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By the expression Refiekah enquired of the Lord, we may understand that Go D sti 1 continued, by immediate revelation, to make his will known to his chosen servants.
The prediction given to Rebekah, on this occasion, was a very remarkable one, and, from its accomplishment, will be found to relate not personally to the children that were to be born of her, but nationally to their posterities i and the Apostle to the Hebrews refers to it as a proof, that the purpose and intention of God, according to his own free choice, was the only rule and standard for his choosing one nation rather than another, to be his peculiar people, not any works or merit on the part of man; for this dec hi rati on was made before the persons from whom these two nations were to proceed, were born; consequently, before they had done good to deserve, or evil to forfeit the IJivine Favour*.
As the children grew up, their genius and disposition led them to different pursuits ;. but there was nothing in the manner of Jacob that indicated his future superiority to his brother: on the contrary, Esau was of an active enterprising spirit, Jacob of a quiet domestic turn.
SECTION XXIX. t
THE DEATH OF ABRAHAM.
From Genesis, Chap., xxv.
When Sarah was dead Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah; and she bare him six sons, Zimram, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.
* See Rora. ix. 10, 11,12. See a:so Taylor's Paraphrase on this chapter of Romans.
And the sons of Jokshan, were Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian ; Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.
And Abraham gave all that he had in the land of Canaan unto Isaac. But unto the other sons which Abraham had, he gave gifts, and sent them away- from Isaac, eastward, unto the east country, while he yet lived.
And these are the days of the years of Abraham's life, which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.
Then Abraham gave.up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, "and full of years; and was gathered to his people.
And his sons Isaac and Islimael buried him in the cave of Machpeiah, in the field of Ephron, the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;
The field which Abraham purchased of-the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.
ANNOTATIONS A No REFLECTIONS.
Who Keturah was, whom Abraham married, is not known; but, without doubt, if she had ever been Sn idolatress, she was not so when he took her as his wife.
It had been predicted by the Loud, that Abraham should be the father of many nations, and he lived to see the sons and grandsons, from whom they were to proceed, grow up; and so considerable wire his possessions, that he .was enabled to give them all portions, without any injury to his son Isaac. They settled comfortably in different places, and multiplied and prospered
exceedexceedingly. In time, each family became a nation, and their descendants branched out into other nations: so that all the generations could not be numbered individually by human art, any more than the dust of the earth, the sand on the sea-shore, or the stars in the firmament*.
lshmael, in particular, was successful to a remarkable degree; and had, as the Lord promised, twelve sons, who became princes, and confederated together, so as to form a great nation-}-.
This wonderful prosperity was doubtless considered by Abraham as the completion of that part of the Temporal Covenant, which related to himself, and was an earnest of the completion of the Everlasting Covenant. In this sense we should regard this passage of Sacred History, and learn from it to place a strong confidence in the promises of God J, respecting this covenant, made known to us in his Holy Word, but which still remain to be fulfilled.
The other branches of Shem's family increased also, as did the posterity of Japheth and Ham. Those descended from Canaan, as' we observed before, were the idolatrous nations, whose land was given as an inheritance to the descendants of Abraham.
In providing for his other sons, Abraham had carefully reserved for Isaac all his property that was annexed to the covenant, which God had vouchsafed to make with him respecting the land of Canaan, a large tract of which must, by this time, have been overspread by his numerous flocks and herds. The good Patriarch took a very proper measure in sending his other sons to settle in distant places; for it was the only probable
* Gen. xiii. 16. xv. 5. xxii. 17. f See Gen. xxv.
.J Gen. xviii. 19.
way way of preventing animosities and jealousies amongst them. sworn, and it shall come to pass ; He hath purposed, and it shall stand, that in the seed of Abraham all the nations of the earth shall be blessed. //
We find, by the account that.is here given us of the years of Abraham's life, that the Divine promise* respecting this particular, was faithfully fulfilled, for he lived to a good old age, considering that the period of man's life was greatly contracted after the flood. It i* said, that he was gathered to his peo/ile. This expression is synonymous with that in the prophecy, Thou shah go to thy fathers, and cannot allude to the interment of his body, because his fathers were buried in a distant part of the world.
Having brought the history of Abraham to a period, and seen that he was faithful to the Lord, and that the Lop.D was true to all his promises respecting him, let us emulate the example of the good Patriarch, that we may be reckoned among his children.
The history of Abraham abounds with wonderful events, and exhibits the character of this good man in different points of view. We sometimes find him guilty of faults, which shew that he was subject to the infirmities of human nature; but it is proved by a variety of instances, that his faith in God's promises, and obedience to the Divine commands, were such, as justly entitle him to be called the Father of the Faithful; and it is this part of his character that is proposed to our imitation. Let us then imitate the good Patriarch, that we may at length obtain (through the infinite mercy of God) a share of the blessings provided as the reward of faith and obedience by Him who changeth notf; neither will he break his covenant,"or alter the thing that is gone out of His mouth. The Lord hath
THfi DEATH OF ISHMAEL.
From Genesis, Chap. xxv.
And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, that God blesEed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi.
And Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare, had twelve sons, and these are their names: Nebajoth, Kedar, Abdeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and ' Kedemah.
These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations.
And Ishmael and his sons dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egvpt, in the way to Assyria.
And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years; and he gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people; and he died in the presence of all his brethren.
ANNOTATIONS And REFLECTIONS.
We find from this account of the family of Ishmael, that the Divine Promise made to • Abraham concerning him, was literally fulfilled, for he had twelve sons who were princes, and a great nation proceeded from him, which has existed in an independent state down to the present time, called now Arabs. ,
It iusjears, that Isaac and Ishmael lived in harmony