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large enough just in that part), “that they might dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abraham's cattle, and the herdmen of Lot's cattle."
In that country, water was not always to be got at, as it is here, and wells were dug with great pains to find water. To those wells the cattle were driven, and water was drawn and given them to drink. If two parties got to a well at the same time, they often quarrelled who should get the water first, or who only should have it. This was most likely the case with Lot's and Abram's servants ; but they were wrong to quarrel, and by so doing they made Lot and Abram leave one another, when they might still have lived together in love and peace; for the land would have been large enough if they had been kind to each other. “Bad servants often make a great deal of mischief in families, by their pride and passion, their lying, slandering, and tale-bearing." Perhaps, my little reader may be one of those who may by-and-by be a servant; let him then often think on the story of Lot's and Abram's servants, and the harm they did by quarrelling with one another.
And now Abram showed how good a man he was. As Lot and he must part, he gave Lot his choice. He was willing to do anything for the sake of peace : and he told him, if he would go to the country on the left hand, then he would go to the right; or if he went to the right hand, then he would go to the left.
Battle of the Kings, and Lot taken Prisoner.
GENESIS XIV. 8-12. We have here an account of the first war that we read of in Scripture. Chedorlaomer was king of Persia, which was in old times called Elam. He was not content with what he had, but had probably beaten five other kings not so strong as he, and had made them pay him some money and goods every year, to keep their crowns. After he had done so for twelve years, they thought they were strong enough to beat him, and so they would pay the money and goods no longer. The king of Elam, or Persia, did not like to lose their tribute, or what they paid him ; and he got the king of Shinar, or Chaldea, and two other kings, to join him, and go and beat and regain these people. They met in a plain, or large piece of flat ground, and there they fought. The king of Elam, or Persia, conquered, or beat them, and they all ran away. Among those that were beaten, was the king of Sodom, and his city was entered, and all that was worth having was taken away; and Lot, having gone to live there, lost all that he had, and was carried off to be made a slave of with all his family.
A wretched condition poor Lot was in now! This came from choosing to go and live among people that did not fear God, and that, as we shall soon learn, were noted for being wicked.
One of the people of Sodom escaped, and made haste to Abram, and told him what had become of Lot. Abram pitied his poor nephew, and resolved to save him. So he took all his men, three hundred and eighteen in number, and divided them into several parts, that he might come upon the enemy on all sides; and overtaking them at night, he took them by surprise—and beat them in turn, and brought back Lot, “and his goods, and the women also, and the people.”
And now the king of Sodom, hearing of what Abram had done, went to see if he could get back any of his people. You will see in the chapter, that the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell into the slime pits, or pits full of a kind of black mud,—and probably were smothered there; so that this was either a new king of Sodom, or it was only his people that fell into pits, and he escaped. Abram very kindly gave back all he had got, and would have nothing for what he had done. He was too good a man to wish to get rich by war; and he restored everything to the lawful owners.
The Burning of Sodom and Gomorrah.
GENESIS XIX. 24, 25. Sodom was now become so very wicked a place, that God said he would destroy it at once, and he told Abraham what he meant to do. Now, Abraham did not know it was so very wicked a place as it was; and as we should always think as kindly as we can of everybody, Abraham hoped there might be some good people there besides Lot, for whose sake God would spare the wicked cities. In the eighteenth chapter of Genesis, and at the twentythird and following verses, we have a very fine prayer which Abraham prayed to God, to try and save Sodom and Gomorrah ; for we have said that Abraham was a good man, and good men always pray. He said, “ Peradventure (or if) there be fifty righteous in the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein ?” And the Lord said, “ If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes."
See how God loves good people; so much, that if there had only been fifty in Sodom and Gomorrah, he would have spared all the wicked for their sakes. And see what blessings we may hope for, if we live among truly good people, who love and fear God.
But Abraham was afraid that there might not be fifty, for he no doubt knew that the cities were very wicked; and he therefore prayed God to save Sodom, if the number of good people should be less than fifty, till at last he left off at ten ; and the Lord said, “I will not destroy it for ten's sake."
Some angels had appeared to Abraham, and talked with him on this subject. An angel means a messenger, or a person that carries a message. Angels are often spoken of in Scripture, for, in those days, God made known his mind to men by sending angels. These are spirits that serve God in heaven, and they often, by his power, put on the shape of men, and so talked with them.
Now, two angels went to see the state of Sodom and Gomorrah, and to destroy them for their sins. In those days there was much hospitality. Lot was sitting out of doors, enjoying the air, as they do in hot countries; and as he was at the gate or entrance of the city, he saw two men that looked like travellers, and he bowed to them to show them respect, and kindly asked them into his house, and begged them to stop all night and to wash their feet, and then they could go on comfortably in the morning.
In some of the hot countries the people do not wear shoes, but what are called sandals, or soles with straps to them, that go over the top of the foot to keep them on. These were used by people at that time, and after a journey it was very comfortable to wash the feet to make them clean and cool. This will explain the reason why Lot asked the travellers to wash their feet.
The travellers now went in with Lot, and he made them a feast, and his food was very plain, according to the custom of those times; all they had was a little unleavened bread, or bread made without yeast, which ours is made with that it may be light.
The angels saw what a wicked race of men these were, and warned Lot to get all his family together and escape, before God destroyed them. Lot had a wife, and two daughters who lived with him ; some also were married, but their husbands would not believe Lot's warning, and he was obliged to leave them and their husbands behind ; if they had been good people, they would not have perished with such a punishment. And in the morning, the angels turned away, for he lingered, perhaps in hopes of seeing his other children coming, and they said, “ Escape for thy life ; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain : escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.” But Lot begged that he might go to Zoar, a little city close by; and for his sake that city was saved.
And now the storm began. “ Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground."
Some persons, who wrote a long while ago, tell us there were thirteen
cities in the plain of Sodom, and that Sodom was the capital, or largest, as London is of England. These all perished but Zoar, where Lot was.
God caused fire to fall upon them, and it fell upon ground, which, being pitchy, soon caught fire ; and all those wicked people, and their houses, and goods, and lands were all burnt, and the cities were tnrned into a lake, or very large body of water. This lake, now called the Dead Sea, is as much as thirty miles long and ten miles broad. Its waters look clear, but the bottom is black, and smells nasty. No fish can live there, and no herbs can grow near it. Sulphur in quantities is found near the edges of the lake. So to this day we have this witness of God's anger against the wicked.
In this dreadful judgment Lot lost his wife. She did not like to leave Sodom. Perhaps she thought of her daughters behind, or wanted to save her goods, or more likely did not quite believe that God was going to burn the place: and so she stood and looked, and the fiery rain fell upon her, and she was killed as she stood : and being covered over with what fell, as people are covered over in a fall of snow, she became a pillar of salt, or salt sulphur!
When Abraham rose in the morning, he went to a place whence he could see where Sodom and Gomorrah had stood ; "and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace."
Here you see what an evil and a bitter thing it is to sin against God. This was a terrible fire ; but “ the earth and all the works that are in it” will by-and-by be burned up, on account of the wickedness which is in the world. God spares it for a while, but its end shall come; and all wicked people shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone,” which, because of its many horrors, is the name God gives to the place reserved for the wicked. Pray, then, to God, that he would save yon from this dreadful place, as Lot was saved from burning Sodom, “ the Lord being merciful unto him."
Hagar and Ishmael.
GEN. XXI. 9—21. Besides Sarah, his first wife, Abraham married his maid, named Hagar, who was an Egyptian woman. Several of the Patriarchs, or good men of that period of the world, had more wives than one; though it is not allowed, since Jesus Christ said that no man should have more than one wife.
Hagar had a son named Ishmael, and Sarah had a son named Isaac. Ishmael was fourteen years older than Isaac, and big enough to know better, but he “ mocked” his little brother Isaac, and teased him, when they were probably at play together.
Sarah loved her own son Isaac, and could not bear that he should be so treated by his elder brother: and though she had told Abraham to marry Hagar, she did not like her, and this behaviour of her son so vexed her that she begged Abraham to turn both Hagar and Ishmael out of doors. Perhaps Hagar had not brought up Ishmael to behave like a good boy, and this made Sarah the more angry. It is a great blessing to have parents who teach us to love God, and to love one another. Abraham loved both his children ; " and the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight:"-he was grieved that his children should quarrel,