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description of their ancestor ; “He will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and
every man's hand against him (o).” 1871.
God was pleased to make trial of Abraham's faith and obedience, by commanding him to take his son Isaac, when he was about twenty-five years
of age, and offer him as a burnt-offering upon Mount Moriah. Abraham rose early the next morning, and went with Isaac to the appointed place. He built an altar there; and every preparation being made, just as he was about to slay his son, an angel of the Lord called to him and said, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him ; for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me. And Abraham lifted
and looked, and beheld behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. Ad Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burntoffering in the stead of his son (p).” The mountain, on which Abraham was commanded to offer his son Isaac, was the same as that on which the temple of Solomon was afterwards built, and on which Christ was crucified; and the whole trans
(0) Gen. c. 16. v. 12.
Gen. c. 22. v. 12, 13.
action is to be considered as typical of the sacrifice of Christ (9).
Isaac, who was expressly prohibited by his father from taking a Canaanitish woman to wife, married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel, the 1856. son of Nahor, Abraham's brother, and had by her two sons, Esau and Jacob. God renewed to Isaac the promises which he had made to Abraham ; “ I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of Heaven ; and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the Earth be blessed (r).” In those days the head of the family or tribe was considered as the governor whom God had placed over them(s); in him were vested the offices of king and priest; to him were entrusted the promises of God, and the care of preserving his people obedient and happy. Voluntarily to resign this station, was then to desert the charge assigned to him by God (t). Accordingly, we
(9) Abraham's answer to Isaac's question,“ Where is the lamb for a burnt-offering ?” may be looked upon as prophetical; " My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt-offering." Gen. c. 22. v. 8.
(r) Gen. c. 26. v.4.
(s) This opinion and this custom have been preserved among many of the Arabian tribes to the present hour. (t) “ The patriarchal form of government (so called
find, that after Esau had proved how lightly he esteemed the high and sacred distinction to
from warpia familia and agxav princeps) is defined by Godwin to consist in the fathers of families, and their first-born after them, exercising all kinds of ecclesiastical and civil authority in their respective households ; blessing, cursing, casting out of doors, disinheriting, and punishing with death. It is natural to suppose that Adam, the father of all mankind, would be considered as supreme among them, and have special honour paid him so long as he lived ; and that when his posterity separated into distinct families and tribes, their respective fathers would be acknowledged by them as their princes. For as they could not, in any tolerable manner, live together without some kind of government, and no government can subsist without some head in which the executive power is lodged; whom were the children so likely, after they grew up, to acknowledge in this capacity as their father, to whose authority they had been used to submit in their early years? and hence, those, who were at first only acknowledged as kings over their own households, grew insensibly into monarchs of larger communities, by claiming the same authority over the families which branched out of them, as they had exercised over their own. However, the proper patriarchal government is supposed to have continued among the people of God until the time of the Israelites dwelling in Egypt, for then we have the first intimation of a different form of government among them. Our author hath perhaps assigned greater authority to the patriarchs than they reasonably could or did claim and exercise ; at least the instances he produces to prove they were ordinarily in
which his birth entitled him, by selling his birth-right for a mess of pottage, the arts of
vested with such a despotic power in civilibus et sacris, as he ascribes to them, are not sufficiently convincing.” Jennings's Jewish Ånt. vol. 1. p. 1.-Whether we suppose that the patriarchs derived their authority immediately from God, or that it was the natural result of situation, it will, I think, seem probable that their power was not defined, but was exerted according to circumstances. It never, however, appears to have been disputed in those early ages; and the ideas of king and father were long intimately blended. Even when the corruptions of time, and the aggressions of tyranny, had separated these ideas, the person of a king was ever held sacred; and whoever lifted his hand against his life, however cruel, unjust, or wicked he might be, never failed to be considered as impious, and to meet with general execration. Indeed, whether we consider sacred or profane history, civil government appears to derive its origin from the patriarchal ages, and therefore it would be difficult to deny that it was “ordained of God.” It will appear also that the monarchical form of civil government is the most antient; that the monarchy was hereditary till the numerous collateral settlements, the necessities, the dangers, and the wars, which soon began to disturb the world, gave rise sometimes to the usurpation of acknowledged right, and sometimes to the election of some warlike chief to be the head of several tribes united by consent; that the power of the monarch was limited by the laws of religion, and morality, and patriarchal customs, not by the will of the people, till after these restraints had been found insufficient barriers against
Jacob and his mother Rebekah were permitted to succeed (u). It should be remembered however, that God had declared, before the birth of her sons, that “ the elder should serve the younger (0);" and though deceit can never be justified, it is possible that Rebekah was led to practise it from anxiety to prevent Isaac “ from sinning against the Lord,” by attempting to counteract this decree, as well as by partiality to Jacob.: for Isaac seems to have intended to give his paternal blessing secretly. Isaac's desire to secure to his eldest son the benefits of the prophetic blessing is indeed a very remarkable proof of the perfect confidence in the promises of God, and the full conviction of divine Inspiration, which possessed the minds of the early patriarchs.
tyranny; and then, by general consent, laws and regulations were established, to preserve the general liberty and happiness of each community. . (u) “ One of the great privileges of primogeniture in these antient times, consisted in being the priest or sacrificer for the family; and it is very likely Jacob had a view also to the promise of the Messiah, which he readily might think would attend upon the purchase of the birth-right; and it is probable that Esau, upon both these accounts, is called by the apostle, “ a profane person,” Heb. c. 12. v. 16. “as despising that promise, and the religious employment of the priesthood.” Home's Scripture History, vol. ist.
(v) Gen. c. 25. v. 23.