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9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel;* be- | cause the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth and from thence did the LORD Scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood.
11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
i. e. confusion.
II. The counsels and resolves of the Eternal God concerning this matter; he did not come down merely as a spectator, but as a Judge, as a Prince, to look upon these proud men, and abase them, Job 40. 11-14.
12 And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah:
13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
Observe, 1. He suffered them to proceed a good way in their enterprise, before he put a stop to it; that they might have space to repent, and, if they had so much consideration left, might be ashamed of it, and weary of it, themselves; and if not, that their disappointment might be the more shameful, and every one that passed by, might laugh at them, saying, These men began to build, and were not able to finish; that so the works of their hands, from which they promised themselves immortal honour, might turn to their perpetual reproach. Note, God has wise and holy ends in permitting the enemies of his glory to carry on their impious projects a great way, and to prosper long in their enterprises.
2. When they had, with much care and toil, made some considerable progress in their building, then God determined to break their measures, and disperse them.
14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: 15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
g Acts 17. 26.
and defeating of the counsels of men, v. 8, 9. God made them know whose word should stand, his or their's, as the expression is, Jer. 44. 28. Notwithstanding their oneness and obstinacy, God was too hard for them, and wherein they dealt proudly, he was above them; for who ever hardened his heart against him and prospered? Three things were done;
1. Their language was confounded. God, who, when he made man, taught him to speak, and put words into his mouth fit to express the conceptions of his mind by, now made those builders to forget their former language, and to speak and understand a new one, which yet was the same to those of the same tribe or family, but not to others; those of one colony could converse together, but not with those of another. Now, (1.) This was a great miracle, and a proof of the power which God has upon the minds and tongues of men, which he turns as the rivers of water. (2.) This was a great judgment upon those builders; for being thus deprived of the knowledge of the ancient and holy tongue, they were become incapable of communicating with the true church, in which it was retained; Observe, (1.) The righteousness of God, which appears in and, probably, it contributed much to their loss of the knowthe considerations upon which he proceeded in this resolution, ledge of the true God. (3.) We all suffer by it, to this day : v. 6. Two things he considered, [1.] Their oneness, as a rea- in all the inconveniences we sustain by the diversity of lanson why they must be scattered: "Behold, the people is one, guages, and all the pains and trouble we are at to learn the and they have all one language; if they continue one, much of languages we have occasion for, we smart for the rebellion of the earth will be left uninhabited; the power of their prince our ancestors at Babel. Nay, and those unhappy controverwill soon be exorbitant; wickedness and profaneness will be in-sies, which are strifes of words, and arise from our misundersufferably rampant, for they will strengthen one another's hands standing of one another's language, for aught I know, are in it; and, which is worst of all, they will be an overbalance owing to this confusion of tongues. (4.) The project of some to the church, and these children of men, if thus incorporated, to frame an universal character, in order to an universal lanwill swallow up the little remnant of God's children." There- guage, how desirable soever it may seem, is yet, I think, but a fore it is decreed that they must not be one. Note, Unity is vain attempt; for it is to strive against a divine sentence, by policy, but it is not the infallible mark of a true church; yet, which the languages of the nations will be divided while the while the builders of Babel, though of different families, dispo-world stands. (5.) We may here lament the loss of the unisitions, and interests, were thus unanimous in opposing God, versal use of the Hebrew tongue, which from this time, was what a pity it is, and what a shame, that the builders of Zion, the vulgar language of the Hebrews only, and continued so till though united in one common Head and Spirit, should be divid- the captivity in Babylon, where, even among them, it was ed, as they are, in serving God! But marvel not at the mat- exchanged for the Syriac. (6.) As the confounding of tongues ter; Christ came not to send peace, [2.] Their obstinacy; divided the children of men, and scattered them abroad, so the now nothing will be restrained from them; and this is a reason gift of tongues, bestowed upon the apostles, (Acts 2.)contributed why they must be crossed and thwarted in their design: God greatly to the gathering together of the children of God, which had tried, by his commands and admonitions, to bring them off were scattered abroad, and the uniting of them in Christ, that from this project, but in vain; therefore he must take another with one mind and mouth they might glorify God, Rom. 15. 6. course with them. See here, First, The sinfulness of sin, and 2. Their building was stopped; they left off to build the city. the wilfulness of sinners; ever since Adam would not be re- This was the effect of the confusion of their tongues; for it no strained from the forbidden tree, his unsanctified seed have only incapacitated them for helping one another, but, probably been impatient of restraint, and ready to rebel against it. struck such a damp upon their spirits, that they could not proSecondly, See the necessity of God's judgments upon earth, to ceed, since they saw, in this, the hand of the Lord gone out keep the world in some order, and to tie the hands of those that against them. Note, (1.) It is wisdom to leave off that which will not be checked by law. we see God fights against. (2.) God is able to blast and bring to naught all the devices and designs of Babel-builders. He sits in heaven, and laughs at the counsels of the kings of the earth against Him and his Anointed; and will force them to confess that there is no wisdom nor counsel against the Lord, Prov. 21. 30. Is. 8. 9, 10.
(2.) The wisdom and mercy of God in the methods that were taken for the defeating of this enterprise, (v. 7 ;) Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language this was not spoken to the angels, as if God needed either their advice, or their assistance, but God speaks it to himself, or the Father to the Son and Holy Ghost; they said, Go to, let us make brick; and Go to, let us build us a tower; animating one another to the attempt; and now God says, Go to, let us confound their language; for if men stir up themselves to sin, God will stir up himself to take vengeance, Is. 59. 17, 18. Now observe here,  The mercy of God, in moderating the penalty, and not making that proportionable to the offence; for he deals not with us according to our sins; he does not say, "Let us go down now in thunder and lightning, and consume those rebels in a moment;" or, "Let the earth open and swallow up them and their building, and let them go down quick into hell, who are climbing to heaven the wrong way;" no, only, "Let us go down, and scatter them" they deserved death, but are only banished | or transported; for the patience of God is very great towards a provoking world. Punishments are chiefly reserved for the future state; God's judgments on sinners in this life, compared with those, are little more than restraints. [2.] The wisdom of God, in pitching upon an effectual expedient to stay proceedings, which was the confounding of their language, that they might not understand one another's speech, nor could they well join hands when their tongues were divided; so that this would be a very proper method, both for taking them off from their building, (for if they could not understand one another, they could not help one another,) as also for disposing them to scatter; for when they could not understand one another, they could not employ one another. Note, God has various means, and effectual ones, to baffle and defeat the projects of proud men that set themselves against him, and particularly to divide them among themselves, either by dividing their spirits, (Judg. 9. 23,) or by dividing their tongues, as David prays, Ps. 55. 9. III. The execution of these counsels of God, to the blasting
3. The builders were scattered abroad from thence upon the face of the whole earth, v. 8, 9. They departed in companies, after their families, and after their tongues, (ch. 10. 5, 20, 31,) to the several countries and places allotted to them in the division that had been made, which they knew before, but would not go to take the possession of till now that they were forced to it. Observe here, (1.) That the very thing which they feared, came upon them; they feared dispersion, they sought to evade it by an act of rebellion, and by that act they brought upon themselves the evil with all its horrors; for we are most likely to fall into that trouble which we seek to evade by indirect and sinful methods. (2.) That it was God's work; The Lord scattered them. God's hand is to be acknowledged in all scattering providences; if the family be scattered, relations scattered, churches scattered, it is the Lord's doing. (3.) That though they were as firmly in league with one another as could be, yet the Lord scattered them; for no man can keep together what God will put asunder. (4.) That thus God justly took vengeance on them for their oneness in that presumptuous attempt to build their tower; shameful dispersions are the just punishment of sinful unions; Simeon and Levi, who had been brethren in iniquity, were divided in Jacob, ch. 49. 5, 7. Ps. 83. 3-13. (5.) That they left behind them a perpetual memo randum of their reproach, in the name given to the place; it was called Babel, confusion. They that aim at a great name, commonly come off with a bad name. (6.) The children of men were now finally scattered, and never did, nor ever will, come all together again, till the great day, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him, Matt. 25. 31, 32,
V. 10-26. We have here a genealogy, not an endless gene
16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat *Peleg:
17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.
18 And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: 19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters. 20 And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug:
21 And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daugh
• Lake 3. 35. Phalec. ↑ Luke 3.35. Saruch, 24.2. Chr. 1.26. i c. 15. 7. f c. 17. 15.
alogy; for here it ends in Abram, the friend of God, and leads further to Christ, the promised Seed, who was the Son of Abram, and from Abram the genealogy of Christ is reckoned, (Matt. 1. 1, &c.) so that put ch. 5. ch. 11, and Matt. 1. together, and you have such an entire genealogy of Jesus Christ as cannot be produced, for aught I know, concerning any person in the world, out of his line, and at such a distance from the fountain-head. And laying these three genealogies together, we shall find that twice ten, and thrice fourteen, generations or descents, passed between the first and second Adam, making it clear concerning Christ, not only that he was the Son of Abraham, but the Son of man, and the Seed of the woman. Observe here, 1. That nothing is left upon record concerning those of this line, but their names and ages; the Holy Ghost seeming to hasten through them to the story of Abram. How little do we know of those that are gone before us in this world, even those that lived in the same places where we live, as we likewise know little of those that are our contemporaries, in distant places; we have enough to do, to mind the work of our own day, and let God alone to require that which is past, Ec. 3. 15. 2. That there was an observable gradual decrease in the years of their lives; Shem reached to 600 years, which yet fell short of the age of the patriarchs before the flood; the three next came short of 500; the three next did not reach to 300; after them, we read not of any that attained to 200, but Terah; and, not many ages after this, Moses reckoned 70 or 80 to be the utmost men ordinarily arrive at: when the earth began to be replenished, men's lives began to shorten; so that the decrease is to be imputed to the wise disposal of providence, rather than to any decay of nature; for the elect's sake, men's days are shortened; and being evil, it is well they are few, and attain not to the years of the lives of our fathers, ch. 47. 9. 3. That Eber, from whom the Hebrews were denominated, was the longest lived of any that were born after the flood; which perhaps was the reward of his singular piety, and strict adherence to the ways of God.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah, in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
V. 27-32. Here begins the story of Abram, whose name is famous, henceforward, in both Testaments; we have here, I. His country; Ur of the Chaldees, that was the land of his nativity, an idolatrous country, where even the children of Eber themselves were degenerated. Note, Those who are, through grace, heirs of the land of promise, ought to remember what was the land of their nativity; what was their corrupt and sinful state by nature; the rock out of which they were hewn.
II. His relations; mentioned for his sake, and because of their interest in the following story. 1. His father was Terah, of whom it is said, Josh. 24. 2, that he served other gods, on the other side of the flood; so early did idolatry gain footing in the world, and so hard is it even for those that have some good principles, to swim against the stream. Though it is said, v. 26, that when Terah was seventy years old, he begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran, (which seems to tell us that Abram was the eldest son of Terah, and born in his 70th year,) yet, by comparing v. 32, which makes Terah to die in his 205th year, with Acts 7. 4, (where it is said that Abram removed from Haran, when his father was dead,) and with ch. 12. 4, (where it is said that he was but 75 years old when he removed from Haran,) it appears that he was born in the 130th year of Terab, and, probably, was his youngest son; for, in God's choices, the last are often first, and the first last. We have, 2. Some account of his brethren. (1) Nahor, out of whose family both Isaac and Jacob had their wives. (2.) VOL. I.-9
30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 31 And Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughterin-law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan: and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
Luke 3. 34. Thara, A Josh. c. 16. 1. 18. 11. 21. 1, 2. Ps. 113. 9. Luke 1. 36. m c. 12. 1. a c. 11. 31. 15. 7. kc. 22. 20. 24.15. Neh. 9. 7. Is. 41. 2. Acts 7. 3. Heb. 11. 8.
The pedigree and family of Abram we had an account of in the foregoing chapter; here, the Holy Ghost enters upon his story; henceforward, Abram and his seed are almost the only subject of the sacred history. In this chapter we have, I. God's call of Abram to the land of Canaan, v. 1-3. 11. Abrain's obedience to this call, v. 4, 5. III. His welcome to the land of Canaan, v. 6, 7. IV. His Journey to Egypt, with an account of what happened to him there. Abram's flight and fault, v. 10-13. Sarai's danger, and deliverance, v. 14-20.
Abram, Get thee
NOW the LORD had said "unto
out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee:
Haran, the father of Lot, of whom it is here said, v. 28, that he died before his father Terah. Note, Children cannot be sure that they shall survive their parents: for death does not go by seniority, taking the eldest first: the shadow of death is without any order, Job 10. 22. It is likewise said that he died in Ur of the Chaldees, before the happy removal of the family out of that idolatrous country. Note, It concerns us to hasten out of our natural state, lest death surprise us in it. 3. His wife was Sarai, who, some think, was the same with Iscah, the daughter of Haran. Abram himself says of her, that she was the daughter of his father, but not the daughter of his mother, ch. 20, 12. She was ten years younger than Abram. III. His departure out of Ur of the Chaldees, with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and the rest of his family, in obedience to the call of God, of which we shall read more, ch. 12. 1, &c. This chapter leaves them in Haran, or Charran, a place about the midway between Ur and Canaan, where they dwelt till Terah's head was laid, probably because the old man was unable, through the infirmities of age, to proceed in his journey. Many reach to Charran, and yet fall short of Canaan; they are not far from the kingdom of God, and yet never come thither.
NOTES TO CHAPTER XII.
V. 1-3. We have here the call by which Abram was removed out of the land of his nativity into the land of promise; which was designed both to try his faith and obedience, and also to separate him, and set him apart, for God and for special services and favours which were further designed. The circumstances of this call we may be somewhat helped to the knowledge of, from Stephen's speech, Acts 7. 2, where we are told, 1. That the God of glory appeared to him, to give him this call; appeared in such displays of his glory, as left Abram no room to doubt the divine authority of this call. God spake to him afterward in divers manners; but this first time, when the correspondence was to be settled, he appeared to him as the God of glory, and spake to him. 2. That this call was given him in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran; therefore we rightly read it, The Lord had said unto Abram, namely, in Ur of the Chaldees; and, in obedience to this call, as Stephen further relates the story, v. 4, he came out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran, or Haran, about five years, and from thence, when his father was dead, by a fresh command, pursuant to the former, God removed him into the land of Canaan. Some think that Haran was in Chaldea, and so was still a part of Abram's country; or that he, having stayed there five years, began to call it his country, and to take root there, till God let him know that this was not the place he was intended for. Note, If God loves us, and has mercy in store for us, he will not suffer us to take up our rest any where short of Canaan, but will graciously repeat his calls, till the good work begun, be performed, and our souls repose in God only.
In the call itself, we have a precept and a promise. I. A trying precept, v. 1, Get thee out of thy country. Now, 1. By this precept he was tried whether he loved God better than he loved his native soil and dearest friends, and whether he could willingly leave all, to go along with God. His country was become idolatrous, his kindred and his father's house were a constant temptation to him, and he could not continue with them without danger of being infected by them; therefore, Get thee out, Vade tibi-Get thee gone, with all speed, escape for thy life, look not behind thec, ch. 19. 7. Note, Those ( 65 )
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; cand thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
b c. 17. 6. 24. 35. c c. 18. 18. 28.4. d Num. 24. 9.
that are in a sinful state are concerned to make all haste possible out of it. Get out for thyself, (so some read it,) that is, for thine own good. Note, Those who leave their sins and turn to God, will themselves be unspeakable gainers by the change, Prov. 9. 12. This command which God gave to Abram, is much the same with the Gospel-call by which all the spiritual seed of faithful Abram are brought into covenant with God. For, (1.) Natural affection must give way to divine grace our country is dear to us, our kindred dearer, and our father's house dearest of all; and yet they must all be hated, Luke 14. 26, that is, we must love them less than Christ, hate them in comparison with him, and, whenever any of these come in competition with him, they must be postponed, and the preference given to the will and honour of the Lord Jesus. (2.) Sin and all the occasions of it, must be forsaken, and, particularly, bad company; we must abandon all the idols of iniquity which have been set up in our hearts, and get out of the way of temptation, plucking out even a right eye that leads us to sin, Matt. 5. 29, willingly parting with that which is dearest to us, when we cannot keep it without hazard of our integrity. Those that resolve to keep the commandments of God, must quit the society of evildoers, Ps. 119. 115. Acts 2. 40. (3.) The world, and all our enjoyments in it, inust be looked upon with a holy indifference and contempt; we must no longer look upon it as our country, or home, but as our inn, and must, accordingly, sit loose to it, and live above it, get out of it in affection.
2. By this precept he was tried, whether he could trust God further than he saw him; for he must leave his own country, to go to a land that God would show him; he does not say, "It is a land that I will give thee," but merely," a land that I will show thee." Nor does he tell him what land it was, or what kind of land; but he must follow God with an implicit faith, | and take God's word for it, in the general, though he had no particular securities given him, that he should be no loser by leaving his country, to follow God. Note, Those that will deal with God, must deal upon trust; we must quit the things that are seen, for things that are not seen, and submit to the sufferings of this present time, in hopes of a glory that is yet to be revealed, Rom. 8. 18; for it doth not yet appear, what we shall be, 1 John 3. 2, any more than it did to Abram, when God called him to a land he would show him, so teaching him to live in a continual dependence upon his direction, and with his eye ever toward him.
II. Here is an encouraging promise, nay, it is a complication of promises, many, and exceeding great and precious. Note, All God's precepts are attended with promises to the obedient; when he makes himself known to us as a Commander, he makes himself known also as a Rewarder; if we obey the command, God will not fail to perform the promise. Here are six promises.
1. I will make of thee a great nation; when God took him from his own people, he promised to make him the head of another; he cut him off from being the branch of a wild olive, to make him the root of a good olive. This promise was, (1.) A great relief to Abram's burden; for he had now no child. Note, God knows how to suit his favours to the wants and necessities of his children. He that has a plaster for every sore, will provide one for that first that is most painful. (2.) A great trial to Abram's faith; for his wife had been long barren, so that if he believe, it must be against hope, and his faith must build purely upon that power which can out of stones raise up children unto Abraham, and make them a great nation. Note, [1.] God makes nations; by him they are born at once, Is. 66. 8, and he speaks to build and plant them, Jer. 18. 9. And, [2.] If a nation be made great in wealth and power, it is God that makes it great. [3.] God can raise great nations out of dry ground, and can make a little one to be a thousand.
2. I will bless thee; either particularly, with the blessing of fruitfulness and increase, as he had blessed Adam and Noah; or in general, "I will bless thee with all manner of blessings, both of the upper and the nether springs: leave thy father's house, and I will give thee a father's blessing, better than that of thy progenitors." Note, Obedient believers shall be sure to inherit the blessing.
4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
3. I will make thy name great; by deserting his country, he lost his name there: "Care not for that," says God, "but trust me, and I will make thee a greater name than ever thou couldest have had there." Having no child, he feared he should have no name; but God will make him a great nation, and so make him a great name. Note, (1.) God is the fountain of honour, and from him promotion comes, 1 Sam. 2. 8. (2.) The name of obedient believers shall certainly be celebrated, and made great: the best report is that which the elders obtained by faith, Heb. 11. 2.
4. Thou shalt be a blessing; that is, (1.) "Thy happiness shall be a sample of happiness, so that those who would bless their friends, shall only pray that God would make them like
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had
e Ps. 72. 17. Acts 3. 25. Gal. 3. 8.
Abram" as Ruth 4. 11. Note, God's dealings with obedient believers are so kind and gracious, that we need not desire for ourselves or our friends to be any better dealt with; that is blessedness enough. (2.) "Thy life shall be a blessing to the places where thou shalt sojourn." Note, Good men are the blessings of their country, and it is their unspeakable honour and happiness to be made so.
5. I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; this made it a kind of a league offensive and defensive, between God and Abram. Abram heartily espoused God's cause, and here God promises to interest himself in his; (1.) He promises to be a Friend to his friends, to take kindnesses shown to him as done to himself, and to recompense them accordingly. God will take care that none be losers, in the long run, by any service done for his people; even a cup of cold water shall be rewarded. (2.) He promises to appear against his enemies; there were those that hated and cursed even Abram himself; but while their causeless curses could not hurt Abram, God's righteous curse would certainly overtake and ruin them, Num. 24. 9. This is a good reason why we should bless them that curse us, because it is enough that God will curse them, Ps. 38. 13-15.
6. In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed; this was the promise that crowned all the rest; for it points at the Messiah, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. Note, (1.) Jesus Christ is the great Blessing of the world, the greatest that ever the world was blessed with; he is a family-blessing, by him salvation is brought to the house, Luke 19. 9. When we reckon up our family blessings, let us put Christ in the imprimis-the first place, as the Blessing of blessings. But how are all the families of the earth blessed in Christ, when so many are strangers to him? Answer, [1.] All that are blessed, are blessed in him, Acts 4. 12. [2.] All that believe, of what family soever they are, shall be blessed in him. [3.] Some of all the families of the earth are blessed in him.  There are some blessings which all the families of the earth are blessed with in Christ; for the Gospel-salvation is a common salvation, Jude 3. (2.) It is a great honour to be related to Christ; this made Abram's name great, that the Messiah was to descend from his loins, much more than that he should be the father of many nations. It was Abram's honour to be his father by nature; it will be our's to be his brethren by grace, Matt. 12. 50.
V. 4, 5. Here is,
I. Abram's removal out of his country; out of Ur first, and afterward out of Haran, in compliance with the call of God; so Abram departed; he was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but did as he was bidden, not conferring with flesh and blood, Gal. 1. 15, 16. His obedience was speedy and without delay, submissive and without dispute; for he went out, not knowing whither he went, Heb. 11. 8, but knowing whom he followed, and under whose direction he went. Thus God called him to his foot, Is. 41. 2.
II. His age when he removed; he was seventy and five years old, an age when he should rather have had rest and settlement; but if God will have him to begin the world again now in his old age, he will submit. Here is an instance of an old convert. III. The company and cargo that he took with him. 1. He took his wife, and his nephew Lot, with him; not by force and against their wills, but by persuasion. Sarai, his wife, would be sure to go with him; God had joined them together, and nothing should put them asunder. If Abram leave all to follow God, Sarai will leave all to follow Abram ; though neither of them knew whither. And it was a mercy to Abram to have such a companion in his travels, a help meet for him. Note, It is very comfortable when husband and wife agree to go together in the way to heaven. Lot also, his kinsman, was influenced by Abram's good example, who was perhaps his guardian after the death of his father, and he was willing to go along with him too. Note, Those that go to Canaan, need not go alone; for though few find the strait gate, blessed be God, some do; and it is our wisdom to go with those with whom God is, Zech. 8. 23, wherever they go.
2. They took all their effects with them; all their substance and moveable goods, that they had gathered. For, (1.) With themselves they would give up their all, to be at God's disposal, would keep back no part of the price, but venture all in one bottom, knowing it was a good bottom. (2.) They would furnish themselves with that which was requisite, both for the service of God, and the supply of their family, in the country whither they were going. To have thrown away his substance, because God had promised to bless him, had been to tempt God, not to trust him. (3.) They would not be under any temptation to return, therefore they leave not a hoof behind, lest that should make them mindful of the country from which they came out.
3. They took with them the souls that they had gotten, that is, (1.) The servants they had bought, which were part of their substance, but are called souls, to remind masters that their
poor servants have souls, precious souls, which they ought to take care of, and provide food convenient for. (2.) The proselytes they had made, and persuaded to attend the worship of the true God, and to go with them to Canaan: the souls which (as one of the Rabbins expresses it) they had gathered under the wings of the Divine Majesty. Note, Those who serve and follow God themselves, should do all they can to bring others to serve and follow him too. Those souls they are said to have gained; we must reckon ourselves true gainers, if we can but win souls to Christ.
IV. Here is their happy arrival at their journey's end. They went forth to go into the land of Canaan, so they did before, (ch. 11. 31,) and then took up short; but now they held on their way, and, by the good hand of their God upon them, to the land of Canaan they came; where, by a fresh revelation, they were told that this was the land God promised to show them. They were not discouraged by the difficulties they met with in their way, nor diverted by the delights they met with; but pressed forward. Note, 1. Those that set out for heaven, must persevere to the end, still reaching forth to those things that are before. 2. That which we undertake, in obedience to God's command, and a humble attendance upon his providence, will certainly succeed, and end with comfort at last.
V.6-9. One would have expected that Abram having had such an extraordinary call to Canaan, some great event should have followed upon his arrival there; that he should have been introduced with all possible marks of honour and respect, and that the kings of Canaan should immediately have surrendered their crowns to him, and done him homage; but, lo! he comes not with observation, little notice is taken of him; for still God will have him to live by faith, and to look upon Canaan, even when he was in it, as a land of promise: therefore observe here, I. How little comfort he had in the land he came to; for, 1. He had it not to himself; the Canaanite was then in the land. He found the country peopled and possessed by Canaanites, who were likely to be but bad neighbours, and worse landlords; and, for aught that appears, he could not have ground to pitch his tent on, but by their permission: thus the accursed Canaanites seemed to be in better circumstances than blessed Abram. Note, The children of this world have commonly more of it than God's children. 2. He had not a settlement in it. He passed through the land, v. 6. He removed to a mountain, v. 8. He journeyed, going on still, v. 9. Observe here, (1.) That sometimes it is the lot of good men to be unsettled, and obliged often to remove their habitation. Holy David had his wanderings, his fittings, Ps. 56. 8. (2.) Our removes in this world are often into various conditions.
Abram sojourned, first, in a plain, v. 6, then in a mountain, v. 8. God had set the one over against the other. (3.) All good people must look upon themselves as strangers and sojourners in this world, and by faith sit loose to it as a strange country. So Abram did, Heb. 11. 8-14. (4.) While we are here in this present state, we must be journeying, and going on still from strength to strength, as having not yet attained. II. How much comfort he had in the God he followed; when he could have little satisfaction in converse with the Canaanites, whom he found there, he had abundance of pleasure in communion with that God who brought him thither, and did not leave him. Communion with God is kept up by the word and by prayer, and by these according to the methods of that dispensation, Abram's communion with God was kept up in the land of his pilgrimage.
1. God appeared to Abram; probably, in a vision, and spake to him good words, and comfortable words, Unto thy seed will I give this land. Note, (1.) No place or condition of life can shut us out from the comfort of God's gracious visits. Abram is a sojourner, unsettled, among the Canaanites; and yet here also he meets with him that lives and sees him. Enemies may part us and our tents, us and our altars, but not us and our God. Nay, (2.) With respect to those that faithfully follow God in a way of duty, though he lead them from their friends, he will himself make up that loss by his gracious appearances to them. (3.) God's promises are sure and satisfying to all those who conscientiously observe and obey his precepts; and those who, in compliance with God's call, leave or lose any thing that is dear to them, shall be sure of something else abundantly better in lieu of it. Abram had left the land of his nativity, "Well," says God, "I will give thee this land," Matt. 19. 29. (4.) God reveals himself and his favours to his people by degrees; before
he had promised to show him this land, now to give it him: as grace is growing, so is comfort. (5.) It is comfortable to have land of God's giving, not by providence only, but by promise. (6.) Mercies to the children are mercies to the parents. “I will give it, not to thee, but to thy seed;" it is a grant in reversion, to his seed, which yet, it should seem, Abram understood also as a grant to himself of a better land in reversion, of which this was a type; for he looked for a heavenly country, Heb. 11. 16.
2. Abram attended on God in his instituted ordinances. He built an altar unto the Lord, who appeared to him, and called on the name of the Lord, v. 7, 8. Now consider this, (1.) As done upon a special occasion; when God appeared to him, then and there he built an altar, with an eye to the God who appeared to him. Thus he returned God's visit, and kept up his correspondence with Heaven, as one that resolved it should not fail on his side; thus he acknowledged with thankfulness, God's kindness to him in making him that gracious visit and promise; and thus he testified his confidence in, and dependence upon, the word which God had spoken. Note, An active believer can heartily bless God for a promise which he does not yet see the performance of, and build an altar to the honour of God who appears to him, though he does not yet appear for him. (2.) As his constant practice, whithersoever he removed. As soon as Abram was got to Canaan, though he was but a stranger and sojourner there, yet he set up, and kept up the worship of God in his family; and wherever he had a tent, God had an altar, and that an altar sanctified by prayer. For he not only minded the ceremonial part of religion, the offering of sacrifice; but he made conscience of the natural duty of seeking to his God, and calling on his name, that spiritual sacrifice with which God is well pleased; he preached concerning the name of the Lord, that is, he instructed his family and neighbours in the knowledge of the true God, and his holy religion. The souls he had gotten in Haran, being discipled, must be further taught. Note, Those that would approve themselves the children of faithful Abram, and would inherit the blessing of Abram, must make conscience of keeping up the solemn worship of God, particularly in their families, according to the example of Abram: the way of family worship is a good old way, is no novel invention, but the ancient usage of all the saints. Abram was very rich, and had a numerous family, was now unsettled, and in the midst of enemies; and yet, wherever he pitched his tent, he built an altar: wherever we go, let us not fail to take our religion along with us.
V. 10-13. Here is,
I. A famine in the land of Canaan, a grievous famine; that fruitful land was turned into barrenness, not only to punish the iniquity of the Canaanites who dwelt therein, but to exercise the faith of Abram who sojourned therein; and a very sore trial it was: it tried what he would think, 1. Of God that brought him hither: whether he would not be ready to say with his murmuring seed, that he was brought forth to be killed with hunger, Ex. 16. 3. Nothing short of a strong faith could keep up good thoughts of God under such a providence. 2. Of the land of promise; whether he would think the grant of it worth the accepting, and a valuable consideration for the relinquishing of his own country, when, for aught that now appeared, it was a land that ate up the inhabitants: now he was tried, whether he could preserve an unshaken confidence that the God who brought him to Canaan, would maintain him there, and whether he could rejoice in him as the God of his salvation, when the fig-tree did not blossom, Hab. 3. 17, 18. Note, (1.) Strong faith is commonly exercised with divers temptations, that it may be found to praise, and honour, and glory, 1 Pet. 1. 6, 7. (2.) It pleases God sometimes to try those with great afflictions, who are but young beginners in religion. (3.) It is possible for a man to be in the way of duty, and in the way to happiness, and yet meet with great troubles and disappointments.
II. Abram's remove into Egypt, upon occasion of this famine. See how wisely God provides that there should be plenty in one place when there was scarcity in another, that as members of the great body, we may not say to one another, I have no need of you. God's providence took care there should be a supply in Egypt, and Abram's prudence made use of the opportunity; for we tempt God, and do not trust him, if, in the time of distress, we use not the means he has graciously provided for our preservation; we must not expect needless miracles.
is his wife and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my "sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and In this chapter, we have a further account concerning Abram. 1. In general, of his commended her before Pharaoh; and the woman was Ptaken into Pharaoh's house.
16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and camels.
condition and behaviour in the land of promise, which was now the land of hia pil-
17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house A wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him,
ND out of he and his
with great plagues, because of Sarai, Abram's wife. 18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
nc. 20. 2. 26. 7. o Matt. 5. 28. p Ps. 105, 14. Prov. 6. 29. Heb. 13. 4. g c. 20. 10. 26. 10. Ex. 32. 21.
19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now, therefore, behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
that which is especially observable here, to the praise of Abram, is, that he did not offer to return upon this occasion, to the country from which he came out, nor so much as towards it. The land of his nativity lay northeast from Canaan: and therefore, when he must, for a time, quit Canaan, he chooses to go to Egypt which lay southwest, the contrary way, that he might not so much as seem to look back; see Heb. 11. 15, 16. Further observe, when he went down into Egypt, it was to sojourn there, not to dwell there. Note, 1. Though Providence, for a time, may cast us into bad places, yet we ought to tarry there no longer than needs must; we may sojourn there, where we may not settle. 2. A good man, while he is on this side heaven, wherever he is, is but a sojourner.
III. A great fault which Abram was guilty of, in denying his wife, and pretending that she was his sister. The scripture is impartial in relating the misdeeds of the most celebrated saints, which are recorded, not for our imitation, but for our admonition; that he who thinks he stands, may take heed lest he fall. 1. His fault was, dissembling his relation to Sarai, equivocating concerning it, and teaching his wife, and, probably, all his attendants, to do so too. What he said was, in a sense, true, (ch. 20. 12,) but with a purpose to deceive; he so concealed a further truth, as, in effect, to deny it, and to expose thereby both his wife and the Egyptians to sin. 2. That which was at the bottom of it, was a jealous timorous fancy he had, that some of the Egyptians would be so charmed with the beauty of Sarai, (Egypt producing few such beauties,) that if they should know he was her husband, they would find some way or other to take him off, that they might marry her. He presumes they would rather be guilty of murder than adultery; such a heinous crime was it then accounted, and such a sacred regard was paid to the marriage-bond hence he infers, without any good reason, They will kill me. Note, The fear of man brings a snare, and I many are driven to sin by the dread of death, Luke 12. 4,5. The grace Abram was most eminent for, was, faith; and yet he thus fell, through unbelief and distrust of the Divine Providence, even after God had appeared to him twice. Alas, what will become of the willows, when the cedars are thus shaken? V. 14-20. Here is,
I. The danger Sarai was in of having her chastity violated by the king of Egypt. And, without doubt, the peril of sin is the greatest peril we can be in. Pharaoh's princes (his pimps rather) saw her, and observing what a comely woman she was, they commended her before Pharaoh; not for that which was really her praise-her virtue and modesty, her faith and piety, (those were no excellencies in their eyes,) but for her beauty, which they thought too good for the embraces of a subject, and worthy the admiration of the king; and she was presently taken into Pharaoh's house, as Esther into the seraglio of Ahasuerus, (Esth. 2. 8,) in order to her being taken into his bed. Now we must not look upon Sarai as standing fair for preferment, but as entering into temptation; and the occasions of it were, her own beauty, which is a snare to many, and Abram's equivocation, which is a sin that commonly is an inlet to much sin. While Sarai was in this danger, Abram fared the better for her sake; Pharaoh gave him sheep, and oxen, &c. (v. 16,) to gain his consent with her whom they supposed his sister. We cannot think that Abram expected this when he came down into Egypt, much less that he had an eye to it when he denied his wife; but God brought good out of evil. And thus the wealth of the sinner proves, some way or other, laid up for the just.
II. The deliverance of Sarai from this danger. For if God did not deliver us, many a time, by prerogative, out of those straits and distresses which we bring ourselves into by our own sin and folly, and which therefore we could not expect any deliverance from by promise, we should soon be ruined, nay, we had been ruined long before this. He deals not with us according to our deserts.
1. God chastised Pharaoh, and so prevented the progress of his sin. Note, Those are happy chastisements, that hinder us in a sinful way, and effectually bring us to our duty, and
into the south."
2 And Abram was very rich, in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
r Prov, 21. 1. a c. 12. 9, &c. b c. 24. 35. 1 Sam. 2. 7. Job 1. 10. Ps. 112. 3. Prov. 3. 9, 10. 10. 22. Matt. 6. 33.
particularly to the duty of restoring that which we have wrongfully taken and detained. Observe, Not Pharaoh only, but his house, was plagued; probably, those princes especially that had commended Sarai to Pharaoh. Note, Partners in sin are justly made partakers in the punishment. Those that serve others' lusts, must expect to share in their plagues. We are not told particularly what these plagues were; but, doubtless, there was something in the plagues themselves, or some explication added to them, sufficient to convince them that it was for Sarai's sake that they were thus plagued.
2. Pharaoh reproved Abram, and then dismissed him with respect.
(1.) The reproof was calm, but very just; What is this that thou hast done? What an improper thing! How unbecoming a wise and good man! Note, If those that profess religion, do that which is unfair and disingenuous, especially if they say that which borders upon a lie, they must expect to hear of it, and have reason to thank those that will tell them of it. We find a prophet of the Lord justly reproved and upbraided by a heathen shipmaster, Jon. 1. 6. Pharaoh reasons with him, Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Intimating, that if he had known that, he would not have taken her into his house. Note, It is a fault too common among good people, to entertain suspicions of others beyond what there is cause for. We have often found more of virtue, honour, and conscience, in some people, than we thought they possessed; and it ought to be a pleasure to us to be thus disappointed, as Abram was here, who found Pharaoh to be a better man than he expected. Charity teaches us to hope the best.
(2.) The dismission was kind, and very generous. He returned him his wife, without offering any injury to her honour, v. 19, Behold thy wife, take her. Note, Those that would prevent sin, must remove the temptation, or get out of the way of it. He also sent him away in peace, and was so far from any design to kill him, as he apprehended, that he took particular care of him. Note, We often perplex and insnare ourselves with fears which soon appear to have been altogether groundless. We often fear, where no fear is. We fear the fury of the oppressor, as though he were ready to destroy, when really there is no danger, Is. 51. 13. It had been more for Abram's credit and comfort, to have told the truth at first; for, after all, honesty is the best policy. Nay, it is said, v. 20, Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; that is, [1.] He charged them not to injure him in any thing. Note, It is not enough for those in authority, that they do not hurt themselves, but they must restrain their servants, and those about them, from doing hurt. Or, [2,] He appointed them, when Abram was disposed to return home, after the famine, to conduct him safe out of the country, as his convoy. Probably, he was alarmed by the plagues, v. 17, and inferred from them, that Abram was a particular favourite of Heaven, and therefore, through fear of their return, took special care he should receive no injury in his country.
Note, God has often raised up friends for his people, by making men know that it is at their peril if they hurt them. It is a dangerous thing to offend Christ's little ones, Matt. 18. 6. To this passage, among others, the Psalmist refers, Ps. 105. 13-15, He reproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not mine anointed. Perhaps, if Pharaoh had not sent him away, he would have been tempted to stay in Egypt, and to forget the land of promise. Note, Sometimes God makes use of the enemies of his people, to convince them, and remind them, that this world is not their rest, but that they must think of departing. Lastly, Observe a resemblance between this deliverance of Abram out of Egypt, and the deliverance of his seed thence: 430 years after Abram went into Egypt on occasion of a famine, they went thither, on occasion of a famine also; he was fetched out with great plagues on Pharaoh, so were they; as Abram was dismissed by Pharaoh, and enriched with the spoil of the Egyptians, so were they. For God's care of his people is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.