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By the expression Rebekah enquired of the LORD, we may understand that God stil continued, by immediate revelation, to make his will known to his chosen servants, The prediction given to Rebekah, on this occasion,

a very remarkable one, and, from its accomplisho ment, will be found to relate not fiersonally to the chil. dren that were to be born of her, but nationally to their posterities ; 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 other, to be his peculiar people, not any works or merit on the part of man; for this declaration 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 Divine Favour*.

As the children grew up, their genius and disposition led them to different pursuits ; but there was nothing in the manuer of Jacob that indicated his future periority to his brother: on the contrary, Esau was of an active enterprising spirit, Jacob of a quiet domestic






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 Rom. ix. 10, 11, 12. See also Taylor's Paraphrase on this chapter of Romanse


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 Jife, 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 Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, 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.


Who Keturah was, whom Abraham married, is not known; but, without doubt, if she had ever been an idolatress, she was not so when he took her as his wife.

It had been predicted by the LORD, 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 were 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

exceedingly. In time, each fanzily became a nation, and their descendants branched out into other nations : 80 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 fir. mament*.

Ishmael, 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 nationt:

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 Godf, 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 de: scended 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 cook a very proper measure in sending his other sons to settle in distant places ; for it was the only probable

Gen. xiii, 16.

+ See Gen. xxr.

X¥. 5. xxii. 17.

Gen. xviii, 19.


way of preventing animosities and jealousies amongst them.

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 is said, that he was gathered to his people. This expression is synonymous with that in the prophecy, Thou shalt 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 LORD 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 nott ; neither will he break his covenant, or alter the thing that is gone out of His mouth. The Lord hath

it Gen. xv, 13.

+ Mal. iii, 6. Jum. i. 17.


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.

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And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, that God blessed 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 Egypt, in the way to Assyria. And these are the


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 appears, that Isaac and Ishmael lived in harmony


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