with the Lord
and also with men. :All his life he
ministered to the Lord, as Hannah J
had promised he should. '
Shall we look and see how he'
served. God, when he grew up. to be a -". "
man? He was a priest, a prophet, ''
and a judge.
First of all he was a priest, and
when his turn came, he offered the ,"..
sacrifices in the Tabernacles.: I suppose hv.r ,en "-
he was a little boy helping the priests, hle ui s..ed
to look forward to the day when he would be : .
old enough to be, anointed priest, anrd do .. '
what they were doing. 'And at last the time
came when he ministered, before the Liord. "!-- --;-",:' .'-
no longer as a child in a linen ephod, which
his mother brought himyear by year, but in the beautiful vestments that the priests were
ordered to wear.
There were two special times when we are told about his doing the work of a priest. The
first time was when the Philistines, who were the enemies of the Israelites, and lived close
to them, gathered together a great army to fight against them. And the people were
afraid when they heard the Philistines were going to attack them, and they came to
Samuel in his Tabernacle, and said, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that
He will save us out of the hands- of the Philistines." And Samuel listened to them,
and took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering unto the Lord. And Samuel
cried unto the Lord for Israel, and the Lord heard him. For we are. told that, as Samuel
was offering'up the burnt offering, and the Philistines drew near to battle, there was a
terrible thunder-storm and they could not fight, but ran away, and many of them were
killed. But Samuel the priest did not forget to thank God. He took a large stone and
set it up in the place where the Philistines were defeated, and he called the name of the
place Ebenezer, which means The Lord helped us." The other time that we are told
about Samuel ministering before the Lord as a priest, was much later in his life. It was
when Saul reigned over the Israelites. The people were again in great danger, for.
they were surrounded by an army of 36,000 Philistines, while they were only 3,000 in
number. And they were waiting for Samuel, who had promised to come in seven days,
and offer a sacrifice to God, and ask Him to help them. But the king grew impatient as
the days went by one by one, until he would wait no longer. So he ordered the people
to bring the beasts for the sacrifice, and although he was a king and not a priest, he
offered them on the altar. Just as he had finished Samuel came, and when he saw what
the king had done he spoke fearlessly to him in plain and stern words. He told him that
he had done wickedly in taking on himself the work of a priest, instead of waiting patiently
for Samuel to come. And he warned him that his kingdom would soon come to an end.
God would not have a king who liked his own will better than God's will to rule over His
chosen people, but had already chosen another to be king in his place who would keep
His commandments. So Samuel ministered before the Lord as a faithful priest, doing
his duty to God without fear of man.
But he was a prophet as well as a priest. Do you know what the work of a
prophet was ? Sometimes he was a man who was taught by God to foretell things which
were going to happen. And more than once Samuel was a prophet of this kind.
He foretold what God said would happen to Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas,
how they would both die in one day. And his prophecy came true, for very soon
after they took the ark of God out of the Tabernacle, and carried it into a battle with
the Philistines, thinking they would win the victory. But instead of that they were both
slain and the ark of God was taken by the enemy. Do you remember how Eli, who was
ninety-eight years old, when the sad news came to him, fell backwards from the seat by the
side of the gate, where he sat waiting to hear the result of the battle, and broke his neck
and died ? Again, Samuel foretold that King Saul's reign would be a very short one, and
that he would be succeeded, not by his son Jonathan, but by a stranger. This too came true
not long after he said it. But a prophet did not always foretell. Sometimes he preached
to the people and told them about God. Samuel did so when they wanted to have a king
when God was their King. He warned them, as plainly as he could, that they would
displease God, and bring trouble on themselves. But.they refused to obey the voice of
Samuel, and they said, Nay; but we will have a king to reign over us."
What a true prophet he was too when, after Saul had disobeyed God, and would not
put Agag, the King of Amalek, to death, and kept some of the sheep and oxen, and the
best of everything, and had only destroyed what was vile and worthless. When he
heard what the king had done, he was very grieved, and cried unto the Lord all night.
And as soon as it was day he went straight to Gilgal where he heard Saul was, and he told
him what God had taught him. It was a terrible message and Saul might have been very
angry and put him to death. But Samuel was not afraid of his anger, as he said,'
" Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He hath also rejected thee from being
It was also the business of a prophet to anoint those who were made kings, and twice
we are told Samuel did this. The first time was when in obedience to God's command he
anointed Saul to be king over Israel. We are told that he took a vial of oil and poured it
upon his head, and kissed him, and said, Is it not because the Lord hath anointed thee
to be captain over his inheritance? He would rather not have done so because he knew
the Israelites had made a bad choice in asking a king, but he obeyed the command of
God, who will never force people to do what is right against their will. The second time
was when God told him to anoint another king to take the place-Saul had lost by his
disobedience to God. He went to Jesse's house at .Bethlehem, and anointed David, the
youngest of his eight sons, to be king, for he knew that God had chosen him.
Yes, he was.a braveprophet as well as a brave priest, faithful in the service of God,
speaking boldly the word of.the Lord, when he was a grown-up man, just as, when he was
a boy, he told Eli all-the things God had made known to him in the night, and hid nothing
He was the first of the Jewish prophets, and men listened to him when he spake to
them, "and all Israel knew. that Samuel was a faithful prophet of the Lord." This is why
in the New Testament, he is called the Prophet." ,
Samuel was a priest, whose office was to offer sacrifices on the altar unto God. He
was a prophet, coming to men from God,.and speaking to them God's message, sometimes
foretelling things which would happen in the future, sometimes in God's name showing
men their sin, and calling them to repent, sometimes telling them what God would have
But Samuel was a judge as well.
SWhen he first grew up 'to be a-man, the Israelites had no earthly king. God was
their King and reigned over them. And for many years they used to choose one from
among the people to be their judge. He was always chosen because he was wise and
great and good.. He was held in great honour, and they came to him for advice ii all their
difficulties. There were altogether fifteen of these judges, and Samuel was the last of
the judges as he'was the first of the .prophets.
He was a judge for a great many years, and the people trusted him because they
knew he was a faithful judge, always doing what was right and just by those who
came to. him, without fear of man. When he- was quite old and was giving up the
office of jiudt,, he told them he had always, judged them with truth and justice.. How
grand his words are. "I am old and grey-headed, and I have walked before you from
my childhood unto this' day. -Behold, here I -am witness against me before the Lord
and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose ass have I taken ? Or
whom have I defrauided ? Whom have I 'oppressed ? Or of whose hand have I received
any bribe ? And. I will restore it you.". And all Israel said, "Thou hast not defrauded
us; nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken aught -of any man's hand."
The end bf Samuel's lif'.. vas' very sad. He made his sons judges, to help him in
his work when he was growing old. But they, like Eli's sons, turned out badly and
took bribes and gave false judgments in return for money, so that the people were
very dissatisfied. At last they would not have it any longer, and they came to Samuel
and said to him, "Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways. Now make
us a king to judge us like all the nations."
And Samuel was displeased when he heard them, and tried to persuade them not
to ask for a king. He told them God was their King, and they should not want
any other king to reign over them. But they would not listen to him. So he asked
God to tell him what he was to do. And God commanded him to anoint Saul to be
their king. At first all went smoothly and they thought they knew better than
Samuel; but by and by troubles began to come on them, like black thunder clouds
gathering over the blue sky, as Samuel had foretold, and they found out what a
mistake they had made in choosing to have an earthly king, in spite of Samuel's advice.
How grieved he must have been to see all these evils come upon the people whom he had
judged so long and loved so greatly.
At last the end came, Samuel died.
To all men on this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
"And all the Israelites were gathered together and lamented him, and buried him in
his house at Ramah." Yes, they found out, when it was too late, how great and good a
man he was, and from all parts of the land they came, when they heard of his death, to be
present at his funeral. His name was never forgotten, but was handed down from age to
age as the name of a man who loved God from his earliest years arid was a faithful priest,
prophet, and judge.
IT is a hot day, and the sun is shining brightly, as an old man rides on an ass along
the road to Bethlehem. How grand he looks with his long white beard, and his sad, grave
face. Who can he be ? He is Samuel, about whom we read when he was a boy, doing
what God has commanded him.
He has done many hard things in his life because God bade him ; but this thing he
is doing to-day is, perhaps, the hardest of them all. Saul, whom he had anointed king
over Israel in the name of God, had
tiirn-d .Aut badly. He had disobeyed
God again and again, and thought only
01f lca-in him-nel And now God has
c:l:.--,n anotlicr to be king in his place.
Thi- i.; vlhat ha. brought Samuel to
Bet E.ll.hr: m. He is :n his way to Jesse's
'4ho :, -., t.: aniri t ':,ne of his sons to be
"B t t vIvBut v lh l he ,i rives there he is
S.' ..:.:- le.:l. I -I lia- ic--eral sons. W which
i ,:I tlh.:m i-_. t,:o be the .king? The first
r.:, ho stands before
.' -:. him, is tall and strong,
Si rjust a- Saul "was higher
th l:-r any of the people
.' :,rnr, his shoulders and
v' upward," and as
S, _."' Samuel looked at
him he said to
; himself, "Surely
S" anointed is be-
S" fore Him." But
I i- immediately a voice
.. bfrom God seemed to
i .'eak, not to his
'-. i- -rs, but to his
e a ,~ .tl:'irit "The Lord
Se -eth, not as man
-'eth : for man
S:oketh on the out-
i. ard appearance;
but God looketh on
the heart." And then
six other sons of
Jesse passed before him; but when he had seen them he said unto Jesse,
"The Lord hath not chosen these." What was he to do now ? Where was he
to find a king for Israel ? Are these all Jesse's children? he asks. He is told there
is one more, the youngest, who is minding the sheep in the fields ; but he is only a stripling,
too young to be anointed king. Then Samuel said, Send and fetch him." And his father
sent, and brought him in. Now, he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance,
and goodly to look to." And when Samuel saw him, God's voice seemed to say to him,
Arise, anoint him, for this is he." Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in
the midst of his brethren.
What a strange day that must have been to 'David. How he must have wondered at
all that happened. Never all through his life could he forget the old man standing
and pouring the oil upon his head, and telling him that God had chosen him to be king
over Israel. And when he went back to his sheep, what thoughts must have passed
through his mind as he looked into the future, and thought of the day when, grown up to be
a man, he should sit- on the throne of Israel. One thing we may be sure he made up his
mind to do. He would try and prepare himself, by God's help, to be a good and brave
king, and to do what was right before God and man.
His life as a shepherd was a good preparation for the day when he would become king.
A shepherd's life was not an easy one. It was full of dangers. It was necessary
for a shepherd to be brave-a coward would never watch over his flock safely. And
David was a brave boy. Twice in his early years he showed how fearless and courageous
he was. The first time was, as:he told Saul, when he was keeping his father's sheep,
and there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock, "and," he goes on
to say, "I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth; and
when he came against me, I caught him by the beard, and smote him and slew him.
Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear."
The second time was when there was war going on between the children of Israel
and the Philistines. Three of David's brothers were in Saul's army, and one day his father
Jesse sent David to the camp to take some food to his brothers, and see how' they were
getting on. And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and
took ten loaves and ten slices of milk-cheese, and went as Jesse had commanded him. And
when he was talking to his brothers, whom he found drawn up with the rest of the army
ready to fight, there came up the champion of the Philistines, Goliath by name. He was
a giant, more than ten feet high. On his head he had a helmet of brass, and he was
covered from head to foot with bronze armour, which glittered in the sun. He carried
a huge spear in his hand, and a great sword by his side, while in front of him marched
his shield-bearer. Morning and evening for forty days he had come out of the camp of
the Philistines, and challenged the soldiers of Saul's army to. fight with him, but they were
afraid, and fled from him.
But when David heard the cry of the giant, and saw the fear of his countrymen, he
made up his mind to go out and fight with him. His eldest brother, when he heard this,
was very angry, and tried to stop him, but he would not listen to him. At last they told
Saul, and he sent for David. And when he saw how young he was, he too tried to
persuade him not to fight with the giant. But David told him the story of the lion and the
bear that he had killed, and how he knew the God who had delivered him out of the paw
of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, would deliver him out of the hand of the
Philistine. Then the King, when he saw how brave he was, gave him some of his own
armour, a helmet of brass, a coat of mail, and a sword ; but they were too large and heavy,
and David could not wear them.
What a strange fight it was. On one side the huge giant covered v. itl armour, with
sword and spear; on the other side, a youth with a staff in his hand, and five smooth
pebbles in his shepherd's bag, and the sling he always carried with him in his other hand.
No wonder the giant, as he looked down on him, despised him, and cried, Come to me,
and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air and to the beasts of the field."
But David knew no fear, as he answered, "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with
a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God
of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied."
The fight was soon over. David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone,
and smote the Philistine in the forehead, and he fell upon his face to the earth." And
when David ran to the
giant, and, taking his own. -4,..
sword, cut off his head, the o' .
army of the Philistine fled, i ,
and the Israelites pursued
after them, and slew a
We are not surprised
that this brave boy grew .. ..
up to be a brave king. -.:: i
But David learned
something better than
courage in his shepherd ,h
life Alone with his sheep
in the wilderness he had i
learned to think about
God. He was not afraid
of the wild beasts, because
he knew God was with him.
He dared to fight the giant, because he believed God would help him. And he never
forgot the lessons he had learned. When he was a king he loved to go back in thought
to the time when, as he .fed his father's flock, God took care of him. In the Temple at
Jerusalem he used to sing the same hymn he had sung as a boy on the hillside,-
The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want.
He nli-.-t- me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He needed this courage and this fear of God in his after years. His was not an easy
life. At first Saul made much of him, and he lived with him in his palace, and played the
harp to him when he was in a bad temper. It was during that time Jonathan, Saul's son,
became such a great friend of David's, and loved him as his own soul. But after a while
Saul grew jealous of him, and tried to kill him, and David had to fly for his life, and hide
in the caves and woods, so that Saul might not find him.
But he was always brave and God-fearing. More than once he could have killed Saul. At
one time Saul came into the cave to rest where David and his men were hiding; but David
only cut offa bit of his robe to show him how easily he might have slain him. At another
time David and one of his young men went in the night into the tent where Saul was
sleeping, and took away his spear and pitcher of water, when he might have ttaken
And even when Saul was dead, and David was anointed king, first of the tribes of
Judah and Benjamin, and afterwards king of the ten other tribes, he had many difficulties
and dangers. Once his favourite son Absalom rebelled against him, and he was obliged, to
fly for his life and wander about in the wilderness with a few of the people who did not
But he always practised the two great lessons he had learned as a shepherd boy. I
do not mean to say he never did what was wrong. He fell into great sins more than
once; but because he feared God he was truly sorry for what he had done, and asked God
to forgive him, and help him to fight against and conquer sin, as he had fought against
and killed the lion and the giant.
Yes, the only safety for man or boy is the fear of God. Not the fear which makes
people afraid of God, for David could not have been afraid when he sung, The Lord is
my Shepherd," any more than his sheep were afraid of him, but knew his voice, and
followed him when he called them; but the fear of grieving God by our wrong-doing
because we love Him.
This fear will help young or old to resist temptation and fight against the giant of
-,;- ; .
:~~~~ "^ic^-s~1! I
sin. This fear will bring back those who have sinned to God in sorrow to be forgiven,
as David after the greatest sin of his life wrote the 5 Ist Psalm, Have mercy upon me, O
God, after Thy-great goodness; according to the multitude of Thy mercies, do away mine
offences. Wash me throughly from my wickedness, and. cleanse me from my sin." This
fear will help us bravely to go on doing what is right, as David went to meet the giant in
the Name of the Lord of Hosts, "for the battle is the Lord's."
ZZhe b ifC'ifht into Egyxpt.
h LOOK at the coloured picture. There is a woman sitting upon an ass with her baby in
her arms. Close by is the father with the ass upon which the mother has been riding. We
have often met, in our own country lanes, poor travellers like these, resting on their way.
But who are these people ?
We can see in a moment that they are poor, and they look very tired, as if they had
come a long way, and are glad to rest for a little. Where have they come from, and
where are they going ?
It is the road that leads from the village of Bethlehem southward to Egypt, a long,
difficult, dangerous journey. You can tell that from the man's face as he looks up and
down the road, as if he were afraid of something. What can it be ? Who would trouble
themselves about such humble peasant-folk as these ? What matter can it be to any one
what becomes of them ?
Ah when we learn their names we can understand it all.
The man is Joseph the carpenter; the mother is the Blessed Virgin Mary; the
34 THE FLIGHT INTO EG YPT
child is Jesus. Although the little baby is only a few weeks old, He has had a strange
life, and it will be stranger still before it is ended. Young as He is, there are already some
who hate Him, as well as some who love Him. Look back at the short life He has lived.
He was born, as we have been often told, not in a house, but in a stable. The inn in the
village of Bethlehem, to which His mother had come with Joseph for their names to be
enrolled in a census book, was full. There was no room for these poor tired peasants,
except in the out-house where the asses and cattle were put for the night. It was what
we call Christmas Eve when they arrived, and early the next morning the little baby was
born to Whom the angel had given the beautiful name of Jesus. Some visitors came
to see Him that day, when He was lying in the manger on the straw-for there was no
cradle to put Him in-a few shepherds who had left their flocks on the mountain-side; and
had come to look for Him. T-heyy had been awakened out of their sleep by- aricels, who
had told them a child was born that morning Who was the Saviour oif the World.
Startled by the news and the song of the angel host, they had made haste, and found, as
they had been told, Mary and Jo.eph and the babe -wrapped in s\.a..ldling clothes, lI.in.
in a manger.
-.. ', *.
o. ,. ; ., ...'l^ -'. ..
But some days after, a very strange thing happened, which threw Bethlehem and all
the village into a state of excitement. Some strange visitors arrived in search of the new-
born child, not this time poor shepherds, but rich men with slaves and camels loaded with
precious treasures. Their dress and language told that they had come from the far-off
East, Persia or Arabia. They had passed through the village until they came to the
humble cottage to which the child had been taken by his mother from the stable of the
inn. They kneNw the house by a star which shone out brightly in the dark sky, for it was
late when they arrived. "And when they were come into the house, they saw the young
.child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshipped Him: and when they had
opened their treasures, they presented unto Him'gifts ; gold and frankincense and myrrh."
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
With what glad hearts they set out on their homeward journey. They had left their own
land and homes some months ago, and had been travelling ever since in search of the
child, and at last they had found Him. Ah, they little thought in their joy what trouble
they were bringing upon the Holy Family. But so it turned out. They had come in
their search first to Jerusalem, thinking the birth of the child they were looking for
was sure to be known there. Where is He that is born King of the Jews ?" they asked.
But no one seemed to know or care. At last the news was brought to Herod the King of
the Jews, that rich strangers'had come in search of a new-born King of the Jews. What
could it mean ? He was King of the Jews. Why were they asking about another king ?
Was there really a baby born who was going to turn him out of his kingdom, and take
his throne and place ? So when Herod the King heard these things, he was troubled,
and he sent for all the men in Jerusalem who were learned in the Jewish Scriptures, and
asked them if they could explain what it meant; and they told him that it was written in
the book of the prophet Micah that a great one should be born in the little village of
Bethlehem in Judah to be a ruler in Israel.
How uneasy Herod must have been as he listened to them. Sooner than lose his
crown the new-born baby must die. So he called the wise men, and told them to go to
Bethlehem, and search diligently for the young child, and when they had found Him they
were to be sure to come and tell him, that he too might go and worship Him, when all the
time he had made up his mind to kill Him.
THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT
And Herod waited and waited, but the wise men never came, for they had dreamed
a dream which told them not to return to Herod at Jerusalem, but to go back to their own
country another way.
At last it was told Herod that the wise men had gone, and in his anger as well as fear,he
ordered all the little children in Bethlehem, who were less than two years old, to be killed,
thinking that the baby he was afraid of could not escape.
What a sad day that must have been when the soldiers of that cruel king took away
the little ones out of their mothers' arms and slew them The words of the prophet
Jeremiah, spoken hundreds of years ago, of the weeping and misery when some of the
.Jews were put to death by the army of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon and others were
dragged away .into captivity, were true once again of the people in the village of Bethlehem.
"There was a voice heard, lamentation and weeping and great mourning." We call those
little children the Holy Innocents because they died for Jesus.
But Joseph and Mary the mother of Jesus were not-among the mourners. When that
terrible day came, they were far away with the child Te- u .-.n the ri.ad t:. Egypt. For God
watched over the child, and sent a message to warn them. In his dream Joseph seemed to
see an angel who said to him, Arise, and take the young child and His mother and flee into
Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word, for Herod will seek the young child to
destroy Him." It was a difficult command. It meant leaving friends and home, and setting
out on a long journey:into a strange land. But Joseph did not delay. He was a man who
feared God and kept His commandments. And he loved the child God had given him to
take care of. That very night he arose and, taking the young child and His mother, departed
into Egypt along the great t s .it i road through the country of the Philistines. How anxiously
he must have looked back to see if any of Herod's soldiers were following them. What a
long journey it must have seemed to them; until after some days' travelling, Joseph leading
the ass which Mary rode carrying the little baby, they crossed the river which divided
Egypt from the Holy Land and were safe from the cruel King of Judah.
There they lived for some time, years or more, Joseph 'v-.rki;g at his carpenter's trade.
How often they must have longed' to go back to their own land and-friends, but they dared
not, for as long as Herod was alive the life of the child they both loved so dearly was in
danger. So they waited long and patiently, until one day the news reached them that
Herod was dead, and they might return to Bethlehem. At once they set out, but before
they had gone very far they heard that Herod had been .succeeded by his son Archelaus
and they wondered what they had better do. Was it safe to go back ? Perhaps the -new
king would be just as jealous of the little child as Herod had been. No, they did not dare
to settle down in his l;kinigdon. So they journeyed northward till they came to the town of
Nazareth, the place where they had dwelt before they had come to Bethlehem on that
first Christmas Eve. There in Nazareth Jesus lived as a boy. There He was sent to school
and learned to read. There he went each Sabbath day to the synagogue to worship His
Heavenly Father. There He learned the carpenter's trade from Joseph, His foster father.
There He worked as a carpenter to support His Virgin Mother until He was thirty years
old, and began His public ministry and went about doing good. And. when, after His
baptism in the Jordan and temptation in the wilderness, He came back to Nazareth and
tried to teach them in their synagogue, the people, though they knew Him so well, were
filled, with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city, and tried to kill Him by
throwing Him down the steep rock on which Nazareth was build t. But He passed through
the crowd and escaped f'orn them, and coming to Caperniaurn He dwelt there instead.
How sad it is to think that from His earliest days, all through His life, in Bethlehem,
in Nazareth, in Jerusalem, there were people who hated the loving Jesus and in their
rage and envy tried to kill Him. Let us ask Him to make us love Him more and more
and never leave us, but always stay with us and be our Teacher, our Friend, and our
Christ in the temple.
WHAT are these two people doing? Theyseem to be in great trouble as they
go from tent to tent among their friends outside the walls of Jerusalem, and then,
passing through the gates of the city, walk up and down the streets. What can be the
matter ? Listen to what they are saying to the people they meet on the way. They are
asking whether any one has seen their child. Yes, they have lost Him, and, seek as they
will, they cannot find Him.
-A lost child What a sad sound the words have, whether lost in the great forest
where men cannot find their way, or in; the mazy streets of the crowded city. No
wonder Mary His mother and Joseph search for Jesus so anxiously, wondering what has
become of Him.
But what are they doing in Jerusalem ? Their home is at Nazareth, a great way off,
Why should the village carpenter come with his wife and her child such a long journey ?
They have come to keep the Feast of the Passover at Jerusalem. We are not
surprised that Joseph is there, for all the Jewish men were commanded by the Law of
Moses to go up to Jerusalem three times a year in order to keep the Feasts of Passover,
Pentecost, and .Tabernacles, and, unless they were too' old or sick, they were obliged to
obey the law. But why is the Blessed Virgin Mary there too? The command was for
the men, not for the women. But although they were inot commanded, many of the
Jewish women used to go up with their husbands at the time -of the Great Passover, that
they too might, at least once in a year, worship God in His beautiful Temple at Jerusalem.
CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
So she, who called herself the handmaid of the Lord to the angel that appeared to-her,
and whom all generations of men ever since have called Blessed because she was chosen
to be the mother of the God-man Christ Jesus, loved to go with Joseph to .keep the
But this year a new joy fills her heart as she sets out. Until now she had been.
obliged to leave her loved son at home when she went. He could not go with her because
He was too young. Men were commanded to go up to the Feast, women might go
up if they wished to do so, but no children were allowed to go up. But this year Jesus is
with her. For the first time in His life, He too is allowed to keep the Feast.
All the Jewish boys when they were thirteen years old passed from the.care of the
women, who had taught them till then,
into the charge of men teachers. They
.went through a -religious rite, which was
something like Confirmation with us
Christians. They were called Sons of
the Law, and were allowed to go up
S with the men to keep the three great
Feasts at Jerusalem.
-i' And Jesus, Who when we last saw
Him was a little infant carried in His
"mother's arms into Egypt lest Herod
r -should kill Him, is such a holy Child that
/_-_.. 'he has not been obliged to wait till He is
i. thirteen to be made a Son of the Law, but
although He is only twelve years, is taken
.... up to Jerusalem with Mary and Joseph.
How He must have looked forward to the
day when He would really be on His way
to the Holy City of which He has heard
so much, and the beautiful Temple where
_. His mother used to tell Him she had,
of carried Him when He was only forty days
old to present Him to the Lord.
And now, the time is come when
they are to set out from Nazareth. It is
a long journey and a dangerous one. Many
nights must be spent on the way far from
any town or village. They dare not travel
Alone, for fear of the robbers who used to
.-' I waylay the pilgrims. So they set out with
i ,a little company of relations and friends,
who live in the same village, travelling
S..... togetherr for the sake of protection, and
as they journey with their faces set
towards Jerusalem, they sing the Songs of Degrees or Steps, as Psalms cxxi. to cxxvi. are
called, which were used by pilgrims on their way to the Holy City. Cannot we hear them
chanting as they go, I was glad when they said unto me, We will go into the House of
the Lord," or at night-time as they pitch their tents, and see in the bright moonlight the
distant mountains which surround Jerusalem, they sing, I will. lift up mine eyes unto the
Hills from whence cometh my help ;" and they lie down to sleep, trusting in the care of the
Keeper of Israel, who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
At last their journey draws to an end. As.they climb the Hill of Olives and reach
the top, lo, they see before them the gold-covered pinnacles of the Temple glittering in the
CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
sunshine, and with one accord they break forth into songs of Hallelujah to the God who
has brought them safely on their way, guarding them from harm. How beautiful this
first sight of His Father's House must have seemed to the Holy Child. With-what joy
He must have climbed the steps which led from one court to another, until He could see
the great brazen altar, on which the paschal lambs were offered, in front of the chief
entrance to the Temple. No wonder he loves to linger there and listen to the service
which is going on, with the chanting df the choir of the Levites, and the beautiful music
of the white-robed band of players, and forgets all about His mother and foster-father. It
is some time before they miss Him. When first they find He is not beside them, they
suppose He must be with some of their relations or friends, with whom they had journeyed
to Jerusalem, and think they are sure to find Him in the evening when they all go back to
their tents,. But no, He is not there. The sun sets and it begins to get dark and He is
nowhere to be found. What a sad night they must have spent, unable to sleep in their
great anxiety, longing for the morning to come. As soon as it is daylight they set out
again seeking Him. They ask the people they meet, but no one has seen the boy they have
lost. Their hearts grow heavier and.heavier. How shall they ever find Him ? What
are they to do ? Ah, there is one thing, at least, they can do. They will go back to the
Temple, and tell God their trouble, and pray to Him to help them. And lo, as they enter
they find Him. How strange they should never have thought of looking for Him there.
CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
In one of the chambers adjoining the Temple where the Jewish boys were taught, Jesus
is sitting, with the rest of the scholars, being taught by the doctors or wise men. The
teachers have been wondering who this child can be. He is so attentive to them, and
answers.their questions so eagerly and so well, trying to learn all He can. Never before
have they had a scholar like this one. \hat can He be the child of these poor peasant
people who rush forward when they see Him ? Yet, unlikely as it seems, it must be so.
Listen to what the woman is saying, Son, why hast Thou thus dealt with us ? behold, Thy
father and I have sought Thee sorrowing."
But they wonder still more when He answers, Wist ye not that I. must be about My
Father's business ? What can He mean by this ? "Don't you know that I must be
about the business that belongs to My Father ?" Then this man is not His Father. He
has another Father to please and'work for. Who can He be? Ah, we know what they
did not know. God is His Father, not Joseph. He must learn to please His Father when
He is young. Though He is only a boy, He is not too young to try to know and do
His Father's will on earth as He had loved to do it in Heaven before he came down to be
a little child and save a sinning world.
And how did He begin to do His Father's business ? Did He go His own way and
turn His back on His mother and foster-father ? Oh no, though it is true He is the Son of
God, He is the Son of Mary too. Clever as He is, He is an obedient, dutiful child. At
once He leaves the Temple where He loves to be and goes back with His mother and
Joseph to Nazareth. He knows that in so doing He is pleasing His Heavenly Father,
for. He is obeying the fifth commandment, in which God tells children that if they would
keep His Holy Will and Commandment, they must honour their father and mother.
Yes, Jesus is the pattern child. He loves God His Father. The Temple, His. Father's
House, as He called it once, is dear to Him. He is a scholar ready to learn all His
teachers can tell Him about God. But He is a loving child, too, fond of His earthly mother
and the foster-father who.has watched over Him so kindly ever since He was born, and He
is just as ready to do what they tell Him as to ~worship His Father in the Temple, or
learn in the Temple school great and wise truths about God.
Children often forget, do they not, that the best way of plic aing Godis to be obedient
at home, doing what they are told, for then they are most like the Holy Child Jesus.
RICHARD CLAY AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BUNGAY.