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was allied with Jethro, by the bond of religious community. Yet it is a heathenish religiousness, (eine heidnische Religiösität,) 61738 5 7?" And where is the proof, that a holy man like Melchisedek, dignified in the offices which he sustained, and chiefly illustrious as a type of the great high priest and king of his people, and a wise man like Jethro, whose counsel the great and inspired Hebrew legislator himself did not disdain to follow, cultivated a sort of heathenish religion, or failed to regard the God whom they worshipped and obeyed as the true Jehovah? The author's assertion, that “the more God becomes Jehovah for Abraham, the more does he become Elohim for all the rest of the world," allowing it to be generally true, is not universally so; and surely Melchisedek may well be considered as the most prominent of all exceptions. It should not be forgotten, that the covenant with Abraham could not annul God's previously made covenant with Noah, and in him with all mankind. ix. 9 ss.
In chap. xvii,' says Drechsler, • Jehovah is used in v. 1, and afterwards Elohim constantly, because the subject related is, as it were, a creation of a people from nothing, and therefore a powerful proof of the efficiency of God, who is for the first time described as “God Almighty," "7W 3x, v. 1, for which, in subsequent verses, where Isaac's birth is promised, and also in xxi, where it is narrated, Elohim is used. Those chapters share in one category with the first chapter.' p. 189, 190.
• Elohim is used in chap. xvii, and Jehovah in chap. xviii. But, although the general subject is the same, there are some points of difference which suggest the reason of the varying use of these appellations. Chapter xvii contains the promise of the birth of a son, as the commencing point of the long and great work of the creation of a numerous people ; xviii speaks merely of the birth of this son the follow
ing year. The former is the solemn, I may say public, act; the latter contains private discourse. Abraham, as the father of a multitude of nations, and this great posterity to descend from him, constitute the leading idea of xvii, which may be said to be its perfect legal instrument, an act of official character. But in xviii, this subject is only opportunely introduced ; for it was not on account of this matter, but a different one, that Jehovah showed himself in action, and he holds intercourse with Abraham and Sarah only as private persons.' p. 191, 192.
To me, all this appears to be refined and arbitrary. It assumes a gratuitous and unfounded distinction, which seems to have been devised in order to sustain a preconceived theory. Either appellation is sufficiently adapted to the subject, and it would seem unnecessary to investigate very deeply for a motive which might lead to the choice of one in preference to the other. The interchange, both here and elsewhere, may be intended to impress the reader with the conviction, that the same infinite and immutable being is denoted by each. This principle sufficiently illustrates the usage in the 19th chapter.
In chap. xx, Elohim is the prevailing term. Here the reason is plain. The narrative makes us acquainted with persons who had no other idea of God than what is implied in that word; and even that idea was very imperfect. “ The fear of God in this place,” is all that Abraham could reasonably conceive of. The name intimates also that the patriarch was under the protection of that glorious being who created the world ; and it was the divine intention in the narrative, to make this truth conspicuous both to his contemporaries and also to future generations. The unexpected introduction of Jehovah in the last verse points out the identity of the being designated by the two names.
In xxi Elohim is used, except in v. 1, 33. The author has evidently a reference to chap. xvii, in which the usage is strikingly similar, Jehovah being employed in the first verse, and Elohim always afterwards. The subject also corresponds, the one portion containing the accomplishment of what is promised in the other. Comp. xxi. 2, 3, 4, 5, with xvii. 21, 19, 10—12, 17; also, what is said in each chapter of Isaac and Ishmael respectively. The author of xxi has undoubtedly in his mind the contents of xvii. The same motive, then, which gives rise to the choice of the divine names in the one, may fairly be presumed to account for it in the other. It would therefore seem unnecessary at least, to assume with Drechsler, (p. 194,) that Elohim is used, when the subject relates to Ishmael, because the blessings promised to him had reference merely to God's omnipotence and creative power, exclusive of any covenant relation comprehending positive revelations. This reason would not apply to the choice of this appellation when Abraham or Isaac is the subject of discourse ; and, in all probability, the author's motive is the same in both cases. Certainly, as Drechsler says, Abraham is commanded to “cast out” his son, by God as ruler of the world, in contradistinction to man, who had neither the right to issue nor the power to enforce such an order, and consequently Elohim is fitly chosen. But it is undeniable, that the expulsion had a direct and intimate relation to the divine plan concerning Abraham, and therefore the word Jehovah would have been equally proper.
Doubtless, the name Jehovah is chosen in the first verse to express God's covenant relation to the mother of the child of promise. But to me it seems fanciful, to account, as Hengstenberg does, for the use of Elohim, which immediately follows, (v. 2,) on the ground, that it points out “the opposition between God's word and man's word.” The difference between the language "God' and angel of God in
v. 9—21, and “Jehovah' and 'angel of Jehovah' in xvi. 7 ss., while the subject is the same in both places, he attributes to “the great diversity of the relations which resulted from the birth of Isaac. Heretofore, as Ishmael's circumcision shows, Hagar and he had, in some degree, formed a part of the chosen family, and consequently had participated in its connexion with Jehovah. With the declaration of God in v. 12, 'in Isaac shall thy seed be called, they go out of the province of Jehovah into that of Elohim. The outer separation from the chosen race was only a manifestation of that which had already taken place within. After this final separation, they had as little connexion with Jehovah as Cain, when he departed from the church of God in Eden and betook himself to the land of Nod. If in v. 20, the language was “and Jehovah,' instead of and God was with the lad, it would be an express contradiction of what is declared in v. 12.” p. 354.
An examination of the view here assumed respecting Ishmael's exclusion from all covenant relation with Jehovah, would be foreign to my present purpose. I have only to remark, that, were it allowed to be correct, it would not explain the use of Elohim in v. 12, where it is clear that either this term or Jehovah would be equally appropriate.
The use of the divine names in the next chapter is easily explained. God, (Elohim,) the maker and the owner, requires Abraham to give up his son, and, in the very turning point of the transaction, Jehovah, by his angel, prevents the sacrifice, and manifests himself as the patriarch's covenant God. Comp. v. 1, with 11, 12. That the change of names in this narrative is attributable to the circumstance of its being composed of two original documents, is ridiculous. This would have produced a mechanical piece of patchwork, whereas the account is remarkable for its consistency and unity. It requires no extraordinary perspicuity, in order to enable the reader to perceive the propriety of the choice of terms whereby to denote the supreme being. But when Hengstenberg tells us, that the patriarch's “temptation would have had no object, if God had already become for him absolutely Jehovah,” (p. 358,) he seems to have forgotten that “the Son” himself, whom the father had declared by “a voice from heaven” to be his " beloved” one, was tried by the severest temptations.“ Jehovah,” the “merciful and gracious,” might subject his “friend”* to such a test, with the view of strengthening his faith, and of exhibiting his obedience to the imitation of all subsequent ages.
The remarks already made will enable the reader to explain the usage in the chapters immediately following.
In xxv. 11, it is said, that “God, (Elohim,) blessed Abraham's son Isaac." Undoubtedly, either this term or the other is equally appropriate. But, says the author just named, “we find Elohim in this place, where it would seem, at the first look, that Jehovah ought to stand. Still, if we consider that the notice here is merely occasional and preliminary, and that the author does not professedly enter on the history of Isaac until v. 19 ss., the term Elohim will appear perfectly satisfactory. It conveys here the general intimation, that the blessing of God or of heaven passed over from Abraham to Isaac. The more definite designation of this blessing follows in xxvi. 3, 12.” p. 362, 363. “ Isaac," says Drechsler, “is now in Abraham's place. From this time he is clothed with high authority-his cause is God's and he himself the friend of God. And this very point, namely, that his influence extends to that higher sphere, that the connexion of the creator of the world to Abraham has passed over to him, lies in the word Elohim. And the action implied in the word “ blessed,” belongs principally to