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The Baldwin Library
IL~ -- I L _1113 --
Painting b1 Delarocle.
Moses exposed on the Nile.
ECLECTIC SCHOOL READINGS
THE CHOSEN PEOPLE
H. A. GUERBER
NEW YORK *: CINCINNATI .: CHICAG
AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1896, BY
AMERICAN BOOK COMPANY
STORY OF THE CHOSEN PEOPLE
W. P. 2
IN this little volume the author has tried to give a consecu-
tive story of the Jews, or Chosen People, as objectively as
the Stories of the Greeks and of the Romans, with which it
forms a series. The narrative has been written in the simplest
style, so as to enable even the youngest child of the third or
fourth reader grade to understand it.
Not the least attempt has been made to dwell upon the
strictly religious side of the subject, for, owing to the mixed
population in our large cities and schools, such an attempt
would be impracticable. The sole aim of this very elementary
work is to familiarize children, be they of Jewish, Protestant,
Roman Catholic, or Freethinker parentage, with the outline of
the story contained in the Old Testament, so that they can
understand the allusions which appear even in juvenile litera-
ture, and can look with intelligent appreciation upon the repro-
ductions of works of art which are now to be found in nearly
all our books and magazines.
I have found that, when told to young children, these his-
torical narratives prove a source of much interest, and that
the elementary knowledge then obtained remains so clear and
vivid that even when they are grown up, and able to enter
into the subject more thoroughly, the impression of the story
as first heard is the one which is most permanent.
While it may seem that, with all the facilities which the
country affords to rich and poor alike, such instruction in
schools would be superfluous, the fact remains that, with the
exception of a few well-known stories, the children have no
idea of the contents of the Old Testament. This lack of gen-
eral information on the subject is often a great drawback to
teachers in the course of their instruction, as references are
constantly made to the Bible.
Although this is a juvenile history of the Jews, it has not
been written without much research; and, in order to make it
as brief, comprehensive, and accurate as possible, many authori-
ties beside the Bible, Josephus, and the Bible dictionaries, have
It is hoped that an inkling of the story of the Jews will
stimulate the children's interest, will early imbue them with a
taste for history, and will give them the desire to gain further
and more complete information on the subject when they grow
We are indebted to Merton Russell Cotes, Esq., J.P., F.R.G.S.,
ex-Mayor of Bournemouth, for permission to reproduce T. M.
Rooke's painting of Ahab and Elijah, now in his possession,
and to Messrs. Braun, Clement & Co., for the use of several
of their carbons.
I. The Creation .
II. The Forbidden Fruit 14
III. The First Murder 17
IV. The Deluge. .
V. Noah's Descendants .24
VI. The Tower of Babel 27
VII. The Birth of Ishmael 31
VIII. The Birth of Isaac 34
IX. Abraham's Sacrifice 37
X. The Mess of Pottage 40
XI. Jacob's Ladder 44
XII. Jacob's Return Home 48
XIII. Joseph's Dreams 51
XIV. Pharaoh's Dreams 55
XV. Jacob in Egypt 58
XVI. The Story of Job .
XVII. The Ten Plagues 64
XVIII. The Crossing of the Red Sea 68
XIX. The Golden Calf 71
XX. The Twelve Spies 73
XXI. The Brazen Serpent 77
XXII. The Death of Moses 80
XXIII. The Walls of Jericho 83
XXIV. The Conquest of the Promised Land 86
XXV. The Death of Sisera 90
XXVI. Ruth and Naomi 93
XXVII. Gideon's Fleece 97
XXVIII. Defeat of the Midianites oo
XXIX. Jephthah's Daughter 2
XXX. Samson's Riddle 105
XXXI. The False Delilah 109
XXXII. The Ark Captured. 12
XXXIII. The Return of the Ark 115
XXXIV. Saul King of Israel 118
XXXV. The Anointing of David 121
XXXVI. David and Goliath 24
XXXVII. David's Flight 127
XXXVIII. David's Generosity 129
XXXIX. David Made King 133
XL. The Ark Brought to Jerusalem 136
XLI. The Repentance of David 40
XLII. Absalom in Disgrace 142
XLIII. The Death of Absalom 145
XLIV. The Judgment of Solomon 148
XLV. The Building of the Temple 151
XLVI. The Death of Solomon 154
XLVII. The Two Kingdoms 157
XLVIII. Seven Kings of Israel 161
XLIX. The Great Drought 163
L. The Priests of Baal 167
LI. Naboth's Vineyard 169
LII. Several Miracles 173
LIII. The Chariot of Fire 175
LIV. Naaman the Leper 178
LV. The Siege of Samaria 181
LVI. Joash KingofJudah 184
LVII. The Story of Jonah 187
LVIII. The Captivity of Israel 191
LIX. The Story of Tobit 194
LX. The Assyrian Host 197
LXI. The Prophecies of Jeremiah 2co
LXII. The Captivity of Judah 203
LXIII. Nebuchadnezzar's Dreams 206
LXIV. The Feast of Belshazzar 210
LXV. The Return from Captivity 214
LXVI. The Story of Esther 216
LXVII. The Jews Saved from Death 219
LXVIII. Alexander and the High Priest 222
LXIX. The Beginning of the End 225
LXX. The Destruction of Jerusalem 228
THE HOLY LAND
SCALE: 40 MILES PER INCH
0 10 20 30 40
THE STORY OF THE CHOSEN PEOPLE.
I. THE CREATION.
THE Bible, as you already know, is composed of two
parts, called the Old and the New Tes'ta-ments.
Both Jews and Christians consider that the first part of
this book is sacred, because it contains God's teachings
as he revealed, or made them known, to man. They
do not, however, agree about the second part, which is
considered sacred only by Christians.
The Old Testament contains, besides God's teachings,
a history of the Jews, which is so interesting and impor-
tant that educated people of all countries and religions
are expected to know all about it. It is this history which
you are going to hear, but, of course, if you want it com-
plete, you must read it in the Bible itself.
The very first book of the Bible is called Gen'e-sis, a
word meaning origin," because it tells us about the begin-
ning, or origin, of the world. We are told that in the
beginning there was neither land nor water, nor any liv-
ing things, and that darkness rested over all.
This early stage of affairs, when the elements of all
things were mixed up together, has been called Cha'os
(confusion); and we are told that God, the Almighty,
who had no beginning or end, created, or made, the whole
world out of Chaos.
The story is told very briefly indeed, and all the periods
of creation are called days. Of course we now know that
by days the writer of the book of Genesis did not mean
twenty-four hours, as we do. The word "days .was used
for an indefinite space of time; and, just as God is far
more powerful than we can imagine, so his days are far
longer than ours.
God's spirit moved over Chaos, and during the first day
he said: "Let there be light." At these words the dark-
ness which rested over all things vanished, and light first
appeared. This light shone through the thick vapors
which then surrounded the earth.
During the second day, or period, the vapors parted,
and now for the first time the blue sky could mirror itself
in the blue waters which covered the face of the earth.
As the clouds in the sky could rain down water, the Bible
says that on the second day God "divided the waters
which were under the firmament [or sky] from the waters
which were above the firmament."
During the third day, or period, another great change
took place; for the crust of the earth, shaken by earth-
quakes, formed great bumps and hollows. Thus were
formed mountains and valleys; and the waters, which had
covered all the face of the earth, now flowed into the deep
basins, where they formed lakes, seas, and oceans.
As soon as dry land appeared, God said that the earth
should bring forth grass, trees, and plants of all kinds;
and* each one was to have seeds, so that new plants would
replace the old as soon as they died. The earth had been
bare and ugly when it first rose up out of the waters; but
it was now covered with verdure, and became beautiful as
it is to-day.
On the fourth day, God allowed the lights in the sky to
be seen; and the sun, moon, and stars began to serve, as
they do now, to mark the days and the nights, the seasons
and the years. Darkness and light were thus clearly
divided, and we are told that "God saw that it was
During the fifth day, or period, when the rays of the sun
had strengthened the trees and plants, God created the
birds and fishes, and bade them multiply and fly through
the air, and fill all the waters in the seas. It is in obedi-
ence to this command that the birds and fishes lay eggs
and hatch their young.
The sixth day, or period, was spent in the creation of the
higher animals, and lastly of man. Now the Bible tells us
that man was formed out of earth, but that he was differ-
ent from all the beings which had already been created,
because he was like God.
This first man bore the name of Ad'am. Although his
body was made of dust, his life was breathed into him by
God, who brought all the animals to him that he might
name them, and told him that he should be master over
God had labored for six whole days, or periods, and
from Chaos had brought forth the world and all the living
creatures in it. He gazed upon his work,"saw everything
that he had made, and behold, it was very good." The
labor was done, so, on the seventh day, God "rested from
all his work."
It is partly because God rested on the seventh day, after
laboring six days, that we work for six days of the week,
and rest on the seventh; and each Sunday is thus an anni-
versary of God's day of rest.
II. THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT.
ADAM had been placed in a beautiful garden named
E'den, which God had planted, and which was
watered by four rivers. Here God came to visit the first
man, and told him that he could eat of the fruit of every
plant and tree in the garden, except the fruit which grew
on "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." This
tree was placed in the center of the garden, and God gave
this order to find out whether Adam would obey him.
Besides, if the man did not eat of the fruit, he would
never know trouble or sickness. At the same time that
God gave this first command, or law, he added the first
punishment, or penalty, saying: For in the day that
thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die."
God now brought the animals which he had created, so
that Adam might name them all. In doing so, the man
saw that the beasts went about in pairs, and that he was
the only living creature who had no mate. He felt very
lonely when he saw this, and told God that he would like
to have a companion like himself. So the Creator caused
a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took
one of his ribs," and from it made a woman.
When Adam awoke, God brought the first woman to him.
Adam saw that she was a part of himself; and he said
that a man shall "leave his father and mother, and shall
cleave unto his wife." Thus, in the Garden of Eden and
in the presence of God himself, the first marriage was cele-
brated; and Adam and his wife were so pure and innocent
that they were perfectly happy, and no more ashamed of
being naked than little children.
Adam dwelt in the Garden of Eden with Eve, as the
first woman was called, in perfect happiness, which was to
last as long as they obeyed God and did not eat any of the
fruit which hung on "the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil." Unfortunately, however, there was an evil
spirit, called the Tempt'er, the Dev'il, or Sa'tan, who
entered the Garden of Eden in the form of a serpent.
He was jealous of the happiness of Adam and Eve, and
very anxious to deprive them of it. So he spoke to Eve,
and told her that God had forbidden their eating any of
the fruit of the tree in the center of the garden only
because he wanted to keep it all for himself.
The serpent then urged Eve to taste the fruit, saying:
"Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the
day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye
shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Eve believed
the words of the wicked serpent, ate some of the fruit, and
gave some to Adam, who ate it too.
As the serpent had said, their eyes were now opened;
and, whereas they had known only good before, they now
knew evil also. God had seen that they would never be
perfectly happy if they knew evil, and he had kindly kept
that knowledge from them.
But now they had disobeyed his command, and with the
knowledge of evil came the feeling of shame and fear,
which they had never had before, and which made them
go and hide among the trees of the garden. In the cool
of the day, God came into the garden, and called to
them. Adam came slowly, in answer to this call, and
excused himself, saying that he was afraid to come out
because he was naked.
At these words, God asked him whether he had tasted
the forbidden fruit; and when Adam confessed that the
woman had given him some, God questioned Eve. She,
in her turn, confessed her disobedience, but said that the
serpent had tempted her.
Both Adam and Eve had broken the first law, so they
had to suffer the punishment which God had warned them
they must receive. The serpent, who had tempted the
woman, was condemned to be hated of all men, and to
crawl in the dust. Eve was told that she must obey her
husband, and that she would suffer, while Adam was
doomed to a life of hard work, because the earth would
no longer yield him food unless he tilled the soil.
No promise was added to make the serpent's sentence
less severe, but Eve was told that her children would fight
against the serpent (the spirit of evil), and that in time
one of them would conquer him. Adam was promised
that his toil would not be in vain, but that God would
bless it and enable him to earn, by the sweat of his brow,
the bread without which he could not live.
When the judgment against the serpent, the man, and
the woman had thus been given, God reminded Adam and
Eve that, as they had sinned, they would suffer death.
He warned them that as their bodies had been made of
dust, they could not last forever, using the words which
are now spoken in the funeral service: Dust thou art, and
unto dust shalt thou return."
III. THE FIRST MURDER.
G OD is as good as he is just, so he next taught
Adam and Eve how to clothe themselves in the
skins of wild beasts, and then sent them out of the Gar-
den of Eden, which they were never to see again. God
did not want them to come back there, because the tree of
life grew in the garden, and as long as they ate of its
fruit they could not die. To prevent their coming in
again, he placed an angel at the gates of Par'a-dise
(Eden), and armed him with a flaming sword which
turned every way.
Although Adam and Eve suffered keenly for their dis-
obedience, they did not despair. They believed God's
words, and began to look forward to the time when the
promised child would come, who, by killing the serpent,
would make up for the harm they had done. The men-
tion of this child is the first prophecy about the Mes-si'ah,
or Re-deem'er; and from the day she left Eden, Eve lived
in constant hope of his coming. To prevent man from
forgetting this promise, and, the Christians say, as a sign
of the last great sacrifice in the Bible, God also taught
Adam and Eve to offer living animals upon his altar.
It was after they had been driven out of Eden that Eve
gave birth to her first child, in sorrow and suffering, as
STO. OF CHO. PEOP. 2
God had foretold. This child was called Cain, a word
which means "a possession," because his mother thought
that he was the promised child; but when her second son,
A'bel, meaning "a breath or vapor," was born, Eve began
to understand that the time for the keeping of God's
promise might still be a long way off.
While Eve nursed her children, Adam tilled the soil,
and when the two boys grew up, they worked too, Cain
at the plow, and Abel as a shepherd. Thus, you see,
farming and cattle raising were the two first occupations
When these two young men were old enough, they got
ready to offer a sacrifice to God. But Cain, the elder, was
in a bad temper when he laid a basket of fruit on the
altar. An offering made in such a spirit could not be
agreeable to God, so he not only refused it, but also re-
buked Cain for his bad feelings. Abel, who was gentle
and loving, brought a lamb from his flock, and laid it upon
the altar, full of love and trust in God; so his sacrifice
Shortly after this ceremony, the two brothers met in a
very lonely place; and Cain, who had long been jealous of
his brother, took this chance to fall upon him and murder
him. This first crime was very quickly punished. Even
as Cain fled in terror from the spot where his brother's
lifeless body was lying, God suddenly appeared to him,
and asked: "Where is Abel, thy brother?"
Cain crossly answered: Am I my brother's keeper? "
But God knew all that had happened. To punish Cain,
God told him that the earth would no longer bear any
fruit under his care, and that he would not be allowed to
r~lztfltllg uy Jattvavtur L.ostn.
Death of Abel.
make his home near the spot where his murdered brother
At the same time, God also filled Cain's heart with a
constant dread that some one would kill him, as he had
killed Abel. He therefore fled in terror; but God, who
did not wish him to perish, put a mark upon him, and
spoke a sevenfold curse upon any one who should dare to
lay hands upon him.
Protected by this mysterious mark, which is called the
"brand of Cain," the unhappy man started out; and, after
wandering about in an aimless way for some time, he
settled in the land of Nod, a word which means "ban-
Here Cain saw that the earth would no longer bring
forth fruit for his support; so he ceased to earn his living
as a farmer, and began to make all kinds of things instead.
His haunting fears, however, never left him; and to pro-
tect himself, he built a fortified city, to which he gave the
name of his son E'noch.
We know very little about Cain's life after that, and the
Bible only tells us the names of some of his descendants.
La'mech, his great-great-great grandson, was the father of
Ja'bal, the first wandering herdsman, and Ju'bal, the inven-
tor of the first musical instruments, and Tu'bal-cain, the
first smith, who made articles of iron and bronze.
I; I r ;I, h
IV. THE DELUGE.
ADAM and Eve, in the mean while, continued to live
alone, mourning the death of Abel, and the depar-
ture of Cain. But when they were one hundred and thirty
years old, a third son was born to them, and they called
him Seth, which means "the appointed," because they
thought that it was surely the Redeemer who had come.
They were again disappointed, however; but Seth mar-
ried, and Adam had many descendants, the sixth in direct
line being Enoch. This man was very good and pious, and
" walked with God." IHe was rewarded for his goodness;
for. God did not allow him to die like the rest of his race,
but carried him off to heaven, so that he should not see
Enoch's son, Me-thu'se-lah, is noted as having reached
the greatest age ever attained by man,-nine hundred and
sixty-nine years. He was two hundred and forty-three
years old when Adam died, and must often have heard
him tell about the Garden of Eden, the eating of the for-
bidden fruit, and how he was driven out of Paradise.
Methuselah's grandson was No'ah, who was born six
hundred years before Methuselah died; and Noah no
doubt often heard his grandfather relate the stories which
Adam had told.
The world had grown very wicked during the fifteen
hundred and fifty-six years which had passed by since the
creation of Adam; for his numerous descendants had mar-
ried daughters of Cain, and had learned to do many evil
When God saw that the people were growing so bad, he
no longer allowed them to become as old as their fathers
had lived to be. Instead of permitting men to live nearly
a thousand years, like the good Methuselah,. God short-
ened their lives.
Then, a little later, seeing that the "wickedness of man
was great in the earth," God regretted having ever created
man, and made up his mind to take the human race off
the face of the earth, and completely destroy it. Only
one family was to be spared, the family of Noah, because
he was a truly good man, who thus "found grace in the
eyes of the Lord."
Noah was the tenth patriarch, or father of a family, in
Adam's race; and he was six hundred years old before
the threatened destruction of mankind took place. God
warned him that a great flood would visit the earth, and
gave him directions how to build a large boat, or ark,
in which he and his family could take refuge. This ark
was at once begun, as God had commanded, although all
Noah's neighbors laughed at him, and paid no heed when
he begged them to turn from their wicked ways and repent.
At the end of one hundred and twenty years the ark
was finished. In obedience to God's command, Noah then
entered into this ship, with his wife, his sons Shem, Ham,
and Ja'pheth, and their wives. There vere, therefore,
eight human beings in the ark, besides the animals which
it contained. Of these Noah took with him one pair of
every kind that was unclean," or not fit for sacrifice;
but of the "clean" animals he took seven of each kind,
- three pairs and an extra male for sacrifice.
So great was the throng of animals which pressed about
the ark that it took them seven days to enter it. Then,
when they were all safely housed, God shut Noah in.
Next he allowed the waters of the deep to rise and
overflow, and sent down torrents of rain, which fell for
forty days and forty nights.
This great downpour is called the flood, or deluge, and
in it perished every living creature that was left upon
earth. The waters rose higher and higher, until they over-
took and drowned the last fugitives. At the end of forty
days, Noah alone remained alive, with his family and the
animals which he had taken into the ark. All the wicked
people had died, and a new record was about to begin.
The ark, with all its living freight, floated about for
five months, before it ran aground upon the peak of
Mount Ar'a-rat; but two more months passed by before
the other mountain tops rose out of the waters.
Forty days later Noah opened the window of the ark,
and sent out a raven. The bird flew to and fro, but did
not come back to the boat. In the course of the next
week Noah sent forth a dove, which flew back; and a
few days later he sent it out again and it brought back
an olive twig with young leaves.
Noah joyfully received this olive twig, because he knew
it was a sign that the waters had gone down, and that
even low trees were now entirely uncovered and were
putting forth new leaves. Ever since then an olive branch
has been considered an emblem of peace and good tidings.
After waiting another week, Noah came out of the
ark; and he again set foot on dry ground when he was
six hundred and one years old. He was followed by his
family, and by all the animals and birds in the ark. Then
the first thing that he did was to give thanks to God for
saving him. He built an altar upon Mount Ararat, and
there offered up a sacrifice of every kind of clean bird
V. NOAH'S DESCENDANTS.
G OD was much pleased by Noah's act of piety in
giving thanks and offering a sacrifice as soon as
he came out of the ark. For this reason he promised
the patriarch that he would never curse the earth again
on account of man, nor destroy it. He added that he
would be patient with all living things, and would never
send such a flood again as long as the earth lasted.
The blessing which had been spoken in the Garden of
Eden, "be fruitful and multiply," was repeated; and the
animals were again made subject to man, who was now
allowed to eat meat for the first time.
Besides the law about the killing of animals for food,
God now made a decree against murder, saying that he
who "sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be
shed." That is why murderers are still put to death.
God then made a covenant, or agreement, with Noah,
and said that if men obeyed him he would watch over
them and not destroy them; and as a reminder of this
promise, he set the rainbow in the clouds. This is the
reason why you will often hear the rainbow called the
"bow of promise."
Although God had saved Noah and his family, to begin
a new race, it soon became plain that they too would sin;
for Noah himself yielded to the low vice of drunkenness.
His son Ham found him in a drunken sleep, and went
and told Noah's other sons, mocking him.
Shem and Japheth were shocked and ashamed, but they
did not join in their brother's mockery. Instead of this,
they threw a great cloak over their sleeping father, to hide
him from their own and everybody else's eyes.
When Noah came to his senses, he was bitterly ashamed;
and when he heard how rude Ham had been, Noah sent
him away, and cursed him, saying that his children would
be slaves. This prophecy came true, and Ham was the
ancestor of the black, or negro, race, who were slaves even
in this country half a century ago.
Noah then rewarded Shem and Japheth for their dutiful
conduct, by blessing them. In time, Japheth's descend-
ants became the ancestors of all the European nations
(and thus of the Americans); while Shem was chosen as
the father of the race of the Jews. You will often hear it
called the "Chosen Race," because God gave his laws to
this people, and said that the Messiah would be born
Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood,
and died when he was nine hundred and fifty years old.
The date of his death is said to be just halfway between
the creation of Adam and the birth of Christ, whom the
Christians consider as the Redeemer promised when Adam
and Eve were driven out of Eden.
Noah died just one year before the great patriarch
A'bra-ham was born; but the story of creation passed
directly from Adam to Methuselah, from Methuselah to
Noah, and from Noah to Te'rah, the father of Abraham.
Thus, although it was not yet written, but only told, it
could not have changed much, although so many years
had passed since the creation of Adam.
The Bible tells us that the descendants of Noah's sons
spread, in the course of time, all over the face of the earth.
In a few words it says that Japheth's race included all
the Gen'tiles (people who were not Jews). One of the
descendants of Ham was Nim'rod, a mighty hunter and
king, and the founder of a great city called Bab'y-lon.
Some of Nimrod's descendants built the city of Nin'e-veh
also, and formed the great As-syr'i-an Empire.
The only one of Noah's sons whose story is given at
length in the Bible, is Shem, the ancestor of the Jewish
race. In his days "the whole earth was of one language,
and of one speech," and we are told that the people gen-
erally wandered about in search of good pasture for their
large flocks, which were their chief possession.
Journeying thus from place to place, Shem's descend-
ants came at last to the plain of Shi'nar, where Nimrod
lived. Here the soil was mostly clay, so the people soon
learned to make bricks, and to use them for building
VI. THE TOWER OF BABEL.
THERE were plenty of building materials on the plain
of Shinar, so the people soon fancied that it would
be a fine thing to join Nimrod and found a world-wide
empire, with a great city as its capital. Nimrod, it seems,
was at the head of this plan, and greatly encouraged them.
He hoped that if all the people were banded together, he
would be able to prevent them from being scattered all
over the face of the world, as God had said he intended
to have them.
The work of building was therefore begun, and by Nim-
rod's orders a huge tower was erected near the new city.
But "the Lord came down to see the city and the tower,
which the children of men builded; and it did not please
him. To defeat their plans, God confused the tongues of
the builders, so that they spoke different languages; and
then, as they could no longer understand one another's
speech, the men left off working together.
People who do not understand one another are sure to
quarrel, and before long the builders went off in different
directions, in search of new homes, where they could
speak their own language in peace. Thus Nimrod's plan
to found a great empire came to an end, and the Tower
of Ba'bel (confusion) was never completed.
Terah, the father of Abraham, was the eighth in direct
descent from Shem, son of Noah. Besides Abraham, he
had two other sons, Na'hor and Ha'ran, who were prob-
ably much older than Abraham. The brothers all mar-
ried, and for some time dwelt in the ancient city of Ur;
Drawn by G. Varian.
Building the Tower of Babel.
but before long God called to Abraham, and bade him go
into a new land which would be given to him. In obedi-
ence to this call, the whole family set out, and made their
home east of the Eu-phra'tes River, where Terah died
when Abraham was seventy-five years old.
Nahor, the oldest living son of Terah, claimed the land
where they had settled as his inheritance; and, after a
second call from God, Abraham continued his journey,
traveling southward with his wife Sa'rah, and his nephew
Lot. They were going in search of the land promised by
God, for Abraham fully trusted in these words which the
Lord had spoken :
I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless
thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a bless-
ing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him
that curseth thee, and in thee shall all families of the
earth be blessed."
These last words, as you see, contained a new promise
of a Redeemer, like the one made to Adam, and God now
added the information that this Redeemer would bless
even the Gentiles, that is to say, the people who did
not belong to the Chosen Race.
Abraham now crossed the Euphrates River, and hence
received the name of He'brew, which is borne by his de-
scendants, and which means "the man who has crossed
the river." He passed through the desert, crossed the
river Jor'dan, and entered the Holy Land, where he rested
for a while.
From there Abraham wandered on in search of pasture,
until he came at last to the rich land of Egypt. Here he
was in a strange country, among a strange people. He
was afraid they would kill him to obtain possession of
Sarah, his wife, so he coaxed her to say that she was
only his sister.
The people, thinking that Sarah was an unmarried
woman, carried her off to the king's palace to be his wife;
but, as soon as she arrived there, a terrible disease visited
all the family of the king. At first no one knew the cause
of this sickness, but finally the king found out that it had
been sent to punish him for trying to take another man's
He had no intention of doing so wicked a thing, so
he at once sent Sarah back to her husband, and reproved
Abraham for deceiving him. He also bade Abraham
leave the country, saying that he did not wish to keep
a man who had brought him nothing but harm.
Thus forced to wander on, Abraham traveled northward
until he came to Beth'el, in the Holy Land, where he
had once rested, and where he rebuilt the altar to wor-
His cattle had now become so numerous that it was
very hard indeed to find pasture enough for all his flocks.
One day a quarrel arose between the shepherds of Abra-
ham and those of Lot; and, to prevent a renewal of it,
the uncle and nephew decided to part. As Lot was the
son of an elder brother, Abraham gave him the first
choice; and he passed down the valley to the eastward,
where the pasture seemed the best. Then Abraham,
still trusting in the promises of God, moved a little way
towards the south, where he again rested and built an-
VII. THE BIRTH OF ISHMAEL.
AFTER parting from his uncle, Lot went down into
the fertile valley of the lower Jordan, and pitched
his tents near the five rich cities of the plain, among
which were Sod'om and Go-mor'rah. These cities were
ruled by five kings, and in them dwelt men who were as
wicked as wicked could be.
Lot, who was a good man, did not enjoy the neighbor-
hood of these wicked people; but, instead of going away,
he lingered there until a war broke out between the five
cities and a powerful king who claimed tribute from
A battle was fought, in which the Kings of Sodom and
Gomorrah were killed. Their cities were then robbed;
and Lot, being found on their lands, was carried off into
captivity with all the rest of the people, and all his pos-
sessions were taken away from him.
The news of Lot's peril was brought to Abraham. As
soon as he heard it, he hastily gathered together the
three hundred and eighteen men of his household, and,
accompanied by the Am'o-rites, his friends, he hurried
off to rescue his unlucky nephew.
This small troop overtook the victors near the sources
of the Jordan. There, by cleverly dividing his forces,
and surprising the enemy in the middle of the night,
Abraham managed not only to beat them, but to free
Lot and to get back all the spoil they had taken.
The little army then came home in triumph, and
Abraham gave back the spoil to the new King of Sodom.
He kept only the tenth part for the King of Sa'lem, a
priest of the Lord, who came to meet him, and gave
him bread and wine, and blessed him.
Abraham, having thus saved Lot from the hands of his
enemies, went home, where he was soon made happy by
a vision from God. This time the Lord repeated all
the promises he had already made, and told Abraham
that he would have a son. Then pointing upward, God
said that Abraham's descendants would be as many as
the stars shining in the blue sky above them.
Now the patriarch was over eighty years old, and had
already waited many years in vain for the son whom God
had promised him, but yet he believed these words. He
also listened respectfully while God foretold that the
Hebrews would be treated as slaves in a foreign land
for four hundred years, but would finally escape, with
larger numbers and greater riches, to take possession of
the promised land.
Another time, God bade Abraham practice a religious
rite called circumcision. This rite was observed by all
the Jews after that, and it finally became the mark of the
Hebrew nation, just as baptism is the outward sign of a
Abraham's faith in God's promises was tried by another
long period of waiting. His wife Sarah became so sure
that God would never give her a son that she finally per-
suaded her husband to accept Ha'gar, her servant, as a
second wife. It was not at all unusual in those days for
a man to have several wives at the same time; and you
will soon see that more than one of the patriarchs fol-
lowed this custom.
Hagar, Abraham's new wife, soon became the mother
of a son called Ish'ma-.el, whose birth was foretold by
an angel. The messenger of God came to Hagar one
day, and told her that this child would be "a wild man; "
and it is said that he became in time the ancestor of a
wandering race which we now call Bed'ou-ins, or Ar'abs.
Fourteen years after the birth of Ishmael, three stran-
gers came to Abraham's tent; and it is supposed that
they must have been angels. After they had rested and
eaten, these angels told Abraham that Sarah would have
a son. The patriarch believed them, for he had not lost
faith in God's promise even yet; but Sarah, who was
standing behind the door, laughed at them.
The messengers reproved her for doubting their words,
and set out with Abraham toward the cities of the plain.
On their way, one of these strangers told Abraham that
God was weary of the wickedness of the people in Sodom
and Gomorrah, and was about to destroy them in punish-
ment for their sins.
Abraham was horrified when he heard this, and he
humbly asked whether God would destroy the guilty cities
if fifty good persons could be found within them. When
told that fifty good men would save the towns, Abraham
inquired whether forty, thirty, twenty, or even ten right-
eous men would not be enough, and each time the
stranger answered, "Yes."
It was so unlikely that even ten righteous men should
be found there that Abraham sadly returned to his tent,
while his visitors passed on to the city of Sodom, to find
out whether the people were really all wicked, and whether
they deserved death.
STO. OF C110. PEOP. -3
VIII. THE BIRTH OF ISAAC.
WHILE Abraham had been pleading with one of
the strangers to spare the wicked cities, the two
others had gone ahead, and had entered the city of
Sodom. Lot, the only good man in the whole place, in-
vited them into his house to spend the night.
But the people of Sodom, hearing that there were
strangers at his house, rushed there, and asked that these
should be delivered up, so that they might be put to the
torture. Lot refused to give up his guests, and began to
defend them with all his might.
The Sod'om-ites, however, were so great in number that
Lot would not have been able to resist them had not the
strangers struck them with sudden blindness. The rude
men now groped their way helplessly through the streets,
little suspecting that this attempt to injure strangers had
settled their own fate.
As Lot was a very good man, and had not sinned, the
strangers now bade him leave the city, with his wife and
daughters and all that he had. In hopes of saving some
of the people from the threatened ruin, Lot lingered there,
until the angels led him out with his wife and daughters,
bidding them all not to look behind them, but to escape to
the mountains lest they should be burned.
Lot and his daughters obeyed, and did not turn their
heads when the fire from heaven rained down upon the
cities, and destroyed them and their inhabitants. But Lot's
wife, prompted by curiosity, disobeyed. In punishment,
she was changed into a pillar of salt.
The place once occupied by these flourishing cities is
now covered by the waters of the Dead Sea, and the land
all around there is very barren, and shows signs of having
once been a prey to a raging fire. Near there arc great
mountains of rock salt, and the waters of the Dead Sea
are so briny and bitter that no fish can live in them.
Although Lot had been saved from destruction, he too
sinned greatly soon after this, and like Noah gave way to
the vice of drunkenness. In punishment for this sin, God
made him the ancestor of two wild races, the Am'mon-
ites and the Mo'ab-ites, who took these names from Am'-
mon and Mo'ab, the sons of Lot's two daughters. These
two tribes, as you will see later, were destined to cause
many sufferings to the Jews.
After staying a long while at his home, where the three
strangers had visited him, Abraham again moved toward
the southern boundary of the Holy Land, and came to a
place called Be-er-she'ba. Here lived the Phil'is-tines, who
were then ruled by a king named A-bim'e-lech. Abraham,
fearing him, again declared that Sarah was his sister; so
the king thought that he would marry her.
Warned by God in a dream that Sarah was Abraham's
wife, Abimelech gave her back to the patriarch, and
added many gifts of great value. When Abraham saw
how generous the heathen were, he regretted that he had
deceived them, and prayed God to bless them. This
prayer was soon granted, and the Philistines began to
enjoy great prosperity.
It was during Abraham's sojourn at Beersheba that
his faith in God's promises was rewarded; for Sarah bore
him a son named I'saac. When this child was old enough
-8~ ~ -
Hagar and Ishmael.
to be weaned, Sarah saw Ishmael, the son of Hagar,
mocking him. In her anger she begged Abraham to
send mother and son both away. He was at first unwill-
ing to do so, but God comforted him with the promise that
Ishmael would be the ancestor of a mighty nation.
Provided with a scanty supply of food and a skin bottle
full of water, Hagar and Ishmael were sent away from
Abraham's tent, and wandered out into the desert. Here-
their provisions soon gave out, and Hagar, seeing no hope
of saving the life of her son, left him lying under one of
the desert shrubs, and went off a little distance because
she could not bear to see him die.
But God had not forgotten his promise. While Hagar
was weeping in despair, an angel bade her fear nothing,
repeated the promise that her son Ishmael should be the
ancestor of a mighty people, and then pointed out a well
whence she might draw water to refresh him. Thus
saved from death, Ishmael grew and dwelt in the wilder-
ness, and finally took a wife from the land of Egypt.
IX. ABRAHAM'S SACRIFICE.
A BRAHAM had already undergone many trials, and
his faith had been tested in many ways; but the
greatest test was made when Isaac, his son, was about
twenty years of age. God now asked him to offer up
this son, upon whom rested all his hopes.
In those days a man had the right of life and death
over his wife and children, and human sacrifices were
not uncommon. Abraham's conscience, therefore, did
not trouble him about killing Isaac in this way; but
what almost broke his heart was that he was called
upon to give up the dearest thing he had on earth, the
son for whom he had waited so long.
In spite of his grief, he nevertheless prepared to obey
the command which he had received; and he "took the
wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac, his
son." The young man strode ahead without any fear,
while his aged father slowly followed him up the moun-
tain, carrying the fire, and also the knife which was to
be used for the sacrifice.
Isaac, who had often gone with his father in such jour-
neys, soon noticed something unusual, and said: Behold
the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt
His father's heart must have been wrung with anguish
at this innocent question; but his faith in God made him
strong, and prompted the answer which he now gave to
Isaac: "God will provide."
When they came up on the mountain, and the wood had
been properly laid upon the altar, Isaac allowed himself
to be bound and placed upon it. The last moment had
come, and Abraham "took the knife to slay his son."
But an angel of the Lord stopped him, crying: "Abra-
ham, Abraham, lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do
thou anything unto him; for now I know that thou fearest
God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only
son, from me."
Looking up at these welcome words, Abraham saw a
ram in the thicket near him, and, as God commanded,
he now took it and offered it up in sacrifice instead of his
son. The Lord had provided a victim, and the patriarch's
heart overflowed with joy as he gave thanks with Isaac
Then the angel of the Lord spoke again, repeating the
promise which had already been made to Abraham about
his seed, or descendants: "Because thou hast done this
thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son .
in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will
multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand
which is upon the seashore; and in thy seed shall
all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast
obeyed my voice."
The spot where Isaac was thus nearly sacrificed in
obedience to God's command, was later the site of the
Temple of Je-ru'sa-lem, of which you will hear much.
Abraham now said that it should have for its name the
Hebrew words meaning "the Lord will provide." Then
he joyfully wended his way down the mountain, with the
son who had been given back to him from the dead, and
returned to his home at Beersheba.
While he was still living there, Abraham heard of the
death of his brother Nahor, who left twelve sons. A few
years later Sarah died, when she was one hundred and
twenty-seven years old. To bury her, Abraham bought
the cave of Mach-pe'lah, and thus his first real posses-
sion in the promised land was a family tomb.
After Sarah had died, Abraham's chief care seems to
have been to find a good wife for Isaac, his son. As he
did not wish the young man to marry any of the heathen
women around there, he finally bade E-li-e'zer, his faithful
steward, journey to Mes-o-po-ta'mi-a, where his kinsmen
still lived, and bring back a wife from there.
When Eliezer reached the country where the sons of
Nahor dwelt, he sat down by a well. He was perplexed
and did not know how to make a good choice. In his
trouble he began to pray with great fervor, and said:
Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee send
me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my
master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of
water, and the daughters of the men of the city come out
to draw water; and let it come to pass that the damsel to
whom I shall say, 'Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that
I may drink;' and she shall say, 'Drink, and I will give
thy camels drink also,' let the same be she that thou hast
appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know
that thou hast shown kindness unto my master."
X. THE MESS OF POTTAGE.
IN answer to this fervent prayer, Eliezer, the servant of
Abraham, soon saw the girls come out of the city
with their great water jars; and when he asked them for
a drink, Re-bec'ca, the granddaughter of Nahor, gave him
water and slaked the thirst of his camels also.
Eliezer felt sure that this was the maiden whom God
intended for Isaac; so he now made known his errand, and
offered her the trinkets which he had brought with him.
Rebecca accepted them, and led him to her brother La'-
ban, who gave his consent to the marriage, and on the
next day Eliezer bore her away.
Eliezer and Rebecca.
Isaac was out in the fields at eventide, when he saw the
returning caravan. He went eagerly forward to welcome
his unknown bride, and then led .her unto Sarah's tent;
and for the first time he felt comforted for his mother's
loss. Isaac was about forty years of age when he married
Rebecca, but Abraham was then still hale and hearty, and
shortly after this he married a new wife called Ke-tu'rah.
Abraham and Keturah had many children, but the
father sent them all eastward, after. giving them large
flocks. He did not wish them to stay near his home, lest
they should some day lay claim to the inheritance which
was intended for Isaac only.
Ten years after Isaac's marriage, Shem, the son of Noah,
died, and ten years after that Rebecca bore twin sons,
E'sau (the hairy) and Ja'cob (the supplanter). These two
boys quarreled even during infancy, and this was the first
sign of the enmity that was to exist between the two
nations which sprang from them, the Is'ra-el-ites and
The twin brothers were as different in looks as in char-
acter. Esau was rough, hairy, and violent-tempered, and
loved the excitement of the chase; but Jacob was hand-
some, smooth-faced, and gentle, and quietly watched his
flocks of sheep.
The brothers were so unlike that it is no wonder they
did not love each other; but their natural dislike.was in-
creased by their parents, who, instead of treating them
alike, had each a favorite. Isaac loved Esau most, because
he ate of this son's venison, but Rebecca preferred the
The brothers' quarrels, however, were not very serious
at first, and Isaac paid no heed to them. His attention
was all taken up by his father, Abraham, who fell sick at
about this time. Soon after, the old patriarch died at the
age of one hundred and seventy-five, and was laid to rest
in the cave of Machpelah by his two sons Isaac and Ish-
After Abraham's death, Isaac was the head of the
Chosen Race, and we read in the Bible that God blessed
Isaac's twin sons were about thirty-two years old, when
Esau one day came back from the hunt almost famished,
and found Jacob with a smoking dish of lentil pottage.
In those days it was not easy to get food at a moment's
notice, and Esau was so hungry that he eagerly offered
Jacob his birthright, or place as eldest son, in exchange
for the pottage. Jacob accepted, and thus, although he
was the younger son, he became his father's heir, and
could claim as his share the promised blessing that "in
his seed all families of the earth should be blessed."
Ever since then, when any one sells anything very
precious for a mere trifle, people are apt to say, "He
has sold his birthright for a mess of pottage." This is
because they remember how Esau gave up the hope of
being the ancestor of the promised Redeemer, simply
that he might satisfy the cravings of his hunger.
At first Isaac knew nothing of this exchange, but Re-
becca was well aware of it. Shortly after the bargain
had been made, a famine came, and Isaac was forced to
leave home, and to wander southward, into the territory
of the Philistines.
He was about to go farther still, and even journey"
down into E'gypt, when God appeared to him, bade him
remain where he was, and solemnly renewed all the
promises that he had made to Abraham.
While Isaac was dwelling here among the Philistines,
he repeated the mistake twice made by his father.
When asked who Rebecca was, he replied: "She is
my sister." This falsehood was soon found out by the
Philistine king, but he nevertheless allowed Isaac to stay
in his land.
When the Philistines saw how very prosperous Isaac
was, they became jealous of him and said: "Go from
us, for thou art much mightier than we." Then, seeing
that he did not depart, they tried to drive him away,
by claiming in turn each new well that he dug. Isaac
was -almost in despair, but he finally made a treaty with
them, and thus obtained peace.
XI. JACOB'S LADDER.
ISAAC was more than one hundred years old, and was
nearly blind, when he made up his mind to give his
solemn blessing to his heir. This ceremony would make
known to all men that this was the son chosen to con-
tinue the race which was in time to give birth to the
Isaac intended to give his blessing to Esau, and bade
him prepare a venison feast for the occasion. While
Esau was away hunting, Rebecca made up her mind to
secure the birthright for her favorite Jacob; for she
Painting by Flincch.
Isaac blessing Jacob.
knew that her eldest son had given it up of his own
As she did not dare claim it openly, she tried a fraud.
Jacob's smooth hands and arms were covered with hairy
goat skin, so that they would seem like his brother's to the
touch, and a savory stew was prepared. Isaac, believing
that it was Esau whom he touched, then gave to Jacob
his solemn blessing before Esau came home from the
Esau, upon entering the tent, found out what had been
done, and realized then for the first time how great was
his loss. Falling at his father's feet, he cried wildly,
Bless me, even me also, 0 my father! "
But it was too late. The solemn blessing, once given,
could not be recalled. Isaac could not give back to Esau
the first place, forfeited by weakness; nor could he make
Esau the ancestor of the Messiah. Nevertheless, the
father blessed his elder son also, and promised him much
worldly prosperity to take the place of the greater bless-
ing which he had lost forever.
Now, although it was all his own fault, Esau could not
forgive Jacob for taking his place; and he secretly made
up his mind to kill his brother as soon as Isaac had passed
away. Rebecca found out these evil intentions; and, to
prevent any harm to Jacob, she sent him to visit her
brother Laban in Mesopotamia, under the pretext of find-
ing a wife among the daughters of his own race.
Esau was very angry when he heard that Jacob was
out of reach, and about to marry in a way that would
please his father so greatly. To win back his father's favor,
Esau sent away his heathen wives, and married a daugh-
ter of Ishmael; but he did not give up all hopes of killing
Jacob, and getting back his inheritance.
Jacob, in the mean while, had journeyed on; and when
night overtook him he lay down upon the hard ground,
with a stone for a pillow. While he was slumbering thus,
he had a marvelous dream, and fancied that he saw a
great ladder leading from earth to heaven.
On this ladder were "the angels of God ascending and
descending," and "the Lord stood above it and said: 'I
am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of
Isaac.' Then God promised that he would give the land
to Jacob's descendants, and would be with him and take
care of him wherever he went.
When Jacob awoke, he piled up in the form of a rude
altar the stones near where he lay. Then he poured oil
upon them to consecrate them, and called the spot Bethel
(the house of God), before he continued his journey.
Jacob was about seventy years old when he came to
Mesopotamia, and sat down near the selfsame well where
Eliezer had found his mother, Rebecca. Here Jacob first
saw Ra'chel, Laban's daughter, who invited him into her
father's house, where he tarried for a month as a guest.
During this month, Jacob daily saw Rachel, and learned
to love her very dearly; and he soon entered into an
agreement with Laban whereby he would obtain her hand
in marriage at the end of seven years, in exchange for his
faithful services as shepherd.
Such was the love which Jacob felt for Rachel that
these seven years of servitude "seemed unto him but a
few days." As soon as they were ended, however, he
went to seek Laban, and eagerly claimed his bride.
Laban prepared for the wedding, but, instead of giving
up Rachel, he married Jacob to his eldest daughter, Le'ah.
The bride was so closely veiled during the ceremony that
Jacob did not find out the fraud until it was too late. He
was very angry indeed at this deception, and refused to
be pacified until Laban promised to give him Rachel also;
but this was on condition that Jacob should continue to
serve his father-in-law for another term of seven years.
As in those days it was quite customary to have several
wives at once, Jacob consented, and soon married Rachel.
Then, at the request of Rachel and Leah, he also married
their handmaidens. During the seven years which fol-
lowed, Leah and the two servants gave birth to ten sons,
- Reu'ben, Sim'e-on, Le'vi, Ju'dah, Is'sa-char, Zeb'u-lun,
Dan, Naph'ta-li, Gad, and Ash'er. Leah also had a
daughter named Di'nah; but Rachel, Jacob's favorite
wife, had no children at all.
XII. JACOB'S RETURN HOME.
AS we have seen, Rachel was the only one of Jacob's
wives who had no children. She was much grieved
to have no son, because every Jewish woman was anxious
to have one, as he might be the Redeemer promised in the
Garden of Eden. Rachel mourned greatly, but it was only
when the second term of Jacob's servitude was near its end
that she became the mother of Jo'seph.
As this son was the child of his favorite wife, Jacob
loved him more than all the others; and, immediately
after his birth, the father tried to leave Laban, and
become his own master once more. But Laban would
not let him go, and promised that if he would only serve
for a third term of seven years, he should receive a cer-
tain part of the produce of the flocks.
Jacob consented, and during these seven years his herds
prospered remarkably well. The time was nearly at an
end, when he was favored by a vision, in which he was
told to go back to the place where he was born, with his
wives, children, and all the wealth that he had won.
As he feared that Laban would again try to detain him,
Jacob got ready in secret, and stole away during the night.
Thus, twenty years after he had left his father, he again
crossed the desert, and came to the Holy Land.
Laban was very much displeased when he found that
Jacob was gone. In his anger he set out to pursue his
son-in-law, and soon overtook him. Then he reproached
Jacob for going away without taking leave of him, and
asked him to give back the household gods, which Rachel
had carried off.
Although Laban was at first so angry, he parted peace-
fully with Jacob, because God warned him not to do his
servant any harm. While still on the homeward journey,
Jacob had another vision, and saw the angels camping
around him, to keep him from all harm.
As he drew near home, his memory of the past grew
clearer, and he remembered that he had parted from his
brother Esau in anger. He now began to fear that his
brother might still wish to kill him, and, hoping to disarm
Esau's wrath, he sent a messenger to say that he was
STO. OF CHO. PEOP. -4
This man soon came back and said that Esau was com-
ing to meet his brother, with an escort of four hundred
fighting men. Jacob was terrified when he heard this.
In his distress he called to God for help, and then, know-
ing that a man who wishes aid should exert himself, he
got ready to meet the coming danger.
First, he sent a princely present of fine cattle to Esau;
and then he placed his caravan so that Rachel and his
best-loved child should be in the rear, and thus run less
risk in case he was obliged to fight. Thus the caravan
slowly passed over the ford of a little river; and Jacob,
after seeing the people all cross in safety, staid near the
edge of the stream.
Here he met a stranger, who fell upon him and wrestled
with him all night. It was only near morning that Jacob
found out that his opponent was an angel; for the stranger
touched the sinews of one of Jacob's thighs and lamed him
In spite of this bodily injury, Jacob clung fast to the
angel, crying: I will not let thee go, except thou bless me."
Thanks to his perseverance, he obtained the blessing he
wanted, and the angel told him that he would henceforth
be called Is'ra-el, or soldier of God.
Limping onward, Jacob soon overtook the caravan.
Then, hastening to the head of it, he ran forward to meet
his brother, Esau, whose anger he hoped to dispel by fall-
ing down upon his face before him, and begging his
Esau, however, had entirely forgotten his wrath. He
put his arms around his brother's neck, kissed him, and
proposed that they should always live side by side. Jacob
was very glad to be on good terms with Esau once more,
but he refused this kind offer, because he knew that their
servants would never agree.
This meeting over, Jacob continued his journey, passed
over the Jordan, and came to She'chem, where he bought
a piece of land. Here he pitched his tents, and built an
altar to God, and here his daughter Dinah was carried off
by the She'chem-ites.
Simeon and Levi, two of Jacob's sons, were anxious to
punish these men for robbing them of their only sister.
In doing so, however, they behaved so cruelly that Jacob
was angry with them, and said that they had forfeited
their right to inherit the blessing which he had received
from his father Isaac.
-----o :o :Io o~---
XIII. JOSEPH'S 'DREAMS.
ACOB did not remain very long at Shechem, but soon
passed on to Bethel, where he renewed his covenant
with God. While on a journey from this place, his be-
loved wife Rachel died, after giving birth to a second son,
named Ben'ja-min. Rachel was buried near Bethlehem,
and over her grave still rises a rude dome, which is called
her tomb, and is often visited by Jews, Christians, and
At the next resting place, Reuben, Jacob's oldest son,
forfeited his birthright by doing wrong; and soon after-
wards the caravan reached Isaac's encampment. Here
they found the patriarch still alive, although he was now
one hundred and sixty-five years old; and here Jacob
sojourned until his father's death, fifteen years later.
Jacob and Esau buried their father, Isaac, in the cave of
Machpelah, where Abraham, Sarah, and Rebecca already
lay; and then Esau journeyed away to seek pasture for
his flocks. His family is little mentioned in the Bible, but
we are told that his descendants were the Edomites, who
became the enemies of the Chosen Race.
Jacob went on dwelling in the Land of Ca'naan, and
because he "loved Joseph more than all his children," he
was very partial to him. To show his affection, he gave
this favorite child a princely robe of many colors.
When Jacob's other sons saw that their father preferred
Joseph, they grew -angry and envious. These wicked
feelings grew worse when Joseph told about two dreams
which he had had, and which were as follows:
In the first dream he thought he was in the midst of a
harvest field, where he and his brothers were binding
grain, and he said that he saw their sheaves bow down
and do homage to his, which alone stood boldly upright.
In the second dream, "the sun and the moon and the
eleven stars made obeisance to him.
These dreams were, according to the custom of the
time, considered as signs of the future; and they were
thought to mean that Joseph would rule over his brothers.
The jealousy of the elder brothers was made still
greater by this way of interpreting the dreams; and they
began to plot how to get rid of Joseph. They soon had a
chance to do what they wished; for, before long, Jacob
sent Joseph alone to Shechem, to inquire how his sons
and flocks were getting along there.
The brothers recognized Joseph from afar by his bright
robe, and hastily consulted together how they might kill
him. Reuben alone wished to save Joseph, but he did not
dare oppose his brothers openly; so he now suggested
that instead of shedding the lad's blood it would be better
to put him into an empty cistern near by.
The wicked brothers agreed, and after taking off
Joseph's coat of many colors, they lowered the poor boy
into the cistern, whence he could not escape without aid.
Then they stained his gay garment with the blood of a
kid, and sent it back to Jacob, who thought that his favor-
ite son had been devoured by the wild beasts, and bitterly
mourned his loss.
Before Reuben could carry out his kind intentions, and
release Joseph from the empty cistern, the other brothers
sold him to a caravan of passing merchants for twenty
pieces of silver; and when Reuben came back, after a short
absence, Joseph was already well on his way to Egypt,
where he was to be sold as a slave.
We are told very little about the after lives of the older
sons of Jacob,. although they married and had many chil-
dren. The story now follows Joseph into Egypt, where he
became the slave of Pot'i-phar, an officer at the king's court.
Here Joseph worked so faithfully that he was soon pro-
moted to the office of steward, or overseer of all the
slaves of the household.
He had not forgotten his father's teachings during this
sojourn in a heathen land, and when Potiphar's wife
tempted him to do wrong, he refused to listen to her.
This made her so angry that she had him sent to prison,
where, in due time, Joseph became the jailer's assistant.
rFairtriinf v rerTe.
XIV. PHARAOH'S DREAMS.
IN the course of his daily work in the prison, Joseph
often talked with the captives, and thus he once heard
the king's baker tell a strange dream. This man said that
as he was passing along with three baskets of freshly
baked loaves on his head, the birds of heaven swooped
down and ate them up.
As the baker seemed anxious to have an explanation of
his dream, Joseph told him that the three baskets stood
for three days; and that within this time he would be
hanged, and his body left a prey to the birds of the air.
The king's chief cupbearer also related a dream, in
which he fancied that he pressed the juice of the grapes
from three branches into the king's cup, and gave it to
his royal master. Joseph then told him that his dream
meant that in three days' time he would be back in the
palace; and Joseph begged the cupbearer to urge Pha'raoh
(as the king was called) to set him free also.
Both these predictions came true. The baker was
hanged, and the cupbearer was recalled to the palace,
where he entirely forgot Joseph. But two years later the
king himself was haunted by a dream, which none of the
learned men at his court could interpret.
The cupbearer now ventured to suggest that perhaps
Joseph could be more fortunate than the wise men, and
the king at once sent for him. When Joseph appeared,
Pharaoh said that he had seen seven fat cows and seven
lean cows rise up out of the river. The lean cows ate up
their fat companions, but seemed no larger than before.
This dream was followed by another, in which a stalk of
branching Egyptian wheat brought forth seven full ears
which were at once consumed by seven empty ears.
When called upon to give an interpretation of these
two strange dreams, Joseph said that the seven fat cows
and the seven full ears meant seven years of plenty, but
the lean cows and the empty ears stood for seven years
of drought and famine which would follow the seven
years of plenty. During this time all the grain left over
from the good harvests would scarcely serve to keep the
Awed by this explanation of the dreams which had
baffled his wisest men, Pharaoh now asked Joseph what
he had better do. In answer, the young Hebrew advised
the king to appoint a prime minister, who should buy all
the surplus grain, during the years of plenty, and store it
away for future use; and Pharaoh was so pleased that he
gave this office to Joseph.
Raised thus suddenly from the position of a mean slave
and prisoner to the very highest rank, Joseph was given
full power to carry out the wise plan that he had sug-
gested. All honor was shown him, and he was even
married to an Egyptian princess, who became the mother
of his two sons, Ma-nas'seh and E'phra-im.
During the seven years of plenty, Joseph bought all
the surplus grain, and stored it away carefully in the
large provision houses that were built by his orders in
different parts of the kingdom. So, when the years of
plenty were over and the famine began, the Egyptians
knew no want, thanks to Joseph's wise foresight.
The famine spread not only over Egypt, but also all
through Canaan, Syr'i-a, and A-ra'bi-a; and at the end of
two years, all the money of the Ca'naan-ites and the
E-gyp'tians had flowed into the king's treasury. Then,
by Joseph's advice, Pharaoh accepted the cattle and lands
of his people, in exchange for grain; and thus when the
famine was ended, money, cattle, and lands all belonged
Still guided by Joseph, the Egyptian king then divided
this land among the people, who in payment were to give
him one fifth of the produce. This method made the king
very rich indeed, and helped the people not only to live
through the time of famine, but also to begin cultivating
the soil again as soon as the drought was ended.
Although the Egyptians did not suffer much during
the time of famine, the misery in all the countries round
about was very great. Jacob heard that grain could be
bought in Egypt, so he decided to send ten of his sons
thither, in search of food for their families and flocks.
He kept Benjamin at home, for he was afraid that some-
thing might happen to him.
The ten brothers started out, with camels and donkeys,
and came before Joseph, who at once knew who they were.
Seeing that they did not know him, he questioned them
with pretended severity, and made believe to consider
them as spies. But finally he let nine of them go home
with a supply of grain. He kept Simeon a prisoner,
however, and said that he would not let him go, or give
them any more grain, until they brought their brother
Benjamin with them, as proof that the story which they
had told was true.
XV. JACOB IN EGYPT.
ON their way home with the grain they had bought,
Joseph's brothers found out that their money had
been put in their sacks with the grain, and they wondered
greatly. The food which they brought from Egypt was
soon eaten up, for their family was a very large one. As
the famine was still raging, they soon saw that they would
be obliged to go to Egypt to get some more grain.
They did not dare appear before Joseph without Ben-
jamin, so they begged their old father to let him go with
them. Jacob would not let him go at first, but finally he
yielded to the brothers' entreaties, and the little caravan
again went down into Egypt.
Joseph looked with pleasure upon his little brother,
who, of course, did not know him; and then, wishing to
find out whether his elder brothers could now be trusted,
he made up his mind to try them. By his order the
travelers were feasted in his own palace, where he sent
all the best dishes to Benjamin, and then the eleven
brothers were sent away with full sacks of grain.
They had not gone very far before an Egyptian officer
came riding up in haste, and accused them of stealing
one of Joseph's silver cups. Although they indignantly
cried that they were not thieves, the officer searched
their bags carefully, and found the silver cup in Ben-
jamin's sack, where it had been hidden by Joseph's
The officer seized Benjamin to put him in prison, and
the elder brothers went back with him to Joseph's court.
There they offered to remain in prison in Benjamin's
stead, if Joseph would only allow him to go back to Jacob,
who, they said, would die of grief if his youngest son did
Touched by their affection for their old father and young
brother, and sure that they were sorry for the past, Joseph
now made himself known to his brothers. He kissed
Benjamin, shedding tears of joy, and freely forgave the
ten others when they fell at his feet and begged his
pardon. Then he let them. go home, giving them many
messages for Jacob, who was invited to come down into
Egypt, with all his family, and stay there as long as the
When Jacob heard that Joseph was not dead, as he
supposed, he was very happy indeed. Then, as God told
him in a vision to go down into Egypt, and said that his
descendants should be brought up again into the prom-
ised land, he set out with all his family.
By this time, Jacob had seventy-five sons and grand-
sons; for his children were all married and so were some
of his grandchildren. The caravan soon reached Egypt,
where Joseph tenderly welcomed his old father, and even
presented him and five of his sons to the Egyptian king.
Pharaoh received the Israelites (as they were called
from Jacob's new name of Israel) very graciously indeed,
and gave them the best pasture land in Egypt; and
Joseph continued to supply them with all the grain they
needed, as long as the famine lasted.
Here in Egypt were spent the last years of Jacob's
pilgrimage; for he, like all the patriarchs, said that he
was but a pilgrim and a stranger upon earth. Jacob
dwelt with his sons in peace and plenty, and he lived
long enough to see his family increase greatly.
Feeling that his end was near, he finally called all his
sons, gave them his blessing, and spoke a prophecy about
what was to happen to their descendants, who, he said,
would form twelve tribes bearing their names. Joseph
and his two- sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, first received
a special blessing, and then came the turn of the other
As Reuben, Simeon, and Levi had been deprived of
their birthright in punishment for their sins, Judah was
selected to receive the chief blessing, and his father told
him that the power should remain in the hands of his
family until the prophecies came true.
Then, having bidden his sons bury him in the cave of
Machpelah, where his ancestors lay, Jacob died when he
was one hundred and forty-seven years old. Joseph had
his father's body embalmed, after the Egyptian fashion,
and then, having obtained Pharaoh's permission, he and
his brothers carried it to Machpelah.
When they came back to Egypt, the brothers began
to fear that Joseph would avenge himself for his injuries,
now that his father was dead. Joseph soon perceived
this fear; so he "comforted them, and spake kindly unto
them," for he did not owe them a grudge for what they
Joseph lived fifty-four years after his father's death,
and saw his children to the fourth generation. Before
dying, he gave orders that his body should be embalmed,
and carried back to the promised land when the Israel-
ites went back there to live, as God had foretold.
XVI. THE STORY OF JOB.
THE grandest Hebrew poem ever written, and the
oldest that is preserved, is supposed to belong to
this period. You will find it translated in the Bible,
where it is called the Book of Job. It tells the story of
a chief in the land of Uz, who was very rich.
This man Job is described as a good and honest man,
of whom God himself said that he was without his like
in all the East. Satan, the tempter, appears again in
this poem, and, after visiting all the earth, presents
himself before God, who inquires:
"Whence comest thou ? "
"From going to and fro in the earth," answers Satan,
God next asks him whether he has seen Job, and
whether he does not admire the man for his great good-
ness. As Satan would like all men to be as wicked as
himself, he answers that Job is good only because he is
so prosperous, and that if he were only tried he would
soon forget his piety, and even curse his Maker to his
STo prove the loyalty of his servant Job, God now gives
Satan permission to try him in every way, and poor Job
suddenly finds himself without wealth or children. But
his patience is quite as great as his losses, and although
he weeps for his children, he humbly says: "The Lord
gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the
name of the Lord."
As Satan has failed in this test, he now gets permis-
Painting by Honnat.
sion from God to inflict terrible bodily sufferings upon
Job, and to make his wife torment him greatly. But,
although Job is racked with pain, he merely says: "What!
shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we
not receive evil ?"
The second test having also failed, Satan now sends
Job's three friends to him, and they talk to him, and in-
sist that he must have committed some great sin, or he
would not suffer so much.
These friends go on reasoning with him for many
days, and they ask him many questions, all of which he
answers very patiently. Indeed, through all their long
talk, Job remains so gentle that it is customary even now
to describe great patience by saying that a person is "as
patient as Job."
After Satan has done his very worst, and has tormented
the poor man in every way, God comes to reprove the
friends, and to defend Job. God now restores him to
health, wealth, and prosperity, giving him seven sons and
three daughters, and allowing him to live long enough to
see his descendants to the fourth generation.
The story of the Book of Job has been told here because
it is probably much older than the Book of Ex'o-dus, the
second book of the Old Testament. The first book of the
Bible ends with the story of Joseph; and in the Book of
Exodus you will hear how the descendants of his father
Jacob, or Israel, escaped from Egypt after living there
about four hundred years.
XVII. THE TEN PLAGUES.
AT this time, the Egyptian king, or Pharaoh, was a man
who had never seen Joseph, and cared but little for
his kinsmen. He was a very stern ruler, and was afraid
that the people of Israel would either join his enemies, or
leave his land, where they were doing him good service.
So he made them his slaves, and had them watched by
The Pharaohs were all great builders, and this one
employed the Israelites in making bricks for the erection
of two great treasure cities. While they were thus forced
to work hard, the Israelites were very unkindly treated;
but they had many children, and were steadily increasing
in numbers. Pharaoh, seeing this, now gave orders that
all their male children should be killed as soon as born.
The nurses who received these orders were God-fearing
women, and did not obey them. Then Pharaoh sent his
officers to throw all the boy babies into the Nile River.
There was, in those days, a descendant of Levi, who
married and had two children, Mir'i-am and Aar'on.
Shortly after Pharaoh had given orders that all the boy
babies should perish, a third child was born to this Le'-
vite. As this baby was a son, the anxious mother hid him
for three months, lest the officers should find and kill him.
At the end of that time the mother felt that she could
not keep the babe hidden much longer. So she placed
him in a little ark, or cradle, among the reeds by the side
of the river, and bade Miriam stand close by to watch over
her baby brother.
Soon after, Pharaoh's daughter, the haughty Egyptian
princess, came down to the river to bathe. Her glances
were caught by the strange object in the bulrushes; and
when it was brought to her, and she saw the smiling baby,
she said that she would adopt it.
Miriam then stepped forward and offered to find a nurse
for the child. Her offer was accepted, and thus the boy
Mo'ses grew up in the king's palace under the care of
his own mother, who had saved her child to become one
of the greatest men the world has ever known.
We know nothing about the early youth and manhood
of Moses, but his mother must surely have taught him to
honor God. She also told him the story of his adoption,
and of the Chosen Race of Israel, to which he belonged.
Moses received an Egyptian education in Pharaoh's pal-
ace, where he became "mighty in words and in deeds."
He was about forty years of age, when he once saw an
Egyptian overseer beating one of the poor Israelites,
whose lot had daily grown harder to bear.
In a fit of anger, Moses fell upon the cruel Egyptian,
and killed him. No one saw the murder, but the deed was
soon found out, and Moses fled into the desert, near the Red
Sea. Here he took refuge among the Mid'i-an-ites, who
were descendants of Abraham and his last wife, Keturah.
While there, Moses saw that some rude shepherds would
not allow Jeth'ro's daughters to come near the well to
water their sheep. He helped the maidens, and then
went home with them and became their father's shepherd.
Soon after this Moses married one of these girls, and
became the father of two sons.
Moses remained here in the desert forty years, and
STO. OF CHO. PEOP.--5
during that time the Egyptian king died and was followed
by another Pharaoh fully as cruel as he. This new ruler
oppressed the people of Israel so greatly that they began
to pray to be set free; and God, remembering his promises
to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prepared to help them.
One day, when Moses was alone with his sheep, he saw
a bush near him all wrapped in flames. Strange to relate,
however, the dry branches were not burned up; so Moses
drew near in wonder to examine the bush.
Suddenly he heard a voice, telling him to take off his
shoes, because the ground whereon he stood was holy.
Then God spoke to him, gave him a message for Pharaoh,
and bade him go and lead the chosen people out of the
land of Egypt, and into the desert.
This was a very hard task, and Moses, who had grown
old and prudent, was afraid to undertake it. As he did
not dare to refuse openly, he began making excuses; but
God now cut these excuses short and bade Moses throw
down his rod. As soon as he had done so, God changed
the stick into a serpent. Then he restored it to its usual
form, and made Moses a leper. God soon cured him of
this loathsome disease, however, and promised to per-
form many miracles to help him.
Moses was encouraged by this promise, and by the per-
mission to have his brother Aaron act as his spokesman,
for he himself was slow of speech; so he now undertook
to carry out the Lord's commands. Armed only with
rods, he and Aaron presented themselves before Pharaoh.
There they told the king that the Lord had ordered them
to lead the Israelites into the desert, to celebrate a feast.
The King of Egypt, who did not worship God, haughtily
asked, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?"
And he said that he would not let the people go.
To force him to obey God's command, Moses raised his
wand, and called down, one after another, ten terrible
plagues upon the Egyptians. Thus the waters were
changed into blood; frogs overran all the land; lice, flies,
and sickness tormented man and beast, and all the peo-
ple suffered tortures from boils.
Then came terrible plagues of hail, locusts, and dark-
ness so intense that people still use the expression "as
dark as Egypt." The king, frightened by each new
plague, always promised to let the people go as soon as
it was removed; but, when all danger was over, he as
often broke his promise, and kept the Israelites at work.
Finally, God sent an angel to kill all the firstborn of
the Egyptians, and in the darkness of the night this
messenger passed from door to door, doing as the Lord
had commanded. By Moses' order, all the Israelites had
smeared their doorposts with the blood of a lamb; so
wherever the angel saw this sign he passed over the
house without doing any harm to the people in it.
Pharaoh lost his firstborn too, on this occasion, and now
he no longer dared resist, but gave Moses permission to
lead the Israelites into the desert.
XVIII. THE CROSSING OF THE RED SEA.
THE Israelites, having finally got Pharaoh's permis-
sion to go out into the wilderness, made ready to
start. First they borrowed all the golden ornaments of
the Egyptians, and then they roasted and ate the lambs
whose blood had marked their doorposts.
When they set out, they carried with them some dough
which had not had time to rise; and they baked bread
from it at their first halting place. In memory of this
flight from Egypt, the Jews, at the yearly celebration of
the feast of the Pass'o-ver, still eat the flesh of a lamb
and unleavened bread.
The Israelites numbered more than six hundred thou-
sand men, without counting the women and children; but
they all followed Moses into the desert, the Lord himself
showing them the way by going before them in a pillar of
cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night.
The Israelites had not been gone long when Pharaoh
regretted having allowed them to depart. So he gave
orders that an army should set out in pursuit of them,
with "six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots
of Egypt, and captains over every one'of them."
The Egyptian cavalry soon came in sight of the host of
fugitives, who had stopped near the shores of the Red
Sea. Pharaoh rejoiced, for he imagined that it would
now be a very easy matter to force them to turn around
and come back.
But the Israelites, who had never been very anxious
to leave their homes in Egypt, although they had been
so badly treated, were terrified when they saw the sea in
front of them, and Pharaoh's army behind them. In their
fear, they began to murmur against God, and found fault
with Moses for bringing them there only to perish.
But when Moses raised his rod, the waters of the sea
parted, and allowed the Israelites to go across dry shod.
The waters were held back by a high east wind which
God had sent for that purpose, and the gale blew all night,
until all the people had passed over.
Morning came, and Pharaoh and his army pursued the
fleeing host. But now the wind ceased to blow, and the
waters, no longer held back, rushed upon the Egyptians
and drowned them all.
The Israelites, who had seen the great work which the
Lord did," now believed the Lord and his servant Moses;
and the latter celebrated their deliverance by a grand song
of triumph and thanksgiving.
Next Moses led the people southward, into the wilder-
ness, where they suffered greatly from thirst, because they
could find no water. At last they came to Ma'.rah, where
there was water in abundance; but they were greatly dis-
appointed when they found that it was bitter and not fit to
The people began to murmur sorely, but Moses, advised
by God, sweetened the water by a miracle, so that they
could drink to their hearts' content. From Marah the
Israelites now wended their way through the desert once
more, until they came to an oasis, where they rested for
When they began their journey again, they passed into
another part of the wilderness, where the food which
they had brought with them soon gave out. As the Lord
did not wish his people to starve to death, he now sent
them plenty of quails, and rained down their daily bread
from heaven in the form of Man'na.
On this occasion God reminded the Israelites that they
were to do no work on the Sabbath, for no manna fell then,
while a double portion was given them the day before.
By Moses' order a measure of this heavenly food was
gathered and carefully kept, so that the Israelites, in
years to come, might show their children a sample of the
wonderful food upon which they had fed all the time that
they were in the desert. Strengthened by this food, they
journeyed on in comfort, until they again began to suffer
from lack of water.
The ground was hard and dry, and there was not a
stream to be found where the people could quench their
thirst. They were in despair, and Moses, not knowing
what else to do, began to pray for water. In answer to
this prayer, God bade him strike a certain rock with his
wonderful rod. As soon as Moses had done so, there
gushed forth from it a stream of pure water. The people,
who saw this miracle with delight, could now satisfy their
great thirst, and as they did so they thanked God for giv-
ing them plenty of water in time of need.
Danger of death from lack of water was scarcely over,
when the Israelites saw the army of the Am'a-lek-ites
coming to meet them. As soon as Moses saw these foes,
he bade his captain, Josh'u-a, lead the fighting men against
the enemy, while he himself knelt on a hill near by,
fervently praying for victory. There he soon noticed that
as long as his hands were uplifted his people were strong,
but that the Amalekites had the best of the fight as soon
as he let his hands fall. So, fearing that his arms might
drop from weariness, Moses bade his brother Aaron and
another man stand on either side of him, and support his
hands, while he fervently prayed until the victory was won.
XIX. THE GOLDEN CALF.
SHORTLY after the battle with the Amalekites had
been fought, Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, came to the
Israelite camp, bringing Moses' wife and sons to him
there. He then gave Moses very good advice, and bade
him select judges, who would help him to govern his
After parting from Jethro, Moses and his people re-
sumed their journey, and in the third month after their
flight from Egypt, they reached the awful wilderness
around Mount Si'nai. There they lingered at the foot of
the mountain, while Moses went up unto God," and re-
ceived a solemn promise that if the Israelites would only
obey him, he would make of them "a peculiar treasure
. above all people, a kingdom of priests, and a
The elders, in the name of all the people, promised
obedience, and after three days of purification "Mount
Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord de-
scended upon it in fire." The people, frightened at this
sight, drew back from the mountain in terror, crying,
"Let not God speak with us lest we die."
As they were afraid to hear the voice of God them-
selves, they asked Moses to go up on the mountain, and
speak with the Lord. There, on Mount Sinai, Moses
received from God the ten commandments, and when he
came down he bade the people build an altar, and offered
up a solemn sacrifice.
Then, leaving Aaron and another man to govern the
people during his absence, Moses went up the mountain
once more, where he staid without food for forty days
and forty nights. This time he received many direc-
tions from God concerning the Tab'er-na-cle, or holy tent,
and the way in which he wished the people of Israel to
At the end of the forty days, Moses came down the
mountain side, carrying two stone tables, upon which God
himself had written the ten commandments that he wished
his people to keep.
Moses had just come within sight of the camp, when
he dashed these tables on the ground at his feet; for
there, before him, he saw Aaron and the people worship-
ing a golden calf, which they had made from the spoil
they had carried away from the Egyptians.
Moses was very angry when he saw that the people
had already disobeyed God's first command. He burned
the idol, ground its charred remains to powder, cast this
into the water, and made the people drink of it. Then,
bidding those who were on the Lord's side come over
to him, he made them take their swords and kill three
thousand of the Israelites who had worshiped the idol.
After bidding the people purify themselves afresh,
Moses again went up the mountain, where, by his en-
treaties, he obtained God's forgiveness for the erring
Israelites. In punishment for their disobedience, God
now refused to go before them in person, as he had prom-
ised to do if they kept his commands; but he said that
he would send his angel instead.
When Moses again came down the mountain, he re-
moved the sacred tent, or tabernacle, to a place outside
of the camp. There all the people saw a pillar of cloud
descend to its very doors, and heard the Lord speak
"unto Moses, face to face, as a man speaketh unto his
After a new journey up the mountain, Moses brought
down two new tables of stone, upon which the finger of
God had traced the ten commandments. He had been
close to God, and the heavenly glory made his face shine
so brightly that the people dared not look at him until
he drew a veil over his head.
The commandments were again recited in presence of
the people, who now brought gifts for the tabernacle; and
Aaron and his sons were made priests of God. Then
Moses offered up a sacrifice, and God showed his accep-
tance of it by sending down fire from heaven to con-
XX. THE TWELVE SPIES.
WHILE the Israelites were stopping at the foot of
Mount Sinai, several miracles took place. For
instance, two of Aaron's sons dared to put common fire
into their censers, in spite of God's command; and they
were burned alive by a fire from the Lord" which fell
As they had died in punishment for their sin, Moses
forbade the people to mourn for them; and because their
disobedience had been caused by a moment of drunken-
ness, he forbade the priests ever to touch any strong drink.
Soon after this, a man who took the Lord's name in vain
was stoned to death as the new law commanded.
By God's order Moses now counted the grown men, who
numbered six hundred and three thousand, five hundred
and fifty. This host was divided into four camps, and
each tribe had its own captain and place.
A ~ -
I IO i
- C IIIb :I
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The tabernacle was placed in the center of the camp,
under the care of the Levites, who were the only priests.
Then, when all these arrangements had been finished,
Moses again gave the signal for departure, and the Israel-
ites moved on through the wilderness, under the protec-
tion and shadow of a cloud sent by God.
Before they had gone very far, the Israelites began to
murmur; and in punishment for this they were burned
by a raging fire which swept all through the camp, and
never ceased its ravages until Moses won God's pardon
for his disobedient people.
Some time later the followers of Moses became weary
of manna, and again longed for flesh. So God sent them
quails; but instead of eating moderately, they feasted
upon them so greedily that they became very sick, and
many even died.
During this halt Moses chose seventy elders to help
him govern the people; and this council is considered the
beginning of the Jewish tribunal called the San-he'drim, of
which you will hear further mention in the New Testa-
In their next stopping place, Miriam and Aaron tried
to oppose their brother Moses; for, as they were older,
they claimed that their authority was greater than his.
Moses was so meek that he did not resist; indeed, his
gentleness was so great that it has passed into a proverb,
and you will often hear the expression, "as meek as
Instead of insisting on his right to rule the people, he
remained quite still, and God himself took up his defense.
Aaron and Miriam were called into the tabernacle, where
God rebuked them for their bad behavior, and, to punish
Miriam, made her a leper.
This horrible disease was contagious, and Miriam was
forced to leave the camp. She was not allowed to return
until she was cured by the prayers which Moses made for
The long procession of Israelites now wended ics way
northward, until they came to Ka'desh, not very far from
the Dead Sea. There twelve men, one from each tribe,
were chosen to go ahead and spy out the land which
they were approaching, and which God had promised to
These twelve men set out eagerly. They went far up
the Jordan River, then came south again, and passed
through a rich valley, where grew luxuriant vines. They
brought back samples of the produce of the country, and,
among other fruits, a bunch of grapes so large that it had
to be carried upon a stick between two men.
The spies came back to Kadesh at the end of forty
days, and were much pleased by the beauty and fertility
of the land, which, as God had said, was "flowing with
milk and honey." But although they praised the soil so
highly, they alarmed the people by their description of
the great walls which were built all around the cities,
and by their stories about the size and strength of some
of the inhabitants, beside whom they felt like grass-
The Israelites were frightened by what the spies said,
for only one of them, Ca'leb, refrained from talking about
the strength of the inhabitants. Indeed, the people were
so discouraged that they began to express their discontent
at having traveled so far in vain. Then they broke out
into open rebellion against Moses and God, and even pro-
posed to return to Egypt.
Moses and Aaron, in despair, tried to persuade the peo-
ple that they would triumph if they only believed in God's
strength; but it was all in vain. The Israelites murmured
until "the glory of the Lord appeared in the tabernacle,"
and his voice was heard saying that he would disinherit
his ungrateful and disobedient children.
At this threat the terrified people were sorry for what
they had done, and Moses interceded for them till God
relented. He again promised that the Israelites should
have the land, but he said that instead of entering it im-
mediately, they would be forced to wander in the wilder-
ness for forty years. He added that none of the rebels
should ever be allowed to enter into the land, but that
it would be given only to their children.
XXI. THE BRAZEN SERPENT.
THE people of Israel were very angry when they
heard that their wanderings were to last so long, -
so angry that they began to fight the Amalekites and
Canaanites, so as to force their way into the promised
land. But they soon had cause to repent of this rash
behavior, for they were defeated with great slaughter, and
driven back into the desert.
Here they wandered about for forty years, fed by the
heavenly manna; and, by a merciful miracle, their gar-
ments, which they could not replace, did not wear out
in all that time.
Very few events are recorded as having happened
during those long, weary years; but we find that a man
was stoned because he failed to keep the law, and picked
up sticks on the Sabbath Day. Another time three men
rebelled against Moses and Aaron, and wished to offer
up sacrifices on the altar, although God had said that
only the sons of Aaron should be his priests.
In punishment for their disobedience, these three men
were swallowed up alive by the earth, which opened wide
beneath their feet. Then, too, their followers were all
burned to death by a fire which came out of the taber-
As the Israelites murmured because these men had
been punished for their disobedience, they, too, were called
upon to suffer. A frightful plague killed more than
fourteen thousand of them, and ceased only when Moses
begged God to spare his mistaken people.
To show the Israelites once for all that the house of
Aaron was to serve as priests, God now bade the head
of each tribe bring his rod, or staff, and lay it upon the
altar in the tabernacle. On the next day when Moses
entered the holy tent, he found Aaron's rod all covered
with buds and blossoms, while the others were only dry
sticks as before.
In memory of this miracle, Aaron's rod was placed in
the Ark of the Cov'e-nant, or sacred chest, which also
contained the pot of manna and the stone tables of the
law; and this ark, as you will see, was carefully treas-
ured up for many years by the priests who served the
Terrified into submission by all these signs and won-
ders, the Israelites gave no more trouble for some time.
They walked on and on, and in the fortieth year from the
time of the Exodus, or "coming out" of Egypt, they
again reached the wilderness near Kadesh.
Thus they had been wandering around the desert in a
circle, and now they came back to their former resting
place. Here Miriam, the aged sister of Moses, sickened,
died, and was duly buried. Here, too, the people who
were suffering from thirst murmured again, so God bade
Moses speak to the rock and thus procure water.
Instead of doing exactly as he had been told, Moses
lifted his rod and struck the rock. The waters gushed
forth, but God punished Moses for his impatience by
telling him that he would never be allowed to enter the
land which had been promised to the Chosen People.
Still advised by God, Moses now led the Israelites
to Mount Hor, where Aaron died and was buried. E-le-a'-
zar, his son, became high priest in his turn, and it was he
who now offered up sacrifices for the people.
After mourning thirty days, the Israelites started on
again, but they had not gone far when new murmurs
were heard. They were punished for this lack of faith
by a host of serpents, which bit and poisoned them all.
The people died in great numbers, until God, in pity,
bade Moses make a brazen serpent, and set it up in the
midst of the camp. God then told Moses that he would
cure the bites of all those who gazed upon the serpent,
thus showing that they wished to be healed.
This brazen serpent was long preserved as a relic by the
Israelites. When they forgot the worship of God, they
set it up as an idol, and bowed down before it until it was
thrown down and broken by order of one of their kings.
We are told that the fragments of the serpent were
preserved, and in time passed into the treasury of the
Turks. An ambassador from Italy saw them there, four
hundred and seventy-one years after the time of Christ,
and it is said that he carried them off to the church of
St. Am'brose at Mil'an, where the brazen serpent is still
gazed at by travelers from every clime.
XXII. THE DEATH OF MOSES.
THE Israelites, delivered from the poisonous serpents,
next went through the country east of the Dead Sea,
and fought against the people who refused to let them
pass. They won a brilliant victory this time, and gained
possession of part of the land which was to belong to
them. This battle was soon followed by another, in which
they defeated the giant king Og, and killed his children
and people. The Israelites also won much spoil from
him, among other things an iron bedstead thirteen and
a half feet long, which they kept as a proof of his great
Then the Chosen People encamped in the desert plain
of Moab, to the great dismay of Ba'lak, the king of that
country. He did not dare attack such powerful enemies
openly, so he sent for Ba'laam, a prophet of the true God,
and promised him a large sum of money if he would only
curse the people of Israel.
Balaam, tempted by the offered reward, consented, but
God spoke to him and said: "Thou shalt not go with
them; thou shalt not curse the people; for they are
blessed." But in spite of this warning, Balaam was so
anxious to get the money promised him that he set out
with Balak, intending to curse the Israelites, although
God warned him to do only as he was told. On the way
to the heights upon which he was to stand while speaking
this curse, the ass which Balaam rode shied twice, and
each time saved him from the sword of an angel. But
Balaam did not see why the ass stopped in a gateway, and
he beat the poor animal until it turned and spoke to him.
At the same moment God opened Balaam's eyes, so that
he saw the angel with the sharp sword.
Balaam was so frightened then that he would gladly
have gone home, but the messenger of God told him to go
on, warning him, however, to speak no words except those
which the Lord would put into his mouth.
Balak and Balaam went up three hills, one after an-
other, and three times Balaam opened his mouth to speak
the desired curse. But each time God changed the words
of this curse into a blessing, because he was watching
over the people of Israel, whom he still loved in spite of
all their sins.
Then, still speaking as God wished, Balaam foretold the
coming of the promised Messiah, or king, and the victories
and conquests of the Israelites. Although he had thus
been forced, against his will, to foretell the greatness of
the Israelites, and although he knew that God was with
his people, Balaam soon made a second attempt to harm
them, by tempting the men to disobey God's orders, and
to take wives from among the Moabites.
To punish the people for this disobedience, God sent
another terrible plague, which carried off twenty-four thou-
STO. OF CIO. PEOP. 6
sand Israelites. Indeed, it did not stop raging until Moses
made a law whereby all those who disobeyed were pun-
ished by immediate death.
By God's order, Moses now took a second census of the
men of Israel. In spite of all the sufferings they had
endured in the wilderness, he found that they numbered
only eighteen hundred and twenty less than when they
left the land of Egypt forty years before.
Joshua was now chosen and publicly named as the suc-
cessor of Moses; and the tribes of Reuben and Gad re-
ceived the land which had just been conquered. Before
it was given to them, however, they had to promise that
their best warriors should march at the head of the Israel-
ite army until all the land was won.
The work of Moses was finished. He therefore bade
the people come together to receive his last blessing and
made them a solemn farewell speech. In it he reminded
them of all that God had done for them in the wilderness.
He repeated the prophecies about their future, and the
law, and then broke out into a grand song of thanksgiving.
Moses next blessed the awed and waiting people, and
then, having received his last summons, he went up Mount
Ne'bo, from whose top God pointed out to him the land
promised to his people.
It was here, on the lonely mountain top, that Moses,
the servant of God, died; and we are told that God him-
self laid his body to rest. No one ever knew the place
where Moses was buried, but the people mourned him for
thirty days before they thought of making their way into
the beautiful land which he had seen, although he was
never allowed to enter it.
XXIII. THE WALLS OF JERICHO.
M OSES, the great lawgiver of Israel, was succeeded
by Joshua, the great captain, whose mission it was
to conquer the promised land for God's people.
Joshua was already eighty years of age, but he had
shown his skill as captain in the beginning of his career
by winning a victory over the Amalekites, and lately by
conquering the land east of the Jordan. As he had always
obeyed, and had never murmured, and as he had been
faithful when all the rest were faithless, he was allowed to
enter the promised land, and was well fitted to be the
leader of the people.
As soon as the thirty days of mourning for Moses were
ended, God appeared to Joshua, and bade him lead the
people over the Jordan, into the land where spies had
already been sent to see how the land lay. These scouts
went to the walled city of Jer'i-cho, and entered the
house of a woman named Ra'hab. Their strange looks
excited the suspicions of the people, who hastily closed
the gates of the city so that they could not escape, and
began to search for them in order to put them to death.
But Rahab hid the spies so cleverly that no one could
find them, and sent the pursuers off on a false track.
When they had gone, and all danger was over, she low-
ered the Israelites in a basket from one of the windows
of her house, which was built in the thick walls of the
The spies were so grateful to Rahab for helping them
that they promised to save her life in their turn. They
lDria n by A. Kellr.
ahab lowering the Spies.
bade her tie a scarlet thread to the window of her house,
so that they would be sure to recognize it; and they prom-
ised that the persons in it should escape from all harm
when the Lord gave the city into their hands.
By a roundabout way the spies then went back to camp,
and made their report to Joshua. Early the next morn-
ing, the priests, carrying the Ark, went down to the banks
of the Jordan, whose tide was much swollen at this season
by the melting of the mountain snows. But as the
Levites reached the water's edge, the river divided; "the
waters which came down from above stood and rose up,"
while the remainder flowed down to the Dead Sea. Thus
a wide channel was left bare, and the people could pass
over dry shod.
By Joshua's command, the priests halted in the middle
of the river until all the people had passed over. He
also gave orders that twelve men, one from each tribe,
should take stones from the river bed with which to build
an altar. Then the priests also left the river bed, and the
waters, no longer stopped in their course, again rushed
downward to the Dead Sea. The army marched on to
Gil'gal, where the Israelites erected the altar of twelve
stones, and celebrated the first Passover in the land which
had been promised to them, forty years after their fathers
had kept it before leaving Egypt.
Here all the people were circumcised, a religious cere-
mony which had been omitted during their desert wander-
ings. Here, too, the supply of manna ceased, and the
people baked bread from the grain of the land which was
soon to belong to them.
While Joshua was planning how to take the strong city
of Jericho, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, and
bade him march around the city once a day for six days,
with all his host, and seven priests blowing the seven
sacred trumpets as they marched before the Ark. The
seventh day the army was to march around the city seven
times; and when the last circuit was made, they were to
blow a loud blast on the trumpets and to raise a sudden
shout, at the sound of which the Lord would make the
walls fall down flat.
All these directions were carried out with great care.
The Israelites marched around the city daily, and when
the seventh round had been finished on the seventh and
last day, a mighty shout rent the air, and the strong walls
of Jericho tottered and fell, as God had promised.
All the people, except Rahab and those whom she
sheltered in her house, were killed; their property was
destroyed, and the city razed, and Joshua pronounced a sol-
emn curse upon any one who should attempt to rebuild it.
In reward for the good turn she had done the spies,
Rahab was given in marriage to an Israelite. In time she
became the mother of Bo'az, the great-grandfather of
Da'vid, a well-known king of the Israelites, or, as they are
also called, the Jews.
XXIV. THE CONQUEST OF THE PROMISED
G OD had ordered that all the property of the inhabi-
tants of Jericho should be destroyed. Only one man
dared transgress this command, by keeping back a small
portion of the spoil. He hid it, and fancied that his dis-
obedience would remain unknown and unpunished. But
when the Israelites next tried to take a city, they were
defeated. Joshua knew that this misfortune would never
have happened if the people had obeyed God's com-
mands; so he now fervently prayed that the sinner
,might be revealed.
Lots were drawn, first among the twelve tribes, then
among the divisions of the tribe on which the first lot had
fallen, and lastly among the families. By this means the
sinner was discovered. He confessed having saved two
hundred shekels, or pieces of silver, and was punished by
being stoned to death with all his family.
This signal example having been made, Joshua again
led the people against the city, which they succeeded in
taking by stratagem. Thus the Israelites won all the
passes from the valley of the Jordan; and, marching on
to Shechem, they erected an altar upon which they in-
scribed the law.
While the Chosen People were tarrying at Shechem,
the neighboring nations made a league against them; but
the Gib'e-on-ites pretended to be friendly with them. Hop-
ing to make the Israelites believe that they lived very far
away, the Gibeonites came in tattered garments and worn
foot gear, and brought no provisions but moldy bread.
Without consulting God, the Israelites now made an
alliance with them; but when they found out the fraud
three days later, they marched against Gib'e-on, and made
all the people their slaves.
Shortly after this, Joshua's troops were attacked by the
combined forces of five allied kings, and he would have
been overwhelmed by their numbers had he not been
helped by a violent hailstorm. Such was the fury of the
storm, that there "were more which died with hailstones
than they whom the children of Israel slew with the
Joshua began to pursue the fugitives, and seeing that
daylight would fail him before the victory was really
assured, he commanded: "Sun, stand thou still upon Gib-
eon; and thou, moon, in the valley of Aj'a-lon." In
obedience to this order both sun and moon stood still
until Joshua had won a great victory.
Joshua pursued the people to a place where the five
kings, his enemies, were hiding in a cave. These mon-
archs were dragged from their retreat and led away and
hanged, just as the sun at last went down and closed
the longest day which has ever been known.
By a few more battles Joshua became master of all the
southern half of the country, and now he prepared to march
northward, and subdue another king, who had an army
"as the sand that is upon the seashore in multitude." In
spite of this array of warriors, Joshua defeated the king,
burned his principal city, put the inhabitants to death,
seized their property, and then took possession of all the
northern part of the promised land.
Although Joshua had thus conquered all the promised
land, many of his enemies were not entirely subdued,
and the Canaanites and Philistines still owned much ter-
ritory. The conquest of their land, however, was reserved
for another leader; for Joshua was now very weary and
old, and he felt that his end was near.
He therefore called the heads of the remaining ten
tribes to him, and portioned out by lot the land which he
had conquered. The city of He'bron, however, was
given as a reward to Caleb, a man who had never mur-
mured, and who was now the only one left of the twelve
spies that had visited the Holy Land forty' years before.
The only tribe which received no province at all was
that of Levi, because the Levites were chosen to serve
the Lord. They were to receive a certain amount from
all the people, and the Lord himself "was their inheri-
Peace now reigned everywhere, and the two tribes of
Reuben and Gad, which had received their portions long
before, prepared to recross the Jordan, and go home. As
soon as they reached the other side of the river, they be-
gan to build an altar. Their brethren, fearing that they
were about to forget God and worship idols, immediately
sent Phin'e-has, the son of the high priest, to inquire what
This messenger soon came back, and the people were
greatly relieved when they heard that the new altar was
not for the worship of foreign gods. The men had built
it merely to remind their children that they too belonged
to the Chosen Race, although they were separated from
the rest of it by the Jordan's rushing tide.
When all these matters had been satisfactorily settled,
Joshua called the heads of the people together, and ex-
horted them "to keep and to do all that is written in the
book of the law of Moses." He prophesied that, if they
dared serve other gods, they would lose the land which
their God had given them.
Then, after receiving a solemn promise from all the
people to remain faithful, and after writing the history
of his time, Joshua died peacefully, at the age of one
hundred and ten. He was buried in the country which
he had won for Israel, a country which is called the Prom-
ised Land, the Holy Land, or Palestine.
XXV. THE DEATH OF SISERA.
JOSHUA'S death was soon followed by that of the
high priest Eleazar, who was succeeded by his son
Phinehas. It was at this time, also, that Joseph's remains,
so carefully brought from the land of Egypt, were buried
Now all the people went on serving God faithfully as
long as the elders lived. This period lasted about forty
years, at the end of which time there arose another gen-
eration who "knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which
he had done for Israel;" so the people of the Lord for-
got him, and began to worship the heathen gods.
In' punishment for their idolatry, they were given over
into the hands of the people whose gods they served, and
were forced to endure much ill treatment.
But, although punished, they were not utterly forsaken;
for, whenever it was necessary, God always provided
judges, who freed them from their oppressors.
No sooner were the Israelites free again, however, than
they would return to their old sins, worship false gods,
and refuse to obey the law. It was because of this
oft-renewed unfaithfulness that God delayed the full
accomplishment of his promise to drive all the heathen
nations out of the country. The story of these trou-
blous times is written in the Book of Judges, which begins
with an account of the efforts made by the tribes of
Judah and Simeon to drive out the Canaanites and the
The two tribes of Israelites won a victory and captured
the tyrant who ruled over their enemies. This was a man
who openly boasted of having cut off the thumbs and great
toes of seventy kings, and of having amused himself in
watching their vain efforts to pick up the crumbs that fell
from his table. In punishment for such deeds of cruelty,
the Israelites treated him in the same way, and then killed
him in the city of Jerusalem.
Many other attempts to drive the heathen out of the
land are recorded in the Book of Judges; but none of
them were entirely successful. Indeed, it was not long
before the Israelites, in punishment for their sins, were
allowed to fall into the hands of the King of Mesopo-
tamia. They suffered under his tyranny eight years,
before the Lord heard their cries of distress, and sent
them a deliverer in the person of Oth'ni-el, a nephew
Othniel ruled the people wisely, and died forty years
after Joshua. But as soon as he was gone, the Israelites
again fell into idolatry, and because they did so, they were
conquered by the Moabites and Amalekites, their old foes,
who tyrannized over them for eighteen years.
When their woes had become unendurable, another
deliverer arose- E'hud, who was a left-handed man.
This fact proved fatal to the Moabites, for Ehud killed
their king with his left hand while delivering a pre-
tended written message with his right.
This murder was not discovered till Ehud had es-
caped. He at once rallied the Children of Israel around
him, led them on to battle, and completely routed th
Sham'gar, the next judge, delivered the Israelites from
the hands of the Philistines, and showed his unusual
strength by killing six hundred of his foes with an ordi-
As the people had fallen back into idolatry, they were
next given over to the cruel treatment of the King of the
Canaanites, who allowed his captain, Sis'e-ra, to oppress
the land for twenty years. At the end of that time,
the Lord sent a woman named Deb'o-rah to the rescue of
his people. This Deborah was a prophetess, and as she
herself could not go forth and fight, she sent Ba'rak, the
fourth judge, against the enemy.
The two armies met, and once more the Israelites won a
great victory. They owed this victory in part to a great
storm, which injured the troops of Sisera only. Terrified
by the fury of the elements league against them, Sisera's
soldiers fled, but they were soon overtaken and killed by
Sisera, the captain, escaped alone and on foot, and
finally took refuge in the tent of a woman named Ja'el.
There he was given a drink of milk, and after telling the
woman to keep his hiding place secret, he lay down and
went to sleep.
While he thus thought himself safe, Jael armed herself
with a tent pin and a hammer, crept up close to her sleep.
ing guest, and with one terrible blow drove the pin right
through his temples and deep into the ground. Then she
ran to meet the pursuing host, and, leading Barak into her
tent, showed him what she had done. The Israelites had
again won the victory, and the history of this epoch closes
with Deborah's song of triumph, in which she relates how
Sisera was defeated and slain.
------o-o o ---.-
XXVI. RUTH AND NAOMI.
W E are told that not very long after the death of Sis-
era, an Israelite named Mi'cah stole eleven hundred
shekels of silver from his mother. She, little suspecting
that the thief was her own son, cursed the robber, and sol-
emnly vowed to make a molten and a graven image, should
she ever recover her property.
Oppressed by remorse for his guilt, Micah finally con-
fessed his theft. He gave back the silver, and helped his
mother set up the images in his house, where one of his
sons acted as priest.
Still, as the priesthood had been strictly confined to the
family of Levi, Micah was not satisfied with this arrange-
ment. He knew no rest until he had secured the services
of a young Levite, who, for a certain hire, promised to
serve as priest to the images, although he knew that it
was against the law.
Five spies from the tribe of Dan paused at Micah's
house, when on their way to La'ish, and there consulted
the Levite. As he predicted that they would be success-
ful, the Dan'ites rewarded him by taking him and the
images with them to Laish. They soon became masters
of that city, and changed its name to Dan; and then the
Levite was established there as their priest.
Another episode belonging to this epoch, is the story of
a Levite, who, deserted by his wife, followed her to her
father's house, and prevailed upon her to return to him.
They set out upon their homeward journey late in the
day, and were forced to spend the night at Gib'e-ah,
where an old man entertained them hospitably in his own
Now the people of Gibeah belonged to the tribe of Ben-
jamin, but they had grown as wicked as the Sodomites
of old. They no sooner heard that there were helpless
strangers in the city, than they attacked the house and
forced the old man to give up the woman. Then they ill-
treated her so shamefully that, when morning came, the
Levite found her dead on the doorstep.
This crime roused her husband's wrath to such an ex-
tent that he cut her body into twelve pieces, and sent
them to the twelve tribes of Israel, with a full account
of the wrongs he had suffered at the hands of the Ben-
The result was a general uprising of the people, who
sallied forth four hundred thousand strong, and killed
nearly all the Benjamites. Only a few among them man-
aged to escape to the mountains, whence they returned, in
time, to their Gld homes.
Here they married the maidens taken from a city which
was destroyed; but as these were not enough to supply
wives for them all, they got two hundred more by kid-
Painting by Bruck Lajos.
naping the maids of Shi'loh when they came out of their
city to dance at one of the great national festivals.
The story of Ruth, which is told at length in the book
bearing her name, is one of the most beautiful episodes of
this age. It seems that a certain man of Beth'le-hem was
driven by famine into the land of Moab, with his wife,
Na-o'mi, and'his two young sons.
While in the land of the Moabites, these young men
married two native women, Or'pah and Ruth, and here
father and sons died, leaving three widows to mourn their
early death. Naomi was very poor, and in her grief she
prepared to return to her own country and people.
When her daughters-in-law heard of this plan, they both
offered to go with her, so that she need not make the jour-
ney alone. They all three started out on foot, but they
had not gone very far when Naomi urged both young
widows to go back to their father's house, where they
would, in time, forget their sorrow, and even marry again.
Orpah listened to this advice, and after taking a tearful
leave of Naomi, she slowly went home. But Ruth clung
to her mother-in-law, crying: "Thy people shall be my
people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest will I
die, and there will I be buried."
As Ruth would not leave her, Naomi now took her to
Bethlehem, her old home; and the two widows came there
at the time of the barley harvest. They had no money
wherewith to buy food, so Ruth, who was young and
strong, went out into the country to glean; that is to say,
to pick up the stray ears of grain which fell from the full
She soon came to the harvest fields of Boaz, a. rich
kinsman of her father-in-law; and when this man saw the
poor young woman's efforts to secure some grain, he kindly
bade the reapers drop a few handfuls, so that she might
have something to eat.
XXVII. GIDEON'S FLEECE.
RUTH gleaned all day in the harvest field, and when
evening came she went joyfully home to show Na-
omi how much grain she had gathered, thanks to the kind-
ness of that charitable man, Boaz.
When Naomi heard this name she started, and at once
told her daughter-in-law of his relationship to them. Ruth
worked at gleaning every day, and at the end of the har-
vest time she was greatly surprised when Naomi bade her
go back to the field, enter the booth where Boaz and his
workmen slept, and lie down at his feet. When he awoke,
she was to remind him of the law which commanded that
a widow was bound to marry her husband's nearest kins-
man, whose duty it was to take care of her.
Although this custom seemed very strange to a Moabite
woman, Ruth immediately obeyed. When Boaz awoke
and asked her what she was doing -there, she told him
that she was the widow of his relative, and asked that he
should give her her rights.
Boaz then sent Ruth away with a promise that he would
do justice to her, although there was a man more nearly
related than he. Early the next day, he found out that
this man was willing to give up all claim to the young
widow; and then he publicly took Ruth to wife.
STO. OF CHO. PEOP. -7
Thus freed from want, Ruth soon grew happy in her
new home; and she became the mother of a son named
O'bed, the grandfather of David, a great king of whom you
will hear much. But Ruth, the Moabite woman, was not
the only one of David's ancestors that was not an Israelite;
for Boaz, as you will remember, was the son of Rahab, who
was spared from the general massacre when the Chosen
People took Jericho.
The Israelites, in the mean while, had again misused the
peace they had won, and soon after the death of Deborah
and Barak, they again began to worship idols. In punish-
ment for this sin, they were now allowed to fall into the
hands of the Midianites and the Amalekites, who came
in great numbers, being "as grasshoppers for multitude."
The enemy took possession of the land, and drove the
Israelites to the caves and dens in the mountain side.
Whenever the people of God came down into the valley,
they were illtreated and oppressed; and only at the end
of seven years did the Lord consider that they had been
punished enough, and prepare to deliver them.
The judge sent to save them this time was Gid'e-on, a
" mighty man of valor." He was secretly threshing wheat
near his father's barn, to save it from the Midianite thieves,
when an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared before him,
and bade him rescue Israel from the hands of the enemy.
Gideon at first tried to excuse himself, saying that he
was neither worthy of such an honor, nor capable of
winning it; but the angel repeated the command, and the
man, seeing that he was talking to an angel, now wished
to offer up a sacrifice to him.
The angel, however, refused this act of worship, which
was due to God only, and bade Gideon lay the victim on
a rock. When all was ready, the angel touched the rude
altar with his staff, miraculously setting fire to the victim,
and then disappeared.
Gideon knew that the spot had been made holy by the
presence of a divine messenger, so he set up an altar there.
That selfsame night, the Lord visited Gideon in a dream,
and bade him overthrow the altar of the heathen god
Ba'al, where the people had worshiped, cut down the
sacred grove, and offer up his father's bullock in sacri-
fice to the true God.
When he awoke, Gideon did as the Lord had com-
manded, and called all the people together. While wait-
ing for their coming, the young leader prayed God to
show by a sign that he would save Israel. For this pur-
pose, Gideon spread out a fleece upon the threshing
floor, and asked that it should be wet with dew, while
the ground all around it staid dry.
When Gideon came on the morrow, he found the fleece
so wet that he could wring a great deal of water out of it,
while the ground all around it was perfectly dry. But he
was not quite satisfied with this one miracle, so he now
prayed that the fleece might remain dry and the ground
This second sign was granted also, and when Gideon
saw the dry fleece and wet ground, he believed all that
the Lord had told him, and with a force of Israelites,
numbering thirty-two thousand men, he marched off to
meet and overwhelm the enemy.