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hundred three score and fifteen years, that is, sixty and fifteen years; making in all one hundred and seventy-five years. But this world ended with him, and so it must with us all. How foolish would Abraham have been, had he only placed his hopes on always keeping his flocks and herds, and all the riches which he had ; but Abraham died in faith, and looked for durable riches in heaven.
It is said he died of “a good old age.”
Abraham had spent all his best days in serving God; he looked back upon them with pleasure, and now his old age had become happy and good.
But here, I must tell you, that Abraham, though a good man, had his faults. You will often read of the faults of good men, as you read your Bible ; and they are told you for two reasons: first, that you should avoid them, and not commit the same; and, secondly, to show that God would not hide them, and that he was displeased with them, and often corrected good men severely for them.
In the twentieth chapter of Genesis we find Abraham, contrary to that faith or trust which he had in God, guilty of keeping back the truth when he ought to have spoken it, which was no credit to him. He went into the country of king Abimelech, and as he foolishly feared that the king might take his wife Sarah, and make her a queen, she being very beautiful, he told her to say she was his sister. This was so far true, for they had both the same father, but not the same mother ; but then it implied that she was not his wife. And he had nearly brought himself, and Sarah, and the king, into great distress, by his mistrust of God's care in this instance.
But while we read of these faults and follies in good men, as faithfully told in the Bible, let it lead us to pray to God to keep us from doing the same, and to ask his grace that we may imitate their numerous virtues.
Isaac and Ishmael buried their father with all due regard for his memory, for " the memory of the just is blessed ;" even Ishmael paid this respect to the remains of his father, though Ishmael was not a good man.
Esau selling his Birthright.
GENESIS xxv. 27-34. Here is a new race springing up: thus "one generation passeth away" like a shadow," and another generation cometh.” Rebekah is now introduced to us as the mother of Esau and Jacob: these differed in their pursuits ; Esau loved hunting, and was cunning in laying his snares to catch his game, while Jacob was a plain man, watching his flocks and his
Esau and Jacob were twins, or born at the same time ; but Esau, having been born a moment before Jacob, he was the eldest brother.
Now to the elder brother, among the Hebrews, belonged many benefits : among the rest, he had honour paid him next to his parents; he had a double portion of the inheritance ; and the Messiah, or Jesus Christ, was to be born, in time, of his family—a blessing of the greatest price.
Jacob aimed to get the birthright, or privileges of the first-born ; and it appears from another part of this book, that his mother being fond of him, wished him to have it, and no doubt set Jacob to watch his moment to supplant his brother.
This is a blot in Jacob's character; and it afterwards led to another, as one bad thing generally does. But Jacob turned out an excellent man at last; we must therefore follow that which was good in him, and not dwell on his faults.
Esan, however, deserved to lose his birthright, for he did not seem to set much value upon it, when he sold it for a paltry mess of pottage. No doubt he could have got something else in his mother's house ; but, on reaching home, hungry and tired after hunting, nothing else would suit his fancy but Jacob's mess which he had been preparing; and so Jacob, seizing the opportunity, made his bargain, and tricked poor Esau.
Jacob's pottage was made of lentiles—what were they? A kind of bean which is still used in those parts, and makes a drink, looking red, something like coffee : and for this " Esau despised his birthright."
The Prosperity of Isaac.
GENESIS XXVI. 13, 14. This chapter chiefly tells us of Isaac's prosperity. God had promised to bless him, and he did bless him.
But Isaac committed another fault, like Abraham, when he went in a famine to get food at the same place, called Gerar; and lest Rebekah should be taken away from him, he also would not own her as his wife.
Isaac thought to prevent evil by what he did ; but, though this may seem to excuse him, we must not do evil even that good may come.
Isaac blessing Jacob.
GENESIS XXVII. The following is the history in this chapter :
Isaac was now very old; it is reckoned that he must have been about one hundred and seventeen years of age, and that Jacob was about fifty-seven. The old man's eyes were grown nearly blind with age. He thought that, from the length of years he had lived, his life could not last much longer. He therefore desired his son Esau to come and take the blessing which belonged to the first-born.
As a proof of his obedience to his father, he asked him to get him some of his nice meat, which he killed with the bow and arrow; and when he had prepared it, he was to have the blessing.
This blessing was a very solemn thing. It was what parents used to give to their children when they were about to die and leave them behind ; and the patriarchs had a spirit of prophecy given them from heaven, so that what they said foretold what was to come to pass respecting their families. The first-born always had a right to the best blessing.
Now, Rebekah heard what Isaac said to Esau, and, as Jacob was her favourite son, she resolved that he should try and get the blessing. There is some excuse for her conduct, because she had been told from God himself, in a particular way, respecting her sons, before they were born, “The elder shall serve the younger ”—yet not excuse enough for her to tell Jacob to do that which was wrong, to bring about what God had promised. This was very foolish ; and because she did wrong, she was punished afterwards by many troubles which sprung out of this very affair, like bitter branches out of a bitter root.
Rebekah told Jacob to take two kids from his flocks and let her have them, and she would make savoury meat of them for Isaac; and he should go to him under the pretence that he was Esau, and offer the meat, and get the blessing; for as Isaac was almost blind, he could not see his face clearly.
Jacob, however, remembered that Esau was a strong man, covered with hair ; and he thought, that, if his father touched him, he would find out that it was not Esau, and that he would be so displeased at his trying to deceive him, that he would curse him instead of blessing him.
But his mother encouraged him; and to make his skin like Esau's, she fitted some goat-skins to his hands and his neck: for the goats in the East have very delicate hair, which might by its feel pass for that on a strong man's skin.
And now Jacob made haste with the meat, and took it to his father before Esau could come home from hunting. And he said, “I am Esau, thy first-born ; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee; sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.”
O Jacob! Jacob! thou couldst not be Esau—thy father never told thee to dress the savoury meat! God may pardon thy sin at this time ; but thou shalt feel that sin and sorrow go together. Thou shalt be deceived, as thou hast deceived thy father; and for this act thou shalt be banished from thy home, and be afraid of thy life. Always speak the truth, my dear young Teader, for it will bring peace and happiness in the end.
However, Jacob did succeed in getting the blessing. His father suspected his voice; but his raiment smelt of the sweet perfumes of Esau's garments, which it is thought were used to keep them from moths, and of which his mother had procured one from his chests on this occasion, — perhaps a garment kept for the elder sons.
So Isaac ate of his meat and drank of his wine ; which, it is thought, was a kind of religious rite before pronouncing the blessing. " And his father Isaac said, Come near now, and kiss me, my son. And he came near and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed.” That is, his garments smelt like a field in which sweet spices grow in abundance, through God's blessing on the soil, as we smell the sweet-scented bean-field when it is in full flower. He added, “ Therefore, God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine !" It rains only at particular times in that part of the world; but then God sends heavy dews, something like such as we have about three or four o'clock on a summer's morning, but much thicker; and these falling upon the fields make them rich in crops, yielding corn to grind for bread, and grapes to make wine.
Isaac further said, “Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee : be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee."
Scarcely had Jacob left Isaac when Esau returned, and he hastened to his father with his savoury meat.
But now he was justly punished for selling his birthright; notwithstanding which, and though he had taken an oath to part with it for the red pottage, he tried to obtain it.
And the old man was all in a tremble. And he asked hastily who had deceived him; but, being governed by a spirit of prophecy, that is, having spoken by the guidance of God, he said of Jacob, “I have blessed him; yea, and he shall be blessed."
Poor Esau now cried bitterly, and he said, “Bless me, even me also, O my father! hast thou not reserved a blessing for me ?”
And Isaac gave him a blessing also; but it was not that of the first-born: he lost his birthright.
GENESIS XXVIII. 12, 13. Esau was in the greatest rage on account of the loss of his birthright, and as he expected that his father would soon die, he being very old, he vowed that he would then kill his brother. Rebekah was told what he said, and Jacob, by her advice, fled for safety to his uncle Laban, at Haran; but, before he left, Isaac bade him farewell, and renewed his blessing at parting.
Isaac also gave Jacob a charge that he should not take any one for a wife that did not serve the true God, and that he should therefore try and marry one of Laban's daughters. Esau knew this, and to vex his father, like a wicked man, he went directly and married a wicked woman.
“And Jacob went out from Beersheba,” where Isaac and Rebekah now lived, “and went towards Haran, And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set: and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep."
Jacob's bed was very hard, and in this country we should find such a one likely to give a man his death, after travelling all day forty-eight miles, which is thought by learned travellers to be the distance he went : but it is very common, even now, for travellers in those parts to sleep in the open air; besides, “ Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents," and his hardy nature made him feel less the want of the comforts of home.
And, whilst Jacob was asleep, he dreamed the dream mentioned in this chapter.
This was one way in which the Lord spake to the patriarchs, and Jacob could know that it was divine, and no common dream. The ladder which he saw reaching from heaven to earth, and which was full of angels, or heavenly messengers, going up and down, will show us, as well as Jacob, that God's angels watch over us when we sleep, especially if we cast our.